THE PEOPLE OF AENYA
Since she was a child, Princess Radia has known the pain of every living creature as intimately as her own. Now her empathic power may cost her her life.
Radia is the 54th descendant of the Zo and heir to the throne of Tyrnael. But at 15 years of age, she is innocent to the cruel realities of her world. Possessed by the innocence of youth, her idealism soon clashes with the machinations of her stepbrother, Zaibos, a cold and ruthless commander who insists that the future of their people can only be preserved through bloody conflict.
When Zaibos seizes control of the capital city of Tyrnael, Radia is forced to flee for her life. Betrayed by those she most trusted to protect her, she finds unexpected loyalty in Demacharon, an old sword from Hedonia. But neither Demacharon, her stepbrother, nor Radia herself, fully realizes her importance to the future of Aenya.
Like all eight year old boys of Hedonian citizenry, Demacharon is taken from his mother’s arms to train in the navy, and for the next ten years, is taught how to kill more efficiently. After a number of naval victories, he is promoted to Regent Commander, and charged with the subjugation of the tribal peoples of the northwest. After two decades of campaigning, Demacharon is permitted to take a wife. The honeymoon is short lived, however, as he is sent out again and again to expand the Empire's territories.
Far from the One Sea, his legions meet with increased resistance. Less than half his men, a mere nine thousand, return to Hedonia after a year-long campaign. In the city, he is heralded a hero, given lands and titles, but the ghosts of his friends and enemies continue to haunt his dreams, and with the birth of his only child, Astor, he begins to doubt the creed of his nation. Does he desire such a life for his son? And how can he justify the murder of barbarian children, knowing what it means to be a father? Soon after his return home, five-year old Astor is killed on the beach by merquid, at which point his wife, Niobe, is overcome by despair. Having lost the only two things that meant anything to him, Demacharon becomes disillusioned, a broken man in search of redemption.
Many believe he is a demon, spawned from the fiery depths of Aenya. His monstrous appearance throws adversaries into a panic, as his boundless cruelty perpetuates the myth of his origins. No wonder Zaibos, born as a man, comes to be known as the Monster King, and as Lord of Agonies.
He arrives in Tyrnael with his father, Anabis, from an unknown land, in answer to the summons of King Solon. To cure Princess Radia, who is fallen deathly ill, Anabis asks only that his son be adopted, and Solon acquiesces. During their briefly shared childhood, Radia finds her step-brother's utter lack of emotion disturbing. By nineteen, the boy's interests turn to battle, and the warlike history of the Zo, the ancient ancestors of the Tyrnaelian people. After the untimely death of Solon, Zaibos seizes control of the army, and without Radia’s knowledge, engages in campaigns of aggression beyond the city’s mountain borders.
As time in Tyrnael flows more slowly, so does Zaibos age more rapidly in relation to his step-sister, so that upon returning from his campaigns, he is grown into his thirties, while Radia remains a mere fifteen. With the full bent of the army behind him, Zaibos usurps the throne, and Radia is forced to flee for her life. The days following her flight are marked with despair and dread the likes the kingdom has never seen, as torture and executions become commonplace, and Zaibos’s true, sadistic nature is revealed to all.
Thelana is born in the river valley of Ilmarinen, the middle child of twelve. Her eldest brother, Borz, is sold into slavery when she is very young. As the dark hemisphere creeps eastward, famine forces Thelana into the wild. Her life is spent on the edge of survival, hunting for prey while hiding from predators. Wounded by a cannibalistic half-man, she is rescued by Captain Dantes, and taken to a military encampment, where she proves her archery skills and is recruited into the Kratan army. Years pass until, on the Plains of Narth, Dantes's forces are decimated by bogren, and Thelana, torn with longing for the life she knew, abandons the battlefield. In Ilmarinen, she finds no trace of her family. Overcome by grief, she manages her way to the coastal cities, where she meets Kinj, who introduces her to the life of the thief. When he later tries to violate her, Thelana steals his mechanical bow-sword and leaves him to die in an alley. Fleeing to Hedonia, Thelana hides in the slums among the city's outcasts, before climbing into the pyramid Temple of Sargonus. As she pries the giant pearl eye from the idol of the Hedonian Sea God, she is found by the zealous High Priest, and the first Ilmar she has seen since leaving home. With the aid of the Ilmarin stranger, Thelana is apprehended and thrown into a pit beneath the city. There she waits, wondering about the man she has just met. Is he a traitor to their people? Or will he come to save her?
Cast off from civilization, Xandr is without home or country, or possessions of any kind, but for an ancient sword with a will of its own. Utterly naked in battle, he stands intrepid and shameless, as his people, the Ilmar, have stood for millions of years.
Ilmarin by birth, Xandr is raised by monks in the Mountains of Ukko, where he is taught history, philosophy, and swordplay. At fourteen, his home is destroyed by armies from the dark hemisphere. With the death of QuasiI, his mentor, Xandr becomes a recluse, with only an enigmatic sword---Emmaxis---to guide him. He wanders the wilds of Aenya until he meets Ouranos, the bird man. Together, they set forth to undo the evils of the world, but in time Xandr falls into despair. Shunned as a barbarian by the civilized peoples of Aenya, he remains in the Marsh of Melancholy, until called to the city of Hedonia. There, he finds the one thing he never thought possible, another of his kind. Thelana, an Ilmarin girl, is sentenced to die for her crimes against the Hedonian faith. As Xandr seeks desperately to rescue her from the dungeons of a zealous civilization, he must also find the strength in himself to fight for a world that has rejected him and his people.
(Major Spoilers!!!) Emma is born in Northendell, in the frigid Pewter Mountains, to Dak, a scholar of Zo history, and Ilsa, a singer and musician. At the behest of his wife, Dak gives up his pursuit of immortality, breaking ties with his friend and partner, Mathias. When King Frizzbeard's men-at-arms learn of Dak's golem creation, their home is ransacked. Knowing the punishment for dabbling in the forbidden arts, Dak and Ilsa choose immolation over capture, trusting in their golem protector, Grimosse, to steal their infant daughter, Emma, into the night. Mathias receives the child with reluctance. During the early years of her upbringing, he takes academic interest in teaching her to read, but as she ages and begins to question his research, he becomes reclusive, and she is told nothing of her parents. Before the age of nine, Mathias keeps her a prisoner in her own home. When Emma is at last given freedom to explore the labyrinthine avenues of Northendell, she is treated cruelly by other children. She is later imprisoned for perusing Mathias's study. Freed from her bedroom after a year, Emma finds solace in forgotten places, befriending the ravens that populate the city's narrow streets, with whom she imaginatively converses. But when a neighbor miscarries, the strange girl who talks to ravens is implicated for witchcraft. Emma is brought before the king and is sentenced to death by exile, to be ousted into the cold beyond the city walls. But a sympathetic soldier, Duncan, lessens her sentence to slavery. On the way to the southern kingdoms, her prison cart is overturned, and her captors are brutally killed. And yet her saviors are just as frightening: wild humans, a man and a woman, soaked in blood and not wearing a stitch of clothing. If Emma hopes to survive, to discover the secrets of her stepfather's study, she will need to follow them, but what faith can she put in such savage creatures? Still, there is something strangely familiar, and comforting, about their third companion, a patchwork life form, a thing of dead flesh given life, a golem named Grimosse.
(Major Spoilers!!!) As a young healer living in Northendell, Mathias is troubled by his inability to help wounded men-at-arms. The problem of death plagues him until he meets Dak, a scholar of ancient artifacts. Working in secret, the two men discover how the Ancient Zo could transfer their minds into invincible bodies called golems. When Dak falls in love and marries, however, he abandons their pursuit of immortality, leaving Mathias to study the countless tomes of the Zo on his own. One day, King Frizzbeard discovers Dak's research and he and his wife are burned as witches. Dak's infant daughter, Emma, escapes the flames in the arms of Dak's golem, Grimosse. Grimm delivers the infant to Mathias, but fearing the discovery of his work, he commands the golem to head south, to the Sea. Along the way, Grimm kills thirty Hedonian soldiers as they attempt to seize him. The High Priest, Urukjinn, also tries to control the golem, but fails. But when the Urukjinn's daughter, Merneptes, is caught in a riot, Grimm tears free of his bonds and pulverizes her attackers with a church bell, which is later fashioned into his hammer. Grimosse would later find new purpose in defending Merneptes, or anyone reminding him of the child he was made to protect.