TITLE: THE CITY OF MAGI
GENRE: YA Historical Fantasy
Every Mede knew the desert lark heralded misfortune. As Artunis reclined across two silk cushions, her lips curled with amusement at the mournful song drifting through her windows. She knew she shouldn't laugh at God, but a desert lark on her fifteenth name day? Honestly? It fit that her womanhood would begin with a curse, for Artunis's rotten fortune was nothing if not steadfast.
The brass latch slid out of its lock on the far side of Artunis's cedar doors, and she sat up to see who'd entered. Though Artunis had tried not to mock God, the Great Mazda certainly intended to have a laugh at her expense. Upon the scale of ill omens, the lark lost all significance when compared to Raika, Artunis's stepmother, who swept into the suite with a flurry of maids at her heels.
While her servants opened curtains and carried in platters of food, Raika lowered herself onto a cushion across the table from Artunis. Raika's silk gown gave all appearance of modesty while still revealing every curve as it settled about her frame—just the way she liked it.
"Good morning, Artunis." She even attempted a smile, but in fifteen years Raika had never managed to speak Artunis's name without her lip rising in contempt.
Artunis greeted her as she always did—warily. Reaching across the table, Raika patted Artunis's arm and gave that honeyed smile that brought a sparkle to her amber eyes and disarmed everyone but Artunis.
"I've brought you a gift," she said.