Sayiph is a pious swordswoman taking the next steps in her religious education. Arezah is a lively adventurer returning to study with a beloved mentor. When they cross paths, they first must learn to withstand each other, but soon realize they must work together to face down nefarious forces from outside their communities.
Based on Medieval North African and Middle Eastern Jewish culture, “The Gathering of Sparks” combines historical Jewish Kaballah with fantasy adventure. Queer, gender non-conforming, and POC characters fill the story.
Sayiph hails from a tribe of traditionally observant Evra’im who are known for their metalsmithing and sword mastership. Despite coming of age in a staid culture, she quietly pushes boundaries by fashioning a personal style with attributes considered traditionally “male.” A master swordswoman and pious student of local scholars, Sayiph feels called to learn outside the tribe.
Arezah comes from the tribe of the cedar forest, woodworking Evra’im with deep connections to the folklore of their people. Lively and daring, Arezah considers the woods to be her second home, and never shied from exploring them even as a kid. She’s kind and open-minded – but isn’t hesitant to fight back against ignorance and hatred.
Lior is a master archer from a tribe not far from Arezah’s. Growing up, they became adept at hiding, as they were going through an identity crisis and wished not to be seen. When the master religious scholar of the community declared Lior to be a type of gender called “tumtum,” they came out of hiding. But they still make time to be alone in the woods for peace and quiet.
In the northwest mountains, men know of a place they dare not tread – where an elite regiment of women warriors reside. Religious M’slamai, they wear head scarves and keep a modest dress. They are deadly with a Qama, a short sword, which is where the group gets its name.