November 14, 2016
For an amount of time impossible to measure, Jack remained nothing—Spread atoms, at one with the Multiverse. He wondered if he’d ever reform, but when the bliss of creation wrapped his essence in its warm arms, he wondered if he wanted to.
Then he slammed into the pavement so hard his body rolled until he came to a halt with his back against a bench in the middle of a sunlit avenue of shops.
An older woman rushed up to him. “Oh my, are you alright,” she begun, but then moved back upon seeing his strange layers of armor along with the huge war hammer strapped to his back.
He tried to clear his head, but random colors compromised his vision and he couldn’t think clearly. Through the fog, he did realize the woman as well as the other people lingering about hadn’t gone all, ‘Invasion of the Bodysnatchers’ on him yet.
Using the bench, he managed to get his feet under him. Others gave him peculiar glances and he realized if an officer showed up the chances of all humanity turning on him again would be high.
He stumbled away. Under the glare of the sun, he felt like an out of place freak. Dozens of people shopped and made their way to their jobs, while he looked like a reject from a Renaissance fair.
Spying a break between shops, he made for it and came out into a large parking lot. People still strolled about, but he felt less under a microscope. As his vision cleared, he spotted a sign for the Lexington Pharmacy.
Rubbing his forehead, he said, “Ahhhh, I’m twenty miles out into the suburbs.”
A small strip of woods ran along the other side of the parking lot and he made for it.
As he power walked to the comforting green, his mind went back to how he had arrived here.
Obviously, this isn’t my home world if for no other reason I encountered an incarnation of myself. Then his gut clenched. Tynilia. What will they be doing with her? Phillip seemed nice enough, but the other Jack’s woman looked fierce, she might not take kindly to her man being blasted into atoms and flung across Boston.
I need to get back there.
Reaching the woods, he discovered it was an urban trail. Even as he stood there, joggers and bicyclists cruised by.
“Excuse me,” he said to one of the passing people. He’d picked a younger man and the fellow regarded him, like Jack must have been half mad.
He chuckled, “Yeah, dude, what’s the matter lost your directions to the costume party?”
“Pretty much, but can you tell me what direction this bike path goes?”
“Uh yeah. If you go left you’ll head down into Concord and Acton. Head right and you’ll end up in Boston eventually.”
“Thanks,” Jack nodded and after readjusting the hammer on his back took up a slow jog toward Boston.
Come Back next Monday for more of Jack’s Brand Spanking New Adventure!
November 7, 2016
Jack and Tynilia kept to the alley and back streets, but every time they encountered someone, the individual or group would turn their way and give them a glassy eyed stare before walking in their direction.
“Jack, I’m really reconsidering my choice to accompany you back to our planet,” she said, as they jogged past a group of cooks smoking behind a restaurant. Each of the men dropped their cigarettes and started to powerwalk after them.
“Yeah, it doesn’t seem like we’re trapped in a zombie movie, minus the gore.”
“What’s a movie?”
“Never mind, but I hear what you’re saying,” he said as he grasped his lover’s hand and took them down a narrow alley to their left. “I just need some answers. If this somehow is my world, then it would be my duty to save it.”
He stopped and looked back at the gathering crowd of eighty people on their trail. His hands rose while he chanted a few words under his breath.
“And if it isn’t your world?”
Summoning the strength of Yig, he felt thankful, his God’s presence remained, but it did feel weaker than usual. Whatever planet he might be on, the Stalwart Gods appeared to be losing.
“If it isn’t my world…” a wall of earth erupted through the pavement and blocked the end of the alley. Sand a gravel rained down, but for the moment they had stopped their pursuers. He turned to her, “I like the idea of helping every decent world in their battle against Vile and I’m happy I was able to help turn the tide against that bastard on your planet, but if this isn’t my world… I think I’m inclined to leave. My own planet needs me. After I help my world, if I can, then we’ll worry about being intergalactic Stalwarts,” he grabbed her hand and they took off at a half run, “but until then, I need to get home.”
“I hope this isn’t your world then.”
* * *
Although it remained early, Phillip’s pub, the Baccanaght, was open. Jack grabbed the handle and rushed in. A few boozehounds drank at the bar and within shaded booths. A few working men looked like they’d dropped in for a liquid lunch.
Everything within Baccanaght gleamed in various tones of tans and browns. Jack could feel the mystic strength which flowed through the place and as he led Tynilia between the pool tables to the bar, he noted the costumers within the establishment didn’t look at them any stranger than normal people should when confronted with a sexy Mayan sorceress and a tall man wearing armor with a four-foot hammer strapped to his back.
“Jack! By the wine soaked beard, what in Hades happened to you?” Phillip called at them from behind the bar. His concern blossomed into a smile. “And who’s this lovely young flower of darkness?”
“Darkness,” Tynilia said, placing her small hands on her hips.
“Well you do follow Tez,” Jack said under his breath.
“True,” she said, while looking around. “So far this is the best place you have taken me to.”
“Glad to hear it,” Phillip said with a warm smile and placed a glass of wine on the bar in front of her. Jack received a pitcher of Harpoon and a clean glass.
He released a breath he hadn’t know he’d been holding and the couple sat at the bar.
Phillip let a few sips make it into their tired forms before he said, “So ah, Jack, you need to fill me on what happened to you. Who’s your beautiful new friend and why are you, uh, wearing armor, my brother.”
Seeing his friend and being within the mystical safety of Baccanaght helped Jack relax, but he still wasn’t too sure how far he should go with his explanation. Tynilia stared at him as he began.
“Well you remember when we went up against Vile Darken in the commons? What did you see that night?”
“Vile who? What battle?” He chuckled. “Did you start drinking before you came here.”
His stomach clenched. Phillip seemed the same, but something remained off.
Jack tried to cover his tracks and allowed himself a half-laugh. “You like my act so far. Ty and I will be performing in a LARP near Quincy Market. You know, it always helps to make a few extra bucks.”
“Um, okay. I thought you were about the last person I knew who is hurting for money though.” Phillip gazed at him for a long moment. “Jack, I like the new look, I really do.” His eyes quinted, “but how did you get your hair so much longer?”
“Yig allows me to…”
“Oh yeah, the Yig thing.”
At least he knows who Yig is, Jack mused and took another sip of his ale.
Behind him the door to Baccanaght opened.
Tynilia looked back before he had a chance. “Oh no Jack, JACK! Look out, run!”
Whipping around, he had just enough time to see a couple had entered the pub. The woman was a gorgeous young brunette with a slim body and an easy stride. But with her was…him. Another Jack Primus, in his usual outfit of leather, jeans, and boots.
Then it hit him. Reality twisted. He knew two incarnations couldn’t occupy the same space, but had never experienced what happened when they did and he heard Tynilia cry out as his existence tore apart and was he flung out into the Multiverse.
Come Back next Monday for more of Jack’s Brand Spanking New Adventure!
October 3, 2016
Tynilia’s hand found his as she looked on in awe at the buildings which towered over the pair. Even though Jack had seen many of the larger cities in the US and had lived in Boston more than a while, after his stay of such a different, low-tech world, the sight of such a bustling throng of modern people left him with a strong case of cultural shock.
He could only imagine how Tynilia, who grew up in a small, stone-age village must be feeling.
Her words restated his thoughts. “Are we safe here? I’ve never seen so many people in one place. If they turn against us, we won’t stand a chance.”
He chuckled. “Most of the people from my world aren’t like that.” However, looking down at his tattered clothes, which barely covered his half shredded chainmail, and certainly not his oversized battle-axe, he realized there was some cause for concern.
Tynilia didn’t fit in to well either. Her obsidian tipped spear hovered over her tight doeskin dress and most of her was adored with black feathers, charms, and various small animal bones.
“Now that I think of it, sometimes our law and order types aren’t too keen on weapons like ours being out in public.”
“We can’t discard them?” she questioned as worry mixed with fear over her petite face.
“I think not,” he said, as he moved her through the crowds by the hand. They received quite a mix of glances passing along the busy city streets. Some folks ignored their outlandish garb completely, while others stopped and open mouth stared. Children laughed and pointed, which caused him to make a face or growl their way. Their eyes grew large, while they shrieked, and hid behind their parents.
Tynilia proved far less jovial and asked, “Where are you taking us, somewhere safe I hope.”
“I hope so too. There’s the T, but with these weapons. Shit, I’m pretty sure my wallet was torn off in that battle with the Faceless God.”
“What’s a wallet?”
“Nevermind, let’s see we’re near Commonwealth Ave. You probably aren’t ready for a car ride yet.”
“What is a car?”
“See those big squares of metal almost smashing into each other, those are cars. Think of them like ah…advanced wagons where we use dead animals to power them instead of live ones.”
“Says the woman who worships Tezcatlipoca the lord of the darkness, night, death and-”
“You may stop. Focus on keeping us from being killed.”
“I’m more worried about getting arrested. Are you up for a walk?”
“How far and where too?”
“My friend Phillip has a bar. If anyone can help us, he can. Although when I last left here, we were in the middle of a battle with Vile Darken.” He looked around, “Although, from the looks of things, Vile must not have caused too much trouble.”
“So this is normal.”
“Yeah,” he said, “Come on let’s get going before some cops stop us and if they do we’re both heading to a Comic Con, okay?”
“Yeah, and for once, you had better let me do all the talking.”
Come Back next Monday for more of Jack’s Brand Spanking New Adventure!
June 13, 2016
Jack hugged Tynilia’s unconscious body as they both plunged to the ground. The trees rushed up to meet them and Jack attempted something he had never done before. Becoming a snake might save him, but he would never do anything to allow Tynilia to be harmed, so instead of becoming a snake, he transformed his right arm into a long serpent tail. He hadn’t done this before, but Yig loves heroes and fools and his arm grew into a twenty foot tail and as they started to crash through the branches, he used his prehensile limb to entwine a tree.
The trick worked and he stopped their decent, but at the cost of almost dislocating his shoulder. He bit back a cry while lowering them both to the jungle floor. But their problems were all but over for a ball of fire four yards wide connected with the forest. Some luck found them for it passed eight feet over his head before exploding into a mass of liquid flame.
The jungle above his head was ablaze as well and dark embers fell around him like snowflakes of death.
“Primus I come for you! I know a slippery Yigling like you won’t be dead yet. But soon you will wish you were. Perhaps I’ll start by making you watch me rape your mate to death.”
Jack growled through clenched teeth as he saw the black and purple form of Vile float into the burning jungle. He shot up his hands and the trees came alive grasping and clawing at the Overlord.
“Please don’t waste your child’s tricks on me,” he laughed and with the move of his arms the trees blasted into splinters like they had been caught between twin hurricanes.
A moment later the point of Jack’s throwing knife took him in the forehead, but bounced away. It hadn’t hurt Vile, but it sure seemed to throw him into a greater rage. “You devolved bastard! You think you are so mighty.” Vile drew his smoking cutlass and lowered himself through the flaming canopy until his feet rested on the ground twenty feet before Jack.
Vile Darken marched toward him. The air dissolved at the touch of his saber and foul burning black drops spilled from the curved blade. “I will dispatch you myself. I will need no Bestows for the likes of you.”
Jack set his jaw while swinging his giant axe up into a two handed grip. “I’ve waited for a chance to do this for a long time.”
With an insulting casualness, Vile back handed toward Primus with his cutlass.
Jack blocked the blow, but at the price of the tips of one of his axe’s crescents of sharpened steel being cut away. “I’ve had this axe a long time,” he said, but he had a hard time not imagining what the blade would do to simple flesh.
When the blow moved past him, Jack held the axe vertical and smashed Vile in the back. Vile tried to laugh, but Jack hit him again and pushed him head first into a tree. He came around with the lower handle of the axe and sent it into his cheekbone. Vile tried to take a step back but was pinned against a tree.
The axe blade came up and hit Vile in the center of his chest. For any normal man it would have been a killing blow, but Vile Darken has not been a normal man for a long time.
With his dark bearded face only inches from Jack’s, Vile roared as his eyes burned red. “Idiot! Why do you bother?” Disregarding his earlier boast, he used some type of telekinetic Bestow to fling Jack back against a tree of his own.
Jack grasped through broken ribs and then fell forward onto his hands and knees.
Vile kicked the axe away.
How could he have moved so fast? Jack wondered as he drew forth his blade of Yig.
“I tire of this. Snakes don’t need limbs do they, so let’s lose a few of yours.”
Jack had started to roll away, but the cutlass swung down and removed Jack’s left arm just below the elbow.
Jack screamed in both pain and terror as he gazed down at his severed limb.
Vile leaned over and said, “Now for the other one.” Jack threw his knife, but Vile just batted it away.
Without warning, Jack felt himself being flung away from Vile. At first he thought it was an attack, but then he heard Vile curse. Jack tumbled to a stop near Tynilia’s unconscious form.
Despite his grievous wounds, he detected a strange buzzing. He looked down at his remaining hand and it appeared to be vibrating. Moving, but then fading only to return and start wavering again.
Then he heard his own voice crying out to him. “Heal Ty, my brother. Escape, it will be up to you to finish this!”
He looked back and saw himself, this world’s incarnation of his soul, his body, his essence, his power. The other Jack dressed like a Mayan warrior. Green feathers clung to his buckskin pants and jerkin. He smiled his way as he fought Darken with a mace headed spear.
“Heal her awake and flee. You’re this world’s only chance.”
“I am this world’s only chance, only chance to do anything other than just die!” As he spoke Vile’s cutlass broke the Mayan Jack’s weapon in half.
“No wait. Don’t do this.”
“My world, my sacrifice, now save my girl!”
Fighting against unconsciousness and knowing he needed some healing himself, Jack placed his hand on Tynilia and focused his remaining Ki into healing her. When her eyes fluttered open he used the last ebb of his mystic strength to heal his arm enough that the bleeding caused.
“Tynilia, we have to go.” His voice sounded worse than he felt.
“What’s happening.” Her eyes took in the battle. “Oh no, my Jack.”
He words hurt him even through the fog of pain. Was she really his? How had he allowed himself to get so close to another man’s woman, even if the other man was him?
She flung her spirit knife and if struck Vile in the back of the head and then reappeared in her hand. The other Jack fought Vile with everything he had. Weapons flew all around the pair. He’d drawn blood from several wounds he given to the Overlord. Tynilia flung her dagger again. Jack wanted to aid his incarnation, but it was already too late.
Mayan Jack smashed his mace into the side of Vile’s head, but Vile growled and swung his weapon cutting that Jack in half at the waist.
Tynilia Screamed as Jack struggled to his feet.
She threw her spirit weapon again.
“It is too late. We have to go. Take us back to the dragons.” She hesitated. “Come on Ty, let’s burn this fucker to the ground!”
A second later only a mist of inky smoke remained was witness to Vile’s cursing.
Come back next Monday to see if Jack and Tynilia can somehow survive.
May 9, 2016
As the colossal dragon drew enough air into its lungs to fill a stadium, Jack knew he only had seconds to act before he and Tynilia would be burned into ash. His mystic strength remained at a low ebb after healing himself and Tynilia, so he would only have one chance to save them.
Without thinking the possibilities through, he once again assumed the form of a serpent. This time he became the largest snake he could manage. As he transformed, he felt the last of his Ki drain away. This had better work, he thought to himself, because I don’t think my axe will do the trick against a five hundred foot long dragon.
While he changed, he drew himself up as high as his new body would allow, it was still like a worm looking up at an eagle, but it proved to be the best he could accomplish.
The dragon hesitated. Glowing golden eyes glared down at him. It tilted its head like a confused puppy for a moment and jets of steam poured from its nostrils as it closed its massive jaws.
Jack realized, as he swayed there, that one of the drawbacks of his plan would be his inability to converse, but who even knew if these dragons spoke?
He detected movement behind him and saw Tynilia dropping to her knees and then bowing until her head pressed against the floor. She stayed there long enough for Jack to wonder what she might be doing. The moment stretched and then grew longer.
He couldn’t be sure if he should remain in serpent form or try some other plan, but felt that given the situation he should place his trust in his lover.
After another long pause, she raised her head from the floor. “You can become a human again, Jack.”
After he returned to his human body, he regarded the titanic dragon for a few seconds and then turned to her. “What did you do?”
“I conversed with the dragon telepathically.”
“You can do that? Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
She flashed a slight smile his way. “A woman has to keep a few secrets. Besides it might have made you nervous if you knew I could read your thoughts.”
His face grew stern. “Have you done that?”
“Oh course. Don’t worry, you passed. Why do you think I trust you so much?”
He coughed and jerked his thumb at the dragon towering over them like a scaled mountain. “What about this guy?”
“First off, she is a she, and she thought your little trick was adorable by the way, but I’m thinking it saved us. That and they fact that we are a mated pair, also gave her pause. Especially when I told her I was pregnant.”
His jaw hung open while he fumbled for words. “What? Huh, wait what?”
She smiled at him. “Sorry handsome, what did you think would happen? You are quite a potent specimen.”
“By Yig’s scaly beard. I ah… maybe we should talk about that later when an army destroying dragon isn’t waiting on us.”
She couldn’t keep the smile off her face. “I agree. She is calling for a…friend to watch over her eggs while she takes us to meet their king. She says we should prepare ourselves for he’s the truly powerful one.”
“If he’s much bigger than her, I hope he aren’t too small for him to notice us.”
She laughed and seemed happier than he’d seen her in weeks. She slipped her hand into his and they followed the dragon as she led them deeper into the towering cavern.
Come back next Monday to see if Jack and his allies can somehow survive.
June 1, 2015
Jack froze at Tynilia’s words. The Darken was attacking the forces aliened against him and would be hitting the warriors of Yig at any moment.
He looked behind him at the eighty warriors gathered near the side of the cliff and then smiled. “I know what we need to do. We might not have much time so we need to hurry.” Moving toward, he grabbed Huth-allan-nith by the forearm. “I might need one more man to help with this.”
Despite the language barrier, the Stalwart understood what was being asked of him and nodded.
Jack held up four more fingers and pointed at the man they’d been working with and Huth-allan-nith nodded again.
“I’m assuming Met can fly like you can Tynilia.”
It was her turn to nod.
“Good, now this is what we’re going to do and we need to hurry because we don’t have much time.”
* * *
An hour later found Jack, Tynilia, Huth-allan-nith, and Met-A-Lock sitting around a campfire, which burned only a few yards away from the side of the imposing cliff. Four of Huth-allan-nith’s handpicked warriors stayed close and moved between the quickly crafted huts making a few improvements and looking busy. He could also sense Shadowknife lurking in a patch of darkness just out of sight.
“They say this man has the intelligence of a God,” Met-A-Lock sneered as he spoke. “What makes you think he won’t see through such a simple ruse?”
He gave the Darcarre a glare of his own. Whether the evil man had bedded Tynilia or not remained open to debate, but either way Jack had chosen to dislike him. “Have you met Vile Darken before? No, well I have, several times now. Yes, he’s beyond powerful, a deadly plotter, and madder than a goldfish tossed into a bag of spiders, but he’s also arrogant. He would be hard pressed to believe his plans are anything sort of genius and the idea that we could plot against his moves or outsmart him would be hard for him to comprehend.”
“Also, despite his might, he has a soft spot for luxury. I’m sure that a big part of him feels why bother taking over the Multi-verse if you can’t enjoy it. So this desire for luxury might lead him to believe that the warriors could have constructed these little huts while they waited because that would be what he’d make his slaves do for him.”
Met-A-Lock had not answer and just grunted while looking away.
Jack had just turned over his ground fowl on the coals when a sphere of purple tinged black light exploded into existence between his small group and the huts. Already laughing, like he’d finished the battle, Vile stepped out of the cloud followed by four powerful Ripperkah. Two of which Jack recognized from his attack on their pyramid filled capital.
Vile Darken’s voice boomed at them, like usual his words were the first thing to attack. “Ah, another Primus. You think your maneuvering will accomplish more than elevating you to the annoyance level of a gnat where you were once a fly? But either way, I will crush you like the primitive bug you are. My only regret will be that I ever bothered to march my army toward your pathetic forces when I should have just come out here and killed you all to the man myself.”
While he spoke, everyone else moved. Jack had gathered and prepared the sand and used his Mold Earth spell to dash buckets worth of earth into his opponent’s faces. Between their disorientation after teleporting and getting eyes full of sand, this appeared to have slowed them down giving the warriors of Yig a chance to follow through with the more mundane lunching of spears. Both Met-A-Lock and Tynilia also attacked with spells, but only Tynilia’s appeared to have worked. Jack saw another Bestow, most likely driven by Shadowknife, crash into the back of one of the Ripperkah skulls and the man stumbled forward a step.
“Fools!” Vile raged. “You seek to stop me with dirt. If it is dirt you enjoy so much than into the dirt you shall go. Say hello to the worms for me. I will—what?”
The shamans of Yig had hidden just out of sight and they moved in concert to bring down the whole cliff under all of their feet.
Tynilia took to the air and grabbed Jack by his jerkin as he flung head sized boulders into their enemy’s faces.
Then everything began to happen almost too quickly to follow. Huth-allan-nith was falling and Met-A-Lock went to grab him, but unlike his allies, Vile had the ability to hover and aimed an attack at Jack while his eyes leaked an inky smoke.
Tynilia cried out and in his precarious position a thousand feet above the Earth, Jack couldn’t be sure he’d make it through a serious assault.
Tynilia chose to dive and as Vile cast a blast of black lightning their way Met-A-Lock swooped down in an attempt to grab Huth-allan-nith and found himself the recipient of Vile’s massive bolt of energy.
The Darcarre wailed in a short lived scream, but his pummeled body went silent as it tumbled without control through the rock choked avalanche.
Jack looked down and saw Huth-allan-nith’s panicked face for a moment before his falling body became lost within the choking swarm of rocks, dirt, and dust.
A dark figure flashed by them and he guessed it was Shadowknife, but who he was trying to rescue remained unknown, as was his ability to do so.
But Jack had his own problems. Vile dove after him and Tynilia. His clothes were a ragged mass of tattered reds, purples, and blacks as he prepared another spell. “Here he comes,” she yelled over the thundering boulders.
“Primus you will not escape me this time!”
“You want to bet?” Tynilia said. Then, before Jack could stop her, the sorceress of Tezcatlipoca had teleported them away.
To be continued next Monday
May 11, 2015
They set out early the following morning. Jack, Mythcul, and Huth-allan-nith led the eighty warriors of Yig into the thick forest. Jack had never experienced such a powerful force who followed his God, but compared to the army they opposed, it almost felt like a wasted effort. Still Jack had to remind himself that they also had the jungle and the earth itself as allies and the Darken army would soon not know what hit them.
It only took two hours for the group to receive its first assault. More of the giant trollish things that Jack had fought before assaulted them, but before they could do much more than show themselves, the shamans caused the earth and forests to erupt with the powers of Yig. Trees twisted and crushed. The jungle floors opened up to swallow beasts whole. Almost before it started, the battle was done. Jack had never gotten a chance to assist and figured that might have been a first for him.
One man had been thrown against a tree and lay limp on the ground, but when Mythcul’s mystic healing got him up on his feet, the men let out an excited cheer.
Jack’s smile joined the others, while the men gathered up their weapons and moved back into their marching order.
While he waited, a patch of darkness fell over him.
“So are you going to introduce me to your new friends,” a shrouded voice touched his mind.
“Shadowknife,” he said aloud. “Yes, we might as well get this over with.”
The Splinter Darcarre’s reception was cold, but no fights broke out and besides a few muttered comments, they left the Xemmoni alone. Although Jack doubted the man would ever admit it, he stuck close to Jack for protection.
More creatures from the Dark Alliance Xemmoni races assaulted them throughout the day, but they were either beaten back or destroyed. When the made it to camp without suffering a single loss of life, it improved their spirits and wild songs and chanting were taken up by the warriors as they prepared the overnight camp.
Shadowknife had volunteered to patrol around the camp and after his return, he drew up into the lingering shadows under a cluster of tree near where Jack prepared his blankets.
“Your group did will today. Someone would have to be a fool to attack such a group of Stalwarts located on their own turf.”
Although Jack felt little friendship toward the agent of darkness, but did enjoy being able to converse. “We’ll see if it will be enough to tip the scale when we engage the enemy’s true force. Any clue to the main army’s location?”
“Last I heard it still headed toward the northeast, straight to where you pointed it. I believe both your allies to the south and my Nest to the east have begun their hit and run assaults on the Darken’s flanks. Both thought it best to have the army enter the outskirts of the mountains and forests before such assaults commenced.”
“I can’t fault them there, but I’m sure they play a dangerous game.”
“A game that we will soon join.” Shadowknife moved slightly a greater darkness within the black.
“Do you know if the two southern forces are in communications with each other?”
“I believe your ally Tynilia is assuring that this is the case.”
Jack winced at her name. He had grown fond of the independent woman, despite their differences and her already belonging to another.
Shaking his head, he left the Darcarre to his shadows and bedded down for the night. Sleep eluded him and when at last he drifted off, he was plagued by troubled dreams.
To be continued next Monday
October 13, 2014
This weekly Serial began 7/14/14
He figured they would have to suffer through a cold camp that night. After all his battles and hiking, dealing with a foul Darcarre speaking within his head left him feeling like he wanted to sleep till next Monday, not that he knew what day of the week in was on this strange world he found himself upon.
He had just resolved himself to sleeping within his wet clothes when Mythcul somehow got a fire lit. The older man smiled as his hands warmed themselves on the fridges of the flames. He spoke to his younger ally in the language they shared. His soft voice did most of the talking.
Huth-allan-nith looked Jack’s way a few times with an expression that remained hard to read.
The jeans over his kneecaps had just dried when sleep claimed him. He would only find out later that his new fellow Yig worshippers hadn’t woken him up to help with the watch that night.
* * *
They began the march early. The three of them followed a path of sorts and the forest became wetter as they traveled. They came to a long marsh and it surprised Jack to see a log bridge stretched over its black surface.
Taking this as a good sign, he tried to communicate with Mythcul and ask how much longer it would be to his village. The shaman kept answering, in his non-verbal manner, that it would be one more passage of the sun, but Jack couldn’t figure out if that meant they would reach the village that day or would be required to sleep one more night in the woods.
After a while, he stopped trying and just focused on keeping Huth-allan-nith in sight. If the younger man’s pace was any indication, it appeared that he hoped to reach his camp as soon as possible.
They had just moved past the swamp when disaster struck. Something, a livid horror of undulating tentacles, erupted from a pile of leaves to Huth-allan-nith’s right. The man tried to raise his spear, but half a dozen ropey appendages slammed him into a tree.
Without waiting for its next move, Jack flung his biggest spear at the chaotic beast. Its tip pierced a few inches into a tentacle, but was quickly bashed away. As Jack readied a javelin, he took in the creature that rose to its full height before him.
If a mad god had decapitated a crocodile and placed an octopus the size of a car where its head was, that would just begin to describe the abomination that faced them. Course fur covered it in direct confrontation to the rest of its structure. Instead of feet, it had hands, large rough looking things that most likely had the strength to tear a man in two.
Then the battle field exploded into action. Jack tossed his first javelin, just as Huth-allan-nith struggled to his feet. Again it pierced a tentacle, without much effect. Jack had one javelin left, but wasn’t sure what to do. The thing had no head to strike and its armored body looked impervious to the primitive weapons his force had. But then he had bigger problems.
While Mythcul began a loud chant, the beast attacked Huth-allan-nith full on. The man got in a good blow with his spear and tore a tentacle off the thing, but it still had about nineteen more and half of these batted the young warrior hard enough to send he flying a dozen feet into the air. His body smacked a few trees on the way down and Jack hoped the man still breathed.
With a mucus ridden roar, the creature turned toward Jack, but that was when Mythcul’s spell caused the jungle to come alive and grasp at the horror. However, its strength proved mighty and all the spell did was give Jack a few extra seconds to prepare.
He hoped it would be enough.
First, he prepared a spell of his own. Then, with a yell, he raced forward with his last wooden javelin and plunged it past the tentacles into where the thing’s head would be, if it had one.
Instead of batting Jack away, the beast’s tentacles grasped him and began to pull him in every direction. Mythcul’s spell still slowed the beast, but Jack knew it wouldn’t be enough to keep him from being drawn and quartered, if he didn’t do something fast.
With a motion of his fingers, he enacted his spell and used his ability to mold nature to cause the wooden shaft to the spear to splinter out and grow.
At first, he couldn’t be sure it had worked, for the monster still tore at him, but then a wet groan filled the air. Seconds after that, the tentacles went limp and Jack crashed to the ground.
He tried to hurry to his hands in knees, in case the creature resumed its attack, but need not have bothered. It stayed limp and Mythcul helped Jack to his up while healing him.
After patting him on the back, Mythcul hurried to his fallen comrade. The rest of his mystical strength still wasn’t enough to help the man regain consciousness, but it looked like Huth-allan-nith would survive to fight another day.
Mythcul started flashing hand signs at Jack, but the Stalwart quickly said. “I get it, time to get a fire going. One way or another, we won’t be reaching your village tonight.”
As he searched for dryer things to burn, he thought he caught a glimpse of a figure retreating back into the forest. “Great, more folks hunting us. That’s all we need.”
To be continued next Monday
September 29, 2014
The young warrior, Huth-allan-nith, set a grueling pace through the ascending forest. Jack could see the man putting him to the test, but it surprised him that he would burden the much older Mythcul with such a difficult pace. Yet each time Jack looked over his shoulder, the shaman remained in the same spot ten feet behind him.
Despite the raise in elevation, the heat still pummeled him and sweat flowed from his body in thick threads. This became somewhat balanced by the increased availability of water, but as soon as he drank, he felt it draining from him like his body was little better than a sieve.
Exotic birds mixed with smaller mammals that had no recognizable counterparts on his Earth. Certain bushes and trees would blossom as they passed. Brushing an arm against their flowers would cause a spilling of pedals in a rainbow of mismatched colors.
Jack had just finished climbing over a tree half as wide as he stood tall, when an emerald colored serpent rose up before him. He froze. The snake swayed as it eyed him with pupils that appeared to glow in the shadows created by the trees.
Mythcul paused on the other side of the log speaking in a gentle voice, but in a language Jack hadn’t begun to understand. The old shaman paused, looked again, and then began to laugh for some unknown reason. He spoke once more, but in a different manner this time.
A moment later the snake fell back to the floor of the forest and began to crawl toward Jack.
Jack certainly had no fear of snakes, hell he worshiped one and becoming a snake had saved his life more times than he could count, but something about this one sent chills down his spine.
He might have taken a step back, but Mythcul clamped a strong hand onto his shoulder locking Jack in place.
Jack looked on in silent apprehension as the snake curled around his leg and slowly climbed his body. A moment later it slid into his jacket pocket.
“Okay,” Jack said and he felt the serpent settle.
Mythcul laughed again, patted jack on the shoulder, and motioned for him to continue.
They hadn’t travel much more than eight miles from where he had picked up his serpentine hitch hiker, when Huth-allan-nith brought them up short.
Ahead of them loomed something that had no right to exist. From where Jack stood, it looked like someone had jammed two dozen arm sized branches into a pile of rocks and then brought the jagged statue to life. But when it turned its glowing red eyes his way and Jack felt a dread build inside of him. This thing is the size of a rhino and looks eight times as mean, he thought to himself while readying his spear, which he figured would be pretty useless against the thing.
And that was when the beast fled.
This confused Jack to the extent that he hesitated a moment, while Huth-allan-nith attacked. It didn’t surprise Jack when the man’s thrown javelin did nothing more than shatter on the monster’s back.
Mythcul stepped forward and thrust his hands toward the beast and almost at once it began to melt. Rocks became mud and the thick logs flowed away from its body.
“You’re using your Mold Nature spell from Yig,” Jack said a second before he used his own earth moving magic.
The rocky beast roared as it tried to flee, but proved no match for the twin blasts of Magick. Within seconds, it had become just another mound of earth on the forest floor.
Once it appeared safe, Huth-allan-nith walked over. He picked up a sharpened log that was once part of the beast. He showed the others its tip was covered in blood, before tossing the log away in disgust.
Jack scratched the back of his head. “Looks like a Gloom construct and that’s where I put my money, if I had anyone to bet with. But why would they send an earthen creature against a bunch of Yig worshipers. That doesn’t make much sense.”
Mythcul motioned Jack to sit while Huth-allan-nith patrolled the area.
The shaman made to sketches in the dirt. One looked a little like Huth-allan-nith and Mythcul drove the point home by pointed his brown feather at the man. The second picture appeared darker. The man had a concealed face.
Beneath these two drawings, he made an oblong figure covered with spikes. He pointed at the remains of the creature they had just fought and the drawing. He drew a line from this figure to the image of a man with a concealed face. Then under this he drew a new figure. With a wrinkled face and then placed two blood red berries over its eyes.
“So I was right, the Glooms made this creature and sent it out to…get these guys with the masks on.”
Looking down, he saw Mythcul drawing again. This time it was under the picture of the man that looked like Huth-allan-nith. A writhing mass was drawn that Jack didn’t like the looks of at all.
“Looks like some Lovecraftain nightmare,” he mumbled.
Under this monster he drew a feature that Jack knew far too well. It looked like the tattered form of the Creeper. A line went from this Creeper to the undulating mass to Huth-allan-nith.
“So the Glooms are creating these beasts to fight someone else,” he said with some hesitation, while the Caradon are sending these things against your tribe that favors Yig.”
Whether the older man understood him or not, he nodded and favored Jack with a slim smile.
“I this big unknown remains who this other group is.” Jack said, but Mythcul had gained his feet.
A moment later Huth-allan-nith was already leading them on.
Jack groaned a she forced his tired limbs up, but after taking one last look at the former monster flowing into the sands, he followed the young man in his trek deeper into the rising mountains.
To be continued next Monday
September 8, 2014
Jack had speared a wild boar that had gotten too curious for his own good. The boar had come into his small camp to investigate the Ripperkah bodies he had piled near the edge of the cliff.
The sizzle and smell of the cooking pork might have been the best thing Jack had experienced since he landed on this unknown world. Then he chided himself. Despite the appearance of the tribe of corrupted Ripperkah, the lands he found himself within had an untamed beauty beyond most of what he’d seen. This place could be a paradise for both men and beast if somehow the spreading cancer of Xemmoni could be removed.
He sighed and tried to find a place where his torn and bruised body didn’t cry out in pain. He had just shifted the meat, when he saw a long shadow standing where none had existed before.
He jerked up, drawing his war dagger from its sheath. A tall raven haired man stood staring at him. The figure remained motionless as the fire played over his long hair and plain leather clothes. A few weapons dangled from the man’s belt, but the ruin covered spear he held appeared to be his primary weapon.
“You’re a silent one.” He paused, but the man made no move to talk. “I suppose you could have just as easily put the tip of that spear into my back in my current state.”
Still no movement or response came from the man.
“Maybe you might be a member of a tribe that hates the Ripperkah as much as I do?” Jack’s words passed slowly and he realized they were more for his own benefit that the man’s for he doubted he understood a word. Even ‘Ripperkah’ hadn’t gotten a glimmer for the figure. He made a motion with his hand toward the roasting food. “Would you care for some?”
The man still didn’t move.
But then he heard a voice behind him. Quickly turning, he saw a much older man whose long greyed hair spilled over a worn, but formerly colorful blanket. The thick blanket looked full of faded blues, greens, and reds, and covered the man’s whole body save for the tips of his leathered toes and his smiling face.
The man spoke to Jack in a language far from anything he had heard, but he did recognize two words. Ripperkah and Yig.
Jack pointed to the smiling man. “You are of Yig?”
The man’s grin widened and he pointed to himself as well as the black maned man across the fire.
“You both are. Well hey, my luck just got as good-”
The silent one tossed two large objects into his camp. They rolled once, but then came to a bloody stop. They were two severed heads.
“Maybe I’m even luckier than I thought. My guess is that those are the two Rips that tried to flee from me. I guess they won’t be bringing in any reinforcements any time soon.”
As if understanding his words, the older man nodded. The smile never left his face as he approached Jack. He reached out toward Jack’s shoulder and Jack took a step back. The man uttered a few quiet words and moved forward again.
“Oh what the hell,” Jack said and let the man touch his shoulder. A rich warmth passed into him and he let out a breath, he didn’t know he held, as his body was healed.
“Thanks for that, friend.”
The other man had finally moved and Jack saw him looking through the stacks of weapons he had collected. He said one word and then nodded his head. Looking at Jack, he said a few more words and then leaned his spear against a tree. A few seconds later, he had sat himself cross-legged near the fire and helped himself to a strip of pork.
Jack gave them a weak grin. “Now, if we only have some beer, this could be a pretty good night.” Thinking it wouldn’t hurt to try—Jack made a drinking motion with his hand.
With a grunt, the younger man tossed a wine skin at him.
Jack took a slow sip and coughed. Whatever it was, it was strong and burned all the way down.
This proved to be enough to make the black maned man smile and the elder joined them at the fire. The trio shared the meal in silence as a lonely wolf howled in the mountains to the north.
To be continued next Monday