A ballroom. A king’s court. No, a gala. And a woman, an ambassador from Tembra, smiling archly at him over a goblet of red wine. Night black hair and eyes as deep and mysterious as a cave pool. Alabaster skin. No name came to him, but he ached for her, ached for the memory of her. The whirl of remembrance lifted him up and spun him forward like a leaf.

Now the woman clasped his hands in hers, staring at him solemnly across the red marriage ribbon twining their entangled fingers. He drank in her gaze, lost himself in her eyes. The swell of sudden emotion left him weak, and his chest choked and constricted almost painfully, robbing him of speech. He clung to her hands, no to her flesh and blood hands here and now in his, like a shipwrecked sailor clinging to his last hope of salvation. The fog lifted from his eyes, allowing him to see the untidiness of his suite before him, and the woman on her knees, at the same time as he saw the memory within his mind.

‘Alharne.’ He squeezed the word from breathless lungs. The memory shattered, and he saw the woman, the woman with the wine, the woman from the wedding, the woman who now knelt before him with tears streaming down her face, sprawled awkwardly in the snow. Sightless eyes stared at a winter sky. Blood slashed crimson against the snow. The tightness in his chest squeezed hard, almost as though the emotion might shatter his ribcage.

Alharne was dead.

* * *

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect – while the bones of the story are there, enough to give you a glimpse into the tale of these characters, I typically do at least eight drafts so you can expect the final version to bear little resemblance to what I post here.

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More about In the Company of the Dead

Alharne Was Dead

Son of a duke and third in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after striking his prince – but when the castle is besieged, he fears the prince means to remove him more permanently.

Hope arrives in the form of the Left Hand of Death, the woman bound to serve the goddess Ahura in battle. But the priestess has not come for the siege – instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the god of decay.

Within his stone prison, Lyram must fight to save himself from both political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, his greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.

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