1 Act of Story Statement
Survive betrayal and find a sense of self.
2 Antagonistic Force
Like other young soldiers, his name was alphanumeric. Ruthless training from toddlerhood revealed a talent that, were he nonmilitary, would have been his end. It still meant he could not rise in rank. He could influence minds, but would always be a tool.
His first long-term assignment took him to an island desired for its metal stores. The team had devised paths to supplant the local government. He was to acclimatize to the culture and learn how to manipulate its people.
His were among the first steps down one path. He was to permanently ingratiate himself to his target, a child who would be archpriest of Laon’s dullest temple. He was tattooed in the style of their religion.
The target was lonely. Hollow. A simple mission. After, he had himself cast out in a way that would create guilt and keep her thoughts on him. Over the next three years he carefully broke and disposed of five vulnerable young women.
When the target left the temple for the first time, the team was ready; so was he.
3 Breakout Title
Death is Not Quiet
Priest of Death
Poison Study, Maria V Snyder. A mistreated young woman slowly gains confidence and strength, but must learn who she can trust to outlive her enemies. The writing was creative, inclusive, and emphasized healing after abuse.
Daughter of the Forest, Juliet Marillier. A young woman loses her family and her home, but if she can sacrifice enough, she may be able to recover it. The world was detailed and the storyline was dark, but the main character’s resilience let her survive.
A savage attack organized by her own archpriest makes an adolescent and a friend from her past run from the only place familiar to her.
6a Inner Conflict
Linor ground a leaf between her teeth. She had an idea that some plants could be eaten, but like everything she had tried since the forest had swallowed her early that morning, the leaf tasted like bitter soil.
She thought it was her guide she had followed off the path, but she had never again seen the priest nor any other person. Then Linor could not find her way back to the path. It was winter and it had been cold when they left the temple.
Now daylight was fading.
The outside of her body hurt with cold. Inside, her stomach seemed to eat itself. She knew of death from hunger. She knew of death from cold.
She wished she had not left the temple.
“Help!” It came out as a croak, but she flinched at the sound.
She had only ever lived in the aching silence of the temple of death. She was not to speak without permission. Even out here, shivering, her archpriest may not forgive it. Her voice broke each time, but she called out.
There was no response.
As the forest blackened and Linor went numb, she could only think of her god. Other than opening herself up to visions, she had never tried to communicate with her. She did not know if the gods would be interested in her communication.
But Nenet was the god of death, and she would collect Linor that night. Linor did not know the words so she prayed in images and feelings. As the shivering subsided, she heard a whisper.
Not Nenet. Not yet.
Someone had found her.
6b Social Conflict
Linor had enjoyed the performance, but her body was already remembering its aches. Coran led her to the inn he had seen, but when she tried to follow him inside, she kicked the doorframe and stumbled. Her knees struck the ground with a jolt.
“Hurt yourself?” A woman at Coran’s side glanced at her.
He waved a hand without looking away from the woman. “She does that often enough, it should no longer hurt.”
Linor flinched. The woman gave a sharp laugh.
“Come with me, then,” she said and continued toward the doorway.
Linor got to her feet and out of the way. She did not look at the woman; she watched Coran approach. One side of his mouth quirked up as he passed her. Perhaps he did not mean it as she had heard it.
In the thin-walled, dirt-floored cell they had rented for the night, she decided to ask. “Do I fall often?”
Coran glanced at her. “What?”
Her cheeks felt hot. She did not know what else to say, so she repeated, “Do I fall?”
“Why would you ask that?” Coran turned to her with a frown.
“You said something.”
“Did I?” His eyes narrowed. “Your time under our archpriest’s control has left you sensitive. You should work on that.”
Linor bobbed her head in agreement and fell silent, but her insides were twisting.
The main character’s home region is small and high in altitude. Rainfall supports a thick forest on the peak and fertile farmland downhill. Beyond the reach of such rivers, the land is a desert with natural structures as deep a red as the sand. This world is in its version of an iron age. Homes are built from wood in the south, or bricks of soil or sand further north. They are generally single room buildings without flooring; the exception is the temples.
Temples are massive buildings made of stone blocks. Each sits in a city and region named for one of the six gods. Festivals dedicated to the patron god inspire regular pilgrimages from across the island, which inhabitants are encouraged to believe is the entire world. The insular culture loves and sometimes fears both the gods, and the priests that rule over them.