Tag Archives: in the company of the dead

Monday Morsel: She’d Kill Him for It – An Excerpt from ‘In the Company of the Dead’


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

* * *

Lyram dropped lightly to the ground. Turning, he reached up to help Ellaeva down, but she dropped to the grass beside him with a slight thump.

‘This way.’ He dashed the short distance from the wall to the cover of the trees. On the other side of the wall they’d just climbed, thirty men in dark clothes still waited, crouched against the grassy hillside for the signal.

Ellaeva dropped into a crouch next to Lyram, her eyes scanning the darkness. ‘There.’

She pointed into the darkness, and Lyram forced his gaze from her. For this venture, she’d divested herself of the bulky robes in favour of a man’s shirt and pants, revealing a surprisingly lithe form. 

It’s a sin to think such things of the Death Priestess, I’m sure. At the very least, she’d kill him for it.

In the direction she pointed, a sentry crouched against a tree in the darkness. Lyram scoured the night, searching for the next man along. He knew he was there, had scouted their positions earlier while she spoke to the men, but the moon had set, and it was hard to distinguish the shadows in the deep blackness of the night. He frowned at one shadowed shape and nudged Ellaeva, nodding his head. She turned to follow his gaze, lips pursing the nodded.

‘And here,’ she whispered, pointing further along again.

He squinted, and couldn’t see what she indicated. How could she see so far in the night? Another gift of her goddess, probably.

‘You take that one,’ he said. ‘And the middle one.’

She nodded, and stood, gliding away into the shadows on noiseless feet. He watched her go, his eyes following the curve of her legs and buttocks in the breeches.

He wrenched his eyes away, his cheeks burning.

* * *

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’ve temporarily had to shelve it while I work on Stalking the Demon, the sequel to Confronting the Demon. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.

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 May 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!

Monday Morsel: Double Bind – An Excerpt from ‘In the Company of the Dead’


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

* * *

‘It seems to me,’ she said, her voice soft, ‘that both obligations may not be met simultaneously. You must break one. That you cannot control. What you can do is choose which. It is in your hands to decide which is more important to you.’

He looked at her with tired, sore eyes. ‘That’s it? Just decide which oath I will break? So much for honour and loyalty.’

‘It is the only logical way,’ she said simply.

Lyram grunted. ‘When it’s you doing the choosing, come back and let me know how it turns out for you.’

‘There is no time for you to wallow in self-pity,’ she said, voice sharp. She straightened from her nonchalant lean against the wall, assuming a deceptively relaxed stance, but one from which she could respond to any threat immediately. ‘We have mouths to feed, men, and women, and children whom you have decided can no longer be saved by your surrender.’

His head jerked, and he scowled at her over one shoulder. ‘Isn’t that what you wanted? Me not to surrender.’

‘What I want is no longer relevant. You have decided. And now there are more decisions to make. I don’t suppose you learned anything useful while you were skulking around the enemy camp?’

Stung, he swivelled on his buttocks to face her, keeping the blanket tight around him. Really, he’d have preferred to be left alone, but she had barrelled her way in past Everard while he sat drying before the fire. His soggy clothes still hung from various pieces of furniture around the room.

Ellaeva faced him without any sign of discomfort in her face.

I am just another job to her. Bitterness welled up at the thought, though he wasn’t sure why it should matter.

* * *

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’ve temporarily had to shelve it while I work on Stalking the Demon, the sequel to Confronting the Demon. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.

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.

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 May 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!

Monday Morsel: Clandestine Activity – An Excerpt from In the Company of the Dead


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

* * *

Lyram tied off the laces of a black linen shirt. Ellaeva lay in the bed, asleep; so deeply asleep, thanks to a concoction he obtained from Leinahre, that it would be some time before she woke.

He left the clan sword where it lay on his writing desk, amongst a scatter of unfinished and lately unimportant paperwork. Where he was going, he didn’t want to be recognised. He settled his dagger on his hip, though, and dropped another in one of his half-boots. A sack lay next to his sword, and he picked it up and slung it over his shoulder.

Galdron and the guards searched for the missing bodies, but none of them turned up. No one had seen them, or anyone moving them, or anything else amiss. How did someone move with such unnoticed ease in a castle this tiny? The answer worried him: the necromancer belonged here. Someone trusted, and where they belonged, and so he went unremarked. Just another castle resident going about his business.

That truth spurred him to action. The sooner he surrendered himself, the sooner the siege ended, and the sooner the castle reopened. Either the inhabitants would leave, or the necromancer. At the very least, the necromancer would no longer have cause to use the stolen bodies for his nefarious purposes.

He pulled the door shut behind him with care. Everard had instructions not to disturb them, but his aide might still lurk nearby, in case of a late night call for assistance, and he didn’t wish to be seen – or stopped.

Shadows filled the stairwell. He descended as quickly as he dared, supporting himself against the stone wall and feeling out each step with a foot. The soft soles made only a gentle scuffing on the stone as he descended lightly on his feet.

The bottom doorway lay open to the courtyard. He hesitated in the mouth of the stairwell, scouting the courtyard. If Everard saw him here, not all would be lost, but he preferred his aide thought him in his room until the morning, when it would be too late to stop him.

Something moved near the well room. Everard, or someone else about in the night, he didn’t know. He cut right, away from the shadow, and ducked immediately into the stairwell to the walls. The sack bounced against his shoulder as he trotted up.

Guards patrolled the walls, but he’d set the routine, and knew it well. The shadow of the gatehouse afforded him some cover while he knelt and pulled a grappling hook and rope from the sack, together with an oilskin. Then he stripped off his clothes, wrapped them in the oilskin, and stowed everything back in the sack. A short length of rope allowed him to tie the sack about his waist, and then he shouldered the coiled rope with grapple.

Then he waited, the cool night air pebbling his naked skin.

A guard appeared, and he started counting. The man emerged from the darkness and walked past, disappearing down the wall. On this moonless night, only a short section of the wall was visible. Right on cue, another guard appeared, and then another.

When the third one had passed, before he was even out of sight, Lyram dashed from concealment and dropped to his knees beside the crenels. Glancing furtively at the guard still in view, and counting under his breath, he secured the hook on the wall, testing its grip with a few short tugs.

The last guard had vanished from sight now. A few moments, that was all, and the next would appear.

He climbed atop the crenels, and began climbing down the outside of the wall. Soot darkened the grapple, so that no light would reflect from the metal. The dark grey rope played out between his hands as he descended the wall. Above, the muffled footsteps of a guard approached. Lyram held his breath, but the steps passed by and disappeared into the dark.

The water of the moat slapped gently against the castle stones. Lyram grimaced, and peered at it between his feet. Nothing for it.



* * *

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’ve temporarily had to shelve it while I work on Stalking the Demon, the sequel to Confronting the Demon. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.

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!

Monday Morsel: Pray For Nothing Worse – An Excerpt from In the Company of the Dead



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

* * *

Something brushed his hand, and he glanced down. A couple of tiny finger bones twitched across the ground. With a yell, he scooped them up and flung them away.
‘Fire,’ Ellaeva said, her voice faint. ‘We’ll need to burn them.’
He saw, then, the hand he’d originally severed inching its way across the stone floor. He closed his eyes, pressing his face against the cool metal of the door, and fought the dizzying nausea flooding him.
‘What was it?’ His voice emerged thick, as though he had a mouth stuffed with food. He swallowed, and felt the bile burn his throat.
‘Animated corpse.’ Her hair had pulled free of its bindings, and she tried to brush strands free from her face. They clung to her face instead, damp with sweat. ‘A trick some Rahmyrrim are fond of, but one only granted to the most powerful of them. Our adversary is very powerful.’
Though this seemed bad news to Lyram, eagerness filled her voice. What isn’t she telling me? 
‘Animated corpse,’ he said, voice dull. The sick feeling redoubled in strength. ‘Of course. Why didn’t I think of that? Can it be killed?’
‘Generally only with fire.’ She gave up on her hair, and passed the sword back to him. ‘Better to leave it locked up.’
He took the blade, grateful she’d managed to save it. The sword had significance for the entire clan. ‘Will there be more of them?’
A frown pinched her brow. ‘Maybe. This one was old – well, the corpse used was old. You saw it, with little flesh left. A practice piece, I would say. I wouldn’t want to see more of them within the walls. I suggest you instruct Leinahre to burn all our dead. ’
He saw the merit in the suggestion, but what would he tell the men? Burning the dead, instead of giving them a proper burial, would hit morale bad.  
        ‘And pray we see nothing worse.’

* * *

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’ve temporarily had to shelve it while I work on Stalking the Demon, the sequel to Confronting the Demon. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.

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!

Monday Morsel: X is for eXhumation – 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.

* * * 

‘None may pass here.’ The priestess folded her arms and blocked their way, though she was slight enough Lyram could have lifted her out of the way if necessary.
‘We have the permission of the abbess,’ Ellaeva said. ‘And you know we couldn’t have come down this way unless she allowed us passage past the altar.’
The silence stretched. Darkness concealed the features of the priestess inside her raised hood, but her gaze held a weight that made it clear she studied each of them in turn. Finally, she grudgingly reached for the door.
‘Do you hear something?’ He spoke without forethought, in response to something on the edge of hearing so subtle he couldn’t even place it.
Both women turned to regard him.
‘Like what?’ Ellaeva quirked an eyebrow.
‘I don’t quite know. It was so faint I couldn’t place it – a scratching, or a shuffling maybe? Perhaps I imagined it. I can’t hear it now.’
She held his gaze a moment, and then, shrugging, addressed the priestess. ‘Unlock the door.’
The priestess released the bolts, and Lyram seized the handles and hauled. The heavy door swung open, stiff hinges protesting the movement with a long drawn out groan that echoed off the stone walls and through the clinging darkness.
Ellaeva nodded her thanks to the doorkeeper. As the door yawned open, she stepped forward.
A skeletal hand, flesh hanging from the bones, grabbed her wrist and yanked her staggering into the darkness. 

* * *

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 any of my free short stories.

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.

This is an A to Z Blogging Challenge post. For more information about the challenge, check it out at A to Z Blogging. 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!