Wrote this today. The new Chapter 2 for Curse of the Black Swan. Haven’t even read it over (full of errors, I’m sure). A short read…

    He snapped the neck and Nathaniel felt the body go limp in his arms. He released it, letting it tumble to the stained floor boards.

    Three dead.

    Soon, they’d come at him with everything they had. He’d try, but he wouldn’t be able to kill them all. He knew he had to leave. Tonight.

    Sand blasted through the windows. If he stepped in front, he knew the sand would feel like strapped leather, threatening to peel away his flesh.

    The storm, which had seemed like such a perfect omen only an hour ago, now threatened to bury all of Cresek-Tawn. As a desert city, sandstorms were common. But this one, this one seemed to come from the lungs of the Immortals. The sands had scoured the horizons like a plague of locusts. And when it hit, it struck with the fury of the divine.

    The winds rattled the structure, the house seemingly sighing as a wave of sand shredded the stucco exterior.

    Those unfortunate to be caught outside would find themselves driven to their knees by gusts of wind. They would never regain their feet, sand burying them alive within moments.

    Still, Joshua was sending over killers – men trained to kill people like Nathaniel. He would continue to send them over until they finished the job.

    Nathaniel couldn’t leave until he found her.

    Jane. The only person he cared about. Ever. A woman, like him, so accustomed to killing and murder that neither one expected love. They didn’t want it, resisted it, but it overpowered them and bound them together.

    No more would they be the pawns of Cresek-Tawn. Tonight, they were leaving. Together.

    “Jane?” He didn’t care if he gave away his position. The need to find her. Find out if she was safe. Jane could take care of herself. She’s okay, he tried to convince himself. Anyone who tried to harm her would come across her very sharp knives.

    The house was dark. A trap set by Jane or by Joshua’s men? Impossible to say.

    A blast of the storm hammered the house and clay dust filtered from the ceiling. Nathaniel wondered if the house could withstand the maelstrom much longer.

    He took the clay stairs quickly. He didn’t appear armed but he had two spring loaded daggers at his wrists; he hadn’t used them yet.


    He called out to find her, but also to warn her that he was coming. Otherwise, if she knew her place was compromised, he could very easily find himself at the wrong end of her knife. She was a professional but he didn’t want to test her restraint. Not tonight.

    He had to pass a window heading to the third floor. Sand blasted through the opening. He had to time jumping past it when the storm took a breath. If he miscalculated, the sand would flay the flesh from his exposed skin.

    The winds abated and Nathaniel lunged, still knocking him sideways. He pushed forward. On the landing, a killer lay face up, throat open. White, rubbery. The sight reassured Nathaniel; that was Jane’s handiwork. She was here. And alive. Up another set of stairs.

    Sand blew in through cracks in the walls. Not much longer.

    He reached the top floor and took a step into the room.

    He felt like someone had punched him in the gut. Jane lay face-down, her hair splayed out in a glue-like puddle of blood.

    So much blood. Splattered on the walls, pooling on the floor. On the ceiling.

    Her skin white. Dead.

    “Jane,” he choked. He couldn’t breath. The house lurched again.

    “We were leaving,” he whispered. He was trying to go to her but the two glass windows exploded, glass shards like sharks teeth. They ripped at his clothing, finding vulnerable flesh underneath.

    The winds pushed him back. Clouds of sand filled the room like flies on a bloated corpse. Stung his hairs, flooded his mouth.

    Her hair, congealed in blood, didn’t move.

    They’d killed her.

    He couldn’t breathe. Because of the storm or because of her. He had to get her. She didn’t deserve to be like that. He’d take her, they’d escape. Even in death, she deserved better than Cresek-Tawn.

    The winds pulled at him, threatened to send him down the clay stairs. He fought against them but when he stepped into the room, the maelstrom howled, forcing him back.

    One step at a time. Used his collar to protect his mouth. Another step. Almost there. Even to touch her one last time.

    Then the world collapsed, or what seemed the world. The wall blew apart and the structure drew in one last breath before exploding apart.

    The winds grabbed him, spun him around, then slammed him into a newly created sand dune.

    The storm roared its victory having demolished the house.

    He felt like his eyes should be tearing, felt like he was going to die. The maelstrom threatened to bury him. Debris was still airborne, thrown hundreds of feet into the sky.

    Nathaniel saw silhouettes dive for cover from the building fragments which had become like javelins. The killers – they had come to murder him.

    Kaazlimãt. Jane. She was dead. He should be too. Joshua. He had done this. Destroyed their lives like they were vermin.

    Nathaniel knew he had to leave. Revenge would fail; Joshua was too strong.

    The truth was as powerful as the maelstrom. Cresek-Tawn had won.

    And Jane was dead.