Authors: Sonya Bria
A Kingdom of Souls book
The Story of Ian and Sophie
Copyright © 2012 by Sonya Bria
Cover design by E. Todd Thompson
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.
To my own Ian for his unbelievable faith
and tenacious encouragement in writing what
Writing a book and putting your soul into it, takes a lot of faith
faith in yourself, and faith in others that when they tell you it’s good, you believe them. There are so many individuals that I need to thank for keeping me on the path of writing and finishing this book, when there were times that I just wanted to give up.
First, thank you to my husband for his vision, emotional support, and most importantly financial backing (just kidding or am I?) in getting Sophie and Ian’s story ready for publication. I couldn’t have done it without you.
My wonderful girls for patiently putting up with cases of ramen noodles, my crazy ranting directed at my laptop of “where did my manuscript disappear to???”, and every other injustice they endured by my constant talk of all things vampire. That can be fixed in therapy, right?
A huge thank you to all the students in Mrs. Taylor’s eighth grade creative writing class (you all know who you are). Thank you for reading some of my early chapters, and falling in love with my characters. If anything, I was inspired by your stories.
Special thanks also to Channy for her perspective on my first draft, and Facebook reminders that she was patiently waiting for my book. I love your name (and your mom) and you will be a character in my next book.
Thank you Mom for encouraging me to read, and passing on your love of all things British, really, I am obsessed…ask my kids.
A shout out to Todd Thompson for designing the cover of
, updating my website, and tweaking my blog
it’s absolutely stunning!
Finally, I couldn’t have finished this book without the direction of my editor Allison. Boy, am I glad that I found you! Thank you for understanding my voice, cleaning up my dialogue, and insightful comments on character development. You are simply a genius and I can’t wait to work with you on the next one.
And last, but not least, all my friends for encouraging me at all stages of writing and production
this one’s for you all. Enjoy!
At the Mid Hour of Night
At the mid hour of night, when stars are weeping, I fly
To the lone vale we lov’d, when life shone warm in thine eye;
And I think oft, if spirits can steal from the regions of air,
To revisit past scenes of delight, thou wilt come to me there,
And tell me our love is remember’d, even in the sky.
Then I sing the wild song ’twas once such pleasure to hear!
When our voices commingling breath’d, like one, on the ear;
And, as Echo far off through the vale my sad orison rolls,
I think, O my love! ’tis thy voice from the Kingdom of Souls,
Faintly answering still the notes that once were so dear.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Desperation was all she knew. She was cold, wet, and her cloak no longer provided any comfort from the beating rain. She ran her horse like a mad woman, leaping across swollen streams and trampling the muddy ground beneath. She darted in and out of the trees, flinging her arm as branches and limbs tore at her face; she had no concern for her own safety. As tears streamed down her cheeks, she brushed them aside with the cuff of her wedding dress.
I was too late!
She thought in despair.
Only moments before on the bluff above the valley, she had watched in horror as something horrible and indescribable ripped her beloved Naois to pieces. He was dead before their vows. She must have screamed, because that was when
turned and saw her.
No! It couldn’t be!
The monster wiped blood from its face and bounded after her like some possessed fallow deer, crashing violently through the trees. Driven by pure instinct alone, she turned her horse and raced back to the castle. Her anguish was soon replaced by anger and immense hatred, the like she had never before known. The anger coursed through her body, fueling her desires for revenge. And revenge she would have. She vowed she would not rest until she saw the monster Connacher and all he loved destroyed. “Quickly!” she yelled to her knights, as she rushed through the gate, dismounted, and raced to the tower. “Lower the portcullis!”
She reached the steps and frantically began climbing, tripping on her skirts, and scraping her hands along the rough stones as she scrambled to reach the door to her chamber. She paused momentarily to catch her breath; she could hear Connacher laughing as the bodies of her knights were thrown against the walls of the castle. She winced at the sound of bones breaking, men screaming for mercy. Grief stricken for all the pain she had caused, she barred her chamber door with what she could both physically and magically. Frantically, she mixed herbs and potions in the cauldron situated before her. The ancient ritual passed down to her from the Celtic druids—it was her last hope, her last attempt at warding off the evil below.
Druids had long been their spiritual guides and judges before the allure and corruption of Connacher. Most now sought only to increase their power through the use of black magic. Druids no longer served justly or for the benefit of her people. Only the Red Branch remained.
As she frantically cleansed her mind and body, the door was ripped from its hinges, and the wild beast of a man stood before her.
“What have you become?” she screamed. “Have you no soul left?”
The man slowly stalked around her, snickering and sneering. “Do you not like what Cathbad has made me into? I feel more powerful in this form.”
She was repulsed and spat out, “The Knights of the Red Branch will hunt you down for what you’ve done.”
Connacher merely laughed. “Did you not see how poor Naois begged for his life? He pledged all sorts of things to me if only I’d spare his life.”
“NO! You lie, I know Naois!”
“He even offered up the secret hiding places of the knights.”
“He would never betray me!” she screamed.
Connacher hissed, “You naïve woman, it has been foreseen you and I. You will join me or die.”
She looked around in despair. She did not want to die, but resigned herself to the fates of the gods. There was only one thing left to do. If she could bestow one last gift to humanity, Connacher would not possess her and all that she represented. She climbed upon the window ledge and looked briefly at her impending doom.
“What are you doing?” Connacher grabbed for her, but was repulsed by the light shining forth from her palms.
“I leave you this vile creature; for that is what you’ve become, Connacher. For lest you forget, I’ve too foreseen what shall come.”
With the strength she had left, she summoned all the powers of nature bestowed upon her by the ancients. The sky was illuminated by thunder and lightning. Swift winds picked up her skirts, as if to raise her to higher ground. Her crimson hair flowed, and her eyes glowed like the light from the sun at noonday. Connacher could scarce behold her power and beauty. Stretching out her arms, she spoke with clarity the prophecy of the ancient Druids:
One more powerful than I will come,
To the valley where my love begun.
Though tragedy and death she’ll know;
She alone will break the spell.
Until such time you will be damned,
Cursed to roam from land to land—
From the ashes of Ulster
Nature and gods be appeased.
With her as guide the dark will align,
And light and dark will once again unite.
Upon the last words, she smiled and said, “I go now to meet my sweet Naois.” She flung herself from the window as Connacher grasped the ledge and wailed, “Deidre! What have you done?”
Nighttime as a child was always met with great reluctance on my part. It was when I felt most vulnerable to thoughts not of my own making. It was always the same dream. I was with my mother pleasantly walking in a beautiful meadow. We were picking flowers, singing and carefree. I loved these moments with my mother. It was apparent that she felt that way too. I would chase a butterfly that darted amongst the wildflowers, teasing me as my mother sat by a stream. Then suddenly, as if out of nowhere,
would somehow permeate my dream and completely take it over. What
was, I did not know, but it felt like my nightmare was stalking me.
Clouds formed darkly overhead, and mist rose from the ground, enveloping me in a strange, eerie world that I couldn’t comprehend. The terror that gripped me froze me in place. I desperately reached for my mother’s outstretched hand, but I was powerless against the entity’s dark power. I never fully understood what my nightmare’s face looked like, because a fierce yet gentle male voice always came pulling me away. Now
voice was intoxicating to my soul and hard to resist.