(Secrets of Itlantis #1)
Publication date: February 2nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
When a ship emerges from the ocean and men burn her village, Aemi is captured, and enslaved below the waves in Itlantis, a world filled with ancient cities of glass and metal, floating gardens, and wondrous devices that seem to work magic. To make matters worse, her village nemesis, the stuck-up mayor’s son Nol, was captured with her, and they are made servants in the same household beneath the sea.
Desperate to be free, Aemi plots her escape, even going so far as to work with Nol. But the sea holds more secrets than she realizes, and escape might not be as simple as leaving…
I padded to the window that overlooked the interior of the village. I could see the pool in the center of the village, a silent sheet of black water in the night, without a single ripple to mar its surface. I could not see the ocean.
Somewhere in the village, in another window, a light went on. The breeze fanned my face, smelling of sea and stone.
Then, footsteps rang out.
The sound echoed weirdly in the night, and I heard the rasp of heavy breathing, as if someone had almost drowned and had thrown themselves onto the sand at the last moment. My heart stuttered and then galloped against my ribs.
Something was wrong.
I leaned forward, straining to see.
Everything went silent.
The world exploded.
Fire blossomed outside the window. Heat rushed over me, scalding my face. I fell back with a gasp.
The hanging cloth that served as a door behind me ripped, and shapes rushed into the room. A hand clapped over my mouth, and I couldn’t scream. I kicked and clawed as I was yanked out into the night.
They threw me down on the ground and shone a light into my face. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, couldn’t speak as the brilliant glare shot pain through my eyes. It was too bright, too pale, too cold, like captured moonlight. I didn’t understand. Someone pressed something hard and cold against my jaw. A roaring filled my ears, and I shut my eyes.
I was about to die.
“Wait,” someone said, in an accent that sounded clipped, strange, and somehow familiar. “Don’t hurt this one. Bring her.”
I looked up and found myself staring straight into the face of the merchant whose fish I’d bought only the day before.
I didn’t understand.
“Males only,” the man holding me rasped. “You heard the order.”
He didn’t even look at me. “Bring her,” he said again firmly, as if they had to listen, and the man holding me down let me go. “I want this one.”
There was a brief argument in voices too low for me to make out. The accents were strange to my ears. Finally, Myo raised his voice again.
“Take her to the ship,” he said to another man, who reached down, grabbed my arms, and dragged me away.
Smashing sounds filled the air. People stumbled past, shouting and screaming. Sobs echoed from somewhere to my right. Shadows splintered across the path. Flashing, flickering light. Fire. A house across from me erupted in flames, fire shooting from the windows and licking at the roof. Smoke poured upward into the sky, hiding the stars.
My heart pounded. My lungs were so tight I couldn’t get a proper breath in. I felt like I was strangling.
My legs were tingly and weak as my captors forced me to walk along the rocks.
I had to get away from them and find Kit.
It was a mantra in my head. Kit, Kit, Kit.
I had to get away.
I had to find Kit.
I had to get away.
My ankle turned, and I stumbled. An idea hit me, and I fell the rest of the way, pretending to collapse from fear. When my captors reached down to grab my arms again, I scrambled out of reach, rolling across the stone, scraping my arms and legs as I thrashed in the darkness amid their shouting. Lights swept the shadows as they looked for me. I jumped to my feet, heart thudding, blood roaring in my ears, tongue dry with terror.
Kit. I needed to find Kit.
Fire roared in the windows of the stone houses around me. Lights lanced the darkness, searching for me, searching for all of us. I tripped on a stone and went sprawling, and then I was up again, running. I reached Kit’s home and staggered to a stop, bracing myself against my knees to breathe. My lungs burned. My side ached. I pressed my hands against my chest and shouted his name.
He was a shadow in the darkness, his back pressed to the wall. “Aemi? What’s happening?”
Energy filled me. He was alive. He was here.
We could still get away.
I stumbled toward him as people ran past us, shouting. Flames licked the sky. Smoke filled the air, choking me. I grabbed his hand.
“Come with me. We have to run.”
“No questions,” I gasped. “Run for the sea.”
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