Centuries ago, the world fell.
From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.
Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man. And humanity is losing.
Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier
out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do
anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle.
Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.
Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover
the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artifacts remain, objects of power
that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not all that waits beneath the surface. Something
else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.
Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five
years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography,
and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two
years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and explore the world. During his
travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School (titled The Sword of Light)
and began to rewrite the story. Six months later he published his first novel, Stormwielder, and
hasn’t looked back since.
Erika darted forward as the light glinted from an object she’d almost missed—a glove, lying alone on
the table. The way it reflected in the strange lights had camouflaged it. As she picked it up, she
realised why. It had been woven from metal rather than wool. A gauntlet? What would the Gods
have needed with such an object?
Instinctively, she lifted the gauntlet and slipped it onto her hand. Behind her, Ibran gasped, no doubt
disturbed by her supposed sacrilege, but she ignored him. She had come to learn, to gain
understanding of the Gods—not surrender to superstition. The time had come to throw caution to
The cold steel sent a shiver down her spine. She was surprised how well it fit—she had always
imagined the Gods as giants. Though she supposed that was foolish, given how small these hidden
Holding the gauntlet up to the light, Erika wondered at how the steel fibres had been woven together.
They rippled in the magical glow, seeming almost alive. What was the function of such an object?
Her heart throbbed as an idea came to her. Could this be what she’d been looking for, some
connection to the Gods and their magic?
It was Ibran, but she was past listening to his cautions now. Standing there, illuminated by the magic
of the Gods, surrounded by their riches, Erika knew what she had to do. Forgotten were the
warnings, the legends of the Tangata and The Fall. She now held the magic that could destroy them
in the palm of her hand, if only she had the strength to command it.
She closed her fist, reaching out with her mind for those ancient powers, seeking to wake them, to
bring them forth for the first time in centuries. This was her purpose, the reason she had been drawn
to these ancient places, to a lifetime dedicated to the study of the Gods…
Her heartbeat slowed and finally she opened her eyes, an exhaled breath whistling between her teeth.
She turned her hand over, examining the gauntlet, but nothing had changed. Her elation subsided,
the thrill of just moments before fading away. It was no more than an ordinary glove. Perhaps this
had been the height of fashion for those who had lived alongside the Gods. A revelation of great
interest to scholars like Ibran, no doubt, but for her…
Erika’s face warmed as she felt the eyes of her assistants upon her. Clenching her fists at her sides,
she continued her inspection of the chamber, though she still sensed their mirth. She forced her
mind back to that of a scholar. Magic or no, this was still a great discovery. Those crystals…how long
would their light remain? Perhaps they could remove them from the walls, to show the queen that
her expedition had not been entirely in vain.
Then her eyes alighted on a picture that had been plastered to the wall. She hadn’t noticed it at first,
so engrossed had she been in the crystal lights and the gauntlet. Something about the decoration
caught her eye now. She took a step closer, frowning. It looked so familiar…
A gasp slipped from her throat as she realised what it was.
“It’s a map,” she murmured.
The map was so detailed and colourful, she hadn’t recognised it at first. Now its true nature
practically leapt at her. There was the northern archipelago of Perfugia, and there the Mountains of
the Gods, the southern coasts of Calafe. And so much more.
Reverently, Erika stretched out a hand and touched the map. She was surprised to find it was paper—
how had such a delicate thing survived all this time? The steel door had truly sealed off this chamber
from the world, from time itself, it seemed.
Her eyes continued to roam the lands depicted by the map, making connections. Dots labelled in
the language of the ancients must have indicated cities. Erika was not surprised to see many
corresponded with modern-day towns and cities—no doubt the benefits of their locations had not
changed through the centuries. Several, though, were wastelands today, others the sites of mining
Footsteps sounded as her assistants approached, but Erika did not take her eyes from the precious
paper. There was something else here, something important. Several locations had been marked
with stars rather than dots and had not been labelled. They didn’t seem to correspond with any
modern cities, nor any significant feature that might have proven an advantage for a settlement…
The breath caught in her throat as the pattern clicked into place. Surely it couldn’t be so simple?
Quickly she tracked the distances, trying to judge the scale, to be sure. Yes, there was the site on the
peninsula west of Mildeth. And there was the one in the foothills of the mountains…
“It shows the ancient sites,” she whispered. “The hidden places of the Gods.”
“Truly?” Ibran gasped, stepping up beside her. “That—”
Erika was barely listening to him, so engrossed was she in the map. It didn’t only show those sites
they’d visited in Flumeer—it revealed all of them! They dotted the landscape, many matching sites
already known to the Archivists, others that had yet been identified. Her heart throbbed, sending
blood rushing to her temples.
If those sites had remained undiscovered all this time, if they were sealed as this chamber had
been…who knew what treasures they might have preserved?
Then a frown touched her lips as she noticed an absence. Of the dozen or so stars on the map, only
three were located in Flumeer. The three they had already visited…
Erika jumped as something heavy struck the ground. She swung on Ibran, ready to reprimand him
for his carelessness, but the words died on her lips. Her assistant lay facedown on the floor, blood
oozing from an awful wound in his neck. A scream built in her throat, her sluggish mind trying to
put the pieces together, to understand how he had come to be there…
…her eyes fell on the bloody dagger clutched in Sythe’s hand.
“What did you do?” she hissed.
“Step ‘way from the map,” the man said calmly.