Entry Nickname: My Babysitter is a Skeleton
Word count: 71K
Genre: YA Fantasy
Unfortunately, neither of them have half a clue how to survive on their own. Their first monster attack is almost their last until a trio of adventurers pull their butts out of the quicksand. Under the adventurers’ wings, Patella learns to use both life magic and necromancy while Ash studies swordplay. Patella’s a natural, healing Ash’s training wounds as easily as she summons lizard skeletons. Finally, she’s useful to someone. Someone with a cute smile who trusts her despite knowing where she came from and what she is.
But no one ever told Patella what she really was: the God of Death’s Chosen One, and said god is not at all pleased about his hero learning life magic. He and the cult won’t rest until she completes the job she was born for: the destruction of the life mage’s last known refuge - Ash’s kingdom. Just when she was getting the crazy idea that she could be its queen.
First 250 words:
A sea of black hoods surrounded Patella. All eyes were on the young man, the old man, and the soon-to-be-dead man at the stone altar in front of the enormous dragon skeleton. The first two, Talus and Father Parietal, stood between the dragon and the altar, while the third laid on the altar, a peaceful smile on his face. It was no secret that old Calcaneus was ready to go and no surprise that he had volunteered for his grandson’s birthday sacrifice. All the adults agreed it was the most desirable death and the greatest sixteenth rites gift anyone could ask for. It made Patella jealous. Her parents were far too young to be her ritual sacrifice, she’d never known her grandparents, and Tibby didn’t count because she was already dead. She’d probably end up with a boring old goat. How was that fair? There was only a week between their birthdays, but Talus always got everything better.
“Brothers and sisters!” Father Parietal raised his hands for silence, though the echo of his voice around the great dragon’s cavern was loud enough to wake the dead without any magical aid. “Centuries ago, after our founder’s destruction, our ancestors wandered the lands, aimless, directionless, brotherless. Lost and alone, they struggled, they sought, and eventually, they found each other. They gathered here as we do today at the site of our fallen founder, where all that remained was the Book of Nymok and the founder’s faithful steed.” He gestured at the dragon skeleton behind him.
Title: Aiko's Dive
Entry Nickname: A Deep Choice
Word Count: 78K
Genre: YA Science Fiction
If given a choice between orphan and slave, Aiko would choose orphan every time. Each adoption day, she watched other children dragged away by the monstrous Kaisin, relieved to be left behind.
Then, Fletcher adopts her.
Though not Kaisin, he’s just as strange, and Aiko isn’t sure whether to be fearful or hopeful. But when Fletcher receives a message from the mentor he watched die thirty years ago, Aiko is forced to push those feelings aside and dive to the bottom of an alien ocean. Half-buried in silt, they find a wrecked craft and Fletcher’s mentor alive, but not well.
Crazed by a mysterious affliction, the mentor, a Kaisin, attacks the duo, separating them. Now alone, Aiko must put aside her misgivings and make a choice: will she risk her life to save the stranger who adopted her, or leave him behind? Assuming, that is, if she can survive on her own.
Today is adoption day.
That thought filled Aiko with fear as she stood in a line with the other children. Each wore a shapeless smock that covered them from neck to ankle, but did nothing to ward away the cold or the damp.
The headmistress saw Aiko shiver and scowled.
On adoption day, they were expected to be perfect, and any misstep was punished.
That was the unfortunate case at Alphanax Orphanage. Deep in the heart of Kaisin space, the orphanage was a place for unwanted children. Most were Kaisin - pale, hairless, and tall, with jittery blue eyes - but there were a few other species besides.
Then, there was Aiko.
What she was, no one could really say. To some, she looked like a Kaisin, but instead of bleached skin, hers was darker, almost yellow. Her hair was black, as were her eyes, which were slanted and narrow, the exact opposite of the Kaisin’s bulbous blue.
The headmistress, a Kaisin as well, often said that Aiko was an aberration, and the children teased her for being different.
But Aiko considered it a blessing because it kept her safe.
Only Kaisin came to Aphanax looking for children. They terrified her, and rightly so if the Headmistress’ tales about what Kaisin did with the children they adopted were true. Each time one lumbered through the doors to Alphanax, she felt a knot in her stomach so tight she feared her insides would collapse. But, as many times as she had flinched under a Kaisin’s shadow, none wanted her.