QSFer Lee Welch has a new MM fantasy book out: Seducing the Sorcerer.
Homeless and jobless, Fenn Todd has nearly run out of hope. All he has left is his longing for horses and the strength of his own two hands. But when he’s cheated into accepting a very ugly sackcloth horse, he’s catapulted into a world of magic, politics and desire.
Fenn’s invited to stay at the black tower, home of the most terrifying man in the realm: Morgrim, the court sorcerer. Morgrim has a reputation as a scheming villain, but he seems surprisingly charming—and sexy—and Fenn falls hard for him.
However, nothing is as it seems and everyone at the tower is lying about something. Beset by evil hexes, violent political intrigue and a horse that eats eiderdowns, Fenn must make the hardest choices of his life.
Can a plain man like Fenn ever find true love with a scheming sorcerer?
The sorcerer gave his staff a vicious twirl and pointed it at Fenn’s chest, clearly ready to destroy an army. Fenn gritted his teeth against whatever hideous hex was about to kill him. How much would it hurt? How unnatural would it be? He ought to run, but he could barely move. He hunched, eyes closing of their own accord, and clutched the horse’s sacking mane as if the coarse twine could help him keep a grip on life.
At least he’d die astride a horse.
But nothing happened. The rain pattered cool on his head and hands. He opened one eye, then the other, and risked a glance at Morgrim. A shadow of doubt passed over the sorcerer’s narrow face. It was almost confusion, if a hunting hawk can ever be said to look confused.
“Well?” Morgrim said.
His tone said “and how dare you keep me waiting”. It was clear Fenn was expected to make the next move.
“Er, evening, sir. My lord.” Fenn ducked his head. “I’m right sorry for the intrusion.”
There was such vicious scorn in the sorcerer’s voice that Fenn flinched. Morgrim cocked his head to one side, raptorlike. He hadn’t lowered his staff. “Who are you?”
“Fenn Todd. Er…your grace. Sir.” Gods, what were you supposed to call a court sorcerer? “Um…your honour.”
“Fenn Todd.” Morgrim sounded as if he were sizing it up to put in a spell.
Fenn shivered. Should have given a false name. Why hadn’t he thought to give a false one? Now Morgrim would be able to find out that Fenn had a criminal record and all. Oh Gods, this was going to be bad.
“And what is your purpose here?” Morgrim snapped.
“There ain’t one, your worship. It was a mistake. The horse brought me. I didn’t mean to trespass. I’ll go, eh? Quick as you like.”
Morgrim frowned as if Fenn’s answer hadn’t made sense.
“Who sent you?”
“No one. Honest. I came by the horse sort of…accidental. Tried riding it, only it took off in the air and…well, then it came down here.” Fenn had never felt more stupid or incompetent in his life. The whole thing was a ludicrous humiliating nightmare. “But I don’t want no trouble. I’ll be off, eh? Sorry to disturb you…er…sir.”
“You came to the Unket Tower by accident? You expect me to believe that?”
The name made Fenn shiver. He’d heard of it, of course, because court sorcerers had lived here for over a thousand years. The name was synonymous with magic. The place was reputed to be haunted. It was a giant trap.
He glanced about the courtyard again. There were several doors but they were all closed fast. The stone walls were five yards high and slimy with wet that flickered red in the torchlight. And there was that young bloke with the sword to think of, let alone the angry sorcerer. If the horse wouldn’t fly there’d be no escape. Why in blazes had the creature brought him here?
“Aye, by accident. Gods’ truth,” Fenn said grimly.
“And what magic did you use?” Morgrim still hadn’t moved from the top step. The tower door stood open to the dark behind him.
“Magic?” Fenn shook his head. “No. No, no. I know what it looks like, but I ain’t a magician.”
“You’re lying. Worple horses can’t fly. Don’t antagonise me, Mr. Todd. You’ll regret it.” Morgrim’s glare intensified. “I repeat: What magic did you use?”
“A worple horse?” It was Fenn’s turn to frown. “Wait. Is that a thing? What is that?”
“I’m asking the questions.”
There was an edge to the sorcerer’s tone, like anger and yet not quite. Fenn found he’d raised his hand in a reassuring gesture.
“All right, sir. I meant no disrespect.”
“What. Magic. Did. You. Use?” Morgrim demanded.
“None. Honest. I know the horse has a rune on its chest but that weren’t me. That just appeared. I can’t do magic.”
“You think I’d come here if I could?”
“You are trespassing in my courtyard in the middle of the night. Are you now also being insolent?” Morgrim sounded as if he couldn’t believe his ears, but he lowered his staff.
Some of the tension went out of Fenn. It seemed Morgrim wasn’t going to do anything unnatural to him just yet.
“No, sir. It was an honest question. If I could do magic, why would I come here? Wouldn’t I be lying on silk sheets somewhere with a glass of wine and a valet peeling me a grape?”
Morgrim gave him one of those quelling looks that folks who liked to be in charge often gave. Fenn had weathered plenty in his time, though never one from the most powerful sorcerer in living memory. It made his blood run cold, but he kept his face plain. It didn’t do to be too easily cowed. It could make these domineering types worse. No, Fenn must strike the right balance between deference and dignity, and never mind that he felt too rattled to be up to the task.
It wasn’t helping that it was still raining. Even though the moon was right there, clearly visible over the yard wall to the east. It was raining only on the tower.
That was right uncanny. It certainly looked as though Morgrim had stolen all the rain clouds like people said.
This whole situation was unimaginable.
Lee Welch lives in a house on a hill in the windiest city in the world, Wellington, New Zealand. She shares the house with her partner, two kids, two cats, a dog and quite a lot of spiders. Lee studied ancient history at Auckland University and creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London. By day, she works as an editor and business communications adviser for a large government department. By night, she writes escapist romances, usually with magic in them.