About Crimson Winter: City of Ruby:
Reeling after the fall of the Kingdom of Taiyou, Yukari Namikoya and her remaining allies find themselves reduced to scared refugees hidden far below the earth in the Temple of Machalite. The dreaded Lady Lilyth rules in Taiyou now and threatens to bring the whole world under her dominion one piece at a time.
And what the Lady Lilyth can't control, she plans to destroy.
In a desperate bid for the survival and freedom of the various races of Crimson Winter, Yukari must seek to uncover secrets the Vile Emperor has kept hidden for a millenia and in order to do this, she has to journey to the last place she'd ever thought she'd go - the Ruby City.
My room was much as it always was, with the exception of a rather large box sitting atop my bed. It was more of a crate than a box, really, and it was unlabeled. Inexplicably, a crowbar lay next to it. Picking it up, I pried up the lid of the box and peered inside.
The red haze swirled ominously around an odd collection of objects. Reaching into the crate with both hands, I pulled out a stiff leather bag with a sturdy buckle and a silver badge in the shape of a lion’s head affixed to the front. Placing the bag aside, I reached for an overly complex-looking longbow. I was in the archery club at school, was this meant to be a gift? And if so, from whom?
I reached in once more. Silken fabric rustled as I pulled a creamy white dress from the bottom of the box. It was in the Chinese style, with a high collar and a lengthy slit up one side. However, instead of being decorated with dragons or flowers as one might expect, there was a trail of white doves climbing from the hem to the neckline, as if in the midst of taking flight.
“It’s beautiful,” I whispered, despite myself, “but I don’t have any krevels –”
Krevels…now where had I heard that before?
I felt suddenly dizzy as everything around me went red. I leaned on the bed, putting a hand to my head.
“Yukari!” Mother called from the other room and the fog cleared with her voice. “Dinner’s ready!”
Leaving the red haze behind me, I headed out to join my mother and father around the long oval table in our dining room.
“How was your day, Yukari?” my father asked as we settled down to eat.
“Fine,” I answered without thought, but as my blue eyes met his brown ones I suddenly had the feeling there was something I was supposed to tell him.
“What is it, Yukari?”
I struggled to remember what I wanted to tell him, but the red haze threatened again.
“Nothing, Daddy,” I said quickly, cutting off that line of thought.
“You know you can tell me anything, right Yukari?”
There was something…something important I was supposed to tell him before it was too late…
Red fog enveloped me.
“You look very pretty today, Yukari,” my mother said, her voice pulling me back to the dinner table. “I forgot to tell you earlier, but I like your hair down like that.”
My hair was down? I brought a hand up to my head, and sure enough my hair was loose and tumbling about my head. Had I been so distracted that I hadn’t even noticed until now I’d forgotten to wear it up like I always did?
“Oh, does it look okay, then? Usually it’s a mess unless it’s up.”
“It’s lovely,” Father seconded, “and did you try those contacts I bought for you? It’s a nice change to see you without your glasses.”
I brought my hand down from my hair to feel about my face, and I also wasn’t even wearing my glasses. Remarkably, I could see well enough, but as if in response to the realization I wasn’t wearing my glasses, my sight began to blur visibly at the edges with the slightest hint of red.
“Oh no, I must have forgotten them at school…where I changed into my contacts…” I added the last bit to reassure my parents, even though it was false. “I guess I’ll have to go back for them.”
Mother frowned and I immediately regretted having dampened her rare good spirits.
“I’ll go right after dinner,” I assured them. “I know where they are,” I lied, “and I was going to get some swimming practice in tonight anyways.”
I hadn’t intended that either, but with my mother’s smile restored, I decided that was exactly what I would do with my evening. Perhaps swimming, something I loved, would help me to clear my head.
“You do that, Yukari,” Mother agreed in a tone more characteristic of her, “and I don’t want to hear that you’ve lost them. You know how much they cost…”
Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of over ten novels, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and role-playing with her friends.