It is the Ascencion of Kings in the world of Thearus. An era of reconstruction after a catastrophic collapse of all mortal empires and kingdoms throughout its far-flung continents. Mortal-kind survives, but many of their gods have not. Centuries come and go, but the dead gods do not return.
The natural cycle of Thearus has broken. All mortal and living souls cannot see it, but a darkness spreads throughout the realm of absent gods, threatening to consume all the souls that they had once claimed during their eternal reign.
In the eastern realms of Khios, historical records created by the most nefarious sources track the timeline of many monarchs, religious orders, and tyrannical despots who have often sought to cheat Goddess Zahira in death.
If Mahir, former Severed Hand of the Sanctum Queen, and his allies cannot end Karayan’s dark reign, a much darker fate will await Thearus. Karayan seeks to summon her patrons, Sabah and Zesiro, the Twin Dieties of the Void, into the mortal sphere. The sibling goddesses seek to return to Thearus to end the black descent that they had started–and put an end to the sentient empires of this world, and consume all that remains of the Ascended Pantheon…
Chapter One Excerpt
Molten flame erupted out of the obscuring dust like a seething torrent. Its brilliance seared the eyes, rendering him temporarily blinded and making his skin sweat profusely without touching him. That geyser of flame lashed out, possessed with a malignant sentience.
Enigma pushed forward where the Ashen Blades scattered back. The flame billowed like a sorcery, tearing through where he had stood moments ago. A deafening grind of stone torn out of the mausoleum floor like pebbles grated against his concentration.
He called out a warning when his kindred meant to rally for an assault. The untamed fires coalesced again, becoming a burning pillar that moved with a will of its own. An inanimate force seeking victims, seeping tendrils through the dark tomb in search of the Ashen Blades.
Enigma stepped around the pursuing fires, keeping ahead of the infernal blaze in constant motion. Cloaked in darkness, the hazed outlines of his kindred appeared to be doing likewise, trying in vain to keep a fighting cohesion.
He tread upon blackened stone, burning magma coursing through the fissures opening up nearby to swallow him whole.
A dark figure came charging out of the smoking veil. A feminine shape of monstrous height, the physical frame lithe, mirroring that of something serpentine. Her golden bronze skin rippled with muscular definition, natural patterns of darker and lighter shades appearing like ancient war paint upon her flesh.
Combed black hair danced around her, disguising her features behind a pendulum of lustrous, falling strands. An air of superior grace haunted her every movement, keeping her outer snow-white robes draped over the vermillion silk beneath dancing about her ankles.
An Azzaran, named Guardian Souls by the defenders of Akara Sanctuary.
The creature stormed out of the ruin made in her wake, wielding dual blades of wicked make and aesthetic. Enigma burst into another darting run. Again, more torrential flames erupted from the Azzaran’s slavering maw, her jawbone unhooked like that of a bellowing serpent.
He pounded the fractured stone underfoot, weaving through leaping flames bursting out of the widening fissures. A magmatic breath expelled from the Azzaran’s mouth trail blazed after him. A blaze corrosive enough to melt the stone underfoot into running slag.
And the Azzaran gave furious pursuit through the burning ruin, wading into magma riven stone and burning pools of liquid fire without harm. He could feel a beastial gaze bearing down on him, turning to find that baleful stare burning with the same hellish fire it wrought upon the mausoleum.
A pivot made on the ball of his right foot turned him into the Guardian Soul without warning. Dominion’s End came sliding out of the scabbard, turning aside a sickle-shaped blade in an unnatural rain of bruised sparks.
He parried again to deflect the other blade sweeping down on him. A scimitar taller than the length of both his legs, requiring every ounce of strength he could channel into both arms that gripped Dominion’s End around the blade’s extended grip.
The Guardian Soul attempted to step on him, nearly crushing the Ashen Blade to the infernal ruin beneath an uncaring hoof. A quick slide back across the breaking floor kept him alive.
A beautiful chortling mocked the Ashen Blade, a malignant glint in the creature’s diabolic gaze revealing an amusement at his playing around the inevitable.
Its laughter ceased, the Azzaran silenced upon being struck from out of nowhere. Enigma spotted the small wooden bolt sticking out of the creature’s chest like a mere piece of splinter. A single rivulet of crimson blood dribbled from the wound, but the beast clearly kept a different definition about the concept of pain.
Agonies were only another means to wrath and ruin, stoking an Azzaran’s heightened battle lust far beyond the comprehension of what mortal men and women could consider within the sanity of reason. Swords could not break her. A hail of arrows would not deter her. For a creature born from the retribution of ancient gods like an Azzaran, the only chance to kill such a beast would be amid the fires of battle.