I’m currently doing the final editing of Shadow and Light Chapter 2. I’ll be putting it up on Patreon tomorrow. It will be available for you to read here on Saturday. It continues the story of Nikka as she helps her sisters plan for the end of the rains and her first ride to the Battle Plain.
Since I’m trying to give you a bit more here than you’d get just reading the book, I thought I’d give you a little extra insight into the world Nikka lives in.
Nikka and her fellow Shadow Witches live in the coastal lowlands to the south-west of the Battle Plain. It’s a humid, tropical region even during the dry season. During the six-month rainy season, it rains nearly every day. For the first few weeks, the rain is virtually constant, but later in the season it slows to only rain for an hour or two each day. During the dry season, the rain stops but there is always plenty of water flowing down from the highlands.
Their principal crops are rice, cotton, sugarcane, and tropical fruits and vegetables. Fish, poultry, boar, and water buffalo provide for the balance of their diet. Agriculture is the primary duty of the serf class, who constitute more than 80% of the population. There are also skilled laborers and artisans among the serfs.
The witch-born constitute the noble class in the Shadow Realm. They’re ruled over my the immortal Shadow Queen. The realm is divided into nine autonomous city-states. Each city is governed by a Council of Mothers. Any witch over the age of 30 retires from war and joins the council. Among the Mothers, a much smaller group of former Battle Queens forms the Council of High Mothers.
Witch-born women are raised by the Mothers and trained from a young age in their duties to the realm. Their duties are divided into protecting the realm and governing the realm. Governing the realm can include anything from scientists such as Lanaia to politicians like Rankala.
A witch-born girl is endowed with shadow power at the age of eight years. At that age, she selects a panther kitten to raise and begins combat training in earnest. She learns to master the shadow power, including the ability to form clothing, armor, and weapons from shadow.
At the age of 14 a young witch gets a mentor ten years her senior. During the rains, she’ll train and study with the experienced warrior. Nikka’s older sister Saja is her mentor, who has trained her not just in combat but in her other roles as well. A witch will ride to war for the first time when she is 17 years old.
Witch-born men leave their mothers at the age of eight. From then on, they live with the other witch-born men in a separate part of the city. While men don’t have governing responsibility, the witch-born men are a significant element of the army. The young boys train almost exclusively in combat.
Because they don’t get the shadow power, witch-born men fight very differently from the witches. There are a few different schools among the men, but they all include a heavy emphasis on unarmed combat techniques as well as swords, spears, archery, and other weapons. The men wear steel or bronze chainmail armor they make themselves.
The realm also conscripts most of the young men and women into the army. The state is expected to provide weapons — typically rough wood spears — and basic leather armor. Some of the more successful serfs are able to equip themselves with limited steel weapons and armor.
That should be enough to give you a good idea of what life is like in Nikka’s world. I hope you enjoyed it. It’s time for me to get back to editing Chapter 2.