Three dozen missing people. New gods vs. old gods. A battle as old as time ...
The Winterlands is a place of desperation and misery when David, a former spiritual soldier, shows up at a local inn. When he is refused a room, he makes fast friends with a scared priest named Garrison who is on a mission to expose a rival spiritual leader, named The Mountain Man by the locals. Though David does not believe in a single thing -- and refuses to give his real name to anyone -- he joins the priest on this mission into the snowy mountains of the Winterlands.
There he comes face to face with monsters he never thought possible, testing his faith at every turn, and making him fall for Jasper, the son of another soldier lost in battle. Will he and Jasper ever get out of the mountains together? Will Garrison find and defraud the prophet? Or will their entire party join the ghosts of the over three dozen souls who dwell beneath the ice?
"How do you want to do this?" I asked when I stepped into the room. I took off my coat and lay it on the worn-down nightstand in the room. The single mattress pained me to my very core with a glance; it was lumpy, filled with rusty springs, and basically a shit piece of furniture. I didn't want to sleep on it, let alone fuck.
When the priest was still quiet, I regarded him again. He was still wearing his coat, which he'd barely undone since we met. The collar was visible, a white phosphorescent orb at his throat, and it glowed in the room. He touched it again and again.
I sighed. "Well, I'm not doing anything on the bed. It looks painful. So how do you usually like it?"
"Why are you asking me? Don't you know what you're doing?"
"Oh, I do." I chuckled. "But you seem to be the skittish one. I'm still trying to figure out if that means you want to be top or bottom. Or something else altogether."
He swallowed. "What else is there?"
"Lots of things. Dozens of them, really. Just as many as there are gods. You know what? Probably more"
As I spoke, I started to take off my dark shirt. I lifted the tails out of my belt, my fingers dancing over the smooth buttons that were a luxury when I bought it and still were now. The shirt was off my shoulders, on the bed, and I was reaching my fingers through my belt before the priest gasped. There was only candlelight in the room, but it was enough to illuminate my scars.
"You weren't lying."
A beat passed between us. He was still staring, his mouth open in horror and then curiosity.
"It's fine," I said, but it was too late. He was already asking the standard questions in a haze: how did you get them; what happened; are you in pain. "Is it from the war?" was the last one he got out before I closed the distance between us in a kiss.
He resisted at first. Then, just as I watched wax from a candle on the end table flow over and stick to the wooden surface, he melted into me. His body was soft from a sedentary and privileged life; I gripped his love handles and left half-moon marks easily. He bulged in his pants, shuddering when I moved my tongue next to his. I moved my other hand through his curly hair and then down to his nape; I tangled him into me while also holding him in place. When his breathing became staccato, and his body began to tremble, I moved from his mouth to his neck.
I wasted no time before I removed the collar. I tossed it on the bed, watched his gaze follow the white piece of fabric, and I expected him to bail. He was still, silent.
I was hard and wanted more, so I dropped to my knees. "Priest," I said as I went for his pants, and he was still trembling. "We can do so many --"
"Don't call me priest."
"Don't call me priest anymore. You asked for my name. I gave it. So use it."
"Garrison." I kissed a patch of skin on his belly. "Garrison. Like that?"
"Yeah." When he grinned down at me, he touched my scars. His fingers were soft, caring, almost loving. For a brief moment in the low lights, I believed he understood me, what had happened, as if through some magical insight.
But as he took off his clothing, and I saw no marks on his body, not a single one, I was reminded that he was still a priest. Still unlike me.
So I continued to call him Garrison, because it made him melt into me, it made his soft body even softer to fold over the bed and spread out with my tongue and fingers and hands, but I knew I was not dreaming. Not telling myself stories, like I would do in the war, hoping for something more to believe in.