Betraying the God of Light
In the world of Seibu, an endless war between the gods of Light and Dark threatens to destroy all life. Crevahn, mother of creation, struggles to save her newly created world. Her success depends on Vyas, her most powerful son, and Malla, an abused human wife. Will Vyas suppress the demons in his chest long enough to maintain his sanity in his fight against the God of Dark? Will Malla's new secret lead to her execution or to victory in her battle against the God of Light? Find out if the world will end or be saved in this high adventuring tale by debut novelist Jared Angel.
First, there was nothing – a complete emptiness devoid of light or darkness. Then, a brilliant blue light erupted in a cascading shower of energy. As it sped across infinite time and space, Crevahn and Seibu emerged from the center of the eruption. Bathed in radiant blue light, they stretched out their hands, pulled all of the energy back from its flight, and formed it into a gigantic sphere. The energy immediately swelled outwards in millions of bubbles, threatening to erupt once more and destroy Crevahn and Seibu.
Wrapping his life’s energy completely around the sphere to save Crevahn, Seibu said, “Live, Sister. Create children and share the beauty of life with them.”
“No! Brother, do not leave me,” Crevahn said. As Seibu’s energy formed a protective barrier around the sphere, his body began to dissipate. Crevahn reached through the barrier, pulling some of the blue energy out of the sphere, and poured it into Seibu in a desperate attempt to reform his body. The moment the energy rushed into Seibu, he exploded in a blinding flash of white light, and simultaneously imploded in utter darkness. Crevahn saved him from perishing, but he was split into two opposite halves: one half darker than the emptiness of space, and the other half shining so brightly that it drowned out the radiant blue sphere. Brote, the God of Light, emerged from the light half of Seibu, and Naro, the God of Darkness, from the dark half.
“Brothers, let us rejoice in life together,” Crevahn said, and reached out her arms to embrace her new Brothers.
The light emanating from Brote’s very core consumed him with an absolute hatred for darkness that Brote knew would burn forever unless he destroyed its source – his Brother, Naro. The darkness in Naro’s core absorbed all light into him consuming him with a loathing for light that would never rest, he knew, until he annihilated Brote, the source of the light. Shoving their Sister’s arms aside, they chased one another around the sphere faster and faster until Brote was nothing more than a white streak of light, and Naro nothing more than a black streak of darkness.
“Brothers, you are both one half of Seibu. Stop!” Crevahn said.
Ignoring their Sister, Naro and Brote raced even faster at the exact same speed, making it impossible to catch one another. Unless she found a way to stop them, they would encircle the glowing blue sphere until the end of time. Crevahn pulled out more of the blue energy, and used it to encase the sphere in earth. The earth grew outwards – layer upon layer of rock and soil. Crevahn spun the blue sphere inside its shell in the opposite direction from which her Brothers were chasing one another. It rotated faster and faster until its force was strong enough to pull objects towards itself.
Crevahn formed four equidistant columns of solid stone inside the soil that stretched outwards from the blue sphere. She stood on one of the columns and the newly formed gravity pulled her Brothers downwards onto the stone columns on opposite ends of the earth. Crevahn filled the world with an ocean, lakes, clouds, plants and animals. Following their Sister’s lead, Brote created the blazing sun, which covered half of the world in dazzling bright light; Naro created the frigid moon, which covered the other half of the world in shadows.
Lastly, Crevahn created her children, the jiva, to share the beauty of the world with her. She sorrowfully named the new world Seibu after her beloved Brother. Again, following her lead, Naro and Brote created their own jiva, humans and countless other creatures with the sole purpose of helping the two gods kill one another.
The endless war of the gods had begun.
Brodon knew he was alive. Complete devotion to his Creator, Brote, consumed every ounce of his being, and he humbly embraced the meaning of his life – to destroy the dark God Naro and all of his children, the Narons. As Brodon opened his eyes for the first time, the sky spread above him in a brilliant blue. It descended west towards Naros, the homeland of Naro, and gradually faded into dark blue, purple, and finally black. In the very center of the skyline, at its lowest point, half of the frigid moon shed its eerie light into the blackness. Behind him to the east and in the direction of Brotar, Brote’s homeland, the sky became a lighter and lighter blue. At its lowest point in the horizon, half of the blazing sun rose up to warm and strengthen the Brotians.
Brodon rode atop a blazing firebird with wings that stretched out thirty feet. All 1,617 of his brothers rode alongside him through the sky. They were identical to one another, created in Brote’s image. They had rich orange skin, radiant yellow eyes, and slightly pointed ears. Thin orange eyebrows were the only hair on their bodies. Shining golden suns on the sleeves of their meticulous white and gold uniforms designated their ranks, which were determined by the amount of sun energy they could control.
Directly across from the sun jiva, the moon jiva sped across the sky on shadow horses with wings extending as long as the firebirds’ wings. The 1,618 moon jiva had the same facial features and slightly pointed ears as the moon jiva, but that’s where the similarities ended. Their pitch-black hair ranged in styles from long and flowing to short and very curly. Their skin was a sinister grey and their eyes red, grey or black. Rather than uniforms, they wore dark robes that matched the color of their hair. The most remarkable difference of all was that an equal number of female moon jiva as males flew among their ranks.
Leading the charge against the moon jiva, Brodon shouted at the top of his lungs, “Brote!”
The moment he caught his breath so he could scream again, Brote spoke to him and all of his brothers inside their minds. His deep voice pounded on the insides of their heads in anger. My sons, reach out to the glorious sun behind you with your mind. Pull its power into you, but do not hold it too long, or you will burn yourself to death from the inside. Use it to control the power of fire and heat, and strike out at the Narons with all your might.
Doing his Father’s bidding, Brodon pulled sun energy all the way across Seibu into himself. The power of the sun rushed into him in a searing torrent that threatened to turn his insides to ash. Brodon released it quickly, first in the form of steam to carry his voice across the entire sky in thunderous echoes, “Charge!”
Letting his brothers swoop past him, Brodon flew straight up to lead the battle from above at the same moment that a single moon jiva rose above the other Narons. Brodon howled with rage; he knew his enemy – Naria, Naro’s favored child. From his outstretched hands, he threw two massive fireballs, one at Naria, and the other into the midst of the moon jiva army. Naria countered by throwing two gigantic spears of ice, one at Brodon and one at his brothers. The fireball racing towards Naria, and the spear racing towards Brodon smashed into each other in an explosion of water and steam. The other fireball and spear crashed into the armies, and dead bodies from both sides fell into the sea below. Following Brodon and Naria’s lead, the other Brotians and Narons hurled fire and ice at one another, filling the sky with deafening thunder and billowing clouds of steam.
Brodon formed a shield of burning flames three feet three thick around himself and his firebird in order to protect them from the ice. Before losing sight of Naria behind the rising steam, he formed a molten ball of fire directly around his foe at the exact same instant that she encased him in crushing ice. Brote increased the power of his fire shield, and the ice simply melted away. No longer able to see Naria, he could sense his flames around her dissipating. He reformed the fire encasing her, and poured every ounce of sun energy he could muster into an inferno as hot as the sun itself. She responded by surrounding Brodon in ice so cold that without his fire shield, he would have instantly shattered into millions of pieces. Her ice evaporated in billowing black.
Brodon could see nothing of the battle below, or of his hated enemy. Neither side was going to gain an advantage amid such chaos. Brodon’s lip twitched violently at the thought of not being able to destroy the moon jiva immediately, but he saw no alternative but to retreat to Brotar. Brote would be able to devise a structured plan to annihilate Naro and his minions. Reluctantly, Brodon shouted above the chaos, “Sun Jiva, fly for Brotar!”
A Faithful Daughter
Malla ran her brush gently through her faded golden hair. It was still as soft as a child’s, which, considering her age and job, was no small feat. She wondered why she bothered; her husband, Erom, would never notice. In fact, no one would ever notice except other old women. She wasn’t that old yet, but she certainly felt like she was. She had done her part for Brote. She had given birth to seven children: five boys and two girls. Five of her beloved children were dead. She had hoped against all odds that living in a mining town would have protected them a little from the war. Her wildest dreams had come true when two of her sons had been chosen after their six-thousandth cycle to work in the mines instead of the Sun Army.
Both of them, as all young Brotian men did, had desperately wanted to serve Brote in the army, but no one could refuse a calling to the mines. Digging for iron, bronze, and silver was grueling work, and the miners who ran them were especially hard on the taller humans. The miners looked like humans, but they were much stockier and shorter; the males were twice as wide as Malla, and only reached up to her shoulders. They lived twice as long as humans did, and only had two or three children. In order for humans to be selected to work in the mines, they had to be shorter than average. Malla was quite excited when two of her sons had barely passed five feet tall. Working in the mines instead of the army didn’t turn out to be safer after all; Malla lost both those sons in the same mining accident. They always worked side-by-side, so when the mine collapsed, they died together. Of course, her other two dead sons had died fighting in the war. The letters she had received claimed they had died honorable deaths in the name of Holy Father Brote. Erom had torn the letters to pieces in a drunken rage. Although Malla couldn’t read, it would have been nice to keep the letters as a small token of the service her sons had done for Brote. The daughter who was dead, died in childbirth. It would have been a noble death, had the baby been a boy and survived. However, the baby was a girl and shortly after died.
Her surviving daughter married a soldier stationed in Q3 Port City 2 and spent most of her time cooking for the army. Malla hadn’t wanted to allow the marriage, but her eldest son, Essel, had arranged it in order to get her away from Erom. Malla hadn’t heard from her since she had left, and suspected she never would since Q3 Port City 2 was very far. She could only pray to Brote that her daughter was well.
She put her ox-whisker brush down and sighed. The sleeping cycle was approaching, and Erom was still not home. He had missed dinner again. The first time Erom had missed dinner all those thousands of cycles ago, he hadn’t asked Malla to join the other wives at The Bull to cook there, Malla had been humiliated because everyone would think her a poor wife. Now, she enjoyed the peace and quiet. When Malla had married Erom, she thought she was marrying a good man from a good family. The original Engor created by Brote had served as a lieutenant on one of Brote’s mighty golden warships. His was a truly honorable position that allowed every Engor that followed to become eligible to serve as officers.
Erom was the twelfth generation of Engors, and his line of descent had been in charge of shipping the metals from the mines in Q4 Town 3 to Sun City for five generations. Erom was the third oldest son of six. His second oldest brother was serving in the army in Q4 Port City 1 when he met Malla’s parents. He had thought Malla would make a good match for his brother. Malla’s parents had agreed to the match because they thought that living in Q4 Town 3 would be a great deal safer than a port city, just as Malla had thought that working in the mines was safe. Of course, her parents only did what they thought was best for their daughter, but Malla couldn’t help resenting them a little for sending her to a husband that hit her and drank illegal relikai every cycle. Malla sighed again. There was no point regretting what could not be changed. She had to fulfill her duty to Brote by being the best wife she could.
She took out the letter in her apron pocket, and traced her fingers along the script that she wished she could read. She had memorized the words that the delivery boy had read to her. She repeated them to herself out loud while imagining Essel’s gentle orange eyes, “Dear Mother and Father, I hope you are well. I don’t have time to write much, but I wanted to let you know I’ve been promoted to commander. I’ll write more soon. Always your son, Essel.”
She knew she wouldn’t be receiving another letter for a very long time. Essel was ashamed of Erom, and if Erom was arrested, Essel’s career would suffer. She would do anything to prevent that, including cutting off communication with her beloved son. While doing her duty as a Brotian woman to produce as many children as possible, especially boys, was something to be proud of, she didn’t feel like it was any great accomplishment. Essel rising to the highest human rank; now that was something that truly gave Malla’s life some meaning. Even more importantly, with every promotion, he had less of a chance of being killed. Then again, maybe he was gaining rank so quickly because all of the officers above him were being killed. She tried not to think about that possibility.
The front door slammed open and Erom yelled, “Malla! I’m home. I want my dinner. Where in Naro’s name are you, woman?”
Malla jumped up and straightened her light brown cotton dress, the same dress that nearly all human women wore. She rushed from the bedroom into the living room. Their small sandstone house had four rooms. The bedroom and kitchen were on opposite sides of the living room, which also acted as a meeting room for customers. The basement was under the kitchen. The living room had an old brownstone sofa covered with worn-out straw mats, and two wooden chairs. In front of the sofa was a low wooden table with one broken leg, making the whole thing wobble. There were two narrow windows along the top of the wall facing the street that let light into the room. Malla only closed the wooden shutters during rainstorms, sand storms and swarms of locusts. The floor was nothing more than packed dirt, made nearly as hard as wood from thousands of cycles of feet walking on it. Every time Erom slammed the wooden front door, small bits of the sandstone wall fell off. Malla kept expecting him to bring the entire roof down on their heads.
“Erom, oh Erom, I have such wonderful news,” she said.
Erom’s bald orange head was covered with sun spots, and no longer shined like it used to. His bushy brown eyebrows had streaks of gray in them, and his light brown eyes sagged from drinking too much. His light brown shirt hung freely and his light brown pants had grime and food stains. He fell onto the stone sofa and swung his legs up over the edge. One of his brown leather boots was missing. He snorted, “What wonderful news could you possibly have for me?”
Before he could continue with an insult, she waved the letter at him and said, “Your pride and joy, Essel, has been promoted to Commander.”
Springing to his feet with surprising agility, he snatched the letter from her hand. “Essel? A commander?” His face lit up with a smile that made his eyes sparkle. He tried to read the letter, but his eyes couldn’t focus so he handed it back to Malla and said, “This calls for a drink. Pour me, No! Pour both of us a glass of relikai. And, where’s my dinner?”
Malla rushed into the kitchen without a comment. Her kitchen was just big enough for a small wooden table with two rickety chairs, her grill, and two large cupboards; the top of which she used to prepare meals. A small pit filled with rocks was built into the floor beneath the grill. Malla put dried dung in the bottom of the pit and then covered it with wood or bundled agave leaves to make small fires for cooking. Most of the smoke wafted out the window directly above the pit.
Malla always kept at least two bottles of relikai along with two clean glasses in a cupboard. She hated the foul drink, and had never had more than a sip, but as long as Erom thought she was drinking it with him, he wouldn’t cause any problems. She uncovered the plate she had prepared for him, and sighed to discover it wasn’t hot at all. Not that it mattered; he usually didn’t eat it even after asking for it. She put the glasses and plate of food on a dirty wooden tray, and hurried back out. Her luck was good; Erom was already sprawled across the sofa and snoring as loudly as an overweight ox.
She shook her head and said, “Well, at least, you made it onto the sofa so you won’t be so sore when you wake up well into the waking cycle.” She took off his one remaining boot and shoved a mat that had fallen on the floor under his head. He didn’t budge. Up that close to him, his unwashed body odor wafted up to her nose. “You stink. You had better take a bath and put on your other set of clothes tomorrow if you want to keep your customers. You had also better start washing your own clothes because I’m not going to do it for you anymore.”
She held in the sigh this time. She was only fooling herself. Whenever he did decide to change, she would wash his dirty clothes as soon as possible in hopes that he would change again the next cycle, rather than his typical once every five or six cycles. He had two dark brown shirts and two pairs of beige pants. His boots and belt were both brown leather and had been given to him by the tanner in exchange for relikai. They were the highest quality boots available to humans. Malla hoped the other one wasn’t lost.
Rather than assisting his two older brothers, Erom made relikai. Of course once he had started, his family refused to speak with him, so Erom had moved to the opposite side of town. Brote forbade the making and consumption of relikai because drunkenness made humans, especially men, act like Naron wretches. Relikai could also ease pain, and clean out wounds, making it a necessity in mining towns where no sun jiva lived. The sun jiva were Brote’s most powerful children. In addition to naturally healing from any wound they received short of death, they could also summon the power of the sun in the form of sun energy to heal humans.
The punishment for making relikai, or disobeying any of Brote’s laws, was death. No one in any of the mining towns would enforce the ban, and only one sun jiva, Third Sun Lord Balor, ever came to Q4 Town 3. His job was to inspect all of the mining towns in Quadrant 4 to ensure all of the mines were operating at full efficiency. He paid little attention to little else and never stayed more than a single cycle, so there was almost no chance of Erom being discovered. Even on the off chance that he was, Malla didn’t have to worry about any punishment for herself because women were the property of their husbands and couldn’t be held accountable for any illegal activity that their husbands forced them to do. Although, perhaps it was better to be dead than being a widow of an executed man. Unmarried women without a family held the lowest position in Brotar, and ones whose husbands who had dishonored Brote were doomed for a lifetime of ridicule and shame.
Making relikai should have been enough to make Erom an outcast, yet the only men that seemed ashamed by his behavior were the other Engors. In fact, a third of the town drank Erom’s relikai, and often told Malla that she was lucky to have such a great husband. Many of them even gathered at The Bull for dinner every cycle. They brought their own food along with their wives to cook it on the inn’s large outdoor grills.
Malla was actually one of the few women to cook at home. In addition to the Engors ignoring her, Malla’s female neighbors openly glared at her and bad-mouthed Erom when they knew she could hear. Even though Erom was the one betraying Brote, Malla was the one who suffered the most from it.
In the more than ten thousand cycles she had lived in Q4 Town 3, the only friend she had made was old Ruala. Ruala had helped raise Malla’s children, and had taken to looking out for Malla as well. She was constantly trying to convince Malla her life would be better without Erom, and that she should officially report him to the mayor so he would have to arrest Erom. Malla explained to Ruala a countless number of times that while she despised Erom, she needed him. Ruala’s husband died a long time ago in the war, before they even had any children, so now she had to live in a tiny little room in the back of The Bull, and cleaned out chamber pots.
No matter how terrible Ruala’s job may have been, it was still better than living in Naros or Seiva’Re. Naros was the land of the evil God Naro and his children, the Narons. Naron women, both moon jiva and humans, were not only forced to fight alongside the men in the army, they also had to fight one another for husbands. Seiva’Re was the home of Holy Mother Crevahn. She shared it with her children, the original jiva. Apparently, there were no humans in Seiva’Re, and female jiva walked around naked. Some of them didn’t even have husbands but were married to each other. Malla wondered how they could survive without a man’s support, and what their purpose was since they couldn’t produce children.
Yet, women in both countries had positions of power. Naria was Naro’s favorite and most powerful moon jiva. None of the female sun jiva could control sun energy like the males, so it was extremely difficult imagining that female moon jiva could actually be more powerful than the men. Of course, Holy Mother Crevahn was far more powerful than any jiva could ever dream of being. Surely, she didn’t allow her sons to control the lives of her daughters, or really allow her daughters to walk around naked.
Life in Brotar was very well structured – everyone had their proper place, and performed their duty to Brote without question. There was no public nudity, and no fighting over husbands; in fact, higher ranking men could have two and sometimes even three wives. Malla was proud to do her part. Her life may have been monotonous and demeaning, but she had her pride and dignity.
On top of her daily routine of cleaning up after Erom, and cooking meals for him that he seldom ate, she also made the relikai from which Erom had gained his popularity and notoriety. Cycle after cycle, she went down into the basement to process it. Her orange skin had been rich once, but now it was so light that it was almost white. Erom didn’t notice the difference.
Passed out on the sofa, softly snoring, he would look peaceful until the nightmares started. Any time Brotians violated Brote’s laws, Brote would appear before their waking eyes in a vision of blinding white light. Those who consistently sinned had horrible nightmares of Brote slowly burning them to death in blazing infernos over and over again. Right on schedule, Erom thrashed an arm violently across his chest and shouted, “I’m sorry, Holy Father, I’m sorry. I swear I’ll never do it again. I’m a good Brotian. The miners needed it; they forced me to do it! Really, it wasn’t my fault.” The nightmares would have made a normal Brotian immediately stop doing anything illegal. Erom, however, simply drank more relikai in an effort to drown them out.
Malla still had some time before the sleeping cycle, so she secured her letter from Essel in her apron pocket and grabbed her lantern. She kept it on a peg next to the basement door, and lit it using her potted teso weed. Teso weeds had small spiky brown branches with orange flowers at their tips. The flowers constantly spurted out small flames, which Brotians used to light cooking fires. With her lantern in hand, Malla went through the basement, and closed it securely behind her. The stairs heading down were barely wide enough for Erom to fit without having to turn sideways, which made carrying the kegs of relikai up a real challenge. Each step was carved directly out of the earth, and flat stones placed on top of each one that wiggled when stepped on. Malla had tumbled down more times than she could remember, and had broken her ankle once. Essel had been a boy then, and had taken care of her like her husband should have.
The two large fire pits she used to make the relikai turned the basement into a tiny inferno. Although the heat was unbearable, even for a Brotian, she couldn’t leave the door open because the mice would get into the house; it was bad enough that they ate her agave, the plant she used to make the relikai. Inside the house, they ate anything they could find, and made a terrible mess. Naro must have created them and sent them to Brotar to torment Brotians. Brote certainly wouldn’t have cursed his own children with the terrible little beasts.
Elha brought the agave into the basement through the two outside doors, which were latched at all other times. There was no way to hide his cargo from the prying eyes of Malla’s neighbors. Conveniently, no one was ever present whenever Elha brought a fresh batch over every seven cycles. He was the only agave farmer in Q4 Town 3 and supplied the other two relikai makers as well.
Malla used the white oval-shaped fruit of the plant to make the relikai. The fruit was almost as long as Malla’s hand. The plant itself contained small spines that could be quite painful when mishandled. She first cut the piece of fruit from the rest of the plant. Then she stacked the leaves and stalk of the plant to dry. Once they had dried out, she would use them as additional fuel for the fires. Her other source of fuel was ox dung and wood. Erom received a great deal more than his allotted share. Both the wood and ox dung collectors brought wagonloads once every thirty cycles, and piled them up in the basement. The odor from the stacks of ox dung in the enclosed and stifling basement had overwhelmed Malla all those thousands of cycles ago when she started making relikai. Now, her nose had become completely desensitized.
After removing the fruit from the agave, Malla first cut it in half and lightly grilled the two pieces. Once cool, she ground them up with her stone wheel and put the juices into a cauldron. She added water and a little yeast and let it simmer for two full cycles. Finally, she would distill it twice before bottling it. It was hard work, and one mistake would ruin a whole batch. Malla grabbed an agave plant, deftly removed the piece of fruit, set it down on the chopping board and hacked it in half with a grunt.
Reviewer: Nicole Kaukinen, Mommakauk
Reviewer: Christina Mellone
Reviewer: Kirk Lucas, KLucasspot
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