July 28, 2014
Jack awoke the next morning with his two companions: hunger and thirst. His saw no reason to delay his best course of action and transformed into a large viper. The wait proved long, for humans can not come close to matching a true serpent’s patience. He had considered returning to human, when a black squirrel raced down from one of the tangled oaks.
Fangs struck and he devoured his prey. Once completed, he returned to his human form. Rubbing his stomach, he said, “Better than nothing,” and began to gather his weapons. Looking over his new spear, made him pleased. Jack considered lashing a dagger to the end, but it already had a strong tapered point, so he just left it alone.
The clouds appeared darker and he wondered if he might actually get some rain. With one last look at the cluster of trees, he headed deeper into the mountains.
New thoughts plagued him as he marched and climbed over obstacles. So far I’ve just been focused on finding water and surviving, but I need to find a way off this brutal world. But who am I kidding? It isn’t like I’ve ever met anyone besides that bastard Vile that can travel between worlds. Unless some mystic shaman is chanting around the next bend, this world might be end up being my new home, but if I’m trapped here, what will happen to my Earth without me to help protect it?
He moved into a narrow rocky ravine. The bushes grew thicker here and required more effort to pass through. Drop offs, which he wished held waterfalls, stretched before him. More climbing would be required and already the day’s heat built.
He had just finished scrambling over the first thirty foot cliff, when something occurred to him. I still have that scroll—I leapt through the portal with Vile’s scroll.
As he pulled it out of his pocket, he wondered over two things. Could this scroll somehow be used to create a portal back to his world, but then another idea appeared like a burning dagger in his skull. Vile had created the scroll to destroy all the Stalwart incarnations, but could there be a way to alter it so they could destroy all of Vile’s incarnations?
But gazing at the scroll told him something at once. People more learned than I are going to have to figure this one out. The scroll was covered in a script of characters which meant nothing to him. Some appeared more like drawings than language.
With an angry grumble, he thrust it back into his half-shredded jacket pocket. “Well unless I run into this world’s Loskeep, I doubt I’ll be able to make it back to my world, let alone find a way to cure the whole Multi-Verse of Darken’s blight. Oh well, doesn’t look like Jack will be saving every living creature across the universe today, oh darn.”
He almost didn’t hear the footsteps until it was too late. Turning at once, Jack instinctively held his spear before him. The figure batted it aside, with a war club, but the move had still bought Jack a second to take his savage adversary in.
The man was covered in angler stripes of red paint and several red feathers hung from his rough belt and were tied to his arms with strips of leather. He had a weapon in each hand. One had a club with circles of flint napped stone embedded into it. His left hand held what might have been an obsidian dagger. The man’s tanned face leaked anger and a scream escaped from him as he swung his club at Jack’s head.
Jack managed to duck under the attack and tried to bring his spear up, but the man lunged forward with his dagger. Jack tried to dodge back, but the blade pierced three inches into his shoulder.
This guys’ moving to fast to be normal.
With a growl, Jack pushed him back with the length of his spear. The figure yelled a guttural series of words and then came at him like a whirlwind of feathers, stick, and stone. Jack took a step back and fought a defensive battle where he used his spear to keep his enemy’s weapons from finding his flesh.
A dagger slash across his knuckles left Jack seeing red. “Alright asshole, you want a fight…” Switching tactics, Jack turned his spear sideways and brought the base of it up into the warrior’s chin.
His mouth slammed shout with a loud click and his neck jerked backwards.
Pressing his attack, Jack slammed the length of his spear down on the man’s collar bone.
The man’s grunted and dropped to one knee. A primitive shout escaped from his lips and his club batted the spear away and he leapt forward trying to drive his knife into Jack’s heart.
He underestimated Jack’s speed. Primus took and step back and raised the bottom end of his spear. The blunt side took the charging man in the neck.
The man tumbled to the ground, hacking and clutching his throat.
Jack used the point of his spear to move the man’s weapons from his reach and then cast Detect Darkening. After bring the point of his spear down over the man’s face, he said. “Fucking Ripperkah, huh? Why do you bastards have to be everywhere?”
Under him, the man struggled just to draw air through his damaged throat. “Usually I just kill pukes like you. After what your kind did to Darlene, your kind have always topped my shit list, but I suppose that I should try to learn something from…”
His words died as a stone dagger shattered inches from his right foot. Another caused him to duck.
Looking back up, he saw four more of the red painted Ripperkah tribesmen running full out toward him.
“Oh yeah, here we go!”
To be continued next Monday
July 21, 2014
The T-Rex took a right turn as it neared the cliffs and Jack figured he would leave it to its carnivoristic wanderings. His serpentine body slipped off the huge dinosaur’s ankle without complications and he waited until it disappeared from sight before he resumed his human form.
“Well,” he started, while wiping the dust from his clothes, “That saves me a couple of dozen miles of walking.”
It pleased him to see the dried clumps of grasses and other sparse vegetation. Even though most of what he spied looked dead. Where there was life, there remained hope. At least he figured water did exist on this world, he just had to find some.
A shadow fell across him. Looking up, he saw vultures not unlike what he might have encountered on his world. A light wind picked up blowing the grey dust around him. After running his sleeve over his parched lips, he set his eyes on a pass that led between two jagged ash colored peeks and started hiking.
Hiking uphill taxed his already exhausted muscles. He felt spent both physically and mystically. It would be one thing, coming here fresh, but no, I have to arrive after fighting my nemesis. Part of him wanted to find a shady cave and start again in the morning, but he knew this would just dehydrate him more and leave him less time to find water.
After another hour of hiking, be came too a few clusters of bushes that looked like they still clung to life. He searched them for berries, but had no such luck. His empty stomach had become as much of a problem as his lack of water and he noticed rodent holes surrounded some of the bigger groups of bushes.
He rubbed his chin for a moment. “Extreme circumstances calls for extreme actions.” So without further wait, he once again transformed into a snake, found a concealed area, and waited.
The wait proved long, but his reptilian form required less water, so in some respects, he stretched what hydration he had. He might have dozed off, for when he felt the slight vibration, his eyes reveled that evening had begun to claim the land.
A rat nibbled on a root of some kind, but not for long before Jack’s fangs pierced its hide. It struggled for a moment, but soon perished from the venom. It took Jack seventeen distasteful minutes to devour the dying critter, but once the process was complete, he returned to his human form.
Feeling strangely refreshed and a little invigorated, Jack continued to push himself and put another mile behind him as the dropping temperatures made travel easier. Before long, he came to his first group of trees. They had twisted forms, like old witches bend in the wind, so he pushed on.
The cliffs became steeper and as darkness set it, he figured that it would become too dangerous to continue soon. Cursing himself for leaving the first cluster of trees, he had just considered returning to them, when he reached a sheer cliff that stretched thirty feet over his head.
A groan escaped from him until he saw something that left him feeling uncertain. To his right small hand and foot holes had been carved into the rock face. He touched them while looking overhead. They appeared ancient, but remained hard for him to tell when the last time they could have been used. Maybe yesterday, maybe a hundred years ago…
Collecting himself, he started the climb. Even with the carved steps, it proved difficult, and he slipped more than once. Reaching the top, he struggled to pull himself over the lip, and then rolled away from the cliff. He hugged the nearest rocky wall and took in the scene before him.
The trees stretched thicker and larger here. Similar to the small Oaks of the west, he grew up with. There remained no signs of water, but as he cautiously approached the trees, he saw something that gave him pause. In the center of the trees a clearing had been made and in the center of this, an old fire pit stood out like a large black eye.
Once again, he scanned the cliffs and trees, but saw nothing more sinister that the fluttering of a small bird. Figuring that if people were around, the fire would have been going, he approached the pit. Digging through it with a stick, told him that it hadn’t been used recently, but had seen use this year.
Humans or human like things still live in this area. The question remains how do they feel about strangers?
Deciding against a fire, he used what was left of the light to pick a long and mostly straight branch. His hand axe cut it free and he spent the next few hours preparing his spear, while watching the clearing.
By the time he had completed his new spear, sleep dominated his thoughts. He hid the spear under some old leaves and for the third time that day, became a snake. Finding a hiding place proved easy, but not as easy as letting sleep calm his tired bones.
To be continued next Monday
July 14, 2014
Once again, Jack plunged into the unknown.
As he leapt into the portal, he couldn’t be sure where he might end up or even if it would be a world that could support human life. He only knew that as the doors to the multiple worlds slammed closed, a slim chance remained better than none.
For a moment, he tumbled through grey. He couldn’t be sure if he had already entered a world until the ground rushed up at him and he hit it hard. The air slammed from his lungs, but he didn’t think he was seriously hurt, although a lesser man might not have walked away from such a thing.
Upon standing, his first thought became whether he had landed on a normal world or perhaps some type of mystic realm. Grey stones, rounded like river rocks stretched in every direction. They were grey, the smaller pebbles were grey, and the sky looked cloudless, but grey. Turning in a circle he wondered if color existed anywhere on this world. In one direction he thought he spied a distant range of what could have been mountains or hills.
“Quite an exciting place you’ve ended up in, Primus,” he grumbled to himself. “No harems of women or even a damn bar in store for me.” He sighed. “Maybe just endless walking and dehydration, yay.” His fists clenched. “And while I’m trapped here talking to myself in the gloom, who the hell knows what Darken might be up to on my own world. Son of a bitch!”
He allowed himself five minutes of anger and cursing as he headed toward the mountains.
Not so much as a bird flew by. No insect buzzed or chirped. “Pretty damn lively place, Primus. Good fucking pick, ergg.”
He trudged on.
After another hour, the lack of water started to wear on him. Since no sun shone through the grey, he remained out of critical danger, but he knew he wouldn’t survive long without a drink.
The rattle of stones under his feet had become a constant for so long he didn’t notice the sound at first. He stopped short. Was that thunder? It sounded again, closer this time. A booming rhythm, coming closer.
“Son of a bitch… it figures.”
He could see something. Something big. Also something, even with his experience, he never thought he’d witness. If his eyes weren’t deceiving him, a creature similar to a T-Rex raced toward him at about thirty miles an hour.
The thing loomed large, perhaps forty feet in height, with a head he could have made into a cabin.
Besides a few knives and a single hand axe, he had lost most of his weapons. Running toward the mountains was certainly not an option. “Son of a… oh, I already said that.”
It drew closer. “Yep, that’s a T-Rex alright. The good news, this must mean there’s water around here somewhere. The bad news, my chance of finding a beer and a girl to drink it with is quickly diminishing. Oh yeah, and I’m about to be eaten.”
It let out a roar that shook the stones under his feet.
Jack considered using his powers of Yig to sink into the earth, but then had a better idea.
As the T-Rex drew near, be became a small constrictor and wiggled under the stones. A tense moment passed where he dreaded what a titanic footfall would do to his serpentine form, but a little luck was granted him and he avoided such a fate.
The dinosaur paused over him, obviously confused by its dinner’s sudden disappearance and that was what Jack had hoped for. Before it could leave, Jack exited the stones and slid toward one of its legs. While it stayed still searched for him, he wound his body around its ankle.
Again, he feared detection and a sudden, life ending, snap of its jaws, but the massive beast failed to detect such a small invasion and after a few more minutes of fruitless searching, it began walking again.
Jack wrapped himself around tight and held on. It appeared to be heading toward the mountains and he settled in and did his best to enjoy the free ride.
To be continued next Monday