Devotion (The Afflicted Saga: Tale of the Fallen Book I)
By Katika Schneider
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery
About the Book
Demons were nothing but legends...
Or so the young General Nessix Teradhel had always believed. Abandoned by her god and caught in a political trap with her late father's old comrade, Nessix had barely kept herself together even before these startling reports appeared.
But now Mathias Sagewind, the fabled White Paladin, has arrived on her quiet island nation of Elidae with confirmation of such terrors. Wielding the name of the Mother Goddess and divine strength not seen in years, he is Elidae's best chance at victory. In the wake of a holy war, Nessix must learn to trust Mathias as he attempts to guide her from a troubled past and protect her from a tragic future.
About the Author
A lover of literary adventure and notorious breaker of writing rules, Katika Schneider's been an obsessive writer for most of her life. She started out writing for herself before surrendering to her characters' demands, and began pursuing publication in 2014. She's a firm believer that everyone has a story to tell.
Holding her degree in Animal Science, Kat planned on attending veterinary school until incisions started making her faint. Today, her non-writing hobbies include classical horsemanship, collecting garden gnomes, customizing toy horses, binge watching anime, and rolling around on the floor making stupid noises with her awesome dog. She lives with her husband and their abundant family of critters.
[Nessix] fell to her back and stared up at the sky. "I wish I understood…"
"Understood what?" Mathias asked after several breath’s silence.
"Why bad things happen." Nessix intentionally kept her answer vague, losing the courage that initiated this poignant conversation. She trusted Mathias not to judge her, but erected preemptive walls just in case. "You know what tomorrow is?"
Her tone struck Mathias with a startling truth. Nessix had walked behind shadows from her past since the day he met her, and she was finally ready to ask him to help hold a torch to them. "What?"
Her gaze drifted from him and a deep breath drew in her wits. "Eleven years since father gave his last orders." Pinching her eyes shut against the promise of tears and shake of her lower lip, Nessix struggled to maintain her dignity and stared up at the sky once more. Mathias watched her curiously, but she didn’t dare confirm the nature of his interest. "How can you stand to live forever? To see everyone important to you have their lives snatched away? How do you deal with the doubt and the—" The fear? She wouldn’t let that escape her. "How do you do it?"
Mathias had seen Nes question herself before but never so in need of support. "I can’t answer that for sure. All I’ve ever done is continue with my duties."
"Just like that? Keep on working and everything’s better?"
He chuckled. "I help people, it’s what I do. If they need healing, I mend them. If they need a bit of happiness, I offer what I can. In caring for others, I care for myself. You can’t concentrate on the evils of the world, or you’ll lose yourself. That’s why I always try to find the good."
Nessix processed his words and picked a blade of grass. "I… I prayed for the first time in nearly a decade last night." She twirled the grass between uncertain fingers in an excuse to not look at Mathias.
"I see." A content smile turned Mathias’s lips. "What did you say?"
Nes’s eyes grew blank and she pinched the grass still. "It’s not important. He never answered."
"Still praying to Inwan?" No wonder she was disappointed. "Next time, try Etha. She might surprise you."
"Inwan’s the only god I know," Nessix said. "Why would your Etha waste her time on me after all I’ve done?"
At least she admitted her blasphemy. "You’ve never given her a chance, but she knows you well." Mathias watched Nes hopefully. "She’s been waiting to accept you when you’re ready. It might be time to move on."
The words carried the intent to encourage her, but left Nessix much more alone. Out of everyone she knew, Mathias was the only one she assumed could relate to this fear. "If your Etha stepped out of your life, left you in silence after everything you’d been through, how long would you keep praying to her?"
Mathias clamped his jaw at the untimely irony of Nes’s question. No matter how much he wanted to deny it, his answer was exactly the same as hers.