TITLE: BOUND BY EARTH
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Zaina has no desire to leave her tribal home. Staying means she can spend more time with an afrit named Tasdemir, the elemental earth spirit who protects the valley where she lives. But then Tasdemir disappears, throwing the valley’s natural balance into chaos. If Zaina can recover the afrit, she may be able to save her tribe and the valley.
The tree was full of goats.
Zaina locked eyes with the closest, a male who was perched several feet above her head on a thorny branch, chewing his cud and glaring at her balefully.
Zaina matched the heat and disgust in his gaze with her own. “Get down.”
The goat considered her command, pausing in his methodical chewing. It was all the warning she received. Moments later, he spat haughtily in her direction.
Zaina ducked, missing being pelted by a whistling kali seed by inches, but she was not quick enough to evade the rest of the cud. The slobbery, oozing mess landed on her shoulder, coating the ends of the scarf she had wrapped around her hair. Zaina wrinkled her nose as the glob slid lower, onto her sleeve. It was pungent, the odor made stronger by the heat of the sun overhead.
Planting her feet in the dusty ground, Zaina threw her head back and met the goat’s eye again. A giggle at her elbow drew her attention away from her quarry, and she turned her hard glare on a new victim.
Her younger sister lifted her chin in response and didn’t wilt like Zaina was hoping. “Were you expecting something different to happen?”
Zaina bit her tongue and stomped over to the lowest branches, brushing her stained shoulder and scarf as she did so. “Let’s try something else.”