NZ Forest Native Birds
Rahti of Lazaronia

Rahti of Lazaronia can now be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format, for which you don’t even need a Kindle. The is available for desktop and laptop computers: Mac Windows and is even available for iPad.

Rahti of Lazaronia
can be found here.

Chapter 1

Raven hair cascaded down the woman’s back, gleaming in the moonlight. Her face had haunted Rahti’s dreams ever since he could remember. He had never seen a face as lovely—a face bending over him as though to protect him.

      In his younger, more gullible days he believed this wondrous creature to be his guardian angel. “You’re enough to make an angel weep,” was almost a catch-cry of the women who had fostered him over his fourteen years. That must be where he got the idea the woman in his dreams might be an angel. And she was always weeping. He’d never been able to make much of the black wrought-iron structure looming behind her, however. Shouldn’t he see wings there if she was an angel?

      And angels didn’t weep, did they—despite what those silly women said? Yet moments after she appeared her eyes welled with tears that the brilliant moonlight turned into shining pearls. Then the tears flooded down her pale, silken cheeks, no longer pearls but marring her beauty like the slimy track of a slug. After that the dream faded and he would wake up.

      Only this time he didn’t. Her tears splashed onto his face—as scorching as the grief she seemed determined to make him see and feel. He heard a small protesting noise that sounded oddly like a baby about to cry. With surprise he realised it came from himself.

      The vision put a finger to her lips and for the first time he heard her voice. “Sh, little one! Rahti must be brave and not cry like Mumma. Mumma’s crying only because she can read enough of the future to know she’ll never see you again. But she’s happy that you’ll grow up as the son of a wealthy and respectable family. They’ll look after you as I can’t. And I’ve made sure you won’t suffer the stigma of being your father’s child. Should that become known, they’d not only hate you but fear you beyond all reason.”

      Her words made no sense to Rahti. Wealthy people had never fostered let alone adopted him, and the adoption people claimed not to know his mother’s name, never mind his father’s. He opened his mouth to ask what she meant, but could barely manage one of the baby sounds.

      She rose and moved out of view. Rahti found himself staring into a black sky heavy with stars, and realised the wrought-iron structure was an enormous pair of gates. The fleur-de-lis decorating its top pierced the sky like spears aimed at the stars.

      He opened his mouth in a silent scream of protest and stretched out his arms to pull the vision back. But she didn’t return. His fingers clutched empty air.

      He heard a loud sob followed by the sound of rapid footsteps. Then there was only silence. Rahti was left staring through the elaborate wrought-iron gates stabbing the starry heavens.

      When he lowered his gaze to examine the gates properly, he received a clue as to where he was. “Olwen House” they announced in plain but elegant white lettering.

      Rahti woke up with the imprint of the name still behind his eyelids. He groped around in the half-dark for the pen in his bedside drawer and wrote the name on his palm. At least he’d still remember it in the morning, he told himself as he settled down again.

      But sleep wouldn’t come. He couldn’t free his mind of the face of the woman from his dreams. It kept forming behind his closed eyelids as though resolved not to let him forget it.

      As if he could, he thought as he switched on the light. He climbed out of bed and groped again for his pen and some paper. Ten minutes later he was looking at a creditable likeness of the woman. He then drew the gates. Satisfied, he returned to bed and switched off the light. This time he was asleep in moments.

“Who owns Olwen House?” he asked Maria Sheppard, his new foster mother, the following morning at breakfast. His foster father looked up from his newspaper. Rahti didn’t miss the startled glance that passed between the couple.

      It was his foster father who answered. “Sir Rodney Olwen. He’s a big property magnate, one of New Zealand’s richest men.” Rahti received the impression David Sheppard was striving to sound casual. “Olwen House is a flashy English-style estate in the country up north. Is that what you’re talking about?”

      Rage rose inside Rahti. He ignored the question. “That’s where my mother abandoned me—at the gates—isn’t it?”

      Maria Sheppard choked on a mouthful of coffee. Her husband didn’t seem to notice. He gaped at Rahti over his newspaper. “Where did you hear that? Did the social worker tell you?”

      Again Rahti ignored the questions. “So it’s true?”

      David carefully folded the newspaper. Rahti had an urge to reach over and snatch it from him. Normally he would have obeyed the urge. But that would mean never getting answers to his questions. He forced himself to wait patiently.

      By this time Maria had recovered. She heaved a sigh. “Well, you have the right to know all there is to know, even though your mother obviously wanted your origins to be kept secret. Everything was done to trace her. It shouldn’t have been difficult. You were only hours old and had clearly had the best of attention, so someone qualified must have helped at the birth. But wherever the authorities turned they drew a blank. All anyone knows about her is she wanted you to be called Rahti—an obviously made-up name. There were no fingerprints on the note she left with you.”

      Rahti could hardly contain his rage now. “So she did abandon me at the gates of Olwen House?”

      Maria sighed again. “Don’t judge her harshly, please, Rahti. She must have been desperate to have done what she did. We’ll never know her reasons.”

      “But she did abandon me at the gates of Olwen House?”

      The distress on Maria’s face deepened. “I don’t know how you found out, but yes, it’s true. In her note she begged the owners of the house to look after you and love you as they would the child they couldn’t have. She also asked them not to ever let you know you weren’t their birth child—which is why you haven’t been told you were left at their gates. I don’t know why she thought Sir Rodney was childless. He had three children, and they were grown up even then. Both daughters have children, but his son hasn’t.”

      “Then it must have been the son my mother meant. Why didn’t he adopt me?”

      Maria Sheppard gave a helpless shrug. “Who can say?”

      “Well, why didn’t somebody adopt me? That baby on TV that was left under a school building got lots of offers of adoption.”

      “The same happened when you were found. I don’t know why none of them adopted you. I think perhaps it had something to do with the fact that they usually match babies with couples who at least look as though they might be the child’s natural parents. Eyes and hair as black as yours normally go with a black skin, not a milk-white one. Even Maori children have dark-brown eyes rather than black.”

      “But why should that make any difference? Besides, people are always adopting babies whose skins are a different colour from their own.”

      “You were rather a difficult baby. Apparently you cried—screamed, rather—nearly all the time. Yet doctors could find nothing wrong with you. You’ve always been remarkably healthy.”

      Rahti realised, in surprise, that Maria’s statement was true. He couldn’t remember having a cold let alone anything more serious.

      He pulled from his shorts pocket the drawing he had done in the night. “That’s what she looks like. It’s a good likeness. Surely someone can trace her from it?”

      Open-mouthed in surprise, Maria was too slow in taking the drawing: David reached it first. Critically he looked from the woman’s face to Rahti’s. “Well, it’s a good impression of what you might look like when you’re an adult, if you happened to be a girl. But your mother will be much older now. Besides, she’s hardly likely to look that much like you.”

      He handed the drawing to his now-impatient wife.

      “Good heavens!” she said, blinking. Rahti looked at her in rising hope. So she’s seen my mother somewhere. But his hopes were dashed as she continued: “You’ve captured a mother’s anguish at having to give up her child with remarkable skill and sensitivity. Where on earth did you learn to draw like this? ”

      Rahti scowled in frustrated anger and all but snatched the drawing from her. “I didn’t. I’ve been painting and drawing as long as I can remember.”

      With that he thrust back his chair and marched out, slamming the door behind him.

      Rejection! Rejection! That was the story of his life. Abandonment by his mother was bad enough. Being turned down for adoption by a rich fellow who couldn’t have children of his own was just too much. And he’d had a gutsful of being shoved from one set of foster parents to another. Where were his real parents? Why hadn’t they come forward to claim him? Even shoplifting just to get himself on TV still hadn’t forced them to make themselves known. Stowing away on that American ship just to get himself noticed by world-wide TV, in case his parents had emigrated, only landed him in worse trouble with the police. Even his pleas on TV for his parents to come forward brought no results. Other fostered and adopted kids were allowed to trace their birth parents. Why had his mother covered her tracks so thoroughly? Why did his parents need to skulk under a cloak of mystery anyway? Why had the adoption people gone to so much trouble to hide from him that he’d been dumped at the gates of Olwen House?

      And how much more rejection could he take?

      He had nearly reached his bedroom when something made him creep back to the closed kitchen door.

      “You shouldn’t have told him any of that,” he heard David Sheppard say in lowered tones.

      “Why not?” his wife challenged. “Especially as he’d already found out some of it anyway—though goodness knows how. Besides, he has a right to know. He certainly has the right to know his mother loved him—that she hated giving him up and was only trying to do what she saw as best for him.”

      “We were told all that in confidence!” her husband hissed.

      “Well, children given up for adoption have rights now.” Maria’s tone was chilly.

      “Yes, but this boy’s … different. The social worker told you he’s taken it harder than most kids that he’s never been adopted. One man I know who’s ex-wife fostered him said she described him as a proper little devil. He’s only here because no one else will take him. I would certainly rather not have him.”

      “He’s done a little shoplifting, he’s run away from most foster homes and he once stowed away on a ship. He could also do with some lessons in good manners. That’s hardly bad enough to class him as a devil, though. We’ve fostered other kids who’ve stolen and run away from foster homes and weren’t exactly polite. Most grew out of it.”

      David Sheppard’s only answer to this was a grunt. “Well, I’d best be off or I’ll be late for work.”

      Rahti heard the sound of a chair being pushed back. He fled to his room. Thank goodness he didn’t have to share this house, let alone a bedroom, with a smug foster brother, he thought as he threw himself on his bed.

      A few minutes later Maria Sheppard found him striving to stifle noisy sobs by pushing his face into the pillow.

      “Go ’way!” he yelled in answer to her soft tap at the door. But she had already entered. His anger rising so that it felt as though his heart would burst through his rib cage, he lifted his head and thumped the pillow with both fists. How dare she intrude on him when he was bawling like a little kid! “Leave me alone!” His scream just about tore his throat apart. When she didn’t immediately turn to go, he grabbed the book he had been reading and hurled it at her. “Get out!

      Maria winced as the book struck her shin. Her colour heightened noticeably. However, she said nothing but merely picked up the book and left, taking it with her. The door closed behind her with a deliberately soft click.

      Rahti stared after her in disbelief. She’d taken just about the only thing he owned that he treasured! And he didn’t need telling she had no intention of giving it back—not without what she saw as a good reason anyway. Shame joined his fury—not so much for the way he’d treated his foster mother; after all, she’d asked for it—but for what he’d done to his book. It was a special book because its title was his name and it was about a boy around his own age who found himself in a strange land full of exciting adventures. The name of the author was Bella Dynhydralon and he had never seen the book, or any other by the same author, in either the book shops or the library. Maria couldn’t have found a better punishment. Clearly she was going to be harder to get the better of than other women who’d fostered him.

      But he wouldn’t have had a tantrum—let alone such a childish one—if she’d had the sense to allow him the dignity of being left alone. So she expected him to apologise and beg for the book back, did she? Well, she had another think coming. He’d jolly well call her bluff. He’d soon have his book back.

See some bizarre, ambiguous and decidedly less than polite comments
from an agent to whom I submitted an outline of this book.

© L A Barker Enterprises
All rights reserved

Dahrya, “Daughter of the Gods”

The title of this book is only a working one. I simply can’t think of anything better. I completed the first draft just before Christmas 2003 and will do rewrites in a few months when it’s not so fresh in my mind.
To send your comments or questions, please email me

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