Well. It's finally done.
The Crown and the Sword, Book 5 of the Rise of the Symbionts, is ready for release. The endless edits and tweaking are done and it's been an endless journey.
It took me years to reveal the identity of The Champion (og title) and Tarragon's rebirth.
After this, two more installments and the series would be a wrap.
I hope you like this one.
***Let me know if you are interested in a review copy. I'm always open to feedback.
The Crown And The Sword
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Jo Tannah
Word Count :99411
Publication Date :2023-03-31
Series : Rise of the Symbionts#5
Heat Level : 3 Flames
Available Formats : The Crown and the Sword (epub) , The Crown and the Sword (mobi) , The Crown and the Sword (pdf) , The Crown and the Sword (prc)
Category : Fantasy Romance , LGBTQIA+ Romance , Romance , Science Fiction Romance , Coming Soon
PreSale Buy Link: https://www.extasybooks.com/whatsnew/coming-soon/The-Crown-and-the-Sword
Whispers swelled inside Cheol’s mind, unceasing in their subliminal suggestions. They woke him when he needed to sleep, pushed him when he needed to think, and rejected any attempts he made to defy their control. The power they held over his mind was a never-ending physical pain he could barely tolerate.
“Theo, no…” Martin said, a sob breaking out as he reached a hand up to the sky.
“We have no other choice. Save as many as you can,” Theo said in his mind.
“Martin, listen to me.” Theo’s voice took on a grim note. “Only with the Five can our people be saved.”
“Don’t leave me.”
“As if I ever could.” Theo sent a smile with his mental voice as he wrapped phantom arms around his lover. “We’ll meet again in the golden lands, my love.”
“The golden lands…” Martin’s voice filled with hope.
“Now, do as I say.”
“I love you, Martin,” Theo said, sounding resigned to the inevitable.
“I love you, too.”
Pulling on his last reserves, Theo did the only thing left for him to do. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and made the call.
Cheol couldn’t remember when it had all begun. One day he’d been a loyal Royal Guardian to the young prince Arzhur, the next, he’d found himself losing track of time, unable to remember where he’d been or what he’d done. It had been the voices that had first suggested he seduce sixteen-year-old Arzhur. Even then, his heart rebelled, but at that time, he’d not resisted the idea as he reasoned he’d loved the man the boy had turned into for a long time. The seduction had been easy, for Arzhur had welcomed him with open arms, even claimed he’d been in love with Cheol for the longest time.
Guilt plagued him, even when their affair burned them both, but then the voices ceased, and Cheol knew peace for five years, falling deeper in love, lulled into thinking he might just become the first genetically bred consort to an Oryon king. He’d all but forgotten the sibilant voices until one day they started up again, like a persistent white noise that pulled him from a deep sleep. Curiously, they’d restarted just after the old king had died from a long illness. It was then that Arzhur inherited the mantle of king and the accompanying collective memories of the Oryon kings.
The day after the royal funeral, he’d woken up to low voices urging him to do something he couldn’t quite understand. He remembered searching Arzhur’s chambers, trying to find the source of the barely-there murmurs, but he’d found no one about. When he’d felt the unaccustomed fear rising inside of him, he tightened his arms around Arzhur and hoped for a moment it had been a bad dream. It worked, but only for a while.
Just when he thought he’d imagined his anxiety, a heaviness pressed onto his mind until he could no longer ignore what the voices were saying. The voices became clearer, and no matter how he’d fought against them, they persisted, wore on him, until there was nothing he could do. He had no choice but to listen, and the pressure had eased. That was when the instructions began.
Cheol hadn’t known who they were or where they were coming from, but the voices coached him to advise Arzhur to marry a young woman. However, the thought of Arzhur bonding with another had made him rebel, and he resisted. He was Level 1A Security, after all, and one of the strongest and most skilled. His training from childhood made it second nature to stay loyal to the royal family, and he would die before he betrayed Arzhur. But they’d forced him to listen, steadily driving him mad with unrelenting pain until he broke.
He gasped when his mind became flooded with visions of Arzhur suffering and under a lot of pain. Images of a technomage wand falling to the ground, the unearthed artifact that was the center of its power, shattered into a million pieces. The scene shifted to Arzhur’s face contorting from the anguish of losing his wife, holding his newborn son in his arms. He saw himself taking the infant Kallen from Arzhur’s arms and placing the child in the cradle, then turning to comfort his former lover, quietly rejoicing at his rival’s death. He’d felt the guilt pressing on him, for he knew her death had been unnatural. He’d wanted to tell Arzhur yet could not. The voices forbade him on pain of witnessing the death of both king and infant son. He couldn’t allow that to happen.
Scenes of their first kiss and short-lived happiness made Cheol smile in bittersweet remembrance, only to cry out in anguish as he looked on in horror at another unfolding scene—Arzhur’s bowed back, two assassins’ swords going through his chest from the front and the back. He looked down at the bloody scabbard, recognizing it as his sword, and holding it was his own hand, wet and slick from the blood of his beloved.
Cheol’s eyes flashed open as the sound of his own voice startled him, his breathing ragged and uneven. Words stumbled out of his mouth as the memories flooded his mind.
“No, no, no, no, no, Arzhur, no. Please don’t... No, oh Goddess, please no...”
Cheol’s heart felt like it would burst from the combined remorse and anguish. He tore off his mask and looked down into the face of his lover cradled in his arms. “Don’t leave me. Forgive me,” he sobbed out.
Arzhur raised a bloodied hand.
Cheol grasped onto it like a lifeline. “You are not leaving me!”
Arzhur would listen. He’d trained him to listen.
“Kallen,” Arzhur gasped out. His throat gurgled, and blood spat out of his mouth to dribble down his chin and chest. “It is time.”