A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #1)
English | 2020 | Fantasy | ePUB | 3.2 MB
The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.
For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.
But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.
When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?
Reality returned to Malik like drops of water from a rusty faucet, and slowly the call to story was drowned out by cries of caravan drivers to their beasts, melodies from musicians regaling audiences with tales of Solstasias past, and other sounds of the settlement. Several people had stopped to stare at the idiot boy who had almost gotten himself trampled to death, and the weight of their gazes sent heat rushing to Malik’s face. He twisted the worn leather of his satchel strap until it bit into the flesh of his palm. Shadows flickered in his peripheral vision, and Malik squeezed his eyes shut until his head hurt.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered quietly.
A small head surrounded by a cloud of bouncy, dark curls popped out from behind Leila. “Did you see that?” exclaimed Nadia. His younger sister’s mouth hung open in wonder. “It was, like—like a million feet tall! Is it here for Solstasia? Can I touch it?”
“It’s most likely here for Solstasia because everyone’s here for Solstasia. And don’t touch anything,” said Leila. She turned back to Malik. “And you of all people should know better than to just wander off like that.”
Malik’s grip on his satchel strap tightened. There was no use trying to explain to his older sister the power a call to story had over him. While he was prone to dreaming and wandering, Leila preferred logic and plans. They saw the world differently, in more ways than one.
“I’m sorry,” Malik repeated, his eyes planted firmly on the ground. The sunburned tops of his sandaled feet stared back at him, blistered from months of travel in shoes never meant for such a task.
“Blessed Patuo give me strength. Taking you two anywhere is like herding a couple of headless chickens.” Malik winced. Leila had to be really upset if she was invoking the name of her patron deity.
She extended Malik her left hand, the palm bearing the emblem that marked her as Moon-Aligned.
“Come on. Let’s go before you get sat on by an elephant.”
Nadia giggled, and Malik bristled at the jab, but he still obediently took Leila’s hand. His other hand he offered to Nadia, who took it without hesitation.
No one batted an eye as Malik and his sisters maneuvered their way through the tens of thousands of people who had flocked to Ziran for Solstasia. Refugees existed by the hundreds in the settlement outside Ziran, with dozens more arriving each day; three new ones, young and unaccompanied as they were, hardly made a difference.
“Solstasia afeshiya! Solstasia afeshiya!”
The cry came from everywhere and nowhere, a call to celebration in a language older than Ziran itself. In a few hours, Bahia’s Comet, named for the first sultana of Ziran, would appear in the sky for an entire week, marking the end of the current era and the beginning of the next. During this time, the Zirani held a festival known as Solstasia, where seven Champions—one to represent each of the patron deities—would face three challenges. They would know which god was meant to rule over the next era by the winning Champion.