Previously in the World of Myrrah…
In Born of Water, Book 1 of the Rise of the Fifth Order trilogy:
A moment of inattention causes Water Priestess Nirine to fail in her duty to claim a girl with Elemental potential during the summer solstice ceremony in the small harbor town of Mirocyne. Fearful of punishment, Niri sneaks into the town during the festivities to find girl to take her back to the Temple of Solaire for training by the Church of Four Orders: fire, earth, air, water.
Following the girl, Ria, and her two friends, Lavinia and her brother Ty, Niri witnesses three men assault the trio. Before Niri can react, Ria uses magic instinctively to save her friends. Niri helps the three youths and warns them that use of magic, which is separate from elemental power, is punishable by death. She tells them to flee. Ty demands proof.
With a piece of basalt, Niri summons a fire spirit which allows her to speak through fire and contact the Temple of Solaire. Fire Priest Sinika answers and tells Niri that the Curse, a magical creature that does the bidding of the Church, has been released to kill whoever used magic. Niri also learns that unless she brings the girl to Solaire where she will be killed, Niri will be an outcast and hunted as well.
Niri refuses. To protect her, Sinika suggests Niri go to the Temple of Dust where the old library may have information on the making of the Curse and something to protect the girl. Now a fugitive, Niri helps Ria, Ty, and Lavinia flee in a stolen sailboat. Ty doesn’t trust Niri, Ria is afraid of her budding power, and Lavinia thinks the journey will be resolved soon and they will return home. Selling goods from the boat, they allude capture from Priests searching for them while hiding from the Curse. The episodes of near discovery and confession help build friendships among the four as they sail along the northern shore toward the archipelago.
Ready to sail south to the Southern Shore to journey to the Temple of Dust, Lavinia sees one of her parent’s merchant boats chasing them. They flee along the uninhabited islands of the archipelago where Niri conjures a storm by evaporating water. It grows beyond her control and threatens to capsize the pursing ship against rocks.
Ria uses her magic to save the ship, but by doing so alerts the Curse to their location. It arrives and attacks their small sailboat. Niri manages to bind the Curse with thick water and captures the creature in deep water while Ty sails the damaged boat away.
With the mast cracked and rigging lines broken, they cannot sail the boat south. Instead, Niri suggests they head north to the Kith, who are rumored to be very powerful as well as secretive and in defiance of the Church of Four Orders. The Church during the ancient War of the Orders wanted Kith to join, but the Kith resisted and deny their powers are elemental or magic but something different since they can shape wood and stone as well as grow plants.
Terrified of Curse, which she hadn’t fully believed in, Ria rebels against Niri’s suggestion as she wants no part of the Church to which Niri belonged. Ria’s adamant stance ignites Ty’s prejudices and he relates how he was used by a Wind Priestess during his apprenticeship and witnessed the corruption of the Church. He wants to take Ria to the cities of the archipelago even though Niri tells him they are as full of Priests and Priestesses as the Temple of Solaire.
Lavinia breaks the stalemate and decides they sail north. Ty is devastated his sister is against him and promises that he and Ria will leave as soon as they arrive in Drufforth. The journey north is quiet and full of tension. Arriving in the strange harbor town of Drufforth, Ty finds Lavinia hiding a sword she’d found in their stolen boat. Angry, Ty tries to take it from her, telling her she is to be a sailor for their parents’ and not learn to sword fight. Lavinia runs into the forest with the sword where she meets Darag, a Kith man. He offers to take her to Kith village of Lus na Sithchaine where she can petition to have the boat fixed and to teach her to learn to sword fight while she waits.
Niri, Ria, and Ty are escorted to Lus na Sithchaine for the evening gathering. Their they find the houses are built of living branches amongst the giant trees of the forest. Ty’s obvious anger, Ria’s shyness, and Niri’s status as a former Priestess nearly cause the Kith to deny them help. But the Kith elder, Laith Lus, is curious about Ria’s gifts and believes Niri while witnessing the rift between Lavinia and Ty. He agrees the Kith will help and allows Lavinia to stay in Lus na Sithchaine while Ria, Ty, and Niri stay in the port town of Drufforth.
Ty and Ria fight while in Drufforth. Having calmed and realizing she can trust the former Priestess, Ria decides to remain in Drufforth and sail to the Temple of Dust with Niri. Unwilling to leave his sister, Ty stays as well, angry that Lavinia resides in Lus na Sithchaine and disliking the time Lavinia spends with Darag.
Darag helps to fix the sailboat and spends time with Lavinia. Lavinia learns the Kith are soul-bound to a tree at birth and live as long as their tree, which can be over six hundred years. Darag is actually sixty-two but according to the Kith lifespan that equates his status similar to Lavinia’s age. They quickly grow close, but Darag resists his growing feelings as a relationship with an outsider can be troublesome. Lavinia would have to accept the Kith ways and her soul would be bound to his tree as well, lengthening her lifespan so that she will witness her family, brother, and friends die while she remains young.
With the sailboat almost repaired and Lavinia’s time in Lus na Sithchaine nearly over, Darag admits his feelings to her and promises to wait for her to return. She tells him she already knows she loves him. By choosing him, they are married by Kith ways and she is bound to his tree and will feel a pull to return to Lus na Sithchaine when she leaves.
Determined to help her friend, Lavinia sails south with Niri, Ty, and Ria. The rifts between friends and siblings are slowly healed on the journey as they reach the coastal city of Rah Hahsessah and then sail south to Tabook. There, they buy camels to travel through the desert to the ruined city of Karakastad to discover the Temple of Dust is built into a massive sinkhole amidst the desert. They explore the ruined Temple that was abandoned after the War of The Orders nearly nine hundred years before.
In the once fabled library of the Temple, Niri discovers a letter that states magic is the same as elemental gifts, and that an Elemental may learn control of other elements beyond the one of his or her birth. Just as she reads the letter, Sinika finds her alone in the library.
Sinika tells Niri he is there to help her, but she doesn’t trust him. Quickly, Niri uncovers that Sinika is there hoping she has brought Ria to claim the girl. Niri alerts Ty, Lavinia, and Ria to run as Sinika and another Fire Elemental, Ci’erra, attack Niri. She calls water into the sinkhole, flooding the lower levels of the library as she fights her way out of the building. Free of the library, she tells Ria, Lavinia, and Ty to flee while she confronts the two Fire Elementals as sea water cascades into the sinkhole and begins to fill the Temple.
Ci’erra blocks Sinika’s fire to barter her freedom. When Niri hesitates, Ci’erra attacks and runs. Sinika and Niri fight. Niri manages to knock Sinika unconscious by slowing the water in his blood. Niri seals Sinika in a lower room by keeping the water from filling it before swimming to the surface to join Ty, Lavinia, and Ria. Niri falls unconscious from the strain of the fight. Ty leads the four into the desert to escape pursuit from the Church, whom he fears may be waiting them in Tabook where their boat is moored.
After Lavinia’s departure from Lus na Sithchaine, Darag journeys to the nearby Temple of Ice, hoping to learn more of the War of the Orders which isolated the Kith and destroyed the Temples of Mists and Stone which changed them to the Temples of Ice and Dust. Searching the frozen buildings locked in permanent cold, he discovers the rooms left empty as if waiting new occupants. Finally he discovers a desperate letter that says the fighting is caused by the Order of Fire and not by those with magic as history suggests. Realizing Lavinia is in danger by journeying to the Temple of Dust at the recommendation of a Fire Elemental, Darag leaves Lus na Sithchaine to head south.
Ty navigates through the desert, taking them into its depths before turning north to head to the town of Bakk. But they run out of water while still a few days away. Overcome by the heat, they make camp in the desert while Niri searches for water with her power. Desert riders find them. Lavinia recognizes one as Darag and they are reunited.
Darag explains he arrived in Rah Hahsessah to hear of the sea flowing inland. He knows that must have been Niri so he journeyed to Bakk hoping to find a faster route to the Temple of Dust. There he tried to find them with earth power and realized he and the Kith really are Elementals just with different gifts that are similar to those with magic, who can shape living things. He felt their footsteps in the sand and joined with the Ashanti desert riders, who speak a language similar to Kith, to travel into the desert to find Lavinia and her friends.
The Ashanti tell them that there are not four elemental gifts but five: fire, water, air, earth, and spirit. Those the Church considers magic wielders are really Spirit Elementals, who can alter living things. The Ashanti control all five elements and though powerful do not say much else of their culture or city in the desert, leaving in the morning to journey onward.
Joined now by Darag, the five friends travel to Bakk where they decide to go north to find the remains of the final temple destroyed in the War of the Orders, the Temple of Winds. On the way, they decide to test the theory that an Elemental can learn to control other elements beyond their birth, which would allow Ria to use her power without attracting the Curse, who still seeks her. Niri discovers she can call fire, but it causes her pain. She does have some abilities with earth and air. Darag learns to control all elements, though air is difficult at first. Ria has the hardest time learning water with slightly more ability in earth. On the journey, Niri and Ty admit their feelings for each other.
Reaching the marsh village of Ashi’Shinai, they hire a captain to sail them to Xiazhing. Arriving in Xiazhing, they meet Zhao, an Air Elemental who has been hidden by his village from the Church. Despite the protection, Zhao lives a life of isolation and has had little training to use his Air Elemental abilities. Ignoring rules that prohibit outsiders from visiting the the Temple of Winds, Zhao agrees to take them as long as he can accompany them as he’d like to see the former home of his Elemental Order.
They journey into the mountains. On the hike to the mountaintop, they discover illusions conceal the correct path from everyone but Zhao. When they finally reach the mountaintop location of the Temple of Winds, they find one wall still standing and nothing else remains of the complex. Disappointed they cannot find information on the Curse, Niri suggests they band together to fight it. Ria is terrified of the idea. Journeying back to the river they traveled to reach the Temple, they pick a location to fight and Ria uses her magic to call the Curse. It arrives in the form of a dragon.
Niri binds the Curse with water, while Darag entraps its legs in stone, Lavinia uses her sword, and Zhao confuses it with illusions. The Curse quickly remembers how to fight and calls on its power. Ria tries to help fight, but in a panic flees by transforming into a bird. Her escape angers the Curse and it manages to hit Zhao and turns on Niri.
Ria returns, transforming into a dragon to match the Curse. Fighting against the Curse, she senses the spell that binds it to do the bidding of the Church. She breaks the spell and frees the creature who collapses and changes into a man. When he awakens, he doesn’t remember his name but only that he’d lived on the moors of the island of Kailal during the War of the Orders. Panicked to learn that was over nine hundred years before, he is desperate to journey to his homeland to find what happened to his people. The five friends agree to help.