The short story, Winds of Flame, will be available soon! Join Kay L Moody’s email list to receive it the moment it is finished.
When you join her email list, you will also receive three bonus short stories that take place in unique worlds. While you’re waiting, enjoy this bonus content from the world of Kamdaria.
Talise and Aaden Character Portraits
Full Size Map of Kamdaria
Forces of Kamdaria – Instructions for Play
One game board with 64 squares in an 8×8 square. Two sets of 16 tablets. One set is black, and one set is white. Each set includes 8 blank tablets and 8 symbol tablets. The symbol tablets include 2 waterfall tablets, 2 tornado tablets, 2 tree tables, and 2 flame tablets.
Capture all your opponent’s blank tablets from the gameboard.
Take 16 tablets of the same color and place them on the 16 squares in the first two rows in front of you. Your opponent does the same.
You may place your tablets in any configuration you wish. Both players must begin placing tablets at the same time. The player who finishes placing their tablets first gets to take the first turn.
HOW TO PLAY
On your first turn, you may move the tablet of your choice as many squares as you wish. After the first turn, tablets can only be moved one square (up, down, or diagonal) at a time. (See Special Rules for Symbol Tablets for Exception.)
Tablets can be placed on top of each other with no more than 6 tablets on a square at a time. If tablets from both players are on a square, either player can move the pile of tablets on their turn.
To play, move tablets across gameboard and attempt to capture all of your opponent’s blank tablets. If you jump over an opponent’s tablet, in any direction, you capture it. Remove it from the gameboard and set it aside.
SPECIAL RULES FOR SYMBOL TABLETS
Waterfall Tablets: When placed on top of flame tablets, it makes the flame tablets vulnerable to capture.
Air Tablets: When placed next to an opponent’s tablet, it forces the opponent’s tablet over one space in the opposite direction. This does not count as a turn for the opponent.
Tree Tablets: Can move up to three squares in any direction on one turn.
Flame Tablets: Invincible to capture (unless covered with a waterfall tablet).
When you “prompt the final fight” you must capture at least one blank tablet from your opponent on every single turn until you capture them all and win the game. If you prompt the final fight and fail to capture a blank tablet on each turn, your opponent may capture any three of your remaining tablets.
Excerpt from Winds of Flame
What’s an essay when adventure awaits?
Back at the academy, Talise tests a technique for her upcoming demonstration before the emperor. Meanwhile, Wendy’s brother cajoles Wendy into helping him with a job that’s only borderline illegal. Everything goes awry when a bout of freezing rain puts both their lives at risk. Only their ability to manipulate the elements can save them now.
Flutters of wind danced between Wendy’s fingers as she blew the hair out of her face.
Even after ten years of elemental training, air was still her favorite element to shape. She had air shapers on both sides of her family tree for many generations back. But it felt like more than just family tradition.
Shaping air was in her blood. It felt like a ray of sunshine in the midst of a snow-white landscape. A fresh, hot roll at the end of a long day of work. Natural. Familiar. Enlivening.
Even simple things like shaping air through her fingertips to get the hair out of her face could warm her from the inside out.
It calmed her nerves even when her least favorite teacher decided to assign an essay with a barely recognizable goal. Explain in detail, the stages of earth shaping it would take to form a mountain, Mr. Cobble had said.
Such a topic seemed beyond pointless to Wendy since the whole thing was theoretical. No one could withstand the weight of the earth it would take to form a mountain. Even if someone had extraordinary earth shaping skills, that person couldn’t possibly have the muscle strength to lift that much earth.
But, as always, Wendy had plastered on a smile instead of complaining. Because of her smiles, no one seemed to understand that she had other emotions besides delighted and extra delighted. She preferred it that way. People were much more willing to hear her side of things when they didn’t realize she was fuming inside.
So, she’d write another pointless essay for the annoying Mr. Cobble. If she kept her grumbling inside, her friends, Talise and Claye—who were much better at earth shaping than her, would probably be happy to help her with hers.
In fact, maybe she should have been listening to them on this long walk to the library instead of complaining in her head. Since they were arguing over the best method to use, their thoughts could be invaluable.
“You couldn’t just dump a pile of dirt up high enough and call it a mountain,” Talise said, her short, black hair catching the light like obsidian. “It wouldn’t work.”
“It would work.” Claye’s brown eyes had already started rolling even before he spoke, yet his round face looked alive. Sometimes Claye just liked arguing.
“Fine,” Talise conceded. “But it wouldn’t work as well. It would be better to manipulate the actual plates of earth under the land’s surface. Then you could create a mountain the way the land creates one. If you used a volcano, that would be even better.”
Claye’s eyes lit up. “Oh sure, why don’t you just go ahead and create life on the mountain while you’re at it. Pull some monkeys and a few pheasants out of thin air. Then it would be a real mountain.”
Talise let out a huff while the barest twitch of a smile tugged at the corners of Claye’s mouth. “It’s only theoretical anyway, isn’t it? Why not do it the right way if we’re only doing it in our heads?”
Claye couldn’t hide his grin any longer. He always loved making Talise flustered. Wendy tapped her chin. “Do you think we’ll need that book I borrowed the other day? The one about earth shaping with a group of people? It’s still in my room.”
She’d already turned on her heel, the wood floors squeaking under her boots. Claye nodded after her as he and Talise pushed through the door that led to the gravel-topped courtyard between the lesson rooms and the library.
“Just meet us in the library, Wendy. We’ll help with your essay, so we can all finish faster.” He rubbed his hands together. “I have an exciting adventure for us to do later tonight.”
Talise’s protest drifted in through the door just before it closed completely. Claye was always trying to get them to do participate in one activity or another. Talise excelled at getting out of most of them.
Then again, considering where Talise came from, and how little money she had, Wendy couldn’t blame her. The wooden floors echoed as Wendy passed through three hallways to get to the east side of the building. Once outside, an outdoor training courtyard sat on one side of the building. Straight ahead, it led to the building with their living quarters.
In the outdoor courtyard, group of first year students practiced lifting rocks from one side of a path to the other. One boy stood red in the face with his cheeks puffed full of air. He glared at the rocks under his trembling palms, but they sat as unmoved as ever.
When he let out a breath, the hair on his forehead bounced upward. A girl next to him gave him a small pat on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, Ari. You’ll get it soon.”
Wendy couldn’t help grinning as she passed the small group of students. Oh, to be eight years old again. Things had seemed so much simpler back then.
Once inside the living quarters building, Wendy headed straight for her room. Her lip almost curled up into a snarl as she passed the bathrooms. They were so far from her bedroom, which was already annoying. But even more so, the students weren’t allowed to walk through the halls at night without being escorted by guards. It always made her angry.
Why did the students suddenly need guard escorts anyway? Her brother Cyrus told her how there were only a few guards back when he started at the elite academy. And each year, their numbers only seemed to grow.
When Wendy pushed open the door to her room, her heart jumped at the sight of her older brother sprawled out across her bed. His dirty boots nuzzled into her previously clean bedspread. His fingers were interlocked behind his neck with his head leaning into her pillow. With his eyes closed, he didn’t seem to notice her appearance.
She let out a small cough before folding her arms in front of her chest.
Cyrus cracked open one eye before flashing a brilliant smile. “Wendy,” he said through a growing grin.
Her head shook side to side. “Why do I have the feeling my day is about to get more complicated?”
As he pulled himself to a sitting position, Cyrus placed a hand over his chest and let out a scoff. “I’m offended by that. When have I ever made your life complicated?”
The chuckle she tried to suppress made them both smile. “What do you need?” Even she was surprised by how devoid of annoyance her voice sounded. But then again, she did love her brother.
Even as Cyrus’s cheeks turned pink, he shrugged. “I won’t bother trying to pretend I don’t need anything. You know me too well. But trust me, you’re going to be excited this time. I have something fun for us to do.”
The pens on her desk rolled as she plucked the earth shaping book from her desk. Wendy doubted very much that anything Cyrus was about to propose would be fun. It certainly would be thrilling though, which he seemed to think was the same thing.
“Here’s the thing,” her brother said. That definitely sounded like trouble. “There’s this man named Rein who organizes these,” Cyrus looked to the side while one side of his face scrunched up in thought, “game nights.”
Wendy raised one eyebrow.
“It’s true. A bunch of people get together and play Forces. We all love Kamdaria’s most popular board game. How could we not?”
Wendy let out a sigh as she dropped the book back onto her desk. “So, you’ve been gambling again.” It wasn’t a question.
This time, Cyrus’s cheeks turned a much brighter shade of red. He scratched the back of his neck. “Normally, I’m one of the best Forces players there is, but this time…”
She massaged the bridge of her nose as the words came out. “You’re deep in debt with no way out. You can’t borrow money from Mother and Father because they have none. You can’t borrow money from Aunt Breezy or Grandmother Skye because they’re both still mad about your gambling habits. And let me guess, your weekly soldier’s salary isn’t enough to cover the debt either?”
“Rein said I don’t have to use money pay back the debt.”
A tight smile found its way onto Wendy’s face because her only other option was to freak out. “This keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?”
“He just needs me to do a job that takes two air shapers. I would ask one of my soldier friends for help except none of them are as good at air shaping as you.”
“Is this job legal?” Wendy asked as one hand plopped onto her hip.
“Wendy,” Cyrus said through a laugh. “Don’t you know brothers are protective? I would never ask you to do anything that could put you in danger.”
“Which means yes otherwise you would have answered the question.”
“Eh,” he said while his hand shook back and forth. “It depends on how you look at the law.”
She folded her arms over her chest and gave him a look.
His face contorted. A rare look of fear flashed through his eyes. “My debt this time is…” He gulped. “I’m in real trouble. If I do the job, Rein said he’d wipe my debt and even pay me some extra. You can have all the money. All of it.” He put one hand over the other and held them under his chin. “Will you please help me?”
It took exactly one second of looking into his shimmering eyes before she dropped her hands to her sides and let out a sigh. “Oh fine. Just promise we’ll be back early enough tonight that I can finish my essay.”
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