‘Are you sure about this?’ Everard hovered behind the castellan’s wife’s maid, anxiety warring with dignity in his stiff posture.

The maid shot him an annoyed look as he bumped the table, jostling the collection of pots of paints and rouges. When Everard retreated, she put the brush in her hand delicately to Ellaeva’s cheekbones.

‘No.’ Ellaeva worked her jaw to moisten her dry mouth. ‘No, not at all.’

‘Could your holiness close your eyes?’ The maid’s soft voice was deferential as she laid down the brush. Examining the portrait propped on the table, she selected another, smaller brush.

Ellaeva closed her eyes, and a moment later the rabbit’s fur brush flickered over her eyelids.

‘There must be another way.’ Anxiety threaded through Everard’s voice.

Ellaeva’s heart fluttered in response, but she held herself steady under the ministrations of the maid. ‘We’re out of time.’

* * *

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

What Price A lie

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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