November 2, 2015
“I hate to say it after we’ve been through so much and with our allies still out in the forest,” Jack started, “but it’s nice to have a quiet night sitting by the fire without the darksiders creeping around.” Looking over at Tynilia, he added, “no offence.”
She smiled, “None taken, because I know exactly what you mean. Believe me, you don’t know the half of what an ass Stalker can be. Shadowknife alright, but hanging out with any Xemmoni leaves me edgy.”
“I agree with you,” Huth said, while tossing another log onto the already raging fire. Despite its size, the blaze struggled to dispel not only the building chill, but the enfolding darkness.
“I’m concerned over them being gone for so long though,” Jack muttered, “But not half as concerned over what might be happening to Vel.”
Vel-Linna’s seizure had lasted a good two minutes, but when it finished she was back to her staring into nothingness. After a while, it grew too eerie to watch her in the darkness and the three of them have moved her over to the sleeping area Jack had cleared out.
Her flesh was clammy and covered with sweat when they had laid her down. The poor woman had let them recline her onto the furs, but her eyes had remained open. Her endless stare gave him a chill and they had returned to the fire.
Tynilia played with a small stick, which held a smoking ember as she spoke. Her eyes glowed yellow in the darkness. “Keep in mind, my brave friends of Yig that we folks that embrace Darkness might prefer to hunt at night and if they found us a good meal it might take a while to carry it back through the forest.”
No one replied to her statement and the silence was only disturbed by the low hum of insects and the crackling fire.
It was Huth that broke the quiet. Since he could finally converse with the others, he seemed more interested in being heard. “What will we do if they fail to return? All the known lands count on our success and we have already become delayed. With Vel-Linna in such a state, we have difficult choices ahead. I just want to make it clear that I will refuse to leave her behind. I shall carry her if I have to.”
Jack rubbed his temples. “I’m not much of a ‘leave someone behind kind of guy.’ Besides, even in her current state, she still saved us all for the Dead God. Nope, she’ll be coming with us. Maybe her fever will break and we can all catch a break,” he tried to smile.
The group fell into a melancholy silence again. A pained groan came from Vel-Linna, which didn’t improve anyone’s spirits.
Huth shifted positions. “I should probably check on her.” He was just starting to stand up when they all heard a movement from outside of camp. It sounded like a stirring of leaves.
A moment later one of the most beautiful females Jack had ever witnessed sauntered into the firelight. Her body was covered with a few strategically placed plants of vibrant colors and little else. Long flowing hair graced her like a golden waterfall and her face could have made a goddess jealous. Despite her wild nature, she walked more like a stripper heading onto stage than a creature of the forest.
For once no language barrier existed for Jack was able to understand her words when she said, “You need not fear me, which you should appreciate for there is little that remains benign within my forest of late.” Her sudden appearance had left them all stunned, which gave the beautiful woman a moment to regard each of them in turn.
Her gaze settled on Jack. “Are there two men of suspect morality part of your tribe?”
“Ah, yes,” her looks proved more than enough to leave Jack fumbling for words. “They were out trying to gather us some food.”
“Hunting my creatures, you mean.” Her eyes blazed green for a moment, then chilled. “Your hunters have become the hunted and like most hunted things may soon become a meal for the Angry Ones.”
“The Angry Ones?” Tynilia said, trying to wrest the woman’s attentions away from Jack. It didn’t work.
“Yes they are the eaters of man flesh among other atrocities. Your men will perish without aid. I can only take one of you with me. You,” she pointed a slim finger at Huth, “stay with the infected one and try to ease her suffering.”
She pointed at Tynilia.
Jack’s mate took a step forward. “Hold it right there, you half naked bit-”
But her words became lost in a whirlwind of motion. Jack’s body twirled until he felt his existence slipping away. Soon he had become one with the molecules of the forest and his camp became lost to him. Darkness overcame his senses and he knew no more.
To be continued next Monday