Blood of Salar

by Alexis Duran

Blood of Salar - Alexis Duran - Masters and Mages
Part of the Masters and Mages series:
Editions:Kindle
Pages: 195

M'lan, headmaster of the order of Ka'alar and Jamil Jarka, king's assassin, find their impossible love challenged to the utmost as a rebellion sweeps them apart, sending Jamil on a dangerous mission to assassinate the rebel leader, General Charvat.  Unknown to anyone, Charvat is on his way to the temple to exploit the headmaster's magical abilities and M'lan is thrust into the middle of political intrigue and a struggle against sexual dominance as Charvat attempts to break his resistance. Violence and death mount, awakening within M'lan both the powers of destruction and the desire for revenge.

On the trail of his prey, Jamil begins to question to his devotion to M'lan as his once innocent lover transforms into a mage, allowing him to invade the assassin's thoughts and dreams.  The closer Jamil draws to M'lan, the more he puts his life and his very soul at risk.  Jamil soon realizes that his lover might prove to be more deadly than the man he was sent to kill.

A final confrontation between assassin and monk might destroy them both, but Jamil presses on in his determination to rescue M'lan, knowing that only his love can master the mage.

Excerpt:

Alone in Ka’alar’s element of water, M’lan sensed the serpent energy creeping along his skin, seeping into his core, invigorating him in a way entirely different from Salar’s soothing light. This transfer of energy felt exquisitely selfish. His thoughts of Jamil returned, and his hands traveled unbidden down his belly. His breathing became shallow.

Although the feel of his hand on his cock released a tremor of excitement, he stopped shy of pleasuring himself. Immersing himself completely in Ka’alar’s embrace seemed risky. The serpent god’s powers came with a price, or so he’d been warned. The last sliver of moon had dipped behind the jagged horizon. Shadows and light melded into a dim gray. A bell chimed in the temple. Time to go.

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He emerged dripping and retrieved his clothes from the burn bush he’d draped them over. When he pressed the cloth to his face to wipe the water from his eyes, all the fine hair on his bare skin stood on end. He sensed a presence, and it was not Amara.

He took a step forward to flee via the pool, but iron fingers gripped both his arms and pulled him back.

“Your senses are improving,” Jamil whispered in his ear. “You actually detected me before I touched you.”

M’lan shuddered as relief and anger rolled through him in alternating waves. He gritted his teeth against an onslaught of curses that leaped to his tongue. When his heartbeat softened, he said as calmly as possible, “You…startled me.”

“Good. Maybe you’ll act more sensibly.” Jamil enfolded M’lan in his arms, and his warm, rich voice tickled M’lan’s ear. “Lolling about nude, alone, while rebel troops swarm around the mountain in droves. My god, M’lan, even someone more honorable and upright than myself would be tempted by the sight of you.” Jamil continued to crush him against his broad chest, and M’lan struggled halfheartedly to escape, still angry at being taken by surprise. He knew he was angrier with himself than Jamil.

“You’re exaggerating about the troops,” he said, finally allowing himself to relax into the embrace. The heat and tantalizing scent of Jamil enveloped him.

“I’m not. That’s why I’m here. To take you away.”

“Really?” The last of M’lan’s resistance faded at the thought of beginning his life with Jamil, even as his responsibilities whispered to him he could not. He leaned back, and Jamil kissed his neck and shoulder. The man’s strong, calloused hands slid down and jerked the shirt out of M’lan’s grasp, flinging it aside. Jamil rested his palm on M’lan’s belly, fingertips teasingly close to M’lan’s cock, taking over where M’lan had left off only moments before.

“Really.”

Conversation stopped as Jamil held and stroked him. M’lan arched, immediately hard and breathless. Soon he’d lose all control and follow Jamil anywhere. He grabbed Jamil’s wrist, stopping the motion, and took a deep breath.

“Let me go.”

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Alex on Rainbow Book Reviews wrote:

This second book in the ‘Masters and Mages’ series proves a terrific follow-up to the initial story and left me hungry for another trip to the harsh but captivating realm of Rakkan. Political intrigue, familial bonds, the ravages of war, sorcery, rebellion, and love, each find a place in this stimulating episode of the hard-won romance between M’lan and Jamil, and I loved every minute of it.

Now headmaster of the Order of Ka’alar, gifted healer M’lan finds himself deserted at the Temple of Ka’alar as a result of the war between the regency and the rebels. His lover Jamil is on a mission to assassinate the rebellion’s leader and the king’s army has fled the mountain after stripping the temple of its precious medicines. Before leaving, the army warned that any aiding the rebel forces with their “healing gift” would feel the wrath of the king. Despite this, M’lan is secretly ordered by a sinister king’s minister to use his “powers” to spy on the enemy. Forces conspire to tear the lovers apart as Jamil searches for his prey in the wrong direction and the rebel forces descend on the temple to capture its magic. Charvat, the rebel general Jamil seeks, is a student of sorcery and is determined to use M’lan to become Ka’alar incarnate. M’lan must use his wits and his gifts to protect the innocent villagers, the monks in his care, and his lover, without incurring the wrath of either Ka’alar or Salar.

Jamil and M’lan grow both emotionally and spiritually in this episode to great effect. I found Milan especially endearing as he struggles to accept that he may be more than a simple healing monk and am looking forward to his exploration of his newfound powers in the next book. Jamil also expands his consciousness. His epiphany that wealth and privilege may not hold the rich reward he has always imagined and that he can be more than a king’s assassin, made him more human and that much more a perfect companion for M’lan. I also enjoyed Jamil’s sharp, strategic mind gentling to the plight of the abused and his subsequent fight scenes were really special. The heat sizzles between these two men in some very unusual lovemaking scenes, which really enriched the mystical atmosphere of the story.

Lush with engaging scenes of both love and war, the story is further enhanced by a solid cast of supporting characters, including the lost brother of M’lan, Tysin. Their inclusion provided a genuine “perils of war” environment of hapless victims, turncoats, and innocents lost. Darkness and light struggle for control over the realm of Rakkan and Jamil and M’lan must harness their skills and learn what is needed to appease the serpent god Ka’alar before the Light of Salar is forever doused.

Kudos to the author for the smoldering undertone of threats-yet-to-come that riddled this story. Besides the predominate villains in this story, the ousted Abbess Renee resurfaces, and Markassa Hauran, an old enemy of Jamil appears. Glimpses of these vengeful power mongers who serve as puppet masters in this tale were suspense-ridden and intriguing. I have a feeling the two lovers, M’lan and Jamil, will face many trials before their love is truly safe. I await the next book of this entertaining series with great anticipation.

Thank you, Alexis Duran, for this magical mix of romance, intrigue, and otherworldliness.

“Spirited, Enchanting…Wicked good!”


About the Author

Alexis Duran was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Oregon, her fascination with people and relationships led her to major in Sociology, but her main love has always been creative writing. She's worked in museums, finance, film production and for several performing arts organizations. Her favorite job so far has been inventorying the collection of a haunted Victorian Mansion. She is the author of the Masters and Mages and Edge of Night m/m fantasy series as well as several stand-alone romances. Her fiction has won awards including the Rupert Hughes Award from the Maui Writers Conference. She lives with one dog and four and a half cats. She is currently working on the next Masters and Mages novel and always has several new ideas brewing.


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