GENRE: Upper MG Fantasy
Thirteen-year-old Zane’s job catching shadows for the palace is the only thing keeping him out of the slums where he was raised. But when he discovers he’s actually stealing souls, he must choose between the job that keeps him fed, or quitting and becoming the Empress’s next target.
Zane slouched in the shade of a stall, casually eating a fig, while he waited for the man he was hunting to appear. The market was almost empty, except for a few slow-moving servants dragging their feet through the sand. Even under their headdresses, Zane could see the sweat beading on their foreheads and felt sorry for them. Sure, he was out here, too, but at least he got to hide in the shade.
A cloth merchant, dressed in a fine embroidered shirt, ducked out of his shop and hustled through the market. He stayed close to the stalls and out of the sun as he walked, but whether it was to keep cool or to protect his shadow, Zane didn't know. Either way, Zane would have to be careful.
Dropping the fig skin, he double-checked the sketch in his pocket. Same fair hair and beard, same crinkly eyes, same snaggle-toothed smile. Definitely his man.
Zane peeled himself off the wall and slipped across the sand toward his mark. Three scraggly chickens clucked out into his path, causing him to stumble slightly. Wretched birds! Sidestepping them, he checked to see if anyone had seen, but no one seemed to have noticed. The market was like a ghost town, just the way he liked it. Most Catchers worked when the market was crowded, and the shadows long, but he preferred the precision of getting up close.