Every world has its own unique power dynamic, and there are a few in my upcoming novel.
There are, of course, the gods. The Allmother created and encompasses everything, even the other god, her son, Aia. Both are powerful, but as the younger god, Aia is less so.
Both have the ability twist the heart of a mortal to their whim. Both can compel mortals to act. Only one chooses to use that ability.
And only one chooses to bestow portions of their power upon mortals to aid them.
The gods exist within a separate plane, one that the Allmother’s followers can visit via a form of astral projection when in need of guidance. But only certain people possess a strong enough connection to do so and see it clearly.
Namely, those of the Vierna lineage. Thus, they became the leaders of Kin. A High Priest and High Priestess lead, governing according to the Allmother’s will. Their child is born to the title Priest/Priestess Rising and is raised to the responsibility of protecting and guiding an entire nation.
The leaders of Jun and Fahn were once able to visit Her realm and perceive it clearly. But Jun fell away from Her, establishing a monarchy and moving into lands where Aia could manipulate them without their knowing. Then, they overran Fahn, sending those peaceful people scattering, transforming them into desperate refugees.
And they all lost their sight of Her.
But how are they connected? And what’s in that other plane of existence?
You know that warm amber light just before sunset or just after sunrise? That exact light fills the plane, and everywhere, there are gleaming silver strands. They reach in every direction, linking glittering silver balls of energy.
The ropes are the connections between people. Family, friendships, partnerships. The energies are the people themselves, their spirits, and their names are emblazoned on them in brilliant blue letters in the Allmother’s language.
The leaders, the original leading families, are directly connected to the Allmother herself. As such, the rope that ties them to their ancestors (and to her) is substantially thicker than those which connect mortals to other mortals. This allows them to better see Her… and to better channel Her powers.
But there’s a problem in Jun.
And I want to include an excerpt from the book to show you. This scene takes place immediately after Veliana and Tyrvahn meet. She asks his name, and he hesitates. Then, this: (Tala is Veliana’s dire wolf, btw.)
“Tahrn,” he finally answers, but the Allmother’s light dims behind his eyes as he speaks it.
Tala lifts her head, tipping it to the side.
But why would he lie about his name? Whatever the reason, it can’t be good…
“Tahrn,” I repeat, tasting the falsehood. “Do you know the power of a name?”
“Life or death?” The smile vanishes from his face, and he takes another bite of the deer jerky. He studies it closely, unwilling to meet my gaze.
My brows furrow, and I stare at him, wondering at his odd answer.
Is he a wanted man?
Yet again, a strange little shiver dances down my spine, defying all reason.
But… A wanted man beneath the rule of Paikon? That might not be… entirely bad.
“In some cases, I suppose it could be a matter of life or death.” Taking a deep breath, I extoll the true purpose of our names. “Surnames tie the energy of one to those of others. The Allmother laces people together with names. When we Kin are sealed, we inherit each other’s names and are tied to each other’s families. Children inherit blended names. Only the High Seal is an exception.”
A bolt of lightning flashes outside, a mimicry of that which tingled across my skin when our hands brushed.
Stop thinking about it.
Thunder rumbles outside. I wait it out before speaking, giving myself a moment to gather my thoughts.
Glancing at him, I continue, “The Vierna name is always handed down whole, maintaining a perfect connection throughout the Rising line, and a blended surname of all the Sealed forebears accompanies it.”
Under his breath, the stranger says, “Veliana Vierna Alaken.”
I nod, surprised that he knows all three of my names.
“Your kind weigh and measure bonds. The surname which affords them more power is kept, and the other is discarded. Names and power divide your land.”
He finally meets my gaze, and his mouth falls open at my assessment of his country. But he nods, unable to deny it.
Self-conscious about my rambling, I bring myself around to the point, “Given names are different. When a child is named, the Allmother braids their given name into the core of their energy. Denying your given name denies your energy, dimming your connection to the Allmother.”
I watch his chest rise with a sharp breath and tell myself that I’m only measuring his reaction. But even after he exhales, my eyes linger in the hollows of his collarbones, just barely visible, peeking out at the open collar of his shirt.
He nods slowly, and little drops of rainwater fall from his hair. Outside, the rain slows, and the winds die down.
“Now, knowing the power that your name holds, knowing how it hurts your energy to deny it, who are you?”
Jun chooses which name advances them politically when they’re sealed (married). But in abandoning a surname, the rope connecting them to those others in the Allmother’s realm is severed, cutting them off from others in their community and in an indirect way, from Her.
Which leaves more room for Aia to move into their hearts and control them.
Preorder Allmother Rising here.
Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.
Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.
Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).