Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 77,000
Pitch: Blacksmith-turned-thief Isa’s only hopes for saving her brother from the pox and herself from hanging are the missing goddess of justice and terrible origins of the pox hidden in the king’s secret laboratories.
A traitor dangled from the meeting hall rafters. Blowflies and beetles hummed around him, clinging to the tattered frays of his King’s Guard uniform and crawling over his bare feet. I tucked my nose into my shirt and glanced at my boots. My toes poked through the cracked leather.
Pity someone had already stolen his shoes.
I balanced atop the sewer grate. I’d sat beneath it countless times, listening to the march of boots at the evening shift change. The view had always been crowded by leather soles freshly branded with the rising sun sigil of the King’s army. Tonight, I’d caught a glimpse of the soldiers stomping off to guard the storeroom and waited for the room to clear. I hadn’t dared venture into the hall before now.
The room I’d imagined was bigger, grander. This was the room recruits stepped into after swearing away their lives and kneeling beneath their noble patrons. I’d expected pomp. The only decoration was the hanged man.
That was one way to stop defection.
“Ill met,” I said with a mock salute.
He didn’t respond. All the better. I was too hungry to be in a talking mood. The soldiers he’d left behind were still doing their jobs—breaking up groups, closing markets, guarding tribute wagons. I’d already scouted the storehouse. The guards there were new and eager to please. They’d catch me in a wick.
Which had brought me here. This nest of soldiers—dead and alive—was money one way or another.
MURDER MOST FOUL
Mr. Boddy is found in the library, blood seeping through a narrow, deep cut in his jacket. A piece of dusting cloth rests near his arm.