TITLE: Shrouded Goddess
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Sophia was raised among the foreigners who married into her tribal family, but she’d rather drown than wed a conqueror who keeps trying to take her by force. To escape marriage and bring peace to the ravaged rainforest, she must awaken a powerful goddess and prevent the slaughter of her tribe.
Only Uncle Hector would hang a man then go fishing.
The giant jatoba tree, where the noose is set, shades the corpse but doesn’t protect it from the heat. Winter is more merciful than the hellish summer of this land, but only slightly. Noon is fast approaching, and a stench of emptied bowels permeates the village like early morning fog. I press an arm over my nose and quicken my pace to the bakery ahead. At least there is some advantage to being forced to wear long sleeves in this weather.
Vultures circle the cloudless sky above the tree, but not even they dare to defy Uncle Hector. Why did Aryeea send me to the village now? I glance over my shoulder at the fortress’s four-story tower spiked on the Igjommi Hill. The fluttering white cloth, billowing like a sail in the valley breeze, can only be my grandmother’s skirt. Of course she’s watching me from the balcony.
I enter the bakery and shut the door like I found it. The warm scent of dough helps me ignore the heat. Steps approach from an inside room, and the baker’s rosy face beams at me as he ambles through the doorway.
“Lady Sophia.” He wipes his hands on his tunic. “What do you like today?”
I’d like someone to cut down that man and bury him before he rots. But if I voice the request, the baker will feel obliged to carry out the order. No need to tempt another hanging.