In just a few weeks, you’ll meet Shysera of the Stories, who thought she was a routine sacrifice to an indifferent god. What she finds instead is a malevolent entity determined to inflict suffering as a means to his ultimate goal. It will take all her wits – and an alliance with a very pissed-off prince – to vanquish a god and free the world. Here’s a first look from the opening chapter . . .
“Do any of you know her name?” Shysera asked. “The woman who died?”
No one answered. The female from the Skylands turned her head away. The young girl from the Waters finally replied.
“Her name was Ezbera,” the girl said softly. “She seemed nice. From the Wilds.”
Six cells. Six cages to hold a member of each of the people on the planet. That meant the woman had been a shifter, most likely a lioness, with that mane of golden hair. Shysera wondered what she had looked like when she had been healthy and strong.
“How long was she here?” Shysera asked.
“How long are any of us here?” The male from the Summits asked flatly. “Time doesn’t have any meaning in this place.”
“I’ve been counting the meals,” the young girl from the Waters said. “Since they come only once a day. I’ve had twenty-six meals. She was here before me.”
Shysera gave her a small, approving smile. “That’s very smart.”
The girl returned the smile, a bit wanly. “My brother says I’m smartest in our family.” Her eyes welled with tears, and she buried her face into her skinny, scabby knees, trying to hide her sniffles.
Shysera looked out at the rest of them. “Do we know anything else about her? Her village? Her family? What her place was within her clan?”
“Nobody’s here for conversation.” The big man from the Northern Lands snapped. “So you can just shut it.”
“We’re all in here together,” Shysera said. “Doesn’t it make sense to—”
“None of this makes sense,” the female from the Skylands said. She pulled her wing up over her face and curled into the wall. The male from the Summits did the same. The girl from the Waters was turned away as well, weeping. Northern Lands man just glared at her. Conversation over.
“She had a story,” Shysera said softly. “A life. A family. People that she loved and people that loved her. She needs to be remembered. Please—you were all here with her. Someone must know something?”
“What good will any of that do her? She’s dead.” The man from the Summits answered her wearily.
“If we can find a way out of this place,” Shysera continued, “one of us can take her story to her people. So they know how fiercely she fought, and how bravely she suffered.”
“You think her family wants to hear that?” The female from the Skylands snapped. “How badly she suffered?”
“She has a story,” Shysera repeated. “It needs to be told, and remembered.”
“No one is going to remember her, or any of us.” The big man from the Southern Lands said. His voice carried no rage, only a flat certainty chilled her to her bones. “And none of us have a story anymore.”