Among the scattered fringe cities bordering the Cienbal desert, the true name of the Monster of Karth is spoken only in whispers...
Raz i'Syul Arro.
A sellsword of the utmost caliber, Raz is a killer of paramount skill and highest regard. Towering tall even amongst the atherian, he is the only of his kind to live free in the "civilized" confines of mankind's varied cultures. He has no need of loyalties, his sole affections pledged to the gold crowns that buy his time and skills. Wed to his blades, Raz's only friends are the Moon and Her Stars and the shadows they bring with the night.
But Raz was not born to the mercenary's way, to the butchery and battle of day-by-day survival. Raz, like a sword, was hammered from steel and fire and ashy smoke, forged on the ruins of an old life. And Raz knows who he owes this new path to, this carved way of blood and iron. The Monster of Karth, after all, would never forget who gave him that name.
To the south, the Mahsadën of Miropa are gone. The šef lay dead, slain at Raz's own hands, their cruel will ripped from the shadows of the city. In response, riders careen to every reachable corner of the known realms, telling anyone with a mind to listen of the boundless riches promised for the Monster's head. The world now turned against him, Raz is forced to flee, escaping along the northern roads just as the summer months come to an end. For a time the coolness and breathtaking verdure of the great rolling woodlands he finds himself in are a welcome change, offering a sublime peace from a life that has rarely known more than brutality and bloodshed.
But that peace - as is so often the case - is a shallow trickery. The North, it seems, is not far-gone from the corruption and wickedness Raz had hoped to leave behind in the fringe cities. Before long he finds himself embroiled in the savage politics of this new land, forced to play a part in the ugly game of intrigue and violence once more. To survive, Raz must again give way to the Monster, making his stand within the devouring walls of the cruel coliseum the Northerners call simply "the Arena".
Blood, after all, freezes as hard and cold as anything else.
The Monster of Karth has risen once more. Quin Tern of Azbar has met his fate, and his council has borne the price of crossing Raz i'Syul Arro. Now, as the cruel walls of the city fade into the winter storms at his back, Raz rides north, seeking to take the High Priest Talo Brahnt up on an offer he never should have refused. The path Raz has chosen, though, is a bloody one, and before long he and his new companions find themselves pitted against hardships they can neither anticipate nor ignore. As man and snow and beast alike rise up to block their path, it seems almost as though the North itself has woken to wage war against the Monster.
And yet, Raz's greatest challenge still looms ahead. Far to the north, like a plague beneath the trees, Gûlraht Baoill, Kayle of the savage mountain tribes, leads his armies further east with each passing day. He has set his hungry gaze upon the reaches of Cyurgi' Di, the High Citadel, and desires nothing more than to see it razed from the face of the world, offering it and its blasphemous "false-prophets" up as sacrifice to his Stone Gods. Syrah Brahnt, the High Priest's adopted daughter and protégé, has found him out, discovering his plan to lay siege to her home, cutting her and the rest of the Laorin off from the world. As it is, though, there is little and less that she can do, and when the first of the Kayle's generals reaches the base of the mountain pass, Syrah is left with only one option. In the end, she will have to face the wrath of the tribes herself...
Little does she know that the Monster is coming, riding hard to lend her his blades.
The High Citadel cannot be seen to harbor a killer.
This is a simple truth, and one that Raz i’Syul Arro has little choice but to respect. As the winter storms fall away in favor of the North’s pleasant summer months, Raz finds himself having once more to face the cruelties of the world with spear and sword in hand.
For the first time, though, the Monster no longer walks his path alone. Syrah Brahnt, Priestess of Laor and adopted daughter of the former High Priest of Cyurgi ‘Di himself, has joined him on his journey. Leaving all that might have been behind, they set out together in search of new lives, always striving to stay ahead of the ever-looming shadows of old enemies that hound their every step.
Raz’s legend, though, has spread too far. After vanquishing the great Kayle of the Northern tribes, his names have begun to echo across the realms: Monster of Karth, Scourge of the South, Dragon of the North. It isn’t long before they are forced to draw on magic and steel to save themselves from the blades that seek them in the night, leaving them with little choice but to abandon everything they’ve ever known in favor of a perilous land neither would have every thought to seek. Meanwhile, waiting for them among the grasslands beyond those strange shores, a man whispers in his sleep, his iron shackles shaking as he trembles and repeats the same prophetic words over and over again.
With fifty thousand freed slaves at their back, Raz i'Syul Arro and Syrah Brahnt leave the savannahs of Perce behind. Karesh Syl is no more. Karesh Nan burns at their backs. Beyond the border before them the South looms, ready and waiting, and together Raz and Syrah pray they are prepared for the great offense they must now undertake against the fringe cities.
All the while, however, another threat has threaded her way into the ranks of the Mahsaden, and is waiting only for the right time to pull her web of woven fire tight...