Title: THE KNIFE AND THE PEARL
Category/Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 71,000
My Main Character would use sun or snow to battle their biggest obstacle:
Seeing as our adventurous princess was born, raised, and lives in Northern Africa, the heat may fare her better. If she saw anything remotely close to snow, she would probably burst into tears with delight. She’s never seen it before. And that wouldn’t be very helpful in a fight, now would it? But she’s far more comfortable in the heat anyway. Can’t get much sailing done on a frozen seascape! Got to go with sun.
Seventeen-year-old unruly African princess Zuri should be dead, lying at the bottom of the Mediterranean with the rest of her ship, another victim of a raging storm. But she wakes on the beach with hardly a scratch. Miracle? More like: merman. Pau, her savior, is a curiosity to her. A natural explorer and a passionate artist, Pau has never fit in with his kind. Not too different from the myths Zuri knows, merfolk are brutish warmongers and think humans are dangerous. They’d forbid Pau’s friendship with Zuri.
Regardless, the couple meets in secret every day, communicating above and below water through sign language. Their affections grow with each rendezvous, and Pau aches to become human. His love for Zuri and the world above plagues his every thought. Desperate, Pau seeks help from a mershark experienced in the occult. He tells Pau he must extract his heart – a pearl – to have a single day on land, then the pearl must be given to his true love to make the transformation complete.
But a deep-sea demon seeks to consume the hope within the pearl. With his heart literally broken, Pau would turn into a flesh-hungry monster, damned for all eternity. Armed with a simple fishing knife and unrelenting tenacity, Zuri must protect the pearl, save Pau, and lift the curse. If she fails, her heart is next.
First 250 words:
The first time Princess Zuri saw the boy in the water, she was dying.
The storm had taken her by surprise. She should have noticed the signs. One moment, the world was quiet, the air crisp and steady. Her sights were set on the place where the sky and sea met. The sun, straight ahead, only just began to rise.
She didn’t need much light, for her hands were used to trimming the sheets of her small catamaran. Her palms were coarse, weathered, a trophy of her experience and exactly as she wanted them to be. The freedom of open water was well worth the consequence.
East was her bearing; her destination unknown, uncaring where she might berth. The cliffs on Zuri’s right were her guides, rising up as hulking shadows to divide the pale pink dawn sky. Night was to break soon, and if the winds were in her favor she would be well ahead of any pursuers who noticed she was missing.
The cedar hulls of her ship creaked and crashed through the whitecaps of the Mediterranean, and the sail flapped as uselessly as a lame seagull’s wing. She heard the snap of it and tightened her grip around the rope to capture the wind again, but it was already too late. The wind was stirring, growing restless. Darkness fell, as if morning had changed its mind. Behind the cliffs, a storm loomed so high, it grumbled like a giant whose footsteps shook the earth. A sandstorm.