TITLE: Child of the Night Guild
GENRE: Adult Fantasy
Viola huddled in darkness, shivering, arms wrapped around her knees. The sobs and whimpers of the other children echoed in the close, stale air.
Her back ached from sitting on hard stone. How long had it been since Iltair threw her in here? It felt like an eternity. She wanted to leave, but what awaited her beyond the door? Her stomach twisted as horrifying images played in her mind.
Confusion drowned out her fear. How could Papa abandon me?
Viola hugged her knees tighter. "Bright Lady, hear me and protect me in my hour of need." Rocking, she whispered the prayer over and over, clinging to the litany like a lifeline. She wouldn't succumb to her terror.
The door swung open, and she shielded her eyes from the harsh light.
"Up, little 'uns." The voice was gruff but not unkind. "Time to meet your master."
Viola tried to stand. Her legs refused to cooperate. She'd eaten nothing that morning, and Iltair hadn't given her food before leaving her here. She swallowed. Her tongue felt thick and coarse, her throat filled with grit.
"Up, I said!"
Viola lowered her hands and blinked back tears. A bearded man stared down, the fire in his eyes matching the torch in his hands. She shrank back.
The man snarled. "Are you deaf, child?"
Viola shook her head.
"Just stupid and useless, are you?"
Again, Viola shook her head. Her parched throat refused to form words.