April 27, 2015
Jack’s mood stayed grim. Not only did they still face an unstoppable army, but he’d also been forced to leave one of his only allies and sometime lover, Tynilia, behind. Having a Darcarre as a traveling companion didn’t do much to improve his spirits, although he supposed as far as Xemmoni went, Shadowknife as on the plus side of the bell curve, but that might not be saying much.
It only took Jack eight miles before he started missing his Wyren mount. He found himself cursing first the Xemmoni and them himself for letting it be slain. The trek took him ever uphill and with each step the forest grew thicker.
Jack’s foul mood left him seeking silence more than communication, which didn’t appear to bother Shadowknife. The man followed him like a dark ghost. The trek left Jack feeling as if he walked through a dream world. Part of him wondered if he somehow might be dreaming. Perhaps this foreign world was a hallucination and his body lay trapped and immobile somewhere.
Shaking his head, he pushed such thoughts aside. He needed to focus, hell he mused, I need to do a lot of things, not the least of which, getting back to my own world to help deal with the apocalypse level problems happening there.
As they approached the entrance of a dry canyon, Shadowknife held up. “We are not alone… Prepare yourself. A Caradon approaches us from-”
Shadowknife’s words were cut short by an arm the size of a tree slamming into him. Shadowknife let out a yell as he rolled through a series of low bushes. He kept spinning out of control until a boulder halted his decent down the mountain.
Jack turned to face the creature just as a roar escaped from its bulbous lips. The fiend looked like a Creeper on steroids. Stretching forty feet high, what once might have been a man, had retained little of its humanity. Six twenty foot arms grew out of a bloated torso twice the size of an elephant. Its mangled head held flapping and loose shreds of tattered flesh.
Another roar escaped from the Caradon and Jack could have sworn his hair was blown back by the sour breath of the beast-man. As he readied his axe, he remembered the Yig Shaman Mythcul telling him about this race of Caradon, which had been tasked to plague his people.
Another roar exploded from the Xemmoni and its six fists drove at Jack, but the Stalwart had already dived to side. As he leapt, his axe swung out and the Caradon drew back screaming for a different reason this time, for one of his hands had been left severed and bleeding dark incur into the dirt.
He rolled behind a giant tree, trying to buy some time. A punch of several fists shattered the tree and caused hundreds of long splinters to rain down on him. “Son of a bitch,” he cursed. Looking downhill, he saw no sign of Shadowknife and figured he might be on his own.
Jack started to sprint away as he drew up his most powerful Spell. Just as the Caradon crashed after him, Jack’s Mold Nature struck the ground under its feet. It bellowed as the ground gave way and it sunk into the earth, but due it its immense size, it only descended waist deep.
Jack whipped himself around only to have it be his turn to get hit by a Magickal attack. Jack cried out when the Caradon’s Cell Disruption Bestow crashed into him. His body writhed in agony as his flesh began to burn and melt. He dropped to his knees and threads of ruined skin poured off his bones.
He had no choice other than to magickally heal himself, but this delay gave the Caradon a chance to fight free of the ground which held him.
Jack was just struggling back to his feet when a dark figure leapt onto the Caradon’s back. A single sweep of his sword later, the thing’s massive head fell from its shoulders and rolled down the mountainside starting an avalanche as it passed.
Jack brushed himself off as he walked toward Shadowknife. “Impressive. How’d you pull that one off?”
Shadowknife twisted the long saber he held in his hands. “Life gets easier when one owns an enchanted weapon.”
“Enchanted weapon, huh? Maybe I should make sure I get myself one of those before I leave this world.”
“It might not be impossible to find one within The Darken’s army. You’ll just have to survive the battle first.”
“Yeah,” Jack said, while resting his axe over his shoulder. “I always have a lot on my ‘to do list.’ If you’re okay, I say we keep going. It’s still a few days march to reach the village of Yig and who knows what The Darken and his army will have accomplished by then.”
Shadowknife only nodded from under his robes and soon the mismatched pair had resumed their ascent up into the mountains looming above them.
To be continued next Monday
Find out how Jack’s Adventures Started Here!
April 13, 2015
Jack spent an uneasy night within the subterranean caverns the Darcarre called the Underdark. Since they were night creatures, the Darcarre remained busy and on more than one occasion Jack felt tempted to just remain awake, but since he required sleep to renew his mystic Ki, he forced himself to gain some. After a while he blocked out their dry whispers and the hiss of moving cloaks passing over stone and managed to find some rest.
At one point the female Darcarre Eb showed some interest in joining him, but since she had the same name as the woman who had tried to murder him in Rapid City, he declined.
Just as he had reached some level of comfort, a voice called to him like fingernails strapping a coffin. “Stalwart, I would speak with you.”
Jack released a small growl as he worked into a seated position. He recognized the voice, but it took him a moment to place. Then it hit him. Shadowknife stood before him. The Darcarre that Jack had spoke with a month earlier while he traveled with his fellow warriors of Yig.
“Shadowknife, so you run with these Underdark… Splinters?”
“After a fashion, but I’ve been focused more on preparing the forest and my people for the destruction that the army will soon bare down upon us.”
“Have you any idea in which direction they intend to head?’
A hollow chuckle escaped from him. “Do not attempt a subtle word dance with me, Stalwart. You already know what direction they intend to head. Their course has altered from the Yig village to the village of Tezcatlipoca and you are the cause of that change.”
Jack slipped into his leather shirt. “I was just trying to be modest. But it seems like a better idea overall. The Tez village is further into the jungles, harder to reach, they have stone walls, and they all appear to be mostly a-holes, so yeah, I sent the Darken army that way.”
The Darcarre hovered like an ebony sliver. “We all have our preferences, but you realize that this means you will have to return to the Yig village and get their warriors involved. We will need every force at our disposal to even have a chance.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll be bringing the forces of all four armies into the conflict.” If Shadowknife wondered over what the fourth army was, he gave no indication, so Jack went on. “So I guess it comes down to this, as long as you folks keep up your side of the agreement and keep harassing the Darken army, I will head back to the Yig village and gain their support and numbers.” He paused, while belting on his knives. “Do you think your Sinlotto will allow us to walk out of here?”
“Pit-Tal-Incalli can be a demanding leader, but he would have no reason not to let you summon your allies. However… I believe he’s asking the girl to stay in order to insure your cooperation. Besides, I think others have taken an interest in her.”
Looking over, Jack saw that the Darcarre Met-A-Lock moving near Tynilia. She laughed and joked with the gaunt man like he was some long lost friend. Looking his way, she winked and then a light thought touched his mind. Go on without me. I have my own agenda for the moment. Then she went back to laughing at some unheard joke.
Jack burned inside, but held his tongue, if not his gaze. Without looking back at Shadowknife, he asked, “So do you have some plan or goal in the works for me?”
“I think we need to get a least one member of each force in the same place and for now I consider you part of the force to the south.”
“So we have the Stalwart force from the south, the Yig village to the west, the Tez to the east and the Darcarre to the north. Maybe this could work.”
“Yes, if we can get people that despise each other to work together.”
Jack picked up his axe. “So to the village of Yig first then.” He looked over at Tynilia and she waved him away while giggling again. “I guess I’m ready. Are we counting Tynilia as a representative of her village?”
“No, I think not. She has alienated herself from her people and appears flightily at best.”
“This could be difficult then. They have no love for me there. Hell, I left the Yig village without goodbyes as well and my reception could be cold even there.”
“I’m sure you will make do. Now let us depart. I have left my second in command of my nest that they will continue to harass the army of Darken.”
“Good to know,” Jack said, while casting one glance back at Tynilia. Without another word, he left the caves and didn’t stop walking until the sunlight blessed his face and he found its embrace most welcome. Shadowknife covered his eyes with the hood of his black robe and followed Jack as he headed northwest toward the village of Yig.
To be continued next Monday
April 6, 2015
Jack wanted to get his back to a wall, but even such a simple task proved to be difficult when he stood within a smoky cave surrounded by Xemmoni with his only ally lying unconscious at his feet. He’d had loose alliances with the Splinter Darcarre before, but who could guess what they might be like here on a planet that wasn’t his own.
He still had his oversized battle axe in hand and tapped the pointed head of the double bladed weapon against the toe of his battered boot. “Well kids, if you got something to say, I’d spit it out quick and you have better hope I like it, because it’s been a long day, but my axe here hasn’t had its chance to taste blood yet and after it seeing me kill a few hundred of your kind, it’s getting a bit jealous.”
“They aren’t our kind,” one of them hissed as he took a step closer.
Jack could just see his tall dark outline interposed between him and the smoky fire. He tapped his axe against his boot a few more times letting the silence linger before saying, “I’ve met Splinter Darcarre before. I find their friendship spotty at best.”
Moving like the whisper of an ebony ghost, the Darcarre drew close enough for Jack to see the anger painted over his pale face. “But we control your fate right now, don’t we?” The gaunt figure waved a hand in disgust. “You are in no position to make threats. You can barely stay on your feet.”
The axe arced around the Darcarre’s face. The edge of the crescent blade only missed his nose by inches. A second later it tapped against Jack’s boot. Rap… Rap…Rap. “You’re right, I am a little tired. So I suggest you be a little extra nice to be and let’s just cut through the bullshit. Are you and yours ready to step up and become part of the force that will be taking down The Darken’s army?”
The Darcarre folded his arms. “We may allow you to assist us. This is our planet and our war. Still we could use some shock troops to soften up Vile’s army before we cover it in darkness.”
Jack chuckled. “What do you have here, maybe ten followers. Your participation would be a side note at best.” He shrugged, “we could use the help, but if things were bad enough for your group to make a difference, we’d be doomed already.”
“I should remove your tongue from your mouth.”
“You’re welcome to try.”
The Darcarre drew back to his full height. His right hand stroked his chin and soon his body appeared like little more than a thin, black angled shadow. “I have more men… and women than this. My hatred for the followers of The Darken exceeds yours.”
Jack slung his axe over his shoulder. “I very seriously doubt that. So if you want to be allies, we can start-”
The tall Darcarre’s hand stuck out at him and grabbed him by the shoulder. The grip felt rough, like the talon of a hungry bird, but then the man’s healing powers flowed into the Stalwart. Of all the races of Xemmoni, the Darcarre were the only being with a strong ability to heal. Sometimes Jack wondered if this might make them more human, but looking up into the blazing dark figure, he supposed not.
“I am the Sinlotto for this region and I am known as Pit-tal-indalli. Eb will find a place for you to rest and collect yourself.” A beautiful woman, but painfully thin, stepped forward and favored him with a malign smile. “Met-a-lock, heal the woman and have a… talk with her. Turned back to Jack he said, “Welcome to the Corridors of Underdark.”
“Yeah, thanks,” Jack grumbled, as he kicked a loose rock through the dust, “and I love what you’ve done with the place.”
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