QSFer Rebecca Cohen has a new MM Fantasy/Sci-Fi book out (bi-gay), Reagalos book 2: Idolatry.
Lornyc is good at keeping secrets, because secrets can get you killed.
Lornyc thought it was bad enough that the Cerulean Cult had made him a living god, but now they’ve set loose an entity that is tearing through the dimensions with the potential to cause chaos. He wouldn’t have thought it his problem but the guardians of the multiverse, the Valen, have decided otherwise.
Along with Methian and his own Valen Caveer Guards, Lornyc faces a race through multiple alternative realities if he doesn’t want to be extinguished.
Previously published, this second edition has been edited and reworked for release.
Halm Grosvenor closed the door to shut out the bickering of the novices. He leant against his office wall, enjoying the first peace he’d known all morning. Not that the bickering wasn’t good. In fact, some of the younger men were exceptional—they’d really embraced the spirit of the Solemn Squabble—but a man could only bear so much. He still had a vivid scratch on his forearm where he’d stepped in to stop things getting physical between two enthusiastic women who had been in a heated debate on the merits of Katramanian wine.
The pile of letters on his desk threatened to topple, and Halm knew he had a long afternoon ahead sorting through them. He had no cause to complain. The membership was growing by the hour with new followers desperate to join their calling, to worship The One—he who would ignite the orbs. And the donations! He couldn’t get his head around the numbers yet, but he knew they’d never seen anything like it. The Holy Profit would have been very pleased.
Halm pushed off the wall, removed his large blue hat in the shape of a ball, placing it onto its stand on the sideboard. He gave it a fond pat, plucking a strand of his own blond hair from its surface, and, smiling lovingly at the hat, gave it one final stroke.
He poured a glass of water from a jug on his desk and sipped to relieve the dryness in his throat from the dust that hung in the air from the ongoing building work. Although he wouldn’t say anything to the other priests so they wouldn’t accuse him of being negative, Halm was surprised at the progress being made. At this rate, the builders might be finished by the end of the week.
Humming under his breath, Halm lifted the lid of the teak box that sat on a pillar in the corner of his office and flicked a feather duster over the most sacred item owned by the Cerulean Cult. Not even the Scroll of Direction, handwritten by the Holy Profit himself, was as important. Taking a second to enjoy the view, Halm sighed, happiness spreading through him as he closed the box. He moved around his desk, almost tripping over the hem of the ceremonial gown he had worn every day since his appointment, even though his second-in-command had told him, somewhat snottily, that it was supposed to kept for special occasions.
Sitting at the desk, Halm ignored the stack of unanswered letters and instead focused on the important invite he had to send. He sucked on the end of the pen as he tried to find the right words. Coherent sentences refused to form. He grimaced as he reread his first attempt, then crumpled it into a ball, and threw the offending item into the bin. Several hours passed before he put down his pen, pleased with the wording. Now all he had to do was hope The One would agree to attend the Sanctification Ceremony. If he didn’t, Halm didn’t have the first clue how to break the terrible news to the congregation.
Lornyc stretched, his toes breaking the surface of his bathwater. The steam rose, its menthol smell invigorating his synapses, and the heat chasing away the aches in his tired muscles caused by too little sleep and too much to think about. His hair stuck to the sides of his face, but he was too comfortable to move it out of the way.
Finding a few minutes of peace was fast becoming impossible. He could hardly believe it had been nearly a month since his showdown with Luka Erion. If only the water could wash away the memories of how Luka had tried to kill him, steal his husband, and destroy his life. Lornyc closed his eyes, trying to forget that he was now the ruler of another city thanks to the death of Liege Korin Erion at the hands of his son, Luka, and that the city of Scura had cast him in the role of conquering hero.
“Very nice. A wet High Lord of Katraman is one of my favourite ways to start the day,” said Methian from the doorway.
Startled, Lornyc sat up. Water sloshed over the side of the tub situated in the middle of the opulent bathroom, a room with marble on every surface and more gold fittings than it warranted. He grabbed a sponge and threw it at his grinning husband’s head, but Methian easily ducked despite his height and broad build. “Aren’t you meant to be meeting with some of Scura’s civil servants rather than acting like a Peeping Tom?”
“That’s not for another hour,” said Methian, sitting on the edge of the bath. “More than enough time for a bit of sightseeing.”
“Then there are plenty of people who will give you a guided tour of the city. I’m sure there are much more impressive sights to see than a bathroom in the Erion Palace.”
Methian leant over and stole a kiss. “It’s not the interior design of the palace that’s my area of specialist study.”
Lornyc slid his fingers into Methian’s sandy blond curls and enjoyed the kiss. But knowing he needed to get out of the bath, Lornyc pushed him away gently, leaving a wet handprint in the centre of his shirt. “I know you’re a very dedicated student of anatomy, but I need to get ready to face what awaits me. Hand me a towel.”
With a deep chuckle, Methian slid from the side of the bath and grabbed a white fluffy towel from a pile balanced on a pillar. Lornyc made to grab it, but Methian held it open. “Let me help you dry off.”
Lornyc decided he’d indulge Methian; it would only make Methian find other ways to distract him if he said no, and it wasn’t as if he didn’t enjoy the attention. He levered himself to his feet, the water rushing down his body, and stepped out of the bath, allowing Methian to wrap him in the towel. He raised an eyebrow as Methian made a feeble effort to help him dry before his hands rested on Lornyc’s arse.
“What?” asked Methian innocently. “That bit needs drying too.”
“I think I can manage from here.”
Methian grinned and nuzzled into Lornyc’s neck. “I’m sure you can, but you don’t have to. We could dry you off properly under the sheets.”
“As much as I’d like to spend the morning repeating last night’s acrobatics, I don’t have time.”
Methian pulled away with a mock sigh. “Can’t blame a boy for trying.”
“I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.”
Lornyc stepped back and dried off, then dropped the towel to the floor before padding naked into the adjacent bedroom, a room they’d chosen because it hadn’t belonged to either Korin or Luka Erion.
Deciding the morning’s schedule didn’t require him to wear his official Reagalos robes, Lornyc changed into a black frock coat and breeches. He’d have been more comfortable in a simple tunic, but he was aware his days as a casual student were long behind him, and from now on he had a public role to play.
“Will I see you for lunch?” Methian asked, ready to leave with one hand on the door of the room.
“It’ll be a welcome distraction.”
Methian left, but not before stealing another kiss.
REBECCA COHEN spends her days dreaming of a living in a Tudor manor house, or a Georgian mansion. Alas, the closest she comes to this is through her characters in her historical romance novels. She also dreams of intergalactic adventures and fantasy realms, but because she’s not yet got her space or dimensional travel plans finalised, she lives happily in leafy Hertfordshire, England, with her husband and young son. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and sloe gin with lemon tonic in the other.