When Merris Bryar stumbles across a secret meeting in the forgotten passages beneath Aerysius, a harrowing sequence of events is set into motion.
Merris discovers that deep below the city of the mages, forces of chaos are hard at work boring the Well of Tears, a gateway to the Netherworld.
Faced with an imminent cataclysm that will destroy the magical heritage of their people, a conspiracy of darkmages have resorted to harnessing the powers of Hell to save their legacy. The only mages who can oppose them are Merris and her mentor, Sephana Clemley, along with their protectors, Braden and Quin Reis: two brothers with a turbulent past and a caustic relationship. But both Braden and Quin are compromised, harboring terrible and tragic secrets.
Will Braden and Quin be able to protect Sephana and Merris long enough to stop the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they fall victim to the darkmages’ sinister manipulations and join their conspiracy?
What makes your world special or different?
The is Rhen isn’t special at all in any way…but that’s what also makes it awesome. It’s mundane. It’s cliché. It’s the fantasy world you grew up in. It fits. It feels comfortable and familiar, like that old pair of shoes you’ve walked a hundred miles in. Just another spin on the medieval Western fantasy trope, complete with forests and rivers, deserts and mountainscapes, even cities high in the clouds. It’s a fantasy world readers can feel at home in.
But they’re not going to stay there very long.
The Rhen is a starting point, a baseline to establish contrast with the Rhen’s sister-kingdom to the north, where the ancient Enemy hails from.
This region has gone by many names: Caladorn, The Black Lands, Malikar. It’s not your typical fantasy land. For one thing, the landscape is ever-changing, evolving from novel to novel as the reader’s perceptions evolve with it. The Black Lands are the fertile moral testing ground for the Rhenwars Saga’s sprawling cast of protagonists and antagonists, heroes and antiheros.
Is there a system of magic? If so, tell us about it.
Magic in the Rhen results from a planetary “magic field” that has much in common with a magnetic field. Mages who have inherited the gift can tap into it, harnessing the magic field to strain the boundaries of Natural Law and accomplish feats that seem like miracles. But not everyone has the ability. The gift is passed down at death from one mage to the next in an unbroken line of succession. And some mages are stronger than others, having inherited multiple “legacies” of power. The greatest of mages are capable of truly devastating acts – but have been traditionally limited by an Oath of Harmony that prevents them from doing harm with their abilities.
What are the people of your world like? Are they based on any real-world cultures? What systems of government are in place?
The nations of the Rhen are based on feudal Western Europe. They are, without exception, governed by monarchies and aristocracy. But the governance of Aerysius, city of the mages, wields power over even the Rhen’s royal dynasties. And, often hidden, is the subtle but profound influence exerted by the various temples of the religious pantheon.
The people of Caladorn are based on Near-Eastern cultures, mostly Scythian, Assyrian, and Ottoman-era Turks.
Are there any magical creatures? If so, tell us about them.
Yes, there are, and they’re sure not unicorns or faeries. Instead, the Rhen’s fantasy creatures are demonic in nature, released from the Netherworld by the unsealing of the Well of Tears. Necrators, man-shaped shadows that dampen a mage’s ability, are perhaps the most insidious. The touch of a necrator condemns the victim’s soul to hell. Even being in the presence of a necrator brings about a paralyzing terror that is appalling.
What are the two most interesting or unique features of your world?
Vintgar, a system of ancient caverns in the far north of Caladorn, is an ice fortress that gives birth to the headwaters of the sacred River Nym. These caverns (and the events of Darkstorm) were inspired by the poem “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Aerysius, city of the mages, is built into a vertical granite cliff thousands of feet above the Vale of Amberlie. Its streets are often switchbacks and skybridges, with the foundations of one building often sprouting from the heights of others below. The Hall of the Watchers is the largest structure ever built, its dome supported by a forest of stones trees whose spreading branches form the roof.
How does the landscape or geography of your world affect the plot of story?
The Rhen is separated from the Black Lands by a mountain range so immense and inhospitable that there has been very little contact between these two peoples. There is little attempt to “know thine enemy”, and most foreign policy has been traditionally based on myth, preconception, fear and assumption.
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