The Price of Free Will

Hi Readers,

We’re back. Instead of our regularly scheduled adventure, we’re proud to bring you a preview of Curse Breaker: Sundered. We’ll have full details about when it’ll be on sale in our next newsletter.

We just couldn’t get our act together about that for this week. We were too excited about the preview.

It starts seconds after the end of Curse Breaker: Falls. In case you forgot, we’re under Mount Eredren and somewhere within the confusing jumble of tunnels called the Lower Quarters where we and unfortunately, the monsters dwellEnjoy!

 

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CURSE BREAKER: SUNDERED

(Preceded by: Curse Breaker: Books 1-4 & His Angelic Keeper)

~ ~ ~

Chapter 1: The Price of Free Will

Farewell for now, my friends. J.C. touched the pile of broken stones separating him from Sarn and his son. They were good people who’d done more than enough. I won’t imperil them any further.

“J.C.?” Ran called. The tyke wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Neither was his father.

Rocks grated as they slipped and slid. Sarn must still be trying to break through, but he couldn’t while his magic was bound by the Question. I didn’t realize how young he is. I needed to get inside those menhirs and their cordon, and Sarn was the only way in. Then he offered to help me, and I couldn’t say no. He and his son were so earnest. J.C. sighed.

Of course, Sarn’s habit of hiding under deep hoods had helped scale his age up. So had his brilliant green eyes. Their constant glow had highlighted the scar bracketing his left eye and left much of his face in shadow, adding to the effect.

Oh well, what was done was done, and they were clear of it now. Those helpful rocks blocked their way. J.C. patted them in thanksgiving and turned, grateful for their presence.

Now to deal with the Adversary and his latest scheme. And on the way, meet a mortal who’ll volunteer to help me because the Covenant granted mankind self-determination. So those were the rules of engagement, rules He’d died to uphold.

You can tempt mortals all you like my Adversary, but I died to ensure you could never make them do your will. They must choose who they follow. And that thought made J.C. smile because the Adversary still didn’t understand the full measure of what His most precious blood had purchased for mankind. Neither did most mortals, but one day they would.

So J.C. lifted his cross and headed toward the echoes coming from somewhere ahead. He stumbled as those voices grew to a deafening roar. So many cried out for help—too many to count as their faces flashed before his eyes. He tried to locate them, but He couldn’t get a fix on their location or what was happening. Their pain slammed into Him, and he teetered as His cross swelled from the weight of their terror. It threatened to crush him.

Overwhelmed by their pain, J.C. dropped to his knees and choked on their tears, but He could do nothing to stop what was happening. That was the price of their free will. He could just be a comforting presence reaching out of the darkness to embrace the hurt and the dying, and a voice calling the just to stop the slaughter.

Dimly, He was aware of footsteps and the cold ground under his hands and knees as he crawled. Blood ran down his face as thorns pricked his forehead. Nails punched through his hands and feet, but He kept going because He must.

Light flared around Him then voices echoed from somewhere close by or maybe He was slipping away to be with His people in their time of need. Something flew past his head then J.C. heard a curious voice on a different frequency then humans used. There were other sentient races sharing this land, but they usually hid when He was about.

“You’re hurt. I’ll fetch friend, Nulthir. He’ll fix you,” said the creature as it flapped away.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t wait for your friend. They’re calling from a pit that became their tomb. I must roll away the stone and freed them, so they can fly to My Father in heaven.”

Blood welled from the holes in his palms and dripped on the ground as J.C. pushed to a stand. He held fast to the wall and his bloody fingers found every crack and crevice that could serve as a handhold. Under his sandals, the mountain groaned. It had sensed his presence and was now waking up to the dangers stalking its uncounted miles of tunnels.

“Sleep, friend, your turn has not yet come. I pray it never does.”

At his words, the mountain stilled, and it drifted back into dreams of the days of old, when mages summoned mountains to fight for them.

With a heavy heart, J.C. put his back to the rubble pile and the allies Thing One had gone to fetch. It was too dangerous for them. Tentacles snaked across the ground, pawing over everything in their path. While others probed the middle distance. Each tentacle moved with a purpose independent of its mates. How far did that independence extend? Was each tentacle driven by a separate mind, or were there multiple monsters controlling groups of them?

What are you searching for? Can you sense Me? In case they could, J.C. passed them with care and hoped Sarn and his son found somewhere safe to hold up until the Adversary was contained. Defeating that beast must be His priority.

As He shuffled along, a black mist lapped at his sandal-shod feet, seeking elemental magic to eat. Since his magic was divine rather than tied to any one world, it should have done nothing more than hide the ground and the tentacles feeling around for prey. Instead, that rising fog sucked at his feet and slowed his steps.

My power comes from belief. You can’t take my power. But that fog was taking something he needed just as much—the energy to move. He wasn’t here as a spirit but in a body. Unfortunately, bodies needed rest and sustenance. Two things J.C. had deprived it of because He’d been too busy chasing after the Adversary. That deprivation was now taking its toll and making him vulnerable to the colloidal black thing climbing up his quivering legs.

With his body so depleted, it would take too long to navigate the tunnels between himself and the Adversary. But all other ways are closed to me. So He lifted his cross and tottered onward toward the trapped souls calling His name. I will ransom you, my people. Don’t lose heart. For that is how the Adversary sneaks in.

[End of Excerpt]

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Want more?

We’ve got it. Download the first 15000 words (10%) of Curse Breaker: Sundered here.

We’ll be back next week with a release date.

 



 

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Until next time, dear reader

This is your host, Ran, son of Sarn, “the asker of hard questions” wishing you a great week!




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