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Restoring Destiny is a fantasy/coming-of-age story of teen romance, magic, evil and a fight to save a life and right the wrongs of yesteryear.
Torn from their cloistered world, pursued by troops, Rais and Kanda battle the elements of an unknown world and struggle to develop their emerging magic powers.
Their mother is to be executed at the next full moon by the evil ruler who invaded their world. Only they can save her, take back the land, and free the imprisoned King and their father.
With a guide and 2 teens, they travel through a tunnel in the Mountain of Dread, battling the life-threatening elements, to find the only man who can help them.
But unexpected danger comes from one they trusted.
REVIEW: Impeccable from the first page, Restoring Destiny is a deftly written high fantasy adventure novel. The characters are strong, fierce, and relatable and the story is packed with action and surprises. Get set for a remarkable ride!
Aleesah Darlison, award-winning author
REVIEW: I recently got a copy of this book for my grandson, but I made the mistake of reading the first chapter to see if I thought he’d like it. That was it. The book never left my hands until I finished it.
This is a great fantasy story; well-written and saturated with enough excitement to keep the reader enthralled throughout.
The characters are beautifully developed, and I was drawn to them immediately. The male character, Rais is brave, selfless, and ingenious and will appeal to the young male readers and his sister Kanda is loyal, feisty, and indomitable and I’m sure young female readers will quickly bond with her.
The plot is exciting and unpredictable and there are just enough teasers offered throughout the novel to keep the reader turning pages.
A great YA novel that would make a welcome Christmas present for any young bookworm.
Gayle Torrens - author
Chapter One - A Flight into the Unknown
His hands deep in suds, Rais stared out the window. The sun’s rays illuminated the farm’s grain fields as it rose higher into the sky, claiming back the right to light the land from the waning moon. He scrubbed the porridge pot furiously. Frustration boiled in him like a fever. His mind swirled with a thought that, lately, ran continuously. I am sick of never being able to leave the farm or see anyone… it’s like living in a prison.
His restless, wandering eyes surveyed the farm that had been his home for more than a decade. From the elevated position of the homestead, nestled contentedly in the lower slopes of the Mountain of Dread, the coast of East Nevaah stretched before him enticingly. The faint glimmer of the sea in the distance beckoned him like a temptress. He had never been there. His only knowledge came from books and his guardians’ stories. As much as he loved Nona and Pap, as he got older, the need to explore the world outside the farm got stronger. With a huge sigh, he rinsed the pot and put it in the draining rack.
Sensing his mood, his twin sister, Kanda, sidled up beside him and picked up the pot to wipe it. She put it down again and rested her hands on the edge of the metal sink, staring at the far horizon. The same frustration and longing he felt simmered in her. She sighed wistfully. “Sometimes I think we should just run away. Maybe then we would find out why we were kept prisoner here.”
“Don’t think I haven’t thought that too. My only concern is the fate of our guardians. They are getting old and need us to help them on the farm.”
“Yeah, I know. They have been kind to us. They did say they would tell us where we come from and who we are when we were older. We are nearly sixteen. Maybe they will tell us soon.” She sighed and picked up the pot, then with a determined expression she said, “If they don’t by the time our birth celebration comes around, I’m leaving.”
“Where would we go? We don’t know how to get to anywhere except the town down river. If we went there, we would soon be found. We have to stick it out a bit longer. I’m sure they will tell us soon.”
Kanda slammed the pot down on the bench. “You can stay if you like but I’m going – with or without you!”
Rais sighed and pumped water into the sink to rinse away the suds. She’s right, it is time. Anyway, I would have to go with her, to make sure she was safe.
He lifted his head to brush his chin-length blonde hair out of his eyes with the back of his wet hand and glanced out the window. A movement on the edge of the road to the left caught his attention. He stared into the dimness of the overhanging trees. He was just able to make out the shape of a man coming towards the house, hugging the shadows as he walked.
Frowning, he hurried out the back door to find Nona who was watering the vegetable garden. “There’s a man on the road coming this way. It looks like he doesn't want to be seen.”
“Now who could that be?” Nona turned off the tap, came in and shuffled inside towards the sink. Rais went back to the window and pointed to where he had seen the stranger. She pushed in beside him and peered out into the trees’ shadows.
Kanda, still drying the dish in her hand, squeezed in beside them.
Catching sight of the man, Nona patted Rais and Kanda on their shoulders and said, “You two stay out of sight.” The old woman hurried to the door as fast as her arthritic legs could carry her.
Kanda shook her head in exasperation. “Yeah, stay out of sight… that’s what she always says. You would think we were lepers the way no one can see or meet us.”
Rais nodded, a frown creased his forehead as his eyes narrowed in frustration. They watched the man until he disappeared around the front of the house, then went back to their chores, glancing curiously and anxiously towards the entry. After a short while, Rais tapped the side of the sink impatiently with a spoon. “I wish she would let me go with her. I didn’t like the way that man was hiding in the shadows.” Kanda nodded, biting her lip anxiously.
Worry about his ageing guardian’s safety intensified. Rais paced the room, running his hands through his hair as he fought the desire to disobey the order to stay. Finally, he stopped and said, “Maybe we should make sure Nona is okay.”
Hanging up her drying cloth and wiping her hands on the sides of her brown, knee-length trousers, Kanda followed him.
They crept into the front room. Seeing the door open a crack, they tiptoed to it and peered through the gap, listening to the conversation taking place on the front porch.
The frail old woman stood clinging to the railing. Her long grey hair swayed as she shook her head, her expression showing her confusion. Rais went to go to her, but Kanda held him back.
Nona’s quivering voice just reached their ears. “How can they be the only ones? What if they haven’t inherited their parent’s powers? If they had, they should be showing signs now that they are almost sixteen, but there has been nothing.”
Rais and Kanda looked at each other, eyebrows raised. “Is she talking about us?” Rais said. They stared at the short man standing beside her. He wore a ragged light grey uniform of the deposed King’s guards, but he was holding his battered and chipped helmet in his hands as a sign of respect.
The stranger, his expression grim, replied strongly, “Yaholo must be defeated. The King is ailing too and I’m not sure how long he can last. The twins are our last hope. They only have until the full moon to save her.”
Nona wrung her hands anxiously. “You must fetch Briador. Someone in Adaya will know where he is. He's the only one who can find out if they have powers and take them there before the full moon. It's time they knew their destiny, but I didn't expect it to happen this way. God help them if they can’t defeat the evil ruler and save her life.”
The man murmured a reply and went on his way. Nona stood leaning on the rails, staring after him as if his success depended on her watchful gaze.
The twins' sapphire blue eyes locked; their faces mirrored the bewilderment they felt.
Kanda whispered, “What's she talking about? Powers? What is that about? Only a few people have powers. And who do we have to save and how?”
Rais shrugged. “And who's Briador?”
Kanda shook her head. “Beats me.”
The stranger melted into the distant landscape, and with a weary sigh, Nona turned to enter the house. The twins scurried away, returning to their chores as Nona entered the meals area.
“Who was that?” Kanda asked innocently.
“No one you need to know about just now,” she mumbled, wiping tears from her wrinkled cheeks.
Kanda hurried to her side, putting her arms around her guardian. “Nona, are you okay? What did he want?”
“Yes, yes, I’m alright. Unfortunately, you’ll know what he wanted soon enough,” Nona said as she pulled herself away and shuffled out the door into the yard.
Kanda stomped her feet. “Rais, we should go after her and demand to know what that was about. How can she not tell us? Someone’s life is at stake.”
Rais shook his head as he watched her leave. “She’s too upset, and we can’t let her know we were listening. Wait until they come in from their chores. I’ll question them about our origin again at the moontime meal.”
Kanda smiled ruefully. “I suppose it's worth a try.”
“I wish I did have magic powers, then I could read their minds. But if we offer to help get the meal, maybe we can get them in a good mood,” Rais said.
They headed out to the pastures to begin their work of feeding the animals and tending the fields of grain. Searching for their guardians, they saw the old couple huddled together, their heads close as they talked.
“Obviously, she is telling him about our visitor,” Rais muttered. Kanda nodded.
Pap’s eyes fixed on the twins as they approached. His look of shock and anxiety sent a shiver of fear and foreboding through both.
When they came in at sundown, Rais and Kanda followed Nona into the kitchen. Kanda pulled her long blonde hair into a tail at the back of her head and tied it with a ribbon. “Do you need help to prepare the meal?” she asked, reaching for her apron.
“That would be lovely, thanks,” Nona said, beaming.
Kanda’s heart filled with love as she watched the side of the old woman’s eyes crinkle and the skin on her face fold as she smiled. Guilt painted her neck and face a dull red. How could I even think of leaving them? They need us more than ever. She reached out an arm and hugged her.
Rais grabbed an apron and tied it over his brown work clothes. He went to the bag sitting on the wooden bench and picked up a tuber. “I'll rinse these for you.”
Nona patted his arm and smiled. Kanda took them from him as he cleaned them and started peeling.
When he had washed enough for the meal, Rais said, “Hand me a knife and I'll help peel them too.”
Later, sitting at the large, worn, wooden table, the delicious scent of roast meat and vegetables wafting from his plate, Rais eyed his guardians. His mind swirled as he tried to find the right way to approach the subject of their origin.
Impatient, Kanda kicked him under the table to prompt him. When he glanced at her, she glared at him, eyes wide, and spread her hands questioningly.
Rais took a deep breath. “Nona, Pap, you have always said that when we were older you would tell us where we came from. We’ll be sixteen soon, would you tell us now, please?”
Nona and Pap exchanged weary glances. Pap stared at the twins; his eyes troubled. He pushed his thin grey hair from his brow and slumped his frail, bony shoulders as he exhaled loudly. “You will soon have the answers to your questions. They are not ours to tell.”
Kanda’s frustration rose and she turned to Nona. “But… Nona…”
The old woman dabbed her moist cheeks and gazed at the girl. “Hush, child, I just wish I could protect you from the truth forever. Be patient a little longer. It may be as soon as next sun.”
The twins lapsed into a brooding silence for the rest of the meal. As they cleared the dishes, Kanda's eyes lit up. “Next sun, Rais – we may know next sun.”
Her brother nodded but didn't say a word. During the meal he had studied their guardians. If knowing the answer to the puzzle meant they would have to leave the old couple to fend for themselves, he now wasn’t sure he wanted to know. He glanced at where they now sat by the fire, their grey heads nodding, their tired, frail bodies hunched towards the fire for warmth and comfort. Their expressions of sadness caused his heart to twist in his chest.
Kanda’s eyes followed his gaze, her face reflected his feelings. “They'll never survive without us. The farm is too much for them now. What will they do if we have to go away?” she said softly.
Rais nodded, his face grim. “Not sure.” As he washed the dishes, he stared through the window at a half-moon. “But wherever we have to be, we only have around 14 suns to get there.”
Kanda moved to his side and gazed up at the moon. She clenched her fist and pounded it gently on the bench. “If nothing happens tomorrow, I’m going to tell them we heard and make them tell us what it is about. All this secrecy is doing my head in.”
“Okay, I’m with you on that. If a life is at stake we should be told.”
When they finished their chores, the twins kissed their guardians and trudged to the washroom. They went to bed with their hearts torn. They rose at dawn and, still troubled, hurried to their tasks
During their work, they searched the horizon for signs of a visitor. No one appeared.
After his hard toil in the fields, Rais sat on the front verandah to witness the sun take its last spectacular bow to the rising moon and surrender the sky to her keeping. The fiery glow of the retreating sun was mirrored on the surface of Lake Adaya. The reflected sunset was often a blending of blue and pink or apricot, but now the lake's surface was a still deep red, as if it were a pool of blood. He shivered with foreboding. His eyes wandered around his surroundings.
The position of the farm homestead on the side of the mountain meant that by sunlight no one could draw near the house from any direction without being seen. To one side, the river, gouged deep from the waterfall at the base of the mountain and hidden from view by the trees, formed a part of the farm's southern boundary. The sheer rocky cliff face behind the house protected them from approach from the mountain. The perfect place to hide us, he thought, but from what … or who… and why?
A herd of chinows played in the dam, rolling their large, heavy muscular bodies in its muddy water. The horns on their long snouts dug up the reeds and grasses that grew near the bank and they fed hungrily on the tender roots. A couple of the tame ones hung their heads over the fence, looking for the tubers Rais sometimes fed them. “Not now,” he called.
The turquoise temptress on the far horizon gleamed enticingly. His heart swelled with longing to feel the lapping water of the sea goddess fold his feet in her embrace. Rais sighed at the memory of their last secret trip downriver; they were so close. He then pondered last sun’s event. The tickling sensation of a large furry head wriggling under his arm and a long snout nuzzling into his chest brought him from his reverie.
“Nobosi, you startled me,” he said, fondling the liogon's ears and ruffling the thick fur of his mane.
A scarf of white dropped from the sky and the rustle of feathers signalled the arrival of another favourite creature. Owl landed on the rails. Rais reached up to pet the bird. As far back as he could remember, Owl had been there. It followed them everywhere they went. I'm amazed you are so tame, Rais thought again as he stroked its snow-white head. His other hand strayed to the gold locket he wore – Kanda had one too. An engraving of an owl, the mirror image of the bird before him, adorned the face.
Kanda appeared at the door. Her eyes surveyed the scene before her. The glistening water of the lake and the sea tantalised her. With a determined expression she thought, So close but so far away. Soon I will get to explore the world outside the farm. Soon, we learn the truth. I will make them tell us tonight.
“Time to eat,” she said, smiling at Rais and stroking Nobosi's fur. She placed a dish of meat on the floor at his feet and both Nobosi and Owl fed from the plate. Kanda gazed fondly at their pets. Such a stark contrast – Nobosi was the size of a chinow calf, his strong, powerful, feline body, crouched to eat, seemed menacing, but he had welcomed Owl and happily shared food with her daily.
She patted Nobosi's head. “In the wild, a liogon would hunt birds for food, but Nobosi allows Owl to share his meal. He's truly tame now.”
“Mmm … Pap says they're never truly tame,” Rais muttered as he rose, and stretched his slim, muscular body.
As he approached the door, Kanda put a hand on his arm to stop him. “Rais, if they don’t say anything, I’m going to demand answers. You still with me on this?”
Rais stiffened and took a deep breath. “Okay but leave it until we have eaten and cleaned up. They will be more relaxed by then.”
The meal was eaten in silence as the twins rehearsed what they would say later. Their guardians’ faces wore anxious expressions and they kept sighing and glancing at each other. Afterwards, the twins were in the kitchen with Nona, helping clean up, when Nobosi suddenly rose from his position by the fire and bounded to the front door. A growl low in his throat warned them of an approaching stranger. Rais turned from pumping water into the sink and looked at Kanda expectantly. Maybe this was the news they had been waiting for.
Suddenly, a huge fist pounded the front door. Paintings rattled on the wall as if in an earthquake. Nobosi scratched at the door, barking, and growling menacingly. Startled by the noise and Nobosi’s anger, Rais headed towards him, but Pap rose stiffly from his seat by the fire and signalled him to wait. The old man hobbled to the door to see who disturbed their peace. The twins wanted to follow, but Nona held them back. She ushered them into the hall that led to the back of the house and put a finger over her mouth to silence them as they listened to the conversation. The twins glanced at each other, frowning, not sure what was happening.
“The twins – I know they are here. Bring them to me,” an unfamiliar voice thundered.
“I … don't know who you mean,” Pap said, glancing over his shoulder and putting his hand on Nobosi's head for reassurance. The throaty growl coming from the liogon was all that stopped the visitor from pushing past the old man and entering the house.
“Don't play games with me. The King's messenger is dead, but before he died, he told us what we wanted to know. If you don't call off that animal and let us in to search the house, you and your wife will die.”
“If the children were found here, we would all die anyway,” Pap said loudly.
Nona pulled them back further into the hall. Through the window of the nearest room, in the soft light of the rising moon, they saw another man in a dark blue uniform looking around the other side of the house. “Who are they? What do they want with us?” Kanda asked.
Her face pale and tears streaming down her cheeks, Nona cried, “There’s no time for explanation. Go! Go now, out the side window. I was afraid this might happen. I have packed some of your things. Go to Adaya. Find a man called Briador.” Nona’s hands shook as she pulled two leather packs from the hall cupboard and pushed them into their hands.
Rais hesitated. “But Nona … what will happen to you if we go?”
“If you go, we will be fine. If you are found here, we will all die.” She brushed away her tears impatiently.
The twins hesitated for a second, glancing towards the front door then at their frail guardian. Nona pushed them towards the window. “Go!!”
After a quick hug, the twins sprinted for the opening, struggling into the backpacks as they ran. Outside, their hearts racing, they sped for their concealed tunnel that led to the river. Once inside, they replaced the bush that hid the entrance and peered through the branches to see if they were being followed. The other soldier stood looking around the side of the house. Rais stared at him for a moment in the soft light. Like their evil ruler, he was obviously from their neighbouring country, Gantis, the land of the giants, as he was much taller than their race. He wore the dark blue uniform of the troops of the ruler. They held their breath until he disappeared.
“Are you sure Nona and Pap will be okay?” Kanda whispered.
His expression grim, Rais shrugged sadly. “I hope so. We can send back help as soon as we find this Briador person. At least they have Nobosi to protect them.” He took her hand, urging her to hurry. They scampered as quietly as possible for the concealed tunnel they had made between the two rows of bushes that formed the boundary between the house and the animal enclosure. At the other end, hidden in the bushes at the top of the riverbank, lay the hollowed, split-log canoe they used to go fishing and take secret trips on the river. They reefed it out of its hiding place and dragged it down the slope to the edge of the water. All was quiet.
Suddenly, they heard Nobosi barking. Rais climbed the riverbank and peered over the top. The soldier who had been behind the house was racing towards them, Nobosi on his heels.
Rais’ heart rate increased with dread. “Quick, get in the canoe,” he shouted as he slid down the bank. They waded through the dense reeds at the edge of the water, pushed the canoe into the stream, and scrambled on board. Behind them, the soldier slid down the bank and shouted at them to stop. Nobosi growled menacingly as he gave chase.
As they paddled frantically away from the bank, the soldier plunged into the water and swam towards them, with Nobosi close behind. Heart beating rapidly, Rais rowed harder towards the other side of the river where the current from the waterfall was strongest. Kanda huddled in the bottom of the canoe willing it to go faster. She shivered with fear, as she watched the soldier get closer. Just as they got to the fast-flowing water, he reached for the canoe.
Kanda screamed when his hand grabbed the side and pounded his knuckles with her fist. The stream plucked the vessel into its clutches like a playful water sprite, but the weight of the soldier made the canoe turn side-on and it rocked violently. Kanda lost her balance and tumbled into the bottom. Rais frantically paddled to try to steady it.
Nobosi appeared beside the man and bit into his arm. Their combined weight made the boat tip sideways as they struggled. Rais and Kanda threw themselves over to the other side to try to balance the craft. Nobosi tugged harder and the man screamed and lost his grip. The canoe rocked again. Kanda shrieked as she plunged backwards into the river.
Rais fought to steady the vessel and turn it downstream. He thrust a paddle towards his sister. “Kanda, grab the paddle.”
Heart racing, Kanda battled the flow of the stream as she tried to swim towards the canoe, but the playful water sprite changed character. Like a predator, it caught her in its clutches and tugged her away.
Nobosi lost his hold, and the soldier was swept away by the current. The man battled the flow trying to reach the canoe again. Kanda whirled by him, and he flung himself at her. She screeched as his hand closed around her hair. “Rais, help!” she shouted. Gasping for breath, she clawed at her assailant as she was pushed under.
Terror screamed through Rais as the water covered her head. He jumped into the river and swam.
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Review: Jill Smith:
Rais and Kanda are twins, living with an elderly couple who keep them isolated from the world outside their farm. The teenagers don’t know why and long to go out into the world.
A stranger brings and urgent message to them, they must leave and they are on a mission to save the life of someone important. No one will tell them who they are, who their parents are, or who they need to save.
They also discover they have loyal friends and others who are willing to turn the twins in, simply for the reward. Will they be able to reach the city? Will they find friendship and love along the way?
Elaine has written a wonderful fantasy tale. I love the magic and drama that follows the journey throughout this book. I look forward to reading the next book in the series as the ending was very much a conclusion with a cliff hanger.