Mentee Name: Linsey Miller
Title: THE AUDITION
Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 78,000
Magic is long gone, the country is long united, and gender-fluid Sal finally sees a chance to escape poverty. When auditions open to become the next royal assassin, Sal will either win the future they’ve always dreamt—or die trying.
The thick, briny scent of sweat-soaked leather seeped through my mask. A carriage and guards rattled down the road upwind of me. I leaned out of my tree, catching a flicker of light from a lamp on the carriage door. Blue paint shone in the glow, gilded and mud-splattered. I spat out a shell.
“Nobles.” I dumped a handful of pumpkin seeds to the forest floor.
The branches beneath me groaned, footsteps creaking up the bark, and I flipped a knife into my palm. The sentence for robbing nobles was hanging, but only if they found you.
“Threes, Sal! Where you at?” Rath burst through the leaves and tripped over my perch.
“Point of hiding,” I said, shoving him against the trunk and yanking his mask over his face, “is staying hid. What do you want?”
Rath tapped my nose with his baton. “You up to robbing Erlends?”
Erlends—stiff and cold as the lands they ruled, and merciless as death. They’d hold a picnic at the gallows.
I tightened the knots on my mask. “You up to keeping quiet?”
Rath slapped a hand over his mouth and nodded to the carriage. I crept along my branch as far as I dared, eyeing the window. If I’d no shoulders, I’d fit through easy.
“This’ll be fun.” I shook my head.
This was going to hurt.
“Fun-fun?” Rath rubbed the stump where his little finger had been. “Or ‘you’re going to miss and we’ll all get hanged’ fun?”