Cursed Magic Sample

Chapter 1

I was covered in marks from my head to my toes. Every kill I’d ever made was tattooed on my body. So were the kills of my forefathers. No, I wasn’t an exhibitionist. I was born this way, cursed to feel the pain of each of those deaths whenever sunlight hit my skin.

I usually stayed underground in Cave Town, where people like me lived. One of my ancestors had killed a man with an axe. So, on my face, under my right eye, was a small symbol shaped like an axe. In sunlight, I could feel the blade from the axe cutting into my skin, hacking my jaw to pieces.

I had a knife mark on my throat, a pointed silver thing with a brown handle. When the sun hit it, I could feel my throat opening up. I could feel the knife slicing into it, cutting through skin and bone.

I also had a small bottle of poison tattooed on my throat. In the sun, I could feel the poison flowing through my veins causing my organs to shut down and my breathing to slow. The poison ate through my system, like sharp razors that tore me apart from the inside out.

 I probably had a million tattoos on me. Each with a different way to cause harm. That’s why I stayed underground. Getting caught out in the sun was a death sentence.

I looked up at the sky. The light from the moon gave me a strange sense of comfort, peace.

 Since it was dark, I’d snuck up top for a while. I needed to see my friend Twist.

Twist sat on his front porch, long skinny legs stretched out in front of him, phone in his hand.

Twist’s family was originally from China. They’d come to the states about five generations ago. Twist had dark olive skin and short green hair with red highlights on the end.

He had piercings everywhere from his nose, to his tongue, to his eyelids. Right now, they all shined brightly under the silver glint of the moon.

Twist looked like he belonged in a punk rock band somewhere, but it was just his style. To be honest, he carried it well.

“What do you want, Celeste?” He sounded tired already. “Because if it’s what I think it is… the answers no.”

My eyes went to the sky again. I wondered how much time I had until sunrise. Twist, well Twist wasn’t like me. His family hadn’t been cursed to live with the sins of all their kills.

Thousands of years ago the world had been in chaos. It’d been ruled by the powerful council of Thems. The council had gotten together and decided every person who’d ever taken a life, no matter the reason, would be banished deep underground to Cave Town.

Their skin would be marked with every kill they’d ever made, and every time sunlight hit, they’d feel the pain of those deaths, only a thousand times worse.  

Not only that, but each new child born would be cursed to bear the marks of their ancestors. That’s why, so many years later, the curse still lived on through me and everyone I loved.

Twist fiddled with one of the piercings on his lips. The moonlight glittered off it, making it shine. When he finally decided to look at me, it was with trepidation. “Come on, Celeste. Cave Town? I barely escaped the last time, and you want me to go back?”

I turned away, not wanting him to see my face because I knew he was right. The thing about Cave Town was, if you ever came for a visit, not that many people did, most didn’t even know it existed, but if you ever came, you only had twenty-four hours to leave.

 Also, when you left, you had to exit the same way you’d entered. If not, you too would be struck with the curse, marked with the sins of all your kills, never able to enjoy sunlight again.

The curse was meant to divide. If you wanted to be in Cave Town so bad, it’d make you a permanent resident. That assured that the few who did know about Cave Town rarely came for a visit.

Twist opened his mouth to speak, but his phone made a beeping sound, signaling a call coming in. He looked at the number and frowned.

“Hope that wasn’t Leah,” I joked.

Leah and Xavier had been with Twist the first time he’d come to Cave Town. His phone rang again. He eyed it with disgust. “Not Leah. Dude I met the night of the tournament. After we’d left Cave Town.”

Leah and Xavier were big time card players, and apparently, they liked having Twist along for the ride. “You won’t talk to him?” I asked.

He scrunched up his nose. “It was a fun night, then it ended. What’s so hard to understand about that?”

“Tell him like you just told me.”

He gave me a dry look. “I tried. He wants to talk about it over dinner… at his place.”

I laughed at his exasperated expression. His phone buzzed again, and he hung his head low. “Hey, we’re all adults here,” he said turning the phone off. “He knew the deal up front. We both did.”

“I need your help, Twist.” I decided to get straight to the point. Twist and his friends had helped me take back control of a watery substance called breez. We had a plant down under called sunlight. Once that plant hardened it could be made into small pills.

Those pills were called sunshine. They allowed us three hours of sunlight without the marks burning. In order for the plant to grow properly, breez had to be sprinkled on it every thirty minutes. 

I rocked from foot to foot, trying to find my words. Twist didn’t know this next part because some things were better kept to those of us underground. “I’ve been called to a meeting in Log City by a guy name Ian.” I paused for a second, ready to reveal something even those who knew about Cave Town didn’t know. “Log City is right beside Cave Town.”

Twist’s eyes widened, then darkened like he thought I was playing a trick on him. “I’m sorry. I thought you said there was a city beside Cave Town.”

There were many cities and towns beside Cave Town. Cajun. That’s what we called the network of caves and tunnels we lived in.

Up top was called Blazing. We called it that because no matter the temperature, the sun would always eat into our skin, burning us alive. I started to tell Twist that but stopped. For the moment, I couldn’t talk.

Pain flared from a mark on my face. Sunrise was swiftly approaching. I bit my bottom lip, trying to keep from screaming. It felt like I’d been dipped in a river of fire. From experience, I knew it would only get worse the longer I stayed, so I needed to hurry.

The closer it got to daylight, the more my tattoos would ache and burn. Soon, my whole body would catch flame. If that happened, I’d burn to death. My entire body would explode, all from the light of the sun.

I took a deep breath, telling myself I had the power to teleport and could leave whenever I wished.

Twist’s eyes went from the marks on my neck, to the ones on my hands. They were turning golden now, which meant they were burning into my skin.

It felt like someone had doused me with gasoline and set me afire. My body began to shake, each mark leaping to life. A raw putrid smell assaulted my nose, making my stomach lurch because I knew I was smelling myself being burned alive.

I wanted Twist’s help, but I couldn’t stay up here much longer. The pain was too intense.

By now, every mark I had was bright and glowing. Twist looked at me and his face softened. “Xavier never said there was a city beside Cave Town.”

My tattoos had calmed down for the moment, but I knew they’d flare up again soon. “Well, Xavier doesn’t know everything,” I said to Twist.

He blinked at me like I’d assaulted him, but he didn’t say anything.

I put my hands on my hips, amazed we were even having this conversation. “Twist, Xavier doesn’t know everything. You do understand that, right?”

He gave me a doubtful look. “If you say so.” He still didn’t look convinced.

A mark on my hand began to sizzle and I tried to breathe through it. My tattoos would keep flaring up until sunrise, then there’d be no stopping them. I needed to go.

I told Twist as much as I could so he could make a decision. “They guy who wants to see me, Ian, I think he was a friend of Jonas.”

Jonas had been my cousin. Twist, and his friends Xavier and Leah, had helped me stop Jonas and his crew when they’d tried to take over Cave Town.

They’d been using the sunshine pills as a means of controlling people. Jonas had ripped the sunlight plants out of everyone’s yard. He’d taken control of all the breez. All sales of sunlight then went through him.

Jonas had taken great pleasure in charging large sums of money for just one pill. He knew most would do anything for those three precious hours of sunlight, so he’d built his empire on that.

I knew my cousin Jonas and this Ian guy had dealings before Jonas’ death. I didn’t know much else about it, but instinct told me I shouldn’t go see this guy alone. Jonas had been a ruthless killer. I didn’t imagine his friend Ian to be much different. What did he want with me, anyway? I found it suspicious he’d summoned me to Log City and I refused to go alone.

The only reason I was going to see Ian at all was because Cave Town had just gotten over Jonas’ reign of terror. The last thing we needed was this Ian guy trampling into Cave Town causing problems.

No. I’d much rather go to him. I’d do anything to keep Cave Town safe. If that meant facing off against a killer, then so be it.

Twist came to his feet. “I’ll get some verve.”

He disappeared into his apartment, and I smiled because I knew he’d decided to come with me. He wouldn’t go for his verve otherwise.

 Verve pepped up your energy tenfold, but it also protected you from getting hurt and made your body more resilient. Leah had said cigarette smoke bothered her, but when she had verve in her system, it was like sucking on clean fresh air.

Verve healed all wounds. It also kept you from getting hurt while it was in your system. It made it feel like your insides were on fire, though. That’s why you only took verve if you needed to heal or were severely short on energy. Otherwise, you’d be jumping off the walls. 

 Twist came back, patting his pocket. “Alright. I’ll go. Promise to have me out of there in time, Celeste.”

I held up a hand. “Twenty-four hours or you’ll be cursed to never see sunlight again. Don’t worry. I’ve got you.” Before he could change his mind, I grabbed his hand and transported us both outside the entrance to Cave Town.

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