The Story Continues...

The time has come, my friends!

My latest and greatest, Anialych: People of Sand, is now available for pre-order in the RADstore! And to celebrate, that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about, today.

And how, you ask?

By releasing an excerpt, of course!

Excerpt from Anialych: People of Sand

By Rani Divine

©Copyright RAD Writing, 2019

 

I didn’t want this. I’d never wanted this. My hope had been for Sheia to come here and for everyone to see her the way I saw her. I’d never meant for her to come here like that, for her to be attacked and questioned—and especially not for her to be executed. She was the leader of her people. They needed her. I didn’t know how they were going to get on without her. It would’ve been like asking all the women of Tywed to survive without men by their sides. Most of us wouldn’t have known what to do.

 In part, it was why I disliked my home. Tywed was no better than the plains had been, at least for women. Things had changed for the men, as far as I’d heard, but that had never meant much to the lesser sex. When men were bettered, women’s lives worsened. That was what mother had taught me. She’d been forced into her own marriage by her father’s ruling, in exchange for an amount of silver she’d never known, and I knew she’d never learned to love my father. She’d loved us, as a mother should love her children, but it didn’t make things any easier for her when night fell. She used to tell me that I was her saving grace, that she had her little girl, and it was all she needed to be happy. I didn’t think that was true.

 She hadn’t deserved to die by father’s side. If it was his time to die, then whatever power in the universe controlled life and death should’ve allowed her to live. After all, she’d been dead in life longer than she’d really been alive.

 By the time it’d happened, my favorite brothers were already matched and gone. Amos and Kalev had families of their own, in towns far enough away that I could never have been sent to them. I’d vied for it, when Aran began discussing the option of leaving the plains entirely, but none of my siblings sided with me. Publicly, at least. Yosef believed I would’ve been better off with Kalev. I’d heard the words from his lips.

 It was Mikah who made our decision for us. I didn’t even blame him for what he’d done, only wished I could’ve talked some sense into him. We all knew Zion was the warrior, not him. He didn’t have the heart for it. Upon his death, Aran’s harassment in the streets became too much for him to bear. He and Zion both believed opportunities would be better here, in Tywed. They believed father would’ve thought the same. That might’ve been why I didn’t want to come, at least in part. Aran, my eldest brother in Tywed, wasn’t much better than him. He’d always idealized father, following after him in every possible way.

 Now as I sat below the window in my bedroom, the only place of mild comfort I had in my feeble life, I cried. I cried for the loss of my parents, the loss of the life I should’ve had, and for the loss of the only friend I’d ever known in life.

 I’d come of age a few years before we’d come to the desert places, before our parents had passed on, and already Aran had seen me as a commodity. I was an item to be traded, bartered away for whatever tools or workers Aran needed in exchange. I knew it was only a matter of time before he chose a man and brought him to the house to meet with me. Until then, I was kept alone. We’d been here for months before I’d even made a friend. Aran wouldn’t allow me to leave our property, so I never spoke to anyone outside my family and the shepherd, Tobias. Yosef didn’t have much talent for talking to anyone most days, and Zion spent most of his time at the barracks, so there would be no visitors. If any had come, Yosef would’ve driven them away with his incessant laughter, or Zion would’ve drilled them with his stare so long that they would’ve felt as dead in life as a woman.

 Sheia had been my one solace from all of it. She was the one person I could go to in time’s of trouble, and she’d always somehow managed to be there when I needed her most. I couldn’t count the times that I’d laughed over the fact that she wasn’t human. Of course she wasn’t. Of course the only person I could find to be my own, the only person I knew who was only mine and belonged to no other, wasn’t even human. But she was beautiful, more so than any person I’d ever laid eyes on. And she could look human, when she wanted to.

 She was a druid—one of the creatures whispered about back in the plains, the dreaded monsters that fathers told of in terrifying bedtime stories, designed to keep their children in line. Anialych, she called her people. Anialych of the Dewin. They were given charge of the world until humanity was ready to take it over. Almost every day, Sheia had come to my home while my brothers worked, to tell me of her people. She’d wanted so much for me to come out there into the desert, to meet them.

 I should’ve gone. I knew that now. But my place was here, and I had to follow the will of my brothers. I was a woman, not a man. I couldn’t make my own decisions.

 A sigh passed through my lips and I lifted my head to lean against the wall behind me. It felt pointless by now, that I should go back to sitting here and crying the night away when only a few days ago I’d been told of Sheia’s decision to make herself known to the rest of my people. It had been foolish of her to believe they would accept her, that they would look her in the eye and feel trust the way I had. As it was, I didn’t even know why I trusted her so much. I just knew that every time I’d stood with her, I’d felt safer than I’d ever felt before. But my people had no reason to listen to me, even if I had stood up for her.

 Groaning, I got to my feet and turned around, placing my hands upon the window sill as I looked out to the sunset. Tobias was out there somewhere, tending to Aran’s sheep and avoiding going to sleep. If my brother was in a good mood, maybe I could watch while the sheep were sheared tomorrow.

 It should’ve been my job. I should’ve been allowed to work, to help my brothers earn their livelihoods. Instead, all I got to do was clean the fruit and vegetables brought to my table, cook the meat my brother put in front of me, clean the house we’d lived in for a total of seven months, since the day of its completion. The duty of a woman was to her home, to the men who resided in it. That was how all my brothers saw things. None of them bothered to clean up after themselves, knowing that if I had something to do during the day I would be less likely to pester them to watch over the sheep for even a few minutes.

But the sheep were the only things I knew outside my home. I’d listened to their bleating every day, and I’d never once grown tired of it. I would’ve gladly gone out to pasture myself, if Aran would’ve let me.

 There was no more hopeless cause. Not now that Sheia was gone.

 My eyes stared out at the pink and orange clouds that hovered above the desert horizon, my tears quietly fading away. Out there, beyond the boundary of Tywed, stood two tall humanoid figures—figures I’d been invited to join. If I’d been brave, I would’ve gone then and there. I would’ve run outside my brother’s house as fast as my feet would take me, like the day I’d first met Sheia, and there would’ve been no one to stop me. I would’ve gone out there to her people, and I wouldn’t have turned back. There was life out there, life that I could hardly even imagine. I wanted to live it, to see the world the way Sheia had. But even the thought of it made my heart race and my stomach turn. Could I really leave behind the only life I’d ever known, to go and be with a people who weren’t even human? Even when I’d run that day, the day I met Sheia, I’d fully intended to return as soon as my tears dried.

 One of the figures moved away from their place, slowly disappearing into the horizon, and more tears came to my eyes. I had to wonder if they were there waiting for me, waiting to find out if I would come and join them now that their leader was gone. Or maybe they blamed me. Maybe they were hoping I would come out there so they could punish me for what I’d done.

 Sheia was gone, and so was whatever link I’d once had to her people.

Tears flowed freely down my cheeks, and I sniffled quietly as I reached up to run my fingers through my hair. I wished I could be stronger than this, that I could bring myself to turn around and leave this place.

 Out of the corner of my eye I saw as Tobias got down off the fence and walked into the pen to be with the sheep. At the very least, I could be out there. I could be doing something that mattered instead of being cooped up here with nothing to do and nothing to show for my life. All I knew was how to be a good woman, how to take care of a man and make sure he came home to a clean house. I wanted to know how to be alive, how to think for myself and make my own decisions. I wanted to be like Sheia, to move through the desert with purpose and reason, to be listened to when I spoke, to be looked upon with eyes of kindness instead of lust. I was a person, and I wanted to be treated like one. I didn’t think that was too much to ask, especially not of my own brothers. Surely, they would understand why I’d gone, wouldn’t they?

 But then, they hadn’t even known that Sheia was a friend to me, before she’d gone out into the village. They knew nothing about me, and they didn’t seem interested in learning. Maybe I should’ve taken that as a sign.

 

If you can’t wait to know more, you’ve come to just the place. Head to the RADstore to pre-order your copy, today!

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.