A Cheerful Smoke for the Dead
By Ron Leighton
Copyright © 2011 by Ron Leighton
The cover art original image Ladybirds Pagan Incense by Estruda (at deviantart.com) was used with permission.
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In the damp, dark cottage three doors from Gergenon’s lone brothel, Nathaiu struggled with the black-haired woman under him, desperate to get what he wanted. Her frantic exhales were visible in the faint light of the hearth, like the fear in her gray eyes. Did she not understand his need? As he gained control of her flailing limbs, and she settled a little, as if out of a fatalistic acceptance, he gripped her harder and pressed closer. He saw one eye fix on him and she trembled as she turned her face away, to escape in some small way, it seemed.