Title: GUARDIAN OF THE PRINCE
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 sun and snow,
Seventeen-year-old orphan Alvara lies every time she introduces ten-year-old Jacian as her brother. Even he doesn't know the truth. He's actually the missing heir to the throne and last wielder of the massacred royal family's dormant magic. Although 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.
In the sweltering capital, the counts who now control the country have assassins lurking in dirty alleys and informants strolling the packed streets. When Jacian's magic awakens, Alvara begs him not to use it to mentally link with people and use their strength as his own. He ignores her pleas, and soon enough, some counts suspect he's the lost prince.
The counts think Alvara is a useless schoolgirl, and they have nothing to fear. Alvara knows they're all heartless monsters, and she's overmatched. The counts have legions of guards with guns. Alvara has only her mother's knives. The counts have webs of sworn subordinates. Alvara has only the disobedient Jacian. But she'll find a way to keep Jacian safe, even if that means she must team up with one count to assassinate another.
The only thing I liked about the Ellidrian King's Men was their ridiculous uniform made them easy to spot. This time, the clacking of their high-heeled boots wrecked the pleasant quiet of the library and alerted me to their arrival. Few other sounds had the ability to make my gut clench and my eyes roll at the same time.
I held my breath until their footsteps stopped and the whispers of pages turning became the only sound again. Then I looked up from my book. The gas lamps on the reading tables bathed everything in murky amber. Even in the poor light, I quickly located the King's Men 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 toward the rows of tables--toward me. I fought the urge to jump and bolt. Instead, I silently slung my bag over my shoulder and stood up. 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.
The King's Men waddled toward the reading tables. I left the fraying book on the table for a stack girl to deal with later and slipped between the bookshelves. The musty smell of old paper and leather and lots of dust made my nose wrinkle. I put a hand over it so I wouldn't sneeze.