Title: AWAKENING: DREAMER’S REALM ONE
Author: Karen Arnpriester
Genre: Christian Fantasy
The horror of her sister’s abduction and Lucinda’s guilt manifest into years of acute insomnia. She appears to be miraculously healed when she participates in a test program that provides restful sleep but awakens a new dream realm … an alternative existence where Lucinda can create and manipulate any fantasy inspired by her imagination. Lucinda’s new realm is shattered by a dark evil that lurks there. Evil that is not confined to nightmares, but a sinister foe that also hunts for victims in the real world. Lucinda’s discarded spiritual beliefs resurface and prompt her to begin a perilous journey against this very real threat; a heartless creature that destroys innocent lives. The dream realm, spiritual domain and Lucinda’s physical reality integrate and twist together as Lucinda rediscovers her faith and confronts the monster that threatens her very life and those she loves.
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Lucinda woke to a serenade of singing birds. She was lying on her back in soft grass, facing a sky filled with clouds and each was a shape she recognized. There was an elephant, a pirate ship and a smiling face just above her. She giggled with delight as the childhood memories of searching the clouds for shapes with her little sister flooded in. The sky was brilliant blue directly in front of her, but when she turned her head to the sides, she could see deeper into the sky. The blue blended to a vibrant purple, filled with stars and swirling galaxies. She didn’t understand how she could see the layers of the atmosphere, but she didn’t care. Lucinda sat up and looked around her. This place she found herself in was beautiful and shimmered with light. It was as if an opalescent sheen had been applied to all surfaces.
When she stood up, she realized that she was next to the center hub of stone walkways, fanning out like legs of an octopus. She stepped onto one of the walkways and viewed her surroundings. The landscape was magical in every direction. She suddenly heard a scraping sound behind her and turned to see a large ostrich with a peacock tail waddling towards her, positioning its face right in hers. The bird’s face was tan with huge turquoise eyes framed in lush black eyelashes. The tan feathers blended into shades of lavender and sky blue, which then blended into deep jewel tones of the peacock. Lucinda began to feel uncomfortable with the intensity of the bird’s penetrating stare into her eyes.
“You are in my way, madam, please get out of the flow of traffic if you are going to dally about.” the bird disdainfully said with a British accent. He could have moved around her, but it was clear that he expected her to give him the right-of-way.
Lucinda gasped in shock when she realized that the bird could talk. She stepped to the right side of the pathway and allowed the “peatrich,” her name for the mash-up of creatures, to continue past her, watching the luxurious mixture of jewel tones in the plumage that dragged behind the bird. Once the intimidating peatrich was a safe distance away, she allowed herself to relax and actually laughed. She had always loved the face of an ostrich, especially the soulful eyes, and the beauty of the male peacock’s tail was one of nature’s breathtaking displays. Had her imagination blended these two creatures into one for her delight? she thought to herself. The peatrich turned and faced Lucinda, extending his tail plumage into a massive fan. He then humpfed at her, appearing to show distain for her presumption that she had created him, as if he could read her mind. He turned away and strutted down the path, with his fully extended tail swaying behind him.
Lucinda considered which path to take, and decided not to follow the peatrich, as he appeared to be rather grumpy and she didn’t want to aggravate him. She chose the path to her immediate left, which led to a village off in the distance. It felt like she traveled for hours to reach the gathering of buildings that were clearly from the Renaissance period. The quaint homes were made of stone with thatched roofs, and cobblestone paths ribboned throughout the buildings. The trees were covered in clusters of delicate lavender and yellow flowers, as well as dusty green moss that dangled from the branches. Lucinda was startled to see dragons flying above the village, effortlessly gliding above the treetops, seemingly unaware of her presence … at first.
As she stepped into the village square, she saw a large shadow covering her, and when she looked up, a magnificent ebony dragon hovered above her. The dragon had positioned his head so that one bright yellow eye could watch her every move. Lucinda felt her heart clench up and her breathing became rapid and panicked. She could not outrun his flames if he decided to incinerate her.
The village appeared to be uninhabited and the understanding that no one could save her created bile that churned in her stomach. The dragon appeared to give her a knowing leer and she saw his belly begin to glow until it was bright red with leathery veins of ebony running through the hot flesh. It reminded her of pictures she had seen of glowing lava beneath a black cracking charcoal surface. Lucinda dropped down into a crouch and wrapped herself into a ball, waiting for the searing heat to melt her to the bone.
“Ebony, desist or I shall thwart you,” a deep male voice suddenly bellowed out.
Lucinda looked up in the direction of the voice and saw a knight dressed in gold armor coming toward her. He shook his massive jeweled sword threateningly at the dragon that hesitated in his attack, apparently weighing his choices and the possible outcomes. The dragon slowly rose; the red fire in his belly cooling into glowing embers.
“Henceforth, she is mine. Any harm comes to this wench and thou shalt die,” the knight threatened with authority.
A rush of gratitude and relief swept over Lucinda. She would not die by flames that would devour her flesh.
The knight reached down his hand and pulled Lucinda to her feet. He placed his sword in his scabbard and then removed his helmet. The knight was tall with long blonde hair blowing in the same breeze that also caressed her skin. Her eyes scanned his beautiful face and she knew him, she had history with this man, and she felt her face flush and become a deep shade of crimson when he grinned at her with impossibly white, perfect teeth. He was her secret heartthrob for as long as she could remember … the supermodel Fabio. She felt a wave of embarrassment and lust sweep over her.
The knight took her hand and pressed his full, warm lips against her skin. She felt the tingles of excitement begin to build within her. After his enticing kiss, he lifted her hand up to his shoulder, which pulled her up against him. She could see the intricate carvings on his gold armor, scrolls and vines twisting and weaving over the surface. Her eyes focused on his chest and there was an etched heart formed with vines and flowers. In the center of the heart was her name, Lucinda, clearly engraved in beautiful script lettering. He was hers and she was his. She slid her tongue over her lips to moisten them, and then she lifted her face to accept the kiss that she knew was awaiting her. She closed her eyes and anticipated the warm softness of his desire.
WAHHH, WAHHH, WAHHH blasted into her conscious mind through her ears as Fabio burst into a showering of gold particles. Lucinda ran from the village, onto the path that had led her to her secret love, trying to locate the source of the obnoxious sound that interrupted her interlude with Sir Fabio. She found herself at the hub of paths. How could that be? It had taken her hours to get to the village, and only moments to return to the hub. Again she heard WAHHH, WAHHH, WAHHH as her eyes fluttered open.
Lucinda was lying on her back staring at the ceiling fan that spun in her bedroom. It took her a few moments to realize that she had actually been dreaming. Lucinda wrapped her arms around herself and squealed with delight. It had worked, the doctor was right. Not only had she slept, she had dreamed, a wonderfully delicious dream that was too quickly interrupted by her alarm.
About the Author
Karen Slimick Arnpriester (October 1953) was born in Alton, Illinois and moved to California when she was eight. Karen has owned her own graphic art business for twenty years. Anessia’s Quest is her first book. Her second book is titled Raider’s Vendetta. Her new release, Slimy, is a non-fiction account of her years as a bullied and isolated child.
Please visit Karen’s website karenskoncepts.com. You will find pages for both books with synopsis, reviews and first twelve chapters as free download. Karen’s blog page “My Thoughts” is also available at her site.