Title: Hunted Souls
Genre: YA high fantasy with sci-fi elements
Word count: 64,000 words
Cancer patient Bixby awakens in Centerra, where giants hunt children for magic. Giants harvest it from children’s blood, selling it for a profit. If anyone gets rescued, giants retaliate by killing a piece of magical livestock in return. They call it “insurance.”
Dionté adopts Bixby into his band, provided Bixby follows his rules. Despite butting heads with the temperamental leader, Bixby obeys. Yet he struggles to wrap his head around rule number 1: don’t rescue your friends. As he watches the giants pick them off, Bixby fights back to save his friends, only to get banished from the protection of underground forts.
Bixby’s two friends, Otsu and Asra, share a common bond with him, as they have yet to discover their powers. The girls follow him into the unknown, unable to stick to the sidelines while their friends get taken away. With no magic and no home, they sneak into the giants’ castle in search of a way to rescue all the prisoners from the dungeons. However, giants seek not only magic, but four kids destined to destroy their race. By entering their territory, Bixby risks giving the giants the key to their survival.
Bixby stares at the world through a fish tank. His body clenches in pain while delirium hazes his senses. The bed shakes passing over an elevator crack, flooding his throat with nausea. Doctors press his abdomen.
“What’s your pain score?”
What do you think?! I’m gravy. He groans. At eighteen, he refuses to forfeit his battle against cancer.
A chill runs through his right forearm, and he watches white bubbles form beneath the skin. Perfect timing for you to blow, IV. I don’t need drugs. A nurse digs a needle in his left wrist, seeking, but not finding, a good vein. Please, take your time, lady. He mentally tells her off with a slew of words that would send his mother running for soap. He sinks deeper into the aquarium, pain clogging his ears and eyes. His mother kisses his cheek, rubbing her hand on his bare head, tears spilling over his face. Don’t leave her. Damn it, fight! The deep sucks him under, evaporating Bixby’s will. He allows the darkness to escort him to freedom.
Bixby’s eyes fluttered open, his brain struggling through the fog of deep sea dreaming. A forest of maroon oaks swathed in purple mist blurred into view. The scent of fresh soil filled his nose. Something tapped his forehead. His clearing vision revealed a small creature with spiky, black hair and velvet moth wings hovering before his nose. Her fingers poked at his skull.
“Wake up! Giants aren’t far!”
Alarmed, he sat up.