QSFer M.D. Grimm has a new MM fantasy book out:
Trystan is an unchosen angel—shunned by society, bullied, and without a future. In a hidden well, Trystan discovers a carving of a dragon, who were once the commanders of demons and now believed extinct. But Trystan learns the carving doesn’t depict an ordinary dragon. Stories tell that millennia ago, the great dragon Asagoroth and his demon army nearly conquered the three realms but he was killed by the five elders. The powerful angels combined their life forces to cast a spell, sacrificing their lives.
But history is full of falsehoods. The five elders only managed to imprison the dragon, and Asagoroth had cast his own spell—one of releasement. It only needs the blood of an angel to liberate him from his cage….
Asagoroth, enemy of angels, conqueror of realms, is free. But even as the angels prepare for war, the great dragon surprises them with an ultimatum: hand over the angel who awakened him or face annihilation.
Trystan hunched his shoulders and rubbed harder at the itch on his palm. Then he froze. He sat up, staring hard at the bit of garden he could actually see.
The stone had absorbed his blood.
Trystan looked down at his hand at the same time a deep rumbling sounded in every direction. Their teacher called for silence as the spire began to rattle, the rumbling growing louder, a drumbeat against his bones. Trystan stumbled toward the window as the teacher tried to rally the students, who began to panic. The shaking grew worse, cracks forming along the walls as the sound of an explosion rattled the air, shattering the windows inward.
Trystan flung himself away, hunching his shoulders, and threw his hands up to protect his face. Glass flew everywhere, shards hitting delicate flesh. Screams mixed with the noise, the shaking, adding to the chaos. Trystan gasped for breath, fear whirling in his mind. His wound suddenly flared hot, and then it was gone: the itch, the pain. He spun around toward the window in time to see a massive—an enormously massive—black shadow burst out of the Center Garden, shattering it, crumbling the pillar the garden once sat upon. Stone was flung everywhere, some pieces smashing into the surrounding spires. Their own classroom shook violently as the spire began to sag to one side.
Trystan lurched toward the other students as the room abruptly tipped.
“Come with me!” the knowledge keeper screamed. She shoved students out the door, her wings shimmering into visibility, her eyes bright with fear. “Go!”
Trystan followed the crowd, the corridors packed with screaming, crying, terrified angels the same age as him and younger. All the knowledge keepers were doing their best to control their own fear, to corral the students to safety. But where was safe?
You couldn’t hide from a force of nature.
Mind still whirling, Trystan lost focus for a few moments before snapping back as he heard a loud humming, felt the crackling of energy above him. He’d only heard and felt that once in his life, when he was a young boy. It was the sound of the dome barrier snapping shut, a barrier their armies launched when a deadly threat—usually a massive wave of demons—swarmed against Emphoria. He knew they’d also be sending distress calls to the other cities, alerting them to danger.
Trystan tore away from the stampeding crowd and found a window, the glass shattered, and leaned out, trying to catch a glimpse of what was happening. What he saw stopped his breath.
A searing fireball of blue darted toward the high chancellor’s residence, a golden spire that rose above all the others. Trystan could actually feel the heat from the fire despite the considerable distance. The fireball managed to make it through before the pale-green dome snapped shut, encircling the city, deflecting all other attacks. The fire blasted against the spire, creating cracks and dents, melting the gold eagerly, hungrily. Trystan watched with his mouth open as that massive shadow sped over the gold spire, outside the dome, circling like a predatory bird. Darkness seemed to follow the beast, blackening the sky, creating dread and terror as if sending an emotional plague down on those below.
Trystan trembled with knowledge, confused at his sudden exhilaration and joy. He felt fear, but that rational reaction was nearly drowned out by irrational ones.
Then the black shadow hovered a good distance away before perching on the only spire outside the dome—an outlying guard tower. But even then he was enormous, a noticeable feature in the star-strewn sky. Trystan leaned farther out the window, seeing more details now that the figure had stopped flitting around. It was, indeed, a dragon. A big, black, horned dragon… and he was pissed.
He certainly didn’t send that fireball as a warm greeting.
The dragon folded his wings and then a voice—smooth, massive, power in every note—boomed over the surrounding area. The spires shook slightly against the force.
And—the Light Bringer help him—Trystan knew that voice.
“I know you can hear me, angels,” Asagoroth said. A hush fell over everyone. The entire city seemed to stand still. “If you have any intelligence in your tiny brains, you know who I am. You would be wise to heed my demands, or I will unleash such wrath upon you that I will disintegrate your ethereal souls.”
Trystan pressed a fist to his chest, his eyes locked on Asagoroth’s form. The dragon’s voice shook with power and rage. Deep, boiling rage was in every word, every sound, every inflection. But it was contained and controlled. Trystan couldn’t help but admire that control.
Suddenly another voice boomed out of the city, directed toward the dragon. It gave Trystan a start to realize it was his own father, Commander Gabreld. He was obviously using an amplifier to give his voice such volume.
“What are your demands, monster?”
There was a strange rumbling that came from Asagoroth’s direction, and it took Trystan a moment to realize the dragon was laughing. The sound sent an eerie shiver down Trystan’s back.
“It is quite simple, angel commander. I want the one who awakened me. I want the one whose blood now flows through my veins.”
Sweat slid down his face as Trystan’s knees turned to liquid, and he sank to the floor. But his eyes never left the dragon.
“You have twelve hours,” Asagoroth continued, “to give him to me. If you do not, I will lay siege upon your realm as I did a millennium ago. Remember your history, angels, remember how close I came to destroying your kind once before. I will burn it all to ash, everything you’ve built, everything you are, and my demons will piss on the remains.” There was a slight pause, and Asagoroth fluttered his wings, blocking out the light of some of the stars. Shadows danced from his wings.
“But I give you warning, angels. If the one who awakened me is harmed or if he is killed, I shall lay darkness upon the entire cosmos, so dense and deep the memory of light will be forgotten.”
Trystan believed him. He was sure everyone else did as well. He gasped for breath, shaky, feeling ill and excited and worried and confused and… there was no way he could latch onto one emotion and have it rule out all the others. He gripped his head.
Could this really be happening?
Come to me, my love.
The voice caressed him like his dream lover had. Trystan sucked in a breath even as he shivered. He spun his head around, looking for the source of the voice. But everyone was staring at each other, wide-eyed and terrified. No one even noticed him.
I know you can hear me. I know you can feel me.
Asagoroth. Was speaking. Inside. His head.
Trystan slapped his hands over his ears, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Nonononono,” he said, wheezing.
M.D. Grimm has wanted to become an author since second grade and feels that her dreams are finally coming true. She enjoys writing romances because they always guarantee a happy ending, since real life often doesn’t have those. M.D. earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Oregon and is glad to put the degree to use with her own literature.