Excerpt – The Nightward

Here’s an excerpt from my new work in progress. It’s a fantasy set in a world in which women are the stronger sex (they have ‘real’ magic), and modeled on a mish-mash of African, Caribbean and Indian culture. Just so you know I haven’t been lying when I said I was writing these days!

Finally, the Lady said in a hoarse voice, “Do I live?”

“For a while yet.” Frances leaned back in her chair, her hands in her lap. Gretchen turned her head toward her.

“Did my mother send you?”

“Alain begged the favour, not your mother.”

“Alain?” A frown creased Gretchen’s forehead. “Why?”

“Perhaps they trust me. Perhaps they wish to ensure you are treated well.” She dipped the cloth in the vapour water, wrung it out, and laid it on Gretchen’s forehead. Then she took another cloth and began cleaning the smudges from the Lady’s arms. “More likely they think me too old to fight and, therefore, slave to their every whim.”

“Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Slave to their whims.”

The Dowager Mother’s hands touched a bruise on her shoulder and Gretchen expelled a pained breath. Frances retrieved a pot of salve from the floor before meeting Gretchen’s gaze.

“I was Queen of Kadoomun for many years. I may be Dowager Mother now, but a Queen keeps her own counsel. She is slave only to her conscience.”

Gretchen’s laugh was short and mirthless. “Conscience. Is a Queen even allowed such a thing?”

“The best Queens have one. But a Queendom cannot always be ruled by it.”

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