While there are a lot of good things about living in Australia, one that sucks is that everything happens while you’re sleeping. We snore our way through Brexit, sleep peacefully while Trump fires his latest member of staff and wake up just in time to check the world hasn’t ended yet.

This morning I woke to discover I had won Mark Lawrence’s Battle of the Bards flash fiction competition! In my sleep no less!

My story? Between Lanterns and Corpses, about two generals on a battlefield. I’ve had quite a few people ask about the outcome, and the answer is actually in The Grave at Storm’s End, the third book in The Vengeance Trilogy. So without further ado, here it is!

 

 

I watched from the window as Shimai burned. The day I was elevated to Minister of the Left, Kin had invited me to stand here beside him, not an equal, but not a servant, the space in-between the treacherous ground we would tread in the years to come.

But I had knelt at his feet and kissed the hand of a liar.

Beside me now Malice stood with his hands clasped behind his back, reading the scrolls that lined the walls. ‘“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it”,’ he said. ‘That isn’t particularly apt for the situation, yes?’

‘Shut up, Spider,’ Katashi snapped, the tap of his sandals across the floor like a chorus of snapping beetles. ‘This is insane. I am winning, Laroth. I could have taken the bridge by now.’

‘You will take the bridge soon enough,’ I said, not turning my gaze from the window. It was starting to drizzle.

‘What general in history ever called a truce to play a game of Errant with his enemy?’

‘General Mikuzo, in the ninth century. He lost the game but went on to win the battle, I believe.’

He stopped pacing, and reflected in the glass I saw fire flare on his fingers. ‘Just give me Hana and be done with this stupidity. She is mine.’

I turned. ‘Stupidity?’

‘Stupidity!’

‘Your opinion of my skill at Errant is not high, it would seem,’ I said. ‘Tell me, what would hurt Kin more? Losing Hana to you without having the chance to save her, or having the chance to fight for her and failing?’

‘“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others”,’ Malice said. ‘Now that one seems much more appropriate, yes?’

Ignoring Malice, Katashi said: ‘I don’t care what hurts him more I just want him dead. I want my throne and I want Hana.’

‘You will get her when I say you can have her.’

So there you go! There’s a whole story in there as yet untold, but the outcome is an easily missed detail in another story because that’s how my brain works.

Many thanks again to the judges and to Mark Lawrence for hosting the competition and best of all, I get signed books from two of the judges – Sebastien de Castell and Nicholas Eames  *squeeeeee*