GENRE: YA Fantasy
Zila, a young queen, has been kidnapped by Denas, who means to put her on the throne of a fallen kingdom he wishes to resurrect. He has told her she needs to write to her husband, the king, to demand supplies and manpower.
“He will never agree.”
“Oh, I think he will,” Denas said. “Your safety is going to mean everything to him.”
I tightened my hands around the goblet. “If you want me to be your queen,” I said slowly, “you’re not going to hurt me.”
“He doesn’t know that. And, frankly, neither do you.”
My breaths were coming faster, my layer of perceived safety dissipating like mist. “What if I refuse to write?”
Denas took a long time to chew and swallow a mouthful. Then he stared at me, using his tongue to work a piece of food from his teeth. “For every day that you refuse,” he finally said, “one member of your expedition dies.”
He said it so matter-of-factly that, at first, I felt nothing. Then his words sank in, and I stared back.
“You would kill someone in order to force my cooperation?”
He continued to study me, watching my reaction. I didn’t give him one. Inside, my heart was a storm—despair, fear, indecision. Outside, I was glass, smooth and cool.
“You’re a terrifying man,” I said.
“I’m a passionate man.”
“There is little difference.” I poked at my food. “And you already know I won’t let you hurt anyone on my account.”