1. Please highlight where its still "telly" so I can dig deeper.
2. Is there too much backstory this early on? I'm struggling with knowing what to tie into the first book and what can just start fresh here without referencing past events.
Landry Sutton stood near a precipice staring up into the night sky. Orek was out there among the stars blocked by the light of Sendek’s three moons. It waited for him, unseen and yet hauntingly familiar. A breeze chilled him as he struggled to separate his own thoughts from the memories of a dead mage. >>ok, whoa.... who/what is Orek, is Sendek the planet we're on, and what does the "it" refer to? The light of the moons?<<
That distant planet had been Jaron’s home world. He was the mage that had taught Landry and Talia about magic. Well, he introduced them to its possibilities. The most useful thing he had done before he died was press his memories into Landry’s mind by a bonding trick, but even that had side effects. Thinking about Orek opened memories for Landry that at times felt more real than his own life. He could close his eyes and get lost in them.
Jaron’s home world included mountains and wild lands just like Sendek. In the memory currently playing out in his mind, Jaron sat throwing rocks into a stream with his small son. The boy couldn’t even talk, but he laughed every time the stone hit the water with a plop and a splash. Landry’s heart ached for the loss of the boy that felt like his own flesh and blood.
He tossed a stone over the edge of his cliff. The soft swish of it bouncing through the brush brought him comfort. Jaron was with his son now, and one day he and Talia would have their own family. Jaron’s memories might carry unwanted emotional baggage, but they would be useful on this mission. >>this "he" currently refers to Jaron.<<
If only he and Talia could go to Orek alone. >>none of the above told me that we have to go to Orek, so this feels like a non sequitor and/or the above is not relevant.<<
There was the rub that kept him awake at night. Stefan swore he trusted them, but he gave in to the committee. Two people of non-magical abilities had been assigned to the expedition. The process of choosing who had delayed the mission and could only be seen as another sign of the unrest boiling under the surface of the tenuous peace since the Dragumon’s defeat. Could it only be two months since the dragon-human hybrid had returned from exile to attack the planet? >>so... there are four people on this upcoming trip?<<
It had all happened so fast that even now Landry had a hard time wondering if it had been real. However, the massive starship in orbit around his planet couldn’t be ignored. Especially when Talia begged to go there daily.
A small smile turned up Landry’s lips, and he turned to the path that would lead him back to the cave retreat and his new wife. Two months ago he never dreamed he would marry, much less a feisty scientist mage with a penchant for dreaming about the future. He had kissed her for the first time here at this cave after barely escaping death together. She slept there now, warm and waiting for him. His nerves about the trip settled. At least they would be together. That’s all that really mattered.
He pushed back a thick covering of vines by the hillside to reveal the massive steel door with keypad lock. It slid back with ease, and he stepped into the warmth of the cave.
The main room was dimly lit and looked much the same as it always had. Small kitchenette along one wall, food locker and storage cabinet along another. There was a large fire pit in the middle of the oddly shaped room with enough wood piled in the shadows to last weeks. The only difference was in the back of the cave. He had another room carved out and a real bedroom added. Cots had been fine that first night Talia stayed here, but that would never do now they were married.
“No!” Talia’s scream shattered the silence of the cave, and sent Landry running for the bedroom.
“Lights on!” He called and the computer immediately complied.
Talia remained fast asleep, but she tossed and turned in the bed, sobs punctuating her ragged breathing. She muttered something, but Landry couldn’t hear it clearly. He moved to her side and shook her shoulder.
“Talia, wake up.” Another shake and then Landry lifted her up to slide beneath her. “Come on, wake up for me.”
Talia opened her eyes with a groan and a shutter. “What…” >>shudder?<<
Her entire body went rigid and her eyes opened wide. For a moment she stopped breathing.
She gasped for air and her body convulsed in his arms. Landry loosened his grip while still keeping her safely on the bed. One tremor lifted her out of his arms before she collapsed again. Her eyes rolled back in her head, but the trembling lessened. He tried to enter her mind. Images and words sped through their shared space, but nothing made sense. With nothing to focus on he pulled back out. After another minute, the shaking had subsided to shivering as the sweat cooled on her forehead.
Talia’s eyes fluttered open, but she lay listless in his arms. “What happened?”
“You were dreaming and I woke you up.” Landry rocked back and forth, scared to let her go. >>show me that he's scared -- or just drop it, people rock when they're scared...<<
“I don’t remember anything.” She struggled to sit up and push the tangled sheets off of her legs. “How do you know I was dreaming?”
“You called out. I couldn’t enter your mind.”
Goosebumps broke out on Talia’s arms and her teeth chattered as she shivered. This was more like the normal aftermath of her dreams and something they could deal with. Landry carefully reached outward with his mind until he slipped easily into Talia’s. Inside their shared space they could communicate freely.
If this is the aftermath, what were the seizures you had moments ago?
Don’t know. Her fear permeated both of their minds.
Shhh. We’ll figure it out, but from now on I’m not waking you when you dream.
I think that’s a good idea. Talia switched back to vocal communication, “The timing on this is horrible. What if the dream was about our trip to Orek? We’ll be walking into the situation blind now.” >>Since she never indicates that she even remembers the dream, the last two sentences seem a bit rhetorical.<<
“We’re going in blind no matter what. Even Jaron’s memories are no longer an accurate picture of what we’ll find. It’s not too late to change your mind.”
Talia sank back against his chest. “It’s our only chance of learning how to train these new mages.”
“Then we go. Dream or no dream.”
She inched closer and Landry draped one arm around her waist. His other hand absent-mindedly stroked her hair. He listened until her breathing fell into an even rhythm.
“Landry?” She whispered.
“Hmm? I thought you were asleep.”
Landry’s hand stilled.
“Why are you scared?” She asked.
His hand moved on its own again in an attempt to comfort both of them. Talia slid her hand from his chest and around his side, squeezing him tighter. Did she really want him to answer? A brief touch of her emotions and he knew the answer.
“I had hoped you wouldn’t dream again after the Dragumon were defeated.”
Talia sighed and buried her face in the side of his neck. “Me too.”
Landry shifted until he cradled her side by side. As tough as Talia appeared to everyone else, she was still the little girl looking for protection from her nightmares. That hidden need in her was what had first drawn him in. Even now she clung to him, scared of the unknown dream and something else. He gently probed her mind and emotions.
I’m never going to get used to this. Talia’s thoughts drifted by, not really connected to him, but present all the same.
Used to dreaming?
Talia reached up to hold his face in her hands. “No, needing you.”
She tugged his lips towards hers and he obliged. That familiar electricity coursing through both of them heightened every sensation.
“I’ll always be here.” Landry whispered against her neck. “Just tell me what you need.”
“Make me forget everything but you.”
>>I don't think it's too much backstory. It's a gentle start but it could work. More drama in the next scene? :) <<