We hope you had an awesome holiday week and a merry Christmas. As you can see from the e-card below, we had a little too much holiday fun.
I was just trying to figure out how reindeer know how to fly when I lost my grip on that arch thingy. Good thing Papa’s always got one eye on me and his magic too. He woke up from his nap real fast to catch me, and well, I got to play with his magic, so I’m happy. 🙂
Before we welcome you to our second holiday-special edition, I have a gift for you! FREE coloring pages starring us! We put together four, yes, four coloring pages:
- Two scenes starring me and Papa, and
- Two mandalas for your coloring pleasure.
Here’s a preview:
How did that come about?
Read all about it here and snag your copy. I—ah—couldn’t get the printable pdf thingies to attach to our newsletter. The Newsletter-Dragon kept incinerating them. She said something about ’email clients’ and ‘spam rules.’ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
And, the first episode of a series that stars Papa and Shade was accepted into the First Love Anthology produced by Dragon Soul Press. Isn’t that the coolest name for a publishing house?
Anywho, the series will be called Curse Breaker’s Shadow, because let’s be honest here. That’s what Shade was. Episode 1: Caught in a Glance will answer all your burning questions (and mine) about how the heck Papa and Shade became friends. It’s slated to publish on Feb. 28, 2019. It has such a pretty cover <3:
On the right above, we have a draft of the cover for the Curse Breaker’s Shadow series. We think it captures Shade’s dramatic flair. Don’t you?
And now, it’s time for part two of our *special* holiday edition. Last week, two creatures argued in an enchanted wood. You’d think they’d know better than to do that in Shayari of all places, but alas, they did not. Meanwhile, Papa argued with his master, Nolo, the Chooser of the Slain about a strange assignment.
(If you want to see Nolo cut loose with Death’s Marksman, head over to your ebookstore of choice and pick up Curse Breaker: Sundered. The gloves come off in that one, and I meet Nolo’s master.)
Stealing Christmas: A Curse Breaker Story
Three years ago…
“Sarn? Are you even listening to me?”
No, he wasn’t because at that moment, two things happened at once—a scream shattered the silent night, and the ground spat a glowing object at Sarn. Dodging the projectile took precedence over the scream since it was sailing toward his head.
“What the hell was that?” Nolo spun, searching for the source of that distress call.
“I don’t know,” Sarn said as he caught the brilliant object before it struck the sheet of magic that jumped between his face and the projectile.
It was a crystal sphere with swirling lights at its center. Why had the forest thrown it at him? None of the trees towering over them gave even the slightest hint about that. They were as still as ever. Not that they’d ever talked to him nor did he want them to because that would just be too creepy.
“Come on, we’d better check it out.”
Nolo caught Sarn’s arm and towed him into the darkness. His glowing eyes cut through the blackness like twin green lasers.
“I think it came from that direction.”
Nolo pointed to the left as they hurtled over rocks and arching roots. He didn’t ask if Sarn had sensed anything untoward, but the question, like all things pertaining to his magic, was implied. Since it was a taboo subject even out here in the middle of an enchanted forest, Sarn shook his head when Nolo glanced over at him.
Sarn had no trouble keeping up with his master since he had almost a half foot on the man, and that height differential kept increasing incrementally every month. The Rangers had a monthly pool about that.
His master didn’t seem displeased at the news. Perhaps Nolo had sensed something. After all, he was Death’s Marksman. And I still have no idea what that means. Only one thing was clear. Nolo wasn’t any kind of magicker, not like me. So whatever abilities his calling bestowed on him, it wasn’t magical.
Nolo held his free hand out in a stop as horns sounded, and Sarn skidded on the snow but somehow, he managed to stop before he crashed into his master. Those horns called mournfully into the night again.
“Is someone in trouble?” Sarn asked.
Horn calls were common in Shayari. The Rangers had a whole repertoire of them. Each one conveyed a different message, but Sarn had yet to learn those. Maybe it was the fact that he’d lost half his hearing in one ear, but all the Rangers’ calls sounded the same to him. Those horns sounded again.
“Well, what’s the message?”
Sarn stamped his feet. His boots were supposed to be waterproof, but they weren’t keeping the night’s chill from nipping at his toes.
“No, those are hunting horns,” Nolo said slowly, and he hardly dared to believe it.
“Hunting horns as in the Wild Hunt?”
Three notes sounded, and their finality sent chills up Sarn’s back. No, not them, not here, please not tonight. Sarn sucked in a shocked breath. I have to go back. I have to—but the thought couldn’t complete because the Wild Hunt was somewhere nearby hunting someone, maybe even them. Probably them.
Every nerve stretched tight as Sarn listened for the crunching of hooves on the newly fallen snow. Before he could go safeguard his son, he had to protect himself. Calm down. You’re supposed to have Nolo’s back. And prove once and for all, he wasn’t a reckless kid anymore. So stop being an idiot and do that.
But those horns sounded again, and they sent all thoughts of what he should be doing to the far corners of his mind. All Sarn could think of was his son. Please keep him safe for me, he begged of the veiled stars, and the forest silently sleeping the Winter Sleep. Neither one answered, but a horn did, and it was closer now.
The Wild Hunt was here, and they were hunting. Please, not us. Sarn wanted to run back to Mount Eredren and put himself between the world and his little boy. I still don’t know how they got to him last year. But they had, and it had taken all Sarn’s skill and help from Shade and a warrior woman to get his son back.
Sarn remembered belatedly he was supposed to be scanning for trouble. His glowing eyes could pierce the darkness far better than Nolo could. So he pivoted and scanned and saw nothing but snow and trees so tall, their bare branches tangled hundreds of feet above. All the while, his mind raced.
How can they still be alive? I dropped part of a mountain on them. But the Wild Hunt was back despite the impossibility of it, and they were somewhere in this forest creeping up on their next victim. Would they kill or capture this time? Only they knew.
Nolo whipped around suddenly and shoved Sarn hard. “Go, get back to the mountain.”
“What about you?” Sarn stared at Nolo uncomprehending. “I can fight.” But he didn’t want to, not here while his son was virtually unguarded.
Nolo’s eyes were all black in the darkness. The Marksman was rising. The look in those eyes coupled with that head shake said no, no, fighting for you. Great, Nolo still saw an overly-tall seventeen-year-old kid, not a capable warrior. And that set Sarn’s teeth on edge even though he desperately wanted to run back to the mountain to protect his son.
Ran was a couple of months shy of his second birthday. And he would live to celebrate that. I won’t lose him, not this time. Because he wasn’t sure he could get the boy back a second time. At his sides, his hands curled into fists, and magic snapped and crackled around them adding its own promise to the mix.
“Go. That’s an order.”
And it wasn’t one Sarn could disobey either however much he wanted to help. The order spun him on his heel and shoved him hard. Sarn shot into the darkness, lighting it up as he ran. I’ll send help. You’re not facing the Wild Hunt alone. There’s no telling how many of them are stalking through the forest tonight.
As Nolo watched Sarn go, he knew he’d made the right choice. The Wild Hunt had been after Sarn for a year now and probably longer than that. But they wouldn’t get him tonight, and that was a promise. The Black Bow settled into his hand as the Marksman rose inside him. It didn’t want to take control, and that was strange. Nolo was used to fighting it, but he wouldn’t have to do that tonight, and that was strange.
Well, it’s not like I need his help to take on these louts. But the Marksman’s augmented sight would have been a boon in this darkness.
“You can’t,” said the Marksman as he manifested fully.
He was a three-dimensional shadow in the gold light shining off the lumir crystal hanging from a loop on Nolo’s belt. He had others secreted in light-tight pouches about his person, but this little gem had been all he’d needed while Sarn was around. That kid’s eyes had lit up a twenty-foot radius around them. But it wasn’t safe for the Kid to be out here tonight, not if the Wild Hunt was on the hunt.
The bow vanished from Nolo’s hands. No matter, he had a mundane one strapped to his back. All Rangers carried one except Sarn because technically he wasn’t a ranger, just their Indentured servant. And, bows were dangerous in his hands.
“Why can’t I?”
“They’re part of the natural order. Every beast has a predator. So must mankind. That’s the way of things. You must not interfere with them.”
“So you’re saying I can’t mark them for death?”
“No, they are already marked. See for yourself.”
But Nolo didn’t see only hear them because the darkness cloaked their movements. He pivoted, scanning the darkness beyond the falloff point of his crystal light and finally spotted the Huntress.
Find out what happens next in volume three of our *special* holiday presentation. Until then, our scribe and the cast of the Curse Breaker series wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!
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Until next time, dear reader
This is Ran, son of Sarn, “Player of Reindeer Games,” wishing you a great week! 😉
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