Night of Ash is the follow-on sequel to Idriel’s Children. So BEWARE, there are Idriel’s Children SPOILERS below. If you’re behind and want to catch up on the series, just let me know, and I’ll shoot you some free ebooks!
from Idriel’s Children
Heirs: Guardians of Okarria blessed by Odriel with magical gifts to defeat Idriel and his army of the Lost. Their powers are typically inherited by their eldest children.
Yanaa: The magical energy used by the Heirs, magi, and other magical beings of Okarria. Typically thought to be gifted by Odriel or Idriel.
Maldibor: A clan cursed long ago by the magus, Ivanora. Maldibor men take the form of a beast except on dark moon nights.
Idriel’s Children: Those gifted with the dark powers of Idriel.
Magi: The twelve original denizens of Okarria. Recluses blessed with yanaa and long life.
The Lost: Evil corpses reanimated by a necromancer’s dark yanaa.
Hunters: Living people controlled by a necromancer’s dark yanaa.
Odriel’s Blessed: Those born with seemingly random gifts of yanaa but are not Heirs or magi.
Shadow Plane: The realm between the living and the dead.
Wraith-Called: Those who can walk the Shadow Plane.
Somisidas Abbey: The home of the Wraith-Called. Burned down by Idriel’s Children.
Dolobra: Soul-eater that once stalked the Shadow Plane. Killed by Aza, Makeo, and Zephyr.
Dalteek: The mounts of the Heirs and Maldibor, graced with legendary stamina, winding antlers, and lion-like manes.
Carceroc: Forest where the magi once imprisoned the ancient man-eaters of Okarria before the magus, Ivanora, freed them. Once home to the Maldibor clan.
Ragehound: The Dragon Heirs’ large canine companions. Enchanted to withstand their dragon fire.
Catalede: Home of the Heirs. Training grounds for the warriors of Okarria.
The Heirs’ Way: A historical account of the Heirs.
Dracour: With the sinuous four-legged body of a dragon, the scaly torso of a man, and a set of murderous horns, the Dracour are the fiercest warriors in the land and friends to the Heirs.
Rastgol: Cannibalistic barbarians. Have raided Okarria’s western border for decades.
Aza Thane: Shadow Heir-in-waiting with the power of invisibility.
Zephyr Thane: Dragon Heir-in-waiting with the power of fire. Aza’s older brother.
Makeo: Childhood friend of the Thanes and cursed with the Maldibor’s beast form.
Hoku: Childhood friend of the Thanes, daughter of the Maldibor chief, and Makeo’s cousin. Carries the curse of the Maldibor.
Luna: Zephyr’s ragehound.
Odriel: The beneficent spirit guide of Okarria. Odriel guides souls from life to death and gifted the original Heirs with their powers.
Idriel: An evil god-like spirit guide. Has twice attacked Okarria with his army of undead. Killed by the Heirs many years ago.
Shadmundar: Cat cursed by the magus, Everard, to be his spy and servant for a century.
Dorinar: A magus and historian.
Marloa: Historian. Works and lives with Dorinar.
Ivanora: Magus blessed with Idriel’s extraordinary dark yanaa. Seeks to raise Idriel from the dead.
Everard: Missing magus who cursed Shadmundar. Friend to the Heirs.
Bellaphia: A magus murdered by humans long ago.
Valente Conrad: Lord blessed by Idriel with the power of necromancy. Seeks to raise Idriel from the dead.
Seela: The late Master of Somisidas Abbey. Killed by Idriel’s Children.
Witt: Childhood friend of the Thanes. Killed in the burning of Somisidas Abbey.
Yolie: The Time Heir. Fled into hiding with her daughter.
Ioni: Yolie’s daughter. The young Time Heir-in-waiting.
Aza stood at the moss-covered door with a disquieting churn of uncertainty and regret that she just couldn’t seem to kill. She found it hard to believe that it’d been only a few short months since she’d stood in this very place with the silk toads croaking around her. It’d been the first time she’d laid eyes on the woman who now stood poised to destroy Okarria. The one who had tried to kill her and everyone she held dear; who’d unleashed untold legions of ancient man-eaters onto the land.
If only Aza had known then, she would’ve run her through right here in this cottage.
And yet—she rubbed her arm where Witt and Seela’s names were now inked below her sleeve—Aza wasn’t completely innocent either. Wasn’t she the one who’d fallen straight into Ivanora’s trap? Wasn’t she the one who’d unleashed the Dolobra, the soul-eating demon of the Shadow Plane? Perhaps, if she’d gone to Carceroc with her brother, together they might’ve been able to stop her. And then maybe Witt wouldn’t be—
A heavy hand on her shoulder pulled her from the familiar spiral of guilt. “Aza,” Makeo said, his voice a low whisper in her ear. “It’s okay. Dorinar will know where to find her.”
Aza put a hand over his furred one as she turned to look into the soft green eyes of the beast next to her. With the hulking body of a bear and the long snout and ears of a wolf, the trousers, boots, and sword were the only things that hinted at the humanity that graced him on dark moon nights. Another curse they had to thank the hateful Ivanora for.
But while most saw a terrifying beast of the Maldibor, Aza only saw Makeo. Her Keo.
Luna’s sharp bark accompanied the slosh of boots through the marsh as Zephyr and Hoku jogged around the house from the barn where they’d housed the Dalteek.
“C’mon, are you going to knock or what?” Zephyr scowled at the dark, dripping canopy above them, and Luna, his shaggy black ragehound, shook out her already sopping fur. “It’s starting to rain again.”
Aza wondered for perhaps the thousandth time if he was actually related to her. While Zephyr was broad and tanned and loud, Aza was wiry and pale and reserved. Two complete opposites in almost every way—the Dragon and the Shadow.
“Oh relax.” Hoku tousled her rich brown curls, her green Maldibor eyes nearly as bright as Makeo’s in the gloom. “You could use the wash.” She flashed a playful smirk, bumping Zephyr with her hip and startling a grin out of him.
“Perhaps he could, but you could think of the rest of us,” Shad, a ragged, one-eyed black cat, said peevishly from where he huddled in the doorway.
Aza gave Makeo’s huge paw one last squeeze and knocked on the door, bracing herself for Dorinar’s inevitably frosty welcome. “Dori—”
To her surprise, the door whipped open before the second knock, and Dorinar stood in the doorway with a scowl. His mussed brown curls fell into his eyes, and with his oversized black robe practically swallowing him, he looked even paler and thinner than usual. Only his night-black irises marked him as one of the eleven remaining magi of Okarria. But instead of a thorny rebuff, he opened the door wider and stepped aside. “What took you so long? I’ve been expecting you ever since Carceroc fell.”
Aza exchanged a curious glance with the others before shuffling inside. “Expecting us? But we didn’t send word—”
“You didn’t have to.” His eyes flicked to the gathering darkness. “Hurry up and come in. The cobalan have been roaming the night lately, and they’d love nothing more than to kill two Heirs.”
Unease rattled through Aza as she thought of the light-fearing underground-dwellers that had once almost killed her parents. She cast one last wary glance at the dark tangle of vines and thick brush before entering the ancient cottage.
Dorinar retreated into his common room as they filed in. The simple cottage hadn’t changed since their last visit, with the same parchment-strewn desk, books lining the shelves along the wall, and the few armchairs scattered about the fire. Luna flopped next to the hearth, tongue lolling and fur reeking of wet dog and the smoky musk of a ragehound. The rest of them gathered around the sizzling flames to dry out their damp cloaks while Dorinar paced back and forth. And if the wear on the plush rug were any indication, it was something he’d been doing a lot lately.
“I’m well aware of what happened at Carceroc, and since Ivanora is at the center of it, of course you would come to the only other magus you could find.”
“So no word of Everard then?” Shad asked, his sodden fur dangerously close to the flames.
Dorinar paused in his pacing, something like regret crossing his face. “No. I’ve made multiple attempts to contact him in the past days, but he is either unwilling or incapable of responding.”
For a moment, the room fell quiet, and Hoku glanced between their tense faces. “Incapable? But if he was dead, Shadmundar’s curse would be broken, wouldn’t it? What are you saying?”
Zephyr scratched at the orange streak in his brown hair with a long sigh. “The last time we couldn’t contact one of our own, Idriel had raised him as one of the Lost.”
“Not quite alive, not quite dead,” Aza murmured, sharing a tense glance with Makeo. What did that mean? Would Ivanora be able to use Everard’s yanaa against them too?
“What about the other magi?” Makeo rumbled. “Could they be in danger as well?”
“Or would they deign to assist for once?” Shad asked, his tail flicking petulantly.
“I’ve accounted for all the others.” Dorinar’s gaze narrowed at Shad in annoyance. “With the looming threat, they’re fleeing Okarria.”
Ice flooded Aza’s veins. The most ancient beings of Okarria were leaving? Were things already so dire?
A collective inhalation ran through the room before they all started talking at once.
“Cowards,” Zephyr snapped.
“Of course,” Shad muttered.
“But what are they fleeing?” Hoku asked.
Aza stepped forward, raising her voice. “And to where?”
“The north, the west, across the sea,” Dorinar picked up a stack of battered letters and threw them across the indigo rug. “Does it matter? If Ivanora is raising soul-eating beasts and taking her siblings captive, it’s the logical choice. With her growing power, it will only be a matter of time before she and her necromancer raise Idriel.”
Another silence crashed over the room, the shock soaking into Aza in a cold wave. “But how?” she asked, hating how small the words sounded.
“They’ll raise him in the corpse of the Dolobra. It’s the only corporeal body strong enough to hold him.”
Aza’s knees went weak. Because of her. She was the one who’d released the soul-eater of legend.
“At least the magi will be safe from whatever’s to come,” Makeo said, his even voice deep and comforting, “and we won’t have to worry about them aiding Ivanora.” He looked around the room, meeting everyone’s eyes. “Willingly or no.”
“But it hasn’t happened yet,” Zephyr cut in, his fists white-knuckled at his sides, and Luna’s head rose with a soft whine. “We still have time to find Ivanora. We can stop whatever’s coming.”
“Zephyr’s right. There must be some hope.” Hoku drummed her fingers on the hilt of the sword hanging from her belt. “We would know if Idriel had risen, wouldn’t we? Don’t the legends say his presence blots out the sun or something?”
Dorinar leaned against his desk, pinching the bridge of his nose. “We would certainly know, which is why—”
“It’s ready.” A breathless, slight woman with short brown hair and ink smudged across one cheek poked her head into the room. “Oh, they’re here already. Good. I thought I heard a cobalan howl and started to worry. They’re getting so bold lately.” She turned to Zephyr and Hoku with a wave. “Hello, we haven’t met, but I’m Marloa. I work as a historian with Dorinar.”
“Assistant historian,” Dorinar sniffed.
“Oh, don’t sell yourself short, Dory,” Marloa said with a wink.
“For the love of Odriel, spare me the flirting.” Shad’s whiskers twitched, his ears flicking. “What’s ready?”
A sudden unease rolled through Aza. Dorinar hadn’t fled like the others… and he’d been expecting their arrival. Did that mean he was siding with Ivanora? Was this an ambush? After all, coming here had also been her idea. Was she so predictable?
She thought she’d done things right this time. She’d avoided walking on the Shadow Plane so as not to draw the Lost, and the chieftains and Heirs had all agreed this was the correct course of action. They’d even gone so far as to spread false rumors about their plans so her parents could protect the Maldibor clan traveling to Catalede for refuge. But had it been enough? Was she walking into a trap again?
“You wanted to find Ivanora, didn’t you?” Marloa asked, already waving them down the hall. “We prepared a communication spell to see if we could get any hints on where she might be.”
Dorinar followed after her, robes brushing against the floor. “Already? Did you marinate the shouting sands in wise tree sap for a full twenty-two hours?”
“Yes, thou prince of nitpickers, I can read the instructions for Odriel’s sake,” Marloa huffed as Zephyr and Hoku followed after her with Luna at their heels.
Aza paused, bracing herself on an armchair as she took a deep breath. Not a trap.
Makeo put a reassuring hand on her back. “You need to stop second-guessing yourself.”
“If I’m that obvious, perhaps I should start third-guessing instead.” Aza wiped the lingering damp from her forehead, fatigue weighing on her limbs.
“Everyone makes mistakes, Aza. Blaming yourself does no one any good.”
But her mistakes had gotten people killed. She thought of Witt’s betrayed face as she’d hurled hateful words at him—the last she’d ever seen of him alive. But Shad had been there too. Aza stared at the battered cursed cat for a moment, thinking of the harsh words she’d thrown at him. Mangy cat.
“Shad… I don’t think I ever properly apologized to you.” A memory echoed through her head again from what felt like a lifetime ago.
“People learn from their mistakes, Shad,” Makeo had said.
And Shad’s curt reply: “That remains to be seen.”
If only she’d listened to them. If only she’d never left Catalede. “I was wrong, and I’m sorry I tried to hurt you.”
Shad’s single blue eye weighed her for a moment. “And I don’t think I ever thanked you for saving my life. Twice now. Even though you specifically declined my company.” He lifted his small, pointed chin. “Which is, of course, delightful.”
Aza gave him a weak smile, leaning against Makeo’s solid form. “Delightful.”
“Let’s call it even, then, and see what our second least-favorite magus has cooked up now.” Shad led them down the hall with his tail high. “With all the ridiculous spells he throws together, it’s a minor miracle this cottage is even still standing. Speaking of which, let’s note the closest exit, shall we?”
Makeo squeezed her hand as they followed him. “You’ve asked for everyone’s forgiveness, Aza, more than once. But you might want to consider asking it of yourself.”
Aza’s lips tightened as she clutched his hand. “How could I ask that, when I’m the reason we’re here?”
“Oh Aze.” His gaze shone with a bittersweet warmth. “That’s where you’re wrong. You were only one stone in an avalanche of hundreds that got us here. If we’re going to stop the chain now, we need to look forward, not back.”
“You’re right. I know you’re right.” Aza straightened her shoulders. “We have to stay in the now.”
But no matter how she tried, a part of Aza’s mind would always be at that crossroads where she’d led them all the wrong way.
Thanks so much for reading! The Night of Ash ebook is scheduled to launch on Amazon and KU 27 September and is available for preorder here. Or you can add it on Goodreads here.
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Also, if you want to check out the playlist for Night of Ash you can find it here.
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