As promised, here is a snippet from the first chapter on my WIP, "Fire: A Banport novel". This is a rough draft that will go through editing (once again).
Leave your thoughts below!
Anger bubbles inside me as I reread the words for the fourth time. The letter arrived nearly a week ago, shoved inside a golden envelope, sealed with a red letter “L” to make sure it was not compromised before reaching me.
With each time the words enter my mind, they infuriate me even more. Without asking what would be best, the royal family had chosen, yet again, that I would be moved around as pawn on their chessboard. At least this time I would be moved into a warm and semi-comforting home, instead of a dreary, Goddess-forsaken orphanage that smelled of urine and illness as they had done so at the time of my birth.
According to the stories I'm often told, when I was born, alongside my twin sister, Kylie, an armed guard ripped me from my mother's arms and handed me off to a nurse from the slums. She carried my screaming pink, shriveled body away from the castle in the dead of night and passed me off to the Mother Elena of the Banport orphanage, where unwanted children are raised.
I should be angry. No, I am angry. But, I also understand. It's the law. Parents are not allowed to raise twins, as it could cause complications with inheritances. Or, in my case, the line of succession, as Kylie was technically the first born to the family. There was always a chance I could challenge her for her place as queen when it came time.
Sometimes, it crosses my mind that they wanted me to know the story because they wanted to remind me how much better my life could have been, had I been the first one pushed into the world. That I could have been the future queen. But, now I see they were planning all along to use me as a backup for Kylie, in case she failed to live up to her potential...or she died.
It's hard to feel sorry about the death of a sister you've never met.
“Alanis?” a voice sounds from the doorway. I turn my head just enough to see Mother Elena peeking her head inside the cracked wooden doorway.
“Yes?” I crumple the paper in my hands. It makes enough noise to draw her attention.
She sits, uninvited, on the bed next to me, causing it to sink in enough that I feel like I'm leaning to one side. Her wrinkled face looks at me with concern. Years of worry have taken their toll on the old woman who wears the same gray dress suit she has had for as long as I've known her. I sometimes wonder if it's the same dress or if she keeps hundreds of them in her closet, so she'll always know what to wear. “Is that the letter again? Why do you torture yourself this way?”
Her hand moves toward the paper, but I rip it away, my anger growing with each passing second.
“I'll stop.” With one last squeeze of the parchment, it bursts into flames. The paper sits in the palm of my hand, burning away the words and a little bit of my sadness. But it doesn't take away the truth-I will be leaving the home I've always known and shoved into an entirely new world. After several seconds, the flames disappear, leaving behind a few charred ashes and a smell of smoke that fills our nostrils. The smell calms me.
Mother Elena's eyes widen at my audacity. She has mostly gotten used to me using my ability so freely, even though it is frowned upon in the orphanage, but sometimes I can still surprise her.
“You shouldn't be so careless with your abilities. They won't be as easy on you at the castle when you use them without knowing how to truly control them. Please promise me you'll watch your temper, Alanis. If you mouth off there you could-”
“What? Wind up dead? Just like Kylie? They won't kill me, Mother Elena. They need me. I'm their princess, their savior. They can just replace their beloved Kylie, future queen, with a girl who happens to look like her and it'll appease the masses who continue to mourn the death of their perfect daughter. So, no, Mother Elena, I'm not in any danger. The only other successor to Banport is a 13-year-old spoiled brat who is so unpopular with the kingdom, she would probably be hanged before she could even go through her coronation. I'm safe. And I don't need you to protect me any longer. You've done your job for the royal family. You've kept me alive. Now it's their turn.”
My hands grab at the bed so tightly the sheet rips beneath them. Anger tears through me, burning the pit of my stomach, broiling like the pea soup we had for dinner the night before. Without realizing it, and before I can stop it, my anger turns to fire and seeps from the palms of my hands. The sheet quickly catches fire, sending both of us running to safety just as the fire engulfs the bed.
Mother Elena stands in the center of the room, holding out her hands. I watch as she twists her arms and concentrates on the flames. It's almost like a dance, the way she can control her suppression ability. She's the only person I've ever met who could squash my flames. It’s one of the reasons she was chosen to run the orphanage, so the children couldn’t get the best of her and overuse their own abilities.
Slowly, the flames turn to smoke and eventually nothing. All that is left are the charred remains of a mattress and a bent bed frame.
Mother Elena lowers her arms. I can hear the sadness in their movements. She looks to me, but not with anger. Instead, there is pity.
“This is exactly what I mean.” Her voice comes out as a whimper. She grabs both of my shoulders and squeeze. Her eyes burn with a passion I have never seen. Suddenly, her voice is strong again. “You are powerful; much more powerful than those of us who are low birth. You don't know your own strength and that strength will only grow as they train you to control armies and shed blood for their cause. If you're not careful, you could inflict great amounts of damage to not only those around you, but to yourself. Even the Council of Etania doesn't quite understand why some have abilities such as yours, so I'm sure you will not be able to understand it. I can't. So, please, please be careful, Alanis. Your sister was just like you-everyone knew it. They used her, like they'll use you. You're like a daughter to me, Alanis and I don't want something to happen to you.”
“Like a daughter, but not a daughter,” I hiss, pushing her arms off my shoulders. “I'll never be your daughter, Mother Elena. And you would do well to not speak to your future queen in such a manner.”
Christy Howell is the author of the Eloquentia series