Hard at work on my in-the-works novel, “Ice Phoenix” and decided to share a wee bit. Enjoy!

 

 
Recalling why he was there, Lutvyk cleared his throat, but he couldn’t quite keep the disbelief out of his voice. “You’re Y’lys Rees? Guardsman J’Karr Rees’ sister?”

“Y-yes…” Her confidence rapidly diminishing, her lips trembled. “Why is it I don’t think you’re here to compliment my cooking?”

“What? I mean, no, I’m not.” Crossing the small room, he took her hand and placed the necklace in her palm. “I am sorry to inform you that your brother, Guardsman J’Karr Rees, was injured in the battle with the wyvern just outside the fortress. He wished this be brought back to you.”

Folding her fingers over the tethered coin, Y’lys put her hand over her mouth to stifle her sob. Lutvyk watched and waited. When bearing the news of a parent, child, or sibling’s death, he had been screamed at, cursed, slapped, spit on, even pummeled, as one woman had done, pounding his chest when he informed her of her son’s death.

“What happened?” She lifted her tear-streaked face to him, her voice trembling. “Please, tell me… How did he die?”

“He was bitten.”

Horror crept into Y’lys’ face. “Bitten…by a wyvern…”

“He did not die from the bite, Maiden Y’lys. I killed him. A quick and as easy a death as I could provide.” Again, Lutvyk waited. Minutes passed but she only stared at some distant spot on the stone floor. “Chancellor Nyx provides for several days mourning for those who’ve lost loved ones. Cook is already aware, so you may leave to return to your room or visit the temple…”

When she still didn’t answer, he bowed and started for the door.

“Thank you, captain.”

Lutvyk paused with his hand on the latch and looked over his shoulder to meet a pair of crystal blue eyes brimming with sadness.

“For what you did for my brother. It could not have been easy to kill one of your own men. Even if it was mercy.”

Unsure of what to say, especially to so truthful a remark, he bowed and left.

 

 
~ Excerpt from “Ice Phoenix”, copyright AJ Culpepper 2017
Artist Unknown

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