Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.
Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl—Gul—in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance—and discovers a magic he never expected to find.
Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort…a world with secrets deadlier than their own.
He pointed to a scroll that spelled out the Code of Asha hanging on a nearby wall. A system developed by the first queen of Ambar, the code declared that every human, regardless of gender, or magical heritage, must be treated with honor and respect. Originating first in Ambar, the code spread across Svapnalok before the Great War. It had been our kingdom’s greatest contribution to the united empire.
“You go too far, Savak ji!” the schoolmaster exclaimed. “How dare you question my honor!”
Ma finally put an end to what might have been a major shouting match between the two men by fervently apologizing to the schoolmaster and pulling my father out of the classroom.
Later that evening, when she found me crying at home, Ma gave me a warm hug. “Don’t be sad, my child. Look at the positive side. This way, you get a reprieve from five more tedious years of school.”
“You don’t mean that,” I said in a thick voice. “You were disappointed. Don’t lie to me, Ma.”
Ma sighed, not confirming nor denying the statement. “The sky goddess works in mysterious ways. Perhaps she has a reason for keeping your magic hidden.”
“Can we pray to Prophet Zaal or Sant Javer instead? How about the earth god from Prithvi or the fire goddess from Jwala? Maybe the sea god from Samudra—”
“Shhhhhh, my girl. We are from Ambar, a land named after the sky itself. Our souls are linked to the goddess who lives up there, the goddess who gave birth to Asha, our first queen. We do not share the same sort of affinity to the gods and the goddess from the other kingdoms, or to human prophets.”
“That’s not true!” I protest. “Several children at my school pray to the fire goddess. And nearly as many follow the teachings of Prophet Zaal!” The Zaalians, as I knew, didn’t believe in the gods at all, but in the raw power of magic alone. I didn’t really understand how praying to a prophet would help me, but I was willing to give anything a shot.
“Yes, people do pray to other gods and prophets, but you are different, my daughter,” Ma told me, her eyes bright, more intense than I’d seen them before. “Ten years ago, I prayed to the sky goddess for a child, and she answered my prayers by giving me you. Your connection to her will always be stronger than to any other deity.”
Yet, in the months that followed, the sky goddess never spoke to me, never responded to my prayers or pleas to strengthen my magic. By the time I turned ten, I stopped praying to her altogether.
Where are you, Sky Goddess? I think now, looking heavenward. Anger tempers my grief for a brief moment. Why didn’t you protect my parents?