Prologue

So, decently big news: We finished the first draft of Book Two, which we have entitled The Curse. We have already jumped in to working on the first revision. Today, however, we have decided to focus on the Prologue for it so that we could share it and tease everyone a little.

Enjoy!

Despite the aches and pains of having run through the entire night, they were still running, breathing heavily from both the exertion and fear. Arcydis wasn’t certain how far they had run, but the trees of the forest were starting to thin out. In some of the breaks between the tree trunks, Arcydis could see the rising sun to their right.

A distant, angry howl behind them made them move faster, despite the fatigue that was setting in. After just another moment, the trees were completely gone. Both of them stopped from the sudden change of scenery and looked about, wide-eyed, breathing heavily. The clearing was a little over two hundred feet wide, but it felt as if it stretched out for miles before the tree line began again.

“We’re… We’re almost there. We have… We have to keep going,” Marath, the boy’s mother, said through heavy breaths.

Another angry howl sounded from behind them. This time, it was much closer. The birds that hadn’t been bothered by the pair running past them now took flight at the sound of the hungry animal chasing after the mother and son. Marath glanced down at Arcydis again, trying to keep the fear from her yellowy-orange eyes. The howl sounded once more, sending dread coursing through her entire body.

“Hurry!” Marath said as she began running again, pulling her son along.

Arcydis was hard-pressed to make his shorter legs match his mother’s frantic speed. Somehow, he managed to keep up with her despite the feeling of wanting to collapse in the clearing and take in several long, deep breaths.

Crossing the clearing in a matter of seconds, they were forced to slide to a stop. Marath’s hand darted out and pulled her son back. Momentarily, he found himself staring straight down at the clear blue Autav River that wound lazily through the canyon several hundred feet below.

“Mom?” Arcydis asked, hearing the sounds of the pursuer behind them. He stared down from where he stood at the edge of the cliff, no longer in imminent danger of falling. His heart was still racing. From where they stood far above the river, they could see that this point in the river was wide, deep, and slow.

“We’re going to have to try,” she said, hoping she sounded calm and confident despite the rapid beating of her heart. She stroked the boy’s unkempt black hair out of his face, watching it fall right back over his eyes with a small, sad smile. Arcydis looked down again and shifted uneasily. “We must, son.”

“What if he follows us down?” he asked, still staring at the lazy river.

“He won’t,” she said with conviction. “I know him well enough to be certain of that. He hates the water more than he hates me,” she said, hating how her voice quivered.

Another howl and the sound of moving trees made both of them look back into the forest where the trees swayed slightly with the breeze. Marath cupped her son’s chin in her hand and made him look at her. “You can do this. Make sure to hit the water feet first, exhale slowly when you’re under the water, and kick off the bottom as hard as you can. Start the change just before you jump. That’ll make hitting the water hurt less.”

Arcydis stared into his mother’s yellowy-orange eyes, the same color as his own. He nodded and took in a steadying breath. Marath looked at him one more time before standing up straight. Determination settled in her features. Her body twitched slightly as she started to change. Her face began to elongate as she stepped to the edge of the cliff and jumped. In spite of himself, Arcydis gasped when his mother disappeared from sight.

A noise behind him made the boy look back into the trees. The large mass of brown fur that was streaked with gray, crashed into the clearing as the werewolf running on all four legs knocked one of the smaller trees on its side. The small tree snapped off at the base and crashed against the ground next to the creature that had paused when it had seen the boy staring back at him wild-eyed and holding his breath. With a snarl, the beast charged forward again, determined to catch its prey.

Arcydis glanced down at the river where his mother was, somewhere in its deep blue waters, and then back at the creature. “Goodbye, father,” he said as he stepped off the cliff.

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