Escape

They were already running, but Kurt broke into a sprint when he heard the sound of that whistle in the distance. Eva staggered as he pulled her along in a white-knuckled grip. They broke out of the narrow alley just down the road from the station and saw the train at the platform.

There was no way could hide until the next train. They had to run.

Steam hissed from the engine of the steel beast as it lurched forward. No time for tickets, lines, or turnstiles; they ran for the fence. Kurt gave Eva a boost to inelegantly clamber over the chain links. An officer had spotted them, but was too slow in reacting to catch Kurt before he too tumbled over the fence. Ignoring the officer’s shouts, they sprinted for the accelerating train. Kurt caught onto a handrail, half-pulled, half threw Eva onto the steps.

Then he leaped…

Slipped…

Fell…

The train pulled away.

Kurt heard gravel crunching beneath approaching footsteps. A pair of polished shoes and a cold voice. “Beneath the mask of bravery, foolishness,” the man sighed. “We will simply pick her up at the next station.”

“No,” Kurt said. “No more. I’ll tell you everything.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

Binding

Silence filled the space between the mage and his client. Alden knew his craft well, so it was very rare that he had repeat customers, and neither he nor Perin felt comfortable navigating the situation. He moved to the northeastern corner of the house, knelt at the base of the corner post and began carving the rune of binding in the freshly sawed boards.

“It’s a good house,” Alden offered over his shoulder. “Well built. The carpenters outdid themselves. I don’t know if you’ll even need magic to keep this house standing.” Receiving no response, Alden bent back over the rune to begin his spell.

“You said that last time,” Perin commented. It was true of course. Alden made that remark to most of the new homeowners who hired him. It usually made them smile. But Perin was frowning deeper than ever. “The old house is still standing,” he said. “The carpenters did their job well and so did you. I’m the one who ruined everything.”

Alden hesitated, “What’s broken can be mended. It’s not my magic, but maybe it’s yours.

Perin’s eyes shone, but he answered, “No. She deserves that house. Maybe now it can finally be a home.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox