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We Were Reckoners

by Call Me Les 4 months ago in Fantasy · updated 4 months ago
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This novel will be illustrated by Les' business partner, Cheryl Woynarski. Cher and Les have previously collaborated on the children's book 'Owl in a Towel' and are currently completing their subsequent tween novel, 'Carrie and the Curious Caticorn Caper' (TBR ~ August 2022). Neither the manuscript nor its art have been shown to a publisher. The following excerpt has been submitted to 'The Fantasy Prologue' contest on Vocal Media.

Original art copyright of Cheryl Woynarski. Base images licensed from Shutterstock.

Prologue

There weren't always dragons in the Valley. In the days after my mother's disappearance, before I left Ireland for Liathtrá, my world had been a simple place—cold, but uncomplicated.

Dragons were for ballads, not backyards.

Not for now, not for our time.

Once, I was like you: young enough to still believe in magic, yet old enough not to fear it. And it was thanks to a dragon that I learned the greatest lesson which can ever be learned:

Fate is a myth.

Destiny . . . is a truth.

—--

—----

Nothing is set in stone, or the stars—or in the sea or earth; your story, your destiny, is written in your mind. You need only unlock it.

*~*~*

World Map

Art copyright Cheryl Woynarski

*~*~*

Chapter 1: The Sea Dragon, the Brume and a Bird

~ The story of one's life may be told from numerous beginnings; mine is best begun on the day I found the swallow. ~

*

. . . From the watery depths will come,

On whispered silvery wind,

The transformation be done,

For you, all-time shall bend.

- Last verse of "The Ballad of the Sea Dragon and the Brume."

May 31, 2002

Two hundred screaming schoolgirls had finished eating and departed; the air was hot, and I was alone in the dim quiet of the empty dining hall. Or at least almost alone, if you didn’t count the fact I was surrounded by dirty lunch dishes. It wasn’t my turn to clean up; I'd been selected by default. As usual, I'd been caught daydreaming and was late to leave the table.

But I didn't mind.

Chores kept me busy, and busy meant not having time to dwell on the past. At barely sixteen, my childhood memories haunted me. But that day, even chores weren’t enough of a distraction.

Fragmented fears filled my mind as I cleared the plates.

“I promise I’ll come back for you.”

Scrape. Stack.

“I'm sorry for your loss, Miss; truly I am.”

Scrape. Stack.

“You will leave for France in the morning.”

Scrape. Stack.

“No one cares if you want to go or not.”

Scrape. Stack.

“Hold her down!”

CRASH!

It was too much.

I shut my eyes, waiting until the memories paused, and my hands stopped shaking before bending down and carefully picking up the sharp pieces.

There didn't appear to be any witnesses.

I sighed with relief, turned my back and picked up the next plate. It wasn’t long before I was interrupted again. From somewhere behind me, a familiar giggle echoed in the silence, followed by a warm hand over my eyes.

“Guess who,” the owner of the hand whispered.

I didn’t need to guess. There was only one person it could be.

Grabbing hold of the hand, I turned on my heels to face my aunt Agnes. Tall and heavy-boned, with ash blonde hair and brown eyes, there was nothing remarkable about her appearance. At first glance, you wouldn’t think she’d have much personality, yet she was the most vivid woman I'd ever known.

Agnes smiled a sly smile (the kind you use when hiding something behind your back . . .)

“Think you can beat me this time? If you can take it, it's yours!” she teased.

“Watch me.”

I smeared my hands on my apron and lunged towards her right.

There was a whooshing sound as she whirled out of reach. With a triumphant laugh, she held up the prize: a large piece of lemon pound cake wrapped in wax paper.

My eyes opened wide.

“Ah, darn. Too slow. Guess I’ll just have to eat this all by myself!”

“Nooo! Please, please, please!?”

Instead of laughing, Agnes' smile disappeared, and she lowered the hand with the cake. With the other, she reached out hesitantly towards me. Her left hand hung there in the air, not quite touching me but very near, while she stared deeply into my pale, sea-green eyes.

People were forever staring at my unusual eyes, but until now, she'd been an exception.

I blinked.

It was an uncomfortable stare, and I busied myself with the knot on my apron ties. Then, as softly as it rose, Agnes pulled her hand back to her side, bent down, kissed my forehead and murmured,

“How can I say no to those eyes? Lucky girl! They’re exactly the same as your mother’s.”

*

My mother’s younger sister, Agnes, was more than an aunt to me; she was also my guardian. She’d sent for me after my grandmother passed away last winter. Thanks to her generosity, my bedroom had become one of many in the opulent dormitories of Anguine Abbey and Academy for Girls, where she taught maths, on the island of Liathtrá, in the heart of the Celtic Sea.

*

I was so excited about my treat, I barely noticed her changing expressions. Then, right as she was about to finally pass it to me, Agnes paused again! This time she looked me up and down, raised an eyebrow and frowned. I decided I better look down at myself, too, and when I did, a fuzzy memory began to surface of her instructing me to wear something other than my fancy, white sundress today.

My face flushed with guilt; she'd made it for me herself.

I ran my mostly clean hands over the creamy cotton in a desperate attempt to smooth out the wrinkles and waited for the worst. But, rather than scold me, she tilted her head thoughtfully and brushed her fingers over the dress’ delicate pattern of hand-stitched eyelets. Then she sighed and picked up a conveniently placed picnic blanket from the chair behind her.

“What am I going to do with you, Órla? As wild as the wind, as beautiful as the moon and not one hint of common sense! Here, take this, too.”

She offered me the blanket and leaned over my shoulder.

“Fly,” she whispered in my ear, placing the cake firmly into my free hand.

I stuffed the treat into my pocket and flung my arms around her in a tight hug. There was no need to ask her why or where.

*

By the time I attended, Anguine Abbey was largely a non-religious school, the remaining nuns more a relic of days gone by—which suited me just fine. However, as with most things you encounter, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover—as my friends and I later discovered—for Liathtrá and Anguine each had their share of bad apples and dark secrets, too.

*

We ended our hug, and I rushed out the door and into the courtyard. The contrast of candlelight and bright afternoon sun hurt my eyes, so I loped across the lawn, under the archway, down the alley, and into the shadow cast by the visitors’ stable. There I crept along its side until I reached the end facing the pastures, where I stopped a moment to take off my shoes and socks and fold them into the picnic blanket. Next, I peered around the corner to check if the coast was clear.

The abbey maintained acres of pastures and grain fields, herb, flower and vegetable gardens, livestock and poultry shelters, three orchards, four stables and a large common area. Anguine even had its own water system and geothermal heating. Anything that couldn't be made, farmed, raised or completed by hand was bought in trade. Unfortunately, it was the monthly market day, and the common area was still a flurry of people.

I bided my time.

*

Liathtrá was unusual in many ways, starting with its discovery in the early Renaissance. As the story goes, an Irish fishing vessel, which had drifted too far out to sea, became lost in the fog that plagues the island's coastline and narrowly escaped running aground. The sailors being simple folk, they named the island for its appearance: Liathtrá, meaning 'grey shores'.

No one has ever been able to explain how an island roughly the size of Jamaica, and merely fifty kilometres away from Brittany, had managed to remain invisible for thousands of years—or how it remains difficult to navigate to today. The locals like to joke it's because the island has a will of its own, and she’s picky about her visitors. If I had to guess, I’d say it had more to do with the odd tendency of compasses to spin wildly the closer you approach the coastland

*

Neither the navigational difficulties nor the complete absence of civilization deterred the hardy group of settlers who set sail soon after word of the peculiar little island spread. The towering stone walls enclosing Anguine Abbey's borders were the first structures built on Liathtrá, along with the original abbey and the village nestled inside their protection.

As the population grew, towns were formed, and farms laid down. Approximately three hundred thousand people live on the island now year-round. Many islanders can trace their roots as far back as the arrival of the wealthy French family, Les Tournais, who funded the expansions of both the abbey, the port and the capital city in the early 1500s.

*

Each tap of my foot while I waited to escape was like pulling an elastic on a slingshot. At the right moment, I sprang into the pasture, yanking my long, auburn hair out of its bun with one hand while I ran. The poor hairpins scattered on the ground, but it was too late to care; free at last, I bounded over the grass, my feet hardly touching the ground. I was exceptionally tall for my age and as swift as a deer—even on foot, I could reach the far edges of the convent from the dormitories in less than twenty minutes.

*

The Tournais family was as unusual as the island, for they, too, had appeared out of the blue. And, unlike most of the noble families of the time, they were generous and kind to the poor. It was said they had used much of their fortune for what essentially amounted to establishing an entire country out of thin air. Gradually, under the Tournais’ stewardship, the citizens flourished.

Then, at the height of their power, tragedy struck, and the whole family succumbed to a mysterious illness in the spring of 1902. My history book hadn’t much else in the way of details, only mentioning that in recognition of their patronage, the capital city was renamed in their honour shortly after their demise. The Tournais castle was sealed off, as was the expansive, mossy, old forest estate behind it.

*

"Órla!” A young man's voice called from nearby.

“Ah!”

Someone was reading under a willow, but the sun blinded me to their shape. With a hand above my eyes, I squinted at the silhouette until I recognised the sleek black hair ruffling in the breeze.

It was Daiki.

Daiki Yamamoto was seventeen, kind-natured, quiet and gentle; he'd been my first friend after I arrived.

I paused as he surveyed me with his obsidian gaze that always made my breath catch in my throat. He caught me staring and smiled his shy, half-smile in return.

My heart leapt, but I pushed the feeling down.

“Órla! Where are you going? If you run any faster, your feet will fly off!”

“Ha!! You know me—I just like to run,” I lied, “Where doesn’t matter.”

"Want some company?"

I wasn't ready to spill my secret.

“Don't you have work to do?"

Daiki sighed, "Yeah, I suppose the hay won't bale itself.”

He turned, and I darted deeper into the field. The grass under me smelled sweet, and the air was cool; it was easier to love life on the island on days like that one.

*

I was running away from more than just boredom. I hated being trapped inside the abbey's massive stone walls, surrounded by hundreds of ever-watchful eyes. I missed leading my grandmother's sheep across the hilly plains near our cottage in Valle D'Aure, a village not far from Bayonne. Most of all, I longed for the misty green lands of Ireland, where I was born and where I had lived with my mother—until she vanished into the sea when I was seven.

*

It was in the moment when it seemed as though nothing in my life could have possibly gotten any worse that I’d accidentally stumbled upon the garden.

After one particularly horrid school day last spring, I'd escaped to the pasture. Not long after I laid down to take a nap, an old ram got loose from the paddock and began chasing me! I made a beeline into the thicket to get away from him, where I quickly became lost. When I got my bearings, I noticed a fine path in the underbrush. Not wanting to return to the field, but not yet ready to go back to the abbey, curiosity won, and I followed the flagstone trail.

*

Away from the noise of the common area and farm machines, the gentle sounds of nature filled my thoughts, and while I listened to the rhythm of my footsteps, I drifted into a trance. A change in wind direction blew the familiar shift in the air towards me as the scent turned from a dry, earthy smell to damp and salty.

Almost there.

*

The garden lay on the far side of the northwest pasture, deep inside the ash grove at its end. If you looked carefully, you would find the overgrown path I mentioned winding through the trees. Once you found the stones, you had to follow them until the foliage parted to reveal the gate.

*

The quiet around me was deafening.

No birds ever perched near the fence, and back then, I never bothered to wonder why. My bare feet softly pattered on the cold, twig-covered slate. The only other sounds besides my beating heart and raspy breathing were the whispers of leaves fluttering past me like falling stars.

But though the trees pressed in around me, I was not afraid.

*

Except for the north-facing cliff, which dropped off into the sea, the garden was barricaded on all sides. An ivy-enshrouded, barred-iron fence surrounded the southern and eastern boundaries. At the same time, the western edge was limited by a section of the perimeter wall around the convent. And as for the gate, it was solid iron, making it impossible to peek inside.

*

Gradually the verdure thinned, and the spaces between the trees became wider. At last I stopped, mesmerised by the sight of the ornate gate in the clearing. To me it resembled a sentinel, standing at attention, un-rusted and gleaming an onyx black in the branch-filtered light. It was a good moment to catch my breath, and I put my head down and my hands on my thighs while I breathed deeply.

Then, gliding forward, I placed my hand over the large keyhole.

*

The memory of the first time I peered through it was still burnt into my mind: it had been in full bloom, the flower petals tinted a purplish hue that resembled the last indigo of the sky at sunrise if it were to be mixed with the first, pink-tinted clouds of sunset.

After beholding that lilac tree, it was not an exaggeration to describe the gate as a portal to another world.

*

Without the key, you could get no further, but I had it with me now, safe in my dress pocket next to the cake. As for how I’d come by the key, it was Agnes who had come to my rescue.

*

After desperately trying to pick the lock, I gave up and told her about my discovery. But Agnes shuttered the conversation immediately, and I regretted my confidence and retreated to bed. Sometime later, she appeared in my bedroom and in utter silence, she led me by lamplight to a strange writing desk in the library. She opened a hidden panel the width of my thumb and removed a ring with two brass keys—one large, one small—and placed them in my palm.

"Do not ask me about that place in public again! Here, it’s yours now. Keep its secret until—" a rustle in the darkness made her flinch. She quickly blew out our lamp and gently closed up the desk.

By the light of the half-moon shining in the windows, we tiptoed out of the library and back to bed. I had no idea at the time how hard it must have been for my aunt to say nothing to me, but in hindsight, it must have caused her a great deal of anguish to stay silent.

*

I rushed back to the garden the following morning and tested the large key.

To my surprise, it turned smoothly in the lock, and I scurried inside. From its resting place near the cliff, the lilac tree swayed in the gentle sea breeze. My heart leapt when I realised I could not only smell the ocean, I could see the water, which stretched out to the edge of the horizon.

But it was the tree that spellbound me, and I was suddenly overcome with a desire to be near it.

As I ran towards it, I was slowed down by weeds, which clutched at me with disapproval as I shoved them aside. A stubbed toe forced me to notice the toppled benches, stone fountain and overgrown archways strewn about in the tangled vegetation.

Neglect had given the poor garden a weary and forlorn character. It broke my heart to see the place in such disrepair, a once lively place abandoned with no one to care for it.

And so it received its name.

From the moment I’d found it, the Lonely Garden became my sanctuary and I its saviour.

*

Opposite the lilac, but much farther back from the cliff, was a miniature house with many windows; this was what the little key unlocked. The first time I opened the door, I was surprised to be greeted by the aroma of the lilac blooms. Even more incredible was the lack of dust—there was hardly a fleck!

In stark contrast to the wildness of the garden, inside the house, it was as though time had forgotten to move on. Someone had covered the furniture with sheets, but there hardly seemed a reason to: every piece was entirely pristine; nothing was worn or frayed or peeling.

And it was peculiar furniture too.

The styles were antique and exquisitely feminine—picture chaise lounges, glass-topped tea tables and fancy armed chairs. And when I write antique, I mean older than what my grandmother owned, more like what her grandmother or great-grandmother might have owned.

Later, I found a switch in the floor that released an attic stair from the ceiling. There was loads of odd stuff up there, including a music box inscribed with the initials “CT”. It chimed a tune I knew well; Daiki often played it in the fields when we walked together.

"Gort na Saileán (Down by the Sally Gardens)"

~Down by the Salley gardens, my love and I did meet~

~She passed the Salley gardens with little snow-white feet~

~She bid me take life easy, as the leaves grow on the trees~

~But I, being young and foolish, with her I did not agree~

- WB Yeats

There were several photographs that reminded me of class photos with shy-smiling young women, one of which could have been my aunt's twin (bottom left).

Image licensed from Shutterstock.

My favourite item was a painting of a young blonde woman, dated 1898. She was seated on a swing hanging from the lilac tree. I liked it so much that I hung it up over the fireplace.

*

The lock muttered as I turned the large key and pushed open the gate. Sunlight came streaming through, spilling onto me like a warm hug from a good friend. From the depths of the garden, the limbs of the spectacular lilac tree waved to me with their perfumed buds. I’d never known any other lilac tree to bloom from spring through summer and into late autumn.

After securely closing the gate behind me, I burst into a sprint again, impatient to settle under the tree and eat my cake. The wind whistled near the cliff, welcoming me as petals from the lilac blooms swirled about me like butterflies.

In one final leap, I dove onto the ground beneath the tree, instilling a deep grass streak on my dress along the way. I frowned at the stain and grumbled to myself for forgetting to use the blanket. Since it was better late than never, I threw it open and repositioned myself.

I pulled out the slightly squashed cake from my pocket with an only slightly dampened mood and propped my head on my elbow while I munched. The cool sea breeze brushed my forehead like a gentle hand, and it wasn't long before I drifted off mid-nibble.

A mournful wailing sound woke me sometime later. Scrambling to my feet, I gaped in its direction, and to my surprise, I found a swirling silver mist had appeared on the water. It was pushing against the wind and heading for the shore.

It couldn't be real.

*

When I had lived in Ireland, my mother had sung me many songs about the sea, but the "Lullabye of the Legend of the Silver Brume" was my favourite.

All through my childhood, I'd firmly believed there must have been some grain of truth in its origin or surely, it would have been long forgotten.

The lyrics told of a mysterious sea dragon. An unbreakable vow forced him to rise to the water's surface once every hundred years, where he would gently blow a breeze over the waves. His breath formed a glimmering silver mist—a brume. The legend ended by claiming that any person lucky enough to be touched by the brume would be given a chance to meet the dragon. If you were strong enough to find him, he would bestow upon you the 'most precious gift of all-time'.

I wasn’t sure what the legend meant, but at that moment, I desperately wanted my life to change.

*

Hope overflowed inside of me, and I waited patiently, with eyes closed and hands lightly clasped, as the strange mist soared up the cliff, blew softly over my face, my arms, my tree, and disappeared behind me.

Image licensed from Shutterstock.

Afterwards, I checked myself carefully.

What did it do?! Was I different?

I patted and twirled and probed and hopped until I was satisfied I had checked every reasonable place to check (and maybe even a few not so reasonable ones).

Nope.

My hope sank as quickly as it had surfaced.

I shrugged, sat back down and shoved the last of the cake in my mouth, chewing it up in grumpy gobbles. While I was debating whether or not I should tell Agnes about what I’d seen, my thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a walloping sound I knew too well.

“CLING, CLANG, CLING, CLOONG...,” rang the church bells.

They followed their hourly tune with three more CLANGS, and my body jerked up like a rabbit listening to a nearby cat’s meow.

What?! 3 o’clock already? Oh no, that can’t be right!

“Uggghhh!” I groaned with exaggerated disgust. Unfortunately, the bells meant I had to return and help with laundry: the one chore I disliked.

It was pointless to ignore the bells. My absence would be traced back to my aunt, and I couldn’t risk getting her into trouble, especially after ruining my new dress. So, I stood up, got a drink from the pump and washed my hands and face.

Then something unexpected happened.

When I returned to fold my blanket, I noticed a tiny, blue swallow lying on the ground beside the tree. One wing was badly bent, and his eyes were shut.

“Poor little bird! You must have been caught in last night’s storm.”

At the sound of my voice, his foot twitched.

“You're alive?!”

Ever so gently, I scooped him up and stroked his beak with my finger. The bird let out a sigh, opened his eyes and stared straight into mine. If I didn't set the wing, the bird would never fly again. Luckily, I'd seen Daiki do it for a pigeon near the stables earlier that year.

“Be brave, little bird.”

I carefully pulled the wing into place. The swallow didn’t make a sound. Since I knew Agnes would agree it was for a good cause, I ripped a length of fabric from my hem and used it to lightly wrap the wing parallel to his body in a figure-eight.

“I bet you’re thirsty—probably hungry too.”

Gathering some water from the closest birdbath with a large leaf, I dribbled tiny drops towards his beak. The bird drank ravenously. When he was satisfied, he squirmed into my elbow and nestled there.

My heart melted.

What do swallows eat?

I tried to recollect where I'd seen them. There were always swallows near the barn, swooping around, snatching bites of things while they flew.

Aha! I threw up my finger.

“Insects!

…What was that?

Ewww!! “

My hasty gesture disturbed the branch above me, and a long, smooth, green caterpillar fell into my lap.

“Oh, phew. Just a caterpillar.”

I pondered the predicament.

*

Should I squash the caterpillar and feed it to the swallow?

Or let it live to eat the tree?

*

Another glance at the helpless bird told me what I needed to do.

Yet, I couldn't bear to feed it to the bird alive.

With a loud gulp, I stretched out my fingers, aimed, closed my eyes and squashed the caterpillar. Then I held the mashed-up mess to the swallow’s beak.

It snapped it up.

The bells tolled again.

“Well, it’s quarter past three now, little bird. I’ll be in for it for sure. But don't fret over me. You just concentrate on getting better, alright? “ Tenderly, I lifted the swallow into the middle part of the tree, settling him behind a thick clump of flowers and leaves.

“I promise I’ll be back! Somehow I’ll sneak away.”

The swallow lowered his head as though in a nod.

There was no time to spare.

I grabbed the blanket, hurried out the gate, locked it behind me and tore down the overgrown path back to the abbey as fast as my legs could carry me.

*

I was just about to the common area when the hairs on the back of my neck tingled. Stupidly, I glanced over my shoulder at full tilt and,

Whumpf!

I collided head-on into Sister Marguerite’s ample behind.

The rebound propelled me backwards, and I landed on my hands.

Sister Marguerite tripped into Cressida, the most popular girl in my year and to whom she’d been administering this week’s laundry instructions.

Cressida tripped into Clarice, the second most popular girl and Cressida’s number one fan.

Clarice caught Cressida before my domino effect could go any further but not before Cressida’s knee hit the ground, splitting her expensive stocking on impact.

Clarice offered her a hand, but Cressida shoved it away and tottered back on her feet by herself.

Fire burned in my cheeks as I faced the angry stares of three pairs of eyes.

-- end of contest entry --

Chapter 2: The Golden Box on the Other Side of the Wall

. . . A gust of wind blew a yellowed oak leaf into my lap.

I wonder if trees feel the way I do? Condemned to stay where they are planted and watch silently, never able to participate or make choices, always wondering if an axe will fall.

Well, the law says no one is allowed to chop this oak, and no one’s going to fell me!

I flicked the leaf away, where it drifted down into the dampness on the Tournais side of the wall below. Deep in the darkness, something glittered. It was shaped like a large book and caught in the roots of the giant oak.

“I saw it too, Miss, but it’s very far down. Best leave it be, whatever it is,” cautioned Lin [the swallow].

I didn’t answer him, rather continued to stare at it, transfixed on its sparkling. That golden box was an enigma, and it drew me towards it as Earth’s gravity does the moon . . .

Musical teaser:

Manuscript Notes:

  • Ahinelle's choice: Would we kill an innocent creature to save someone we love? Expect an amplified second choice.
  • Fate vs. destiny: fate is what befalls us, and we succumb to. Destiny is what we can aspire to in order to become more than what we were.
  • Gift of 'all time' has a hidden meaning.

*

About the Author:

Les lives a quiet life in Canada with her three rescue cats. She primarily writes children's and teen fiction but will delve into anything that gets the swirling words out of her brain. Her first book, Owl in a Towel, is available for purchase here. Publishing inquiries may be directed to [email protected]

Special thanks to Dane BH and Madoka Mori for their no-holds-bar criticisms!

*~*~*

~For C Xx~

Culaith ghorm dorcha, gúna buí; lá àlainn amháin — tá mo bhriathar agat.

*~*~*

Fantasy

About the author

Call Me Les

She/her | Cat enthusiast | "Word-Nerd" | Fueled by buttertarts

  • Co-Founding admin at Vocal Social Society & Great Incantations
  • Co-Founder of the Vocal Creators Chronicle
  • Vocal Spotlight
  • Book: Owl in a Towel

~&~

No words left unspoken.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  4. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (15)

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  • J. R. Lowe4 months ago

    Fantastic work as always!

  • Whoaaaa this was fantastic!

  • Lena Borondia4 months ago

    This is STUNNING Les! Absolutely wonderful! <3

  • Makayla Wach4 months ago

    Absolutely incredible! Having only joined Vocal this past week, I’ve been so amazed and impressed at the love and quality that authors like you put into their work.

  • Angel Whelan4 months ago

    Wow - great world building

  • Paula Shablo4 months ago

    Marvelous! I am ready for more!

  • Colleen Millsteed4 months ago

    Wow this is awesome.

  • C. H. Richard4 months ago

    What a beautiful story! I was right in the garden with Orla.

  • Eugenette Morin4 months ago

    Superb story telling there!

  • Misty Rae4 months ago

    Wonderful, you've done yourself proud!

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Awesome as always! Fantastic story a winner for sure!

  • Gerald Holmes4 months ago

    Excellent writing Les, beautiful storytelling.

  • Sleepy Drafts4 months ago

    This is so stunning! Beautiful storytelling. I find I just want to keep reading. <3

  • wow!! Thank you for showing what hard work and extreme talent looks like

  • Absolutely masterful storytelling.Love the illustrations and map. A beautiful and stunning prologue

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