A half-dragon girl, a king who will stop at nothing to stamp out magic--and a war that could change everything.
Aseireld Night is just thirteen when she is forced to attend her first execution. As the blood of an innocent sorcerer flows before her, she swears vengeance against the magic-loathing king who ordered him killed. But her half-dragon blood puts her in more danger than any human sorcerer, and her adoptive family of fae are hiding from an even greater threat than the king.
Three years later, the king makes a mistake that sparks a war, and the Night family are forced to choose a side: stand with their king to save themselves, or fight for their freedom and risk death. But in the midst of war, Aseireld finds that falling for the wrong guy could just be the most dangerous thing of all...
NIGHT OF FIRE is a young adult fantasy novel and is complete at 90,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Sarah J Maas’s “Throne of Glass” and Victoria Aveyard’s “Red Queen”. It is the first novel in a planned trilogy. I am in my early twenties, live in the Oxfordshire countryside with my boyfriend and pets, and work in human resources for a charity.
I would like to thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
NIGHT OF FIRE
Rotheguard, three years ago
I am thirteen years old when I watch my first execution. The drum beats, the sweat of the crowd, the knowledge that it could be me next... it crawls under my skin.
“Aseireld? Are you okay?”
I can feel the eyes of Loden and his brother, Temlin, on me, overprotective as ever. They’ve stationed themselves on either side of me like sentries, while their youngest brother and his wife are on Temlin’s left, equally as watchful.
I stare straight ahead. “No.”
We’re sat on long wooden benches, shaded from the glare of the setting sun by the huge form of the castle behind us. As the king’s newest favourites, we have some of what are supposedly the best seats in the house: front-row, blood-splatter seats. We’re close enough to the castle that I can hear the screaming coming from inside it; a sound drowned out to the crowd’s human ears by the din of their own chatter.
I risk a glance at the royal stand. King Eylris Rotheguard, cold-eyed, his blonde hair greying, surveys the crowd with a self-satisfied look. Trystan, the younger of his two sons, glances at me and gives me a single nod. If I hadn’t just been partnered with him in history lessons, I’d ignore him, whatever his title. As it is, I force myself to give him a curt nod.
The prince and I--along with all the other young, scared faces in the crowd--are here by order of the king. According to him, thirteen is old enough to start witnessing his version of justice. Even so, a few mothers and fathers cling to their children as if ready to shield their eyes when the axe falls. Loden Night--my father’s friend, and the only person who can protect me from what my half-dragon powers are already starting to bring--won’t need to bother covering my eyes. I already know what magic-haters do to people with the least hint of magic in this world.
The gates clang shut, the sound slamming against my heart.
“Bring out the prisoner!” the captain of the Royal Guard booms.
The king stands. A long purple robe trimmed with silver fur drags behind him as he takes two steps forward, his eyes on the castle behind us. Everyone follows his gaze as two guards pull a man from around the side of the building. His hands are manacled, and attached to the centre of the manacles is a chain that one of the guards is using to pull him along like a wild dog. The man struggles, digging his heels into the ground, pulling his hands back so hard that blood has pooled around the handcuffs.
“No!” he screams, his voice hoarse with dehydration. He looks at the gathered crowd as if seeing other human beings for the first time. “Please! No!”
Eylris ignores his screams. Behind him, Queen Tessa ignores everything, her eyes blank as she stares into the middle distance. Crown Prince Calix wears an expression of disgust that deepens as the prisoner draws closer, the man’s matted hair and thick coating of filth more obvious with every step.
The guards haul him up the steps and onto the flat of the platform, seemingly oblivious to his screams and violent tugging on the chain.
An elderly man, his back so hunched he is almost bent double, shuffles forward from his seat on the royal stand. He hands a scroll to Eylris, a look of reverence on his wrinkled face, and then returns to his cushioned chair.
Eylris clutches the scroll so tightly that his knuckles turn white, but he does not yet unravel it. “Since the reign of my great-great-great grandmother, Queen Exilas--” he stops as the crowd chants as one: may she rest in peace--“all forms of magic and sorcery have been outlawed in this kingdom, punishable by lifelong imprisonment. When I took my place on the throne of Rotheguard, I knew that more could be done to secure the safety of my people. Therefore, since the first day of my reign, the sentence for all those convicted of acts of sorcery has become the death penalty.”
His voice rises, building with fanaticism. “Today marks the first day of our kingdom’s future! Today marks the first day when sorcerers shall see that I will not tolerate their acts of terror upon my people!” He pauses again, looking around with narrowed eyes until someone, somewhere in the crowd, begins to applaud. People glance at one another, joining in uncertainly. Loden nudges me gently with his elbow until I too clap my hands. For show. It’s all for show--but, still, my arms move unwillingly.
Only when the applause has risen to deafening levels does Eylris look satisfied, raising his hand for silence. The crowd falls still, and he unrolls the parchment. “Kingsley Unverell, you stand convicted of committing an act of sorcery, contravening the law of this land. Having been found guilty at a trial--”
“I’m not!” the man shouts, his voice desperate, pleading. “I didn’t--”
One look from Eylris and a guard delivers a hard blow to the prisoner’s stomach with his beefy fist. The man screams in agony as he drops down onto his knees.
Heads turn to find the source of the voice. It doesn’t take long; pushing her way to the front, moving clumsily as she tries to see through her tears, is a woman in a brown dress almost as ragged as the prisoner’s threadbare clothing. Someone tries to hold her back, but it’s no use: she pushes them aside and makes it onto the platform, her hand reaching out towards the prisoner...
“Arrest her!” Eylris shouts, his face purple with fury. “No one is to touch the prisoner!”
“Please!” she screams. “He didn’t hurt anyone!”
Two guards grip her, their holds so tight that you can see how thin her arms are beneath the fabric of her dress. My stomach knots up inside me: I want to scream that she’s right. He used his magic to fell a tree for firewood, not to hurt anyone.
“Loden,” I plead, turning my eyes on him even though I know it’s useless: acting now would only get us killed too.
He’s looking over my head at Temlin, who has one hand on the bench as if ready to leave his seat. I glance between them as they silently stare at each other, having one of those wordless conversations that are the exclusive privilege of magical creatures. Infuriatingly, it isn’t a trait I’ve inherited from my father.
After what seems like an age, Temlin nods, his mouth set in a thin line. I know what it means: not here, not now. Not when using their magic so publicly would reveal their location to enemies even more dangerous than the king.
“Don’t look, Azi," Loden says to me, though his eyes linger on his brother. On Temlin’s other side, Asmene clutches Candron’s hand so tightly her knuckles are white.
I fix my eyes on my feet, my hands balled into fists. The woman’s screams slowly die away as she is taken to the castle.
The king’s voice is flat with barely-suppressed fury as he speaks: “The law of this land dictates only one punishment. Executioner.”
Keeping my eyes down, I listen to the slow, thudding footsteps as someone else takes to the platform. The drum beats louder, the sound hollow in the deafening silence.