The Guidal: Discovering Puracordis
The Guidal Book 1
by Roxy Eloise
Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy
In a future where the mention of magic is banned, one paranoid man rules the entire country.
Adopting children to become his private bodyguards, they are raised together in a strict institute where sixteen-year-old Aurora struggles to follow the rules. Finding herself disciplined often, she doesn’t particularly like her endless life of servitude.
Soon, she will have to take part in the institute’s annual Unity ceremony where she could end up engaged to a complete stranger!
Aurora’s fears of being different are realised when she discovers something about herself, something which will make most fear her, and her adoptive father will want her killed for.
Friends, bullies, and a touch of something magical, Aurora’s first year in the grown-ups’ quarter is far from ordinary.
I rolled my belongings into their designated place alongside the ensuite, and opened my welcome pack. It enclosed a huge stack of paperwork, which included a temporary daily schedule and a welcome letter. A cold shiver ran down from the top of my head, waking up the hair on my neck. My eyes focused on a sentence in the letter. The posh font didn’t make the content any more attractive.
‘Successful candidates of the Unity assessment will be allocated new bedrooms next to their betrothed.’
I had momentarily forgotten all about the Unity assessment, and the letter reminded me like a wet fish to the face. Now the fish felt like it was swimming around in my stomach. I studied the sentence again—‘next to.’ Well, at least that was something. Sod sharing a room with a boy.
From the moment I read the letter, I couldn’t cope with the overwhelming anxiety. I needed to get rid of the fish, so I decided to head to the Khakidemy to sit the test without meeting up with my best friend, Silliah, first. I was sure she would be in there anyway. She’d probably be already eagerly completing her test; she loved Unity. It was supposed to find our perfect partners, someone we would be expected to spend all our time with, and someone we would eventually be expected to have children with. For what reason? I had no idea. I always heard the same thing, ‘Unity is a privilege, a rare prequisite.’
The Old Library was busy with enthusiastic Navies, all quietly completing their assessments. After a failed scan for Silliah, I searched for a free booth, finding one nestled between two girls who didn’t even notice me take a seat. Whilst settled on my stool, conscious of the cameras pointing at my face, detecting my blood flow, temperature, and muscle movements, I touched ‘Begin.’ My heart rate displayed onscreen. I assumed that had something to do with the picoplant under the skin in my wrist, and this whole setup gave me the impression these assessments were impossible to cheat.
I read through the introduction briefly, avoiding another explanation as to why this test was so great. Trying to keep my heart rate steady, I wondered what my vital stats were identifying. Could they tell I was irritated?
Yeah, betrothed to marry, I know. Yes, I’m honoured to be given this privilege. OK, here we go, question one, let’s see.
“Cats or dogs?” I read the question aloud. “What has that got to do with finding my soulmate? I thought this test was supposed to be scientific.”
Amused eyes looked over in my direction.
“Aurora, that’s enough,” said Lady Joanne Maxhin, supervising the candidates this hour. “If you want me to call for Seioh Jennson again, you are going the right way about it. You’re a Navy now, not a child. Keep your head down and start thinking before you speak.”
“You know this is a confidential assessment. So I mean it—silence; not another word from you.”
Grrr. What kind of test was this? I rubbed my face so hard it hurt. How could I be matched on the basis of liking cats or dogs? It’s so stupid. I hated this Unity week already.
Tea or Coffee—neither, thanks.
Hot or Cold—what?
Up or Down—are they serious?
A few more questions passed like that before asking me questions as to whether I agreed or disagreed.
I experience my emotions intensely—strongly agree.
I am easily intimidated—just disagree. I almost strongly disagreed, but I was slightly intimidated by Seioh Jennson, the head of the institute. I’d had too many run-ins with him to not be. So…I’ll just disagree on this one.
I trust others—strongly disagree.
Once I’d completed all one hundred questions, I jumped from my stool feeling better about my chances of matching; I highly doubted it. I couldn’t imagine anyone else hating this farce as much as I did. Surely the results would detect that. The two girls I sat between were still at their booths, thinking through their answers thoroughly and making their decisions carefully. I almost rolled my eyes but I caught Lady Maxhin watching me through her holographic display. I pushed in my stool, patted the backrest awkwardly, and fled from the room.
Leaving the Khakidemy, I left any thoughts about the test behind and headed to the Food Hall for breakfast. I entered a hall with the majority of tables reset in their default table-of-four position. Only one group had their table set up as a bench for twelve. I breathed in the near empty room, grateful I’d missed the mid-morning rush. Although the room was cleverly designed—with circular rows upon rows of tables—it was hard to find a single table during busier times.
Situated in the very centre of the building like the bullseye on a target, the Food Hall was the only room that inhabited all four quarters of the institute. I chose a table in Claret Quartz, the section with polished, purply-red floor tiles. Sitting down, I glanced over at a few Musties huddled together, whispering, and turning to look at a Navy standing in the centre by the meal dispenser. Curly blond-brown hair reflecting his chilled-out demeanour, he seemed blissfully unaware of the attention he was being given. From the sound of things, the bench full of Navies also appeared to be talking about him.
“Quickly. Pax is on his own. What should I order?” asked a slender girl with a giggle, looking down at her tabletop screen. “OK, I ordered a fresh green juice; that will do.” She floated up out of her chair and wafted over—in what seemed like slow motion—flicking her glossy, cocoa-brown hair. Her friends watched eagerly. I, too, couldn’t help myself; I needed to see how this one played out.
“Hey, Pax,” she said in a sickly tone, brushing her fingers across the length of his broad back.
“Hey, Pipila.” He didn’t seem to mind the invasion of his personal space, yet didn’t encourage it either.
She played with her hair, tossing her head from side to side. I personally thought she looked demented, but I supposed she was going for cute.
“Order ready for Miss Darlington,” prompted Soami, the Digital Assistant, indicating food had arrived in the hatch.
“Oh, that’s mine,” said Pipila. “Can I just get my—” She leant over Pax, using his arm as support, scanned her picoplant to open the hatch, and reached for her juice. “Hmm, best way to start the day, eh, Pax?” Pipila tipped her head back and sipped the juice delicately. “Well, good luck with Unity this year. Third time lucky for us; I hope we match. Oh, I mean, I hope we find a match,” she ‘corrected’ herself before swanning back to her table. Right…
Roxy Eloise is a successful participant of Pitch Wars held quarterly on Twitter. During this event, she created a pitch that stood out from the hundreds of thousands, landing herself a traditional publishing contract.
Her debut novel, The Guidal: Discovering Puracordis, is the first in a 3-book series. Coming April 2022, this exciting new novel was inspired by a dream. Roxy writes the stories she really wants to read. If she finds it boring to write, she’ll find it boring to read, so she’ll always make sure her novels are binge-worthy! Her favourite place to write is in bed with country music and a hot drink. On the weekends, you’ll find her out walking her dog, filming videos for YouTube, or spending time with her family.
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