QSFer Rebecca Cohen has a new MM (bi-gay) fantasy out, Reagalos Book 1: Servitude.
Lornyc is good at keeping secrets, because secrets can get you killed.
Lornyc’s forbidden relationship with Methian, heir to Xenetra, has caused him enough grief. Ripped from his life as a student to fulfil a magical contract as punishment for his family’s past, he now has to play valet to Methian for ten years. It’ll be hell on their already strained relationship.
And with his city of Katraman under attack, Lornyc needs to connect to the powers he’s been hiding. If he can’t master his powers and find the leader of the plot, he could lose everything he knows and loves: his family, his future as High Lord, and Methian.
Lornyc accepted the scroll his father held out to him, gnawing his cheek at the thought of what he might be facing. He unrolled it, read it, and threw it back on the table as if it were on fire.
“No! I am not about to become a skivvy for the Erion.”
“Actually, that’s not the worst one,” said Tancorix. “All that contract involves is a month’s servitude to the ruling family of Scura. You’re not tied to a particular family member, and all you’ll need to do is be present at the palace and act like a member of staff.”
His father had to be insane, there was no way Tancorix should have considered such a contract acceptable. “No.”
“There’s no choice in the matter. I investigated thoroughly before informing you in the hope there might be a different outcome. You simply can’t ignore the contract. Although in that case, there’s no compulsion. This one, however”—Tancorix picked up another scroll—“has a magical weave, and you will have to obey. There is no way we can honour this contract and ignore the one to the Erion.” He handed the scroll to Lornyc. “And a month in Scura might be a nice break away from Xenetra.”
Lornyc has no idea what his father meant by that, but he was rendered speechless by a crackle of magic that coursed through his fingertips as he unfurled the scroll. The magic swam through his arm, fizzing as it went, until it paused and coiled around his left bicep. The burning irritation to his skin ceased and his body was flooded with a wave of warmth that while not unpleasant wasn’t something Lornyc thought was a good sign. He tried to let go of the scroll, but a strange compulsion made him read on.
To Whom It May Concern:
The most heinous and terrible crime has been committed against Fia Hadral, daughter of Lord Liam Hadral, by Romanus Reagalos, son of High Lord Alarec Reagalos. The nature of the incident will not be recorded here in order to spare the victim.
Lord Liam Hadral hereby demands reparation from Romanus Reagalos for his actions. Romanus Reagalos has appointed his youngest, but of-age, legitimate grandchild to fulfil his obligations. The aforementioned obligation shall include but not be limited to: Performing the role of personal manservant or maid to the youngest Hadral of the time; conducting themselves in a manner befitting a servant at all times while in the Hadral household; explicitly obeying any order issued by their master or mistress; making themselves available at any time their master or mistress requires their presence; and they will not abscond before the completion of the contract. In addition, if the master or mistress wishes it, the contract can be transferred to another family member. This can be either a permanent or temporary transfer depending on what action the master or mistress wishes to undertake.
The contract will begin three months after the youngest legitimate grandchild turns twenty-one, and will run for ten years. It will be governed by the Servitude spell-weave to ensure compliance. This will also guarantee that the behaviour of the master or mistress will be non-derogatory and non-debasing in regards to the treatment of their servant.
Lornyc’s eyes widened as new sentences appeared on the parchment. They read, in a swirling a script:
Lornyc Reagalos, son of Tancorix, will act as the representative of Romanus Reagalos. The period of servitude will commence in seven days. It is his honourable duty to serve Methian Hadral, son of Bartemus, to the best of his abilities.
Lornyc mouthed wordlessly.
Tancorix guided him into a chair. “I know it is a great shock,” said Tancorix, “but there are specific bylaws for this sort of contract that will prevent any mistreatment.”
Lornyc couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “What did he do to warrant this?” he said, brandishing the offending parchment. “And why the hell did he agree to it?”
“It certainly alludes, on the surface, to a very dark picture of Romanus’s actions,” said Tancorix. “But from what Bartemus Hadral has told me, this is about a jilted pregnant lover and the mad ravings of her protective father.”
“Bartemus already knows?” Lornyc asked, dismayed.
“I’m afraid so. The Hadrals received a copy of the scroll at the same time as the archivist. It was Bartemus who was able to find the true reason behind the contract, and the magical aspect of it as well.”
Lornyc groaned. “This is so unfair! Why should I have to suffer such an upheaval to my life to make up for something my grandfather did?”
Tancorix laid a hand on his shoulder, but Lornyc found no comfort from it. “I know this won’t be much consolation to you, but I doubt that Romanus knew the true extent of this contract. My father had, or rather still has, a rather interesting reputation, but he was always very concerned for the welfare of his family.”
Lornyc snorted rudely. “Of course he was.”
“Lornyc, I’m one of the last to rush to the defence of Romanus, but I don’t believe he thought the contract was magically binding, and even if he did, he would not have expected our current situation.”
“Meaning?” Lornyc asked, but he suspected he knew the answer.
“This contract was signed nearly six hundred years ago when Romanus wasn’t much older than you. It would be another three and a half centuries before he started having children, and he didn’t expect to produce the remarkably untalented offspring that he did. Only your Uncle Nathaniel has even a taste of Romanus’s abilities, rather like yourself and Vella, but the rest of us are a pitiful bunch. I’m sure Romanus would have been able to circumvent the magic used in the contract, but I can’t.”
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.
With contemporaries, historicals, sci fi and fantasy in her back catalogue, there should be something for every taste in Rebecca’s work.