QSFer Amir Lane has a new transgender historic fantasy out in the Heavy Metal Magic series: A Rhapsody of Rapiers.
And what fate befalls the undead?
Elyes Jaohari never wanted anything more than to travel. When his older brother needs a new cartographer during the Anglo-Spanish War, he jumps at the opportunity. Working under the command of English Captain Westmont, Elyes and his crew make easy work of the Spanish fleets. In exchange, Westmont promises them more money than they can count and free movement through the English world after the war. It seems like the perfect way to get everything he wants.
Until inhuman, blood-drinking monsters board the ship and slaughter most of the crew.
There’s no time to mourn. Elyes’ brother and captain are dead. Elyes must take command and assemble a new crew to continue fighting the Spanish.
Just when Elyes thinks it’s all finally over, Westmont turns on their deal and threatens to hunt down every member of Elyes’ new crew. In order to stop Westmont, he must become just as ruthless as his prusuer. Knowing that he will never see his family again, he sets on a path that will alter his life forever.
A man with nothing to lose is a dangerous creature, and Elyes has everything to gain.
This is a standalone novella, and can be read in any order.
Four more men, of varying ages and build, stood at his side. There was something unsettling about the way they stood. It wasn’t the stiffness of a soldier. On the contrary, they looked like they could barely keep themselves still. The smallest one, the one furthest to Elyes’ left, kept twitching and jerking, nearly bouncing. His teeth were bared, and his eyes followed Elyes as he walked. It reminded him of the mad dog they’d had to put down last year. Elyes half expected him to start foaming at the mouth.
Candlelight flickered across their faces. Their eyes shone.
“Ah! Captain Westmont, you are remembering Elyes Jaouhari,” Bey Yazid said in heavily accented English.
“Of course,” Captain Westmont said in a tone that suggested he had absolutely no idea who Elyes was.
Elyes only nodded once. He faced Captain Westmont, standing as rigid as the man himself, keeping the smallest man in the corner of his periphery.
He had heard stories of men whose eyes glowed like that. The bedouin man talked of demons living in graveyards. Aissa had once told him a story their father had shared, of an iron-toothed monster he’d seen before leaving the Gold Coast. The French, the Greeks, the Ottomans, they all had stories.
It should have been easy to dismiss them as stories. But it was much more difficult when he knew men who could force truths and women who could curse ships. He had seen more of the world than he ever thought he would have, and he had only seen so much.
“As I was attempting to tell your Captain bin Dana Halil… Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth the First has been quite impressed with all that your little ship has accomplished. In fact, she’s so impressed, she has decided she would like you all to be included in a… A new type of army, we’ll call it. One that will help us finally put an end to this damned war with the Spanish.”
Elyes translated as quickly as he could, though he faltered a little at the end. It was too vague to translate properly.
“Ask him what kind of army. If he wants us to be English citizens, we won’t do it,” Bey Yazid said in Arabic.
“Ah, no. I suspected as much. But you needn’t worry. I assure you, your countries of allegiance won’t change.”
Somehow, Elyes didn’t feel particularly reassured.
The docks were much quieter now. Elyes could count the people walking by. The ship, on the other hand, had become busier as people drifted around, no doubt trying to catch whatever they could of the conversation. He doubted they understood much of it. As Ishaq said, he did speak the best English.
“You didn’t answer what kind of army,” Elyes said slowly.
“You see their eyes? Those aren’t natural. These men are ghouls,” Bey Yazid whispered.
“Children’s stories,” Ishaq said without much confidence.
It was easier to believe children’s stories in the middle of the night.
The darkness made it difficult to read Captain Westmont’s expression, but Elyes swore he saw the start of a smile. It made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He swallowed down the acid rising in his throat and flattened his palms against his trousers to dry the sweat on them.
“Tell him that whatever he is selling, we are not interested,“ Bey Yazid said.
The captain-like certainty and forcefulness had returned to his voice. It brought a touch of confidence back to Elyes. Even Ishaq seemed more sure of himself, if the shift in his posture was any indication.
Captain Westmont’s smirk turned to a full grin.
“My dear Bey Yazid, I’m afraid you don’t have much choice.”
Captain Westmont stepped back and turned on his heels. The four men closed ranks, stopping anyone from going after him. When Bey Yazid drew his sword, they stayed still. Only when Captain Westmont was off the ship did they move.
Only when he was off the ship did they attack.
Amir Lane writes supernatural and fantasy books with LGBT+ characters. From the frigid and mysterious land of Northern Canada, Amir is obsessed with loud music and black magic. They spend most of their writing time in a small home office or doing the circuit of local coffee shops.
They live in a world where magic is an every day occurrence, and they strive to bring that world to paper.When not figuring 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, and watching cat videos.