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Book 1: The Affliction – Preview By J.H.East •

…One of his stalkers darted directly in front of him, from his right to his left. It passed alarmingly close, no more than a foot away. He felt the wind from its body. He smelled the stench of its breath. It was a huge beast; on all fours, it was as high as his stomach. It continued past him back into the shadows. As it did, however, the barbed tip of its tail lightly grazed his cheek. Instinctively, he stopped motioning his hands in attempt to protect himself, but his reflexes proved far too slow. He felt the seep of blood down his cheek, though he felt not pain, not yet. His fear now verged on paralytic. Conversely, his pulse beat so rapidly that he felt jittery. He grabbed the lantern and darted for a nearby tree with a wide trunk. He set his back against it and again clutched his knife. He tried to breathe deep and slow, though the urge to pant bested him most of the time. He could barely hear the trickle of the brook over the pounding of his own heart which threatened to jump out of his chest. A twig snapped on the other side of the tree which guarded his back. One of these beasts lurked on the other side. The man almost blacked out from the surge of adrenaline. The fear was completely crippling. He felt weak and nauseous, but simultaneously his muscles shivered with energy. The beast surely came close enough to reach around the tree and strike at him; the man could almost feel the heat of its breath. He slid down the trunk and placed the lantern between his legs. He held the knife in both hands, ready to defend against whichever side from which the beast emerged. But it did not. Instead it made a sound very similar to the sound he heard earlier, though lesser so in volume. He realized it was a call; these creatures were communicating. In these quick moments of reprieve, his brain reactivated. While the beast which had him pinned down communicated to its pack, he remembered the item in his cloak. He pocketed his knife, reached into a chest pocket, and removed a small, empty-looking vial. This will set me back two years he thought as he gazed affectionately at the vial. With a crack and a tear, he destroyed a small seal near the top of the vial and removed the cap. He placed the rim to his lips and tilted the container horizontally. Tepid fluid flowed into his mouth; it was thick and sticky like sap. The flavor, akin to curdled milk, nearly made him gag. He strained and forced it down. Almost instantly, he became light-headed, with a slight sensation of falling. An uncomfortable tingling sensation began in his hands and feet, moved up his arms and legs, and then enveloped him. A dull ache crept over his hands and feet. He held


his hand up, and as he watched, from his fingertips down, it began to disappear. The ache traveled along his arms and up his legs, his body disappearing with it, until all of him disappeared; he was invisible. Two of the creatures now stirred about in front of him. As the last of him vanished, one of them pounced. He rolled to one side, and with his new advantage, just avoided the swift attack. The beast knocked the lantern over as it searched about for him. A quick eruption of flame startled the beasts, though it lasted only an instant. Nonetheless, its wake granted him precious seconds. He moved for the stream, but with only starlight to guide him, he tripped after only a few steps. He got up and slowed his pace, though his pounding heart urged him to run. One of the creatures crashed down upon some brush only a few feet away, and immediately, its ears turned his direction. He froze in his tracks. They could still hear him. Its head bobbed just slightly as it sniffed the air. They could still smell him. This was not the advantage for which he had hoped. The beast slashed its claws in his direction, missing him by inches. There was a tearing sound, however, like it caught a piece of his outfit. While the beast smelled its paw and the air, the man quietly removed his belt and tossed it a few yards behind him. Though it remained invisible, the beast was able to pounce directly on it. It confusedly smelled the area and pawed at the ground. He resumed his progress toward the river, careful to make only minimal noise. After several uninterrupted seconds, the ache in his fingertips went away, replaced by a familiar and uncomfortable tingling. The stream was close; but too far to try a sprint. The trees were thick this close to the river, and he took cover by one with large, knobby roots that sprung from the ground. He knelt down among them, and watched, in disappointment, as his body rapidly reappeared. Only a moment later, sounds encroached from the trees around him…. •

My name is Torian Danacae. If you are reading this, I have no doubt met some ill fate, for I shall keep this journal close. It is my hope that my experience be publicized, so that someone may learn something of these horrific creatures, or their poison, or at least I may promote some awareness, maybe save someone else’s life. I was attacked in the Nespar Wood, outside of Farth. There is a small tributary of the Faltori, the Uruth, that floods twice annually in the thick of the Nespar. As a result, there are plants unique to that area which grow vibrantly. I now understand why the locals do not venture out that far; there are terrible beasts which hunt in those trees. One unfortunate night, I was their prey. As a result of my encounter, a shadow now moves over me. I am forced to undertake an arduous journey north to an isolated land of ice and beast. Though I know not what perils may arise, I know my salvation lies in wait and to remain here will lead only to my doom…


The Affliction: Preview