All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace Read Online (FREE)
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This day is made for sailing.
The ocean’s brine coats my tongue and I savor its grit. Late summer’s heat has beaten the sea into submission; it barely sways as I stand against the starboard ledge.
Turquoise water stretches into the distance, stuffed full of blue tangs and schools of yellowtail snapper that flounder away from our ship and conceal themselves beneath thin layers of sea foam. Through the morning haze sits an outline of cloud-shrouded mountains that shape the kingdom’s northernmost island, Mornute. It’s one of the six islands I’ve not yet seen but will one day rule.
“Where are we headed?” I ask. “To the volcanos of Valuka? The jungles of Suntosu?” The weather is gentle enough that my words carry to the bow where Father stands, overlooking the water.
Years at sea have wrinkled his tanned olive skin, making him appear older than his forty years. The wrinkles also make him look stern, which I like. Arida’s High Animancer, the King of Visidia, should always appear stern.
“The sea is a dangerous beast, Amora,” he says. “And you are too precious to lose. But prove your strength to our people tonight, and I’ll know you’re capable of braving it. For now, focus on earning the throne.” His deep brown eyes flicker to me, and he grins. “And on announcing your engagement.”
My throat thickens. Ferrick is a fine enough man, if one dreams of settling down with a childhood acquaintance. But I prefer my daily suitors, and their gifts.
Amabons, ginnada, and dresses from the finest fabrics, all to woo the impressionable princess they believe I am. Boys in the kingdom think they can buy my love and title, and I let them believe it. Nothing can compare to the lavish trinkets of hungry suitors, and I’m not keen on ending their generosity.
“Are you ready?” Father’s words are low but firm; something in his eyes shifts. He’s not talking about my impending engagement.
Instinctively, my hand goes to the leather satchel resting on my hip. The contents inside clatter as I touch their rigid edges.
“I am,” I say, though the words are bolder than I feel. Because even as the king’s only child, my people will not simply hand me the crown and let me lead out of birthright. Here, in the kingdom of Visidia, I must first prove myself to them if I’m to earn the title of heir. And I’m to do it by showing them a proper demonstration of Aridian magic; the magic shared only through the blood of the Montara family.
Tonight, I’ve only one chance to prove I’m fit to claim the title of Animancer—a master of souls. But my people won’t settle for a good performance. They demand excellence, and I’ll give them just that. By the end of the night, I’ll prove to them there will never be anyone better suited for the throne.