September 29, 2014
The young warrior, Huth-allan-nith, set a grueling pace through the ascending forest. Jack could see the man putting him to the test, but it surprised him that he would burden the much older Mythcul with such a difficult pace. Yet each time Jack looked over his shoulder, the shaman remained in the same spot ten feet behind him.
Despite the raise in elevation, the heat still pummeled him and sweat flowed from his body in thick threads. This became somewhat balanced by the increased availability of water, but as soon as he drank, he felt it draining from him like his body was little better than a sieve.
Exotic birds mixed with smaller mammals that had no recognizable counterparts on his Earth. Certain bushes and trees would blossom as they passed. Brushing an arm against their flowers would cause a spilling of pedals in a rainbow of mismatched colors.
Jack had just finished climbing over a tree half as wide as he stood tall, when an emerald colored serpent rose up before him. He froze. The snake swayed as it eyed him with pupils that appeared to glow in the shadows created by the trees.
Mythcul paused on the other side of the log speaking in a gentle voice, but in a language Jack hadn’t begun to understand. The old shaman paused, looked again, and then began to laugh for some unknown reason. He spoke once more, but in a different manner this time.
A moment later the snake fell back to the floor of the forest and began to crawl toward Jack.
Jack certainly had no fear of snakes, hell he worshiped one and becoming a snake had saved his life more times than he could count, but something about this one sent chills down his spine.
He might have taken a step back, but Mythcul clamped a strong hand onto his shoulder locking Jack in place.
Jack looked on in silent apprehension as the snake curled around his leg and slowly climbed his body. A moment later it slid into his jacket pocket.
“Okay,” Jack said and he felt the serpent settle.
Mythcul laughed again, patted jack on the shoulder, and motioned for him to continue.
They hadn’t travel much more than eight miles from where he had picked up his serpentine hitch hiker, when Huth-allan-nith brought them up short.
Ahead of them loomed something that had no right to exist. From where Jack stood, it looked like someone had jammed two dozen arm sized branches into a pile of rocks and then brought the jagged statue to life. But when it turned its glowing red eyes his way and Jack felt a dread build inside of him. This thing is the size of a rhino and looks eight times as mean, he thought to himself while readying his spear, which he figured would be pretty useless against the thing.
And that was when the beast fled.
This confused Jack to the extent that he hesitated a moment, while Huth-allan-nith attacked. It didn’t surprise Jack when the man’s thrown javelin did nothing more than shatter on the monster’s back.
Mythcul stepped forward and thrust his hands toward the beast and almost at once it began to melt. Rocks became mud and the thick logs flowed away from its body.
“You’re using your Mold Nature spell from Yig,” Jack said a second before he used his own earth moving magic.
The rocky beast roared as it tried to flee, but proved no match for the twin blasts of Magick. Within seconds, it had become just another mound of earth on the forest floor.
Once it appeared safe, Huth-allan-nith walked over. He picked up a sharpened log that was once part of the beast. He showed the others its tip was covered in blood, before tossing the log away in disgust.
Jack scratched the back of his head. “Looks like a Gloom construct and that’s where I put my money, if I had anyone to bet with. But why would they send an earthen creature against a bunch of Yig worshipers. That doesn’t make much sense.”
Mythcul motioned Jack to sit while Huth-allan-nith patrolled the area.
The shaman made to sketches in the dirt. One looked a little like Huth-allan-nith and Mythcul drove the point home by pointed his brown feather at the man. The second picture appeared darker. The man had a concealed face.
Beneath these two drawings, he made an oblong figure covered with spikes. He pointed at the remains of the creature they had just fought and the drawing. He drew a line from this figure to the image of a man with a concealed face. Then under this he drew a new figure. With a wrinkled face and then placed two blood red berries over its eyes.
“So I was right, the Glooms made this creature and sent it out to…get these guys with the masks on.”
Looking down, he saw Mythcul drawing again. This time it was under the picture of the man that looked like Huth-allan-nith. A writhing mass was drawn that Jack didn’t like the looks of at all.
“Looks like some Lovecraftain nightmare,” he mumbled.
Under this monster he drew a feature that Jack knew far too well. It looked like the tattered form of the Creeper. A line went from this Creeper to the undulating mass to Huth-allan-nith.
“So the Glooms are creating these beasts to fight someone else,” he said with some hesitation, while the Caradon are sending these things against your tribe that favors Yig.”
Whether the older man understood him or not, he nodded and favored Jack with a slim smile.
“I this big unknown remains who this other group is.” Jack said, but Mythcul had gained his feet.
A moment later Huth-allan-nith was already leading them on.
Jack groaned a she forced his tired limbs up, but after taking one last look at the former monster flowing into the sands, he followed the young man in his trek deeper into the rising mountains.
To be continued next Monday
September 15, 2014
It turned out the tall raven haired man had a name that sounded something like, Huth-allan-nith while the older shaman went by Mythcul. The men had attempted to converse with Jack, but the language barrier wore on them and as the strange liquor soaked into his body, he found himself growing weary. After sharing the best meal he’d enjoyed on this new world, he found himself trapped on, he basked in a greater feeling of security as he bedded down for the night.
It didn’t surprise him that the two natives of this world woke far earlier than he, but then again they hadn’t been beaten and stabbed for the last two days.
He stood before stretching his stiff and battered muscles. Huth-allan-nith, glared at him and Jack couldn’t be sure what the guy’s issue was, and didn’t have the motivation to care. Mythcul acted in an opposite manner and favored Jack with a wide smile while handing him something that looked like a small white pancake. Jack ate it slowly. It had the consistency of a cookie, but tasted slightly like grits.
After nodding a thanks, he sat next to the older man. “So what’s the game plan,” he said even though he knew the man couldn’t understand him.
Mythcul had collected a small pile of items and had them laid out on a flat stone. A second flat stone had been placed before the smoldering fire pit.
With a grin, Mythcul picked up a blood stained red feather. He held it up and pointed to the direction that Jack had come to consider southeast. The direction that would lead one back onto the plains he had so recently passed from.
He held up a brown feather and touched it to similar feather he had tied into his hair. He used it to point at Huth-allan-nith and himself. After a glance at Jack, he pointed toward an area that appeared roughly north, by northwest of their position.
Jack nodded, while saying, “I think I understand. The Ripperkah live out on the plains and your people live deeper into the mountains.”
Mythcul placed the two feathers onto the flat stone before them in a manner that stayed consistent to the locations he had indicated. He then pointed at the sun and took out some white pebbles. He pointed at the sun again and then with a slow deliberate movement, he placed three small stones in the center of the flat rock so they traced a path toward the brown feather.
Jack smiled this time. “So you are saying we have a three day walk to make it back to your people.” He also held up three fingers and pointed at the sun before making a swirling motion.
Mythcul grinned and patted him on the back. A second later, he motioned for him to stand.
Only after he stood, did he note two things. Huth-allan-nith had stacked all of his javelins against a tree, but during the night he had burned all the war clubs Jack had gathered. Jack found this a bit strange, but wasn’t about to start up a conflict over it. Huth-allan-nith looked edgy and he didn’t want to give him an excuse to get worse.
Moving toward the man, Jack made a hand gesture at the stack of weapons. Huth-allan-nith nodded, grabbed up half of them and grunted while making a head motion toward the rest.
It pleased Jack to see his own spear remained in the stack allotted to him. Carrying those weapons, through the forest, might be hard, but Jack rarely turned down the chance to have extra weapons. With the amount of cliffs in the area having the high ground with a good number of javelins could prove a strong advantage.
An eagle, or at least a bird that reminded him of an eagle, soared overhead. Jack looked back at his new comrades and saw they had packed up their gear.
“Well what to you think fellas? Could I maybe go a day or two on your world without getting attacked?”
Huth-allan-nith appeared annoyed by the use of Jack’s language and started walking toward the northern cliffs.
With a sweep of his arm, Mythcul indicated the direction his ally headed. He clasped Jack on the shoulder and pushed him in a gentle manner toward Huth-allan-nith
With a sigh, Jack picked up his weapons and started after the younger warrior. He had a feeling he was in for a very long walk.
To be continued next Monday
September 8, 2014
Jack had speared a wild boar that had gotten too curious for his own good. The boar had come into his small camp to investigate the Ripperkah bodies he had piled near the edge of the cliff.
The sizzle and smell of the cooking pork might have been the best thing Jack had experienced since he landed on this unknown world. Then he chided himself. Despite the appearance of the tribe of corrupted Ripperkah, the lands he found himself within had an untamed beauty beyond most of what he’d seen. This place could be a paradise for both men and beast if somehow the spreading cancer of Xemmoni could be removed.
He sighed and tried to find a place where his torn and bruised body didn’t cry out in pain. He had just shifted the meat, when he saw a long shadow standing where none had existed before.
He jerked up, drawing his war dagger from its sheath. A tall raven haired man stood staring at him. The figure remained motionless as the fire played over his long hair and plain leather clothes. A few weapons dangled from the man’s belt, but the ruin covered spear he held appeared to be his primary weapon.
“You’re a silent one.” He paused, but the man made no move to talk. “I suppose you could have just as easily put the tip of that spear into my back in my current state.”
Still no movement or response came from the man.
“Maybe you might be a member of a tribe that hates the Ripperkah as much as I do?” Jack’s words passed slowly and he realized they were more for his own benefit that the man’s for he doubted he understood a word. Even ‘Ripperkah’ hadn’t gotten a glimmer for the figure. He made a motion with his hand toward the roasting food. “Would you care for some?”
The man still didn’t move.
But then he heard a voice behind him. Quickly turning, he saw a much older man whose long greyed hair spilled over a worn, but formerly colorful blanket. The thick blanket looked full of faded blues, greens, and reds, and covered the man’s whole body save for the tips of his leathered toes and his smiling face.
The man spoke to Jack in a language far from anything he had heard, but he did recognize two words. Ripperkah and Yig.
Jack pointed to the smiling man. “You are of Yig?”
The man’s grin widened and he pointed to himself as well as the black maned man across the fire.
“You both are. Well hey, my luck just got as good-”
The silent one tossed two large objects into his camp. They rolled once, but then came to a bloody stop. They were two severed heads.
“Maybe I’m even luckier than I thought. My guess is that those are the two Rips that tried to flee from me. I guess they won’t be bringing in any reinforcements any time soon.”
As if understanding his words, the older man nodded. The smile never left his face as he approached Jack. He reached out toward Jack’s shoulder and Jack took a step back. The man uttered a few quiet words and moved forward again.
“Oh what the hell,” Jack said and let the man touch his shoulder. A rich warmth passed into him and he let out a breath, he didn’t know he held, as his body was healed.
“Thanks for that, friend.”
The other man had finally moved and Jack saw him looking through the stacks of weapons he had collected. He said one word and then nodded his head. Looking at Jack, he said a few more words and then leaned his spear against a tree. A few seconds later, he had sat himself cross-legged near the fire and helped himself to a strip of pork.
Jack gave them a weak grin. “Now, if we only have some beer, this could be a pretty good night.” Thinking it wouldn’t hurt to try—Jack made a drinking motion with his hand.
With a grunt, the younger man tossed a wine skin at him.
Jack took a slow sip and coughed. Whatever it was, it was strong and burned all the way down.
This proved to be enough to make the black maned man smile and the elder joined them at the fire. The trio shared the meal in silence as a lonely wolf howled in the mountains to the north.
To be continued next Monday