Sarn faces his worst nightmare. His son disappeared, and his best friend’s beaten and left for dead. To top it all off, the man who almost killed him five years ago might have his son.
Sarn can’t defeat him alone. Not when his magic will force him to obey that psychopath’s orders. But what choice does he have?
Once Indentured, a man can claim nothing as his own, not even his son. With his home gone, there’s nowhere left to hide. The truth is out, and it could destroy Sarn and his family.
Curse Breaker Revealed is the third book in the Revelation Arc. All secrets will be revealed. All lies will be exposed. The truth will out, and it will drag everyone into the light. No one will be spared. Who will survive the reckoning?
Find out in Curse Breaker Revealed.
Curse Breaker Revealed is the sequel to Curse Breaker Trapped.
Read on for a preview of Curse Breaker Revealed.
CURSE BREAKER REVEALED
By Melinda Kucsera
Chapter 1: A Chance Visit
Sarn followed his son through the corridor that led to the other side of the mountain where Inari and Nolo lived. But he didn’t hurry, and that wasn’t so Miren had enough time to finish his homework. Last Friday’s visit was short and awkward, and Sarn doubted this Friday would be any different. But worry twisted a knot in his gut despite that.
One Friday, Inari wouldn’t be home alone. Someone would visit, or Nolo would take a sick day, and he’d see Ran. It was inevitable now, and there was nothing Sarn could do about it except try to choose times when Nolo wouldn’t be home. But his hours were erratic since taking over for Jerlo a few weeks ago.
How long would the commander take off from work? Another week? Surely no more than that. I wish he’d go to work like normal so Nolo could keep regular hours again. Sarn hadn’t looked for Jerlo after their last run-in. I don’t want to talk to him.
“Stop, Papa. We’re here.” Ran jerked his arm backward.
Sarn blinked at the door in front of him. It wasn’t a long walk, but he couldn’t remember any of it. “I see that.”
“Are you sure? Because you would have walked into it if I hadn’t stopped you.” Ran looked at him with skeptical eyes, and he raised both brows in a silent question.
“Thank you for that. I don’t want to walk into any doors.” Sarn rubbed his face. He needed to think less and pay more attention to his surroundings.
“You’re welcome.” Ran knocked on the door in front of him. “Inari, are you home? We came like we promised.”
The door opened. “And I’m here like I promised.” Inari smiled at Ran, and he smiled back, but her voice had an edge meant for Sarn.
This was all his fault. “Is Nolo home?” Sarn rested a hand on Ran’s shoulder to stop him from entering.
“No, he was called to a meeting about an hour ago. Come inside.” Inari stepped away from the door. She wore the same blue dress as last Friday, but she’d pulled her hair back.
Thank God he made time yesterday to do some laundry, so he and Ran both wore clean green tunics and trousers today. I hope that proves I’m a good parent. But it might not, and the threat of discovery hung in the air like a storm about to break.
“Are we going inside? Because that’s where the cookies are.” Ran pried at the hand on his shoulder.
His son was right. They couldn’t stand here on the threshold all afternoon because Sarn promised to meet Nolo at twentieth bell. It was rude, and it wouldn’t help his case. What would help at this point?
Had they already passed the point of no return? Sarn shoved those thoughts aside before they could depress him. I won’t lose Ran. I’ll do whatever they ask to keep him. It was hard letting go, but Sarn did, one finger at a time, until Ran slipped out of his grasp and trudged inside.
Sarn swallowed his trepidation and followed his son. He still felt like something was wrong, but he couldn’t figure out what. The living room was neat and clean, and every rug, blanket, and pillow was in its place. Sarn stepped over a light-colored throw rug so his boots wouldn’t leave black marks on it. His magic didn’t sense anything amiss either when he queried it. But worry curled around his gut and squeezed it, despite the lack of evidence to support the uneasy feeling tensing him up.
“Did you make any cookies? I promised I’d bring Uncle Miren some.” Ran sniffed the air and smiled. Thankfully, he didn’t sense that anything was wrong. But the boy was too trusting.
“Yes, I did. Would you like one?” Inari gestured to the kitchen, but she didn’t take her eyes off the door.
Why was Inari so tense? Did she think he would hurt her? “Is everything okay?” Sarn rested a hand on his son’s shoulder again and stopped the boy from going any further into the apartment.
Ran glanced around. “I don’t see anybody else here. Why wouldn’t everything be okay?” But he stayed close to Sarn.
“I don’t know. That’s what I’m trying to find out.” Sarn called up his magic, but it didn’t stray far from his side because he was tired and tense. It just scanned the hallway they stood in. But that wasn’t helpful.
Ran backed up until he stepped on Sarn’s boots. “Are we in trouble?”
“I don’t know.” Sarn squeezed his son’s shoulder, but he wouldn’t find out if they were in trouble until Inari spoke.
“You can tell us what’s wrong. If there’s a monster here, Papa will get rid of it, and I’ll help.” Ran turned his cuteness on Inari and smiled.
That was the last thing she expected him to say and it melted her reserve. “There are no monsters here.”
Well, there might be just one, but Sarn kept that to himself because he felt like a monster for what he’d done to her.
“Do you know what always makes me feel better?” Ran tapped his chest.
“What?” Inari crouched to be on his level.
“Cookies. They make everything better. We should have some.” Ran bounced on his toes. All his worries fled at the thought of cookies.
Inari laughed and extended her hand. “And so we shall.”
Ran clasped her hand and slipped out of Sarn’s grasp again. They strode through the living room to the table at the edge of the kitchen. But Inari kept glancing at the door behind him. Was she waiting for someone? No, she couldn’t be. She promised not to tell anyone about Ran. A bad feeling sliced through Sarn. Were those footsteps in the hall?
“Are you expecting someone?” Sarn leaned against the couch. He should take his son and go. He’d fulfilled his promise, but fear froze his feet to the spot. What if he ran into whoever was coming in the hallway? There would be nowhere to hide Ran.
“Papa, are you okay? You got pale and quiet, and you only get like that when you’re scared. Are you scared, Papa?” Ran glanced back at him as he entered the kitchen. But the promised cookies spurred him on.
The outer door opened before Sarn could pull up his head map, and Ranispara strode in.
“Sorry I’m late. I came as soon as I could. Your note didn’t say what the problem was, just that it was urgent. So you’d better start talking. I need to get back out there. Inari? Where are you?” Ranispara stepped into the foyer. “Oh hello, Sarn. How are you? I’m glad you’re better, and who is this?” Ranispara crouched when Ran rushed over to say hello.
Sarn had told his son probably a thousand times not to talk to strangers, but the boy never listened to him. He watched the tragedy play out in slow motion, but there wasn’t anything he could do to stop it. Ran past by just out of reach. Maybe he could have used his magic to grab the boy, but Sarn didn’t call it, and it didn’t rush to his aid either.
Ran skidded to a halt in front of Ranispara, and her eyes widened at the sight of him. “Hi, I’m Ran. I’m his son.” Ran pointed at Sarn. “Who are you?” Ran thrust his hand out.
Ranispara shook it. “I’m Ranispara. I’m Inari’s friend, and I work with your father.” Her gaze sought him out. “Is he really your son?” She mouthed that question, so she didn’t offend Ran.
Sarn nodded as he dropped onto the couch and put his head in his hands. “You can’t tell anyone about him. They’ll take him away from me if you do, and I can’t live without him.”
“No. Nobody’s taking me away from you. You’re the best Papa in the world.” Ran crashed into his legs.
Damn it. He shouldn’t have said that in front of Ran, but it was the truth. Sarn put his arms around his son, but nothing would ever be the same. Too many people knew about him now. It was only a matter of time before everyone knew. Then they’d take the boy away from him.
“I’m sorry.” Inari rested a hand on his shoulder.
“What’s going on? What did I interrupt?” Ranispara rose and faced Inari.
“We have a bargain. He’ll come once a week with his son so I can make sure they’re both all right.” Inari gestured to them.
“Why wouldn’t we be?” Ran glared at them as he ticked his points off on his fingers. “Papa takes good care of me, and so does Uncle Miren. We play games. We read books, and sometimes we have adventures, but not lately because Papa is busy lighting crystals and doing other magical stuff.”
“I’m never too busy for you.” Sarn hugged his son.
“I know. But you’re too busy for adventures right now. And that’s okay because people need light, and you must light the crystals. When I get more magic, I’ll help you.” Ran patted his knee.
Sarn hoped that day never came. He couldn’t imagine his son with his magic. Sarn didn’t know what to do now, either. Should he extract the same promise from Ranispara?
“You don’t have to worry. I won’t tell anyone about him.” Ranispara sat across from Sarn.
“Do you promise?” Ran squirmed until he faced her.
“Yeah, I promise.” Ranispara leaned forward and winked at him.
And just like that, she was bound to her word. Sarn covered his face again with his hands. This time, he wasn’t the one who’d bound her. Ran had done it with his little magical gift, and Sarn needed to have a long talk with him about that.
“Promises are binding for mages,” Sarn reminded his son, even though it was too late.“I know.” Ran patted his knee again. “But you needed that promise, and you didn’t want to ask for it, so I did it for you. That’s what family’s for.” Ran shrugged, then wriggled out of his arms. “Can we have cookies now?”
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