PW #224: YA Fantasy: ASKARI
Manuscript Status: Finished
Mentor Names: Renée Ahdieh & Traci Chee
Mentee Name: Kristen Ciccarelli
Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 96,000
Asha must hunt a deadly dragon and bring her father its head, or be forced into a political marriage. In the vein of GRACELING and THE WINNER’S CURSE.
Asha lured the dragon with a story.
It was an ancient story, older than the mountains at her back. Asha had to dredge it up from where it lay deep and dormant inside her.
She hated to do it. Telling such stories was forbidden, not to mention deadly. But after stalking this dragon through the rocky lowlands for ten days now, her hunting slaves were out of food. She had a choice: return to the medina dragon-less, or break her father’s ban on the old stories.
Asha never returned to the medina without a kill and she wasn’t about to now. She was the Askari, after all, and there were quotas to fill.
So she told the story.
While her hunters thought she was sharpening her axe.
The dragon came, slithering out of the sand like the treacherous thing it was. Red-gold particles cascaded down its body, shimmering like water and revealing dull scales the color of mountain rock.
At three times the size of a horse, it loomed over Asha, thrashing a forked tail while its slitted gaze fixed on the girl who summoned it. The girl who’d tricked it here with a story.
Asha whistled for her pale-skinned hunting slaves as her left hand tightened on an oblong shield. With her right, she reached for the throwing axe at her hip.
The rough esparto grass rattled around her knees as the dragon circled, waiting for her to let down her guard.
That was its first mistake. Asha never let down her guard.
Its second was to blast her with flame.