GENRE: YA Fantasy
As I waded into the imperial pond, I admitted defeat to Mother...again. She was right: I would never be as sharp as my brother.
Levai could have devised an effortless strategy for evading the palace servants in a heartbeat. My “strategy”, once out-running the maids had failed, involved tossing my shoes into a nearby shrub of nectar flowers and trudging through blue silt and waterlilies.
I picked out the new maid’s squeak among the rest of the voices and felt a squeeze of guilt. Only her third day, and here she was playing cat and mouse in the gardens. When she called my name again, my resolve weakened.
But recalling the sand arena, where I should have been watching the trial by blood with the rest of my family, cemented my feet. To reveal myself meant being dragged back to imperial box and forced to watch dunglings hack each other to pieces.
I retreated into my forest of lilies and waited. The servants gave up on the bridge and moved on to the persimmon grove.
Watersilk worms darted into the water as I parted the lilies with my hands to venture deeper. When the water was to my waist, I stopped to arrange the fan-reeds. No one would think to search in the waterloom portion of the pond, since watersilk stings before it’s been boiled. Already, the glistening threads on the surface clung to my arms, but red welts were a small price to pay for shirking my duties.