Smuggling Hertzmer

Frosted Meadow

Welcome back for a brand new adventure =)

Smuggling Hertzmer

Frost layers the bushes and trees and even the long bladed grass in the meadow with a coating of thick white crystals. No breath of wind touches those layered plants and the soft scampering of a squirrel can be heard in the near silence. To most, the early morning stillness hanging over the meadow would appear normal, just like any of a dozen other meadows you might find in the clear rays of morning sun. But this is no normal place. A faint smell, chamomile and lavender, sweetens the frost scent in the air.

“She’s not here,” Hertzmer grumbles at your shoulder. Even though his deep voice is soft, it breaks the silence like the hollow thud of a drum. The squirrel chatters at him in startled agitation.

You shoot a glare his way and then give a long sniff.

He copies your action by breathing deeply through his thick mustache. Perhaps the mustache muffles the scent. It takes him several sniffs to pick up the chamomile and lavender, but then a grin breaks through his bush of a beard.

He almost stands but you catch his arm to remind him to stay put. The chatter of the squirrel has finally stopped and nothing stirred when it burst forth but that does not mean no one is watching.

You know, for one, that Cam is out there somewhere. Until she shows herself, you are to stay hidden.

Finally, after several more nervous minutes of waiting, something moves in the tree line to your left.

A thin figure motions for you to join her with the pre-arranged signal of three fingers against her lips.

You’re not fast enough this time to catch Hertzmer. He bolts toward Cam’s position by the most direct path possible, straight across the frosted meadow. His steps leave large ovals in the otherwise undisturbed grass.

Cam’s original signal turns into a gasp of dismay. Unless the day turns unusually warm, those prints wont disappear for hours. They sit there like beacons for anyone who might happen by, for although Hertzmer’s broad chest and gruff exterior might be deceiving, he’s still a halfling who walks around bare footed. The print of his big toe sticks out like it’s pointing the way.

If anyone sees those, they’re sure to follow Cam and Hertzmer. Like all other halflings, he’s been banned from the country. A person would follow just for the bounty of gold they’d receive when they turned him in to the magistrate.

On all of your dozens of missions to smuggle halflings to safety, you’ve stopped here and let Cam take them the rest of the way to the boarder, but you can’t leave those prints.

Frosted Tree - Smuggling HertzmerWith a dead branch in hand, you begin to dance through the meadow, brushing away both halfling and human prints alike.

“Hey,” shouts an unfamiliar male voice. “What’re you doing there?”

You freeze. Three prints remain in front of you as you look over your shoulder toward the voice. As you do, Cam pulls Hertzmer backward to melt into the tree line.

Three men emerge from the trees across the meadow. They carry that look about them, the frayed clothing and the mismatched weaponry, that warns they’re hunters. Unscrupulous and unshaven, such men will do anything for a bounty.

They walk your way with suspicious expressions. If they get much closer, they’ll see the few remaining prints and be hot on Cam’s trail. Probably after disposing of you because they wouldn’t want to chance you’re a hunter too.

Do you act crazy to distract them or run to mislead them?

A. Act Crazy?

Or

B. Run?

Thank you for joining in this adventure. Leave your vote in the comments below. We’ll return next Thursday to follow whichever option received the most votes =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

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The Eye Published!

Z Publishing Science Fiction and Fantasy Colorado

Traditional publishing takes for-ev-er! Those novels you so love from popular authors can take up to two years to produce even if the author writes the book in six months. Because of this, my brain has come to expect long wait times. If I’ve submitted a story, I move on to my next piece while I wait because it could be months to hear from a publication, if I hear back at all. It’s not uncommon if a story is not accepted for the publication to simply not respond. A lack of response is a ‘No,’ but you have to wait the allotted amount of time to know if they’re simply not responding or if they’re taking their time.

Anyway, all of this is to say, Z Publications moves really fast for a publishing house. A couple weeks ago I let you know they accepted my short story, The Eye, for one of their 2019 publications. At the time, I didn’t have a date of publication to share. I figured it would be in the fall at the earliest.

Last week, I received an email letting me know my expectation was waaaaaay off. Z Publication’s short story anthology, America’s Emerging Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers: Colorado, has now been published! EEEEK. If I’d known if would come out this soon, I’d have waited to share in the first place, but that’s now in the past.

You can find links to the anthology on Amazon and on Z Publication’s website below if you’re interested.

Thank you as always for sharing in this adventure with me!

Blessings,

Jennifer

America’s Emerging Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers: Colorado (Amazon)

America’s Emerging Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers: Colorado (Z Publishing House)

The Path

Aspen Path

Have you ever been on a hike, enjoying the sun shining through the foliage overhead, the smell of pine and spruce on the wind, and then seen something off the path that you had to investigate? A lean-to someone left behind, a meadow filled with spring flowers, a mountain peak that begged for a picture. But when you looked back, things didn’t look the same and the path was no longer visible.

The day’s still beautiful, the sun still shining, but there’s that moment of sharp panic, the thought that you might be lost.

You’re still out in nature, technically where you wanted to be for the day, but the thrill, the enjoyment, is overshadowed, and only when you find the path again does the brightness of the day bring you joy again.

This is self-publishing. It’s a hike—work—but greatly enjoyable. The writing, the editing, the formatting, and even the marketing are all part of it. But once the book’s created, once I’m working on sharing it with others, that’s where I tend to leave the path. I follow a flower here, a mountain lake there and even enter a long-abandoned cabin to see where others have gone before me.

But when I look back, I’ve lost the path, my enjoyment of writing has been deeply shadowed because I’ve lost the thing that leads me forward.

AspensThat path, that clear, meandering trail, is hidden. I’m still out, technically where I want to be, exploring the world of being an author, but without the trail, I’m wandering aimlessly, especially if I go too far.

The passion to write, the clear, if meandering, trail that creates new worlds and fills a story with magic, is my path. Some people are gifted musicians, some speakers, some organizers. For me, I was created a writer. And getting back to the seed of that is where I find renewed joy.

The Adventure has been my start. It was my trailhead and I will continue to reference it as such. (Marketing is never done=)).

Now it’s time to return to the path and continue on, to turn and head up the mountain. Several novels, not adventure stories, lie dormant in my archives. One, in particular, has received great feedback from beta readers.

Let me introduce Quaking Soul, an urban fantasy story about a dryad. After all my rambling, I’ll cut to the chase. My goal is to publish Quaking Soul (QS) next. I originally thought to have it ready by the end of this year, but as I’ve revisited the writing, I’m finding my timeline was super ambitious. QS was written back in 2014. As any long time writer can tell you, the writing ability grows and matures the longer one consistently works at it, much like learning to climb. You start out by powering up the wall on puny strength alone. It’s exhausting and, to anyone watching, it lacks any finesse. Over time, the climber learns technique that allows for more difficult climbs that, to a bystander, look more like a dance than a climb. I need to take QS from a strength-alone climb to something that flows with finesse.

Right now QS is in my personal edits stage. I’ll update as things progress, but in the meantime, I’ll keep the adventure stories rolling, they might just be a little more sporadic =) Thank you for sharing in this journey with me!

Blessings,

Jennifer

 

One Story at a Time

Z Publishing House - Colorado's 2018 Emerging Writers

I must confess, I’ve not been good about submitting my short stories for publication lately. There’s a catch-22 usually with publishing. You have to be published to get published. It’s frustrating but really all this means is, like in most any job, you start at the bottom and work your way up. Not everyone succeeds this way, but it’s the most common way of getting your name into the publishing world.

Usually, when I get a short story written, I’m not self controlled enough to keep it to myself, I like to share with you all the story I managed to get out of my head onto paper, but if I post the story on the blog, most publications consider it already published and don’t want it. So the majority of my short stories aren’t submittable.

There are some publications, however, that don’t care if the story has already been ‘published’ as long as the author still owns all the rights. Since mine have been posted here, I still control all the rights.

z publishing logoZ Publishing House, thankfully, is this way. They like to highlight up-and-coming writers in different genres and different locations. (Yes, this is the publication that accepted Wizard’s Coffee from me last year.)

This year they decided to expand their story selection by allowing stories up to 5,000 words. This opened a world of choices for me since I tend to be long winded.

All this to say, they’ve accepted a story of mine called The Eye for their 2019 Up and Coming Writers! EEEEK!

I don’t yet have a publication date for this, but I believe it’ll be later this year. I’ll update you as soon as I know more.

Just sharing my excitement for now! Good luck in your own endeavors =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

Outcasts Option Ab2: Sneak Group Out

If you missed the previous posts, you can read them here: Outcasts and Outcasts Option A. North Aqueducts and Outcasts Option Ab: Follow the Wolfhounds.

Or, here’s a recap: You and a group of other outcasts, who have been ostracized due to various illnesses, have decided to enter the abandoned city of Calla Sadum in hopes of finding cures to your ailments. Most of the group were swallowed into a pit before ever reaching the gate. You, with your leprosy, and a heavily burned man named Angus, decided to enter the city through an aqueduct system his granpap used to rave about. The Aqueducts got you in all right, but you were dropped into an underground city full of walking skeleton creatures. It doesn’t look like you’ll find any cures down here, but maybe you can help the rest of the group. You decided to follow a pack of wolfhound skeletons in hopes of finding the other outcasts and found the hounds holding the group in pits in the floor of a cavern with fires burning at the mouth of each pit. They pulled the leader of your group, The Commander, from a pit and turned him into a new wolfhound skeleton. You and Angus have decided to try and save the rest of the group by sneaking them out.

Let’s see how this adventure ends =)

Outcasts Option Ab2. Sneak Group Out

“I don’t think we can take on the whole pack,” you whisper to Angus.

He squeezes your arm and gives a sigh of relief that you’re not even sure he’s aware of. As you both study the area, the pack continues to play with their new pup by jumping over darkened pits and raging fires. The pup stumbles into several of the later but the flames don’t seem to bother his bones as he rolls through and comes out the other side with a grin on his toothy face.

Their cavorting draws them farther into the cavern.

“Come on.” You nudge Angus and lead the way toward the boy’s pit by following the cavern wall where it’s darkest. Perhaps the wolfhounds can see and perhaps not but you don’t want to take any chances by walking directly in the firelight. Close to the pit, you sink to your belly and low crawl to the edge.

The blind boy stands in the bottom with his ear pressed hard to the wall. For once, his blindness is not a hindrance but maybe an asset. From the pit floor, he can’t see anything anyway, but with sharp ears, he might be able to hear what’s going on above.

You spot the ladder the hounds used to let the Commander out of the pit. It lies in a crumpled heap next to the fire on the far side of the pit.

“Stay here,” you whisper to Angus. “I’ll send the boy to you.”

You don’t wait for Angus’ reply as you low crawl to the ladder. Two heavy stakes anchor it to the top of the pit. A glance tells you the wolfhounds are still prancing around the cavern with their new pup but their antics are drawing them closer now instead of away.

Hand over hand, you lower the ladder, being careful not to let the wooden rungs clack against each other as you move the ropes through your hands. Finally, with it fully played out, you tap the inside of the pit wall with your palm. It makes a soft slapping, muffled by the bandages covering your fingers.

The boy’s dark head swivels. You tap again and peek over a shoulder to place the hounds. They’re two pits away, staring into the bottom of another pit. Who’s in that one, you wonder, but don’t have time to watch as the ladder gives a jerk.

The boy begins to climb one slow rung at a time. Midway up, his foot catches on a loose chunk of rock and knocks it free of the wall. The following clatter echoes through the cavern like the boy rang a bell.

Skeletal heads swing around. The puppy skeleton launches from the bottom of the pit the hounds were staring into moments before. A part of you breaths relief that it wasn’t another member of your group they were preparing to change, but that relief is muted as the hounds give a chorus of excited yowls.

“Hurry!” you shout to the boy below.

His caution disappears and he scrambles upward. He’s not going to be fast enough, though. The hounds bound over the first fire. You search for a stick, a rock, anything to defend the top of the ladder with.

Burning woodAs the first hound hits the floor next to your pit, there comes a bellow of mixed rage and pain. Angus meets the skeleton with a burning piece of firewood that he swings with all his might at the head of the hound. It connects in a shower of sparks and bones. The hound stumbles sideways, headless, and disappears over the edge of another pit. Moments later there comes the clatter of scattering bones.

The boy reaches the top of the ladder just as Angus takes on the second hound to arrive at the pit.

“Is there anyone else left?” you ask the boy.

“N-No,” he stutters. “The Com—“

“Do you know a way out?” you interrupt.

The boy nods so hard you wonder about his neck.

“Angus!”

He chucks the burning club at another skeleton and races to catch up as the blind boy takes your hand and starts toward the cavern wall. His sense of direction is impressive as he avoids several spots of uneven floor until he can lay a hand on the wall.

“This way.” He lets go of your hand to race ahead. “There’s fresh air,” he calls back.

Angus’ heavy breathing sounds behind you. “They’re gaining on us,” he warns.

“It’s not far,” the boy yells back. Suddenly he disappears.

You realize as you reach the spot that he turned to the right into a small passageway.

The wolfhounds snarling bounces off the passage walls as they fight with each other for the lead in chasing you.

The passage ends abruptly in a solid wall with a ladder built into the stone. The boy’s at the top.

You follow him up and reach past him. It’s a trapdoor of some sort.

“I can’t lift it,” the boy whimpers.

“Hey friends,” Angus calls, “we need to move.” He starts pitching loose rocks at the hounds to slow them down but, other than knocking off a bone or two, it’s not working.

Your searching hands find a rope. When you pull, there’s a faint click from the far side of the door.

“Push.” The boy puts his shoulder against the wooden paneling to help you lift. After a moment of groaning, the door breaks free and dirt showers down into the passage. You throw the trapdoor open. As soon as you’re free, you turn on your stomach to help Angus off the ladder too. You reach to close the trapdoor when one vigorous hound jumps the distance to the top.

Angus grabs the blind boy away and turns to take the hound’s claws on his shoulder. There’s a clatter and everything goes eerily still.

The trapdoor thuds closed but you’re staring at the bones of the ambitious hound—er—what used to be a hound. A very human skeleton lies on the ground. It doesn’t move.

“We’re outside the walls of Calla Sadum,” you observe.

“Think they can’t leave the walls?” Angus asks.

“Only explanation I can think of. Maybe they can’t leave.”

“But this is human,” Angus nudges a hand with his toes.

“You saw what happened to the Commander,” you respond after a moment. “Perhaps now we know what happened to everyone inside Calla Sadum. It wasn’t actually abandoned.”

“Oh,” the blind boy says. “Oh, that’s terrible.”

You can’t help but agree.

***

It’s a very quiet night around the fire. You tear an old shirt into long strips and motion for Angus to hold out his hands. The burning club added to the man’s scars. You wind the cloth around his burned fingers.

“We’ll match,” he chuckles.

“You did good,” you respond as you tie off the end of the bandages.

He shrugs, “What’s a few more scars? We’re alive.”

The blind boy, Pearson, begins to snore from his bedroll across the small campfire.

Alive’s good, you decide. With everything you saw in Calla Sadum, there might actually be a cure for your leprosy there, but it could be a while before you can convince yourself to chance the place again. For the time being, you’re not alone and you’re alive, and that’s plenty to keep you happy.

The End

Yay, you survived! Congratulations, and thank you for participating in this adventure. I love to hear your reasoning behind each choice.

Until next time, blessings,

Jennifer

Outcasts Option Ab: Follow the Wolfhounds

Wolf - Outcasts Adventure

This was a close vote but following the wolfhounds won out by one!

If you missed the previous two posts, you can read them here: Outcasts and Outcasts Option A. North Aqueducts.

Or, here’s a recap: You and a group of other outcasts, who have been ostracized due to various illnesses, have decided to enter the abandoned city of Calla Sadum in hopes of finding cures to your ailments. Most of the group were swallowed into a pit before ever reaching the gate. You, with your leprosy, and a heavily burned man named Angus, decided to enter the city through an aqueduct system his granpap used to rave about. The Aqueducts got you in all right, but you were dropped into an underground city full of walking skeleton creatures. It doesn’t look like you’ll find any cures down here, but maybe you can help the rest of the group. You’ve decided to follow a pack of wolfhound skeletons in hopes of finding the other outcasts.

Let’s see where your choice leads!

Outcasts Option Ab. Follow the Wolfhounds

The underground city’s full of skeleton creatures wandering around as though living regular lives. You see bird skeletons hopping around on the roof of a nearby house, pecking at the lichen like growth covering the tiles. One decides to fly off only to realize after jumping that its bone wings don’t hold it in the air. It clatters to the stone below and bursts into individual bones.

Wings - Outcasts Adventure“Ooof,” Angus mutters and then he sucks air in past his teeth as the bones rattle on the stone for a moment and knit themselves back together into a bird.

You move on and see two ferret skeletons working to hang a sign over the doorway of another house by standing on each other’s shoulders.

You and Angus don’t wait around to see one of them tumble to pieces on the ground. The sight of one skeleton pulling itself together was enough.

The hounds are easy to follow as they create a kind of wave among the other creatures. Everything gives them a wide space in which to pass. Finally, after an interminable amount of time, they pass below the city by taking a staircase underneath what looks like a castle.

Fire Below, you and Angus pause in the darkened hall of the stairs because they open into another cavern. This one doesn’t have buildings or skeleton creatures. Large pits dot the floor, highlighted by small fires burning at their rims.

Angus grasps your arm. He stares at the fires and runs his free hand down the puckered scars on his face.

You nudge him with an elbow and point to the wolfhounds.

They’re circled around a pit to your right. One of them holds a bright gold goblet in its mouth while the others let down a ladder into the pit. A moment later, the Commander’s dark head pops up at the rim. He looks around, hesitating at all the skeleton hounds watching.

Several hounds growl. It makes a hollow tone like their bones are rattling against each other. The Commander needs no further encouragement to hurry up the ladder.

The hound with the goblet approaches and lifts its chin, offering the golden cup with a toothy grin.

Goblet - Outcasts AdventureAlthough the Commander tucks his hands behind his back, there’s a gleam in his eyes. The firelight catches the sheen off the gold as the hound lifts its head higher and growls at him.

He raises his hands and still hesitates, but then licking his lips, he accepts the goblet and caresses the gold at the rim.

The hounds hum. They sit back on their haunches.

Angus’ grip on your arm grows tighter.

The Commander drops the goblet and the nearest hound catches it before it clatters to the floor. Even from where you stand, the look of shock on the Commander’s face is clear. He shudders. You blink as his face becomes indistinct like you’re seeing it in a cloudy mirror. His skin floats away, dust on a cold breeze. For a moment his human bones are visible but then he hunches over and disappears within the group of hounds. When they back away, there’s a baby hound skeleton sitting with its head cocked to the side, clearly confused by its surroundings.

“Is that—?” Angus chokes.

“Commander?” hollers a voice that bounces around the cavern. “Commander, you there? You all right?” It’s a high-pitched voice.

“The blind boy,” you whisper.

The young hound glances down into the pit the Commander climbed from and gives a whine with that same tilt to his head. A thinner adult hound nudges it away with its snout and begins to play with the youngster by jumping over the smaller pits.

“Commander?” calls the boy’s voice but by this time, none of the hounds pay it any attention.

“We can’t leave him,” Angus says.

You have to agree. Being blind, the goblet might not lure the boy as it did the Commander, but then what would the wolfhounds do? If someone doesn’t accept the gold, what’s the alternative?

“We could try to capture the hounds in a pit?” Angus suggests even though he’s still rubbing a thumb over his facial scars. Surely luring the hounds into a pit would force you close to those fires.

“We could sneak the boy out?” you counter.

“What if he’s not the only survivor?”

You exchange looks and then Angus gives a shrug. The hand still holding your arm trembles, but he’s game for whatever you think best.

Ab1. Capture the Pack?

Or

Ab2. Sneak People Out?

You’ve succeeded in finding the rest of the group! Leave your vote in the comments regarding how you’d like to proceed in attempting to save them. We’ll be back next Thursday to see how this adventure ends.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

Outcasts Option A. North Aqueducts

Outcasts Adventure

Welcome to part two of the Outcasts adventure!

If you missed part one, you can read it here. Or here’s a recap: You and a group of other outcasts, who have been ostracized due to various illnesses, have decided to enter the abandoned city of Calla Sadum. The city used to be well advanced in technology and science and may have cures to your ailments. Most of the group were swallowed into a pit before ever reaching the gate. You, with your leprosy, and a heavily burned man named Angus, have decided to enter the city through an aqueduct system his granpap used to rave about. There may be creatures granpap called the Bones, but no one knows if that was his dementia talking or his experiences.

Let’s see where this takes us =)

Outcasts Option A. North Aqueducts

“I’ve commented my granpap was a bit loony, right?” Angus asks as you eye the end of the aqueduct pipe jutting from the side of the mountain. Just south of that pipe rests the wall of Calla Sadum, butted up against the mountain like it grew from the rocky giant.

You don’t answer Angus. As the day wore on and you got closer to the aqueduct, he grew increasingly jittery. Now, with the last rays of the sun highlighting the pipe, he’s wringing his hands and standing on your toes. You give him a gentle nudge and he steps away.

Who knows if he did any damage to your foot. You can’t feel if he did.

Aqueduct - Outcasts AdventureThe pipe is basically a tunnel in the side of the mountain with a trough shape cut out of the bottom of the stone. When it was first built, it was probably spectacular to see water gushing from its end but now it’s dry with large chunks of stone broken in the walls. The supporting stonework that would have carried the water away from the city lies in shambles below the pipe.

“Looks inviting,” you say.

Angus snorts.

“Bring any torches?”

With a grin, the man squats down and pulls out a glow stone from his pack. Such stones are rare and from the way he cradles it, you can tell it’s one of his prize possessions.

You give him a smile, appreciating his preparedness.

“No time like the present.” You gesture for him to lead the way.

He hesitates, clutching the glow stone to his chest but staring at the aqueduct. Fear wins out over his treasure. He shoves the stone into your hands.

You lead the small climb to the pipe. The slope’s gentle, which you’re thankful for, if it were more of an actual climb, your hands and feet would prohibit you.

The stone makes a soft click against the rim of the aqueduct as your set it inside to haul yourself into the pipe. You offer to help Angus up but he grimaces at your hands and scrambles up without taking the offer.

You know he’s not squeamish about your leprosy, so you take his grimace for what it is. He doesn’t want to damage your skin if he can avoid it. The thoughtfulness, after so long of people cringing away in horror, brings a prick of tears to your eyes.

You turn away into the aqueduct before Angus can see the moisture threatening your sight. The circle of stone is large enough for you to fully stand in but the disrepair makes going slow. You won’t feel if you hurt your feet and that dictates a very cautious pace as you navigate around broken stone and small shrubs trying to grow through the cracks.

tunnel - Outcasts AdventureAngus doesn’t complain. He glances around your shoulder from time to time in order to see what the glow stone reveals ahead but otherwise, he simply follows your careful steps, humming a low almost comforting tune as he goes.

You grunt as the stone’s light lands on a boulder that fell through the ceiling. You’re far enough into the aqueduct now that you can’t see any of the dusky light filtering in from outside. A small space on the right of the boulder might be wide enough for you to squeeze past.

“Hold this,” you hand the stone to Angus.

A deep rumble deafens your ears at the same time as the ground shifts beneath your feet.

You’re instantly reminded of the ground rolling open beneath the rest of the group. In desperation, you lunge to grab at the boulder but instead of the ground rolling open, it simply drops away.

Angus yelps. The boulder tears at your hands but you have no purchase and you follow Angus downward.

Fear quickens your breath. You roll and tumble and bounce around like a doll pitched down a stairwell until you hit solid ground. Breath rushes from your chest as you hit and it’s a good moment before your lungs wheeze air back into your body.

Angus lays on his back not far from you but by the look on his face, he’s still fighting to draw in a breath. The glow stone is clutched tightly to his chest, illuminating his fingers and the underside of his chin. When you see his chest rise, relief almost makes you faint.

Motion, at the edges of that soft glow, freezes you midway as you start to rise. You regain motion after a brief moment of terror.

“Angus,” you hiss.

He rolls to his feet and hurries after you as you duck behind a stone column. When he’s near enough, you snatch the glow stone and bury it inside his pack. In that brief moment that you held the stone, you and Angus see the state of your fingers. The boulder above was not kind.

Angus rummages in his pack, heedless of the sound he’s making, and comes up with an extra shirt. In a few sharp motions, he has the shirt torn into strips. With gentle fingers, he winds the cloth around your numb but badly torn hands.

“Even a cure can’t fix that,” he says softly.

You try to smile. “If there’s a cure for your scars,” you respond, “there must be one for this too.”

Angus shakes his head. “A fool’s hope.”

“All of this,” you gesture around, “has been a fool’s hope, but it’s our hope and I’ll take it.”

He squeezes your wrists where you can feel the pressure. “Our hope,” he agrees.

His thick, purple scars and slouched figure might make him ugly to most of the world but you can’t think of a better, or more beautiful, soul to be stuck in Calla Sadum with.

Together you peek around the column you ducked behind.

The column was only the beginning. As your eyes adjust to the dim light, you realize the ceiling of the cavern glows just like your glow stone does, only fainter due to the height of the stone. That light touches columns and roofs and porches and streets and things moving about within the city.

Wolf - Outcasts Adventure“Bones,” Angus whispers.

He’s right. The faint light glistens off the stark white shoulders and then through the rib cage of what looks like a wolfhound as it passes by. Three more follow in its path, moving with silent grace despite the lack of flesh or sinew.

Before either of you can react, another shape, moving the other way, comes into sight. It’s head sways on a long neck and draped across its back are the thin, but long, bones of wings. A tail swishes across the dusty floor.

“A dragon,” Angus breaths.

“Did you see what was in its mouth?” you ask.

He gives a fuddled shrug.

“The blind boy’s walking stick,” you tell him. “We might not be able to find a cure down here, but maybe we can free the rest of the group?”

“You want to follow a dragon?” Angus stares after the fading shape.

“Or check out where it came from,” you suggest, thinking that maybe the dragon came from taking the stick from the boy.

“You mean follow the wolfhounds? What if the dragon’s headed back to eat the boy right now after chewing on the stick for awhile?”

You hesitate.

Aa. Follow the Dragon?

Or

Ab. Follow the Wolfhounds?

Please leave a comment with your choice. Whichever option gets the most votes will post next Thursday!

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer