From bestselling author Megan Linski comes an emotional new series that proves your past can never tame your spirit…
Flight. Hyperspeed. Clairvoyance.
These are some of the powers gifted to the Rhodi, an ancient sect of assassins who defend Crescentia, a dystopian world with a dying hope.
Dyliana Fairsson is one of them. After losing her parents to a suspicious accident, she and her twin brother, Devin, join the Rhodi to avoid starvation. Under the direction of her master, Dylan struggles to learn the strength of her magic …as well as hide the growing scars on her wrists. Can Dylan become the warrior, the hero, she’s destined to be? Or is she fated to fall from the light into the darkness?
The first installment in an epic fantasy series by young adult author Megan Linski, Rhodi’s Light is an action-packed thrill ride that will leave readers begging for more.
Chapter One: Escaping
“Dylan! Dyliana, wake up! Get out of bed!”
The girl sleepily raised her head off the pillow and looked around, her sharp eyes piercing the darkness. Her father stood beside the bed, fully dressed and standing as straight as a board. He was pretending to be calm, yet she knew better. The face her father wore was one that she knew all too well, the one she hated and yet was frightened of at the same time. It was an expression of urgency, of fear.
“It’s time. Your mother is getting Devin up. We have to leave now.”
Dylan shook her long hair out of her face. “But I don’t…”
“Now’s not the time. Come.”
The small fifteen-year-old pushed back the covers and jumped out of bed, her day clothes on. She knew better than to go to sleep in pajamas anymore. What was the point? They always seemed to flee in the night.
She was a very pretty girl, with golden skin and particular orange eyes that glittered fiercely even in the darkness, but you’d never know it by the sour expression on her face. She wore baggy, tomboyish clothes and her black hair was tangled. She swept it sloppily beneath a hat as she clambered drowsily to her feet.
“That’s my girl. Grab your bags.” Her father handed her a suitcase, a large bag of his own by his side. Her father was muscular, rugged from years of hard work with stubble crowding his face. His black hair was trimmed short, his golden skin beaming and radiant. The feature his daughter could see most in the shadows were his two green eyes, vibrant and unrelenting in hope. She didn’t understand how that hope could still be there after they’d been uprooted so many times.
Dylan bent down and took hold of her suitcase, knowing if she dawdled, they’d all be in danger. She slipped on her shoes and followed her father out into the hallway, down the stairs and to the front door.
“Is everyone ready, Yeshua?” a woman asked, her voice a low whisper. The full moon outside trickled through the window and lit up her face. She was a tall woman with long, wavy hair that nearly fell to her hips and orange eyes just like Dylan’s. Her face was exotic, the look of a desert heiress. That face had thin eyebrows that narrowed in worry.
“As ready as we can be, Kilim. How’s Devin?” the man asked.
“Sleepy,” a voice at Kilim’s side said. A boy Dylan’s age yawned and blinked at his sister. Although nearly identical in features, it was obvious from the beginning that the twins couldn’t be any different. There wasn’t a hint of a wrinkle in the boy’s neat clothes, and his glasses were polished to perfection, though too large for his small green eyes.
“You’ll get over it,” Yeshua promised. “We’re leaving now.”
The family picked up their bags and headed out of the house. As they passed through the front door Dylan noticed a window had been broken during the night. She wanted to ask what had happened but thought better of it.
After everything had been loaded into the car the four of them set down the road, only taking their bags. They left the rest of their possessions behind. The family hardly cared. It wasn’t like they had much to call their own in the first place. The two teenagers looked back as they abandoned their home, but the adults seemed to sag in relief.
“Where are we going this time?” Dylan asked with a sigh. It seemed like they were always running…always scared.
“Out of Marceleno,” Yeshua said. “And into a state called Areos. It’s very far away, but it’s closer to your aunt and uncle. We’ll have to cross several borders.”
“Out of Marceleno?” Devin repeated and Dylan’s heart sank. They moved constantly, but never out of their own country. Marceleno was their home. How could they leave that behind as well?
“We’ve switched countries before,” Kilim reminded them.
“That was when we were babies. It doesn’t count.” Dylan crossed her arms.
“Marceleno is too close to the Far East. It’s not safe to stay here anymore,” Yeshua said.
Nowhere is safe for us, Dylan thought dully, watching the willow trees rush by her window unhappily. Marceleno was beautiful with its gondolas and small stone streets, buildings that sat by long rivers crowded with artists and musicians. Areos was probably very different.
“Does Uncle Keaton know we’re coming?” Devin asked.
“No. It’s better if only we know, for now.”
Dylan made an irritated sound and shook her head. She wished that her parents would let her know who was after them or why. Whenever she asked she was only told not to speak of it. It hurt that her parents didn’t trust them enough to let her or her brother know what was going on, even though it consistently interrupted their lives. After a while bitterness had begun to sink in. She gave up asking, and just supposed that if whoever was after them caught them she would die or be kidnapped without ever knowing why and that would be the end of it.
Not her brother, though. He always had to ask questions every time they ran away, and tonight was no exception. He’d guessed multiple times, and despite his intelligence he never quite got it right. That didn’t stop him from trying now. “Mom, are we running away from the government?” Devin asked.
There was an icy tremor in the car, one that froze the very air and vibrated into their stomachs. “Yes, lamb, that’s exactly what we are doing,” Kilim said reassuringly, though her voice wobbled. The twins looked at each other. This was the first time their mother had ever given a hint of any kind, although there was something in her voice that didn’t exactly ring true.
After about an hour Kilim said, “Maybe we should have sent a letter to them. Keaton and Raziya.”
“Keaton and Rhonda,” Yeshua corrected her. “And no, it was too risky. You know they watch the post and the phone lines.”
“Not all of them,” Kilim protested. “And I don’t care what she calls herself now, she’ll always be Raziya to me. That’s what my parents named her, and that’s what she’s called.”
“She had to change her name to stay hidden, you know that,” Yeshua said, before adding, “In fact it would be a good thing if we were to change…”
“They’ve taken everything else from me, save my children. I’m not going to give them my name!” Kilim said defensively.
“Are you going to give them our lives instead?” Yeshua said softly.
“What kind of freedom is this? What kind of freedom did my sister receive?” Kilim asked, completely ignoring his last comment. “She was so grateful that Keaton bought her freedom that she dropped down and married him on the spot!”
The twins listened closer. Their parents rarely, if ever, talked about their past. Their ancestors had come from the Far East, a land of deserts and dancers, thieves and cutthroats. Both of their parents had grown up in slavery. Their mother’s sister had been bought by their Uncle Keaton, and had so been saved from a life of hardship. But they never knew how their parents escaped. That was another secret they kept behind closed lips.
“She has grown to love him,” Yeshua reminded her gently. “Their children are very happy and she has a nice, safe house somewhere. It’s all she ever wanted.”
“Married at sixteen, leaving me to be a slave. He didn’t rescue us, you know.”
“He couldn’t afford the price for all of us,” Yeshua said. “We got away and found them soon enough. He bought a wife. She knew what she was giving up, and she never believed in true love anyway. She was happy with what she got.”
“I didn’t have to sell myself for my freedom!” Kilim burst. “The Rhodi gave it to me!”
When the twins heard this word their ears perked up. Rhodi? They had never heard of such a thing.
“Yes, and look how we’ve repaid them,” Yeshua said, his voice dropping to a shameful tone.
Kilim looked out the window. “And what a mess it’s thrown us in. We didn’t know at the time. Like you said, a woman does what she has to do.”
They said nothing more on the subject and the twins weren’t stupid enough to ask any questions. But as time went on, they began to wonder. Who were these Rhodi that had freed their parents from slavery?
They supposed it didn’t matter. Areos would be the next State in Crescentia they would go to, until they needed to run again. Who’s to say it wouldn’t be Adamaris, or Dunedinne, or the Far West next? Nowhere was safe for them. They couldn’t even return to their ancestral roots in the Far East for fear that slavers would find them, or the bordering country of Alastan due to the civil uprisings that always seemed to be going on. Crescentia, though a breathtaking and large continent with a variety of forests, deserts and mountains, always seemed to have a boatload of problems to go with its beauty.
They came to a border which was swamped with guards. This time of night there were no other cars. Fully awake, the twins tried to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible in the backseat.
Yeshua pulled up to the station and rolled down his window slowly. A tall guard strode up to the door, a sword glinting in his belt. His partner walked up beside him, a small, crouching man whose eyes twitched from one place to another.
“Your passports?” the first guard said. Yeshua reached over and pulled out of the dashboard four blue books, handing it to the man as if this was a tedious, not a dangerous, job. Their passports were fraudulent…it was too risky, being registered with the government. None of them had birth certificates. As far as the continent of Crescentia was concerned, none of them even existed at all.
The guard scrolled through the pages. “Yeshua, Kilim, Dyliana and Devin Fairsson?” he asked. Yeshua nodded, and Dylan blinked. Fairsson. Was that their name now? Their mother could protest giving up their first names, but their last one was no objection. Dylan shook her head and knew that she couldn’t live like this forever, glancing behind her everywhere she went and having her last name changed so many times that she had forgotten her real one. Fairsson was the current, apparently, but that had never been it from the beginning. Only last year she had been a Putman.
As the first guard looked through the books the second peered into the windows. He held a spear in his hands and smiled at them all as if they were something to eat. The crooked guard leaned over and said, “This vehicle looks suspicious. Think we should check it?”
“That won’t be necessary,” Yeshua said, panic rising in his voice.
“Times are tough. We can’t take any chances,” the first guard said, handing him back his passports. The family got out of the car and watched as the first guard ruffled through their belongings while the second guard kept watch.
Dylan saw her brother grimace as the guard went through their few possessions, throwing them around as if they had no value. Her eyes glanced over at the second guard. She didn’t like the way he kept looking her over, his eyes greedily scanning her body. He licked his lips and adjusted his pants, giving her a smile that made her feel disgusting. “You have a beautiful daughter,” he said to Yeshua, giving a little chuckle as he reached out to touch a strand of her hair.
“Yes. I do.” Yeshua wrapped his arms around his daughter and glared at the crooked little man, so threatening in his stance that the guard turned away with a disgruntled face.
“Everything seems to be in order. Sorry for the trouble,” the first guard said after his search was over, tipping his hat.
The family clambered back into the car, forcing themselves to act normal. The first guard raised a hand in farewell and said, “Have a nice trip,” as they pulled away. Yeshua didn’t wave back and they drove as calmly away as possible away from the station. The border had long vanished from sight before they all began to relax. Dylan glanced over at her brother. She could tell by the angry expression on his face that he was remembering the way the crooked guard had gazed at her.
Dylan shivered. There were at least three more borders to cross, maybe more on the way to freedom. She stared into the car window, her reflection bouncing off of it until it was the only thing she could see. All she could fathom was her reflection, but she wasn’t really seeing it. She imagined the crippled man looming behind her, an army of unknown enemies at his back, eager to tear her parents and her brother to pieces. A shiver of fear rippled between her lungs and she choked, trying to breathe. Before she escaped she gazed into her reflection and thought she saw a missing piece of herself, and the fact that it was missing caused her to feel like screaming. She tried to cry out, but nothing came from her mouth as she began sinking deeper and deeper into her own mind.
Her head was spinning. She began to gasp for air, her breaths shallow and vacant. She was either going to die or pass out, and so great was her fear that she wished that either one would happen just so the fear would go away. The car was stopping, she knew that much, but she didn’t care. All she wanted was to calm her racing heart and beat back the feeling of bleeding, of suffocating and of drowning all at once.
From very far away she heard the words, “Is she all right?” and, “Panic attack…” Her mother put a cool hand to her face and Dylan tried to feel it, wanting to find a way to cease her trembling. Nothing was working…nothing she tried could help.
Her father glanced backward at her and took his eyes off the road. Before she knew it all Dylan could hear was metal twisting, snapping and crunching as the vehicle flipped over and over multiple times, finally sliding on its side.
The last thing she saw were her parents flying through the windshield, their bodies twisting amongst the brightness of the headlights.
You can purchase Rhodi’s Light at:
About the Author:
Megan Linski is the owner of Gryfyn Publishing and has had a passion for writing ever since she completed her first (short) novel at the age of 6. Her specializations are romance, fantasy, and contemporary fiction for people aged 14-24. When not writing she enjoys ice skating, horse riding, theatre, archery, fishing, and being outdoors. She is a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, and is an active fighter against common variable immune deficiency disorder. She lives in Michigan. You can find her at www.meganlinski.com.
Megan Linski also writes under the pen name of Natalie Erin for the Creatures of the Lands Series, co-authored with Krisen Lison.