Travel with Sonya as she finds herself stranded in a strange world with no modern conveniences and a frightening, yet ill-defined, power floating around inside the minds of the Ruling Family members.
Zorena, chosen heir to the Rule of Anatawen, the most powerful realm on the Vastness of Loraden, at once endears herself to Sonya and simultaneously infuriates the impetuous adolescent. Still, Sonya cannot stop herself as she becomes entwined in the struggles between
good and evil in this place, especially when she discovers the presence of another person from her world who is fighting for the other side.
Zorena and the Medallion of Cordandu
Rule Number One Is For The Faint of Heart
Sonya dropped the match with a curse and sucked at her burned finger. The cave went black as ink, but she kept moving, feeling the wall with her left hand.
She was sure she had heard footsteps behind her, or were they in front?
Why had she taken off in the middle of the night like that? Rule Number One echoed in her head: no one goes farther than shouting distance alone. That’s why she’d waited until everyone in her campsite had fallen asleep.
The moon shone brightly, lighting the path. All day long the mountains had beckoned to her. She just couldn’t resist them any longer.
Better do something about that willpower...or lack thereof, she thought derisively.
Her breath came in gasps as she moved along the wall, wondering where the path would take her and wondering how her life had gotten so mixed up so fast. Something about nature, hiking, camping, even fishing...it all pulled at her so stubbornly. She just couldn’t ignore it anymore.
She dreamed of riding her little pinto pony as fast as he could run, up the highest mountain she could find. But around home, it was so impractical.
And probably illegal, she thought. I wonder what Thoreau would think about Rule Number One.
Just then, she heard the footstep again. She turned towards the sound, but saw only blackness. Suddenly the wall ended and she slid, reaching for the ground behind her as she fell.
Sonya’s face screwed up with anger, fear, and a feeble attempt at courage. She braced herself, expecting to be stopped abruptly by stone at any second.
But the fall seemed everlasting and she cursed aloud at her stupidity. First, she snuck away from the campsite, climbing higher and higher until her toes were frozen. Then, she found this cave and let her imagination run away with tales of fortunes just because the walls sparkled. A cave, with obvious signs of humans building fences and things, and I get excited over sparkling walls, as if it could be gold or something.
Her thoughts and her descent stopped abruptly in a splash of icy water swirling around her. Sonya’s heart raced as she kicked and flailed her arms, trying to rise to the top. But something pulled her down, and soon she could hold her breath no longer.
Sonya woke abruptly, her stomach tight. She lay in bed. She sighed. It was only a dream.
“Thank God,” she whispered.
“Who is god, and for what reason does tey merit your thanks?”
Sonya sat up and looked for the owner of the deep, soft voice. The down-filled tick gave way under her elbows, and the thick bedclothes creaked from her movements.
They were in a large, sunny room; a warm but refreshing breeze came through the open window. Hot embers crackled in the fireplace.
Sonya stared in disbelief at the man who spoke. He could have come out of an old book or movie.
He had a long, black beard; he wore a white outfit of baggy pants and a wrap top resembling a martial artist’s gi that was tied with a belt encrusted with sparkling stones. His feet were wrapped in a moccasin-like fabric and tied on with twine. A headband that matched the belt completed the outfit and held his flowing black hair in check.
The fire glowed behind him.
“Who are you? Where am I? Where did I get these clothes? And what on earth is ‘tey?’”
“And you knew? You knew the whole time?” Sonya turned to face Zorena who stood above her facing the window.
The light of day behind magnified Zorena’s presence. But anger surged through Sonya with every breath.
“Well, where the hell is he?” she demanded.
Zorena shook her head. “In a very dark place.” She went to the table and sat.
Sonya watched in disbelief. How could anyone be so unfair? After all she’d done to help, didn’t she deserve honesty at the very least?
“You knew and you didn’t tell me!”
Sonya went to Zorena, grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her around so violently that the chair moved with her. Zorena’s face showed only weariness. At first, Sonya wanted to curse Zorena with whatever horrible names came to mind. But words could not express her rage. Sonya lifted her hand to strike, but pulled back in shame and confusion. She smashed her fist on the mantel, whirled around, and shouted.
“Why didn’t you tell me? Who do you think you are, damn it! I want to know why you didn’t tell me. I demand to know!”
Zorena’s eyes flashed at the commanding tone. But her bearing remained unchanged. She simply didn’t have the energy to act otherwise.
“I could not tell you, Sonya. You will realize that yourself if you think for a moment.”
“But I left him there,” Sonya waved vaguely at the window, her voice cracking faintly.
“I would’ve stayed if I knew. I could’ve gone back and found him.” Her voice cracked again, and she inhaled deeply, refusing to cry. She straightened and leaned against the stone of the fireplace.
Zorena stood slowly, wearily, one hand on the back of the chair.
“That is precisely why I could not tell you. You had the Medallion, not he.”
Sonya rested her head on the mantel. No, she wouldn’t cry, she was much too angry. Zorena placed a hand on Sonya’s shoulder but she pushed it away and ran out the door.