As part of The Kraken Collective’s 1-year anniversary event, today I’m featuring C. M. Spivey, author of From Under The Mountain and its prequel story, The Traitor’s Tunnel! We’ve got an excerpt from Traitor’s Tunnel below, followed by some handy links where you can pick it up for 99 cents! I really enjoyed this one, and hope you will too!
From The Traitor’s Tunnel:
Homesickness struck Theodor like a blow to the sternum, making it momentarily difficult to breathe. He looked around the achingly familiar space and didn’t know a single soul. But it was quiet, and he marshaled himself quickly enough. He set off to make a circuit of the whole place, to familiarize himself with it and its sections, which would undoubtedly be different from the ones in Sitosen Castle. Patrons here would likely not come looking for texts on divination, or magizoology, or dissertations on spell structure.
He had discovered the history section and was busily scanning the titles for something of interest when someone behind him said, breathily, “Teddy!”
Theodor turned and looked around, not expecting to hear that name in Del where no one knew his face. To his surprise, Leander Pell stood before him, looking quite polished up with his long dark hair smoothed into an orderly braid, his clothes wrinkle- and lint-free. He seemed as shocked as Theodor—but he smiled, and his dark brown skin flushed, and the familiarity of him warmed Theodor’s tingling limbs like a fire on a cold night.
“Leander Pell, you were supposed to stay in Javan,” Theodor said, unable to keep himself from grinning.
Leander laughed. “How could I, Teddy? When you were going so far away, all alone? I missed you the moment you left and I was gone the very next morning.”
Theodor took Leander’s free hand, twining their fingers and sighing happily despite himself. “But your position at the library . . .”
Leander gestured at their surroundings. “Nora-lami wrote me a recommendation. I hand-delivered it to the Lord Historian, who sent me here. I’ve just been appointed the assistant history curate here. So you see? I can further my career in Del too, and we don’t need to be apart from each other.”
Nora was the Head Librarian in Javan, a very influential Sitosen witch and—formerly, it seemed—Leander’s supervisor. Theodor squeezed Leander’s hand to better feel his solidity, still convinced he was dreaming.
Leander returned the pressure. “Are you happy to see me?”
“More than I can say,” Theodor replied.
“May I kiss you?”
Theodor nodded, and was smiling when Leander’s lips touched his, softly and tenderly. They had been partners for years, since they were teenaged boys in Javan, and it had been such a hard decision to separate for this apprenticeship. But Theodor needed to serve under a prominent imperial engineer if he had any hope of establishing himself, or of eventually becoming Lord Engineer to the crown, and it had been a coup to secure a place with the man considered to be next in line for the Imperial Council—it had been Del or nothing. Leander had spent the last two years working up to his place as history curate with the Library of Javan, and neither had wanted him to lose that prestigious spot when there was no predicting what would happen at the end of Theodor’s apprenticeship.
“I was planning to write you tomorrow,” Leander said. “I wanted to give you time to settle in.”
“Where are you staying?” Theodor asked. He hoped it wasn’t too far from Master Roald’s. He should have liked to offer Leander a room in his master’s house, Lisyne knew it was large and empty enough from what he had seen—but the terms of his apprenticeship had included a code of conduct for the house, which insisted upon chastity within the walls of the home. This hadn’t given Theodor a moment’s pause. He had no interest in sex, and the arrival of his partner did nothing to change that. He and Leander had only made love a few times in their relationship, and only under the most romantic of circumstances. But, if he asked his master to rent a room to Leander, would Master Roald believe them?
“I’ve taken an apartment at the home of the Saniers,” Leander said. “A Western family Desmond Kavanagh connected me to. They won’t be coming to Del for the winter, so their stable-master’s apartment is available for a twelvemonth. It couldn’t be more perfect—you can visit, and it’ll be a place just for us, away from the work. Won’t that be nice?”
Theodor had lived with his father, back in Javan, when he wasn’t apprenticed, and Leander had lived in the library dormitories with a roommate. They hadn’t had much privacy, except on their walks in Neria Forest.
“You’re right, that will be nice,” he said.
Leander kissed him on the cheek. “Come on, then. I want to hear about Lord Damaso.”
(Aren’t they freaking adorbs?) You can check out The Traitor’s Tunnel at these retailers (if it’s not marked down to 99 cents yet, check back later!):
C.M. Spivey is a speculative fiction writer, author of the high fantasy Trident Chronicles series and the gothic mystery The Longing and the Lack. His enduring love of fantasy started young. Now, he explores the rules and ramifications of magic in his own works—and as a panromantic asexual trans man, he’s committed to queering his favorite genres.
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