R. C. Smith
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Obeying an ancient tradition, three people undertake a long and perilous journey – the Journey – that takes them from the northern reaches of the Queendom to the Queen’s capital on its southern shore.
Sir Edmond, the Envoy, former war hero and now diplomat, sets out to serve his country and his Queen. Abigail, the Artist, a gifted young sculptress with a passion for torture and pain, hopes to find fame beyond the narrow confines of her remote native province. And a young village girl with nothing but her dreams, suddenly finding herself to be the Gift, the personification of an ancient legend, knows that she faces an ordeal of suffering, sexual abuse, and gruesome public death.
The Journey is a challenge to all three, leaving none of them unchanged. While they push on towards their destination, through mounting hardship and dangers, they can not possibly be aware of their destinies ...
The Journey is a well-written, if rather gory, adventure story with a surprising twist. And on a deeper level, for those readers who care to follow the author there, this is a book about love and sacrifice that raises complex questions of moral, political, philosophical and even theological nature.
Herons and Heroines
The Courtship Gift (A South Sea Cannibal Opera)
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As the author states, the title of this collection of three stories is somewhat misleading. Herons only appear in the third one, The Messenger. And maybe you will feel the same about heroines. You’d be wrong, though. It’s still heroism you will find in The Island and The Courtship Gift, even if of a different kind, owing to different circumstances.
Here are short excerpts from the three tales:
When I woke up, I was alone upon the island.
I was alone, and I knew it was my own fault. I had overslept, I had missed the early dawn deadline when all had to assemble at the beach, to get into the boats.
Had I been there, they would have been obliged to take me. Staying behind on the island during the winter meant certain death, or certain enough death, and no one, whatever their status, could be sent to their deaths without a cause and without the proper proceedings. But, as I had not shown up in time, they would not have hesitated to load into the boat in place of me a few bags of much more profitable objects – no slave girl in the Queendom is worth her weight in semi-precious stones, rare fossils or exotic spices, those riches that the island yielded, and that made the yearly trips across the sea worth all the efforts and the dangers.
I am alone now. Night has fallen,
I lie on my back, on my soft bed of leaves,
looking up at the roof, and seeing the holes
that the last storm has rent,
which I should mend before the next rain,
and through these holes I see the stars,
and I see the moon, bright in the sky,
one day after its fullness.
My thoughts drift to the island of the Slavers,
to which I have been for one long day,
to the large town of stone with the Queens palace,
and its many stone houses,
and to the woman, who lives in one of the richest,
who sends me a gift and who says that she loves me,
and wants me to come to her as her slave.
I try to imagine her life there, in comfort,
and how she longs for a girl
of whom she has caught but a glimpse.
How empty she must feel!
And my thoughts they drift on,
to the two things that matter,
a life that is free,
and an honorable death.
These were the dark years. The forces of greed and corruption had unleashed a chaos that even they themselves had not been prepared for. Fear fueled violence and violence spawned fear, fires raged and blood flowed, destruction reigned, and when finally the fires had gone out and the blood had seeped into the ground or flowed away with the rivers, a formerly prosperous country was lying in ruins.
Many had died in those days of fire and blood, and of those who survived, many then died of hunger and disease, and many of those who still survived killed and were killed in fights for power, dwindling resources, and territories of scorched earth. But eventually those fights came to an end, and a new order, or what passed for order after the rampant destruction, emerged. The country, once peaceful and united, was fragmented, the pieces ruled by feuding warlords, the people at the mercy of their lords and of the murderous bands of roaming mercenaries those lords lacked the power and the will to control. But still, time passed, and people lived, and survived, and worked, and built, and loved, and had their hopes, and dreams, and desires, and defeats.
And at that time the events had occurred that I had heard told about.
About the Author
R. C. Smith (an assumed name) is a native and resident of Austria.
The author’s website is www.rc-smith.net