A demon has possessed his twin, and Sarn must break its hold over her. But how can he when she’s in a distant land, reachable only by dying?
Nor is that Sarn’s only problem. He won back his magic, but it no longer trusts him and won’t come at his call. He must fix things with his magic to have any hope of freeing his twin sister before time runs out. She’s the only one who can stop Armageddon, but only if Sarn saves her first.
Curse Breaker Fallout picks up where both His Angelic Keeper Tempted and Curse Breaker Hidden leave off. It takes our heroes on their most personal journey yet. Without trust, there’s no magic or love and both are at stake in the crossover that will change everything for every character forever.
Lines will be drawn. Sides will be chosen. A war to end all wars is coming. Who will survive it?
Trouble in the Flat (Chapter 1 of Curse Breaker Fallout)
[Takes place during His Angelic Keeper Tempted]
Darkness surrounded Sarn. Where am I? No light shined from his eyes. Why weren’t they glowing? They should be. I got my magic back. So why isn’t it obliterating the darkness? My magic knows I hate it.
Sarn extended both arms and probed the surrounding area, but there was nothing in front of him or on either side. Where am I?
Green light finally broke up the darkness, but it didn’t illuminate anything. Sarn spun and faced a green man-shaped cloud of earth magic behind him. It stood as tall as him. “Why aren’t you inside me?” Sarn touched his chest, but it was whole, despite the empty feeling inside.
“You’re broken.” His magic folded its glowing arms.
“I’m not broken anymore.” Sarn rubbed his face. “This must be a dream because we already had this conversation.” But he didn’t wake up.
“We didn’t finish it.”
“What do you mean? You came back. I thought I resolved everything.” Sarn let his hands drop to his sides. “I defeated the Ægaldar, and the Adversary disappeared. What else is there besides the seals my sister’s dealing with?” But that had all happened three days ago. Plenty of time had passed for something else to go wrong. I hope nothing did.
Had the Adversary returned to torture him or his family? Sarn shivered. The Adversary had tried to take over his brother and Sovvan too. What if that fiend had gotten to her? Could he reach me through our bond?
Sarn ran his hands through his hair. How would he know if that had happened? Sovvan had disappeared with those angels, but she hadn’t returned since then.
“No, he’s not here. He can’t bother you for seven years.” His magic shook its glowing head.
Sarn didn’t like the sound of that, but what could he do about it? This mage thing was complicated, and he still had so much to learn. “What happens in seven years?”
“You’ll face the Question again, and you must decide what your truth is.”
“You’re my truth. I thought we settled that in the pit.” Sarn rested a hand on his heart where the bond to his twin dwelt. Are you all right, Sovvan? His magic hadn’t said anything about her.
Nor did she reply. Sarn tamped down the worry flooding him. Sovvan was busy. The Adversary might not be trying to take over her mind and body. In case that devil was, Sarn closed his eyes and sent good thoughts to her. I believe in you, sis. If the devil speaks, don’t listen.
But Sarn had listened. He hadn’t meant to, and he’d regretted it right after, but the damage had been done.
“What do you want?” His magic paced a tight circle around him.
“Right now? I want my twin sister back, so we can catch up.” But that wasn’t the right answer. Nor was it possible. Sarn cursed when his magic turned away.
“Then get her back. We’ll finish this later.”
“Wait,” Sarn reached for his earth magic, but it floated away from him. “I need you too.”
“Do you really?” his magic asked in a strangled voice.
“Yes, I said so in the pit, and I can’t lie.” Sarn extended his hand to his magic, but it still had its back to him.
“Then why haven’t you used me?” His magic stared into the darkness.
Sarn opened and closed his mouth, but no words came out. Why hadn’t he used it? Sarn touched his head. “I have a concussion. I’m supposed to rest, not use magic.” Or so Thing kept telling him.
“Are you sure that’s the only reason?” His magic shook its head as it vanished, leaving Sarn alone in the darkness he hated.
So much had happened. He’d lost his magic, found a baby dragon, reunited with his twin, lost her, found someone who could teach him magic, regained his magic, contained a bunch of magic-stealing rocks, met an angel, fought with the Devil, destroyed an ancient monster, and he’d somehow survived it all. But his own magic didn’t trust him anymore. Why do these things happen to me?
Just thinking about the events of the last week made his head hurt as the dream faded but not the darkness. Sarn opened his eyes, but no light shined on the ceiling because his eyes weren’t glowing. Had his magic left him again?
No, it’s still there. Your eyes aren’t glowing because you’re not using magic right now, Thing said in his head because that OwlCat listened to all his thoughts and commented on them. Didn’t you learn that? It should have been your first lesson in magic. A mage’s eyes glow, so others will know when he’s working magic.
Sarn didn’t answer because he didn’t want another lecture. Instead, he squeezed his eyes closed and pretended to fall back to sleep. But that didn’t fool Thing.
You can’t avoid me forever, that owl said in his head again.
Sarn clenched his fists because Thing was right. But he could avoid that mind reader until morning. Sarn gritted his teeth. I don’t have to talk. I’m not my sister. Sovvan was the talkative one.
Sarn rubbed his chest. The wound dealt by her death was knitting together, making him strong like her. She should have been there to celebrate their victory, but she was stuck dealing with another problem. Is someone helping you save those seals? Or are you on your own?
Sovvan was a capable woman, so why did his mind keep casting her as a damsel in distress? Was it because so many stories relegated women to that status? Or was his sister in danger? It didn’t help that she wore a long white dress like a virgin sacrifice in an old tale, and she wandered around like a wide-eyed innocent.
Oh Fate, the more he thought of her, the more he pictured her as a prisoner in a dark place like the one in his dream. Was she in prison right now? That would explain the strange dream he’d just had.
Are you all right, Sovvan? Send me a sign before I worry myself to death. Sarn wished their bond had more information to share.
An owl hooted by the open window. It was probably Thing returning from a night of hunting. He could still talk in people’s minds even when he wasn’t in the flat, and that just wasn’t fair. Claws clicked on the deep stone sill as Thing or one of his offspring landed on it.
Would you give me up to get your sister back? His magic appeared in the darkness behind his closed eyes as a man-shaped cloud and walked away before he could answer.
Great, now his magic was talking in his mind too. That dark place reformed as Sarn reached for his magic and fell back into the same dream as before.
“Is this better?” His magic asked. It was still talking in his mind, but it sounded like real speech.
Sarn nodded. At least this way, he could pretend they were having a proper conversation. “No, I won’t give you up again. I hated not having magic. It was horrible.” Sarn shuddered in remembrance. “Nothing could convince me to give you up again. You’re stuck with me.”
His magic stopped. “You say that now while you’re staying with a family of magical creatures, but will you still think that when you’re back amongst people who don’t have magic?”
“Yes, I want people to accept me for who I am, magic and all. I’m a mage.” Sarn pounded a fist on his chest. “I’m not a normal man, and I never will be. I’ve accepted that.” He wished people would accept that too.
But those closest had abandoned him, first his unknown father, then his mother and sister. Ran’s mother had vanished. Friends had turned against him. Shade had died, and the list went on.
“But Sovvan came back, and so did I.” His magic floated closer.
“But she left again.” And that abandonment cut his heart. Sarn rubbed his chest. Was Sovvan all right? Sarn had heard nothing from her since she’d vanished, and that was three days ago, by his reckoning.
“But it wasn’t her fault.” His magic floated closer until they were almost touching. “She’ll return when she can.”
“Will she?” Sarn wanted to believe that as he replayed his last meeting with his twin in his head, more to torture himself than to find answers. But maybe there was a clue he’d missed. He’d been concussed then. According to Thing, that concussion was still healing.
Three Days Ago
Sovvan appeared out of thin air the moment Sarn turned to blast a tentacle shooting toward him. He hadn’t seen how she’d arrived.
“J.C., where are you? I heard you talking, and that sounded suspiciously like a goodbye,” Sovvan shouted from behind him in that giant underground cavern.
Sarn wrapped his arms around her when she splashed past him and stopped her before she stepped off the edge of the cliff.
“Thanks for the quick save, bro.” But she’d gotten an eyeful of what was down there. “Yikes. That’s one ugly creature.” Sovvan shivered in his arms.
And Sarn hadn’t let go. He’d dragged her out of the way of a flailing tentacle covered in white-glowing Andurai and asked about his son because he’d left the boy with his twin sister before the monster had grabbed him. Without his earth magic, Sarn hadn’t known where the child was and fear for the boy had eaten at him for the moment it had taken Sovvan to answer him.
She’d patted his arm and told him Bear had his son. Bear was in Nulthir’s flat too since he lived in Ran’s stuffed toy. But he’d been quiet these last three days. Sarn didn’t know why. Bear was strange, but he’d gone out of his way to protect them more than once, so Sarn would let him tell his tale in his own time. But that was now.
Then, relief had swept through Sarn upon hearing his son was all right and far from the monster in the pit. Sarn had hugged his sister for that miracle, then released her.
Her eyes had widened in alarm at something. Then Sovvan had grabbed the air beside Sarn and addressed it.
An armored angel had appeared in that space, complete with a glowing halo, and his sister had gripped her arm. She was his guardian angel according to Sovvan, and her name was Misriah. “The second seal has broken. Come on. We must stop him from breaking the others,” Misriah had said.
What did that mean? Sarn still had no idea, and no one to ask either. Nor had that angel explained.
“But I have to help my brother defeat this monster first. He can’t do that without his earth magic, and I still have it.” Sovvan had pounded her fist on her chest.
“But not for much longer. Look.” Misriah had pointed as the two women turned to face the stack of tentacles trying to squeeze through the giant crack in the wall.
Sarn had followed their gazes to another angel, carrying his boss, Jerlo, the commander of the Rangers. The new angel had glided to a stop nearby and deposited her stunned charge, then converged on Misriah and his sister. This new angel was as armed and armored as his guardian angel. In her white robes, Sovvan had looked like a damsel in distress next to them, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get that image out of his mind.
I must find out what happened to her and save her if I can. Sarn didn’t know what he’d do if he couldn’t save her. That didn’t bear thinking about.
Jerlo’s guardian angel had grabbed Sovvan’s other arm before his sister could protest, and all three women had disappeared without saying a word.
You’ll see her again, Thing said in his mind, echoing what he’d said in that cavern three days ago.
And Sarn wondered the same thing now as then. How do you know that?
Get Curse Breaker Fallout to read what happens next.