TITLE: Time Bound
GENRE: YA Historical Fantasy
A jagged scar of lightning split the sky above the castle, illuminating the dead girl crumpled at the roof’s edge and the old man crouched above her. Ozone, sharp and sour, mingled with the iron-soaked scent of her blood. The trace of a smile curved her cold lips.
Tam anchored his feet against the slippery tiles as rain pounded against the terracotta roof. Fire burned through him and his shattered body started to re-knit. He gasped, knees buckling from the pain. He always forgot how much the mending process hurt, but this time he didn’t know if the agony was physical or emotional. What did it matter? He’d failed to escape and this girl had paid the price.
The old man, Akio, rose to his feet, pulling a dagger from the girl’s chest. Blood coated the blade and slid toward the tip to drop onto the roof tiles in a dark pool. Across the roof, Sensei Kimura leaned from the window, silhouetted by the blazing candles in the workshop. His long white beard quivered as he took in the scene. “Akio. What have you done?”
Akio shrugged. “She tried to interfere in my experiments. She had to be punished for her betrayal.”
A boom of thunder echoed off the mountains as the storm moved closer. Sensei Kimura jumped at the sound, but his gaze never left the girl’s body. “The dead are unclean. You must call for the monks from the temple to remove her body and prepare it for cremation.”