Kindle Edition-Free. From 10/4-10/8.
Kindle Edition-Free. From 10/4-10/8.
Clone/human Rowyna Grae travels a thousand years back into her planet's Medieval past where she contends with poor central heating, betrayal at the king's court, passionate love and war on the horizon, all in order to try to save the future.
Will love trip her up? Will she change everything she remembers about the future?
“Bring her to me. It’s time,” she heard him say in a voice shaking with age, and perhaps, anticipation as the door swung open before her.
She nervously pushed back her long, burnt-copper colored hair and smoothed down the pale, blue gray tunic that matched the color of her troubled eyes. She wanted to turn and run back to the sanctuary of her room, but for some reason her legs wouldn’t, or couldn’t, obey the command. Resigned to her fate, she stumbled on through the hospital door. The smell of antiseptics and medicines engulfed her. She grabbed for a breath and saw that she was in a large white room with an enclosed glass cubicle at its center. Inside this cubicle was a stark white bed and on the bed was a frail old man. His white hair hung limp about his face. His skin, mired by a myriad of wrinkles, grimaced into a smile that traveled up into his eyes when he caught sight of her. His palsied hand flailed at her as he eagerly beckoned her toward him. At her appearance, the attending doctor turned and made a hasty retreat out to the observation window, but not before he shook a warning finger at his patient. She advanced toward the bed, not knowing who the man was, but full of curiosity mingled with apprehension. She knew he was someone of importance, yet he looked so fragile that she doubted he could stand without breaking brittle bones. As she pushed through into the glass cubicle, she felt warm moist air touch her face. The door sealed behind her with a soft hiss. The sound caused her steps to falter, but he beckoned her further and pointed toward a seat next to a large medical apparatus that was pumping oxygen into the enclosure. She heard the valves beat a thump, thump, thump that sounded very much like her own beating heart. She saw him close his eyes and then open them, as if disbelieving her existence.
“Rowyna Grae.” He said her name as he would a lover’s.
The familiarity in the tone made her uneasy.
“I have waited so long for you,” he said. “Any sooner and the world would not have had the technology I needed, and any later, I would have run out of time. I looked for you when I first came.” He paused. “But, you didn’t exist. So I had to create the impossible, so this moment might become a reality. Once I feared it never would.” His eyes brimmed with moisture. He sighed a deep shuddering sound. Reaching up, he touched her as if to confirm her existence. “You are so young,” he husked. “So perfect, and wonderful. You are more than I remember.”
She drew back from his touch. “Who are you?” She felt drawn to him by some powerful force, but she had never met this man before. She would have remembered.
“I am Arwoyn Telluria,” he answered. “I am the one.” He smiled at the joke.
“I have lived this long so that I could see you again. I wanted to gaze upon your beautiful face and see your smile. I recall your smile most of all.”
They have left me alone with a lunatic, she thought frantically. She gave him a wan smile as an appeasement. Then, she looked around nervously. She had never met him before. She knew she never had. However, she recognized the name. This frail husk was claiming to be the famous Arwoyn Telluria, who had once been a great king, who had traveled from the past, who had seen the future, and who had lived longer than any human had ever lived. Or so they said. No wonder he looked so old. She had heard rumors that he still ran the world from some mysterious and secret location. She looked around. Right here, it seemed. She stared at him again. He didn’t look legendary; he just looked old and feeble. Yet, his eyes reflected an intense excitement. It was unnerving.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. Besides running the world.
He sighed and said, “At first, I thought I was saving humanity. Such vanity! Then I realized that I wanted to see you again. I just missed you. However, you were a challenge." He waved a hand around. “For a long time, I was the only one with the Talent and the knowledge of what needed to be done. I tried to find the Talent in others, but it didn’t exist. No one else had the critical gene. Finally, I realized that I would have to create you myself. Now, you’re my only hope. I’ll send you away—and my last task will be complete.”
“Send me away?” Her heart beat faster as she heard his words. At last, maybe, she would escape this prison. She would be free to see the two moons dance across the night sky rather than look at their flat likeness on a page. She would be able to feel the caress of a fresh wind against her cheek, rather than the stale re-circulated air of the lab. It was too much to hope for. For so long she had wanted to be set free.
“Where are you sending me?” Would he order her life and give her no choice as most usually did? She wanted to wail at him for all that had been done to her and taken away from her. Her helplessness rose up in her throat until it choked her. Others had always decided her life, leaving her no choice. They had even taken from her those she had loved and who had loved her. Her brothers and sisters just alike.
“Where am I to go?” she cried out. She went to move away from him as if leaving that moment, but his hand snaked out and gripped her arm.
He whispered urgently, “Do you believe in predestination or free will?”
The question startled her. She didn’t see the connection to their conversation, but then, old people didn’t always make sense. She turned back to him and gave him the answer she thought he was looking for.
“We should be able to choose. I’ve been told that every person is born with certain talents that they can use for good. Yet, no one came to test me. Instead, they locked me away. Am I so tainted that they’re afraid I’ll contaminate others? Everyone else walks around freely, while I remain imprisoned behind steel doors. Why do they fear and hate me so?” Her voice trilled up into a sob.
She didn’t understand.
Arwoyn jerked up startled, a look of anguish crossing his face. “You feel that way? Oh, I had no idea!” He breathed heavily in agitation. He released his tight grip and began to smooth her arm gently. “I’m so sorry. It’s rather the opposite. Sometimes, we put aside that which we value the most. We lock up the precious jewel in a vault rather than enjoy its exquisite beauty openly. Its play of color and light are like no other in the universe. The power of a Talent Crystal, for example, is magical and potent, a living energy. We fear its loss so much that we lock it away rather than risk losing it. We hide its beauty because we fear its loss. You are like that. As for me, I believe in predestination because I have to. And so must you. Come closer my child, and I will tell you what you must do.”
“Will I be able to leave this place?”
“That and more, my precious one. That and much more. I will tell you about a great king that you are destined to meet. You’ll go on a amazing journey back into the past where there are exciting things you must do. You must find the hidden Enjelise, begin a dynasty, avert a war...oh, so much you have been chosen to do! I’ll tell you all that you would wish to know, and after I tell you all, you will wish I had been silent.”
Chapter 2 Date: Our Lady of the Crystal Before the Coming Arvast Telluria, King of Glendalia
Back in that past, the world of Alysia was very different. At the moment, Arvast Richard William Telluria, king of Glendalia, was charging desperately on horseback through dense trees and thick undergrowth after the Great White Boar. His Royal Guard kept falling further and further behind until finally the thick shrubbery and waving branches swallowed them up. He barely noticed.
Time is running out, he panted to himself as leaf and grass blurred past his sight. He was losing daylight and dark would be here all too soon. He glanced over his left shoulder as the first of the two moons began to rise in the sky. Soon the departing yellow blue sun would leave his world to evening and chill, with only the light of, first Thanos and later Kracta to brighten the night. Then once again, the Great White Boar would be lost to him within deep shadows and tall trees.
The legendary Great White Boar was an elusive prize. Few had seen it. Arvast himself had seen it only once, but he would never forget the mesmerizing glare of those intense golden eyes staring at him before they melted away into the shaded underbrush.
Rumor said that a person had to be chosen by the Great White Boar, if he were ever to see it. Many said it didn’t really exist, except in the fertile imagination of a few, or within the deep cup at an alehouse. Most said it was supernatural, and no one could ever catch it. Therefore, Arvast desired it with a passion. He wanted to possess the elusive and fantastical. Still, he found the hunt itself was most pleasurable, and often necessary. He wasn’t sure that he wanted it to end. Often, it took him away from the troubles of the palace. He could always escape to the Deep Woods with the excuse that he was hunting the Great White Boar and few would question his whereabouts.
Actually, at the moment, no one had the slightest idea of where he was.
He reigned up panting.
Curse those idiots who can’t keep up, he thought, as suddenly he realized that he was alone. He looked back over his shoulder for the King’s Guard.
Silence spread out around him like a thick blanket. Only his heavy breathing and the stamping of his horse could be heard among the quiet branches.
“The Royal Guard has gotten lost again,” he mumbled irritably.
He peered around into the gathering twilight, straining his eyes for a further glimpse of the boar, or his guard, and saw only gray stillness. He heard the chuffing of his exhausted war-horse, but nothing else. All was silent as he paused to get his bearings and ponder his situation. Now stopped, in the quiet forest, troubled thoughts came tumbling out unbidden, causing him to remember annoyances he had wanted to forget through yet another glorious hunt.
Oh, the burden of being the king. Problems cropped up like wild weeds in a farmer’s field. First, and foremost, there was Woman. That fair sex always brought him disaster! Yet again, a woman was wailing at him. His current mistress claimed to be with child. She was even suggesting marriage! He had wanted her once, but now... he sighed. Yet again, he would have to ask faithful Horatio, his Prime Minister, to ward off a hopeful highborn woman. Ark’s breath! He had just wanted to make her happy. For a while, she had been happy and he, he must admit, had also enjoyed the liaison—but marriage? Surely, Lady Amanda D’Amiree had never expected that! If he ever brought a queen to the throne, she had to be of the true royal blood. Lady Amanda D’Amiree was only a nobleman’s daughter. She was delightful, ah yes, but not of royal lineage, and certainly not suitable to be queen. In due time, he would find her a proper husband befitting her station, but he had never intended to make her his queen. Surely, she had realized that. Well, maybe not. He had made a few promises amid panting passion.
Problems, nothing but problems!
His horse suddenly shied, as if sensing something prowling close by. Gentling the animal, he peered through the gloom of misty trees and damp underbrush. The pungent odor of the forest floor filled his senses. The smell of damp fungus and rotting leaves rose up as his steed’s hooves stamped nervously. Then he heard a snuffing sound followed by the crack of a dry twig. He eased forward and stared across thickets and brush toward a small lake where wisps of mist swirled up off the water like dancing ghosts.
Fools! Where was the royal guard? He realized now that he had blundered mindlessly through the forest having no regard for anything but the dim white shape that slipped farther and farther away from him. Ever elusive, it had glided into the shadows once again, leaving him empty-handed. Now, alone near the pond’s edge, waiting for the King’s Protectorate to find him, he gazed apprehensively around and tried to assess his position. His horse dipped a graceful neck to take a drink while he surveyed the surroundings and listened to the still forest. Nothing stirred. He let out his breath and unclenched his grip upon the reins.
Peace settled around him. I need a quiet place like this, away from the intrigues of Tygel, he thought as he breathed easier. He felt muscles relax. Next to him, a sapling shivered in a faint breeze. Here would be the perfect place for a royal hunting lodge. He gazed across the lapping water, idly watching the swaying reeds along its edge.
I could come here, he mused, and forget the responsibilities of being king and the troubles of Tygel’s royal court, at least for a time.
Tygel! The name conjured up the town that was growing rapidly into his seat of power. He had proclaimed Tygel the capital of Glendalia and had established his rule there. Intrigue and trade were its life’s blood. An extensive spy system had protected him from outside invasion, and yes, had been useful in averting a palace coup, or two, from within. Increasing trade was making it prosperous. Some men were becoming too rich, too powerful, too quickly. He sighed, knowing the price of that.
His mind now drifted over to other concerns. He thought of the Sunglast with its mass of unruly tribes. The new treaty needed to be signed, and soon! Glendalia’s wily merchants, productive farmers, and trained army, gave him political leverage over those shifty sandeaters and fireworshipers of the Sunglast region. Their proud leader, Vadim T’har, torch of the Sunglast, lay sick and dying. His eldest son, Hlassa, Flame of T’har, was still too tender to rule that mob of robes even though he showed spunk and promise. He should secure their cooperation now before that young pup flexed his muscles and organized the tribes into some sort of unity.
The tribes in unity, that’s a joke, he thought wryly.
He would demand a treaty before the end of the season. The son would surely see the sense of that with his father dying and the tribes in such disarray.
Another rustle from across the pond brought his attention back to the moment. A large animal prowled its brink. He dismounted to tighten his horse’s cinch as his mount danced by his side and rolled its eyes. Its head jerked up and down. He looked out, sensing the horse’s unease. No deer, or casual squirrel, rummaged at that water’s edge. He gathered up the reins, and carefully moved around the lapping wavelets toward the disturbance. Slowly, his hand strayed toward his crossbow. He paused, waiting. He heard his heart beating and felt sweat drip along his jowl. A leaf rustled and then all went still. Time seemed to expand as the forest held hushed and expectant. He eyed the forest’s gloom, scarcely moving, waiting for the sound of movement. When no sound came, his thoughts intruded again.
The Sunglast, with its unruly nomads, wasn’t the worst. The constant threat of the Baron Thandran Cadwell of the Diechwrathe increased each day he dallied over what to do about that thorn in his side. The Diechwrathe’s northern cold, harsh climate made Thandran’s people hunger for the southern fertile lands and warmer temperatures of Penryn. His kingdom of Glendalia lay next, a heartbeat away. Arvast had been planning for a long while now to unite Penryn and Glendalia in order to expand his empire. However, recent rumor said the Baron Cadwell intended to secure Penryn for himself. Squeezed between the two forces, Penryn saw those of the Diechwrathe inching further and further onto her northern borders, day by day, as Arvast idled. Penryn’s farmers, who only practiced at swordsmanship, were no match for the ferocious bands of barbarians who nibbled at the Penryn's edges. No amount of hitting wooden bats in a farmer’s field could temper a man to soldiership quite as well as the cold steel of the Baron’s sword, or the harsh conditions found in the northern lands. Those of the Diechwrathe were fearless and cruel. He was pondering that, when out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimmer of white within the green grass and saw a wide swathe open at the top of waving fronds.
Ah, could it be the Great White boar circling back to him?
He yelled hoarsely to disturb whatever lurked in that spiky undergrowth. A throaty growl answered him and an immense white boar broke forth from the shivering reeds. It paused a moment to stare at him, quivering and inquisitive.
Why the boar is like a woman, Arvast thought. It teases and then withdraws. Then when you think of other things, it returns to you demanding notice. He moved his hand just a fraction...
The boar snorted at the movement, tossed its head, and charged with lowered tusks directly toward Arvast. Staring into its glaring red-rimmed golden eyes, Arvast raised his crossbow, and in one swift movement, shot toward the white blur, careless of aim. A loud roar resounded throughout the forest, followed by a violent crashing sound.
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About the Author: Sheron Wood McCartha