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.”
“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.”
“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, 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?
Buy Link: https://relinks.me/B096MY4LRC
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 Brack - The Clock Struck One
3rd Cindy Vallar - Rumble the Dragon
4th Barbara Gaskell Denvil - The Great Forest
5th Nicky Galliers - Two Stories
6th Annie Whitehead - excerpt from To Be A Queen
7th Judith Arnopp - an excerpt from The Winchester Goose
8th Paul Marriner - First Love
9th Loretta Livingstone - Labour of Love
10th Marian L. Thorpe - excerpt 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 Borg - Excerpt from After the Cataclysm
15th Juhi Ray - the movie Jodha Akbar
16th Clare Flynn - Excerpt from The Green Ribbons
17th Anna Belfrage - A Light So Bright
18th Elizabeth St John - excerpt from Written in Their Stars
19th Nicky Galliers - Duty
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
* * *
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* the Sea Witch Nautical adventure series
* Cosy Mysteries