QSFer Amir Lane has a new Gay Urban Fantasy out in the Barrier Witch series: “Gift of Ashes.”
Death is no escape from the grasp of a malevolent necromancer.
Five hundred years ago, Angelo was burned at the stake and reborn as a phoenix. That’s when his true suffering began. For more than a century, he has born the brand of necromancer Rutherford Bromley. Bound by magical ties even death can’t escape, Angelo is a slave to the mad man’s vile whims. It falls to him to find victims Bromley can harvest organs from. If he fails, he pays with his own flesh.
Curse worker Wes is the first person to recognize the necromancer’s brand for what it is. Desperate to be free, Angelo eagerly partners with Wes in search of a spell that will kill Bromley once and for all.
But Bromley anticipates their attack, and Angelo’s chance at escape goes up in flames. Left smoldering in his hatred, Angelo now seeks more than freedom.
He longs for fiery revenge and vows to claim it, no matter the cost.
Note: This book is set during Barrier Witch books 1 and may contain spoilers.
Angelo generally considered himself to be a morning person but mornings after organ hunting for Bromley always came too soon. The easiest way to make the throb in his skull go away was with another drink. His liver could handle it. And if it couldn’t, it would fail, and he would die and come back with a shiny new one.
He let himself drop out of bed, forgetting how far and how hard the floor was until it slammed into his side. The low groan that left him sounded like it came from a dying whale. It was a long and painful few seconds before he could force himself upright. His last drink rushed up into his throat. He swallowed it down with a grimace and tugged on a pair of sweats, opting to leave his chest bare. He ran warm, and the apartment wasn’t that cold.
Rutherford Bromley was an absolute psychopath whose only redeeming quality was that he made sure Angelo was taken care of. Any material thing Angelo wanted, he got. It was like having the self-Frankensteining version of a sugar daddy. The penthouse apartment overlooking Toronto’s Upper East Side had things he never thought he could possibly need, and he didn’t have to work a day in his life for it. Unless luring in potential victims, and being the occasional victim himself, counted as work.
He didn’t remember coming home last night. He didn’t remember much other than the incubus asking for consent before he drowned himself with peach schnapps and the feeling of the incubus’ pretty mouth on him. When Angelo looked down at his shirtless self, he found fading incubus marks lining the base of his ribs. With luck, the pale blue clan sigils would go away before he went out again. He didn’t want any potential marks to think someone owned him.
Except someone did own him. Bromley owned him; had owned him for longer than he could remember. The brand tattooed on the side of his neck proved it well enough.
Angelo’s memories came and went with the regenerations. Every time his brain put itself back together, pieces of ash fitting alongside each other like a puzzle, it was in a different order. His personality always seemed to be the same, or close enough as far as he could tell. He always regenerated looking the way he had when he’d died, unkempt and too thin to be healthy. That was always frustratingly consistent. It was his memory that was always unreliable, which he supposed was a frustrating consistency in itself.
But he always kept his vague memory of meeting Bromley.
Scarlet fever had taken him. It had been an especially contagious strain that left him in the 20th-century equivalent of a quarantine unit, not conscious enough to realize the only doctor who would come near him had uneven patches of skin stitched together. Or if he did realize it, he may have attributed it to the fever. Hallucinations were common with scarlet fever, and he had seen all sorts of strange things in his last days. He hadn’t survived, of course, and his body had burned down half the hospital when he regenerated. Though he hadn’t known it at the time, Bromley had realized what he was and spent the next handful of years trying to find him. Why wouldn’t someone like him want an endless supply of organs? Though Angelo’s weren’t as hearty as parahuman organs and he didn’t have any special features that could be of use — “Painfully, unremarkably human.” — they would still do in a pinch.
The first time he’d died at Bromley’s hands, Angelo had taken solace in the knowledge that he would die and be done with it. He would regenerate somewhere far away where Bromley couldn’t find him. Bromley had had the same thought. The necromancer’s brand tattooed in the shape of a compass kept his body close and lasted between lives. At least Bromley hadn’t had the foresight to do anything that would track him, though it wasn’t as though Angelo could get terribly far before the brand burned him into obedience.
He touched the brand to feel the raised ink, a bottle of wine in his free hand, just in time to be slammed against the fridge. The bottle shattered on the floor and wine soaked over his bare feet. The stainless steel door was cold against his chest. He gasped, his hangover-addled brain trying to make sense of being attacked. He pushed back against the heavy body pinning him, but it held fast. His short nails scraped at whatever skin he could reach until the arm holding him in place vanished. A hand that seemed to alternate between solid and smoky came around to wrap around his throat. There was no pressure, only a silent, unspoken warning to be still.
Amir Lane writes supernatural and fantasy with LGBT+ characters. From the frigid and mysterious land of Northern Canada, Amir is obsessed with loud music and black magic. They spend most of their writing time in a small home office or doing the circuit of local coffee shops. They live in a world where magic is an every day occurrence, and they strive to bring that world to paper.
When not figuring out what kind of day job an incubus would have or what a necromancer would go to school for, Amir enjoys visiting the nearest Dairy Queen, getting killed in video games, and watching cat videos.