Amenkor, city of legend, a trading port through which the riches of many lands passed. At its height, Amenkor had been a center of wealth and culture, a place where those of many different backgrounds coexisted in peace and prosperity. Then, a millennium ago, Amenkor was caught in the White Fire, a mysterious force that swept across the land spreading madness, drought, famine, and disease in its wake. With the passing of that first Fire, the ruling Mistress of the era had been found dead on the steps leading up to the palace. And since that time the city had begun a slow, inexorable downward spiral.
Now the Dredge--the bustling market street that snaked between the slums and the prosperous center of the city--marked the dividing line between plenty and poverty; between safety and peril; between those who could walk their streets without fear and those who dwelled in the shadows preying upon the helpless and unwary even as they were preyed upon themselves.
Varis had learned the art of survival as a very young child, when an unexpected act of violence tore her away from her mother's loving protection. Then, when the White Fire blasted through Amenkor for the second time, Varis-- along with the entire city--had been trapped in this unstoppable blaze of power. And for this child of the streets and alleys, for Amenkor itself, everything changed.
Though the current Mistress had continued to reign from the Skewed Throne, Amenkor's decline seemed to escalate as the Dredge and the slums claimed more and more of the city and its population.
And once beyond the Dredge, few ever escaped back to more civilized sections. But for Varis the chance unexpectedly presented itself when a guardsman of the Skewed Throne named Erick--one of the elite assassins known as Seekers--enlisted her to work for him, first as a spy and tracker, and later as a trained assassin herself, meting out the Mistress's justice to the worst criminals plaguing the city. Yet gradually, because she had a gift for "Seeing" the true nature of people, Varis began to realize that something was wrong, that some of those marked for elimination were not guilty, not dangerous to others around them. But how could the Mistress be mistaken? Trust in the all-knowing, all-seeing justice and wisdom of their ruler was the very foundation of Amenkor's society.
And then one fateful day, Varis claimed a life that took her beyond the law, and suddenly there was nowhere safe for her in the Dredge. There was only one place left to flee to--into the heart of Amenkor itself.
There, in the center of the city, where the wealthiest citizens dwelled, Varis would face her harshest challenges and greatest opportunities. For whether she knew it or not, she had not escaped the White Fire unscathed. It had marked her for its own, and in the high city, she would either find her destiny or meet her doom...
Fifteen hundred years ago, the legendary trading city of Amenkor faced a seemingly unstoppable threat that appeared out of nowhere to attack and destroy city after city along the Frigean coast. Only a masterful working of magic could turn back this devastating invasion. And so the Seven Adepts combined their power and knowledge to create the Skewed Throne. Since that time Amenkor had been ruled by the individual who held the Throne, and down through the centuries the city had prospered and that ancient threat had been all but forgotten.
Then, a millennium ago, Amenkor was caught in the White Fire, a mysterious force that swept across the land spreading madness, drought, famine, and disease in its wake. With the passing of that first Fire, the ruling Mistress of the era had been found dead on the steps leading up to the palace. And since that time the city had begun a slow, inexorable downward spiral.
Varis had learned the art of survival as a very young child in the slums of Amenkor. And when the mysterious White Fire swept through the city for the second time in a millennium, Varis had survived that as well. But she had been changed by the Fire’s spell, and she was not the only denizen of Amenkor marked by the White Fire. Eryn, Mistress of the Skewed Throne, had continued to reign over the city after the Fire’s passing. Yet from that moment, Amenkor’s decline had escalated, and Eryn herself seemed to hover on the edge of madness.
As Amenkor continued to deteriorate, Varis came to the attention of some of the most powerful people in the city, people who could see her unique potential. And she found herself transformed from gutterscum to unofficial Seeker to bodyguard to assassin. Yet none of her skills could save her from a destiny she would never have wished for or imagined.
After a confrontation that perhaps no one else could have survived, Varis became the new Mistress of the Skewed Throne. Untrained, unprepared, and not certain who she could trust, Varis took the Throne at the most perilous point in Amenkor’s long history. The city was on the brink of starvation, thanks to a fire that had destroyed most of the warehouse district, and the trading ships sent out to bring back the supplies needed to feed the city had disappeared without a trace. And both Varis and Eryn were obsessed with a vision only they had shared—a vision of Amenkor invaded by an unknown enemy, the harbor watch towers destroyed, wrecked ships sinking in waters stained red with blood, even as the city itself was engulfed in flames...
The city of Amenkor has stood for well over a thousand years as one of the premier trading centers in the world. Ruled by the Mistress of the Skewed Throne, Amenkor has weathered attacks by invaders, and the madness, drought, famine, and disease unleashed by the White Fire, which has swept over the land twice, the first time a millennium ago, and the second within the last decade. Though Amenkor has just withstood another devastating invasion, the city's paid a terrible price both in the loss of lives and destruction in the city itself.
In Amenkor's time of greatest need, Varis--raised in the slums of the city, and trained not only to survive but to kill at need--unwillingly becomes the ruler of the city, the new Mistress of the Skewed Throne. Untrained, unprepared, and not certain who she can trust, Varis takes the Throne at one of the most perilous points in Amenkor's long history. The city is on the brink of starvation, and the trading ships sent out to bring back supplies needed to feed the city have disappeared without a trace. Both Varis and Eryn, the former Mistress, are obsessed with a vision they alone share of Amenkor invaded by an unknown enemy, the harbor watchtowers destroyed, wrecked ships sinking in waters stained red with blood, even as the city itself is engulfed in flames. . . .
Then their vision comes true, and, forced to draw on all of Amenkor's remaining resources, both ordinary and magical, Varis must fight a desperate battle for the city's survival against these ruthless invaders known as the Chorl. But victory is not without its price. And perhaps that price is too high, as the very heart and soul of Amenkor's power, the Skewed Throne, is irrevocably damaged--totally drained of the magic, knowledge, life force, and memories of previous rulers.
The city's last hope lies with its sometime ally, the city of Venitte, rumored to be home to the only throne that is twin in power to Amenkor's, the two created at the same time by a magical working which no one can now duplicate.
With the threat of the Chorl still hanging over them, Varis has no choice but to reach out to Venitte. Yet she and her people are not the only ones looking toward Venitte. The invaders are on the march, and whether Venitte will fare any better against the Chorl than Amenkor has remains to be seen...
All contents are copyright of Joshua Palmatier, 2017.