THE PASSION STROLL...
a blog by author Ashavan Doyon
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.
ARDOR was a bit of a passion project for me.
I knew newsletters were the gold standard for keeping in touch with fans. I wanted desperately to do something new and different and worthwhile. I've gotten some crappy newsletters.
I didn't want fans to associate that with me... news just being crap.
I also didn't want to email the damned newsletters, but it turns out you pretty much have to for them to do what you need them to do as an author.
In the end I was left with a big mess. The PDF newsletter is beautiful, but it translates badly into email format. Emails also won't support the length I need to do the articles I need in the newsletter—the excerpt, the short. I was using tremendous resources designing a cover for each issue, writing the short, creating the graphics. Too many resources and too much time for an audience that, at least right now, is still rather small. I was spending all my time on the newsletter and not enough writing.
It hurts me tremendously to let it die.
I've been filling alternate months with the ARDOR News Briefs. These are something quick from me. A brief bit of promo. Something I'm reading. Short and sweet. That's going to be the future of the newsletter moving forward.
The good news is that this frees me up to write shorts that are a bit longer, and a bit more substantial. Many of these will probably go on sale as novelettes for 99 cents at Purple Horn Press. But subscribers will get access to a lot of them (I won't say all of them) for free. I'm not talking about the 1500 word shorts I had in ARDOR. I'm talking about something probably closer to American Pride, which subscribers already had the opportunity to pick up for free.
Where will the other content go? The news in ARDOR News Briefs will be a combination of what we saw as the Editorial and the Works in Progress. Some of that content will overflow into the blog. Excerpts will go entirely to the blog. The 1500 word shorts will mostly go away unless I have something very particular to promote and I know well in advance that it's coming—subscribers will have some special access to longer shorts, but they'll be more spread out, maybe one or two a year depending on what else I'm releasing.
I hope that this new format will work better, maybe be better read and received, and give you all as fans an opportunity to really get something more substantive in terms of an occasional free read than the brief 1500 word stories I was doing before. Let me know what you think and if I'm missing anything!
The next Ardor News Brief is due out this week!
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.”
And we're back on schedule! Huzzah!
Thommas has found and joined with his mate, Nem, the Prince of Zaharoth, but he still has oaths that bind him with the power of the Realm. Oaths to find Jordan. Oaths to see Jordan and Brian reunited in the Real. The only problem? Jordan is beginning to fray and decay—a mad and tormented, beautiful young man who is being gifted to the scheming Rakibak, the Lady's chamberlain and first adviser.
Can Thommas keep his promise? Will the legacy of Guardian win out over the Lady's hatred for the Traitor of Garuth? Find out in Chapter 19 of The One That Feels.
Missing out? The story is all here, try it from the beginning!
I stood before the gates of the palace. There were no guards. They’d not been needed since the Guardian... since I placed the protections on this realm. I closed my eyes and pressed a hand against the gates. The natives of Garuth watched. Everyone knew the palace was impenetrable. And yet there I was, my hand upon the gates. Futile. Goblins pointed at me and laughed; pixies flitted about. A grim ogre called me a name best not repeated. But I stood, my hand upon the gate and I spoke to it.
They gasped as the troll I’d bound into the gate to protect the palace stepped out of the stone. This one was a creature not of water but of stone and air and a life beat that was the fire of molten rock. It towered above me, its step shaking the realm, looked down upon me and roared.
The crowd fled in terror. Some, no doubt, remembered the legend that towered above them. But this one, this troll of the true blood of that race, he stared down at me and nodded once. Then he retreated back into the wall, sliding into the stone as if it was the very air itself. The gates creaked, a line that was not there before ran down the wall from top to bottom, and the massive portal swung open, just wide enough, just long enough, to admit me. And then the gates slammed closed with an ominous clang.
A lonely Aidan, a confused Steven, and against all hope, a jealous Sammy. Torn between romance and an impossible dream.
Today I’m celebrating the rerelease of Loving Aidan. For an author to have their first novel go out of print is a really hard thing, and I’m so pleased that I’m able to bring back not just story, but also the ones that follow it.
As the little snippet suggests, the story places an out an proud Aidan in a conundrum between Steven, a blue-eyed Adonis who is figuring his life out, and Sammy, the roommate he’s been pining for since they met.
When the story was first released, I shared a short extra with readers—the first meeting between Aidan and Sammy. I think that scene is an important one, but it didn’t fit into the story until over halfway in, and by then it gets resolved with a sentence or two. I’d like to share that with readers again, and hope that it can frame the story, from the abuse that Aidan has received for all his years at school to his attachment to Sammy from the start.
Roommates—a Loving Aidan short
Aidan turned onto the narrow service road that led to the dorm. He pulled up near the building and onto the grass. This early there weren’t many students about yet. Aidan stepped out of the car, wincing a little at the sudden heat. He was dressed as he always did in a long sleeve shirt and a buttoned waistcoat. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and lightly dabbed at the sweat that had immediately broken out on his forehead.
“Oooh. Hey, guys, here he is. Our resident piss-ant fag.”
Aidan turned and gave the line of lounging young men a glance. He conceded only a single raised eyebrow as he passed them by, ignoring the ongoing catcalls. He should report them. But nothing was ever done about it. Instead, he entered the small residential office at the side of the building. A student asked his room number, and more numbly than really warranted at this early hour offered him his key. He took it and looked at the label. Samuel Riley.
“This isn’t mine,” he said to one of the students handing out keys.
The perky young woman glanced at it quickly. “Oh, sorry. That’s your roommate’s key.” She ruffled through the box. “Ah, here it is. Sorry about that,” she said, taking the key back from him and handing him another.
“Thanks,” he muttered, and turned to leave, barreling into a very tall young man. He looked up and all he could think of was dark. The man’s skin was charcoal black, and slick from the heat. Aidan stammered a quick apology automatically.
“Ain’t no skin off my teeth,” said the man with a smile, his cheeks showing deep dimples.
Aidan was sure his heart was going to stop, and he quickly looked at the ground to hide the red in his even as he hastened his way to the door. He was hit immediately with another catcall. A row of young men stood idly by cars still stuffed with boxes. The staff would help people later on as more keys were picked up, and they were waiting, as they always did. Most of them wouldn’t carry a single box of their own.
Aidan did not glare, though he wanted to. Instead he went to his car and pulled out the first box.
“Showing off that ass? You maybe want som—” the young man yelped suddenly.
Aidan turned to see the man he’d run into in the office staring down the row of young men.
“Have a problem with him?” asked the man.
“Come on, Sammy, kid’s a fag. Look at him!”
And Sammy looked. Aidan was being given a thorough once over. Sammy chuckled, showing his dimples again and slapped the other man on the shoulder. “Don’t know what you’re worried about. His eyes are on me.” Sammy stripped off his shirt, stuffing it into a back pocket where it hung loosely against his leg. “See?”
“Sammy, he’s looking at you!”
And Aidan was. His eyes were locked on Sammy, on perfectly chiseled abs, gazing across the broad, smooth chest.
“Has taste,” said Sammy with a grin, showing dimples again. “Clearly you lot of cowards got nothin’ to worry about.”
Sammy walked away from the row of young men and stepped up to Aidan. “Need some help?” he asked.
Numbly, Aidan nodded.
Sammy smiled, clapped him on the shoulder, and took the box from his hands. “Let’s get these boxes upstairs.”
Aidan gulped and softly murmured a thank you.
“Ain’t no problem, roommie.”
Aidan’s eyes widened. Sammy. Samuel Riley. Dear God, this was his roommate.
Aidan lives in his books and his writing. I think that’s something that a lot of us can relate to. Just for a moment, join him, step away from the books. Live with him. Love with him. Maybe you’ll fall in love yourself, just a little. It's not everyday you have two men worth fighting for. (Steven’s a bit of a heartbreaker, everyone loves him).
Loving Aidan is published by Purple Horn Press. It was originally released in 2013 by Torquere Press. You can find it here:
Purple Horn Press
At long last, Chapter 18 of The One That Feels is here!
A blissful wedding night has led to Nem becoming more adventurous, more seductive and, importantly, more comfortable in his relationship with Thommas. But the specter of the mission remains. When Iptak returns with information, will it spell disaster for their newfound happiness?
Find out, in Chapter 18 of The One That Feels!
Missed out? Start the story at the beginning. (don't forget to click the read more link!)
I woke, exhausted, head buried in a pillow. My arm searched the bed for my mate, but Nem had gone. It was this realization more than anything that woke me. Waking and finding him gone. I groaned as my eyes adjusted to the light that filtered in through the windows. I shifted in the bed, pushing and pulling and shifting pillows until I was upright and seated. Our clothes were still there, mine in a pile on the floor, Nem’s neatly arranged on the back of a chair.
I took a long deep breath and called out. “Nem?”
The door to the living area where we’d had our ceremony opened, and Nem stepped into the door frame, leaning casually against it. My breath caught as I looked at him, wearing only a narrow bit of silk that covered his privates and hugged tightly to his ass. His hair had been pulled free from the braids, and it hung loose around his face. He smiled at me and mouthed the words “I love you” before moving to the bed and sitting on the edge. He stroked my face gently and then leaned over to kiss me on the forehead.
Writer of the mysterious, fantastic, and the romantic. Sometimes sappy. Often angsty. Always searching for the sexy. Stories about men who love men.