This is what I have so far for a beta manuscript; just some thoughts I’m brainstorming and fitting together. I hope you enjoy. 🙂
Love and gratitude to my readers.
Political and racial tensions abound in the sophisticated world of Atlas. Within this mythical land, trouble looms within the Ethereal Seals Gate, a relic that anchors the holy Ether and supports the crystal technology within society. Seven Seal Gems complement the Gate. Now a clan of druids ransacks the Gem shrines, seeking to please their shadow goddess and establish her new empire. The fate of the planet rests on the edge of steel; yet, the legacy of a cursed young farmer’s daughter unfolds–the half-dragon progeny of a war hero.
The alleged red-haired bastard, Pepper Slyhart, a disliked minority, finds herself at odds with a lieutenant of the Royal Guard, Gerald. After a scuffle with the captain, Pepper’s mundane life shatters during a casual jaunt in town with her life-long friend and clergyman, Tarie Beyworth. Through the will of an elderly hermit named Razaeroth, Pepper inherits her father’s old sword. Overcoming the threshold’s guardian, she accepts a pact with her sentient blade, forever sealing her fate to the weapon, and it to her. With her destiny renewed, she embarks on a journey across Atlas to prevent the destruction of her homeworld.
Upon visiting Tarie’s abbey atop a floating island, Pepper learns more about who the druids really are and their twisted alliance with the region’s capital, Midvale. She discovers Gerald’s connection to recent terrorism, connected to the disappearance of the city’s queen. The half-breed delves into Midvale Palace to decipher the wanton madness spreading from the city’s newly appointed ambassador, Reneriel Dawnstar, and the young lustful captain, Gerald.
The red youth interfaces with Tarie, and discovers him to be more than just a friend. While forbidden by the church to marry, Tarie’s growing sympathy for the half-breed transmutes into a romantic passion, one that he can no longer suppress. With his biological parents long gone, Tarie finds it ill to forgive himself for this childhood loss, furthering his sense of guilt for betraying the abbey, the only family he has left. Yet he finds comfort in Pepper’s presence and begins to question himself. Friction develops between home and his love. Tarie arrives at a crossroads, unable to choose both his adopted family and Pepper.
From the highest peaks of the mountains to the lowest reaches of the darkest dungeons, Pepper encounters an unlikely host of allies who join her cause; some come with shifty ambitions, and others form their own independent company. Pepper meets an energetic Ashia, a dragon girl princess who proves to be as much of an ally as she is a love rival for Tarie. Zihark, an outcast assassin, also joins the party, though for his own selfish reasons. A rabbit singer named Lily and a muscular mason named Gilies come later, citing concern for Midvale’s decay. Through happenstance, Lily recounts her dreadful past to a willing Gilies, hinting at a possible attraction to the big man.
Betwixt mortal battles of steel, science, magic, and romance, Pepper unravels the terrible price of her mythic blade and its connection to the Ethereal Seals. With a need for power and the constant provocations from Gerald and a mysterious soldier named Zolt, Pepper succumbs to her inner draconic urges. The red girl unknowingly sacrifices her sanity, become no more than a mindless beast. It takes Tarie and her other loyal companions to bring her back. Zihark loses faith in the redhead’s outbursts and forms his own company with Lily and Gilies.
As she traverses Midvale and its palace, Pepper fights a vengeful Gerald, who reveals to her the traumatic reason behind his hatred for half-breeds. Pepper also clashes with Zolt, discovering the officer’s unusual station and honorable demeanor. The redhead confronts Dawnstar. She recovers one of the Seal Gems and rescues the captive queen, Zelinda. An injured Dawnstar flees with his ilk, promising Pepper that her fate now entwines with his and that of the druids, never to rest their hunt of her. Dawnstar regards Tarie with a vague sense of familiarity before he departs thereby foreshadowing dire tidings of his connection to the cleric.
The skirmish leaves Midvale in ruins and her companions demoralized. Pepper’s company returns to Tarie’s abbey to recuperate. The heroine receives a lucid dream from the gods, providing guidance and wisdom. She garners her newfound courage and drives her own ambitious quest to protect the other Gems and the Gate from the druids’ machinations, no longer fettered by her own anxiety. She confronts Zihark, the disliked recluse of the group, and wins back his trust with her newfound conviction.
Midvale’s queen unveils further secrets to the situation within the abbey. The empress initiates a journey to a mountain-city named Stonehaven for the aid of her city. As diplomacy rages within the church, Tarie weighs his confined life in the abbey against Pepper, him now unsure of his traditional complacencies. Selecting excommunication over heartbreak and restriction, the cleric surrenders his home, adopted parents, and his vocation to journey with her.
Within the ruins of Midvale, the druids acquire Gerald’s mangled body. The captain consents to their plans to alter his remains, he now demoralized from the betrayal of Midvale’s court, and a need for power.
The first part of the book ends as Pepper and Tarie depart with Ashia, Lily, Gilies, and Zihark for the Slyhart farm and the southern forest; Zelinda’s company breaks west.