Time for a Tuesday Teaser! It’s a little like Christmas here today. All anticipation while I’m waiting for the delivery man to pull up outside the house and bring the new laptop. 🙂 My 10-year-old Dell has worked its socks off over the last few days to keep me going and my husband kindly lent me his laptop over the weekend so I could write.
And writing has definitely been the name of the game! The plot bunny who accosted me on Thursday morning has gone on the rampage and isn’t taking no for an answer. The second Serrai & Madan story, titled Shadow Realm, is already longer than Sword Oath! And because giving in gracefully is sometimes the best thing, I’ve just commissioned a cover for Shadow Realm…
This story clearly wants to be told. And I’m having fun, so I won’t argue.
In the Shadow Realm, Serrai and Madan are pretty unique. Most humans who choose to spend eternity as Shades do so because they want a second chance at taking revenge. And many don’t consider how long eternity actually is. What do you do with yourself once you’ve taken your revenge? Or when you’ve failed to do so for the second time? Grace, the youngest of the Fates, explains all under the image…
From Shadow Realm
Serrai took a skewer of spicy lamb from the platter in the centre of the table and set it on Madan’s plate. Then he took a second one for himself. “Tell us the rest,” he requested. “What made those Shades lose their minds? What turned them into predators?”
He started to eat, pretending that Grace wasn’t glaring at him from the other side of the table. As rulers of the Shadow Realm, the Fates expected to be obeyed, not questioned. They certainly didn’t expect to be told what to do. But Serrai hadn’t been idle the last three years. He knew that the Fates held dominion over the souls that passed through the Shadow Realm on the way to their next life. Those who chose to spend the rest of eternity as a Shade stepped outside that rule. When the Fates needed their help, they didn’t order. They asked.
Grace knew it, too. She pulled the dish of sweetmeats closer and sighed. “Most Shades are oath breakers. Some bargain for a chance to redeem their failure. The majority bargain for a chance to take their revenge on the souls of those they failed to kill in the human world.”
“And that is… permissible?”
“It is, though it is not easily done. Finding one specific soul in the unceasing stream that enters the Shadow Realm each day needs… determination. The need for revenge fades over years of watching their targets live their lives. Often, when the chance for revenge arrives, the Shades fail to take it.”
“And when they’ve failed to take their revenge a second time they go mad?”
“Some, yes. Others fulfil their oaths and take their revenge, but then find that they’re left with an eternity of nothing ahead of them. No purpose, no task, nothing than watching humans they don’t know live out lives they don’t care about.”
A bleak existence stretching into eternity. Serrai caught Madan’s gaze on him, returned it with all the conviction he had. This would never be their fate.
Grace, it seemed, read their silent exchange. “Your choice is your protection,” she said, sounding more soothing than she ever had before. “You sacrificed your lives for each other, chose to become Shades to be together. You have no unfinished task that ties you to the human world. And you safeguard each other here. At least for as long as you’re together.”
“Now, why doesn’t that sound as reassuring as it should?” Madan muttered.
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.
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