Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Alexis Hall for taking the time to talk with us today.
Title: Sand and Ruin and Gold
Author: Alexis Hall
Cover Artist: Simoné
Genre/Sub-Genre: M/M Romance, sci-fi
Once upon a time . . . that’s how the old stories always begin.
Once upon a time there was a king of a fallen kingdom. He was just and he was beloved. Or so the numbers said. One day, he gathered together the greatest, wisest minds in all the land—not sorcerers, but scientists—and he bade them fashion him a son. A prince. A perfect prince to embody his father’s legacy.
The scientists each brought the prince a gift: beauty, strength, ambition, intellect, pride. But they must have forgotten something because when he saw the mermaids dance at the Cirque de la Mer, he ran away to join them.
For a year, he trained them, performed with them, thought he was happy. For a year he thought he was free. But then Nerites came: A merman who refused to be tamed. A captive from another kingdom. A beast in a glass cage.
The old stories always end with happy ever after. But this isn’t one of the old stories. This is a story of princes and monsters.
You can read an excerpt and, y’know, cough, buy the book if you want at Riptide Publishing.
Hello, and welcome to my fourth ever blog tour (I really do have to stop counting), celebrating Riptide Publishing’s release of Sand and Ruin and Gold. Yay! Thank you so much to the Prism Book Alliance for hosting me. And, to you, dear reader, for stopping by. If you’d like to come with me and keep me company on my virtual wanderings, you can find a full listing of when and where I am here on Riptide’s tour page.
I’m trying something a little different with this blog tour. Since Sand and Ruin and Gold is a short story, and I tend to feel that explaining short stories takes the fun out of them, instead I’m going to be posting, well, a completely different story. It’s set in the same world so I guess you could call it a kind of spiritual sibling. If you like it, you’ll probably like Ruin. If you don’t … then … um … you probably won’t. Sorry.
This is Part 3. Part 1 was posted by Smart Girls Love SciFi on the 22nd, Part 2 by Joyfully Jay on the 23rd and you’ll be able to find Part 4 (the last and final part!) over at the Book Reviews & More by Kathy on the 26th. If you get story lost (not that all those who wander are lost) you can catch up on the RP tour page which, once again, is here, or you can swing by my blog where I’ll be attempting to keep track of everything.
Oh, and there’s a giveaway. Nothing very dramatic I’m afraid, as I don’t have any mermaids in my possession right now, but if you want to enter the Rafflecopter below, I’d be delighted to offer a book from my backlist, in either hard or soft copy.
Draconitas Part 3:
The prince had never wandered the wilds before. The world was painted grey to the horizon. Dead things crunched under his feet as he walked, bits of stone and metal, the skeletal remains of what had once been grass. Sometimes they found a piece of road breaching the scrub and shale like the back of some asphalt leviathan, or passed beneath the tarnished feet of dormant electricity pylons. There was a river, too, a black-sheened serpent, grown sluggish on the centuries. It all unsettled him, but he hated most the shells of towns and villages, where the crumbling walls and buildings formed the shapes of things that weren’t, and the silence fell thick as dust from the ruined sky.
The yellow-eyed man took his hand. His skin was rough and too hot, but the prince did not pull away.
“Why did you tell me that?” he asked.
“That . . . there’s no meaning.”
“It was a gift. One of the secrets of the universe. The sort of thing most of you spend your whole lives looking for, and ultimately fail to grasp.”
The prince cast him a bewildered look. “That’s your idea of a present?”
“Like most things worth having,” returned the dragon smugly, “the price of the gift is the gift.”
From the corners, where the shadows were slick, came the scuttering and the scratching of twisted things. They would have torn the prince to pieces, but they did not dare to approach him with Surpassing Fair at his side. “Anyway,” he muttered, “I don’t believe you. About there being no meaning.”
“Were you dozing through the part where I said I knew everything?”
“Omniscient is not the same as infallible.”
The scorched earth cracked beneath the toes of the yellow-eyed man. “Don’t be pert, or I might eat you just to annoy you. I know what I know because I’ve seen it, because I’ve been there, because I am there.” He stopped and turned to face the prince, hooking his thumbs over the front pockets of his jeans, the blackness in his eyes unyielding. “We dragons don’t see the world like you do. We aren’t limited in the same way by time and space. We live it all in the same instant: the wild party and the eternal hangover, the passionate commencement and the inevitable disappointment.” He shrugged.
“You might as well accept it, love. You, and your entire species—all it ever was and all it will ever be—are always, inevitably, nothing.”
The prince gazed piteously at the dragon. “So what are we supposed to do?”
There was a long silence.
“Find a hobby?” offered the yellow-eyed man. “I like to sit on gold.”
“That’s it?” The emptiness around them consumed the prince’s cry. “That’s your answer?”
“There isn’t a question.”
They went on. The silver hall of his father’s house seemed far away. A life belonging to a different man. One who did not walk hand-in-hand with dragons.
“What’s it like?” the prince wanted to know.
“What’s what like?”
“Living that way. Everything at once.”
“Oh.” The yellow-eyed man seemed uncharacteristically reticent. “Well. Put it this way. I’m with you and waiting for you all my life.”
“For . . . for me?”
“Can you remember any more poetry about how beautiful I am?”
“Um . . . his lips ripe strawberries in nectar wet, his mouth a—”
“Why, yes,” purred the dragon, “that will do nicely.”
And the dragon spun upon the prince and kissed him. There was blood and metal on his breath. His mouth was hot and his teeth were painfully sharp, but his forked tongue was unexpectedly gentle. Enticing—rather than demanding—surrender.
Indeed, it was not so terrible. Not that the prince had anything to compare it with. He was not precisely inundated by suitors. He found he was even slightly disappointed when it was over, and he licked the corners of his mouth, claiming the last of the dragon’s kiss.
And as they walked on, another thought occurred to him. “Are you lonely?”
“No, love—” the yellow-eyed man flicked his hair out of his way “—I’m fabulous.”
The dragon had made his lair on the banks of another river, this one even larger than the last, just as sleek and swollen, and partially spanned by the remains of a bridge—girders of steel and towers of crumbling granite. The unmeeting sides of the broken arch were beginning to bow under their own weight, hands with nothing to grasp, sinking slowly beneath the water.
The yellow-eyed man gave a flourishing gesture. “Home sweet home.”
The prince stared. On clear days he had sometimes seen the outline of something vast and undulating silver on the horizon. He had wondered what it might be—some kind of castle, perhaps—but nobody had known, or even cared. And now he stood in its wavering shadow: a vast carcass of glass and steel, like some terrible insect with a shattered carapace, what was left of the light falling weakly on the panels. “Is it another folly?”
“Heavens, no, what do you take me for? People gathered here to listen to music.”
“So many,” he whispered. “So many to fill such a space.”
“And it’s mine.” The yellow-eyed man smiled his glinting smile. “Is that not fitting?”
The prince’s eyes felt heavy with the weight of unshed tears. “Yes, it’s . . . yes.”
“Oh, don’t spoil my fun with nebulous regrets. You haven’t lost anything, love. Or if you have, it was never yours to begin with. Come now, and be careful how you tread.”
The dragon beckoned him through a jagged crack in the side of the structure, where the exposed metal was twisted into splinters and thorns. Inside was a vast cavern, all space and silence and sun-reflecting glass, the walls sweeping upwards as smoothly as the inner curve of an eggshell. And everywhere, heaped and jumbled in haphazard piles . . . things. Gold and silver and copper discs, and green paper, and coloured rocks, starkly shining, red and green and blue and white. Books, and papers, and rolls of canvas, carvings of wood and stone, water encased in plastic bottles, and metal containers wrapped in brightly-coloured paper. And other, even more mysterious items fashioned in unfamiliar ways from unfamiliar materials.
He dropped to his knees at the edge of the dragon’s extraordinary ocean. “What is all this?”
“My treasure, of course. Artefacts deemed precious.”
“Even this?” The prince held up one of the pieces of strangely-textured paper.
“Yes, that,” returned the yellow-eyed man, a little huffily. “All of it. My entire hoard. Have you ever seen its like before? Consider, if you will, its scope, its size, its history-defying magnitude. Are you not incandescent with wonder, and just a touch of envy?”
The prince picked up something else. Whatever it was, it thrummed against his palm and a mermaid—dazzling, perfect to the individual strands of her hair and the tendrils of her fins—leapt over him, in a streak of gold and jade, and vanished into nothing. His gasp lingered a moment longer, dissipating slowly in the deep silence of the dragon’s lair. “I don’t understand half of it.”
“You don’t have to understand things to admire them. In fact, it’s usually better if you don’t.”
There was a trace of uncertainty in the voice of the yellow-eyed man. And the prince realised, with a touch of shock, that he was being shared with. That his appreciation was valuable to the dragon.
Nobody had ever wanted anything from him before.
Nobody had trusted him enough.
About the Author:
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the twenty-first century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a seventeenth century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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