He grabbed her wrist and yanked the sword from her hand. “What’s this?”
“A sword.” She took it back from his grasp. “I’m practicing.”
“Practicing? Ladies should not be playing with swords.”
“But I’m not just a lady,” she said. “We are Kalaowin, and all Kalaowins are taught to fight.”
“In the south, yes, but you’re in the north. With the white Kamaris, whom you also belong to. I think you forget that sometimes.”
“Because I don’t belong with them,” she snapped.
“Oh really? You’re friends with them. You attend their balls. No one forces you to have fun there, but you do. I see it.”
She stopped. He was right. She did have fun when she was with her friends. Dahlia made her laugh, and they talked of frivolous things. And Teddy. She loved being with him. But did that make her any less Kalaowin? Just because she enjoyed some parts of being a Kamari noble. Did it make her claim to be Kalaowin any less?
“Why can’t I be both?”
He lifted his hand and tucked her hair behind her ear. “Because we live in an unjust kingdom. And we must be who they want us to be.”
“And that’s Kamari?”
“I have worked hard to belong here. And it hasn’t been easy, but I’ve somehow done it. I don’t want to lose that.”
And she could be the reason he did. If she didn’t follow the ways of the Kamaris, she could ruin everything he’d struggled so hard to achieve.
“I know.” She handed her sword back to him. “I just like feeling a connection to the Kalaowins. Doing this makes me feel closer to her.”
Chae sighed, and she saw a pang of sadness in his eyes.
She sometimes forgot that he felt their mother’s loss as strongly as she did.
“Then you should do it,” he said and put the sword back in her hand. “I don’t agree with it, but I won’t stop you either. Just make sure no one sees you.”
She beamed at him. “I’m good at sneaking around.”
He laughed and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her against his side. “I’m sure you are.”
“Do you want to practice with me?”
He raised his eyebrows, unsure if he should say yes.
“Please. It’ll be fun.”
“Maybe just this once,” he said. He unsheathed his sword. “I’ll try not to hurt you.”
She brought up her sword and swung, a smile on her face. Perhaps the training she had begun with Nika could continue with Chae.
Title: The Jewel of Kamara
Author: Bridie Blake
Genre: YA Fantasy
A TYRANNICAL KINGDOM. AN OPPRESSED PEOPLE. AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST.
Tempani of Amarill, a young noblewoman of mixed race, dreams of a Kamara united in race and class. Thrust from the convent into court life, Tempani struggles to find her place in a city she no longer recognizes.
Starved commoners fight the crown, women have no rights, and her mother’s people hide in the south to avoid persecution.
Banned from using her powers, Tempani feels helpless. But her magic is always there. A gentle hum under her skin, threatening to explode the more she sees people suffering.
She wants change, but is she willing to spill the blood of innocents to get it?
Bridie Blake is a writer and book lover based in Melbourne, Australia. She waited years for someone to write the story she had in her head, but it never happened. So fuelled with a lot of caffeine, and listening to movie soundtracks on repeat, she wrote it herself.
Her first book, “The Jewel of Kamara”, was released in October 2013.