Tag Archives: epic fantasy

Monday Morsel: Lies, Loathing and Last Moments – An Excerpt from ‘In the Company of the Dead’

Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature, where I share short extracts from the first draft of my adult epic fantasy/fantasy romance, In the Company of the Dead.

* * *

Standing from the last of the sick, she jerked her head, and retreated to the bench where Leinahre had set up her apothecary’s tools. Lyram joined her, leaning against the wall with his arms folded as if he could drive the chill of self-loathing from his body.
‘This is right,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing else to do.’
‘Sometimes what’s right, and what must be done, are not the same thing.’
Her hand rested on the bench next to her hip. Lyram looked at it for a long moment, listening to the rasping breath of the dying slow and rattle in their throats. Unable to endure, he took her hand in his. Her gaze flicked to meet his, and she squeezed his hand. Tears pricked his eyes, and he blinked before they could fall.
‘How do you bear it without crying?’ he whispered.
‘Because otherwise I would never stop.’
They stood there, hands clasped, as the infected slipped into a deep sleep. Lyram studied their faces, relaxed now as the hemlock took its course, and tried to memorise their features. Badden, with his broad face and squashed nose. The two serving women, one old enough to be a grandmother, the other middle-aged. Two soldiers of the castellan. 
Eventually they slipped from sleep into unconsciousness. From within her robe, Ellaeva produced a needle-pointed poniard. She went about the gruesome work with quick efficiency, rolling each man or woman to slide the blade into the soft spot at the back of the neck where it joined the skull.
‘Can’t you just…’ Lyram waved his hands, trying without words to indicate the man she had killed with a touch.
‘No. It is something I may only call upon in defence of my own life, and then it is at Ahura’s discretion to grant it.’ Her jaw tightened as she laid the last of the lifeless heads on the ground. ‘At least two of the five Battle Priestesses preceding me died because the touch failed them – whether because they abused the privilege or because Ahura was done with their service and called them home.’
Two out of five. She must wonder if she was destined to bring it to an even one out of two. ‘Poor reward for faithful service.’
‘Such is the life of a Battle Priestess.’ She thrust the poniard back inside her robes.
She was good at keeping her thoughts and feelings from her face, but he was getting better at reading her anyway. These deaths weighed on her, despite her attempt at matter-of-factness. How many other lives burdened her shoulders? What other truths of the life of a Battle Priestess preyed on her in the smallest hours of the long nights? Words failed him, and in desperation he reached out and her caught her hand again.
She met his eyes for a brief moment. Hers were as dark as night, like Alharne’s had been, but bitter with a depth of pain that left him weak at the knees. How could one woman – one girl – carry such weight? She squeezed his hand in acknowledgement, and they stood there, hands entwined, contemplating the remainder of the gruesome task ahead. For this little time, at least, the burden need not be hers alone.
A sharp rap on the barred door broke the moment, and Ellaeva pulled her hand away.
‘What is it?’ Lyram called.
‘Sir.’ The thick wood muffled Everard’s voice. ‘There’s an emissary, sir. From the enemy camp.’


Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. I am currently 65% of the way through the first draft of In the Company of the Dead. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out my novella, Confronting the Demon, or the free fiction I am posting during the A to Z Challenge, starting with Burning: Dragon Bait (Part 1).

If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment.

More about In the Company of the Dead:



Lyram already crossed a prince, and now he finds himself on the brink of crossing a god.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, Ellaeva, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she is in pursuit of a necromancer of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the necromancer is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of a necromancer. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.

Monday Morsel: Challenge – An excerpt from fantasy novel In the Company of the Dead



Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature, where I share short extracts from the first draft of my adult epic fantasy/fantasy romance, In the Company of the Dead.

* * *

Aharris glanced at the soldiers. ‘They’re afraid. Afraid of you, of your power. Of death. Every wise soldier fears death, because he knows she is coming for her. He doesn’t wish to hasten that day.’
She sniffed. He didn’t fear her, except when he remembered he should. She’d reminded him now, though – tension thrummed in every line of his body, and the anger poured off him in waves. ‘They are fools.’
‘Is it foolish to fear the unknown? If it engenders caution, one could argue it is wisdom.’
Philosophy. She was in no mood for it. She wanted to shout at him: But I am so lonely! More so, since they’d argued, and anger ignited at the thought. Instead, she stilled her features, hoping the bleak heartache didn’t show in her eyes. What I feel isn’t important, so long as the goddess is served. And somewhere further in the depths of her mind, a tiny voice protested. But why me?
‘Spar with me,’ she said, unable to temper the aggression in the sudden challenge.

* * *

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment, and In the Company of the Dead will be available in the future. I aim to have the first draft finished by the end of April. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out my novella Confronting the Demon.

If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment.

More about In the Company of the Dead:


Lyram already crossed a prince, and now he finds himself on the brink of crossing a god.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, Ellaeva, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she is in pursuit of a necromancer of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the necromancer is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of a necromancer. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my March Newsletter if you missed it. 
 
Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!


Monday Morsel: The Left Hand of Death – An Excerpt from In the Company of the Dead



Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature, where I share short extracts from the first draft of my adult epic fantasy/fantasy romance, In the Company of the Dead.

* * *

Distantly through the thick wood and stone came the roar of voices. The pungent smell of burning pitch followed hard on its heels. They had fired the moat. The voices of men screaming in pain penetrated the stone more than he liked.
And then the sound he’d been dreading.
Thud.
The men held their breaths. Lyram drew his sword. At his shoulder, a grim spectre of death; Ellaeva, lifting her own blade in readiness, awaiting the moment the ram might break through the gate. It would be easy, with the gates only blockaded by what debris could be quickly scrounged.
Thud.
Ellaeva’s face settled into that grim expectancy he’d begun to call her ‘work look’. This was the face of a woman who had earned the name Left Hand of Death.

* * *

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment, and In the Company of the Dead will be available in the future. I aim to have the first draft finished by the end of April. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out my novella Confronting the Demon.

If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment.

More about In the Company of the Dead:


Lyram already crossed a prince, and now he finds himself on the brink of crossing a god.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, Ellaeva, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she is in pursuit of a necromancer of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the necromancer is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of a necromancer. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.

 
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my March Newsletter if you missed it. 
 
Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!

Monday Morsel: Attacked Among Friends – An Excerpt from In the Company of the Dead



Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature, where I share short extracts from the first draft of my adult epic fantasy/fantasy romance, In the Company of the Dead. By special request of Chris Mentzer, we have a longer excerpt today. I’ll also be featuring some free fiction in April as part of the A – Z Blogging Challenge.

* * *

Out of the blinding brilliance, something struck him hard, and a great weight knocked him to the ground, forcing the breath from his body. What? Who? He blinked tears from his eyes, and scrabbled for his sword hilt while struggling for breath. Whatever had hit him still pinned him to the ground. Squinting at the shape resolved it into the outline of a man in time to see a fist aimed at his head.
Lyram tried to throw himself backwards, but the man’s weight held him down. The fist missed, and he struck his head on the cobbles. His right hand was trapped under him, pins and needles prickling his flesh. He curled his left arm around awkwardly, reaching for his knife.
The assailant aimed another blow at his head, and Lyram bucked his hips, throwing the man off balance. The shift in the man’s weight allowed him grab his dagger, and he fumbled the weapon from its sheath. It slipped free of his two-fingered grip. The clatter of the blade on the cobbles sounded as mournful as the cry of a wild goose.
Eye to eye with his attacker, he fumbled instead for the man’s belt, feeling along its length for his dagger. A guard; not one of his. A castle guard. A curious blankness suffused the man’s features, and almost belatedly he swung another fist at Lyram. Their proximity made the blow awkward, and Lyram jerked his ahead aside. The man’s breath stank. Lyram found the hilt of the man’s knife.
Yanking it free, he thrust upwards. The man spasmed, and then his hands closed on Lyram’s throat. With his air choked off, Lyram stabbed again, and again, trying to find some vital organ. The choking grip tightened. He fought for air. Dizziness washed over him as his straining lungs burned to breathe. Black spots danced in his vision. He stabbed again, but the blow lacked strength. The next time, the blade tumbled from his fingers.
A glittering blade sliced through his shrinking vision. Blood gushed across his face, almost scalding in the cool spring morning. The blow hurled the assailant from him, and Lyram sucked in a huge breath of air.
Ellaeva appeared, blood dripping from the silver length of her blade. She extended one pale hand. Her left-hand. He fought the urge to laugh hysterically, recognising the effects of not enough air. Ciotach an Bhais. The left hand of death indeed.
She hauled him to his feet with more strength than her frame should hold, and he stood swaying on his feet. The attacker lay in a pool of his own blood, his eyes open and staring in death. The fresh reek said the corpse had opened its bowels. The man possessed unfamiliar features, and Lyram thought he was acquainted with every guard by now, up to and including their first names.
The castellan raced across the courtyard, and everyone within eyeshot had stopped to stare.
‘Ahura take me, ‘tis Adlin.’ Sir Janun made the sign of the goddess, brow, lips and breast, for the mind, the breath, and the heart, which all ceased in death. ‘But why?’
Releasing Ellaeva’s hand, Lyram crouched to examine the corpse. The stink he had taken for bad breath lingered. It was sweet, like rotting flesh. In addition, the man was unshaven. Even the most slovenly sergeant would take a soldier to task for looking like this. Unless… He opened the man’s shirt – no mail, another telltale – and found bandages wound around his midsection, stained with blood. The very edges of the stain had a sickly green tinge to them. Not only blood, then. This man had been bound for Ahura’s arms even before Ellaeva cut him down. Had the castellan said Adlin? Lyram had met the man a handful of times, he was sure, but no matter how he peered at the dead man’s features, he couldn’t catch but a glimpse of a resemblance. He’d been the man badly wounded by flying fragments of stone from the catapult bombardment, hadn’t he?
Ellaeva squatted comfortably beside him, her gaze flickering across the corpse. He imagined she saw every detail there was to see in that glance. She stretched one hand out to touch the man’s flesh, and snatched it away as though burned, her breath hissing through her teeth.
‘Rahmyrrin,’ she said, too soft for the watching circle of onlookers to hear.
At that moment, a wet cloth dropped over Lyram’s shoulder, and he looked up into Everard’s wide eyes.

* * *

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment, and In the Company of the Dead will be available in the future. I aim to have the first draft finished by the end of March. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out my novella Confronting the Demon.

If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment.

More about In the Company of the Dead:


Lyram already crossed a prince, and now he finds himself on the brink of crossing a god.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, Ellaeva, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she is in pursuit of a necromancer of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the necromancer is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of a necromancer. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.



If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my March Newsletter if you missed it. 
 
Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!

Monday Morsel: A Place I Never Saw Him – An Extract from In the Company of the Dead



Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature, where I share short extracts from the first draft of my adult epic fantasy/fantasy romance, In the Company of the Dead.

* * *

‘Something bothers you.’
Lyram flashed a surprised look at her. Though she appeared barely twenty, she was observant and astute. ‘A memory. No, not even that. Something half-remembered, as if from a dream disturbed. Something to with Bradlin, but I recall nothing except an image of him in a place I never saw him.’ He cast a restless look in the direction of the enemy camp. ‘I should go rest. I’ll want to be here when the attack comes.’
Ellaeva nodded, as austere as a crow in her black garb, eased only by the silver sword. ‘I will go pray.’
She descended the stairs ahead of him, and he looked back again, unable to explain the feeling of unease plaguing him. Bradlin, in the snow. The leaves fallen from the trees. The colour red.
And Alharne…

* * *

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment, and In the Company of the Dead will be available in the future. I aim to have the first draft finished by the end of April. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out my novella Confronting the Demon.

If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment.

More about In the Company of the Dead:


Lyram already crossed a prince, and now he finds himself on the brink of crossing a god.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, Ellaeva, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she is in pursuit of a necromancer of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the necromancer is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of a necromancer. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my March Newsletter if you missed it. 
 
Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!