AYLUN by David Scidmore (EXCERPT)
Welcome to the world of Meerdon, where magic exists, dangerous creatures roam, and where physicist Jon and his assistant Megan find themselves after a botched experiment blasts them into another dimension in David Scidmore’s romantic fantasy, Aylun – out today from Meerdon Publishing!
Megan had always lived life on her own terms, but faced with an impossible prophecy that threatened everything she loved, her choices no longer seemed to be her own. Aylun’s world revolved around serving oracles and protecting prophecy, so his insights could be the key to explaining the impossible. Yet how could she force herself to work with the heartless tyrant who had so brutally abducted her?
Megan was always good at solving puzzles. For years, she used that aptitude in a physics lab as an assistant to her best friend, Jon. In the midst of a chaotic day, an accident thrusts them both into a terrifying alternate world. Almost at once, Aylun tears Megan from her best friend’s side.
Born and raised to be Shou, Aylun had always been as an agent of the enigmatic home of all prophecy, the Augury. His life had always been dedicated to serving as the invisible hand that carried out the will of Great Oracles, past and present. Still struggling with the death of his sister and friends, a mission gone wrong results in his expulsion from the only home he has ever known.
In search of answers, Megan and Aylun are compelled to undertake a mission into a place of unthinkable peril. As they struggle to find answers, Jon and his new friends, Dellia, Garris, and Kayleen, are drawn into a conflict with a dark and ancient menace that could obliterate everything and everyone they care about. As the puzzles deepen, the horrors multiply, and their situation grows more desperate, Megan’s best hope to save them all and return her and Jon to their home world lies with the very tyrant who abducted her, Aylun.
An epic high-fantasy romance about ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, Aylun blends alternate worlds, action, adventure, and dire peril, with political intrigue and a pinch of humor.
His comment seemed to further aggravate her, and Yaolin’s expression turned cold. “Now
you are the one being melodramatic.”
He strived to remain calm and controlled. “I am being cautious. One of us ought to be.”
“No. We made it this far just fine. You are only doing this to prove a point, to make a stink about
burning the nest. They are still occupied now, but the longer we remain exposed like this, the greater the
danger. We need to seek shelter. We need to move now.”
“It is too dangerous.”
Yaolin’s face softened. She peered into Aylun’s eyes and took his hand.
He pulled it away.
At his withdrawal, her head dropped, and her tone became steeped in sadness. “Why does it
always have to be like this?” She looked up as a sudden affection filled her face. “We have been
partners for four years. We spend all our time together.” She tried to make eye contact again, but he
looked away. “A few days ago, we ate together. We went for a walk, just the two of us. We even
laughed and joked like normal people. But now it is like you are a different person.”
He stiffened. “We are on a mission. It is not the time.”
Yaolin lowered her head, becoming sadder and even more serious. “Mission, no mission—it
makes no difference. You always end up pulling away. And there is a part of you that you will never let
He gazed into her eyes, unable to answer. They were Shou and now possessed a journal of
immense importance. The future might very well rest on what they did, so one of them needed to be
serious-minded about it. That meant he dared not let the situation get any more out of hand.
Yaolin looked up at him. “Do you know that you have never once said you care about me?”
Aylun hesitated. There were things in this world that could sense feelings. Demons of dangerous
power. If he let his emotions run away with him, they would know and threaten her to manipulate him.
They could do unspeakable things to her just to cripple him. Feelings like that were dangerous. They
were a liability. He gave a slight tip of his head. “Yaolin—”
Her pleading eyes looked up at him. “No. No. Look. It is easy. I’ll show you.” She took his hands
into hers, and her adoring face stared up at his. “I love you, Aylun.”
He pulled his hands free and stared at the ground as he struggled for words to tell her without
telling her that he cared.
“Fine,” said Yaolin. “You feel nothing for me.” She stood, still clutching her flamestone. “Then just
stay here and hide out from your feelings. We are minutes from shelter in Kiarta. I am taking the
She turned and began to go.
Fear ignited at how deadly the situation had become. With her flamestone a shining beacon in
her hand, Yaolin was going to walk right out there within striking range of whatever danger lurked in the
He jolted upright. “No!” he shouted.
She never paused, continuing to head out away from the wall. He reached for her wrist, but she
was already too far away.
“There are silent things. Things that will attack without warning. Get back here,” he demanded as
his breathing became short and rapid.
“What do you care?”
“It is dangerous. You will not hear them coming.”
“Then admit your feelings and come protect me.”
Aylun stiffened, standing even more staunchly. “Not one more step.”
Yaolin turned to face him, her body glowing in the light of her flamestone against the sheer
darkness beyond. “It is three simple words.”
He froze, desperate to get her to come back yet sure that risking them both by following her would
be a strategic mistake. “I cannot do my job if I let my feelings …” He stopped himself. This was
precisely the kind of dangerous situation that needed a detached, rational mind.
As he calmed, Yaolin’s face clouded, and she shook her head. “I love you so much, and you can’t
A sudden rush of flapping wings broke the silence.
Aylun dove forward.
Yaolin’s head jerked up, and her scream cut through the thick blackness as a gigantic claw
grabbed her by the shoulder and jerked her from the ground.
Aylun reached for her, but it was too late.
Yaolin’s desperate cries echoed across the rock face as something massive and dark carried her
up along it.
Aylun turned and sprinted down the wall, chasing after her as she lurched higher and higher. He
yanked his own flamestone from his pocket and jammed it into a holder on his belt. Only a few body
lengths behind, he leaped and dashed up the cliffside, bouncing off ledges and cracks like they were
stepping stones in a stream.
The light in her hand drifted up and over the wall.
He yanked himself above the cliff edge, rolled across the ground, and sprang to his feet. As he flew
to a sprint, Aylun glanced down and concentrated on the Ring of Pairing on his finger. Ahead of him, a
silver thread blinked into existence and wound its way toward her through the impenetrable blackness.
He grabbed the two poles slung over his back as he stared up into the darkness at the fading light
from her flamestone. He jammed the two halves together and twisted, and they clicked into place,
making a single stave as razor-sharp blades sprang from the ends.
At a flat-out run, he chased after her as creatures began to appear out of the darkness, a few at
first, then more and more, lunging at him left and right. His staff hurtled through the blackness, his
blade slashing at one creature after another. Their carcasses tumbled behind him, disintegrating in
bursts of flame and ash as he raced across the dark ground.
A much louder flapping flew down at him from behind. He ducked and stabbed at it. His blade
caught, and it jerked forward as dark blood spattered all around him, drenching his back. He wedged
the staff into the rocks and dirt below his feet. It bent under the weight. Something gigantic and dark
hurtled down in front of him and collided with the uneven ground. He dashed across its tail and back,
stabbed it where it seemed like a heart should lie, and vaulted over its head. It disintegrated into a
shower of light and glowing cinders.
Yaolin’s screams and cries for help grew more distant, and every muscle burned as he raced
onward, dispatching creatures at a frantic pace. They dove out of the dark, their wings becoming a
rumble. On the verge of collapse, his breath heaving, he bellowed out an anguished roar and pushed still
harder, tearing creatures asunder as their blood streaked his clothes and face.
Far ahead in the darkness, the cries for help turned to a piercing shriek that cut through the Dead
Aylun pushed on, controlling his desperation as he drove yet harder, racing along the silver thread
into the darkness. He threw himself against the wave of dark figures pouring over him until the bursts of
fluttering and screeches began to ease. Carcasses consumed themselves in sparks and embers, leaving
a blazing trail behind him that lit the never-ending night.
A sick feeling grabbed hold of his stomach as a far more desperate shriek rang out and a distant
light fell from the sky, landing some distance ahead.
As the last hideous beast hit the ground, he raced up to the end of the thread and stifled a crippling
urge to retch as he stared down at his destination. It was the ring, dark and metallic, with a broken line of
jade around it, still worn on the finger of Yaolin’s severed hand.
The shrieks of pain no longer grew farther away as he jammed the end of his staff into the ground
and fell to his knees. Clinging to it for support, he stared at the ground as the distant screams of agony
drowned in a sickening gurgle, then fell silent. All that remained were the frenzied screeches of some
distant abominations fighting over their kill.
More about David Scidmore: Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, David Scidmore has held many jobs over the years, from fast-food worker to musician to electrical engineer. He now lives in Verona, Wisconsin, with his wife, Brenda. In recent times, his lifelong passion for playing keyboards and composing music has turned into a fascination with crafting literary works. His enthusiasm for weaving complex stories that stir the emotions led to his first book, Dellia. With an obsession for expanding his ability as a storyteller, he continues that tale in Aylun, the second book in the Ever-Branching Tree series. Find out more at his website.