short stories

Alas, Lirette

Kendra knew with every pulse of her blood what the people of Liadhe remembered best about Sharadon Brent: his steady eyes and pale hair and shining medals, hero of battles past…the scandal when he left Liadhe after a war to become a mercenary, wandering among foreign stars.Warmonger, they called him now, the man who loved bloodshed so deeply he abandoned his home in peacetime.

It was different for her. She remembered instead his strong hands drawing chord after chord, descant after shimmering descant, from his lute. An anachronism, that lute, requiring human hands to sing. Years ago Kendra had listened drowsily while Sharadon Brent tuned the seven strings, adjusted the frets, serenaded the night. His voice haunted her, too: as quiet in song as in speech, yet she had ached for it later, after they called him to the war against Veretys….

Sf: space adventure, published in F&SF Jan. 2001. Dedicated to Paul U. James Dunnigan’s nonfiction book Digital Soldiers provided inspiration for aspects of the technology, and my sister was of great help.

This made the honorable mention list in one of Gardner Dozois’ The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthologies. Thanks to Greg for pointing that out.