One of my heroines in Shahnoi, Adelia a.k.a Ade, is a different kinda heroine. She's completely sweet and harmless (unlike Ani...and very unlike any other kickass heroines I write) and also a little of a sad character. She's lost a lot in her life. So this is her entry scene in Shahnoi.....
Our town was literally the end.
Our town is on a flat topped mountain with only death on all sides.
Valleys with jagged rocks and impenetrable forests and frozen rivers. Caves with stalactites and pockets of toxic air. Jungles full of strange and vicious traps.
Our supplies are brought in by a massive system of pulleys and baskets-on-ropes that was filled by the other towns at the more habitable side of the valley. If you wanted to get out, you had to first learn how to survive in the jungles.
My best friend Ely often remarked that prisoners should be sent to Shahnoi, because they would never escape. That’s Shahnoi- no way out and no way in.
Unless you were a carnie.
The carnival came to Shahnoi every twelve years and the last time I’d been, I had been six. Two rag dolls and a souvenir from the shop where my father threw a ball and knocked down all the bottles were the only things I had to remember those two carnival months by. My father and uncle took me to carnival when I was six, but I couldn’t remember it even through them- they were dust. They were dead, and gone, and even the magic of the carnival could give them back to me.
I shivered and pulled the worn sweater tighter around myself. My two pigtails rose in the chilly wind and some strands escaped the bright ribbons tying them together.
The cold was in my skin, in my bones, in the breath fogging the air in front of my eyes.
‘Hurry, Ely…’ I shuddered, inhaling through my teeth.
She pursed her lips against the cloth and grabbed the rope, pulling it hard. I did the same- although my hands were numb, although they chafed with the burn of the rope.
‘A-Ade, t-the b-box is almost here-’
We tugged again and I thought of what could be in this supply box. The last one had had packets of soup and boxes of hair ribbons for all the girls. I had a lilac ribbon from that box, but what I treasured was the gel pen. The crystal blue ink. The magic ink that did not freeze even in last month’s sudden snowstorm.
I wished there was another one in this box. I wished there were medicines for my neighbor’s sweet, sick little boy.
I knew Ely had wishes too. I could see it in the bright spark of her eyes as she looked over the cliff and at the box I couldn’t yet see from behind her.
The entire town, waiting in the town circle for us to come back with the last box of this month, had wishes. Sometimes as simple as my gel pen. Sometimes as desperate as a wish for a couple of pain tablets for the old father, a packet of oral rehydration solution for the sick baby.
Sometimes I felt Shahnoi was a town built on wishes.