October 27, 2014
This weekly Serial began 7/14/14
Jack hadn’t realized how injured Huth-allan-nith was. Despite the attentions he had received from Mythcul the night before, the young warrior remained in no condition to travel. Mythcul had cured him again, but he seemed to have developed a fever.
Through the use of gestures, Mythcul communicated with Jack the need for him to search out what Jack guessed was some type of plant and herb. A look of deep concern remained on the elders face.
Jack almost had to smile as he reassured the shaman as best he could, without the use of words, that he would stay with the wounded warrior and guard him.
Once Mythcul appeared assured that Jack understood their needs, he disappeared into the dawning forest like a wisp of fog.
With the dawn came more rain. It trickled down through the trees soaking everything. Jack clothes hung from his battered form like limp rags. His hand slicked his hair back as thunder hammered the mountains.
It became a full time job just to keep their meager fire going. Jack jerked when Huth-allan-nith called out in his half-sleep. Moving over, he felt the man’s forehead and it seemed like his flesh was on fire.
“Damn,” he muttered. “Hang in there, friend.”
Looking back toward the fire, he saw that his serpent lover had coiled up near the steaming rocks. She looked his way and flicked her tongue. More conflicting emotion raced through him than he could count. How wrong was what he had done with her? Was it bestiality if you made love to an animal while being an animal yourself?
He turned away and figured such things should be contemplated at another time. Something tugged at his mind. A whisper, just a hiss of a thought. Almost an emotion, a feeling.
It came from her.
“I am with eggs.”
He groaned. “Oh great, what will that mean?” Moving near Huth-allan-nith, he continued, “You may think you have problems, but I might be able to become the father of a clutch of snakes.”
He rubbed his forehead, but then froze when he heard something moving through the forest. Again, it wasn’t a sound as much as the forest itself warning him of a presence.
It didn’t take him long to locate it through the rainy gloom. Two of them, and man and woman, both dressed in dark animal skins. A fanged head of some sort of mammal covered the male’s head and the female looked as beautiful as she was deadly. Both had long raven hair descending past their shoulders.
The male lifted his spiked morning star, took a step forward, and spoke to Jack in a language he had yet to learn. Although he knew it well enough to know that it was the same tongue spoken by Mythcul and Huth-allan-nith.
Jack sent out his Detect Darkening and wasn’t too surprised to find that these were both members of the darkest of the Stalwarts, the followers of Tezcatlipoca.
The lack of communication appeared to frustrate the male and a long stream of words flowed from his mouth. When again he failed to get a reaction from Jack, he shared some words with the female.
She didn’t reply, but instead moved closer to the groaning form of Huth-allan-nith. She paused and Jack watched her lean body examine his wounded ally. He made no move to stop her as she touched the man’s face. She spoke a few words, then stood up. Walking over to Jack, she handed him a fistful of orange leaves, and the spoke a few more words.
The male had moved closer and spoke to Jack again.
It annoyed Jack how the man looked him up and down and then spat into the mud.
Move shapes moved through the forest. Dark sleek forms. Jaguars. Huge ones the size of tigers on Jack’s world. He became glad that these people were at least in theory aliened with him.
The couple exchanged more words, but the male shook his head. Then, as suddenly as they appeared, they vanished into the driving rain.
As if on cue, Mythcul appeared only moments after they had left. The old man must have sensed something for he moved with trepidation. After checking to make sure Jack was alright, he hurried to Huth-allan-nith side.
When Jack handed him the orange leaves he still held, Mythcul’s face broke out into a smile and the shaman surprised Jack by engulfing him into a giant bear hug.
Mythcul then began to chant an eerie tune as he sent himself to crushing the leaves and starting up a milky tea.
After throwing some more wood on the fire. Jack allowed himself a moment to sit and his serpent lover curled up onto his lap. “Damn, this place is weird,” he said while Mythcul’s chanting grew loud enough to compete with the crackle of the flames.
To be continued next Monday
October 20, 2014
The young warrior Huth-allan-nith gave them no indication that he would be regaining consciousness any time soon. Motioning toward his sleeping fur, Mythcul communicated his need for sleep.
Jack nodded and threw another log onto the embers, as the old shaman bedded down for the night. Soon Jack had only his thoughts and the forest murmurings to keep him company.
Descending mists created a constant patter of rain as darkness laid full claim to the lands. Shadows became darkness. Darkness became pools of spreading ink. Something felt wrong. A grimness forced its way into the forest.
Jack’s hand moved over the handle of his hand axe. A throwing knife filled his left fist. The mist transformed into beads of sweat and the darkness formed into apparitions. Shapes of shadow moved like blood flowing through oil.
He wondered why Mythcul didn’t arise. Could this ebony nightmare have power over the old shaman?
Fear leaked through the trees and Jack braced himself.
An emerald light appeared. It radiated from the center of their packs. An audible shout, like a man surprised, sounded and the darkness receded. It withdrew with a gasp, looking like water hurrying down a drain.
But his eyes withdrew from the fleeing darkness and focused on the emerald light as it grew. Soon the forest became bathed in its light. He stood up as the alien light grew in power.
His thought danced. This isn’t my world. I have no way of knowing what could happen here.
Then he saw the light had a source. It was the emerald green serpent he had gathered earlier. Although having a growing snake dispelling his enemies should have struck him as strange, two other thoughts overwhelmed such considerations.
He had a compulsion to become a serpent himself, just as he realized that the glowing snake before him was female.
Her body twisted and sung to him like nothing had before. She pulsed and danced. Eighty million years of evolution slipped away. She was life. The Double Helix. The essence that creates. Offspring. The reason to fight.
Without realizing it, he had shed his clothes as the serpent form claimed him.
Moving forward through the wet leaves he approached his mate and she met him willingly. Thunder illuminated the forest for a moment as their serpentine forms joined in a primal embrace.
To be continued next Monday
October 13, 2014
This weekly Serial began 7/14/14
He figured they would have to suffer through a cold camp that night. After all his battles and hiking, dealing with a foul Darcarre speaking within his head left him feeling like he wanted to sleep till next Monday, not that he knew what day of the week in was on this strange world he found himself upon.
He had just resolved himself to sleeping within his wet clothes when Mythcul somehow got a fire lit. The older man smiled as his hands warmed themselves on the fridges of the flames. He spoke to his younger ally in the language they shared. His soft voice did most of the talking.
Huth-allan-nith looked Jack’s way a few times with an expression that remained hard to read.
The jeans over his kneecaps had just dried when sleep claimed him. He would only find out later that his new fellow Yig worshippers hadn’t woken him up to help with the watch that night.
* * *
They began the march early. The three of them followed a path of sorts and the forest became wetter as they traveled. They came to a long marsh and it surprised Jack to see a log bridge stretched over its black surface.
Taking this as a good sign, he tried to communicate with Mythcul and ask how much longer it would be to his village. The shaman kept answering, in his non-verbal manner, that it would be one more passage of the sun, but Jack couldn’t figure out if that meant they would reach the village that day or would be required to sleep one more night in the woods.
After a while, he stopped trying and just focused on keeping Huth-allan-nith in sight. If the younger man’s pace was any indication, it appeared that he hoped to reach his camp as soon as possible.
They had just moved past the swamp when disaster struck. Something, a livid horror of undulating tentacles, erupted from a pile of leaves to Huth-allan-nith’s right. The man tried to raise his spear, but half a dozen ropey appendages slammed him into a tree.
Without waiting for its next move, Jack flung his biggest spear at the chaotic beast. Its tip pierced a few inches into a tentacle, but was quickly bashed away. As Jack readied a javelin, he took in the creature that rose to its full height before him.
If a mad god had decapitated a crocodile and placed an octopus the size of a car where its head was, that would just begin to describe the abomination that faced them. Course fur covered it in direct confrontation to the rest of its structure. Instead of feet, it had hands, large rough looking things that most likely had the strength to tear a man in two.
Then the battle field exploded into action. Jack tossed his first javelin, just as Huth-allan-nith struggled to his feet. Again it pierced a tentacle, without much effect. Jack had one javelin left, but wasn’t sure what to do. The thing had no head to strike and its armored body looked impervious to the primitive weapons his force had. But then he had bigger problems.
While Mythcul began a loud chant, the beast attacked Huth-allan-nith full on. The man got in a good blow with his spear and tore a tentacle off the thing, but it still had about nineteen more and half of these batted the young warrior hard enough to send he flying a dozen feet into the air. His body smacked a few trees on the way down and Jack hoped the man still breathed.
With a mucus ridden roar, the creature turned toward Jack, but that was when Mythcul’s spell caused the jungle to come alive and grasp at the horror. However, its strength proved mighty and all the spell did was give Jack a few extra seconds to prepare.
He hoped it would be enough.
First, he prepared a spell of his own. Then, with a yell, he raced forward with his last wooden javelin and plunged it past the tentacles into where the thing’s head would be, if it had one.
Instead of batting Jack away, the beast’s tentacles grasped him and began to pull him in every direction. Mythcul’s spell still slowed the beast, but Jack knew it wouldn’t be enough to keep him from being drawn and quartered, if he didn’t do something fast.
With a motion of his fingers, he enacted his spell and used his ability to mold nature to cause the wooden shaft to the spear to splinter out and grow.
At first, he couldn’t be sure it had worked, for the monster still tore at him, but then a wet groan filled the air. Seconds after that, the tentacles went limp and Jack crashed to the ground.
He tried to hurry to his hands in knees, in case the creature resumed its attack, but need not have bothered. It stayed limp and Mythcul helped Jack to his up while healing him.
After patting him on the back, Mythcul hurried to his fallen comrade. The rest of his mystical strength still wasn’t enough to help the man regain consciousness, but it looked like Huth-allan-nith would survive to fight another day.
Mythcul started flashing hand signs at Jack, but the Stalwart quickly said. “I get it, time to get a fire going. One way or another, we won’t be reaching your village tonight.”
As he searched for dryer things to burn, he thought he caught a glimpse of a figure retreating back into the forest. “Great, more folks hunting us. That’s all we need.”
To be continued next Monday
October 6, 2014
This weekly Serial began 7/14/14
After crossing the desert and being without water for so long, the unexpected deluge came as a shock to Jack. The trio had continued to walk through the darkening forest as the rain soaked through every fiber of clothes Jack possessed. Soon his torn clothing hung in wet strips and he ripped a few parts of his shirt away and jammed them into his pockets.
His leather became heavy and he tore the sleeves off each side. The Ripperkah he had fought had rended most of his sleeves apart, so this wasn’t much of a sacrifice. He saved the leather strips and kept the remaining leather vest on—not just for protection, but to house his eight throwing knives, both steel and obsidian.
Jack might have thought that the pounding rain would have caused Huth-allan-nith to call their travels to a halt earlier, but the young warrior never broke stride and led them ever forward without pause or exchanging words with anyone. Again, despite his age, Mythcul showed no signs of slowing and kept pace through inclines that left Jack gasping for another breath.
The sun went from being obscured by the driving clouds to being blocked by the mountain range to the west. Darkness descended across the forest, but Huth-allan-nith kept them marching. Shadows grew thick between the trees and the branches reached for them like the claws of forgotten beasts.
He’d been using his spear to help maneuver over a large fallen tree when a voice echoed. It took him a moment to realize it came from within his own head. At first, like his allies, it spoke in a language he wasn’t close to understanding. Then, about the time he realized he received a telepathic communication, the voice spoke in a language he could understand.
“What are you?” The voice whispered like a feathered shadow moving through his mind.
“Same as the men I walk with and know this, oppose us at your own peril.” As he ‘spoke’ Jack checked his allies. If his fellow warriors of Yig heard the voice, they gave no sign.
“I know what path you walk, Stalwart, that much is evident. It is from where you hail that confounds me.”
“I tend to hesitant to reveal too much of myself to shades that lurk within blackened woods…Darcarre.”
Huth-allan-nith stopped up short, and drew his spear arm back.
Standing like a thin pillar of ebony darkness, a man garbed in jet blocked the center of their path. “You are correct, Stalwart, I am a member of the eternal ones, but what you might not know is my kind stands in opposition to the chaos that forms in the barren plains below. We spit on the new Ripperkah Overlord that claims he can unite the races of Xemmoni and overrun worlds.”
His words froze Jack’s blood, as Mythcul walked up to stand at his side. “I’ve heard such things before, coming from your kind” Jack thought back at the Darcarre, “but by what name does this Overlord call himself?”
“Rarken, I believe. I also believe that you have a language barrier between yourselves and your fellows, do you not? Perhaps I could be of some assistance as an interpreter.”
“Judging from their reaction to you, I don’t think you’d be welcome into their camp.”
The Darcarre hissed and it was a foul sound to have echoing within one’s mind. “Then know you this. Their Overlord Rarken had already been preparing for a large assault against the Stalwarts of both light and dark. I fear that your removal of his war party will only speed up the fury of his attack. Soon this tribe and the other will be overwhelmed and returned to the Earth.”
“And you fit in how?”
“My nest holds great power and we refuse to bow before a member of another race no matter what he claims. Rarken’s conflict with the two tribes will weaken him, but I still fear that it won’t be enough.”
“So you want to help us out so we’ll do as much damage as possible before we go down fighting. What a warm offer.”
“No, Stalwart of Yig, you fail to grasp my proposal. I am offering my assistance during the upcoming battle. Not only will me and mine hamper their march through the forests, but while engaged with your forces, we pledge to strike at them from behind.”
“And I should trust you because?”
“For you know our pride would never allow us to ally with such rabble.”
“That could almost make sense.”
Before him, the figure began to fade. “I am known as Shadow Knife among my people and we will speak again.” Just before he disappeared completely, he added, “And one more thing, Stalwart. You must ally yourselves with the dark tribe for without their aid all of us will be assured to perish and my tribe will withdraw their assistance.”
Then he was gone.
“Great,” Jack said aloud for he had grown sick of talking within his own head. “So if things weren’t bad enough with three races of Xemmoni aliened against us, it also sounds like Darken is here, and I’m forced to not only deal with one dark tribe, but two. This just keeps getting easier and easier and this isn’t even my own damn planet.”
To be continued next Monday