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Literature / Avesta of Black and White

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Avesta of Black and White (黒白のアヴェスター, Kokubyaku no Avesta) is a novel written by Takashi Masada and with art by G Yuusuke. It marks the fourth main entry in the Shinza Bansho Series.

Taking place during the era of the First Heaven, it takes place in a war-torn world where everyone belongs to the side of either good or evil—known as Ashavan and Dragvant respectively—with peace being fundamentally impossible. In the midst of all this, a being known as Quinn is born as a fusion of both Good and Evil. She is sent by her father to learn about hope and miracles so that he himself may one day understand them. She is eventually drafted into the Yazata, a military group made up of the best fighters available to the Ashavan, where she now works to further her goals. Among their ranks however, there is an individual who might have a massive impact on not only her, but maybe even the era as a whole: Magsarion.

Originally meant to have been the first chapter in Dies Irae Pantheon, following its cancellation, Masada rebooted the project as a web-novel, and later a light novel, thanks to the funding of dedicated fans.

While currently untranslated, a summary can be found on the Space Battles forum that is routinely updated as new chapters are released.

The novel reached its conclusion in July of 2021 after 16 main chapters and a Visual Novel adaptation was announced some weeks later to be released in two parts sometime during the winter of 2023-24.

Tropes associated with Avesta of Black and White:

  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Star Spirits are beings that can sometimes be the size of whole planets, so when they want to more formally interact with humans they tend to take on more human forms.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: The governmental system of Wahman Yast is purely meritocratic, meaning that the powerful ones are also those in authority, with the Holy King Sirius currently holding the ruling title.
  • Bedlah Babe: At one point, Quinn, Samluch and Ferdows dress up in some rather skimpy belly-dancer like outfits in order to pose as Alma's handmaidens. Quinn and Samluch don't seem to mind too much while Ferdows certainly seems to have objections.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Despite being set in a universe with enforced Black-and-White Morality, the actual moral standing of all those that inhabit it is far more muddled with those being Good just fitting the label in the loosest sense and are only considered such by the fact that Evil is even worse.
  • Black-and-White Insanity: Perhaps one of the most extreme examples in fiction. The idea of good vs evil is part of the very nature of the universe with the morality constantly being enforced on all life, even plants.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Oddball moralities are all over the place, especially among the Dragvant.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: During their mission in the city of Arzhang they act like a group of fools on an errand to bluff Kaikhosru's omniscience while they hold their actual conversations telepathically thanks to Quinn's powers.
  • Child Soldiers: Almost none of the current 50 members of the Yazata are older than 20 years old, save for five of them as due to the catastrophic loss they suffered at the hands of Khvarenah 20 years prior to the start of the story where only 30 of them survived and 25 having died since.
  • Collapsing Lair: Following the death of Nadare, her home of Angra Mainyu, something that had remained from the age of zero, collapses now that there is no new Nadare to carry on her role.
  • Conditional Powers: Of sorts. Every character have what is called a commandment, a set of restrictions that if fulfilled will give them huge boons to their fighting capabilities. The trade-off is that should they end up violating them for any reason, divine punishment follows with death being considered among the most benign punishments if the violation was accidental. If the violation was intentional however then the guilty will suffer through Tentsui and shift alignment, a fate considered worse than death in this world obsessed with moral absolutes.
  • Crack in the Sky: When Mashyana reveals herself to the main characters the whole sky above Wahman Yast shatters wide open revealing a new star and a huge tree whose branches are reaching out like tentacles.
  • Crapsack World: The world of Avesta is nothing but an endlessly escalating war between Good and Evil with no end in sight with all the suffering it entails. Additionally, people are forced to live according to incredibly strict restrictions lest they suffer divine punishment. And should one side win then things will simply reset and switch around, perpetuating the war even further. And then there was the Era of Zero that somehow managed to be even worse. How? By having all of the above but by also throwing in the worst kind of immortality into the mix. You still age, get sick while also being unable to heal. And even if you get dismembered or even reduced to your base building blocks, you still won't die.
  • Death World:
    • The planet Zahhak became an absolutely hellish place after Kaikhosru settled down there and started to strip the planet bare of its resources. What was once a lush and green planet have been reduced to a giant dust ball and everything living left on the planet is doing whatever it takes to survive, even eating bones. Apex predators that would normally avoid one another are now at each others' throats desperate for a meal, with some of these critters being giant beetles and lizards big enough to swallow horses whole.
    • The world of Druj Nasu isn't much better. A gas giant without any solid surface with the only place available that one could hope to live on in this world is the giant tree Gayomart that orbits the planet. Too bad that Gayomart is also the star body of the Archdemon Mashyana, so despite looking like a giant cherry blossom tree, it exudes a perpetual aura of rot and putrefaction making it unlivable to all but the toughest of creatures and individuals. The only saving grace for this world is that the star body of Ashozushta is also in orbit, offering some semblance of reprieve.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: With Avesta, Masada decides to target and tear into many of the tropes common to the High Fantasy genre and turn them on their heads:
    • The most obvious and immediate target is the ever so common Black-and-White Morality that permeates the genre. Often, a conflict is boiled down to two sides with them being neatly categorized into either good or evil with them perhaps even having gods representing said alignments, with them usually being created in a way that is a reflection of the writer's own definition of good and evil (a big example being Dungeons & Dragons with its Character Alignment chart). Avesta however examines the implications of this with the most blatant of them being that for this to be possible, the system has to be rigged and that true free will cannot exist. Everyone is bound by their alignment since birth without any choice on whether to be virtuous or wicked — they are good or evil merely because the laws of the universe say so. Good and evil are instead actions that result from someone merely existing, not much different from eating or breathing. In other words, for this moral binarity to work, the story posits that no one can really be considered good or evil as there is no choice, just people being dictated by a higher power. The effects of all of this are far reaching within the narrative:
      • The first and most obvious effect is a rampant Black-and-White Insanity across the board and no expense is spared in portraying just what a toxic landscape this creates. The prologue alone shows a good-aligned woman committing suicide due to the knowledge that she carries an evil-aligned child, all to make sure it is never born. And then there are the instances of siblings being born of opposite alignments, with them being forced into hostility while still loving one another.
      • It is also quickly made clear that the only thing that would result from all this is a giant Forever War between the two sides. And should one side against all odds win, then things will simply reset with the sides switched, keeping the war going forever more and displaying the futility of trying to define something as good or evil as what they mean always change.
      • Due to the intense tribalism this invites, it also means that people can be blind to someone's real agenda and be far too trusting as long as they are of the same alignment. While this does mean that people are quick to accept Quinn despite knowing her origins, it is also something that Alma and Roxxane can capitalize on by being able to mask their true allegiance and walk among their enemies with ease even if doing so fills them with disgust. While they can't go full Most Definitely Not a Villain, they still have a surprising degree of freedom in how they are able to act when masquerading as the other side.
      • This also means that the concepts of the Heel–Face Turn and the Face–Heel Turn are treated with disgust and dread at best or simple fairy-tales at worst, as the idea of joining the other side is simply considered that unimaginable. A concept that has been given its own distinct name, it is seen as a Fate Worse than Death that should be avoided at all costs with wholesale slaughter of innocents being seen as acceptable if there is even the smallest inkling that it might be possible.
      • Additionally, good-aligned characters won't even entertain the thought of evil being capable of things such as emotion, empathy or reason, being convinced that any such appearances are simply evil trying to mimic or fool them, even when all evidence suggests otherwise or when cruelty and sociopathy are clearly apparent on their own side.
    • As everyone's alignment and actions are predetermined by their birth, that also highlights the flaws of the concepts of Always Chaotic Evil and Card-Carrying Villain. Often, their depraved actions are simply a result of them doing what is normal to them or simply following their Commandments like everyone else. After all, they are Evil, it is what they are supposed to do. It is a state likened to the idea of "asking a fish why it swims". And as they are simply doing what they are supposed to, their thoughts and feelings are often separate from their atrocities.
    • The Generic Doomsday Villain is something that generally only exists as some simple threat to be dealt with that wants nothing more than destruction. Khvarenah is initially played as this with him being a Planet Eater that only seems to exist to cause destruction whenever he shows up and to be the possible ultimate evil. Except, in the end he is someone who is stuck in his role just as much as everyone else with him bringing destruction by simply existing. Underneath it all is a being with an almost childlike naivete who wants nothing more than to see the beauty and goodness in everything, but to never be able to reach it due to his nature, which in turn makes him keep on searching which only perpetuates the cycle.
    • You Are Not Alone is usually something invoked for the sake of heartwarming moments but Avesta portrays a hidden sinister meaning behind it if done poorly. Instead of being heartwarming, it can just as easily become selfish and closeminded that can end up meaning "we'll accept you for how you truly are if you think and act like we expect of you". Yes, you say you accept them for who they are, but are you really? Ends up going through a Decon-Recon Switch in the end where Quinn abandons her preconceived notions about Magsarion and truly this time start to see Magsarion for who he really is and what he really wants, even if it means that she has to break away from thoughts she would be otherwise comfortable with.
    • invokedOne much derided archetype that sometimes shows up in writing is the Marty Stu or the Godmode Sue, characters whose existence causes the plot to revolve around them, they are the coolest, strongest, most popular etc. Varhram however takes a sobering look at the trope. He was just a regular Farm Boy who rose to become the greatest hero the forces of Good had ever seen at a young age, accomplishing feats seen as impossible such as killing three demon lords by himself in short order, becoming seen as the ideal to live up to. However in spite of all of this popularity, the man himself was actually a lonely man whose power and success had made it so that he could only ever look down upon others like he was the reader of a book, unable to see them in the eyes and only seeing them as pawns, creating a mask of Sociopathy. Additionally he was caught in a toxic spiral of seeking approval, desperate to not lose everyone's adoration which just lead him further and further from everyone else, even those closest to him that still cared for him. In the end, he felt that his power, perfection and popularity was nothing but a curse and wished to be just as flawed as everyone else. This also ends up having a secondary effect as he is seen as the end-all-be-all by the people around him, that leads people to project him unto his brother Magsarion and make lots of assumptions on what he thinks and feels, even against the latter's protests. Even when he makes himself clear that he hates his brother, everyone just assumes that he is being emotional or is trying to hide his real feelings. After all, who could hate the great hero?
  • Deus ex Machina: In the end, as things goes from bad to worse for the heroes during the first battle against Frederica at Zahhak the battle is suddenly and abruptly left unconcluded as the Archdemons are summoned to a Gathas, an irregular gathering whose summons they can't refuse, leaving everyone alive to lick their wounds and fight another day. Characters are quick to note however that the timing seemed a bit too perfect given the current circumstances.
  • Door Stopper: The light novel editions are pretty chunky, clocking in at around 500 pages each.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • At one point before the story, Sirius enter a pact together with Kaikhosru, trading Alma and Roxanne with each other, in order to get at God.
    • During the conclusion of the story as Magsarion goes on his universal killing spree, both Good and Evil are trying their best to try and stop him but to no avail.
  • Eternal Recurrence: Whenever either side wins the war, the whole thing gets reset with the moralities switched around making it continue in perpetuity.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: The series has an absolutely brutal body-count, comparable to the likes of Ideon or Saikano. By the the final couple of chapters the amount of characters still alive can be counted on one hand, and that before the whole wilderness of slaughter begins that spells the doom for all life in the reset universe. At the end, Magsarion is the only living being left standing in the whole universe as he takes the Throne as the new God, and even that is up to interpretation just how much of him is actually left.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: During the final chapter, both Good and Evil fight alongside each other against Magsarion as neither side is too keen on complete annihilation.
  • Face–Heel Turn: As the story is focused heavily on moral absolutes, the fact that someone would change alignment is such a big thing that it even has its own name, Tentsui. It is however extremely rare to the point that most consider it a fairy-tale. It is eventually revealed that it comes about from the intentional violation of a Commandment.
  • Forever War: The universe is plagued by a never-ending war between good and evil with the definition constantly shifting as the two sides shift in dominance.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Due to it taking place before Paradise Lost and with lots of lore already established, fans already know that it will end with Magsarion killing everyone to rise as a god, replacing Mithra and becoming the Second Heaven.
  • Garden of Evil: The apply named Garden of Bloodshed Baliga, Fredrica's domain and home of the Man-Murdering Demons. And true to the series setting, even the plants will be out to get you as they have an Avesta like everything else.
  • Gargle Blaster: One of the girls in Kaikhosru's personal harem, Nadia, like to indulge in a kind of wine that would break the mind of any normal human that tries to drink it. She herself can handle it, but still gets thoroughly wasted by it.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Man-Murdering Demons have refined killing humans to such an art-form that they can use even the most banal of objects as weapons of mass slaughter such as spoons or plates. Even an action as simple as dropping a flower will easily bisect unfortunate victims.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Extends to a good portion of the Good aligned characters in regard to Magsarion. When they tried to be kind to him and bringing up his brother, all they did was cause unimaginable pain as a result of a Commandment that even Magsarion himself didn't fully understand.
  • Kill All Humans: The Man-Murdering Demons view killing humans almost like a duty and hold themselves with pride at being exclusively man-murderers. It's to the point that see it as a virtue to kill only humans and nothing else.
  • Medieval Stasis: As humanity lives in such harmony with nature during this era, technological advancement is very slow leaving the setting as mostly medieval in style. The disastrous loss against Khvarenah tanked whatever advancement they had and further crippled their society.
  • Nature Spirit: The Star Spirits. They are spirits of planets and acts as representations of their life force and are mostly aligned with Ashavan. Should a Star Spirit be born among the Dragvant then we get the likes of Khvarenah.
  • Ninja Maid: The maids serving under Fredrica, Elnaz and Farah, may look like cute little maids at first glance but they are able to effortlessly manhandle both Magsarion and Zurvan with nothing but a spoon and plate respectively. And that despite the two getting the jump on the maids.
  • Off with His Head!: Alma basically rushes off from her discussion with the others and beheads Marika once she figures out that she is an impersonator wearing the real Marika's skin.
  • Pocket Dimension: The Garden of Bloodshed Baliga exists outside of the regular universe in a small pocket of space. This allows for the Man-Murdering Demons living there to show up wherever they want.
  • Power Tattoo: Every one of the Ashavan have something called the Star Spirit Divine Blessing, which is a mark somewhere on their bodies that can grant them powerful buffs when used such as increased offensive or defensive power or straight up teleportation or flight. The number of uses is dictated by the number of feathers visible on the mark with five being the average though aces are known to have up to twenty, with them being restored upon returning to Sirius.
  • Principles Zealot: It is actively enforced by the setting for characters to blindly stick to the ideals of good and evil, regardless of whether it is a good idea or not. The Commandments outright force this due to the prospect of divine punishment should they be violated.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: While the Ashavan are not very technologically advanced or as individually strong when compared to the Dragvants, they are far greater in terms of numbers. As a result, the demon lords are limited to seven individuals at all times while the side of good can field whole armies' worth.
  • Restart the World: The rebirth of the world forms a core plot during the closing chapters, specifically whenever either side wins, the whole world is restarted with the sides shifted. Additionally, after Magsarion kills Nadare, the whole universe restarts again after which he goes on his killing spree with the new Good and Evil both fearing this faceless monster killing and destroying world after world.
  • Rightly Self-Righteous: Pretty much everyone on the side of good go on about their own virtue compared to those of evil. Quinn tends to be especially guilty of this.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: Once Magsarion's crusade against the world begins, the stars can visibly be seen blinking out one by one even if they are very far away, seemingly ignoring the speed of light. This is of course a sign that this is not something normal.
  • Starts with a Suicide: The prologue opens with with a pregnant woman committing suicide in an attempt to kill the child within herself as she knows it is of evil blood and is afraid that it will retaliate if she tries to get an abortion. Unfortunately for her, the child survives and crawls out the womb of her lifeless body. And just to drive her failure in further, moments before hitting the ground the child thanks her from inside her womb for being her first murder.
  • Status Buff: The Star Spirit's Divine Blessings provides various boosts to a person's combat prowess when invoked. On top of that, they can also be stacked to improve the effect or combined to create brand new effects. The blessings and their effects are:
    • Sam, provides a boost to physical strength and power at the cost of speed.
    • Kshatra, increases defense but cut's the users speed.
    • Haoma, a healing blessing that boosts regeneration.
    • Sewatir, teleportation at the cost of reducing someone's weight. Additionally, it only works if the user has been to the location they are teleporting to before or have it within line of sight.
    • Fravard, a blessing that offers flight at the cost of weight.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Suffice to say, Magsarion's family tree is a bloody mess. His so called brother is actually his father with his mother being the Ahura Mazda possessed body of Priestess Quinn who in turn is the wife of Sirius. Sirius and Quinn's child is Frederica, making her Magsarion's sister-in-law. And also, as Quinn the protagonist is made from the Divine Blade, it technically makes her Magsarion's mother even though she is seven years younger than him, and this also makes Khvarenah his grandfather-in-law as well. And then there is Nahid who is his father's official fiancé, meaning that Magsarion has no less than four possible mothers.
  • Utopia: Pretty much any planet inhabited by those of Ashavan is as close to paradise as it gets, with society in a fair and balanced equilibrium and humans living in harmony with nature.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 14. Aka Manah is revealed as a twisted parody of the divine blade while Nahid is revealed to be both its wielder and forger.
    • The Wings of Darkness chapter is one hell of a bombshell, giving info on the era before the Throne and recontextualising just what Naraka might truly be.