Instead of our regularly scheduled adventure, we’re bringing you Part 2 of Chapter 2 from Curse Breaker: Sundered. (In case you missed it here’s: Chapter 1 & Part 1 of Chapter 2.) We hope you enjoy it while we gear up for the book launch!
So far, we’re still on track for Nov. 12 even though Papa got extra awesome near the end, and that required some extra scenes. I’m right there with him, so you know I’m happy.
And you should be too. Those scenes are extra bang for your bucks. 🙂 You’re welcome.
But our scribe is not happy. In her opinion, Sundered is the book that won’t end.
But it will. We promise. We have faith in her.
So we’ll let her get to that and return you to the Guards who’re about to be in some dire straits. I guess they won’t be helping Papa and I anytime soon. Bummer.
~ ~ ~
Chapter 2: Call in the Guards (Part 2)
Nulthir raised his fist and Thing One dropped onto it. Claws bit into the leather of his padded gauntlet as his little friend settled.
“The Shining One needs help, Friend Nulthir,” Thing One broadcasted, making everyone jump.
His psychic pet/flatmate was a mishmash of mammals with a bit of owl thrown in the mix to give the mostly harmless creature wings, and the ability to turn his head one-hundred-and-eighty degrees, so his large, dark-adjusted eyes could plead with Nulthir and his squad simultaneously.
“What’s a ‘Shining One?’” Iraine clambered over the rocks in time to scratch Thing One’s furry belly, and his little friend squirmed with pleasure.
“He’s here,” Huwain said in a reverent tone. “We have to help Him, Captain.”
“I don’t see anyone besides us and that crowd.” Draya steadied herself on Yazi’s broad shoulders and shook her head before dismounting.
“You must help Him, the Shining One.”
“I will if I can.”
\Nulthir tossed Thing One back into the air and his odd little friend took wing. Nulthir glanced at the crowd. He was torn between staying and going. I need to know what they’re running from. It was his duty to guard them.
“But the Shining One needs you,” Thing One said into his mind alone, tearing him further.
The crowd bunched up as it pushed into the tunnel feeding into this cavern, and echoes of falling rocks almost drowned out their screams.
“Everyone stay down while we figure out what’s going on,” Nulthir ordered.
His squad hunkered down amid the rubble at the widest point in this cavern. Behind their position, the crowd desperately tried to exit. Everything in front of them was lost in deep shadows. Anything could be hiding in there.
“We must do something.” Iraine touched his arm.
“Agreed, but if we wade into that panicked crowd, we’ll get trampled, and that won’t help anyone.”
“We need a better plan than that,” Agalthar said.
“I second that.”
Though, Iraine didn’t like it any more than Nulthir did. She’d joined the Guards to make a difference and to get official sanction to beat up the bad guys and gals. Lately, there had been a troubling upswing in the numbers of ladies taking up deadly professions like murder. What that said about society as a whole, Nulthir didn’t dare speculate on especially not while in Iraine’s company.
“The Shining One,” Thing One muttered as he flew in tight agitated circles within the glow of Nulthir’s pendant. The dawn rune was the brightest light down here, but its nimbus contracted a little more every moment they lingered.
The echoes of large, heavy things crashing into each other intensified. Was whatever lay beyond this point collapsing? Could the whole place be coming down? No, surely that wasn’t possible. Those Litherians built their strongholds to last through the ages. Parts of it might fall but not the whole thing. Magic isn’t the only thing holding it up.
If they were still under the stronghold inside Mount Eredren. They might not be anymore. Nulthir had gotten so turned around over the last few hours, he had no idea where exactly they were right now. Nor was the rolled-up map in his pocket any use until he could cast a location rune, run into a landmark, or question a native, because he’d used the rest of his personal store of power to shield his most vulnerable Guards from that fell voice earlier.
“Anyone know where we are?” Nulthir asked, not really expecting a response.
“Under the mountain?” was the sarcastic reply from Gare of all people, but he ignored it.
Yazi’s husband had boundless patience and good cheer usually, but Gare was worried he and his mate might not escape this alive. It was clear in his slanted black eyes, so Nulthir cut him some slack. Besides, Gare was an old friend from his prison guard days.
“What is that?” Draya pointed, but Nulthir just shook his head as a dark blur shot through the darkness ahead and to the right.
At least, it was nowhere near the slow-moving crowd. He was grateful for that. He’d seen enough death today. But they thronged the only exit leaving Nulthir and his Guards to face this new threat.
“Whatever it is, it’s fast,” Agalthar said.
It wasn’t Thing One because Nulthir felt the wind of his little friend’s passage from behind and to his left and heard his alarmed chirping. That dark blur crashed into something hard, and the tell-tale sound of rocks striking more rocks—or the cave floor in this case—resounded. Something was trying to break through. And we might be in the way.
Bang! The thing struck again and again. Is it hammering against a wall? Nulthir wished the entire right side of the cavern wasn’t blanketed in deep shadows, so he could at least guestimate how close that thing was to them, and what lay between it and them.
“Anyone have a light?” Agalthar asked, “anyone other than our captain. No offense, but I don’t think we should risk our only light source.”
Or their captain because the rune light wouldn’t work for anyone else. It was another gift keyed to Nulthir alone.
A chorus of ‘Nos’ greeted that question.
“We all had some, but our lumir crystals went dark and haven’t turned back on again,” Huwain said.
“Why is that?” Yazi asked. “I think I missed that part. Like Draya, there are some puzzling holes in my memory.”
“Mine too,” Gare said as he thumped his lover on the back.
All three of them had been enthralled by that voice and the thing that had been flying around earlier. So it wasn’t surprising that they had a few gaps in their memories.
Not me though, I got to experience all the weirdness firsthand thanks to this. Nulthir rubbed the rune on his belly through his uniform shirt and grimaced at the dirt stains marring the blue fabric. That rune was another gift from his overbearing mother.
I should probably thank her for it. Without its protection, I’d have become a blank-eyed mute shuffling along to another creature’s will. No thank you, once was enough. And he still had nightmares about that one time. It was the reason he’d parted ways with his family, his heritage and all but the most benign uses of magic.
“Well, there was this black fog that rolled over us. It snuffed out all our lumir stones,” Lurston said, “but that was hours ago.”
“Right that was then, but this is now. Why hasn’t their glow returned?”
All eyes turned to Nulthir, including Iraine’s, which surprised him. Why do they think I know the answer? Still, he gave it his best shot.
“Because there’s no more magic in them to sustain their glow. Whatever that fog was, it eats magic.”
But what did it do with that magic once it ate it? I wish I knew because it would be very handy right now if we stumbled upon a pool of magic or something I can drain so I can get a few rune-lights going. Nulthir clasped his hands together to keep from touching the other runes written on his skin. None would help in this situation.
Bang, bang, bang, crash—that thing had broken through something—a wall hopefully, not the ceiling. Nulthir pulled Iraine down with him. Please, not another monster—one supernatural entity on the loose is enough.
“Everyone take cover!”
“From what?” Iraine shot him an aggrieved glare.
~ ~ ~
Find out what’s hunting the Guards next week, or if you can’t wait, download a preview of Curse Breaker: Sundered now!
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