Adam should never, ever have listened to Deanna.
Sure, Deanna gave the best feedback of anybody in their writers’ group. She had the best understanding of narrative, and it made sense that he would want to give his villain a tragic backstory, so that he would be more sympathetic in the eyes of any readers Adam might one day find.
But honestly, Adam felt like he should have been more prepared for this possibility. Every fantasy writer dreamed of getting sucked into their own world; that was just a fact. A prerequisite for getting started in the genre. And just because he knew the possibility was virtually nonexistent didn’t mean he shouldn’t have taken it into account. And taking it into account would have meant NOT making Thom’serex’etten so compelling.
Thom’serex’etten’s crystalline eyes sparkled with unshed tears, as he recounted the harm done to him by the royal family, who had cast him out and abused him when he was nothing more than a boy, for the crime of having been born with magical powers. Adam, who had written that scene in a flashback, knew very well how awful it had been for him, and how terrible the ensuing years in the clutches of the evil mage Gerek’kastlin’erpah had been. His beautiful hair blew gently in the breeze even though they were underground, and Adam wanted nothing more than to run his fingers through it. He was so screwed.
Or rather, he was not screwed, despite being held captive by Thom’serex’etten in this cavern for over a week. Adam knew Thom’serex’etten liked men; he had written him that way, because representation mattered. So what was the matter?
Adam smiled, he hoped seductively. “I understand, Thom. I know what it’s like to be alone, and have family that doesn’t accept you.”
A single tear fell down Thom’serex’etten’s perfect alabaster cheek. “It is the worst pain in the Twelve Worlds...to be alone,” he said.
“You don’t have to be alone anymore,” Adam said. “I’m here now.”
Thom’serex’etten gave a broken sob, which, unfair, his skin didn’t even go blotchy. “Adam, you are pure of heart, and a truly noble and honourable man, so I could never compel you, no matter how much I crave your touch. I have since the moment you fell through the portal.”
Shit. He definitely shouldn’t have listened to Deanna. Why did Adam have to make the guy so honourable? “It’s fine! I mean, you wouldn’t be compelling me! At all. I...I want it too.”
Thom’serex’etten gasped. “Truly? It seems unfathomable to me, that one such as I could be so blessed. But alas! Knowing you has rekindled in me a desire to be good, as good and pure as you yourself are. If you knew the evil deeds I had done, dear Adam, you could not even look at me. I regret to say that what is between us must never be.”
“No!” Adam said. “No, Thom--” he left the rest of Thom’serex’etten’s name silent, because he wasn’t sure how to pronounce the apostrophe--”I do know you. I know who you are and what want. And I know Queen Jaydenne plans to betray you at parlay. If we hurry we can ambush their forces, and then live a peaceful life together.
Fuck it. He’d wanted a strong female lead, but he’d never connected with Jaydenne, not really. And eradicating all magic users was a bit of a downer ending. He liked this one a lot better.