When architect Mèco is turfed -- ejected from his protected but autocratic Dome -- he finds himself adrift in a dying and dangerous land. With no choice but to scrape his survival from an abandoned farm, he tries to improve his prospects by acquiring an animal to pull his plow. What he ends up with instead are two slaves, a bonded pair of Novigi, a strange people Mèco's never heard of. As the land slowly awakens by their combined efforts, so does Mèco's sense of himself as a man and -- maybe -- a lover. But when their fragile home is threatened by brutal gangs of Salters, Mèco and his friends discover being servants of the seasons may not be enough to protect their new way of living and loving. They must become warriors.

Originally published as the Chaser series Servant of the Seasons.

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Click on Frank Ignizio's painting "Heaven's Eternal Land" for a free short piece about what happens when Meco's day of plowing goes very wrong.
Can Cynar make it right again?


Elizabeth Brooks, author of the marvelous SAFE HARBOR, read the Chaser series and gave me some helpful suggestions when I planned to revisit SERVANT as a novel. When it was released, she asked: Did you find you had to make many changes to it to get it to pull together as a single novel?
And I replied:
Yeah, I did have to make some changes. There were a few plot burbles I'd introduced over the year the four Chasers were being published, and then there was the matter of presenting a smoother novel arc. I spent some time teasing out some back story reminders that are essential in a serial (in SoS' case the installments came at least 2 months apart) but repetitive and unnecessary in a novel. Then there were things readers and fellow authors -- like you -- pointed out to me as they read, that I was pleased to have the opportunity to address or correct. That makes it sound like a lot! In truth, the new manuscript netted about 2k new words, but the edit required a lot of fine combing, so it took forever. I love that kind of work, though, so didn't mind. :)
SERVANT OF THE SEASONS is a revised and re-edited edition of a serialized version. The four parts of the original Chaser series were reviewed separately, so I'm including all of those links.
AUTUMN Reviews
"...we’re treated to a story that takes its world building seriously!" Alex Beecroft, author of False Colors
"The story is a masterful short work about a man's struggle for survival in a post-apocalyptic future. Benoit carefully places each piece of the tale together, and it is as if the reader is treated to the fascinating image on a slowly growing jig-saw puzzle." Arthur Breur, Rainbow Reviews
"A lovely sense of words and their strengths and their descriptive power combined with a confident use of dialogue and underlying wit – and I could feel Edor’s feelings as my own." Clare London, Author
WINTER Reviews
"...returning to the world Benoit has created is simply a joy. It’s rich, magical and highly erotic, every action and description charged with sensuality."  Ann Somerville, Uniquely Pleasurable
SPRING Reviews
"This series is ... a very complex fantasy tale, and I think that, when it will be complete, all the four part will be a very good long novel." Elisa Rolle
SUMMER Reviews
"Lee Benoit is an astounding author. This fourth installment of the "Servant of the Seasons" story is the most dramatic, darkest, and also the most comfortably erotic of the stories. ...It left me wanting to read and savor much more about this fascinating future world that has been created by this very promising young author. While there may be only four seasons, I sincerely hope that there will be more 'Servant of the Seasons.'" Arthur Breur, Rainbow Reviews
“I am called Edor.” It was the name I had used since leaving the Dome, my professional title. Sometimes I wondered if I even recalled my true name.

“He is Lys. I am Tywyll.”

“We are Novigi.”

“That must be far.” I had never heard of it.

The smaller one, the one called Lys tilted his head. “Not... far. Brother?”

Tywyll nodded. “Distant, perhaps. Not far.”

“You’re brothers?” Poor things, to be whores so young.

“A way of saying, only,” said Tywyll. “Not blood, but still brothers, you see?”

I didn't, not really. My life before hadn’t bred close friendships and my life since, well, hadn’t merited them. “Come, you can wash while I fix supper. You’ve had a long walk.”

The two Novigi followed me to the lean-to that held the pump and kitchen. I supposed “kitchen” made the semi-permanent hearth sound rather grand. I stirred up the smothered coals and laid on more fuel; the local peat was free and burned hot, if not brightly or fragrantly. I kept my body and face turned away from where the two not-brothers had stripped to the waist and begun washing in the sun-warmed water from the pump; there was no privacy beyond simple courtesy.

I had rigged a hanging basket fed by a reed pipe connected to the cistern. If I couldn’t have a true bath, I had determined that I would at least have clean rinse-water. I hadn’t shown my guests how to use it, but they seemed to have figured it out, if their little exclamations of surprise were anything to judge by. After a few minutes, the happy sounds changed to hisses and muffled yelps of pain and I forgot their modesty.

“What is it? Is something wrong?”

Lys and Tywyll turned to look at me, their eyes slitted and their shoulders hunched to protect their bodies. They didn’t answer.

“Are you injured? Let me see.” If Varas had done something to them.... I took a step forward and the two closed ranks, Tywyll stepping in front of Lys and putting his hand out to stall my approach. Lys put a quelling hand on Tywyll’s arm and they had a rapid, quietly urgent conversation in a very foreign language. Tywyll drooped in defeat at the end of it and Lys stepped past him to stand before me, a defiant look in his bright eyes.

“These will not heal. There is pain.”

“What won’t...?” I began.

Lys’ brown cheeks colored and he looked down his own body. I followed his glance to his nipples and would have continued, dangerously, but for what I saw there. One was brown as a late-summer berry, the other cruelly distended and swollen around a thick metal ring.

“Who did this?”

“No papers,” Lys’ voice was very soft. In a sick flash, I understood. This was the slaver’s mark, now the mark of my ownership.

“It should have healed by now. Varas... bought you,” I felt my gorge rise on the word, “over a month ago. It doesn’t look infected.”

Tywyll turned and revealed a similar injury. “This metal is poison. We are Novigi.”

I had heard of diseases that struck only members of certain races. Perhaps this was some sort of allergy peculiar to Lys and Tywyll’s people. “Then they must come out.”

This was easier said than done, and the failing light was no help. I boiled water and let Lys and Tywyll clean each other’s ringed nipples, which they did with infinite gentleness. While Lys sat with his back to Tywyll’s chest, I tried to find the join in the ring. There was none. “It’s iron,” I said, with some surprise -- the old ores were rare now. “It would heat fast and I could cut it off,” I ventured.

My manipulation of the ring was careful as could be, but Lys’ eyes were screwed shut against the pain. Tywyll said, “This iron, it shares heat like other metals?”

Of course! I stammered through my embarrassment. The conductivity of the metal would sear Lys’ flesh before I ever got the metal soft enough to cut. “I have a file, for sharpening knives. I’ll get that. I’m amazed you didn’t just rip it out when the pain and swelling got bad.”

Lys muttered tightly, “We are Novigi. We do not maim ourselves.”

As I made my way to the shed I’d built from driftwood and debris in anticipation of my traction beast I wondered about my guests’ strange behavior: surely a self-inflicted torn nipple would eventually heal and thus be preferable to the constant pain and swelling the slavers’ rings inflicted. With a mental shrug, I located the file and hurried back to the lean-to. How ironic, I thought, a little hysterically, that this file I’d traded with Varas for would be the tool to manumit the slaves he’d bought. I drew a deep breath and went back to Lys and Tywyll.

“This might pull a little,” I warned with what I hoped was a reassuring smile. Lys nodded and reached his hands up to clasp Tywyll’s, resting his face in the curve of his friend’s neck. Tywyll didn’t hide; he fixed his eyes on Lys’ chest and, when I didn’t begin immediately, darted me a challenging blue glare. I nodded tersely and began.

The sound of metal rasping metal was ugly, and the sound of Lys’ whimpers was pitiful. My jaw ached and Tywyll’s eyes were leaking tears by the time I sawed through the iron, prized it open with a grunt, and slid it out of Lys’ nipple, releasing a pink trickle of blood and lymph. Lys panted and sagged against his friend, and I was more than a little surprised to feel the man’s shaking hand squeeze my own. I threw the bent ring into the fire. I could probably find a use for such rare metal, but at that moment I wanted it far away, destroyed. “Ready?” I asked Tywyll. It was almost worse, that second time. My voice quavered as I apologized for the lack of medicine or bandages.

Neither of my guests wanted food afterward, and though they looked awfully skinny, I understood they might not have much appetite after our little operation. As for me, my day in the fields had caught up with me and none of the various excitements of the afternoon and evening had dampened it, so I fixed myself some beans (what else?) that had been soaking since morning and made tea from the bitter grass that grew by the river. My patients -- for they weren’t exactly guests, and were no longer slaves -- watched me and shared a cup of tea when I offered it. As I scrubbed out my bowl, Lys said something softly to Tywyll.

“May we sleep, now?” Tywyll asked.

I showed them into the turvy and gave them the unused sleeping platform and my own blanket. There was no fire in the underground dwelling -- it was too hot for one, and in summer the smokiness of the peat fire was unbearable because there was no real chimney, only a crude hole in the sod of the roof.

“Thank you.”

“You are welcome.” I was uncomfortably aware that my meager home offered scant welcome. I left the two alone and went to bank the kitchen fire and close up the shed. I washed at the pump shower, biting back groans as my abused skin tightened under the trickle, then walked back to my little house, carrying the blanket I’d patched together from rags and scraps for the hoped-for draft animal.
I rolled up in the blanket not for warmth but for protection from the crawly things, and lay on my platform with my back to the door. There was little light in the turvy, but I trained my eyes toward my guests. We were not off to the brightest of beginnings, I admitted to myself, but there was a giddy feeling of expectation I couldn’t deny and chose to nurture instead. Slowly, as sleep eluded me, I became aware of wet sucking sounds and realized the lads were still awake, licking each other’s wounds. I could just make them out, curved into each other’s bodies, soothing each other’s hurts. For the first time since losing the protection of my Dome, I felt the flicker of a desire unconnected to loss.

© Lee Benoit