The Swordsman

The Swordsman

Mel Keegan

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Jack Leigh is a soldier of fortune, far from home. He's a brilliant "sword for hire," but in the dangerous Riverlands dukedom of Rhondia he gets more than he bargained for...

 

Treachery, treason and dark magic form swirling, powerful undercurrents in Rhondia. Along the canals and in the menacing heart of Nimmenwald forest lurk unimaginable threats — the bo'zhe, the Lappai, barbarians from Saihabara and the unknowable forces out of Nimmenwald Deep itself.

 

At the crux of the vortex of magic and treachery is the heir to Rhondia, Michael Sebastian — "Seb" — d'Astaghir. Haughty, moody ... haunted by the goblins of memory, Seb is in terrible jeopardy. It's only by luck that his old friend, old lover, Luc Redmayne, happens upon a streetfight in a tavern yard, and a "hired sword" enters the fortress of Rhondia as Seb's bodyguard.

 

With the fresh eyes of an "outlander," the shrewdness of a soldier of fortune from Yulminster, and the help of a young gypsy shaman, Jack Leigh uncovers the pitch-black, treasonous magic which is simmering just beneath the surface of Rhondia.

 

And when Jack, Seb, Luc and gypsy, Janos Zaparasti, finally lay their hands on the Basilisk ring, the symbol of the great houses of Rhondia, they unleash the very forces they have feared.

 

From page one, it's mystery, action, gay romance — and more than a dash of the sensual in this new, and entirely original fantasy novel.

 
PUBLISHED BY: GLBT Bookshelf
ISBN: 978-0975088463
PUBLICATION DATE: 2004
WORD COUNT: 149891
SEXUAL CONTENT RATING: 2 2
EBOOK READER RATING:
CATEGORIES: Fantasy, Action/Adventure
KEYWORDS: gay, gay adventure, gay fantasy, gay fiction, gay romance, mel keegan
 

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EXCERPT
COPYRIGHT Mel Keegan/2004

“That sounded sad.” Jack settled beside him, still half-dressed, and made sure the sword was within easy reach.

 

“Must you go when all this is over?” Sebastian tugged a pillow under his head. His thoughts must be hazy, Jack realized, but they would be a warm, dark, honey-thick haze, for Sebastian’s demons had left him for the moment. The lines of his face were at peace.

 

“You know I have to go. I’m not in Rhondia for the scenery, and I don’t fight for the good of my health!” Jack patted Sebastian’s flat belly. “Come on, get into bed. If you pass out here you’ll be frozen in another hour. Sebastian!”

 

He had been drifting, and jerked awake, apparently astonished to find he had actually drifted to the brink of sleep. “What did you say?”

 

“I said, get into bed!” Jack held open the linen and helped to shove him in.

 

“Lie down with me,” Sebastian insisted.

 

“I intend to. You think I’m going to sleep on the floor too?” Jack stood at the bedside, fists on hips, wearing an exasperated look as he heeled off his boots. “You’re a fool for letting your father do this to you.” He fetched the sword and positioned it crossways on the seat of a chair with the hilt closest to the bed, and then dropped the trousers and underlinen in an untidy heap. “Still, I suppose you know best.” He might have flaunted himself deliberately to tease, but Sebastian had been ambushed already by a mortal drowsiness.

 

“Mmm.” his breath shallowed, the mattress swallowed his spine. “I could get used to this. Could really like this. Having you beside me. So nice, so very nice,” he murmured, only vaguely aware as the bed dipped under Jack’s weight, and with a groan he surrendered to oblivion while Jack remained wide awake.

 

“He’s asleep,” Jack said in the direction of the hearth.

 

“He needs to rest,” Redmayne said, lifting his head from Janos’s mouth for a moment. “He’s had little enough since we were sent to the Legion. Years, Jack. Long, hard and bloody bitter years.”

 

“For us all,” Janos added. His fingers threaded into Luc’s yellow hair and pulled his head down again.

 

The others were quiet, and Jack tried to settle, but the warm body beside him, the hard-edged shape of the gelfaea against his shoulder, the distant sounds of revelry from the hall below and the love being made by the hearth would not permit him to doze.

 

Perhaps he should not have watched them. He knew little of customs in the Riverland, but in Yulminster watching a couple at love was considered the worst of bad manners. Still, his eyes were drawn to the hearth, where Luc Redmayne seemed to be made of liquid gold in the firelight, and Janos might have been a living bronze casting. Redmayne was on his back, Janos curled around him, hands and lips covering him inch by inch, here and there drawing a gasp or a groan from the soldier, until the gypsy’s soft mouth closed on him, drew him in deep. Then Redmayne was on a rack of his own making, arch-backed, silent now, quivering, until Janos lifted his head once more. He was a cudgel, Jack saw, thick, long, demanding.

 

Yet Luc’s hands were gentle, urging Janos closer. The gypsy mounted him, straight-backed and careful, wincing only once and then issuing a long, lush groan as he sheathed the cudgel in himself. Luc’s hands were on his breast, plucking at the gold rings in his nipples — Jack had not seen them before, and caught his breath as Janos tossed his head in some ecstasy. The wyld was powerful in him: the sounds in his throat were unearthly.

 

The Gift awoke in him when a storm of lust was on him, and Luc’s eyes were wide, watching unblinkingly. Janos arched his back, spread out his arms. They might have been wings. He made a sound like an eagle and for a fraction of a second, in the firelight, Jack was certain he glimpsed the bird, wings outstretched, talons grounded in Redmayne’s flesh, before Luc tugged on the rings and whispered, “Come back, come back,” and Janos cried out in his own voice.

 

He was himself now, shivering as Luc palmed the root of him and worked his own kind of pocket-magicks. Janos rode him, hands braced on the wide, bony shoulders, and Jack could barely breathe as the wyld was tamed, fetched back into mortal flesh and reforged into very human desire.

 

They were asleep long before Jack’s eyes even began to grow heavy, and he had not dozed for more than minutes when the commotion jerked him awake.

 
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