Date Published: 22 April 2017
Publisher: Evolved publishing
All the Left Hand of Death wants is something to call her own, but is the price too high?
Ellaeva, the fated avatar of the death goddess, is desperate to track down her missing family but the trail is decades old. Instead, she discovers her battered and bloodied sister priestesses driven across the Jerreki border on pain of death. Ellaeva must turn aside from her personal quest to investigate the murders, only to find her parents have been taken into the heart of the conflict.
Lyram Aharris, favoured son of the royal line of Ahlleyn, is the only living person she trusts to help her infiltrate the enemy stronghold and uproot the horror they find there, but their chequered past threatens the mission. Accompanying him is his crown prince, the one man Lyram wants dead above all others.
Now Ellaeva must face down the darkness in her soul before a dark god is brought into the world.
At the boundary of life and death, all oaths will be tested.
A Battle Priestess of the death goddess isn’t supposed to have friends, family or lovers, and Ellaeva was learning first-hand why not.
Blood ran over the ravine’s stone floor, flooding the tiny stream and distorting the dark reflection of the forest canopy. She skidded down the rocky slope, shale slipping beneath her feet and almost sending her tumbling head over heels. Rocks bounced and clattered down around her.
She followed the tinkling, blood-red stream into a grove of trees. The wind whispered through the leaves, murmuring sweet nothings, and the air was thick with damp and mould.
In the dark heart of the grove a woman lay face down on the bank, her lower body in the water. Three arrows jutted from her back.
Another one. Please, Ahura, why can’t you have mercy on your priestesses? But as had been the case for six months, the goddess did not answer her.
For two weeks now, priestesses of Ahura, the goddess of death, truth and justice, had been fleeing across the border from Jerrek into Velena, most of them wounded. All had haunted eyes in frightened faces, and every last one of them had lost someone, or seen another woman slaughtered out of hand. Many, like this one, had fled across the border at random points, afraid to pass through the official border crossing.
The woman inhaled with a harsh, rattling sound, and Ellaeva flung herself to her knees beside her. She thrust one hand hard against the wound below the woman’s collarbone to try to staunch the bleeding. Sticky redness slicked her hands to the wrist. She tore two lengths of cloth from the bottom of her robe with sharp jerks, and pressed them against the woman’s back.
Holding the crudely wadded bandages
in place, she tried to the roll the woman over. The stream water had soaked the priestess’s robes, and in the end Ellaeva bunched fistfuls of cloth in her hands and hauled the woman on to her side. Cold water splashed up, dampening her own robes and chilling her skin.
At sight of the woman’s tattooed face, Ellaeva’s breath caught. Oriella.
She’d last seen her friend two weeks ago, when the border guard’s spear had slammed to the ground between them, blocking Ellaeva’s path.
Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic. Her debut work is Confronting the Demon, and In the Company of the Dead is her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world.
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