Friday, June 27, 2014

A Free story for you!

I know many of you are anxiously awaiting the release of Volume 2 in the Days of Messiah Series. So, in celebration of the anniversary of the release of The Healer's Touch, we've released a FREE short story! The Saga Begins is a prequel to The Healer's Touch and The Messiah's Sign and it's available as a free download for a limited time only. My hope is that you will enjoy the story and it will help you await the release of Volume 2 this fall.

About The Saga Begins:

Sixteen year old Tyrus and his family are forced to flee Rome and the cynical Caesar who blames them for a scandal. They board a ship bound for the Holy Land, but can they escape the imperial eagle before he swoops down upon them?

The Saga Begins is now available for download! Here's the link to get it FREE for a limited time!

Here's an excerpt from The Saga Begins:

Circa 3 A.D.
"Tyrus, wake up. " An bleak voice roused him from sleep as a rough hand patted his shoulder. "Gather your things. It's time to go."
The urgency in his father’s voice stirred the confusion already swirling in his groggy mind. "What? Where are we going? Why are we leaving in the middle of the night?"
"Shhh. There's no time for questions, son. Get moving. I need your help getting the family together. We must leave quickly."
The light of his father's lamp faded with his footsteps as he walked out into the large courtyard.
Tyrus rolled out of bed and squinted, willing his eyes to adjust to the darkness. Gather his things? What things? He didn't even know where they were going.
He huffed and rubbed his eyes. Blinking hard, he groped around in the darkness for his olive green tunic. His hand met with a cool, smooth fabric. That was it. His parents had given him the Asian silk robe along with his own prayer tallit upon his sixteenth birthday a few months ago. All his friends had been jealous. Reaching under his bed with his other hand, he pulled out his leather satchel. He stuffed his silk tunic and other necessary items inside. What could be wrong? He had just been dreaming about the Priest that was coming from Jerusalem to teach in their synagogue. How exciting it would have been to hear from a man who'd actually lived in the Holy City. Why would father want them to go anywhere at this hour?
Tyrus strapped on his sandals and glanced around the room. The two other beds still held their young sleepers.
"Tavor, wake up." The form in the bed across from his rolled over. " Up, I say. Gather a few of your things and meet us in the courtyard. It's time to go."
"Go?" In a swift movement, the blanket was tossed aside and Tavor fumbled with his sandals. His little brother always wanted to go, he didn't care when or where.
"Pack a few things for Tiltan too," Tyrus said as he bent and scooped up the sleeping form of his littlest brother.
As Tyrus stepped out into the courtyard, His father and mother were just coming out of their room.
"Scandal? Adamiel, what are you talking about? How could we be involved in any scandal?"
"This is Caesar we're talking about, Timnah. It doesn't matter if we're guilty or not. If he feels we have cheated him in any way he will throw our whole family to the arena beasts."
"I knew we shouldn't have agreed to become one of his personal merchants. What a disaster. Now we must leave Rome? Husband, we have nowhere to go."
Their voices quieted when they saw Tyrus crossing the courtyard towards them.
"We'll discuss this later. We need to get moving."
Shifting the weight of the child still sleeping in his arms Tyrus asked, "Father, where are we going?"
His father's hand clasped his arm and the reflection of the dim flame flickered in his dark eyes. "I'm not sure. Away from here. Somewhere in our homeland. Amongst our own people. Tonight, just do as I say."
Homeland? Israel? Excitement and fear battled in his chest. He had always dreamed of going to the Promised Land one day, but the unknown of what lay ahead vexed him.
Tyrus' mother clutched her husband's arm. "What about the Menorah and the loom? My mother gave it to me on our wedding day."
"Timnah, I will buy you a bronze loom from Egypt if you want it. For now, we must go."
"Can we at least take the Mezuzah off the doorpost? Please, Husband, one thing familiar?" Her soft, golden eyes pleaded with him.
"Fine. Tyrus, there's a wagon waiting in the stall. Lay Tiltan down, keeping him asleep if you can, and fetch the Mezuzah from the doorpost." His father spoke in hushed tones. "Be quick and quiet. We must leave at once."
Now he knew something was dreadfully wrong. They were leaving, and they were leaving for good. Was Caesar after them? His stomach twisted as he crossed the courtyard towards the stable. Something must have gone amiss with the trade they'd done at the Palace last week.
Tyrus laid his sleeping brother in the wagon that was already lined with blankets and stroked the donkey's nose.
"What are we into this time, eh Pe'er?"
Tavor appeared and piled several bags into the wagon. Tyrus slugged his arm. "Go get the Mezuzah off the doorpost. I'm going to check on Tzivyah."
Tyrus hurried across the courtyard just as his sister came down the stairs from her room with the baby on her hip. He reached for her arm to steady her as she descended. Her one good eye was groggy, and he wouldn't risk letting them fall.
"What's going on, Tyrus?" Tzivyah mumbled.
"Everything's alright. We’re going to visit the Promised Land.”
“In the middle of the night?”
“Just get into the wagon and you can cuddle with Topaz and go back to sleep."
He guided the two girls to the wagon and lifted them aboard.
"Are all the children here?" Father appeared with Mother right behind him.
“Tyrus, Tzivyah, T—T--…” He snapped his fingers several times as if to trigger his memory. “Woman, why did we ever decide to give all our children names that begin with the same letter?”
Mother gave a gentle smile and finished the headcount for him. “Tavor, Tiltan and Topaz. They’re all here.”
Adamiel pressed his ear against the gate that led to the main street and held a finger to his lips. He nodded at Tyrus, then with a slow and cautious hand, opened the stable door and peered down the street.
"It's clear. Tyrus, take the other side of the donkey, and please children, be quiet."
The soft clip clop of Pe'er's hooves upon the stone street seemed like thunder that would wake the entire neighborhood as they made their way out of the capital.
"Once we get out of the city, we can quicken our pace. Right now stealth is our priority. We'll make our way to Ostia Harbor where one of our ships will take us to Israel."
Adamiel's whisper paused as they passed a Roman guard post. Two were stationed there, but whatever their conversation was must have been more interesting than the cart, because the guards hardly glanced in their direction.
They passed the pagan temple, its lamps casting an eerie flicker of light upon the street. Tyrus peered over his shoulder into the bed of the cart. Most of the children had fallen asleep again, but his mother's golden eyes gleamed with fear, and it pierced his heart.
"It will be alright, Mother. Think of all the opportunity that awaits us in our homeland."
She pursed her lips together in what was probably supposed to be a smile, but said nothing. He knew how she felt. Not having a plan of action was gnawing at him too.
The hair of his neck stood on end as they approached the gateway of the city. There was a soldier standing staunch on each side of the arch, and another group a few paces away. 
"We'll just keep moving. There's no reason for them to stop us."
Father's whisper sounded confident, but the tremor of his chin betrayed him. A knot formed in Tyrus' stomach. Couldn't they speed up a little? No, that would look odd. The soldier's conversation quieted. Were they watching? Don't look at them. Just be natural.
"You there with the cart, halt."
Tyrus held his breath. Footsteps sounded on the cobblestones as a soldier approached. He turned towards him. The guard looked at the sleeping children in the cart, then at Father.
"Where are you going?"
"We're on our way to visit some relatives," Father answered without hesitation.
"In the middle of the night?"
"The sun will be rising soon. We like to get an early start because of the children." Adamiel thrust a thumb over his shoulder. "They sleep instead of fidget."
The guard's brow wrinkled. "Aren't you afraid of traveling in the dark?"
"On Roman roads? Oh, no. We have complete confidence in the Roman road system and security. Unless you feel there is a risk, in which case we would be happy to have an escort."
The soldier was silent for a moment as he glanced at his comrades.  "That won't be necessary. Very well, you may proceed."
Adamiel nodded and tugged on Pe'er's reins.
Tyrus' stomach leapt to his throat. Breathe. He tried to slow his heart rate.
A centurion approached them. He lifted one of the blankets and examined the cart."You brought very little for traveling with a large family. Where is your destination?"
"We're visiting wealthy relatives near Ostia. If we travel light, they give more gifts." Father winked at the guard. His Jewish tongue always had an answer.
"Really? Who are they? I know Ostia well. I was raised there."
Tyrus' pulse thundered in his ears. Father had done it this time. His salesman tongue had trapped him in a corner.
"You probably wouldn't know them, they're from Cyrene, but they currently live near the port because they do a lot of business out of there."
"By what name?"
"Malcus Didymus and his son Simeon."
The centurion's eyes narrowed to thin slits. The flicker of torches gleamed on his brass helmet. "Never heard of them."

Read the rest of the story here:

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