Nicola Anne Harrod was born in Nowra, New South Wales, Australia on the 8th of May 1989, whilst her family was living in Jervis Bay. She moved to Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory when she was only six weeks old. After living there for several years she then moved to Soberton, Hampshire, England in 1993. Nicola lived there for a period of two years and then moved back to Jervis Bay in Australia. Once again, she packed up and moved back to Canberra at the end of 1996. Spending several years stationary, Nicola finally moved again, to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for a year, in 2002. After this time she remained in Australia. However, Nicola is planning to move to New Zealand for university study in 2009.
Nicola has also travelled the world extensively, gaining a vast array of knowledge and experiences, which clearly influence her writing. Other influences come from her experiences with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other mental illness in her family, and from the large library of books she has read. The most influential author to her writing is the Australian author, Victor Kelleher. Nicola’s passion for nature and animals also helps to inspire her. She aims, through her writing, to teach many things to her readers and to herself. The main lesson that is woven throughout her stories is; you can do anything if you truly put all that you are into it.
Nicola Harrod is a very bright student, which can be seen in her extremely descriptive and fluent writing. Her highest accomplishment in the academic world is placing in the top one percent of students who sat the Australian National Chemistry Quiz. She was also accepted into the Sydney University’s Gifted and Talented Science Program in 2004.
Nicola describes herself as a shy person who is much more comfortable in the world of the mind than the physical.
She quotes, “Reality is what you believe. It is what you make it.”
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R Prologue R
rystal droplets of water were brushed from their perch as a small body danced softly through the emerald undergrowth. Her long brown hair bounced playfully round her shoulders. The bright shimmering sun reflected off her hazel eyes. Lightly, her bare feet padded onto an earthen path and skipped into a village under construction. The fresh smell of timber wafted to her delicate nose, mingling with the scent of freshly-cooked bread from the houses. The deep voices of the men carried from the wall they were constructing around the village. Pigs, goats and numerous other animals squealed and bleated, whilst women bustled around with children in tow. A beautiful new village, full of hopes and dreams for the future, for a young orphan…
R Duty R
Burning embers fell from the pitch-dark sky, and the loud thump, thump, thump against the main entrance gate to the village. People were screaming and shouting; running from this house to that house to escape the leaping tendril serpents of flame. Rika’s body shot through her doorway as a burning wooden beam fell from overhead. She pounded through the village, almost barrelling headlong into the head of the warriors who were rushing to meet the attackers.
“Go,” Kaman, the head warrior shouted, “go, get help from the neighbouring villages.”
Rika’s heart pounded, that would mean leaving the safety and protection inside the walls of the village. However, gulping, she nodded and tore off towards the end of the village. She reached the small barred gateway and, raising the block of wood from its holsters, creaked open the gate. In that dark and turbulent night no one would notice a small figure slipping away silently.
Rika walked through burnt crop fields, the still warm embers blackening her soles. As she approached a tall oak she heard a soft sobbing. Making her way round the trunk Rika beheld Tren, a five-year-old boy who lived in the village, he had obviously been bustled out of the gate by his parents just when the invaders attacked. Rika sat down softly and put a comforting arm around his shoulders. Tren looked up at her with startled fright.
“It’s okay,” Rika comforted. “I’ll take care of you but we need to get out of here,” she added sternly.
Pulling the boy to his feet she held his hand and walked him through the burnt crop fields all the way to the edge of the forest. By this time Tren was tired, it was late at night and it had been a fair ordeal for the little terror. Rika, pitying him, squatted down and instructed him to clamber onto her shoulders; she then hoisted him up and continued her journey.
The forest was spooky at night. The soft animal noises and rustles of the day were now harsh and frightening. Many a predator hunted at night. An owl hooted overhead. It was only at this time that Rika thought of where she was to go. The largest neighbouring village was Kirawel. There she would travel and enlist their help. She only hoped her village could hold their barricade for long enough to withstand the onslaught ’til the help arrived. The walls would hold, but the village would soon be starved out if they did not receive help. Rika looked to the east ahead of her and beheld the distant Shrya Mountains, which means Shadow Mountains in the native tongue. Their twin peaks created a valley between them, where the village Kirawel lay; it was here that Rika and her young companion, Tren, must travel.
Rika walked for many hours ’til her legs grew weary and shook with exhaustion. Tren laid his sleepy head on top of hers, his warm breath ruffling her hair. Rika begrudgingly decided she had better stop. They needed rest or they would not get far.
She walked towards a great oak tree and, shaking Tren’s shoulder gently, she woke him and placed his small fragile body to the forest floor. Then, plotting their climb carefully, she hoisted him onto an overhead branch, clambered up herself, then continued the slow, arduous process.
Upon reaching the top she propped herself up against a fork in the tree branches and placed the young Tren upon her legs. Laying his small head against her chest he closed his eyes. But Rika could not help seeing a tear escape his innocent eyes. Hugging the boy close she sighed and wished he had not been exposed to such horror. Stealing a look behind to the west, she could see a distant glow of flame; it seemed the fires were dying down as the two opposing forces camped down for the night, as she would too, and with that she closed her eyes and awaited sleep…
R Heath Land R
Rika was sharply woken by the high-pitched screams of Tren. Startled, she nearly fell off her high-topped perch. Regaining herself she turned to look at what had scared Tren so. It was a large hairy, ragged spider, the size of Rika’s hand and it was perched precariously above Tren’s head. Her eyes widened and the two of them, half clambered and half fell, their way from the tree.
Shaking herself Rika yawned deeply and blinked her eyes to wake herself up. Looking at Tren she grinned, and his frown cracked into a small line and he let out a bubbly giggle.
“Let’s find some food,” Rika suggested and Tren searched his eyes about him. There was no sign of any food. Grimacing, Rika hoped they would find some soon, lest their journey slow to a stop.
After a period of walking, passing over rock, under branches, through muddy patches, and winding past shrubbery and trees, the pair encountered a group of berry bushes. With a whoop of happiness Tren leapt forward to the bushes. He reached out to grab a plump scarlet berry and let out a yelp of pain. He wheeled backwards and sucked his thumb, his face turning to a pout. Rika couldn’t help passing a grin across her face. She reached forward and grabbed the boy’s thumb, taking it between her thumb and forefinger she pressed against the pinprick wound, ruffling his hair with her other hand. The next few minutes were spent picking berries from their perch and plunging their nourishing goodness into their salivating mouths.
Plodding for several hours the companions had come to the edge of the forest. What lay ahead was the long endless rolls of heath land that ended in the steep rise up the slopes of the Shrya Mountains. This area was dangerous, roaming enemy scout parties could easily spot them, as could predators. We must be careful, thought Rika.
They made their way through the spindly shrubs, crooked fingers reaching and tearing at their clothes. The environment was sinister, it was winter, so all the leaves had fallen from their branches and naught but spindly witches’ claws were left.
Rika let out an exasperated sound as her leg was scratched deeply by a spiked branch. Tren reached out a small hand and touched the wound, his warmth calming the burning cold-fire sensation. Rika smiled at the small boy, his sensitivity beyond his age. Scooping him into her arms she held him to her chest and continued their long arduous journey, crackling twigs underfoot as she walked, her bare feet a raging raw rouge from this punishment. Feeling Tren begin to shake in the frosted biting wind, she wrapped her arms tighter around his small innocent frame to warm his sparsely clad body.
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