Stephen’s existence has become a wash of malaise, from the job he despises to the life that somehow has spun out of his control. He has grown apart from his wife, her respect for him having faded many years ago. As an escape, once a week, he and his friends get together to play The Game, exploring the magical world of Taerh through role play. Stephen soon learns there is more to Taerh than he ever imagined.
The Game, which he thought to be a construct of imagination, was actually based on visions of a world beyond his perceptions. In his dreams, Stephen sees the world of Taerh through the eyes of his ‘reflection’, Hollis, who lives a life which Stephen could only imagine. When tragedy strikes, Stephen must work with his reflection to unravel a mystery that spans both Taerh and Earth. New comrades in both worlds offer to aid them; although some are true allies, others are motivated by their own selfish desires. As Stephen draws closer to Hollis, he must track down the murderers of his closest friends before he joins them in death.
Targeted Age Group:: 12+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons since the magical summer of 1980. It has made me the person that I am today. Inspiration for it was drawn from my years of gaming and those who have joined me on that journey.
I have been telling stories since that sunny afternoon, Shadows of a Dream is the culmination of those decades of storytelling.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters found in Shadows of a Dream are one natural progression of what could happen to someone very much like myself … or anyone out there as their life does not turn out at they imagined but their dreams are just beyond their fingertips.
Aamir’s children slept on the roof of his simple home to combat the heat; but so softly did Hollis land upon the surface that none of them stirred. He was forced to take to the rooftops as the streets became host to the search for both himself and Aristoi. It made no difference to the thief, as their pitched surface was as much of a home to him as the hard-packed surface below. Stephen’s consciousness had settled into the background as Hollis practiced his trade. He lowered himself one-handed to the alley outside the small kitchen that he remembered from the day of his capture.
The curtains that usually kept the daytime’s dust at bay were pulled back to admit as much of the night air as possible. Hollis slid into the oppressive silence of the house, his eyes adjusting quickly. The building was simple, containing only three rooms, of which Hollis had seen two. Finding where Aamir slept was a simple matter. Stephen cringed as Hollis slowly drew one of his stolen daggers and pressed it to the fat caravan master’s throat. With the barest whispers he warned, “This is between us, Sayyid, I have no interest in involving your sun and flower; but I will if pressed.” He felt the man nodding carefully. “You will rise without waking her and lead me to your strong box. Nod again if you understand me.” Aamir nodded again. Hollis stepped back slightly, allowing the man to rise; but the blade never wavered from its position.
The two walked into the common room where Aamir folded back a carpet, revealing a hole dug in the dirt floor; inside sat an iron bound chest. “I have children, Hollis, have mercy,” he whispered, his tone pleading.
Hollis smiled, a malicious glint coming to his eye, “They are not yours, as we have already discussed.”
The man paled, swallowing slowly, “I had no choice.”
“We both know that is a lie. Your cudgel was the deciding factor in that conflict. You saw the chance to keep my money and collect what I can only assume was a significant reward. You took that gamble, betting that once I entered the Emir’s dungeons, I would never emerge. That was an unwise wager.” He pressed the blade deeper into Aamir’s throat, creasing the skin, “Open the chest.”
“Of course, Sayyid.” His hands trembled as he pulled the key from a hidden pocket and turned it slowly.
Hollis heard the soft click of the lock opening and Aamir tried to take a step back. Hollis clicked softly and shook his head. “If you would be so kind as to open it for me, I would be most appreciative. I have my hands full.” He shifted the knife slightly. He could see the man’s shoulders slump as he reached in, lifted the lid a small way and pulled a catch to the side, disarming the poison-needle trap. He looked up at Hollis with something that could have passed for an apology. The thief shrugged and nodded appreciatively but did not comment.
“You cannot carry all this, Hollis,” Aamir whispered in clipped tones.
“I do not have to. Give me what I paid you and what is left of the reward you collected.”
The man did as he was asked with as much speed as he could muster with a knife at his throat, “It was nothing personal, simply a sound business decision.”
“It felt kind of personal to me, Aamir.”
“Please accept my sincerest apologies, Sayyid. Here is all I have left and the pouch you gave me with not an iron drab missing. Does this make us even?”
Hollis growled low and deadly, “Not even close, Aamir.” He pressed the blade further into the caravan master’s throat, drawing a thin crimson line in the flesh, “Remember this blade,” as he removed it from his neck, he held it before the man’s eyes. “I will keep it with me until we meet again. When that happens, I will kill you with it, so it will be as if no time has passed.” Hollis tapped him on the chest with the tip of the dagger. “Were I you, I would make it my business to ensure that I never see you again.” He casually sheathed the weapon and turned on his heel, moving towards the kitchen. Over his shoulder he whispered, “Now that is a sound business decision.”
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