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.
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