Name: Steve Westenra
Twitter Handle: @SteveWestenra
Title: THE COINS OF MAMMON
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy
Word Count: 164K
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obsession is:
As Qemassen's high-priest, Samelqo would do anything for his city, anything for his king. The queen and her children may while away their time in her frivolous gardens, but Samelqo must dwell on darker truths for the sake of Qemassen's stability.
He can see them when he dreams, or when he wakes--the god Molot's outstretched palms, tongues of white-hot fire licking golden hands from below. The god hungers. The fire waits. A child cries from out the blackness. Samelqo is ready.
Samelqo eq-Milqar is the high priest of Qemassen, a city of godlike kings, storytellers, and sages. When drought, famine, and war bring Qemassen to its knees, Samelqo knows the gods are the people's only hope. A sacrifice is in order and it has to be of royal blood. To persuade the king, Samelqo falsifies news of an imminent attack and the king gives over his eldest son. But the ritual backfires, its dark nature attracting evil spirits instead of the gods' favour.
Samelqo is imprisoned for his failure, and while he wastes away in the palace's highest tower, the consequences of his actions infect his desert kingdom. The crown prince descends into demon-fuelled madness, whispers of a slave rebellion echo in the palace halls, and Samelqo's false prophecy of an attack comes true as Qemassen's enemies from the north prepare to invade. Only Samelqo can undo the knot he's tied around Qemassen with his failed sacrifice. He has one chance to exorcise the demon he summoned, unify the kingdom, and stop a war, or the kingdom of Qemassen will fall.
The city was dying, or so it seemed.
Samelqo eq-Milqar looked out on the oily, black clouds above the temple district. Though he was high up in the palace now, the screams of the mothers still sounded in his ears as though he were standing beside them. His lungs fought for clean air amongst the foulness of the smoke from their sacrifices, though the room he stood in was clear of vapor, free of any sound but his own breath.
Samelqo was heq-Ashqen, high priest. It wasn't his place to falter, when the gods called on him to lead the people of Qemassen. It wasn't the place of Qemassen's people to falter in their own daily observances. Yet true sacrifice required pain. What pain had they allowed themselves to feel in the dog days of their influence?
While he smoothed his hand over his bald head, Samelqo closed his eyes. A baby cried in the next room--King Eshmunen's newborn son, or daughter. The sixteenth child of the sixteenth king had been prophesied to lead his country at a time of great need. With the Lora threatening war from across the sea, and Qemassen brought low by drought and famine, the need was no mystery.
Two weeks ago, Queen Moniqa had given birth to her sixteenth then seventeenth child. Twins, a boy and a girl. The girl had been born first, the true sixteenth.
The omen did not bode well for the city.