Song and silence » Song and Silence is the first part in a three book series called Sword and Blood. This is the prologue.

Prologue »

Light filtered in between the trees, streaming in the open window. Talon Tannerson threw an arm over his face, dark red brows furrowing at the sudden intrusion of light. He remained like that for a few moments, chasing the last lingering bits of sleep before giving up entirely. He rolled over, hand reaching out across the bed, seeking the warm soft body he'd been curled against. He found emptiness.

He awoke fully then, dark blue eyes still slightly unfocused, to find Lyissa sitting at her vanity, slowly brushing her long white-blonde hair, as if counting each stroke. Talon slid out of bed, his own hair tousled, rubbing sleep from his eyes. As every other morning, he slid up behind her, and pressed a kiss to the crown of her shining hair. This morning, however, Lyissa stiffened slightly, shying away to continue brushing her hair.

Talon's eyes narrowed. He watched as, with quick nimble fingers, she braided sections of her hair, tying it back behind her pointed ears. Only then did she turn to face him, the expression in her dramatically slanted grey eyes almost carefully blank. "Quelle re'n," Talon offered, the first trace of uncertainty in his voice.

"Good morning," she replied, in Common, and Talon's heart sank a bit. They always spoke Elvish when they were alone together, ever since she'd offered to teach him the language. And she did not return his kiss when she stood, instead swishing past him to her wardrobe.

He watched her walk, as always, mesmerized by the grace of the elves, a grace different from that of humans. Lyissa Liaganodoel was, in a word, beautiful. She commanded attention, but her looks were not all. She had a sharp wit and quick mind that Talon often forgot held so many thoughts deep below the surface.

Talon had his own merit. He was a bard, well-traveled, and becoming quite well-known; his stunning looks and presence added to his natural talent, making him renowned in many towns. It was not uncommon for him to enter a new town and be recognized by looks alone. His striking coloring, eyes the color of midnight, hair like a pool of red wine, skin pale as new milk, were unforgettable. Women practically threw themselves at him - he had never been short of lovers, but since meeting Lyissa, an elf whose beauty rivaled his own, he'd been faithful.

She, however, had not.

Talon watched her still, feeling her drawing away. He came up beside her, voice soft, and asked, "Mani nata'e?" Then he repeated in Common, "What is it?"

"Nothing," she replied, still gazing out of the window.

"Lyissa, you are keeping something from me."

"Talon..." She turned then, eyes still blank. "I am leaving you."

Silence was Talon's reply. Then, with a minimal narrowing of blue-black eyes, he asked, voice low, "What?"

"You heard me. This relationship is over. You and I are finished. I am returning to my home today, and you are not coming with me." Her voice was calm, betraying nothing. Cold, unfeeling.

Talon withdrew his hands. Who was this before him? Certainly not the same woman he'd been laughing with, talking to, lying beside for months. "After all this time, with no warning, you are tossing me aside?"

She said nothing in reply.

Talon swore. "Wethr'naer, what are you not telling me?" And then he let out a cold laugh. "Ah, there's someone else." His mouth turned cruel, bitter, deepening in the corners, and making his eyes seem hard. "You lying whore. I was faithful all this time and you could not do the same. Did you never mean it when you said over and over again Ain mel'ye?"

Lyissa turned there, ice gilding her eyes. "Do not throw that at me. You never loved me either. We were convenient. You know that. We were drawn to each other's beauty, but there was never any love."

Talon didn't argue. It was truth, one of the few truths they'd ever spoken to each other. "Then not only I but you also had no right to say it." He turned away from her, moving to the bedside for his belongings. Only when he was at the door did he turn back, his eyes so cold and dark, Lyissa shrank back. The expression in them was something she had never seen, not in Talon's eyes. And she did not know she would see that same look again one day, from the same eyes, but yet another face. When Talon spoke, it was with a voice so tightly neutral, it sent shivers down her spine. "I hope that one day someone deals you the same hand you've dealt others. I hope I never see you again. Mavariem, Lyissa Moonwhisper. May you one day wish for mercy no one will grant you, and forever rot in the deepest depths of the Abyss." Jaw tight, Talon pulled the door closed behind him, wishing he had the power to make his curse true.