Empress Addie is exiled for having a seizure. She discovers tech degrades her magic blood and she must go home before it kills her #PitProm
Adelaide DusBeco is the heiress to Pangea, a medieval empire which sends its sick, disabled, and criminal citizens to the remote Isle of Exile to die. After Adelaide beats her brother in physical contests to win the throne, she’s struck by a seizure on her coronation day.
Now banished to the Isle of Exile by her own father, Adelaide reclaims some of her health thanks to an elderly man named Luca. Luca explains Adelaide may have magic, but since her magic is rooted in growth, she must find true happiness to wield it.
Adelaide travels to modern-day Nor, but their technology degrades magic and the health of those with magic blood. Nor does not allow Adelaide to leave, and she must commit crimes in order to escape, making her wanted in both areas of the world. Adelaide must choose a life of exile, hiding, and dodging assassination attempts or fight to the death to reclaim her throne.
THE ISLE OF EXILE is a 98,000-word young adult fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of Red Queen and Graceling. The novel does have series potential. Adelaide’s illness was inspired by my battle with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).
Thank you for your time and consideration,
First Ten Pages:
I would do anything to keep my younger brother off the throne. Which was why I hurtled toward the finish line of the Bulee even though every muscle in my body burned.
“I’m…winning…today!” Frank grunted next to me. Thankfully, he sounded like he was struggling.
By the last water station, black dots invaded my vision. Discouraged, I drank water until it sloshed around in my stomach. It did not help. With each breath, I inhaled air so warm and humid it could’ve been soup. Pushing against the pain, my heart soared when Frank fell a few paces behind as we turned the final corner of the race.
Normally I could finish an hour before him. What is wrong with me? What would my father do if something was wrong with me?
Nola, the capital of Pangea, whispered of my under-performance all week. I still won the hand-to-hand combat and fencing but barely. I excelled at the budget balancing and history tests, but that did not please the people. Thank the Great Dog this was the last event.
I ran, propelled by the gaunt faces that lined the streets. My brother would continue to starve them just like my father. I pushed harder and inched in front of Frank. The last ten minutes were normally my favorite because of the stands of spectators chanted “A-de-laide!” But today, “Franc-o!” mixed with my name, fueling my exhausted body farther in front of my wheezing brother.
I ripped the ribbon as Cleaver bellowed, “Adelaide! Adelaide DusBeco clenches the crown!”
Someone shoved a glass of ale into my hand. People I didn’t know shook my hand, thanking me for being strong for the realm. Instead of black spots, my vision began to fade completely black.
“Water,” I mumbled, unsure if anyone could hear me. I pushed through the crowd of people to the shade of a tree and promptly laid down. Whispers began, but I didn’t care, even though my father would beat me for showing signs of weakness.
A tongue ran from my chin to my eyes. My orange and white hound, Beca, stood over me. She tugged softly at my hand, and I sat up. My older brother, Greggory, stood with a bucket and a wooden cup. Greggory failed to complete his Bulee when he turned eighteen, so he was not eligible for the throne.
“As you requested, your majesty.” He handed me a glass of water but did not wear the smile I expected him to have after my victory. I downed the water gratefully.
“She should be drinking ale and celebrating with her people,” Pevely’s nasally voice said. Pevely Moor, Prince of Dakota, had been a constant presence in my life since birth. He was also my mother’s first choice for my husband, but that did not mean I liked him. “Not hiding behind a tree.”
“She ran for five hours!” Greggory faced Pevely, blocking him from my view.
“She should be strong. The emperor—”
“I do agree with Prince Moor. Adelaide knows better.” My father’s voice caused my feet to catapult my body upright. Black spots sprouted in my vision, and I leaned against the tree for support.
“The blame is not hers. I insisted she rest.” Greggory stayed between my father and me.
“Adelaide, my final exile is in less than an hour. After you address your people and show how strong you are.” He walked away, cradling his black wolf pup under his arm. Two guards followed him in clanking armor.
“Thank you,” I said to Greggory before heading to the podium.
Thankfully, Beca stayed right by my side, and she was the perfect height to lean against. I felt so woozy; I could hardly walk straight. The spots in my vision seemed better when moving. I needed to figure out how to stand on the podium.
I was so concerned about how sick I was feeling that I did not see Daron, the captain of the estate guards, flanking me until I reached the podium.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Your father was displeased you went to the Bulee without a guard. He has asked me to stay with you until you return to the estate.” I rolled my eyes. A family of warriors surrounded by guards. As I climbed the platform, my heart threatened to pound out of my chest, and I almost doubled over by the time I reached the top. What in the Great Dog’s name was wrong with me today?
I sat down out of instinct, placed my hands behind me, and leaned back. I acted as if I was enjoying the tiny bit of sun peeking through the clouds. The act of someone being on the royal podium caused the square to soften from a rolling boil of conversation to a whisper.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to celebrate the Bulee this year. It was marvelous yes?” The crowd cheered, but my chest was starting to tighten. I had to finish this.
“My father’s last act as emperor will take place at the docks in one hour,” I shouted. More cheers. The thunder of the crowd stamping their feet. “My first trial as Empress will follow in the Hall of Justice.”
The crowd jumped up and down, looking like a brown wave of commoners spotted with the gray of nobles. As I started to climb down the podium, the crowd converged, some faces wore smiles, but others wore scowls.
“Beca, home.” I grabbed the dog’s neck and let her pull me through the crowd.
“Brothel-snocker!” someone yelled.
“Sticky legs!” another joined. This one elicited laughs from the crowd.
A hand grabbed my right shoulder and spun me to one side of the crowd. Beca snarled and lunged at the man, her teeth snapping. The man retreated, and Beca’s abdomen pressed against my thigh. My lack of walking caused the spots to return in front of my eyes.
“Citizens, the empress has urgent business with the emperor father. Clear a path!” Daron spoke with the same authority as my father, and the crowd settled down.
I kept walking, but when I got to the hill, I ended up putting half my weight on Beca. She slowed and occasionally turned to lick my arm.
“Do you need me to carry you, your majesty?” Daron matched pace on the other side of me.
“No.” I was more out of breath now than I had been in the middle of the Bulee. He saved me from one public disaster, and I didn’t want to create another one by being carried to my chambers.
My father waved his hands in the air to quiet the two marble grandstands packed with commoners that sat on each side of the dock.
"I, Emperor Franco the Third,” my father boomed, “sentence you to banishment on the Isle of Exile for the following crimes: having a shaking disease and breeding with a disease. For the punishment of breeding, you will take your daughter with you."
I stood at my father’s right hand clad in the navy pants and shirt of a royal. I fanned my golden cape to try and cool myself. A forge burned inside me that I could not snuff out, and the wooziness from earlier had still not disappeared.
As the guards marched the blacksmith toward the schooner, the grandstands erupted, and the nobles stomped along. But not all the nobles. Pevely and the entire Moor family stomped and whistled of course. The Dolos and the dark-skinned McGlones stood stoically with their hands behind their backs.
When the guards and the blacksmith came near us, the baby's wail cut through the noise as if she understood exile. The blacksmith stopped so suddenly the guards behind him ran into him. This man wasn’t a blacksmith from an outlying kingdom. He was from here in Nola, and Moloki made my own armor. He taught me to spar and shoot when I was only a child. My stomach twisted. I had been watching these exiles as long as I had been alive, and when I knew the person, it was always ten times worse.
Moloki’s hands spasmed around his daughter. Moloki’s eyes focused only on me. “You can do better than this, Addie.” My heart pounded in my throat, and my right hand found Beca’s fur for comfort.
Thankfully, the crowd was too loud for anyone other than my family to hear. “Your shaking disease prevents you from completing your duties as a blacksmith, and you are therefore a burden upon Pangea.” My father stalked up to Moloki, making every word sting.
Moloki spat toward my father. The last act of rebellion of a dead man. My father sidestepped. The guards dragged Moloki away and onto the boat.
“I have now completed my last act as Emperor.” The crowd stomped slowly as a sign of respect. “Empress Adelaide’s position will be official in one hour with her first trial in the Hall of Justice.”
My father turned and left with my mother on his arm. The crowd stared at me, expectant. “Board and sail, good men. May the Great Dog protect you on your journey. The next trial is in one hour,” I said to the crowd, “Please enjoy the festivities in Jerden Square in the meantime.” I spun around causing the embroidered hound and wolf heads on my cape to billow.
The royal assistant and herald, Cleaver, shouted to the crowd. “All hail Empress Adelaide! May she be forever strong!”
“May she be forever strong!” the crowd chanted back.
I hated that line. If rulers were forever strong, we wouldn’t need a Bulee to choose the next member of the royal family to rule.
Beca hopped into the carriage after me, followed by a small, brown terrier. I sighed in relief as Greggory climbed in after his dog and shut the door.
I sank into the red velvet cushions of the carriage bench. I hadn’t had a single day of rest from physical exertion this week, and every muscle in my body pounded.
“Why did it have to be Moloki today?” I asked.
Greggory shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. We do it for a good reason: to—”
“Keep the pain and suffering out of Pangea. I know.” I said.
“You’ve got to get better at hiding what you are thinking. You looked like you were in pain out there.”
“Did you hear what Moloki said?”
“Yes, Addie. But focus.” Greggory scratched the back of the terrier who sat next to him on the bench. “You have to be a beloved ruler to make big changes. Right now, you barely won the Bulee, and many would still prefer Frank.”
He was right. Without his training, I would never have won the mental contests. I put my head in my hands, and Beca put her nose between my arms and licked my face. I scratched behind her ears and stared out the small window. The driver took us through the capital homes of the nobles, three-story structures placed back to back, creating a maze of narrow cobblestone roads and black-iron balconies.
Navy and gold banners hung from them for the Bulee, all the contests I won over the past week to prove the crown should be on my head and not my younger brother’s.
“What can I do to fix it?” I asked.
Greggory looked at his chubby hands instead of at me. “Start by creating a relationship with one of the suitors.”
I glared at my brother. “You promised. You promised you would have a child I could name heir, so I wouldn’t have to.”
“And you know I keep my promises. But alliances make or destroy empires. If an entire kingdom wants the crown specifically on your head, it will make it harder for Frank to rise to power.”
I scowled. “You know I don’t look the way men want.”
“Oh, forget what mum says. You have more muscle, not fat. You wouldn’t be able to finish the running or hand-to-hand combat or any other part of the Bulee without it.”
I kept stony and silent. I hated being social and felt much more comfortable studying than entertaining suitors.
“If you were seen pursuing a suitor, the commoners might stop calling you names,” Greggory said.
“I’m Empress. What the commoners say shouldn’t matter. And I’m the one trying to help their ungrateful asses. My first act as Grand Duchess was to send the Bulee entry fees from the nobles to the poor houses instead of the crown vault.”’ My father whipped me for announcing that publicly without asking him. The scars on my back had faded, but the indentations remained.
“You know why they want Frank on the throne. He already has a bastard.”
“He’s thirteen! He lost every fight, every contest—”
“Just act, Addie!” Greggory said, throwing his hands in the air. “It’s okay not to be truthful all the time. Once the people settle down, you can marry me off and name my child your successor.”
“Then what suitor would make the best ally? What country would stand up to father?”
“Other than Coosa…” Greggory excluded them, as they had only a princess rising to power. “Caribe.”
“And how do I find Prince McGlone?”
“Leave that to me. Promise me you will try?”
My brother tried so hard to help with everything. Since the day he knew he would never be physically strong enough to rule, he made sure to pass his knowledge to me. He was my greatest ally and best friend.
“I’ll try. And thanks, Greggory.” I gave him a small smile.
The carriage crested the hill and meandered through the oak trees and Spanish moss. We came to a halt in the brick cul-de-sac outside of the royal estate. Daron opened the door and offered me his hand.
“Quit that gallant nonsense,” my father ordered from outside the carriage behind us. Daron dropped his hand. “The Empress does not need help climbing out of a carriage.”
My father marched off into the white-pillared mansion while stroking the black retriever by his side. My maid, Quilla, passed him and scurried out to me.
“Wait here,” Greggory said, “and I’ll bring you McGlone.”
“Is there anything I can get you?” Quilla asked as Greggory strode away.
“Put my hair up.” I felt stifled by the humid air ever since I crossed the finish line of the last race this morning. I took off my cape and copper tiara, which left me in the plain navy pants and shirt that indicated a member of the royal family. I sat on the steps of the mansion where Quilla started twisting my hair to keep it out of my face and off my neck. My younger brother, mother, and servants entered the mansion. Stable hands came to attend to the horses and carriages.
“Are you excited for your first trial as Empress?” Quilla asked.
“I am a mouthpiece, nothing more,” I replied.
“But you are—”
“Announcing the decisions. The council of elders has more power than I do,” I explained. Hopefully, Quilla will spread that to the other commoners. Then, maybe they won’t hate me so much when I start exiling my own people. But after the way the crowd taunted me this morning, I wasn’t keeping my hopes up.
I leaned up against the white marble, closed my eyes, and tried to use crawfish gumbo to motivate myself to get through this. Another trial, likely to result in another exile. Moloki’s eyes floated in my mind.
“You tired, Adelaide,” a sneer caused my eyes to shoot open. “Not as strong as everyone thinks.” Frank, my younger brother, looked incredibly like my father as he mocked me. He had a pointed face, much like the greyhound that followed him. It also looked like it had been slammed in a door one too many times.
More disturbing was the girl Frank was pulling by the hair. He had a fistful from the top of her head which caused her to walk forward bent at a painful angle. She looked closer to my age than Frank’s.
“Let her go this instant,” I said.
“No. I am going to walk in front of the nobles with her at the next trial. Send a message.” Frank’s smile sickened me.
Quilla knew me so well; she tucked the strand of hair she was twisting behind a finished braid. I stood up and slammed the blade of my hand into Frank’s elbow, causing him to release the girl’s hair, but the girl did not stand up as I expected. Frank reached back, but I hit his forearm this time. Frank’s greyhound growled, but Beca stepped between me and it.
“Stand up,” I said. The girl lifted her head, but not the rest of her body. Her eyes were worse than scared. They were blank, vacant. What had Frank done to her this time?
“Back down,” Frank growled. The girl obeyed.
“Girl, you will leave the estate before any noble sees you. If you were smart, you’d leave Nola and find work elsewhere.”
“No! You will—”
Welcome to the final round of pitches!
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