Name: Maria Hossain (@logophile_maria)
Genre: High Fantasy
Title: A Serenade For The Bright Night
35 word pitch:
A princess’s quest for revenge jeopardizes her subject’s lives. A day laborer’s feelings for a prisoner sabotage his mission to save his dying brother. Millennium apart, their lives will interweave when humanity’s greatest threat strikes.
First 500 word:
Chapter 01: Prime Princess
When I was born, my mother wished me dead. An ‘apaya’, she called me, according to my midwife. Meaning “born ill-fated” in our ancestors’ ancient language. A proverb goes, “Wherever an apaya turns, a house burns.”
“Get up, you apaya!”
The moment I hear it, I stiffen. Is it directed at me? I clutch Azibo’s hands in the impasse we’re hiding.
“Get up, apaya!”
I cower, my self-respect withering. With it surfaces my fear of getting caught. Have we been discovered? The stench of bovine entrails, fish scales, and human urine in the alley make me nauseated. The dry loaves I ate for breakfast threaten to come out. Sweat soaks my threadbare shift to my skin.
“It’s not you, love,” Azibo whispers. A kiss he places on my head. I sneak a glance over my shoulder. On the street, a girl of about ten winters is being lugged. Her shift too short, too tattered, too somber a view. Her dark locks are tangled, bunched up in a man’s hands, the one dragging her. Teeth gritted, he lifts her scrawny body and hands her to two darkly clad men.
My father’s men.
My father, the king.
Sickle swords are strapped on their belts, with baldrics of daggers across their chest. A sight that terrified and prompted us to hide in this impasse, behind piles of broken trash crates. Though my father begrudgingly spared Azibo and me after my low marriage, we still must evade his men to avoid trouble.
On a mule few steps away from the guards is a sack. When the girl’s been tied with bronze shackles and thrown over the mule, the man who was dragging her lunges for it. A few tears on it reveal its content; flax seed. From the look of it, it won’t last a fortnight, even for one person.
The girl struggles. The clinging fetters bruise her. “Father…” she whimpers. Her greedy father doesn’t pay her any attention. He’s busy with the sack.
This has been going on the Island ever since my father ascended the throne. Parents selling off their children, husbands using wives as harlots, all for a mouthful of food. Once cannibalism occurred in the slum outside the border walls. Back then I wasn’t the slum’s resident.
“That’s enough, love. Please.” Azibo turns me away. Unlike the girl, my scruffy shift reaches my knees. It used to be Azibo’s. I altered it to look more feminine. After all, sewing, weaving and spinning are my only talents, and means of livelihood.
“I’m fine.” My trembling voice gives away. If I wasn’t born as the Prime Princess, rather impoverished like that poor girl, my father would’ve sold me off too. Even though my father, king of the Meridian Island, was the one who dubbed me with the title. In our state, the largest in the Pantheon, the heir apparent are called Prime Prince. I used to be the only Prime Princess in history.