by Raquel Miotto E (@r_miotto_e)
Editor: Jeni Chappelle (@jenichappelle)
(Formerly, The Dark Sun of a New Era)
Young Adult Fantasy
I am seeking representation for my YA fantasy, complete at 90,000 words titled DARK SUN OF THE NEW WORLD.
The orphaned daughter of a forbidden love between a Portuguese slave trader and an African slave, seventeen-year-old Sashien’s veins are filled with gold. From her blood, she secretly forges enough coins to build a life as the first female plantation owner and the only one of color, and her only goal is to use her gift to free as many of her mother’s enslaved people as she can. It’s 1663 in the Portuguese colony that would become Brazil, so she has to stay constantly on guard to evade the prying eyes of a patriarchal system that continually tries to undermine her because of her skin color.
But the death of the Slave Master from a neighboring farm—a death brought forth by her own hands—brings her closer to the law than she would like, and the law is in the pocket of an Orixá named Exu, an African god whose eyes are set on draining her golden blood. Sashien concocts a plan and gains help from another god, Oxóssi. But he is bound by Orixá law not to kill Exu, so Sashien will ultimately be on her own when she faces him. Sashien learns her new ally is more dangerous than she suspects—and also Exu’s brother. More importantly, she realizes through fragmented memories that she’s destined to be reincarnated again and again as Oxóssi’s soulmate.
Relieved to have her greatest love on her side, she is close to finding a way to kill Exu when another memory shows her that she and Exu have been friends for thousands of years. Now Sashien must find out what happened to Exu and attempt to understand the magic she didn’t know was bound to her blood, all before Exu kills her friends. But going to war with an Orixá may just be what brings Sashien’s own death, and if she dies this time, she may not be coming back.
DARK SUN OF THE NEW WORLD is a Brazilian Daenerys Targaryen meets the gods of CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE—come to the New World with their people—in a mix of Brazilian folklore, African mythology, #ownvoices, POC, romance, magic, and war. It stands alone but has series potential. Like Sashien, I was born and raised in Brazil.
First Five Pages
The pain wasn’t new to Sashien, yet she flinched when the brass needle broke her dark chestnut skin. Scattered papers and office supplies littered her desk, defying any attempt at organization. The delicate cherrywood chair groaned under the heavy weight of her full skirts, the aged joints protesting and digging into the back of her corset, directly where the damned wires ran.
“Raios!” The curse word her father had used the most was still ingrained in her brain—accent and all. She adjusted her posture, resisting the urge to strip the corset off and moving with care so as not to unsettle the needle in her arm. Her eyes followed the thick, yellow, honey-like liquid as it flowed through the rubber tube. The liquid always reminded her of the melted sugar candy Nuria—the closest thing to a mother she had—often made for her, except this liquid tasted neither sweet nor pleasant. Her head sagged back against the chair as she waited for the rush to pass.
Most of her monthly golden coins had gone into purchasing the brass needle—this type of equipment was hard to come by, and finding someone willing to sell it was twice as hard. The doctor had charged her two hundred réis for the surgical instrument—the price of a young, strong, male slave.
Sashien longed for the days when she would no longer have to sit through this weekly routine. Nothing about this was normal, or right, or something even her xodós—her closest friends—could ever find out.
It was her secret, and although it wasn’t the only one she kept, it was the most important.
The clacking of short heels on hardwood floors caught her attention, announcing her chambermaid’s approach. Sashien’s head snapped toward the light knock on the hand-carved sliding doors of her office. Her lips parted as the words come in almost slipped out, but the sharp pain in her arm as she moved reminded her she had a secret to keep.
With a nearly silent cough and a swallow to soften the sudden tightness in her throat, she called, “Just a second.”
With practiced caution and delicacy to avoid bruising the skin, her free hand slid the needle from her arm. She fumbled through her desk and found a wad of cotton, which she placed inside her elbow to stanch the bleeding. Bending her arm, she pressed tight to keep the bandage from showing. One by one, she stored her paraphernalia silently into the towels layering the bottom drawer of her desk.
Her head continued to throb for the next few seconds while her free hand patted her skirt down, making sure no blood had spilled on it. A stubborn charcoal-colored curl fell on her face, and she tucked it behind her ear—after a poor night of sleep, there was nothing that would’ve made her sit through the customary hour-long process of Nuria fussing and pinning her hair.
Plus, she didn’t have to fake an air of superiority inside her home, where Nuria, and everyone else in her household, was a xodó disguised as a servant. Because of Sashien’s inherent suspicion of strangers—and her deep desire to keep her head attached to the rest of her body—she had to handpick who worked for her. Thankfully, Nuria had crossed her path and saved her from starvation just before they moved to Santa Cruz three years ago.
“Come in,” Sashien leaned back on the delicate chair. As an afterthought, she propped her feet on the corner of the desk, crossing her ankles—white shoes peeking out from under long pink skirts—relaxing her shoulders, softening any traces of distress.
Her chambermaid slid open the double doors and shot Sashien a pointed glance she understood right away.
“I am sorry to bother, Sinhá.” Nuria rolled her Rs just like Sashien’s mother had, just like every other Luandan did, her favorite trait amongst her xodós. But the formal title of one’s owner on Nuria’s lips—a title she only used in the presence of strangers—increased Sashien’s alarm.
“What is it, Nuria?” She added an edge to her voice, repressing the Khwe accent from her mother’s tongue, speaking instead with her father’s clear Portuguese. Any time Sashien had to do business or couldn’t avoid an interaction with someone other than her xodós, she reminded herself to double check her posture, her surroundings. Her head tilted this way and that, scanning the cluttered desk one last time, pushing a decorated brass paperweight forward, pulling a stack of documents closer.
“Senhor Brás is here to see you.” Nuria frowned as her gaze fell on Sashien’s feet crossed on the desk—something she wouldn’t normally even acknowledge.
Sashien’s shoulder stiffened again. The other plantation owners were all male, making Sashien the only Plantation Lady of her time, and the only owner of color, something for which she’d nearly been hanged several times. Although the patriarchal society of Santa Cruz had formally accepted her, living in safety was still a faraway dream.
Especially after what had happened two nights ago.
Raios, how could she have forgotten he’d asked to meet with her this morning? Brás was one of the first people who’d tried to make her life miserable when she first arrived in Santa Cruz.
She scanned the desk again, making sure there was nothing there that he shouldn’t see. There was little doubt in her mind that the bastard would rat her out for paying her servants and treating them well—but he’d have to figure it out first.
“Of course,” she spat, the corrupted personality, the mask, slipping into place like a cloak. “Send him in right away.”
Nuria brought her hand to her chest and gave a wink of acknowledgement only Sashien saw.
Sashien unrolled her long sleeves to cover the bandage and sat up straighter. Why the hell she’d agreed to meet with Brás this early in the morning was beyond her.
When Nuria returned, Senhor Brás followed close behind, leering at the maid like a boy in a bathhouse, lingering with lust on the swell of Nuria’s breast then tracing her body to the back of her skirts when she turned to leave.
Sashien’s lips twitched as she attempted to swallow her displeasure. She wanted to slap the eyes out of his face, but Nuria had told her on several occasions that she appeared even younger than her seventeen years when she blushed and she needed Brás to see her as a powerful neighboring plantation owner rather than an inexperienced child he could take advantage of.
“Ah, Senhor Brás.” Her Portuguese—the dialect he also spoke—was perfect as her voice echoed around her office and out the open windows, bringing his attention back to her. “Please come in.”
Brás was a wealthy Plantation Lord from the farm south of hers, close enough he could pay a visit but far enough that he couldn’t spy on her relationship with her xodós.
“Lady Sashien.” He greeted her with a polite dip of his head, hat pressed to his chest, and took a seat across from her. His Portuguese had picked up the local accents of Santa Cruz, and it was a relief not to find anything of her father in this repulsive man. He rested a booted foot over a knee and glanced at the messy desk for a breath before his eyes found their way toward her breasts pushing out of her corset as she leaned closer to him.
“Are you looking for something?” she asked, fully aware of his focus on her chest, as she shifted a stack of paper in front of the small box containing diamba she always brought out when he visited.
Brás’ eyes sparkled with delight as she opened the wooden box, her bosom forgotten. Sashien smirked. Before she’d settled in this area, she did her homework, watching its inhabitants in careful detail—something she’d learned in her time as a prisoner of the Tupi tribe. During her research, she found out Brás’ little addiction to diamba and made sure to grow the psychoactive herb well enough to become his personal supplier. Now, he’d go as far as claiming her as a friend.
With all the grace she could muster, she reached for the box and turned it toward her, lifted the delicate lid with two fingers, and without as much as glancing at it, rolled a well-balanced diamba cigarette from its contents before passing it to him.
“That’s an interesting skill for a lady your age.” Brás stood, analyzing the cigarette.
Retrieving a slender twig from a cup full of similar straws on her desk, he ignited it in a candle flame and used it to light the cigarette. He inhaled, closing his eyes as he held his breath. For that brief moment, while he neither moved nor breathed, it almost seemed he wasn’t there at all. When he finally exhaled, in a cloud of white smoke, his eyes rolled open, and he regarded her as if seeing her for the first time.