I commissioned this beautiful piece from the talented Elena Kononenko (@KononenkoElena) from the TRIALS OF EMPIRE; it's one of my favourite scenes in the novel:.
I reached the fortress in the middle of the morning. It was a blustery, sunny day, and the air was filled with the susurrus of rustling leaves as the pine forests of the Westmark of Guelich swayed in the wind. The last time I had passed by Badenburg, the Sixteenth Legion had turned the ground outside it into a stinking quagmire. Nature had long since reclaimed the damaged earth. Now there was a carpet of rough grass and flowers. The surrounding farmland, too, had been left uncultivated. The result was a place that felt truly wild.
I dismounted my horse and walked through the open gate, Heinrich by my side. I called out many times, but there was no one, or certainly no one who presented themselves to me, nor could Heinrich smell anybody. We spent perhaps an hour or two walking through the castle’s empty hallways and chambers, and then we took our lunch on the battlements, drinking in the view. Above, clouds scudded through the blue sky.
We finished our food and made to leave, when I stopped by the gate.
“There you are,” I said with a smile.
The Duke of Brondsey, our donkey, who we had left here several months before, was standing in the shade underneath the gatehouse. He hee-hawed, and I stroked his face.