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Read ‘The Key of Alanar’, Chapter Three: “Aftermath”

The preview of The Key of Alanar continues! If you haven’t already done so, be sure to read the Prologue, Chapter One and Chapter Two first. Following some life shattering revelations and a failed attempt to flee the island, David must now deal with the repercussions of that fateful day–and his own actions.

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Chapter Three
AFTERMATH

Just as the storm clouds dissipated, things outwardly appeared to settle down in the wake of that traumatic day. But the shockwaves continued to reverberate and in many respects the most painful blow was yet to come.

David’s concussion lingered for several days, which he spent in bed as Janir had advised. But whilst his body recovered, his mind was far from rested as it replayed events over and over again. The light of truth had altered his world in a way that could never be undone. He now had to come to terms with the truth of his origin and the mystery that surrounded his very existence.

His parents hadn’t mentioned it again. In a way it was almost as though the revelation hadn’t slipped out at all. Part of him was annoyed by their evasiveness, but another part was relieved. The events of that day had taken their toll and exhausted him both physically and emotionally. He needed time to recover.

Daily life soon resumed and David returned to school a week after the incident, albeit with much reluctance. It was virtually impossible to keep a secret on such a small island and he knew that just about everyone would have heard about the storm incident. From the moment he set foot outdoors he was acutely aware of having been a major topic of conversation. He disliked being the centre of attention at the best of times and so he detested the self-consciousness that he now experienced. But after a few days interest in him began to subside, much to his relief.

One person he particularly dreaded encountering was Dahn. In his mind he’d envisaged numerous scenarios in which he carefully planned out what he would say to his tormentor, but none of these encounters transpired as he’d imagined. When he did see Dahn it was on his way home from school and they merely exchanged frosty glances. The next time they crossed paths, Dahn ignored him altogether. Evidently now that Dahn had done what he’d set out to do, to hurt him, he’d lost all interest and was content to seek his sadistic pleasures elsewhere.

Back at home, concern soon shifted to David’s father. Jon was not as resilient as his son and was still suffering the after-effects of being out at sea amid the storm. He had developed a cough that had spread to his chest and was steadily worsening. Sania, the island’s head physician, had tried administering several remedies, but they had failed to help. Although loathe to admit it, she was at a loss to help further. Though Sania was proficient at treating minor ailments, this was a problem that far exceeded her expertise. Much to Sania’s chagrin, Jesanda sought out Janir, the mysterious stranger who had helped rescue David. Janir appeared to possess a medicinal skill that Sania, for all her good intentions, lacked. At Jesanda’s request Janir agreed to examine Jon.

David was excited to see him again, although he wished that the circumstances were different. By the time Janir arrived, Jon’s condition was deteriorating. He was now bedridden, having difficulty breathing and was coughing up large amounts of fluid. As Janir examined him, Jesanda and David waited outside anxiously. When Janir emerged from the bedroom, David noticed the solemnity of his expression and immediately realized that things were bad. “He has an acute infection of the lungs,” Janir said. “It appears to be a bacterial infection. I would guess he contracted the infection when he was out at sea in the storm.”

David felt a sharp pang of guilt, for he knew that he was responsible.

Janir went on: “It is possible he ingested some form of bacteria from the water. His body is doing its best to fight off the infection. All I can do is to aid it in its struggle. I can try giving him some herbs and extracts known to have anti-bacterial properties.”

“Do whatever you have to do,” Jesanda said, her voice filled with desperate resolve.

Janir immediately set to work preparing several remedies, including a salve that he applied to Jon’s chest, a compress to reduce his fever and three different tinctures made with ingredients he claimed to have obtained from far-off lands. Jesanda was fired with the determination that with Janir helping, Jon would soon recover.

On one occasion David happened to walk into the room and saw Janir sitting by the bedside, his hands placed upon Jon’s chest as he slept. He was chanting a strange incantation and David thought that for a fleeting moment he saw Janir’s hands glow. David slipped out, not wanting to interrupt whatever Janir was doing. But he found his curiosity piqued ever more by the enigmatic newcomer and felt compelled to learn all that he could about him. Currently, however, everyone was too preoccupied by Jon’s illness, which despite Janir’s best efforts was not improving.

David tried to help his mother as much as he could, assisting her around the house and trying to bolster her resolve whenever she succumbed to the intense fear and vulnerability bubbling beneath the surface. He shared that same fear and looming sense of loss, but it was confounded by another emotion: that of guilt. It was his fault that his father was ill. If it hadn’t been for his disastrous attempt to flee the island, Jon would never have contracted this infection. If his father died, it would forever be on David’s conscience.

A week passed, with Janir a constant presence in the house as he tended to Jon day and night. But it was becoming increasingly evident that while the treatment was helping to make Jon more comfortable, the underlying illness was resisting treatment, and was in fact worsening.

That evening Janir gathered Jesanda and David in the main room. The moment he asked to speak with them, David saw the fear in his mother’s eyes. As they sat down, Jesanda’s hands trembled as she placed them in the lap of her blue dress. David sat beside her, fidgeting nervously. The last rays of sunlight filtered through the circular window, shining on the sparkling stone floor. “As you know,” Janir said, “I have done everything I can think of to cure Jon’s illness. I have given him various medicines, but his condition is not responding to treatment. The infection is spreading throughout his body and though I have tried, there is nothing I can do to stop it…”

The silence cut through David as the implications of Janir’s words sank in.

“No,” Jesanda gasped, shaking her head. “There must be something more you can do.”

Janir knelt by her side. “Jesanda,” he said gently. “There is nothing I can do. His zhian is weak.”

“His zhian?”

“His life force. When the life essence starts slipping away, there is nothing anyone can do to prevent it. If his zhian has decided it is time to withdraw from the physical sheath, then any measures taken to counter that will merely delay the inevitable.”

“What are you saying?”

“You have to be willing to let him go. His time is nearing and there is nothing we can do to change that. We can only accept it and in so doing help ease his passage.”

“How can this be happening?” Jesanda cried, pulling back from Janir. “He’s young, healthy—he’s never been ill like this before! What if it’s you that’s done something to him? How do we even know we can trust you? We know nothing about you! For all we know, you could have…” She trailed off and broke down into sobs.

Janir reached out and placed his hand on her trembling arm. “I know the pain you are feeling. I too have lost people dear to me. But you have to be strong; for your husband and your son…”

As if suddenly just remembering that David was still there, Jesanda reached over to him and held him tightly. He felt her teardrops falling upon the top of his head. David was too shocked to cry. His mind and senses felt numb.

“How much longer does he have?” Jesanda asked, her voice but a whisper.

“There is no way to be certain, but I do not believe very long. Perhaps a day at most. Take this time to be with him. Talk with him. Sit with him. Make the most of this time together. It is more than many people ever get.”

An ominous silence descended upon the house as they kept a deathbed vigil. This was David’s first real experience with death. Although he had lost his grandparents several years earlier, he had been too young to comprehend what was happening. When his parents had explained to him that they were ‘gone’ and that he wouldn’t see them again, he had assumed that they had simply left the island to live somewhere else.

He recalled a time when he was perhaps five years old and had found a dead bird lying in the forest. The bird looked as though it was asleep, but despite his best efforts to nudge it awake, it wouldn’t move. His father had to explain that at some point, when a person or animal is very old or ill, it simply falls asleep and never wakes up again. That was death. Like most children, David had countless questions, most of which his parents were unable to answer. Upon realizing that, like the bird, he too would one day fall asleep and never wake up, he was terrified of going to sleep for months, despite his mother’s assurances that he wouldn’t die “for a very, very long time”. The notion of death horrified yet morbidly fascinated him. He had often wondered what would happen if one of his parents died. Now he was about to find out.

His mother never left Jon’s bedside and David spent long periods sitting with her, as his father drifted in and out of consciousness. When he was awake they would talk (although the conversations were distinctly one-sided, for he was too weak to say much) and when he slept they sat quietly by his side. Janir remained in the house, keeping a discreet distance but available should he be needed.

David couldn’t bear the pain that was tearing him apart. His father was dying and it was his fault. How could he live knowing that? Confused and racked with guilt, he sat huddled in his room at the foot of his bed. He heard someone enter the room and turned around to see it was Janir. “May I come in?”

David nodded reluctantly. Janir walked over to the bed and knelt down beside him. “This is not your fault you know,” he said. “You are not to blame.”

David was startled that his feelings were evidently so transparent, and to a stranger no less. “Yes, I am. If it wasn’t for me he wouldn’t be ill.”

“You do not know that, David,” Janir said. “If it is our time to die, if we have reached our journey’s end, then the event that triggers it is merely the catalyst. This is the end of your father’s journey and nothing can alter that. If he had not contracted this infection, then something else would have happened sooner or later to send him on his way.”

David said nothing, but listened as Janir continued. “Death is a part of the great wheel of life: birth and death, death and rebirth. I am curious, David. On New Haven, what do you believe happens to the individual after death?”

David looked up, confused. “What do you mean? When someone dies, that’s it. They fall asleep and never wake up.”

Janir shook his head. “That’s not entirely true. David, I want you to know that no one ever truly dies. They leave behind their body, yes, but their zhian, their life essence, lives on. The zhian is not of this world and therefore nothing in this world can harm it. It was never born and therefore it will never die.”

“How do you know that?”

“Let us just say that I have some experience in these matters. If you like, we can talk about it another time. But for now I want you to be strong and to know that although your father is now leaving his physical body, he will live on in a different way; and in a sense he will always be with you.”

Before David could think about this, there came a call from the other room. It was his mother, urgently calling for Janir. Both he and David hurried through to the other room, where Jon was uncontrollably coughing up blood.

“Please, do something,” Jesanda cried.

Rushing over to the bed, Janir propped him up and asked for David to pass him a cup sitting on the bedside table. It contained a dark colored liquid with an astringent smell. Janir held the cup to Jon’s mouth and helped him drink it, amid much coughing and spluttering. Almost immediately Jon’s coughing fit subsided but he was still having difficulty breathing.

“You can help him, can’t you?” Jesanda pleaded.

Janir shook his head slowly. He got up and indicated that he would leave them alone now. David understood the subtext: that these might well be Jon’s last few moments.

Somehow Jon himself also seemed to sense this. Still gasping for breath, he motioned for David to come closer. Jesanda, trying to compose herself as much as she could, put her hand on David’s shoulder as a gesture of support as he sat down by the bed. She then stepped back, allowing father and son one last moment together.

“David…” Jon rasped, struggling for breath. He looked pale and weak; so unlike the strong and vibrant man that David had known. David hated seeing him like this, for he was clearly in great pain. “I want you to know…that…I love you.”

“I know. I love you too, father.”

Jon used what strength he had remaining to clasp his son’s hand. “I want you to…look after…your mother for me. Promise me…you will look after her…”

“I promise,” David said, tears spilling from his eyes, one of which landed on his father’s pillow. After a moment, David lent down and gently kissed him on the forehead. Without a word, he stepped aside to let his mother do likewise.

“Jon,” she whispered into his ear. “I love you. I always will.” As she bent down and gently kissed him on the lips, Jon drifted out of consciousness. His labored breathing continued until he made what sounded like one, last exhalation. All went silent. David looked up at his mother. Was that it? Was that the end?

Not yet. For Jon struggled to draw yet another breath. He wheezed, his whole body contorting as he struggled to breathe. David and his mother sat by his side, holding his hand and whispering occasional words of comfort.

Every so often there was a pause between breaths and each time David thought this to be the end. But Jon’s body continued clinging to life, oblivious to the uphill nature of its struggle. It was bad enough that his father was dying, but for him to linger in such agony was almost more than David could bear. It wasn’t much longer however before Jon finally breathed his last breath; emptying his body not just of air, but of life.

The room fell silent. David looked up at his mother. Her eyes were glazed and she seemed quite oblivious to his presence. She continued holding Jon’s hand as she buried her head in his chest. David, sitting beside her, was frozen to the spot. He felt as though his heart had been carved out of his chest. It was over. His father was gone.

From that moment on, David’s life changed. Every day that followed would be profoundly different in that a large part of his old life was forever missing. Life went on, of course; the suns continued to rise and fall as they always did, all the while oblivious to the joys and suffering of those upon whom they shone. The grieving process took its toll as David and his mother struggled to accept their loss and move on from it.

They had support from their fellow islanders and Janir played a big part in helping them come to terms with Jon’s death. He was adamant that a person never truly dies, a notion that intrigued David, and he wanted to know more. Janir explained that knowing was insufficient, for one had to experience the truth for oneself. And there were moments when in the subtle embrace of silence, David could almost feel his father by his side, guarding him and guiding him onward. Whether this was his imagination or not, it was nevertheless a feeling he relished in the fleeting moments in which it occurred.


The story is only just beginning…

The Key of Alanar is now available to buy on Amazon and multiple retailers in both paperback and ebook format. Visit the official launch page for buy links, background information and much more!

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Read The Key of Alanar, Chapter Two: “The Storm”

The preview of ‘The Key of Alanar’ continues. In case you missed them, you can still read the Prologue and Chapter One. Picking up where the first chapter left off, young David had decided to flee the island that has been his home as far back as he can remember, in search of his true home and true family. Storm clouds are gathering, however…

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Chapter Two
THE STORM

Had he not been blinded by the impetuousness of youth and the emotional turmoil that clouded his judgement, David would have known to heed the warning signs and at the very least postpone his departure. But instead he turned a blind eye to the ever-darkening skies and the imminent storm that was brewing.

The rain fell lightly at first, but it wasn’t long before it lashed down in torrents, filling the bottom of the boat, stinging his skin and soaking him from head to foot. He wasn’t far from the island when the storm swept in and a blanket of cloud enveloped him, obscuring visibility. The wind howled and the waves took on a nightmarish life of their own, thrashing against the boat and further drenching the panic-stricken boy. He clung to the wooden hull, frozen by fear as the boat lurched from side to side. He didn’t know what to do except hold on tight.

The storm intensified. The wind screamed its howling wail as waves pummeled the boat. Nauseous and dizzy, David could barely see anything as the oars were snatched off the boat. He was helpless and entirely at the mercy of an opponent he could never have imagined would pose such a virulent threat: nature itself.

As the boat filled with water, David knew that it would only be a matter of time before it sank, capsized or was ripped apart by the waves. Whatever happened, he would surely drown, for there was no way he could hold his own against the might of this foe.

Please. Someone help me…!

Wave after wave crashed over him. He choked, coughing up the salty water, still clinging with all his might to the battered vessel. Though unable to think clearly, one thought flashed through his mind and it was a thought of disbelief: This can’t be the end. Can it?

David was uncertain how long he spent clinging to the boat, eyes closed as the waves and rain lashed over him. Time blurred; each moment stretching into an eternity. He veered between hopelessness and desperation, praying—to who or what he didn’t know—that he’d be okay. Pleading, begging, willing to do anything just to survive…

Perhaps someone or something was indeed listening to his prayer, because something remarkable happened to change his fortune. At first he thought it was his imagination, but he became aware of a light, some way off, piercing the veil of darkness. Yes, it was definitely a light of some kind and it was getting brighter! It was soon accompanied by a voice, shouting above the roar of the storm—a voice calling his name. “David!”

He could barely believe his eyes when he saw a boat emerge through the screen of rain, mist and water. It was one of the island’s fishing boats; a vessel larger and sturdier than his rowing boat, but still taking a beating from the storm.

“David!” This time he recognized the voice. It was his father, Jon. His father had come to rescue him! But how? What was he doing out here? Squinting to see through the dim light, he could make out a handful of men on deck, frantic in their efforts to steady the boat. Two men stood on the edge of the deck, one brandishing a mysterious light that cut through the darkness like a knife. The other man, who David quickly realized was his father, called out to him: “David, can you hear me?”

“Yes!”

“David! You have to listen to me! I’m going to throw you a line. You have to catch it. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” David spluttered, spitting out a mouthful of water as another wave crashed over him.

But what sounded like a simple task was altogether more complicated in the eye of the storm. The first attempt to pass the rope was a misfire. Despite Jon’s best effort to throw the line, the wind and rain deflected his aim and the rope doubled back and smacked against the side of the fishing boat. Taking heed, Jon tried to coincide his next effort with a lull between gusts of wind. Sure enough, it was a more successful throw, but he still missed his aim and the rope landed in the water. Jon reeled it in and made several more attempts before David successfully caught it. “I’ve got it,” he shouted to his father, keeping a tight grasp of the rope with one hand, clinging onto the hull of the boat with the other.

“Tie it to the mooring ring at the bow! Make it tight!”

David edged his way to the metal lock at the front of the boat. The waves continued striking the boat, rocking it precariously, forcing him to struggle to keep his balance as wall after wall of ice cold water crashed over him. By now the bottom of the boat was full of water. David knew the vessel wouldn’t withstand much more of this assault.

In these conditions, a simple task like tying a rope to the boat was anything but easy. His hands were numb and he could barely see through the stinging rain. He fumbled desperately as he tried to tie down the rope. He eventually managed to tie a knot, which he doubled up and checked and rechecked. “I’ve done it!” he called back to his father, still incredulous that his father of all people had come to rescue him.

“We’re going to pull you in,” Jon shouted. Aided by the other men on deck, Jon was about to reel in the boat when the storm struck out with its most brutal outburst yet.

David bore the brunt of it. Although it happened at dizzying speed, time somehow splintered and David experienced it in agonizing slow motion. An immense wave exploded over the boat. Losing his grip, David was swept back as the boat split in two; his body slamming hard against the hull. As the boat lurched again, David was rammed forward, his head colliding with the edge of the bow. The last thing he was aware of was a sharp pain and choking as icy water filled his lungs. His consciousness ebbed away and everything went dark.

He awoke with a sense of drowsiness and disorientation. His head was throbbing and his body aching all over. He had no idea where he was or how long he’d been unconscious. He found himself on an unfamiliar bed with a blanket draped over him. His water-soaked clothes had been removed and he was wearing an oversized shirt.

Despite the struggle to move, he propped himself up and looked around. The rocky walls were those of a cave, but this wasn’t just any cave. Tapestries and fabrics of shimmering rainbow color adorned the craggy walls, bringing what would otherwise have been a dank cave to entrancing life. An assortment of potted plants and flowers lined the chamber, providing dashes of green, blue and red. A stack of unpacked crates lay against the far wall alongside an old wooden table. David’s eyes were drawn to the tabletop, which contained a number of exotic-looking artifacts including crystals of varying sizes and colors and a collection of glass jars containing herbs and liquids. A dozen or so white candles illuminated the cave.

“I see you are awake.”

David jumped, startled by the unfamiliar voice. A man stepped out of the shadows and into the flickering candlelight. David stared at him in surprise. It was someone he’d never seen before. Carrying himself with dignity and elegance, the man was perhaps in his mid to late forties, tall and of average build; his face rugged yet kind, a tanned complexion accentuating his emerald eyes. He wore a neatly-trimmed beard and his long, greying hair was tied back in plaits. His style of clothing was different to that of New Haven. He wore a navy tunic and trousers with a long dark grey cloak fastened at the neck by a gold broach. Whoever he was, he exuded gentleness, power and a foreignness that intrigued David. “How are you feeling?” the stranger asked as he drew closer.

“A bit dizzy…my head hurts,” David croaked in response. “Where am I?”

“Somewhere safe,” the man said as he pulled an empty crate alongside the bed and sat down upon it. “Do you remember what happened?”

Making an effort to gather his thoughts, David cast his mind back. “The storm. I was caught in the storm…” It all came back to him. “But my father was there. He was trying to rescue me…I can’t remember anything after that. What happened?”

“You lost consciousness. We managed to pull your boat in. By that time the storm had begun to subside and your father managed to get you aboard.”

“So you were on the boat with my father?” David asked. The man nodded. David could stave off his curiosity no longer. “Who are you?”

“My name is Janir.”

“Where are you from? I’ve never seen you before. And where are we?”

“This is my new home,” Janir replied. “I arrived on your island only a few days ago. Your island council granted me sanctuary. I came from a land far from here.”

David felt as though he’d been struck by lightning. Could it really be true? Could he finally have met someone from the outer lands? What was he doing on New Haven? Where was he from? What was life like out there? He had a thousand questions…

As if sensing David’s racing mind, Janir smiled and held up a hand. “There will be time to discuss everything later. I am a healer. We brought you here so I could treat your injury. Your parents are waiting for you outside. I imagine they will be eager to see you.”

Janir stood up and was about to leave, when David stopped him. “Wait. It was you I saw yesterday at the edge of the forest, wasn’t it? You were watching me. I saw you out of the corner of my eye but when I turned a split second later, you were gone.” He narrowed his eyes, his forehead creasing as he stared up at the stranger. “What were you doing there? Why were you watching me?’

Janir paused a moment, as if considering how to respond. “Yes, I happened to be in the vicinity,” he admitted. “And I noticed you standing on the hilltop. You seemed upset. I was concerned about you.”

David knew that there was more to it than that. As if piecing together a puzzle, he was struck by a sudden realization: “You knew—you knew what I was planning! That I was going to leave the island. It must have been you that told my father and brought him to rescue me…?”

Janir said nothing. An enigmatic smile played across his lips and his eyes twinkled in the candlelight. “Your parents are here to take you home. You have a concussion and will need to rest for a few days, but you will be fine.”

“Will I see you again?”

“Yes, I will drop by to check on you,” Janir said as he disappeared back into the shadowy tunnel.

“Wait,” David called after him, but he was gone. There was still so much he wanted to know. He couldn’t believe it. Aside from the the Alazan merchants that traded with the island, Janir was the first outlander that David had ever met.

“David,” he heard his mother’s voice. Looking up, he saw both her and his father entering the cave. Jesanda raced over to the bed and embraced him with such force that it almost knocked the breath out of him. “Oh David, thank the twin suns,” she exclaimed as she continued to hold him. He relished her embrace; it was almost as though he could feel her love and affection washing over him as well as her elation at seeing him unharmed.

“David, we were worried to death,” his father said. It showed on their faces too. His father looked particularly strained: his broad-set face pale and drawn and his sandy-brown hair disheveled and damp.

David felt a surge of guilt at knowing he had been the cause of their pain. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

His father, who had also changed his clothes and was wearing a tunic and trousers similar to the clothing worn by Janir, reached out and wrapped his arms around his son. “I thought we were going to lose you,” he said as he pulled back, a slight wheeze in his voice as he spoke. “You’ve no idea how scared we were.”

“David,” Jesanda began awkwardly. “What were you doing? In the boat, I mean. Where were you going?”

Part of him was tempted to lie. He didn’t know if he had the strength to deal with this particular confrontation right now. Yet it was something that had been ignored, denied and repressed for too long. Now was the time to finally get it into the open and deal with it. “I was leaving,” he said bluntly.

“Why?” Jesanda’s eyes widened.

“Because I don’t belong here.”

It was his father that responded, perhaps a little too defensively. “What are you talking about? Of course you do.”

“No, I don’t,” David said, his voice rising. He could feel the fire in his belly as he looked up at them. “Don’t lie to me! I know…

Silence followed. David averted his eyes, shifting his gaze to the silk tapestry on the wall across the from the bed. There was nothing more he could say now. All he could do now was wait for them to respond. It was Jesanda that spoke first. “David…” she whispered, her eyes welling with tears.

Jon put his arm around her and looked down at David. “Who told you?”

“It doesn’t matter. It’s true, isn’t it?”

Jesanda reached out to take his hand. “David, we never intended you to find out, not like this. Not until you were older.”

“But I had a right to know. And in a way I always have known. I’ve always felt like I’m an outsider, like I’m not really welcome here…”

“That’s not true. You’re our son and we love you.”

“No.” He pulled his hand back from her. “I’m not your son—not really. I need to know the truth. I need to know who I am.”

Again there was a long silence in which the only sound David could hear was the beating of his own heart. It was almost a relief when the silence was broken by his father. “Very well, David. We were going to tell you this when you were older. But it seems the time has come sooner than we’d anticipated…”

“Jon,” Jesanda interrupted, turning to him pleadingly. There was fear in her misty brown eyes; the fear of losing her only son. But she knew that the truth could be withheld no longer so she acquiesced, letting Jon continue. There was no going back now.

“Eight years ago I was part of a trade expedition to the mainland,” Jon said as David listened intently. “We met the Alazan traders at our rendezvous in the forest of Senrah. Everything went as planned and we the exchanged goods as usual. Afterward, when we were on our way back to the shore we heard something in the forest. At first I thought it was the call of some forest animal, but as it got louder we realized it was the cry of an infant. We followed the noise to its source and found, lying in a clearing and wrapped in a golden shawl…a baby.”

“Me,” David whispered.

Jon nodded. “Yes. To this day we don’t know who left you there or why. We spent hours searching, but there was no one within a radius of several miles. Eventually darkness began to fall. We knew we couldn’t leave you alone in the forest, so we took you with us back to New Haven. We returned to the mainland for the next few days, looking for signs of whoever might have left you. But there was nothing. It was a mystery.”

“So someone abandoned me…? Why would they do that?”

Jesanda sat down on the edge of David’s bed. “We asked ourselves that a thousand times, David. But the truth is we may never know.”

“What happened then?”

“Well, obviously someone had to take care of you,” Jon said. “Your mother and I longed to have children, but we were unable…”

“Until fate delivered a beautiful little boy into our lives,” Jesanda said, her face lighting up with a proud smile. “It was the happiest time of our lives. We adopted you, pledging to take care of you and to raise you as our son.” She paused, carefully considering her words before she continued. “And David, in every way that matters, you are our son. I never want you to forget that.”

David didn’t know what to say.

“We knew this day would come,” Jon said. “We dreaded it. Maybe we should have told you sooner. Maybe that would have made it easier. We know how confusing this must be for you. We know that part of you will probably always be curious about your origin. And when you’re old enough, if you still want to set out and discover the truth for yourself, if that’s something you really have to do, then we won’t stand in your way.”

“But for now,” Jesanda said, “you have to know that we love you. That’s all that matters. You mean everything to us.”

David’s vision blurred. A teardrop tickled his skin as it rolled down his face and dripped off the edge of his chin. He didn’t know what to think anymore. But as his parents embraced him, he began to wonder if perhaps he’d been wrong. Perhaps this was his home after all, and he just hadn’t realized it.

It had been a fateful day and would take time to integrate what had happened and all that he had learned. In spite of this, he somehow assumed that life would return to normal. He was wrong. Life would never be the same again, as he would soon discover.


If you are eager to read more, The Key of Alanar is now available to buy on Amazon and multiple retailers in both paperback and ebook format. Visit the official launch page for buy links, background information and much more!

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An author in the spotlight: Rory Mackay answers 4 questions!

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Nothing beats the power of a good question. Questions make us think, reflect and explore things in different ways. I’m all for questions, and I always endeavour to give good answers! So here I am taking part in a challenge I saw online several months back, in which an author answers four simple questions. Well, I’m an author, and without any further ado, here are the questions…

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since childhood. Creativity was an innate and essential part of my nature as far back as I can remember. When I was younger I was more visually focused, as I loved drawing and painting. What I did was always connected with storytelling, however. I created characters, worlds and adventures and made my own comic books from the time I was about 7 or 8 years old. My longest running series was called King Croc, a quirky and comical fantasy series about a reptilian anti-hero whose job was to conquer the galaxy but who really couldn’t be bothered. He would rather sit at home eating doughnuts that conquer planets. Who wouldn’t? I still have some of those comics in a drawer.

When I was in my teens I began work on a very different project; laying the groundwork for what would eventually become the novel I am about to publish, The Key of Alanar! This was originally intended as a serialised television series or series of movies, but not knowing how to even begin with such a lofty project, I decided to make it a series of novels instead. Having worked on this for the best part of my life, and invested so much time, energy and love in it, I’m truly excited that I am finally able to share this creative vision with the world. (The Key of Alanar is already available to preorder on Amazon for a 14 September release!)

What inspired me to write my first books?

I grew up with a great love of science fiction and fantasy. Already something of a dreamer, it really stirred my imagination and I loved nothing more than to transport myself to other worlds, times and places. But for me the genre was far more than simple escapism. Even in my early teens I really loved that sci-fi and fantasy could be used as a means of exploring ideas, themes and human potential. I was always a bit of a deep thinker, and I loved when books, films and television had a little depth; a purpose behind telling a story.

As I grew up, I became fascinated by mythology and archetypal tales of heroic quests and journeys. Initially my first series of books was called ‘The Journey’, as a reflection of the journey we all take through life, in search of happiness and wholeness. I wanted to explore what makes us tick, and why we live as we do. I didn’t just want to entertain people, I wanted to make people think and say something about life. The development of my books ran parallel to my development as a person as I grew up, learned, experienced many things, and ultimately devoted myself to the pursuit of spiritual knowledge, truth and understanding the nature of life and who we are. I like telling fantastical stories that fire the imagination, stir the emotions and, above all, make people think. In my view, the greatest stories inspire, challenge and enlighten. They are stories that heal. They leave people the better for having read them; a kind of gift shared between author and reader. That is why I wanted to write and why I still keep writing.

How do you write?

I need to be clear about what I’m writing before I start the first sentence. I learned early on the necessity of starting with a blueprint, or at least a firm plan of how the novel will begin, develop and end. My stories are quite complex and multi-layered, so I need to make sure I’ve worked everything beforehand or else I would be liable to write myself into a sticky corner and waste significant time on something that just doesn’t work out. One day I’d actually like to just start writing with no idea in ind how it will end, but it certainly won’t be for my current series, which requires forward planning. There are simply too many balls to potentially drop otherwise!

So, I wait for the ideas to start flowing. It’s almost like my mind is working on the story even when I’m not consciously thinking about it. There comes a time when I can feel the creative energy flowing and I just sit down with paper and a pen and allow the ideas to spill out. I get them structured into a clear framework, and then, when I’m satisfied with what I’ve got, I start writing away. First drafts are usually best written as quickly as possible, to keep the creative momentum flowing smoothly. Then I’ll write three, four or more subsequent drafts and spend a long time editing. With my first published novel, Eladria, I spent one year writing the first few drafts and then another 18 months or so editing and polishing it. As Phyllis A Whitney said: “a good book isn’t written, it is rewritten.” The key is really in taking that mud-covered diamond and scraping and polishing it until it gleams.

Do you have any writing advice you would like to share?

Yes. Write because you love to write. Have no expectations. Follow your passion and pour your heart and soul into it. Don’t expect anything back; even if you write a complete masterpiece, there are so many books being written and published right now that it’s hard to get anyone’s attention. Have no expectation, but stay true to your own unique creative vision. Write a story you feel needs to be told. Share ideas, share experiences and dreams and thoughts. Write a book that will make the world a better place for your having written it. Think of it as part of your legacy, which it is, and make it as wonderful as you can. Don’t rush it necessarily, take your time and let your heart guide you. Whether you then sell ten copies or ten thousand, you’ll have contributed something special to the world. And that why being a writer is one of the coolest things in the world.