Pact of Deliverance

Concurrent Trilogy, Southwest Arc: "SCARS"

Deep within the hidden core of the "World Temple", an ancient prophecy is chiselled in stone - it predicts the beginning of a journey to do... something. Quite what is unclear, but it certainly relates to a group of young inhabitants of the survivors' village of Ghirina, which stands as a small defiant remnant of a kingdom that was obliterated in the so-called "Final War" 60 years earlier. None of them are aware of the prophecy, their relevance to it, or even to the existence of the temple: their only concern is the removal of a vicious, demented old man that has ruled their village for the last 40 years. Somehow, the fates must contrive their paths to cross with the World Temple and their vague, uncertain destiny: but will their immediate concerns allow them to live long enough to follow the prophetic words of the past?

The people of Ghirina

Tap/click an image to see the character bio.

Note: this is just a sample of the large and diverse cast, and the illustrations are purely a visual guide as the novel contains no images.

Mini-bios

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Gamliel

Age: around 80

The cruel, psychopathic chieftain of Ghirina Village, known to and referred to by most as the “Great One” or the “Mouthpiece of God”. His real name is known only to his oldest, closest allies: he came to the settlement many years after the “Final War” and seized power from the progressive leader of the time, though few of the mostly young population are aware of it. Gamliel keeps his dwindling populace busy with dangerous rituals and monotonous routines, but his advanced age is making him think and he is looking to life beyond his rule; this gives opportunities to his chief minister Galenus, his rebellious “Second Daughter” Nalani, his mistress Siiri and his senior attendant Holmgeirr, who all seek his destruction but have very different ideas about what should follow.

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Nalani

Age: around 20

The younger daughter of Ghirina village’s chieftain; her face was marked with scars in accordance with her father’s enforced customs, but her physical resistance led to her being accidentally disfigured during the ceremony, losing her the use of her right eye. She is physically petite and frail, and her vocabulary is intentionally limited to annoy her father, but she is a highly observant and cunning. She listens to the stories of the ’Final War’ with cynicism and believes that there is still a wider world to explore, but her coarse language, frankness and aloofness make her - and her dangerous ideas about defying her father - generally unpopular. She is almost always accompanied by her ’wolf-dog’ Willafried, who serves as a companion and obedient protector. Nalani often goes into the forest beyond the village at night to sit and, most presume, ponder the kinds of mischief that she is notorious for: she is, in fact, looking for or waiting for someone that she has refused to give up on.

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Carla

Age: around 23

A blood cousin of Nalani, Carla was seriously injured in a perceived accident in her teens and left unable to conceive children. She is very tall - close to 2 metres tall - but is a devout pacifist and highly clumsy with it; she is also cursed with strange, immature speech patterns and occasional inability to process information quickly that contrast with her true intellect and do nothing to help her status. Carla’s barrenness has led to her being labelled as ’broken’ and confined to a house for social outcasts, but she bears her fate stoically and continues to enjoy Nalani’s support and friendship. She also acts as an unofficial tutor and administrative assistant to Gamliel’s trusted minister Galenus, who knows of her true intelligence and does what he can to spare her the worst horrors of being an Outcast.

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Marku

Age: around 24

The leader of Ghirina’s “Four Great Hunters”, who are responsible for gathering most of the meat that the village elite consume and act as an unofficial front-line defence against the antagonistic Otoro tribe that live to the south of Ghirina and regularly encroach on hunting grounds to take animals and people alike to use as meat; Marku is haunted by the memory of being caught by the Otoro, and he trains constantly to ensure that he - and his friends and allies - can fight to the death at any given moment. Marku is very tall and exceptionally strong, but his build is unflattering and he is often too good-natured and slow to discipline his subordinates. He has a brotherly fondness for Nalani and tries to protect her from harm: she both appreciates and resents this and makes his life needlessly difficult. Marku does have another side to his personality: he has a well-suppressed bloodlust and a deep-rooted belief, despite all of the indoctrination that he has been subjected to, that Gamliel’s way is wrong, and that makes him one of Nalani’s few potential allies, although his fear of what opposing Gamliel might lead to prevents him from being too vocal. He despairs that his younger brother Riku is quite a different personality: Riku is spiteful, cowardly, mischievous and selfish, and he often requires reprimanding for his cruel behaviour.

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(Elder) Galenus

Age: around 70

Gamliel’s senior minister: he is a reluctant secret-keeper that now regrets aiding his master’s rise to power and covertly works toward regime change. His efforts are tainted, however: he has an irrational fear of what returning to the more progressive society of older times might lead to that stems from his personal experiences, and so any future that he orchestrates cannot involve technology or the appearance of strength. He is married to Shaman Magda, one of two mystical figures that dominate spiritual matters alongside their master Gamliel, and his grandson Sammy is one of the “Four Great Hunters”.

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Gianna

Age: around 36

Gamliel’s eldest daughter and eldest acknowledged child; she is therefore his heir, but Gamliel is completely against yielding power to a woman. Gianna is, in fact, a disciplined athlete and expert polearm fighter, but years of psychological warfare and the loss of her only son - who was seen, in her father’s eyes, as the next ruler - have taken their toll, and she is an emotional wreck that serves her ungrateful father unquestioningly and is completely dependent upon her cynical yet cautious, ’low-born’ husband Randall. Her relationship with Nalani has deteriorated to the point where they are practically enemies, and although Gianna secretly wishes that could change, her own sincerely-held opinions on faith and law are the main obstruction to reconciliation.

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Siiri

Age: around 50

A senior attendant and mother of Gamliel’s illegitimate son Anton; Gamliel stubbornly refuses to acknowldge his adult son but secretly longs to do so and have the male heir that he craves. Siiri is now single-mindedly devoted to seeing her son become the “Great One” and will achieve it by any means: she is openly contemptuous of other women and passionately hates Gianna for being ’an obstruction’. Anton, meanwhile, is perpetually confined to his mother’s home at his father’s decree and quietly tends his garden, making no secret of his disinterest in his mother’s casually destructive plans to elevate him but at the same time hoping that he can one day see the rest of the village and be allowed to publicly exist; it is only his siblings and his father’s most trusted allies that know of him.

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Holmgeirr

Age: around 42

A former “Great Hunter” that was forced to vie for Nalani’s hand in marriage but was then mysteriously exposed to a life-changing poisonous substance that ravaged his lungs and left him a frail, gaunt figure that Gamliel then appointed as the lowest level of attendant in light of his subsequent ’uselessness’. Holmgeirr eventually lost the ability to remain silent and openly challenged Gamliel at a meeting: the response, to the shock of all, was an immediate promotion to senior attendant and junior minister. Holmgeirr then sensed that Gamliel could be manipulated and formulated a plan that would, he hoped, give him the life that he had always dreamed of: his intentions are not entirely clear, and he quickly chooses Siiri as an ally, so most of Gamliel’s other enemies regard Holmgeirr as a possible future threat rather than a friend. He quietly blames Nalani for his condition and plots her destruction as a separate, obsessive enterprise.

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Aya

Age: around 23

A lowly washerwoman and long-term fiancee of Marku; she was offended when Marku broke off their engagement to propose to Nalani during one of Gamliel’s regular attempts to settle his wayward “Second Daughter”, and it has never been forgiven despite Marku insisting that it was solely done to spare his friend further misery (Nalani never completely forgave him either, in fact, for the unannounced declaration and lost trust in him). Aya is more openly cynical than most of her peers and is unapologetically frank; she is also one of the few people that takes pity on Carla and treats her properly.

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Callum

Age: around 23

One of Ghirina’s “Four Great Hunters”, the leading hunter-gatherers and warriors that protect and provide sustenance to the village; he is brave and highly competent but is generally viewed as thick-witted and a shirker because he often follows Carla instead of joining his peers. He does not oppose Gamliel because he worries for his family and for Carla, who barely enjoys any freedom due to her social status; his mother, however, is an unquestioning type that makes no secret of her contempt for Carla and her son’s affection for her. Callum was present when what appeared to be an Otoro hunting party attacked the teenaged Carla and her friends at the northern waterfall with the strange intention of killing them: he blames himself for the death of one girl and the injuries that were sustained by Carla and one other, and he suspects - although he never speaks of it - that the assailants were actually sent by Gamliel to prevent the youths from divulging information that they had found in a mysterious box behind the falls.

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Sammy

Age: around 23

The most prominent of Ghirina’s “Four Great Hunters” despite not being their leader; he is the grandson of Elder Galenus and Shaman Magda, and he is not afraid to abuse the presumed power that his family connections promise. He bullies or terrorises anyone that he pleases save for Marku - whose strength and reputation he is fearful of - and he is especially antagonistic toward Carla and Callum for reasons that are not entirely clear beyond spite; he has a public relationship with Afia, the daughter of the village bakers, but despite Afia’s total devotion and willingness to follow his every whim he pursues other women at every opportunity. Sammy’s father - dubbed a “famous idiot” for reasons unspecified - died in mysterious circumstances, and his mother lost her sanity before she also disappeared, and Elder Galenus refuses to divulge their fates to anyone, including his frustrated grandson.

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Kiri

Age: around 24

One of the village domestic workers and a close friend of Afia and Carla; she is, despite her age, a justice-seeking matriarch by nature and unafraid of challenging people unless it carries very obvious risks (such as Gamliel). Her younger sister Kiku is one of Gamliel’s three wives; Kiri worries for her sister’s safety and sanity but is powerless to do anything about it. Her late brother was once forced to vie for Nalani and died mysteriously; Kiri suspects that Nalani murdered him and is therefore reluctant to have anything to do with her despite Carla’s constant - and unconvincing - insistance that Nalani would not do such a thing.

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Rhona

Age: around 23

A village domestic and former friend of Carla and Callum; an accident at the northern waterfall left her without a womb - and hence “broken” - and condemned her to a life in the Outcast House. The physical change to her situation was obvious but Rhona’s personality was dramatically different after the accident as well: the bubbly, loud, slightly dim and innocent girl became a broody, aggressive, ambitious woman that desires an escape from her life of second-class servitude by way of becoming one of the “Great Hunters”, and she appears to have a hitherto-unseen and inexplicable potential that even Marku is forced acknowledge. The victory is empty, however: her status was initially obtained by voluntarily becoming Sammy’s mistress, and she now feels trapped, although she is more than happy to aid his attacks on Carla.

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Sol

Age: around 24

The quietest of Ghirina’s “Four Great Hunters” and Marku’s trusted friend; he is serious to a fault but highly respected for it. He is laconic and, as far as most are concerned, unambitious and uninteresting: it is therefore a surprise that he is pursued by Marla, who is best described as beautiful but excitable, very loud and none too bright. Sol’s attempts to avoid Marla are a regular source of entertainment for the villagers but when he is hunting or forced in combat, Sol is an expert archer, highly competent fighter and natural leader.

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Pio

Age: around 45

A former “Great Hunter” and Marku’s mentor; he sustained serious injuries to one of his legs whilst rescuing a group of captured villagers from the Otoro tribe but was ‘rewarded’ by Gamliel with a demotion to Attendant because he could no longer fight or hunt. Pio is, as most have to be, generally stoic about the way of things: he usually guards Gamliel due to his intimidating presence but is often seconded to Elder Galenus - at the Elder’s request - to assist with secretive matters concerning the supply of salt and other resources to the village. Pio and his wife Nia - who serves as a domestic - both regard Marku as being like a son after losing their own children to disease and Gamliel’s routines and rituals.

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Lenora

Age: around 60

A former Attendant to Gamliel and keeper of the Outcast House, a large building that houses all of the villagers that Gamliel has deemed to be useless or in some way “tainted”: this includes the physically and mentally impaired, women and girls that cannot bear children, people that have been seriously weakened by disease or injuries and the “testing children” - children born out of wedlock purely to determine whether those that have recently passed the “rites of adulthood” are fertile or not. Lenora serves a dual role as keeper of the House: she ensures that the Outcasts are always available for menial work and do not cause trouble, and she also does what she can to protect her charges from those amongst Gamliel’s privleged Attendants that want to - and regularly do - pay unwanted visits for various unsavoury reasons. She is also a secret-keeper for a number of reasons: if anyone knows whether Nalani’s “testing child” is still alive or where a lot of the stronger “testing children” go to when they reach a certain age, it is Lenora, but Carla refuses to see “Mumma Lenna” as willingly complicit.

AUDIENCE SUITABILITY NOTICE

Language:
strong as exclamational use in dialogue
Sex/nudity:
rare, mild non-sexual references to nudity
Violence:
conflict, torture, domestic abuse themes

This novel is only available in English at present.

Available now as a Print-on-Demand title: ask at all libraries & all good high street & online bookshops. Stockists should make their enquiries with Ingram.

Also available as a Kindle eBook: Visit Amazon.com

Unless otherwise stated, all media & content © A. P. M. Cousins 2012 (last update 05/07/2019).