“Meet the Creeper. Dig your grave deeper. Meet The Creeper, Yeah YEAH!” He bellowed, louder than an avalanche, as his giant stride raced him towards me. Even though he looked a bloody mess, with his shattered nose and half a tree still jutting from his mouth, this had no effect of his speed and only fueled his rage.

Without thinking, I pumped the remainder of my Ki into healing myself. It was a panicking situation to feel it draining away before I was even fully healed.  I still had my battle axe and a few knives, but that was about it, so like usual, I turned and ran.

“You won’t run from me. You won’t run from me! Not this time, Primus. This time there is no escape for you. Darken wants you dead and I plan to claim the price on your head. Soon I, Creeper, will be the Lord Of The Rockies!”

Yeah, fuck him.

As I ran, I spotted a dead aspen in my path. My axe went sideways and with one swing I took it out. The Creeper yelled, more with anger than fear, as the fifty feet of tree came toppling at him. I didn’t look to see what might have happened, but a ragged scream led me to hope for the best.

“Will you stop stabbing me with trees!”

Duh, I thought to myself, what else would a child of Yig do?

More running brought me into a wider part of the canyon where the car-sized boulders and the trees began to work against the Creeper’s monstrous height.

I was going to need something serious to take this guy out, but he was too close on my heels to set up a rockslide or something of that nature. Having my reinforcements show up would have been nice, but it appeared the opposite was going to happen. For, in the distance, I could hear the caterwauling of the other Xemmoni as they reached the top of the canyon.

They were chanting something. I think it was, “See the dead in your eyes.”

The Creeper was ordering them to follow, but I didn’t focus on his words for I had to think of a way out of this, not just for myself, but for Hannah too. I reached a core I couldn’t ignore… It was time to play things my way, like I had decided before, I was going to take a page out of Yig’s book and embrace the chaos. Screw the Darcarre, screw our deal, the only thing that mattered was the survival of me and mine. And I was going to make sure that happened!

The canyon opened up wider and I turned and began to head both downhill and north, back towards where I had left Klich and the Darcarre that had sent me on this fool’s errand. It appeared, being the coward at heart he was, that The Creeper was holding up and waiting for his reinforcements.
Yeah sucker, give me the time I need. I going to seriously fuck you up.

I hopped over rock and fallen log and I raced down hill. Soon, I was going so fast I could barely control myself. Branches tore at my face and my hands were covered with a spider web of scars. A cluster of branches blocked my way until my axe splintered them with a violent whack.

As I continued to sprint, I called out to the father of the forest. “Come on, Yig. Don’t let me die in your forest, at least not to these scum.” I summoned every last ebb of strength, drawing from the woods themselves and sent out my most simple spell. Detect Darkening.
And there they were.

“Ha, the fools are still waiting for me,” I whispered between pants. “That means I either beat Ink and Void back here, or they are already dead. Either way, it won’t effect my plans.”

As I continued to race toward their foul ebony glow, I could hear The Creeper and his lackeys striving to catch up and that suited me fine.
Everyone would get involved in the fight this night and the blood would boil before things were done.

And all I could say, as I neared the lurking nest of the Darcarre that sent me on this quest and had my girl, was

Bring it on!!!

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Once the Creeper was past me, I transformed back into a human as quickly as I could. The narrow canyon the Xemmoni was descending into was dark and full of shadows and my hope was that The Creeper would be thinking the rocky floor would obscure me and he would keep moving deeper into its depths.

Now, I just needed to get my legs back before he traveled too far. I ground my teeth in frustration as my scales were replaced with skin and leather while my hands slowly emerged from my growing appendages. But I was already moving before my legs had even fully formed.

I could hear The Creeper crashing below as I started to move over the lip of the canyon. Jumping over boulders and fallen logs, I endeavored to keep up with him. Luckily, the cluttered canyon floor was slowing down even that monster’s forty foot stride.

I was jumping over another log, when an idea came to me. A wicked smile must have owned my face, for a moment, as I crouched down and grabbed up a fallen pine that was around seventeen feet in length and ended in a nasty jagged point.

“Oh yeah, this outta get his attention.”

I was far enough away from the manor that the trees, Yig’s trees, were able to obey my commands. The bark entwined around my fingers as I tore the pine form the clinging earth. Sprinting with my massive weapon, I raced toward the cliff face. Luck was still with me for The Creeper was directly below.

With a yell, fed by the insanity of my actions, I leapt off the cliff with my oversized spear. Riding the javelin like a surfboard, I pummeled into the rocky canyon.

The Creeper looked up at the last moment and that was a mistake for the tip of my massive spear took him in the mouth! His plate sized teeth shattered and snapped as the log broke through them and embedded itself in the back of the Caradon’s throat. His roar become a scream of agony, which was quickly drowned in a jet of blood.

I held on, using my body weight to try to drive it deeper while my boots went for the a-hole’s eyes. With a wet roar, The Creeper lashed out and the log broke with a violent crack and I found myself spiraling towards the boulders below.

With a sudden twist, I trust my arms toward The Creeper and laughed at his pain as the remainder of my log dug into his side, tearing into his flesh, and slowing my descent. That is, until The Creeper’s car side foot kicked me.

It felt like I had been hit by a bus and more of my ribs had snapped than I thought I had. And then the real pain hit when I crashed into a cluster of rocks. My body hung broken and limp and as the titanic form of The Creeper stumbled towards me, I knew I had to act fast before the rock that had just broken my arm became my tombstone.

To be continued.

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Without thinking, I was moving. I used a hand sign of Yig and a few hisses to bring forth my most powerful spell and focused my Ki on the window, which I had  recently leapt through. At least a dozen Xemmoni were hurling themselves through the library located on the other side of the shattered window.
The ground burst, sending chunks of earth and stone five feet into the air on either side of the Creeper’s fist and more importantly, where I had just been standing. With a final yell, my spell crashed into the wall of the house. The manor was made of wood, which had no choice but to obey my commands. At first there was a splintered tearing and then the shattered pieces of wood wove together, like a drunken spider web.
Disgruntled moans echoed when the swarm discovered their passage to me closed. But they would find another way.
The Creeper loomed above me. The foul Caradon was easily fifty feet tall. Blood splashed the front of him from where I had crushed his nose.
A fist the size of a Humvee came barreling at me, with a leap, I was just able to avoid being hit.
Forget the Darcarre, forget this stupid mission, I was going to play by my own rules. If my Darcarre allies wouldn‘t play nice, then I might have to beat them each bloody until they turned up with Hannah. I hoped for Ethan’s sake that the man might be finding his own escape. Surely Ink and Void knew that they needed to flee.
I was sprinting for the forest now and The Creeper was right behind me. “Welcome to my playground you, wait, these trees!” They aren’t obeying my command.
“These lands belong to US!” The Creeper bellowed. “You’ll find no hope here, Primus.” His voice was like bags of cement being tossed down a dry well.
“Buckethead,” might have escaped from me as I plunged deeper into the woods. Yes, I was separated from my dubious allies and Ethan. But since I could do little against The Creeper I figured: A) I shound be fleeing. B) I might as well put as much distance between me and the Xemmoni horde.
So now I just had to deal with the mile high monstrosity, one on one. I leaped over boulder and log, lunging headfirst through the darkness. The Creeper tore through the bows behind me. Some luck was with me for the trees slowed his charge considerably.
Ahead of me a rocky pass loomed and I had an idea. I put everything I had into a sprint as I began to focus on a different spell.
Over and Under I Move Through the Trees
In Light or in Dark, I move as I Please

My eyes grew wide as my legs began to disappear. The Creeper raged behind me and I struggled to get closer to the lip of the canyon before my change became complete. I was shrinking fast. An explosive hiss tore from me as I used a last burst of strength to hurl my new serpentine body under a boulder.
The only drawback of being in serpent form is it is harder to say. “I got you now fucker.”

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The only advantage we had was that we had gotten the drop on them, but since there were fourteen Xemmoni, plus the flipping Creeper, this might not mean a hell of a lot.
I figured I’d start out big and joined my allies in lighting up the place with some serious mystical energy. While Ethan ripped into them when his flame attack, the Loki thing, and the Darcarre blasted into two of the six twisted Caradon with their Black Veins Bestow, I thought I’d try to look at the bigger picture.
The whole room was covered with rubble torn out of the house. Most of this was lumber. Forming a link with the abilities given to me by the great God Yig, I called forth the strength of the forests. The discarded wooden beams began to splinter and bend. They undulated like blind snakes latching onto whatever they could hold. Ankle. Arm. Neck.
The Creeper was screaming, but I did my best to see if a hurled sledge hammer would shut him up. When his nose exploded into a bloody ruin, all lethargy was lost and the giant mountain of a man bellowed like a thousand slaughtered cattle.
“Primus is mine! You weaklings mop up the rest of these fools!” Oh great, my allies were now only outnumbered over four to one and all I had to do was take on this fifty foot tall tattered freak with arms the size of freight cars.
So naturally, I ran.
The Creeper lunged toward me, but wasn’t fast enough. I made it into a normal hallway before his railroad tie sized fingers tore yards of wood away from the walls. I sprinted down the dark passage and the Creeper tried to bull his way through the walls with a scream. I might have heard Ink shouting something about not destroying the manor, but I couldn’t have cared less. I figured this whole mission was a fool’s errand and we had only just begun our trip down the shit slope.
Only thing I could do now was hang on and try to ride it out.
Even The Creeper can’t run through three floors of a house, at least not quickly. I thought I had bought myself a few seconds until I heard something crashing down the hallway after me. Turning, my eyes went wide with panic. A mangled hand, dripping torn flesh and easily the size of a swimming pool, was racing towards me. It filled the entire passage and there could be no avoiding it.
I let my big battle axe ride in my hands as I kept booking down the passage. A Gloom’s ghastly face appeared blocking my path. I was about to cut him down, but then I had an idea. I let him make the first move. After blocking his descending sickle, I spun, and then using the shaft of my axe, I pushed him back the way I had come.
The Gloom shrieked in terror as The Creeper’s oversized hand clamped down on him. Never one to waste an opportunity, I turned and whacked The Creeper’s hand with an overhead swing. In the distance I heard a bellow, as one of The Creeper’s fingers were severed in an explosion of blood. The hand withdrew, after crushing the Gloom into a bloody paste, of course.
The howling only increased when The Creeper discovered he had taken the wrong prize.
As to the fate of my allies I could not be sure, for it seemed that the fighting had stopped. I could care less about the Darcarre, although despite my wishes, Ethan had sort of grown on me.
I was uncertain as to what my next move should be, but then it was decided for me. With a wild series of manic caterwauling the Xemmoni came pouring down the tunnel at me. Yells from other parts of the house joined in. Who knew how many there were? I needed to get out of there.
Racing just ahead of the gathering shadows I made my way into a library. Not bothering to stop until I had leapt through the far window, I rolled over the grass, followed my a storm of shattered glass.
But before I could even regain my feet, I heard a titanic laugh.

Looking up, I saw that The Creeper was already waiting for me.

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Rolling my neck to get the cramps the tentacle had left there, I turned in time to see Ink open the concealed passage. The entrance was set into the middle of a rocky formation on the side of a steep cliff. Overhead the Manor loomed like an abandoned corpse. I could just see a smattering of candles, which somehow was more disturbing than if the place had been completely dark.

Speaking of dark, the tunnel was, of course, stygian. Spiders fought with rats for the right to claim the place as their own.

I’m sure my Xemmoni pals felt right at home.

Without a word, they led the way into the foul passage. Dust was kicked up and clung to us like a living thing. The place smelled vaguely of old bones as well as something sharper, like the odor of flesh being burnt by acid.

Void dropped back a pace. “There is a creature here, one that even you wouldn’t want to fight. Luckily for you, it’s Darcarre and it is a simple matter for us to keep it at bay. “

I figured there was about an even money chance that this was just a ploy to make sure that we wouldn’t use this passage against them in the future and there wasn’t a monster at all, but at that point, I hardly cared. I just wanted to get this crap over with. I wanted to see the Creeper killed and I wanted to rescue Hannah. Oh yeah, and kill everyone that tried to keep me from completing either of those goals.

There were a few passages extending in the darkness that I had no desire to explore. They passed gapping like hungry blacks maws, as Ethan’s flicking torch created shadows that danced in jagged jerky movements with each step we took.

After an eternity of dirt and rock, the metal staircase stood out vividly. Its stark black steel spiraled up into the murk above us and I took a deep breath before following my suspect allies above.

Our boots echoed with hollow thuds as we climbed the spiral. Looking down I now saw the pitch black there as well and soon we were a moving light rising through a sea of darkness.

Eventually we made it to a narrow metal door. Ink paused to listen, while Void wasted a motion that reminded us to be silent. With a muffled click the door swung open into the confined wooden space. This in turn led to a passage that I was forced to stoop to be able to move through. Even then, the hammer strapped to my back banged one of the walls. Ink shot me a venomous look and after I flipped him the bird, we moved on.

Another secret door later and we had entered some sort of washroom. The place stunk and I wondered what these foul freaks we using the place to wash these days. It was too dark to tell, which was fine with me. I’m sure I would rather not know.

Ink whispered. “Of course we know the layout of our home, but from here on out, who or what might be lurking where could be anyone’s guess. It has been weeks since we have visited what was once ours and the Creeper could have made many changes in this time. One other thing, most of the loyal Darcarre have left the manor on our ruse, but Klich wants us to try to avoid killing our misguided brethren if possible. Of course all Caradon and Glooms are open game.” He allowed himself a wicked grin. “Kill as many as you can.”

“So you have no idea where the Creeper might be?”

“I have a guess and we will check there first.”

We resumed our silence and traveled through a few more rooms. “We are getting closer,” Ink hissed. Then, after opening another door, Ink stumbled back with a gasp, as light poured over us.

What had once been several rooms had become one, through the destruction of walls, furniture, and everything else that stood in their way. Now, in its place was a giant room that probably passed well into the third floor of the manor. Lounging on a thrown made from the rubble was the colossal form of The Creeper. He was being attended by about a half dozen grey cloaked Glooms and an equal amount of twisted Caradon. Two Darcarre we also there and as one they all turned toward us as The Creeper began to laugh.

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