In the beginning, the Omnipower created an archgod to govern the Seven
Galaxies. It was an entity neither male nor female. Nameless, ruling over the
twelve elements: A’ris and Dusky A’ris, A’qua and Murky A’qua, Fla’mma
and Black Fla’mma, T’erra and Barren T’erra, A’nima and Diseased A’nima,
Lume and Acerbus. It was power. A dark energy.
It took billions of years of worship to give it a form, gender, and names
such as the Archgod of Chaos and Destruction, the Slayer of Souls, and the
Dark Lord of Destruction. He ruled for many millennia, chaos and corrup-
tion reigning free, until She, a second archgod, Archgoddess of the Eternal
Light and Order, was created. For the Balance.
Now the twelve elements were separated into six light elements: A’ris,
A’qua, Fla’mma, T’erra, A’nima, and Lume; and six chaos elements: Dusky
A’ris, Murky A’qua, Black Fla’mma, Barren T’erra, Diseased A’nima, and
Acerbus. Each archgod ruling over their corresponding light or dark ele-
ments. For the Balance.
But the balance was not achieved. The Archgod of Chaos and Destruction
wanted all the elements and the control back, creating a severe imbalance.
Thus the first Era War broke out to restore the Balance.
The Archgod of Chaos and Destruction was too powerful, spreading
corruption and creating His army of dark servants out of corrupted people,
and dark fiends out of corrupted animals. Thus the Omnipower allowed the
Archgoddess of the Eternal Light and Order to create Her army to fight back.
For the Balance.
Hence a race of people called Lumenians was made from the six light ele-
ments, the very essence of the archgoddess and piece of Her soul. They were
created to fight the corrupted and destroy them with their legendary Lume
power—the one magical power that can disintegrate a fully corrupted dark
servant or dark fiend. The Lumenians were so powerful they even defeated
the last Ankhar, the general and beloved son-figure of the archgod.
The furious Archgod of Chaos and Destruction sought vengeance. He
hunted the Lumenians to the brink of extinction. There was only one left to
take up the mantel of sybil to become the general and right hand to the Arch-
goddess of the Eternal Light and Order: Lilla of the ruling House of Serrain
of Uhna, the last Lumenian. Just in time to fight in the new, brewing Era War.
“I’m not afraid,” I mutter. My breath comes out in a puff of fog as I watch
the tremendous black spaceship descend a hundred feet from me. It aims to
land at the edge of the snow-covered Fye Island, where my friends and I wait.
The two setting suns paint the massive warship, the size of a small city, in
a rosy light. I shiver as my gaze trails its jagged surface with cannons, mis-
siles, and energy-shield piercing arrays. I’ve witnessed these world-erasing
weapons in action.
“Good,” Callum says. He tucks a long, dark violet strand of hair behind
my ear. “Don’t show fear and you’ll be fine.” His clear blue eyes glint with
encouragement in his tanned face. The pale line of the scar that runs from
his left eyebrow to his jaw crinkles as he gives me a smile. He looks younger
than his twenty-five years, projecting a confident aura, dressed in his black,
military-style uniform that emphasizes his muscular body.
I look away from Callum before he can detect worry in my dark violet
Muscles tremble in my belly. I press a hand over it, pretending to smooth
my silver cape. I inhale the crisp winter air, which smells of the promise of
I shouldn’t be this scared! I am nineteen years old and not a child any-
I close my eyes for a second. The black spaceship and the desolate ruins
of the Crystal Palace that was once my home disappear from my view. I
can’t imagine what Callum’s father thinks of my “backwater” world of Uhna
that he planned to conquer, not ally with. But his plans had to change once I
claimed his son.
The powerful spacecraft lowers three clawlike black metal prongs that
tear into the frozen ground. Chunks of rocks break off from the island’s cliff-
side and plunge into the Fyoon Ocean below. Gusts of hot air, smelling of
brine and metal grease, whip dirt into our faces.
Ten feet away on my right, a pair of wooden double doors remain. Still
intact, they survived the devastation the Archgod of Chaos and Destruction,
aka DLD, wreaked on Uhna. They stand proudly, refusing to give in to re-
ality. The hot air from the Teryn ship blasts the doors, shaking them in their
frame. The wood creaks, resisting the pressure for a moment. Then the doors
come crashing down to the ground. If they couldn’t survive the arrival of the
Teryn praelor, what chance do I have?
The back of the spaceship opens. A long metal ramp slams into the ground,
reverberating under our feet. Black-clad Teryn warriors rush out, lining up
like a living corridor in front of us.
Watching them, I realize I should have prepared better! I should have
dressed more formally! Or I should have . . .
A hand touches my arm. I look down beside me at Glenna, my best friend
“You can do this,” Glenna whispers, her dark crimson eyes full of com-
passion. “You’ve faced worse and come out stronger.”
Nodding, I take a deep breath to release the tension.
A large but fit older man steps out of the ship. He wears a black uniform
similar to Callum’s but with a lot more colorful buttons on its lapel. There is
no denying the familial resemblance between them. With a grimace, the man
takes in the sad state of Fye Island. Then his piercing blue gaze lands on me.
I smile in welcome, not showing fear. I hope.
The older man’s expression turns dark as he marches toward me. I can’t
help but wonder if he is upset about my Bride’s Choice claim on Callum. We
have never met, and he is already disappointed in me. Did he want someone
else for his son?
I gulp down my rising anxiety.
The praelor wears an expression of confidence that borders on arrogance.
He stops inches from me.
I refuse to step back and give in to intimidation.
Callum clears his throat and says, “Father, this is Ma’hana—”
I flinch at his use of my royal title. “Just Lilla,” I interrupt him. I’m a prin-
cess in name only. There is a change happening to the Uhnan monarchy, and
it may not last much longer.
“Sybil Lilla,” Callum continues, “right hand of the Archgoddess of the
Eternal Light and Order, general to Her armies in this Era War.”
I cringe. This title sounds even worse. I have nothing to show for it—no
army, only my seven friends who decided to join me, my only allies.
“General, is it?” the older man says with a snort.
Callum ignores his father and turns to me. “Lilla, meet Caderyn a’ruun,
the Teryn praelor.”
Caderyn crosses his thick muscular arms while glaring down at me. Even
his short black beard, with a few gray hairs in it, looks furious.
What do you say to a warmongering emperor who has conquered many
worlds and displaced thousands of refugees from their homes in the process?
Refugees that sought asylum on Uhna. “It’s uh . . .” I pause. I can’t say it’s
an honor to meet him when he arrived at my world prepared to blast the
corruption away with his armada, along with anyone who happened to be in
I focus on his positive traits and say, “You have a nice beard! It looks well
established. May I call you Caderyn?”
Caderyn scoffs. “No.”
Caderyn sure doesn’t beat around the seaweed! A directness I have not
experienced growing up in the Uhnan court.
Being a ma’hana in the royal court, the high society ma’hars and ma’haras,
lords and ladies, kept a close eye on me, weighing my actions. They judged the
unique looks I inherited from my mom, combined with my unwillingness to
take part in their social machinations and found me lacking. The court voiced
their opinions in vicious whispers behind my back, anonymously, yet ensuring
they would get back to the ma’ha, making the king disheartened in me.
Then Callum a‘ruun, second general of the Teryn army from Galaxy Six,
came to Uhna because my father invited the Teryn praelium to diplomatic
talks. Father had heard the news of other worlds getting conquered by the
Teryn empire and wanted to avoid that very fate for Uhna, capital of the
nineteen-planet-strong Pax Septum Coalition tucked away in Galaxy Five.
Caderyn returns my look with a scowl. Even Father couldn’t hold a judg-
mental stare this long.
“You can’t come with us,” Caderyn says, prompting a gasp of outrage
from my friends.
I open my mouth to argue, but Callum beats me to it. “Why not? I’m hers
and she is mine!”
Blood rushes to my face, burning. I wish Fye Island would open up under
my feet, and the Fyoon Ocean swallow me up.
Callum’s best friend, Teague, who is a colonel in the Teryn army, winks at
me with his dark brown eye. He drags a hand through his black hair that has
streaks of scarlet, white, and blond. “What General Callum meant to say is
that Sybil Lilla had invoked the Bride’s Choice. As per our tradition, she has
claimed Callum and she is entitled to—”
Caderyn laughs. “Son, no one is entitled here except me.”
“What do you mean I can’t come with you? I haven’t even asked!” I say,
finding my voice.
“First, those spaceships are mine, including the one Callum came here
with, and not free to use as you wish,” Caderyn says. “Second, you are not a
Teryn, and as such I do not have to honor your Bride’s Choice claim. We are
“That won’t do,” the Archgoddess of the Eternal Light and Order—or The
Lady, as I like to call her—says from next to me. With that one declaration,
Caderyn destroyed any chance for love I had with Callum. I knew I was a
fool to imagine that Callum and I could ever be together, fighting in the Era
Bitterness brings tears into my eyes, but I refuse to let those tears escape.
I look at Her and find myself in a perfect and beautiful meadow, with long
grass stalks swaying in a balmy spring breeze, like ocean waves. Acolyte
Aisla, the petite and blonde replica of the ethereally beautiful and golden-
skin-toned archgoddess, raises her chin in my direction in an almost greeting
while wearing a white wraparound dress just like the archgoddess.
“What won’t do?” I ask The Lady with forced calm. She likes to transport
me to this meadow that does not to exist in real life, whenever She feels like
it. Usually when it’s the most inconvenient for me, like now.
An explosion of happiness cascades down my spine from the Sybil talis-
man at the back of my neck, punishment for my insolence. The finger-length,
oval, and transparent talisman that signals my Sybilhood amplifies the joyful
emotions until they become an unbearable bombardment of pain, hovering at
the boundaries of insanity. Attached to my spine with intricate gold filaments
that extend from a pair of crab-like claws, the talisman is unremovable with-
out the risk of dying in the process.
“Stop this!” I cry out and drop to my knees. Anger spreads through me,
flaring up the magical silver marking on my back—a striking depiction of
a tree with lush crown, wide trunk, and vines twining around it—covering
from my neck to the middle of my back. My anger battles with the barrage of
happiness but fails to neutralize its effects as it did before I was tricked into
wearing the talisman.
“This will teach you to show your Archgoddess the respect She deserves,”
“I . . . would . . . rather. . . die!” I say through clenched teeth.
The unbearable waves of love, happiness, and joy recede.
I get to my feet lest the archgoddess thinks I am prostrating for Her when
it’s the farthest from the truth. I’ll never forgive Her for misleading me.
I rub my neck, and the despised talisman issues a strong electric zap that
stings my fingers in response.
The Lady smiles at me, looking like benevolence personified with Her
magnificent and divine beauty, but that kindness never reaches Her molten
gold eyes. “I want you, my child, to go to the Teryn home world.”
I did not expect Her to say that. “Did you not hear the praelor refusing to
take me with him?”
“I want you, my child, to take over their army in my name.”
“What . . . I mean, how? That’s impossible!” I say. “I can’t just announce
that I am their new general and expect them to obey me! Why can’t I start
with another army first?”
“I need the Teryn army, and no other will do,” The Lady says. “As to how
you will acquire their army—you must figure it out on your own, my child.
You seem to know the solution better than I do anyway.”
“Remember, my child, what is at stake—fail this mission and you will
sacrifice trillions of innocent lives in the Seven Galaxies. The Archgod of
Chaos and Destruction will kill them in His attempt to corrupt them for His
army,” The Lady says, and my face turns cold.
I will never forget the sight of those twisted, nightmarish, and cor-
rupted things—the dark fiends and dark servants—that The Lady once
showed me in a dream. I will never forget the scene on that red, rocky
beach where I found a pile of dead bodies—people who died because the
archgod tried to corrupt them—among them my beloved Deidre, the head
chef. I made a promise to my mom, before she died, that I will always
protect the innocents who cannot protect themselves. A promise I intend
to keep, no matter what.
“Do not fail me, my child. You already botched defeating the archgod in
His mortal form. It was our best chance to stop the Era War.”
“I tried my best,” I say. I know it’s my fault. She doesn’t have to remind
me. I do that myself enough times, replaying the events of my battle with
Him, wondering what went wrong. The battle that cost me dearly.
“Do not waste my time with excuses. They don’t change the facts of your
fiasco!” The Lady snaps. “I need the Teryn army and I need it now!”
I blink and the two divine women are gone.