Title: RAVEN'S WING
Genre: YA Fantasy with SF & historical elements
Word Count: 105K
Raven and her two sisters are born into a life of privilege and seclusion, their aristocratic brown eyes veiled from unworthy peasants. The girls flee onto the floating walkways of their city when the king discovers their parents hide a son who beloved by the gods (autistic) – all such children are entombed in the temple walls. After murdering his own sons because of their commoner blue eyes, the king wants Raven and her sisters to secretly bear new heirs.
Although the king captures her sisters, Raven escapes with her brother and joins the rebels. She becomes a spy in the palace posing as a neutered slave, one of many brown-eyed bastards of the aristocracy. Along with her street urchin friend, Raven depends on a fugitive prince to guard and transport her to a safe house in the marshes. He claims to love Raven, but he betrays her identity to the king.
Raven must flee the city of her birth and retreat to the mountain wilderness. She finds she can still spy on the king’s soldiers as she learns to pilot a glider. After an aerial battle, the soldiers shoot Raven down and take her prisoner. However, when she eludes the king’s clutches once again, she discovers his fatal weakness, and who truly betrayed her. To save her sisters from slavery and friends from tyranny, Raven must stage a coup in the heart of the king’s temple, but will fail unless she sacrifices the one person she vowed to protect.
Some of the adventures in this novel are informed by my work as an evolutionary ecologist and experience as a hang glider pilot. Please note the main character's name changes in the course of the story from Veldt to Raven.
My brother had no name. He was our secret. Until the night we were betrayed.
Mother towed me along with such speed that I soared between impossibly long steps. Her dress wrapped around me; the cloth billowed and flowed like jewel colored clouds. I felt her fear as we ran for our lives. Even though I was small for twelve summers, I slowed her flight.
“Hurry Vellineuvia!” she hissed at me between gasps for breath. “They’ll find us!”
My side cramped with pain.
I looked over at my brother in the evening light. Mother clutched his hand too. He was taller than I was and could keep pace. He grinned and giggled. Sometimes he would talk, but only to me.
“Veldt,” he would say, “Veldt, Veldt, Veldt.”
That was his name for me.
Mother and Father just called him “our lamb.” He had never been allowed outside; even the courtyards of our home were too exposed. My sisters and I had seen little of the world either. Before going out, my nurse would shroud our faces in veils that were supposed to hide our mahogany-colored eyes from unworthy peasants.
That day, I had no gauze to smudge the city of Ursing into opacity.
My two older sisters ran together behind us over the decrepit floating walkways that united the marsh city’s many islands. I don’t think I had ever seen them hold hands before.