It Is Written

Ali Leonard

fantasy, adventure books, young adult


Once—staring at the tips of five sword points.

Twice—fleeing from dozens of young people wielding farm implements.

Three times—cowering in the center of a homemade tornado.

Three brushes with death are not the worst consequences of Corine’s choice to leave home.

She also faces the imprisonment of 13 of her friends and total upheaval of her life in the Fire


And the best consequence? A close friendship with Prince Petrus of the Walled City. Petrus

should be Corine’s enemy after he helps assassinate her father, but an ancient religious text

called The Scroll brings them together in a quest for peace.

Do the Scroll’s prophecies hold the key to ending the war between Corine’s people and the

Walled City? Join her on a dangerous adventure to find out.

About the Author:

Ali began her adult life with interest in writing. But once she got her first physics teaching job, she rode a tidal wave of high demand into a successful career. Her first high-impact publications include several articles in the field of biophysics. She teaches physics at an independent boarding school in eastern PA where she lives with her human family, a cat, a dog, and five tortoises. The tortoises told her to write a novel.



An Illegal Copy


“That’s it!” Corine started from her sleep when she heard her father’s voice ring out through their little house. Smack! She flinched a second time. He was probably punching the wall or table as he often did when he read the manuscript.

“That’s it! But it’s... so soon.”

Corine covered her mouth to stifle a giggle. Whatever he was reading must be important. He was talking to himself. She pulled on the new wool socks he had made for her as a Harvest Grain gift so her feet wouldn’t feel damp on the dirt floor. She slipped out of bed and tip-toed over to the kitchen doorway. Easing her head into the light only as far as the tip of her nose, she peeked.

General Ardent was sitting at the wooden table where they shared meals. He moved his reading candle closer to a roll of parchment and bent his head toward it, flexing his shoulders. He brushed his thick, black curls behind his ear. “The Walled Nation will strike, ‘Under the harvest-swollen moon while the people of flame and sword sing glad tidings.’ That’s tonight, during the Festival of Grains.” He jumped up and trudged to the window.

Corine was twelve years old. She could only remember missing the festival once before, when she was nine. She had spent the evening at her friend Larkin’s house sucking on brown sugar cones and nursing a broken leg. Tonight, although she felt perfectly fine, her father had insisted she go to sleep early. Now she knew why.

From the window, she could hear singing in the distance. She could barely make out the words of the thanksgiving chant. In a corner of the window, she saw a glowing orange wedge of the harvest moon. The meal was about to be served. General Ardent’s presence was expected at the feast, but he could not pry himself away from the manuscript.

 “I’ve got to alert the village.” He grabbed the mouth of a ram’s horn he wore around his neck. “No—if we run, they will know we are expecting them. I have to find Mark and Jade and inform them. We’ll take some troops to the Walled City and attack. We won’t meet with resistance.” He threw the roll of parchment down on the table. Its wooden spools fell with a thud. Spreading open the spools, he bent to examine the script. “Not tonight. It reads, ‘Every man and boy who can bear the sword will fight.’ If they are riding out against us, no one is guarding the Walled City.”

He rubbed the side of his face with his thumb, thinking. With an anxious sigh, he turned to look through the doorway leading to the back of the house where Corine had been sleeping. She ducked out of sight. As his shadow shifted toward her, she flattened herself against the wall, holding her breath.

She could only see his shadow; she didn’t see his eyes fill with tears.

“I’ll take half my men and ambush the city,” he continued in a firm voice. “If we have their precious Scroll, and their women and children, we will force them to back down. They’ll stop the attack and maybe even the advance into our land. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

Corine heard his footsteps as he walked to the window. She peeked around the doorway and saw him raise the horn to his lips.

She plugged her ears in time, but instead of the sounding of the horn, she heard a loud crash. She jumped up and leaned through the doorway to see five men rushing at her father with their swords drawn. The wooden door of their house lay on the floor. The men who trampled it were all taller and thinner than her father. From their white garments with gold lacing, Corine recognized them as swordsmen from the Walled City.

Her father had warned her about an attack. He knew it was coming, but he did not know when. Corine was to slip out the back window like he instructed her.

But what will happen to my father? she wondered. I can’t just leave him here. She wanted to call out to him, but the words stuck. If the men saw her, would they kill her, too? She ducked back behind the doorway and watched the shadows.

“General Ardent! We will not spare you tonight as we did eight harvests past,” the shadow in the lead barked. Her father fell to his knees as this man kicked him while the others pulled his arms. Watching his shadow fall, Corine bit her fingers to keep from crying out.

“Eight autumns ago,” her father growled. There was a pause. Corine saw his shadow shift. “When you killed my wife? Like today, you stormed my house during a truce.” She heard him spit on the floor. “Cowards.”

“You know that was a mistake. It is not our practice, as it is yours, to kill, enslave, or torture innocent civilians,” the lead swordsman said. “The arrow missed its mark.”

“What about my daughter? If I die, she will go to an orphanage. You will have taken her grandfather and both of her parents.”

“That is a better fate than what the children of Nurisa suffered at the hands of your men.”

“My sister lived in Nurisa!” A shadow in the back spoke. He raised his sword into the air, and it quivered. “She watched you cut her children while they lived. Then—”

“That was not me!” General Ardent screeched.

“But it was at your command,” the quivering swordsman retorted. “You said your men should leave survivors, and terrify them, so they would spread the word.”

Corine had heard about her father’s ruthless war tactics. Unlike the Walled City swordsmen, his men targeted civilians. He had never explained this to Corine or even mentioned it to her, but she heard stories from the other children. She hated hearing the stories. She pressed her hands hard into her ears. If she pressed hard enough, she could cut off the sounds and the words with them. Perhaps, if she pressed as hard as she could, she would cease to exist, and therefore cease to be there at that moment.

“Thank you, Parvus. That will do,” The lead swordsman said. Parvus lowered his sword and scowled.

General Ardent shifted his weight onto one foot and leaned toward the darkened doorway, looking for Corine. “All right. Do what you have to do,” he said. The muscles in his broad shoulders twitched as he bowed his head before the sword. “But please, take my daughter to the shrine near the meeting hall. I would have her raised by the attendants there.”

“We will do no such thing.” The lead swordsman placed his hand on General Ardent’s shoulder and raised his sword into the air. “Your gods are new gods. No gods of wood or stone can change the lives of the men who build them. After we take your city tonight in its drunken stupor, we will destroy the shrines. We will leave your daughter at an orphanage.”


General Ardent’s voice shook. He looked toward the doorway. Corine could not bring herself to meet his eyes as the sword fell. She dug her shoulders into the wall. Even with her palms pressed against her ears, she could hear the sound as the sword sliced through his flesh, stumped on some bone, and continued to slice.

The men nearest the broken door turned to leave. The lead swordsman did not move. “Search the back for the girl,” he said.

But Corine was already there.

As her father’s head fell to the floor, she leaped up and dashed into the room, behind the backs of the swordsmen. She grabbed the scroll her father had left at the table.

When the men turned to search for her, there she stood clutching the scroll to her chest. If her father had made quicker progress studying the scroll, he would not have died. What other information did it contain? She had to find out.

Parvus, the quivering swordsman, jumped a little and brandished his sword. The four men with him swung their blades, pointing them at Corine.

If she wanted, which she did not, she could reach out and touch the points of the five swords. Staring at them, she felt herself shake. “Please,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. “I have read the scroll, the whole thing, more than once. I don’t understand it, but I want to. Take me to the Walled City. There, I can learn the ways of your people, and I can learn more about the scroll.”

The lead swordsman held out his hand. “Let me see.” She handed him the scroll. With her hands free, she felt the impulse to wipe her face. To her surprise, it was wet with tears. But she couldn’t think about that now. She had to focus. Safety now, tears later, she told herself. From the passage her father had read aloud, she knew what was coming. She needed to get out of the Fire Clans and into the Walled City immediately.

“This is a copy from the Scroll,” the lead swordsmen noted. “How did... this is forbidden! How did he obtain this?” He did not direct the question to Corine, but more to the air, waving his free arm in frustration. 

“I don’t know!” Corine shouted, taking a step back. “I don’t know where he got it. I only know it came here about six months ago, when he—when my f-father—started to learn to read the ancient tongue.”

“And how is it you and your father could read it? Only my royal scribe, my oldest child, and I know the language.”

Corine’s eyes widened with surprise. “Then you must be—” She bowed her head deferentially. “You must be King Veritas.” In Walled City tradition, only the king and the royal scribe were given direct access to the Scroll. She had heard about King Veritas from her father. He was not a religious figurehead; he was, however, the strongest military leader the Walled Nation had seen in recent memory. This gave her hope. If anyone had the power to let her into the city, this was the man.

“My father taught himself the ancient tongue,” she answered.

King Veritas raised his eyebrows. “How could he? It is no longer spoken.”

“It’s part of his job,” Corine explained, shuffling her feet. “He read the Scroll to get information about your battle plans. He used translations of some passages to help him learn the language.”  

“Yes, of course,” King Veritas touched his chin and looked up at a corner of the thatched roof.

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More Details:

Format : paperback

Page Count : 259