A gothic love story depicting the relationship between darknes and light.
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Can a dream come true also be your worst nightmare? Can the love of your life be both life enhancing and life threatening at once? Indeed they can—at least this proves to be the case for the heroine of ‘Dhariya ~ Prelude To A Dark Legacy’.
In this gothic tale of love, betrayal and murder—set in 1700’s Scotland within the walls of an old castle—a beautiful young woman, lady Dhariya, falls prey to a compelling stranger, Lord Llyr. She comes to know him as a man of secrets, of dark hidden passions, who unlocks her sensuality and teaches her the full meaning of desire.
Dhariya senses danger in Llyr, yet doesn’t understand it or how fearing him thrills and excites her, filling her with a longing she’s never known before—drawing her deeper and deeper into his darkness. He in turn, finds that by capturing the untouched reaches of Dhariya’s heart, his own has stirred to life, which poses a far more dangerous threat to them both.
There are a great many secrets within this castle. Suddenly things begin to change, and strange occurrences start happening all around Dhariya. Then as shocking truths unfurl, she discovers that death awaits her within the shadows. However, is the ultimate deceit to be found in the arms of her lover or in learning the accidents that killed her family members had been purposely dealt by a malevolent hand? She does not know the answer; all she’s certain of is that she has now become the killer’s final target
Table of Contents and opening verse
~And the night comes
~And the shadows fall
~And o' how I seek the sweetness
only dreamt of but never felt
~And I shall fear not the darkness~
~And thus, I wait upon the edge
of twilight's beckoning call
~And the flames of desire arise
to meet the coming of the midnight hour
~And the dark velvet passions pulse to life
~And what be this place where darkness
where neither is yet each exits one within the other?
~And what doth one truly seek within the other?
Could it be fulfillment of one's own self promise?
Yet, perhaps it is more an opposite reflection,
a hope of balancing some perceived weakness with
naught but an overpowering extreme
~And the brighter the light, the darker the shadow
~And o' the night where be thy mercy?
~And o' the darkness where be thy solace?
~And o' the dream why doth thy vision lie?
~And still I am drawn by faith,
that which sees promise of light,
even within the depths of darkness
~ And the night comes ~
…It was but a singular night in a lifetime of many. Who could have known it would prove to alter forever all that was and all that ever would be—Evermore ~
Scotland ~ 20 November ~ 1709 journal entry
~I rode alone through somber blackness. Endless forest pressed in close against the way. The night storm had come, like some great dark winged thing spanning the sky, consuming the moon and stars.
There was no turning back now and nothing to turn back for. The darkness lay ahead as unrelenting as the darkness I sought to leave behind. So I followed by instinct a path I’d traveled hundreds of times. Sounds of hoof-beats against the sod and the panting breath of horse and rider filled the air—in the distance, thunder.
Pressing my booted heels to Andromeda’s flanks, I urged the mare onward. We had to reach Skara Brae Castle before the storm broke full upon us and the ground became treacherous mire.
I could feel my composure beginning to shatter, like glass shards tearing me apart inside. Suddenly I was no longer a woman grown to seventeen years but a child abandoned in the night. Vulnerable, afraid, longing to cry out for the mother I’d lost only hours ago. Needing the comfort that only a maternal embrace could give and knowing those loving arms would never hold me again…
O’ how stark and unyielding—is this lament of sorrow’s song.
Rain was falling steady now, a parody of my own flowing tears. Drawing a deep ragged breath I brushed my cheeks with a fisted hand. Then turning inward, I prayed to God for strength to carry on while the storm crept ever closer—a beast taunting its prey.
~Leaves rustled in the surrounding darkness. Lady Dhariya trembled with cold and fatigue as bitter winds blew in from the North Sea. The icy breath of winter’s promise offered no mercy to the grieving young woman lashing thick wet tendrils of her hair against her, stealing-away her cloak’s protective warmth and trailing its fluttering length in her wake, yet the heavy scent of brine it carried was indeed welcome for it bespoke the nearness of her destination.
The first glimmer of torch lamps soon pierced the foliage.
Moments later the gates of Skara Brae came into view. The sight was very nearly Dhariya’s undoing, but she held fast and leaned down to murmur soft words of praise for Andromeda’s steadfast efforts while her gaze reached beyond the lacy pattern of wrought iron where the black shadow of the fortress loomed large and imposing.
Wrapping the frozen fingers of both hands around the bell pull, Dhariya half stood in the stirrups and wrenched the rusted metal links downward, a feat that demanded the full weight of her slight body. A rewarding clang sounded in the tower above the gatekeeper, Crowley’s, quarters and brought him scurrying out into the night. A glowing lantern held high in his gnarled claw.
Dhariya watched Crowley’s hunched figure draw near, leaning into the wind as he fought his way toward the gates. He had been gatekeeper here at this castle since before she was born. Although she knew him well, Dhariya did not speak. Feeling deadened by cold and grief, she sat motionless waiting for him to reach her.
Old Crowley’s weathered face expressed grave concern as he squinted into rain soaked shadows. Once he realized the black-cloaked figure on horseback was not some dark specter come to claim his soul, but his lordship’s niece the young Lady Dhariya herself, Crowley did not know whether to feel relief or more afraid, aye with the pretty young miss out alone on such a night, ‘aught surely must’v ‘appened, he thought. Yet he held his tongue and quickly bent to her bidding.
Skeletal trees lined the carriage path that snaked its way through the sprawling grounds toward Dhariya’s place of refuge. The squeal of metal gates closing behind her was soon lost to the keening howl of the tempest and ceaseless clatter of barren limbs. Each angry gust tossed hard rain, like handfuls of tiny pebbles, bruising her tender flesh.
Despite feeling physically battered and spiritually wounded Dhariya’s fierce determination never wavered, for there ahead Skara Brae stood tall, craggy points of spires and crenellated walls rising up out of the ever present mist in proud defiance against the ravages of time.
Most would look upon the ancient citadel with foreboding, to Dhariya however, it was her Uncle Tamas’ home and always a welcome sight, more so this night than ever and she prayed that on this night here is where she would find him.