Ashes of Life – My DRitC Entry – With Cover Reveal and Sneak Peek
Every year, the Goodreads MM Romance group does an event that gets authors to write stories based on the suggestions of readers. [If you’re not a member of the group, here’s the link to sign up – it’s free. Goodreads MM Romance Group] The event is call Don’t Read in the Closet (DRitC). For those not familiar with it, the reader writes a ‘Dear Author’ letter. They provide a picture and what they see in the picture. Based on those two things, the author that claims the prompt writes ‘that story.’ The MM Group then compiles these stories, and posts them over a three month period. [There were 200 prompts this year so do NOT ask me how they manage to collect, format, and post these, but they do.] They also group the stories into anthologies after all the stories are posted. The stories are free to read on their website: M/M Romance Group. You can also downland them for free in ePub, Mobi or PDF formats.
This year I decided to try my hand at it. Here is the prompt I claimed: My Prompt
Yes I know that Fantasy is never as popular as contemporary **sigh** but I like what I like and I couldn’t help myself.
Lily Velden helped me with the cover art and Julie and Lorraine did the editing. With that, I submitted the final version. They won’t start posting until June and I suspect that since mine is one of the last to be submitted, it won’t be available until late July or August, but that’s good by me.
So with that, here it is:
Ashes of Life; by Andrew Q. Gordon
When Sergeant Thane asked his best friend and second in command, to go riding, he had no idea how much his life would change. Taken by his horse to a forest that shouldn’t exist, Thane hears a cry for help.
Answering the plea, Thane releases a phoenix—Eraq—from his centuries long imprisonment. Eraq’s first act of freedom is to claim Thane as his own.
But the phoenix is more than he appears. A mage-shifter, Eraq sets his sights on the man who answered his call for help. Thane returns the interest despite learning that his act of liberation has set in motion events that will change the world.
When he learns his relationship with Eraq places him at the center of events beyond his understanding, Thane refuses to abandon the man he’s come to love. Even if it hurtles him toward certain death.
I pulled harder and was rewarded by the sound of metal grating on metal. The door inched upward until finally the vault opened with a whoosh. Foul air, thick with the smell of sulfur and acrid smoke, rushed from the tomb as fresh air filled the now exposed room. I stood frozen as a dread filled me that I’d unleashed an imprisoned demon.
Covered in feathers the color of fire, a bird cleared the gap. Its body resembled a large eagle, except he had long tail feathers that dripped fire. The meager sunlight that slipped through the trees reflected off the creature in a rainbow of colors. His eyes, however, held my attention. Surrounding the pupils, a rich yellow iris seemed to shift hues like pools of molten amber. The white around the edges was slightly bloodshot and appeared more human than avian.
My fear changed to awe when he stared at me.
“I claim you, Thane, of the house of Jelcob.”
The voice was faint, barely a whisper, and the words seemed to take everything he had left. Without warning, the phoenix burst into flames and his ashes rained into the hole.
I sat backward and nearly fell over. Only Thunder’s impatient movements prevented me from rushing to the side of the vault to peer inside. I quickly untied the rope and pushed him. Satisfied he could flee if necessary, I cautiously moved to the open crypt.
Of all the magical creatures I’d read about, phoenixes were the most rare. Wise and powerful, the legends held they taught the first wizards and healers. Whether that was true, phoenixes were sought after and revered, even by kings and queens. Despite their lofty status, I’d never read anything to suggest they claimed humans.
A flash of light from below forced me to cover my eyes. When I opened them, he hovered over the opening again. This time his movements were fluid and graceful. His feathers shimmered now, bathing the forest floor in a faint red-orange glow. When our gazes met, I noticed his eyes had not changed.
“I am Eraq and I have waited centuries for you, Thane.”