Brand Of Light by Ronie Kendig
INTRODUCTION—BRAND OF LIGHT, The Droseran Saga Book 1
Winner of the following:
- 2020 Realm Award, Science Fiction
- 2020 Alliance Award, Reader’s Choice
- 2020 Carol Award, Speculative Fiction
There’s a price on her head, and it has everything to do with the brand on her arm.
Tertian Space Coalition has blessed every planet in the quadrants with high technology, save one: Drosero. But in spite of their tenuous treaty with the ruling clans, TSC has plans for the backward planet. And they’re not alone.
After a catastrophic explosion, Kersei Dragoumis awakens in a derelict shuttle, alone, injured, and ignorant of the forbidden technology that has swept her into a nightmare. The brand she’s borne since childhood burns mysteriously, but the pain is nothing to that when she learns her family is dead and she is accused of their murders.
Across the quadrants, Marco Dusan responds to the call of a holy order—not to join them, but to seek a bounty. Gifted—or cursed—with abilities that mark him a Kynigos, a tracker sworn to bring interplanetary fugitives to justice, Marco discovers this particular bounty has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with prophecy. One that involves the hunter as much as the hunted.
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EXCERPT FROM BRAND OF LIGHT BY RONIE KENDIG
The tap, tap, tap of rain drilled into Achilus’s brain, holding him captive against sleep. He flopped over yet again, kicking the confining coverlet, and stared into the darkness. Would this reek-cursed night never end?
A strange light fell from the sky and glided over the rain-pebbled window. Blinking, suddenly aware of a deep thrum that had run under the rain for the last several minutes, Achilus threw off the coverlet and scrambled across the mattress. He landed with a thump on the thick run and scurried to the large window that towered over him. Rain sprinted down the beveled glass, blurring his view. He squinted after the ominous blue light that now fled the palace, as if on orders from his father. But it was not the light itself—unnatural and clearly not born of any torch—that held him rapt, but the way it moved.
Like an aetos from Mount Kalonic, which stood guard over Lampros City. Chills wormed through his bare feet as he watched the fading illumination. Fear played havoc on his stomach. What had it been? Why was it here in Lampros City? Was it dangerous? And it stunk. He held an arm over his nose, hating himself for being afraid and it for irritating his senses.
Blood and boil! Must the reek be so rotten?
“Riders!” came a shout from the watchtower. “Riders from the cliffs!”
Achilus stilled, breath trapped in his throat. The cliffs—that was the direction of the light! But people out in the rage of the Kalonican storm? The matter must be urgent. Pulling his unwilling gaze from the now-black night sky, he craned his neck to see the portcullis. Bushed onto his tiptoes. If he were just a little taller, a little older, he could see who disturbed his father’s sleep at such a late hour.
“Open the gate!”
Cursing his age and height, Achilus wished himself older. Father promised when he was ten Achilus would be present during receptions. Which meant he could stand by the great fire pit in the solar as the intruders presented themselves. Surely their news must be terrible for them to tempt the peril of the hour and storm.
At the clanging of chains raising the gate, he pressed his nose to the window. His breath bloomed on the leaded glass, fogging his view. With a grunt, he swiped it with his sleeve, looking past the raindrops sparkling like crystals. Torchlight scampered across the bailey. Shadows shifted but he could discern nothing save the drenching rain.
Noises in the hall yanked him around. Achilus threw himself at the door, catching the knob. With a light press against the brass, he eased it open. In the hall, Father’s broad shoulders faded as he descended the stairs. The sadness and anger trailing him drew Achilus into the open. Straining to discern what prickled the hairs on his neck, he stared into the recesses of his brothers’ rooms, darkened by the night. What had he—
A shadow moved toward him.
Cold dread chilled Achilus. Braced, he pulled in a breath and watched the shape glide across the black floors.
Air whooshed from his lungs as his younger brother shuffled closer. “You should be in bed, Silvanus.”
Rubbing an eye, his brother grunted. “The banging woke me.”
“Go back to the nursery. Check on Darius.”
He swatted at the air. “Aw, all that baby does is sleep. I don’t know why we needed another.”
“Go back. Now!” Jaw jutted, Achilus waited until his brother started for the nursery. Voices from the grand foyer turned him. He tiptoed to the balustrade and glanced over the rail. Two golden aetos twisted in battle glared at him, their tangled shapes set into the marble floor.
He descended, the smooth rail guiding him down the twenty-four steps. In the great hall, that chatter rose to a dull roar. Heart racing, Achilus stopped on the last step. Many voices. Many . . . smells.
Fear choked him. “I am in my own home—the castle, for boil’s sake! There is nothing to fear.” Jaw tight, he left the safety of the stairs and inched toward the great hall, breath harnessed.
Swirls of cool air slammed him, freezing Achilus just across the threshold, while his gaze swept the room. A whirl of black erupted—a man. Large. Eyes black and fierce. Shoulders larger than the great pit! Achilus gaped. By the Ancient, he looked as big as a Zeev! Long black cloak matched his pants, belted tunic, and hair slicked into a queue down his back. A faint blue glow came from his him—no, his wrist. Something he wore gave off dim light.
The man leaned toward him.
Though everything in him screamed to run, Achilus stood rooted. Balled his fists. Lifted his chin. Fury or friend, he’d fight.
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AUTHOR BIO—RONIE KENDIG
An Army brat, Ronie Kendig grew up in the classic military family, with her father often TDY and her mother holding down the proverbial fort. Their family moved often, which left Ronie attending six schools by the time she’d entered fourth grade. Her respite and “friends” during this time were the characters she created.
It was no surprise when she married a military veteran—her real-life hero—in June 1990 and recently celebrated their 30th Anniversary. Despite the craziness of life, Ronie finds balance and peace with her faith, family, retired military working dog VVolt N629, and Benning the Stealth Golden a short train ride from New York City.
Ronie has a deep love and passion for people, which is why she earned a degree in Psychology from Liberty University. Ronie speaks and teaches across the country and mentors other writers.