Forbidden (The Seeker Saga, #2)

By: Sarah Swan

Prologue



An unexpected gust of wind lifted Chris’ cloak. He pulled it down hastily. The cold night air still carried a touch of frost from the morning, but the worst of the blizzard that had raged for more than a week had passed. Or so Chris hoped. He would never get used to the erratic weather up here in the mountains, nor the cold.

Most days Chris had been able to spend indoors after his father had chosen to relocate here following the Traven Island disaster. Indoors, where a roaring fire gave enough warmth to forget about the surroundings. It gave him enough time to lose himself in the research with which he was helping his father.

But today was different. When Chris awoke this morning, his father was gone, presumably to town for more of the supplies they needed. Chris had found a note, quickly scribbled and frustratingly vague, that said his father’s trip might take more than a week. There was no mention as to why that could be the case. In the best of weather, a trip to town and back could take an entire day. Chris had no idea what his father would be doing in the interval.

Another gust of wind rustled through the trees, causing Chris to shiver and draw his garment closer to him. He glanced over his shoulder to where the cabin he shared with his father lay. It was more than half a mile away. Even in the dark, Chris could tell exactly where it was by the tiny dot of light that streamed out the window. It was the light from the roaring fire inside. The light held the promise of warmth and comfort… if Chris managed to get there before the end of the night.

He stomped his boots, feeling the crunch of snow beneath his feet. The blizzard had left more than two meters of snow as it came and went. One of the least pleasant tasks Chris’s father had assigned to him had been to clear each side of the cabin of snow every morning. It was a useless, tedious job that took away time from what Chris really wanted to be doing. And even worse, it aggravated the injuries Chris had suffered at the hands of Tracy Bachman back on the island. But, his father would not see reason in letting Chris off with just clearing the front of the door. He was the one doing the important research. In his mind, anything Chris contributed was little more than child’s play.

Except that Chris knew that was not the case. He could be just as thorough in his research as his father, just as dedicated, just as detailed, and just as systematic. If his father would only see that, their progress would come much faster. If his father only saw him as an equal… well, maybe not, but at least someone who could shoulder the load when needed… then maybe they would have already discovered all they needed. Chris thought he deserved that much, at least, after the way he had proved himself back at Oliver Academy.

Getting Tracy to use her crystal near the large growth of crystals in the caverns of Traven Island had been enough to fully fuel the voliar – the ruby Chris usually kept around his neck. It had absorbed a portion of the crystal’s power, much like a sponge. With that, it was possible to tap into the power of the crystals much like tapping into the electricity of a battery. They could access it slowly, study the patterns of energy being released, and – hopefully – figure out exactly how the crystals worked. They could explore whether it was possible to use the crystals without the need for a female to wield her power. All that was possible only because of the voliar. Without it, there was nothing they could do here, in the remote reaches of the Colorado mountains, to further their plans. Chris was the one who had discovered it. He was the one who made the greatest contribution. But, his father had snatched the voliar away from him the moment he saw it charged. Again – as always – Chris was treated like a child.

A groan sounded from above. Chris looked up just in time to sidestep a collapsing mass of snow from the branches of a nearby tree. Chris took another step back, away from the base of the tree. Away from where he could get hurt.

He took a longing glance at the cabin behind him, but stayed in place. The note his father had left him also told Chris that he was to meet an associate of his father’s, by the northernmost edge of the clearing that surrounded the cabin, a full hour after sundown. The frustration he felt at the moment was fueled by the fact he had been waiting in the cold for three hours without a single sign of the mysterious associate.

Of course, Chris knew how difficult this clearing would be to find for somebody not intimately familiar with the terrain. The spot was hidden in the far reaches of the Colorado Rockies. The only way to get there was by jet, to a tiny town of 500 people all but forgotten by civilization, followed by a five-hour snowmobile ride high into the unmarked mountains. The cabin they lived in could not be reached by helicopter because the air was too thin for the blades. Were it not for the blasted cold and inclement weather, it would actually have been the perfect location for Chris and his father to conduct their research. Nobody could disturb them, and from the way their cabin was situated on the side of the mountain, they could see anybody approaching miles in advance. Not that he ever expected anyone to come here. If you didn’t know exactly where you were going when you left town, you would find yourself hopelessly lost in the thick mountainous forest within hours. And soon after, if you didn’t find your way back, either starvation or frostbite would claim your life. The faraway place provided ideal privacy for Chris and his father to pursue their work.

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