When Stalactite-Swinging Sleuths Assemble …

Hi Readers!

If you celebrated Thanksgiving this past Thursday, we hope you enjoyed it. If you didn’t, we hope you had a great day. We did. Though some of the cast had a better time than others. While you weren’t looking, Jerlo went skulking about the nether regions of Mount Eredren seeking answers. He met with a whole lot of trouble and one of our stranger cast members. Read on to find out what happened.

[Note: the cast of the Curse Breaker Series does not recommend trying this at home. Only professional Rangers should go about swinging on stalactites.]

Jerlo: The Stalactite-Swinging Sleuth


“Aren’t you coming?”

Jerlo shook his head. “No, a certain prisoner and I have things we need to discuss.”

“Just bear in mind who you’re discussing these things with. The man’s a monster through and through.” Vanya shuddered.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Conversation over, Jerlo pulled the door shut but stopped when Vanya’s sandaled foot shot into the door’s path. Had she been any other woman, he wouldn’t have kicked her foot out of the way and shut the door with a resounding clang. Strong women like Inari and Ranispara he could work with, but not their weaker counterparts. Shadows closed in on Jerlo, but it was such a relief to be on his own again. He slumped against the door and reveled in his sudden solitude.

“Wait!” Vanya pounded on the door. “How are you planning on seeing anything? I still have your lumir crystal.”

Oh, now that was a problem. This chamber, unlike everywhere else under this mountain, was bare of said luminous stone. A sliver of silver light glinted off the key. Half the snakes had either gone for a swim or found somewhere else to be. The rest sprawled near both objects. And his favorite grappling hook was still anchored to a stalactite.

Time to find out if a full belly made cobras as torpid as humans. Jerlo pocketed Vanya’s knife. She had no use for it now, but he might need it. Getting a running start, he jumped and caught hold of the rope’s dangling end.

Climbing hand over hand was easy thanks to all that archery the whole Ranger thing required. Soon he was a man-length above the ground where he paused to consider his next move. He could tie the rope around his ankles and drop down to grab the lumir stone and the key then pull himself up. Could he move faster than a striking snake? Probably not but none of the snakes were paying him any mind. Their hooded heads rested on their coils, and their half-lidded eyes stared into the middle distance.

Maybe he should swing past them and try his luck picking the door to the oubliette. It might be the same simple plate spring construction, but what if it wasn’t?

While he was wasting time unlocking doors and getting rid of unwanted sidekicks, the river had risen until it was almost level with the middle of the sagging causeway. Waves washed over the paving stones then receded leaving a slippery mess. If he waited any longer, he’d have to swim with the snakes, unless they’d found a more hospitable place to hang out. What were so many cobras doing underground? Didn’t cold-blooded creatures prefer to lay about on sun-warmed rocks?

A fly buzzed his ear. Jerlo jerked his head to one side to avoid it. Another fly whizzed past his ear and then hundreds more until the air was thick with flying insects. They dove en masse, morphing into two hands. One scooped up the key and the other, the lumir stick Vanya had dropped. The cross around Jerlo’s neck heated up as the twin hand-shaped swarms reversed course then hovered by his head, presenting their find.

“What are you?” Jerlo anchored his foot on the rope and freed a hand to take both items.

— Excerpted from Curse Breaker: Darkens on sale now for 99 cents.


With faith as his shield, can an old warrior triumph against a demon when all other weapons fail?

Find out in Curse Breaker: Darkens
. The fate of his ward hangs in the balance.

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