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New Release: Ocean’s Blood – Thelma Mantey

Ocean's Blood - Thelma Mantey

QSFer Thelma Mantey has a new MM dark fantasy out, The Drowning book 1: Ocean’s Blood.

A decade ago, Vindt’s homeland was overthrown with the help of Singers and their song magic. Forced into their service, Vindt has been struggling for freedom ever since.

His goal seems within reach when the Singer he’s bound to is unexpectedly killed. Instead, he gains a new master: the sly and enigmatic Asche. Coincidence? Maybe not. Singers suffer from a terrible curse, and Vindt might hold the key to ending it, if that’s what Asche is after. The Singer’s brethren claim Asche’s on a quest for power and are determined to bring him down. Soon, Vindt finds himself the target of scheming Singers, attacking demons, and another unexpected opponent: his wayward feelings for someone he’s supposed to hate.

When Asche’s enemies offer Vindt freedom in exchange for delivering Asche to his death, Vindt has to make a choice.

CAPTIVE PRINCE meets INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE in this story about the fine line between hatred and obsession

Warnings: blood-drinking, mild body-horror, on page sex with dub con, mention of torture in dream-like flashbacks, mention of past suicide attempt, extreme physical violence. No HFN or HEA in this volume.

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Vindt waited for the song to rise, for the killing to start.

He would have to wait some more. Down in the valley, the battle had barely begun. In the clear air, the clang of clashing weapons, curses and screams carried unfiltered up to his vantage point on the hill. A choir of death. But the killing he waited for was of a different kind.

He watched the fighting with dull detachment. Another war that was not his, its outcome none of his concern. He had seen it so many times. As always, a part of him longed to push his heels into the horse’s flanks and plunge into the frenzy, draw his sword and fight, honestly, steel on steel, man on man. The idea was childish, but it suggested relief from being an idle spectator, a servant of a dark force that killed from a cowardly distance.

As always, Vindt stayed where he was.

An empty sky hung above, the sun at its zenith, strident, blinding. Vindt hated the sun. It abolished every shadow, annihilating possible refuge for body or mind. It sharpened the contours of the men in the valley, glinting off spear points and sword blades, off armor and metal on horses’ bridles. No room for ambiguity. The landscape reflected the sky’s bleakness, earth and rocks. A few scrawny plants defied the arid climate.

Sweat trickled from Vindt’s armpits and down his back. It was too hot for his liking, always was. The long-sleeved red tunic didn’t help with the heat. At least his arms wouldn’t get sunburned.

Come on now, get it over with.

Vindt turned his gaze to the Singer. Silhorveen’s crimson robes with their twisted dark lines flowed down his body as he watched the spectacle in the valley. There was no breeze, his long dark hair a still mass. The seething hatred the tall lean figure used to incite had dulled into a sense of inevitability, like facing a natural calamity humans had no choice but to endure. These days, laying eyes on Silhorveen mainly triggered a fierce desire to protect him. The feeling was not Vindt’s, but imposed upon him by the magic embedded in the bracelet around his right wrist. It made the sensation no less real. As real as the disgust in its wake, the awareness of his impotence.

The dozen Guzzar soldiers who surrounded Silhorveen’s own small retinue didn’t look happy either. Vindt pitied them. The Singer might win their war for them, but that did nothing for their feelings toward him.

No, he envied them. They surely had their ties, money, a contract, loyalty, love for their country. But they had a choice.

Vindt’s horse stamped its feet and shook its head against the flies. He patted its neck. Poor thing; it suffered from the heat too. In the valley, ranks had broken by now. The two armies were penetrating each other like eager lovers.

Vindt wondered what they were thinking. They must be aware their doom stood here on this hill, had learned about the Singer months ago, about his powers. He didn’t know if the Sylians had been aware of the existence of Singers, or if Silhorveen was the first embodiment of their dark legends and nightmares come to life.

In any case, they had reacted as anyone with a working mind would: they’d split their forces and limited their attacks to raids and skirmishes. That, and sending people to the Guzzar camp at night, trying to murder Silhorveen in his sleep. The first party had been taken down by the Guzzar guards. The second by Silhorveen’s own retinue.

In a way, they had been lucky not to have gotten to him. They were dead, of course, but the Singer would have done worse than just kill them. Vindt had witnessed it only once in the past decade, enough not to want to experience it again.

Now that the Guzzar general had cornered the Sylian army in this valley, their last chance was trying to bring the Singer down in plain daylight.

Only, it wasn’t a chance.

As if on cue, shouting at his back made Vindt turn in the saddle. Behind them, the hill sloped down into a thicket of thorny shrubs. Silhorveen’s guard turned too, taking bows from their shoulders or drawing swords. Vindt carried a bow like theirs; a sword dangled from his waist. He touched neither.

The clash of weapons from the thicket added to the shouting, occasionally cresting into a scream. Shadows moved between the branches. Vindt had no idea how many of his men the Guzzar general had stationed there. Enough, for sure. An arrow suddenly soared from the bushes in an almost vertical line, its slim shape cutting through the sky’s perfect blue, slowing. The split second it hung suspended in the air seemed unnaturally long. Vindt wondered what it would feel like to be that arrow, finding one’s glorious soar coming to a halt, the surprise, then shock, as gravity pulled you back to the ground.

Silhorveen had not bothered to turn around. Vindt’s gaze narrowing down to the back of the Singer’s red robes, his hand did now rise to his bow. Old habits. He felt Fora’s eyes on him, a futile warning. Fora knew about the bracelet, knew that Vindt couldn’t point an arrow at Silhorveen ever again. That the Singer wanted him to carry a bow during battle was a reminder, an act of humiliation. For the task Vindt was bound to do, he needed no weapon.

The Singer’s rising song jerked his hand away from the bow and put his attention back on the battlefield below.


He didn’t want to watch. Yet, he did, drawn by the song’s dark gravitation and the inexplicable allure of the horrific. The song drifted across the battlefield, weaving through the ranks of soldiers, untouchable, unstoppable, defying weapons and shields and armor, seizing people’s bodies and creeping into their minds. Killing.

Author Bio

Thelma Mantey is an author of dark, queer fantasy. While she was always interested in the darker sides of human nature, the heart of her stories is ambiguity. Characters who are evil because they are evil are not her cup of tea. Instead, she believes in people with motives, in moral being a fickle thing, and beliefs a product of the arbitrary circumstances of our birth. Moral grayness shrouds her stories, thick like English autumn mist.

In all the drama and high stakes, she likes subtlety, the dynamic between characters conveyed through quiet notes and undertones. This also holds true for humor. Her humor has always been dry as the Mojave Desert and as black as her morning coffee. She used to express it in (badly drawn) cartoons before she discovered that writing is an even better vessel to snub people.

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