THE PASSION STROLL...
a blog by author Ashavan Doyon
It feels kind of strange to be here. Certainly it was never as consistent as I would have liked, but here we are, and I'm about to hit publish on the final chapter and epilogue of The One That Feels.
I'm thrilled to have Nem out there in the world, because even though this story is told through Thommas's eyes, in truth, it's really about finding Nem, about loving Nem, about how we can hold on to an old love, only to find that the new love waiting for us is our truth.
It's no surprise that this chapter is all about wrapping things up, about Thommas surrendering to being a part of Nem forever. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you've had fun reading along. While I've had my doubts at times, I know there are some of you who have been reading, and if you have questions, now is the time. Comments are open, feel free to ask and I'll get back to any questions people have... well, almost any questions!
In the meantime, if you're behind, or were afraid to start until the story was complete, you can still read the story from the beginning.
Nem spun in my arms as we moved around the dance floor. I preferred the frenetic exultation of joy that dancing was in the Real, but Nem’s incessant smile as we circled the ballroom in measured exacting steps was so bright and wide and full of happiness that I could not bring myself to pull us from the floor. If he wanted to dance, we would dance.
I spun Nem away and pulled him back to me, circled in my arms. It was a practiced move, but once he was in my arms he stayed there, curling his head into my chest. His hand reached to my neck, and I shuddered as it grazed the bruises where he’d marked me. “You’re ready to go, aren’t you?” he asked.
“I haven’t been one to dance till midnight in a long time,” I said, kissing his cheek. “But I’m content. You’re happy. I like making you happy.”
He grinned at me, pulling back enough that he could run a finger down my chest. The other couples on the floor glared, adjusting their spins to avoid us. But Nem paid them no mind. His attention was on me—on the little gasps I was making as his finger skipped over the very low cut of my clothing and onto the cloth. “I’m wearing something special,” he said, his finger catching on the waistband of my pants.
We're getting so close to the end... ONE MORE CHAPTER. And an epilogue. But they'll be posted at the same time.
So, in the story our heroes await the arrival of Yarath of Om, a legendary king and warlord of the Realm—also Jordan's father. With Thommas unable to bring him personally back to the Real, Jordan is at the mercy of Yarath, who could demand fealty of his son, or deny him access to the one person who holds a route home. Because with the arrival of Yarath of Om comes Janice Blackmun, Jordan's mother, who carries with her the locket that can return Jordan to Brian's side. But will he take it? Or will Thommas be forced to defend them all against the might of Om?
Find out in Chapter 28 of The One That Feels!
What do you mean you're not caught up? There's 27 previous chapters of fantasy goodness... complete with alternate realms, sword fighting, monstrous villains, and a man torn between a love he wants to be true and the romance that stirs with a prince of the Realm. Don't miss out, read it from Chapter 1!
Yarath of Om entered the chamber. I didn’t need immense power to sense the nervousness of those of us who had assembled. Yarath filled the door, his massive antlers rising toward the arch of the door and for a moment I wondered if even the great doors of the hall were too small. And yet the man was no ogre or giant. Simply a very large man, his antlers arcing gracefully up from his forehead amplified that size.
His eyes were the green of the forest, as though all the greens of a mountainside had been swirled together to form them. His flesh was as translucent as Jordan’s, and beneath streams of gold, flowing like rivers in paths below the skin. He stepped forward and gazed at the table, and at us, assembled behind it.
One eyebrow arched in apparent surprise. He’d seen Jordan then. But did he know what it meant? He strode forward a man all in black following behind him. That man’s clothes were simple, but finely cut, and they clung as tightly as a second skin to a frame that was only muscle and bone. From behind me to one side I heard the slight gasp, hidden quickly. For myself, the man’s appearance presented no surprise. As any sovereign, Yarath had been permitted his personal guard.
Finally, a nervous woman entered. Garbed in finery that she clearly had no idea how to wear, she stumbled, only to be caught, carefully, lovingly, by Yarath himself. Jordan hissed softly. “Mom,” he whispered, so softly even I, who was closest, could barely hear it spoken.
As Yarath of Om stands at the gates to Garuth, Nem and Thommas have only a brief respite to prepare. This man of the Realm holds their happiness in his hands. Jordan is Yarath's son, and if he demands Jordan stay, then Thommas will see his oaths to the Realm in conflict. Dreading that moment, Thommas finds hope and resolve in the touch and passion of his mate, his Nem. But will that fortitude be enough?
Find out in Chapter 27 of The One That Feels!
Not caught up? Oh, man... that's 26 chapters of catching up to do... better start at the beginning!
I smiled. Nem’s hand was on my shoulder as he gently shook me.
“Mmm,” I said, grabbing hold of his arm and wrapping it around me. “Good.”
He kissed my back softly, sliding closer. “You were mumbling.”
I brought his hand to my lips and kissed it, then let it fall back against my chest. Nem kissed me again, squeezing us together until his chest was flush against my back. “Was worried.”
“I’m fine,” I said. “Get some sleep. Tomorrow we have to be diplomatic.”
Nem chuckled. “I’m a prince of the Realm. I’m more worried about you.”
To save Jordan from madness, Thommas pulled him fully into the Realm. But it was an act with horrible consequences. Jordan's body no longer anchored him to the Real, or provided a way home. Worse, Jordan's love Brian witnessed the event. Will the quest turn into a fools errand? Can Brian, anchored by true power to the Real be convinced that Jordan is alive? Most importantly, can Thommas release Jordan without breaking his vows to Nem?
Find out in Chapter 26 of The One That Feels!
A little lost? This story nears its end, but you can still read it from the beginning here on the Passion Stroll!
I stood quietly and waited. I could feel the grief, palpable in the air. There was a taste like sorrow, bitter and heavy. I listened in the heavy press of fog until I heard it. It tore at my soul, the power of it, the ache, wailing into the night. I followed the sounds. I wasn’t looking forward to this. I loved Brian more than anything once. To witness the loss he must be feeling….
I found Brian at a tombstone. Two tombstones. He was on his knees, clutching at the stone. I knew which one was meant to be me. He grieved for us both, but his soul belonged to Jordan, and that stone was the one to which he held as he poured his sorrow into the night.
I cleared my throat. It wasn’t fair. I should be approaching him. Setting a hand on his shoulder in comfort. But that could suck me into the Real, and I wasn’t about to allow that. I wouldn’t leave Nem alone. Not again.
I had to clear my throat a second time before he noticed. Before he raised his tear streaked face and turned. He was shaking.
“I’m in a dream,” he said.
Yes. I sent my voice ringing into his mind.
Nem's cries echo in the mind of our hero! At the very gate of the the Lady's court, will Thommas be too late to save his precious Nem from the machinations of the vile rake Rakibak? Find out in Chapter 25 of The One That Feels!
Late coming to the story? Check it out from the beginning.
Trigger warning: Threat of sexual violence.
I growled in frustration at the door to the Lady’s great hall. It was sealed tight, and while once I might have been inclined to restraint, in this moment all I could hear were the cries of my mate frantic in my mind.
“Open,” I snarled. And the trolls within the palace heard my cries, and my anger, and the door fell, crushed into pieces upon the floor.
The clatter of ancient wood splintering against the marble floor rang through the halls, echoing into the vaulted ceilings of the massive chamber. Rakibak was laughing. His fingers were at his belt, my mate stripped naked at his feet. I gulped as I saw the pile of clothes, ripped and shredded on the ground next to him. Rakibak had dared, he’d dared to touch. Two of the Elite Guard held my mate, face down.
I shuddered with fury. My Nem. Rakibak was planning to claim the right of blood by taking my mate. Fury gave way to wrath. I had given no word, made no promise. I could crush Garuth forever.
Safely hidden away out of reach of Rakibak, Thommas and Jordan rest and plan for Jordan's return home. But when Thommas is overwhelmed by an onslaught of fear from his mate, even Jordan's safety must be risked. Can Thommas reach Nem in time? Find out in Chapter 24 of The One That Feels!
Haven't been following the story? This serialized fiction is available on Ashavan's blog, The Passion Stroll. Check it out from Chapter One.
I woke with a start. We were still in the lady’s hideaway. Jordan snored blissfully, sprawled on a tiny couch. I’d fallen asleep in my chair watching him. I glanced about, searching for danger.
I closed my eyes. Nem needed me. “Get up,” I growled to Jordan, opening my eyes and standing with such force that the chair tumbled to the ground behind me. “Get up, now!”
I felt the pulse of fear from my mate.
Nem, my love. I am coming.
Relief, fear, urgency.
I grabbed hold of the groggy prince and lifted him to his feet. “We’re leaving,” I said. “Now.” I searched out the case I needed and pulled out a drawer. The weapon was forged by the trolls, as all the best weapons in the realm were. And like all things made by trolls, it could not touch me. But that meant I also could not touch it. “Take it,” I said to Jordan, “but do not lift it in anger. You must use it only in defense.”
In the dungeons of Garuth, Thommas has found the shattered mind of Brian's love. Restoring him meant pulling him wholly into the Realm. Now, while Brian grieves over the love he presumes dead, Thommas must seek safety in the dungeons, and help guide a very confused prince of the blood to understand who he is and what he wants.
Join Thommas and Jordan as the adventure continues in Chapter 23 of The One That Feels!
What was that? — You're behind! Fear not! All 22 chapters are right here on the Passion Stroll. Start the journey with Chapter 1.
“I’m in a dungeon?” asked Jordan. He was nervous, blinking too much, unwilling to meet my gaze.
“You are. To be gifted to Rakibak as a pleasure slave. It’s not a dream, Jordan. You can’t let yourself think that. You have pulled your body out of the Real, and it is here. You can bleed, Jordan. You can die. This realm is as real in its way as the other.”
“A pleasure slave?” he asked. He looked at his hands, and then felt the great arcing antlers at his forehead. “W-what am I?” For a moment his eyes met mine.
“There is little time for questions. We must get you out.”
“He didn’t come.” Anger. Sadness. Even proof of Brian’s love could not erase Jordan’s doubt completely. “Why didn’t he come himself?”
“Brian cannot leave the Real, Jordan. He is anchored there, through all realities, and this place cannot touch him.” I set my hand on Jordan’s shoulder. “You must trust me.”
Jordan’s nod was hesitant, halting from the unfamiliar weight, but it was there.
Okay, I know it's late so I'm just going to get right to it. This is Chapter 22... in which Thommas finally reaches Jordan, and finds him protected, imprisoned, and not so mad as he was led to believe.
Can Thommas free Brian's love, and in doing satisfy the obligation that keeps him from his beloved Nem? Find out!
A little lost? Check out the story from the very first words!
I followed the narrow circling corridor into the depths of the dungeons. The atmosphere was eerily quiet. This deep, the prisoners within the oubliettes had no hope. It did not matter whether they had given up or not. Those who had no longer screamed. Those who had not no longer had voices left to scream, their outraged screamed into oblivion until their voices were no more. And so both no longer had hope.
Somewhere deep in this maze of lost souls, there was a cell, and in it a man. A man who the Realm thought crazy. A man who had been offered up to the most miserably perverse creature in Garuth. Rakibak had imprisoned his toy deep in an oubliette, to be forgotten until Jordan’s blood was needed to give undeserved honor to his own.
My steps were as careful as they were quick. Rakibak had taken risks to put Jordan in an oubliette, but he viewed Jordan as his route to the blood. In the Realm’s vigorously class stratified society, that was something he would kill for. Something he would betray for. Something he’d twist his vows to Garuth for.
Jordan would be guarded.
I watched the shadows, the floor, the walls. Every step taken was a risk, so much risk. Necessary risk. If I paid my debt, fulfilled my vow, I would be free. I could remain with Nem, remain with my mate. My Nem. I hesitated for a moment. I would take the risk. I would find Jordan. I would be with Nem. Forever.
Are you excited? This month there are three episodes of The One That Feels to make up for missing the second chapter last month. So you're getting Chapter 21 today, then in just about two weeks on Monday May 15 you'll get Chapter 22 and then on the 29th or 30th (I may be away for that final weekend which could delay it a day) you'll get Chapter 23!
That's a lot of The One That Feels, and it's an exciting time in our serial adventure. When we last saw Thommas, he had ventured into dreams in an effort to warn the Lady about the doom her Chancellor Rakibak was courting—only to be yanked from the dream by the villainous knave himself! He's been left hanging, literally, from shackles of cold iron in the dungeon cells deep beneath the island city.
Will Thommas escape? What's going on with Nem? With Jordan located, can they stop doom from claiming Garuth? Find out!
Are you confused? Did you start the story late? Fear not! You can start at the beginning!
I hung there for a while before the guards got complacent. Days, perhaps. Rakibak did not return to gloat, and that alone made me wonder, despite his outbursts, if he’d learned wisdom while I was away. Even for the prince of Zaharoth, it would take time for Nem to ease past through the bureaucracy of Garuth to reach Nastasia. It would take time for diplomacy to work to get him access to me. And even then, as the Traitor of Garuth, my freedom to leave with him was far from assured.
My guards watched me. And at first their gaze was unsettling and focused. Elite guards they may be, but they were young. To them I was an impossible legend, and so complacency came. Slowly, inexorably, it came, until their glances were casual and brief, until they laughed and joked with each other around me. Until the spells upon my shackles had spent too long fighting with cold iron to survive.
I closed my eyes and whispered a prayer. I love you, my Nem.
A glance upon metal that belonged only in the real and a thought teased open my shackles. I needed the guards only to be close. And then they were. One step, two, a sword born of feeling and dread and the silence of loneliness that swallowed all sound and my blows were frantic against their own. They screamed for help only to find the loneliness I bore as a blade devoured their words, made them frightened and alone. Their swordplay was skilled, their strikes precise, but mine was something they had not seen before. With each blow I pushed them back, fighting not with grace but with the power my size afforded, and they stumbled, and fell, and finally grasped at the bars to keep on their feet.
Thrilled to not just be back on schedule but staying on schedule with Chapter 20 of The One That Feels!
Imprisoned deep in the dungeons of Garuth, Thommas is at the mercy of the cruel Rakibak. Somewhere in the dungeons with him is Jordan. He swore an oath to return Jordan to Brian—to bring the noble prince of the house of Om back to the anchor of the Real that is his mate. With his own prince, his own mate, he understands Brian's desperation. But he is just a prisoner. He needs help. Join us in Chapter 20 of The One That Feels as Thommas returns to the world of dreams....
Feeling a little lost? You can start from the story from the beginning!
“Am I dreaming?” asked Brian. He scarcely looked up, his gaze frozen on Jordan, still unmoving in the bed, but he still knew I was there.
“Yes,” I replied, “but you’ll remember it.”
“Have you found him?” asked Brian. He didn’t move. He sat at the edge of the bed, a pale, fragile hand held to his cheek. Jordan’s body had gotten nearly skeletal. How long had it been in the Real?
My poor Brian. “You must hold him,” I said. “Keep him close. Never a moment alone. Skip sleep to stay with him if you have to.”
“I’m already doing that!” said Brian. “You... you promised, Thom. Please.”
“Let him see,” I said quietly. “The love I told you to keep hidden—he must see it in your eyes.”
“You told me—”
“Let him see,” I said. “He must see that you love him, Bri.”
“You said it would be a gateway. What if I.... I could lose him, Thom!”
“His mind decays here in the Realm, his body decays there in the Real. It doesn’t matter anymore which one comes to the other. They must be joined or he will die.”
Writer of the mysterious, fantastic, and the romantic. Sometimes sappy. Often angsty. Always searching for the sexy. Stories about men who love men.