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NEW BOOK ALERT: Amber Fire by Aminat Sanni-Kamal | African Fantasy Romance

It's finally here and we're excited to share the first chapter from AMBER FIRE by Aminat Sanni-Kamal, the fun and thrilling new fantasy romance book published by Love Africa Press. Check it out.

AMBER FIRE - Chapter One


Ìlú Òrìṣà

(City of the Gods)


The unthinkable had happened.

Ṣango, God of thunder and lightning, was still trying the wrap his head around it. One minute, he’d had his Oṣé in his hand, playing with it; the next, it was gone.

Had he dozed off for a second?

He shook his head. No, it wasn't possible. He didn't fall asleep except when he wanted to.

So, how had he dozed off? Most importantly, how had his Oṣé, his double-bladed axe that represented his authority and served as his battle weapon, disappeared from his hand? His Oṣé—created from the wood of a thousand-year-old Ìrókò tree, its blades forged by the Alágbẹ̀dẹ Òrìṣà, divine blacksmiths on the orders of Olódùmarè in the hottest part of the divine forge—proved small and light enough for him to carry about. Then once in battle, it extended, carrying the weight of the Ìrókò tree from which its handle was made and the heat of the forge from which its blade were crafted. It was a most formidable weapon only he could bear. But he hadn’t had use for it in this form in a long time because there were no longer wars. So, he always conveniently had it on his person. Well, until now.

It couldn’t have been stolen because nobody could touch it except him—anyone who dared would have their blood dry up instantly and die on the spot. As he paced about his outer Chambers, his forehead furrowed in worry, his robe making a swash sound as he absently dusted it.

The peacocks lazily strolling in his gardens caught his eye, and he paused to watch them over the terrace carved from warm-coloured marble. A soft, radiant luminescence emanated in the atmosphere as lush greenery cascaded down the edges of the terrace, flowing seamlessly to merge with the colourful green of his gardens. The sky was bright—it was always bright here, the blue of the skies sharper, the light from the sun more golden, and when night came, the silvery shine from the moon spread over the whole of Ìlú Òrìṣà like an enchantress.

Water gushed rhythmically from the mythical fountains in his gardens, adding to the allure of the perfumed flowers and infusing the air with magic. Wisdom, power, and magic were part of the atmospheric makeup of Ìlú Òrìṣà, and the scent of them hung thickly around the abodes of higher Òrìṣà.

Ṣango, regardless of his predicament, couldn’t resist a smile as his peacocks with their iridescent feathers walked majestically to the rhythm of the fountains, the rhythm of magic. With each step, each dance, they echoed the heartbeat of life and creation. They reminded him of Ọṣun, goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, and also his ex-wife. He smiled at the fond memory of her turning into a peacock so she could fly to the highest point of the heavens to meet with Olódùmarè, the creator of All. He had thought her efforts pathetic at the time, but Olódùmarè had judged otherwise and rewarded her tenacity. Ọṣun was now the only deity who had direct access to Olódùmarè, the only messenger of the Supreme deity.

A scoff escaped him. How ironic that he couldn't love Ọṣun the way she wanted to be loved when she was the goddess of love. Ọya, the wife he did love, had betrayed him in ways he didn't want to think of for the rest of his eternal life. As deity, and formerly a human king, he was used to betrayal, but Ọya’s had almost ruined him. Though he had healed from it—centuries of being alive ensured that—his heart still bore the scars. Some might say he deserved it; Ọṣun most definitely had. But a broken heart was still a broken heart.

He shook his head slightly as he resumed his pacing, then a sudden thought made him pause and look skyward.

Was this Olódùmarè's doing?

The Supreme usually left the deities to their caprices. They didn't like to get directly involved in the lives of the gods, much less those of humans, except when They believed Their authority as the Supreme was being threatened. Then under the guise of teaching humility, They would meddle with things.

It’s what They had done so many years ago, back when deities— Òrìṣà —and humans had shared the same sky. Olódùmarè had caused a terrible drought to overcome the land. There had been nothing the deities could do about it. Frustrated their prayers were not being answered, stupid humans began to offer human sacrifices, a thing that hadn’t been asked of them…and the beginning of a terrible depravity.

Ọṣun had taken it upon herself to speak directly to Olódùmarè at that point, to plead with Them to end the drought. It had been a perilous journey even for a goddess as powerful as Ọṣun, and she had almost dissolved, but it had been worth it at the end.

Ṣango blinked. Was this one of those periods where Olódùmarè felt threatened and wanted to reinforce Their authority as the Supreme?

"My Lord," a voice said.

Ṣango turned to see his trusted friend Gbonka standing behind him.

"Ah, Gbonka, you are here." He smiled and placed his hands on the general's broad shoulders.

"You sent for me." Gbonka lifted an eyebrow, no doubt surprised at his subtle tone and sudden show of affection.

"Yes. Yes, I did." Ṣango nodded then sighed. He opened his mouth to speak, though he didn't know how to say it.

"Is anything the matter, my Lord?"

"You are not here as my guard; you are here as my friend. You can drop the honorifics.”

Upon those words, his oldest friend relaxed his shoulders and leaned casually against the bannisters.

"Fine, then, Ṣango. What is the matter? I was in the middle of training when your servant came to me, so this better be good."

"Something is wrong indeed," Ṣango admitted. "But it is not something I can say out here. The walls have ears and the wind carry whispers. I am not going to risk one of those wavering spirits listening in." He then stalked off into his inner Chambers.

His maidservants bowed as he walked past them. He ignored them in his usual fashion. When they attempted to follow him inside, he waved his hand in dismissal. He wanted to have a private conversation with Gbonka, who followed him begrudgingly into the room and shut the vast oak doors behind him.

"So—"

"My Oṣé is missing," Ṣango blurted out, interrupting whatever Gbonka had been about to say and throwing away all the arrogant demeanour he always carried in the presence of others.

"What?!" Gbonka's eyes widened in a mix of astonishment and horror. "Ṣango, my Lord, this is not something to joke about."

"Does it look like I'm joking?" His expression must be a mirror of his friend’s horror. He was infamous for his short temper, and Gbonka knew better than to aggravate him by assuming he could make a joke about something as serious as this.

His Oṣé, though not connected to his powers as the god of thunder, lightning, and fire, was a gift from Olódùmarè and a part of him. Losing it would make him a laughing stock amongst deities, but it also had grave consequences because a gift from the Supreme deity was equivalent to a promise. An oath. Losing it was akin to breaking said oath, and in Ṣango’s case, it meant he wasn’t worthy of being a deity. The mere thought of it made him feel pathetic. He hadn’t felt this way since he was human, and the unused emotion felt like alien invention to his essence.

Gbonka sighed and took a seat at the small table opposite Ṣango's gigantic bed. The way he furrowed his brows, Ṣango couldn’t tell whether he was being sceptical or tired, since he had been at the training grounds before he summoned him, or maybe both. Not that Ṣango could blame him if it were the former; even he found it difficult to believe that the symbol of his authority was gone.

Too restless to sit, he continued pacing the intricately designed hardwood, dark-toned floors of his inner chamber. The motifs carved into the planks were a detailed illustration of his symbols: Lightning and Fire.

"How did it happen?" Gbonka asked finally.

"I don't know," he replied honestly.

"You don't know." Gbonka shot to his feet, staring at him in disbelief. "You do know that Timi Ọlófà-iná could attack your palace at any moment. The news of the impending battle between you two is all Ìlú Òrìṣà is talking about. Do you know what would happen should the news of the disappearance of your Oṣé ever leave these four walls?"

"I would become an object of mockery. I know that." Ṣango felt a slight tingling sensation in his eyes as thunder rumbled outside. Anyone looking at him would see his eyes flash like he was about to set them on fire.

"Put a leash on your temper, Ṣango. Except if you want me here as your soldier and not your friend.” Gbonka rolled his eyes. They had been friends for so long that Ṣango’s mood swings and temper didn’t faze him anymore.

Ṣango closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm himself. Even he knew his temper was both a blessing and a curse, but he would never admit the latter to anyone else.

"Even without my Oṣé, Timi cannot take my place. He can only try,” he said when he opened his eyes, dismissing Gbonka’s fear.

“I don’t think you should underestimate Timi. You may not have noticed since you keep winning the battle between you two all the time. But, with every battle he loses, he comes back stronger. He won’t repeat the mistakes he made in the past, and he is very much determined to take your place. And by losing your Oṣé, you have no right to be here. He can use that against you.”

“Oh, please, I am Ṣango. Nobody can take my place, especially not a simpering fool like Timi.”

“At least, unlike you, he still has his weapon.”

Ṣango sighed at Gbonka’s retort. He was right—Timi still had his Ọfà-iná. What a disgraceful thing indeed. If news of his missing Oṣé ever got out, there wouldn’t even be a battle: he would be a fallen god, and he couldn’t let that happen.

He was the great and mighty god of thunder and fire—he would never let himself become a fallen god.

“Tell me everything from the beginning,” Gbonka said as he sat back down. The crease on his forehead showed how distraught and concerned his oldest friend was for him.

Ṣango threw his hands up and shook his head. He didn’t know where to begin.

“There isn’t much to tell. I sat right where you were sitting, polishing my Oṣé, and I dozed off for what might have been a second, and the next thing I know, my weapon is gone. Whether it vanished into thin air or was snatched from my hands, I can’t say.”

Gbonka’s turn to sigh, and he furrowed his brows even deeper and tilted his head slightly to the side as if a thought had occurred to him.

“Well, we can rule out the option of someone snatching it out of your hands. Everyone knows that’s impossible, but it vanishing into thin air is even more unlikely unless….”

“Unless what?” Ṣango asked, his anxiety piqued by the look on his friend’s face.

“My Lord, you said you dozed off,” Gbonka said, getting to his feet, and Ṣango gave an impatient nod, eager to hear whatever theory Gbonka had come up with.

“You never doze off, you are never tired, you sleep only because you want to. It’s usually a deliberate effort with you, and even when you do, you are still conscious of your surroundings.”

“Skies, Gbonka, I know this about myself.”

“It would mean there’s a higher power at play here. Do you think maybe Olódùmarè had something to do with it?”

Ṣango rolled his eyes inward.

“I already considered that,” he began, unable to hide the disappointment in his voice. “But it’s most unlikely. Olódùmarè only interferes with our lives when They are bored or feel Their authority as the Supreme is being threatened. They have no reason to do that to me.”

“They have every reason to do that with you,” Gbonka countered.

“Why? I don’t have any business with Them, neither do I wish to—”

“That’s the first problem. You are apathetic, and you are not particularly subtle either. I mean, you walk around calling yourself mighty—”

“But I am mighty.” Ṣango stared at his friend, incredulous.

“Nobody doubts that, Ṣango, but whenever They get like this, there is no reasoning with Them. But all of this is only an assumption that Olódùmarè is even involved with it all,” Gbonka finished.

“So, how do we even know what is going on? I must find my Oṣé before word gets out it’s gone. We can’t keep on speculating. We need real answers.”

“There is only one way to be sure if the Supreme is involved in this.”

“Then tell me,” Ṣango demanded.

Gbonka sighed and straightened, to look directly into Ṣango’s eyes—one of the few people who could do that.

“I’ll tell you, but you won’t like it.”

“Does it look like I’m in a position to be choosy?” Ṣango snapped.

“Fine, then, my Lord. The only way we can be sure of what’s going on is to ask the one who has direct access to the Supreme.”

Ṣango stared at his friend for a moment then burst out laughing, and in the same minute, all laughter cleared from his voice and face as he spoke.

“Tell me you are joking.” The words came out laden with ice.

“I am not, my Lord.”

“You do not possibly expect me to ask Ọṣun for help? It goes against my mightiness and—”

“I thought you said you were not in the position to be choosy.” Gbonka stared at him stoically.

Ṣango hissed and sat down for the first time since they’d entered the inner Chambers.

“She hates me. You know that. If she comes to know of this, and if it turns out that the Supreme Deity is not involved, then it would have been better if I had stood on the highest mountain and announced my situation to the whole world myself.”

“True,” Gbonka agreed. “But you do not have any other choice.”

“Fine,” Ṣango agreed, resigned. “Do we know where she is at the moment?”

“No, but I can find out.”

“I am sorry to have to ask you to do this, but you understand the severity of the situation.”

“I understand, my Lord. It is always an honour to serve you.” Gbonka gave a curt bow.

“Good, find her and bring her to me. Take my ẹdun àrá with you. It is the only way she would come with you.”

Gbonka nodded and bowed again before leaving to do his bidding. Though Ṣango could tell by his rigidity that he wasn’t too pleased to touch his thunder stone and even more displeased to find the goddess of love.

Ṣango was taking a big gamble by summoning Ọṣun, because whether or not Olódùmarè was involved, bringing Ọṣun into the matter didn’t bode well for him.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK - Amber Fire by Aminat Sanni-Kamal

Set in the vibrant city of Lagos and the mystical realm of Ilu-Orisa, the story centres on Toyin, a descendant of a powerful lineage of devout worshippers of Sango, the Yoruba god of thunder and fire.

When her long-time boyfriend selfishly demands she abandons her dreams to become his wife, Toyin invokes the wrath of Sango on him. Unknown to her, Sango seeks to find at least one human who still remembers him. A human who loves him.

Bound by fate and destiny, Toyin and Sango embark on a perilous emotional journey to find his lost symbol of authority. As their connection deepens, Sango must confront ancient adversaries, conspiracies and divine alliances and make the ultimate sacrifice for love.

Will Toyin's love be enough to restore Sango to his rightful position, or will they be consumed by the fiery depths of their destiny?


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