Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes old friend Jana Denardo to share her new book, Modified and Scared!
Blurb Lieutenant Addison Hunt is proud to serve the Confederation even if he still feels like he’s on the outside looking in. Addison was illegally genetically modified as a child, leaving him burdened with a sense of shame. Emotionally isolated from his fellow crewmen and recovering from injuries from his last job, Addison is happy to have light duty transporting an esteemed diplomat to a peace conference.
Deveral is one of the Sacred Kin, possessing a psychic ability that his people consider a spark of the divine. Like all the Sacred Kin, he’s led a sheltered life as a temple priest, but his heightened empathic ability makes him the perfect diplomat. Nervous to leave his home, he’s curious about his new companion, Lieutenant Hunt.
Not everyone wants the diplomatic mission to succeed, and a rebel faction poses a real threat to Addison and Deveral. Finding themselves cast adrift on a “lost” colony, they’ll have to fight to stay alive.
Addison wondered about his passenger as Deveral watched Fyria fall away in the view screen. The dossier said the Sacred Kin had not been off-planet except for a few trips to the moon. Deveral’s odd, goat-like eyes with their spooky horizontal-bar pupils grew bigger and bigger the smaller Fyria became. His opalescent skin started turning light gray, blending him into the shuttle seat. Even his hair faded from the same fiery opal his skin had been to the hue of smoke. He realized this change might mean his companion was nervous, but it also fascinated Addison. Was his hair alive? Could it be cut? Did his hair not grow any longer than it was, like a dog’s fur?
After a half hour, Fyria long gone from the screen, the silence weighed on Addison. He had spent his youth in relative quiet and now longed for a constant stream of sound. He studied Deveral, wondering if he waited for Addison to say something. Then a nasty thought struck him: maybe the Sacred Kin didn’t think he needed to speak to the “help.” Addison chided himself. He hadn’t gotten that impression from him when they’d toured the temple gardens. For someone so important, Deveral seemed relatively normal.
Unfortunately, looking at him made Addison’s pulse roar like the aft thrusters on a T-17 Starblazer. Beautiful, graceful, and sexy as hell, Deveral left Addison breathless. What sort of diplomatic nightmare would result if he set out to seduce the Sacred Kin? Addison pictured his aunts skinning him and using his hide as a seat cover for their command chairs. His knowledge gaps when it came to the Fyrian were big enough to pilot the shuttle through, but the dossier had a complete medical profile in case things skittered sideways. While there were several major differences, camouflaging skin for one, they were close enough to humans to interbreed with a little genetic help.
Addison shook his head. He needed to be far more professional in thought than he was at the moment. The motion caught Deveral’s attention because his eyes flicked over, and Addison found himself staring into one of Deveral’s golden eyes rotated much farther to the side than any human could achieve. Fantastic peripheral vision had been one of the line items in the medical profile, an evolutionary adaptation to having once been prey.
Bio Jana is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.
Romance Across the Rainbow is pleased to welcome Natsuya Uesugi with a December 2018 release, The Seer of Ice and Sky. Read on for all the usual info plus a bonus excerpt!
Natsuya Uesugi has a new queer dark fantasy book out in his “The Seer of Grace and Fire” series: The Seer of Ice and Sky.
Surviving the devastation of DarkFall, Timorn is now rightful King of Faerie. With evil lurking at the fringes between the kingdoms of the humans and the elves, the dark mage Dalannin travels to Dragonreise to forge an alliance with the Dragon King.
Timorn’s travelling party sets off on request from an elven emissary but dissent grows as the party passes through the human city of Ekhrine. As they stop at the Ecclesiastical University where the cleric Kabal translated The Legend of Arden prophesy, a demonic aura haunts their path.
Can Timorn forge an alliance with the dragons to ensure peace or will darkness drive a wedge between him and his magical twin Ethesian as they journey through the elven lands. Transgender heroine.
A human cleric translating an elven prophesy must bring the work to the high court at Kannon in faerie before DarkFall, the solemn anniversary when all the male faerie newborns were murdered 17 years ago. If the translation does not arrive in time, all is lost. Timorn, a 17 year old ranger travels the human towns hiring out his services. A mysterious elven woman hires him to take her to Kannon before DarkFall, and only he can lead her with his purple faerie eyes.
The evil Valkyris is amassing an army to attack Kannon at DarkFall insisting she possess the prophesy. Sending her dark mage Dalannin to infiltrate faerie, he marches his demon hordes towards Kannon and sneaks into the palace. Ethesian, the 17 year old faerie daughter of King Ailon plays the dragon lyre, a female magic. Yet recently she has started having prophetic dreams as if she were male. When a lie is revealed, Ethesian is tasked to study magic she must master before DarkFall. Will Timorn reach Kannon before the Valkyris and Ethesian master a magic she shouldn’t possess? Secrets and lies, revelations and wizardry, DarkFall is coming and so too the reluctant faerie who would be king. Learn more in the first book of the dark fantasy trilogy, The Seer of Grace and Fire.
The Seer of Grace and Fire starts the dark fantasy trilogy reviewers have called “Enthralling” and “A beacon of light for readers young and old.” The series continues with release of The Seer of Ice and Sky book 2. Book 3 The Seer of Flesh and Death will be released early 2020.
Natsuya is giving away an ARC of book one in the series – The Seer of Grace and Fire – enter via Rafflecopter:
Timorn squinted as he studied the elven emissary, Arhlamanel dressed in finery, yet his stance and mannerisms were less refined then Ihel’s. He sensed deception. His ranger skill told him the elf was concealing something about his identity,
“I am aware of dragon riders, but not of a dragon king in Arenth,” Timorn said, turning to Eanna, his mother the First Consort, for confirmation. Eanna shook her head, also unaware.
Arhlamanel nodded. “The dragons are elusive and secretive, Your Majesty. Only a few high elves dare to venture up the perilous paths into the ice mountains to entertain them. It is treacherous as the dragons carefully guard the priceless gems within their lands.”
Timorn gripped the arms of the throne, leaning forward. “At DarkFall, we saw an adult dragon. A rider in black sat atop its monstrousg form. Luckily the brunt of its power was stopped before it could let loose with abandon.”
“It is as we heard. Thus, the dragon king requests you come to Akrisia, to the mountains in the North. He has sent me as emissary, in partner with the high elves, to bring you to hear his message. A party of your choice is invited to travel along, including one named Ethesian, who is also summoned. But be warned. One who wad banished many years ago has returned and is making inquiries in the dragon lands. He goes by the name of Dalannin. There is much suspicion amoungst the elves. Do you know of him?”
Timorn gasped. If Dalannin was with the dragons, that could only mean danger. Timorn spoke authoritatively, immediately deciding based on the elf’s report. “Yes, we know Dalannin, and yes, my party and Ethesian will accompany you to Akrisia. Lady Eanna will remain and keep watchful eye on the crown.”
“Yes, my lord,” Eanna acknowledged the decree.
“You must come dressed as a ranger,” Arhlamanel added. “That is how they will know you: by your clothes, your faerie daggers, and your sword. The dragon king and his half-dragon army will join you at the dragon court, high in the mountains. The trek up the expanse is arduous and will require a full day of walking to reach once we arrive.”
“Had Dalannin already recruited dragon riders to his cause? Timorn hoped for a negative answer.
“Unknown your Excellency. I hope, for our sakes and all of Arenth he has not.”
The Cleric Kabal at the Ecclesiastical University Library
Kabal tapped his foot in annoyance holding the large leather bound Elven dictionary as the Sexton Eskelan engaged him in the hallway. Patience wearing thin, Kabal rolled his eyes trying to disengage from the conversation.
“Your translation of the Legend of Arden was masterful. The Vicar Josephinian as much as said so. All my night students debated it marveling at the copy in the sacred room in the library…” Eskelan droned on.
Realizing there was no ending this conversation, Kabal decided to force the situation. Clearing his throat and interrupting, “your students are teasing you so you won’t assign Elven translations for homework. They hate that as I hated it many years ago as a novice before doing my rotation with the elves.”
A clerical student in the hallway carrying a stack of books came towards Kabal and smiled, nodding in agreement as he passed, the Sexton none the wiser, his back to the youngster.
“How do you know that?”
“Elven magic,” whispered Kabal with an annoyed chuckle. “My friend, I have tarried long. The librarian will have my head if I do not return this elven dictionary. Two turns of the hourglass passed since I promised her. She will eat me alive. I must take my leave.”
Kabal walked away abruptly as Eskelan remained, shocked. Kabal shouted behind him, waving the annoyance away. “Your students are playing with you. Don’t let them get the upper hand or they will battle you to the death and lose faith. May the Goddess of Learning, Aitreya, shine on your good fortune and guide your teachings.”
Kabal chuckled to himself, knowing he belittled the Sexton, as he quickstepped the utilitarian hallway to the illustrious library, the massive structure off the Provost building, the darling of the Ecclesiastical University in the human city of Ekhrine. With its floor to ceiling engraved mahogany doors with golden dragon carvings, to its stained glass dome in the ceiling showing the elven creation story, and marble intricately patterned tile floor, the countless books that lined its shelves were known through all of Arenth.
Kabal had translated the Elven prophesy, The Legend of Arden in the library before DarkFall, a royal edict from King Ailon of Faerie, the prophesy it revealed had changed Faerie forever and installed the young reluctant ranger Timorn, raised by humble human parents, of faerie nobility to the position of king of all Itheria. It had been but weeks since Timorn had started rule and they had now set off on their journey to the elven city of Akrisia then onto the dragons.
Kabal sighed as he pushed in the doors to the library and saw Timorn seated at a back desk glancing at a book lost in thought. Sauntering up to the circulation desk where the librarian was glaring sternly, Kabal swallowed hard garnering his strength and steeled his nerves for the encounter. The librarian was wearing a red short cardigan over a white striped ruffled shirt and a long brown twill skirt as she stood in front of the circulation desk counter extending her hand, frown deepening as Kabal stepped slowly towards her, trying to draw out the coming attack.
“An Anayalee, es ailan, ie nemalas,” he sung out in the Elven tongue using the highest honourific to ensure no disrespect.
She harrumphed translating his words into the human language, “gracious and humble in spirit, Mistress Anayalee, you, Noble Lady, look exquisite… Don’t start on me, Kabal. Your sweet Elven words do not work. You should know better trying to sweeten the librarian’s ego.”
Kabal lowered his eyes and bowed handing over the dictionary. She went behind the circulation desk and put the book up to be reshelved and picked up an unlit white pillar candle in a metal holder, pulling a small wand out from under the counter wagging it at him.
“Fly right or I will light you up!” She smirked, voice raising and touched the wand’s tip to the wick igniting the candle.
“I know your power, and doubt I could withstand such a force,” chuckled Kabal knowing she would not take kindly to sarcasm. Having given her the wand when she had first come to work as the librarian years ago, he knew she had little patience for him and his bucking the library rules, using its gifts at all hours, not filling the ink well, slapping books closed, scraping chairs, leaving books laying around, and never cleaning up the one desk he used. Though he transgressed often, he knew she had a soft spot for him after all these years.
She picked up the candle and motioned to him to follow her down the side hallway past the Elven tomes back to the sacred incantations room. The hallway grew dark as they passed the relic room and the sacred books behind glass and came to the back of the library. The darkness of the area was caused by the magic that kept the incantations housed. Only those with permissions and a certain level of spiritual training were allowed in the area.
There was a large white sign with black letters above the incantations room writing in Elven, the human tongue and Jannai, the faerie language. It warned unauthorized patrons to keep out. The librarian went into her pocket with a large metal key ring and handed Kabal the candle as she opened the door. Placing her right palm flat on the door, other hand on the key, closed her eyes whispering, “incantations, smart and strong. Key to portals, spells long gone. Aitreya, goddess protect my life, open this room as I go inside.”
A purple circle with a an Elven sigil of warding lit up on the door, as the lock clicked, releasing. She pushed the door open slowly, and it creaked taking the candle back. “Close the door behind you.”
Kabal pulled closed the door, leaving them in a heavy darkness, the weight of spiritual power. Closing with a thud, a purple light rushed up the door frame as the celestial incantation sealed them inside The librarian brought her hand over the candle. “Escarna…” she whispered. The candle light flared lighting the entire room. Filled with magical instruments, Elven and Jannai spellbooks, alchemy tools and ritual items, the librarian walked Kabal over to the left wall with a rectangular spell suspended in a glass frame black text inscribed in the celestial ancient Jannai script used only for magic. A purple mist undulated in the boxy frame swirling around the spell.
Kabal spun taking in the room cluttered with ritual items, absentmindedly getting lost in the pages of an open Elven spell book, he snapped out of his reverie quickly coming over to the librarian waving to him.
“What is it? I can make out the ancient text due to my translation of the Legend of Arden from Elven into Jannai. This is a Jannai spell?”
“Yes, a teacher on his way to Amaralon brought it a few weeks ago passing through.”
“That spell is active. It is safe?”
“Watch…” The librarian brought the candle closer to the picture frame and the purple mist swirled faster revealing an image of a wide open room taking over the frame. There was a person in the view. They watched as the person came closer in a long black robe, thorn crown on their head, glaring red eyes, a faerie by their features.
Kabal’s eyes burst open backing up when he realized who it was. He grabbed the librarian’s arm pulling her. “Move away from it. This thing is evil…”
The frame lost its vision and went back once more to the undulating mist. Kabal dragged the librarian back to the door yanking it open and pushing her out. He carefully closed the door and she locked it with the key, purple light once more running up the frame as it sealed, protecting the room.
He shuffled her back to the circulation desk as she blew out the candle and returned it to its hiding place. “That was the Valkyris I saw.”
“Do not utter her name. Its very whisper is evil. I fear she may spy on the library. Did the teacher say why he gave you the incantation?”
“He said he needed it protected. One of his students delved deep into the darkness, conjured it against his training and was being controlled. The teacher banished the presence haunting the student but he could not neutralize the spell. The only logical remediation was to put it in the incantation room.”
“Do not go near it. I must hurry and tell Timorn. We may not be safe here,” warned Kabal and bowed to Anayalee rushing away.
Kabal slapped his hands on the desk forcing Timorn to look up from his book.
“What is it, Good Cleric? Your face as is pale as bone,” Timorn smiled, his eyes darting around the library fearing danger.
“There is evil magic here sealed in the incantation room. It is too close for my liking. The librarian showed me, Your Majesty.”
Timorn took one of his daggers off his leather belt and set it down on top the table. It was dormant, not giving off a blue glow which it did when there was faerie magic near.
“My daggers are calm. There is nothing to worry yourself about.”
Kabal looked up for a minute as Ethesian, Timorn’s twin, and magic dream seer passed behind him looking at the Elven tomes on the shelves. “Still, my concern lingers…”
“Be still, Cleric. We are safe. If there is faerie magic near, my daggers will sound the alarm and I will notify you immediately. Be at ease,” Timorn smiled and flipped the page in the book going back to what he was doing.
Kabal sighed and walked back to the librarian, wary, unable to be at ease. If the Valkyris knew of Timorn and Ethesian travelling to the elven city of Akrisia for more knowledge of the dragon that attacked Kannon at DarkFall, then once again tragedy could befall faerie.
Natsuya Uesugi is a cybersecurity analyst with an MBA in International Management and a minor in Japanese. He is author of the science fiction grydscaen series, the yaoi novellas and manga graphic noiz and The Seer of Grace and Fire fantasy trilogy. He creates all the illustrations for his books. He enjoys skydiving, cosplay, anime and writing poetry.
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