Name: A. E. Walker
Title: The Palace of Revenge
Pitch: Woken from 100 yr sleep early Araya finds her country torn: Araya learns her Eyre magic and wages war on King’s justice; claims throne, befriends beasts, and seeks revenge
First 500 Words:
First 500 Words:
The ground pulsed underneath me. Deep thumps grew louder and louder. I pushed brush and branches over, rushing inside our hidden cottage. The sweet smell of carrots and curry hit my nose. My father rested on the wooden pallet in front of the door. “What is that noise?” I asked, looking over to my mother. Her frail frame stood in our tiny kitchen, stirring a pot of vegetable curry.
“It sounds like a stampede. Probably horses.” She said, scooping the curry into a bowl. “Don’t worry, honey. I’m sure they’re riding the edge of the forest. No one has gone past the tree line, since the King’s command, 17 years ago.”
“That we know of.” I added.
“Okay, but no one has made it this far. We know that.”
The thumping remained steady. Matching the quick beat in my chest. It didn’t slow, but grew louder. The crunching of branches ripped through the air. Then, a strange repetitive humming arrived outside our cottage.
“Cyren,” I breathed, remembering my little brother was outside hanging the laundry. I rushed over to mom, searching for a response. Panic swept across her aging face. She dusted her hands on her apron, leaving orange stains from the curry grounds, and stepped toward the door.
“Mella, don’t.” My father demanded, sitting up from the palette. “It’s the Jukan. We all need to stay quiet.” He arched his weary body towards us, like a lion ready to pounce.
The Jukan, served as the King’s ‘justice’. Mother shared stories of the hell’s gatekeepers with us. They traveled town to town on steel machine horses. Covering themselves in all black, never revealing their faces. They policed the towns at random. Surveying the people. Anyone caught dis-obeying the King, they’d kill right in the street. Killing was a relief to some. The most unfortunate people were taken for torture. No one knew which it would be, nor what they did with those they took. But it was far worse than a simple, public death. The entire country feared them.
Why were they inside our forest?
My parents built our cottage-home off a hill of slate, hidden deep inside Tengal forest. We were the only humans living here. Not that the surrounding towns hadn’t tried to conquer the forest. They did. Though, always with fatal consequence. The endless sweeping vines of nightshade and rosary peas that draped from every tree, made the Tengal forest a mastery of illusion. Giving the impression of bountiful feasts, bequeathed to anyone. Fooling the mountainous townspeople in desperate search of food. But, hidden behind the lush mask of nourishment, lied a deadly truth.The town to the East, Vayesworth and Harveston, to the West, sent their bravest and strongest to conquer the forest. The invaders returned parched and with stomach upset. Every one of them died soon after. My mother and father tracked the towns failures. Noting every death and its symptoms. They carefully gathered plants, and conducted tests on forest critters.