Authors: Tamie Dearen
Book One of the Alora Series
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author. To the extent any real names of individuals, locations, businesses or organizations are included in the book, they are used fictitiously and not intended to be taken otherwise.
Alora: The Wander-Jewel
by Tamie Dearen
Copyright © 2014
Cover design by
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means now known or hereafter invented, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.
To Nancy and Heidi who always believed in me.
I want to thank all my beta readers: Scotty, Janna, Avery, Bruce, Nancy, Heidi, Wesley, Alyssa, Kay, and Jan. Your excitement over the story and love of the characters inspired me, and your feedback was invaluable. Thanks to Avery and Spencer for your hours of formatting work. I also extend heartfelt apologies to all my family, especially my sweet husband, Bruce, for all the times I ignored you while writing about my imaginary family and friends. I love you!
I’d also like to express my gratitude to the cover model, Aurora Vigna. Thank you for bringing Alora to life!
Evil gales, dark and heavy
Gaining, growing, swelling
Gifted lost, powers waning
Vile the days our dwelling
So the gifts emerge in children
Strangers, bonded, telling
In the young, the song is sung
As evil finds its felling.
stopped in his tracks as the vision overwhelmed his senses. Again. How many times had he seen this same image? And what did it mean? Always, it was a girl with long brown hair, standing under a spray of water that tumbled over her head. He could only see her head, her face, her hair. Not the surroundings. Was she standing under a waterfall? And what did her eyes look like? Her lids were always closed, but he could tell she was beautiful. Her wet lashes were thick and long. The skin on her face was flawless, glistening with droplets of water.
As it happened every time, her eyes began to open. Perhaps this time he would see them. Were they green, like his? Surely they must be. She must be his soulmate. He strained to glimpse just a hint of her eye color. But as always, when her lids lifted, the vision disappeared.
“Glare it! Every time!”
“What happened?” His best friend, Jireo, stood staring with wide eyes, his knife trembling in his white-knuckled grip.
“It’s a vision.” Should he tell his friend? So far he’d kept the phantasm to himself, hoping to discover the meaning on his own. But it must have happened six—no, seven times now. And he was no closer to deciphering the reason for the hallucination or the identity of the girl.
“What kind of vision?” Jireo asked, still brandishing his knife, his eyes darting toward the trees whose scraggly arms reached out to them from both sides of the narrow path.
“Put that away. What are you going to do with it, anyway? We’re alone.”
“I don’t know. You stopped walking and stood still for at least twenty-five breaths as if you were dead or something. I yelled at you and hit you, but you didn’t even flinch. I didn’t know what was wrong. I thought perhaps there was a shaman near.” He slid the knife back into its sheath, still glancing behind his back while drying his palms on his pants.
“Twenty-five? Are you certain? Or are you simply exaggerating? I would have said it was about five.”
“No—I’m serious. I even checked to see if you were dead, but you maintained a slow pulse. Granted, I was breathing a little faster than normal, but that’s still a long time.”
This changed everything; he had to solve this riddle. A dream incapacitating him for that long could be dangerous. “It was a vision of a girl standing under a waterfall. I’ve had the same vision seven times now.”
“What color are her eyes? Do you recognize her?”
“Her eyes are always closed, and I have no idea who she is. But I think I need to find out. I think she might be my
Jireo choked to cover up his laugh and clapped him on the shoulder. “Kaevin? You do remember you have only seventeen years? You can’t possibly have a soulmate until you have twenty-one years. And anyway, Nordamen claims there are no more soulmates—no new soulmates have been discovered for more than a generation.”
“It could still happen. Simply because it hasn’t happened in a long time doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Besides, I’m a clan leader... at least, I’ll be a clan leader in a few years. Perhaps I might find a soulmate earlier than it’s happened in the past.” Kaevin tried to keep the irritation out of his voice.
“She must be pretty, or you wouldn’t be wishing for her to be your soulmate. She’s probably a long-lost cousin or something of that sort—some family member you’re destined to find. I bet she’s going to be
soulmate.” He turned his back to Kaevin, wrapping his arms tightly around himself to mime hugging someone, moaning and making kissing noises as he groped up and down his back with his own hands.
Kaevin punched his friend in the shoulder playfully, but perhaps a little harder than he should have. Somehow, he didn’t like the idea of this girl being Jireo’s soulmate.
Alora fought the urge to beat on the tile wall. He’d disappeared again. Who was this boy she kept seeing? Why did he only appear when she was in the shower? He seemed so real, and she could have sworn he looked as confused as she felt. As if he was trying to figure out who she was, as well. Was he a figment of her imagination? His eyes were so unusual. They were green. Not an ordinary green, but a deep, intense jade, the color of her aunt’s emerald ring. He was really cute, although he wore his wavy brown hair a little long for her taste. Yet she could only see his head—never his clothes or the background. Today he’d tied his hair back in a ponytail. Surely the fact he’d changed his hair was significant. Wouldn’t a figment of her imagination have his hair the same every time?
She peeked around the shower curtain at the clock on the bathroom counter. It was five a.m. on a Saturday, and she had chores to do, feeding the horses and letting the chickens out. But it was winter, so she had plenty of time to spare before the rising sun tolled the beginning of her responsibilities. Living on a ranch in the backcountry of Montana meant cold winters, lots of work, and little time for leisure. It was the only life she’d ever known, and she usually enjoyed it, despite the heavy work involved.
But right now, she wanted another stab at seeing that boy. The image was always so fuzzy. If only he wouldn’t disappear when she opened her eyes. She couldn’t summon his visage at will. He didn’t come every time she closed her eyes in the shower; it seemed to happen when she was relaxing and letting the water beat down on her head and shoulders. Maybe, if she were soaking in the tub, she might see his image again.
She pushed the curtain back, put in the stopper, and turned the faucet on full blast. As an afterthought, she added bubble bath, filling the tub with fragrant suds. Soon the bath was full, with aromatic bubbles foaming on top. She eased into the soothing water, closing her eyes at the blissful caress of the heat on her tight muscles. And she waited. Anticipating. Would he come? She tried to stay alert, but the relaxing warmth seeped into her skin, lulling her to sleep.
She awoke with a start to a tub of cold water. Disappointment formed a knot in her stomach—he’d never appeared. She released some water down the drain and added hot water, swirling it around until the temperature was comfortable again. She had five more minutes before she had to abandon her bath to start her workday. She lay back down, sinking below the water with her eyes closed, swishing the fresh water over her skin to remove the bubble bath film, her face floating above the surface to breathe.
He appeared. She held her breath, clamping her eyes shut tight, trying to hold the image as long as possible. Though the apparition was still slightly blurry, she could see all of him, head to toe. She took advantage of her increased perception, thoroughly studying his image. She almost clapped her hands when her mental measurement estimated his height at over six feet. At five feet ten, she was taller than most boys her age. But she scolded herself for examining him as if he were a potential boyfriend. He wasn’t even
. His clothes were made of supple-looking brown leather. The attire was odd—held together with ties and toggles rather than buttons or zippers. The fit was close enough that his well-formed muscles were evident. She noted his long hair was tied back, as it had been earlier. She could only see the front of him as he stood frozen, stock-still, with his mouth agape, his jewel-green eyes wide and...
. His eyes were moving, up and down, as if he were scanning her body as she had done. And it occurred to her if she could see all of him, he might be able to see all of her.
She gasped, opening her eyes to dispense with the specter. But his image remained, now sharp and clear. And he seemed to be standing in her bathroom. She cowered under the water, attempting to hide under the few remaining bubbles. His eyes dropped down to her navel, and as they widened, he whispered, “Wendelle?”
She screamed at the top of her lungs, lunging for her towel on the floor. Hastily covering herself and preparing to leap from the tub, she looked up, only to discover the vision was gone—if indeed it had been a vision.
Huddled in her robe and slippers, her wet hair wrapped in a towel, Alora waited in front of the fire, curled in a tight ball, her eyes glued to her bedroom door. Her hands were buried in the fur of a large Golden Retriever who lay contentedly across her feet, occasionally lifting his head to lick her leg.
“There’s still no one there,” said Uncle Charles as he emerged from checking her bedroom and bathroom
one more time
. “And there’re no footprints, either. And I checked all the doors and windows. No one’s come into the house; everything’s still locked up tight. There’s fresh snow on the ground and no shoe-prints, either.”
He slipped into an adjacent rocking chair near the fire. “And Bozeman would know if anyone was in the house. Wouldn’t you, Boze?” He leaned over to give the dog an affectionate pat on the head. “It must have been your imagination.”
“He said something. He said ‘Wendelle?’ like he thought that was my name.” Alora tucked her chin down and let her hair fall across her face as she described the encounter. “He looked at my belly button jewel when he said it. I saw him look right at it. Did I imagine it? Am I going crazy?” Her cheeks burned at the memory of his inspection, and she blinked at her threatening tears.
“He said ‘Wendelle?’ Have you heard anyone else say that name?” The tremor in his voice drew her attention. His face was white and his hands were gripping the arms of the motionless rocking chair.
“No. Should I know that name? Is it my real name or something?”
“It was your mother’s name.” The words came out in a hoarse whisper.
“Wendelle? My mother’s name was Wendelle? I thought her name was Jenny.”
He turned his head away, and she studied his profile, noticing for the first time how old and tired he appeared. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. “I wish your Aunt Lena were here to help me with this.” He stood up and walked to the stove, lighting the gas burner. “I’m going to need some coffee. This may take a while.”
Kaevin paced back and forth in front of his father, his boots clomping on the wood floor. Jireo stood behind him, fidgeting with the handle of his blade.
“I’m telling you, it had to be Wendelle—I saw the jewel.”
“Wendelle is dead. I saw her body; I was at the burial. You only had two years, so you don’t remember. It was probably someone who had a fake jewel. People sometimes wear fake jewels when dressing in costume.” Graely, his father and clan leader, stood with folded arms. “In fact, you’ve never even seen a real wander-jewel.”
Kaevin stopped in midstride, throwing his hands into the air. “It wasn’t fake—it sparked. I saw it spark when it sent me back here. And she wasn’t wearing a costume. In fact, she wasn’t wearing
“And how else do you explain the fact I traveled if it wasn’t the wander-jewel? How did I get to that place and back? At first, I only had visions. But Jireo saw it happen; I disappeared and reappeared. I transported. What other explanation is there?” Kaevin worked to keep his temper in check.
Why won’t he believe me?
“I saw him disappear,” said Jireo. “He was gone and his blade was lying in the dirt where he’d been standing.”
“It couldn’t have been Wendelle.” Graely’s eyes bored into Kaevin’s as he spoke in slow, even tones. “And we haven’t had a bearer since she died. We would know if there was another bearer, even if she weren’t of age, because the jewel appears at birth. Was this girl an infant?”
“No, she wasn’t a baby. I don’t know how old she was, but she wasn’t a baby. It is possible she was of age; I don’t know.” His face flushed with heat.
“And she was in the water? What color were her eyes?”
“I don’t know. It’s hard to say.”
“I guess you didn’t bother to look at her eyes.” Jireo smirked.
“I looked at her eyes,” Kaevin snapped. “But her eyes weren’t blue or green. The color was something between blue and green—I’ve never seen anything like it. Perhaps it was simply a reflection of the water, but I can’t be certain.”
Graely skewered Jireo with his gaze. “You are certain Kaevin traveled? He actually disappeared and reappeared?”
Jireo nodded mutely, and Graely turned to grip Kaevin’s shoulders. “Truly, you saw the jewel spark?”
“Yes, Father. There can be no doubt the girl’s wander-jewel moved me to her and back to Laegenshire.”
“Very well. I believe you, but I can’t explain it.” His father’s expression bore something between elation and apprehension.
“It’s a good thing. Right, Father? I’ve discovered a bearer.”
“It remains to be seen whether this is a good thing. It depends on her alliance. You said you didn’t sense any evil, right? And the water was in some kind of stone room? That must be a good sign.”
“Yes, the room was almost entirely made of polished stone, something similar to marble or granite or quartz. Even the water basin was made of some kind of smooth stone.”
And she didn’t feel evil; she felt amazing.
“This is good.” Graely took a swallow and set the mug down, rubbing his hands together briskly as he strode back and forth across the room, mumbling under his breath, “Who could she be? Who could she be?”