Thank you for all the well-wishes for the new year. We hope you had a good week. The cast is exhausted. Instead of our usual shenanigans, we shoveled snow, mopped up a flood and tried to heat an apartment during subzero temps with just our fictional body heat. The icicles that formed inside our scribe’s apartment prove we failed that challenge.
We hope your week was better and warmer!
[Ran here–you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the Adversary down on his bony hands and knees scrubbing a floor muddied by repair people. I tried to capture the moment in pixels, but he used his dark powers to made the image fade to black. All you can see is his sickle (crooked) smile. If you don’t know who the Adversary is, then grab a copy of Curse Breaker: Faceted and find out because he’s raising hell in Curse Breaker: Falls.]
So while we get ourselves ready for our big debut, go here and download the official preview of Curse Breaker: Falls. We hope you enjoy it. We have to get back to quibbling over a few scenes. 😉
And now, back to our adventure. Without further ado, we bring you part 5 of our wintry adventure:
Shards for His Present:
A Curse Breaker
Christmas New Years Wintry Exclusive
(Read Part 1 here, part 2 here, Part 3 here, and part 4 here.)
Ran hunched over the flickering globe in his numbing hands and shouted at it. “Get off the ice! Papa, turn around! They’re kidnapping baby me!”
But the more he yelled, the hoarser he got. Nothing inside the ornament changed except the snow fell harder, coating his teenage father in a layer of white. Come on Papa, get off that ice before it cracks under you. But Papa kept fishing around for the Black Ranger. Ran bit his lip and as he watched, he heard Papa’s voice from a long, long way off–like sixteen years in the past.
“Come on, Nolo, grab the other end. I’m not jumping in after you.”
But Nolo didn’t. Sarn dropped his cloak and plunged his arm into the frigid river. A hand grasped his numbing one, and he hauled backward, pulling out a three-dimensional shadow. Death surfaced, and the hollow pits where his eyes should be fixed on Sarn, who was crabbing away from it. Where was his Marksman?
“Help me, Magical One. It’s forbidden for me to interfere with my Marksmen. You must pull him out.”
“You said ‘marksmen’ plural. There’s more than one?”
Death nodded. “Of course, I have many aspects. Each one can name a Chooser of the Slain. Now help him. Your master is drowning.” Death pointed at the hole his bearer had punched in the ice when that woman used her powers to fling him away from her.
‘Master’–the word galvanized Sarn, or rather the promises he’d sworn did.
“Where is Nolo?”
I’ll take you to him. Death seized his ankle and pulled Sarn into the river before he could object.
The icy water hit like a thousand knives to every part of Sarn, momentarily stunning him. It snuffed out the glow of his eyes. His magic screamed and fled deep into his core as he sank under the water. It wound itself around his organs, all except for a small white flame that kept burning in his chest as if he wasn’t floating in its nemesis. Weird, but he didn’t have time to analyze his magic’s quirks right now. Nolo’s life was in danger.
But without the glow of his eyes, it was pitch black under here. Something brushed his leg–was it a hand? Sarn felt around and his numb fingers grazed something–an arm maybe. He seized it and swam for the surface before he ran out of air.
Sarn struck ice with the top of his head and stars exploded in his vision. When the pain subsided a little, he felt for a break in the ice. Where’s that damned hole?
He panicked for a moment when all his questing hand met was more ice, then a hand grabbed the back of his tunic and tugged. The tugging ceased, but he had a direction–backward. Apparently, Death could help those who helped his bearers. Rules are so annoying.
This time when Sarn surfaced, he sucked in a lungful of freezing air and coughed, but he managed to pull himself and Nolo out before the fit left him gasping for breath.
No response, but Death squatted by his side. His black bow and quiver were nowhere in sight, so his master wasn’t dying yet.
“Is he breathing?” Nolo had better be. I don’t want to replace him as Death’s henchmen, no thank you.
Death nodded, relieving Sarn of that worry.
“Good.” Sarn laid down on the ice too cold and tired to do anything but stare at the runners headed their way, hopefully with blankets and hot drinks in hand. In the meantime, he pulled his cloak over them. Half of it was wet, and the other half was covered in snow, but he was shivering and the crescent moon visible between a break in the clouds had taken on a fuzzy halo. That can’t be good.
“Nolo, if you can hear me, just lay there. Help’s coming.”
Help arrived swiftly considering the snow-covered mile between the trail’s end and the river’s banks, which meant help was the next rotation. Since the arctic cold blew in earlier that week, the Watch had been pulled in to patrol the ten-mile circumference of the outer circle of menhirs and everything within it. Every three bells, a two-man team rotated out and a new one rotated in, so in theory, no one froze their balls off.
Sarn sat up to greet his replacement, and his magic roared out of its hiding place. Every nerve tingled as power lit him up. It thrummed through his veins, pulling every muscle painfully tight. Green lightning crackled around his fingers, warming them as light exploded from his eyes, blinding him until it backed down.
I can’t breathe. His chest felt like it was caving in, and the moon’s light strobed in a mesmeric pattern as the edges of his vision darkened. Convulsions racked him.
“Just hold on, Kid. Help’s coming.”
Nolo turned Sarn on his side, but he didn’t let go. He squeezed Sarn’s shoulder and his hand seemed to double as Death gave his shoulder a squeeze too then everything grayed out. But not before Sarn heard someone shout for him to get up and go save a baby.
What baby? My son is safe inside the mountain, sleeping like I should be. The grayness blackened and Sarn knew nothing more for several hours.
“No Papa! Get up! Go save me.” Ran dropped his head into his hands. Some night-tripping beast-man just walked off with baby me. Why don’t you know, Papa? Can’t you sense I’m not under the mountain where I should be?
But Papa didn’t know, and the snow was piling up around Ran, but he couldn’t go home, not until he knew how this story ended. So he picked up the ornament and gazed into its luminous heart as a scene that transpired sixteen years in his past resolved out of the silver and gold stars falling inside it.
Papa did save me, didn’t he? That was me the beast-man spirited off, right?
The question sparked a chilling fear. What if that baby wasn’t him. What if it was a brother or sister he’d never met?
To be continued next week.
We hope you’re enjoying our Wintry tale.
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Until next time, dear reader
This is Ran, son of Sarn, “the Spirited Away Character?” wishing you a great week!
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