Authors: Licia Troisi
: Rool’s daughter.
: girl from Zalenia.
: capital of the Land of Fire.
: nymph, queen of the Land of Water.
: Nihal’s childhood friend.
: pirate, Aires’s lover.
: boy from Zalenia.
: dwarf, ancient king of the Land of Fire, Ido’s grandfather.
: elder member of the Council of Sorcerers.
: Sorcerer from Zalenia.
: cabin boy aboard Rool’s ship.
: dwarf, warrior in the Tyrant’s army, Ido’s brother.
: village near the whirlpool.
: innkeeper from Sennar’s hometown in the Land of the Sea.
: Dragon Knight, Soana’s lover, died in battle.
: sorcerer from the Land of the Sun, was Sennar’s teacher in preparation for joining the Council.
: Fen’s dragon.
: king of the Land of Water.
: young sorcerer from the Land of the Wind.
: dwarf, Dragon Knight, and Nihal's teacher. Dola’s brother.
: Sennar’s sister.
: squire from the Land of Night.
: capital of the Land of Water.
: Nihal’s adoptive father, Soana’s brother, killed by Fammin.
: soldier of the Army of the Free Lands.
: capital of the Land of the Sun.
: Kala’s daughter, Sennar’s niece.
: soldier of the Army of the Free Lands.
: bounty hunter.
: general of the Herzli Forest camp.
: historian and sorcery, the Tyrant’s right arm for many years.
: Ido and Dola’s father, king of the Land of Fire.
: village elder from the Vaneries.
: former king of the half-elves, Leven’s son, who brought forth a time of peace following the Two Hundred Year’s War.
: base commander in the Land of the Sun.
: king of Zalenia, the Underworld.
: warrior woman, Dragon Knight, the last half-elf in the Overworld.
: Nihal’s dragon.
: girl from Zalenia.
: Dragon Knight, Nihal’s sword fighting instructor at the Academy.
: ambassador from Zalenia.
: merchant from Zalenia.
: General of the Order of Dragon Knights of the Land of the Sun.
: elf, leader of the community of woodsprites in the Forest.
: Supreme General of the Order of Dragon Knights from the Land of the Sun.
: dwarf, former member of the Council of Sorcerers.
: Dragon Knight.
: sorcerer from the Tyrant’s forces. Flogisto’s former student.
: pirate ship captain, Aires’s father.
: county in Zalenia.
: tower city in the Land of Wind.
: dwarf, member of the Council of Sorcerers, representative from the Land of the Sun.
: capital of the Land of Days.
: member of the Council of Sorcerers, representative for the Land of the Wind, Nihal’s best friend.
: Nihal’s true name, meaning “the Consecrated.”
: god of Fire and War.
: sorceress, former member of the Council of Sorcerers, Sennar’s first magic teacher, Livon’s sister.
: young queen of the Land of the Sun.
: nymph, a member of the Council of Sorcerers, representative of the Land of Water.
: Aster, had been a young member of the Council of Sorcerers, was Reis’s lover.
: islands on the way to the Underworld.
: count from Zalenia.
: Ido's dragon.
: the Underworld.
: capital of Zalenia.
My name is Nihal. I grew up in Salazar, a tower city in the Land of the Wind. My family was Livon, the finest armorer in all eight lands of the Overworld. He was my adoptive father, the person who trained me to use a sword, who taught me what life is.
I owe him everything. My childhood was spent at his side, among swords, shields, and armor, fostering my growing desire to become a warrior.
For many years I lived peacefully, unaware of the meaning behind my blue hair and pointed ears.
Even so, for as long as I can remember, I heard voices, suffered recurring nightmares populated with pained and contorted faces whispering indecipherable words.
Then, one autumn evening, the Tyrant’s army arrived. I saw them advancing across the plains outside of Salazar, a black sea crushing and swallowing everything in its path.
Of my life before that day, nothing remains.
The city was captured and burned, my friends slaughtered, my father pierced with a sword before my eyes. He died protecting me from two Fammin, brutal monsters created by the Tyrant. I killed them both. I was sixteen years old.
Though I was good with a sword, I wasn’t good enough. I was injured, and when I awoke from the torpor of my long recovery, it was to pain and desperation.
I learned that I am the last member of the entire population of half-elves, annihalated by the Tyrant years earlier. I was only a newborn when the sorceress Soana, Livon’s sister, discovered me in a village of the Land of the Sea. My mother’s lifeless body had protected me from the rage of the Fammin. I was the only survivor of the massacre.
From then on, I began to change. I was no longer a happy little girl, but a young woman who’d grown up too fast. Nightmares continually tormented me, and I swore I’d do everything in my power to bring down the Tyrant. It was then that I decided to become a Dragon Knight.
Getting into the Academy wasn’t easy—I had to win a spot by the strength of my sword. It was Raven, the Supreme General of the Order of Dragon Knights, who chose the ten warriors I would have to battle before becoming a student. I defeated them, one by one.
At the Academy, I spent a year in solitude: the other students avoided me because I was a girl, because I was different. Their distrustful gazes followed me wherever I went.
At first it pained me. But soon I became impervious to their hate, to suffering, to everything. All that mattered was avenging my father, my people.
My nights were crowded with spirits urging me on toward vengeance, my days an endless stream of rigorous training. I wanted to become a weapon, devoid of pain or emotion.
I wanted to annhilate myself.
After the initial phase of training came the trial of my first battle. That day, on the battlefield, my mind emptied. My pain dissolved. Everything faded from reality but my black crystal sword—Livon’s last gift to me—and the blood of the Fammin. I fought, I killed, I was merciless toward my enemies. The generals were pleased with me, and I was convinced I’d achieved my goal.
But that wasn’t the case. That same day, Fen died. He was a Dragon Knight, and Soana’s lover. And to me he was a hero; I was in love with him. It was the one emotion I had left, my last link to life. When I saw his ruined corpse, my devotion to war became absolute.
My training complete, I was entrusted to Ido, a Dragon Knight and member of the dwarf race. It was Ido who planted the doubts in my mind: Was what I was doing honorable? Was vengeance a sufficient reason to fight?
At long last, I was assigned my dragon. Winning his trust was no simple task; he was a war veteran and had already belonged to another knight. He refused to approach me. He’d had enough of flying. His passion for battle had faded when his previous owner was killed. But I sensed we were two of a kind, each of us alone and thick-skinned. He was my dragon. He is my dragon. His name is Oarf.
During it all, Sennar was always there at my side. We were practically children when we met, and we grew up together, laughed, dreamed, and suffered together. We fought for the same cause.
I think of him often.
Sennar, my best friend. Sennar the sorcerer. Sennar the councilor.
I don’t know if he’s reached the Underworld yet, or if I’ll ever see him again.
At our last meeting, we parted in a way I’ll never forget.
I live every day with the pain of his absence.
During the Two Hundred Years War, many inhabitants of the Overworld, weary of the constant fighting, abandoned their Lands to live in the sea. The last contact with them dates back one hundred and fifty years to the time when the Land of Water and the Land of the Wind joined forces to invade the Underworld. They were guided in this endeavor by a map they’d received from an inhabitant of the underwater realm who’d returned to live above ground. The invasion ended tragically. Not one survivor returned to recount what had taken place. Since then, nothing more has been heard of that continent, and all memory of how to reach it has been lost.
—Excerpt from the Annals of the Council of Sorcerers
Thus is established the right of the king of the Land of the Wind to safeguard this copy of the map to be used in the military expedition against the Underworld.
—Excerpt from a parchment bearing the seal of the Land of Water, found in the Royal Library of Makrat