Monday, December 11, 2023

#SeriesTour #FantasyRomance #KindleUnlimited - Mages & Mates Series by Nina R. Schluntz

Series: Mages & Mates Series
Titles: Rise of a Necromancer & Goblin Gold
Author: Nina R. Schluntz
Genre: Fantasy Erotica

Banished from Earth, a six-headed demon god adjusts to a world where he is bound by no rules and where even the dead have magic he can consume and control.

Born of Fire - Γεννημένος της Φωτιά

The heat was gone. It crept into his bones, waking him from the fuzz of slumber he’d enjoyed for too short of time. To survive, he needed to wake. His limbs, weak from sleep and not yet as formed as they should be, pressed against the shell. Even unborn, cradled in his egg, he knew this. He needed to break free and find new heat. He pushed harder, uncoiling his body and using his length to push against the unrelenting shell. 

A small crack formed, and the chill of fresh air seeped in. He wanted to recoil and hide, thinking perhaps death would be welcoming. It might be warmer there. His world was unsteady and rocked. He was not in his nest. In one sudden thrust, pushed his neck up and flicked the top of the shell off. The oxygen of the air around him reached him. The elements in the air combined with his internal combustion and flames skittered down his back.

He was in a boat, nestled against three other eggs in a basket. The thief rowed the narrow canoe quietly in the darkness of night. Though the hatchling knew little, he knew this man had stolen him. He was not his mother, the dragon, who had kept him warm all these weeks. 

His mother would be born of fire, not of cold and dark like this pointy-eared humanoid before him. The dragon slithered out of his shell, shaking off the embryonic fluid. He pressed his tiny paws against the glittering gold egg next to him and sent heat into it. Hoping he wasn’t too late, and his companion was alive. 

The boat rocked as it hit the shore. The man stood on his long legs and reached his arms to pick up a burlap bag. He dropped it over the tiny red dragon. His world was cast into darkness, but the man was a fool. The dragon would not be snuffed out, not ever. His eyes blazed, and he exhaled the heat from his core, igniting the bag and setting it aflame. He fell to the sandy beach and watched as the fire spread, burning the boat and darting along the shore to race up the trees. 

The eggs by him were consumed, and three more dragons rose, all screaming and writhing, renewed by the warmth of his flame. The thief fell back, patting at the fire that danced on his skin because, unlike the dragons, he could not tolerate it. 

The red dragon sprang at the man. His teeth bit into his wrist. Though he was small, his fangs excreted a toxin that would burn and scar. If he were larger, it would kill the thief. Today, the dragon would be satisfied knowing his prey would forever be marked by him. But he vowed to find the thief and kill him. He would kill all who dared steal from a dragon’s nest. The man fled into the burning forest, screaming as he cradled his injured arm. The flames signaled the dragon’s kin, and their roars could be heard. The tiny red dragon, no bigger than a five-pound house cat, tried his best to answer their call. The three hatchlings with him also cried, but one collapsed from the effort, his breath no longer coming. 

The red dragon screamed until his throat hurt. He pleaded for help as their numbers dwindled. Only the gold dragon remained trembling by his side. The other two were lifeless and gone. 

Every night he would scream in the darkness. Born of fire. Born of hate. Born knowing no one was coming to save him.

Born a Mage - Γεννημένος Μάγος

The coughing came from around him, but not yet within. With every inhale, he wondered if his time would come. Will his next breath be riddled with the crackle of death the others had? He rolled to his side, the child on the cot next to him breathing in small rasps. Twenty children were crammed into this single room, an orphanage for the growing number of orphans in the village. The adults had fallen ill first. Granted, Leslie’s parents had died long before the plague had reached them, but he feared he had little time left before he’d be tossed in the pile of embers outside the city gates.

The doors opened and two men came in, cloth rags worn over their mouths, like that helped any. They went down the rows of children and snatched up six. One paused, then grabbed Leslie’s arm, pulling him with. 

“Are you sure?” the other asked.

“The mayor said to get healthy ones. He’s healthy.”

“Yeah, but he’s… you know.”

The word they were looking for was different. Leslie wasn’t from this village. Any bystander could see his dark skin was not like anyone else’s. His relatives had come on a trade ship, a slave ship, if you didn’t want to mince words. Plagues like the one in this town had occurred on the ship, and Leslie wondered if that was why he’d endured this strain as well as he had. Maybe, he had some immunity. 

Either way, he’d ended up orphaned in this seaside town. The slave traders had gotten just as ill as the slaves, and when they’d died, Leslie was nothing more than an orphan belonging to the town. 

“Magic doesn’t care. We’ll test him,” he said. He tugged again and Leslie went with him. The seven children were brought to the townhall. A woman stood there, dressed completely in white. She looked like an angel. Next to her, looking more elegant than anything Leslie had seen in his twelve years of living, was a white dragon. He’d heard of them, but never seen one.

The two men lined the kids up against the wall. 

“One of you better test positive,” the man warned, like it was something they could control. “The mages will only cure our town of this pestilence if we have a kid to offer them.”

Leslie had heard of this too. The great mages, who channeled magic from dragons, would go through towns looking for recruits. Families would sell their children, and it seemed the mayor could sell orphans. 

A large glass jar, seemingly empty, was held in front of the first small girl. 

“Take it,” the man said. “Hold it and don’t drop it.”

Leslie looked at the woman across the room who watched them. She didn’t seem real. She was more like something you’d see in a fever dream.

Nothing happened in the jar, so it was passed to the next child, who sobbed while she held it. The jar made its way down the line until it was Leslie’s turn. The girl was careful not to touch his dark skin as she passed him the jar. 

And that jar, well, it lit up like someone had dropped a flame of white fire in it. It burned so bright Leslie had to close his eyes and still he saw spots dancing in his vision, hurting his head like he’d stared into the sun. 

“Well, I’ll be, the desert boy can channel magic.”

Leslie’s life began again, for a second time, reborn from the ruins of disease and greed.

Eleven - Εντεκα - Born of Shadow - Γεννημένος Σκιά 

The ground smelled of fresh rain and death. A single elf darted among the decaying ground, quiet as the dead that resided in their graves. Reports came that the dead were rising. Villages spoke of a necromancer, but Ruven would not believe such things. Humans were easily deceived. 

She heard the sound. A scratching on the earth. Digging. 

A human would think it was an undead, searching for their means out of the grave. Ruven knew better. She came from the shadows with a dagger in each hand, the blades darker than the purest night. 

“Percy,” she said. 

The hound paused briefly in its digging. It was a sloppy pup that had recently learned how to dig his way out of the pen in the backyard. Ruven’s sister had deemed the pup a loss for hunters and had gifted it to Ruven’s daughter. This was the third time she’d had to go searching for the mutt. And each time, she found it with something dead, and not a fresh kill. He seemed drawn to rotting dead. 

“If there actually were undead among us, you might be useful,” Ruven said. “Now, stop that, and get home.” 

She pulled on the dog’s collar. It was a brown bloodhound pup, standing no taller than her knee at its neck. Fully grown it would be near her waist and she needed it trained by then. No amount of force would get a full-grown hellhound to move. Especially when they transformed into their hellhound form. 

“Get home.” She tugged again. “Home. Do you understand?”

The dog broke free and barked, the sound echoing off the tombstones. 

“Can you understand stealth?” She reached for the beast, but it sprinted, running with a maddening speed. Ruven stumbled at the abruptness of it. And then she saw the unthinkable, something moving through the woods, chasing after Percy. 

And Percy was going home.

Her speed couldn’t match that of Percy or whatever the beasts were that chased him. Try as she might to shift through the shadows and increase her speed, she arrived too late. 

The hut she lived in was a shell of its former self. It looked rotted from decades of ruin. She barely knew it as her own and thought for a moment she had gotten lost. Then she saw the forms moving in the structure that had no walls, only loose timbers supporting a few beams. 

They were her family but not her family. They moved with the lumbering steps of the undead. They danced to the demands of their puppet master, a man who stood in the center, his eyes a demonic yellow. An orb glowed on the necklace around his neck. He turned, his body part mist and part human, and entirely not of this earth. 

Ruven’s daughter of a mere five years turned on unsteady legs, her eyes glowing yellow, her skin already that of a four-day-old corpse. Her husband, his back broken, crawled toward her, his jaw snapping at the air. 

The necromancer raised his hand and Ruven felt the pull. Her soul being taken and consumed, leaving her body to be an empty shell for this creature to command. She saw Percy huddling in the rubble, not doing a thing. The dog had led this creature here and then watched as it killed their family. 

“Percy…” Ruven said. “Kill.”

It was a vain attempt, but she had to try. The dog was trained to shift into a hellhound on command, and she knew her sister had worked to train all her pups to obey, even the disobedient ones. 

Ruven gagged, feeling her body overtaken by the darkness, the glowing yellow essence that made up her soul spread between her and the outstretched hand of the monster. At least in death she would join her family. Perhaps, their souls would—the connection severed. Ruven dropped to her knees, catching herself on her hands. 

She took in a painful breath, her entire body aching. She lifted her head to see the pup standing between her and the necromancer. Percy’s body was black, three times his former size, and hellish purple flames circled his body. Percy growled, lowering his head, and preparing to attack. 

He couldn’t win, Ruven knew this, but it might buy her the time she needed to flee. The necromancer clutched the orb in one hand and dangled his fingers at the pup, aiming that soul-sucking energy at Percy. 

The dog skidded in the dirt, his entire body being pulled toward the creature. Her husband and daughter were now close enough that they grabbed the pup with their skeletal hands. 

And Percy absorbed them. The corpses fell with a clatter, looking exactly like the bones Ruven always found the pup with when he ran off.

Ruven’s chest throbbed as she realized how wrong she’d been. 

There was never undead where Percy went because Percy consumed them.

He hadn’t led the undead home. He’d come home because he had sensed the undead were here. And when he’d gotten here, he’d been uncertain about what to do. 

Because he didn’t want to consume his family.

Ruven sobbed, regretting her ill thoughts toward the beast. 

Percy stepped closer to the necromancer, embracing the pull the man had. And… it wasn’t the necromancer doing the pulling. Percy was trying to pull the man into him, but the creature was able to maintain his footing, so it was Percy sliding to him. He was clutching the orb because Percy wanted it. 

“Then you shall have it,” Ruven said. She shifted to the shadows, reappearing behind the man, and slicing at his neck with her daggers. She couldn’t cut the man’s throat since he wasn’t a fully materialized being. But she did cut the chain that held the orb in place. 

The orb slipped from the man’s grasp and went directly into Percy’s mouth. He bit and the area exploded in a blinding white light as the souls were freed. Ruven fell back, her head hitting the ground behind her so hard she lost consciousness. 

Percy’s sloppy licks roused her. She pushed the beast away, the cross-eyed mutt drooled and sat on its haunches next to her, back in his normal bloodhound form. Ruven would think she’d dreamt last night, except she was sitting in her destroyed hut. 

In the rays of daylight that came through the trees around them, she realized it wasn’t just her hut. 

The undead had destroyed her entire village.

Blessed by Sun Deities and able to transform into Mechanical Dragons, the goblins and their prized gold are the best hope against the necromancer demons invading their world of magic.

“The fire sprites,” I said before Gruillie could answer my question. “Your fucking sun deities are female goblins?”

“No-no,” Gruillie quickly denied, but I could see the fear in his eyes. 

“What did you call them?” Olje asked. 

“I saw them,” I said. I glanced at him briefly, not wanting to bring up the memory. “When you turned me into your dragon mate. They took me to another astral plane or something. They looked like sprites to me, but I figured out they were the things you worship as sun deities. They were the same size as goblins. Same shape. Fuck. I can’t believe I didn’t figure it out sooner.”

“Okay, okay, let’s pretend aye agree with ye,” Gruillie said.

“Let’s drop the pretenses, monk,” I snapped. “Have they always been sun deities or was that a side effect from all your experiments? The men got the ability to turn into dragons, and the women became fire creatures?”

“They don’t like to be called creatures,” Olje said.

“Monsters, then?”

They both gasped, like they thought I’d be smited for saying such a thing.

“Deities. They are sun deities.”

“You’re terrified of them.”

“Of course, we are. All our power comes from them. They are the gods of this world.”

“Born or made, Gruillie. Tell me.”

He clenched his jaw, refusing to speak.


“Made.” This earned him a swift whack from the staff Gruillie held. “Aye can’t help it. He’s my necromancer. Aye have to obey.”

“You didn’t think you should tell me about this?”

“Do ye know what would happen if word got out? Imagine the elves becoming sun deities? Or dragons? We have to keep our secrets close-hold.”

“Your women are running around pretending to be gods.”

“They aren’t pretending,” Olje said. “They are gods.”

“They are your daughters,” I growled. “They are suffering from a side effect of your people’s experiments.” It took me a few swipes but I managed to yank Gruillie’s staff from him. “So, your women are sun deities and somehow you’re able to channel their power through gold objects?”

“Aye,” Gruillie said.

“Did you ever try to fix them?” They were both silent. “Did you ever ask them if they want to be normal again?”

“They aren’t exactly talkative,” Gruillie said. “When they are on our… as ye put it astral plane… they light things on fire and sing songs. So, when they hatch, we banish them.”

“You banish them. Of course, you do.” I put both hands on the staff and tried to focus on the sun power residing in it. I had more power now, thanks to the elf, so it was possible I could shift to the other plane. I’d gone there before, and I hadn’t been nearly as powerful as I was now. 

My world filled with a golden haze, and my body burned with pain like it had on that first day. In the flames that danced around me, I saw the figures slowly become distinct. I grabbed the nearest one and held onto them, pulling them into a bearhug and shoving my darkness into them. It snuffed out their light and I shifted back to the plane we belonged in, still holding her tightly. 

I held the staff in front of us, channeling what remained of the sun powers into it, then dropped it. I couched and released the goblin I held. She stumbled and wobbled in circles for a bit, completely naked, with disheveled red hair that was so long it kept tripping her. She saw the two men with us and hurried to cover herself with the hair.

“A woman,” Gruillie said. He looked at me. “How did ye do that?”

“I don’t think I could have without the elf bond.” My head throbbed, and my body was exhausted. “It’ll be a bit before I can do it again.”

“We need to get out of here. We can’t stay on this beach.” Olje glanced wearily in the direction of Dragon Isle. We were a bit too close to that. “Can ye make us a portal?”

“Only to the Magesterium… but, I know a guy.” I reached out to Mage Peter and told him to come. Instead of shifting to smoke and flying to us, he opened a portal. Because of course, portals were easy for him to make. 

He stepped through, bringing his dragon with him. 

“What is this?” the blue dragon asked in his human form. 

“You’re going to keep your mouth shut about all of this,” I said. “Do that, and I’ll put in a good word about you to Leslie.”

The dragon nodded. 

“I need you to make a portal to Benchual Temple,” I said.

“You called me here to make you a portal? You’re a mage, can’t you do that yourself?” Peter asked.

“Oye, ye be a new undead. Welcome,” Olje said, strolling over with his hand extended.

“Undead.” The dragon looked at Peter. “When did that happen? You died? He’s your necromancer?”

“Want to join him?” I asked.

“I did not say I had a problem with it. No problems. No, sir.” He politely stepped back and clasped his hands. 

“Is yer dragon a juvenile? He looks to be a wee one of ten,” Olje said.

“I’m not as short as you,” the dragon snapped.

“Stop it. Portal now. We need to get her somewhere and I…” I couldn’t stand. “Need to rest.” I shot a glare at Peter. “I better not wake up in a fucking dungeon.”

“Oh, aye knew there’d be a reason he killed ye,” Gruillie said. “Give me one of yer robes. Me and the lass be naked.”

As Peter obliged, helping to cover the nude goblins, it was the water dragon who came to me and offered to help me stand. He was remarkably short, not even reaching my shoulders, but he was stout and easily took my weight.

This story is available in two adaptations. The original, Mages & Mates, is a romance filled with encounters involving dragon shape-shifters. This story stars a very lust-filled mage and a demon who seems to marry one of every species on this world, collecting a harem of men and women spouses.

The alternative adaptation, Mages & Magic, is censored and edited to be appropriate for all ages. It has the same main story, but the mage fights with a desire to roll dice and play dice games. The demon gets married only once, then forms alliances with vows of loyalty, rather than marriages.

So, pick the version that fits your taste and enjoy an epic adventure with an unlikely group of anti-heroes.

Nina Schluntz is a native to rural Nebraska. In her youth, she often wrote short stories to entertain her friends. Those ideas evolved into the novels she creates today.

Her husband continues to ensure her stories maintain a touch of realism as she delves into the science fiction and fantasy realm. Their three cats are always willing to stay up late to provide inspiration, whether it is a howl from the stray born in the backyard or an encouraging bite from the so called “calming kitten.”


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