Water, Land, Aer, Fyr. Once allies, the great clans of Erthos now regard each other with suspicion and scorn.
A prophecy sends Jorkka, exiled son of a Fyrclan chief, on a journey home to stop his uncle from butchering his people. On the way, he makes an unorthodox pact with a Waterclan chieftess: his hand in betrothal for her warriors to fight by his side. But love complicates his loyalties; Jorkka must overcome an ugly truth or lose all to his uncle’s bloodlust.
“Mamai, look! Red sapinda!” Jorkka pointed through the forest towards a cluster of tall trees. Their bright-red star-shaped leaves fluttered in the autumn breeze. “I bet I’ll find reizi mushrooms. May I go? Please?”
Chieko shaded her eyes to better see her son. Bronze cheeks ruddy from the cold, he stood in a puddle of sunshine. The rays kissed his head and set his messy blue hair aglow. Only eight annals old, already she could see the man he would become.
Pride at finding the rare maples buffed his smile to a dazzling shine, brighter even than the Phoenix sun. His father, Harun, had that same smile, those same dimples.
How she missed Harun… his laughter tickling her ears, his arms holding her, his breath caressing her skin.
“Mamai?” Uncertainty dimmed Jorkka’s joy.
She boxed away her melancholy, unwilling to cast a shadow over their outing. Her way of making up for all the times she’d had to say no.
“Let me make sure it’s safe.”
Inhaling earthy forest scents, Chieko deepened her connection with the Sophos—sacred sentient trees whose energy connected all of Erthos as one. Sounds amplified: the rush of a nearby stream, the heart-pulse of a newborn mouse, the rhythmic hum of the Sophos song.
They were alone, for now. Safe from Fyrclan spies.