Authors: Aderyn Lonigan
INTO THE FRAY is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
INTO THE FRAY. Copyright © 2013 by Aderyn Lonigan. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address Aderyn Lonigan at P.O. Box 10103, Bedford, New Hampshire 03110.
Cover art copyright © 2013 Howard David Johnson All rights reserved
Copyright © 2013 Aderyn Lonigan
All rights reserved.
ISBN 13: 9781490932583
eBook ISBN: 978-1-63003-962-2
Library of Congress Control Number: 2013913206
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, North Charleston, SC
Please visit my website at
I would like to thank those who read and critiqued my work along the way, including Bill, Apryl, Maureen, Linda and John. Their advice was greatly helpful and deeply appreciated. I am solely responsible for any errors and inadequacies that may exist.
This book is for William Golden.
His friendship was resolute in the best and worst of times.
My love for him is transcendent.
streamer of incense slowly made its way upward from a shallow metal pot on the floor of the small chamber, its gentle musky fragrance caressing the wax stalactites that clung to the black iron metalwork above. Suddenly it began dancing wildly between two large white candles before being captured and swallowed up by just the slightest breath of the cool evening breeze.
The bottoms of the wispy high clouds that floated over the distant jagged mountain peaks made purple by the waning starlight reflected the last vestiges of the day in a bright amber glow that passed through the half-opened, makeshift wooden balcony doors, softly illuminating the austere furnishings of a rustic straw bed and a few old blankets. A scattering of small, well-worn rugs added splashes of color to the cold, dark stone floor.
At the end of one of the rugs, a woman of twenty years sat motionless on a round leather hassock, her wide gray eyes intently transfixed on the distant horizon. A dark green woolen robe laid over her slender
five-foot, eight-inch frame like a small tent, draping around her on the floor. Her thick, black hair stopped two-thirds of the way down her back, trimmed neatly in a horizontal line. Her delicate oval-shaped face, with the softest, most feminine cheeks, occasionally twitched, faintly hinting of the world that dominated her mind’s eye—a world of vivid, yet disjointed images that jumped uncontrollably from one to the next.
Through the smoke she could see soldiers wearing red, medieval-style tunics attacking defenseless villagers with swords, bows and crossbows… A small boy in tattered, blood-stained peasant clothing ran up to her, pulling on her arm. “Please help us, they killed my father,” he frantically begged. She pulled him to her and ducked to the right as arrows just missed them. She shouted over the commotion, telling him to run into the woods… She looked to her left to see other villagers hiding behind an old wooden cart. She shouted at them to run, run as fast they could into the surrounding forest… She felt a gentle nudge on her leg and realized the boy was still with her. She dropped to one knee, grabbed him by the shoulders and ordered him to run. He nodded his understanding just as two arrows hit him from behind, pushing his limp body into her arms. She looked down to see his blood all over her hands… A soldier was coming at her. She grabbed her bow and fired an arrow that found the soldiers chest… A line of dark, black clouds that stretched across the sky quietly and swiftly approached… Bodies of dead or dying villagers lie strewn about as soldiers on horseback, armed with torches, set the remaining huts ablaze… She grabbed another arrow, and with the fluid skill of an expert, killed the next soldier she saw… A soldier came up from behind and knocked her bow from her hands, and as she turned toward him, he hit her in the face, and then all went dark… A momentary pause, and then through groggy eyes she awoke to find her arms chained
to a stone wall above her head in a darkened room. A fire was burning vigorously in a stone circle, men in hoods chanting as they processed around it. She could see two figures talking near the fire. “Will she be pliant?” asked the man in the red cloak. “Yes, my lord.” was the response… Suddenly the man in the red cloak was standing face to face with her, his face and voice distorted and unrecognizable. “So you thought to defy me? No matter. You will now become my servant, empowering me to destroy all you hold so dear,” he announced as he pulled back on her hair and forced a liquid down her throat… Later, she walked along a castle hall wearing a black, ornately embroidered woolen dress. Others in dark robes walked behind her… In a large room, the man in the red cloak was standing before many who had gathered, holding the hand of a woman dressed in a grand white gown… Later in a bedroom, that same woman was giving birth to a baby boy… She saw snippets of images, one quickly followed by another, of people dying and suffering, of fire and destruction, flashes of the evil within her that had caused unspeakable pain and suffering to so many… Her heart collapsed as she realized the harm her actions had brought to those she loves… She was held fast by two soldiers, one on each arm, as the man in the red cloak stood before her. He announced so matter-of-factly, “Over these many years, my dear, you have served me well, but, I no longer require your talents.” She begged him, “My lord...no.” And with that, he thrust a sword through her chest.
Her eyelids blinked wildly, and as she came out of her trance, she screamed, “No!!” Her eyes were now wide with fear. The energy she released in that moment extinguished the candles and thrust open the balcony doors with such force that one of them shattered into pieces when it slammed into the exterior of the stone wall. She closed her eyes and took in several deep breaths, trying to reclaim the air that was
sucked from her lungs, keeping herself upright with an outstretched arm firmly planted on the floor. Within her mind, she imaged the chaotic energies leaving her spirit. It was several moments before a sense of calm returned.
“Cacnir,” she quietly cursed out loud to herself in her native tongue as she stood. “What was that?”
She went to the balcony and picked up a few of the remnants of the door hoping for some possibility that it could be salvaged, but it was far beyond repair. She half-smiled sardonically and shook her head, frustrated over her continuing failure to control her emotions. She came back into the room and waved her hand deliberately over the candles, her magics immediately bringing them back to life. Unexpectedly, a strong presence raked her ethereal senses. She looked up to see the silhouetted form of her temple master standing in the doorway.
“May I enter?” The elder’s deep, powerful voice seemed tempered.
“You need never ask, Nashil Kulon. You are always welcome. Please sit,” the young woman motioned toward her hassock. “Would you like something to drink?”
The elder woman’s hand signaled both her rejection of the offer and a request for her young apprentice to sit before her. There was a short contemplative pause before the Nashil began to speak. The young woman marveled at this elder in the deep blue cloak who had so deeply influenced her life. Her floor-length woolen dress was dark green with hints of red and purple, tied off at the waist with a thin black leather belt with silver ring ties. She was of average height, and over the years a bit of pudginess had settled on her hips. Her long gray hair accentuated her girlishly rounded face, which in the candlelight was only now beginning to show the effects of aging. For as long as the young one had been in the temple, she had never heard of anyone guessing within the low side of forty years of the wise woman’s actual age.
Feeling a chill in the air, the elder pulled her cloak around her tighter and asked, “Have you heard from your family lately?”
“No. My mother hasn’t sent a messenger in over seven months.”
The Nashil acknowledged by nodding her head and suggested, “Maybe you should reach out to them.”
“Their world is foreign to me. There is no place for me there.”
“Yes, that is true, but it might be time to reconsider….”
The young one tersely interrupted, “We’ve had this discussion before. Where are you going with this?”
The Nashil smiled and paused to let the moment calm, and then she said, “The well of those we encounter that truly bring meaning and significance to our life is a shallow one. If you can count on more than one hand the people that had lasting influence on you, then you are fortunate. Irrespective of your station within their realm, I sense that you carry a great deal of your father’s influence, and he is well known for his firm, yet adaptable nature.”