Book three of the Divine Warriors, Riwenne & the Airship Gambit, is still in its early stages. I’m sharing an excerpt today but I’m warning you that it has spoilers for books one and two, including the ending of book two, so if you haven’t finished them yet, be prepared for some surprises!
You may remember from the first book onward that one of the cornerstones of the empire’s religion is the dawn ceremony. Because they worship the sun goddess above all others, greeting the rising sun and harnessing her power is a huge ritual. It’s mandatory attendance in many temples. (Have you ever had to get up for something at dawn? It’s hard!)
But things have changed since the first book and the old version of the dawn ceremony no longer applies. Riwenne and her friends need to find a new way to express their faith, worshipping all the gods, not just the sun. Read on to find out what’s changed.
The organ music ended and Eberet began the chant in Old Ursan. Traditionally, only high priestesses learned the ancient language. He was trying to teach the rest of us in our spare time, but it was difficult, and we didn’t feel confident enough to join in yet. His deep voice, echoing alone through the vast chamber, was so different from the chorus of women that used to sing.
The rest of us watched the window, waiting for the moment when the sun would appear. In the old ceremony, this used to be when Lyda created a sunstone from Chysa’s power. But we’d sworn never to rely on her magic again.
Green light flashed just as the sun crested the horizon. In unison, we raised our godcrystals, shining with their own power. The rainbow lights united and formed a barrier, shielding us from the sun’s harsh rays.
The organ started playing again, the familiar melody of the morning prayer. I heard paper shuffling as congregants opened the pamphlets to read the new prayer. We’d had the old version memorized since birth, but they needed a reference for the new one.
O Brave Quilla, shine your guiding light
Onto our daily work and devotion
Share the sky with your divine companions
We ask you all for your blessing and protection
Sawycha, cradle our city in your waters
Omer, fill our pantries with your crops
Xiso, feed and clothe us with your herds
Qachmy, give us the bounty of your jungles
Linar, grant us the spark of invention…
The song went on for a long time, naming every deity we knew about, and the list got longer whenever Eberet discovered new names in his research. Tika said it was impossible to list everyone. Myths stated there were five hundred gods, but Tika said this was a metaphor and the gods couldn’t be counted. But we had to try. The gods had been weakened by centuries of neglect, but with our prayers, they would grow stronger. By bolstering as many gods as we could, we’d build our army against Chysa.
For the seven divine warriors, we connected with our chosen deities and channeled the prayers directly to them. Eberet described us as vessels for power, but Nexita said it was more like a conduit and the energy could flow both ways. Eberet and I also held a broader connection open for the other gods.
There were less than three hundred thousand people in Lyndamon since we’d liberated it, compared to over four hundred million in the entire empire. It was only a tiny fraction of the prayers that Chysa received, split among countless gods. And she had several centuries of almost exclusive worship to build up her reserves.
But we prayed with a strength of conviction that I think most imperial citizens didn’t have. Every person in this city had seen what happened when the sun goddess’s priestesses abandoned them, their own minister destroyed the machine which kept the floating city in the sky, and they’d faced the terror of falling to their deaths. When I called on them to pray to other gods, they’d followed my lead, and the gods answered by saving us. Our lives were proof that our prayers mattered.