Nightspell Week: Introduction

NIGHTSPELL WEEK: GO! To kick off a whole week of Leah Cypess and Nightspell, here we are with the summary and a brief teaser...
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When Darri rides into Ghostland, a country where the living walk with the dead, she has only one goal: to rescue her younger sister Callie, who was sent to Ghostland as a hostage four years ago. But Callie has changed in those four years, and now has secrets of her own.

In her quest to save her sister from herself, Darri will be forced to outmaneuver a handsome ghost prince, an ancient sorcerer, and a manipulative tribal warrior (who happens to be her brother). When Darri discovers the source of the spell that has kept the dead in Ghostland chained to this earth, she faces a decision that will force her to reexamine beliefs she has never before questioned - and lead her into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens the very balance of power between the living and the dead.

And Leah's pick for a scene, which depicts Darri's first time at the Ghost Court:

It wasn’t until they were seated -- at a blessedly empty table -- that they had enough privacy for Varis to hiss, “You know you were supposed to sit with the prince. What were you thinking?”

            “That I’d like to speak to Callie,” Darri said.

            “Do you really think it’s a good idea to insult Prince Kestin within two minutes of arriving in his country?”

            “Yes,” Darri said, just to see his reaction, “I do.”

            Unfortunately, at that moment a young woman in a yellow gown took the seat across from them, and Varis’s face smoothed instantly into an expression of bland politeness. The woman tilted her head at them and said, “Guess.”

            “Guess what?” Varis said, falling right into what was obviously a trap. Darri resisted the urge to kick him under the table.

            The woman smiled. She was plump and pretty, despite her pasty skin, with red-tinged hair arranged in knots and twirls. “Whether I’m alive or dead.”

            Varis flinched, and Darri couldn’t blame him. She tried to think of something cutting to say. Nothing came to mind.

Darri had once fallen asleep in long grass and woken to find ants crawling all over her body, wriggling into her nostrils and tickling over her tongue. That had been nothing compared to how she felt now, surrounded by dead creatures whose corpses were rotting below the ground. She kept catching whiffs of decomposing flesh, kept imagining the anguished screams of human spirits bound to lifeless bodies. This was a terrible place, beneath the gowns and smiles and glitter.

And she was going to spend the rest of her life here.

            “Stop it,” Callie said from behind Darri. “Leave them alone.”

            Darri turned so fast she almost overturned her chair. Her younger sister stepped away from the near-mishap primly, without looking at Darri. Her eyes were on the woman, who smoothed back her hair and smiled.

            “Oh, come, darling. Why protect them? No one protected you.”

            “As you made perfectly clear,” Callie said. “Though I understand your motives, Lizette. With that hairstyle, only a foreigner couldn’t guess in seconds that you were dead. And for quite a while.”

            Lizette raised one hand to her hair, and suddenly there was no face beneath the elaborate hairstyle; instead there was a skull, shreds of skin clinging to gray bone, a white maggot squirming out of one blank eyehole.

Varis made a sick noise, obviously involuntary. Lizette’s mask of a face reappeared. She smirked at him and at Callie, then turned to Darri and said, “I understand you have your eye on our prince. You had better get used to this sort of thing, if you’re thinking of marrying him. I’m the least frightening ghost here.”

            “Really?” Darri did her best to sound unconcerned. She would show these creatures they couldn’t cow a Raellian princess. “How did you die?”

            A short, absolute silence passed. Lizette tittered and touched a finger to her lips. “Now, now. We’ve only just met.”

            Darri glanced at her sister, whose face was beet red; the last time Darri had seen Callie so embarrassed, she had just lost control of a horse. Apparently this was not a question one asked of the dead.

            Lizette vanished. Varis made another strangled sound. Callie sighed and said, “It would really be better if you stopped doing that.”

I can promise it only gets better from here. Are you excited? *passes out mini Leah Cypess flags* Check back tomorrow for a giveaway! :)