Before Birth by Flame is released this fall, I’ll be giving you a sneak peek into the world of the book.  Today, meet the second main character of Birth By Flame, Shiro.

The sun beat down on my back as I plowed our fields on the outskirts of town.  Even though it was barely spring, the heat made it feel like the middle of summer.  Sweat trickled down my back and across my brow as I tilled the dark soil and planted the tender green seeds.  In a few months’ time, this field would be filled with bright gold stalks of grain.  The fields around it would be full of parsnips, potatoes, carrots, kale and squash.  I smiled a little, thinking about the good harvest we had last year.

“Hey, Shiro!” I heard a familiar voice call.  I saw a tall boy coming towards me with a rake over his shoulder.  He had short hair the color of sand and a massive smile.  His pale skin had already started to turn pink in the sun, unlike most of the locals around here.

“Good morning, Kobeda.” I said, putting my hoe in the ground.  “How are you today?”

“I’m pretty good.  Ready for another day of work, you know?”

I chuckled.  “How’s your mother doing?”

“She’s good.  Ever since she started working in the house, she’s been a lot happier.  Farm work just wasn’t good for her.”

“That’s good to hear.”

Kobeda smiled.  “What’s new with you?”

“You know, nothing too out of the ordinary.  Mother’s doing well, Kuda and I work out here, the little siblings try not to get into too much trouble.”

Kobeda laughed.  “I know that feeling.  All the kids look up to me like I’m their big brother.  I can only imagine what it’s like having to take care of them like you do.”

“Well, it’s not something I want to do.  It’s something I just have to do.”

Kobeda looked into my eyes, his pale blue eyes shining in the morning light. “How did we ever get to be like this?”

I stared back into his eyes and didn’t say anything.

Bedan!” a harsh voice shouted.  Kobeda flinched and sighed.  “Back to work.” he said, giving me a half-hearted smile before walking off to the fields closer to the river.

An old man walked up to me, flanked by two more workers who followed Kobeda into the fields.  He removed his hat as he approached me, showing his bald head.  He looked at me with narrow, dark eyes framed by bushy eyebrows the same color as the soil beneath our feet.

“I’m terribly sorry that he disturbed you.” he apologized in a voice that barely concealed his anger.  “I keep telling him to focus on work, but he just keeps getting off track.”

“Mr. Hipehon, please, there was no trouble.” I explained, trying to spare Kobeda hell when he got back home.  “We were just talking.  He wasn’t disturbing at all.”

“I appreciate that, but if you don’t teach these uteposuan when you have to, they’ll be useless.”

“Please, Mr. Hipehon-”

“I appreciate your concern, but this really is none of your business.”

I sighed and picked up my hoe.  “Well, don’t let me keep you from your work.”

“Thank you.” Hipehon said before putting his hat back on and walking towards his workers.  I bent over and kept plowing the little family field.