Genre: YA fantasy
Word count: 90,000
My main character is most uncomfortable with:
Alvara comes from a semi-tropical island nation, so she's used to sunny, warm winters. However, she fled from there to a much colder nation in the north to hide the prince and fell in love with the snow. To her, snow represents the safe country in which she lives now, while sunny winters are a part of the dangerous country she'd rather never return to. So the sun makes her far more uncomfortable.
Dear contest goddesses of snow and sun,
Seventeen-year-old Alvara has a secret: he's ten years old, and his name is Jacian. Despite what she tells everyone, he's not her real brother. He's the heir to the throne and magic belonging only to the royal family. His family was massacred by one of the ruthless counts who now control the country. Even if Jacian is the rightful king, Alvara won't let anyone force him onto the throne. He's her brother in all ways that matter, and she won't lose him to the bloody circus of politics.
Except Jacian's magic awakens and marks him as the lost prince. He demands answers Alvara won't give and refuses to listen when she tells him he shouldn't use his magic. In the sweltering capital where the counts have assassins lurking in the dirty alleys and informants strolling the packed streets, it doesn't take long before he's noticed.
The counts have legions of guards with guns. Alvara has only her knives. The counts have webs of subordinates, bound by law to obey or face execution. Alvara has only the disobedient Jacian, whose telepathic communication with an imprisoned woman continues to put them at risk. But she'll find a way to keep Jacian safe, even if that means she must team up with one of the counts to assassinate another.
First 250 words:
The only thing I liked about the Ellidrian King's Men was that their ridiculous uniform made them easy to notice. Even if I wasn't looking, the clacking of their high-heeled boots always alerted me to their arrival. In the quiet library, the sound was unmistakable.
When their footsteps stopped and the whispers of pages turning became the only sound again, I looked up from my book. The gas lamps on all of the reading tables around me bathed everything in murky amber. Even in the poor light, the King's Men were easy to spot beside the front desk. No one else had a silhouette like a stuffed turkey, thanks to puffy doublet jackets, equally puffy knee-length pants, and skin-tight stockings.
The stack girl perched behind the front desk pointed in my direction, and that was my cue to leave. Sure, there were other people around, too. She might not have been pointing at me, but only people who'd never broken a law in their life could afford to assume the King's Men wouldn't be interested in them. I didn't have such luxury.
I slung my bag over my shoulder and left the fraying book on the table for a stack girl to deal with later. On the chance the King's Men were leaving the library and sparing my nerves, I glanced once more over my shoulder. No luck, as always. They were waddling towards the reading tables. I slipped between the bookshelves.