For my regular readers, these are some special posts this week as part of a pitch contest I'm providing feedback for.
For participants, welcome to my blog! I'm happy to host you and excited to see what kinds of stories you've written. Please remember that only the author of this piece and the participating judges are supposed to comment. All other comments will be deleted.
Title: FORGE BAY
Category and Genre: Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 108,000
Jona is a young warrior, bonded as concubine to a powerful kin chief she despises. Forbidden to wield her spear, she rails against a life trapped behind the loom, but cannot leave if she hopes to preserve the final shred of her family's prestige.
When one of the chief’s fighters is killed in a failed ambush, his honorless kin captures the man they deem guilty. Roused by memory of her brother’s unlawful death, Jona attempts to free the captive before he faces retribution. After botching the rescue, she inadvertently opens a Farstep, an entryway to a lost realm enabling her to travel anywhere in the world within moments. Jona must decide whether she can trust the stranger beside her as she chooses between the unknown dangers beyond the Farstep, or the swift wrath of the kin she’s desperate to leave behind.
Meanwhile, Age is a reluctant prodigy of the people who maintain a tenuous link to the little magic left in the world. His unmatched ability to control the essences of nature should be a boon. To Age, his talents only mire him in suffocating responsibilities.
When a strange new power beckons to him in a way he can’t ignore, his instincts urge him to investigate. Eager to spy on the Farstep and avoid the awful sacrifice his people demand of him, Age uses his magic to infiltrate the kin. But he never expects to befriend Jona, and to regret the lie that has her believing he’s someone he’s not. Caught between conflicting loyalties, Age faces an impossible choice: to serve his people, or save his friend.
First 250 Words:
The band of raiders returned at sunset.
Jona sensed the glimmer of a dozen lives in her mind as they neared the seaside farm on horseback. She stilled the shuttle of the loom she shared with Elva, and lifted a hand to block the light from the setting sun so she could watch the raiders’ triumphant return through the weaving room’s narrow window. Sunlight speared defiantly across the plains, threatening to dazzle her vision—but wasn’t bright enough to wash out the thrashing profile of a person tied behind one of the mounts, being dragged through the grass until the riders dismounted in the yard. And atop that horse—
It couldn’t be.
She lunged, kicking aside her cushions to reach the open window. Golden sunlight glinted off motes of grit churned up by the people and horses milling in the yard a stone’s throw away. Coughing, Jona waved away the dust as she pulled herself into the overgrown window well.
The answer to her prayers rested casually over the rump of the nearest horse.
“Jona?” Elva’s voice, empty of its normal laughter, nearly drowned within the roaring of Jona’s own heartbeat as it echoed in her ears. “What’s wrong?”
“Our raiders are back,” Jona said, hardly paying attention to what she was saying. There was a man lying in the grass, covered in dirt and straw, trying to draw himself up to his knees. As he stirred, one of the raiders turned and booted him in the ribs.