Prologue

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Panic. Chaos. Fear. This is what you feel when you are being hunted.

Gasping for air, a man wearily braced himself against the wall of a ramshackle building the Razorback District had become so notorious for. He felt his heart thumping through his chest. To him, each beat sounded like blasts from a gun, certain to give him away. Horrifying feelings slithered across his skin like a smattering of creepy-crawling bugs. He slowly peered from the alley. The street was clear. It was only him.

Cautiously he left the protection of the darkened passage, glancing over his shoulder with every step. There was no time to stop, no time to care for the noisiness of his soggy feet, still heavily saturated from the ill-fated events of the evening’s poor decisions.

Squish. Squish. Squish.

Another corner, another deserted alley. Feelings of victory began to creep in, relaxing his stress. A long, heavy breath escaped his lips as a sigh of relief. But he was far from alone.

A pair of black stallions grunted as the reins around their massive snouts jerked them to a halt in front of him; their glowing visage was the stuff nightmares are made of. He knew these hulking horses. He knew this midnight carriage. And he knew this was the end.

Jarring himself from the stallion’s lasting stare, his focus shifted to the stagecoach window. Even though he couldn’t see them, he knew there was a pair of judging eyes fixated on him, taking note of every movement, every breath, every emotional tell. He couldn’t speak. He tried, but no words formed. In fact, he couldn’t move at all. He thought it was terror that had paralyzed him. But it wasn’t. It was magic.

“The Bureau of Race Relations is assembling to discuss tonight’s events,” thundered a voice from the carriage. “It’ll undoubtedly be pinned on some fool already being devoured by the pitiless Misereapers roaming the bastilles of Niimskarah. That fool should be you.”

In all his dealings with this mysterious man in the carriage, that was the most he’d ever heard him speak. His mind raced and his eyes darted faster yet.

“I told you to stay put. You’ve overstepped your purpose,” rumbled the voice, “made a mess that requires a bit of…cleanup. You’ve become a liability. One I can no longer afford.”

With that, the hunted man felt his back slam against the wall. The moldy bricks magically rotated and shifted, creating a crevice large enough to absorb his bulky body. He felt his skin tighten and harden as the blocks grabbed him like deathly hands, dragging him to become one with the building.  His final breath was sucked from his lungs as his body slid into the gap.

 

Observing the heinous murder from the comfort of his seat in the stagecoach, Leslie sat in the prickly silence of the aftermath feeling utterly alone. Abruptly the carriage door flung open and he instantly understood the gesture as his signal to leave. He nodded, then stepped out, taking pleasure in the firmness of the avenue beneath his feet. He eyed the wall.

“It’s time to unleash the Curse,” the voice commanded from inside the carriage.

With a subtle wave of Leslie’s hand, the bricks again revolved to reveal the hunted man’s lifeless body once more. A shrewd phrase smeared in blood magically appeared on his chest then slowly disappeared into nonexistence as the bricks again swallowed his body.

Leslie looked over his shoulder with a wry grin. “As you wish. Night…sir.”

Continue on to Chapter One

Jeremy Shory
@JeremyShory
Jeremy@TheOrionChronicles.com

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