It’s Ran, and I’m writing to you from under the bed. I’m hiding from the germs making our scribe sick. With a book for my pillow, Curse Breaker: Faceted of course, and a flashlight to read by, I’m ready for anything those germs can dish out.
Did you hear that?
People were screaming. Their legs flashed by then vanished into the darkness falling over everything. Someone kicked Sarn in the side narrowly missing his shivering son.
“Do something!” an old woman yelled, but something whisked her away before Sarn could reply.
A cold, leathery thing wrapped around Sarn’s ankle. It was the Ægeldar and its tentacles reached past him toward the echoes of screams and running feet. So, it was a monster after all. Good, monsters had weaknesses. They could be defeated, but the thing stealing the green magic—how could he defeat that? What did I do last month? Nothing. The white magic had just been there straining to break out and eradicate that demon. Why was it refusing to help him now?
“Papa,” Ran sobbed as he flattened himself against Sarn’s chest.
Another tentacle brushed past groping after prey, but Sarn tightened his grip on his son, his heart, his reason for living. “Listen to me, Ran. I won’t let it hurt you. Do you hear me?”
“Yes, I promise,” Sarn said to the top of his son’s head, and Ran clutched him, and that promise, tight in his little arms. “I won’t let this dark thing take you. I’ll get you out of this, I promise.”
Ran nodded, believing him, his Papa, because Sarn only said what he believed to be true.
Sarn kissed the top of his son’s head. His son was such a gift, one he worked every day to be worthy of. I will save my son. The belief was growing in his breast and scorching through his veins in a blinding torrent of white light. For a heartbeat, everything slammed into fine focus. I can save my son. Sarn extended his hand and loosed a bolt of lightning. It struck a column and lassoed it, stopping his slide.
The screaming intensified as two bodies slid past out of reach, their faces white with terror. Sarn stared after them unable to look away until the two graybeards disappeared.
“Bear! Help us!” Ran shouted, breaking his trance. Tears tracked down his son’s face and soaked into Sarn’s tunic.
“You’re safe,” Sarn said as he wrapped that belief around his son, cocooning the crying boy in a blanket of white light. “Ran, you’re safe. The monster isn’t going to get you.” But it had taken three people and possibly more.
Ran wiped his sleeve across his eyes. “It’s not?”
“No, do you see the glowing rope thing?”
Another nod, maybe a hesitant ‘yes’ had followed, his son was hard to hear over the blood rushing in his ears, the echoes of screams and the dragging sound of more victims coming this way. But there was nothing he could do about that until Ran was safe.
Something wet—likely more blood judging by the stabbing pain behind his left eye—dripped from Sarn’s nose and crawled down his scarred cheek.
“Grab it and use it to pull yourself up. It won’t hurt you. I won’t let it. You can do this. I know you can. You’re a good climber.”
A second tentacle applied itself to Sarn’s leg and pulled in an eerie repeat of last month’s demon incident. But the lariat held because Sarn willed it too even though the tugging made the bones in his arms creak.
Ran touched the radiant rope with hesitant fingers. When no shock traveled up his arm, he gripped it with more confidence and pulled himself away from the dark currents tugging on him.
“What about you, Papa?”
“Don’t worry about me. Just get as far as you can away from here. I’ll find you.” If he could escape. Right now, that wasn’t looking likely. Sarn gritted his teeth and held on as a third tentacle wrapped around his waist and pain shot through his shoulders. You must hold on. Ran’s almost there. Just see him off, then you can let go and wrestle with monsters. That column seemed a hundred feet away rather than fifteen at the slow pace his son was setting.
When Ran reached the column, he eased around its backside and stayed there watching his father with anxious eyes. Under his breath, he begged Bear to come. Bear was magical too. Bear would save Papa and keep him from doing that martyr thing Mama used to complain about.
“Hold on Papa. Bear will save us. He beat the shadow monster.”
Such an incredible claim could only be made by a four-year-old. This had gone beyond Sarn’s meager skill. What had Dirk done? How can I undo it?
“Hold on Papa!”
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Until next time, dear reader
This is Ran, son of Sarn, “the Bear Whisperer” wishing you a great week!
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