PW #380: Young Adult LGBTQ Fantasy: THE GATE OF ORION

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor name: Brianna Shrum

Mentee Name: Tim Tully


Category: YA

Genre: LGBTQ Fantasy

Word Count: 103,000


Seventeen-year-old ex-slave Damascus is desperate to go home, but first he must survive his Graduation from a deadly academy of magic and murder. When he discovers the location of an ancient gate to the other worlds, he believes his Graduation is guaranteed – but finding the Gate of Orion may cost him his last chance for freedom. RED RISING meets MASS EFFECT.


The stench of unwashed bodies almost makes me choke. Hundreds of slaves press into the great obsidian entrance hall of the Vulcademy, awaiting the arrival of our masters. The younger slaves make bets on why we’ve been assembled. Best odds are for a whipping, although castration is a close second, and one old man insists the Headmistress plans to sell us all to the mines on Akkadia.

But then the whispers come racing down the line. Everyone is wrong. They’ve called us here together to witness a Test.

By sheer bad luck, the crowd presses me forward until I’m standing smack front and center of the ring. I push back, trying to slip through any open gap and vanish into anonymity. I lose my chance as the crowd goes still. No one trembles, few dare to breathe. The air is charged with power, the burnt smell of ozone before the first crack of lightning.

A path clears for two striding figures. One is an enormous man in platinum armor with biceps larger than my head. His black hair is slicked with so much oil if he ventures near a torch he’ll become the city’s surliest candle. The other is a girl of about fourteen wearing robes embroidered with the sword-and-flame crest of the Vulcademy. She sports an eager smile. She’s the only cadet present so the Test must be for her.

The Headmistress is nowhere in sight. Small mercies.

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