QSFer Amir Lane has a new MM urban fantasy book out in the Morrighan House Witches series: Rise.
“You never knew what it meant to get involved with a witch.”
Grad student Ekkehard Schneider doesn’t believe in magic until he discovers his boyfriend, Zven, is a pyromancer. When Zven panics and sets a police officer on fire at a riot he didn’t intend to be at, Ekkehardt can’t bear the thought of a life without him. Attempting to flee to West Germany together, Zven is killed and Ekkehart is left with a bullet in his chest, a heavy survivor’s guilt, and the ability to see spirits.
Recovering in his parents’ home in Leipzig, Ekkehardt finds an old journal belonging to his late aunt, where she describes bringing her boyfriend back from the dead. Though the last pages are missing, Ekkehardt knows he has to make things right. He doesn’t expect it to work, and he certainly doesn’t expect to wake up battered and bruised with no idea of how he got home.
Zven isn’t the only spirit he brought home, and they want his blood.
Morrighan House Witches Book Zero
Nothing happened at first. The next day went by without any kind of threat or disaster. Then the next, and the next. After the third day, Zven stopped trying to follow Ekkehardt to his classes like a goddamn bodyguard. After the fourth, Jakob stopped sighing in relief every time he saw them. On the fifth, Liese stopped biting her nails.
On the sixth, Zven didn’t come home.
The house was in an uproar. Liese and Jakob were out driving around the city in her truck, stopping at his usual places first and moving on to any reasonable and unreasonable place he might have been. Ekkehardt wanted to be out there with them, but he was at home calling everyone in Zven’s address book in alphabetical order. By the time he reached the end, he was near tears. A girl in the Cs had watched him get onto a subway. Nobody knew if he’d gotten off or where.
It was late now, approaching one in the morning. Ekkehardt slumped down on the couch and hung his head in his hands. He had called everybody. Everybody. All he could do was wait for either Liese and Jakob or Zven to come home, or for the phone to ring as his eyelids grew heavier and heavier. He couldn’t fight it anymore. He wanted to. He wanted to know that Zven was safe, but the couch was so comfortable, and he was so tired. This was the first chance he’d had to rest. He must have only been asleep for a few minutes when his shoulder was being shaken.
“Wake up,” Zven whispered. “Wake up, we have to go. Now.”
“What? Now? It’s—” He twisted to look at the clock, but something on Zven’s face caught his attention.
It stemmed from his hairline and covered the side of his face. There was a lot of it. The collar of his shirt and part of his shoulder was stained red.
“We have to go. We have to go now.”
“Zven.” Ekkehardt grabbed his wrists. “Zven, what the fuck happened to you? Who did this?”
He was going to kick their fucking ass. He was going to beat their fucking face in!
Nobody, nobody hit Zven and got away with it, not if Ekkehardt had anything to say about it.
Zven was pale. Ekkehardt would have attributed that to blood loss if not for his trembling fingers and the void look in his eyes. His eyes kept flickering across the room as if there might have been something lurking in the corners.
“I killed someone.”
That was not what Ekkehardt was expecting him to say. At first, he wasn’t sure he’d heard right. But Zven repeated himself, his voice shrill and shaky, bordering hysterical, and Ekkehardt couldn’t deny it. Ice settled in the pit of his stomach.
“Tell me what happened.”
“There’s no time. We have to leave right now.”
“Not until you tell me what happened.”
There was no room for compromise in his tone. How the hell was he supposed to deal with whatever this was if he didn’t know?
Zven looked back towards the door. It was still open.
“It was an accident.” The words came out in a rush. “I was going to Oliver’s to study, and when I got off the subway, there was a riot. I didn’t know it was going on, I was just there. I didn’t know—” He swallowed a few lungfuls of air and struggled to compose himself.
“An officer hit me and grabbed me. I didn’t think I just— The fire just started, Ekkehardt.
You have to believe me, I didn’t mean to do it.”
The ice was beginning to thaw, and Ekkehardt could think again. The East Berlin police were notorious for turning peaceful protests into riots and arresting everybody they could get their hands on. This wasn’t the first time he’d heard of someone being assaulted and arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Then what? How did you get away?”
“Everyone was freaking out and screaming and running. People were saying it was a bomb. I didn’t stick around, I just ran as fast as I could to Oliver’s.”
Ekkehardt nodded. As far as he was concerned, Zven had done the right thing. He could be horrified about the whole thing later. Right now, he had to make sure Zven was okay.
“Ekkehardt, we have to go. Oliver called in some favours. This is what Liese was talking about, Ekkehardt. This is why she stops seeing us.”
“We’re both still alive, though.”
“Somebody must have seen me! They’re going to come for me, Ekkehardt. Ekkehardt, I—” He took a deep breath. Tears slid over his cheeks. “I can’t stay here.”
There was an unasked question in Zven’s words: Was Ekkehardt going to come with him, or not? This had nothing to do with him, he could stay here, and he would be fine.
Whether anybody found out Zven was a pyromancer or if they thought he really had set off a bomb didn’t matter. Whether anybody would care that he was a pyromancer or not was another thing. The truth was that if the police took it into their heads that he or Liese or Jakob had anything to do with it, what really happened would be irrelevant.
Amir Lane is an LGBT+ supernatural and urban fantasy writer from Sudbury, Ontario. Engineer by trade, they spend most of their writing time in a small home office or in front of the TV watching every cop procedural on Netflix. They live in a world where magic is an every day occurrence, and they strive to bring that world to paper.
When not trying to figure 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, absorbing the contents of comic books, and freaking out over how fluffy the neighbour’s dog is.