TITLE: Dreamwalking Under the Bloodmoon Sky
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Chains chinked as Rose shifted her weight. A low snore was cut short by a snuffling noise, and her warden, Sander, glared in her direction. Rose rolled her eyes at him, trying to run some feeling back into her swollen, manacled hands. As if she could go anywhere. He’d been snoring soundly through the clinking and rattling of chains all night as the other girls giggled and gossiped, their light voices eager for the ceremony that would arrive with the dawn tomorrow, the day of the Fertile Moon. But now, with the noisy girls sleeping peacefully, every time Rose adjusted an inch he was instantly wide awake.
Rose was torn between laughter and tears. Hers were the only bands locked. The other girls’ bonds were just for show—part of the tradition. She wasn’t going anywhere, whether Sander slept on the job or not.
Repositioning herself was more difficult than she’d expected. She ended up halfway on her side with a rock digging into her ribs. A shame the view wasn’t much better. Beside’s Sander’s pointy face drifting back to sleep out of the corner of one eye, the only thing visible was a slice of halfnight sky and the thatch roof of her own home. This crisp smell of smoke was not coming from her chimney. And the half dozen copper pipes that sprouted out in bunches around the chimney were also missing their usual steam and colored vapors. It all served as a harsh reminder for what Rose already knew—her home was empty.
Father was in the pub, drinking to celebrate the handsome deal he’d made trading her away. Or perhaps he drank to forget how she very nearly ruined it all. Rose’s mother, Merelinda, was locked in the public dungeon for matrimonial disloyalty. Utter cocfa. Merelinda hadn’t done a single thing to help Rose. Father only locked her away because he was afraid she’d use her magic against him. Not that she ever would. Coward. They were both cowards.
If only Rose had her mother’s talents.
Rose tore her eyes away from her house, and blinked through her tears at the glittering sky. Tomorrow the moon, which now resembled an overlarge, slightly squashed dumpling clinging to the edges of a blackened pot, would swell into the Fertile Moon. She and all the other girls would be ripe for their new husbands.
She closed her eyes and prayed to whatever gods would listen. She was not ready. Not ready to be a wife. To be a mother. Regardless of what the Fertility Mark on her neck implied. A small, lovely rose, with three sharp petals, corresponding to the days of her monthly bleeding, had been inked onto her neck on the day of her first Bloodmoon to indicate her fertility and eligibility for marriage.
It had been relined with fresh woad ink earlier this evening, along with the other brides’ tattoos. It was a small discomfort, and none of the other girls had complained.