The Reluctant Prophet
There’s none so blind as she who can see…
Esther is blessed, and cursed, with a rare gift: the ability to see the fates of those around her. But when she escapes her peasant upbringing to become a priestess of the Order, she begins to realise how valuable her ability is among the power-hungry nobility, and what they are willing to do to possess it.
Haunted by the dark man of her father’s warnings, and unable to see her own destiny, Esther is betrayed by those sworn to protect her. With eyes newly open to the harsh realities of her world, she embarks on a path that diverges from the plan the Gods have laid out. Now she must choose between sacrificing her own heart’s blood, and risking a future that will turn the lands against each other in bloody war.
The Reluctant Prophet is the story of one woman who holds the fate of the world in her hands, when all she wishes for is a glimpse of her own happiness.
Days of inflicted pain, humiliation and cruelty brought me close to the brink of madness, closer to my gift, leaving me weary in body and spirit. I did not know which part of me hurt more, but when my eyes met those of the head priestess, the superior who would decide my fate, the keen pain of expected failure rose in my chest. Her dark eyes seemed to swallow me whole. I felt both hot and cold at once; days of obedience, suffering and fasting had blurred the days into one long torture. I longed to sit and weep, but my body was too sore to do anything but kneel slowly, stiffly into a submissive position. Many girls had failed, and now I was to learn my own fate. My ears were ringing and I almost cried out when my knee, cut open on a sharp stone during one of the tests, sent pain reverberating throughout my body. I kept my eyes upon the superior’s face. Lined and calm, her expression betrayed nothing.
I flinched when an unexpected vision assaulted my senses, propelling me from the room and into a place I barely caught a glance of. A trace of darkness; a laugh, a dark green eye. Each small glimpse offered me no more than a confusing jumble of images I could not piece together to make a whole picture. Swaying, I wondered if I was ill. My body throbbed and the days of fasting, beatings and silence became as fractured and unreal as my visions. The testing had taken its toll, but I needed only make it through this last moment. As I fought to return to myself, I worried again that I would make it this far, only to be rejected because of what I was: a peasant.
The superior rose. My awareness had been completely focused on her and I had not noticed an inch of the marble-columned room I had been brought to. The distracting sparkle of candlelight danced on a pool of water and I looked away quickly, not wishing to see the future reflected in those waters. The superior’s thin lips moved, but I heard no sound. The ringing in my ears worsened and my heart rate trebled. When she stood before me, she lifted her hand and smeared something powdery against my forehead. Her touch sent waves of premonition into my mind, making my skin shiver and creep. Fighting the urge to succumb to the sight left me weak and trembling.
I was not altogether myself when I managed to overcome the visions. My chest constricted when a distant voice – certainly not the superior’s worn croak – spoke to me, gently whispering, ‘Esther . . . Esther,’ over and over.
All the while the superior’s mouth moved, but I knew nothing of her words. The room tilted and the first spark of emotion lifted the older woman’s eyes from blankness. For a moment I believed I was succumbing to the visions her touch was invoking, but I slipped instead into waiting darkness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Before settling down in the Emerald Isle with her husband and three dogs, Gillian O’Rourke lived in Melbourne, Australia. She received her first fantasy book from an English teacher at the age of fourteen and has loved the genre ever since. Although she writes fantasy, she occasionally dabbles in the paranormal. Gillian currently works in the healthcare sector, helping adults with disabilities live as independently as possible.
The Reluctant Prophet was released on 1 September, but Amazon has not yet put it up for sale. The paperback can be ‘pre-ordered’ as below, and I’ll update with the Kindle link when it is available.
Paperback (ISBN – 978-1-909845-18-3)
Kindle ASIN: 978-1-909845-19-0
Smashwords (all e-formats) ISBN: 978-1-909845-20-6