Jayce Morrow is like any other college student: part academic, part nerd, part dreamer. Adopted by the only family he’s ever known he has no idea of his true identity. Or what his unknown history means.
Saving the world wasn’t part of his college application, after all.
When a gorgeous mage appears out of thin air in his apartment, he’s positive he’s dreaming, convinced one of his friends has jumped the shark looking for players for their D&D dungeon by hiring LARPers.
Except there is no dungeon to strategize through. Mages and magic are real. And he’s about to learn his role in saving their world.
Note from the Author: This story is a slow burn MM romance with some really stubborn characters, a few comments about an elf’s amazing hair, and challenges that can mold the man regardless of plans.
Rune studied the pre-dawn horizon with an accepting stance. His visions had brought him to this place, to this location deep in Sucábul, to this time, for a reason. Billowing mounds of gray smoke clouds erratically rose to scatter in the lightening morning skies overhead, the blackened waves laden with the bitter stench of dry grasses, well-weathered wood, and more he didn’t want to dissect. It was far enough in the distance that the screams of destruction couldn’t reach him, but that same distance didn’t deter his watchful stare as he followed the snaking movement of the smoke. Across miles of fields and low rolling hills lay the village’s remains, in its death throes, unable to reach them in time to offer aid. He wasn’t there to stop the destruction, sadly. Their demise was the harbinger sign he’d been waiting for. That this was where he needed to be, that this was the moment he’d been preparing for. The prophecy had been set in motion centuries ago when the royal line had been destroyed from within, murdering the crowned king, placing the current Alendaren ruling family on the throne as undisputed ruler, claiming all of Kielbos as their spoils. A spiraling descent of evil and destruction that currently pulled at his soul and called his name to join in the fight and do what was needed to correct a centuries old wrong. Because as his visions directed him, his next steps were to find the one his world needed to balance the prophecy. Good versus evil.
The evil had been released from its cage and now had a full striding lead against them, a scourge spilling ever so slowly northward. They were at a disadvantage, and he honestly didn’t know to what extent. He squared his shoulders, aware going forward from this point, nothing was going to be easy. Years in the making to bring him here to this very location. Being brave and sure was never easy when destiny came knocking.
The Alendaren family had fully usurped the Valda-Cree lineage and in doing so, tipped the scales in a direction destined to destroy their world if he didn’t find the will and strength to take the next steps. Rising sunlight broke through the smoke like spikes of gold slicing through the heaviness, but it didn’t fill him with hope or anticipation of a new dawn. Dread lay heavy against his heart. He truly had no idea if his ability to accept the coming hours and days was going to be enough.
The known beat of broad wings sliced the air seconds before granite hard claws delicately grasped his padded shoulder. The raven’s weight stilled, adjusting easily to her perch. “Hello, Iba.” He offered a bit of dried meat from his pouch to be plucked from between his fingers. The raven gulped it down then nuzzled into his temple. “I know, heart. Our time has come. Did you find him?” A quiet raw caw was his answer. “Good. Stay close. The world we are about to enter is not our own. We must be quick to bring him back.”
The bird’s wings rustled, black feathers tickling over his chin. A hint of chastising sarcasm in avian speak. He smiled at the raven’s tone. “Yes, I’m aware.” He’d sent the raven into the air two nights before as he’d neared this destined spot, and Iba had succeeded in her mission. She’d located the one they sought. Images sent to him during her scouting would guide him now to create the spell that would allow him to walk from his world to the next. Animals could travel at will between planes through the eternal gateways. Man, and others of their ilk, needed a slightly more deliberate manner of travel between worlds and only those with the knowledge and training would dare. The last thing any mage would want was to start a time paradox in their own world. For this reason, he had been waiting in the one spot he’d envisioned in his dreams when he’d first seen the fires blaze miles away after sending Iba on her mission. Consistency was always key, even if the interpretation of the vision was questionable.
The burst of images that scrolled through his mind from Iba’s were sparse. She was a bird after all and their brains were skewed to survival, not reconnaissance. Iba, however, was multitalented. Their connection spanned more years than he could count, and understanding between them was as fluid as a running stream.
The view of the man they were seeking was clear enough. Dark hair, leaning toward rich sable or even mink brown. A fairly tall and solid build from the bird’s eye view, likely as tall as himself. Strong shoulders, in apparent good health. He had an aura that seemed to confirm he was who Rune sought. Someone bred with confidence, raised with strength of will. Only time would tell if he was true Valda-Cree. Only a strong man’s will could harness the soul of the lion, the king of beasts, and survive. Sharing, because taming was never going to happen. Not even for the king of the Valda-Cree.
Their future, their people, needed that bright light of hope that this male represented right now. After watching the destruction of his lands for decades, the worst was yet to come, but it was time to bring home the one he sought. He knew walking forward to find him, he was accepting his life would be permanently attached to this stranger’s. He didn’t see it as a sacrifice. The moment the visions began, he knew he was being chosen, directed. He had been given his chance to walk away, and it had long since passed. If this one man was the hope, the savior Kielbos needed, then he would see him through his trials, support him through his days. When he stepped forward, his future ceased being his own. He accepted and embraced all it meant.
Watching the first rings of the sun’s bright rays crest the horizon, illuminating the sky to chase through the morning gray darkness, he flipped his cowl over his head, pushing his ponytail down his back, to call his staff into his palm. “Ready?”
Iba settled securely to his shoulder. He murmured words under his breath, using his free hand to create symbols in the air with different forms of his fist and fingers, until a golden door stood before him. There was nothing to see through the portal, only the glow of the outline that blinded the walker to the other side. He’d traveled through his visions to view the other side frequently enough to know where he was going to appear with the help of Iba’s scouting. However, he’d never been where he’d dreamed, a place that so loudly called from the unknown.
“Goddess guide us,” he murmured as he took a step through.