Half-human Tel has one chance to outwit her world’s brutal colonists, if she can overcome her dishonorable past, the deadly secret sleeping in her blood, and a handsome star-elemental weaving his own mysterious plots.
First 250 Words:
I was ten years old before I learned my absent, nameless father had given me anything more than dark red eyes and fur.
Marikha’s insufferable twins dared me up the most dangerous trail we knew. After convincing them to join me, or be shamed, I realized my mistake. With the twins behind me, I couldn’t turn back.
On a ledge fifty feet below, teal trees caught the sunlight. The rest of the canyon sank into afternoon shadows. But the wind was cool and clean up here, not the stuffy air in our safe den. If we followed the forbidden trail to a ridgeline only a few dozen feet higher, we might glimpse the blue-green grasslands to the south. Northward, the cliffs rose to the uplifted plateau of the Red Hills, wrapped in autumn storms.
Fuzzy white seed-puffs drifted between red sandstone and lavender-blue sky. One puff got too close to my nose. I sneezed.
“Tel’s sick,”said one twin.
“Tel’s always sick,” said the other.
I was small enough to turn on the trail, taunting the bigger twins with sneeze after sneeze, only some of them real. One twin lunged forward to nip me. I hopped back, drew a deep breath to yell a happy insult.
A seed-puff lodged in my throat. My eyes watered. As I felt a coughing fit approach, I wedged my body against the cliff wall. Amid my sneezing and hacking, one of my weak forepaws skidded off the edge. I lost my balance, and dropped headfirst.