by Sofia Nedic
Having grown up in the lush, magical hills surrounding the ancient city of Lumenor, she is no stranger to star-gazing, potion-making, or tarot-reading. However, in the time of civil war in her city, Imani must hide her power to avoid being recruited by the queen’s legions or killed by the ruthless rebels. But everything changes once the city learns of an incoming army of warriors threatening to destroy Lumenor and steal their starlight crystal. Imani is met with a choice—remain in hiding and help her family or risk everything and join the queen’s legions.
But does she have what it takes to be a legionnaire?
Can she help save Lumenor, or will she be the cause of its demise?
Waking up on time meant getting up before the sun. According to the commander, if we arrived anywhere on time, we were late, and if one of us was late for any reason—be it a mere inconvenience or a life-threatening obstacle—the entire legion had to endure the punishment. Without Mother to wake me, I would have surely overslept on my first day if it wasn’t for Shei.
“Imani! Wake up!” She rocked my shoulder at dawn.
I parted my eyelids slowly, seeing her bleary silhouette hovering above me. “What?”
She threw my covers aside, tugging at the leg sleeve of my sleeping garments. “Get up, we only have minutes! We’ll be late!”
I protested but had no choice but to oblige. Shei helped me get ready, and I put my uniform on in haste.
At least this one fits properly.
My chamber was a tussle of silk and velvet with shades of deep blue and pale silver. Starlight-colored drapes veiled my bed, disturbing the otherwise dark decor. The constellation of Pisces watched me from the ceiling, matching my sun sign. Chiyoko, its brightest star, gleamed against painted stone. The star got her name from her mother, the sea goddess Chiyo, who awakened the waters just as Kirrah breathed life into the air. My window glass was stained—a mosaic made of a thousand pieces arranged to shape an ancestral warrior woman. Legionnaire uniforms for every kind of weather hung inside the ebony closet—from summer linens to the silver-wolf fur coats, all marked with the queen’s five-jeweled crown sigil. A set of knives I could barely throw lay neatly arranged on my desk, each blade sharper than the previous.
“I’m ready,” I muttered after Shei clipped the last of my arrow brooches. “Let’s head out.”
The legion didn’t walk to the pit—we ran. Faint rays of the rising sun broke through the clouds, and the air was sticky with humidity. Tears of salt ran down the nape of my neck. I was out of breath before we left the base courtyard, which was rather plain in comparison to the building’s lush interior. The edges of the textured stone were weathered by time, the handprints of wind and rain indenting the gray surface.
“The building is plain so that no one assumes the moonstone is hidden here,” Shei said.
She’d told me everything she had learned whilst I’d been deep in dreams, including that the moonstone crystal was stored in the heart of the base. Our legion was meant to guard it if things went sideways and the Akani Warriors penetrated the city walls. Shei claimed that our peers were bearable despite her original expectations, but Commander Izaak was not to be messed with.
“He says—you do. It’s as simple as that.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Sofia Nedic is a Slavic immigrant living in Austin, Texas with her husband and pup. She is a tech and fantasy nerd, and an avid enjoyer of ancient history, spirituality, and alchemy. When she is not working or crafting stories, she is exploring nature, reading books, visualizing her daydreams through AI art, or immersing herself in tarot and astrology.
Sofia visualizes the scenes and characters from her stories with AI art on her Instagram @starlight_bender.
Sofia Nedic will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.