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Kerry L Orchard

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Member Since: Before 2003

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The Augur's Voice
by Kerry L Orchard   

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Books by Kerry L Orchard
· The Thoughtmaster's Conduit - 2002 EPPIE AWARD FINALIST
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Category: 

Fantasy

Publisher:  New concepts ISBN-10:  1586083120
Pages: 

360

Copyright:  Aug 1 2003

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New Concepts Publishing
Book Isle
New Concepts Publishing

Sarah Tims has made a decision to end the pain of her life only to find herself crossed to a place where facing her own pain is her only way home. Sarah struggles with coming to terms with her predicament.... Is she in hell? Is she insane? Or has she really crossed to this strange and wonderous world. Saviour, chosen one; Sarah must search an exotic and dangerous world to find the words of the Augur and save them all. She must face her weaknesses and pain, and accept the power this land bestows on her through the simple act of feeling...feeling emotions she had thought never to feel again.

Flanked by her mind beasts and with the help of a shapeshifter, ghost guides, and the wondrous beings of Equidistant, she will attempt to save not only their world but her own and in that process, her self... but can she face the absolute horror of who is behind the destruction of Equidistant and it's link to her own world? Can she feel the only emotions that will save them all--first love, then, compassion?

Prologue



The Augur put down his pen and wiped the ink from his hands. Staring at them, he found the wrinkles and spots more pronounced than ever. He was growing old. It happened to them all, sooner, or later. Fortunately, for the Ecusson, it was usually much later.

A sound startled him and he lifted his head. Someone was outside. His apprentice silently entered the room and awaited his masterís command. The Augur seized his journal and stuffed it into the boyís trembling hands. "Go, run from here and never return. You must hide my journal so that no one may find it. Do you understand? Trust no one but her. You will know her when she comes."

The child nodded, his eyes filling with tears. "Thereís no time for mourning yet, Child. Do as I say. Go!" The boy turned and fled the chamber. He squeezed through a small opening in the back of the Augurís office, only large enough for himself and the Ecussonís elderly dog. The dog had suddenly stopped barking a short time ago, and the Augurís heart ached.

The boy, Tylk, closed his eyes as the sound of splintering wood reached him. They had unearthed his master and at the Augurís advanced age, he did not see how the old man could hold them off - alone. He should go to the others but that had not been his behest. Tears burned his face as he fled the building grounds and entered the forest. He knew they would not find him unless he chose it to be so. The Augur had taught his apprentice that much.

* * * *

"Do you not feel the rage within you, Child? Act upon it!" The silky voice ordered mercilessly.

"I feel it, but I donít understand," the child whined to his tormentor.

"It is her fault, surely you can see that. She feels it too, you know, the torment, the longing. You are different, unlike any others, even her. She deserves to be punished."

The boyís dark and empty eyes hardened. "Yes, yes I do see."













Chapter One


At rest I traipse through the hidden corridors
of my youth,
I tiptoe for fear I may wake the sleeping horrors
I choose to forget.


Sarah awoke alone in her cold, dark apartment. There had been too many men of late, so many, seeking a love she could never find. Filled with self-loathing, she pulled on her robe and padded softly to the window. The view outside was as desolate as the emptiness of her soul. The world lay blanketed with once pure white snow turned gray from the grime of the city streets that surrounded it with their ugliness. Shuddering, she turned away from the window, a vision she could still turn her back on, unlike the one that drew her sight inward.

Cranking the heat, she hoped the warmth would fill her as much as the room in

which she stood. Her mind went back to the phone call of the previous evening. Her Aunt had called to inform her of her fatherís death. She would be expected home for the funeral. Home, she thought bitterly, is that what they called it? She did not know what a home was - could not, for she had never been in one. Her Aunt had said if she needed help she could turn to the family, but Sarah did not know what a family was either. How could she?

Yet back she must go. She would return to the libertine world of her youth, to a place she swore she had left behind forever--a house not a home. Eyeing herself critically in her full-length mirror, she realized, sadly, she had lost her softness. She looked hard and bitter, not old, she was only twenty-five, but hard. Her deep blue eyes stared back at her blankly shuttered from the world around her. There was no light, she thought. She looked dead and perhaps for all intents and purposes, that was true. Her honey blonde hair hung abundant but limp, surrounding her heart shaped face in thick waves. The paleness of her flawless skin was only accentuated by a set of full red lips, grim against the pallor, and pinched by memories she no longer wished to own.

Who was Sarah Tims, she wondered? What was she? She knew that she slept with men in a futile search for warmth while at the same time loathing them. Her psychologist had told her that, as if she didnít know. Always seeking love, she tried desperately to feel something, anything but she could feel nothing: Sarah Tims, the ice maiden. She actually laughed at that, but the movement only made her look a caricature of what she once was - who she could have been.

Turning away from the image of herself, she mechanically set about the task of calling the insurance company she worked for to inform them she would require some time off. She had vacation time coming anyway. They were sympathetic, telling her to take two or three weeks. She felt at a loss afterwards; without her job, her routines, she was nobody. She would become the ice maiden and melt away with the spring thaw.

Automatically following her daily routines, Sarah tried to rationalize her thinking as she sat down to eat. Uneasily recalling her youth, she tried to remember a happy time but nothing came. This was wrong, she knew there must have been some in that time before her mother passed away when she was twelve, but still only vague images filled her. She pictured a time when she had been Daddy's Princess...laughter pierced her ears and she jumped. Had it been her own?

Her mind roiling in turmoil, fled to, then from, the hated images of her brother, images that haunted and tormented her. His face, his hands, how he had touched her. She hated him, had even tried to kill him but failed. Her father had been ineffectual after her mother died, withdrawing to a world of his own. He had never believed Sarah's "stories" of her brother - never listened. Yet, she sighed, the man had a heart of gold in his own way. She was much like him. If only she could have reached him, broken the barrier that spread between them as impenetrable to her as the Great Wall of China to its enemies.

No one spoke to her of her mother's death, yet how she had needed to talk. Where had her Aunt been then? As she had grown older the family had disbanded, each going their own way. Without her mother to pull them together, there had been little contact.

She had not seen her brother, John Andrew for six years, had she? Her father, well, it had at least been four. She wondered now if she had visited, if some of the anger could have been healed...but then, she knew it could not. It was like the proverbial poisonous knife twisting and forever turning in the same open wound. Too many angry words and accusations stood between them all. Bitterness, tasting of hate, welled up inside her.

She would attend his funeral. That, she would do. She would put herself through the hell of going back, for him. He was, after all, her father. He had given her life and life, however dismal, was still life. At one time, he had loved her, even cherished her.

Tired of remembering, she headed for the shower, turning the water as hot as she could bear in hopes of feeling something, of purging herself of all she had become. Dressing carefully afterwards, she chose a charcoal gown and black pumps. She studied herself once more in the mirror. She knew that she appeared beautiful but it was only a shell. What lay beneath was empty and ugly. She panicked, backing away from herself. Would people be able to see through her? She longed for a spark, for something within her to shine, but she knew all that was light had been snuffed out of her long ago. Packing her suitcase, she grieved for her lost emotions, her lost self. She would never be whole.

She had tried therapy but it did not work, as she could not even get angry anymore, never mind forgive. Bitter and cold, that she could manage. The therapist had told her she must work to break down the walls with which she had entombed herself. She liked the poetry of the wording but could not follow through. That shield, those walls, protected her from the loveless world around her, from the words that pierced her, to the touches that shamed her. She had never been loved, at least, to her mind, properly. Most certainly, she had not been protected. She had left therapy after three months, much to the relief of her therapist.

Sitting in her car while the engine warmed away the early touch of winter, she wondered if John would be there. He had little love for his father and certainly no respect, if that was what Sarah was paying. She hoped he would not come. How could he? It would be so much easier, but she could not even care that much about John anymore. The thought of him stirred a vague, hazy memory that fled her consciousness in terror. She shuddered at what she had become.

It was a three-hour drive to her hometown. She had moved but had never been able to go any further. She wondered idly if she were a masochist. No, she shook her head and looked around the snow-kissed winter landscape. It was this vision which drew her. The mountains and prairies of her home, that wondrous heady mix which supported her through her own sheer love for their beauty.

Pulling up in front of her father's house, she felt her heart constrict. Her foot jerked on the pedal and she almost sped away. Trying to control her shivering, she climbed shakily out of her new green Mazda and headed up the wide steps to the porch. Perhaps she did care. The door opened to a short, pudgy lady in her fifties. Her steel gray hair hung limply, as yet uncurled, and her eyes peered hazy and red rimmed at Sarah.

"Sarah, oh Sarah, love how are you? I'm so sorry," Mary cried embracing her. Sarah tried not to recoil from the unwanted contact.

"It's OK, really, Aunt Mary. Iím fine," she added trying to look caring, but she was not sure how caring looked. She felt like a lousy actress in a poorly written B movie. "They gave me some time off work so I can help with any arrangements," Sarah offered feebly as she entered the house and removed her coat. Mistaking her shivering for cold, Mary brought her over to stand by the fire.

"It's all been taken care of, Sarah. Your father left an excellent will that covered everything. You and John Andrew are to share the house and all in it except for one special gift." Mary paused and pulled a book from the shelf beside her. "This is yours, Sarah," she said with a show of surprise at the bequest, not understanding why something so trivial was set apart.

Sarah looked timidly at the book. It was a poetry and fantasy picture book, worn by time and use. She had adored it as a child, though it was ancient. Afraid to open it now, she remembered the brief comfort it had brought her as a child, especially one particular page.

Sensing her discomfort, Mary said, "Why don't you take your bags upstairs, dear, to your old room and have a rest. We have not been able to locate John, yet, so youíre the only one here," she added, much to Sarah's relief.

Sarah nodded, distracted and headed slowly up the long, narrow staircase, realizing she could still feel the shock of fear. It had found a home in the pit of her belly, its cold fire dancing nervously. Trying to compose herself, she stopped for a moment in the hallway that led to her door to study an oil portrait of her paternal grandfather. The fear persisted. How many times had she done this? Her heart pounded while with slow careful twists, she turned the brass knob and opened the door, memories flooding her with torturous visions.

Slumping to the floor, she carefully opened the book, looking for the same healing it had offered her as a child.

She found the writing within the first pages.

My dearest Sarah,

I hope this book will mean as much to
you now, as it did as a child.
I have missed you terribly and I am
so sorry, Sarah, so very, very,
sorry. Forgive me.
Love Dad

Sarah felt her energy drain. This was why he had left it to her, to apologize. Sarah tried to feel something. She knew she should but they were only the words of a dying old man. Would he have said them to her face if given the chance? She knew she was being unfair but could not help it. She wanted to believe, oh how she wanted to believe. She flipped slowly to the page that held her favorite poem, the one that had taught her that others felt as she did.

Nobodyís Child

We sit surrounded by silence in a room filled with noise,
While emptiness lays claim to our soul,
It is the bottomless pit,
The belly,
We are not whole.
We are shadowed by our needs,
Shamed by otherís deeds,
The butterfly escapes the net
To be caught by the spiderís greed.
A fleeting kiss,
A light touch,
For her we long,
We do not belong.
We pray for love,
Fight for acceptance,
Hope to remember,
When last we smiled,
For we,
Are nobodyís child.


Suddenly, Johnís face danced before the pages, his eyes filled with blood. She stuffed her knuckles in her mouth to stop from screaming. The blood - a memory stirred, giving life to darkness she could not face.

Closing her eyes, Sarah rested her head on the bookís soft pages and smiled slightly before standing. Suddenly she was calm and at peace, happier than she had ever been. She knew what to do. What she must do, to be free. She checked the door to make sure it was locked then walked slowly across the wooden floor to the window, and looked down. The wrought iron fence stood as it always had, though rusted, its spiked posts looking like teeth that returned her scrutiny with a grin. She felt at peace.

She opened the window, climbed up onto the sill, spread her arms and gently fell forward. She knew the fall would not kill her but the fence, oh yes, the fence, most certainly would.

* * * *

"Got her!" The voice screamed out the announcement through currents of its ownerís agony as Sarahís limp form landed at his feet. He toppled, rent and beyond help beside her.

"Shield protect us! I had so hoped he would not die." Pain filled eyes bore into Sarah. "And here she is, after all this time, silly child! You are most fortunate Asturn did not die in vain." The menace in the voice was obvious. Sarah gaped back uncomprehending and helpless, aware only of the grief and anger in the one who addressed her.

"WhereÖam I?" she finally managed to stammer.

"You are Crossed, Sarah. This is Equidistant."


Professional Reviews

5 stars
ďFive Stars! Writer Orchard follows her debut work The Thoughtmasterís Conduit with another well-drawn impressive read in The Augurís Voice. The Augurís Voice pulls the reader right into the narrative from the commencement paragraph, grips them close from beginning to end in this action packed drama straight on to the very last line on the last page.Ē Molly Martin, Book Dragon





A rich fantasy
ďBlended with rich fantasy, The Augurís Voice is the story of one womanís unwitting quest to destroy the false images of herself as fostered by those who abused her psyche for their own dysfunctional motives. A rare and well-crafted marriage of sword & sorcery and contemporary drama, The Augurís Voice is one novel that will remain with you long after the read. Bravo to author Kerry Orchard and her Muse for a touching, unforgettable tale!Ē Maria Osborne Perry, author of Ravished Wings








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