Today, we have a special presentation for you. So without further ado, let’s get to it. When you last saw us, Papa tried to be a hero, and that didn’t work out so well for him. J.C. and I, (Ran, son of Sarn and his most trusted sidekick), must find a way to rescue him and our scribe, Melinda, before their fall ends in tragedy.
Bear nodded his fuzzy head. “I’m back, and you’re in trouble. So what else is new?”
I gave Bear my stern face. “You have a lot of explaining to do, but later.”
“Hey now, I’m feeling a little woozy. I might need to go dark again to recuperate.”
Bear held up both paws unconcerned with the whole flying thing. Spirits didn’t have to worry about falling. They couldn’t get hurt, but Papa could.
“Don’t you dare. Papa needs you.” I pointed to where he’d vanished into the cloud deck.
“I’m not even going to ask what happened to him.” Bear passed his paw over his button eyes.
“No need, I’ve got that covered,” J.C. said. “Hold tight.”
“I am but your cross keeps trying to push me off.” And the spine of the book wasn’t all that long, maybe six feet if that, or that wide. I could straddle it easily, and I’m just a child.
J.C. didn’t comment. Our ride, a giant book with wings twice as long as it was tall, steepened its dive. Clouds whipped past us, and something squawked close to my ear followed by several pinpricks on my shoulder. I turned my head and stared at the glowing blue dragon clinging to my shoulder. It was the mysteriously miniaturized Newsletter-Dragon.
It was bird-sized and in no mood to help, so I didn’t bother asking it again. There was no need. The clouds shredded below us revealing a rising globe.
“What’s that thing?”
“A self-contained universe. Every book creates one, but somehow this one broke off from its main reality.”
“‘Broke off’ doesn’t sound good. How do they go back to where they belong?”
I curled into J.C. It was cold up here without Papa and his magic, which always ran warm, and getting colder as the wind ripped away my body heat. I squinted at the bubble and made out two running figures and a forest.
“I’m not sure. Things are breaking down faster than I anticipated. We must return your scribe to her story realm.”
“So those nice ladies might be trapped?”
No one spoke as the bubble kept rising, bringing the scene it framed into clearer focus.
by A.M. Rycroft
The pack broke into a run down the hillside.
Shaun spun back to look at Sara and the others. “Run! Don’t stop!”
She grabbed Sara’s hand and sprinted for the treeline. They crashed through the brush into the thick of the woods.
The strange darkness thankfully did not reach there. Pale moonlight filtered down through shifting clouds and branches above as they ran. Shaun heard the creatures crash through the brush behind them, coming at a dead sprint.
She led Sara and the others deeper into the woods, hoping the creatures would give up. But the farther they went, the more treacherous the terrain was.
Branches snagged at their clothes and tree roots grabbed at their feet. Then the moonlight faded to nothing more than a dim light, the branches above too close together for more of its light to break through. If she did not know better, she might have thought the forest was on the side of the creatures chasing them.
She pressed ahead, blindly at times. A voice inside told her they had to slow down, but she ignored it as her breathing and the others’ became ragged with fatigue. The creatures behind them showed no signs of tiring of their pursuit.
Myra tripped and fell. She barely managed to muffle her cry. Thomas and Shaun helped her up, but when Myra put her weight on her right leg, she bit her lip and shook her head.
“I cannot walk.” Her eyes were wide with fear. She kept looking at the woods behind them.
Shaun cursed under her breath, also looking over her shoulder. The creatures were close. “Thomas, you must carry her.”
Thomas knelt down, so Myra could climb onto his back.
Shaun told him, “You go on. All three of you. I’ll stay behind to slow the creatures down and give you more time.”
“No,” Sara said. “You made a promise to protect me.”
“That’s what I’m doing.”
Sara took her hand and pleaded, “No. Not like this.” Her eyes were as wide as Myra’s
Shaun set her jaw, unwilling to let Sara see the fear she also felt. “I promised your father I would give my life to get you safely away. I have no intention of dying in these woods, but if I must give my life in order for you to escape these things, I will.
“No. Go now. Please. While you can.”
Thomas pulled Sara away. “We have to go, princess.”
Shaun turned away, unable to meet Sara’s eyes again. She expected Shaun to die, no matter what she had said. Shaun could not say she was wrong.
With only one good arm now, her chances of survival were slim. She pushed that thought aside. Swallowing hard, she wrapped both hands around the hilt of her sword as tight as she could to stop their shaking and pressed her back against a tree.
She took a deep breath and waited.
— End of Excerpt —
You’ll have to wait until next week for the answer to my question about whether these nice ladies are trapped, or if there’s a way for them to return to their book-world. J.C. has a good track record of answering, better than Bear does.
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Until next time, dear reader
This is your host, Ran, son of Sarn, wishing you a great week!
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