Excerpt from my novel (in progress) ~ ~ ~ a ‘darker’ scene

This is a darker mood scene:

"The Exhumation"
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Greyn looked down upon his heartmate's cairn. What he was about to do made him retch. The slabs of stone at the head of Lynka's ossuary stood like a frozen sentinel, marking her resting place and casting a long, triangular shadow along the pale pink ice of morning. He forced a deep breath of cold air into his lungs. The icefield ahead of him was barren all the way to the distant mountains. The mound of boulders that covered her body was undisturbed, the rocks still stacked where they had been placed long ago. Yet it had compressed over time, sinking into the ice, flatter each time he visited. Now, it looked like a crouching wolf, almost predatory, guarding its fresh-killed meal. For the last five years Lynka's body had lain here being silently ingested by the unrelenting ice.

Greyn sighed. How quickly the ice claims us when we can no longer fight.

He bent, removed a heavy stone, and placed it gently on the ice beside the cairn. It was absurd that he was discarding the very things that were put there to protect her from the wolves. Yet it was not the wolves who disturbed her rest, but her own heartmate.

He stood back. How could he do this? What would Lynka think? Could she forgive him this indignity? Before coming out here he'd gone over and over this in his mind. If his suspicion was correct, Lynka would want him to know. So, yes, she could forgive him.

Turning to the task, he grasped each stone, lifted it, and placed it beside the previous one in a neat line out along the ice. He would make sure every one was replaced in the same order afterward.

When half the cairn was removed, he rested, staring out across the icefield. The day they had brought her here Lynka's belly bulged under the fur shroud, still large with their unborn child. It had been a strange day. Two Harrudin guards had stayed right through the prayer vigil. Since when had a Harrudin attended a Laskyn burial? They'd even insisted on lowering her body into the shallow hole themselves, threatening Greyn with their macans when he'd protested. They'd laid the first stones, then directed the Laskyns to lay the rest, standing there watching like raver-birds, not leaving until Lynka's cairn was complete. Greyn exhaled a snort of contempt. They'd even pretended to pray for her.

He'd never suspected back then, the possibility that he was about to confirm. It had been unthinkable.

Working on, he removed the stones one by one until he was able to climb down into the oval to reach the last ones that lay directly on top of Lynka's body. Kneeling beside her, he placed a hand upon the stone that rested above her head. A vision of her skull, white and dry underneath it, sent a cold chill through his body. His hand jerked back. That one, he would not remove.

Leaning over, he began lifting the remaining stones from Lynka's body. He pressed his lips together, preparing for the sight of the tiny skeleton that was about to be exposed to the air for the first time. His chest ached. It was almost like a birth.

Lynka, forgive me for what I do.

He lifted the last stone.

All he could see were desiccated remains of the shroud over her belly. He touched the fur. It was stiff and crispy. He lifted a flap of it. It cracked into pieces. Small bits of dry leather fell away through his fingers. He reached down, brushed away the remaining covering, and gasped.

... Sorry, no spoilers!

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(If you're inspired to do any fan art of this scene, I'd be glad to post your pictures here.)

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