Bed of Rose and Thorns by Lee Hunt.
Lee Hunt has a new dark fantasy/fairy tale out: Bed of Rose and Thorns. And there's a giveaway!
Sir Ezra is an Elysian Bell; he has a frightening potential that he keeps hidden deep beneath tight layers of steel armor. He secretly loves a dark Queen whose touch would mean his death.
Banished for brutally slaughtering the Prince of Erle and husband to the Queen, Sir Ezra can only dream of seeing her again. Every night, his soul travels to distant lands, remembering the Queen, her deep convictions, brilliant mind, unending work, hidden loneliness, and a single night of horrific bloodshed.
Recalled to the Queendom after eleven years, Ezra hopes to catch at least a fleeting glimpse of the woman he was sacrificed for. Instead, he finds a nation in rebellion and the Queen to be an elusive phantom. His only friend, Sir Marigold, challenges his presence and tells him that he is not needed in the capitol. Looking for both the truth and the absent Queen, Ezra finds only more secrets and enemies.
Ezra’s armor is dented, scarred, and ruined by friend and enemy alike; his secret potential is about to become unbound.
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A man alone, thirsty, falls asleep.
“Where am I?” asks the man. He seems to be bobbing high in clear aquamarine water. All he can see is a vast expanse of ocean and a clear crystalline structure that floats nearby. Something seems familiar. He had been in a desert, travelling with friends, but now he swims upon an endless ocean.
“Have I been here before?” he asks. The tug of oceanic currents and the endless blue horizon pull on some memory . . . something important.
“You are in the sea of Eydos,” says the crystalline structure. It has been floating toward him, quietly, its approach, until then, unnoticed.
“And you are an iceberg,” the man says, smiling, unconcerned, unsurprised by the nearness of the mountainous structure. He does not know what Eydos is, but he thinks he may recognize this vast icy creature. Something tells him that he may have seen her before, though his memory is as difficult to make out as a words written on water.
The iceberg shakes from side to side, creating little ripples and dancing waves. “I suppose that I am.”
“Your sides are so smooth,” says the man. “I like you.”
The iceberg shakes again and glides right up beside the man. He floats high enough in the water that her ripples of laughter do not threaten to drown him. “You are brave, aren’t you?”
“I am not afraid to look upon that which I like. And say so.”
“Look down then, man, and tell me what you see.”
The man dives down a few body lengths, searching. When he resurfaces, he is smiling even more widely than before. “You go down and down, out of sight, beyond light and reckoning.” He shakes his head at her. “Most of you is down below, unknowable. How vast are you?”
“Never ask a lady her size,” the iceberg says, creating even bigger waves as she shakes the waters, laughing. “My size is my depth, and my depth is my size.”
“Well, I like it. I am just a man. Not vast or mysterious like an iceberg.”
“An amusing man, I think,” replies the berg.
The man asks, “Where are you going?”
“On currents that are my own, on purposes that are my own, for reasons that are my own.”
“I don’t know what I am doing here or where I am going,” says the man.
“Typical,” replies the iceberg lightly. “Most do not.”
The man, swimming hard beside her, says, “You are certainly moving fast through this ocean.”
“Indeed,” says the iceberg. “I am an agent of my own destiny.” After a moment, she adds, “If you come around back and swim in my eddy, you will be pulled along. You can rest while we talk.”
The man looks at the smooth surface of the iceberg. “Can I not just slide up onto you and rest there?”
“No!” says the iceberg, firm. “I am hard and cold. I would burn you. If you touch me, you will be undone.” Her voice softens as she adds, “It is nice in my eddy. Swim there, man.”
He shrugs and does as she says.
“Oh, this is nice,” says the man. “I can look at you and talk at the same time.”
“Glad to help you do two things at once,” giggles the iceberg, making tears of water jiggle and parade.
And they talk on through the day, the man endlessly curious about the magnificent creature of the waters.
“I love you, iceberg,” declares the man.
“That’s nice, but you don’t even know a tenth of me.”
“Good point,” laughs the man. “I need to dive deeper.” He takes a deep breath and dives into the dark again.
Missing completely the iceberg’s cry of “No!”
The water starts at a clear color, or is it green? Then it turns light blue, and then to deeper and darker shades. The man pushes and kicks, fighting his buoyancy, feeling the weight of water build and build, following the clean lines of ice down into oblivion.
Heavy, crushing pressure begins to squeeze him. It is like the weight of memory, everywhere pushing, everywhere trying to change and deform him from his human shape, trying to make his courage fail and shatter his hope. But he loves the iceberg and he needs to follow her down.
At the utmost point of indigo darkness, he finds a new light. It shines from a clear chamber in the ice where a figure waits. Lungs bursting, he pushes deeper, drawing level to the translucent walls and the woman who lies inside.
She is naked but for her long, tawny hair. Like a lion’s mane, it frames her long, pure face and spills over her delicate, perfect shoulders. She looks at peace. Her eyes are closed, but she is smiling.
This is the heart of the iceberg, the man thinks, in the crushing pressure of the deep. So beautiful.
Then he sees that she rests upon a bed of long, sharp thorns.
Born with only one working lung and having had the last rights read to him and dying of an influenza related viral pneumonia, 25-year-old geophysicist Lee Hunt experienced several near-death dreams. The power of communication and the need to both understand and be understood was at the heart of each. He had already found that nothing was more important than being able to cross the distance between people.
Lee’s interests are eclectic. He is an Ironman Triathlete, hiker, traveler, and an enthusiastic sport rock climber. Lee also continues to work as a geophysicist on Carbon Capture and Sequestration projects, and is a writer for BIG-Media.ca.
The dream of understanding and being understood has never left his mind, and Lee continues that in his works of fiction through metaphor. His works include The Dynamicist Trilogy, Last Worst Hopes and Bed of Rose and Thorns.
Author Website: https://www.leehunt.org/
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100052376555360
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/DynamicistAuthor
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1196106.Lee_Hunt
Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/lee-hunt/
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lee-Hunt/e/B082YFTMCK
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