Title: THE EVENTIDE
Entry Nickname: TO BE A MAN
Word Count: 97,000
Genre: YA Fantasy
Val has studied, fought, and completed her sailing expedition—faster than anyone else—to become chieftess of her tribe. Returning home, she discovers her twin brother has been kidnapped by the foreign conquerors of Airylle and if she doesn't find him soon her tribe will go to war and be massacred by their enemies. However, the only way to get to Airylle is aboard one of their ships and their laws prohibit girls from joining a crew.
Assisted by Airylle’s only female mage, Val disguises herself as a boy and is hired aboard The Eventide. Surrounded by the people she believes are her enemies, her sole focus is locating her brother. But on the ship, Val discovers that not all Airyllens are pale-faced demons. As she earns Captain Devon's trust, Val is torn between her loyalty to the tribe and her newfound love for the captain—whose affections lie with the lady mage.
If Val doesn’t reveal her true identity, Devon will never return her true love. But if he learns who she is, he has an obligation to report her to the king and Val risks losing her brother, the war and her life in this loose retelling of Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT.
No one witnessed the tears staining my ocean-weathered face. Like my ancestors before me, I made this trip alone. If they still lived, I’d personally see them to the spirit realm for creating this rite of passage.
The purple mountains jutted into the sky, glistening as magic cascaded off them like an early morning fog encompassing the land. I leapt out of my seat. For most the Pass represented the boundary between the southern tribes and the pale-faced invaders. For me it meant home.
My rash movements caused the port side of my sailing canoe to dip under the water.
“Spirits!” If I capsized this close to the end, I’d die of humiliation.
Tonight, after eighty-two long days, the elders would name me chieftess. Chieftess Valerian. My mother had trained me for this moment all my life.
You’re only chieftess if you beat Shecayah home, a voice in my head reminded me.
The elders say the spirits whispering in your ear is a sign. I’d say my exhausted body wanted trick me.
Letting my sail out, I tied the mainsheet and moved from the stern to the bow, the wind pulling strands of my black hair out of its braid and into my eyes.
I sat cross-legged and loosened my drawstring pouch. Dust the color of the stars lay at the bottom. When I’d started my trek, Elder Fire gave me a full bag. I dumped the remnants in my hand. The silver stood out against my dark skin and I blew the powder away.