• Besra watched him draw back the arrow. His muscles rippled when he pulled back the string, but it was a natural kind of stress, like the ocean building up a wave. He stared straight ahead at the target and, with a quick jolt, released the arrow. It hit the dummy right in the throat.

    “Haven’t seen that man miss yet,” Besra told the empress…[Read more]

  • The awakening was excruciating. Amelia had been on watch, immediately alerted by the sudden sharp rustling of dry leaves and roughspun. In a heartbeat, she had an arrow sitting on her bow string, aiming down the shaft. But eventually, Amelia realized that the sound was coming from the seeker. Directing her attention back to the camp, she found…[Read more]

  • Her midnight meditations helped her somewhat, but they were like stitches in a wound. She had resubmerged herself in the real, awful world too soon, and consequently begun bleeding again. She sat in her creaking office chair and stared at the papers she had to file for minutes at a time, seeing them crumple and fray as she sat on her hands to keep…[Read more]

  • “And basically, what I’m trying to say is, ninety-percent of man-made tragedies are a result of greedy bastards.”

    Amelia was attempting to crack the nuts they had gathered open while she listened to Norine’s rant. “That’s what six years of scholarly apprenticeship taught you?” Amelia asked for clarification.

    “Essentially. That, and how to…[Read more]

  • “It’s not funny!” Amelia insisted through her teeth. “It’s not funny at all. Stop laughing.”
    “I’m not laughing!” Norine promised, holding her hands up in surrender. It was true, technically; no giggles escaped her lips.
    “You have that amused look on your face, wipe it off.” Amelia turned around and stalked away, her normally porcelain neck…[Read more]

  • “Wait a second,” Norine half-yelled, half-pleaded. She lurched herself back onto her feet and hurriedly pursued Amelia, who was already several yards away. She shook her blonde curls once stiffly, then crossed her arms tightly together. She wouldn’t cease her long strides no matter what Norine yelled after her. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” the Seeker…[Read more]

  • The commoners bowed, blessed to be graced by the warden’s presence. Norine’s eyes swung left and right as the sea of ragged people sank to their knees and touched their foreheads to the dusty court. There was one form that did not shrink down, however. Amelia’s blonde curls were like a beacon reflecting the sun over the writhing bed of servile,…[Read more]

  • So I complimented her– something I never do to anyone, since it makes me so uncomfortable– and she frowned. So my mouth froze open a little, and I felt my veins stiffen while my nerves buzzed simultaneously. I didn’t know what to say to fix it; hell, I didn’t even know what I did wrong.

    Then she said, “Are you alright?” I was taken aback, so…[Read more]

  • Norine had never heard Amelia’s voice contort the way it did. It was like it had been grabbed, squeezed, yanked into an unnatural position and wrung out, all expressed in the one syllable she was able to utter– “No!” The same abuse done unto the blonde woman’s voice was dealt out to Norine’s heart. It thumped like the footfalls of a frantic fleeing hare.

  • She had never taken the ‘metro’ before. Just another reason she was more than glad to have Amelia around. Amelia was wearing her dark pea coat, a trend throughout the city, and clutching the metal bar spanning from the metal cart’s floors to the ceiling. Norine saw no metal bar beside her, so she reached up and held on to one of the hooks hanging…[Read more]

  • Amelia held the strange object between her pale hands. It wouldn’t have seemed so abnormal if Airik hadn’t just told her that it was perhaps one of the most powerful artifacts to be recovered this milenium. She held it delicately between her palms with her fingers fanned away from it. It looked like a simple wooden wheel with a radius of no more…[Read more]

  • They didn’t have a regular white door like everyone else. Instead, the Shims had big, heavy, dark wooden double-doors with ornate geometric windows carved into them. There was a shining expanse of polished wood floors in the antechamber and lacy curtains making the light coming through the windows shimmer opulently.

  • She had a nightmare that there was dirt all over her face. She was convinced it was because she forgot to lint-roll her blankets before falling asleep. She remembered being so completely drained of energy that sleep seemed like the most alluring thing… She regretted succumbing to her tiredness without performing her nightly ritual.

    She…[Read more]

  • “Don’t you dare go to him,” she hissed through her fangs. “You go back to him and you can’t come back here! Ever!”

    Yvonne grimaced up at her mother. She arched her shoulders forward, like a cat about to pounce, and bristled in her seat. Her feet snapped straight ahead, her fingers wound into fists, and she felt a trail of oil from her stomach…[Read more]

  • “Where’s Sarnello?” Norine asked apprehensively. She looked out over the sudden end of the hill but saw nothing but an open field in the distance with a rocky divet in the earth between. Instead of receiving a reply from her guide, she felt a hard shove on her back, right between her shoulder blades, and she was launched over the edge.

    She felt…[Read more]

  • He had no reason to be modest, other than to aggravate me further.

    Full set of hair– check. Bright colorful eyes– check. Good job– check. Volunteer work– check. This man had a soul, a paycheck, and a pleasing aesthetic, and to top it all off he had an infuriatingly reigned in appreciation of himself.

  • The stubborn ox would not move any farther down the path. Thomas sighed when he realized his incessant patting of the animal’s bony behind would not get it to budge.

    “Help, you need?” asked a small voice. Thomas turned and saw a Chinese girl. She was probably one of the daughters of the railroad workers.

  • The Mustang’s engine revved like the buzzing of a thousand sharp bees and the popping of hundreds of layers of bubble wrap. She absolutely hated it. She couldn’t hear the metallic twinkling of her own bicycle wheel spinning as she pedaled past.

  • His eyes bore into the man in the looking glass. He looked tall, square-jawed, and had a sort of low burning about his eyes, much like the dying glow of a fire, that emanated resilience. But he did not look like an emperor; not quite self-assured or powerful enough. Yet here he was, robed in plum purple and waited on by the hundreds of guests…[Read more]

  • The item that hung around her neck was more special than any Christmas wreath, even the one her mother made from scratch using twigs and redberries all those years ago.

    Daf looked up at Carter and smiled. “Thanks,” she said lamely, unable to convey the depth of her gratitude with mere words. She reached forward and embraced him in a quick…[Read more]