I don’t normally have a lot of animals in the forefront of my books, something I’ve only realized recently. They’re there, and they play their role. But only on occasion are they major players in the plot.
Allmother Rising is one of those occasions. This book features animal companions. Specifically…
Mares and bears and wolves, oh my!
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Anyway, the book features companion animals whose energies have been tied to certain families by their goddess as both a gift and a way to further connect them to her. (See this post for more about those ties and the Allmother.)
And these aren’t just normal animals. They’re about two or three times the size of their normal cousins and have increased strength, endurance, and intelligence.
The leaders of Fahn were tied to Bears. The leaders of Jun were tied to Mares. And the leaders of Kin were tied to Dire Wolves.
But now, only Kin retains that connection to their companions.
Though to be fair, Fahn didn’t choose to sever their bond as Jun did.
The people of Jun moved beyond the sacred forest into the plains and the rocky shorelines to the north. But that took them beyond the Allmother’s reach and into the waiting arms of Aia, a greedy, jealous god.
He pushed them to crave power, to crave wealth and ‘progress’ even at the cost of the world around them. They cut down trees without replanting, severing their tie to the Allmother, and he tightened his grip on their hearts.
The Mares, companions to the royal family, were highly coveted. The common people wanted Mares of their own, wanted beasts to do the work of seven normal animals, creatures that could carry them faster, further.
And they became items used to show favor or for trade.
Slowly, the royal family whittled away their connection to the Mares until finally, they traded away the last one and the final bond broke.
But Aia already controlled their hearts, and ensured that they never felt the loss for what it truly was. They saw only the power those trades afforded them, not the connection severed with nature and more importantly, the Allmother’s realm.
After generations of intermingling with normal horses, their wondrous size and stamina diminished, and the great Mares were no more, lost to the greed of Aia and corrupted mortals.
As for the people of Fahn, they revered their bears, treated them well.
Until the Absorption.
In the middle of the night, Jun invaded Fahn lands, burning their homes and cutting down their trees. The leaders were killed, severing the connection and turning the people into refugees. They ran from the fires, from the bloodshed. They hid in Jun, painting their antlers to disguise themselves. They lived in plain sight within the borders of Kin.
And the bears still roam the woods, waiting, hoping for a new connection.
But now, a new king has claimed the throne of Jun, shedding the blood of his family and sending assassins after his nephew to do so. And his sights are set on Kin.
Veliana, the Priestess Rising, loves her dire wolf companion, Tala.
But if Jun absorbs her lands, there may be nothing left of the pack. Or Kin.
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