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Kimberly Loth Books

Prince of the Moon

Prince of the Moon

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Zwaantie only wanted one thing…

To be with Pheonix.

But he disappears without her.

Now she just wants to go home. Stella is unlike anything she ever experienced and she can’t stand it. From the bright lights to the moving pictures—it’s all too overwhelming.

But she makes a terrifying discovery.

The voice has followed her and he wants her dead.

Download now to find out if Zwaantie can defeat the Voice or if it will make a prisoner of her once again.

Synopsis

Zwaantie only wanted one thing…

To be with Pheonix.

But he disappears without her.

Now she just wants to go home. Stella is unlike anything she ever experienced and she can’t stand it. From the bright lights to the moving pictures—it’s all too overwhelming.

But she makes a terrifying discovery.

The voice has followed her and he wants her dead.

First Chapter

Zwaantie gasped as she stepped into Stella. Her
mind was foggy as Leo pulled her away from the wall. He stopped about thirty
feet out. The last thing she remembered was Leo catching her and Phoenix
kissing. Now she was on the other side holding hands with Leo. She searched her
surroundings.

The sky spread out
in every direction, a dark inky black. A few buildings glowed not far from
where they stood, but there were no trees or hills. The ground under her feet
lit up. Darkness surrounded her, but she was able to see Leo clearly. In the
distance small lights shimmered. They looked like the stars, but they were on
the ground, not in the sky.

“Are those the
stars?” she asked, pointing.

“No, that’s the
city.”

Zwaantie craned her
neck around to see if she could spot the stars. She dragged Leo farther away
from the wall, trying in vain to find even a single star.

Nothing but
blackness.

“You seem anxious,”
Leo said.

“The stars, where
are the stars?” Zwaantie asked.

“We’re too close to
the city.” He pointed at the bright lights off in the distance. “You can’t see
them as well when there is light. When we get out on the boats, you’ll see
them.”

“Oh.” Zwaantie
tried to hide the disappointment in her voice. When she pictured Stella in her
mind, it was only about the stars, and here she was, and there were none.

She sucked in a
deep breath of the heavy air and took another good look around. They were
alone.

“Where is
everyone?”

“I don’t know,” Leo
replied. He spun around and stared deep into her eyes. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine, why?”

“The wall can be
disorienting.”

“I’m good. I do
wonder what memories I lost.” She lost whatever happened between the kiss and
crossing the wall. She had to find Phoenix and figure out why they were
separated. If the kiss was the last thing she remembered, maybe Leo did
something to Phoenix. What if Phoenix was lost in the wall?

Leo didn’t seem
upset about anything, so maybe he didn’t remember the kiss. That would be
convenient. But still not good. Phoenix might not make it across at all. Then
what would she do?

They followed a
small glowing stone path. The path was perfectly straight, leading right into
the middle of several giant glittering square buildings. Lights floated in the
air near their heads, each one about three feet away from the last. The
precision was disconcerting. Zwaantie wanted to poke them and see what would
happen. She’d never seen lights that weren’t attached to a flame of some kind.

Leo kept a tight
grip on her hand and pulled her along. After a few hundred feet, they stepped
in between the enormous buildings. They were painted with bright colors, and
large signs adorned the doors. They had very few windows, but lights still
floated in the air.

She and Leo were
still alone.

“Where is our
group?” she asked, worry starting to set in. What happened in between the kiss
and now? Were she and Leo the only ones who crossed? If so, why?

He glanced at the
mist. “I’m not sure. It’s hard to say if we beat them, or if they beat us.” He
rubbed the back of his neck. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

She had to lie. She
couldn’t risk telling him if he didn’t remember. “I was standing behind the
carriage admiring the mist. What about you?”

“I was on my way to
find you. I approached the carriage, and then we stepped into Stella.”

Zwaantie let out a
breath of relief. Leo didn’t remember he’d caught her and Phoenix kissing.
While this was a good thing, the fact that they were alone in Stella was not.
What happened on the other side? What did she forget?

“Why didn’t we go
through in the carriage with the others?” Zwaantie continued to stare at the
buildings. They had no pitched roofs or wooden doors and were at least ten
floors tall. The largest building in Sol was the castle, and that only had four
floors.

“Who knows? Maybe
we fell into the wall or something. Whatever happened is lost on both of us.
The wall does that. We’ll never remember, but someone else might be able to
tell us. I’m just glad we were able to get out. Let’s go see if we can find
anyone.”

“How tall are those
buildings?” Zwaantie asked, pointing up at the building next to them.

Leo twisted his
head around. “Mm, I don’t know. Maybe ten, fifteen stories. Wait until we go
into the city. The buildings there are a hundred floors tall.”

A hundred? How did
they not topple over? Sweat pooled under Zwaantie’s arms, and her breath felt
heavy. She fanned her face.

“Are you okay?” Leo
asked with a look of concern.

“Yes, I’m just hot.
The air is so heavy here.” The air in Sol was cooler and drier. She wasn’t sure
she’d get used to this.

“It’s the
humidity.” He tugged on her sweaty hand, and she followed, trying to see into
the small windows on the buildings next to her.

“What are these
used for? I don’t see any people.” In spite of not really wanting to go to
Stella, she was curious about the way everything worked.

Leo flashed her a
grin. “I’m sorry. I forgot you’ve never seen factories before.” He spun around,
looking up. “We’re in the clothing district. This is where our clothes are
made. You won’t find any people here because it’s after noon. I don’t have a
disc, or I would be able to tell what time it is. I’m guessing it’s about two.
Plenty of time to get to the boats.”

Zwaantie wondered
how a disc could be used to measure time. She always knew the time of day based
on the sun. Zwaantie craned her neck again. Nothing but blackness in the sky.

“Where’s the moon?”
She tried to keep the whine out of her voice, but she wasn’t sure she
succeeded. She’d gotten a taste of the stars in the mage wagon bubble, and now
she was finally here in Stella, and she couldn’t see the stars.

“New moon, I think.
You can’t see it.” She stumbled behind him. She couldn’t take her eyes off the
brightly colored buildings. She’d expected a village much like Zonnes, but
magical. So far, there was hardly anything magical and nothing remotely close
to her village. Instead it was tall buildings, hard smooth streets, and no
grass or trees.

They walked down
the softly lit street toward the twinkling lights. Everything was too straight
and unnatural. Zwaantie wasn’t sure she liked it. She appreciated imperfection.
Here, things were flawless with perfectly straight lines. Leo set a brisk pace,
and while Zwaantie kept up with him, she winded quickly. The heavy air made it
hard to breathe.

Phoenix and the
missing group was a problem. Maybe Leo didn’t think so, but for Zwaantie, these
early moments were crucial. She’d rescued Phoenix from a life of slavery, and
now they were going to live happily ever after in Stella. It’d taken so much to
get to this point, and she couldn’t lose Phoenix now. Where was he?

She stared up at
empty buildings. During the day, buildings in Sol were hardly ever empty. This
was strange.

“Do your people
only work early in the day?” That wasn’t very many working hours.

“Yes. I know a lot
of your people worked until late in the day. We only work four to six hours a
day, until about noon. With magic, we don’t need to work long.”

Zwaantie creased
her eyebrows. “What do you do the rest of the day?”

Leo laughed. “We
play. We often take long meals and naps. We’ve got more magical toys than we do
practical magic. Funhouses, clubs, shows. Trust me. You will never lack for
something to do in Stella. Honestly, those who create entertainment with magic
work harder than the rest of us.”

At home, when
Zwaantie was bored, she would sew or help Wilma. She would read occasionally.
The Voice discouraged idleness, so if she sat still for more than a few
minutes, he reminded her of things she had to do. Though she had to admit, her
fondest memories were those where she was playing out in the woods with
Phoenix. Still, it wasn’t right to only work a few hours a day.

“Are all of your
people mages?”

“Yes. Though, a few
aren’t quite adept at magic.”

Zwaantie’s stomach
fell. If she couldn’t do magic, how would she make it? She hadn’t realized they
needed magic to work.

“How do they
survive?”

“They work in jobs
where magic doesn’t matter as much.”

“So what will the
slaves do when they arrive?”

“They’ll be tested
for magic ability and then be given jobs based on interest and aptitude.
They’ll have a harder time with magic since most people begin learning as small
children, but they should be able to pick it up with time.”

This did not sound
good. She and Phoenix would have to find jobs without the prince’s help. No
matter. They were resourceful, they could figure it out.

After about ten
minutes, the twinkling lights turned into brightly lit buildings.

“Oh my sun, those
are enormous.” Dozens of tall skinny buildings with hundreds of windows
disappeared into the sky. They seemed never ending. She’d always imagined
living in a farmhouse, but she supposed she could live in one of those
buildings if Phoenix was with her. She wondered how many people lived in them.
All of Zonnes could fit in that one building.

Leo smiled at
Zwaantie.

“The buildings?
Yeah, they’re much taller than yours.”

Zwaantie stopped
walking and stared up beyond the buildings to the black sky with no stars. Leo
bumped her with his elbow, and Zwaantie spun around. He’d taken off his shirt,
and she had a hard time not staring.

He held up his
shirt. “Men don’t wear these ridiculous things here. Vests sometimes, but it’s
too hot to wear anything else.”

He looked her over.
“We’ve got to get you something else to wear. Appearance is everything in
Stella, and people will talk about what you’re wearing. We’ll need to set up a
photo shoot and interview when we get home. Everyone will want to know our
story.”

“Why? What is it
anyone else’s business?” This was bizarre.

“In Sol, your
people were very respectful of you and your privacy. Here they treat us normal,
most of the time, but they demand our stories. It will probably be very strange
for you at first, but you’ll get used to it. People will be very curious about
the princess from Sol.”

She’d never been
much of a gossip in Sol, but she’d known a few. Was everyone here like that?
Leo took her hand, and Zwaantie stared at his back as he moved. She wanted to
reach out and touch his shoulder blade. Soon, she’d see Phoenix wear something
similar. She smiled at the thought.

They turned a
corner and strolled along another street with buildings on either side. These
were shorter and squat but lit up like a festival tree. Though candles filled
the festival trees in Sol.

The building to
Zwaantie’s right was glowing blue and had a flashing sign that said Massage Mage. A few shops down, another building lit up in
red and yellow with words and images winking in its windows promising the best
beef sandwiches in town. Even with the brightness, the darkness was oppressive.
Zwaantie wanted the sun high in the sky. Everything looked odd in the unnatural
light.

They turned a
corner, and suddenly the streets were filled with people, and the buildings
grew exponentially. Zwaantie craned her neck to see if she could spot the top
of one building and found every window covered in moving pictures. The people
in the pictures smiled and held up bottles of potions, or strutted around
showing off their clothes.

On another building, pictures and moving words played
across the entire outside wall. Zwaantie didn’t have time to read the whole
thing, but she caught a small part of it, Princess
Sage hosted another amazing party last night. Singing sensation Alexa made an
appearance but quickly left after a few terse words with the host. Everyone is
dying to know what was said.

All around
Zwaantie, the crowd swarmed. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever get used to the
sheer number of people. She supposed she’d have to. There was no going back to
Sol now. If she went home, the Voice would make her go to the castle and
confess her kiss with Phoenix. Then who knows what would happen. Her chest
clenched. She’d never see the sun again.

Most of the girls
wore sleeveless shirts and short pants or skirts. If they’d been in Sol, the
Voice would be screaming inside their heads because of their indecent clothes.
Would she have to wear something like that? She missed the Voice. Sure, it had
been annoying, but there was a certain comfort to having it guide her
decisions.

The people wore
sandals like Leo. The other men were dressed similarly, with only lightweight
pants. Not one had a shirt on, but a few wore open vests. Though most men
weren’t pretty. They had hairy chests and large bellies. Zwaantie shrunk into
Leo as a particularly fat man squeezed past her. She supposed she shouldn’t be
surprised by the immodesty.

The crowd cleared,
and a few girls squealed. They were nearly identical in sparkly black short
dresses, but each had a different color hair. Purple, pink, and blue.

“Prince Leo.”

He pulled Zwaantie
close to him. “Smile,” he said.

“What? Why?”

“Just do it,” he
said through gritted teeth.

She did as he told
her, and the girls pulled out round objects that flashed bright lights in their
direction.

“Thanks,” the
blue-haired girl said. They stared into their devices. “Who’s the girl?”

“It’s a secret,
ladies. Watch the vids tomorrow for an exciting announcement.”

He kept Zwaantie
close to him as he steered her away from the girls.

“You’re going to be
all over the Ticker now, and we haven’t even announced your name. I need to
find a disc and warn Father and Viggo.”

Ticker? Disc? He
was using words she’d never heard of before. She wasn’t quite sure what had
just happened. He ducked into a small shop and let go of her.

“Prince Leo,” the
tall man said from behind a counter.

“Hello. Can I get a
disc?”

“Of course.”

The man handed Leo
one from the dozens on the shelf, and Leo pressed two fingers on it and it
glowed white.

“Thank you,” Leo
said.

“You’re welcome.”
He touched Leo’s disc with another one. Zwaantie crept forward, staring at the
strange devices. They were paper thin, but shiny. A few glowed, and they came
in many different colors. Some even had pictures on them.

Then Leo spoke into
his disc. “Viggo.”

A face popped out
of it, and Zwaantie jumped. “What the dark?” It was as if the guy was in the
room with them, but only his life-size head. Except she could see right through
it. His features were sharp though, lifelike.

Leo gave her a
small smile. “It’s just Viggo, my brother. He’s on another island, but we can
talk to each other this way.”

“Hey, Viggo.”

The face beamed at
him. “You’ve returned.”

“I have. Listen,
the Ticker is probably already buzzing with the news of Zwaantie. We’ve been
spotted. I didn’t release her name or anything, but you might want to watch,
and spin things if needed. We’ll do a big announcement tomorrow.”

“Of course. Though
I’ve already seen the picture. She’s very photogenic, but you have got to get
her into different clothes.”

“Stars! It’s only
been two minutes, and she’s already up on the Ticker.”

“She’s big news. It
won’t take long until she’s at the top. I’ll do my thing. Get her in some new
clothes and take another picture, please. When will we see you?”

“Tonight. We’ll do
our best. Thanks, Viggo.”

“No prob. See you
in a few hours.” The head twisted and gave Zwaantie a ghostly smile. “Nice to
meet you, Princess.”

“Thanks,” she said,
and the head disappeared.

“Let’s get you some
clothes,” Leo said. He nodded at the shop owner and dragged her out of the
store. She wanted to ask what this was about, but she didn’t even know where to
begin with her questions. She had so much to learn. Zwaantie didn’t know if she’d
ever get used to Stella. She hadn’t even been gone five hours, and already she
missed home.

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