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.
Age and Genre: Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 118k
When slavers steal her from her village in the wastes of the southern continent, Astara doesn’t expect to emerge from a horrific ritual with the power to accomplish unexplainable feats. But being cursed with magic also bestows her with another unwelcomed gift: a lifetime of enslavement.
Wishing to return to her family, Astara is instead sold to a pair of cosmopolitan, ladder-climbing nobles who already own a famous dancer, Dahlia Vessa. But Dahlia is not who she seems to be: she’s a double agent, spying on her masters for a clandestine faction called the Nameless Circle.
The Circle fights to free those branded with magic, but they’re not the only ones set on freeing the city’s slaves. Astara and Dahlia are soon caught in the middle of an underground war between the Circle, and another faction who seek to exterminate those without magic.
The factions soon discover the two women are a pairing of Arcana SiFayn, an incredibly rare type of mage who combine powers to cast devastatingly strong magic. With control of either one of them, the Circle and Revs believe they would have the power to change the tide of the war against the masters to their subversive objectives.
But after Dahlia is arrested for murder due to the wild powers of their connection, Astara must find a way to free her friend before she’s executed for her alleged crimes, or worse: the Revenants convince her to join them in their genocidal crusade.
First 250 words:
Ministers escorted a line of captives across the length of the square training area, cruel cold cobblestones under their bare feet. At the end of the queue, shivering and teeth chattering, a young woman followed, shuffling her steps before crossing an open door’s threshold and entering a crumbling wood building. Holding her chained wrists against her chest, she stared at the floor, the pale morning light casting the Ministers’ shadows across the planked boards like mythical phantoms ready to strike. She startled when the door clapped closed behind her.
Nearly all the Ministers Astara encountered possessed magic–powers they could use to do things she had only dreamed of before slavers kidnapped her from her village on the southern continent. Lighting. Fire. Throwing objects without touching them. Slamming a door without so much as lifting a finger was hardly the most impressive feat, but she still didn’t understand how any of them did it. Her people didn’t have magic on the Mountain; in all her twenty-two years of life on the Great Southern Plains, in the region known as the “Dustbin” to the local Rykonians, she’d never seen anything like it.
In front of her, the other captives continued to walk in sync further into the building, and Astara’s chains attached to them yanked her forward. She stumbled and wobbled, her vision blurring, but managed to stay upright, feeling like she’d been awake for days on a hunt. Maybe she’d not quite woken up, her body sluggish and lethargic.