Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
Current Word Count: 78,000 words
First Draft: Complete! (68,000 words)
Second Draft: Complete! (78,000 words)
Third Draft: (20k started. Cancelled. Restarted.)
Fourth Draft: (9k started. Cancelled. Restarted.)
Currently: Outlining fifth draft.
(Note: this is subject to change and not a final draft).
Mari was to be a soldier, a personal guard to the royal family of Ziya — decedents of the dragon gods, each with their own unique power over the elements. And then her father was murdered and Mari ran away. Now, four years later, she is a thief forged by alley fires and day-old bread, living in the shadows of flickering hex lamps, all that remains of an ancient magic. She needs no one but herself to survive. Before her father’s death, Mari discovered a generations-old secret: the royals are not born with their incredible power. And when a crime lord named Rayak offers her the opportunity to steal the source of this power to overthrow the Kingdom, she jumps at the opportunity with a hidden intent—she wants it for herself, to change the balance of power—and she takes it.
But when the powers she wanted doesn’t happen right away, she’s left with no choice but to run, stowing away on a wing ship, powered by a creature said to be cursed and captained by a man in love with death. Then she starts hearing a voice in her head. She starts hallucinating. And the power she stole, begins crawling it’s way through her skin. And as the fear that all of this will catch up to her looms larger, she has to decide if she’s going to keep running until the wind catches up to her or stand and fight for the ones she loves, even if it means losing her soul in the process.
(Note: this is subject to change, based on revisions and edits).
“Don’t throw up on me.” I say between gasps to Kiara, the young widowed noblewoman over my shoulder, as I carry her up a third flight of stairs. “Please.” Sweat pours out of me like a squeezed sponge and my dress sticks to every inch of tanned copper skin it comes in contact with. My black hair that reaches the small of my back is plastered to my face, my neck, my shoulders, anything exposed. My lungs are ready to collapse, my legs shake and my calves burn. Just a few more steps. You can do it, Mari. I think I’ll make it to her door but then my feet give out on the final step and I collapse, easing her off my shoulders to lie next to me on the wooden steps. “How,” I say, rolling to my back. “How in the Old Light do you made it home every night? How do you even make it home sober? I’d really like to know.” She doesn’t move. Just lays there. “That’s fine. You just sleep. I’m going to lie here a moment and die.” I close my eyes.
Kiara’s only a few years older than me, maybe eighteen? She lives on the east end of Viora, capital of the Ziya Kingdom and unfortunately for me, she lives on the fourth floor. Her husband, a silk merchant named Armand, died on the northern border, stabbed to death by a group of Asoni soldiers who thought he was a spy. His business partner barely escaped with his life. Kiara and Armand had been happily married for just six months, she’d told me. This was after I caught her by the arm and stopped her from falling down an endless flight of stairs outside the back of the Gilded Feather. She reeked of the sweet spice of ginger liqueur and her entire story came spilling out of her as fast as the vomit that followed.
When the stars have gone away, I push myself to my feet and pull Kiara up to sit against the wall beside the door and start searching her. No key. Great. It’d be just my luck I’d get her all this way and her key had fallen out of a pocket, probably sitting on the first step. But then I see a small purse sticking out from under her and sigh with relief. Inside I find a copper key attached with a thin red silk thread to an iron feather. Once the door is unlocked I glare at Kiara’s slumped form. I can do this. This is the easy part. The hard part comes later. I pop my neck, take a few deep breaths and grab Kiara, hoisting her over my shoulder and letting out a laugh that turns into an angry grunt and stumble through the door, kicking it closed behind me. Bedroom? Bedroom? Bedroom? That’s a bath room. That’s a dining room. That’s a sun room. That’s a sitting room. That’s a room full of nothing but plants. How many rooms does one girl need? “Where is your bedroom?” I give her a shake. “Hey. Kiara. Where’s your room?”
Thankfully, she wakes up enough to point, but then she passes out again. Perfect. I turn, push myself forward, and shove open the door. The room is expansive. A cool night breeze blows through an enormous window, carrying with it the smell of the sea. A wooden bed guards the far wall like a prim butler. It’s perfectly made, white sheets pressed and pulled tight, edges folded neatly under. And then at the foot of the bed is a simple chaise. A loose wool blanket hangs off one side, an orange silk pillow at the other end. I glance up at Kiara and then back at the chaise. “Guess I’m not the only one who doesn’t sleep in their bed,” I say, quirking a smile before dumping her onto it. She groans and turns over. And then she’s still and breathing steadily.
The night air through the window feels good and I step over to take a look outside, leaning against the molding. I take a moment to catch my breath as it cools my damp skin. Down the alley is a partial view of the castle walls where it sits up on the bluffs. Beneath it, the smooth white stucco homes and apartments of the noble district sleep on top of one another, as if they’ve been lifted from the ground by an unseen hand and stacked one by one. Wooden steps, arch their way up the walls and connect between buildings. They press in on one another, moonlight drifting through narrow corridors and glinting off golden spires that adorn roofs. Intricately carved shutters, painted in various colors, hang on black iron framed windows lit from within by hexlights. And, in the distance, sweet music is playing.
Turning, I face the room and begin looking it over. The small dresser against the wall, no. Table, no. Side tables, no. The big dresser. There’s a small purple box on it. Worth a start. I cross the room and kneel before it, giving a quick glance to Kiara to make sure she’s still asleep. And then, one by one I pull the pins from a sleeve in the neckline of my dress.