Today marks the last day of the Magic of Solstice Fantasy Writers Tour. Our final visitor is Allison D. Reid. She cut her teeth on may of the classic fantasy writers and traveled around Europe, getting a feel for the atmosphere so often found in fantasy literature. Give Allison a warm welcome.
Allison D. Reid’s passion for medieval history and fantasy was sparked by writers like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, and Lloyd Alexander. She also spent years living in Europe, captivated by its ancient towns, cathedrals, and castles. She received her B.A. in writing from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Her first published work, Journey to Aviad, is a Christian Fantasy novel—the first in The Wind Rider Chronicles book series. Many of her short stories relate back to the world of her books. Allison has two young daughters, runs a small business with her husband, and also provides editing services to other independent authors.
Journey to Aviad Synopsis:
Threatening clouds and fierce storms besiege the city of Tyroc. More frequent and powerful than ordinary storms, young Elowyn, a weaver’s daughter living in the outskirts of the city, senses something disturbing and unnatural about them. She soon realizes that the storms are but a warning sign of much more frightening things yet to come.
Terrifying wolf-like creatures emerge from the depths of the wilderness at the bidding of a dark master. His name found only among the crumbling pages of ancient texts, the re-appearance of Alazoth and his Hounds is a dark omen for the people of Tyroc and beyond. Only legends remain of the heroes and prophets whose blood was shed ages ago to banish him into the abyss, which should have remained his prison for all time. How he has been released is a mystery, but all the old stories agree that death and destruction are sure to follow.
With the Hounds inching closer each day, the city of Tyroc caught up in religious and political turmoil, and her home life no less turbulent, Elowyn has nothing left to rely on but her meager courage and a budding faith in Aviad, the Creator. She and her sister, Morganne, set out on a remarkable journey that challenges everything they have ever known about themselves, the world, and the path that Aviad has laid out for them.
Journey to Aviad
Allison D. Reid
Excerpt from Chapter 3: Vision of Darkness
… They traveled the road together in an uncomfortable silence, each focused their own thoughts. Adelin was too young to know what was happening. She bounced contentedly on Morganne’s hip, pointing and babbling to any bright object that caught her attention. Morganne’s expression was solemn and somewhat tense. Elowyn could not guess what her thoughts were, but that was nothing unusual. Morganne usually kept to herself. Elowyn felt a kind of fluttering in the pit of her stomach and was dragging her feet, hoping somehow they would arrive too late. However, the end result was that their mother kept barking at her to hurry up, and each time she said it, she became more irritable.
There were others traveling with them, flooding in from the outskirts of Tyroc. Even laborers from the southern farming villages were given a reprieve by their lords so that they might attend. People flocking in on the smaller roads continued to join together like streams flowing into a river, until they became a massive flood of humanity surging forward. The main road took a sharp curve and sloped upward, running along the colossal eastern wall of the city. Rows of strategically placed guards stared down at them from the battlements, bows in hand. Elowyn could sense the tension in their muscles as they stood ready to shoot at the least sign of trouble. As the procession drew closer to the city gates, the crowds increased to an unbearable level. They were jostled along, pressed closer and closer together until one could only move forward, swept along in an unrelenting current.
Elowyn felt as though she were riding amidst a sickening sea, a swirl of men, women, carts, and livestock. There were other children too. The youngest ones clung to their mother’s skirts as shipwreck victims might cling to floating bits of wood. The whole mass swelled and moved along the wall in a gigantic wave, pushing, pulling, and roaring with an incomprehensible cacophony of shouts, laughter, jumbled conversations, and the groans of overburdened carts. The closer they came to the gates, the hotter and more foul smelling the air became. Elowyn felt as though she were being smothered. Every sound seemed louder than it really was, adding layers to the nervous ball that was beginning to form deep down in her stomach. One of the carts near her had a squeaky wheel. Though it was such a small sound in the midst of all that chaos, it completely unnerved her. She held her ears trying to block it out, but it only seemed louder with the dampening of the other sounds. It was like a tiny, desperate scream for help that went ignored.
Every once in a while a faint whiff of fresh air brushed Elowyn’s face, and she drank it in greedily as though it might very well be her last. She closed her eyes and tried to calm herself, hoping that once they were all squeezed through the gate into the city, there would be more room on the other side. But in that she was greatly disappointed. When they finally approached the gate, and were shoved through by the pressing mob behind, the inner city was just as crowded. She continued to push forward, through narrow streets lined with corbelled buildings that leaned out precariously over them. The doorway of every shop was jammed with buyers haggling over goods. The rest of the crowd attempted to converge in the central square where the execution was to be held. Not only was the square packed with eager spectators, but merchants had set up their carts any place they could, not willing to miss the opportunity to sell their wares to such a multitude. It was almost like faire time.
Elowyn was tired of being jostled and elbowed and nearly run over by carts. She felt trapped in a prison of legs and long dresses, and was not tall enough to see what was going on ahead of her. A heavy-set woman with an edgy basket on her shoulders was pushing her way through the crowd. She shoved full force into Elowyn, nearly toppling the basket.
“Now then,” the woman said gruffly, “watch where you’re going.”
Never mind that Elowyn had been standing perfectly still, and it was the woman who should have been watching. But Elowyn knew better than to say anything. As the woman and her basket moved forward, a throng of people tried to follow in her wake. The result was that Elowyn found herself being separated from Morganne and her mother. There was no way she could help it. Soon she would be swallowed up by the mass of people around her.
To Elowyn, who never came into the city unless she absolutely had to, and who avoided even the smallest of crowds as a general rule, this whole venture was a complete nightmare. She looked around desperately for a way to break free. The only things she could see were the tops of nearby buildings, and one lone tree standing above the crowd to the east. Gritting her teeth, she made her way toward the tree, not caring whose leg got pushed out of the way, or whose toes got stepped on. After what seemed like an age, she finally reached it and scrambled up the trunk with experienced ease. A few people looked at her strangely, and a group of rough-looking boys pointed at her and laughed, but she didn’t care. She was relieved to be above the fray and felt safe in this small bit of nature amidst the ugliness of the city.
“Poor tree,” Elowyn said as she examined it. She was accustomed to the beautiful, healthy trees growing freely in the wilds. This one was bursting forth like an unwanted weed, stunted and sickly. Its roots strained at the cobbles, forcing them to bubble upward in rolling swells. Its trunk was full of nails, and holes, and deep scars from carts being rammed into it. She fingered a pale, listless leaf. The city was choking it, and yet it defiantly lived, even in this place where it surely didn’t belong. Or perhaps, she thought, the tree was the only thing that really belonged, and it was the city that was encroaching.
Down below, something was starting to happen. First came a crier, announcing the royal procession. Guards with long spears began to shove through the crowds, holding them back to make a wide pathway up to the platform in the town center. Then came members of the Circle—the late Sovereign’s most trusted personal guards. A mysterious bunch they were, with their faces always covered. They were supposed to be the best fighters anywhere in the Sovereign’s realm, and they guarded the Sovereign with their lives. Elowyn supposed now that the Sovereign was gone they belonged to his sons.
Sure enough, the two brothers appeared next, along with a figure she did not recognize who was wearing a rich black cape. The Sovereign’s sons wore gold circlets on their heads, and held royal scepters in their hands. Long brilliant red robes trailed behind them, the ends held up by servants. The extravagance of their clothing and jewelry was like nothing Elowyn had ever seen, even on the wealthiest of her mother’s clients. But Elowyn found that instead of making them look majestic and powerful, the excess of their attire only appeared gaudy and overbearing. After the brothers came the remainder of the Circle, and then the prisoner; a hooded figure bound around his chest, arms and wrists. Following the prisoner were more guards like the kind she had seen on the walls of the city. They carried short spears that were pointed at the prisoner’s back…
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