Saturday, April 23, 2011

Singing Up the Sun by Adera Orfanelli

Singing Up the Sun

by Adera Orfanelli
Cover art: ReneƩ George
ISBN: 978-1-60521-629-4
Length: Novella
Page Count: 60

For discharged soldier Dougaln, the Winter Holidays are simply a time of little work and no prospects. But when he hears a beautiful tenor voice during a stroll in the Reclamation Gardens, Dougaln’s dark days suddenly brighten.

Exiled from his people, Reynau travels from world to world sharing his people’s spiritual traditions and learning new ones. For him, the Longest Night is a time to celebrate joy, ensuring that the new year brings happiness and light.

But Reynau refuses to be anyone’s “secret,” and Dougaln has too much to hide. Can a retired soldier open up and let a young man sing the light back into his life?
Singing Up the Sun
Adera Orfanelli
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2011 Adera Orfanelli

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The clear tenor voice stopped Dougaln Chabastia in his tracks. An unexpected and sudden lump formed in his throat. Too many tours, too many acts of atrocity contrasted with the stark, masculine beauty of the man's song. Other than the words in a language Dougaln thought sounded like Bimera, and yet held a lilting dialect the old and venerable Bimerans never used, silence reigned in the Reclamation Garden. Algae tubes, hydroponic plants, and the occasional fruit-bearing tree or bush created winding pathways and made it difficult to find the music's source. Still, Dougaln moved toward the sound, drawn by some unspeakable need to find the source of the music and perhaps stand in its beauty.
The music continued, though the song had changed. What had been a slow, dirge-like tune shifted into something with a faster tempo. Pausing, Dougaln listened. The lump in his throat had subsided, though the music still moved him. So beautiful. So unlike the life he'd led as a Relacharan soldier. Too close to the lullabies his mother had sung to him as a child.
His footsteps brought him to the small courtyard where the singer sat. A lithe young man, his face obscured by tousled dark brown hair that brushed his bare shoulders. With the singer turned away from him, Dougaln could only follow the muscled lines of the young man's back. Attraction, pure and primal, hit him in the gut. His cock hardened, a swift reminder that he'd been too long on assignment, and without a lover.
No more, not since... Dougaln stomped that line of thought away. No one except his commanding officer knew he wouldn't return from the Winter Holiday break. With such a mishmash of religions and traditions, the Relacharan military gave non-deployed soldiers a two-week shore leave to try to accommodate them all. Though his family followed the simple traditions of The Lady, and the longest night of the year was the night she birthed the sun, her son, into the world, he hadn't done anything except send perfunctory notes and gifts. Until now, he hadn't wanted to.
Seeing this young man changed everything. The song ended, and the singer turned. With too-slender hands, he swept his hair from his face. Silver rings glinted in his nipples, and some kind of tattoo -- from this distance it looked like flames -- swirled around his navel. He pointed to the bench opposite him. "Feel free to sit. No one should have to spend the Longest Night alone."
You were. Dougaln bit back the retort and sat. "I figured the gardens would be empty."
"So did I." The singer flashed a grin that damn near stole Dougaln's breath.
Drawing on military discipline, he managed to sit, then looked up. Eyes of the darkest blue, like storm clouds on the horizon, stared back at him in a face that at once looked ancient and too young for this world. Or at least this station. No one came to Lanx Station if they could help it, and it'd been that way since the war.
"You know any songs?" The young man's speaking voice rang with the clear promise of his singing one.
Dougaln shrugged. "None that are fit to share. And I sound like a rat being run through a meat grinder when I sing."
The man laughed, and damn him, his mirth was musical, too. "It's the Longest Night. Everyone sings up the sun. I'm Reynau Cossepor."
Reynau glanced over his military uniform. "You're Relacharan, aren't you? On duty?"
Dougaln shook his head. "I'm Relacharan, but not on duty tonight." He paused, then decided he didn't need to explain his discharged status. "Singing up the sun? What's that?" Changing the subject seemed to be the best thing to do.
"My people believe without the voices of her people, the sun will not rise. Of course, there are other things that we can do to encourage the sun, too. The important part is to be joyful." The shy smile Reynau offered left little doubt as to what the joyful actions could be.
"Interesting tradition." Dougaln tried to remember if he'd run across any worlds with such practices and couldn't. Then again, he'd only been to a few worlds, and most of them pretty close to his own.
"Join in if you want. No matter how bad you sing." With those words, Reynau returned to his devotion and began singing. The words weren't in the common language, a hybrid of Relacharan and Bimera that most people spoke. The more Dougaln listened, the more the words seemed to escape him. And the more he wanted Reynau.

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