Silver Dawn Afire
by Sonja J. Breckon
(The Seventh Age Saga, #1)
Publication date: March 16th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Myridians are coming, each wielding one of Six Cataclysmic Powers that will lay waste to the world and wake the God of Neutrality. What happens when one refuses to succumb to her myridian nature and sets out to save the world instead?
SIDRA ANATOLA will soon die a human death and be reborn as one of the myridian, beings destined to destroy the World of Aetheria. In a desperate attempt to change her dark fate, she flees home and the young man she loves to seek help from a powerful entity who has lived through all the ages. But she may not make it in time before she is killed by hunters—or by the love of her life, also a myridian, who fights every day to hold onto the emotions that made him human.
BRESEIS ERISWEN was expelled from the academy and failed her father who expected her to carry on her late mother’s profession as a myridian hunter. But Breseis never wanted to be a hunter—she refused to kill, and she never believed in myridians, to begin with. She leaves home with big dreams, lacking experience, and a broken heart, to prove that she is more than a failed hunter.
Two contrasting paths converge to become a turbulent one. A mouthy intellect with a colorful personality, and a skilled warrior with a frosty attitude, put their differences aside and travel the rest of the way together, robbing temples, angering false gods, and escaping numerous predicaments with their lives. Amid the chaos, they form a friendship despite a gut feeling that both hide dangerous secrets that can save or destroy the world and each other.
The susurrus of voices and the shuffling of bodies filter in from the parlor just outside the room where a small crowd has gathered, though not for Sidra’s sake. Most either don’t know she’s here, don’t know she’s dying, or don’t care. Some are people from the streets who, like Sidra and me, have gone into the brothel to take shelter from the rumbling mountain and the chaos in the streets; others are the brothel’s residents, Eslanda’s girls who live and work here.
“They found her,” Eslanda announces from the doorway.
She enters the room with a young woman embellished by a thin yellow dress that clings to her naked form underneath. She has reddish-brown skin; her cheeks and nose splashed with dark freckles, and her hair falls just below her ears in springy reddish-black curls. She reminds me of my good friend, Evolet, back in Valdania: lovely and kind and incredibly talented.
Can it be that simple? That Eslanda can send someone into the city to find a healer, and Sidra be magically cured as a result? I don’t think anything is that simple, so there are no feelings of hope or relief when the woman steps into the room. Okay, maybe some hope, but not much.
“This is Nesrin,” Eslanda says. “She’s the best healer I know; I’ve seen her do extraordinary things.”
“But Sidra’s not sick,” I point out kindly. “She’s cursed.” I grasp the top of Sidra’s hand, absently trying to comfort her; Sidra’s fingers feel clammy against my skin.
The healer, named Nesrin, steps up closer; she smells of begonia and a hint of honeysuckle. I notice the woman carries no satchel or anything that might indicate she is a healer. Where are the salves and herbs that traditional healers often possess?
“I have banished as many curses as I have healed diseases,” Nesrin says in a honeyed voice. “I make no promises, but I will do my best to help your friend.”
I release Sidra’s hand, and I stand.
“You know Banishing Craft,” I say; it is as much a question as a statement.
“I am one of few left with the gift,” Nesrin says.
“Gift?” I make a face. “Forgive me for saying, but Banishing Craft is as much a curse as the curses and diseases it cures—why do you still practice it?”
Nesrin places the palm of her hand to Sidra’s forehead; then, she sits down on the bed beside her; I move out of the way to give her more space.
“Because it is my calling.” Nesrin runs her fingers through Sidra’s hair. “If I die banishing the maladies of others, then it will be a good death.”
Um…okay; have to admire her dedication, at least.
Banishing Craft is one of the most sought-after crafts in all of Aetheria—because it almost always works, even against so-called unbreakable curses and incurable diseases. But like all things involving life and death, there are consequences. The one using Banishing Craft is at risk of dying from the same curses and diseases they cure. It is why there are so few of their kind left. And few ever seem to care for the healer’s life when they are so worried about the lives of their loved ones, and I have always felt bitterly of such people—I’ll be damned if I became one of them.
“I don’t feel right about this.” I pace, one arm across my midsection, the other propped atop it at the elbow; my fingers curled underneath my chin. “I mean, of course, I want someone to help her, but I…” I bite my lip. “But by agreeing to it, I feel like I’m trading one life for another—it’s just not right.”
“Do you want your friend to die?”
“Of course not. But I don’t want you to die either.”
“Your conscience is clear,” Nesrin assures. “I choose to help her.”
“You don’t even know her.”
Nesrin smiles softly.
“One day you will understand,” she says and turns to Sidra. “I would like everyone to leave the room.”
My arms drop to my sides, and I just stand here, not liking the idea of leaving Sidra alone with anyone.
Sidra moans in her unconscious state, and her body trembles and sweats profusely against the linen that covers the small bed. I can only imagine what horrible images the fever is trying to burn from Sidra’s mind.
“All right,” I give in. “But if you need me…”
“Let’s go sit in the parlor.” Eslanda reaches for my hand.
“And please,” Nesrin says, stopping us, “do not come into this room unless I tell you. Many curses, when removed from one body, find another one to attach itself. Let it be mine, as I am experienced in such things.”
With reluctance, I follow Eslanda into the parlor, where several people are all standing and sitting around in groups of three and four, discussing amongst themselves what they think might be happening with the quakes in the city. I can’t bear to sit or stand still, so I pace, arms crossed, my bottom lip wedged between my teeth.
Sonja J. Breckon is a builder of fantasy worlds and not ashamed to admit she lives in them more than in the real world. Besides writing books, she works with various programs to create her own cover art, interior art, design, formatting, and fantasy maps. She loves nature, the universe, coffee, and bookstores. Oh, and chicken potato enchiladas.
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