Part 23 of Lady of Shadows is up.
This was not going as I had planned.
“As you did not arrive with an army, might I assume you are not here to arrest my nephew?” Lord Talib’s voice was so soft as to be almost a whisper. His pale eyes seemed to look past me, and I wondered if perhaps he were blind.
Part 22 of Lady of Shadows is up.
Floating indolently in a steamy haze had resolved nothing. My shoulder still ached as I clambered out. So did my heart. I drew a little magic to quickly dry myself, wincing as the beads of moisture flashed into steam as though my skin were hot stone, then padded back to my quarters. I dressed quickly, in the charcoal-grey sampot, crown and collar. My makeshift leather ‘armour’ would serve for the journey, but was not appropriate attire for visiting the manor of a noble house.
Part 21 of Lady of Shadows is up.
The Temple’s baths were a late addition to the building, when the number of templar-wives in the Naggaramakam grew too large to be accommodated in the main bath-house near the eastern wall.
Part 20 of Lady of Shadows is up.
I do not remember leaving the palace. For all I know, my lord and husband might have teleported me through the Grey – he has done that before when he wanted something done quickly. More likely, my mind was simply too preoccupied to take notice of the route my legs took through those shadowy halls.
Part 19 of Lady of Shadows is up
My lord and husband's private chambers, deep inside his stone palace, are windowless. No torches line the walls. The Shadow King himself needs no light to see by, and many of his magical experiments require total darkness. Even the most favoured of his wives are not permitted to bring their own illumination into these halls.
The stone halls of the palace of the Shadow King are never truly silent, filled with the endless susurration of whispered voices even in the dead of night. The carved templars lining its twisting, labyrinthine corridors in high relief seem trapped in an endless dance, stone limbs writhing in tranced ecstasies as the flickering torchlight plays upon them. One is left with the disturbing impression that these stone women are the source of the endlessly echoing murmurs, the true living inhabitants of the palace. When I first came to the Naggaramakam, a confused and wistful child plucked from my dying mother’s mud-brick hovel to become yet another bride of the Shadow King, I wondered for a time whether those stone women waited only for us flesh-and-blood women to leave or to die, so that they might live and serve our Lord and Husband in our place.
The ancient road to the Mekillot Gate is straight and wide enough for three argosies to pass side by side with room to spare. The paving slabs, each some four yards across, are irregularly shaped, yet fit together so closely you could not slide even a hair between them. Even after countless millennia of heavy traffic, the wagon ruts that mar their dark blue-grey surface are at most a quarter-inch deep. Like the fort and causeway in Bremil Pass, the Caravan Road was built to last out the ages.
The wind picked up again near dawn, a powerful yet steady easterly that filled the silt skimmer’s wyrmsilk sail easily, and the crimson sun had barely cleared the horizon at our backs when we reached the edge of the first Nibenese noble holding. The eastern sky was a lurid green, as often happens around dawn when there have been dust-storms in the distant Sea of Silt. Gazing out in that direction, I could just make out – with my soul’s eye if not my mortal senses – the distant spike of power that was the Pristine Tower.
"Enamdis was already past us, kneeling in the soft, dark moss beside Mei’s sprawled form."
"Bayl went ahead of us, the soft lavender glow of the chunk of quartz I’d enchanted spilling out from between the fingers of his upraised left hand. His feet made almost no sound as they compressed the soft, rich loam. His broad back slid to one side, then the other, casting long, monstrous shadows as he ducked and danced around branches strung with rope-like vines and bearded moss."