Murder in the Dark
April 25, 2016
As he and Tynilia plummeted toward the river of churning lava flowing below them, Jack quickly realized that he couldn’t count on her flying ability to save them this time for one of the boulders of ice must have knocked her unconscious.
As the raging flow drew near, Jack saw a ledge to the northern side of the cliff. Not pausing to consider his chances, he became a giant serpent. As they fell, he quickly wrapped his tail around Tynilia. Live or die, at least they would share the same fate.
Looking to the north, his serpentine eyes spied an elongated pillar of ice centered in the middle of the ledge. The flowing magma bubbled less than a hundred feet away, but he had the time to make one attempt at reaching the icy pillar. His body struck forward with his neck creating an arcing C. He managed to get part of his body around the narrow pillar, but it had a slick surface and when Tynilia body fell past him, her weight began to pull her with him. He panicked as he slipped away from the pillar. His upper body slid over the icy ledge and in seconds he would be plummeting to his doom.
At the last moment he thought of something and opened his mouth wide. He had become a reticulated python and he slammed his rows of dagger sharp teeth into the ice below him. He continued to slide. Eight feet, Four feet. Two feet. At the last moment, he hit an elevated lip of ice and his teeth held.
He almost couldn’t believe he still lived, but wasted no time in drawing Tynilia’s unconscious body onto the ledge and then crawling onto it himself. He remained there panting long after he had returned to his human form.
Once Jack had caught his breath, he looked around, but saw no obvious signs of danger other than being trapped on a narrow icy ledge situated over a raging lave flow. He got to his feet and then moved Tynilia as far away from the edge of the ledge as possible, which he guessed was only about a dozen feet.
Once he felt she would be about as safe as she could get, he returned to the edge and looked around again. Through the large hole created in the layer of ice that had once covered the river, he could see the tunnel through which they had entered the area Due to the angle he couldn’t spy the passage the group had headed toward, which he guessed remained roughly over his head.
He still had his backpack, which had some rope. He might be able to rig a way up there, but he figured that the risk might be too great to bother when Tynilia could just fly them up there as soon as she regained consciousness.
Still what had happened to the others? If they had survived it wouldn’t be such a leap of faith to assume Shadowknife and Stalker had survived too. He’d seen neither of them falling with them.
Jack took off his pack and set it under Tynilia’s head and then placed his cloak over her. She moved while mumbling something, but showed no sign of waking. He used some of his precious Ki to heal her a small amount, but needed to keep some in reserve. Who knew what else they might be forced to face before he had a chance to rest. Her breath became more even, but she remained asleep.
He was thinking that perhaps he should just join her in resting, when he saw a figure appear within the tunnel that led back the way they had come. He recognized Shadowknife at once. The Darcarre waved down at him and Jack thought it might have been the first time he’d ever seen the Xemmoni smile.
Then Jack tensed. A black shape moved behind Shadowknife. Before Jack could warn him, the figure grabbed Shadowknife by the hair, jerked his head back, and slit his throat.
Shadowknife hovered for a moment and Jack wondered if there was a way the Darcarre could cure himself before it became too late. But then the tip of a spearhead appeared through his chest and a second later the form behind him kicked Shadowknife not only off the spear but into the pit. Jack could only look on helplessly as his ally fell through the air and hit the lava below with a splash of burning steam. A brief fire blazed, but within seconds nothing remained to prove Shadowknife had ever existed.
Looking back up at the ledge, it shocked him to see Stalker standing there with a murderous grin that spread over his blood drenched spear.
“Hah, worm of Yig,” he called down to him. “I see you and Ty survived. I might find a use for her, but you I will leave to rot. Do not attempt to follow me, for I will soon be the one commanding the Lava Dragons. I’ll leave you alive just long enough to witness the doom of all who dared oppose The Darken.”
“But how could you betray your own people?” Jack managed to get out, despite his shock.
“That’s just it, my people will be spared, while the rest of the races are wiped out or allowed to become our slaves, the followers of Tezcatlipoca will bask in the glory alongside the forces of Darken.”
“You’re mad if you think he will honor any bargain he made with you.”
“I tire of this. Look to the skies and see your doom, Yigling,” and then without another word, Jack’s former ally flew off toward the lair of the Lava Dragons.
Come back next Monday to see if Jack and his allies can somehow survive.