Fridays @ Ofelia’s | Magician by K.L. Noone

Guest-Post

Today, I’m glad to say that K.L. Noone is back for a visit. Welcome!

Hi, I’m K.L. Noone, and I write LGBTQ romance—everything from contemporary to historical to paranormal, often m/m but sometimes f/f, or m/f with bisexual characters, or even m/m/m superheroes! Ofelia has been kind enough to let me drop by to introduce my upcoming novel, Magician, available from JMS Books July 24!

Magician is high fantasy, in a sort of early modern world—there’re printed novels and merchant ships alongside magicians and princes, but we haven’t quite got up to steam-power yet. It’s m/m, with bisexual main characters—or at least Gareth is cheerfully bi, and Lorre is, well, whatever he wants to be, being both an ancient magician and a shapeshifter, on occasion. (He’s historically been and done quite a lot…) It’s very much about guilt, and redemption, and trying to hide from the world on a deserted tropical island (because one might as well hide and feel guilty for one’s past mistakes in comfort!), and then it’s about what happens when an optimistic young prince shows up on one’s island and believes with all his heart that the world’s last legendary magician has to help with his quest, because that’s how quests go, isn’t it…

It’s also got cinnamon-blackberry scones, and an older-brother king who bakes as stress relief, and a bard singing a terrible ballad in a tavern. Plus a few bandits. And some hurt/comfort, because I do love a good hurt/comfort scene. And also a good amount of tea.

I’m so excited to share this one with the world, because Magician is a novel that’s very close to my heart—in some ways I’ve been working on it, or not-working on it, for over ten years! It began, in fact, as a spin-off story from my first-ever published (m/f, bi main characters) romance short story! (You don’t need to have read it first, I promise!) That short story, “Sorceress,” had a villain, or at least a Reckless and Problematic Magician, that required our sorceress to deal with—I always knew the sequel would be his story, and I even wrote two scenes of it back then, both of which are still in the final version, almost word for word. (One’s about halfway through, about true faces and magic. One’s the conversation near the end, about their future.) And then things got busy, and other stories wanted to be written…but then it woke back up, this past year. Loudly, too, shouting about optimism and hope and second chances.

So, a decade later, here it is. I hope you enjoy it—I loved writing it, and seeing Gareth and Lorre find what they want, and each other, and a happy ending, at last.

Here are some purchase links, and an opening excerpt!

Buy links:

JMS Books :: Amazon

Opening Excerpt:

The world’s greatest living magician, lying on his back on a rocky ledge halfway up a cliff and bathed in sunshine, felt the boat’s arrival on the island shore below like an uninvited knock at a private door. He did not enjoy it.

He didn’t move for a moment. He did not feel like it, and there’d be no rush. Nobody’d get past his wards.

He kept both eyes closed. Sun streaked red behind his eyelids; gold warmed his skin, his hair. His body soaked in the sensations of strong heated stone, sank into stone, became stone: learning how the rock felt when bathed in lush late-morning light. His edges blurred, softened: time slowed, thrummed, grew earthen and deep, salt-lapped and wind-etched. He might’ve been here for centuries, unhurried. Equilibrium and erosion, solidity and reshaping: a balance.

He had needed balance. Something he’d thought he’d known, once. Something he no longer understood.

He’d thought the island might help. Being rock for a while, or the wind, or the seaspray: being suspended amid them all. Being alone, because he was not sure he recalled how to be human, not well enough.

The island was warm—Lorre had always shamelessly adored being warm—and far enough from the mainland that he’d been mostly undisturbed, and close enough to trade routes that he could occasionally walk on water out to a boat and barter some repairs or some healing for some news of the Middle Lands and King Henry’s court at Averene and the Grand Sorceress Liliana. Lorre had promised not to magically check in on Lily or their daughter; he was attempting to keep that promise.

Equilibrium. Difficult. Sunlight was easier. Sunbeams were weightless. Stones did not have to think about human promises. Human perceptions.

The knock came again. It was not physical, or not entirely. It was a presence, an unexpected intruder standing below, shuffling feet in the sand and no doubt wondering where precisely a magician could be found, being faced with a towering blank cliff and no visible habitation.

Lorre sighed, pulled himself back from frayed edges and heavy sleepy light, and sat up, pulling a robe on in an unfussy tumble of blue and gold, mostly just because he liked the caress of silky fabric on bare skin. His senses shifted, dwindled: more human, though not entirely. He’d been a magician too long to not feel the threads of brilliance—cliff, vines, fish, grains of sand, sea-glass polished by waves—all around.

He peeked over the side of the ledge. Behind him the cave yawned lazily, reminding him of sanctuary: he could simply walk back inside, the way he had for several years now, and ignore the new arrival. That generally worked.

He was rather surprised someone’d found him at all. He wasn’t exactly hiding—oh yes you are, said a tart little voice in his head, one that sounded like Lily’s—but the island, after a bit of work on his part, nearly always concealed itself from maps and navigation charts. At the beginning a few enterprising adventurers had managed to track it down, young heroes on quests or proving their worth by daring an enchanter’s lair or begging for Lorre’s assistance in some revenge or inheritance or magical artifact retrieval scheme.

He’d ignored all but two of them. The illusion-wall kept everyone out, simple and baffling; the island had fresh water but little in the way of food. Mostly the adventurers’d given up and gone home, years ago; he couldn’t in fact recall the face of the last one. Two had become nuisances, loud and shouting; one of those had actually threatened to drink poison, melodramatically demanding Lorre’s assistance in collecting a promised bride from a glass mountain, claiming he’d die without her.

The young man currently standing on the beach was neither loud nor melodramatic. In fact, he was calmly considering the sheer cliff-face, which revealed nothing; he stepped back across the small curve of beach, shaded his eyes, seemed to be measuring. After a second he put a hand up, obviously checking the edge of the cliff: having noticed the very slight discrepancy where sea-birds dropped behind the illusion-wall a fraction sooner than they should vanish in reality.

Intelligent, this one. Lorre dangled himself over the ledge at an angle which would’ve been dangerous for anyone else, and watched.

The young man had dark reddish-brown hair, the color of autumn; he wore it tied back, though a few wisps were escaping. He’d dressed for travel, not in shiny armor the way some knights and princes had: sturdy boots and comfortable trousers, a shirt in nicely woven but also practical fabric, a well-worn pack which he’d swung down to the sand. He wasn’t particularly tall, but not short: average, with nicely shaped shoulders and an air of straightforward competence, not trying for impressive or intimidating.

Lorre, despite annoyance at the interruption, couldn’t help but approve. At least this one had some sense, and didn’t walk around clanking in metal under the shimmering sun.

The young man called up, “Hello?” His voice was quite nice as well, not demanding, lightly accented with the burr of the Mountain Marches but in the way of someone who’d been carefully sent to the best schools down South. “Grand Sorcerer?”

Lorre mentally snorted. He didn’t have a proper title, not any longer; if anyone did, it’d be Lily. His former lover, now wife of the brother of the King of Averene, was by default the last Grand Sorceress of the Middle Lands; she’d started up the old magician’s school again, welcoming and training apprentices. Lily always had been better with people. Lorre was not precisely welcome in Averene.

The young man said mildly, “I expect this is a test; I thought you would do that, you know,” as if he thought that Lorre might answer, as if they were having a conversation; and looked around. “I’m meant to find you, is that it?”

That was the opposite of it. Lorre on a good day barely recalled how to be human, and certainly wasn’t fit to interact with them. He’d lost his temper with the melodramatic poison-carrying prince, strolled invisibly onto the shore, asked the poison to turn itself into a sleeping draught, and then poured it into the idiot’s water flask. Then he’d found a passing ship and dumped the snoring body onto its deck. He hadn’t known the destination, and hadn’t bothered to find out.

His current young man was looking at driftwood. Lorre wondered why. He was getting a bit dizzy from leaning nearly upside down; he considered the sensation with some surprise. A swoop of gold swung into his eyes, distracting and momentarily baffling; he pushed the strands of his hair back with magic.

The young man found a stick, one that evidently met his standards for length and strength. He kept it in front of himself; he walked deliberately toward the cliff, and the illusion.

Oh. Clever. Avoiding traps. Testing a theory. Lorre found himself impressed, particularly when the young man watched the tip of the driftwood vanish and nodded to himself and then set rocks down to neatly mark the spot.

The island was not large, and the beach even smaller: a jut of cliff, a tangle of vines, a small lagoon and a trickle of water down to the shore. The illusion hid the cave-opening, but there wasn’t really anywhere else for someone to be; the young man figured that out within an hour or so of methodical exploration, and returned to the shore, and looked thoughtfully at the cliffs. He’d rolled up his sleeves and undone the ties of his shirt, given the heat; he had a vine-leaf in his hair, along with a hint of sweat.

Lorre, in some ways still very much human, couldn’t not stare. Something about those forearms under rolled-up sleeves. That hint of well-muscled chest. The casual ripple of motion, broad shoulders, heroic thighs.

I suppose,” the young man said, very wry, still looking at the cliff as if perfectly aware Lorre was watching, “I should introduce myself. I think I forgot to, earlier.”

I suppose you should, Lorre agreed silently. Since you’re here. Disrupting my life.

He ignored the fact that he’d had no real plans. Meditation. Quiet. A hope for calm.

A hint of dragon-fire slid through his veins, under his skin. A memory. Restless. Beckoning. Dangerous.

Blurb:

magician

A magician in need of redemption. A loyal hero on a quest. And only one bed at the inn.

Once the world’s most legendary sorcerer, Lorre fled the Middle Lands after his own curiosity — and a misguided transformation spell—turned him into a dragon and nearly killed a king. He isn’t a dragon anymore, but he is hiding alone on a tropical island, avoiding people, politics, and his own reputation.

But now a hero has found him. And not just any hero. Prince Gareth’s full of patience, intelligence, a kind heart…and unfairly attractive muscles. And he needs Lorre’s help: his tiny mountain kingdom is under attack from ice magic, and Gareth hopes the world’s last great magician will save his people.

Lorre’s very much done with quests and princes and trying to change the world. But Gareth might tempt him to believe again…in heroes, in himself, and in magic.

Author Bio:

K.L. Noone employs her academic research for writing romance, usually LGBTQ+ and often paranormal, fantasy, or historical! Her full-length romance novels include the Character Bleed trilogy (Seaworthy, Stalwart, and Steadfast), Cadence and the Pearl, and A Demon for Midwinter, available from JMS Books, and A Prophecy for Two, available from Inkshares. She’s also the author of multiple romance novellas and short stories with JMS Books, and previously with Less Than Three Press, Circlet Press, and Ellora’s Cave. Her non-romance fantasy fiction has appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress and the magazine Aoife’s Kiss.

With the Professor Hat on, she’s published scholarly work on romance, fantasy, and folklore, including a book on Welsh mythology in popular culture and a book on ethics in Terry Pratchett’s fantasy. She is happily bisexual, married to the marvelous Awesome Husband, and currently owned by a long-legged black cat named Merlyn.

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