Queen of the Crossroads

A Worldsbridge Road’s Beloved Story by Erica Anoe

Piper is a Road’s Beloved, an eternal traveler who has been given power and destiny by the Road itself. The tangle of birthmarks that cover her skin represent the gifts of every road she has ever walked or will ever walk. They are the source of her magic, and they define her place in the world.

When Piper arrives at Worldsbridge to claim a message from its ruler, she expects a simple encounter. Instead, she finds herself threatened by a bitter king who holds secret grudges against her kind.

To survive, Piper must uncover the true nature of Worldsbridge and learn what the Road expects of those it loves.

Buy Queen of the Crossroads now, or scroll down to read an excerpt.

Queen of the Crossroads: A Worldsbridge Road's Beloved Story by Erica Anoe

Read an Excerpt

Entering a city resembled emerging from underwater. Passing through a city gate into streets that local residents saw as teeming with life was to set foot in an emptier, lonelier place. Sometimes Piper found it a relief – the thick and constant contact of magic along the Road took its toll – but it amused her that these cosmopolitans knew so little of what a full world really looked and felt like.

She unwound protective layers of cloth, slowly revealing her face, throat and arms. She watched the city guards around her react to the tangle of birthmarks on her uncovered skin, a personal map that recorded the gifts of every Road she’d ever walked and would ever walk. “You act like you’ve never seen a Road’s Beloved.” She laughed. “Surely, the city of Worldsbridge has sent and received messengers on more than one occasion.”

Still, they shrank away, until one woman braved a reply. “We’ve never seen one so… covered.”

“Ah, well if you saw me uncovered, you’d know exactly how covered I am.” She winked, enjoyed the answering blush.

A male guard, whose spear had dipped momentarily in the general consternation at Piper’s appearance, cleared his throat and restored the rectitude of his posture. “You have a message?”

“No, I’m here to collect one.”

It was a bit unusual for those of her kind to arrive in a city empty handed – the Road’s magic normally displayed a love of efficiency. Piper, however, possessed knowledge of a hundred times the roads of the average Road’s Beloved on a conservative estimate. The Road seemed to enjoy sending her on long, strange trips to places almost no one else knew how to reach, and that fundamentally whimsical quality manifested also in the message-carrying that most people associated with a Road’s Beloved.

She removed her shoes and hung them carefully on the city gate. The dust of Road and dust of City could never mix except on the surface of her skin. Her kind had been coming here for years – other sets of shoes swung beside hers, some so ancient that it seemed they would fall to dust if she brushed them with a fingertip.

She offered a pleasant smile. “Where will I bathe? I’ll need an attendant and clothing appropriate for court that I can put on afterward. I’ll also need fresh shoes. The ruler of this place has a message for me.”

“The King?” The city guards all glanced at each other nervously.

“He may not know it yet. That happens sometimes.”

“The King hasn’t spoken to anyone in years.”

Piper widened her smile. “Well, he’ll be speaking to me shortly. Let’s prepare for it properly, shall we?”

Buy now to continue reading.

Ways to Read the Rest

Buy now for Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere. Print edition also available.

We use cookies to improve your experience and to help us understand how you use our site. Please refer to our cookie notice and privacy statement for more information regarding cookies and other third-party tracking that may be enabled.

Contact Us

We are delighted to receive comments on our books, requests for review copies, and inquiries about bookseller discounts or translation rights. Submissions are invitation-only at this time.

Email icon

© 2022 Lonely Robot Press

Intuit Mailchimp logo