How Many Mes?
January 28, 2015
The swamp eagle, which carried Jack in his serpent form, circled the giant dinosaur once and then flew toward the west. Since Jack had little control over where the eagle took him, he entwined himself around the creature’s legs and tried to enjoy the ride as best he could. It proved no easy task. The endless plain of gravel offered little to distract him and each gust of desert wind sent his stomach lurching.
After perhaps an hour of flight, Jack saw the pyramid topped city that had already caused him much distress. At first he thought he might be headed that way and dreaded the outcome, but the eagle veered to the south and avoided the city by a good half mile.
As the giant bird continued his flight to the southwest, Jack’s curiosity built. The desert of gravel was slowly being replaced by larger boulders. These in turn spread into shallow canyons and dry washes. Small mountains rose further south. They appeared more rugged and barren than the hills he’d seen to the north. Still anything seemed better than the empty rolling wastes.
The hills grew larger and more pronounced. As they swept up higher, Jack spied a primitive castle build into a large mountain. Thick rocks created an outer wall that protected an inner courtyard and several stone buildings. Behind the courtyard the mountain continued into large straight spires of rock.
He figured this was his destination, which was why it felt so strange when the eagle landed in the rough road a good hundred yards away from the castle’s granite doors.
Jack hesitated, but when the eagle gave no indication that it would be moving again, he slipped off the bird and resumed his human form.
His nearly naked body reminded him how this world had robbed him of his meager possessions and he sighed as evening fell onto the land.
A few moving forms on the wall confirmed that the castle held life, but they seemed in no big hurry to communicate with him. After an annoying five minute wait, the doors cracked open and two guards in black chainmail exited, but made no move toward him. A moment later a familiar figure passed between the guards and sauntered toward him like she got paid for every second she delayed him.
“Tynilia,” he said. “Nice to see you again. I’m glad you made it through our last adventure unharmed. As you can see,” he said, gesturing toward the shredded remnants of his clothes, “I faired less well.”
It had been quite the understatement, for Tynilia looked more like a high priestess and less like the servant girl he had met her as. A headdress of ebony feathers graced her olive skinned face. A tight black furred animal skin covered her hips and chest, if only barely. Jewels and gems clung to her wrists, ankles, and ears and matched the colorful lines of paint that decorated her exposed flesh.
When she didn’t reply, he said, “May I come in?”
“No, you may not.” Sensing his confusion, she went on, “I suppose I will need to explain it to you, since you haven’t figured it out for yourself. I’m not sure how much you know about Vile Darken’s incarnation and the individuals we call the Everywhere Heroes, but you should, since you are one of them.”
“I know more than you might imagine,” he said, while crossing his arms.
“Is that so?” She tilted her head slightly. “In that case you must know that no two of the same incarnations can come into close proximity to each other. If this happens, a reaction occurs that teleports each of them a good distance away from each other.”
“Wait, you hinted there was another of my incarnations here. Is that how I was rescued? The other…uh, me, was brought in close enough to the torture chamber that we were both sent flying?”
“Perhaps you aren’t as incompetent as you appear…” she eyed him, “But at this point that isn’t saying very much.”
After rolling his eyes, he said, “So I take it the other me is in there, so I can’t go in.”
“So then what is the game plan? Or do we not have one?”
“First, you will be given food, armor, and weapons.”
Looking less sure of herself for the first time since they had met, Tynilia said, “Then I am to bring you to the dark lords of the forest, my people, the followers of Tezcatlipoca.”
“So it is back to the jungles for me?”
“For now at least. We need to form an alliance if we are to have any hope of combating Vile and his army.”
Jack had seen Vile’s army and doubted much could stand in its way, but he kept such thought to himself.
Tynilia regarded him for another moment. “If we are in agreement, I will leave and return with supplies for you.”
“I agree to you proposal, what other choice do I have.” She turned to leave, but he yelled at her slim retreating form, “But do me a favor, bring me the closest thing you people might have to an ale, because I have a feeling its going to be a long cold night.”