Title: HUNGER'S PROPHET
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word count: 95,000
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obsession is:
Sil Sumadi feels consumed by her newfound power. She's been oppressed all her life; now she has the potential to destroy her oppressors in one of the most horrific ways imaginable. She obsesses over what it would feel like to do so. And yet—do her dark urges make her a bad person? She fears that while her motives may be justified, exacting revenge would set her down the same path as her persecutors... revealing an evil that has always been inside her, waiting for its chance to emerge.
Sil Sumadi is unclean. She was born with one hand, dooming her to live in the Stain, a river slum poisoned by the city Mamsarah's alchemical waste. She faces a future of endless lotus cultivation and dangerous encounters with sacred crocodiles, monsters that grow to colossal sizes ritually consuming the corpses of the dead. But when she survives an attack that should have killed her, witnesses hail her as the prophet of Raveshet, the God of the afterlife, and whisk her away to Mamsarah's imperial court for observation.
Torn from filth and flung into a gilded nightmare, Sil knows assassination attempts, court etiquette, and the Emperor's vindictive eighth wife are the least of her problems. Within three months' time she must perform a miracle to prove she is a true prophet—or face a heretic’s execution. She can't escape. She can't appeal the priesthood's verdict. And to make matters worse, she may be a prophet after all, with no way to prove that a god speaks to her through a crocodile's mouth, or that within her lurks a terrifying power over life and death. Wracked by the darkness taking root in her soul, she faces only two choices. She can save the Empire that condemned her to burn, or she can watch it burn instead.
First 250 words:
Sil Sumadi wondered if she were about to die. Most people in her position wouldn’t have the luxury of wondering. She shuddered on the ground in the hot Tiger Hour sun, watching a merchant try to sell a disinterested Ostian man pearls, while a spear-butt drove into her gut again and again. Each time she went rigid, but didn’t make a sound.
The merchant moved on to necklaces. He lifted a jade pendant shaped like an orchid, perhaps hoping it would appeal to Ostian sensibilities. Neither him nor his customer noticed her struggle in the dirt only ten cubits away. They didn't know she clung to their exchange, desperate for any distraction that might bring escape, even for a moment.
What would the merchant try next? Silver, amber? Lapis lazuli?
But when the next blow arrived, her mind’s frantic scrabbling did nothing to dull the pain.
There was a predictable rhythm to the beating, a swish of fabric before each strike landed, and she learned to tense before it happened. When she did, the spear-butt punched against the muscles beneath her ribs instead of gouging into her organs. So accustomed had she grown to this cadence, tense-jab-breathe, tense-jab-breathe, that when the space between the last stroke and the next grew longer and longer, it didn’t occur to her the assault had ended. She lay drawn up like a crossbow quarrel, having forgotten she planned to shoot off into an alley as soon as the guard was finished.