QSFer J. Scott Coatsworth has a new MM sci fantasy short out: “The Emp Test,” the follow-up to The Last Run.
Jey awakens to find himself in the care of a handsome stranger – a cheff from one of the mouuntain tribes, enemies of his own people. Afraid for his life, Jey has no choice but to let the man take care of him and his broken leg.
Avain is on his Aud’ling – his coming-of-age test that requires him to spend a couple months alone, away from his own people. When he finds the steader trapped under his aur with a broken leg, he knows he has to help. But not being allowed to speak during his test makes things… difficult.
The two of them will have to come to an understanding if they’re not going to kill one another. And Avain has a secret to share with Jey, one that that will change his life forever.
Note: This book takes place in the sci-fantasyworld of the Tharassan Cycle, about 100 years after the events of The Last Run, and before my new WIP – a trilogy called the Tharassan Cycle – The Dragon Eater, The Gauntlet Runner, and The Hencha Queen.
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Lightning flashed hot across the green and gray Tharassan sky, sending Critter into a ka-thumping gallop through the waist-high purple trine grass toward the Redflight range to the south, erasing all the hard work that Jey’Lyhn had taken to calm it. “Slow down, Critter! He scratched the soft ridge between auracinth’s bony neck ridges, but she refused to heed him.
The rain-smell was strong, sharp in the air, the bitter-sweet smell of the oils the purple, three-bladed trine grass let off that always portended rain in these high climes.
Breaking out of the grass, the headstrong aur smashed right into a tall mud orinth nest, shattering it into a million chunks of dirt and covering Jey with dust. Orange and green insects burst into the air in a cloud all around them, chittering their displeasure—keeyip keeyip keeyip.
Jey growled and flattened himself on Critter’s back until they were past the swarm. He spat out dust-turned-mud and hauled back on the reins, but the aur ignored him. Second-generation domesticated, my ass.
Jey clamped down on his own fear and anger. He’d been stupid to take the aur out of the stable on an afternoon like this, mad or not. His anger often got the better of him. His cheek still stung where his father had backhanded him.
You will never, ever do that under my roof again. Am I understood? The words had stung as much as the blow. You’re betrothed, and that’s the end of it. We need this alliance. Had father told Berryl’s family about the kiss? His face burned just thinking about it. There was no place in the homesteads for a bunter.
Jey pulled back on the reins again, but the aur seemed spooked by the howling of the wind and the heavy rumble of thunder and lightning raging all around them. Jey had been half blinded by rage and needing to be anywhere but on the Lyhn Steading, and the weather was the last thing he’d concerned himself with.
Heavy green-tinged clouds poured through the Gap, rising up from the Heartland off to the west and bearing with them the heavy moisture of the sea. The wind whipped the first drops of rain across Jey’s cheeks, stinging his raw, bruised skin.
As his mother always said, things don’t always go to plan. Jey was learning the truth of it now. “Come on, Critter.” He pounded his fist on the aur’s shoulder to get through its thick furry scales. “Turn around, now. That’s a good beastie.”
But Critter plunged on across the open plain of the Highlands with a will of its own, refusing to heed the cries of its self-appointed master. They were farther south than Jey had ever gone, getting close to cheff territory. He’d heard the savages would skin any steader alive who they happened upon unarmed. That and worse.
He should just jump, fall into the soft embrace of tall purple trine grass and let the creature go. Likely the aur would make it back to the ranch house of its own accord, but if it didn’t, the loss would be on Jey’s hands. Papa wouldn’t like that.
Still, it looked to be a nasty drop from Critter’s back, with the rain and the speed the aur was making across the grassy plain, and the walk home would be damned long. Jey was far afield from his usual haunts, and with the tall stands of purple grass all around, he despaired of ever finding his way back, especially without the aur’s well-developed sense of home.
He gritted his teeth and held on.
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.
He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
A Rainbow Award winning and runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, Liminal Fiction, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
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