If you’ve read the prequel to the Divine Warriors series, Amena’s Rise to Stardom!, then you know that Amena has a few regrets and dark secrets in her past. In the new book I’m writing, the third in the series, some of that past is starting to catch up with her.
Spoiler alert for the prequel!
In particular, you know that Amena’s biggest rival in the Star Search competition was a girl named Rinari who Amena had a crush on… and after Amena won, Rinari blew up a temple and died.
It wasn’t just because she was a sore loser. Rinari was another divine warrior and she was following the orders of a goddess (Tamarau, the goddess of the arts). I get a lot of reader comments about this story’s ending because of how harsh Rinari’s fate was. It’s true, but it’s an important part of showing that the gods are not always trustworthy, or have humanity’s best interests at heart, or doing the right thing.
The divine warriors are caught up in a fight between the gods. And to the gods, humans are just tools to get what they want. They don’t really care how big the body count gets if they win. You’ll see how this theme develops throughout the series.
In today’s excerpt, there’s a vandal who is destroying religious icons for gods other than Chysa, the sun goddess. But one particular act of destruction is also a message for Amena about her past. It’s more than one-third of a way into the story, so you might get spoilers for earlier parts of the book, but I wanted to share it anyway because this is something I’ve been building up to since the prequel. Oh, and you may recognize the location because The Beautiful Fiddle is the concert hall where Amena performed in book one.
The Destruction of The Beautiful Fiddle
I glanced around, but I had a feeling that we weren’t going to find any of the three. “They must have a way to hide their magic when they want. The trail ends here.” I looked at The Beautiful Fiddle. “But why this spot? If it was a trap, the explosion wasn’t big enough to hurt us.”
Deryt barely glanced up from his scans. “I’m not giving up that easily,” he grumbled. “But my guess is, this theater was another spot that depicted a deity other than Chysa. It’s covered in pictures of Tamarau, the goddess of the arts. If the other girl is actually her champion, she was just trying to defend it.”
Amena sighed. “No, it was a message for me.” She walked in the side door, still standing open from when Ixi and Vynala fell out.
I followed her inside. The destruction of the concert hall’s decorations matched the temple, except here it was all painted murals of Tamarau with her face scratched out.
“It makes sense that Ixi would try to stop this,” Vilqa said, coming in behind us. “She really cares about art. She was helping me improve my sketches of the boats. A good champion for Tamarau.”
I whirled on Vilqa. “Being chosen by a goddess doesn’t mean she’s good or on our side. You don’t really know her. Until we know more about these new warriors, we have to be careful.”
“Tamarau’s champion would never be on our side,” Amena said wistfully.
Vilqa frowned. “What was that about you killing the last one?”
Amena turned her face away. “I’ll explain it later.” She swept back a curtain, revealing the stage. Something was scratched into the wooden surface. “Look, the message for me.”
A copy of Amena’s Rise to Stardom, her memoir, was lying in the middle of the stage. Someone had crossed out the subtitle, “The Youngest Singer on Star Search Wins It All!” On the stage around it, they’d carved the words, “The Singer is a Murder and a Liar. Chysa Will Punish Your Sins.”