For my regular readers, these are some special posts this week as part of a pitch contest I'm providing feedback for. My normal musings will return next week.
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.
We're Team Fluttershy! Because here on Balancing Act, we're both quite sweet unless you provoke us, in which case, we are terrifying.
You can check out other teams on the other hosting blogs: Rena Rocford (Rainbow Dash), Kathleen Ann Palm (Rarity), Elizabeth Roderick (Discord), Katie Hamstead Teller (Princess Luna)
______________________________________Title: The Savage
Category and Genre: Adult / SciFi
Word Count: 109,000
Manu Talib always does the right thing. Always. Even Manu’s betrothed can’t tempt him to disobey the onerous rules of the all-powerful god Thoth. Manu achieves his wildest ambition when he prevails in a brutal set of trials and wins the right to join Thoth’s elite warriors. But when Thoth sends Manu to exterminate the savages living beyond the eastern border, Manu’s faith is set on a collision course with his conscience.
Manu is injured during the campaign and rescued by Rafiq, one of the heretics he was sent to slay. Rafiq’s kindness leads Manu to question his obedience to Thoth’s ruthless decrees. When Manu’s fellow soldiers discover them and kill Rafiq, an enraged Manu retaliates, killing one of his former comrades. Manu is sentenced to death for his crime, but escapes with the help of his betrothed and stows away on Thoth’s flying chariot.
Manu’s exile leads him to a centuries-old secret: Thoth is a fraud used by an advanced society to control Manu’s people. Left with no master but his conscience, Manu refuses to accept the murderous lie on which his society depends, even if exposing the truth means facing execution and risking the survival of his civilization.
First 250 Words:
Manu fidgeted on the cart’s high bench, eager for the caravan to depart. Father climbed up beside him, graceful despite his size, and gathered the reins.
“The Old Jackal’s nearly down,” Father said, nodding at the setting sun. “We’ll be leaving soon.”
“Do you think we’ll see any Eastlings?” Manu asked.
“I pray to Thoth we don’t. The supply depot is supposed to be well away from the fighting. We’ll have a couple of Judges with us, just in case.”
“Do you think we’ll see Hanif?”
“I don’t rightly know,” Father said. His eyes tightened. “But don’t you go talking to a Judge unless he talks to you first. Even if it’s your brother.”
“I’m not a child anymore. I’ll remember.”
The carts and wagons ahead began to move. Father snapped the reins gently. Their horse snorted, but lurched into a walk. The Old Jackal sank quickly, and soon Manu’s view was limited to the swaying circle of light cast by a lamp hanging from the cart in front of them. He squinted into the gloom but could see little but Father beside him, the horse ahead, and other circles of light bobbing in front and behind like luminous islands in a dark stream.
Manu's breath misted and clouded in the cool air. He leaned back against the forage sacks filling the cart bed. Hay stalks poked through the burlap and tickled his cheeks around the edges of his keffiyeh. At least the makeshift cushion provided some warmth.