The Decapitated Gods
August 17, 2015
Jack was starting to think that the only thing worse than walking toward near certain doom, was doing it with a group of people who appeared to hate each other.
Tezcatlipoca worshippers and the followers of Yig had a long running feud, and although both Stalwarts, tended to consider themselves not only opposites, but adversaries and this group appeared to be no exception. Probably Jack’s move to divert The Darken army from its march toward the village of Yig to instead attack the Tezcatlipoca stronghold must likely did little to help improve Jack’s standing in Stalker’s eyes.
Also, since he was dating Tynilia, who was of Tezcatlipoca, Stalker had chosen to really hate him as had the only other female, Vel-linna. She and the other new follow of Yig, Quez-Zul-Aul had their own conversations while often shooting cross looks his way. He had never gotten along with Huth before, but compared to the others, he considered the young warrior his most prized friend.
If anything, the Xemmoni pair was the lowest maintenance of the group. They knew they were hated by all and set themselves apart without being asked and only spoke when needed.
The area they passed through was losing much of the dense forest that Jack had grown accustomed to. Instead the trees became sparse and cling to the sides of shale covered canyons. The air grew hotter as they climbed higher into a mountain range that gave no sign of ending. Each time they would get their weary bodies up to the top of a mountain pass, three more higher ranges would loom out of the mists before them. Rain fell and filled small streams, which the warriors splashed through without complaint.
Jack heard the crunching of gravel as someone moved up to walk by his side. Tynilia arrived and looked up at him with a forced smile. As always, her nibble body moved with the grace of a female cat—both inviting and dangerous. “Having fun?”
“Can’t say I am. This feels more like a funeral march than a quest. Somehow I didn’t think my heroic quest would be so gloomy. Certain death is bad enough without everyone hating each other along the way.”
“Can’t say I disagree with you. I think part of the problem is the language barrier. You feel isolated from your fellows of Yig, who should be your biggest supporters.”
“True, it isn’t helping that I can only speak with you and the Darcarre. Although I guess Stalker could communicate, he just doesn’t want too.”
“Oh, I’ve got a few earfuls from him, believe me,” she said sounded more tired than before. “But I’ve been talking to them and I’m not sure if the female bonding overrode other issues, but Vel has agreed to learn my language spell. When she agreed Huth followed, and I don’t think Quez wanted to be left out, so if things go well, by tomorrow at least we can all talk to each other,” she smiled, “even if most of them won’t want to.”
“Well thanks. I don’t think it will hurt morale to be able to converse.”
“Oh it could,” she managed to laugh. “And I should also let you know that Stalker all but demanded I sleep by his side tonight. In his eyes being associated with you and Yig is a matter of betrayal that needs to be rectified as promptly as possible.”
“I might just rectify him, if he doesn’t watch out.”
“Try to avoid that if you can. Who knows what be might face when we find the Lava Dragons, but it is still a long journey before we reach them, I imagine we’ll have no shortage of obstacles before we get there and that is if The Darken doesn’t discover what we are doing and send minions of his own to attempt to destroy us.”
“Fun world you live on here, Ty.”
“Oh, it wasn’t so bad before The Darken showed up. Sure evil lingered her, but a Stalwart like a few challenges right?”
“I used to just like a cold beer after a long bike ride, but I guess those days are long past me.”
The path turned up a boulder studded hill and soon they walked through rounded stones with the weathered faces of men carved into them. The figures looked so vague and faint that Jack couldn’t be sure if they were some old monuments or if his mind just played tricks on him.
She saw him looking and said, “I’ve never been this far north before, I doubt any of us have, but I have heard of this place. The valley of the decapitated gods.”
“Charming. Doesn’t anyone know who created these?”
“It is said that these were once the old gods of our world, but the new Gods like Tezcatlipoca and Yig slayed these others so they could take their place. Once Yig and Tez were brothers and fought together, but like much you find in the world, those days are long long past.”
They marched in silence as they passed through the fields of giant stone faces. Each stayed lost in thought as overhead a storm began to build.
Soon rain added to their concerns and the temperature dropped faster than the participation.
Huth and Quez-Zul-Aul had been scouting ahead. They returned to the rest of the group just as lightning began to crash into the hill side. It had reached a dangerous state so quickly that Jack wondered if somehow magic could be involved with its creation.
Tynilia drew him back to the present. “Huth says he has found shelter up ahead. An old temple lingers in the valley below us.”
Shadowknife had reached their side. “Old temples often hold forgotten horrors.” A blast of lightning illuminated his black face as he spoke.
“I agree,” Jack said, but this storm seemed unnatural. If I have to face something unnatural, I would prefer a thing I can fight versus a bolt of lightning I have no chance against.”
Shadowknife only nodded and the group followed Huth at a half jog as the storm continued to increase in ferocity.
To be continued next Monday