Reincarnation can be a b****, especially when a mad goddess keeps killing you.
Seventeen-year-old Saekina hasn’t had a place to call home in years. Every family member or friend who has stood at her side has abandoned her or died. Alone in the massive city of Dennin, she relies on her blades and a strange, ethereal energy to survive the demonic assassins that have hunted her since childhood.
Then she stumbles across others hunted by the same creatures and wielding the same energy: a shapeshifter, a priestess, and a brawler. Along with eighteen-year-old Idani, a mischievous thief, the five of them band together to fight their hunters. For the first time in years, Saekina has friends and a girl she sort of likes, and she isn’t about to let anyone hurt them.
But the goddess who wants Saekina dead is willing to murder all her friends too, no matter how many times they reincarnate. And this time she's hell-bent on killing them for good. Saekina’s blades are ready, but first she must find a way to defeat a goddess. If she can't, more than just her life is at stake. Her friends could be picked off one by one, leaving her utterly alone once again.
ALL IS DARK is a 90,000 word LGBT young adult fantasy with series potential. I am entering An Agent’s Inbox due to your interest in strong world building. Thank you for your time and consideration.
ALL IS DARK
Saekina had nothing but shadows for company. The only light came from the moon orbs lining the cracked, cobbled streets. She turned into the alley, passing dumpsters overflowing with reeking food and, discarded magical trinkets.
Eagerness fluttered in her chest. Information on slavers never failed to earn at least one gold coin.
She pulled open the hotel's dented door. The owner looked up from his bottle of ale. He'd be passed out within the hour. "You again."
He'd invested a lot in making his shitty little hotel safe for less-than-legal operations. Plenty of back entrances and large vents hidden by glamours. She’d have to ditch this place before people realized he'd been playing both sides. She slipped him the usual payment. "We good?"
"As long as the money keeps coming." He counted the coins before adding them to his purse. "Room seven. You have half an hour until they arrive."
Saekina forced her lips into a tight smile. Smiling is good for business, she reminded herself. "Nice working with you."
Allies would be nice. Not friends though. Never friends.
All Saekina had was herself.
She wrinkled her nose as she climbed the stairs. The hotel--and she used that term loosely--reeked of mold.
Room seven’s door stuck on the carpeting, and she had to kick it open. It looked like the rest of the place: s*****.
The problems were the charmed utilities. The moon orb, well, she’d be fine in the dark. No one bothered to think of ungifted people when building. People less magically gifted could, at the least, turn on an object already pre-charmed as long as they had the incantation. It was just as well; she’d had years of experience with finding ways around her lack of ability.
She reached up, removed the grating on the air vent and climbed inside, the covering clanking back into place. She’d paid the owner well to show her each glamoured vent, otherwise she’d never have known they were there.
The cover clanged against the metal as Saekina angled it back into place. Her hot breaths in such a small area dried her mouth out. This part tanked. If she filled up on water beforehand, her bladder would torment her. If she abstained, dehydration set in, but she could deal.
The slavers trickled into the room fifteen minutes or so after she’d tucked herself away--the owner never got the time right. The moon orb flicked on with a snap of one woman's fingers. Lucky bastards.
“Did you do a sweep?” asked the oldest of the group judging by her graying hair and wrinkles.
“Stopped by earlier. We’re good.”
Saekina smirked. Thank the gods for built in glamours. To them, her cozy little vent didn’t look large enough to squeeze a hound into, let alone a person.
“How much stock do we have this time?” asked a man.
Saekina leaned forward, ignoring the hard metal pressing against her elbows. “Twelve. Five of them skipped out on their indentured servitude,” the woman said. “No one will come looking. The rest are lower than sewer rats. We’re bringing two of them in from across the sea. One nagwaal from Ralanth. We caught the mongrel thieving. Oh, and a mundy, poor ungifted bastard.”
Some of what they discussed was what she’d expected to hear: where they'd captured the slaves, where they were being held and where they would be taken.
Worlds, these guys like to talk. The desire to do anything but listen to these scumbags drone on grew with each passing second. But she needed the reward money and she’d been lucky enough to find them first.
Why did scum like them get to sleep safe in their beddings at night? Why did they get the normality she’d been denied?
Whether the authorities or a bounty hunter arrested them, the slavers would end up rotting in a jail cell. Indentured servitude wasn’t unusual, but slaves, that was forbidden.
The vent shook. Saekina snapped to attention. The hairs on her arms rose. No. Not now. Please. A low growl spread through the room. Where is it? Her eyes darted around, settling on the wall across from the vent.
The slavers muttered amongst themselves, trying to figure the noise out, readying swords and spells.
A massive fist burst through the room’s wall and peeled the stone apart like paper. The demon or UpperSpawn, or whatever it was, peered through, a vicious smile plastered on its bulbous, veiny head. Its ribcage heaved against ashen flesh with each breath it took, lumbering towards them on triple-jointed limbs.
Jaundiced eyes locked on Saekina. A rancid, decaying scent invaded her nose. The creature grinned, the muscle tendons stretching by its mouth.
The slavers screamed. With a cry, a woman led the charge. Saekina wanted to shout at them to run. She didn’t. Some part of her hoped it would forget about her if she remained silent. It was there for her. It wanted her dead.
The woman’s head exploded in the demon’s claws. A second smaller set of arms uncurled from its back, and grabbed another slaver, lifting him into the air for before throwing him across the room. He hit the wall with a sickening crunch. He slid to the floor, not moving.
Saekina wriggled in the tight space, hoping to grasp one of her daggers from its sheathe on her boots. She couldn’t. She tried to push herself deeper into the vent, desperate for a way out that didn't bring her into contact with the demon. She needed a weapon.
No. No way am I going to die here. Not like this, helpless and unable to fight. I’m not starting my next life with that baggage.
The demon rose onto its hind legs to reach its full height. Its head bent awkwardly on the ceiling, and strode toward her.
She inched backwards again, in the vain hope she’d get out of its reach.
It tossed another woman away. Saekina’s chest tightened so much she thought she’d die.
She snaked her arm lower and her fingertips somehow--miraculously--found the handle. She pulled a dagger free.
Meaty fingers curled around the vents’ grating. The pressure spread up into Saekina’s throat. Snot and tears dribbled down her chin. The iron groaned before bending to the beast’s will. An arm filled the small space and wrapped around her forearm. The metal scraped against her limbs as it dragged her out.
Saekina burrowed her dagger into its eye. The demon shrieked and wrenched its hands to its face, dropping her. The second she hit the ground, she rolled to the side and pulled her other blade free. Before she’d made it to her feet, a fist was already heading toward her. She barely had enough time to cross the daggers in front of her to brace for impact. The attack hit, the force of it sliding her against the ground.
Someone whimpered from beside her. One of the slavers. Tears, snot, and blood ran down his face. He may be a horrible person, but he doesn’t deserve to die. Not because of me.
A fist clobbered Saekina’s face, and white spots danced in her vision. She pushed back her nausea.
The demon threw a hunk of stone at them. She jumped in front of the man, shielding him from the attack. Her grip on her blade tightened. Her knuckles heated, a tingling sensation growing. This must be what using magic feels like.
Saekina drove it toward the demon’s head. The world dissolved in a flash of blue.