Exclusive Free Short Story! "Legacy of Red" by Ken Brosky (THE GRIMM CHRONICLES)

Welcome to A Week of Little Red in celebration of our favorite scarlet-caped heroine...
not to mention the launch of Marissa Meyer's SCARLET!
Check out my daily schedule of events!
Grab some promotional buttons for your blog
and stop back all week long for fun guest posts, exciting author visits, giveaways, reviews,
and blog tour stops for SCARLET!

Stop back at A Backwards Story during 
Fairy Tale Fortnight 
March 24th ~ April 6th
for more fun activities featuring 
by Isabella Fontaine and Ken Brosky!

Today, I'm really excited to share a very special guest post with you!  
In honor of A Week of Little Red, a special short story in the GRIMM CHRONICLES universe was created to celebrate our favorite caped heroine!  I was blown away by Ken Brosky's willingness to do something so creative and unique, and hope you all enjoy "Legacy of Red" as much as I have!

Check out the story after the information bar (for those of you who want a brief summary of the series before jumping in to the story), accompanied by the beautiful artwork of series illustrator Chris Smith!

O F F I C I A   I N F O:
(of the series)

Author: Isabella Fontaine and Ken Brosky
Release Date: Aug 03, 2012
Publisher: Brew City Press

200 years ago, the Brothers Grimm unleashed their stories upon the world. Literally. Now the characters of the Grimms’ stories walk among us. With every day that passes, they grow more evil. They are the Corrupted, and only a hero can stop them. 

For 18-year-old Alice Goodenough, that means taking precious time off from her summer vacation. In addition to volunteering at the local library, Alice must stop the Corrupted who are now actively hunting her down. With the help of her magic pen and her trusty rabbit friend, the world has suddenly gotten a lot more complex. The Corrupted are everywhere, and only Alice can see them for what they truly are. 

This book contains the first 3 episodes of the critically acclaimed series: 

Episode 1: Prince Charming Must Die! 
Episode 2: Happily Never After 
Episode 3: Revenge of the Castle Cats

Additional features for this special edition: 
- An introduction 
- Two special "Lost Diaries" 
- A behind-the-scenes interview 
- A collection of original Grimms' Fairy Tales 

THE GRIMM CHRONICLES is intended for Young Adults aged 13 and up. 
The goal is to provide Young Adult readers with a strong, charismatic young woman in the role of the hero and provide readers with a positive protagonist who uses her brain to overcome obstacles life throws in her way.
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
is giving away 20 copies of THE GRIMM CHRONICLES!
Go enter now! 
Visit authors Isabelle Fontaine and Ken Brosky on the official website for THE GRIMM CHRONICLES and follow them on Facebook!

THE GRIMM CHRONICLES, Vol. 2 will be available in 2013.  Vol. 1 is available now!

All illustrations are ©
Chris Smith, who also designed the covers for THE GRIMM CHRONICLES series.  Check him out on his blog!

"Legacy of Red”
by Ken Brosky,
with illustrations by Chris Smith

Every dream for the past week has been the same: someone running through the forest. Running from something.
Emphasis on the “thing” part.
He was a wolf at some point. Or, to be more specific, he was one of the Big, Bad Wolves.
Yup, there were two of them. Read “Little Red Riding Hood.” The first one is supposedly killed by a hunter. The second supposedly drowned. But neither of them died. I have no idea why … maybe it was the words the Brothers Grimm used when they wrote the story. The first one was skinned. The second one was drowned. They didn’t write anywhere that the wolves died.
So now, 200 years later, one of them is skulking around the state of Wisconsin, hunting human beings.
And here I am, walking through a forest fifty miles north of Milwaukee, wearing a red cloak with the hood drawn tight. Red Riding Hood. Or, to be more accurate, disguised as Red Riding Hood. The cloak covers my body. And my weapon.
My feet step carefully around the dry leaves that have fallen to the ground. No sounds. Maybe I can catch the wolf unawares. Maybe he’ll make this easy.
The trees shudder. No birds calling out from the bare branches of the oak and pine trees. No one else anywhere.
The air is cold. A sweatshirt would be more appropriate for this autumn weather. But with the red hood on, the wolf will be drawn to me. He’ll think I can lead him to my delicious grandmother, just like in the fairy tale. He’ll do this because he was written this way by the Brothers Grimm. It’s part of his personality.
Suddenly, I feel him. I smell him. The dry, crisp air brings with it the intense smell of mud-caked fur. He smells kind of like a wet dog.
But he probably doesn’t want to hear that.
“Whither away so early, Red Riding Hood?”
I turn around slowly. How did he sneak up on me? If I hadn’t been wearing the red hood … I stifle a shudder. He’s tall. He stands on his hind legs, like a werewolf. His mane is furry and he has a long snout. His hair is a patchy, mangy brown. The Corruption has positively ruined his teeth, causing them to twist and crack and bend awkwardly. Along his belly are long, ragged scars.
“To grandmother’s house,” I reply nonchalantly. In the story, Red Riding Hood is calm, despite facing a wolf. She was obviously near-sighted, because the beast in front of me is about as terrifying as any Corrupted I’ve come across. Also? Probably not a great idea to tell a hungry wolf where your grandmother is.
“Would you rather not pick some flowers for your grandmother?” he asks.
“No.” I tear away the cloak, revealing my fencing saber clutched tightly in my right hand. “I’d much rather stay here.”
He growled. “The hero! Why, you’ll taste best of all!”
He lunges forward. I dodge, swiping at him with my saber and running the blade across his belly. His body lands hard on the forest floor, kicking up dirt and fallen fiery orange leaves.
“Well,” I say. “That was easier than expected.”
The wolf groans, rolling over. There’s a burning black mark across his belly but it doesn’t spread. It doesn’t consume him!
“Come on!” I shout. “Burn away already! That’s how it works. I cut you, you burn away. Everyone is happy. Except you.”
The wolf stands and shakes his massive head slowly. His ears prick up at the sound of wind sliding between the bare branches above us. He runs one claw across the cut again and again. Little black stitches appear, as if he’s sewing the wound closed.
“Magic!” I hiss. “Who taught you that?”
The wolf shrugs.
“Oh that is so not fair!” I shout, taking a step back. He lunges at me again. This time, I circle around a fat tree trunk, hopping onto a fallen log and pushing off with all my might, leaping over a prickly bush.
The wolf follows effortlessly, closing the distance between us. I grab the trunk of a maple sapling, using my momentum to spin around, stabbing at him with the saber. He dodges with a grunt, then howls as the tip of the blade scrapes across his shoulder. He steps back, splitting a fallen branch in half with his long foot.
“Why are you here?” he asks. “Did you see me in a dream, hero? You wouldn’t be the first. Your predecessors have all seen me once or twice. Some have tried hunting me down. None were so smart as to disguise themselves.”
“I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve,” I mutter, watching him stitch up the wound on his shoulder. The burning blackness is still there, though, underneath the stitches. It’s a continuous stitch—I can tell because I’ve had the same suture on my arm. I remember thinking it was so cool, watching the doctor stitch up my cut, and I watched it all happen while my mom looked away. If I can just unstitch the wolf’s suture, somehow …

The wolf side-steps, his tail thrashing side to side. He sniffs in through his nose. “You reek of experience, hero. How many Corrupted have you killed?”
“Tons,” I say. “Hundreds. Millions.”
He comes at me again, moving quicker than I expect, his feet deftly avoiding the fallen branches and little shrubs in the way only an animal can. I throw myself behind a tree, tearing my shirt on the rough bark. He tries to cut me off, but I duck low, rolling under the swipe of his claws. My feet push me forward and I somersault between two pine trees, rolling onto my back. The wolf is coming down on me, claws extended. I draw my feet close to my body, letting the wolf land awkwardly on them. I cut at one of his stitched wounds, then block a swipe of his claws with my forearm and push his heavy weight off.
The muscles in my legs burn. My heart races. My lungs gasp for air.
“Come on, Alice,” I whisper. Think! You’re so good at thinking. Avoiding giant ferocious wolves? Not so much. And you’re getting tired.
The wolf jumps to his feet, glaring at me through yellow eyes. Our hot breaths escape in clouds of steam. He’s reckless. He knows he can outlast me, stitching himself up and waiting for me to make a mistake.
Then I see it: the magical stitch I took a swipe at, to the right of his stomach. He hasn’t repaired it. It’s just hanging there. I can grab it.
“What are you waiting for?” I ask. “An invitation?”
The wolf howls, lunging at me again. I step back and deflect one set of claws with my saber, reaching out with my free hand and grabbing the loose stitch. His heavy weight knocks us both over, and his warm drool lands on my face.
“Gross!” I shout, pushing off of him.
He grabs my foot before I can get away, his claws digging into my calf. A smile creeps across his muzzle.
I return the smile, holding up the stitch I’m clutching.
His smile fades. He looks at his stomach. The open wound, now free of stitching, has already begun spreading, the burning blackness quickly consuming his body.
Black ashes fall to the forest floor. The smell of burnt paper tickles my nostrils.
I grab my red cloak. In the Brothers Grimm story, Red Riding Hood had cake and wine. I’m too young for wine, but I think a little victory cake is definitely in order.