We fell into our tiring routine the next morning. However, this time I had us make smaller loads and conserve our mystic strength. A few hours later, I flashed Ethan one of the hand signs of Yig, which we had agreed on before hand.

“Looks like I’m spent again.” I called back to his Darcarre guard.

“Then you know what that means, worm, back to the shovel. Ethan grab the wheelbarrow and start filling that slime puppy up.”

I knew these Darcarre could hear a whisper at a hundred yards, but I doubted these two losers were powerful enough to have their senses pierce our thoughts. Who knew what a Migo might be able to do, but I figured I’d take the chance.

I pantomimed a crown and then made the finger sign for close. Ethan eyes grew a little wider. He knew that when we found that crown, that meant the battle was on.

So we threw out backs into the labor. I could sense it now. A dim aura, but here. As dug my way closer, the going was painfully slow.

The Consciousness Crown, Ink had called it. I tried to gain a feel for the thing through the layers of debris. Someone had sure wanted this thing hidden. I reached out with my detect Darkening and the object didn’t appear to have an evil aura. Its aura didn’t seem good either. It just was. Waves of powerful energy could be felt as we drew nearer. The Migo and our two guards grew restless. They could sense it too.

If they sent for reinforcements it would tip the scales against us. I knew I would have to appeal to their greed. “I think the crown is still a few dozen yards away, but already its energy seemed to be healing me.”

It was a complete lie, but the Xemmoni bought it. Edgar would know if they put on the crown, but if they believed that just standing near it might give them powers, they could hold off on telling Edgar until it was too late—at least for them.

I knew we were closer than what I told them. The ground got strangely looser and we found ourselves working faster. Ethan couldn’t bring the wheel barrel back fast enough; our fingers flew as shovel after shovel of dirt was moved.

Then I could see it. It glowed through the dirt. I motioned for Ethan to block the Xemmoni’s view. He was a thief and knew what to do. I hunched over and thrust my arms into the ground. I went in past my elbows before my fingers grabbed onto the buzzing instrument of power.

I felt like electricity entered my body and I began to vibrate. Ethan might have gasped when the whole tunnel lit up like a June day. The Darcarre shouted and the Migo roared in a whistling sort a way.

Nothing could stop me and I just hoped I knew what I was doing when I placed the crown over my head. It settled on my head and another wave of energy pierced through me before I started to scream.

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Trapped in the Dark

December 12, 2011

We were back inside the cold dark tunnels. More than anything Ethan and I had wanted to make a break for it before we had entered their foul depths. Hell, with a little luck, we probably could have fought most of the villains that held us and still come out on top, but with Hannah being held captive, neither fight nor flight was and option.

Dusk choked my lungs and before we had even reached the active part of the digging, we were covered in chalky grime. We were guarded by a brace of young Darcarre, but the real threat was from one of Edgar’s two remaining Migo, who had devised itself some type of powerful laser pistol. Its tentacles writhed in chaotic patterns and its constant chittering was enough to drive the most steadfast Stalwart mad.

Despite our guards, Ethan drew in close. “I thought we were going to make a break for it before we used up our mystic strength for today.”

“Change in plans,” I grunted.

The Darcarre shifted nervously. Each Darcarre had powerful senses and could probably hear everything we said. This would not keep them from being the first to perish if we did try to escape however.

I had been trying to teach Ethan some of the silent hand signals of Yig. However, I wasn’t sure how much he remembered and in general their method of communication was quite limited and mostly covered battle techniques. I could tell him to attack silently, and things of that nature, but complex issues were impossible.

So I flashed the sign for trickery and hoped that this would be the type of thing a man of Loki would remember.

So it began. Once more, I started up my supernatural powers, granted to me by Yig, and used my Earth Magick to move huge sections of the collapsed tunnels into a bigger area. Once there, Ethan would bake the freed earth with his flames of Loki. These hardened bricks would then be carried to the surface by the poor citizens of Telluride that Edgar controlled as his slaves.

It was grueling and difficult work. Once our Ki was spent we were forced to revert to more mundane ways of clearing the passage. Even my strength was tested after hours of back-breaking work was forced upon us.

When at last we were allowed to limp back to our frigid cabin, I felt like I had worked enough to clear a passage into the other side of the peaks. I leaned against the wall and after a brief and disgusting meal. I was about to let sleep claim me when someone entered the cabin.

At first, I figured it was another Darcarre sent to taunt us, but this one seemed familiar. I remained unsure at first, but then it hit me. “Ink,” I said in shock.

Ink was a member of the sprinkler group of Darcarre than opposed their clan’s alliance, or in their mind enslavement, to Vile Darken. I had figured he had been killed in our last battle against the Creeper his Caradon Allies, but apparently the slippery bastard had been able to escape.

“I can’t talk long,” the pale Darcarre whispered. I was sent to infiltrate these scum by Klich. I know they have your woman and are forcing you to dig for the Consciousness Crown. We can’t let Edgar gain possession of that artifact under any circumstances. If he were to gain its powers he would be nearly unstoppable and-”

“Yeah, no shit.” I interrupted. “What I need to you do is be ready to free Hannah when we make our move. We’ll help you take down this treacherous madman, but only if you and yours keep Hannah safe.”

Ink hesitated for a moment. “I will have to check with Klich, but I think we can manage that, as long as you swear to not hand over the crown to him under pain of death.”

“Agreed, but if anything happens to Hannah the deal is off and I’ll be claiming the head of any Darcarre I come across no matter what side they are on.”

He stared me down, but his black eyes were the first to look away. “Agreed. We will wait for your signal, which in your case, I will assume will be these sounds of our enemy’s screams.”

Ethan laughed. “You know him well.”

“The other guard returns. I must leave. Don’t let us down Stalwart.”

“Yeah, ditto.”

Ink then hurried out of our cabin and Ethan turned to me. “This could get interesting.”

“My thoughts exactly.”

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Tissue Paper Prison

December 5, 2011

“Man, they worked me so hard today that I don’t even feel like escaping,” Ethan grumbled.

“Yeah, I’m sure that’s the idea.” I looked outside the window and watched as another Rocky  slammed into us. “I’d like to become a snake and try to find Hannah, but with the weather like this, I’d freeze before I got too far.”

Ethan laid back on the cold floor boards of what might have once been a tool shack. Outside a brace of Darcarre circled around the small building that had become our prison. I could have punched through the thin walls, but then I would have only found myself trapped within the storm. Sure I could escape, but where would that leave Hannah? Not to mention the hundreds of possessed people that were forced to be Edgar’s slaves.

I couldn’t attack without pause either; for as soon as I made it through a dozen Darcarre, I should I would be confronted with the sight of Hannah with a dagger pressed against her throat.

“So are we going to try anything tonight, boss?”

“No, I don’t think we can. I just wish we could see Hannah and know that she’s okay. Besides you know that the Darcarre are probably listening to everything we are saying. They have the best sensory perception of any race of Xemmoni.”

“Oh yeah. Why did you say that out loud then?” Ethan asked as, despite the cold, he started to drift off.

“They know I know about them. So, hey Edgar, if you are listening, I’m going to shove that crown down your throat when we find it.”

“Feel better?”

“Not really, but I do have a reputation to maintain.”

Ethan chuckled and then rolled over onto his side. He heated a few floor boards with his hands and it provided some radiant heat, but did little to cut the building cold.

I stood staring out into the mix of white and black. White and Black. Good and Evil. The Darcarre worshipped the darkness, while the snow was natural and revitalized the Rocky Mountains, which were the backbone ofAmerica. It might suck for us, but the snow was natural, good, and honest. And the Darcarre were anything but.

Edgar wasn’t the only person that had incarnations of himself on other worlds. I knew I did too. Why it happened to me, I had no idea, but somehow I’d become mixed up with Vile Darken’s deadly game. He wanted to control the Multi-verse and freaks like Edgar were given the power to try to make sure this came to pass.

The real question will be should I put on this crown if I get the chance? It could open up huge new doorways of understanding for me. Edgar said it would increase his power, and if this is so, it could certainly do the same for me. However, Loskeep had told me what had happened to Vile when he was granted assess to the consciousness of all his incarnations—He went completely mad. Would the same happen to me?

Shaking my head, did little to clear it. Why was I worried about all this, when Hannah’s safety should be my chief concern? Still, we had to think of a way out of this and anything that could give me an advantage and help save hundreds of lives might be worth it.

Ethan had started to snore and despite my aching muscles, I knew my torn mind wouldn’t be letting me join him. My eyes gazed back out the window as the rough mountain pass became blanketed in snow.

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