QSFer A.Y. Venona has a new MM paranormal book out:
I, Elian Gustan, find myself in an unfortunate predicament. Adrian Larsa, the captain of the most elite group of alphas, shows me so much love I’m so loved-up —only that it’s a love of the brotherly kind. Yes, it’s cute, but its cuteness has long run its course and now becomes a major heartache because Adrian is not my brother. He is my soulmate. But then again I might be mistaken. I mean, who knows really?
Enter Alexander Brunn, the most beautiful man on the planet. He is as heroic as Adrian. Together, they are the perfect couple—too perfect that they make me feel like a villain in my own godforsaken story.
And then here comes the Gatherings, the anniversary of the Founding of the Seven Realms and the only event that the gods attend. This year turns out to be full of surprises from good to bad—to worst. Guess who gets the worst part?
Set in the same universe as Alpha Academy, this book is an m/m suspense and scifi-fantasy romance with an mpreg theme. It contains a certain tragic element but with a satisfying HEA ending.
A.Y. is giving away an eBook copy of her book “Alpha Academy” with this post. Comment below for a chance to win.
I was Elian Gustan. Was and had been. And now? I still am. But different.
In a community full of faes, I didn’t have the porcelain skin to pass myself off as one of their own; and with my face not perfectly carved and not delicately smooth, my jaws sharp and angular and a cleft chin to boot, I was the very definition of un-fae-like. Although my tone and Apollo-built body may have been enough to get me a werekin membership card, I also possessed no ability to shift. So I was no werekin either. My kind belonged to the one percent of the human species who received the brunt of what it meant to be the by-product of “when nature erred.”
The society with passable sensitivities called my kind sampi—half fae, half werekin. But for the younger generation full of insensitive fae snobs, I was a hybrid. They only called me “hybrid” when my back was turned, for none were brave enough to say it to my face lest I informed “the authority,” who most people knew slept right next to my room.
But I was not the vengeful type. I did not cater to such puerile taunt. Enrolled at the University of Pershiane, the elite academy for all things faekin, I was serious about my education. I was fascinated with spells, enchantments, potions, and sorcery. I spent most of my time studying nature and writing spells that scored high on creativity and zero on effectiveness.
Effectiveness crossed my mind as I sat in my Archaic Spell class inside the amphitheater lecture hall, listening intently to Sir Atkin’s voice. With the way the whole class was sublimely quiet, I surmised the good professor was using an enchantment spell to keep his students enthralled. Wearing the dark green robe, a mass-produced outfit in adherence to the university dress code, Professor Atkin discussed an ancient city that had sunk during Ragnarok.
“Just imagine that sheer amount of power utilized to not only shake the ground but also break what kept the city afloat and ultimately caused it to sink into the water,” Professor Atkin said, his voice mesmerizing.
But to me it was more than his delivery of the story, it was the story itself. It affected me so much that my hair stood up on the back of my neck. An ancient city that sank into the bottom of the sea reminded me of…
(Now hear me out. This word bore no significance to me then. But now? I could smile and think about this moment as something of a rarity that somehow the past, the present, and the future collided to give me a glimpse of the greater universe.)
Professor Atkin continued talking.
“Think about it, and think about it hard because your next assignment—” The last words broke the enchanting moment and were replaced by groans and grunts from his disenchanted audience. But the good professor could not be deterred as he pressed on. “Listen up, young faes, bold and flighty, stoic and whiny, your assignment is to write a paper of the kind of spell and potion used by the titans to sink the Adamkin City into the water. Work with a partner or by yourself, whichever you prefer to be least burdensome, as long as you have your paper ready by Monday…” Loud whines and groans echoed in the hall. Methinks Hekatonkheires were among us. Amused, the professor continued. “Monday after the Gathering week.” Cheers and sighs followed. “Any questions?”
None dared to ask, or none seemed to care as most of them were now busily engaged in conversations about the upcoming Gatherings, a celebration of the 716th Anniversary of the Founding of the Seven Realms. For Pershiane students who prided themselves on having their university considered as the second-best institution in the Seven Realms, it was not just the convention that excited them. It was the presence of the best, of the better-est, of the most elite—the alphas of Alpha Academy.
“I heard it.”
Startled, I swiveled my head to the direction of the voice. Tela Grayson. Tela with hair filled with red-and-green highlights had been my best friend since Basics.
“Huh?” was my befuddled reply.
“It was during the lecture. You said a word, and I heard it.”
I held her gaze while my brain grappled for an answer. Afterward, I settled with—
“No. I didn’t say anything.”
Her green gaze narrowed, hawk-eyeing me like I was the last worm left. And it was only Sir Atkin’s dismissal that saved me from it.
Out of the cacophony of people hurriedly leaving their seats, mine stood out to be the most pronounced. In my haste, I was embarrassingly comical. Haphazardly stuffing my belongings back in my sling bag, I scrambled to my feet, surviving a few near falls, and then raced to the door. Halfway out of the hall, where freedom smelled so sweet, I heard a holler.
“I’ll meet you there in a few minutes, lit-bum!”
She knew where I was going.
I glanced back at her and, with much hesitation, nodded. She was like a mother-inquisitor when she thought she was onto something. And I was not looking forward to being her little bug.
* * *
Tela led me to the An-Kian Forest filled with streaks of bright light and birds that chirped like banshees. The air was thick and velvety, fondling my skin with the expertise of a spa masseur.
“Why are we here?”
“I’ll show you why.”
Our feet sounded heavy on the dry leaves littering the forest ground. A sudden movement from my left startled me. I looked but only saw the tail of the snake that slithered into a pile of dried spyloom leaves that were yellowed with age. I cringed at the possibility of stepping on one of these reptiles hidden beneath the crumpled leaves. But Tela’s steps were decisively hurried, seemingly unmindful of the forest’s inhabitants.
“Don’t you know there are snakes under the leaves?”
“Poseidon’s balls! How come you don’t know that snakes are afraid of fae? They’ll crawl away from you when they sniff just a whit of your scent!” Tela said without breaking her stride.
“You’re right, but I’m not pure fae. And snakes can smell it out of me.”
“They’re scared of both, werekin and fae. So you’re good.”
“But that doesn’t make me less scared of them.”
“You’re a whole lot of strangeness.”
When my heartbeat pounded heavy in my ears and my legs felt the strain of having reached the end of my optimum endurance, I mentally screamed for her to stop—preferably now.
Wait. Had I made her do that?
After overdoing a gasping fit, I began to orient myself to the surroundings. The air here was thicker like the whole place was submerged in invisible water.
“I’ve never been in this part of the forest,” I said.
Tela gave this mischievous grin that caused me to move a few steps back.
“Behold the gate to Atlantis,” she said with dramatic aplomb.
In front of us was a wide gate made of limestone. Two magnificent towers stood at the opposite corners of the curtain wall.
“You’re joking, right? That’s a castle.”
“You enter that castle, and it will lead to the otherworld,” Tela said, sitting down on the soft grass.
I mimicked her action and stretched my legs out in front me.
“Atlantis did not sink into the water. It was transported to the other dimension.”
“And you think I’m a whole lot of strange. You’re a whole lot of crazy.”
“So what do you think is this, then, Mr. I’m-too-smart-for-this?”
“An abandoned castle like the many abandoned castles in the Realms.”
“Give me one reason why a castle would be abandoned?”
“The owner died,” I said.
“The owner? What kind of owner owned a castle?”
“Kings? Princes? Barons?”
“Royalties. Right. Aren’t they all known publicly?”
“Reclusive…reclusive princes like in your book, The Shy Prince.”
Tela glared at me. “If you don’t declare yourself a royalty, then you can’t own a castle. It’s the law of property acquisition. No matter how rich you are, you can’t build a castle. Unless you’re a royalty? Or a king gifted it to you along with a title.”
“Okay, where are you going with this?” I asked, confused.
“This castle is not in the public registry.”
“It doesn’t have an address.”
“It doesn’t have a listed owner.”
“It simply does not exist.”
“But it’s here. Everyone knows there’s a castle here. So?”
“So who owns this?”
I shrugged. “Who knows? Why is it important to you?”
She grinned at me. “Look over there.”
And over there, indeed, I looked. At the top center of the gate was a keystone.
“Ruby stone and some kind of a family seal.”
“It’s beautiful. So what do you want me to do with it?”
A malicious grin graced her face, and I shivered just by thinking about what sort of misfortune would she spring on me next.
“I challenge you to stare at that keystone and approach the gate.”
She stood up and gazed down at me, waiting for my answer.
“Really? That’s it? And then we’ll go home and you’ll forget all of this Atlantis crap?”
“Promise,” she said, pouting for good measure.
With a little exasperation, I got up, stared at the keystone, and strode toward it. A few paces closer to the gate, my feet started to feel heavy like moving through very sticky mud. I was nothing but stubborn, and so I persisted, dragging my feet closer to the gate.
And then that was it.
I knew nothing of what happened next.
I reckoned my first awareness was hearing a cacophony of voices. But when I opened my eyes, I was accosted by a total darkness except for a slit of light that later appeared in my peripheral vision. I turned in its direction and followed it.
“I’m sorry, wake up, please…please,” came Tela’s frantic voice.
My eyes opened, and I was exhilarated to know it was real this time.
“What happened?” My body was heavy like a dragon was sitting on it.
“It was the ward. I’m sorry,” Tela replied, brushing away the tears in her eyes. She then helped me to my feet.
“The ward hit me?”
“The ward spell is usually activated when someone approaches the gate. They would feel the sensation of being stuck on the ground. But yours was different. You were able to move your feet right at that point when nobody ever could, and then all of a sudden you came flying back like some kind of invisible force tossed you up. Poseidon’s balls, I was so scared! And look at the gate!”
My gaze shifted to where Tela was pointing. The ruby stone was glowing!
“What’s in Hades’ hell is happening?”
“I think you woke something up.”
“It better be something and not someone. I don’t want to be the one who disturbed whatever was sleeping in there,” I said, half jesting though I was still utterly shaken.
“Either that or you opened the gate to the Atlantis. I was hoping you opened the gate. That would be…something.”
The ruby stone continued emitting a reddish glow as though my intrusion served as the shock that had awakened it from its long slumber, and now it was pumping blood into the whole structure.
Was this the gate to Atlantis?
Or did I awaken someone?
She has an MA in Literature and a teaching license endorsed in both English and Science.
She lives in Virginia with her husband.