Title: LOOKING FOR DEI
Author: David A. Willson
Pub. Date: March 22, 2018
Publisher: Seeker Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook
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Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never liked secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift.
A gifted youth has not been announced in the poor village of Dimmitt for decades. When Nara uncovers the reason, she uses her own powers to make things right. The decision sets her on a path of danger, discovery, and a search for the divine. In the process, she learns the truth about herself and uncovers the biggest secret of all: the power of broken people.
West of Fairmont
Bylo had been sleeping in his cot when Phelan woke him with excited chattering.
"They have it wrong," Phelan said. "They misunderstand!" His unkempt white hair, deeply wrinkled skin, and body odor gave witness to both his age and recent lack of hygiene.
"I was trying to sleep," Bylo said as he struggled to rise. "What are you talking about?" he asked, eager for the reason he had been so rudely awakened.
"The runes have meaning, Bylo. Phyili. The twins." Phelan spoke quickly, his eyes sparkling with enthusiasm. "There is no longer any doubt."
Bylo scratched his own head, further mussing his tousled, greying hair. The sounds of boots in the hallway outside the room announced another patrol of soldiers. The queen's men had swarmed the monastery in recent days, with no explanation given by the abbot.
"Say something!" Phelan pleaded.
Bylo took a moment to focus on the frantic words, rubbing his eyes. "Hold on a minute," he said, climbing out of his cot. "The twins have power?"
"The twins aren't the twin peaks; they are actual human twins! Phyili is used in several places, and in the scriptures of First Light, it refers to the gods Dei and Kai as brothers."
Bylo nodded, following along.
"As you know, the runes in the margin modify the meaning of the nouns in the scripture text. In most of the scriptures, when we see the word phyili, we see the god rune in the margin, making it clear that the writer refers to the twin gods. But in Cataclysmos, where we read of the separation, we see another rune in the margin. It is not the god rune but instead the human one!"
"Phelan, the human rune in Cataclysmos is off. Higher in the margin. One would more likely associate it with a phrase above," Bylo said.
"That's what we always thought," Phelan said. "But if so, why no god rune near this passage, or even on this page, like all the others? If referring to a mountain, as many scholars guess, why no earth rune? Phyili is always accompanied by a god rune, but it is not here!"
"How do you account for it?"
"An error," said Phelan. "You should know. As a scribe, you've been trained to illustrate, like an artist. Embellishment, not replication."
"We couldn't anyway, Phelan. We aren't allowed access to the original manuscripts, so we couldn't be accurate if we wanted to."
"Exactly." A powerful pause built, and an impish grin crept across Phelan's face. "So, I stole one.”
"You're crazy!" Bylo said. "From the abbot?" Concern for both his comrade's safety and sanity washed over him. "They'll whip you—if you're lucky!"
"Probably," Phelan said, but the grin remained on his face. "After the abbot left on his latest trip, I made an excuse to return a codex to his quarters. Brother Alen fell for the ruse and allowed me access. I searched the abbot's room. There, I found the oldest manuscript I have ever seen, tucked away in a sealed compartment under his bed. I had no key, so I used a log poker to force the compartment open."
Bylo was horrified. Lying to get into the abbot's room and then destroying his furniture? Not to mention the theft!
"I waited until after you fell asleep before I took my first glance." Phelan continued, leaning in and resting a hand on Bylo's shoulder in a gesture of affection. "If I couldn't confirm my suspicions, I wanted no witnesses to my crime. Not even you."
Bylo was having difficulty with the implications of his friend's offense. "Where is it now?"
The remnants of a prideful smile still on his face, Phelan reached behind to grab something that rested at the foot of the cot. A musty odor tickled Bylo's nose, and his heart skipped a beat at the sight of the treasure. Scratches in the leather and yellowed pages gave witness to both its authenticity and fragility.
Phelan spoke in a slow-moving, reverent tone. "This manuscript contains the book of Cataclysmos in the original Breshi script, but the second half of the book is translated to Landian. Every reference to phyili has the god rune in the margin, centered to the right."
Their eyes locked for a moment, and Phelan turned to one of the final pages. "Yes, except one. The last one, right here, in chapter eighteen of the Landian section. The human rune rests in the margin, not the god rune. Perfectly centered. There can be no mistake."
The implications were earth-shattering.
"Our understanding of Cataclysmos is wrong," Phelan said. "Phyili doesn't mean the twin peaks—we should be looking for an actual human being!”
"A person will become two, Bylo. Somewhere, a woman will give birth to a special child. This child will somehow become separated, like Dei and Kai. Twins, perhaps."
"So how would a child be separated into two?" Bylo asked. "It would die. That doesn't make any sense."
"I don't understand it either, but if we don't find this person, or these twins, someone else will. No good will come from allowing them to fall into wicked hands. Remember the scripture. 'Conflict, pain, and death to many.' Bylo, this child may bring the end of all things. Or perhaps a new beginning."
"You are brilliant, my friend, but there are other scholars in this world. Perhaps employed by the queen and the archbishop. They may have come to the same conclusion. Maybe that is why the soldiers are here, seeking this manuscript and those like it."
"I know," Phelan said.
A hard knock on the closed door sent a shiver down Bylo's spine.
Phelan re-wrapped the text, setting it under the cot. Bylo reached the door, opening it to reveal a man standing outside. Captain insignias were visible on his epaulets as he imposed himself into the room.
"I'm here for Phelan."
A heartbeat later, Phelan stepped forward.
"Come with me," the soldier said, his fingers playing upon the pommel of his sword.
"I'll see you later," Phelan said, then turned to put a hand on Bylo's shoulder.
Barely a whisper in his ear, Bylo heard the last word Phelan would ever say to him.
Then Phelan exited the room with the soldier.
Bylo stood still, contemplating the peril he now faced. His heart pounded against his rib cage, fear battling a rising sense of urgency. After a moment, the urgency won and he resolved to act. He snatched the book and dashed out of the room. If he could make it to the back of the building unseen, he might escape.
A well-timed scurry through several corridors brought him near the exit. As he walked down the final hallway, he heard the first of several bells ring from far within the structure, driving him to burst out of the monastery into the darkness beyond.
In the fields south of the building, he turned to deliver a final gaze at the place he had called home for nearly ten years. The place he thought he would always call home. An ache grew within his breast as he wondered what would become of his friend. Then he turned and ran. He had a special child to find but did not know where to look.
David A. Willson has worked as a restauranteur, peace officer, and now, author. Taught by his mother to read at a young age, he spent his childhood exploring magic, spaceships, and other dimensions. In his writing, he strives to bring those worlds to his readers.
Much of his material is inspired by the "Great Land" of Alaska, which he has called home for over 30 years. He lives there with his wife, five children, and 2 dogs. He is passionate about technology, faith, and fiction--not necessarily in that order.
Looking for Dei is Willson's debut novel, set in a land where many more adventures will take place. Stay up to date with his ongoing efforts through the Looking for Dei Facebook page or visiting the website at davidawillson.com.
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