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The Archaeologists of EratwaenHe had absolutely no idea what he was doing out here.
Everyone in the small town he called home knew that you didn't go oh into the surrounding forests during night--or at all if possible. Dozens of people went missing every year, though whether they strayed off the human-made path and into the path of some wild predator, whether they fell foul of some ancient hunter's trap, or whether they simply starved to death was never really determined.
He'd thought he'd seen something though; a flash of light, a glimpse of a face so familiar, of a mouth curved up in a smile and of caring blue eyes. Could it have been a vision? A hallucination, perhaps? He didn't know, but he had wanted to believe--had to believe--that it was more. He had wanted to believe that his seven-year-old daughter lived still, or at least was watching him from whatever haven she now inhabited.
Now, though, after an hour of frantic searching, he wasn't so sure.
He'd gotten lost in the uncharted forest, and now he was sure
Bad Magick: Prologue."What is it?"
"A letter, obviously! I mean, it's in an envelope for Gods' sake! What else gets sent in envelopes?"
"The severed hands of Vackovian mob enforcers?"
"...Thanks for that, Jack."
"B-But I bet it is a letter! And why would anyone send us a letter other than for a job?"
"To tell us to send you home. Is that a trick question?"
"Let's just read it, Eric. Maybe it isn't about Zane this time."
"If you really think that..."
"Hey! I've been pretty helpful for the last while! I even saved a cat from a tree-- How do you slow-clap while lighting a cigarette!?"
"Years of practice..."
"Can we read it now, please?!"
"Hold on, I have to open it first."
"What's taking so long?"
"Bloody thing... Won't... Tear..."
"Super-durable paper so nothing gets ripped in transition. Vackovians never do thugs half way."
"That's a great theory, except that the letter's from Natruvia. Remember?"
"Got it! 'To whom it may concern. I am in need of a small team of mercenaries--"
Explorer's DictationSeveral years ago, I took a short trip to Arne, the jungle-continent to the south-east of Vacko. I wasn't technically allowed to go in past the beaches, of course; the natives are very protective of their secrets and very few people alive today are allowed past the edge of the jungle. This wasn't a problem to most explorers of course; the jungles are extremely dangerous in any case and the only completely extirpated animal on Arne is the Jungle Dragons, which were only recently added to the Book of Knowledge but have been in existence for millennia. I have also heard recently that a group of Wyrms, the dangerous subterranean sentient creatures that are a threat to the entire planet, had taken up residence underneath the jungle itself, and only a small colony of Wyverns were keeping them from wreaking havoc across the entire island (though I later found this to be a falsehood).
I must admit, the appeal of the mysterious, mystic jungle, with its beautiful by all these dangers.
JackThe birth was premature by about a month. The newborn's parents hadn't even picked out a name yet. The rest of the small town had dozens of inventively named children: Vae, Oran, Tru, Vatega, even Areavaenu, but the only thing they'd been able to come up with on such short notice was 'Jack'. Considering their last name was 'Smith', another common name, this was probably for the best. If their last name had been Ortheaea, like Vatega's had been, they would have been at a loss for names. Jack Smith had a nice feel to it.
Of course, the other kids didn't see it that way. Even at the age of five, he was already a pariah, staying away from any sort of event where he was likely to meet other people. Even when he was forced to come outfor town meetings, for school, for his own birthday parties that his parents hosted in an attempt to make him more socialmore often than not he stayed as far as he could away from the other kids and read a book. He grew up fairly fit, running at nigh
YdoolbThe boy set his music player down and knelt next to the dead squirrel quietly. Only second ago, the squirrel had been sitting on a tree branch a few meters above, but a hummed word from the small child had stunned it, causing it to release its grip on the tree and fall to the ground below. Another word had made sure it was dead. The boy smiled faintly, listening to the opera flowing out of the music player. The player was waterproof, of course. After the first time, when he'd gotten blood on it and been unable to wash it off without shorting the thing out, he'd bought the new, waterproof version. He'd thrown the old one in a lake. On the bright side, he'd gotten to see all those electrocuted fish rise to the surface, their eyes cold and staring
He turned back to the squirrel, carefully pulling his bloodstained scalpel from the front pocket of his jacket. It looked like a pen, with its blade down and the capped end sticking up into the air, and that was how he'd been able to get i
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A Bloody, Stupid Miracle The day we’d cured the human condition was the day I put a bullet through my head and didn’t die. It was also the day I realized how scared I actually was of death, and after hours of muscle ache from holding that gauze against my open skull, after the wound closed and everything went back to normal, I had myself a good old-fashioned brainstorm. How ironic.
But when summer came, everything had fallen to shit. The air scorched my skin and parched my tongue every time I took a breath. The sun glared down on a rapidly-collapsing world, full of the undying bastard children of cruelty and misfortune. What was one to do when their cells regenerated faster than they decomposed?
My feet hit the pavement, now littered with jagged bits of glass to snap at my toes, thoroughly baked by the blazing ball of bitter disdain high overhead. Today was worse than yesterday. Though I’d often wondered the purpose of it anymore, I
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