This is an excerpt from my novel, Resistance, out now from Inkstained Succubus Press! You can purchase Resistance here directly from Inkstained Succubus (support small presses!).
The second she turned the corner, Shandolin saw the silhouette of a man with a missing leg hanging from the eaves of the bar. She broke into a run. A string of denials rang through her mind: no, no, no, no. As she got closer to Madan’s body, the denials grew desperate, grew louder, until they fell out of her mouth. “No, no, no!” But Shandolin’s shouts were no use; it was he, and he was dead.
Madan hung by the neck from the metal beam of the Cardinal’s Nest’s sign. His feet were a tantalizing, horrible two inches above the ground. There was no breeze that morning in the City of Mages, but his body revolved in slow, tight circles anyway.
Shandolin stepped into a pool of congealed blood and tugged at her friend’s body. “No, fuck, no.” Her eyes blurred with tears, and it wasn’t until she felt the bloody stump of his left arm that she realized the damage his killers had done to his body. She leaped back; her earlier shouts ricocheted off the walls of the neighboring buildings.
Shandolin, Doe to her friends, took a second to compose herself. She drew in a deep breath and dropped her eyes to her now-bloody footprints. She choked back a sob and forced herself to look back again at the body of Madan. His face was frozen forevermore in pain. Both of his long-fingered elvish hands and both of his pointed elvish ears were missing. She saw scrawled across the door of Madan’s bar a message painted in tall, black Qin letters: Flout not the Emperor’s grace!
Shandolin—a refugee elf born in the Tahrqin-ruled City of Mages—had survived as long as she had because she possessed an inordinate amount of common sense. The City was diverse, yes, but the humans, the elves and the satyrs all lived under the thumb of the Imperial Qin. She whispered an apology to her friend’s body, and then she ran.