Spark of Defiance
Games of Fire Trilogy Book 1
by Autumn M. Birt
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Wandering to avoid memories of lost friends and past actions, Zhao reluctantly returns home to fulfill a promise to his sister. And to proclaim to the elders of his people that their treatment of Air Elementals is wrong. His homecoming is met with hostility but not for the reason he expects. It is far worse.
To protect his gifted niece from a life of hardship and subjugation like the one he endured, Zhao must rescue his sister. Even if she doesn’t wish it. Quickly caught once again in events greater than he can handle alone, Zhao struggles to prevent a personal conflict from erupting into a larger battle. But friends are distant, and more than a few are wrestling with new problems of their own.
Welcome BACK to the world of Myrrah full of elemental magic and epic fantasy adventure! A new trilogy begins in Games of Fire with book 1, Spark of Defiance.
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LOSS OF POWER
"You will not have my niece or my sister!" he yelled at the Tiak Elder.
Phet swiveled his head to locate Zhao amid the dark grass while his horse continued its stomping dance as the ground under its hooves rolled like solid waves. "You are not one to stand against me, boy," Phet replied. "I do not care what you think your abilities make you or what you have done. Among your people, you are an outcast: unwanted and unwelcome."
Zhao launched the fire filling him at Phet without thought. The spout of flames shot toward the Elder, nearly touching the frightened horse's hide before the Fire Elemental ripped control away from Zhao. The Fire Elemental had jumped from his uncontrollable horse. But the ground was a less safe place than a wild horse's back. Zhao would have tried not to hurt the horse.
Zhao pulled at the earth under the Fire Elemental's feet, calling for the grass to grow around him at the same time. The crumbling earth broke apart, but the living roots held the soil in clumps, giving the man time to leap aside. Only a few tendrils of grass reached for him.
The grass around Zhao hissed as it dried and ignited in flames, keeping Zhao from renewing his attack on the Fire Elemental. Instead, he pulled at the moisture in the air and soil to snuff the growing inferno. The flames evaporated the water faster than he could call it. Zhao yanked at the threads of moisture, but they slipped from him. The fire erupted to greater heights.
Zhao pushed aside momentary panic. The Fire Elemental was strong, but Zhao could control fire too. He pushed the flames toward his enemy with both wind and will. Kattan caught the gale, unsteadily, but enough that his gust rushed into a wall of unmoving air as if it hit a building. Instead of spreading, the fire roared upwards and toward him. Flames brushed his skin, leaving heat and blisters as it reached to embrace him.
Zhao floundered backward through the fire ringing him. Hot cinders burned his feet and clawed at the fabric of his pants. As if the Fire Elemental mocked him, every time he tried to calm the inferno that touched his clothing, the sparks of flame grew. Falling through the last of the fire, Zhao snuffed the flames with his hands, momentarily hidden by darkness in the unburnt grass. He stayed low and unmoving, calming the fear surging through him. His skin smarted where sweat beaded against blisters and cracked skin.
The respite didn't last long. The nearby flames steadied from the fits and spurts of the moment before. They shed light across the dark steppe.
"There!" Phet pointed toward Zhao.
Fire hissed into life around him. Zhao launched himself skyward, but as he transformed into a bird, the world felt out of balance: too full of heat and earth and air. He tumbled from the sky, a man again and one for which water nor spirit would answer. Half the world felt dead to him. But the brief flight carried him a few feet from the flames. This time, he did not try to control them but scrambled backward calling on the element he was born to.
Zhao pulled invisibility around himself, thankful that it was an aspect of air.
"Find him!" Phet demanded of the two Elementals. "I will show his sister his singed corpse so that she knows the price of disobedience."
For the first time since he was a boy, Zhao felt helpless. His skin tore if he moved, sending waves of nausea and pain through him. He felt so full of fire that he was surprised he didn't ignite, doing the Fire Elemental's job for Phet.
Nearby, Kattan turned slowly, gaze sweeping the dark grassland. He stopped, looking at a point far too close to where Zhao crouched.
Zhao's wounds were stinging and calling on power cost more than he could remember it having before. The feeling was humbling and terrifying. As Kattan raised an arm, hand pointing his way, Zhao pulled at the torn fragments of his power and created an illusion of himself running. It wasn't perfect. The fake Zhao ran through the grass stems, rather than sending them rippling. But he didn't have the strength for perfection.
"He is there!" Kattan yelled.
"I have him," the Fire Elemental answered. Flames ignited around the image of Zhao running through the darkness. Both Phet and the Fire Elemental moved to follow it.
"No, Rekyah" Kattan said, grabbing the Fire Elemental's arm. "He is still there in the grass. I can sense it."
Phet snorted, but Rekyah hesitated. He raised a hand swirling with flames, scrutinizing the darkness. "Where?"
Zhao pushed backward, scrambling as he sent three illusions running in different directions while he made a fourth. But the images were as weak as he felt. One faded within ten yards. The fire had burnt his shoes and the grass slashed at blisters as he stumbled barefoot, each step painful enough to bring tears to his eyes. Still he ran. But not fast enough.
Phet chased him down with his horse, snatching Zhao by a handful of his hair. "What is wrong, boy? Not as strong as you think you were?" Phet hissed at him, drawing a dagger as he pulled Zhao's neck straight by yanking on his hair.
Zhao stood firm, no longer struggling against this man he hated. If this were his last moment, he was not going to show weakness. And he was still an Air Elemental. He pulled the air from Phet's lungs.
Gates of Fire and Earth
Games of Fire Trilogy Book 2
Named Guardian of the Elemental Spheres, Lavinia seeks the lost gates to the spirit realm and their ancient guardians. But some of the guardians have left their duties and those that have stayed may prove as dangerous as her enemy, whose wrath threatens the world. To end an ancient punishment inflicted on them by the Goddess for their role in a forgotten war, the Ashanti will conquer this world and that of spirit to gain power over death.
Lavinia must close the gates to stop the Ashanti, even though by doing so she risks ending all elemental powers. And the act has consequences greater than the ancient guardians imagine.
But one gate has a new guardian as well as the old, and the last time he saw Lavinia, he tried to kill her before she stole his power. And he’s been seeking revenge …
Continue this epic fantasy journey begun in book 1 of the Games of Fire trilogy, Spark of Defiance. Friendships are tested as what is sacrificed is more than some are willing to give. Welcome back to the world of Myrrah and meet the Elementals of Fire, Earth, Water, Air, and Spirit who shape it. Pick up book 2 of the Games of Fire trilogy, the Gates of Fire & Earth, today!
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Ci'erra clasped the Sphere of Fire that she wore on a chain around her neck and nodded. "Deep, maybe fifty yards or so."
"Where do you think the guardian is?" Rameth asked. Another large bubble erupted near him. He jumped sideways as lava peppered the rocks in scorching globs.
"I don't sense anything made of fire," Ci'erra said. "So much for fire sylphs dancing."
"Niri cannot sense Isha," Darag said.
Ci'erra cast a glance his way but said nothing when she saw the serious expression he wore. She frowned. "Maybe—"
"Why haven't you died?"
Lavinia jumped at the sudden voice, loud enough to cast echoes over the hissing fumes and spitting lava pool. But the caldera remained silent in its blaze of heat.
"Fyfthal," Ci'erra whispered.
"All others who approach my domain die to offer their flesh to me."
The lava pool bubbled faster, flinging bits of melted stone airward. Lavinia stepped sideways, moving to higher ground. There the air was less noxious even though she moved beyond Zhao's funnel. From the center of the pool, a black rock bobbed to the surface. Another rocky island appeared, then three more. As a dozen small spikes emerged from the red ooze, Lavinia realized what rose in the volcano. They were horns ridging a massive dragon's head.
Lava as bright as the flaming orb of a setting sun slid down black scales edged in fire as Fyfthal's head rose above the boiling surface. His eyes were the color of magma, too bright to stare into. Next to her, Darag swore under his breath at Fyfthal's size. If Isha was immense, Fyfthal was a mountain next to her.
Zhao, Rameth, and Ci'erra scrambled to join Lavinia on the higher rise of the ridge, though it offered little protection from the monster that approached with blazing eyes and black scales outlined in the glowing red of flames. Their remaining weapons not lost in the fire clanging on rock, Lavinia felt the weight of her sword at her belt and looked at the rising monster before her. At least it didn't matter the spears had burned. They would have been useless against the fiery creature before them.
"He's Mhyrah's chosen," Zhao whispered in rapid words that were barely audible. "Just like Isha."
"Why do you not offer yourself to me?"
Rameth looked at Ci'erra and Lavinia with panic in his wide eyes. Zhao kept mumbling to himself, repeating the same phrase, and Ci'erra seemed entranced. Darag kept calm but looked nervous. That scared her the most. Lavinia took a deep breath.
"Isha and Yminnyla sent us," Lavinia yelled. Zhao jumped a foot.
At the sound of her voice, Fyfthal halted. He cocked his head with its starburst ring of horns. "You speak? What rarities you are. From where in my realm have you come?"
"Zhao, connect with the air," Darag whispered to the young Air Elemental next to him. "Feel the sky. Center yourself."
Lavinia's mouth dried as Darag calmed the only other elemental with them who could transform, who could become a dragon. This was not supposed to be a fight.
"Mhyrah, the Goddess, tasked you with guarding this gate," Lavinia said.
Fyfthal's curiosity changed to anger. "I am the only god here!"
Waves of lava crashed against the black shore. Sparks and flaming spray lit the darkness. Darag pushed it away. Fyfthal growled, the sound a rising hiss like a building inferno. He lowered his snout and snorted air as hot as the desert at Darag.
Lavinia's heart beat double as the creature slid closer. "Ci'erra," she whispered. "Minna said Fythfal would like you." Lavinia begged the Fire Elemental to risk her life.
Ci'erra, eyes so wide Lavinia could see their bright blueness in the dim light, scrambled higher up the rim to a large rock. She held out a hand. Fire erupted from her palm. Fyfthal stopped. The motion of the lava ceased as well. Stillness settled like heavy gas across the caldera. The air baked with heat.
The word hissed in Lavinia's mind with energy so bright it left her sun-blind.
"Zhao." Darag spoke the one word with a snap.
"Only I control fire!"
Fyfthal snapped forward, spraying lava as he lunged for Ci'erra. Ci'erra held her ground, the fire in her hand arcing to spark and twirl around where she stood with chin thrust high.
"No!" Lavinia yelled as Fyfthal hit the rim wall, spraying boulders and lava with the thundering impact.
A New Goddess
Games of Fire Trilogy Book 3
For nearly destroying the world in an ancient war, the Ashanti were cursed by the Goddess Mhyrah with lifespans of less than a decade. To regain normal lives for his people, Beh’kana, the Ashanti King, will conquer death by gaining control of the source of all elemental magic: the spirit realm. Even if he must burn the world to do so. After all, he already killed his closest friend to gain the Ashanti throne.
But his defeat at the Earth Gate nearly cost him his life.
Lavinia did not seek to be named Guardian of the Spheres when she touched each to gain control of elemental power. But now that choice has propelled her to being the key to stop the Ashanti. She controls the gates that allow magic into the world. And she must close them or the Ashanti will cross into the spirit realm and gain power beyond imagination, enough to enslave or destroy the world they once sought to rule.
But with the closure of each gate, an elemental power is lost.
Only two gates remain open. Magic is faint. Just when the fight grows the most desperate. To win needed help, Lavinia has promised a man who once tried to kill her best friend that she would open the gates and restore magic again.
It might give them the power to fight the Ashanti or it will give their enemy the world.
Discover the end to the epic fantasy journey begun in book 1 of the Games of Fire trilogy, Spark of Defiance, and continued through book 2, Gates of Fire & Earth. The struggle for the power over life and death as well as all the elements comes to a dramatic conclusion. Can a cruel ancient punishment be ended without destroying magic or the world? Welcome back to the world of Myrrah and meet the Elementals of Fire, Earth, Water, Air, and Spirit who shape it. Pick up book 3 of the Games of Fire trilogy, A New Goddess, today!
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“Go to the Air Gate.”
Zhao directed his panicked thought to Khodan, packing as many images into the message as he could. Overlaying the promise to see Lavinia to the Spirit Gate and that Khodan was to take Niri and Ci’erra to the Air Gate, was a flash of how close Auyrwayn was to Zhao. There was no time to argue.
Zhao wove a slalom course through sea stacks and beneath arches too small to fit Auyrwayn’s massive wings. Spray lashed against his belly as he careened off a granite pillar, shuddering the rock tower as he used it to launch himself forward. Pulverized stone pelted him as Auyrwayn crushed it in a swipe to grab him.
“How close do you need to be to shut the gate?”
Lavinia clung to his neck where she’d managed to scramble as they attempted to outrace Auyrwayn. Power tingled across his scales as Lavinia called on the sphere again. For a moment, he felt the unbroken length of the sky as it curved from sight. And he felt Auyrwayn’s tempestuous presence far too close behind.
“Closer than this,” Lavinia replied. The tingle faded as did Zhao’s sense of Auyrwayn. “We need to get to at least the next island over and Zhao… you shouldn’t be in the air when I close the gate.”
The sickening flip to his stomach nearly crashed Zhao into the waves. His tail smacked the water as he tumbled. Auyrwayn raced by overhead in a gust of wind, unable to slow his flight so quickly. Zhao ducked talons that burned cold gouges into his scales. He leapt airward back the way he’d just come.
“I can fight him with the sphere the way Behk’sah fought Grakkethi.”
“No!” Zhao risked their lives, but the thought of killing or permanently injuring the Air Dragon panicked him more than the threat. But he couldn’t make it across the open expanse to the next island. At least not in the air. He flicked his wings and raced over the sand and surf to deeper water. “Hold your breath,” he warned Lavinia before transforming once more. As a sea serpent, he dove.
The world slowed. Zhao had never changed into something that swam before. Like a long ribbon, he wove his form deeper. The surface erupted behind him as claws racked the water’s surface. But Auyrwayn did not follow into an element he did not control. They had escaped, for now.
A bubble of air clung to his back as Lavinia used the sphere to create space so that she could breathe. Zhao knifed through the water, midway between surface and bottom of sand, coral reefs, waving sea fronds, and myriads of fish.
“Tell me where to go and I will get us under the gate.”
“I might not be able to close it from down here.” Lavinia whispered and thought. He felt the tug of the Air Gate to its sphere through her and swam faster. Overhead, the shimmering moonlight filtering through the water warped as something flew between him and the lesser moon.
“Auyrwayn follows us. Be ready to close the gate as soon as I leave the water.”
Because of her open thoughts, Zhao felt the tremor of fear that washed over Lavinia. “I can’t do it fast. I might close the gate too far.” Memories of the Fire Gate swept through Lavinia’s mind.
“Yes, you can.” Zhao arced around the island, avoiding the pull of the waves sweeping upward to crash against rocks. “Part of the sphere is in the Temple in the Clouds. You can’t close it too much. Like the Earth Gate, but better because the remainder is not close.” He remembered the glimpse he’d had of Behk’sah holding part of the Sphere of Earth, clutching the pieces in his fist as the gate closed.
“And it isn’t held by our enemy.” Lavinia’s thoughts held shaky amusement. She placed her palm against his scales. “Zhao, thank you.”
He knew she meant for staying. He swallowed fears he didn’t want her to feel. “Thank me when we are back in Solaire.”
Discover the world of Myrrah- full of elemental magic and epic fantasy adventure with the Rise of the Fifth Order trilogy!
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Do you want to get lost in a story?
That is the part of the charm of fantasy stories, isn’t it? To become so immersed that you feel like you could take a wrong turn on your walk back to work and end up in your favorite world because you know it THAT well and it feels so real.
In many ways, new worlds that held magic and adventure along with strange races and interesting characters were why I first started reading fantasy stories. I wanted to find a portal to a new place in the worst way. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, forty minutes from anywhere and with Amish neighbors, just wasn’t that exciting. It certainly couldn’t compete with dragons, magic, and sword fights!
With that sort of love for amazing and realistic fantasy worlds, I really challenged myself when I set out to write my first fantasy series. It had to be real, astounding, and something different that was wholly mine.
I wanted to create something that wowed me as much as Pern when I first read Anne McCaffrey or Valdemar when I discovered Mercedes Lackey. If I was going to write a story, I might as well write the one I would have loved the best if I found it on a shelf.
The World of Myrrah grew out of a love affair for sailing as much as a Mediterranean style painting that hung in my office building. But it became so much more.
From the ancient archipelago where centuries of rain have worn the marble streets into smooth, solid paths that sweep to deep harbors (possibly taking along unwary pedestrians during strong storms!) to the desert city of Rah Hahsessah where the markets come alive at night as the temperature cools and goods are unload from ships docked at the canals that plunge deep into the heart of this sprawling metropolis, this world is real to me.
The World of Myrrah is dominated by water with far flung towns and cities accessible best by sailboat. Dangerous storms roll through the sea, making the duties of Wind and Water Elementals challenging as they guide ships. In a world so isolated, strange cultures have arisen, each shaped by the landscape and traditions needed to survive in such a place.
On the steppes, the nomadic Nifail tribe call each other across the rolling grasslands with chirps and whistles. There the smell of damp grass, horse, and cooking fires will great you when you leave your tent at dusk. I enjoy the strict but balanced life of the Tiak, who live along the bay with swift tides. And I think I really need to visit the marsh village of Ashi’shinai again with its reclusive people who tithe their elemental children to the dragon Isha as a thanks for her protection.
But most people want to visit with the Kith though.
I understand why. When the heroes of my story arrive in the forests to the north, I’d initially thought the people they found there would be elves. Might be elves? But I didn’t want them to follow all the stereotypes of elves: a little snobbish, reclusive, and temperamental. The Twilight Series aside, it is usually impossible to recreate a standard fantasy race!
And my goal from the beginning was to stay away from a recycled worlds that could be traced back to Middle Earth or the Dragonlance novels. There are no castles, no knights, no ogres, no dwarves, and, apparently, there was not going to be any elves in my story either. Instead there is something new to explore in the Temple of Dust and mysteries hidden in the Temple of Ice. And so, without elves, I had to create, at least, one new race too.
The Kith, as powerful as they are, are soul-bound to a tree at birth. They live as long as their tree, which, with trees this big, can be centuries. But if you’ve ever been so attached to a place that your soul resides there, you can understand how difficult it is for the Kith to leave their forest. Which makes it a little hard on some the main characters who get thrust into the world.
Looking back at everything I wanted to do and created in this world, it is amazing I ever wrote one word of a novel and didn’t just spend years world building. But as of this January, I’ve written not one book but six, two complete trilogies, that take place in my fantasy world of Myrrah.
And after nearly 700,000 words, you can say this world has become my secondary home… as well as an adopted one for a few of the fans of the books, who say things like:
“The places she describes get real in your mind as you read.”
"Some of the best world building I've read... The story was fantastic and the world itself was beautifully created and you can just picture yourself there beside the characters."
At least I can say I succeeded in my goal of creating a world where you can get lost, at least for a little while. I wouldn’t mind if it were a bit longer though. Who wouldn’t complain if the elevator doors happen to open to a new universe? It sounds a lot better than most workdays!
For me, I’ll happily take an exit into Myrrah. Hope to see you there!
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