Darker Than Darkness
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