Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse
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by Kaleb Nation
Category: Young Adult/Fantasy
Description: What if your mother was a criminal? What if her crime was magic? What if magic ran in the family? Bran Hambric was found alone in a locked bank vault when he was six years old. He doesn't have a clue how he got there, or any memory of his past. There's only one explanation: Magic. But magic is outlawed in the Great and Glorious City of Dunce. Eight years later, a twisted, hissing creature confronts Bran and his foster father, Sewey, on their rooftop. Sewey believes it's a gnome, but not Bran. (Sewey isn't the brightest Duncelander to being with.) Bran soon discovers that whatever leapt onto his roof is connected to the mother he never knew...and that Bran himself is the missing link in a plot so secret and evil that those behind it will stop at nothing to hunt him down. Armed with wands and weapons, Bran's enemies are about to attack - with all the power of a horrible curse and a terrible crime. Magic won't be the only law broken in the City of Dunce...
eBook Publisher: E-Reads/E-Reads, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [478 KB]
Reading time: 320-449 min.
"Brims with mystery, magic, and fun." - D.J. MacHale (author of The Pendragon Series)
The night was Cold and dead, and so felt Clarence's heart. He dashed through the darkness, never stopping, always watchful for the men--every passing car making him leap back into the shadows of the trees on the abandoned rural highway. His form was hardly more than a shadow, sweating even in the cold, his face bruised and scarred. With every step, he knew they were gaining on him.
He darted through the mist and onto a deserted side street, lined with thick walls of rock on both sides. His eyes swept the road. He was worn out from a night of running, but he couldn't stop. He had to get to the city before they found him. Or worse, before they found Bran...
Suddenly, there was a burst of light behind him, coming over the hill. He spun, and his eyes flashed, the noise startling him for a second. An engine roared, and he saw the familiar shape of a black van.
"No!" he gasped. He took off in the other direction as the van blasted in pursuit. His shadow was thrown before him, the headlights burning the sweat on his neck. The road cut through the rocks; the rising walls prevented him from going into the woods. He ran faster, panting for breath, his heart pounding in rhythm with his feet slapping against the pavement.
Ahead, there was a flash of motion, a squeal of tires, and a second black van shot out of the shadows. He shouted and turned to run the other way, but the first van tore after him, blocking his escape as the other cornered him. Clarence ran to the wall of rock, desperately digging his fingers into the cracks to climb it, but falling to the pavement when he found he could not.
The vans purred to a stop, standing still and foreboding. The intense headlights trained on his form against the wall, blinding his eyes as he crouched over. He held up his hands to shield his face and heard the doors burst open, two men coming from behind the cover of the windows, their pistols trained on him. He stiffened. Out of the second van came two other men, bald and strong, their faces emotionless and their forms hidden by black coats that swept as far as the ground. Each held in his hand a wand of black metal.
Clarence trembled under their gazes, almost feeling the torturous magic coursing through his body again.
The side door of the first van opened slowly. Clarence whimpered, pressing himself against the rocks. All was quiet as the last man came from the darkness, standing in front of the others. Clarence looked up at him weakly--the man's face was rough, his hair light and to his shoulders, power behind his gaze. His clothes were torn and bloody, as were those of the others. Clarence counted them in the light. There were only five ... the police must have caught the rest.
"Running away so soon, are we?" the man said in a soft tone that held poison.
Clarence covered his eyes.
"Wouldn't stick around to help clean up, would you?" the man said louder. "Already tired of the project just because the police break in?"
"Farfield is over..." Clarence managed to hiss, hardly able to breathe. He looked up. "You've already failed, Joris. The police are onto all of you. Baslyn is dead, his spirit is gone ... and Emry will hide her son well enough so you'll never bring him back."
"But you know where she's taking him," Joris said.
Clarence pulled his head away, refusing to speak. Very slowly, Joris stepped into one of the headlight beams, casting a shadow down upon Clarence.
"You know where he is, don't you?" Joris stated.
Clarence shook his head. No ... he wouldn't tell. He would not betray Emry.
"I--I don't know where she's taking him," he stammered, fighting back terror.
Joris narrowed his eyes disbelievingly. "Well then," he said, "we'll just have to ... convince you to tell us, won't we?"
"I won't," Clarence choked. "I can't break my promise--the boy is gone. Farfield is over."
Joris gave a dry smile. He leaned down so close his whisper was loud in Clarence's ear.
"Farfield isn't over yet," he hissed. "We're going to find Bran Hambric, and we're going to bring him back."
A freezing wind blew across the alley where Emry Hambric had parked her car. Her windows were down. The cold chilled her face--but not nearly as much as the sudden feeling of dread that crawled across her skin.
"Clarence..." she whispered. Something was desperately wrong. He should have been there by now. She glanced into the backseat: in it was the limp body of a small, six-year-old boy. My son.
"I'm sorry," was all she could say. If only the apology could take back years of mistakes, so that maybe she wouldn't be there, running from all she had done ... if only she could have lived a few more weeks, she might see herself turn twenty-seven. But she knew in her heart she would not even see the next sunrise. Emry never cried; she was always the strongest--always pretending to be the strongest. But now, as she looked back on her life, and down at the child she loved so much, tears formed in the corners of her eyes. She would never see him again.
"I won't let them get you. I promise."
The moment the whisper left her lips, she felt a start. Her gaze jerked up, out the back window. She had sensed something move--a shadow, or rather the feeling of a shadow, watching her. Someone was coming. And Emry knew who it was.
She's found me.
Emry thought she would be safe in Dunce. No mage would follow her in there, none of the police from outside either. She glanced back at her son. It was too late to run--she'd have to send him elsewhere. There was no more time to waste. She spun around quickly, searching the floor for something to write on. She tried her pockets and finally found an old scrap. Without hesitating she scribbled her note on it.
"This is all I have to give you," she whispered, stuffing it into the little boy's fist and closing his fingers around it. She knew he wouldn't remember anything--her magic was strong enough for that. But at least he would have the note.
She hopped out and threw the back door open, pulling the boy up to her. Much as she longed to, she could not hold him for a second more. The darkness of the alley swept over her as she punched the button on the trunk of the car. The lid swung up, and she pushed her son down into the cramped space.
She reached to her neck, touching the string of a necklace that was hidden under her shirt, but before she could take it out, she heard a scrape far behind her. She jumped forward, slamming the lid shut. Her skin crawled again. Her breath came quickly. She pulled from deep within, drawing on magic. For the magic to work, she needed something that came from the intended destination: a note from a neighbor's house, and he'd materialize there; a shirt, and her son would wake up in a department store. But as every sense within her screamed out in impending danger, her mind drew a blank. In that desperate instant, she flung the magic at the trunk, hoping it would find something to use, anything to send her son from this terrible place.
"Sideni aywa!" she gasped out.
She couldn't manage another breath before a hand burst out of the darkness. It caught her by the throat, throwing her backward to the pavement. Her arm scraped against the hard road as she fell.
The woman's voice was harsh. Emry looked up, her back to the ground. She couldn't make out her attacker's form in the dark, but Emry knew who the woman was. Emry heard the click of a gun, but she didn't flinch, didn't speak--she just lay there, bleeding.
"Lock him in the trunk?" the woman said sharply. "You can't hide him from me." She punched the button, and Emry heard the lid pop, sweat forming on her brow.
What if it didn't work? Emry's heart began to beat faster ... but then, the woman stopped.
"Where is he?" the woman hissed.
Emry closed her eyes. He's safe ... She heard the lid slam, and she looked up again.
The woman stood over her. "Where have you sent him?" she hissed.
Emry said nothing.
"You're going to die either way," the woman stated with no emotion. "And we're going to find him either way. It's only a matter of how long it will take."
Emry stared at the end of the pistol. With no traces of magic, the Magic Investigational Police wouldn't even notice the case of a woman's death by bullet, even if they found a way into Dunce.
The woman gave an evil smile. "Who's the powerful one now?"
Emry didn't reply. But slowly, slightly, she forced herself to smile back. And with that, the woman shot.
Emry's body dropped, all strength gone in an instant. Then, with a mocking, vengeful sneer, the woman pulled the trigger again. Another shot rang out, and Emry felt her cheek strike against the pavement.
She slid her fingers on the hard road, struggling to breathe, gripping the black rocks until they stained her fingers. As she lay there, she heard the woman give a small laugh, and saw her legs walking past--leaving her behind to die. The world darkened above Emry, a black cloud drowning out the moonlight like a sheet being pulled over her face. She had known it would end this way.
But at least Bran is safe.
Her eyes started to close as death embraced her. But in that final moment, her gaze fell across the street, and sitting there, hidden in a stack of crates, was a little girl.
The girl's eyes were stained with tears, her face white and trembling.
She had seen it all.
And as the night of April eighteenth passed and the morning came to life, a boy named Bran awoke in the city of Dunce.