Panel discussion at Fictional Badass Association annual convention 2014
Place: Emotion in Motion Convention Center, Noble and Sylvre room
Date: September 5, 2014
Time: After several cups of coffee
Panel members: Luki, Brian, Todd, Forge
Discussion topic: Badass methods for keeping one’s other half in line and out of trouble
Moderator: Frodo Baggins
Welcome by Frodo Baggins
“Hello. Hm-hm. Your attention, please. Can you all hear me out there?”
A murmur rises up out in the audience, as people begin to argue among themselves as to whether or not anyone is truly standing at the podium.
Sonny James comes forward from the back of the hall, steps up next to Frodo, puts his hands on his hips, and raises his eyebrows. The audience quiets, and gives him their full attention. Blair also comes forward (very, very quickly), hops down and fetches a chair, then lifts Frodo onto it. The hobbit can now be seen, and Sonny and Blair return to their places as he continues.
“I want to welcome all of you to this panel discussion. I was happy to be selected—(Frodo breaks off to make noises in his throat and foam at the mouth. Luki hands him his pristine white hanky. Frodo continues.) Please excuse me. I didn’t know that the eye of Sauron would be here tonight—took me by surprise. Wasting no more time, allow me to present the esteemed fictional badasses on the panel tonight. I’ll let them each introduce themselves, because frankly I know nothing at all about them.”
Todd: “Good afternoon and thank you for welcoming me back for a second convention. It’s quite an honor. Let me introduce myself. I’m Todd Ruger, a Sentry. I protect the innocent against supernatural—and sometimes natural—threats. My mate, Nick, and I specialize in shifters. Though, we have encountered other paranormal entities. Where we come from Nick was bred to be a slave and has been trained since childhood to assist me.”
Forge: “I’m a vampire. *points thumb at Todd* What he hunts.
Luki Vasquez and Brian Harrison, the remaining panel members actually begin to whisper to each other. After nodding in agreement, they both get up from their seats, and stand behind Forge—who’s fangs are beginning to show, and Todd—who’s nostrils have flared as he stares in Forge’s direction. Luki and Brian seem to have made their point, but it’s not clear if that’s because the shoulder holsters are showing. After a tense moment, Forge moves to the seat farthest from the middle. Luki and Brian sit in the two seats between them, and Forge continues.
“I’m also a homicide detective. Detective Jonas Forge. This is my first time in attendance, but I’m also very honored to be asked. Vampires have soul mates, mine is Blair Turner.”
Blair (pipes up from the back): “PhD!”
Forge (hurriedly): “Uh, yes, Dr. Blair Turner.”
Nick clears his throat (quite loudly).
Todd (quickly speaks up)” “In our world slaves aren’t permitted to be awarded degrees, but Nick has been educated as a veterinarian and medical doctor as well as a Sentry.”
When neither Blair or Nick drop any more hints, the other panel members all look at Luki.
Luki: “I’m Luki Vasquez. I became a member of the FBA after a wonderful man, Sonny James, found himself loving me in our first book. I am a former federal agent now in the business of security, a martial arts and firearms expert. Some true but less fortunate facts about me, I throw up when other people get hurt, and I tend to get shot a lot, though they are usually flesh wounds.
Sonny (shouts from the back): “Flesh wounds are still bad!”
Luki rolls his eyes and gestures to Brian.
Brian: “My turn, I guess, I’m pretty much just a regular guy.”
Jackie (shouts from the hecklers’ line-up): “Nothing regular about you, Sir!”
Brian turns an interesting shade that can’t quite be called red, but continues without stumbling over his words.
Brian: “Uh, I’m in pretty good shape, have some hand-to-hand combat skills and handle a firearm fairly well. I’ve been lucky enough to have done, at this point in my fictional life, a couple of stints with the Murder Investigation Unit of the London Metropolitan Police—”
Jackie (interrupts again): “Pay attention folks—that’s Scotland Yard! Best in the world!”
Brian (turns and speaks to Jackie): “Devil boy. You know that conversation we haven’t had about punishment? We’ll be having it tonight!”
Jackie (tosses his beautiful dark-fire hair): “Oooo! Thank you, Sir.”
Brian (shakes his head, and says into the mic): “That didn’t work for shit, did it? Anyway, I’ve also been very fortunate to do a couple of stints as an employee of Vasquez Security. No better place for an agent to get schooled in the business. And, as you might have guessed, Jackie is my sub, my lover, my boyfriend, my everything, and I truly hope he’ll be my future, too. I don’t know where I’d be without devil boy, these days.”
Frodo now begins to read out the questions:
How important is it to make sure your chosen one has enough to do, meaning appropriate activities that will keep them busy, especially in your absence, and why?
Forge: Well, Blair has a job. That keeps him plenty busy.
Blair from the back of the hall: And it’s not washing your car. I teach computer sciences at a university in Flint, Ohio. Since the big guy here can’t live without me, and gets into trouble all on his own I have to watch him every minute.
Todd: Nick runs our farm, when we’re home. He cares for the community’s livestock as well.
Nick shouts out: Todd needs me. We’re partners and we work together. Besides someone has to watch his back when his snark gets him in trouble.
Luki: “You’re kidding right, Frodo?”
Sonny, in a stage whisper: “Husband, I’m mentally cutting my toenails right now.”
Luki just bites his bottom lip, but Frodo appears confused. “What does he mean, Luki”
Luki: “Frodo, one of the first things I learned about Sonny is never to get in the way if his hands are on his hips. One of the next things I learned is that when he cuts his toenails it means he wants to... um... get frisky.”
Sonny: “No, baby, it means I want to fu—”
Frodo: What about you, Brian?
Brian: “How do I keep Jackie busy? Hell, the biggest hurdle in our relationship is that we’re both so busy sometimes we don’t see each other for a week.”
Jackie: “But whenever we are together, Brian shows me his rope tricks. (Jackie laughs, and Sonny giggles, which makes all the badasses in the house smile,)
How do you assure that your other half complies with your proscribed activities?
Nick: *Barks a laugh* Todd’s chin drops to his chest while the others turn around and look at Nick.
Blair: “Complies with—? He wishes.”
Todd: “I trust Nick completely.”
Nick: “Good answer.”
Forge: I am of course compelled by the vampire code to defend and…
Blair: Dude, there is no vampire code. *turns to audience* There is no vampire code. (Turns back to Forge.) You like to flash your pointy teeth and flex your muscles.
Forge: *shrugs* He loves it. Especially the teeth…and the muscles.
Blair (somewhat subdued): Yeah, I do.
Luki: I have no idea how to answer that. I'm not even sure what such a question means.
Sonny: Of course you do, honey. No really big words in there.
Luki: Damn, Sonny. I went to college!
When once again silence falls and Luki looks very stubborn, Frodo moves on to the next question:
Occasionally, even the best men get cranky. When your sweetie is having a bad day, what do you do?
Todd: “Blueberry pie. Nick’s a sucker for blueberry pie and a…ah…rub down.” *Glances back at Nick and winks*
Nick: *silly grin* “Yeah.”
Forge: “Well, Blair does enjoy shaving.”
Blair: “Forge is wicked good with a razor.”
Luki: “Honestly, Sonny doesn’t really get cranky. He goes from ‘everything is beautiful’ to ‘I’m going to kill you in your sleep, Luki Vasquez,’ in less than a second flat.
Sonny: “Shut up! I have never threatened your life.”
Brian: I have a tried and true formula, one question and a five word statement.
Frodo, looking curious: “This spell, or whatever it is, works every time?”
Brian: “Sure. Jackie, shall we demonstrate?”
Jackie laughs and nods.
Brian (stands and looks at Jackie): “Safewords?”
Jackie: “Red and yellow.”
Brian: “Use them anytime, starting now.”
Jackie: “Yes sir.”
Frodo: “Wow, impressive.” He clears his throat, and asks the next question.
Do you ever let your honey play with weapons? Why or why not? Give examples if available.
Forge: “We’re vampires, got all the weapons I need right here. *Points to fangs* And as for playing with them, hell yes!”
Blair: “Only real men use their fangs for love.”
Todd: “Nick has knives. I wouldn’t suggest trying to take them away from him. And as for letting him use them? I’ll just quit while I’m ahead.”
Nick: “He loves our private times and hates sleeping alone.”
Luki: “No. No, no, and no. I mean, I’ve taught him how to use a gun, but only once have I made the mistake of putting a gun in his hand. A little Beretta, but he was so wrapped up in wanting to kill a certain disgusting individual—”
Sonny: “You can’t pretend the world wouldn’t have been better off without him.”
Luki: “That’s true, baby. He’s dead now and the world is better off. But if you would have killed him then, I would have lost you. That’s what scared me. You are the most beautiful man that ever walked the planet.
Sonny (smiling): “And?”
Luki (actually smiling, too): “And I love you.”
Frodo signals to Brian.
Brian: “We live in the UK. I’m a cop and I don’t even get to play with my guns. Or leastways I can’t work with them.”
Jackie: “But my uncle, Luki, taught me to handle guns. I don’t need permission for that.”
Frodo says, “Uh, this next question, um...” He loosens his collar and blushes.
If you had to choose between following your lover or following Gollum and sending your lover away, what would you do? Please explain.
Todd: “I’d send him away. I couldn’t have him in such danger.”
Nick: “Translation, he needs someone to bail his ass out.”
Luki: “You do realize, Frodo, that Gollum is uglier than sin, and if I was to, say, climb up a big rocky slope behind him I’d have to look at his bony ass the whole way, right?”
Sonny: “Samwise is a whole lot cuter!”
Jackie: “Yeah, Sam is kinda hot. Buff too!”
Brian: “I simply can’t answer that question. Anyone that would follow Gollum and send his lover away is crazy... Present company excluded, of course, Frodo.”
Frodo foams at the mouth and makes grunty/moany sounds again, clutching his shoulder.
Samwise has been sitting quietly in the audience behind some tall Klingons with broad foreheads. Now he stands on his chair. “Hang on, Mr. Frodo. Don’t you give up. I’m not going to leave you! ‘Don’t you lose him, Samwise Gamgee,’ That’s what Gandalf said, and I don’t mean to.”
Frodo has stopped choking and foaming. He says, “Sam, calm down. The ring has long since melted in Mount Doom. I’ve just got touch of rheumatism. You’re over-reacting.”
If you ever followed Gollum into a dark tunnel leading to Mordor and he disappeared, would you keep going? How would you handle a monstrous, venomous spider, if you were to encounter one in that tunnel? (Please indicate weapon(s) of choice and strategy.)
Todd: “I’m not sure I’d follow. As for the spider, fire kills everything. Surround it with fire and…”
*Knife comes from behind and embeds in the table in front of Todd.*
Todd: “Nick is more accurate throwing a knife than most people are shooting a gun.”
Forge: Bares fangs and growls: “There is very little that is faster than a vampire.”
Blair and Nick burst out laughing. Nick elbows Blair and says, “I see what you mean.”
Luki: “Well, I can say this much. It wouldn’t be a little vial of light some blonde lady gave me.”
Assuming you survived Gollum and his tunnel, you would likely want to secure your darling’s forgiveness and understanding. How would you go about making up?
Blair butts in before anyone on the panel has a chance to answer: Shaving cream, a razor, after some serious groveling and probably an evening at that special place we like to go.
Forge: “I’ll get right on that.”
Blair: “Alright then.”
Todd: “Nicky would hurt me if I didn’t survive.”
Nick: “It’s true. I’d hurt him…a lot.”
Brian: “I’d start by saying I was sorry, then I’d ask him for his safewords.”
Jackie’s smile is bright enough to be a flood light.
Luki: “I’d buy him shortbread cookies.”
Sonny: “Not nearly enough, husband.”
Luki: “And Rocky Road ice cream?”
Sonny: “Still not enough, honey.”
Luki: “Okay. I’d let him top.”
Sonny: “Well... we can talk about it, I suppose...”
Hello! Today I'm joined by...okay that's not entirely accurate. Todd and Nick Ruger are guest hosting (shanghied) my blog right now. Their special, and very unexpected guests are Sonny James and Luki Vasquez, Lou came along for the ride.
Hi, I’m Lou Sylvre and the reason I’m whispering is because the back seat of Sonny James Mustang is not very far from Luki’s ears, and Luki is sleeping. Not on purpose—I think he’s hypnotized by the monotony of the road. Either that or he’s deliberately snoozing because Sonny is humming while he drives, and he hums very badly.
Very, very badly.
When Luki is awake he tends to silence me with a piercing look from his cold blue eyes if I speak, so this is an opportunity to catch you up on the road trip. We’ve been on the road for most of the past twelve hours (with a couple of breaks), heading west on I-90. We left Portsmouth, New Hampshire this morning, and we’re heading for Ohio to visit with Elizabeth Noble. It was Luki’s idea. He knows Elizabeth’s character Todd Ruger—they chatted some at the Fictional Badass Association meeting last May. They didn’t exactly click, but they did agree Frodo shouldn’t have been the keynote speaker. Anyway, Luki thought it would be nice, since we’re on the Saving Sonny James Road Trip Blog Tour to stop in and see Elizabeth, and she said we’d be welcome—my thanks to her for letting us visit.
We’re just about ready to cross into Ohio now, so it won’t be long...
Oh my god! What just happened? I… I can’t really see for all the dust in the air. There was a huge noise. Oh no… Luki! Sonny! Where are you? Where am I? Where’s the Mustang?
“Be quiet,” Luki’s voice comes to me, and then I see him standing there, combing the dust out of his curls with his fingers. “Sonny,” he calls out, then trots over to a figure hunched on the ground. “Baby! Can you hear me? Are you okay? Can you stand up?”
“Calm down, husband.” Sonny’s voice does sound oddly calm in this—what? I can’t even guess what has happened. He stands up. “I’m fine, of course.”
“Why were you on the ground?”
“Dropping and covering, as I was taught to do in the event of nuclear attack.” Sonny dusts off Luki’s shoulders.
Luki brushes away Sonny’s hand, which is an event in itself. “Well, sweetie,” he says, a tone of annoyed sarcasm in the words, “if that was a nuclear attack I think it was a dud. But I wonder where we are?”
Sonny looks around, sees me. “Ms. Sylvre, you’re okay?”
“A simple yes or no is plenty,” Luki interjects.
“Honey?” Sonny is walking around the immediate area, peering this way and that. “Have you seen the Mustang anywhere?”
“No. But I think we have more serious troubles. I don’t see anything but rocks, a wide river and grass with a light dusting of snow. This is definitely not I-90.” They were surrounded by trees, blocking the view. “If we don’t find somebody that can explain… this, then we… Fuck, I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, a dozen yards away on the other side of the trees…
“It was over here. Todd, I know I heard something over—” A guy, slightly taller than Sonny with thick brown hair and wearing a collar came around what appeared to be a bend in a dirt road and stopped short. “Oh. Uh, hello.”
“Nicky, who are you…well darn.” Todd Ruger came up to the little gathering in the copse, and tossed off some words at Luki. “If you want a mustang, Mr. Vasquez, there is a herd near here. They’re wild. Catch one and keep it if you want. He turned to his mate and spoke with a completely different expression and tone. “Nick, this is the guy I met at that convention you harangued me into attending.”
“It was supposed to make you more sociable,” the guy, Nick, said.
“I’m very sociable.”
“No, you’re not.” Nick’s voice was joined by Luki’s. Sonny was currently ignoring them, looking now up in the treetops, as if he thought his car might have gotten stuck up there.
Todd snorted. “Whatever. How’d you guys get here and why are you looking for a mustang. We have horses you can borrow, not mustangs though.” He turned to Nick. “Was that sociable enough for you?”
Nick grinned and shrugged. “It’ll do.”
“Luki Vasquez, this is my mate, Nick Ruger.” Todd turned to Lou and Sonny, nodding. “Hello. Welcome to Yellowknife Protectorate.” He smirked in Luki’s direction. “Maybe you could introduce us?”
The only thing Luki could sputter out was, “This is your slave? Not what I expected at all.”
Todd smiled. “Welcome to my world.”
Sonny came over just then, mumbling to himself and shaking his head. “I don’t get it. Everything was fine. We were on the highway…” He noticed everyone looking at him, finally, and stepped forward brushing off his hands. “Hey, I’m Sonny James, Luki’s husband."
Nick said, “Oh, yes. I’ve heard you do some beautiful artwork, in your tapestries. I’d love to see them sometime.”
“I wish I could show them to you right now. I hear you do some pretty fine drawing, yourself. I think it might be tough for us to ever share, since we’re usually in different worlds. We’re in your world now, I take it?” When Nick nodded, looking thoughtful, Sonny asked a second question. “Any idea how that happened?”
Nick shook his head. “No,” he said, “I’m sorry. But maybe Todd can figure it out—he’s been out and about in the world longer than I, if you know what I mean.”
Before Sonny could answer, Todd spoke up, his comments relevant to Sonny’s questions, but speaking mostly to Luki—one badass to another, more or less. “No,” he said, bluntly. “Haven’t got a clue but it’s going to be dark and we left our horses over by the river. Let’s get them and head back to our farm and get some food. We’ll try to figure out a next step tonight, but we may not be able to do anything until morning.”
Well, Lou here again… that little conversation worried me. Had they forgotten me altogether? The four of them headed for the river, and I got up to follow, but when I put weight on my right ankle it became clear I had indeed been injured. I didn’t think Luki was aware of me at all, but as Sonny is fond of pointing out, he’s really much kinder than he tries to pretend. He came back and probed my ankle, turned it this way and that. The motions hurt, but I could see him cringe when I exclaimed, and I knew he was trying to be gentle.
“I don’t think it’s broken, Ms. Sylvre, but you’d better not put full weight on it. Can you walk if I support you?”
I (rather bravely I thought) said I’d do my best. He helped me up, and all three of the other men came over, looking concerned. Every one of them acted like they wanted to help, but it was Todd who ended up supporting me on the other side.
“It’s treacherous ground up ahead, Ms. Sylvre, but I think Luki and I can get you to the river. Then you can ride. Nick has plenty of medical supplies at home. We’ll get you fixed up.”
I was thankful and if I hadn’t been hurting, I would have been in one of the higher levels of heaven. But I was hurting, and as the sun fell I was also getting cold. Imagine my surprise when Luki took his warm wool-lined leather jacket and put it over my shoulders. What a sweet guy. Thoughts about pain and the sweetness of badasses occupied my mind as we negotiated the road and then a rocky climb down to the river. But then I almost fell over as Todd nearly dropped me.
“Uh, Nicky?” he said. “How did our horses get on the other side of that river?”
“I didn’t do it,” Nick said. “Don’t worry, Ms. Sylvre, I’ve got some decent pain killers at home. It’s not far, or wouldn’t be if we didn’t have to cross the river.”
“Well, how bad can it be? It’s just a river,” Sonny said. He wandered dangerously close to the muddy bank. “It doesn’t look like it goes very fast.” Turning and walking backward as he spoke, Sonny continued. “Looks like we can just wade across here.”
“No!” Todd held out his free hand.
“It’s a lot deeper than it looks,” Nick added and sprinted at Sonny.
Too late. Sonny must have hit a slippery spot along the bank, or maybe some slim covered rock, but it didn’t matter the effect was the same. His feet went up into the air and his ass plummeted earthward, or more exactly riverward.
A hearty kersplash and Sonny was in the water. Then he was under the water and moving down stream. Fast.
“Shit,” Todd muttered and left me to run for the river.
“Crap.” Nick was right behind him. Todd must have hit the same slippery spot, he did some sort of uncoordinated quick step before his feet slid out from under him and he hit the muddy ground. “Nice save,” Nick said.
“Shuddup. We need rope,” Todd grumbled.
“We need to get my husband out of that water!” Luki let go of me and ran toward the river. Apparently he hadn’t learned from Todd and Sonny since he ended up mud covered and on his considerably finely attired ass. He tried to scramble up out of the mud, but it was almost like quicksand, and seemed to suck him down toward the water. I sat there helpless as he slid helplessly down the bank, and the two already in deep flailed and shivered. It reminded me of the events in Saving Sonny James where Sonny swam out too far in the straits. Luki rescued him then, but that just wasn’t happening this time.
I struggled to my feet but I was just no use. Fortunately Nick really had his stuff together. He ran back to a small brush covered hunting blind I hadn’t noticed before. He came out with a thick rope, knotting it as he high-tailed it back to the bank. He hit the muddy patch, but was better prepared than Luki had been and avoided getting stuck or losing his balance. I struggled to my feet again; by this time the moon had risen and its light limned a long, almost straight branch that had gotten stuck between some rocks. A serviceable crutch. I made my way down to the bank.
Todd had run into some trouble, finding it hard to keep his footing in the muck. I called out, “Todd, take the end of the branch with one hand, I’ll anchor you from here.”
“Good idea,” he said, and followed suit. He threw the rope out, and Sonny latched on, then Todd. So far, so good, but when Luki took hold, the weight of all those muscles pulled Nick and me down the bank and Luki splashed right out into the current. They were all three trying to fight the current, but they were losing.
I was no help at all after that—I had wrenched my wrist when I landed on a rock. Thank god for Nick. He’s stronger than he looks, and very smart, and he wasn’t about to let the river take his mate—or anyone else if he could help it. Back on his feet, he shouted, “Grab the rope again! Don’t let go!” He turned his back to the river, hunched down, and holding the rope with two hands, belayed it over his shoulder, and hauled with all his hidden strength.
And it worked. Sonny, the strongest swimmer, got close enough to the bank to swim up to the shallows. Once there, he dug in his heels and lent his own wiry strength to the task. Luki and Todd made it to within a few feet of him, dropped the rope and wrapped arms over each other’s shoulders, helping each other the rest of the way.
All of the men who’d been in the water were weak and shivering, but Nick ran to and from the cache and brought back dry tinder and a few chunks of wood and a striker. In no time he had a fire going. Luki, though I know he barely had half the strength he usually had, nevertheless came over and lifted me as if I was no heavier than a child, and settled me by the fire. I was blubbering, and I was going to give him his jacket back, but Nick said, “No, hold on to it, Miss Lou,” and in minutes had everyone covered in blankets, eating chocolate bars, and watching coffee boil.
“Nicky,” Todd said, still shivering a little. “First, I really love you. Second, where did that cache of stuff come from?”
“Oh, Todd! Don’t you know. Miss Elizabeth puts them around for us in case of emergency—we can use them as long as we’re not actually in a book.”
“How did you know?” Todd looked totally perplexed.
“She told me.”
“Elizabeth Noble told you about these emergency hoards?”
“Uh-huh. I thought she told you, too,” Nick said sheepishly.
“Nope. She likes you best, like I said before.”
“Todd, don’t say things like that. Just remember to write her a thank you note.”
“Good idea. I think I’ll send her a little tapestry.” Sonny looked relaxed now that Todd had passed him a cup of hot camp coffee.
“Okay, I’ll get in on this, too,” Luki said. “I’ll sing her a song.” And he did, he started right into the strains of a song I loved when I, Lou Sylvre, was a teenager. “You and I must make a pact… we will bring salvation back.”
How fitting. All of these guys were there for each other, petty disagreements shoved aside. Badasses are nicer than they look, and nice guys are stronger than they look, but in the end, every character needs his author.
It’s the 2013 annual meeting of the Fictional Badass Association (FBA), and the keynote address is scheduled to commence in twelve minutes. There is the usual low, echoing roar of scraping metal chairs and mostly phony expressions of friendship. The wide, vaguely beige hall boasts poor lighting—overhead canisters that glare, yet somehow manage not to throw enough light for Luki Vasquez, with his sometimes uncooperative left eye, to read the program.
Luki (mumbling and fumbling on his hated pince nez): “God damn it, these chairs are fucking uncomfortable! This is the badass association, people, not numb ass. Or maybe I just shouldn’t have let Sonny have his way with me before I left.” He chuckles without smiling and tries to find a spot of light to situate the program in. Then, suddenly, someone’s large feet are standing close, and someone, presumably the owner of those feet, is clearing his throat overhead. Luki looks up to find a rugged looking man with a good-natured smile—a man who looks familiar. Recognition strikes. “Oh, Todd… uh… Todd Ruger.”
Todd: “Hey, Luki Vasquez, right? I think we met briefly on Lou Sylvre’s blog? Listen, do you mind if I sit here? Most of the people here….”
Luki: “Yeah, sure, join me. I know what you mean. Slash is seriously underrepresented. And have you seen who’s on for the keynote? Fucking Frodo!”
Todd: “No shit? Well… you know one doesn’t simply walk into Mordor.”
Luki shakes his head: “Yeah, well if any of that bunch should be involved with FBA, it’s Sam Gamgee. Not Frodo. Although I admit in the movie version he made sounds of pain a human male could not reproduce. But how about Boromir, eh?”
Todd: “I've never seen a movie, not actually sure what one is, but I've read and, Hell no! Aragorn has my vote.”
Luki: “I would never vote for Aragorn! I mean… Sonny really likes him, and all.”
Todd: "So, your idea of a badass is to sit around and watch stuff? I didn't manage to get rid of a few shifters and fight in a war, you know an actual war with bullets and explosions and stuff sitting on the side lines watching some wannabe badasses pretend."
Luki: "Geez, dude, this is a meeting, not a boxing ring, calm down. I suppose the people in the movie might be wannabe, pretend badasses, but I’m not in a movie—and if you want to know what one is just sit tight for a while, they’ve got clips cued up to demonstrate Frodo’s alleged badassness. You might even see Aragorn whining around. But you know besides Boromir, there’s also Gimli! That dwarf can throw an axe, baby.”
Todd: “Aragorn. To hell with the rest.”
Luki: “Broken record.”
Todd: “What’s a record?”
Luki: “But as for me, I've got bullets, and explosives, and I hate to boast and so forth, but I can pretty much take a guy out and make it seem I’m hardly moving. Tai chi. And more. Then, should I need it, I have a security team—all badasses in one way or another, especially Jude, who runs the office.."
Todd: "I don't need a team. Just me and Nicky, he’s psychic. As for entertainment, I'm not sharing the details of what we do."
Luki: "Oooh such a gentleman. What in the hell would make you think I’d be telling you what I do in private with my husband?”
Todd smiled, clasped his hands behind his head, leaned back in his chair and stretched ridiculously long legs out in front of him. "Dandy like you probably couldn't handle it."
Luki chuckled, shook his head, and put his own muscled arms, in their tailored shirt sleeves with their white gold and sapphire cufflinks behind his head, mirroring Todd. “Fuck you, Ruger. Or rather I wouldn’t. But if we’re all done playing cock o’ the walk, for now, I have a serious question for you.”
Todd: “You are a rude son-of-a-bitch, aren’t you.”
Luki: “Leave my mama out of it. Here’s the thing, though. See I’m ridiculously in love with my husband. So much that I can’t imagine living without him. What’s it like for you, Todd? I mean… don’t get me wrong, but Nick’s your slave? Would you love him even if he wasn’t? Would he love you?”
Todd heaved a long suffering sigh. He couldn’t believe even someone like Luki Vasquez couldn't get it. "There is no law that says an owner, or a slave, have to have fond feelings for one another, or even love. I have to provide for him, nothing more. I worked hard to earn his love and I work to keep it. I've known Nick since he was five and I was twelve. Let me ask you, would your husband so much as give you the time of day if he'd known you that long?"
Luki: “Todd, relax. I get it. I do. I asked you an honest question, I’m not so sure the question you asked me is in kind, but I’ll respond as though it is. "
Todd: “I asked an unfair question? You're the one who insinuated that because my relationship with Nick started out differently from you and your husband's it's not real. We still chose to mate, both of us, freely. Nick was never forced."
Luki: “I said I get it, about you and Nick. Do you think I’m lying, or do you think I’m too dense to understand? Or maybe you’re just on the defensive. I don’t need a response, though. I’ll say it one more time. I get it. You love the man and he loves you. That can’t be bad. As for whether Sonny would love me under those circumstances… who can say? The first decades of Sonny’s life he endured horror stories piled one on the other—no less than what Nick went through. He pulled through it and made something beautiful of his own life, and thank the saints, when I stumbled into his domain, he was able to open up for me. So your question makes no sense, because in the world Sonny knew as a kid… well, there just wasn’t any room to admit someone like me. But speaking for me, I’m 42 and I’ve never been in love, until Sonny. But to my heart it feels like he was always there and I just didn't know it.”
Todd: "And you didn't answer my question. Would he still love you having known you since you were twelve?"
Luki: “As I tried to explain, the question makes no sense in the context of Sonny’s life. And I don’t have a backward crystal ball any more than I have a forward one. And when I was twelve, he was one year old, for god’s sake. As I said, my husband and I love each other, and I’m willing to accept that though your relationship is not one I understand, you and Nick love each other, too. And you’ve told me about evil in your world—demons and things like that, horrifying! Well my world is full of evil, too, and just because it’s human doesn’t make it less horrifying, or less deadly.”
Luki waited for Todd to speak, but the man just stared straight ahead, so eventually he concluded. “I know what it’s like to be willing to give up anything, even your life, in a fight to save the man you love, Todd. People will be reading soon, Ms. Sylvre hopes, about how I had to win against a man who kidnapped my husband and poisoned him—yeah, evil. Every bit as awful as those demons you fight. Believe that love and goodness and strength matter in my world. And in that weird world Ms. Noble created for you, the same things matter. So as annoying as you’ve been, I want you to know, young man, that I’m glad you’re there to fight that brand of evil, and I’m glad you and Nick have your brand of love…. Hm, I think Frodo’s at the podium.”
Todd: “Yes, I know what you mean, about fighting for your man’s life. I recently spent weeks getting Nick from the clutches of a psychic vampire, and a few more getting him to stop blaming himself for something he had no control over." Todd stretched in his seat and stared forward. "I can’t see anyone up there.”
Luki: “I know. But I think Frodo’s at the podium.”
Todd turned in his chair and looked Luki up and down, speaking in a soft voice, "For the record, some people are worse than demons and are monsters."
Luki chewed his lip in order to stop the smile that wanted show itself. “Yes,” he said, “ and short."
It's been four years since a global pandemic has ravaged the world and almost a year since Mark and Duncan had their fateful meeting at a tiny pharmacy. Duncan has spent that time doing everything he could to ease Mark's fears of losing him—fears that go beyond the normal danger of their new world. When a minister and his wife seek out Mark for help, Duncan sees an opportunity to show Mark another level of commitment—if Mark will dare to take it.
Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.
Find Grace here:
Website ◊ Facebook ◊ Twitter ◊ Youtube ◊ Goodreads
Sweet sale going on at JMS Books LLC That includes my books, Edge Jump and Home Coming.
Keeping House by Jeanne G’Fellers
Thank you, Elizabeth Noble, for hosting a stop on the Keeping House blog tour. Second, hey, everyone, I’m Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers, and I’ve here to talk a little about my newest Paranormal Fantasy release, Keeping House, the second novel in the Appalachian Elementals series.
Keeping House picks up three months after Cleaning House left off, with my protagonist, Cent Rhodes, leaving to fulfill her part of the deal that saved her life. She’s to serve the she-King of the Hunter fey, Dane Gow, for three months each year, from Brigid to Beltane, and Cent’s more than a little intimidated, given who Dane is. But just who is Dane Gow anyway?
Dane Gow is, in a word, complicated. She’s the thirtieth Hunter fey king (yes, I set a small batch of Scottish fey in the midst of Southern Appalachia, but we’ll save that reasoning for another day). Dane’s over four-hundred-years old but looks no more than twenty, runs a successful welding and ironworks business, and knows enough magic to fill a bookcase with volumes. She’s also plagued by the kings of the past, short-tempered, and oh, yeah, she’s a polyamorous lesbian married to Sissy and Bonnie Gow. Her relationship with Bonnie is tense at best, and their two hundred year long marriage has been a continual test of Dane’s patience. But Sissy? Four years of marriage and Dane’s still smitten even though Sissy has a serious problem with alcohol that’s fueled by Bonnie’s drama. All that aside, Dane’s got her eyes on Cent… again. Yes, they’ve been together in Cent’s past lives, and Dane wants Cent even though they’re both married this time around. Bonnie’s irate, and Sissy? Well, she’s handling it fairly well based on the excerpt below.
Sissy wadded her napkin and sat straight. “Cent?”
“You got my blessin'. That’s all I wanted to say. You’re a damn sight easier to deal with than Bonnie.”
Cent didn’t know how to respond, so she concentrated on her meatloaf and soup though her appetite was long gone. “Thanks, I guess. I don’t really know—”
“You don’t need to say anything. Just be a friend to me, all right? I need all them I can get.”
Yes, Sissy does need friends like Cent, and so does Dane and every other Hunter fey, but how is Dane going to convince Cent this is even possible, especially when it comes to Cent’s eternal spouse, earth elemental, Stowne? Well, that’s part of the story, I suppose, but here’s a bit of another character’s perspective on the relationship between Cent, Stowne, and Dane inside the novel.
Conall leaned forward, lessening the space between them. “Stowne ain’t a knight in shinin' armor any more than Dane is, and they’re both capable of lyin' if they think it’ll sway your thinkin'.”
“So are you.”
“Touché.” He sat back. “You got no reason to believe me, but I ain’t got no reason to lie neither.”
“You’re one of Dane’s men, reason enough.”
“And her best friend.” He sipped his coffee. “I’m only telling you this because she’s… There’s more to all this than what you’re seein'.”
So, complicated, right? It seems that description extends to more than just Dane within Keeping House, but complexities, when you get down to it, are what makes friends and lovers into family, aren’t they?
Jeanne G'Fellers has a new queer non-binary/gender fluid paranormal fantasy out in the Appalachian Elementals series: "Keeping House."
Centenary Rhodes is caught in a deal she didn’t make. Thanks to her eternal lover, Stowne’s, quick thinking, she’ll live forever, but there’s a hitch. Cent’s now fey, and three months out of the year she’ll live on the other side of Embreeville Mountain among the Hunter Fey, serving their king, Dane Gow.
As Cent begins wading through the anachronisms that come with being a Hunter, she learns that nothing is what it initially seems. Cent shares several past lives with Dane, who wants her back, and Stowne’s lied to Cent so many times that she’s having doubts about their marriage. To make matters worse, the past Hunter Kings are influencing Dane’s behavior, and the youngest Hunter, Brinn, might well be the most dangerous of them all.
It’s going to be a cold, dark spring, and Cent needs to unite both sides of Embreeville mountain before her eternal life, her relationship with Dane, and her marriage to Stowne come permanently undone.
Another rich Contemporary Appalachian tale about fantastic people and the magic they possess, including LGBTQIA+ characters Human and otherwise.
Come dance with the Appalachian fey and drink a little moonshine under the full moon while you hear Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Death share tales about families of our blood, families of our making, and magic both long ago and flowing through us now.
Warnings: depiction of mental illness including on page psychosis; discussion of gender dysphoria, cutting, and self-harm; discussion of rape and murder; on and off page violence
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I can do this. Cent unzipped the top of her coveralls and lowered her long johns to reveal the halter top beneath them. “Sorry, not sorry to disappoint you, King Dane.” She unfurled her wings and rolled her shoulders to shake them open.
“Just look at all them sigils.” Dane stomped her boots on the circle sands as she laughed, and her men laughed with her. “You look like a doodled-out scratch pad.” She removed her arm from her coat and rolled her sleeve above her bracer to show the sigils tattooed across her plaster-pale bicep. “All us Hunters got them, but ours won’t warsh off with a good scrubbin’, and neither will yours by the time you get back to Stowne.”
“Sigils remain intact even if they cannot be seen by the eye.” Cent’s spouse’s mouth thinned with the stress she knew they were feeling. “If the sigils are applied in perfect love and trust, that is. Rest assured, Centenary’s were.”
“Like I care.” Dane shoved her arm back into her coat. “It’s my turn, you worn-out gravel heap. That was our deal.” She lunged forward to grab Cent by the arm.
“Let go!” Cent wrenched away and moved to stand between Pyre and Exan, her elemental escorts. “I’ll fly with them.” She blew Stowne a kiss and stretched her wings, shivering. “Hold on.” She pulled a pair of striped leg warmers from her pocket and slid them over her arms. They were horribly outdated, but they’d been a cheap thrift shop solution, and she was glad she’d remembered them. Still, they weren’t enough for the current weather.
“Betcha she can’t keep up.” Dane’s guard, Conall, snorted and extended his hand to the guard with the dreadlocks. “Deal, Weeds?”
Weeds knocked his hand away. “Nothing to be gained there because you’re right.” He pulled a red wool chullo hat from his pocket and drew it over his head, topping that with a pair of ski goggles he lowered over his eyes. “She’s not going to get there without help.”
“Manners, boys.” Dane pulled a pair of leather Steampunk-style goggles over her eyes. “Best not judge until we see what she’s got under the hood. Come on. We’re late for a helluva shindig.” She laughed as she took to the air, hovering above the circle until Cent, Pyre, and Exan joined her. Her men took to the air behind them, Weeds pressing ahead while Conall brought up the rear.
We’re sandwiched in.Cent flew as hard as she could, hoping to lessen the distance between her and Dane, but it kept growing.
“Problem?” Conall flew up behind Cent as she struggled to keep speed. “Get movin’.”
“I’m trying!” Cent almost stopped mid-air to confront him, but Pyre grabbed her by the shoulder, pulling her to the right so he flew past.
“Not a good idea.” Pyre hooked their smoky arm through hers, urging her along. “You’re cold.” They sent warmth into her, but she still shivered.
“Let us give you the energy to do this.” A thread of Exan’s black mass wrapped her left arm. “Come along.”
“What’s the holdup?” Dane flew back to face them. “Havin’ trouble keepin’ up, girlie?” She moved closer. “Guess Conall’s right after all. You need him to carry you the rest of the way?” Dane snickered when Conall returned to hover, scowling, behind her. Their beating wings stirred the air more than Cent’s, and her teeth chattered to the point she couldn’t hide it.
“I’ll get there.” But she knew she’d be struggling even with Pyre and Exan’s help, and she was so cold their warming energy wasn’t enough.
“You can’t, admit it.” Dane surged forward to grab Cent around the waist, forcing her wings to roll then tuck as Exan and Pyre’s grips fell away. “Your spirit form can fly, but your real wings are puny. Best hold on, or I’ll let you fall.” She turned Cent outward, holding her with one stout arm as they began to move. “Your eyes ain’t used to this cold and movement combined, so keep them closed until we’re— no. Hey, Weeds.” Dane slowed until he caught up along with Pyre and Exan, who both moved to see Cent’s face.
“I’m fine.” She blinked away the frost that’d collected on her eyelashes. “Let her do the work if she wants.”
“I got stuff to get done, or you’d be suckin’ up the rear, that’s all.” Dane motioned to Weeds. “Give her your goggles.”
“But— yes ma’am.” His dismay spread across his face as he pulled a scarf from his pocket, wrapping it around his head until only his eyes showed.
I’m making a great impression on him.
“Put them on, and let’s get movin’. Much longer up here and our wings’ll start freezin’.” Dane pulled Cent’s coveralls and long johns to her chest and opened her own coat to wrap her in it. “Damn rookie-ass flyer. Next time, wear a hat too.” Dane jerked her welding cap from her pocket, pulling it over Cent’s head as they gained speed.
Air whipped around them as they moved, and it began to sleet, pelting Cent with ice shards and freezing over her goggles by the time they touched down. “Someone get her a blanket!” Dane tore the goggles from Cent’s face and blew warm, tobacco-tainted breath in her face. “And somethin’ hot to drink!” Her voice softened. “You all right, sugar?”
“Let go!” Cent broke away and rushed to Pyre and Exan’s sides before they could fully manifest. “Dane’s being nice,” she whispered as she pulled off the leg warmers then raised her long johns and coveralls. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Take a deep breath and look around.” Pyre kept their voice soft and calm, which frightened Cent all the more.
“She means you no harm this night.” Exan wrapped their arm around her shoulders. “This is Dane’s kingdom, and she is in control of all you see.” They spun her around to view the nearly three-dozen pale Hunter faces, some clearly pissed by her presence, others amused, and a few too clouded in their expression to read, clustered around the bonfire she stood near.
“Welcome back to my world, Centenary Rhodes.” Dane bowed before her then rose wearing a mischievous smile. “Let’s get this party started!”
Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers' early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with their father and reading the books their librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s writing influences include Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert.
Jeanne lives in Northeast Tennessee with their spouse and five crazy felines. Their home is tucked against a small woodland where they regularly see deer, turkeys, raccoons, and experience the magic of the natural world.
Author Website: https://jeannegfellersauthor.com/
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I've Got You by Becca Seymour
I’ve Got You by Becca Seymour
As soon as I introduced Davis in Let Me Show You, I knew he needed a story of his own. His voice was so distinctive, his personality so visceral that I honestly I couldn’t NOT have written his HEA.
What I also knew was that, as a single dad, which was previously established, he deserved someone special, but more than that, I didn’t believe he needed added complications of exes and his daughter’s mom showing up.
There wasn’t a moment where Davis’s future, or him chasing his HEA, needed to be buried in the past. It wasn’t what I wanted for him. There were no ghosts, no added angst of drama of his one-night stand showing up wanting rights to his child. I honestly think that’s because without Davis finding his special person, he already was fully aware he was blessed. Not only because of his beautiful child, but also with his best friend, who he classes as family.
He also has a big heart and is so willing to give that away—and so much more— to support people he cares about.
Knowing this, when he meets his love interest, his focus is very much on building a friendship, while dealing with a heap of lusty thoughts, and trying to be supportive since his love interest has taken a tentative first step out of the closet.
Davis’s story is very much relationship and character driven, with the focus on Davis’s outed-vet love interest, who he has a crush on, working his way through the minefield of self-respect and self-worth. In doing so, we see Davis falling hard but falling slowly. Yep, another sultry slow burn with humor and the smallest of dramas unfolding.
But Davis deserved someone who could love him back—without reservation, without fear. He absolutely deserved a “real” love.
Becca Seymour has a new mm/bi romance out: I've Got You.
When a single dad and a newly outed veterinarian meet by chance, it takes red-cheeked conversations, a tentative friendship, and the willingness to put their hearts on the line to show these men they’re made for each other.
Single dad Davis Jackson is busy balancing his coffee shop and being the best dad he can be. That doesn’t mean he’s not lonely. After a fumbling encounter with a man who looks as gorgeous as he does unhappy, Davis is left wondering who the mystery man is.
All Davis knows is that he has never felt such an instant attraction to anyone before, but when he discovers the brown-eyed man’s identity, it’s clear the recently out-of-the-closet veterinarian is lost and quite possibly broken.
A swoon-worthy low-angst stand-alone contemporary M/M romance featuring characters from LET ME SHOW YOU.
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I was thirty-three years old and still had no clue who I was.
Just two steps and I’d be able to breathe again.
I clutched the handle and yanked the door open. Fresh air greeted me. I stepped into the darkness and pulled the door quietly closed behind me, then looked around the fenced backyard, only seeing the side panels and nothing beyond the darkness. My gaze settled on a couple of chairs. While it wasn’t complete escape, it gave me time to catch my breath and get my head straight.
Easing into the wooden chair, I leaned back, stretching out my neck and glancing up at the star-filled sky. With no lights on in the yard and just the faint glow filtering out from the busy kitchen, I was able to focus on the tiny specks overhead. I released a heavy exhale, pulling the calmness of the outside into me. I shouldn’t have come. Damn, I should have been at least two thousand miles away by now, away from this tiny town that threatened to splitapart my whole world.
Claws on the wooden deck, a not-so-softgrunt and sigh, and I glanced to my right to see Carter and Tanner’s monster dog, Rex, ambling over to me. The first couple of times I’d met Rex at the veterinary clinic, it was no surprise to Carter or methat the Ridgeback had taken an instant dislike to me. Hell, I didn’t even like myself most of the time. But as he walked toward me, I no longer tensed in fear. This was the third visit I’d made to Carter’s, andit seemed Rex had had a change of heart.
He huffed as he sat next to me, his large head immediately landing on my thighs. My first real smile of the night spread across my lips, andI reached out both hands and rubbed behind Rex’s ears. “Hey there, mutt.” I rubbed a bit harder, andhe moaned happily. I snorted. “You like that, huh?” Rextilted his head and leaned his right ear into my palm. “You know, bud, I think you’ve got the right idea.” He blew heavily out of his snout, andI laughed, the sound filling the quiet space. “Life’s a hell of a lot easier if you’ve got no balls at all to lead you around and confuse the heck out of you.”
A snort-laugh from out of the darkness had me tensing. I squinted, looking toward the end of the yard. After a moment, my eyes adjusted and I saw a man looming, his figure moving closer until he stepped into the faint light.
Damn.So much for alone.
Rex’s head flipped to the side to look at the guy coming toward me. He grunted again and then thumped his head back down onto my thighs before nudging my hand for me to continue.
I started to rub, not as invested, nor as relaxed. With my jaw locked, I risked a glance at the guy. Light spilled onto the stranger’s face, highlighting his strong jawline. While I couldn’t see the color of his eyes, I did see the creases surrounding them. It immediately made him seem approachable and friendly. As he moved closer, a small smile lifted his mouth. My gaze landed on the slight curve of his lips before traveling back to his eyes. They were brown, but in the dull light, I couldn’t tell the exact shade or depth.
Friendly, he most definitely was, if his smile and the “Hey” he offered me were anything to go by. But he also looked tired as hell.
I cleared my throat, suddenly aware I’d stayed quiet for a few seconds too long. “Hey.” My voice was gravelly and sounded unnaturally deep.
The guy paused in front of me, his hands dipping into his jeans pockets. He was quiet for a beat, seeming to contemplate what to say.
“You know Rex then?”
I nodded and then took a glance at the large head resting on my lap. With a small nod, I smiled. “Yeah. He finally likes me, so I’m taking it as a win that we’re friends.”
The brown-eyed man’s head tilted slightly, his gaze scanning my face a moment before his eyes returned to mine. “So you’re a friend of Carter’s?”
A humorless snort burst free, not enough to startle Rex, but enough for the guy to raise his brows. I cleared my throat again, not especially likingthe fact that it seemed to be closing up and becoming uncomfortably dry in front ofthis guy. “Well, sort of. We used to work together.”
I bit back the bitter retort dancing on my tongue, tempted to ask if that wasn’t what “used to” explicitly meant. There was no need for me to be so defensive or any bigger of an asshole than I already had a reputation for being.
“Nope. Just trying to figure out my next move.” I clamped my mouth shut, wondering why I’d shared so much. He sat on the lounger beside me, stopping my analysis. “Please, take a seat.” Damn, I really needed to learn to keep my mouth shut and stop being a dickhead. “Sorry.” I threw him a small grimace, noticing both of his perfectly arched brows were lifted, his attention solely on me. There was also a small smile on his lips. I was positive I saw it twitch.
“Hey, I can leave.”
Though, he stayed put, making no indication he planned on moving. He didn’t even shrug or twitch as he spoke.
While solitude had been what I’d craved, I was smart enough to recognize that just maybe not being alone was a good thing. Being alone, I was discovering, was not helpful at all. All it did was give me too much time with my thoughts. And that had a habit of screwing with my head. While I’d sought the quiet, especially since my blowout with Carter a while back, I recognized how dangerous isolation could be.Loneliness was a slippery slope.
Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.
Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.
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Today I welcome the authors of The Demon of Hagermarsh, Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus. They were kind enough to answer a few questions. Oh, and they've got their own WiKi. How cool is that? The artwork for this book is nothing short of amazing.
1) Tell us what the book is about.
'The Demon of Hagermarsh' is about a young knight in service of the Emperor, being sent undercover to a remote fishing village to investigate a potential demonist cell. Mostly, the book deals with him figuring out what is going on in town, figuring out if he really wants a romantic relationship with the cute baker, and figuring out how to use his powers in a way that doesn't create too much collateral damage.
2) What's the genre of the book? How about the series of Sir Yaden’s adventures?
Mainly, the book is a mix of adventure and MM romance in a space opera setting, maybe with a dash of mystery and New Adult. The following books will have more adventure, bromance, romance and intrigue.
3) How does the book relate to the entire series?
'The Demon of Hagermarsh' takes place in a relatively confined setting. Just one town, and it's not about saving the world, just about not letting things get worse than they are. Over the course of the series, though, the stakes will be getting higher, and the settings progressively larger and wildly diverse. More like dipping the toe into the water than a full-on assault of all the setting has to offer; which would have been a bit much for a first book, in our opinion.
4) Will all novels in the series be romances?
No. While there will be other romances, most of the novels will have an adventure core with romance, bromance and family subplots.
5) So the main character is a young knight?
Yes, Yaden is the latest addition to the Emperor's Lotus Knights. Think of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table - confidants and representatives, doing good in the name of the Emperor. Though in this case, without the shining armour.
6) The main character is supernaturally gifted, a psion. What is psionics?
Psionics in this setting is the power to influence the material world with your mind alone. The main character is a petrakinetic, able to shape and move rock and soil as he likes - well, as long as he's got enough energy to do it. He grew up on a planet with a lot of volcanic activity and frequent earthquakes, and powerful as he is, he saved a lot of lives back there. But the power to tame a volcano is not necessarily what you need when trying to smoke out a demonist coven, and in combat situations, it's way too prone to cause significant collateral damage. So while quite a powerful Psion, our main character has a lot to learn before he's got a handle on the 'hero in the name of the Emperor' business.
7) I've seen there's an entire wiki detailing this universes background, 99.9% of which does not appear in this novel. Why all the work and will I be able to understand the novel without knowing all the information?
Yes, the world building that has gone into this novel is huge, indeed.
But 'The Demon of Hagermarsh' offers only a tiny slice of all this. That is why we decided on such a restricted setting and relatively simple plot for the first book. While almost none of the information in the wiki are mentioned in the book itself, all of it makes for an organically grown, consistent and 'lived-in' universe. Each encounter, each viewpoint is based on all of the background world building and that shines through.
After discussion with our beta readers, we cut the last remaining bits of exposure, confident that we have managed to create a setting that feels both delightfully alien and comfortably familiar at the same time that is sufficiently organic that it doesn't need datadumps.
10) Through 'memory'-chapters we get to know the past of our main characters. Why did you choose this way to give this information in small doses?
The 'memory'-chapters offer an additional dimension to the characters' motivations and attachments. While the story itself could be read perfectly without them, they cast a light on values and relationships that might not be instantly obvious to a reader. Especially concepts like slavery and aristocracy, whích are not central to the story, but inform every character's interaction to a certain degree.
If we had put them into the primary story, they would have felt like inorganic insertions - no one ever feels the need to state the obvious in the middle of the day. But offering these 'memory' chapters gave us the chance to illustrate those crucial moments in a - hopefully - lively and engaging way.
9) Even if I had no interest in sci-fi – is there a highlight that I would be missing if I didn’t read the novel?
Well, one thing that is a highlight in our eyes is the world building - grown over two decades by now, it's neither Hard SF nor Grimdark, but a wild patchwork of different cultures, beliefs and values, very colourful. We love reading and telling culture clash stories, as those always deepen our understanding of our own culture and our perceptions of what is 'normal'.
And maybe the more important way in which the 'Virasana Empire' for us is uniquely different is the positive outlook. The setting is pretty grim in many places, but it is never hopeless. If anything, it's on an overall upswing, and things, as bad as they might be, are improving, little by little.
As with all our books, we guarantee a happy ending. Only we're not telling how that may look, and considering the settings' options, it's gonna be both pretty out there and yet whole-heartedly human and soulful.
Just one example: The main character's family is the emotional pivotal point of the entire series. But the problems they deal with will never be problems they have with each other. They will face external problems, figure out how they all can contribute to solving them, and get shit done.
10) What is the next adventure readers can look forward to that Sir Yaden will have to tackle?
The next adventure sends Yaden to 'The Windmines of Bora Bora', which is a penal slave hard labour camp on a moon of Yaiciz. It's a dark, snarky adventure and bromance novel, and it's already available for preorder at all the usual retailers!
Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus have a new MM fantasy book out: The Demon of Hagermarsh.
“The Emperor cares for each and every one of his subjects.”
Many consider the catchphrase of the imperial Lotus Knights to be nothing more but well-polished propaganda, but for Yaden, it is a way of life.
A young Lotus Knight himself, his first mission in service of the Emperor sends him to the remote village of Hagermarsh, a suspiciously friendly place on a planet known for its inhospitable people. But how to uncover a demonist coven when nothing bad ever happens?
Getting to know the villagers only complicates things - the motherly fishmonger surely isn’t a demonist. Nor the gruff leader of the local militia. And definitely not the cute baker from across the street.
Or are they?
Come discover a dazzling, hopeful universe of knights and monsters, of psions, aliens and ancient deities! The Demon of Hagermarsh is the first book of ‘Sir Yaden’, an epic SF saga of grand adventure, romance, bromance and family, set in the multi-faceted Virasana Empire. It is a romantic adventure and can be read as a standalone.
Instantly, Yaden was on his feet and in the sales room, only to realise that he had absolutely no reason to do so except for his curiosity, but now it was too late for a credible retreat.
“Good day, Sir,” he greeted Colin, hoping he'd come across as a diligent shop servant and not some weirdo.
Colin looked a little startled at his sudden appearance, but he gave him that sunny smile of his. “Good day, Yaden. I thought I'd break with tradition and come in first, so the rest of them can follow. Me being the other most recent newcomer to the village and all.”
“Oh?” So that was why Colin seemed so out of place in Hagermarsh. “You're not from here either?”
“Actually I sort of am. My family has owned that bakery for generations. But my mother and her sister ran away to Schimmelbach. They hated this place, so, I wasn't born here.”
“Really? But what's to hate here? Hagermarsh seems pretty nice so far.”
“I don't actually know,” Colin replied with another smile, this time bittersweet. “Mother died when I was little, so Aunt Mildred raised me. And she rarely talked about their time in Hagermarsh.”
“So there's a terrible, dark secret to this village?” Yaden tried to keep his tone down and not too hopeful.
Colin laughed out loud. “In Hagermarsh? If there is one, I haven't been initiated yet. I only moved here a few years ago, when my Grandpa died and I took over the bakery. And so far, it's been the nicest place I've ever lived in.”
Not a useful lead. Yaden feverishly tried to figure out a way to ask more questions without making their conversation sound too much like an interrogation, until he noticed that Colin was looking at him with that beaming smile of his. It made him terribly nervous.
“So ... What are you looking to buy?” Inelegant, but at least it was a way out.
“A few odds and ends. We do need the General Store to open again. Which reminds me, can I have my basket back, yet?”
“Actually, I dropped it off with your apprentice yesterday. Didn't he tell you?” Yaden had specifically told the youth to let his master know, but had only received the usual grunt in return.
Colin groaned dramatically. “Rory! That lazy foghead is going to be the death of me one day! Eithne insisted that regular work would be good for him and he would improve, but I swear he is getting worse. That's what you get for listening to a kind old lady trying to barter off one of her grandsons.”
“I'm … sorry?”
“No, no, not your fault at all.” Colin's smile was back again in a blink. How could a man smile that much? “I'll deal with him. After all, he is my apprentice and I'm responsible for him. I'll get him into shape eventually.” He pulled a small note from his pocket, scanned it and for the first time properly looked around the sales room, his eyes going wide. “Wow! This is so orderly. And so much. It looks like you have at least one of everything.”
Before moving from Erys to Lagoona, Yaden would have agreed. He vividly remembered the first time he and Darios had visited one of the big shopping malls in Ridge, the highrise quarter of Agami, and gaped at the sheer amount of stuff on sale they hadn't even known existed. They sure had felt like clueless country bumpkins. But after a year in the Empire's capital, he had gotten used to it to a point where the General Store's range of goods felt rudimentary to him.
“Mostly I need a new pen and a whole bunch of different spices.” Colin smiled at Yaden hopefully. “Could you show me where everything is?”
“Sure, though we may not have exotic spices in stock. But we can order them for you.”
“That would be great. Okay, let me see. Most urgently, I need some garnak, ideally whole pods, and some dried lurka leaves. Do you have any terran caraway, by chance?”
There wasn't much assistance Yaden could offer, apart from showing him where they kept the spices. Deciphering the labels on the tins would have taken him much longer than Colin. But he recognized them at a glance, and Yaden stayed with him to portion out the amounts he needed and bring them over to the counter.
When Colin followed him to the counter, he noticed Darios properly for the first time and did a double take at his size.
“Master Darios, who actually owns the store,” Yaden introduced.
Darios greeted Colin with an amicable grunt and put his book down to ring up Colin's purchases.
“I promised Master Colin a discount in exchange for his welcoming bread,” Yaden reminded him.
“Oh, no, that is absolutely not necessary.”
Colin looked embarrassed, but Darios glanced at Yaden with a decidedly amused twinkle in his eye. Instead of figuring in a discount, he pulled two extra pencils from the box he kept under the counter and pushed them over to Colin.
“Thank you.” He smiled first at Darios and then at Yaden again. For a Leichnami he smiled suspiciously much, but his smile was warm and pretty and Yaden couldn't bring himself to mind. “Well, I should be on my way before the rest of Hagermarsh starts wondering whether you have eaten me.”
Walking him to the door was ridiculous, of course, but Yaden trailed behind him.
“Will I see you at the scribba training tonight?” Colin asked when he stepped out onto the porch.
“I thought that is only for the fighting citizens?”
Colin shook his head. “No, it's a bit of a social gathering, too. Lots of people standing around, drinking beer and giving useless advice to us poor fork-wielding folk.” He smiled yet again. “I could introduce you to some of the younger villagers.”
Yaden gave an exaggerated shudder. “I'm not sure I want to meet them if they are anything like Bridget from next door,” he grabbed the opportunity to gather more information.
“Oh, so you met Bridget?” Colin's smile gained a decidedly snarky edge. “Did she give you the 'in this village we don't tolerate any bullying and you better not step out of line' speech?”
“Actually, she asked me lots of questions. And she gave me the 'if anyone bullies you, I'll protect you' speech.”
“She did?” Colin looked amused and indignant at the same time. “Now, why do you look worthy of protection to her and I get treated like a ticking time bomb?”
“I don't know. Maybe I look harmless?” Which was more than a little ridiculous considering what Yaden was capable of.
“Mmh,” Colin huffed and shrugged. “Granted, Bridget is a bit odd. But there are some nice folks in Hagermarsh. They only act gruff when there is a chance of strangers observing them. Hagermarsh is a real community where people look out for each other. I think you'll like it here.”
Colin gave him that movie-star smile again, but Yaden had to struggle keeping up his own.
Those last sentences had triggered all alarms in Yaden's head. All of that sounded way too much like propaganda, crafted to keep the population calm, happy and ignorant of any ugly things happening behind the scenes. It sounded very much like the slogans the Lotus Pavilion PR team had drummed into his head. Colin had even the right kind of wholesome handsomeness that made believing such stories so easy. If Yaden managed to pinpoint where this propaganda was coming from, he'd be on the right track.
“See you at the training, tonight?” Colin asked.
Yaden only managed an affirmative grunt.
“Looking forward to it. Oh, and you may wanna bring some beer. That'll go a long way in making you less of a stranger.”
Yaden grunted again. Maybe not beer, but he had unpacked a whole crate of different kinds of schnapps and brandy earlier. Those would surely work just as well. He managed a parting smile before Colin turned around and left across the road.
We are Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, a couple currently living our happily ever after in the very heart of Germany, under the stern but loving surveillance of our cat.
Both of us are voracious but picky readers, we love telling stories and drinking tea, good food and the occasional violent movie. Together, we write novels of adventure and romance, hoping to share a little of our happiness with our readers.
Beryll: An artist by heart, Beryll was writing stories even before she knew what letters were. As easily inspired as she is frustrated, her own work is never good enough (in her eyes). A perfectionist in the best and worst sense of the word at the same time and the driving creative force of our duo.
Osiris: An entertainer and craftsman in his approach to writing, Osiris is the down-to-earth, practical part of our duo. Broadly interested in almost every subject and skill, with a sunny mood and caring personality, he strives to bring the human nature into focus of each of his stories.
Author Website: http://www.brackhaus.com/
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