Four Armies, No Friends
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