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A Dream of the Past (Book 1 in the Dream Series)

A Dream of the Past (Book 1 in the Dream Series)

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A Dream of the Past (Book 1 in the Dream Series)

346 Seiten
5 Stunden
Apr 4, 2013


Marcila doesn't fit in on her home island of Slinaria. When she finds out her father abandoned her as a toddler, she goes to the mainland to search for him.

She discovers magic is more than myth and learns wonders beyond comprehension. But when a young caden, a magical creature with unlimited power and a simple mind comes into her life, she cannot ignore the urge to help him.

But there are those who want to kill the peace-loving cadens and bring about their demise. With the help of mages and civilians she meets, she makes plans to stop the caden killings.

Apr 4, 2013

Über den Autor

I'm a writer and editor living in North Alabama with my beloved husband and stepsons. Seven little lovers of fur and whiskers are my greatest non-human companions.

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A Dream of the Past (Book 1 in the Dream Series) - Lisa Rusczyk

A Dream of the Past

Lisa Rusczyk

Copyright 2010 by Lisa Rusczyk

Smashwords Edition

Cover art by Mikie Hazard

Other books by Lisa Rusczyk

The Blue Pen

Sam the Night Person

Full Moon in December

Chasing the Dark

The Message

1000 Years Ago

Gamane seemed truly sorry. His black eyes were brighter than usual and Kalelli could tell he must not have been reading her thoughts, as she had asked him. If he had been plundering her mind, he would know that she was thinking that she didn’t want to go along with him to the tower in the woods, where he had a present for her. He had said that he just wanted to give her one little gift to apologize, and she had purposefully yelled inside her head that she didn’t want to spend any time with him at all. His expression had not changed, nor had his demeanor. This meant he had respected her wishes, and that maybe he was being sincere.

She supposed she owed it to him to give him one last private moment. They had been such good friends growing up through the war together, both at the mercy of their government to fight in ways they both felt was immoral. They had been right and the world, all of Sena, was devastated. Most were dead, and those that were left were just starting to rebuild some sort of lives, putting some structure back into the cities.

Gamane wanted her love, but she could not give it. Having seen the things she had, she doubted she could ever love anyone in that way. Most of her true affections were only there for her brother’s children, the manufactured visionaries who told her to stay away from Gamane. The rest of her compassion was wrapped up in hoping for her people to find life again, find hope again, and she supposed Gamane fell into this category, in his own way. She wanted him to be at peace.

Just this one last little thing, please, Kalelli, then we can part ways. I just want to give you something you’ll remember me by.

Kalelli’s cat companion, Jewels, followed at her heels as they entered the tower and climbed the spiral stairs to the top, Gamane just behind them. Kalelli had enchanted Jewels to follow her, not wanting to be alone with Gamane.

On the top floor was a table. Kalelli approached and looked at the surface. A perfect crystal rested there, dark and mysterious. Kalelli thought it would look pretty in the light, and picked it up to hold out to the sunrays coming in the window. It’s beautiful, Gamane.

She heard a box wing fluttering in the eaves above her. Those birds were everywhere after the war, seeming to be the hardiest of all creatures in the lands.

After looking at it in the light, she held it close to her chest and turned to Gamane. His expression had changed. His face was angry and cold, like he had finally read that screaming thought she had tossed his way earlier. He held out his hand and Kalelli sucked in her breath. This was not a good sign.

Gamane said, Now you will keep your eyes open. I will not let you shut them as you watch from your prison in my command!

Kalelli felt her eyelids burn off her face even as she tried to close them. She did not scream; instead, she made a fast preparation spell, for she knew now she had been tricked. Gamane had not given up on her, after all. With a twist of her hand, she brought down the box wing from the eaves, and with her other hand she shifted Jewels to her, still clutching the crystal in her palm with her smallest finger. Both of Gamane’s arms were in the air as he cast some enchantment on her, but she was faster and better than he was, and she pushed all of her mind into one last defensive magical burst. Within a second’s time, the tower exploded into hundreds of beasts, scampering and flying about in the confusion of their birth.


Present Day

In every town and farmland, there were stories about a cave at the edge of the desert. Not many people had even seen the desert, as most folks in Slinaria traveled very little, but they all had their own ideas as to what it looked like. Most people had not seen sand, either. Marcila thought it would be orange like the sunset, and it would glow like the ocean.

The desert cave appeared only to those who fasted in the hot sun for three days. Marcila thought that made sense. Going without food could make people see things. However, the people in her village said the cave appeared because of the ritual. She noticed that people often immediately chose illogical choices when faced with a new situation.

Inside the desert cave could be found mass riches and deep sorrows. There was a well-known story about a man named Smyth who had sought out the cave in the middle of summer. He did the traditional fast and the entrance to the cave was revealed to him. It is said that the minute he crossed the threshold, a gust of bees flew up from within and covered him. The cave disappeared yet again. The man was seen thirty years later in Skilton, looking exactly the same age as he had when he left the desert edge thieves town of Pancritty, except that he had all golden teeth and a diamond piercing in his left nostril.

Marcila, upon hearing this tale for the first time at age six, asked, Who saw him get attacked by bees? If he went out there alone, I mean? And really, anyone could say he was the mythical Smyth.

Her singer paused his song before ending it as Marcila asked her questions, and answered, So young to ponder such things. You’d do better to live up the story than to ask why or how.

Singers are those who tell the stories. In Slinaria, it was a very popular profession since the inhabitants spent so much time idle in between seasons. Marcila often badgered the singers, asking them to sing songs that made sense or that had some meaning, but they would ignore her and tease her, as the kids her age did. By the time she was fifteen, she was bickering with the people over their laws, but had gotten her younger brother Thad out of a tight spot with a local Yak owner. He was accusing Thad of milking his yaks and stealing the milk. Marcila pleaded that it could not have been Thad because he was not even in the village at the time. He had been fishing with her grandfather. This kind of logic was quite new to the Slinarians. When the yak owner proclaimed that if Thad was innocent and that pixies were to be blamed, Marcila explained that nobody had ever seen a pixie and that it was unlikely that they even existed. At this, many people complained that, of course nobody had seen the pixies; they were invisible. She lost her argument that the thief was most likely the yak owner’s own son trying to cure a hangover with an old remedy - which she also tried at one other time to debunk. Everyone locked things up tight for months, out of fear of the pixies, and offered clay bowls of milk on the nights the moon was out. This drove Marcila mad.

Why are you doing this stupid thing? We were trying to save milk, yet now the whole town is offering it to the cats, for that’s all that’s out there at night.

The people of the village of Slinaria didn’t like being called stupid, and Marcila got a wicked eye from many of the old visionary women for weeks. Milk was continually provided to the invisible pixies and Marcila never had favor with her logic. The iceland people were very forgiving in nature, mostly because they forgot wrongs done to them - perhaps they were frozen right out of their brains. However, Marcila’s drive to point out her way of seeing things was wearing on the others.

Marcila had a very good memory. This was not the only way she was different from the others. She also had a bluish tint to her white-blonde hair, while the rest of the people were simply white-blonde. Her eyes were slightly violet and once, when she was ill, her pale skin turned green, like the shiny sea fish the fishers pulled out of the ocean.

Her mother raised her and Thad, and she was told her father had died when Thad was an infant. Marcila was just two when he passed.

When Marcila turned sixteen, her mother came into the birthday hut, wrapped in a Yak fur, and sat on the bed-bench next to Marcila. Marcila had traded her seal cap for a strange thing that a trader brought to their village. It was rough red leather and square, and it opened up and within were sheets of paper, at least that’s what the trader said they were called. He said the red square was a book and that the paper had writing on it. She asked him what the writing did, and he said that it told a story that never changed. She sat on her bed-bench opening it and closing it, trying to figure which way was up, and if there was an up.

Her mother faked interest in the dull object, saying it had no purpose and was therefore a waste of a seal cap, but she always let her children decide things for themselves. She said from time to time that it’s what their father would have wanted.

Marcila, you know it’s your birthday.

I know, Mo. I haven’t left my hut since this morning after I got this ‘book.’

It was tradition that on one’s birthday, one would spend the day inside a private room with only two visitors - mother and father. Marcila had only had one visitor all her life on her birthday. She was supposed to spend the time alone pondering the past year of her life, then letting it go away into the fire at the center of the hut. This was the only day of the year anyone was warmed by fire. She sat with her book all day and wished she could always feel such warmth. Many of the people thought her weak, as she often complained of cold and told people she wished she lived in Tat, where the wind was always kind and the sun would warmly kiss children on the head each morning. The Slinarians were immune to cold, but not Marcila. She had tried to make her little brother admit he was shivering at night, but he would only say that he had nervous energy he had to release by shaking it off.

Mo said, It’s my time to come and see you. Each year I have wanted to tell you of your father on your birthday, but each year I fail to do so. This is sixteen years and if I do not tell you now, then I should never tell you.

This seemed like faulty logic to Marcila, but where Mo was concerned, she cared not at all.

Marcila answered, I thought I knew about my father. He was a fisher. He died from a Kerrah shark bite poison.

Her mother sighed and wrapped her arm around Marcila. A secret for you, wise nose. There’s no such thing as Kerrah shark poison.

She said she wasn’t surprised, but she was. Well, what is it about my father that you have not told me?

Marcila, you and Thad are not full-blooded Slinarians.

The daughter opened and closed her book, looking at the fire.

Her mother continued. I thought this would be very hard, but it is relieving.

Dad wasn’t Slinarian? How could I not know? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Marcila, people here forget things. And the ones who don’t do not fool with one another’s business.

The young girl blushed in shame, thinking her mother was chastising her for doing just that.

Noticing this, her mother said, Your curiosity reminds me so much of him, of your father. It was one of his most endearing qualities.

This made Marcila feel better, and her blush was replaced with warmth.

Who is he? Why haven’t you told me?

Mo sighed again. It’s complicated. I have spent each of my birthdays forgetting my pain, but I hold on to this one pain, the biggest pain I have known, so that I could share the truth with you. You can decide to tell Thad if you want. He is not as...curious as you, but he might want to know.

Marcila flipped the papers of her book, looking down at the ‘writing.’ She wondered how to make it tell a story that never changed, and she waited for her mother to speak again.

Maybe this isn’t too easy, but it does feel good to tell you. You get that hair from your father. He was not a fisher. He was somewhat of a fish. At this, mother giggled and scratched her head with her pointy fingertips.

Are you telling tales like a singer? Marcila asked her mother.

No, no, love. Just something I used to call him. I called him Fish.

Marcila waited for an explanation, but when her mother just sat and smiled at the fire, she asked, Why did you call him Fish?

She looked at her daughter as though surprised she was still sitting next to her. Marcila had never seen her mother look so young, so warm. He washed up in a fisherman’s net one day. That fisherman was your grandfather, my father, and I was assisting him that day, as all my brothers were sick with coldlung. Dad pulled up a net and there he was, a man who could breathe under water, caught up with our other fish.

Breathe under water?

She nodded, Yes. Yes, that’s right, and it’s no singer tale. After we talked to him... Her mother paused and Marcila watched her eyes grow small with memory. After that, we kept his secret and agreed to house him and hide him for the rest of his life. She hugged her arm around Marcila even more tightly. You must know I loved him the very instant the net was pulled onto the ice. I would have done anything to protect him, by the sound of my family’s screams.

Marcila knew these words were spoken with great respect and honesty. It was a Slinarian oath of binding that one speaks this way, and to have a strong, muscular woman like her mother giving such an oath would mean her mother would die if he did, according to the tradition. Even in event of the other’s terminal illness, the oath taker would be sure to perish after the honored one. Marcila thought the oath was responsible for too many great people dying, but here was one before her who had not kept her oath.

Why are you alive, Mo?

What does your reasoning tell you?

They both looked into the fire, Marcila thinking for a moment. He’s alive then. So, who is he? Who is my father?

Mo looked at Marcila.

I know nobody has ever broken the oath, no matter what. Who is he, Mo? Her mother watched her without expression. Who? And why? And...And...

Her mother continued to look at her like she was the fire.

Who? And why would he leave you? Why would he... She set the book aside. Why would he leave Thad and me?

You are so strong, my little girl. As strong as he was and you shed not a tear for his abandonment.

Is that why you haven’t told me? Because you thought I’d cry?

You? No, I never thought you’d cry. Maybe you’d be a little angry, she squinted at Marcila, looking for the anger, But you wouldn’t cry. And once I tell you the story, you will not be a little angry anymore. But you must promise me something before I continue.

What, Mo?

You will not go looking for him after I reveal the truth to you. You will not. You must promise.

I promise, Mo. Marcila thought promises were just words, though, with nothing to hold one to them.

So Marcila’s mother, whose name is Farme, told her story.

Seventeen years ago, your grandfather pulled a man onto the ice in one of his nets. He was struggling and gasping at the air, but the moment I saw him I loved him. His skin was greenish and his hair blue. He was muscular and tall and he looked at me first, then your grandfather. Where am I? he whispered, still coughing the icy water from his lungs.

Now, you must understand this, Marcila. Our world of Sena is much bigger than Slinaria, and it has wonders we cannot imagine as we live our peaceful lives here. There are both great and horrible people in it, and magic and myth are more real than you know.

This man passed out before we could answer, and my father and I wrapped his naked, freezing body up in a tarp and carried it back to our home. We lit a fire for healing his cold, realizing he was a foreigner and would freeze to death if we did not. My father is a more open-minded man than most, as you know, and he said he felt this man was good at heart and needed our help.

When the man came to, we fed him cooked meat and warm wine, and his green skin paled a bit at this. He told us his name, which I will not tell you. It is better that you do not know.

My father told him that he could stay with us until he recovered, as long as he told us his story with all honesty.

Young man, my father said, I will know if you are lying. I have insight into such things. Do tell, how did you come to be caught in our nets? How are you still alive after being in the waters of our southern island?

The man drank much of the wine, but he stayed sharp. He said his tale was not safe to tell, and he told us he would be on his way rather than share his story. My father said that this was not good, for he could not let the man leave, afraid that the town would be at risk. I knew it was a bluff. My father was a curious man; it’s where you get some of it, Marcila. But I know now that it was not his warning that made the man tell us who he was and where he came from. He looked into my eyes and I could almost hear his heart telling me that he thought I was a beautiful woman. Most people from the other lands find us beautiful. Did you know that, Marcila?

He turned to father and said he would tell us, as long as we would tell nobody who he was.

He said, I need a friend. Then, looking at me, I could use as many as I can find.

Okay, my father said, Tell us how you could withstand the cold water. How did you come to be under the surface so long? What magic do you possess that you could do such a thing?

I possess no magic, he said, and sipped deeply from his wine cup. I do, however, know one who does. He was my master, and my friend. He is now dead.

Dead? Father squinted at him.

Murdered. Are you sure you want to know more? I know a little about your people. Murder is a rare thing here, if it ever has happened. Do you want to know of these horrors? Do you wish your daughter to hear?

My father’s eyes lit up, as though being offered a gift rather than a warning, and said, I believe the world belongs to all of us, young man. My daughter’s ears would do well to understand the ways of all of Sena, not just our little fishing town at the edge of the world.

You’re of broad thought to say such things, the man said. This is an unusual trait for your lifestyle.

Maybe you don’t know as much about us as you think, my father answered as he poured more wine.

The man smiled, then laughed. It was such a sweet sound, Marcila. It was like the fire got brighter and his eyes grew more violet. Yes, that’s where you got your eyes.

I could see that my father was impressed with his attitude, and mentioned that he was light-hearted for a foreigner.

When you’ve been in the oceans with nobody but the fish and sharks for company for eight months, everything seems funny, or else you’d lose your mind.

I entered the conversation for the first time. Or maybe you’ve already lost it. Now could we move past the appetizers and on to the meat?

He laughed again and I laughed back, just out of pleasure of hearing his laugh.

I am from a main land of Sena. I am a warrior, a protector.

At this, my father sighed deeply and leaned back.

I asked, What? What does this mean, father?

He answered us both with, I see why you were at first hesitant to tell us your tale.

I was getting frustrated at the silence after this statement, and said, Why? What is a protector?

The man answered me. I dedicated my life to protecting my master.

My father added, A protector chooses a dangerous life, because only those who have reason to need such a loyal warrior at his side are in the kind of danger that merits it.

I asked, What do you mean?

The man said, My master was a self-taught man of magic.

I said, I thought mages are tales of singers.

My father told me that not all singers only tell tales. I believed him.

Magic, the man continued, is no different a skill than sword work. It can be, in fact, more dangerous. You see, Farme, and his voice softened as he said my name, Magic is mind-play, where as metal is body-play. All magic is, is a powerful will set into action.

I asked, And what is your kind of play?

He told me, People like me use our bodies and the materials of the world to succeed and live.

My father asked him where he learned such understanding.

From my master, of course. He felt it necessary to educate those who were protecting his life. Several had died before me, and he said it would not happen again.

Who is this master? my father asked.

You know I cannot say, except I will tell you he was killed for capturing and keeping a dangerous creature. He was fascinated by power, but he was not wicked in his pursuits.

As far as you know, Father added.

I thought the man would be angry by this, but he only shrugged.

So, I prompted him further, What kind of creature? And why would anyone want to kill him for this?

He said, He had a caden in his possession.

Neither Father nor I had heard of such a thing, and my father explained that we knew very little of the secrets of the world, such as the names and natures of all its creatures.

You’d do better not to know what a caden is.

My father asked, What kind of man is your master to capture a creature such as this?

He said, I told you. He craves power, though I do not fault him for this. He did not want this power to hold over others, but more as a protective device. He had many enemies.

My father said, Men who have many enemies are not good men.

But you may be wrong, he told my father. Isn’t it possible that the greatest of men have more enemies than the most wretched? There are more bad people in the world than good, and if you add the good and bad together, there would be twice as many as that of people who are walking the line between the two. Nobody likes a person who cannot be controlled.

My father sipped his wine slowly, and said, This is the world you are from that you describe, not ours.

We are from the same world, I promise, he said.

There was a pause, and I asked, How did he die?

I found him dead in his underground laboratory. The caden was gone. I had failed to protect him, and under normal circumstances, I would have taken my own life out of my failed attempt. However, my master had instructions for me in case this happened. He told me there were ways he could be killed which I could not protect him from, and that if this happened, I was under duty to follow out his wishes. I was to hide his work, his studies in magic which he chronicled-

Yes, Marcila, in books like the one you traded for.

As I was saying, he told us that he was to take the master’s most treasured and powerful research and hide it in a place none would look. Then I was to guard it for the rest of my life, unless my life was in danger.

What was the purpose of this? Father asked.

I was to be the only man alive who knew where the materials were kept. I had to stay alive until... But he trailed off and this time neither of us pushed questions at him.

Instead, I said, So your life was threatened. What happened then?

He said, My master left me a potion. He said that if I were threatened, then I should drink it and retreat to the sea. He said I would be able to live there for at least a year in hiding. He said that fate would take me where I belonged, that it would take me to one he could not find on his own, to the one who could understand his research and do with it that which he was trying to do. I asked him why he could not find this woman, and he said that she was as well hidden as he hoped to be someday. That’s all I know of her, he added, seeing my curious face.

He continued, So I drank the potion as I stood at the ocean’s edge. I fell into the water and I have been living there ever since. Master said that once I breathed the air, I could not return to the water. He said this is the way he designed the potion, that it was the way of fate.

My father leaned toward him, And do you believe in fate? Do you think this mysterious woman is here, in Slinaria?

He shook his head without a thought and said that he did not know about these things, that he was only acting out of duty and respect for his master. He treated me well. I was a strong and misguided youth, but he saw something in me and took me into his care. He raised me out of a life of despair and gave me hope. I would do anything he asked.

Anything? Father said with raised eyebrows.

My master would not ask evil things of me, he said.

I interrupted their staring at one another with, What is a caden?

He would not tell me because he wasn’t sure. I have heard many tales about them, but I can’t say because I don’t know the truth.

I asked, Did you never see the one your master kept?

He said, No. All I know for certain is that they are enchanted or something like that.

Marcila, your father was not naturally of green skin and blue hair. It was the potion and the water that did this to him, and although as time passed, his skin and hair lightened, it stayed enough to tell the tale of his under water life. You know that your grandfather lives far outside the village, and that is how we kept him from sight. Father saw our love for one another that night, and agreed to keep the man safe as long as necessary. Our people may be made of the same stuff that others in the world are, but we are excellent secret keepers. My brothers said nothing, and after Thad was born, your father disappeared one night. I was so very sad and lonely, and if it weren’t for you and Thad, I would have died from his leaving me. I knew nothing of what happened to him, but there had been a time when

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