One mage will decide the fate of all. But he lost half his magic…
To defeat the ancient monster destroying his home, Sarn must regain the rest of his magic. But unlocking that power won’t be easy with a concussion, and the dark lord on his trail.
Sarn’s never needed allies this badly or a healer, but his friends are fighting their own battles. And the rocks in the monster’s lair will kill everyone unless Sarn stops them from stealing everyone’s life force.
Will anyone survive if Sarn falls? Find out in Curse Breaker Hidden.
Scroll up to get it now if you like dragons, monsters of unusual size, enchanted trees, mind-talking creatures, heroes to root for, warrior angels, demons, magic, and a little humor with your 462 pages of mayhem.
Curse Breaker Hidden is an epic fantasy adventure, starring a loving father, his young son, and the people and magical creatures they’ve befriended. The book’s set in an immersive world of danger, intrigue, and dragons. Order Curse Breaker Hidden now.
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It’s a prequel, but it shouldn’t be read until after Curse Breaker Hidden.
Run, Dragon, Run
Mama? Are you all right? Saveen charged across the meadow while he waited for a reply. He wished he could drop to all fours and run all out, but too many people occupied the meadow to risk it—sunbathers, children playing games, picnickers, Rangers, visitors, and so on.
The setting sun baked Saveen’s scales as he rounded the mountain and angled for the southern trail. Summer was on the way, and it was making sure everyone knew it. Or maybe it just felt that way because he was a reptile pretending to be a human child.
Without Sarn to open the secret door on the north side of the mountain, Saveen had to take the most trafficked route inside. It was also the longest way to his goal since he’d have to take that winding trail up the mountain’s south face. Then he must navigate the mile-long maze inside before he could finally enter the stronghold-turned-city proper and search for a staircase. It would take hours to do all that, and even more hours to cross the Lower Quarters to the abandoned mines where his mother made her lair.
Desperate to reach her, Saveen pushed himself to run faster, but it was no use. His legs weren’t designed for long-distance running.
“Saveen? What are you doing out here?” Will jogged up alongside him, startling him. Saveen caught himself before he tripped over the loose stones in his path. He was shorter than Sarn but taller than Saveen, though.
“I went with Sarn, but I couldn’t cross the inner ring of standing stones. I wanted to see the Queen Tree, but it wouldn’t let me.” Saveen gestured to the two rings of standing stones at the edge of the meadow about a mile away, and the whole story spilled out between pants as his run slowed to a walk.
Talk of his recent misadventure depressed Saveen, and tears gathered in his eyes. Mama, speak to me, please, Saveen sent into the space between their minds. Silence met his call, but her magical gag stopped his story before he could mention her. Mama guarded her privacy, even when she wasn’t physically present. Saveen didn’t mind the spell that prevented him from talking about her because it protected her from the bad people who hunted magical creatures for sport.
Will folded his arms over his homespun tunic and tucked his ink-stained fingers out of sight. “Let me get this straight. Sarn was in trouble with someone called ‘the Adversary,’ and he asked you for help? No offense, but this is Sarn we’re talking about. He prefers to deal with things on his own.”
And that tendency hurt Will. The proof was there in the defensive set of his shoulders and in his soft brown eyes—the anger and frustration of caring for someone who’d been knocked about so much, he couldn’t readily accept help or care from others without looking for what had motivated it.
“He didn’t ask me,” Saveen said, speaking to that hurt. “I did what Shade used to do—I just tagged along. It helped that there was a mob and a shadow creature chasing us, so he didn’t have time to argue.” Saveen shrugged and hoped Will understood. But Will didn’t. His friend looked even more put out.
“He didn’t try to stop you?” Will furrowed his brow, and a lock of brown hair fell into his eyes. He kept his hair a little longer than Sarn. But he was apprenticed to the Harbormaster, not the Rangers, so he had less rules to follow.
“No, but he had his hands full with Ran. And I don’t think he wanted to stop me.” Saveen rocked back on his heels. He didn’t like where this was going.
“Why not?” Now, Will was angry at him. His lips compressed into a bloodless line, and his gaze hardened.
Saveen searched for words. What had he said to upset his friend? Saveen reviewed the conversation so far but couldn’t find anything that could have pissed Will off. Will was usually the calm one. Why was he flying off the handle like this? It must be a human thing. Since Saveen was a baby dragon wearing a human-looking skin, not a real human child, he was at a loss. He spread his hands. “Because Sarn liked having me there to watch Ran. I think he always wants help, but he doesn’t know how to ask for it.”
Will’s mouth dropped open, but no words emerged.
“If you want to go with him, just go. That’s what Shade did. Shade never asked Sarn for permission to do anything. Shade just showed up and tagged along, and that’s what I did.” Saveen drew himself up to his full height. He was still shorter than Will, but that would change as he grew. After all, Mama had to be about a hundred feet long from snout to rump. He couldn’t even guess how long her prehensile tail was, but it was long enough to pluck him out of trouble a time too many.
Mama? Still no answer. A tear slid down his face, but he wiped it away. Saveen didn’t have time to talk. Mama could be in danger. “I must go now. I have something I need to do.” Saveen turned to go around his lanky friend, but Will stayed with him.
“For Sarn?” Will asked, and there was suspicion in his voice and eyes.
Saveen shook his head. “No, Sarn needs more powerful help than me.”
“If things are as stirred up as you’ve said, you shouldn’t go down to the Lower Quarters. You should stay here until I get off work. Can this errand wait until sundown?”
They both glanced at the gold coin refusing to set. With the summer solstice still a week away, the days were still lengthening and starting to feel endless to those on the day shift. Will’s shoulders slumped. Full dark was still at least an hour away maybe more. So was quitting time. Only Sarn was unaffected by the longer days. His shift started at twentieth bell and ended whenever his masters dismissed him regardless of the season.
“This errand can’t wait. I’m sorry. I’ll be careful.” Saveen tried to sidestep his friend, but Will stepped into his path again then froze as something on the river caught his attention.
Saveen glanced hopefully over his shoulder. The silhouette of a four-masted ship rounded the bend between here and Racine.
“I’d better go. That ship might bear the person I’ve been waiting all day for. If you pass a runner, send him my way. There’s eight on call today, and they all have yellow sashes.”
Saveen nodded. “If you see Sarn—”
“I won’t. He’s not talking to me,” Will snapped as he strode away.
“He will. He needs friends right now.”
“Yeah, well, I’ll believe it when I see it. Take care and leave word with one of the Foundlings, so I know you’re okay.” Will jogged to the harbormaster’s three-story office building by the dock and back to work.
“I can’t do that. I’m sorry, my friend,” Saveen said into the wind cooling his skin, but Will didn’t hear his whispered apology. Saveen waved when Will turned to check on him, then picked up the pace until he was trotting again.
Running on two legs instead of four required good balance, but too much of it sent pains shooting up his back. I’m coming, Mama. It just might take me a while to reach you. Please hang on. You’re all I have in this world, and I need you, Saveen sent to her and hoped she heard him.
Saveen hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but he was still only a baby in dragon years, and all the toil had been too much for him. When he moved, his legs were still heavy from all the walking and sharp pains shot up them straight into his spine. Tears tracked down his scaly face. His glamour was fading too. There wasn’t enough magic left in Saveen to hold it in place.
Scared, alone, and hungry, Saveen had curled up, too tired to make the climb down the staircase. It was too narrow for his wings to fit, so gliding down had been out of the question. There were too many stairs, and all of them were tiny triangles barely wide enough to fit a human foot, let alone a baby dragon’s, which was much larger. He’d done it before, but that had been up with Sarn there to catch him with his magic if he fell. But Sarn wasn’t here.
Saveen could try to jump down to a landing, but the staircase was a dark spiral. If he missed the landing, Saveen might tumble head-over-tail to the bottom and break something. His bones were a lot stronger than a regular human’s, but Saveen was still only a baby, so they didn’t have the tensile strength of steel yet, like Mama’s bones.
His wings were delicate. They were made of skin and muscle membranes. He’d draped them over him like a blanket when he’d fallen asleep. Saveen sat on the landing and considered those stairs again. There had to be a faster way to descend to the Lower Quarters than by climbing.
Saveen regarded his claws. They were good for slashing, but they were a baby’s talons. Could they hold his weight? Maybe he should try descending those twisting steps while clinging to the wall by his finger and toe-claws until he was closer to the bottom, just in case they couldn’t. His claws looked so little compared to the rest of him and fragile. Maybe climbing wasn’t such a good idea either.
That left descending step by careful step the way humans did because those dark steps weren’t wide enough for him to creep down them on four legs instead of two. Heaving a tired sigh, Saveen pushed up and kept one hand on the wall. He sucked his thumb for comfort as he stepped down.
A loud boom reverberated through the stairwell. Uh-oh. Saveen hopped back onto the landing and stared upward at a collapsing wall. It broke apart, and Saveen ducked and covered his head with his arms and his tail.
Rocks ricocheted off the wall enclosing the staircase and skittered down the steps. From somewhere above, a war cry echoed in the silence, and Saveen hunkered down half covered in dust and rock fragments. Thankfully, his strong, flexible scales had protected him from harm. They were another advantage of being a dragon.
Saveen cracked an eye open and stared through a hole in the stairwell at a much larger hole. Did that other hole go all the way down to the Lower Quarters? Even if it didn’t, it would get him closer to his goal. Best of all, he wouldn’t have to climb anymore. He’d better check it out.
But his sixth sense kept him hunkered down as danger warnings shrilled along his nerves, tightening the ball he’d curled into. Concentrated evil was close by. He had to see if the evil entity he’d sensed had seen him. Saveen opened his eyes again and was glad they were brown and dull still. Eventually, he’d shed his baby scales for his adult coloring, which would be more vibrant because of the magic inside him. His magic was a little flame in his heart that maintained the illusion that made him look human.
But that illusion had stopped working during his nap, and he’d lost his head covering. Saveen didn’t wear clothes in the summer under his illusion, so all his scales were showing. He could drape his wings over his shoulders like a cloak and cover himself, but his wings looked like what they were, and there was no hiding his face. He peered through the debris camouflaging him at a giant black skull wreathed in flames falling through the hole in the ceiling. Its mouth was wide enough to eat a person—or a baby dragon—in one bite.
Saveen stared at it in horror. The huge skull had a black rope clenched in its teeth, but the rope divided into two sections. Somehow that skull had stuck the rope through the chests of two struggling victims. One was a skeleton in a white robe with white wings and the other was a man-shaped blob of viscous black fluid that kept stuffing its hands into its chest to remove the rope and failing to grasp it. Saveen rubbed his eyes. Am I imagining this?
The skull, which was cackling, and its captives disappeared behind a section of a broken wall. Saveen wriggled out from under the debris covering him and crept off the landing through the jagged hole punched into the wall enclosing the staircase. It was just large enough to admit him after a careful scan of the area beyond it. The giant skull had vanished and so had its two captives. Obviously, the strange trio had descended into the gigantic hole in the floor. Even Mama might fit through that hole, and she had a hundred-foot wingspan.
Had part of the stronghold collapsed? No, that was impossible because the stronghold was inside a mountain. Sarn had said it was quite sturdy on several occasions, and he would know since his magic had an affinity for stones.
Saveen gawked at the destruction. Everything in sight had been smashed to pieces. He didn’t hear any moans or see any bodies, but he also didn’t know what people used this level for. It might be full of storerooms or workrooms. Both would be abandoned at this hour. Movement caught his attention, and Saveen froze.
Two figures wearing green uniforms huddled together on the other side of that cavernous hole. They looked like Rangers. One helped the other up. As soon as they turned their backs on him, Saveen rushed to the edge of that gigantic hole and looked down at a frightening sight. More tentacles than he could count squirmed around in the debris down there. But thank God the skull monster was gone.
Saveen plucked up his courage and jumped. Mama was down there. He extended his stubby wings and sailed down toward an underground river and the Lower Quarters. Lots of tentacles slithered over the piles of debris covering the ground while a bunch more arched over something happening on the riverbank, but Saveen couldn’t see what.
Could he reach the ground and hide before that creature noticed him? It didn’t seem to have any eyes, or none Saveen could see, but its tentacles were striking something. They must have some way of sensing things.
Mama had always told him to avoid things he didn’t understand, and that sounded like great advice right now. Several tentacles swung in his direction. How had they sensed him?
Get Curse Breaker Hidden to find out what happens next.