The Lonely One

Prologue

            Astar was a world abandoned by the gods.

            In times long before, the gods had walked with their people every step of the way. They had guided and made laws; made holy days and celebrations. But the gods were gone.

            And their people had moved on.

            The grand temples of the gods were forgotten; lost on jewelled islands and in dark forests, with time alone still bowing there. It was impossible to believe that the gods had not moved on after seeing the ivy-ridden temples with their crumbling columns and dark, dusty sanctuaries. The people moved on in Astar. In the lands of southern Brea, new, terrible gods were invented and worshipped. They were gods that rose from endless pits in the world's belly and devoured the weak. In the east reaches of Paradur, it was theorized that the gods had never existed. They speculated that the gods were mere inventions of the first people, nothing more than scared and lonely, and in need of something to believe in. In the western Zorayin, the gods were carefully placed aside in memory and left as that—memory. The people of Zorayin kept their holidays but no longer celebrated the gods. They celebrated life and the renewal of the year.

            And in one place—the kingdom of Tavalon in Zorayin's southeast—all the gods were scorned and forgotten but one. In a tall black cathedral in the center of the city Medni, an order of hooded, black-robed priests still worshipped their goddess. In accordance with the wishes of the goddess of anger and war, the priests employed thousands of Hunters—hooded assassins wearing mysterious shadow cloaks—to do the dirty work of Zorayin and beyond. As the Hunters faded into the shadows, they left behind whispers of hatred and fierce fury, while in a smoke-filled room deep within the cathedral in Medni, two empty black eyes smiled.

            In the tall black cathedral, all the gods were forgotten but one: R'naya, the Lonely One.