March 30, 2015
“Feel better,” Tynilia asked as he looked him over as though she couldn’t be sure if he was brave or insane.
“I’ll feel better when The Darken’s army is destroyed.” He said and then went back to packing up his meager possessions.
“Oh is that all you need.” Her hands went to her hips, “Why not ask for the end of night or death? Perhaps we can end all pain and suffering as well. I mean with the two of us, a handful of weapons, and our two remaining days of food, I’m sure we’ll have no trouble.”
Throwing his remaining pack over his shoulder, he stood with a wry smile spreading over his face. Turning toward his barrowed lover, he said, “One thing at a time. Besides, Yig provides and I don’t think we’ve played our last cards yet.”
“Yig provides,” she scoffed. “Right, and Tezcatlipoca destroys. We’d be a great team if there were more than say two of us. So what now? Since you got your Wyren killed, I suppose I’ll need to drop you off at the Yig village. I hope you don’t expect me to stay. I have bad luck in villages. Besides I think I’ve had enough fun with you and will be returning to my real lover as quick as my Wyren’s wings can take me.”
“Nope what? You don’t want me to leave you…”
“No, we aren’t going to the village. We’ll have time later for that.” He swept his arm at the mountain range rising behind them. “Yes their army is huge, but look where they’re trying to travel through. I say we retreat and prepare rockslides and the like. Only a fool would mess with a Yig worshipper in such terrain.”
“And only a fool would try to stand in The Darken’s way.” A voice croaked out from behind him.
Three forms strode into view. The one that had spoken stood in the center and glared at them from behind a large mass of blue rags that covered not only his body, but his face. Jack wondered if a line-backer was under to filthy cloths for the figure loomed not just tall but wide.
To his left was a figure as thin as the other was broad. She wore a tight hint of a dress over her alabaster skin. Under her close cropped ebony hair she carried only a wand and wicked grin.
The last figure wore fog for a cloak and appeared to fade in and out of reality like a ghost in the sunlight. Its eyes burned a fiery red over his Grim Reaper sickle.
“Oh no,” Tynilia breathed. “It’s the Trilance, we must flee.”
But it was already on.
“Leave the bitch to me,” the Darcarre female said and lashed out with her wand, which sent a bolt of lightning into the center of Tynilia’s chest. His ally screamed as she went tumbling back into a pile of rocks.
Even as the twin Bestows, from the men, crashed into him, Jack knew he was at a distinct disadvantage. Since he already used his Ki fighting the armies below, he’d have no Magick to draw from during the battle.
Soon the agony tearing through him thrust such thoughts aside. The blue mass used the Caradon Flesh Disruption Bestow. Jack’s flesh blistered and ran. The Gloom was using his Flesh to Mist attacks and Jack watched in alarm as he body started to disperse into atoms.
Through this haze of pain, Jack saw Tynilia’s Wyren go at the Darcarre, only to be cut down. It gave Tynilia a chance to get to her feet and fire a spell of her own at the Xemmoni. “Jack, become a serpent. Our only chance is for us to flee. We can-”
“The only thing you can do is die!” The Darcarre shouted as her hair rose like snakes around her head. A blast of lightning sent his only remaining ally smashing into a cliff face. Her conscious fled and he could only hope her life remained.
But he had problems of his own. On his best day he would have been hard pressed to take out any one of these fiends. Without his Magick and facing all three, he prepared for the worst. With a battle cry escaping his lips, he held his battle axe in both hands as he charged the Caradon.
There was a flash of black and suddenly he found not only he, but Tynilia, in a dark mud covered cave. A small fire burned, which created more smoke than light. Black figures moved within the thick shadows. Jack still struggled to take in where he was and even remaining on his feet proved difficult.
“Greeting Stalwart. We meet again and now that you owe the Splinter Darcarre your lives, I believe you’ll be open to what we have to offer.”
Come back each Monday for more Jack Primus Action
March 16, 2015
“You know this idea it yours is not only stupid, but also suicidal, right?” Tynilia said with arms crossed under her breasts. She glared at him, but Jack was too busy to concern himself with the daggers her eyes shot his way.
Instead, he looked down at the armies massing below. He’d been a bit surprised to see they hadn’t made it out of the desert yet, but with an army that size it shouldn’t have been too shocking. He removed the jaguar outfit he’d stolen from Lithoca as he took the army in.
They camped where the desert met the foothills of the mountain range, which held the tribes. The army itself stretched horizon to horizon. Large dinosaurs and other giant beasts rose from the masses like mountains ranges of their own. The tattooed and colorful Ripperkah comprised most of the foot soldiers. They moved like rivers of blood through the larger creatures.
Other units also became obvious from Jack’s height. A large cluster of darkness stood out on the army’s eastern flank. Part of this were the ebony figures, but they had also cast some sort of blackness over themselves, which obscured what he guessed had to be Darcarre. Mirroring them of the western side were clouds of grey fog that clung to the desert floor. This meant the Glooms were also present. In the rear of the army he thought he spied what could have been the blue flags of a contingent of Caradon, but the army stretched so vast that these were nearly lost in sight.
As he hurried to dress himself in Lothica’s outfit, he wondered if he was a fool for trying to save this world that wasn’t his. Even his plan seemed foolish, for it involved a battle, which appeared impossible to win. Still, Jack was never one to give up trying no matter how bad things appeared. Besides, the army looked strong now, but marching through the mountains would weaken it and spread it thin.
With his body disguised as a Tezcatlipoca worshipper, Jack stood next to his Wyren mount and took a deep breath. “Might as well get this over with,” he said more to himself than his sole companion.
“Yes, with you dead, I won’t be asked to linger here and I sure as hell won’t be risking my life for a village that banished me and just tried to see you killed.”
Jack managed a smile. “Well, if you don’t like that village, my plan shouldn’t bother you since what I’m about to do will make them The Darken’s first target.”
“What difference will that make if you get yourself killed?”
He’d had his back to her, but turned around. “I didn’t know you cared so much.”
She frowned, but then broke eye contact. “Don’t flatter yourself. I already have a lover.”
Jack climbed aboard his flying mount. “I’m well aware of that. Stay here. Either way… this won’t take too long.”
She handed him the oversized quiver stuffed full with javelins and spears. As he strapped it onto the wyren, she touched his leg. “Good luck man if Yig and please try not to get yourself killed. Not everyone needs to be a selfless hero.”
“I think that’s the only thing I know how to be these days.”
* * *
It didn’t take long for him to be spotted by the army below. As he hoped, they held back any attacks thinking that only no single foe would strike against them. He quickly proved them wrong.
His first javelin struck a man repairing a harness that strapped a huge war platform onto the back of a giant four legged reptile. He went flying back into the masses below with a long drawn out wail. The dinosaur roared up at Jack and was rewarded with a spear tossed into its mouth. The beast panicked and with a roar of pain this time, it rampaged through the forces stampeding over dozens of men.
Jack tossed more spears down into the army trying to aim for leaders where he could. His wyren cawed a challenge as they arced around the center of the army heading back toward the front lines.
His cache of spears almost spent, Jack changed tactics and used his Mold Nature to create huge canyons in the earth below the Ripperkah’s feet. Rifts ten feet wide swallowed men by the hundreds and then Jack would close these gulfs burying the Xemmoni alive.
He was circling around to make another mystic attack when the forces below used some magic of their own. His wyren began to screech as Bestow after Bestow crashed into it. Jack looked down in dismay to see the entire lower half of the wyren being torn open. Blood and organs fell onto the forces below and his mount plummeted toward the earth.
After releasing a series of curses, Jack leapt off the back of his mount and resigned himself to go down fighting, finding some small solace in knowing that his plan had at least worked.
A second later he felt hands struggling to hold him up. “Become a snake, you idiot. I can’t hold you forever,” Tynilia ordered.
Jack hurried to comply as the earth raced up at them. He watched with horror as his mount impacted the ground below them with a wet smack.
Tynilia cried out as some of the spell casters below hit her with their Bestows, but as Jack shrank into a small snake, they flew away and gained altitude. Soon she had moved past the range of their assaults and flew back to their makeshift camp without anything else going wrong. She stumbled and fell to her side groaning as Jack assumed his human form.
As he knelt to heal her, she moaned, “I hope that was worth it. We’ll be hard pressed to flee from this army with one mount.”
Jack looked down at her with a wicked smile spreading across his face. “Who says I plan to flee?”
To be continued next Monday
March 9, 2015
As the crowd dispersed, Jack stared with a heathy amount of disbelief. He had gone form hero to prisoner, from gladiatorial victim to being free, yet shunned. Lithoca began to revive, but Jack smashed him on the top of his head with the hilt of his dagger. “I’m not ready for your bullshit yet.”
Leaving his adversary in the pit, Jack used a rope and climbed out. No one remained to greet him. “Yeah, this is working out great,” he said aloud. “We’ll be planning The Darken’s destruction in no time.”
“It’s your fault, you idiot,” Tynilia said as she approached him. “The biggest bastard in the whole village and one that is out to get me, in more ways than one, and you can’t just kill him. Your one chance to bring him into the darkness without having the whole village down on you and you don’t take it? How is it that I can put up with any on you Yiglings?”
“Are you done?”
She kept a straight face while saying, “No, I actually wanted to slap you around some.”
“That can wait, but what can’t wait is organizing against the forces of The Darken that even now marches toward these mountains.”
“Well you just angered everyone in the village, including me, so I’m not sure what you hope to do now?”
“Oh, I might have an idea or two,” Jack said while letting a grin form over his face. He saw his Wyrens where he left them. Their loud cawing competed with the other bird cries. It would silence the smaller birds for a moment, but in time they would begin to chirp again.
“Come with me,” he ordered as he turned on his heel.
“Why should I do anything to help you?” She said, he looked back and saw she had her fists planted against her narrow hips.
Turning, he called over his shoulder, “Because I need you and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to live in a world where the only humans around are Rips.”
“Ahhhhhh,” she cried, but he heard her following him.
Dropping back into the pit, he was happy to find Lithoca still unconscious. He started to remove his jaguar outfit at once.
“What are you doing now?” she asked for the lip of the pit. “You didn’t strike me as a molester, but if you want to give Lithoca what’s for, don’t let me stand in your way.”
He glared at her while tossing the yellow jaguar gear over his shoulder. He also retrieved his large battle axe.
“Jack, grab his war club. That should piss him off, it’s his soul weapon.”
Moving to climb up out of the pit, He said, “I’m not going to be vindictive. He’ll be needed his best weapon soon enough.”
“You’re no fun,’ she said while crossing his arms.
Once out of the pit. he led her toward their flying mounts. It still felt odd to him that he’d been so mistreated, but was now being ignored. From the looks of things, all the villagers had returned to their homes. Where just minutes ago the whole village had watched him triumph over Lithoca, the streets looked little better than a ghost town.
“Screw them, then. They’re going to wish they’d talked to me,” he said while mounting his Wyren.
“What are you going to do?” she asked while petting her mount. He noted she had yet to climb aboard.
“You’ll find out and I assure you none of them will like it.”
Her wicked grin returned. “Well, then you can count me in,” she said while hopping onto the back of her Wyren.
A minute later they had left the village of Tezcatlipoca behind them.
To be continued next Monday
March 2, 2015
The entire village had turned out to watch the fight to the death between Jack and Lithoca. Strange scents of cooking meat and the odor of unknown spices filled the air. Laughing children streamed by trailing bright cloths and feathers. Families gathered on worn tree stumps around the pit that would hold someone’s doom.
“Seems more like a spring fertility festival than some brutal gladiatorial fight to the death,” Jack said under his breath.
He hadn’t expected an answer, but he got one anyway. “Entertainment is always welcome amidst hard lives. Usually it comes with remorse, for one villager’s family would be forced to mourn, but with you being an outsider, no dark clouds will cover the joy of the battle.”
“Why is that?” Jack asked his reluctant coach, Gochathua, who was thankfully able to speak his language with the use of magick.
Gochathua’s bent form regarded Jack for a moment. The man had seen many summers and although flamboyant in nature, the colors of his sparse clothing and furs had faded over time. “Because, since no one cares about you, when Lithoca slays you it will only bring the village joy.”
“Thanks a lot,” Jack grumbled. “So what’s the rules about weapons and well… everything else?”
Gochathua sighed and sat down on a bench that looked almost as old as he was. Acting like each word was a wasted effort, he said, “Two is one of our mystic numbers, therefor two weapons are allowed into the pit.”
When he made no move to speak further, Jack prompted him with, “What about magick? Will our spells be allowed?”
Gochathua rubbed his chin. “Yes, to some degree, but the pit is enchanted against the use of Earth attacks.”
Jack felt a frown forming. “So great, I can’t use my primary attack, but I’m sure Lithoca will be allowed to use his Rapidity and anything else he has.”
“Such is the case and the reason I have my money on him.”
“Thanks for your confidence.” The Jack remembered how he’d been given a small sack of gold when he’d been supplied at the keep. “Since you love two so much, I have two more questions for you. What are the odds against me and am I allowed to place a bet?”
* * *
For once, Jack felt glad he couldn’t understand the language of the world he had found himself trapped on, for Lithoca spat a series of foul curses his way as they each entered the pit. The man had painted himself up like a yellow and black jaguar. For weapons he favored a war club with four rows of jagged obsidian embedded into its head. A black obsidian dagger filled his left hand.
Ignoring his opponent, Jack scanned the people circling the pit. As a whole, they all worked themselves up into a frenzy of blood seeking, his blood. All save Tynilia who looked at him through sad eyes like she already considered him dead.
Jack clutched his giant battle axe in two hands while he let his war dagger ride on his hip. Licking his lips, he found them dry. He shifted the grip on his axe and wished they could just get on with it. As if in answer to his thought, a ceramic pot was flung onto the floor of the pit between them, which signaled the fight had begun.
Lithoca flung his club at Jack. The Stalwart tried to duck under it, but the black volcanic glass cut a line of pain through his scalp. This had barely registered, before the thrown club magickally reappeared in Lithoca’s hand. With a sick grin, the man of Tezcatlipoca cast his Rapidity spell and his body glowed as his speed increased at least threefold.
Jack swung his axe in a wide arc before him. It kept Lithoca back, but he dodged it with ease. The man’s club impacted Jack’s shoulder a second later. He could have pressed the attack with his dagger, but Lithoca appeared to be playing it safe and staying out of Jack’s reach.
When he threw his club for the third time, Jack was ready and he blocked it with the head of his axe. He tried to step on the weapon, but it only disappeared and returned to Lithoca’s hand. The jaguar man threw it at once and Jack took a blow to his knee.
His protection of Yig had kept him in the battle so far, but if he didn’t score a hit, such advantages wouldn’t last long. He was going to have to mix it up. He healed himself a little while circling his adversary, but he knew his ability to heal wouldn’t be enough to see him through this.
Lithoca moved like a blur and Jack took another blow from the man’s club. Maybe that’s it, he thought. Let him feel overconfident. Jack started to limp and move slower. He took a wild swing with his axe. Lithoca laughed and tossed his club again.
Jack let the impact of the club, knock him off his feet. As Lithoca moved in for the kill, Jack double-handed his axe and threw it at the man’s thighs. Lithoca was beyond fast, but the attack had been unsuspected and caught him off guard. He attempted to leap over it, but the blade of the axe tore a deep gauge in his shin and proved enough to send him sprawling.
With a yell, Jack used his Mold Nature spell on the long handle of the axe. Lithoca cried out as, like a serpent, the handle of the axe entwined itself around his ankles.
Lithoca rained frantic blows down on the enchanted axe handle, but it held long enough for Jack to leap into the air and put his entire body weight into a right hook as he fell on Lithoca. The blow caught the man in the jaw and his head whipped back stunned. Somehow in the middle of the chaos, Jack sensed that the crowd above had fallen silent.
Lithoca continued to struggle until Jack drew his dagger and smashed the bottom of the hilt onto the top of his enemy’s head with all of his strength. It proved enough to drop the man and Jack let his knife hover over the unconscious man’s throat for a moment, before throwing Lithoca aside.
“Killing Stalwarts is not my way. Besides, he’ll need every man we have to fight off The Darken.”
Gochathua repeated Jack words with reluctance, but with a murmuring of anger the crowd departed. What surprised him was the look of fuming anger he saw on Tynilia’s face as she joined the others.
“Crap, even when I win, I can’t win.”
To be continued next Monday