Friday, May 2, 2014
Twelve-year-old Sam can't cry, no matter how hard he tries. But the Wizard Ero demands tears from everyone in his kingdom, using them to control people like puppets on strings. If Sam's eyes are dry on his day of collecting, the wizard will punish Sam's mother and his only friend, Tria, to force his tax of tears.
Cutting onions. Nearly drowning. Shoving his hand into a fire. Nothing ever works. Even when collecting day arrives and Ero tortures Tria, Sam can't find his tears. So Ero keeps Sam prisoner, using Sam's mother and Tria as a constant threat. Since crying isn't possible, Sam can only protect the others one way: making sure Ero can't control them again.
But finding and destroying the tears is easier said than done. Puppets roam the castle at all hours, acting as Ero's eyes and ears. And Sam's sure the tears are in the east tower—the one place in the castle he's forbidden to go. But what he finds in the tower convinces Sam that destroying Ero's stash isn't enough to keep his loved ones safe. He'll have to destroy Ero.
Defeating the wizard will free an entire kingdom. Failing gets the only two people he loves killed. Either way, crying won't solve anything.
TEARLESS is a middle grade fantasy complete at 56,000 words. Thank you so much to everyone involved in putting on this contest. I really appreciate the opportunity to participate.
FIRST 250 WORDS
Sam really didn't want to shove his hand in a fire. But he was out of time.
He fidgeted with the bits of kindling he'd stolen from his mother's kitchen. He tried to keep his eyes on town, searching for Tria in the darkness, but kept glancing to the east. Dawn was surely only minutes away.
By the time a shadowy, Tria-shaped form ran toward him, Sam had broken the kindling into tiny pieces. "Did you bring them?" he asked.
Tria held out her hand, but it was too dark to tell if the steel striker and chunk of flint were actually there. "Of course," she said, pretending to be insulted. "When have I ever let you down?"
"Never," Sam said. She was the only one he could really count on. His mother tried her hardest, and Sam loved her for that. But she hadn't been the same since Sam's father died. There were days she didn't even make it out of bed, and she almost never ventured beyond their garden.
Everyone else in Eller's Grove pretended Sam didn't even exist.
"Exactly," Tria said. Sam didn't have to see her face to know she was smirking. "We'd better hurry, though. If my papa wakes up to find these missing, he won't be happy."
Sam rolled his eyes. Even a surly man like the blacksmith wouldn't punish them on their day of collecting. Besides, there was always the chance their plan would work, and Sam would finally cry. The whole town would rejoice to hear such news.