Maewyn's Prophecy: A Heart Aflame, page 1
Praise for the writing of Emily Veinglory
Maewyn’s Prophecy: The Pilgrim Heart
Maewyn’s Prophecy: The Pilgrim Heart is a mystical, magical tale. The characters are finely drawn and have unimaginable depth, and the barely leashed eroticism of this story nearly set my screen afire.
-- Michelle, Fallen Angel Reviews
Wow is all this reviewer can say after reading Ms. Veinglory’s masterpiece. Her stunning portrayal of same sex lovers and a mystery that confounds the test of time will keep the reader on the edge of her seat.
-- Dawn, Love Romances
Maewyn’s Prophecy: The Pilgrim Heart is fast-paced and thought provoking... Emily Veinglory writes an exciting tale full of fascinating characters, a thrilling plot, and the wonders of wizardry.
-- Chrissy Dionne, Romance Junkies
Her writing is so intelligent and charged with emotion I felt as if I were there, in that scene with each turn of the page. If you’re looking for a hot m/m book filled with love, elves, and the supernatural then you’ll find no better read than Pilgrim Heart.
-- Linda Hall, Romance Divas
Maewyn’s Prophecy: The Pilgrim Heart is now available from Loose Id.
A HEART AFLAME
This e-book contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers. Loose Id e-books are for sale to adults ONLY, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.
* * * * *
This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable (homoerotic sex).
Maewyn’s Prophecy: A Heart Aflame
This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Loose Id LLC
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Copyright © March 2006 by Emily Veinglory
All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced or shared in any form, including, but not limited to printing, photocopying, faxing, or emailing without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC.
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Editor: Raven McKnight
Cover Artist: Christine M. Griffin
Part One: The Tangled Web
Chapter One: Homecoming
Archer wandered the house, at a loose end -- and not able to find Roman anywhere. He had spent every moment away from the house yearning to get back to his lover’s side. But somehow the reality never quite ... well, not for some time now. A few minutes home had rapidly worn off the fond delusions that a few weeks’ absence had caused.
There was one room that most of the denizens of Scott House tended to end up in eventually, but today even the library was cold and empty. Archer stood there a long while, wondering why the warm homecoming he wanted in his heart was never waiting when he arrived back here. After all, they were meant to be a happy band of witches, saving the glorious British Isles from evil-doers ranging from Catholic cults to the unseelie sidhe.
Peter burst into the room, with Giffen close on his heels. Two pretty strong wizards right there, the ex-priest necromancer and the aging punk seer. It would be utterly ridiculous if it weren’t the crew he was stuck with. At least they were arguing -- that might prove entertaining.
“If Heron comes here, somebody is going to die,” Giffen pressed as he strode hot on Peter’s heels. “I’ve seen it, and you can’t just fucking brush that off.”
Well, Archer had no idea what they were talking about, but that was hardly new. They didn’t feel the need to keep a mere foot soldier like him in the loop. Not that either of them were men he much wanted to share chummy confidences with. Giffen in particular had a way of brushing everyone the wrong way. Partly it was having the sight -- partly it was because he was a sanctimonious prick. Maybe having the sight did that to a man; he had a rather annoying habit of being right about things.
Peter, on the other hand, looked like a rather buff catalogue model and acted like a man who spent a lot of time wondering ‘what would Jesus do?’ However, it seemed that even Peter had been pushed too far by Giffen this time.
He turned to Giffen, indifferent to Archer’s presence. “I’m not brushing you off, Gif. But Heron has a real chance of developing a way to undermine the Irish ward. For once we might have a way of freeing Ireland from the curse that keeps us all from entering the nation that gave the elven people birth. It’s our chance to really make a difference.”
“Do you think that might somehow have escaped my attention, Peter? Do it somewhere else, get someone else, delay -- I have seen it and it will fall true.”
Peter ran his hand over his wavy hair in a single impatient gesture. “Who, Giffen? How? Do you think honored mage Heron will run amuck and slaughter us in our beds, or need a human sacrifice for his evil plans?”
“Sarcasm, nice. ‘Who’ is mutable as yet.”
Giffen cut Peter off impatiently. “No, bring Heron here now, and someone will die. I can’t tell you how this all works, but ...”
“Queen Tania has asked us to aid Heron in this. I told her of your warning, and she has taken it fully into account.”
Archer had had enough of being ignored as the boys bitched at each other about whatever the hell Giffen thought the arch-mage Heron was up to. He retreated from the room and up the stairs to the suite he shared with Roman. He thought only vaguely of the argument that no doubt continued downstairs. He knew nobody would be interested in any opinion he might have. Giffen was a seer and nominally in charge of Scott House, but Peter had become something of a favorite with the fairy queen, and the power dynamics were getting pretty screwed up as a result.
With a sigh he settled back in his old chair, started up his Xbox, and called up a saved game. Archer knew what his part in the Society of Fairy was. He shuddered to remember the job he had just come back from. All he wanted now was to put it behind him and be back with Roman, back home. It sounded like trouble would be coming again soon enough, and he wanted to grab a little rest while he could. Archer’s mind flicked back to what he had done.
The girl turned to him and smiled as she raised her hand. She summoned the power within her. Her expression froze as the fire engulfed her too suddenly for her to understand. By the time she fixed her eyes on him, she was only moments from death, and the stench of charred flesh filled the air.
So, she was an evil witch murdering children in the night, too powerful to stop, to hold, and too relentless to bargain with. The queen had made the call. The witch had to go. But in that moment, as the fire took her, she was still a girl.
Caught in his memories, Archer only dimly heard the door open as Roman entered abruptly. “You should have listened to me.”
That was a rather perfunctory variation on the welcome Archer had been hoping for. He gripped the game console and drove his avatar down a darkened hallway, slashing mutant animals aside wit
“What now?” he muttered.
Roman leaned into him. “You didn’t have to kill her.”
“The queen sent us to get her, and she rather left out the ‘alive’ part of the dead-or-alive cliché. So I killed her.” Rather than be captured, held, harried, and almost certainly killed in the end anyway. When I finally end up against a wall, screaming defiance, I hope some bastard has the decency to just kill me.
“That simple, is it? Tania says ‘kill,’ and you kill. Don’t you care what you did to that girl? More to the point, don’t you see what it is doing to you?”
“She’s the queen; I’m a soldier. That girl was one of the bad guys.”
“And you’re just following orders.”
Armies are based on total obedience -- so long as you believe in the one who leads and the reason they give those orders. Tania knew they could never turn to the normal law; they had to avenge their own just to protect them.
“Archer,” Roman said again, trying to get his full attention.
Archer knew that Roman would never, ever be so uncouth as to reach out and slap the game console from his hand, no matter how much he wanted to. From his polished, lace-up shoes to his manicured nails, Roman was a very civilized elf. Archer, on the other hand, was just a young man who knew he had the devil inside him, and it was the devil that made him keep on playing, just knowing how it was winding his lover up. Once, just once, he wanted to hear Roman shout, see him throw something, see him out of control. He wanted to know that Roman really cared about him as he was -- rather than constantly fighting to turn him into something else.
Roman just sighed and turned away towards his side of their suite, the side that was orderly, vacuumed, and tastefully coordinated. By right of having already lived in these rooms for decades before Archer arrived, Roman got the study and the side of the room with the window. Archer got the other side, with the bathroom door on it. There he piled up all the necessities of modern living: TV, Xbox, DVD, laptop, and a big armchair -- not to mention piles of laundry and a few empty pizza boxes. The more Roman looked pointedly at the mess, the more Archer just let it lie.
It wasn’t good, Archer knew that. He just didn’t know what to do about it. There were really only two things Archer contributed to the world. He was the elf-queen’s loyal soldier, and he loved Roman -- even when the damned elf was primly nudging an unwashed sock back over the precise midline of the room with his toe -- and Archer was prepared to admit that he was well on the way to putting Roman off. It had taken five pretty solid years of being a world-class prick, but Archer could feel Roman losing his patience at last.
Pretty-boy renowned elven scholar on one side, barely literate Aussie thug on the other. Archer had no illusions; magic or no magic, it was a miracle the whole thing had lasted this long.
“Look at me. Please.”
A familiar little fishhook grabbed Archer right in the gut. No matter how screwed up it was, it was love. He delayed it one long second, maybe two. He saved the game, checked his score, hated himself quietly, and turned.
“Maybe you don’t have to be just a soldier,” Roman said.
This one again. ‘You’re young. You could go back to school, get an education, develop your interests and your mind.’ Yadda yadda yadda. “Somebody has to be the soldier.”
“But does it have to be you?” Roman’s eyes sparkled, his gaze dark and intense. He had the kind of eyes you only see in Japanese comics. But other than that, there really wasn’t anything you could say about him that would sound all that remarkable. Roman didn’t even have the pointed ears anymore -- some kind of spell -- but just looking at him made Archer’s eyes wander over every subtle, achingly perfect line of him. Archer wanted to know if the ear-tips were still there, just hidden from sight and touch, but he never asked. Guys don’t. Talk, that is -- not about anything real. Except here came Roman again like a wave of Panzers.
Archer heard his own voice, defensive and sullen. “It’s what I can do, Roman. Follow orders, take people out. It’s what I want to do.”
“Kill people and do as you are told. Don’t you ever think for yourself?”
Of course what he really meant was: ‘Why can’t you think like me?’ Muted anger smoldered in Archer’s stomach. He knew what he was. Not clever like Roman, not pretty like Roman. Archer could burn things, and that’s all he could do, but at least he was the best there was at that. Killing people might be horrible in real life, but it was the one thing he had to give -- even the queen needed him for that, and he wasn’t going to let her down. Archer felt resentful tears building in his eyes. Why couldn’t they leave him alone, give him a little peace? He turned back to the game and spun his chair further towards the wall to hide his face.
Roman went into his gleaming, orderly study. He didn’t slam the door behind him, just closed it with a precise and disappointed click.
* * * * *
Archer didn’t wait for him to come out and start it up all over again. Roman obviously had all the ‘facts’ that he wanted from Veleur. The elven soldier had been on the mission with Archer, right up to the end. Veleur was almost the perfect soldier, and Archer struggled to hide the admiration he felt for Veleur’s efficiency and grace. After all, Veleur was, at best, indifferent to Archer and allowed him to work by his side only because Archer had fire, great depths of magic fire that he could call up and cast with a simple thought. Veleur was fast, strong, and skilled in all sorts of combat, but when it came to facing down a skilled mage, even the best of them could be overcome by the raging inferno hidden beneath the fragile barrier of Archer’s skin.
With nothing better to do, Archer slipped back to an ordinary pleasure, the kind of thing he used to do before he met Roman and learned about the secret magical subcultures of Britain. He hit the pub, met up with some kids from the town. He played pool and downed more pints than he could count. Despite a promise to Roman, he took pulls from the cigarettes that got passed around, unreliable mixtures of tobacco and weed. At kicking-out time, he felt warmed and blurred. The streetlights danced and dazzled as he staggered down the street.
Johnny RedBull offered him a lift, but Archer waved him off. It was quicker to cut through the woods to the old pile. He’d come this way a hundred times. Even in the dark it was easy to follow the path worn down to bare clay with ragged grass and shrubs on both sides and the whispering trees towering above. Archer loved the tallest trees, the redwoods that swayed together in the high winds.
He was a bit more pissed than usual and stumbled into the grass over and over, careening back onto the path but never quite able to walk it straight. Coming down to the lawn, he tripped and tumbled down the gentle slope, smacking his mouth down on a hunched tree root. He shivered, tasting blood in his mouth.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” His bad temper was suddenly back in full force, black depression welling beneath it. He crawled forwards, staggered up, fell, and finally got up again. Why couldn’t somebody have just been happy to see him come home? He did these things for them. He hadn’t bloody asked to get tied up with all this mystic hoodoo; it was just part of the package, with Roman being an elf and all.
He finally made it to the back door and still had to make the trek through the kitchen, south wing hall, lobby stairs, and upper corridor. At the door to their suite, he stood panting, hand to his swelling mouth. His jeans were drenched and grass-stained, a two-day stubble on his chin felt rough on his fingertips, and he stank of beer sweat. An unwelcome realization hit him; it blew his feelings of indignation away.
I’ve become my father -- the man I hate most in the world.
Archer opened the door with exaggerated care. All he wanted now was to get some sleep and deal with anything else tomorrow. He ran one hand over the wall to make his way without turning on the light. He thought vaguely about a shower, but the sound wo
Archer left his clothes on and went over to the old armchair, the one thing he’d brought from his life ‘before’ and the ratty Earl’s Court flat he’d been living in. He pushed it all the way back and collapsed onto the cushions, curling sideways to rest his head on the armrest. It wasn’t exactly the best way to sleep, but the alcohol was starting to shut down his system anyway. He hoped he’d drop off before the spinning sensation in his head began to have the inevitable effect on his stomach.
He could just feel the magical flicker of flame that was Roman waking in the bed, still drowsy. He could always feel Roman a little, or the fire in him, anyway. Archer kept still.
He heard the crisp sound of the cotton comforter shifting. So clean and fine, all those expensive linens that Roman liked. He heard each footfall as Roman walked over. The darkness was no problem for Roman; any scrap of light would do for elven eyes.
“Archer, come to bed.”
“’M’alright. Go to sleep.” Archer buried his face in his arms and scrunched down into the upholstery.
Roman’s breath fluttered like a moth’s wing upon Archer’s bare wrist. “Come to bed, please.”
“I noticed. Come here ...”
“No. In th’morning.”
But Archer felt strong arms lift him up and steady him. There was no point in resisting. Roman took him into the bathroom. The sudden glare of the tungsten lights was like a slap in the face. Roman stood in front of him. Archer felt himself blinking stupidly. He never got used to how pretty Roman was. Even with his strong jaw and firm, straight brow line, there was no other word for it -- prettier than a man should be, in every naked line of his trim body.