a/n:  Hey everyone,

As I've mentioned in my other stories, I have been working on publishing a story I have been working on since freshman year. Well, it's finally done! Here's a sample chapter. If you like it, please go to www.1stbooks.com, search under "Nazia Rahman" as author, and buy the book that pops up, Rings of Light. I think that if you have liked my other stories, you will really like this one (I like this one better than the others). It's a long story, the book is about 600 pages, and yes, it's a bit expensive, sorry bout that, but I would really appreciate it if you guys tried it out and told other people about. :) The money might be worth it. Any questions? Then email me: Cat1171986@aol.com. Even if you can't buy it, thanks for always reading my stuff anyway, guys! Merry X-mas!

Luv Zia

She was a stranger in an unfamiliar town with confusion as her constant companion. She was lost, hungry, and tired. It did not help much that resting in the small sack the girl carried flung over her shoulder were merely four gold coins encased within a woven leather purse. It was enough money to buy her food for two weeks at most, if she ate small rations. The perplexed girl was gradually growing desperate for money.

Small children of the village were amusing themselves by throwing a small leather ball of cowhide back and forth across the streets. Violet wished she could be as carefree as them, but no, she could only wonder and worry about where her next meal was coming from. She knew that she needed to find a job. She also knew that, Alablas, the country she was traveling through, harbored an immense number of inhabitants. It was unlikely that a decent job could be easily found within such an overpopulated place.

Alablas, a small kingdom of Vria, bordered the ocean to the west. There was one main street that cut through the country, the very road Violet walked on. To the left and right of the street were numerous cottages, shops, and inns. Old women, hunters, young wives, knights, busy little girls, energetic boys and any kind of person imaginable constantly came out of every door. This main street, known as the Riff, started from the dangerous northern end of the kingdom – the Gen forest – a place infamously known to have hidden somewhere within its unknown depth of trees, a dangerous nest of a notorious clan of thieves. The other end of the Riff led to the palace of the young emperor of Alablas. People of all classes and backgrounds used the street. It was not rare at all to see a famous wizard utilize the Riff to go meet a king, while a peasant family used the road at the same time to head out of the country to visit relatives in a neighboring kingdom.

Violet herself had not actually used the Riff to enter Alablas. Besides the popular street, there were also ports in the western part of Alablas. They received numerous visitors who came to the country by ship. Also, to the east of the country, the direction Violet had come from, were many bypasses used by eastern merchants who came and went from other countries of Vria. Violet had snuck into the wagon of one of these merchants. She entered Alablas illegally, by hitching a ride with an unaware silk trader from her village. Now, Violet remembered that trader wistfully, thinking with her hungry stomach that she might as well have also stolen from him.

She dwelled on the thought regretfully as she walked down the Riff, still trying to figure out how to solve her money shortage dilemma. One of the children playing catch bumped into her and mumbled an apology. Violet smiled at the child and continued walking. The sack carelessly swung over her right shoulder swung with her body as she moved but she did not notice its precarious position. She was too busy picturing the bald narrow-eyed old silk trader she had bummed a hitched a ride with. That selfish man had made so much money off Violet's father, that she had been sure that he would not miss a few gold coins. And he had always told her that she was one of his favorite customers, flattering her to please Violet's father. During the journey to Alablas, Violet had witnessed many more uncomplimentary aspects of the particular silk trader. He had lied to all his customers and unfairly charged them for money three times the amount he himself had paid for the silk he traded. The stingy man had not been inclined to give the poorest man a discount. Violet remembered one poor man who had only been trying to buy some white material – any white material – to create a wedding gown for his beloved daughter to wear on her important day. He had begged the trader to lower his prices, offered the man crops and family heirlooms in place of money, without gaining any sympathy. Violet felt so miserable for that one customer that she managed to sneak some of her own money into the man's possession so that could buy some small amount of cloth. Violet almost regretted having done that now, realizing that her generosity might now cause her own starvation.

Thinking of materials made Violet look down at the simple purple cotton dress she was wearing. It hung limply down to her ankles. There were no designs, no frills. It was just a bland purple thing thrown over her body. Hardly a dress at all. Violet fingered the rough material and sighed. Silk gowns were one thing she would definitely miss.

After a kilometer of walking, Violet eventually stopped on the road. In front of her was a slightly run-down bar with a crooked sign nailed messily to the door. It read Mane's. Directly beneath it was another sign that caught Violet's attention.

HELP WANTID

Good-lookin waitrezes neded.

No formar expereance rekqired.

Violet smiled arrogantly. The job description seemed to be directed to her because she knew "good looking" could be attributed to her looks. Harboring years of the spoiled life in the home of her noble family, Violet had grown a bit self-confident and boastful. Indeed, Violet really was a beautiful girl. Her hair was like silk itself. The soft long threads fell down her back freely like water flowing down an Egyptian cataract. The reflection of the bright sun often made the color seem a dark brown, but Violet's hair was as black as night. The pleasurable highlights of Violet's amiable face included her soft pale skin and petite nose. When she smiled, people had to look at her and feel warmth glowing inside their hearts.

Dozens of nobles and princes had been mesmerized by the smile. They had been enchanted by her eyes, which where as purpure as the color in her name. Many young men, fallen under her spell, had asked Violet's father for permission to marry her. Eventually, the lord had given in to one of them and Violet was engaged to a noble from a powerful family - a noble she did not love. Yes, the family was extremely affluent, but the son was completely bombastic and conceited. He was one of the reasons Violet had left home.

Intending to get this job that so fatefully presented itself in front of her, Violet remained frozen in front of Mane's for a few seconds as she gathered the courage to step inside. It was almost completely collected when suddenly something knocked into her. Or rather, somebody, from the crowded street.

"Sorry, miss!" apologized the young man who had bumped into her. The boy took off his black stetson hat and held it in his hands as he bowed his head down to Violet in apology. Violet glared at him initially, but stopped abruptly when she noticed the appearance of the stunning stranger.

He was dressed in an expensive foreign looking leather tunic covered by a long unbuttoned black trench coat that enveloped him from his neck to his booted feet. A tiny gold earring shined from his left ear as the blazing orange sun reflected its light on the metal, bringing attention to his face - the most handsome one Violet had ever seen on a boy her age. His smile was a playful smirk, coming to a slight angle at one end. The amazing eyes above the smile were as pale blue as angry clouds on a stormy day. As they twinkled mischievously at her Violet realized that she had never seen anyone with blue eyes of such a shade before. The young man's hair was straight and as black as Violet's own ravenous hair. Because he had been wearing at hat, without it the boy's hair came down messily behind his ears, and in front of his eyes. He did appear to be Violet's age, maybe a year or two older. His voice sounded so sincere as he said sorry that Violet started to feel terribly guilt that he was even apologizing to her.

"Oh," Violet breathed, the man had so abruptly startled Violet that she had trouble answering. "Do not worry about it. The streets are crowded," she managed to get out.

Her stranger smiled and replied, "That's true." Violet saw rows of perfect white teeth. His smile was dazzling. "Thanks – for accepting my apology, that is. I was worried that I had irritated you," he laughed as he put his hat back on.

"It was an honest mistake," Violet murmured.

The young man turned his head slightly to look at the building they were stopped in front of. He immediately noticed the help wanted sign Violet had been staring at and started frowning. He hesitated for a moment before he started to say, "Miss, forgive me for intruding, but I suggest you don't try to find work there."

Violet looked at him in surprise. "But, why not?" she asked.

"Well, I mean, you certainly are 'nice looking'," the raven-haired man said as Violet flush, pleased with his compliment, "But, that kind of place is no good for an innocent lass like you."

Violet was no longer pleased. In fact, she frowned at being described as innocent. The lady had always detested it when men automatically attributed the gentlest qualities to young women like herself and she would not forgive this stranger for being the same way, no matter how cute he was. In slight anger, Violet was about to retort a rude comment but before she could say anything, the front door at the entrance of Mane's squeaked open. A large slovenly man ambled out of the bar, swaying with intoxication. He carried a spiked iron club at his side and in a drunk flat voice, he sang a popular song.

"I, the tyrant of these lands

declare to all my helping hands

Drink fer health!

Drink fer wealth!

Drink to strengthen ev'ry bone

Drink fer class

Drink to last

Drink fer me 'n me alone!!!"

Before he had traveled even a foot, he collapsed. A moment later, a drained woman stepped out of the bar. She looked miserable, her hair was a mess and she was dressed in a cheap revealing uniform that sported an immodestly low collar above a white cotton apron and short woolen skirt. The waitress put the large man's arm over her shoulder and struggled with his weight as she dragged the unconscious man back inside.

"Are you sure you want to work in there?" the young man asked Violet in a concerned voice. "That miss over there doesn't seem to be having a great time, does she?"

Violet's anger with her stranger instantly faded away. He had been completely right. She smiled at him shyly and shook her head in answer, "I suppose not."

The young man grinned. "I know there are better jobs around. Keep looking, you'll find one," he encouraged her. The boy gently patted her shoulder before he started to walk away. Normally the touch would have elicit an cry of indignation from Violet, because only a boor would touch a lady without her permission, but for this man - he could touch Violet all he wanted. "It was nice meeting you, miss. Good luck finding a job," he called as he started walking away in patient steps.

Violet did not want him to go, but running after him and begging him to wait would not be very dignified. So, reticently, she watched him in silence as he retreated. It had been such a long time since she had had a friendly conversation with anyone. But the ephemeral relief from solitude had passed. In only a few seconds, the boy's back disappeared into the crowd.

Sighing, Violet turned and started to walk away from Mane's in the direction opposite to the one her stranger had gone. Her stomach started to grumble quietly, reminding Violet that she still had not eaten anything since the previous day. As Violet passed a bakery and caught the smell of fresh bread baking, she stopped walking to reach into her sack for her leather purse and money. Violet grasped with her hand for the familiar smooth texture of the leather purse. She felt the little clothes she had brought with her and moved her hand around it. There was nothing else there.

Nervously, Violet slid her sack off her shoulder and looked more through it more carefully. The clothes Violet had brought with her were still there, but there was definitely no purse. Violet stood standstill in a moment of confusion before she suddenly realized something.

She gasped and quickly turned back to look in the direction her young stranger had gone.

"That lousy rogue!" Violet angrily shrieked, ignoring the people on the street who had stopped to stare at her. Her hands flew to her angrily throbbing head and she clutched her hair in her fists. "He stole my purse!"