Copyright © Teresa Wymore. All Rights Reserved.
Epic fantasy | 2020
Kami, a young idealistic woman, finds Avestine in a remote part of the continent, followed quickly by Rook, an old and bitter man with no hands. An internal imperative has driven both Kami and Rook to find Avestine, a spiritual leader and sister to the emperor of Darklaw. Avestine has been in hiding since her brother placed a bounty on her life.
When Darklaw soldiers attack her hidden compound, Rook kills soldiers with what appears to be a mere prayer. Kami learns she is an Essanti like Rook; they are spiritual warriors compelled to obey Avestine. Rook serves the Emanation of Justice, but Kami serves the Emanation of Instinct, so they find little common ground.
Avestine is ruthless and relentless, not at all the spiritual figure Kami expected. As Kami comes to learn more about Avestine’s past and her plans, she struggles with her own growing desire for her. Manipulating an old ally and two kingdoms, Avestine manages to capture the city of Ureth Mourning, where she establishes her rule as the Emissary of Arujan.
Rook and Kami fall into the hands of Darklaw scouts, and Kami awakens to find herself in Sahrdon, prisoner of Avestar. Avestar tells Kami she will become an Avatar – a god on earth – and bonds her to himself in the traditional Essanti way – by severing her hands. After she recovers, Kami escapes to her home village. She’s alone and tormented by the pain of the animals around her when she stumbles across the burnt remains of her mother. And then she loses her mind.
Avestine has settled into the drudgery of governing, but Rook shows up alive and well, renewing Avestine’s lust for life. She sends him to manage a rescue of villagers, but he returns with news of devastation. Avestine takes a division of soldiers and finds Kami commanding a vicious army of carnivorous beasts. They have murdered thousands of innocents under Kami’s control. She has fully realized her power as the God of the Wild. Avestine forces Kami to acknowledge what an evil thing she has done. Kami yields to Avestine, believing only the Emissary can help with the self-control she needs.
But Avestine and Avestar are both tyrants in their own way, and Kami wants to serve neither. Since she first met Avestine, Kami has not been able to resist the powerful hold that Avestine has on her. In time she learns this is because Avestine holds within her Arujan, the God of Man, and Kami serves the God of the Wild. Avestine’s power is her command of human minds.
In time, Kami grows more distrustful of Avestine and more protective of her own realm. As Avestine’s war progresses, Kami’s longing for the wild becomes overwhelming. She’s had enough of politics and war and demands everyone leave the forest she calls home before the next full moon. She uses her bestial army to enforce her commands.
All are surprised to discover Avestine had a daughter, a girl who now holds within her another god of the pantheon. For a decade, Rook believed Avestine’s daughter was the result of her brother’s rape, but Avestine has known that the only child Avestar ever sired was Kami, the product of an illicit liaison with a temple priestess. Some people see Kami as the benign Sahrot, God of the Wild, but Avestine believes she is Bala, the primal God of Chaos, who prophecy says will rise at the end of the world as the Darklord.
A needy Kami returns to Avestine yet again as Avestine’s newly raised armada sails for war against Darklaw. Kami confesses her distress at never having what she wants, and in Kami’s despair, Avestine sees the demon taking shape. As Darklaw ends, Avestine hopes she’ll find a way to save Kami from her destiny as the Darklord.