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The Champion's Lord: LGBT Fantasy Dark Romance

The Champion's Lord: LGBT Fantasy Dark Romance

Romance

V.C. Willis

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Ashton’s world is crumbling and he refuses to let anyone come between him and his self-hatred, even his latest fling Lord Raphael Traibon. Ashton Le Denys Thompson is in line to be the next clan chief, but after Grandemere was attacked by invaders, what does that matter anymore? A young noble from the Old Continent comes waltzing in and changes everything. Fueled by desire and intrigue, Ashton finds himself infatuated with the man that just might be the key to saving what’s left of his family and even Grandemere. That’s if the Fates don’t have other plans for one of their most devoted followers. Lord Raphael Kristr de’Traibon left the Old Continent years ago in an attempt to save his family and allies, but it failed. Fallen Arbor and the noble houses from his father’s fallen empire are here destroying Grandemere and everything he’s come to love. When Ashton comes into the fold, he finds himself aggravated and in love with the most maddening of creatures in the world. Despite the need to use his standing to help push back the battle royale law the corrupted council wants to pass, it all goes belly up when they have to fight back. Together, Ashton and Raphael will have to battle between their own emotions of self-hatred and obsessive desires in order to protect what they both have left and recently gained in one another. When the Blood Duels begin, will they be able to withstand the pressure placed upon them and persevere? This story contains violence, gore, sexual content, toxic behavior, verbal abuse, blood, and other themes performed by fictional characters within a fictional world. Connect with V.C. Willis at linktr.ee/WillisAuthor Check out more books by 4 Horsemen Publications at 4horsemenpublications.com Edits by Nick Savage Cover art by Autumn Skye

LGBTQ+ RomanceEroticaDarkFantasy Romance

I’d never seen someone so frail and stubborn as Raphael Traibon the day he marched onto our field and demanded my father’s council. Unlike the other invaders, he hadn’t been part of the group who had come to Grandemere to attack, steal, and enslave my people, the daemonis, who had made up most of the population since their arrival a year ago. Instead, he wanted to be “civil” and talk out the agreement as if we were on “equal” standing.

Fool. Only a madman or a stubborn mule walks into enemy territory with nothing more than the clothes on his back. I paused my work, leaning on the hoe as I glared at him. His blue-eyed gaze seemed to find itself struggling not to stare at me, wandering down and up my body as he sucked on a cheek. I knew that glance well. I stood there with nothing but my sweat-soaked blouse and trousers on, and I smirked. He’s got good taste, at least. Perhaps, at the center, they’re not that much different from us. He’s a little shorter, but fit and athletic. Strong jawed and those eyes, mmm, human, weaker, but much to be desired. I licked a fang, returning with my own bounce in gaze.

“We relocated this far north to give you land and you dare enter our new home and demand more of us?” My father, Germaine Thompson, was clan chief. He didn’t stop breaking the ground as he criticized the young foreign noble. “Does your greed know no bounds?”

“That’s not why I’m here,” Raphael said sternly. “I’m here to learn from your people and even hope to live amongst you. To make an alliance with you so we may help one another with the rising tide at our backs, no?” His words were sharp and straight to the point.

Scanning behind him, he had no one with him despite his attire and braid to announce his station. Something’s off. Where are his servants? His guards? Completely alone, he had a pack hanging off a shoulder, a weapon at his side, a wagon with a few chests back on the road, and a scar across his left cheek, still bright pink and new. He’s been fighting and surviving alone. His dark blue attire seemed loud against the brown of the farm and the green of the encompassing forest. We’re in complete isolation here. If we were to kill him—did he even think this through?

Originally, we had lived west of the capitol, Captiva City, where my father served as a councilman, and I spent my days as the bachelor of high society for many a decade. Our farms were taken from us when we lost the battle in the east, so we went north. Here we had to start again, where winters were longer, the dirt filled with rocks, and the wilds full of fangs and claws. The Forest of Wayward Souls, a dangerous dark forest, is just on the other side of the Fate’s Tears River from the farm. The river runs south to fill the lake called Willow Waters just north of where we once lived west of Captiva City. No one dares enter there. You can’t find your way home, at least if you don’t know how to navigate in the darkness of towering evergreens. To the east, a village had started, filled with daemon and humans alike who had been run off their lands to the south. It’s only a matter of time before they take this too from us and force us to the sea, or worse, to freeze to death in the Perines Mountains farther north.

Looking over the golden markings and emblems adorning Raphael’s clothes, I finally found what I was searching for and spoke up. I recognize that emblem from the books. He’s asking for trouble waltzing in and revealing who he is like that. “What’s the heir apparent to the Old Continent doing here instead of ruling over our lands with his thieving people?” My words cut harshly, earning me a glare from both Raphael and my father.

“Ashton, hold your tongue,” hissed Germaine.

“Come now, Father.” I smirked as I cooed. “No one can tame my tongue. Ask the girls and the stable boy.”

“Ashton,” admonished Germaine, face mottling in embarrassment. “Do you have no shame?” he muttered to me.

I shot Raphael a look, arching a brow before licking a fang. Surely, he wasn’t looking me up and down for no reason, but if this insults him enough to walk out… win-win.

“Is that so? I’ll take your word on that, Ashton.” A grin crested Raphael’s face, a sparkle in his blue eyes. “I see you are well versed about the Old Continent as well. This is a refreshing change from the others I’ve encountered. There were rumors—”

“Rumors get people killed,” warned Germaine as he gave up on breaking the ground. “Let us go inside and talk in private, Lord Raphael.”

“Raphael,” he corrected with a look of disdain painting his face in reply to the honorific. “I’ve brought tea to offer as well as rare wine. I heard that was customary when discussing such important matters that impact both parties.”

I shot my father a glance before he waved me on. “Ashton, take him to the house. I’ll hand this work off to someone else until we’ve finished our talk. I will hear you out, boy.”

“Thank you, Mister?” Raphael bowed his head, a golden braid slipping off his shoulder as long as anything I had ever seen with 18 knots. So, he’s so daring to just accept he is the emperor of the Old Continent, even though Fallen Arbor now rules his land. I mean, the emperor’s dead, and he is the only actual blood to the late emperor, despite his mother not being the empress herself. Ha, but that was the reason why they fell, wasn’t it? So, what good does it do now?

“Germaine Thompson.” Father wiped the sweat from his forehead and cleared his throat. “Ashton, please take our honored guest to the house and pour us a drink of your choosing. We’ll need it for what I imagine the topic is about.” Father gestured for my hoe.

I narrowed my eyes, reluctant to even agree to it all. “My pleasure.” Handing Father the hoe, I motioned for Raphael to take the lead to the only house, where his wagon waited. “After you, Raphael.”

Raphael was broad-shouldered despite being shorter and, overall, less bulky than me. His hair fell in golden threads, which seemed to glimmer in the sunlight as it swung in a braid down his back. I couldn’t resist gliding my gaze across his every fiber, curious about his slender waist yet thick thighs. What a peculiar physique. I’d love to see him naked. His skin was tan, cheeks mildly blemished, and his hands were covered with callouses. He’s been living outside and on the move for some time. Is he homeless? I wonder what sort of offer he intends to make with us knowing this much. Does this man have anything to offer besides himself? What could he possibly say that my father can’t say no to?

As if he felt my eyes on him, Raphael glanced back with an air of curiosity as he cast his stare over me. “Ashton, was it?” he inquired with a soft, honeyed tone.

“That’s right, sweetheart,” I teased, curious about how he would react. Will he play along or be offended like so many others of his kind?

“That’s a new one.” He chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck. “So, what’s your position in the tribe, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Next in line to be the chief if my father has his way.” I guffawed, rolling my eyes.

Nodding, he paused long enough for me to catch up, then walked side by side with me. “It seems we share similar fates.”

“I doubt that, Golden Boy.” Snorting, I added, “I didn’t invade another continent with a gang of vile men who hold nothing but ill-intent for strangers and the original holders of a land new to them.” I want him to know exactly how I feel about him and his people, just as they’ve made their distaste known.

“Not all of us agree with the majority,” Raphael replied, cool and calm, as we left the field and inched closer to the side of the house. “Some of us came here to disappear, but it seems they followed us.”

I grabbed his arm, furrowing my brow at his words. “Are you implying you’ve been here on our land long before they appeared?”

His gaze locked with my fist full of his sleeve before following it up my arm to linger on my chest. “Yes.” His voice was quiet now, the loneliness and despair loud in his eyes as he finally met my gaze. “I’ve been living in the wilderness for some time, two, maybe three years. I tried my best to keep this from happening, but…” He pushed my hand off and I let him. “As you see, even I couldn’t convince them there was a better way, and I hope your way. Your clan rivals, the Farrows, have recently joined forces with the Vendecci family.”

“And why should that matter to us?” My father’s voice made us both flinch and turn.

Clearing his throat, Raphael stepped back so he could cut a path between us. “Because they intend to subjugate every tribe under their rule.”

“Ambition leads to annihilation,” barked Germaine. “They’ll destroy one another before long. Why should we throw ourselves in the crossfire?”

“A-agreed that they might take one another out, but…” Raphael started his walk once more alongside my father now while I lingered behind, curious what this hardened man had in mind. “I have some power and allies in the derelicts who have followed me here, but if I had my choice, it’s your tribe that’s always intrigued me the most. I fear leaving these two to conspire with one another may do damage that may bring Grandemere to its knees.”

“How so?” Unlatching the door, Germaine paused as his maroon-eyed glare measured the stranger before him. “What could we offer you that none of the others have in order to oppose them?”

Raphael smiled, leaning back on his heels, as he proclaimed, “Are you not the family which has the true guardian bloodline, as well as the wards of your people’s history?”

Every nerve tightened as I flew between them. How does he know?! My fingers wrapped around his throat as I marched him into the house, the tips of his boots scraping the floor as we went. He wheezed for air, hands trying to pull and push me off, failing to grab the door frame. I should kill him here and now, where no one can see! The difference in our height and strength made was loud and clear as his eyes bulged; he was barely able to draw a breath under my grip. But first, who betrayed me? I want their fucking name now!

“Whose loose tongue told you this?” I snarled.

Behind me, my father closed and locked the door. “Ashton, release him.”

“Why?” I tightened my grip as I slammed Raphael against the wall as if a wolf unwilling to abandon its prey.

“Because I sent your sister Lillian to find someone worthy to ally with.” Father’s words were enough to pull me off Raphael, leaving him coughing and gasping where he landed on his ass.

“Why didn’t you fucking tell me?!” Father cut me with his eyes, and I snapped my mouth shut.

“You see, I was aware of what was unfolding between the Farrow and Vendecci families, but we can’t do this without knowledge of their ways. Isn’t that correct, Raphael?” Raphael still sputtered on the floor. “I sent your sister to do some digging and spying. She’s easily dismissed, unlike you, who’d rather waste his time in the Scarlett House.” I winced at his words, unable to refute the truth thrown at me.

Wheezing a moment, Raphael rasped, “I brought the books. In the wagon, as she requested.”

“I demand answers.” My anger rose, muscles twitching with the rise of heat filling me as my blood boiled. “Why was I not informed at the least of this? We both know that I’m the one carrying that bloodline, and it matters when someone knows my secret!”