GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Excerpt: Mages & Mates Series (adult version) by Nina R. Schluntz + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Excerpt: Mages & Mates Series (adult version) by Nina R. Schluntz + giveaway

Rise of a Necromancer: Mages & Mates

by Nina R. Schluntz
1 September 2023
Fantasy Adventure (Adult)
Rojo Siete Φωτιά
The red dragon full of chaos fire magic must serve the human mages for seventy years.

Leslie Μάγος
Orphaned human child of slaves, sold to the Magesterium to train as a mage, and paired with a fire dragon.

Ruven Σκιά
Shadow assassin elf turned tracker with a hellhound who eats the undead.

Heista Νεκρός
An undead priest risen and controlled by the most powerful necromancer

Tiamat is a demon god from Earth now banished to a world full of magic and dragon. Lucky for him, his dragon form is a six-headed dragon. The magic here is not like on Earth, it comes from dragons, not from souls.

To be a god on this world, he must learn how to harness the power of the dragons. So, pretending to be less than he is, he joins the Magesterium to train as a mage. He masters this ability easily but is paired with a dragon who was once a human. Her dragon mate has died and if he doesn’t pair with her, the other dragons will kill her.

Her magic is weak, but Tiamat can fix that. He can show this world that the dragons banished from their clans can find a new purpose, just like him. Until his past catches up and demons from Earth arrive to take a soul from Tiamat that they feel is theirs. Turns out, necromancy is easy to do on this world and the other demons have no qualms about using it.

To defeat the other demons, Tiamat must give up the new life he’s found, and become the god he was destined to be.

This story is told from multiple viewpoints and is available in both an all-ages friendly adaptation (Mage & Magic) and the original (Mages and Mates) which has a heavier focus on romance.

Born a Mage - Γεννημένος Μάγος

The coughing came from around him, but not yet within. With every inhale, he wondered if his time would come. Will his next breath be riddled with the crackle of death the others had? He rolled to his side, the child on the cot next to him breathing in small rasps. Twenty children were crammed into this single room, an orphanage for the growing number of orphans in the village. The adults had fallen ill first. Granted, Leslie’s parents had died long before the plague had reached them, but he feared he had little time left before he’d be tossed in the pile of embers outside the city gates.

The doors opened and two men came in, cloth rags worn over their mouths, like that helped any. They went down the rows of children and snatched up six. One paused, then grabbed Leslie’s arm, pulling him with.

“Are you sure?” the other asked.

“The mayor said to get healthy ones. He’s healthy.”

“Yeah, but he’s… you know.”

The word they were looking for was different. Leslie wasn’t from this village. Any bystander could see his dark skin was not like anyone else’s. His relatives had come on a trade ship, a slave ship, if you didn’t want to mince words. Plagues like the one in this town had occurred on the ship, and Leslie wondered if that was why he’d endured this strain as well as he had. Maybe, he had some immunity.

Either way, he’d ended up orphaned in this seaside town. The slave traders had gotten just as ill as the slaves, and when they’d died, Leslie was nothing more than an orphan belonging to the town.

“Magic doesn’t care. We’ll test him,” he said. He tugged again and Leslie went with him. The seven children were brought to the townhall. A woman stood there, dressed completely in white. She looked like an angel. Next to her, looking more elegant than anything Leslie had seen in his twelve years of living, was a white dragon. He’d heard of them, but never seen one.

The two men lined the kids up against the wall.

“One of you better test positive,” the man warned, like it was something they could control. “The mages will only cure our town of this pestilence if we have a kid to offer them.”

Leslie had heard of this too. The great mages, who channeled magic from dragons, would go through towns looking for recruits. Families would sell their children, and it seemed the mayor could sell orphans.

A large glass jar, seemingly empty, was held in front of the first small girl.

“Take it,” the man said. “Hold it and don’t drop it.”

Leslie looked at the woman across the room who watched them. She didn’t seem real. She was more like something you’d see in a fever dream.

Nothing happened in the jar, so it was passed to the next child, who sobbed while she held it. The jar made its way down the line until it was Leslie’s turn. The girl was careful not to touch his dark skin as she passed him the jar.

And that jar, well, it lit up like someone had dropped a flame of white fire in it. It burned so bright Leslie had to close his eyes and still he saw spots dancing in his vision, hurting his head like he’d stared into the sun.

“Well, I’ll be, the desert boy can channel magic.”

Leslie’s life began again, for a second time, reborn from the ruins of disease and greed.

Eleven - Εντεκα - Born of Shadow - Γεννημένος Σκιά

The ground smelled of fresh rain and death. A single elf darted among the decaying ground, quiet as the dead that resided in their graves. Reports came that the dead were rising. Villages spoke of a necromancer, but Ruven would not believe such things. Humans were easily deceived.

She heard the sound. A scratching on the earth. Digging.

A human would think it was an undead, searching for their means out of the grave. Ruven knew better. She came from the shadows with a dagger in each hand, the blades darker than the purest night.

“Percy,” she said.

The hound paused briefly in its digging. It was a sloppy pup that had recently learned how to dig his way out of the pen in the backyard. Ruven’s sister had deemed the pup a loss for hunters and had gifted it to Ruven’s daughter. This was the third time she’d had to go searching for the mutt. And each time, she found it with something dead, and not a fresh kill. He seemed drawn to rotting dead.

“If there actually were undead among us, you might be useful,” Ruven said. “Now, stop that, and get home.”

She pulled on the dog’s collar. It was a brown bloodhound pup, standing no taller than her knee at its neck. Fully grown it would be near her waist and she needed it trained by then. No amount of force would get a full-grown hellhound to move. Especially when they transformed into their hellhound form.

“Get home.” She tugged again. “Home. Do you understand?”

The dog broke free and barked, the sound echoing off the tombstones.

“Can you understand stealth?” She reached for the beast, but it sprinted, running with a maddening speed. Ruven stumbled at the abruptness of it. And then she saw the unthinkable, something moving through the woods, chasing after Percy.

And Percy was going home.

Her speed couldn’t match that of Percy or whatever the beasts were that chased him. Try as she might to shift through the shadows and increase her speed, she arrived too late.

The hut she lived in was a shell of its former self. It looked rotted from decades of ruin. She barely knew it as her own and thought for a moment she had gotten lost. Then she saw the forms moving in the structure that had no walls, only loose timbers supporting a few beams.

They were her family but not her family. They moved with the lumbering steps of the undead. They danced to the demands of their puppet master, a man who stood in the center, his eyes a demonic yellow. An orb glowed on the necklace around his neck. He turned, his body part mist and part human, and entirely not of this earth.

Ruven’s daughter of a mere five years turned on unsteady legs, her eyes glowing yellow, her skin already that of a four-day-old corpse. Her husband, his back broken, crawled toward her, his jaw snapping at the air.

The necromancer raised his hand and Ruven felt the pull. Her soul being taken and consumed, leaving her body to be an empty shell for this creature to command. She saw Percy huddling in the rubble, not doing a thing. The dog had led this creature here and then watched as it killed their family.

“Percy…” Ruven said. “Kill.”

It was a vain attempt, but she had to try. The dog was trained to shift into a hellhound on command, and she knew her sister had worked to train all her pups to obey, even the disobedient ones.

Ruven gagged, feeling her body overtaken by the darkness, the glowing yellow essence that made up her soul spread between her and the outstretched hand of the monster. At least in death she would join her family. Perhaps, their souls would—the connection severed. Ruven dropped to her knees, catching herself on her hands.

She took in a painful breath, her entire body aching. She lifted her head to see the pup standing between her and the necromancer. Percy’s body was black, three times his former size, and hellish purple flames circled his body. Percy growled, lowering his head, and preparing to attack.

He couldn’t win, Ruven knew this, but it might buy her the time she needed to flee. The necromancer clutched the orb in one hand and dangled his fingers at the pup, aiming that soul-sucking energy at Percy.

The dog skidded in the dirt, his entire body being pulled toward the creature. Her husband and daughter were now close enough that they grabbed the pup with their skeletal hands.

And Percy absorbed them. The corpses fell with a clatter, looking exactly like the bones Ruven always found the pup with when he ran off.

Ruven’s chest throbbed as she realized how wrong she’d been.

There was never undead where Percy went because Percy consumed them.

He hadn’t led the undead home. He’d come home because he had sensed the undead were here. And when he’d gotten here, he’d been uncertain about what to do.

Because he didn’t want to consume his family.

Ruven sobbed, regretting her ill thoughts toward the beast.

Percy stepped closer to the necromancer, embracing the pull the man had. And… it wasn’t the necromancer doing the pulling. Percy was trying to pull the man into him, but the creature was able to maintain his footing, so it was Percy sliding to him. He was clutching the orb because Percy wanted it.

“Then you shall have it,” Ruven said. She shifted to the shadows, reappearing behind the man, and slicing at his neck with her daggers. She couldn’t cut the man’s throat since he wasn’t a fully materialized being. But she did cut the chain that held the orb in place.

The orb slipped from the man’s grasp and went directly into Percy’s mouth. He bit and the area exploded in a blinding white light as the souls were freed. Ruven fell back, her head hitting the ground behind her so hard she lost consciousness.

Percy’s sloppy licks roused her. She pushed the beast away, the cross-eyed mutt drooled and sat on its haunches next to her, back in his normal bloodhound form. Ruven would think she’d dreamt last night, except she was sitting in her destroyed hut.

In the rays of daylight that came through the trees around them, she realized it wasn’t just her hut.

The undead had destroyed her entire village.
8 September 2023
Genre: Fantasy Adventure (Adult)
Olje Ιππότης
Dedicated Goblin Paladin of the Sun Deities, raised as an undead protector to Tiamat

Gruillie Καλόγερος
Religious Goblin Monk, fierce warrior, and bound to Mage Tiamat as his dragon.

Tiamat ψόφιος
Six-headed demon god dragon sworn to protect the inhabitants of this world.

Neo Νερό
Water Dragon, bound to Mage Peter and entangled with demons.

Goblins have secrets. Their knowledge of science has created the sun deities and given them the power to harness the holy sun power from another plane of existence. Their methods of creating the coveted gold is unethical. Their practices drive a wedge in their alliance to the six-headed demon god Tiamat and soon elves, humans, dragons, and goblins are divided in who they will trust in the coming war against the undead.

New mages and dragons become trusted allies, while others are lost. Neo, a water dragon, despises elves and undead, yet vows to help Tiamat in order to protect his clan. Olje, a goblin monk, once faithful to Tiamat, shifts his priorities when an unwitting mage comes into possession of a clutch of goblin gold. This gold must be acquired and kept safe at all costs, even if it means asking the elves for help.

This story is told from multiple viewpoints and is available in both an all-ages friendly adaptation (Mage & Magic) and the original (Mages and Mates) which has a heavier focus on romance.

About the Author
Queer Romance Ink
Nina Schluntz is a native to rural Nebraska. In her youth, she often wrote short stories to entertain her friends. Those ideas evolved into the novels she creates today.

Her husband continues to ensure her stories maintain a touch of realism as she delves into the science fiction and fantasy realm. Their three cats are always willing to stay up late to provide inspiration, whether it is a howl from the stray born in the backyard or an encouraging bite from the so called “calming kitten.”


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