Ash Princess, by Laura Sebastian

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Ash Princess, written by Laura Sebastian, is the first in a trilogy. It follows Princess Theodosia, who is a prisoner of the Kalovaxian court after her home kingdom of Astrea was invaded. From the beginning, Ash Princess was an unoriginal, cliché-filled fantasy. There were certain elements I enjoyed, which I’ll discuss after I list the bad.

A few days before I read Ash Princess, I read a book called Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene, which I’ll be reviewing soon. When I think back to Ash Princess, I find myself mixing both books together, which isn’t a good thing because the goal is to write an original book, especially in an industry where the majority of YA fantasy tends to surround a strong female lead in a kingdom and trying to defeat the ruler. You could compare the plot to almost any young adult fantasy book because it follows the same layout. One of the largest similarities I found was when Theodosia was being whipped, she repeated her full name over and over, which was almost exactly what happened in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, a much more popular series. As a young adult writer, I would assume the first thing you would do would be read the most popular books in the genre you’re writing so you can try and be as original as possible. This author either read the books and decided that the similarity wasn’t too close, or she never read them and just so happened to write a very similar scene. This really stuck out to me because the Throne of Glass series is eight books long (including the novella), therefore being reminded of a specific scene is not a good thing.

The author chose to include a love triangle in this book, and not a subtle kind like in Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas, or Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi. The subtle ones are when there are two characters that the main character finds attractive, but she only focuses on one at a certain time, which makes it seem like less of a love triangle, hence, less frustrating. In this book. Theodosia chose to be romantically involved with them both at the same time. She would kiss one and then kiss the other, which angered me and made me dislike the lead character more. To continue, the romances moved much too fast for the time the characters spent together. The only relationship that was believable was the friendship between Theodosia and Crescentia, a girl who has her sights set on marrying the crown prince. Their friendship is believable and developed naturally throughout the book.

This story would have been saved had the male characters been developed more. She had a strange relationship with a boy from her childhood who managed to survive the mass murder of her people and showed up in the palace with a small rebel team. His name was Blaise, which I had to look back at the book to find despite him being the main love interest (I think?) in the book. They hardly had any time to flesh out a romance or relationship of any kind, therefore the reader had to rely on a relationship they had built ten years prior, which isn’t believable because people change and grow a lot in that time.

My favorite character was the crown Prince Søren, who really got beat up throughout the book physically and emotionally. He showed real emotion, which was good, but I found myself wanting to read the whole book from his perspective, which would have been a much more interesting and original book.

I did enjoy how diverse the cast was; the main character is from Astrea where everyone has darker skin. There were some similarities with history, and I think she tried to make connections to slavery but there wasn’t much of a point to it as the idea wasn’t fleshed out. The plot twist was something I saw coming and I found myself groaning in wait for the characters to execute their plans.

If you don’t mind the similarities to other books (maybe you haven’t read much YA fantasy), I would still suggest you skip this series and find another. I would rate this book 4/10 dragons and I will not be reading the sequel.

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Counting Down To Life Chapter 24

 

Chapter 24

April 30, 2017

Seattle, Washington

Brooklyn didn’t know what she would do now. Atifa and Amy were avoiding her and Karter couldn’t look at her without fear. Laz had been working harder to help Brooklyn figure out what was happening to her now that it had affected someone in the real world besides Brooklyn.

The girl hated seeing the fear and worry in her friends’ eyes, but Brooklyn knew she couldn’t expect them to be completely okay with being around her when she could have a vision at any moment and kill someone. It didn’t help that they didn’t know the reason, so they probably thought Brooklyn was faking not being able to remember randomly deciding to murder some innocent woman who happened to have the Guilt Garnet.

Now, Brooklyn was sitting on the bed in her hotel room staring at the wall. Atifa had told her to stay in her hotel room and not go anywhere unless she had at least two people with her just in case she did go crazy.

Now, there was nothing to do and no one to talk to. Brooklyn had called her sister, but she could only chat for a few minutes, and then her dad didn’t pick up, and neither did Lily. She had called Finn, and they had spoken for the last three hours about anything that popped into her head or his, but eventually, he had to go.

Laz was off doing research on what could be causing Brooklyn’s visions. Atifa and Amy were off looking for any sign of another stone while Karter was catching up on school work. Brooklyn realized that Karter was being smarter and catching up with school, so Brooklyn grabbed one of the bags she had brought, pulled out a binder, and got to work.

Brooklyn hadn’t done much, but she had done enough so that she wasn’t entirely overwhelmed. She started with history and worked for twenty minutes before she flopped back onto the bed and groaned. Even though it had been a while since Brooklyn had gone to school, her teachers had been done a great job of emailing her everything Brooklyn needed to do her assignments. She had two papers to write and a couple of Calculus assignments she had to catch up on, but she hadn’t done anything since the quiet two weeks. Graduation was almost a month away, so Brooklyn was willing to do all the work she needed to do. After graduation, she would be off to college, and hopefully, by then this mess would be over.

Brooklyn rolled over and yelled at her pillow.

“What did that pillow do to you?” Brooklyn heard a voice laugh. The girl turned over and glared at Laz.

“The door was locked for a reason,” she replied dryly.

“I know, I came through the window.”

“Now, why would you do that? You haven’t been watching me sleep right?” Brooklyn questioned. “I don’t need this to turn into a creepy Twilight situation.”

Laz laughed. “No, I haven’t been watching you sleep.” He jumped onto the bed next Brooklyn and made himself comfortable. “I want to know what happened in your vision.”

Brooklyn thought about refusing to tell Laz but decided if he was going to help her, he should know what happened. The girl sat up and leaned against the headboard. She began recounting the three days she spent with Zora. Everything from him being the same man who had been in her visions previously to realizing who he was and killing those people.

The only thing Brooklyn left out was her meeting with Lyvlen. Laz adored his daughter, and he didn’t know that she worked with his enemy for a while. If he knew about Lyvlen, Brooklyn would have guessed that she wouldn’t have ignored Brooklyn as much as possible.

When Brooklyn finished her story, she was terrified of Laz’s reaction. She hoped he would still help her and not look at her like Atifa and Amorette did. The girl turned to look at him. He was biting his lip and looked deep in thought.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to help me anymore it’s okay. I’ll understand if you don’t want to help someone who worked for Zora,” Brooklyn said sadly.

“I’ll still help you. If you were acting as a spy for Zora, then I think you would at least remember him,” Laz shrugged. “I think you forgot for a reason.”

Brooklyn remembered what Lyvlen said about her being able to change for the better. “Just promise you won’t tell anyone who I am,” she said.

“I promise, your secret is safe with me.”

“I want to remember everything. I hate these visions, and I don’t know how much longer I can go knowing things but not being able to remember them. The feeling really sucks.”

“I promise I’ll help. At this point, I don’t think you’ll survive many more visions, and I want you to survive, Brooklyn,” The Guardian promised.

Brooklyn wrapped her arms around Laz’s neck and pulled him close to her. Tears started falling down her face. She pulled away from her friend and held her face in her hands as she cried. She didn’t even know why she was crying. Maybe it was because Atifa and Amorette were friendly until she lost control and hurt someone. Perhaps it was because she was homesick. Possibly it was because she had a past that was being hidden from her. Everything she knew was a lie.

Laz wrapped Brooklyn in a hug and let her lean on him as she cried. He quietly consoled her as her sobs filled the room. Laz held her until she fell asleep in his arms, tears streaking her face.

Laz looked down at the sleeping girl and wondered why Zora would do something to this girl that cost her her memory. The Guardian felt something flutter in his chest. Brooklyn was taking her place in Laz’s heart, and he didn’t mind it at all.

An hour later, Laz had taken Brooklyn outside for a walk. He could tell she hated being cooped up in her room all day, so he snuck her outside. The others had already retired to their own rooms, so Laz decided it was safe enough to go out for a walk. It was only eight o’clock, but the other three Guardians had been up since early that morning.

They were only a couple blocks away from the hotel when the pair heard a growl coming from the shadows. More roars and snarls were coming from all around them. When the sources of the noises came into the light, they realized they were surrounded by misshapen creatures. Brooklyn realized what was about to happen and had an instinct to slam her foot against the ground. When she did a wave of power slammed into the creatures and one by one they collapsed and disappeared.

Laz stared at her shocked at the amount of power Brooklyn had just let out.

Counting Down To Life Chapter 23

 

Chapter 23

April 28, 2017

San Francisco, California

The next morning Brooklyn woke up and was surprised when she found herself in a different room than the one in the vision. She’d expected to wake up and still be in the horrible nightmare stuck in another Brooklyn’s body, but she was somewhere different. The girl tried to speak and was overjoyed when she managed to say something.

Brooklyn threw the covers off and jumped out of bed. She finally had control of her own body, and she was in the real world now where she could do things that she actually wanted to do.

“Brooklyn?” A voice asked from the bed. Brooklyn turned around and realized both Atifa and Amorette were sitting on the bed staring at Brooklyn with their mouths hanging open. She looked around the room and realized Laz and Karter were also in the bedroom watching her intensely as if she might keel over and die at any minute.

“What?” Brooklyn replied.

“You haven’t moved for three days. We only knew you were alive because you were breathing. We were worried. When you collapsed at the mall, we weren’t sure what happened, and then you got up, and we assumed you just tripped, and then you went utterly berserk,” Amorette explained.

“What do you mean berserk?” Brooklyn asked.

“You don’t remember? Brooklyn, you killed someone!” Atifa yelled.

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“Brooklyn?!” Atifa screamed.

“What happened? She was fine a second ago,” Amorette yelled. The people passing by just stared at the three girls.

Brooklyn stood up slowly, her green eyes hazy and the hood of her sweatshirt was up. The girl looked down, her face was a mere shadow under the hood.

Brooklyn began walking, her steps slow and light. She looked like she was daydreaming, but usually, when someone was daydreaming and staring into space, they could snap out of it if someone yelled at them. Every time Atifa and Amy tried to talk to Brooklyn and get the girl to sit down so they could make sure the human was alright, Brooklyn just glided past the two Guardians with ease. Brooklyn kept walking, and the confused Guardians couldn’t figure out where she was going, the girl seemed like she was wandering aimlessly.

Eventually, the three reached the doors of the mall and walked out, Atifa and Amy were careful to watch Brooklyn in case she collapsed again. The girl stopped after walking out the door, not moving a muscle. The Guardians glanced at each other, confusion filling both their faces.

Brooklyn was acting strange, and it was scaring both of them. Her face was usually full of emotion, but at the moment it was scary and stoic. Last time Brooklyn collapsed she was unconscious for a week, this time she was utterly silent and looked as though she were in a dream rather than reality.

When Brooklyn began moving again, it had been nearly two minutes since they walked out the doors of the mall, but neither Guardian commented or complained about it, knowing if they said anything they would just be ignored.

Brooklyn turned a corner and strolled down the street, her pace quickening.

“Where are you going, Brooklyn?” Atifa questioned. “Can you talk to us?” Said girl just ignored the Empathy Guardian.

“Has this happened before?” Amorette asked Atifa as she put her hand on Brooklyn’s shoulder, hoping the girl would stop and answer them, or at least acknowledge the two in some way.

“No,” Atifa replied, shaking her head. “She’s had blackouts, but she’s never done this. Brooklyn refuses to tell me anything. If she needs help, she has to be able to ask for it, but she never does.”

“Just tell her you’re here for her and willing to help. Tell Brooklyn that if she tells you what’s wrong, you can help, all of us can. She doesn’t just have to talk to you, she has three more people she can confide in,” Amorette said, not realizing Brooklyn disappeared while the two Guardians were talking. “Right, Brooklyn?”

Amy looked at where the girl had been, but she was gone. Amy shot a panicked look at Atifa. “Don’t look at me, I don’t know where she went. It hasn’t been that long, she wouldn’t have gotten far.”

Amy and Atifa sprinted down the sidewalk, looking through every alleyway and little shop, hoping Brooklyn would be easy to find.

Two blocks later, the two were beginning to lose hope in finding the girl. Maybe she had turned back and gone to the mall or the car. Atifa was about to suggest turning around, but an ear-shattering scream pierced the air. The Guardians followed the sounds of screaming and ended up in another ally, but unlike the others, this one wasn’t empty.

A woman was bleeding to death in the middle of the ally way, Brooklyn standing over her. The girl had a blade in her blood-stained hands. The woman was no longer screaming. Instead, she was choking on her own blood. Amy looked away, disgusted by the sight.

She hadn’t seen someone die like this in almost a decade. It was one of the worst things Amy had ever seen. As Brooklyn began walking out of the ally, Atifa ran at the girl, tackling her to the ground and somehow managed to knock Brooklyn unconscious.

“We have to go, now,” Atifa ordered, tossing the unconscious girl over her shoulder. Amorette nodded and walked to the woman’s corpse. She knelt down and closed the woman’s eyes and noticed something in her cold, pale hand.

It was a beautiful gem that glinted in the sun. The Love Guardian snatched it out of the woman’s dead hand and ran after Atifa.

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“Oh my God,” Brooklyn gasped, horrified by her own actions. “I don’t remember any of this.”

“We were hoping you could explain what happened, but I guess you can’t,” Atifa said. Brooklyn looked at the four Guardians crowded around her.

“We’ll figure it out, Brooklyn. Don’t worry, it won’t happen again, but until we do find out, I don’t think you should be near more than just us. If there’s a chance that this could happen again…” Amorette trailed off. Brooklyn studied the Love Guardian’s face and noticed the glimmer of fear in her eyes. The young girl looked at Atifa, seeing the same thing on her face. They were afraid of her. “At least we found Karter’s stone. I don’t know why that woman had it or how she got it, but we have it now. That’s three out of seven.”

Atifa nodded in agreement then said, “Karter, why don’t you stay here with Brooklyn while the rest of us go out.”

Karter nodded and watched as the three older Guardians left the room. He looked back at Brooklyn, about to tell her they would figure out what was going on, but the others were right, and she was dangerous, but the girl had already rolled over and fallen asleep.

Karter sighed and dropped into an armchair across the room from the bed and waited for his friend to wake up.

Counting Down To Life Chapter 22

 

Chapter 22

April 27, 2017

Somewhere in Brooklyn’s head

Kara Tanes and Mckayla Haynsen, the last two names on the list. Brooklyn stared at the sheet of paper. She knew nothing about Mckayla Haynsen, just that she didn’t have any social media and there was nothing about her on the internet. Kara Tanes, on the other hand, Brooklyn knew well.

When Brooklyn was doing her research, she remembered her sister Kayla’s dead best friend’s name was Kara Tanes, and according to the internet, the Kara Tanes Brooklyn had to kill was Kayla’s former best friend.

Brooklyn hated the idea of hurting her sister, but she was in a vision and had no idea if this was a real thing or not. The girl woke up early and snuck out of the fortress, avoiding Zora. Brooklyn wasn’t sure if this Brooklyn had the same idea as her, or if she just wanted an early start on her day. Brooklyn’s body did what it wanted to do, and so did her voice. She had her own mind, but she was only able to think and not do anything. It was driving Brooklyn insane.

An hour later, Brooklyn was sitting in a little cafe with the girl she was supposed to kill. She wasn’t even sure how she ended up here. One moment she was about to stab Kara Tanes, the next, she was sitting at a table and drinking a hot chocolate.

“Teleportation. It’s an ability some Maloans have. It’s rare, but I have the ability. Now, I want to know why you are trying to kill me, lieutenant?” Kara said.

“Zora thinks you are in contact with the Guardians.”

Kara let out a single laugh. “I’m not in contact with the Guardians. I’m in touch with some of Zora’s enemies, but I don’t care about the Guardians. Some advice, don’t believe everything your boyfriend tells you. Tell me, do you know why I’m not serving Zora right now?”

“You left, you are a risk to his downfall.”

“I didn’t leave. Zora forced me out. I didn’t want to go, but he thought I was too insane. I was his best soldier, but he thought I was too much. Zora, the ruthless Zora thought I was crazy. When he forced me to go, I found people who could bring him and the Guardians down. Take control of the stones and rule the world, not purge it in darkness. You could join us too,” Kara explained. The gleam in her eyes was terrifying.

Brooklyn got up and walked out of the cafe. She wasn’t sure why this Brooklyn would do that, but she did, and Kara followed. As soon as Kara and Brooklyn were far enough away from the cafe and in a place where no one could see them, Brooklyn pulled out her dagger and shoved it into Kara’s chest in one fluid motion. The lieutenant eased Kara to the ground and walked away as her sister’s best friend bled out.

As soon as Brooklyn saw Mckayla Haynsen, she realized why Mckayla wasn’t on any social media or anything. Mckayla wasn’t her real name. Lyvlen Draily was the one Brooklyn was sent to kill. She wasn’t sure if Zora knew Mckayla was actually a Guardians child, but Brooklyn knew she needed to find out why Lyvlen had an alias and was on Zora’s hit list.

Brooklyn had found Lyvlen at a hotel so as soon as she found out what room the Anger Guardian’s child was in, Brooklyn knocked on the door and as soon as it opened, she pushed Lyvlen aside and walked in like she owned the place.

“What the hell do-” Lyvlen yelled.

“Shut up,” Brooklyn ordered, cutting Lyvlen off.

“Why are you here? I’m done with Zora.”

“I’m here to kill you, but I want to know why you left. I miss our little fights. There’s no one else to challenge me now,” Brooklyn pouted.

“I couldn’t betray my father any longer. I initially joined Zora’s cause to spite the rest of the Guardians, but after a while, it was hard to lie to and betray my own father, so I left. I didn’t like what Zora was doing, it’s in my nature to hate him. I’ve heard stories about how horrible he is since I was born. Another reason I left, I couldn’t do anything without feeling guilty. I hated it, so I decided I was done. Everything’s better now, my father still doesn’t know what I was doing all those years I was with Zora, and I would like to keep it that way,” Lyvlen explained. Brooklyn was screaming internally. She was confused. Did Lyvlen not trust her in real life because of this?

“Did you think about me when you decided to leave? Was I considered? You were my best friend, you were my only friend.” Brooklyn almost thought she heard herself wrong when she said that. ‘Lyvlen was my best friend?‘ Brooklyn thought skeptically.

There was no way they were best friends. Lyvlen hated Brooklyn.

“I thought about taking you with me, but you love Zora too much. You have a good heart. I know you do, but you follow Zora blindly because you’re in love with him. If you had a mind of your own, if you just thought about what you want instead of what Zora wants, you could do the right thing and not let Zora destroy everything the world is, good and bad,” Lyvlen said. Brooklyn gaped at the Guardian Spawn. This Brooklyn did follow most of Zora’s orders without question, but at the same time, if everything in this vision was Brooklyn’s past, then Brooklyn probably still followed people blindly, and she realized that wasn’t the best quality to have.

“I follow orders. Zora maybe my boyfriend, but he’s still my boss. I have to follow orders.”

“You can question his judgment. You don’t have to do everything he says without caring what it is.”

“I’m leaving. I won’t kill you, just stay on the down low,” Brooklyn said before walking out of the room.

When the girl got out of the vision, she would talk to Laz and Lyvlen, separately of course, but she was so confused and none of this made sense.

The Thor the Merrier: Part Four

Thor from Norse Mythology

            When they reached Valhalla, the grandest hall in all of Asgard, all the warriors who were eating jumped to their feet to greet their king. Valkyries, their helmets and armor polished and bright, stopped serving the warriors mead and immediately bowed to their king. Odin gave his subjects a benevolent smile before leading the Thors and Lokis to a private chamber at the back of the hall. The All-Father pulled a bag from his robes and emptied its contents onto a table. Runes inscribed in stone fell in a disorderly pile on the wooden surface.

            “I may have to look further than the runes to find the answers you seek,” Odin said to Frosty Loki and No-Mjolnir Thor, “but they should at least be able to prove if you are telling the truth about who you are . . .”

            Before Odin could do more than glance at the runes, there was a strange crackling noise and a hole appeared in the wall behind the table. However, it was not a hole that led to the outdoors,or another room in the hall – the hole opened into the room of a remarkably familiar spaceship, with a remarkably familiar living pile of rocks peeking out at the gods.

            “Hey, I think we found them – hey,guys! It’s me, Korg! Remember me? We all worked together to escape Sakaar and rescue the Asgardians.”

            “Korg!” No-Mjolnir Thor exclaimed. “How did you find us?”

            Another friendly face appeared form behind Korg – that of the slightly tipsy Valkyrie. “Your friend Heimdall somehow opened a portal to . . . wherever you are. It took us a while, since you seem to be in some sort of alternate universe.”

            “Well, I’m glad you have found us. I was starting to worry that we would never be able to figure out how to get back to the ship,” Frosty Loki said. He cast a sideways look at Odin. “No offense, All-Father. I’ve never been a big believer in runes.”

            No-Mjolnir Thor turned to Odin, Thor the Red, and Silvertongue Loki. “Dear friends . . . I cannot express how grateful my brother and I are for your help. We wish you fine mead and good food!”

            Thor the Red clapped him on the back. “Perhaps someday we can visit your own universe and see your Asgard!”

            No-Mjolnir Thor and Frosty Loki looked at each other. “Er . . . of course!” No-Mjolnir Thor said awkwardly. “It would be our pleasure!”

            With that, No-Mjolnir Thor and Frosty Loki stepped through the hole in the wall and back into the world where they were just Thor and Loki. The portal closed behind them as soon as they were through.

            Thor let out a deep breath and rubbed his eye. “Note to self – we are definitely not inviting our alternate reality selves to our Asgard for tea.”

~FIN~

The Thor the Merrier: Part Three

Thor from Norse Mythology

         Once they had finished their impromptu meal, the gods walked another mile into the forest before stopping at an enormous stone gate, and behind the gate was –

            “An actual rainbow,” Frosty Loki said, his jaw dropping in amazement. “That is a legitimate rainbow, not just a multicolored glass bridge.”

            Thor the Red smiled proudly before leading the party onto the bridge. “Yes, it is quite an amazing sight.”

            Just barely visible over the curve of the rainbow were the forms of buildings that must have been part of Asgard.However, before the gods could take more than ten steps onto the bridge, a deafening noise that sounded much like a poorly played tuba nearly knocked them off their feet.

            “Oh, no,” Silvertongue Loki groaned.

            “What?” No-Mjolnir Thor asked, perplexed.

            “Heimdall just signaled the beginning of Ragnarok, again. That is the third time this century.”

            Frosty Loki’s brow creased. “Should we be worried?”

            “No . . . but there’s no question that you will be getting an audience with Odin.”

            By the time the traveling companions reached the end of the Bifrost, a large crowd had grown at the gates to Asgard.At the front was a man with a horn in one hand and a gigantic sword in the other; beside him stood another man with an eyepatch so ornate it made No-Mjolnir Thor feel self-conscious about his own eyepatch.

            “Oh . . . it is just Thor and Loki, my liege,” the Thors and Lokis heard the man with the horn and sword say. “But those other two look rather suspicious – how was I to know that they were not frost giants?”

            As the four gods approached, it became obvious that the man was blind – his eyes were milky and unseeing. No-Mjolnir Thor glanced over at his companions. “This is Heimdall? How is he supposed to guard Asgard if he cannot see?”

            “Heimdall can see everything in all nine realms,” Thor the Red replied. “He just cannot see directly in front of himself . . . and now I realize the terrible logic behind that decision.”

            “We kill each other at Ragnarok,” Silvertongue Loki added helpfully.

            The man with the eyepatch stepped forward to greet the gods. “Thor, Loki. It is a pleasure to welcome you back to Asgard. Who are these men who you have brought with you?”

            “All-Father.” Thor the Red bowed deeply before his king. “We found these two in the woods several miles from the Midgard entrance to the Bifrost. They claim to be named Thor and Loki as well,and they also claim to be the god of thunder and the trickster god,respectively. But how can this be?”

Odin looked No-Mjolnir Thor and Frosty Loki closely,his brow furrowed. “These men have a powerful aura about them . . . but I am unsure what it means. I will have to consult the runes back in Valhalla. The four of you should come with me.”

            The companions followed Odin through the crowd and the streets of Asgard. No-Mjolnir Thor felt homesick; this Asgard was homely in all the right ways, with the smell of cooking meat in the air and warm candlelight spilling out of snug homes. Still, it could not compare to the glorious hall and shining streets of his own Asgard.

The Earth Mother and the Age of Copper: Part Two

Open fire at night

           The age that began with the first generation of sapfolk was known as the Copper Age, because the sapfolk were well known for the beautiful works of art they made with copper. They still created tools from stone and metal, but spent more time bending copper into intricate shapes than trying to forge weapons. The sapfolk were peaceful and reasonable beings, and though there were occasional skirmishes and feuds between groups, such skirmishes were resolved before they could escalate to the point of war.

            Yet the relations between the sapfolk and the Iron Age clans were not always as peaceful. Some of the human groups displayed all the faults that had caused Gaea to destroy much of human civilization; but the Earth Mother had decided to let them be as long as they did not present a major threat to the sapfolk. As a result, there were short border wars every decade or so. The wars continued until the sapfolk united with friendly humans to drive the hostile Iron Age clans far into the mountains, where they were no longer an inconvenience.

            Overall, the Earth Mother Gaea was a far less demanding god than those who had preceded her. After her initial act of vengeful destruction and the creation of the sapfolk, she meddled little in the affairs of mortals. The Earth Mother asked for no offerings, sacrifices, or ceremonies in her honor, but her presence was felt at many important events in the lives of the sapfolk. Gaea’s name was mentioned multiple times at coming-of-age ceremonies, weddings, and funerals; whenever a sapfolk child was born, the oldest woman in the village called upon Gaea to give the infant the blessing of the Earth. Some of the human clans kept their own gods from before the Age of Copper, but many of them adopted Gaea as their main deity out of respect for her immense power.

            By the time the storyteller would reach the end of the tale of the Age of Copper’s beginning, the sun would have sunk below the horizon and all the listeners would be gathered close about a fire. The storyteller would finish by calling for Gaea to renew her blessing of the Earth upon all those present. More often than not, everyone was outside with the stars peeking out from behind clouds. It was not hard to believe that the breeze rustling the leaves and tossing about stray strands of hair was the gentle response of the Earth Mother.