Dumped in a treacherous Arctic land, Amara Dagon must master her spell craft if she is to survive a year in exile, but fear, doubt and the loss of her family threatens to take hold.
Can Amara gain control of her magic or will she succumb to it leaving her people in the hands of a dangerous tyrant?
Pain, survival, and scars. The introduction of characters who will carry the story with decriptions that I can see, but was hard pressed to decribe. Does it show that I may have stumbled or does the ferocity of the decriptions come across?
In Dreams The Solitary Road A Serial Novella By S. I. Hayes
Copyright 2013 Shannon I. Hayes
The warmth was peculiar, Amara eyes strained in the low
light around her; she found she was in a large tent made of well-tanned hide,
outside, were the outlines of two tall figures. She scrunched her nose at the
pungent muskiness of the animal furs on which she lay face down. There was a
burning in her throat, and her body was wrecked by pain. She tried to call out,
but no sound came. Again, she tried to lift her body, but fell back into the
deep furs. This action forcing a hard yelp from her. The figures outside
stopped moving, listening as it were, and finally Amara managed a weak almost
The smaller of the figures made motion toward the flap
opening of the tent, as the other disappeared completely. Amara was temporarily
blinded by candle light as the figure entered the tent. A woman’s voice broke
“Are you alert or just complaining again?” Her tone was
soft if not somewhat condescending, the words flowed as if she had a mouthful
“You had a nasty scuff over the cavern side, lucky you didn't freeze to death. Not so smart running around here without any fur.” The woman
approached, shaking the snow off her boots, unfazed by Amara’s gasp as she
crouched down and the flame illuminated her features.
Her arms were covered in a fine layer of deep caramel
fur, her face a mix of human and feline. The top half of her lip was clefted
and melded with her high cheeks and nose, from the widest place of her cheeks
and atop the high arches of her brow were long thin hairs that moved as she
spoke. When she smiled her sharp teeth reflected yellow-white.
“I'm sorry if I frighten you, but I am the lesser of two
scares. Be lucky we bothered to go looking for you, that cavern has a way of
throwing sound rather good.”
Amara tried to get up once more only to be pushed back
down, by powerful hands.
“You stay like that, or that infection will crack and
bleed again, and I don’t want any of that stink on my pelts.”
“I'm sorry.” Amara managed, and then hushed hearing a
snarl and scuffling by the tent flap.
“Portia, enough! You’ll give our guest an attack. Do you
want to explain to him why you’re
digging a hole this time of night?” Another female voice broke in.
Portia turned and stood immediately as another female
entered the tent, covered by a long fur lined, hooded cloak, although her
companion stayed outside. It seemed to Amara a towering creature; so wide that
it blocked the opening, making it hard for Portia to make her bowed exit.
“Forgive her, Portia has a way of getting her dander up
when people gawk, she forgets that we are not as well seen as others. I am
Khane, the Pride groups communicating healer please don’t be frightened. We did
come looking for you after all, and we have no intention of making a meal of
you, so just relax and we’ll get you back on your feet in a few days or so.”
She spoke matter-of-factly.
Amara nodded, swallowing hard, her mouth having run dry.
“Give us a few moments and we’ll get you some food and
water, and sit you up, but don’t go leaning back or you’ll be rather sorry.”
The other with Khane began to move its arms around
erratically, drawing Amara’s eyes back to its shadow, as Portia’s voice rang in
“He says to get on with it, there’s a storm coming.”
Khane shook her head, “I am sorry, I know that you are in
no real condition for visitors, especially the kind you do not know, but this
one has been pacing for some time now. I only wanted to prepare you. We are a
bit much for those who do not know us.” Khane motioned to the flap, as it
shifted, the hulking shadow made its entrance.
It stepped forward and from beneath the cloak, Amara saw
a long black and white striped tail as it twitched too and fro. Its face was
not like that of Portia’s, its features were more bestial, the muzzle elongated
and where Portia and Khane had something like hair, it only possessed fur. A
loud vibration echoed through the tent as it approached Amara with its huge
head, tilted down; it dropped to all fours, seeming more beast than man. With a
wide-eyed stare, Amara paced her breath as it began to make erratic movements,
calling her attention to its hands. Long thick fingers tipped with short curled
claws that receded into the fingertips as they gestured.
Khane nodded, and then patted its arm. “Graw here wants
me to tell you that he is glad you've woken up, he was afraid that you may have
yelled yourself into a stupor.”
Before Amara could react, in a fluid motion he scooped
her up and placed her in an upright position. The sound Amara realized came
from him, as his whole body vibrated softly from the gentle purr, as he rested
near to her.
Khane's words were not her own, she translated for Graw,
who as Khane explained it, like most males was unable to speak, in words,
theirs was a language of gestures and murmurs. Khane first apologized for the
shift of a dress she wore, that her clothing was hardly salvageable. She then
went on to explain that Graw was one of the Pride group who had sought her out.
That they had heard her cries, and spied the last fire. When they found her,
she was fevered and infected, it would take time and treatment for the poisons
to leave her body, but she would make a full recovery and have beautiful scars.
The word “Scars’ sent a panic through Amara, her
breathing quickened, but her voice would still not come. As a High Priestess,
she was supposed to remain unscathed, one of the few rules, which saved her
from Rosaline’s wrath. How was she to go home if she were now marred?
“It’s no use trying to talk girl, you screamed your voice
away days ago. Not much, we could do about the pain, our ways may be
intolerable, but the results cannot be matched. But considering, you did pretty
Amara mouthed, wondering what the hell these things had done to her, had she
much of a choice she would have fled then and there, but her condition kept her
at the mercy of these beasts, who pretended to be men.
Her ethnocentric view was all she had; tolerance was not
one of her virtues. Cloistered as she was, she had never been told such
creatures still existed. The shock was palatable.
After Graw and Khane made sure that Amara was fed, and
comfortable they took to looking after her wounds and she found out just why
she was without voice.
They took her outside of the tent, to where a huge
bonfire burned and several more of them gathered, covered in fur, and
accompanied by a female speaker. Amara saw Portia who seemed to have an air of
nervousness around her, as she and her companion soaked scraps of fur and heavy
cloth in buckets of water. Amara was laid down on her stomach in a snowless
patch of earth, which appeared to be bruised by scorch marks.
“You got rambunctious last time; no one wants to get
their whiskers singed... Again.” Portia half-heartedly cooed as she rubbed her
head against her companion, who returned the gesture adding a long sweep down
her back with his tail.
Once Amara nodded, they took it as understanding and the
pair took to wrapping the rags and soaked fur around her arms and draped them
over her legs. They were icy, making Amara’s body tingle. Graw sat back and watched
as the healer came out, he was larger than Graw who stood some six and a half
feet. The Healer crouched down over Amara and untied the dress, pulling it down
off of her. She tried to protest, but Portia and the other held her down with
little effort. Graw made eye contact with Amara. They were gentle yellow eyes;
he tried to calm her down. His hands motioning that it was all right, and she
should settle down.
The sensation of pain suddenly filled her as though her
flesh were being pulled from bone. She was not far off, the Healer’s way was to
cleanse the wound, his thick heavy tongue scraping away the scabs, his saliva
helping to kill the infection and stop the bleeding. The rags and furs began to
steam as Amara struggled to free herself from the tortuous remedy.
They had to stop several times as to avoid Amara’s
setting fire to those who tried to aid her. They soaked her again and again,
trying to keep her temperature from combustion. The bonfire kicked, spat, and
licked the high branches of the trees above them. If this had been summer, they
would not have been able to keep, but as it was, the heavy snow kept nature
Eventually, they finished and Amara was redressed and
carried back to the tent by Graw. Khane brought her a blank book and a chunk of
charcoal; she explained that Graw could read, mostly and that his writing while
juvenile was passable enough that they should be able to understand each other.
Amara sat with the book in her lap, trying not to stare
at Graw, but the more she avoided it, the more uncomfortable and self-conscious
she became. Graw sat down, his posture reminding her of an obedient dog. He
wore no shoes, for his feet were not those of a man, rather they were two huge
paws with claws that protruded slightly as he leaned forward on them, his hands
on the ground as his tail swooshed slowly side to side.
He let out a snort and put out his hand gesturing to the
book and stick of charcoal. Amara handed them to him, careful not to touch him.
He shook his head sadly, as he scribbled in the book, the coal braking in his
large hands; he swiped the broken pieces away as though it were commonplace.
Then turned the book back to her with a tooth-filled smile.
“Don’t be afraid you know I am called Graw, but what do
we call you. You don’t just go by girlie I suppose cause that’s what we’re
gonna call you otherwise.”
She looked up; he pointed to her, and then put both hands
up to the side of his head half-fisted with a comical nod left and right.
Amara managed a gentle raspy laugh, as she wrote her name
down. “Amara Dagon, I am called Amara Dagon.”