The Beast Player (The Beast Player #1-2) by Nahoko Uehashi
English | 2020 | Fantasy | Children | Young Adult | ePUB | 7.6 MB
In epic YA fantasy about a girl with a special power to communicate with magical beasts and the warring kingdom only she can save.
Elin’s family has an important responsibility: caring for the fearsome water serpents that form the core of their kingdom’s army. So when some of the beasts mysteriously die, Elin’s mother is sentenced to death as punishment. With her last breath she manages to send her daughter to safety.
Alone, far from home, Elin soon discovers that she can talk to both the terrifying water serpents and the majestic flying beasts that guard her queen. This skill gives her great powers, but it also involves her in deadly plots that could cost her life. Can she save herself and prevent her beloved beasts from being used as tools of war? Or is there no way of escaping the terrible battles to come?
Elin woke to the sound of the door opening. It was not yet dawn. In the blackness outside, the rain drummed incessantly on the shingled roof. Elin could vaguely make out the shape of her mother as she washed her hands in the dirt-floored kitchen, then turned and trod softly to the sleeping area. As she slid under the covers, she brought with her the scent of rain and of Toda, the huge water serpents that bore men to battle. Toda Warriors were easily identified by the distinctive musk-like odor of the membrane coating the Toda’s scales. It clung to them wherever they went, and to Elin’s mother, too; it was a sweet, familiar scent that had surrounded Elin from the moment she was born.
“Mother, was that thunder?”
“It’s a long way off. Don’t worry. The storm’s over the mountains, not here. Now go to sleep.”
With a deep sigh, Elin closed her eyes. The image of her mother’s white hand slowly, cautiously caressing the Toda hovered in her mind. She loved the stillness of her mother’s face as she gazed at the enormous beasts. Her mother was in charge of not just any Toda, but the strongest—the Kiba or “fangs.” These formed the vanguard of the Toda forces. Not even the fathers of her best friends, Saju and Chok, were entrusted with the care of the Stone Chambers reserved for the Kiba. Elin’s heart filled with pride when she thought of how highly the Toda Stewards regarded her mother’s skill as a beast doctor.
She followed her mother to the Chambers whenever she could, even if it meant she had to sew, haul water, or do other chores later. But although she longed to stroke the serpents’ hides, her mother had warned her never to try. “The Toda are fearsome creatures,” she had said calmly, her eyes following their gliding forms where they churned the surface of the deep, dark pool. “If you got too near, they would sense you instantly and snap you in two, then swallow you in a single bite. You’ve seen me touch them so often you think it must be easy, but don’t let that fool you. The Toda will never be tamed … They aren’t meant to be tamed. Toda Stewards like me, and even the Riders, wouldn’t dare touch them without a Silent Whistle to immobilize them.” She opened her palm to reveal a small whistle.