This character does not cooperate. Let’s kill him.
I imagine that most writers have said that at some point in their careers. I had such a point this afternoon, but…. killing Serrai just isn’t an option. Yet. If he keeps throwing spanners into my careful works, I might be persuaded to change my mind. But that would upset Madan, who is doing his bit to keep me sane, so I’m finishing his part of the story first.
And to cheer me up while I wrangle annoying Shades and mental torture, let’s have a cover reveal in place of the usual Tuesday Teaser, because….
The cover for Shadow Realm is ready!
I have to say I’m rather partial to it, and not just because I love all things purple. Emma Griffin, who did the design, has found a perfectly wicked blade for me that I imagine will do some serious damage in the right hands.
Because Shades can’t really be killed with an ordinary blade. Or an arrow. Or poison. Or even a hammer. And killing (some) Shades becomes rather necessary when the Shadow Realm is at war.
I can’t imagine that Madan and Serrai had expected any of what they’ve landed in, but – as you’ll see if you keep reading – they’re doing the best with what they have.
From Shadow Realm
His lover materialised beside him, cloak sodden, hair dripping water, and boots streaked with mud. Madan saw the thin lines of strain around the pale green eyes and immediately looked for damage. None was visible, nor did Serrai move with anything less than his usual grace. And the silver knife was missing from his belt.
“You got him?”
“Yes.” Serrai leaned against him for a moment, for comfort as much as strength. “He was one tough bastard to kill,” he admitted in the end.
“But he’s dead?”
“Utterly. You should have seen the souls. Like being caught in a gale of crows.” He shuddered. “Worst one yet.”
Madan pulled him close. They’d grown up as warriors, had lived as king and general. Neither had expected to spend the afterlife as assassins. But the Fates faced troubles of their own, and they’d not waited long before pushing Serrai and Madan right into the middle of those.
“The sun’s almost down and we didn’t bring an arsenal. Let’s head back.” Madan spoke gently. Serrai felt loose and heavy in his arms, as if he’d expended much of his strength dealing with Horasus. The Carolisian warrior had been a huge hulk of a man. Hundreds of years old. Immensely strong. As deadly with a blade as any Carolisians they’d encountered while alive. And utterly, irredeemably mad. He and Serrai were snot-nosed boys compared to the Shades Grace had called the Old Ones. So far, they’d come out on top, and with a touch of luck, this might have been their last assignment.
“Arteje?” Serrai asked as he dragged himself back into the saddle.
“Dead. He was waiting for me.” The Tirian hadn’t put up much of a fight, as if his death was a foregone conclusion. And the look in his eyes? Madan never wanted to see such blank despair again. “He looked at me as if I was doing him a favour.”
If you’ve only just found me, please note that Shadow Realm is the sequel to my just-released fantasy short read, Sword Oath. And if you haven’t read Sword Oath yet, here’s what Serrai and Madan’s story is all about:
I’ll die for you, or with you.
When Madan swore a sword oath to Serrai he was eight years old. He kept his promise while they grew to manhood and took their respective positions as king and general, even when it seemed that he was the only one fated to love, deeply and devotedly.
Serrai never declared his feelings, but his love for Madan was just as fierce. And quietly, in his heart, he swore his own sword oath: to die with Madan.
Until a battlefield death leaves both oaths broken, and two men fighting for a future that doesn’t see them forever parted.
An m/m fantasy short story proving that love can win an argument with fate. Or the Fates, even.
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