Well, it’s May tenth, and I’m one of the first stops on Sheenah Freitas’s blog tour for the release of the second book in the Zincian trilogy, the Number.
The book blends tech with high fantasy scenarios. In the future, man terraforms a planet and creates a civilization on this new planet, named Zinc. Owing to the great distance and length of time required to travel between the two, Earth is the technologically advanced, and Zinc has a more Middle Ages feel.
Here’s an excerpt from The Number, by Sheenah Freitas:
Leave it to me.
The words plagued her mind. How could she leave anything up to a bodiless voice? What was it really capable of anyway or was it really just all a part of her mind? A woman’s screams woke her from her thoughtful slumber; she hadn’t realized she had fallen asleep at the window seat. She immediately sat up and looked around. It was still raining outside, though it was no longer storming. Kaia squinted her eyes. There was something else out there that she couldn’t quite make out. A dark line — no a dark mass was on the road. She leaned closer to the window until her nose was nearly touching it. The mass was a line of Tueor soldiers.
The Chosen scrambled up and ran up the stairs as fast as she could, looking desperately for her sword. She discovered it where she had left it in a corner and just as she was making her way out of her room, the door to the house kicked open. Kaia stood still.
“Pledge your allegiance to Queen Ewelina or else die,” a booming voice said.
The wife of the house let out a small scream. Kaia stayed low and crept toward the stairs. She could see the top of the soldier’s head, but nothing else.
“What’s the meaning of this?” she heard the husband say.
Her heart pounded. She gripped her sword tighter and prayed that the man would just express his allegiance.
I can’t let the man just die. He’s a good man. Good men shouldn’t be killed for an unjust reason.
She scrunched her face and inched closer to the staircase. She could now see the side of the soldier’s face. What do you mean by that?
“Queen Ewelina has expressed her interest in the country of Forin. Either pledge your allegiance to the country of Lisburn or be killed as an enemy.”
“I will do no such thing!”
“So be it.”
There wasn’t any time for Kaia to use her sword; this was a time for magic. She went up to reach for the Tiruv, but her hand was locked in place and refused to move. She attempted to move her other hand, but it too, was paralyzed. She struggled, trying to wriggle free from the strange hold that she was in; she opened her mouth to scream, but she didn’t hear her own voice — she heard the voice of another: the wife.
The wife began pleading for mercy. The Chosen shifted her eyes, trying to get a better view of what was going on, but nobody was at the doorway now. The sound of footsteps resonated through her skull. Her host began crying, begging for a bargain. Could the soldier kill her if he knew she was pregnant with a baby? The soldier stopped walking. A tense silence filled the air as he pondered over the question.
“You don’t look it,” was the soldier’s cold reply.
“No, please! I’m not showing yet! If I pledged allegiance to your country . . . If you would just hold me prisoner for a month—”
“Your husband made the decision for you. I doubt you’d defy his orders. You wives of Forin seem to be so devoted.”
“No, wait! I—”
But the soldier didn’t heed. Kaia’s heart stopped at the sounds of the wife’s last cry for help. Tears welled up in her eyes. Why couldn’t she move?! She willed her hands to clutch into a fist, to do anything to express the rage that was building inside of her, but nothing happened. Her body stayed frozen. Another soldier walked into the house.
“What do you want us to do?”
The first soldier was silent. “Search the house for survivors.”
They’re going to find me, frozen here near the staircase.
Unless I can suddenly turn invisible—!
The second soldier nodded and began making his way up the stairs when a third man entered. “The General wants us all to convene right now.” He glanced at the bodies on the floor. “Was that really necessary?”
The first soldier made his way to the door. “In war, all things are necessary.” He pushed his way past the third man and headed out. The second man hesitated and then went back down the stairs to follow the first out. The third gave the dead bodies one more look, before turning to leave, closing the door behind him.
Kaia took a few shallow breaths and collapsed onto the floor. She was surprised that she could move again, but didn’t dare move from her spot. Her body was shaking with fear and anger. The two emotions crashed and rolled within her. She was torn with what to do first. Should she flee the building as if she had never stayed there? Or should she at least place a blanket over the two? The Chosen lay there on the floor, taking deep breaths as she tried to steady her body. It wouldn’t stop shaking. No, she soon realized. That wasn’t her body shaking; it was the house that was shaking.
She rushed to a window, but couldn’t see much out of the foggy, cold pane. Deep down, she knew that the source of the earthquake was manmade. Soldiers began to rally up around a house, only to be flung away by vines or blasted away by jets of water.
I need to save them at least.
The voice was silent as she scrambled up and hurried down the steps. Kaia paused at the door and looked at the couple that had been so gracious enough to take her in. Their eyes were open, staring at the ceiling, pleading for someone to spare their lives. But it had been for naught. The strong stench of blood flooded her nostrils and for a second, Kaia thought she was going to be sick. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she made her way to each one and closed their eyes. That much she could do. It wasn’t much, but it was far more than what she did for the people of her own village.
Be sure to stop back on the 13th for an interview and guest post from the author.