Through The Tears by Leigh M. Lorien [Book Spotlight]July 10, 2019
human flesh have been invading Seacliff Manor and its surrounding lands for
years. Ghouls are coming from another world through portals made of magic. No
one knows why or how, but nothing good ever comes with them.
one such monster and falls through a portal into the ghoul’s hellacious desert
home world. Separated from his home, his friends, and his lover, with no magic
of his own and no sign of other life, Eamon expects to die there…until an encounter
with a lone stranger gives him hope. There is a way home. But can Eamon survive
alone in ghoul-infested terrain long enough to get there?
is determined to bring Eamon home. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Rafe
knows his human lover is alive. It’s just a matter of finding out where. To
that end, Rafe has a plan. It’s dangerous, perhaps even suicidal, but he’ll do
anything to save the man he loves.
lovers fight monsters and seek magic with one goal in mind: reunion. Monsters
aren’t the only things they’ll have to defeat to find their way back to each
other, and the horrors uncovered along the way may be more than they can
in a crumpled heap of leathery gray flesh and black blood. Rafe studied it for
a long time. Its fanged mouth hung open, eyes like black marbles gazing
lifelessly at him, hands with hawk-like talons curled into loose fists in the
grass. It was more than capable of killing a human—gods, it was probably
capable of killing him. He turned away, forcing down the momentary surge of
fear as he took in the scene, playing through the information he had.
hunting that morning, as Eamon had said they planned to do. Lionel was training
a new bird. They were well armed. No one left the stronghold unarmed these
days. Ghoul incursions were growing more frequent, and the filthy things were
getting bolder by the day. Rafe had wanted to send an escort with them but let
his lover talk him out of it. We’ll be fine. We’re barely going past the
didn’t return when it should have. The ghoul had crept up on them while they
around the body. Broken twigs, displaced leaves, mud spatters up the trunks of
the trees. The humans had come out victorious. Three of them had, anyway.
body, a cliff dropped into the sea. Ignoring his audience—the three humans
who’d returned, as well as two of his rin retainers—Rafe walked past the
ghoul’s corpse, inspecting the grass between the site of the attack and the
edge of the cliff. Clods of soil lay in heaps where massive claws had raked it
up. He wished there was some indication of Eamon’s movements, but the ghoul’s
weight and erratic assault covered all sign of his human lover. Blood spatters
painted the grass black. Rafe didn’t need to touch or taste the drying liquid
to know it was not human. Not Eamon’s. The rotten stench of ghoul blood was as
foul as raw sewage and, for once, he envied the humans their inferior senses.
Someone had hurt it, and badly, right here. Eamon was not a close-quarters
fighter. He was barely a fighter at all. If Rafe were a gambler, he’d put his
money on Lionel and the longsword he wore.
wasn’t a question. Rose had spoken for the group, told their story in a
quavering voice. If the two men were hoping Rafe would show mercy to a
teary-eyed woman and thus to them as well, they were all mistaken.
tackled him, and they rolled, and…I’m not certain, I mean I-I didn’t see it
myself, Lord, but…Eamon was gone when…”
cliff and leaned forward to look down, grateful for an excuse to breathe air
untainted by blood. The tension level behind him rose tangibly, but no one
rushed forward to drag him back. He was their lord, not a child to be scolded
for putting himself in danger. Hundreds of feet below, waves crashed and roared
over a beach of jagged stone. Even with his sensitive rin hearing, little more
than the faintest whisper reached Rafe’s ears from this distance. There was no
question that a fall from this height meant no survival for a human. No matter
what awaited at the end of the fall, no matter how strong the human.
never had a bound companion die, so, he didn’t know from experience what it
would feel like, but he’d heard others speak of it. He’d expected
something…worse. He should have experienced fear as Eamon fell, pain as he
crashed to the ground and his body shattered against the rocks below. It would
have dropped him to his knees, put him in a state of shock.
fear, and then…an absence. Eamon simply was not there. He wasn’t alive, but
neither was he dead.
Rafe turned to the humans, and they all bowed their heads, nodding and avoiding
his eyes. “You should have protected him.”
his dark hair around his head. Everything was cast in a dusky gray—the winter
sun had not shown its face for days, and the choppy sea below was the color of
cold steel. Standing at least a head taller than the tallest of the three
humans, Rafe was no stranger to intimidation tactics. It wasn’t his preferred
modus operandi—physical threats were so pedestrian—but it was easy, and with
the gaping absence of Eamon distracting him, it was all he managed.
Kiran, his retainer, said softly.
organized. Comb the beach and the forest in this area. I did not feel him die.”
And if he was mistaken and Eamon was dead…The words hurt as they formed in his
mind, but he forced them out. “If you find him, or his body, bring him home.”
the manor to find willing and able individuals to carry out the command. Wind
continued to buffet Rafe’s side and face, tangling his hair as it whipped
around. In his imagination, Eamon was scolding him as he worked a brush through
Rafe’s hair as he did every night. Would it kill you to tie your hair back once
in a while? It’s like you tangle it on purpose.
you to brush it, would I? Rafe would reply and grin in the mirror at his lover.
The thought of the familiar teasing almost made him smile. Almost.
forward as Rafe returned to the ghoul’s body. “We would like to join the search
parties, if we may.”
to the manor. Have it burned.”
glances. The ghoul was larger than all three of them combined. Heavy as it was,
it would take them hours to drag it to the manor. It seemed a mild punishment
in Rafe’s eyes, for letting his lover fall over a cliff.
been for as long as Rafe had known them. Rose was bound to Elena, the manor’s
doctor, and lived in the manor with her, while the two human men lived in the
village outside the manor walls—together, if Rafe was not mistaken. Eamon had
lived with Tuomas for some time, until he came to Rafe’s attention, and still
spent the night in Tuomas’s village home on occasion. Perhaps it was cruel to
punish the three of them in any way for what had happened. They were likely
hurting as much as Rafe, but they were not bound to Eamon. They could not feel
his absence, like the loss of a limb or an eye or an ear, like a crushing
emptiness where, until mere hours ago, there had been a warm, bright presence
every day for the past ten years.
second retainer, Orienna. “See that we lose no one else to rogue ghouls today.”
“I’m in a mood to rip something’s throat out,”
he said coldly. “Let the filth try.”
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Meet the Author
Leigh M. Lorien is a queer author who got her start at the tender age of five, writing and illustrating her own Sonic the Hedgehog stories. Fortunately, her writing has improved in the subsequent decades. Nowadays, Leigh’s stories primarily lean toward science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy, but she has had some contemporary pieces sneak out of her head. Regardless of genre, her books will usually include sarcasm, strong relationships (romantic and platonic), polyamory/non-monogamy, magic, music, animals, mental illness, and less-frequently-represented queer identities.
When she’s not writing, Leigh enjoys gardening, photography, travel, music, Renaissance festivals, doing hair-color experiments in her bathroom, and going on any kind of adventure involving the outdoors (unless it’s cold, screw that). If you want to know her better or see pictures of her many fur-children, she’s most active on Twitter and Instagram.
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