“Surrender… Or your people will suffer,” a distant voice said.
Like a muffled echo, Rina heard the sounds of battle. Metal striking metal. Explosive bursts of energy as spells clashed with each other. It filled her ears, growing in intensity. The dream changed around her, just long enough to afford a hazy glimpse of a Jiru’s throne room. And then it was gone, as quickly as it had come.
“What was that?” Rina said, a frown furrowing her brow as she glanced around. Everything was back to normal. She was standing under a tree, by a peaceful lake.
The man standing in front of her smiled gently, but seemed a little sad to her. “It’s fading,” he answered vaguely. Dark green eyes studied her face, before looking away. The sunlight made his shaggy brown hair shine with shades of red. “My time is almost up.” He sighed, returned his gaze to her, and moved closer. Lifting a hand, he tucked a stray wisp of her long blonde hair behind her ear, then reached for her hand. “Distract me, naori. I am not ready to leave yet.”
Rina smiled. “This is my dream,” she said, entwining their fingers. “I say when you go.”
He laughed then, looking more at ease. She was relieved. She hadn’t seen that sadness in him since the first time she dreamed about him on some dark battlefield she didn’t recognize. She couldn’t remember when it had started and had long since stopped caring why she continued to dream of him. Or that he wasn’t real. She had come to look forward to seeing this closed, peaceful dream world. To seeing this nameless man.
“Why won’t you tell me your name?” She could guess nothing about him from the way he was dressed. No mark of station or insignia of profession. Stitched leather pants, boots, white linen shirt, and a black cloak. It said as little about him as her plain white dress said about her.
“This is your dream, isn’t it?” He smiled, tilting his head. “You decide.”
“That doesn’t seem right.” She shook her head, unsure. There was a familiar feeling, somewhere in the pit of her stomach. A flutter of unexplainable nervousness. She studied his expression, feeling like she was missing something. “I think you already have one.”
The dream world shifted again, and she heard a faraway explosion.
“The tricks my mind plays on me… I know it isn’t possible,” he said, his voice soft. “But I want you to remember me anyway. A selfish last request.” He pulled her closer, his arms sliding around her, the warmth of his body enveloping her.
Their surroundings began to waver, fading at the edges of her vision like mist dissipating. She heard more explosions, a little louder than before. She moved her hands up his arms to grasp his shoulders. Apprehension was settling in her gut and her heart pounded in her chest.
“What’s happening?” she demanded, glancing around to see entire patches of her dream world disappearing, glimpses of that throne room bleeding through.
“Look at me,” he said, his voice even despite what was happening around them. “Only at me. Just a little longer.”
Her gaze met his again, and it felt like a hand was crushing her heart. He smiled at her the way a dying man smiled at those he was leaving behind. Trying to comfort them. Serene. Accepting his fate.
“I don’t understand.” She couldn’t help clutching his shoulders, clinging to him to keep him close.
“It doesn’t matter,” he whispered, lowering his head. “I’ll hold this dream with me.”
Swallowing past the dryness in her throat, she leaned into him, tilting her face up to his. She wound her arms around his neck as the explosions grew louder. Closer.
“Isaro,” he murmured, his breath warm against her mouth. The words were almost drowned out by the noise surrounding them in the dark throne room. “My name is Isaro Kanas.” Then his lips found hers.
Gasping for breath, Rina shot up in bed. The sound of someone pounding on her door had torn her away from her dream. The feel of Isaro’s kiss lingered. Raising a hand, she felt the wetness on her cheeks and marveled at what a fool she was. A feeling of loss welled up inside of her.
How pathetic can I be? I’m crying for a man who doesn’t even exist.
“Commander Deyan!” a voice yelled through the door.
Getting up, she quickly grabbed her robe and pulled it on. In front of her mirror, she wiped away the last traces of her tears. Gray eyes stared back at her, reflecting a sadness she had no business feeling. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes briefly to center herself, and moved towards the door.
As soon as she opened it, the man on the other side brought a fist to his heart and bowed. “I bring a message from the Junak.”
“Go ahead,” she said impatiently, taking note of the warriors flooding the hall, many of them strapping weapons to their belts or into sheaths across their backs. People rushed up and down the corridors, carrying instructions and supplies. She could hear another Commander shouting orders to his own band of warriors. As the council that enforced the laws throughout the realm, the Junak was always ready for battle if necessary.
“Amvitum, to the east, has been attacked. Reports say it looks like they have been at war for weeks.”
Rina scowled. “And we’re only receiving word now?” Frustrated, she held up a hand to stem the messenger’s sputtering, panicked attempts to explain. “Never mind. Wait for me here. You can fill me in on my way out,” she said before closing the door.
She quickly pulled on light-weight armor and gathered her weapons. Strapping twin swords on her back, she stepped out into the hall and headed towards the courtyard where she knew her own warriors would be waiting for her. The messenger hurried behind her, rattling off information about the battle so far.
“…and there has been no sign of Jiru Kanas.”
Rina stopped dead in her tracks, the messenger nearly crashing into her. She felt that nervous fluttering in her stomach again and slowly turned to face him. “The Jiru of Amvitum is Kanas?” She narrowed her eyes at him, her hands clenching at her sides. “Isaro Kanas?”
The messenger hastily nodded, looking a little confused. “He only recently inherited the throne. The Junak is going crazy. Everyone thinks Amvitum may have already fallen.”
Memories of that dark throne room in her dream flitted through her mind. The feeling of Isaro’s warmth. His presence. And she knew, with unshakable certainty, that Isaro was waiting for her. That she would see him again.
“No, it hasn’t,” she said with complete conviction, turning away and continuing towards the courtyard, a new purpose fueling her steps. “And it won’t. I’ll make sure of it.”
…Isaro… I’m coming for you…
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of The Dreamer! This is one of three short stories contained in Tales of Ejoma.
To read more, you can grab the book ~ Here!
Stay tuned for updates on future books, and don’t forget to check out the Bonus Materials for more on the history, language, magic, and people of Ejoma!
Until next time, Take Care and Happy Reading!
Definitely. 🙂 I tried to write it so it could stand alone, but I really, really want to write about Isaro and the battle now, lol.
Wow, That Has Really Good… I Clicked “Like on it the other day, because I Appreciated You Doing The Post, and Mentioning The Contest… But I was holding off until this Week to Start Reading The Submissions.
My Kind of Story for sure.
Hey, I just wanted to Say Thank you for Filling out “The Written Word” Form, not many will actually take the time, which is ok… But It really is Appreciated.
Ha, “Don’t Kill Jonan or Ronan”, that’s Classic… I hadn’t even realized that their names Rimed, Lol
I can’t tell you whether they’ll ever die, but I can tell you that there certainly aren’t any immediate plans for it… Both of their Stories have just begun.
I’m really Glad that you like The Novels, as well as the Blog Series… I see your “Like” ‘s all the Time, and I really Appreciate it
I’m waiting for some more Drawing from My Nephew, so “Dark Rider” Is likely to be the “First Comic Book” derived from my “Written Word” Content.
As far as your Thoughts on “I Died Once” (I.D.O.) and “Chess With Agatha…”, I would definitely like to here what you think once you’re Finished with (I.D.O.), “Chess With Agatha…” will has more to go before it is done… And hopefully it will be the First of a Future Trilogy.
(I.D.O.) I’m looking to be Edited this month, and if My Editor (My Oldest Sister, Lol) can’t get to it, I’ll more than likely look for someone else that can.
As far as “Dark Rider’s” Past, I agree with you that it’s about time that The Readers Knew More Specifically what happened to the woman he lost… It is Fantasy, yes, but with “Heavy” Romantic undertones… I’ve been moving that part of the Story exceptionally slow, as he had lost his love, and is to a degree in a “Spiritual” Limbo…
Elsya very much wants to “Mate” with him (Meaning The Whole “Rendolyn Elves” Mating thing… It’s a very big part of her people’s culture, and a Human has never been Chosen by one of them before now…
But she will not rush him, and though he is definitely drawn to her, he has not fully realized that that is her intention… Nor has he really been ready for such a thing.
To a degree, he’s still in the Middle of an Identity Crisis, which has apparently lasted over two years, Ha
But per your Input, I will likely go back and do a “Background” Story, showing you/the reader What/Who he was in the Past, and who his “Love” was that he lost, and “How he Lost her”…
I find Healing Old woulds helps to create a space for “New Love”, and perhaps it will be Elsya that Dark Rider Tells This Story too… And perhaps once he’s told it, he might begin to Open Up Inside for Future Love Possibilities, Lol
I Really Appreciate what you said about My Keeping Worlds Separate, and Telling The Reader “Enough” info., but not Pouring it on them… That means alot
And the fact that you find Each of My Characters Unique, I take a lot of Pride in Characters, and Story Line, so hearing these areas hit home for you, Means a lot to me.
Oh, back to Dark Rider, yeah, Slaying Largoth and Ems is just something that came to me when I Changed “Dark Rider” to “Tales of The Dark Rider”, which takes place two years after the “Dark Series” Episodes…
I like you really liked those two characters, especially “Largoth”… In fact I just told My Possible Dark Rider Artist (Who is one of my Nephews) that “Largoth” Dies (Wanted to let him know, cuz he just did an Excellent Drawing of him), and he was totally fine with that… He said it will just push him to Draw him even better.
And like you say, the more you like a character, the harder it is to see them parish… But it also feels good to have been Connected to them that way, and actually care that they died.
Oh, and the “Vengeance” Thing, I Agree, the fact that the Scarlet Bandit had his Friends Killed, Pretty Much set up the Whole “Tales of The Dark Rider” Series… So far One has paid, but there are Two More to go, Lol
As far as My Heroes being “Bad Ass” in Battles, I agree with you that it’s important for you/the reader to feel that they are actually at risk…
At this point, I wounded Iloh, and Killed Largoth and Ems (But Largoth and Ems didn’t die in battle, so that doesn’t really count, Lol)
There will definitely be times where they will be at More Risk, in Truth, I just haven’t thrown Enemies Quite at their Levels at them yet… I thought I should demonstrate their Abilities for a bit, before really Messing them Up, Ha
Often Writers Expect you to just “Believe” that New Characters are “Bad Ass”, by the mentioning of their Past in the Beginnings of a Tale… I feel it’s important to actually “Show The Reader” That they are Bad Ass as well… It will make it even More Tragic, and/or WHAMMING!! when they actually meet a Villain that is Worthy of Battling them… None of My Main Characters have truly Met their Equal yet, Not Dark Rider, not Agatha, not Jonan, not Ronan… Give them time, to me a Tale can only be as good as the Villain is, as who cares if a Great Hero defeats an idiot? Lol
Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back are the Ultimate Example of this, as “Darth Vader” is my Favorite All Time Villain.
Lastly, as far as “Dark Rider’s” Son, I just Created that aspect of the Tale… His Brother as well… And the fact that “Dark Rider” comes from a Long Line of “Rangers”, and yet chose the path of “The Mercenary” so to speak.
I still need to further develop His Son’s Story Line, but I will tell you that The Dark Rider does not feel he should Raise his Son… As Good and Honorable as he is, he’s got a lot of Blood Shed on his hands, even if they were mainly “Not Nice” people that he’s Slayed…
Dark Rider Feels that the Life of a Ranger is much better for a Boy (Now Young Man), and so left him for his Brother to Raise… He never planned on being a Father, and he can not change the way that he is, which basically a “Dark Ranger/Mercenary” to a degree.
The closest The Dark Rider ever came to “Setting” in one place, was with The Lady that he lost… In truth, if he had settled in one place with her, he would have probably summoned his Son to join him in his life… But sadly, that Moment/Possibility was Lost when he lost her. So basically, He lives a “Solitary” Life… In fact, Traveling with “Largoth” was as close as he had gotten to having a “Regular” Companion… Ever… And that only happened because he was convinced not to Kill himself by the Rendolyn Elves in “Episode One”, and had, had a bit of a History with Largoth… Though he traveled in a “Party/Group” in the Original “Dark Rider”, in truth, he never really had before… It was the near “Killing Himself” that cracked something inside him, and let those people in a bit…
Which of course makes his “Rage” even more, being that “Largoth”, who was basically his Closest, and Only Friend, was Slane.
This is a Huge Response, but you gave a Lot of Feedback, so I wanted to make sure you know I appreciate it, and it does influence/Impact My Writing… Like I say, you’ll probably get a “Back Story” Episode of “Tales of The Dark Rider” out of it… Thanks for that Insight.
And Thanks for your Ellaborate Response.
You can E-mail me at TrueDarkJade68@Yahoo.com once you have some more feedback on (I.D.O.) and “Chess With Agatha…”.
Thank you DarkJade, I’m really glad you liked it! 🙂 Being able to submit for the contest, and reading so many great short stories and parts of stories, was a lot of fun. Lol, I do not envy you having to pick just one first place winner – they’re all so good! It would be very hard to choose. I hope you do more contests in the future.
I’m also really glad my feedback was helpful. I’ll e-mail you as soon as I get up to date with your novels.
I can’t wait to read more in each of your blog series and novels. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with your heroes next! Good luck with the editing process of “I.D.O.”, and with the “Dark Rider” comic artwork. I think it’ll be cool to see your “Dark Rider” characters drawn out.
You’ve given “Rider” a lot of depth – he’s really a cool character. I like your idea of having him reveal things to Elsya about is past. I think that would be an awesome way to open up a romantic possibility for him and get some backstory in there in a natural way. I’m also looking forward to future badass vengeance and battles! 🙂
Lol, Thanks Paige
You’re welcome. 🙂