Sunday, October 1, 2017

Spotlight: The Hands of Ruin by Dylan Lee Peters

Spotlight On:

by Dylan Lee Peters

In a lakeside village amid the forests of Ferren, a young girl has been disfigured by a dark and mysterious presence. Only zul masters—those who use a mystical red dust called zulis—have the skill to vanquish such nightmares, and so now a master must be chosen.

On Earth, fourteen-year-old twins, Zigmund and Zerah, are sent to live with their uncle, Rainart, after their parents’ untimely deaths. Rainart is an abrasive drunk with a limp, and a secretive past. Yet, his secrets quickly come to light with astounding tension as the twins learn of his time in a land far away, and his possession of a mysterious and powerful red dust.

Book one of The Hands of Ruin begins a saga of two worlds and the individuals who bind those worlds together. It is a story both visionary and deeply emotional, rife with action, mystery, and vivid imagination. Blending fantasy and science fiction with passion, morality, and drama, The Hands of Ruin has all the makings of a true epic.

Where to buy:  Amazon / Nook / iBooks / Kobo

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Ah’Rhea sat high above the valley floor, amid the stillness of the land. The warm breeze moved gently against the thick black curls of hair that fell down across her chest, and it carried the sweet vanilla scent that came from the chasm in the valley floor. She set her dirty hands in her lap, closed her bright-green eyes, and enjoyed the moment of tranquility. Aside from the touch of the breeze and the warmth of the sun, she was alone.
It was evening in the valley of Ferrenglyn, and the sunset made the red-brown rock walls of the cliffs below Ah’Rhea look as bright as the embers of a dying fire. She was as still as a statue, and her skin—colored so similarly to the rock walls below—was glad for the warmth of the setting sun. An evening like this always brought memories of him, and she needed these last moments of sun to get her through the chill of a lonely night.
Ah’Rhea sat still for a long time, her legs folded beneath her, eyes closed, face to the sun, until the last sliver of molten orange fell beneath the horizon. The wind picked up and now brought with it the cool promise of night, so Ah’Rhea rubbed her dry hands together, stood, and looked down on the deep, dark chasm in the valley floor. She felt the cracks in her hands as she stared. Years of working with the zulis that came from this valley and from deep within the chasm had made her hands coarse. She sighed, pulled her crimson shawl over her head like a hood, and turned away from the valley. It was time to return to her cave.
The long slab of rock she had been perched on was not far from the entrance to her home, but really the valley and the high cliffs around the chasm were all a part of Ah’Rhea’s home. Her cave was merely her personal space. It was modest in appearance but a fine place to keep vigil over a sacred land. Her cave was something she cherished. Ah’Rhea Eneoh, a great zul master of Ferrenglyn, had earned her cave in the cliffs.
Those who did not understand the ways of Ferrenglyn might find a cave to be an ill-fitting home for such an accomplished and esteemed woman. However, the entirety of Ferren held Ferrenglyn to be sacred land. Ferrenites often made pilgrimages to the Temple of Origin, located in the village that closely bordered the valley. It was how they paid respect, and part of that respect was to leave the zul masters in peace. It was seen as taboo to visit a zul master uninvited, even for those who lived in the village of Ferrenglyn. The cliffs, chasm, and valley were the spiritual foundation of a people. The zul masters who lived in the caves were the sentinels that watched over that heart.
Ah’Rhea had trained with zulis for years to hone her skills. Countless hours of work and introspection had shaped her life until she was worthy of the title “zul master.” It was a goal she had pursued ever since early childhood. It was a singular focus, a yearning in her heart, and she had almost completely ignored the temptations of life in order to achieve that goal. Now, she lived a life of honor but also a life of seclusion. The zul masters could live with one another if they should choose. Yet most lived a life dominated by solitude.
Truly, solitude was something Ah’Rhea liked, something she had always preferred. She felt silence had its own sound, and she regarded it as sweet. Even as a small child, she would sit alone, playing quietly with no one to watch her. She could play that way for hours, to both the relief and dismay of her parents. A child that required so little attention was both a blessing and an oddity. However, there was never any reason for Ah’Rhea’s parents to be concerned. Their child was merely content to be alone. The absence of other people never made Ah’Rhea feel lonely. In fact, only the absence of one particular soul had ever made her feel loneliness, and if it were not for him, loneliness might be an alien concept to her completely.
Ah’Rhea couldn’t help but think of him now as she entered the darkness of her cave, the night gathering outside, and lit a candle set on a small table. She traced her hand along the rough wall of her home as she made her way to rest on her velvety mattress. Then Ah’Rhea sat on the soft mattress for three long minutes before sighing and resigning herself to the inevitable. She pulled his letter out from underneath her bed. She had kept it there ever since she had received it. It was the only good-bye she had received on the day he had left. Ah’Rhea reread the letter on nights like this, when the evening sun felt like his hand against her cheek, when her dry eyes yearned for the moisture of tears, when her chest clenched tight with secret sadness and begged for release.
Ah’Rhea took a pinch of zulis from the wooden box beside her mattress. The box was divided into sections, each containing a different herb or spice. She then took a pinch of cardamom and combined it with the zulis. She rubbed the spices in her hands and blew the combination into the flickering flame of the candle. The candle went out immediately, but the spices filled the air and expanded above Ah’Rhea, each individual speck glowing like a star in the night sky. They rose into the air and spread, finally coming to rest on the ceiling of the cave. They gave the cave light, as if a bright moon were shining down. It was well-enough light to read the letter by, but it was not so much that she would not be able to sleep, and she knew her zul would wear off after a few hours.
She opened the letter, which was folded in quarters. The rough and resilient parchment was pale in the light. A few small rips frayed the edges of the letter, and some of the script had been blurred into watery blotches from tears past. It didn’t matter whether her tears had blurred the words; every one of them was as familiar to her as her own name. The parchment smelled like him, or at least Ah’Rhea believed it did. She read the words again as fresh tears grew at the corners of her eyes.
My Dove,
There is a hollow within me I can no longer ignore. It has been inside of me as long as I can remember, since I was a child. I am sorry I am telling you of it only now. I’m sorry for a great many things.
Throughout my life, I have been vexed by a question: What is more cruel, to hide what is inside of me from the ones I love or to let them know me completely and see what I truly am?
I had always answered the question by choosing to hide what is inside of me, hoping a change would come, hoping the hollow within me would go away. Alas, it has not, and I have slowly come to terms with the fact that it never will. As I look down at the stained lines of my hands, a constant reminder of our years together, I realize I had so much more hope for my life, and for yours. Hope was my first mistake, but not my gravest.
I count my gravest mistake as the time I spent with you. I understand how harsh these words are, but their truth is not diminished by their cruelty. I have lied to you that I am a strong man, and I have lied to you that I am a good man. There are no such things as good, strong men. Not in this world or any other. Please believe me when I tell you that. It has taken me a very long time to accept it. I am sorry for you that I did not understand it sooner.
I cheated you of time. I have robbed you of the most precious commodity that exists. I tried to fill my hollow with your love, but it could not be filled; I tried to hide from it in your arms, but it would not be eluded. There are no things I can say to right what I have done, nothing I can do to give you back these years, but I can stop taking from you. I choose to stop today. You have seen me when the shadows fall over me. You have stood with me in that darkness, allowing me to tear you apart as I tore myself apart. No more. I know this last action of mine will hurt you, but that pain will go away. You must erase me from your mind.
You must release me from your heart.
I am lost.

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