In the dark-elven matriarchy of Alvarra, the Nightwing's beautiful daughter makes a perilous journey to the surface lands to save her people from her evil brother turned assassin.
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Dreaming Out Loud
In the underground world of Alvarra, the supreme ruler is the Nightwing, whose daughters will inherit her throne. Men in this dark-elven society are admired and pampered, but since the overthrow of the Siadhin Lords long ago by the women they bred to oppress, males may not hold positions of power. And peace has reigned for centuries.
But the current Nightwing has a son whose poisoned ambition is to kill his sisters one by one and reinstate the rule of the Siadhin Lords. When the eldest sister is assassinated, the second daughter, Tiala, does not wait to be next.
She escapes Alvarra to seek champions from the Upworld, where she faces prejudice, superstition and the Scourge of Elves - the sunlight.
Will a cadre of champions comprised of a tormented wizard, a fledgling shape-shifter, a novice monk and a couple of old enemies be enough to secure the peace in Alvarra? And at what cost?
(excerpt from Chapter 59 - underground):
"My lady," said Gudrun, kneeling awkwardly on the floor, "tell us the old tale."
"What do you mean?"
"You know--why Alvarran women rule with such an iron hand."
"Surely you're taught this in your schools?" asked the dark elf. The men held their tongues, curious.
Gudrun shook her head. "We study our own history. It's enough, believe me."
"Well," said Tiala, leaning on one elbow and stretching out her legs,
"It's no mystery, really. In ancient times, men took power over women, fighting among themselves for who would rule. As time went by, they became more and more brutish, until women were treated like animals." She looked around; she had a captive audience.
"Worse. We were beaten, enslaved, and grew old before our time working in the mines and farms, and raising our young." She paused, imagining her ancestors, always awed by the courage they must have had.
"Finally, in desperation, we committed acts of violence to take control over them. To save ourselves--and them--from a doomed future." She traced the outline of a rabbit with her forefinger on the floor.
"Because of man's weakness of character, our grandmothers deemed them too unstable to rule; thus they became the governed."
She looked up, and defiance flashed from her eyes. "But we rule with compassion."
Obsidian sensed an untruth, but was not sure how to address it.
Six Stix grunted with disagreement. He had seen how men could be changed.
Embaza was lost in thought, thinking of Dekhalis.
Gudrun said, "No. There is little difference between men and women. By my beard, men are flesh and bone, are they not? They fight and work and love. They have struggle and hope and doubt, as we do. In Tskurl, we live in harmony with each other."
Six Stix laughed. "Quite an exaggeration, my old foe. The bickering among dwarves is legendary."
Gudrun's voice grew hard. "Let us not start an old argument."
Embaza ended the discussion with a challenge to Tiala. "Perhaps it is no longer fear of man that perpetuates your world, but fear of the effect they could have on you."
Tiala stared at him, struck by his words. She said, "I need rest, and so do you. No more talk." She leaned her back up against the cavern wall and closed her eyes.