Sands of Arawiya, Book 1: We Hunt the Flame—Fahsah Haizel
Read In: 2021
His mother used to say that a person without hope was a body without a soul.
She pulled the letter from her satchel again. She needed to hold it. Feel it. Read the words again and again, drunk on something unseen.
Fear breeds death. Confidence breeds freedom.
“How can a book restore magic?” Zafira asked.
“In the same way a book can reenact the history of civilization, instruct upon a delicious dish, or tell a tale of pleasure,” she said, as if Zafira had asked the most obtuse question known to man.
Zafira took her mother’s words, one by one, and swallowed them whole.
“Remember when my parents died, and Deen left us to go exploring the kingdom? When he joined that caravan across the Wastes? I still have a little bit left in that tin of hot chocolate he brought back, and I saved the empty vial of honey you licked clean.” Yasmine laughed softly and then sighed. “It’s strange what I’ll remember with a spoon of coca and an empty vial of honey, no?”
She still felt the echo of his lips against her neck every time she looked at him.
That was life, wasn’t it? A collection of moments, a menagerie of people. Everyone stranded everywhere, always.
To define is to limit.
This wasn’t violent or brutal. This was a dance, graceful and lithe. A performance of finesse. He moved as if he were made of the water beside him, with a stillness in his shoulders and the length of his back.
Her fingers brushed her ring, and her lips parted ever so slightly. He watched, transfixed, wondering how those small, mindless motions always drew his attention.
“Emotions are an inconvenience.” But her tone suggested she didn’t believe the words.
“It is important to remember that everything and everyone has the capacity for both evil and benevolence.”
Zafira scoffed. “Don’t tell me you believe the prince has the capacity for good.”
He held her gaze. “Everyone has a turning point. A breaking point, too.”
She knew that tone. The way he said “mother.” It was how she spoke of Baba. It was how they spoke of one who was but never again will be. His tone was rife with unspent love.
“You really believe we’ll go home,” he heard Kifah say, ever optimistic.
“The first step to getting anywhere is believing you can,” Benyamin said darkly.
“You’ve always followed the direction of your heart,” Altair continued. “It was a subconscious effort you trusted without a doubt. But now that you know what you are, you’ve begun to use your head. That has led you astray.”
“I offered them passage back to the kingdom, but they refused. Sometimes, when you live a life of captivity, trapped for so long, freedom becomes a thing to fear.”