Thank you for deciding to check out my epic gay fantasy romance novel. If you enjoy this story, you might also enjoy my published works. Magebound can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as many other online book retailers. I also have several e-books out through Shadowfire Press. Links can be found on my profile page. And now, please enjoy Broken Wings.
Cold and clammy, the fog surrounded Jak as he stood at the portside rail, his hands gripping the rusted steel as he took long, slow breaths and fought not to vomit again. He'd already thrown up six times since they left the port city of Braevern ry Maas four hours ago. It wasn't surprising-he was an earth mage, after all-but it was annoying and uncomfortable. At least he wasn't the only one.
He stepped back as a young man with bright red hair lunged at the rail and lost his breakfast into the dark, swirling water. Jak's stomach heaved and he turned away, almost walking into a passing deckhand.
"How much longer?" Jak asked.
"We're approaching the dock now, sir," the man said as he walked away.
Jak closed his eyes.
"Thank you, Maele," he whispered, and started toward the stairs. The lower deck was crowded with students, most of them freshmen, like him, but he saw a few faces that had to belong to upperclassmen. Weaving his way through the chattering mass, he passed several faeries, both sidhe and fey. They were always pretty easy to pick out of a crowd, with their inhumanly beautiful faces, lithe figures, and unusual-colored eyes and hair.
The mages and werefolk were a bit harder to distinguish between, both being basically human. Sometimes the werefolk had scars, bite-marks on their hands or arms, but most were more discrete. Mages often wore charms around their necks or in their hair, bones and stones and carved bits of antler and seashell. Jak had a badger carved out of lodestone around his neck, a gift from his mother, inscribed with healing and protective runes. He could feel the cold weight of it against his chest and he sighed. Alyrrawood University was such a long way from the suburbs of Rosevale.
Jak finally reached the stern of the wide, lumbering ship, and stood at the offloading gate, watching the dark, wet dock materialize out of the dense fog. Three short blasts of the ferry's horn rattled his bones, but the fog seemed to soak up the sound, leaving them wrapped in a cocoon of silence. Jak shuddered and pulled his jacket closer about his body.
"Feeling better?" Jak glanced over at the young man who had spoken. He was average looking, for a faerie, with coal black skin and silver hair, his eyes the brilliant blue of a deep, icy lake. He smiled hesitantly. "I saw you getting sick on the upper deck."
"Yeah, I just...don't like boats," Jak said, turning back to the rail. The dock was slowly creeping closer.
"Me neither," the faerie said, leaning on the rail beside him. "I'm Izeri Auve, by the way." He held out his hand.
"Jakil LeMae," Jak said, shaking it. "You're a...fey?"
"Ruith fey, actually-a weather faerie."
"Really?" Jak said with a laugh. "Any chance of you doing something about this fog?"
"Wish I could," Izeri said, looking out into the curtain of white. "My glamour has been acting strange the last few years. Which is why I've been looking forward to starting college. I'm a meteorology major. What about you?"
"Undecided," Jak said. "I was thinking about pre-med, but I've heard it's a hard program to get into."
"I had a cousin who tried. He worked his ass off studying and still failed." Izeri glanced over at him. "You're a werewolf, right?"
Jak shook his head.
"Oh. That explains all the vomiting." Izeri laughed. "So where you get the scar?"
"My uncle's dog," Jak said, absently tracing his fingers over the bite marks on the back of his hand. "It was trained to guard the barn and I got too close. I was only eight. That was first time my magic manifested-it buried the damn dog alive, under three feet of solid dirt. By the time they dug it back up, it had suffocated."
"That's awful," Izeri said. "And you were only eight? Man...I was four the first time mine did anything. I-" He laughed again. "I made it rain on my sister's kai'lao party-that's kind of like a birthday party, only...not." He shrugged. "I was mad that she was getting all the presents."
"One time, I-"
"Excuse me, sirs." Jak stepped back as a brawny deckhand moved between them and unfastened the latches on the gate. The ferry shuddered and rocked slightly. Jak clapped a hand over his mouth and took several long breaths through his nose, waiting for his stomach to make up its mind about whether or not he was going to vomit again. The deckhand swung the gate open and leaped the three feet from the deck to the dock, securing lines and sliding a wide plank across the empty space. "All ashore," he called, and Jak dashed forward as he felt the crowd press close behind him. The gangplank bowed beneath his weight, but the dock was firm, if a little slippery.
His steps short and quick, Jak hurried away from the ferry, up onto the good, solid, wonderful earth, the damp ground cold against his palms as he pressed his hands to the trampled grass. Closing his eyes, he whispered a thankful prayer and then stood, rubbing his hands together, as he watched the rest of the students disembark from the ship. They stood around, the faeries and werefolk naturally gravitating into little knots of their own kind, talking and laughing while they waited for their luggage to be brought up from below deck. Mages, suspicious and solitary creatures that they were, remained alone, eyeing each other.
One by one, the various trunks, duffel bags, crates and suitcases were arranged on the dock. a steady stream of laden students filed past him, heading up the slight hill and vanishing into the fog. He saw Izeri walk by, a bulging bag slung over one shoulder, in the company of two other faeries, one pale as the fog with blue eyes and hair, the other a dark bronze color, his eyes amber, his hair shades of orange and gold. Izeri waved and then they were gone.
Absently running his fingers over the lodestone pendant hanging around his neck, Jak walked back out onto the dock to retrieve his battered leather suitcase-his father's suitcase. Applying to Alyrrawood U had been his idea. Jak had been more than willing to stay closer to home-in the same galaxy, at least-but his father had insisted. Alyrrawood was the best university on any known world, and no LeMae ever settled for less than the best.
Following the others, Jak strode up the hill, following a wide gravel path. Dark shapes loomed within the fog, bushes and trees, leaves dark and wet with dew, moisture falling from spindly branches in icy drops. No one spoke. The only sound was the crunch of gravel underfoot, muffled by the thick, impenetrable fog. Shivering slightly, Jak shifted the heavy suitcase to his other hand and blew on his stiff, cold fingers before shoving them into his jacket pocket. Now he knew why the orientation pamphlet had said to pack warm.
After a good half-hour of steady walking, Jak was beginning to wonder if he'd perhaps strayed onto a side-path somewhere. He paused beneath the spreading branches of a large cedar tree and listened for the noisy tread of his fellow students, but the only sound in the fog was a faint rumble in the distance, a sound he knew well. The ancestral LeMae home had stood for a hundred and twenty years atop a rocky promontory overlooking the wild and stormy Ocean of Caterin. Nowhere within the manor could you go to escape the ceaseless pounding of the waves on the rocks below. Yes, he knew that sound very well. He was near the beach, and not where he was supposed to be.