Friday 10 December 2021

The December Story Song: Today's Guest Writer is...Marian L. Thorpe

we are a little different this year:
some contributions are exclusive stories, others are excerpts
 from the authors' novels,
but all have our traditional format of...

Read the Story - Guess the Song

Here's a clue to the song title

(+ girl's name...)

In this excerpt from Empire’s Heir, the narrator Cillian has made a difficult choice: to leave behind the school where he has taught for seventeen years to support his daughter as she moves into a new role. The school – the Ti’ach – has been home to him and the other three adults – Lena, Druisius and Sorley. In this scene, they are in Casil, a city which bears a very strong resemblance to Rome.

Sorley, the other character in this scene, is a musician, head of the equivalent of the council of bards. 
(I have made tiny adjustments to avoid spoilers for the book.)

The Sentries of the Heart

I MADE MY WAY OUT ONTO THE BALCONY. One of the guards outside Gwenna’s room turned, saw me, nodded. Overhead, stars glittered. 
I leant on my cane, looking up at the unchanging stars. They had hung over this city since its founding; watched it rise from a village, the buildings and walls of brick appearing, and then the temples and columns and the palace of marble and splendour. They would watch over it still when its grandeur had crumbled to dust.

Soft footsteps approached. Sorley. He stood beside me. “What are you thinking?” he asked.
“Of impermanence.” His hand touched mine. I allowed it for a moment, but the guards were too close. 
“Will you walk with me?” I asked. “I would like to look out at the city.”
We made our way along the corridor, the torches lighting our way, and out onto the open space that overlooked the forum. Fire flickered in some of the temples, and a few people moved between them: priests, servants, thieves. 
Sorley kept a hand on my back: a friend supporting an infirm man, nothing more. I looked out at the hills beyond, at the glow of distant lamps in windows, the barest outline of buildings revealed by moonlight. From somewhere, the sound of a cithar drifted up to us.
“Mestrius—he wrote the lives of illustrious men, both of Casil and before—tells of a ruler who conquered a great city to the east,” I said. “The night before it was lost to him, he heard, in the early hours, a procession of musicians, of voices and instruments.”
“The god who had protected him, departing. I remember Perras reading that.” His hand moved on my back. “Your god has not left you, mo gràhadh.”
“Perhaps not,” I said. “But Casil is lost to me. I will not come back, Sorley. I am too old to make the journey again.” 
I heard footsteps below us, and the notes of the cithar. A bat swooped, and another. “You never went to the libraries,” Sorley said. 

“No.” A breeze caught at my hair; cold, carrying the bite of autumn. “Gwenna wants me to stay at Wall’s End as her advisor.”
“Will you?”
“How do I say no? I have had seventeen years as Comiádh. It is time I remembered my other commitments.”
He took a breath. “What does Lena say?”
“That it suits her. It is where she would have gone when we returned, regardless.”
“Druise will insist on guarding Gwenna.”
“Yes.” I turned, resting a hand on his arm. “The Ti’ach is not far for a good horseman, Sorley.” Another bat swept by, its high chittering faintly audible.
“Earlier,” he said, “when I went to see the Empress, Alekos was there too. He asked me if I would ensure Bjørn knew of his request; he was concerned his men would not reach the north before the river froze. 
“I told him I would: I would ride to the trading port and seek word of him, and if necessary I would go further. I will be gone for some weeks, once we reach home.”
“And then?”
“Then I will go to Dun Ceànnar and ask Ruar to make me Linrathe’s envoy to Ésparias again. I am sure the Principe can be persuaded to write to him with the same request.” 
“Your appointment to the Ti’ach is for life,” I reminded him, controlling the rising hope. 
“I am the head of the council. Rules can be changed. And Ésparias needs music taught in its schools.” 
I offered my arms, not trusting myself now to speak. He stepped into them, his head against my shoulder. My hand found the nape of his neck, holding him close, his hands tight on my back. I looked over his shoulder at the city beyond. The sacrifice to be made, the god taking his due. I had made my choice long before. 

A cloud obscured the moon. The city faded. A light flickered, rose, died. One note sounded, and another, before the music ceased.

Song:   Alexandra Leaving.
by: Leonard Cohen/Sharon Robinson

this song is based on C.F. Cavafy’s poem The God Abandons Antony

read our reviews
Empire's Daughter  Empire's Hostage 
Empire's Exile  Empire's Reckoning  
Empire's Heir

Empire’s Heir, Book VI of Empire’s Legacy, by Marian L Thorpe

Some games are played for mortal stakes.

Gwenna, heir to Ésparias, is summoned by the Empress of Casil to compete for the hand of her son. Offered power and influence far beyond what her own small land can give her, Gwenna’s strategy seems clear – except she loves someone else.

Nineteen years earlier, the Empress outplayed Cillian in diplomacy and intrigue. Alone, his only living daughter has little chance to counter the Empress's experience and skill. Aging and torn by grief and worry, Cillian insists on accompanying Gwenna to Casil.

Risking a charge of treason, faced with a choice he does not want to make, Cillian must convince Gwenna her future is more important than his – while Gwenna plans her moves to keep her father safe. Both are playing a dangerous game. Which one will concede – or sacrifice?

Also available on Kindle Unlimited

About the author

Essays, poetry, short stories, peer-reviewed scientific papers, curriculum documents, technical guides, grant applications, press releases – if it has words, it’s likely Marian L Thorpe has written it, somewhere along the line. But nothing has given her more satisfaction than her novels. Combining her love of landscape and history, set in a world reminiscent of Europe after the decline of Rome, her books arise from a lifetime of reading and walking and wondering ‘what if?’ Pre-pandemic, Marian divided her time between Canada and the UK, and hopes she may again, but until then, she resides in a small, very bookish, city in Canada, with her husband Brian and Pye-Cat.

"We're all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? " - The Eleventh Doctor

images via: Pixabay unless otherwise stated
Note: it is illegal to copy lyrics but there is no © for ideas!

our stories or excerpts to enjoy

1st Deborah Swift  an excerpt from Pleasing Mr Pepys
2nd Graham BrackThe Clock Struck One
3rd Cindy VallarRumble the Dragon
4th Barbara Gaskell DenvilThe Great Forest
5th Nicky GalliersTwo Stories
6th Annie Whiteheadexcerpt from To Be A Queen
7th Judith Arnopp - an excerpt from The Winchester Goose
8th Paul Marriner - First Love
9th Loretta LivingstoneLabour of Love
10th Marian L. Thorpeexcerpt from Empire’s Heir
11th J G Harlond - excerpt from A Turning Wind
12th Amy Maroney - excerpt from Island of Gold
13th Richard Tearle - excerpt from the North Finchley Writer's Group
14th Inge H BorgExcerpt from After the Cataclysm
16th Clare FlynnExcerpt from The Green Ribbons 
17th Anna BelfrageA Light So Bright
18th Elizabeth St Johnexcerpt from Written in Their Stars
19th Nicky GalliersDuty
20th Erica Lainé La Belle Russe
21st Anna Belfrage  - Excerpt from A Rip In The Veil
22nd Kathryn Gauci - Excerpt from The Poseidon Network
23rd Cryssa Bazos - Excerpt from Rebel's Knot
24th Debbie Young The Secret Ministry Of Frost

* * * 
you might also enjoy books by Helen Hollick
or direct to an Amazon near you

* King Arthur Trilogy
* the events that led to the Battle Of Hastings 1066
(includes US The Forever Queen USA Today Bestseller)
* the Sea Witch Nautical adventure series
* Cosy Mysteries

* Pirates
* Smugglers


  1. Wonderful as ever. I love this scene - even more so because having read all the books I feel I know the character so well now! I didn't guess the song but I've not come across it before.

  2. Thanks, Annie. The song was new to me, too - but as soon as I listened to it, after a writer I honor greatly commented on it on Twitter, I knew it fit into the story, and exactly how.

  3. Loved this excerpt. I didn't get the song but I'd not heard it before. I will have to look up your books.

  4. Hard song to illustrate for a clue this one ... I love the challenge though!
    (love the story and the books!)

  5. Thanks, Helen. I thought you did a great job with the illustrations!


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