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Literature / Rai Kirah

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From the cover of Transformation

(Also commonly written as Rai-Kirah). A fantasy series of three books by Carol Berg.

  • Transformation (2000)
  • Revelation (2001)
  • Restoration (2002)

The series contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: The first sign that Aleksander isn't merely The Evil Prince is when he points out that Seyonne's blandly laudatory writing sample was hardly original. Seyonne bluntly says that it was safe, which makes Aleksander burst out laughing, give him a Smack on the Back, and concede the point.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Seyonne gets this a few times, mostly as part of his time in slavery. He also has scars on his back from previous occasions.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Demons are driven out of mortal hosts by an Aife opening a portal to the host's Mental World and a Warden physically entering to fight the demon there. Depending on the power and subtlety of the demon, finding it can be as much of an ordeal as fighting it.
  • Better the Devil You Know: This is why the Wardens try to vanquish demons non-lethally whenever possible, horrible as they are — the Wardens can feel the universe react to each demon death and fear what might be created in their place if they were driven to extinction.
  • Braids of Barbarism: Derzhi men have to win the right to braid their hair through prowess in battle, and those who don't are heavily stigmatized.
  • Candlelit Ritual: In Transformation, the full Banishing Ritual to expel the demon lord from Aleksander's body is performed with the latter tied down in a pentagram of candles. The banishing is more commonly done at a distance via Sympathetic Magic, so the candles appear only to be a formality.
  • De-power: Derzhi strip the magic from their Ezzarian slaves with the torturous "Rites of Balthar". Victims are Buried Alive for days until they've exhausted all their power staving off death, then Mind Raped by sorcerers to destroy what remains. However, it's only a trauma-based mental block, and Seyonne is able to regain access to his power with help from his old friends.
  • Fiery Redhead: Both Aleksander and Lydia, though, unlike Aleksander, Lydia seems to generally limit herself to carefully aimed words and carefully aimed thrown furniture, rather than physical torture and death threats.
  • Foreign Queasine: In-Universe, the Derzhi are alone in their love of Nazrheel tea — Seyonne thinks it smells like a hay fire.
  • Guile Hero: Lydia turns out to be rather good at this. Seyonne occasionally engages in it as well by making use of his position or appearance as a slave. Given the circumstance, this tends to be combined with drawing some amount of torture on himself.
  • I Know Your True Name: For Ezzarians their own names are true names, not to be shared lightly, and sharing them is an act of connection and trust. This is because Ezzarian culture is centered around their war with demons, and a demon knowing one's name is dangerous. Someone's name is also needed to help them magically, including for examination. This also means that being required to share one's name in slavery is a major violation.
  • Immortal Breaker: The Wardens' silver weapons are the only objects that can kill demons. Demons are unaffected by any harm to their Meat Puppets, and no other weapon can be brought into a Battle in the Center of the Mind against them.
  • I Was Having Such a Nice Dream: Seyonne is Conditioned to Accept Horror from sixteen years of slavery, but even he is annoyed to be woken up right before the climax of an Erotic Dream — his only outlet since he was a free man.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Virility is so important to the Derzhi that when Aleksander is unable to perform, he panics and assumes he's been cursed. Seyonne is privately amused, but can't tell him he's just overexerted himself, so recommends a bogus "purification ritual" to give him time to regain his stamina.
  • Made a Slave: Seyonne was enslaved after falling in battle during the Derzhi conquest of Ezzaria, sixteen years before the series begins, along with many of his countrymen.
  • Magical Sensory Effect: Demon magic registers to people with Supernatural Sensitivity as piercing, discordant music that feels like it's worming its way into the mind.
  • Morph Weapon: The Warden's silver knife can "be changed to whatever weapon [is] needed" (Transformation). Some we see include a spear, a scythe, and a sword.
  • Multitasked Conversation: Seyonne series has a few of these as part of his Guile Hero moments.
    • In Transformation, he, as Prince Aleksander's slave, is trying to remind him of the danger posed by a visiting noble while said noble is in the room.
      Seyonne: [knocks an inkwell over onto the noble, then throws himself on the floor] My clumsiness is inexcusable, my lord, especially after your warnings to be exceptionally careful around our guests.
      Aleksander: [after attempting to deal with the rest of the resulting situation] The warning should have been heeded, slave. One must always carry warnings in the front of one’s mind. The consequences of failure to do so are unfortunate.
    • Later in Revelation Seyonne realizes the outlaws they are chasing are eavesdropping on them, and decides to pretend to be a runaway slave so they'll 'rescue' him. He sets this off by cutting Aleksander with his own sword. Once Aleksander has him tied to a tree to be beaten and abandoned, he attempts to check if Seyonne is sure about this plan.
      Seyonne: Tell your Prince that his empire will not survive as long as injustice rules, but if he heeds those who cry out to him, trusts those who have faith in him, his glory will never end.
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Humans suffering from Demonic Possession have their eyes change to cold, intense blue, which is an immediate giveaway to anyone who knows its significance. Their eyes are also described as cruel and hungry, though that says more about the nature of demons than the colour.
  • Prefers Raw Meat: While Aleksander is Cursed in Transformation, he suffers random transformations into a giant cat and is eventually only able to eat raw meat in either form.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Derzhi, of the 'probably based on the Mongols' flavor. Their warrior braids, showing them as blooded warriors, are of high social/cultural importance, and those who do not earn them are relegated to life as underlings. At this point in their history they also have an empire.
  • Psychosomatic Superpower Outage: The rite to De-power Ezzarians is revealed to Invoke this, traumatizing them so they lose all faith in their power and can't access their own magic. Epiphany Therapy doesn't help, however; Seyonne needs extensive training and specialized guidance to break the block.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Derzhi debts of honour between a host and guest are forgiven when the guest accepts the host's food and drink. Prince Aleksander Exploits this by secretly executing a man for treason minutes before his entire clan attends Aleksander's feast, so the clan unknowingly forfeits its right to seek retribution.
  • Slave Brand: Slaves are branded with a crossed circle, though many of them can be recognized racially as well. Runaways (and occasionally others) may also be branded on the face.
  • Sympathetic Slave Owner: Durgan, the master of slaves for the Derzhi summer palace, is portrayed as a Reasonable Authority Figure who ends up building a rapport with Seyonne. He's entirely loyal to the institution, but takes other Derzhi to task for their gratuitous cruelty, tries to keep the slaves in good condition, and even takes orders from Seyonne in an emergency.
  • Un-person: Ezzarians shun those whom they consider irredeemably impure, such as former slaves; they speak of them as though they had died and pretend to be unaware of the shunned one's presence. By their code, the shunned person is dead in every way that matters, never mind the fact that their body's still walking and talking.
  • Upsetting the Balance: The Wardens try to defeat demons nonlethally in order to avoid this. They sense something in the universe shift with every demon's death and don't want to learn what would rise in their place if demons were rendered extinct.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: The silver Warden's knife, which can "slice through the incorporeal body of a demon" (Transformation), and is also the only weapon that can be taken beyond a portal, which is where demon combats take place.