Friday, June 19, 2015

Team Maries #2: WHISPERMAGE

Genre: YA fantasy
Word count: 95,000


The city of Durn is haunted by the Mists, a fog that rises from the cobblestones and robs people of their sanity--or so Kaede was raised to believe.

Capable of silencing any noise by temporarily trapping it in a bell, Kaede earns herself the name Whispermage as a thief in the slums. With her unnatural silence present at every major crime in the city, she becomes Durn’s most wanted criminal. But everything changes the night she helps a fellow crook sneak into the jungle beyond Durn’s protective wall. Before he escapes, the man reveals a secret that unravels the fabric of Kaede’s world: the Mists are a lie, no more likely to drive a man insane than the jungle's daily rain. 

Durn’s ruler hoards the city’s wealth, sent Kaede’s father to die at the claws of the murderous beasts in the jungle, and stole Kaede’s mother away with the lure of riches, but this final injustice is too much. She refuses to stay trapped in the slums while the highborn live free of fear higher up Durn’s slopes. To spread the truth about the Mists and end the ruler's reign, Kaede teams up with Durn’s most powerful criminals. After all, if the Mists aren’t real, maybe nothing is--maybe not even the reason her mother left her.

First page:

The Mists eddy about my boots, curling fingers around the laces and twining up my legs. Pale moonlight paints the cobblestones in tones of gray. I tug the hood of my cloak more firmly over my head and quicken my pace.

Two watchmen, clad in their signature indigo cloaks, patrol Monger’s Way, clutching magefire torches. The purple fire burns away the Mists. I duck into an alley to avoid the men.

The passage is little more than a gap between two sagging buildings. My boots squelch in muck I dare not identify, and I retch at the stench. A beggar hunched atop a heap of refuse, just above the Mists, grabs at my cloak, but I dart past him onto Broad Street.

I pause in the shadows, scanning for watchful eyes. Across the street, the Wall rises so high I must crane my neck to see the top. Purple torches flicker along the Wall’s base, keeping the Mists at bay, but on the walkway above, the torches burn with true fire, the orange lights mere pinpricks from the street.

Tucked into the Wall’s shadow is a one-story gatehouse enclosing stairs to the Wall’s walkway. The staircase sprouts from its roof. Within lies an iron portcullis. Our target.

I suck in a breath and back into an alley. It’s wider than the last. Cleaner, too. I glance at the moon, but clouds obscure the sky.

How early am I?

The others should be here.