November 10, 2014
The morning dawned warm and humid. His provider must have moved like a shadow, for he hadn’t sensed anyone in his wooden cabin, but a breakfast of fresh meats and odd fruit rested at the foot of the bed of skins he’d slept on once he’d returned to his human form.
Jack ate a few bites while slipping on his boots. It became obvious that his clothes had passed beyond the foul stage and moved into disintegrating. His boots and jeans still held up, but not much else. His leather jacket was little more than a tattered set of saddled bags he used to hold his eight knives.
He paused and reflected on his goals, his needs. Since he’d arrived on this strange world, his initial struggle to just survive had been replaced by a desire to help Mythcul return to their village safely. But he knew he’d stirred home a hornet’s nest of Ripperkah and had already fought a Caradon and Gloom on this world. The Darken Empire was here. Could that mean one of Vile Darken’s incarnations was here too?
Then he thought of something. Could a Loskeep be here as well? He’d only met Vile’s former mentor and now adversary, once, but that meeting had one of the best things to ever happen to him since he’d become a Stalwart.
And not just because Loskeep had giving him about eight million dollars’ worth of gold.
He took another bite of something that tasted quite a bit like bacon. Who am I kidding? This is a whole damn planet I’m talking about. Just because they might be here doesn’t mean they have to be anywhere near me, or even on the same continent. Maybe I should just start thinking about getting back home.
Then he rubbed his forehead. But how can I just bail on these people if they’re in such trouble? And if Vile is around here, or any part of the damn, Darken Empire I should strike a blow against them. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the ass if I could strike back against a different incarnation of the guy that sent me to this rock?
Jack thought back to the two divergent forces of darkness who had contacted him along his journey. One had pledged their support….the other, perhaps he’d need to earn it, but his thoughts ran deeper than some classic round up the wagons and hope the good guys win scenario. The villains always cheated, so why shouldn’t they, or really just him. He’s learned a few things from Ethan before his friend of Loki had fallen.
No, he wasn’t anything near being a servant of the god of the flame. He would do things his own way.
Vile and his kin had spies. Jack knew what they’d be expecting him to do. It was time to do the exact opposite.
He gathered up his few meager supplies and pounded the rest of his breakfast. After making sure his serpentine lover remained in her corner of his backpack, he snuck out of the back of his cabin through a small skin-covered window. Since he’d been given a cabin along the perimeter of the village, it appeared that he’d remained undetected.
For a moment, he hated himself for what he was about to do. Mythcul had been kind and he hated to take a piss on his hospitably, but in the end, Jack knew he’d be doing the old shaman of Yig more good by enacting the plan he had in mind.
He’d only used the spell once. On the rooftop of his mother’s corrupted apartment, as the whole thing collapsed around him, Jack had called for the aid of a raven. Focusing on a spell he chose to call the Aid of Yig’s Creatures, Jack sent a request for help out into the avian kingdom.
Yig’s force pulsed strong on this wild world and a bird of prey, he’d be inclined to call an eagle on his world, arrived. The brown feathered raptor had green highlights and a beak that grew wider than those on Jack’s world. This beak also transitioned through the color spectrum in a parrot-like manner.
Jack thought it ironic that he could communicate with the bird easier than he had the two men he spent the last few days with. The eagle nodded. It knew what Jack wanted it to do.
It had a name and called himself, Tree Arrow
After becoming a snake, Jack joined his unusual lover in his own backpack. With a swoop of his wings, the Tree Arrow took to the air. It headed south, back to the plains, back toward his enemies the servants of Lord Vile.
To be continued next Monday
November 3, 2014
This weekly Serial began 7/14/14
After a long and very strange journey, the trio climbed up onto a giant plateau that overlooked the jungle. Jack marveled over how, in just a couple of weeks travel, he had passed from a lifeless desert into a thick jungle covered with life. Small streams teeming with frogs replaced the endless fields of grey gravel. Moss and clinging vines covered the trees they passed under.
Huth-allan-nith had recovered that morning and although Jack doubted he should be traveling, the young warrior has insisted they press on. Jack hoped that meant they were close and Huth-allan-nith just wanted to get home. Before too long, Jack realized that he’d been more correct than he might have imagined.
It started with well worn trails cutting through the forest. Then small idols carved out of wood stood upright as certain intersections. It pleased the Stalwart to see that more than one of them resembled Yig.
When hoots sounded in the forest, he drew a throwing knife, but Mythcul laid a gentle hand over Jack’s forearm while whispering something in his language. Soon at least a dozen warriors, who resembled Huth-allan-nith, emerged from the thick jungle.
Embraces and quick conversations passed between his allies and these men, while many glared at Jack with open hostility.
Mythcul stepped forward and with a sweep of his arm introduced Jack. Primus couldn’t be sure what the man said about him, but it caused the others to fall silent. When the silence remained, even after the group took up the march, it left Jack feeling more than a bit uncertain. What could they have said about me that would make these men switch their moods so quickly?
But then such thoughts fell into the background when the trail opened up into a large village. The village was walled, but the wide gate stood open and Jack could see log houses that looked more fit for Vikings that what he would have expected for these people.
Women gathered their children into their arms and all eyes stayed on him as they entered the clearing in the center of the village. Perhaps eighty buildings circled the growing group of villagers that came to take him in. Whispers that had started with the men that guided them there quickly circulated through the people. A hush replaced the whispers and Mythcul hurried to lead Jack into an older home that sat apart from the others.
He opened the door and gestured for Jack to head inside. A thin layer of dust and in a few places, moss covered the sparse furniture. A small stack of wood lay unused near a fire pit that lined one wall. A few older and broken weapons leaned against another wall and under these lay some dusty animal skins.
Mythcul made a swirling gesture with his finger and said a single word. Then he said the word “Caradon.”
“Was the owner of this house killed by a Caradon?”
Whether Mythcul understood his words or not, he nodded and then without another word turned and left Jack there.
Jack felt like he had a million things to do and learn, but he’d also been marching and battling Xemmoni for the last two weeks. He figured a day of rest wouldn’t harm anything and it was the least he owed himself. So after making a small fire, he cleaned off the furs, and laid himself to rest.
* * *
Darkness had fallen when something disturbed his slumber. After all he’d been through, he assumed the worst and jerked up with his hand axe already filling his hands.
But instead of a new threat, two young and very attractive women had entered his house baring wooden plates overflowing with food. Yet he barely noticed the smattering of meats and fruits for not only were these two beauties some of the most amazing women he had ever seen, they were also each topless and besides their flowing river of ebony hair, only the briefest of leather skirts graced their nimble bodies.
From the looks on their faces, they had been asked to deliver more to him than food. After setting down the plates they got on all fours and slowly advanced toward him.
Jack was just thinking to himself, what the hell, you only live once… when his snake erupted from his furs and raced toward the girls hissing.
They fell back screaking and as one rushed from the cabin.
“Great,” Jack said, while looking down at his serpent slash lover. “It figures I’d hook up with a jealous snake.”
He grabbed up some food and took a few bites, but then laid back on his furs with a sigh. “Might as well just get some sleep then,” he grumbled, but his serpent lover had other ideas. She teased him until he became a snake as well and gave her what she was looking for.
Against his better judgment, he remained a serpent and after an intense bout of serpentine love making they stayed curled within each other’s forms until dawn.
To be continued next Monday