The More Epic Version, Revised

Enjoy this epic fantasy adventure filled with forbidden magic and found families by Melinda Kucsera.

A Reluctant Mage

Sarn wants to be like everyone else, not a mage with a power he can barely control. But he must hide that power in a country run by people who want to destroy all magic.

A Dark Mystery

While on a routine patrol in the enchanted forest, Sarn finds some dead travelers. The forest has three rules, and those who break them die. But strange magic surrounds the dead, unlike any Sarn has ever encountered, and the enchanted trees are quick to cover up the crime. Sarn suspects there’s more to the deaths than broken rules.  Before he can investigate, he stumbles into a trap

An Epic Quest

Sarn wakes in the enchanted forest, far from home, with nothing but his magic, the clothes on his back, and the three rules he must not break if he wants to survive. Monsters and murderous trees, twisted by the same dark magic he found earlier, stand between him and home.

To save his family, Sarn must unravel a mystery before it claims any more lives,  but he’s never done anything like that before. How will Sarn solve this deadly mystery and defeat its architect before he loses everyone he loves?

Curse Breaker Enchanted features two fantasy adventures, starring a loving father and his young son set in an immersive world of intrigue, dangerous monsters, missing heroes, and magic.

Scroll down to read the first chapter!

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Chapter 1

“Sorry,” Sarn said as he collided with someone burlier than he was. The unlucky passerby struck the magical field that always surrounded him and hopefully bounced harmlessly off it.

But Sarn couldn’t stop and check. If he did, someone might see his green-glowing eyes and report him. Magic was illegal, and he had far too much of it running around inside his too-tall body. Enough to warrant the death penalty if anyone in power ever found out.

Delve down deep. Delve into the roots of the mountain, urged the magic sharing his skin.

“Why?” Sarn asked his magic without breaking stride. He had to reach his master before the next bell rang or else. Sarn checked the map scrolling across the back of his eyelids, seeking a convenient gap, but saw only a thousand—

Nine-hundred and nine, snapped his magic after performing a quick count of the people icons crowding his head map, which it maintained.

“Whatever,” Sarn shot back. There were way too many people between him and his goal, forcing Sarn to slow down, so he didn’t mow down everyone in his path. “Why do you want me to go downstairs? My family’s down there. Are they in trouble?” Fear gripped Sarn as he patted the bodies ahead of him, searching for a way through.

The Litherians—his magic said as if the name of that long-vanished race explained anything. But his magic seemed to think it did.

“Not that again.” Sarn shook his head. The Litherians were a bunch of stone mages who’d carved out a city inside the cone of a mountain, and their statuary fixation complicated his commute.

Sarn cursed at a wall of bodies, halting his progress. They funneled through a narrow gap between two giant statues ahead. At least that’s what the icons on his map said they were doing.

While he waited for the crowd to move, he might as well find out why his magic cared about the builders of this place. “Why are you interested in the Litherians? They’ve been dead for centuries.”

You could find out what happened to them, his magic taunted, but it didn’t offer a reason for Sarn to care.

The Litherians likely lost their way in the maze they’d left behind and starved to death. But Sarn didn’t feel like arguing with his magic anymore, so he kept his theory to himself. He needed to get to work, not search the bowels of the mountain for clues about a legendary race of dead mages.

Besides, someone might hear him talk to himself and get the wrong idea. Sarn felt a break in the crowd ahead and squeezed through it, only to walk into another man. “Sorry, sorry,” Sarn hurriedly apologized, but the crowd still hadn’t moved. What was the holdup now?

Unnatural! screamed his magic.

Sarn ignored it as another gap opened to his left. He slipped through it, but only gained a couple more feet toward his goal. Damn, this was taking too long. More grumbling accompanied Sarn. It was likely the same warning again. His magic liked to repeat itself until he gave in to its demands or something distracted it.

“What do you want me to do?” Sarn asked his magic when its grumbling continued. It was a low but insistent drone sawing on his last nerve. Sarn didn’t care if the people he squeezed past heard him talk to his magic. He just wanted it to shut up, so he could concentrate on locating his master before the next bell rang. “I can’t just drop everything to find the unnatural thing upsetting you. I have somewhere I have to be.”

His magic didn’t care about the oaths he’d sworn until it had to enforce them, and it would if he didn’t hurry. His overactive magical gift pressed against his closed eyes, begging for release. Well, he’d show it who was boss. Sarn pushed his magic down while he felt for a way past the bodies in front of him, but his hands just encountered more people, and none of them were moving—double damn.

Unnatural! His magic pulled at him, knocking Sarn off balance.

The ground trembled, and nine-hundred people panicked. Okay, fine, nine-hundred and nine, Sarn corrected himself when his magic protested. It didn’t like inaccuracies of any sort.

Shouts of “earthquake” finally motivated the crowd to move. They shoved past, jostling Sarn in their haste to exit this tunnel.

If this was an earthquake, then he had to go back. I must save… Sarn slammed into one of those damned statues before that fearful thought could complete. Those oversized marble annoyances were everywhere he turned, surrounding him. His cloak caught on one, and Sarn tugged it free. Had he wandered into an installation? He must have because stone-cold hands brushed across his burning eyes and the magic fighting to escape his hold, and that power ignited a fierce green blaze inside him.

Let us out! His magic pushed against his eyes, opening them as Sarn stumbled into the cold, hard arms of another statue, and they closed around him.

A slice of white marble slashed across the emerald glow, wreathing a sea of heads. “No!” Sarn squeezed his eyes closed and tried to slip out of the statue’s grasp, but its hand squeezed his arm. “No.” Sarn had to get away. I must save… that thought cut off as his awareness winnowed away. It shrank down to the stone hand, grabbing his hand as his knees buckled.

Where the hell were his damned gloves? Sarn had promised to wear them all the time. Why hadn’t he put them on?

Let us out, begged his magic as Sarn slid away.

His awareness seeped out of his ungloved hand into the statue holding him, then into Mount Eredren itself, and finally beyond it to the darkness reeling Sarn in as a dozen voices repeated five unintelligible syllables—eam’meye erator. They hammered a warning into his fading consciousness.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! shouted his magic right in his ear as the world blackened and silence fell. But Sarn still didn’t know what was so wrong.

***

The ground stilled, calming the crowd. No one saw a statue pivot on its plinth and deposit a shaking young man behind its base. Nor did anyone see a green glow snake down his scarred cheek when his seizure ebbed.

***

Sarn woke up in the corner. Magic blanketed him. Maybe it had protected him from discovery, but he doubted it. How long had he been lying there?

Long enough for the mountain to calm down and the crowd too, by the sound of it. Just in case it hadn’t, Sarn kept his eyes closed to conceal their emerald glow, so he didn’t freak out any of the people passing by his hiding spot, and his magic didn’t fight him. That was a pleasant change, but it wouldn’t last. His magic was contrary by nature, and he was borrowing trouble again.

Sarn put those thoughts out of mind and hoped his family was okay. He had no way to know if they weren’t. He couldn’t go to them, not while the oaths he’d sworn tugged at his mind and changed every thought to what he should do—find his master, a Ranger called Nolo. But his family—Sarn sat there torn between his duty and his family as conflicting promises warred within him.

May the Fates protect his family until he could. Sarn pressed a hand to his aching brow and winced when his head map expanded from a two-dimensional icon-rich line drawing to a three-dimensional wireframe. Like he needed those extra details. They just pointed out how much of the mountain stood between him and his waiting master. Sometimes, his magic was a little too enthusiastic.

“What just happened?” Sarn asked his magic, but it had gone mute again. What a wonderful time for it to stop talking to him. Oh well, he needed to get moving.

Sarn felt a high-relief carving of some historical event or other and searched it for a handhold, then hauled all six-and-a-half-feet of himself off the floor. He almost fell flat on his face again as information slammed into him, providing the tonnage, context, and type of stone he’d just touched. Damn magic, couldn’t it wait until he was steadier before drowning him in so many unnecessary details?

Sarn gritted his teeth and sifted through that information, seeking what had disturbed his magic until a sharp ache cut across his brow, forcing him to stop. He stuffed his hands into his pockets despite the protests from his magic, and information quit pummeling him. Relieved, Sarn pushed into the growing throng, letting it sweep him into its flow. He didn’t know what had just happened, nor did he have time to figure that out now.

His master’s green icon blinked on his head map, reminding Sarn of his promise. Unfortunately, the guy kept moving. Where the hell was Nolo going?

Sarn left the crowd behind and slipped into a side passage and hooked a right off the north-south transept. The sudden turn screwed with his balance, and he wavered until the visuals projected onto the backs of his eyelids stabilized. But in his haste, Sarn struck something hard, a sculpture perhaps, judging by the shape of the wire-framed heap to his left.

The Litherians had folded rock to imitate paper’s crisp folds and silk’s graceful drape while sculpting their vertical city. Then they’d wrapped five balconies around said mountain fortress, adding extra space for their statuary obsession, and more obstacles to dodge.

An arrow flashed on his map, and Sarn turned toward it, then had to avoid another statue. That arrow now pointed to a balustrade and beyond it to the meadow spreading out from Mount Eredren’s feet. Ah, so his master had business in the enchanted forest tonight. Maybe the problem his magic had complained about was out there. But intercepting that man had just become harder.

Sarn bypassed a column supporting the veranda above and stepped over a raised vegetable patch with care. Its young shoots might become part of his dinner one day. Footsteps, out of sync with his quiet tread, accompanied a new icon flaring on his map. Uh-oh, someone was coming this way. Had that someone followed him?

Why would anyone follow him? Sarn couldn’t think of a reason other than the obvious. Someone must have seen his eyes. Tonight just got better and better. Sarn cursed his ill-luck. Well, he needed to go down. Sarn climbed onto the coping and jumped before anything else went wrong tonight. Thank the Litherians, their balconies overlapped each other, and they widened as they descended. Otherwise, he’d be in serious trouble.

Magic sheathed Sarn in green light as it reached for the balcony below, turning it malleable. After falling several stories, Sarn landed in a crouch on a stone bench. His magic forced the bench under his boots to flex and absorb the energy from his fall. The mountain liked when he used his magic.

What a scary thought that was. It kept popping into his head at the oddest moments. But that couldn’t be right. Why would an inanimate pile of rocks care if he used his magic or not? It wouldn’t, so he was just being silly and worse, he was wasting time.

Sarn scanned the balcony, found no one there, and relaxed a little. Since he was alone, he opened his eyes, and their glow dyed the balcony, and its statuary, green. Sarn blinked until his map minimized, and the flagstones lost their polygonal afterimage. After a brief internal struggle, his map parked itself in his peripheral vision, but it continued to update itself with the best route to his master. At its prompting, Sarn turned to face the balustrade again.

The wind tugged at his cloak as it whispered five syllables, eam’meye erator. It repeated them three times, then faded out. Sarn hopped off the bench. What had the wind just said? Nothing good, he’d bet.

Beyond the balustrade, a red orb bled onto the serrated horizon, and the metallic stench of blood wrenched his guts. Darkness rippled through the enchanted forest, where a silent army of trees waited for something or someone. Their eyeless stare focused on Sarn, making his skin crawl and his magic circle him, alert for trouble.

Thousands of branches waved in the lowering darkness, beckoning him onward. Or was that a trick of the wind? Sarn backed away from the balustrade and straight into trouble.

A warning sounded in his head, but it was too late. Trouble had already found Sarn.

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