Come to me, the voice beckoned.
Jack’s eyes burned. He clutched his face and groaned in pain.
“What’s wrong?” Tiv asked, appearing by his side in an instant.
Jack tried to respond, but the words died in his throat. They were replaced by a scream that had Tiv dropping down to his haunches and shaking Jack in worry. Jack fell to his knees, doubling over at the sensation of heat erupting from his sockets. His eyes didn’t melt. But they might as well have.
He gnashed his teeth together and muffled a scream. Hot tears trailed down his cheeks. They clouded his vision and only made his pain worse.
Jack’s blood boiled. It was too hot.
He heard voices. Men, women, children. They echoed in his mind, bouncing around as if they belonged there. He heard the clank of chains and burning fire. Children’s screams thrown into the mix like muffled background noise. They cried out to him. Their voices were pitiful whines. But what could he do? What did they want from him? Why were they subjecting him to this kind of torture? Was he responsible for their misfortune?
Stop it! Jack dug his palms into his eyes, sorely wishing that he was a Healer. Go away! Leave me alone. I can’t help you!
This was his body. His. They had no right to play in his head. They could cripple him from pain, but he wouldn’t allow them to invade his mind. His thoughts were his own. They were his to control. Jack wouldn’t yield. He’d sooner die than relinquish the reins that governed him.
“Enough!” Jack bit out, clawing at his throat. His magic burst forth out of instinct. His hands radiated a pale blue, before he conjured fire. The blaze encircled his form, spreading warmth over worn limbs and encasing him in a ball of scorching heat that distorted the air.
Tiv stepped back in alarm, his black eyes were filled with confusion. He’d almost been burned.
“Jack! What’s going on?”
“I said, enough!”
And as if listening to him, the pain ceased.
Jack clutched his head for a moment longer. He kept his eyes squeezed shut. As the sparks of his magic died down. His head pounded with a vengeance that matched the erratic beat of his heart.
For fuck’s sake, was Jack’s first thought, what just happened?
Jack stood slowly. His eyes were still sealed shut, and his mouth was clenched in frustrated silence. The tears left wet trails down his cheeks. They stung. But he made no move to wipe them.
Tiv squirmed a distance away, unsure. He took a cautious step forward. Close enough to assist him, but still far enough to run should Jack decide to sheathe himself in another circle of fire.
“Jack,” Tiv called, hesitant. “Are you alright?”
“Do I look alri—” Jack recoiled, just as Tiv flinched.
Black clouded Jack’s vision. And he frantically looked around, trying to shake off the hazy tendrils obstructing his periphery. Despite the added darkness, his vision was clearer than ever before. Colors were enhanced. Lines were more pronounced. The world flowed. Seamless. A harmony of utter perfection. It was almost too bright.
But it was tainted.
Jack saw a trail. Black wisps that he followed with his eyes. The path led left—to the residential tower.
What I seek, Jack thought. He could hear a dozen voices whisper in his ear. They were quieter now. More controlled. They danced upon his skin and urged him to move forward. Is it there?
Jack heard a gasp and turned to see Tiv shakily point a trembling finger at him.
“Your eyes…” Tiv stepped back in sudden fear. “What happened to your eyes?”
Official release isn’t until April 18. Tell me if you guys want more of these. Until then you can pre-order a copy at any of the following:
Cover by: Fabian Rensch