It’s the beginning of February, and Forging Divinity is nearly ready for publication. I’ve finished formatting the novel and setting it up on CreateSpace. In the last week or so, I’ve reviewed the first pass from my typographer and sent him some feedback. Once the typography is ready, the last stage will be to submit the finished product to Amazon and print test copies to see if they look correct.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on the next novel in the series, which is tentatively titled Stealing Sorcery. It’s very likely that I will actually end up using this title for Book 3, since the plot points that inspired the title may end up migrating their way out of this book and into the next one.

I mentioned that I’m going to begin posting little bits of setting lore on my blog, so here’s a first taste, which focuses on the setting of Orlyn. Like most of my lore documents, it’s written from an in-character perspective from one of the characters in my setting.

Paladin Lieutenant Hastings,

As you requested, I’ve completed some basic research on the current social and political climate in the city of Orlyn. 

At present, Orlyn has two principal forms of government. Ostensibly, the city is currently ruled by Queen Regent Tylan, the wife of the deceased former king, Osric. The pair had a single child, Byron, who is now the crown prince. Byron stands to inherit rulership when he comes of age, but my sources indicate that this may not come to pass. 

Before Osric’s demise, he declared a new local religion – the worship of Edon, a man who called himself the “God of Ascension”. This Edon declared that he had once been mortal, but that he had discovered a secret to divine power, and that he would grant it to others in exchange for years of honest service to the people of the city. He demonstrated several “miracles”, but sadly, we did not have any agents in the city at the time to observe them. Most of the feats attributed to Edon could be easily attributed to sufficiently powerful sorcery, and others could have simply included illusions or manipulations of the crowd. Regardless, he developed an immediate following. The idea of “ascension through worship” has proven to be quite enticing.

Of course, eventually Edon had to prove that he was willing to deliver on his claim – and who better than the Queen Regent to serve as an example? She was officially deified less than a year after her husband’s death, and like Edon, proved capable of performing miracles. By this point, one of our paladins was in the city to observe, and reported that her abilities did not appear to be ordinary Dominion Sorcery. This does not in itself provide any proof of divine power, but it does indicate that at a minimum Edon or Tylan has some way of masking the nature of their abilities. If you will forgive a bit of unverified speculation, I would note that the Dominion of Secrets may be the answer. In one of my classes at the academy, they noted that Erik Tarren had once demonstrated a spell capable of nullifying most spells that are designed to detect the presence of sorcery.

Since Tylan’s supposed ascension, two other “gods” have been added to the local pantheon. The first is Myros, who they refer to as the God of Battle. I believe that this Myros may be a deliberate parallel to our God of Blades, as an attempt to draw Laos worshipers into converting to following a deity with a familiar concept. Myros is said to wield the Heartlance, a legendary weapon that causes wounds that cannot heal. Again, a parallel to the sacred sword carried by our God of Blades, though the Saekes clearly has different properties. 

The final deity of Orlyn is Vorain, the Goddess of Shelter. She is said to watch over the weak and helpless, and could be seen as a local equivalent of Lissari or Lysandri. Interestingly, although the Edonate religion claims that both Vorain and Myros were once citizens of the city, their pre-divine names are never used. Ostensibly, all of the gods – with the clear exception of the Queen Regent – abandoned their mortal identities and responsibilities when they ascended. This is why they take on single-word divine names, much like our own gods have. My suspicion is that the real reasons for these identity changes are far more practical. By assuming new names, these “gods” can protect their families – if they still live – and also increase the difficulty of researching their former lives. It’s quite possible Myros or Vorain aren’t originally from Orlyn, given that we know so little about their backgrounds.

There remains a council of nobles with some degree of power, but their influence seems to be diminishing every year. My expectation is that within a decade, Orlyn will cease to be a kingdom and transform fully into a theocracy – and I believe that to be Edon’s principal goal. The primary impediment to this would most likely be Crown Prince Byron, who has not yet been recognized as a deity. Our previous agents who have returned from the city have indicated that Byron has grown distant from his mother over the years, and holds some degree of animosity from Edon. Paladin Lieutenant Eddington theorizes that Byron may hold Edon responsible for his father’s death, which is plausible, but we have no direct evidence to indicate this was the case.

The last two groups of significant influence within the city are the military and the court sorcerers. Orlyn’s military is fervently dedicated to Myros, and the so-called God of Battle has been seen visiting ranking officers – both publicly and privately – on a regular basis.

The court sorcerers are few in number, but command significant influence. They serve as the Queen Regent’s direct advisers, and their most prominent members – Sethridge and Morella – appear to work closely with Edon as well. Paladin Marshal Holden believes that these sorcerers may be the real source of Edon and Tylan’s miracles, and it is for that reason that I would recommend you investigate them closely.

I sincerely hope that my research is of use to you.

-Paladin Aspirant Marcus Reed