QSFer Sean Michael has a new fantasy book out:
Set in the sweeping Windbrothers’ world, where magic users and their sworn mates find each other through a process of trial and error, these stories, which take place long before the events in Desert, explore the different ways that ba’chi and hi’icha come together to become ki’ita. For every magic user, there is a grounding force to steady him, and neither half of the pair feels whole until he finds his destined lover.
Some mates discover each other with relative ease, while others have a harder time uniting with their designated partners, and the world they live in can be accepting, cruel, or even indifferent. From a shape-shifter with a secret to a pair of twins who think they’ll never find their lover, Sean Michael gives us a lot to love, just as it should be, in these stories sure to tug at your heart.
A Windbrothers Collection – First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2006.
BREN TRIED to melt into the side of the barn as he looked around nervously. He kept his head absolutely still, only his eyes shifting from side to side until he was convinced no one was nearby. Only then did he allow his head to move, making a more thorough sweep of the area.
The cabin was a good fifty yards away from the barn, one of the reasons they’d chosen this place to rob. That and the fact that it was the only place for leagues with anything worth taking. Achen had been almost trembling with excitement when he’d come back from scouting. Horses, goats, vegetables—all theirs for the taking.
The chimney was still; no fire burned in the hearth. The job was supposed to be a breeze, in and out and off they would be. Four horses would carry them all if the lightest of them doubled up.
Not to mention they hadn’t had meat in months.
Tucking his hands into his pockets and biting his lip against the urge to suddenly grow four legs and scurry away, Bren peeked around the corner of the barn, silently urging his companions to hurry up before they were caught.
He caught sight of a huge, bearlike man carrying a thin, dark-haired girl through the trees. The child’s laughter rang out, free and happy.
“Oh, Da! The flowers were so pretty! And the butterflies! And that little baby deer.”
“Fawn, baby girl. It’s called a fawn.”
The pair was heading directly for the cabin, directly for the animals, directly for them.
He swallowed, trying to find breath to call out and warn those inside the barn. His eyes shifted from the bearded man and his girl to the barn and back again.
Finally he found his voice. “Achen. Someone’s coming.” He hissed the words as loud as he dared.
The man entered the clearing and, as the sun lit upon his nut-brown skin and turned his braid to bronze, his nostrils flared as if he smelled something, sensed something off. He put the child down slowly, keeping her close to his side. Squinting for a moment, he suddenly frowned and began to lumber toward the barn, pulling a heavy axe from his belt.
Oh, goddess, they were in for it now. No longer caring about being heard, Bren banged against the barn door. “Get out, get out!”
The wide barn doors shot open, sending him onto his backside as a horse came barreling out, carrying Achen and Sern. Behind them ran Danid and Sulli, each with a bleating goat in their arms. Zindel brought up the rear, burlap bag over his back, long legs quickly overtaking the other two.
“Da!” The young child’s scream was piercing, startling the animals.
“Rian, get back!” The huge man rushed forward, brandishing his axe and roaring. “Thieves! I’ll split you all in half!”
“Achen!” Bren shouted as he tried to scramble to his feet, calling for the leader of their ragamuffin group to turn the horse and help him. But the horse kept moving, far ahead of the boys running after it, all leaving him to scramble as best he could out of the way of the big man heading toward him.
He wasn’t sure which frightened him most, the man himself or the axe that glinted in his hand, but never in all of his eighteen summers had he been as scared as he was now.
A huge hand snatched him up by the scruff of the neck before he even managed two steps. Bren found himself shaken roughly, feeling much like a rat captured by a large dog. “What’re you up to? Do you know how hard we worked for that mount? This is my home, you little bastard!”
He shot a longing look down the road, but his “friends” were gone, obviously leaving him to take the heat for the theft. He let his eyes drop closed, hunching in the solid grip, hoping this was a man who believed in clean kills, waiting for the axe to fall.
“Da! Don’t hurt him! Don’t, Da!” A soft, devastated voice came from close by, the girl’s breath hitching in her chest. “Please don’t chop him up, Da.”
“Rian, I want you to go into the cabin.” Fury and outrage bled from the deep growling voice. “Go, child.”
“But what if there’s bad men in the house, Da?” asked the girl, who couldn’t have seen more than six summers.
Bren found himself slammed hard against the barn, stars swimming behind his eyelids.
Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.
Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.