Six years after the mysterious talisman brought Queen Vina to Talia, it chooses a new owner in Sonna, a child of the streets. Unprotected by her amputee father and beaten by her mother for failing to bring home scraps for the family to eat, Sonna runs into the self-assured Kira, daughter and heir to Vina’s queendom.
Weary of endless rules and duties involved in training to become the future queen, Kira leaps at the chance to escape with a new friend. When she places the priceless talisman around Sonna’s neck, neither can remove the jewelry.
Alarmed at Kira losing the talisman’s protection, Vina and Talia take drastic steps to protect the princess. In the process, the entire earth descends into chaos.
Five years later, nineteen-year-old Sonna forages for two-day-old fish heads while dodging street pimps. The talisman leads her to the mysterious Nicodemus, who offers one command:
“Go to Kira. She needs you.”
Baffled, Sonna embarks on her journey. What can a pauper offer a spoiled princess? Will the street child end up surprising them all?
Against my chest, the talisman grows warm. It quivers, almost as if it is afraid. Or perhaps it creaks like an old, unused piece of machinery. I take the metal out to rub it clean with my spit, and the gems glow bright as the stars.
I jump backward, dropping the necklace. I’d throw it down the grate if I could remove the chain from around my neck. Sorcery! A necklace refusing to be removed spoke of magic, but I hoped it was benign. Is this a demon’s voice? Am I spawn of the devil?
I am not a demon, my child. I am one who loves you the way your mother does not.
I whimper. Demon or not, Mother will order an exorcism if anyone finds out. A little girl was possessed last year, and the shaman beat her with a wooden stick. Over and over, commanding the evil spirits to leave the child. I can face many things, but not the wrath of a demon chaser.
The one you love has locked her heart to you. You must find her, and you must remind her of the day you promised to love her.
Shaking from head to foot, I risk speaking out loud. “She never came back.”
That was not her doing. Do you still care for her?
Soft kisses, sweeter than any of the delicacies she fed me. The tingle of her touch, transporting me to a world in which my shame no longer mattered. Standing before her, scrubbed clean, and watching her eyes widen in surprise and longing.
Curling next to her side, trusting her. Believing when she told me to follow her. I would never be hungry again, she said.
She loves you.
No one ever loved me before.
She needs you. Find her.
Before I can think of a response, the gemstones fade to silver, and the metal grows cold.
Find her. But how?