Realms Podcast
Kursed Kreatures: The Falling Sky

Kursed Kreatures: The Falling Sky

The first chapter of my debut novel!

Hello and welcome to Realms! If you didn’t know, Realms is a sci-fi and fantasy fiction newsletter and podcast. I’m Zach, the writer and reader of this publication. It’s almost the end of the year, so I want to thank you all for reading and listening to Realms - whether you’ve been part of the journey for the last two years or have recently subscribed. 

I never thought I would write so many stories or even put my voice on the internet like this. It’s thanks to you that I do! And there’s over 220 subscribers now! I’m so grateful that you give me your time and ears every month for these strange stories. 

Before we begin today, I want to talk about my first-ever novel that’s coming out on Christmas day on Amazon. It’s called Kursed Kreatures.

Buy or Pre-order Here

It’s a young adult fantasy novel in a medieval world where all the characters are walking, talking, animals. I like to think of it as a spiritual successor to the Redwall series. This is how I pitch it: When hare siblings Rabbs and Tams lose everything after making a dark deal with an evil god, they set out to find atonement, but what they discover is a world threatened to be destroyed by the god they bargained with. 

I wrote this novel for all ages, but teens thirteen to fifteen will likely enjoy it the most. 

I’ve been working on this novel since 2018. I love it. It’s really good. And to prove it, today’s short story is actually the first chapter from my novel. 

Without further ado, here’s Chapter 1, The Falling Sky, from my novel, Kursed Kreatures.

amazing cover by my friend Torrey Ratay-Brown

The Falling Sky

The day that my life went all wrong, I was with the one person who made everything better and worse at the same time. My sister, Tamia Hareson. 

We were a fine pair of young, inseparable hare siblings. Her fur the color of rich clay. Mine white as eyes, but with black speckles. That day was hotter than a smithy’s oven. I glanced at the clear, simmering sky and twitched my ears forward to cover my head. I flicked sweat off my paws and shifted the strap attached to the full picnic basket. 

“I hate that we gotta go to the very edge of town just to bring the old tortoise his lunch,” I said and adjusted the strap again, unable to get it to sit comfortably. “Let’s take a dip in the river after this.”

Tamia, or Tams, as everyone called her, said, “You know, one of these times we’re going to walk up there and find him dead. He’s older than the oldest turd in Brambleton.”

“You sound like you want to find him dead.” I groaned and dropped the basket. “Mind helping me out?”

“Seems like you got it, Rabbscalion Hareson!”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have covered for you,” I grumbled. I wondered when I’d learn not to take the heat for anyone, not even my sister or my best raccoon friend, Chester. But in our small town, there wasn’t much else to do, besides work the fields or fix up old buildings or make trouble. One can only do chores so often.

She said, “Kin before sin, Rabbs. And if you told the Council, I’d cook you up.”

I replied, “I’d make a fine hare stew. Don’t you reckon?”

“Keep your cannibalism to yourself. Don’t want Old Sage to confuse you with lunch, he’s confused enough as it is.” 

We hiked up a path worn into the vegetation, and before long, emerged into a clearing. The tall grass waved in the wind like ripples in a pond. A staggered line of trees hushed the space with shifting leaves. I’d been here every day for the last month and still thought it was the most peaceful place around. 

Until that day, that is.

Tams stopped and put her paws to her hips, looking around. “Where’s Old Sage? And what’s that thing up there?” Old Sage was nowhere to be found, and the object Tams pointed at looked like a giant shining boulder. She took off at a run, suddenly, not taking two seconds to observe before rushing in. Typical. 

I dropped the basket and ran to catch up.

Tams said, “He was here. There’s his journal.” She pointed at the brown tome standing out from the green grass, right next to the boulder-thing, shining because it reflected sunlight like a mirror. The object’s edges dripped with red and so, too, the journal. I picked it up and got the red stuff all over my paws, slightly warm and sticky. I wiped it off on the grass.

Tams knelt beside the mirror thing and dipped a paw in the red. “Rabbs, I think this is Old Sage.”

“What?” I looked at my red-stained paw. “Blood?” 

An insane idea hit my hare brain. The mirror-rock-thing had fallen from a great height, so heavy and fast that it squished Old Sage. I stared open-snouted at my paw in horror. Then, I reacted the normal way one reacts to touching the remains of a kreature one knows. I threw up. Tams merely grimaced as that day’s breakfast spewed out of me. Toast with carrot marmalade. It had been tasty going in.

As I retched, she squatted beside the mirror thing and muttered to herself. She picked up the journal, the bloody mess not having any effect on her, and opened it.

“He was writing something down when that thing fell on him. I need you to read it.”

I spat and replied, “Gods, wipe it off at least.” When she’d done so, I cleared my throat, “The trees are lovely today. Not a lick of the kurse on them, unlike everything else. Oh, lovely, lovely day, the kurse is on its way. But no! Don’t tell anyone. Golden and Mister Missus both said they’d save us. We’ll die if they don’t! Foxed if we do. Foxed if we don’t. Haha! And it cuts off right there. Crazy old reptile. He journals like he talks.” 

Tams looked up. “It crushed him mid-thought, before he could croak his last.”

“I don’t think tortoisekind croak,” I said.

“Did you notice that hole in the sky?”

“What?” I looked up to see darkness in the middle of the bright sunny day. An actual hole in the sky. It had the same jagged shape as the thing that killed Old Sage. At the hole’s edges spread fractures, cracks in the heavens. Those cracks were spreading as we looked on. I watched as the air around the hole rippled like heat waves on a cobblestone road, distorting the clouds and the sun, as if the whole dome of the sky was breaking down. My jaw dropped. 

She said, “Rabbs, we’re the only ones who know this has happened.”


“We’ve got to do something.”

“How about we go back to our day and go take a dip in the river like we planned? Maybe even eat the picnic that Old Sage is clearly not hungry for.”

There came a look, a hard look. 

I held my paws up. “Joking! But what can we do? All we know is that this thing killed Old Sage…we don’t know why or how. All we have is a journal full of that tortoise’s muddled thoughts.”

“He said a kurse is on its way. He mentioned Golden and Mister Missus.”

“Like…Golden the Younger from the stories? And Mister Missus, that old toad?”

She nodded her head, ears shifting like grass. “Exactly. Flip through his journal more. See if he mentions anything else about this kurse.”

Rifling through those old, dry pages, I found that every entry mentioned the kurse. It wasn’t a fluke. He’d journaled about it every day for years. Could this broken sky be part of it? And how come this was the first time we were hearing about it? As I flicked through the journal, I noticed a loose paper near the front. It was a crumbling old note. I read it aloud:

You’ve found my body by now, no doubt. I couldn’t take living this way anymore, knowing that we exist in a mirage. I’ve put the remainder of my soul into the ring, in case you muster the strength to end the kurse. You’ll find it in my study. I thought I could finally break it this time. I failed. Please, cremate my body. Don’t fuss around with a burial.

Thank you for your friendship.

Golden the Younger

“Looks like Old Sage was hiding something,” Tams said. “And now I think we oughta pay Mister Missus a visit.”

We had stumbled onto an enormous secret. Something hidden from us that was just now coming to light, like discovering a deep, dark cave right behind the den you’ve lived in your whole life. 

I said, “Shouldn’t we, like, say something? For Old Sage?”

Tams gestured at the huge sky piece over his remains, and then the hole in the sky, the cracks spreading as we stood there. It looked like another piece was going to break off soon. We hadn’t time for pleasantries.

“What about lunch?” I half-joked, looking at the picnic basket. 

She started off at a sprint and called back, “You’re welcome to bring it with us!”

I sighed. Wasn’t any way I was going to carry that thing while running. I clung to the journal and took off. I was always chasing after Tams. Never the one in the lead. Before leaving that clearing, I sent one last kind thought to the smashed tortoise: Rest in peace, Old Sage. Rest in peace.

We jumped over bushes and weaved through trees, avoiding poison ferns and thorny vines.

I asked, “Are we gonna tell anyone? Pa? Ma? The Council?”

“Not yet. We don’t really know anything.” 

“But if the sky keeps breaking, other kreatures are gonna die. If it all breaks, then we’ll all die. Wait, do you think the entire sky’s going to come down?” Fear climbed up my spine and my fur stood on end.

Tams replied, “Think about how much time we’ll lose if we run to town, try to get kreatures to look at what happened to Old Sage, and then… No. All of that would take forever.” 

As we ran, I glanced at the sky, watching and waiting for more pieces to break off. My sister never looked back.

We burst out of the dense forest and onto the road that paralleled the Brambleton River and downtown. There were a few kreatures about, pointing and looking at the sky, ignoring us as we sprinted by. Even the crotchety old busybodies didn’t yell at us to slow down. 

Screams erupted around us. I looked back to see another mirror-like shard break away from the original hole, this piece many times larger than the one that liquified Old Sage. It tumbled and crashed beyond our sight, bringing down trees. I flinched when the sky rumbled deeper, the sound reaching into my bones.

I uttered, “What the fox is happening?”

“It’s getting worse,” Tams said.

“One of us needs to go help Ma and Pa.” 

Exasperated, she replied, “No way. We stay together. If one of us gets in trouble, the other needs to figure out how to stop this.” Tams grabbed my paw and pleaded, “I need you, Rabbs.”

I’d never heard her say such a thing before. These were desperate times indeed.

Smoke rose above the treeline, around the bend from Mister Missus’ home. The toadkind’s hut perched over the edge of Brambleton River on a stilt foundation that kept it from sliding into the water. It was humid there in the depths of the swamp and away from the breezes that cooled the valley. A heavy scent of bacco smoke wafted in the air. Thunder chased us, the sound becoming constant in the background. I forced myself not to look back. We slowed to a walk as we pushed through the gate and into the gardens. 

“Don’t you know the toad?” Tams asked.

“Yeah, I met Mister Missus last year when I helped Pa redo the landscaping. Great pay. Terrible summer.”

“I remember that. What was it you said about him?”

“That he was crazy—”

She interrupted me, “No, you said, ‘out of his foxing mind.’ Did you ever figure out why he’s called Mister Missus?”

I nodded. “Every so often…his personality changes. Sometimes he, or she, is Missus. Sometimes he’s Mister. Don’t know why. It’s probably a toadkind thing.”


“That’s why it was such horrible work. The personalities have…differing opinions on decor.”

The white gravel path meandered through the manicured garden, full of life. Royal Rosanias, purple and delicate, greeted us. Summer tulips waved in the breeze. Trim and tucked hedges lined the paths, interrupting the flowers. 

Tams scoffed, “Gods, the time it must take for the upkeep.”

The garden’s fruit trees and bushes obscured the full view of the hut, but soon it was clear. Ivy dangled from long rafters which poked out of the circular roof every few feet. 

“Mister’s done some serious decorating,” I said. “This reminds me of Old Sage’s place, too. The round hut. The contrasting paint scheme. I dig that ginger door.” 

“If you like, we could interview Mister Missus on architecture instead of this secret kurse.” I rolled my eyes.

A splitting crack resounded and filled the air with electricity, like lightning was going to strike all around us. I folded my ears back too late, and they rang sharply. Thunder rumbled afterward, unceasing. But there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, a confusing detail what with the ceaseless thunder. I looked toward Old Sage’s hill. The hole had spread, the looming darkness visible even from so deep in the swamp. 

Tams bounded up the steps and hammered on the door. A deep, airy voice responded, “Oh dear, I’m all exposed. Give me a moment.” There was a thump and a resounding splash before the voice said, “Come in, dearies. It’s perfectly nice in here.”

And that’s chapter one of Kursed Kreatures!

The ebook is available for pre-order on Amazon, and on Christmas Day, the hardcover and paperback will be released. If you want the rest of the story, you can buy the book here:

Buy Kursed Kreatures

If you do read it, please leave a review to help this debut novel get traction. 

If you read or listened to this first chapter and thought someone else will love it, why not share it with them?


Thank you for reading!

Until the next one,

I’m Zach Roush, and this is Realms.

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