December 12, 2016
After twenty miles of jogging mixed with power walking, Jack began to wish he’s risked taking a cab. Still, with everyone tending to get ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers,’ on him, he felt it remained better to play it safe. He just hoped the delay in time wouldn’t be causing Tynilia complications.
Poor woman all alone in world which isn’t hers. He chuckled. Hell, the same can be said for me, because this sure as shit isn’t my world. I just need to get Ty and get us out of here.
He knew Tynilia would usually teleport away if she ran into complications, but in this world so new and strange to her, where would she go?
Gritting his teeth, he started to jog again. For good, ill, or neutral, he needed to return to Phillip’s tavern.
* * *
An hour later, found his sweat soaked body reaching Phillip’s outer door. He’d left, through no fault of his own, Tynilia in the tavern with Phillip, and the mad eyed brunette, he thought he’d heard one of them address as Loni. His incarnation had disappeared when he had, but certainly had more resources and could have beat him back to the tavern.
Shit, this whole dispersal when we too close could be about to happen again if I’m not careful.
After hesitating for just a moment, he took a deep breath, and pushed into the tavern. His eyes dashed each way while half expecting to see the other Jack and have them each get blasted halfway across Boston again.
Instead he saw Phillip quietly sweeping up what appeared to be a few shattered glasses. When he saw Jack, he favored the Stalwart with a half-smile and leaned the broom against the bar. He pulled out a rolled joint and lit it, as Jack walked his way.
The rest of the bar proved as empty as it remained dark. The deep stained wood did little to reflect the nine brown candles burning in scattered recesses. He hadn’t noticed how it happened, but two amber glasses had appeared on a well-worn table.
Phillip took a long puff on the joint until the end glowed a cherry red and then sat at the table in front of one of the ales. When Jack sat opposite, Phillip made a motion to hand the joint to him, “Care for some?”
“I’ll hold off for now.” He did take a long chug for the ale. Some might have called it a risky move, but he figured when he couldn’t trust Brownhurst’s ale, he wouldn’t have much of a reason to continue living.
His eyes noticed a fresh hack in the bar and a couple of broken chairs had already been stacked near the roaring fireplace. “Looks like there was a bit of a fist to cuffs here,” Jack said. “I hope it wasn’t worse than that.”
Phillip smiled. It was a sight he’d always enjoyed, but here, on this world, he wasn’t sure if anything could be trusted. “Well Loni, who I always thought of as your lady,” he laughed, “went after your other lady.” He cocked his head to the side, “And she’s quite the looker by the way, you old dog.”
“Tynilia is my only lady,” Jack corrected.
Phillip laughed again. “Loni is, without a doubt, the toughest female Stalwart I’ve ever come across, but perhaps her skills made her a little cocky, for when ah… Tynilia kicked in her Rapidity, Loni got more than a bit schooled. Tynilia had kept things in blunt and batter mode, but when Loni slashed open her arm with a dagger, I believe she called her a bitch before teleporting somewhere.”
Jack rubbed his forehead. “So, you have no idea where she might be, but at least she’s breathing?”
“As far as I know, although Loni and now, um you are out looking for her along with other allies.” He looked Jack’s way and he face remained in the shadows of his leather hat. “I did tell Loni you didn’t attack her Jack and were in fact an incarnation of the man she loves. Hopefully it will help her be more considerate to your lady.”
“One could hope.” Jack leaned back and took another long pull off his ale.
Phillip tossed the stub of his joint into the roaring flames.
A short silence lingered, which Jack broke. “So, it seems like you’re well informed on this world, Phillip. For instance, you seem very aware of our incarnations and how they work. I assume you know you’re one.”
“The veil for me here has been lifted higher than in most.” He took a grim sip. “I am also well aware of the incarnations. Although I’ve tried to keep such things hidden from this world’s Jack and Loni.”
“Is this Loni one of us?”
“Oh yes,” he smiled. “You may yet meet her on your world.”
“Good to know. But now I think you need to tell me the true story of what’s taking place on this world, old friend.”
Phillip grew more serious. “I’m willing to do that, Jack, but let me grab us a pitcher first, for it’s a long tale.”
Come Back next Monday for more of Jack’s Brand Spanking New Adventure!
July 25, 2016
As the jet of black boiling death raced towards him, Jack wondered how he’d be able to have a chance of winning if he couldn’t survive the first attack. He’d felt the bite of Darken’s death spell before and almost failed to survive.
Right before it crashed into him like a wide ebony ghost, Tynilia teleported twenty feet over’s Vile and landed on his head with both feet as she plummeted to the Earth. A blown which would have killed any normal man, was only met with curses from the Overlord, however his spell became disrupted before it reached Jack.
Jack let out a roar and sprinted full out toward Vile Darken. Tynilia already had her spirit dagger out, but her thrust into Vile’s ribs failed to draw any blood.
“Pathetic tramp. The last of your people, why do you even try?” He emphasized his words by giving Tynilia a casual slap across the face, which sent her reeling back into the ruins of her village.
Vile looked down on her for a moment. “Perhaps I’ll-”
Jack’s enchanted hammer took him full in the chest. Vile let out a yell as his body lifted two feet into the air and then it became his turn to go crashing into the remnants of the village.
“For once I won’t have to listen to some boost involving raping the…”
He swung the hammer in a mighty two handed over head blow. And his teeth rattled when Vile blocked the blow with only one hand on his cutlass. Jack took a step back feeling stunned. How could he have blocked my most mighty blow, one armed, while on his back?
“You can’t beat me. Not here, not on this world with all the power I’ve accumulated.” Vile’s free hand pointed at Jack and a bolt of black lightning crashed into his chest.
Instead of flinching, Jack took a step forward and grit his teeth as he tried to suck up the pain and damage. “Grrraaaahhh.”
Vile had gained his footing and looked on with a half grin enjoying Jack’s pain until the hammer whipped around and took Vile in the neck. The Overlord took a step back and Tynilia’s dagger flew into his face and then returned to her hand. She threw again.
This time Vile blocked her blade and Jack used the opened to pummel Vile’s chest with his hammer.
Vile stayed on his feet this time and lashed out at Jack with his horrid cutlass, but the Stalwart danced back a pace. Vile came in swinging. Jack parried the blows, but then Vile took a wild stab at Tynilia, but she countered by taking to the air and continuously throwing her dagger at his face. The weapon appeared unable to do much damage to Vile’s layer of mystical protection, but she did block his view and keep him more confused and Jack tore into Darken’s back with his hammer when Vile focused on Tynilia.
Vile cursed at the woman and turned to face Jack. He came at Jack with the Cutlass of Entropy. Jack Backpedaled and struggled to block the attacks. Yet the cutlass was light and the hammer bulky.
Tynilia teleported just off to the side, between Jack and Vile. “With pricks like this, sometimes the old ways work best.” The Overlord sneered her way until she flung a fistful of blacken ash into his eyes. “Choke on my village you insane Bastard!” She screamed and then threw her dagger point first into his face.
This time it drew a drop of blood.
“His Bestows are weakening!” Jack shouted and swung in under Vile’s guard and took him in the knee.
Vile stumbled back a step, touched a device on his belt, and a glimmered tube of tan electricity surrounded him.
“I’ve seen these before. Keep throwing your dagger. Hand held weapons are useless. If I hit that wall I’ll electrocute myself. Keep attacking. I have an idea.”
Jack sprinted to Thrashing Storm’s still body. The dragon might have been alive or dead, but it was the barrel of weapons, Jack had affixed to the saddle, that he was after. Tynilia had used twenty weapons to create her, Circle of Pain, and Jack had gathered them all. Mostly daggers and throwing axes had been used and while Tynilia fought on from her flight twenty feet off the ground, Jack drew a hand axe out of the barrel and ran back toward Vile.
The hand axe went twirling at Vile as he ran. It smashed against the electric field, but instead of reflecting, like a normal weapon, it exploded into a burst of inky smoke, which passed through the tan wall. At first Jack thought the wall was stronger than he thought, but then he saw the looks of dismay cross Vile’s continence and heard him choking on the vapors.
Jack threw another axe while he ran toward the battle and it had the similar result.
Tynilia threw her Spirit Dagger at the wall with all her strength and Jack saw the field visibly weaken.
“Enough of this foolishness,” Vile cried and then blasted Tynilia with one of his Stygian bolts of lightning.
She emitted a short lived scream and then Jack looked on in horror as his lover fell almost thirty feet before hitting the earth.
“You’ll die this day,” Jack hissed and then threw dagger after dagger at the wall.
“Use all your weapons against my Nexus wall. The wall might outlast your weapons, or your weapons might outlast the wall, either way, I will be chopping you into smaller and smaller pieces. How much should I chop off before you watch me rape your mate, that’s if she still lives?” Black smoke leaked from his eyes and he favored Jack with a smile of pure insanity. “Actually even if she is dead, I’ll have my way with her and…”
Vile started to cough again as more and more clouds of inky smoke blinded him.
“What’s the matter, you evil freak, use up all your Bestows taking down the village and the dragons? I think you’re out of those spells or you’d be using them on my right now.”
Dagger, dagger, axe, dagger and then it was done, the wall had gone down before he ran out of weapons.
With a growl, Vile advanced. Jack threw two more weapons, but then hurried to snatch up his hammer.
Vile swung a blow and Jack blocked it with the head of the hammer. The Stalwart leaned in and clocked Vile on the chin with the handle of his weapon.
“Enough!” Vile shouted and spun in a circle.
Jack gasped in agony as the slash cut through three of his ribs. The cutlass drove a burning shard of supernatural pain through him that far surpassed his violent wound. Jack could barely see and he couldn’t draw air into his lungs.
Vile dashed the hammer form his hands
“See you never had a chance against me.”
Vile raised his cutlass and Thrashing Storm’s titanic mouth clapped down on his arm.
They both roared. Thrashing Storm came away with Vile’s sword arm below the elbow, but also had the Cutlasss of Entropy piercing through the roof of his mouth.
The Dragon roared in pain and took to the air. It only made it a few hundred yards before it crashed into the towering trees, but he’d moved the weapon far enough away from Vile.
The Overlord looked down at his arm and screamed until Jack gave him the meanest right hook of his life. His left took the villain in the gut and an elbow smashed Vile in the Jaw. The left fist took him in the ear and Jack screamed in fury as he put everything he had into a right fist to the jaw that sent Vile tumbling off his feet into a pile over burn logs.
The Overlord wiped his lip. “Fool, think I’m spent. I’m never stent.” Jack rushed toward him, but Vile raised his left hand and a noose of shimmering darkness encased his throat. Jack struggled for breath as a nerve shattering pain owned his body and mind. Like death itself, the undulating foulness strangled him.
He fought and his legs kicked. He drew a dagger off his belt and tossed it, but it missed and Vile just laughed.
Despite his severed and weeping arm, Vile sat up and a wicked smile creased his blood spattered lips. “Oh yes. You gave it your all, but the efforts of you and your ilk are the multiverse’s last dying gasp. Soon we will finish you and roll over these worlds. Everything, everything that is or will ever be, belongs to me and my fellow incarnations.”
Jack looked on at his most hated foe, while his vision blurred. He had tried everything… He remembered to heal himself, but the damage continued and he knew he had only bought himself another thirty seconds of life.
A black jet of speed moved behind Vile. Before Jack fully understood what he saw, Tynilia’s bruised and bloody form appeared. She pulled back Vile Darken’s head by his oily hair, while her right hand drew her soul dagger across his throat in a wild angry slash. “This is for trying to destroy my world and killing everyone I’ve even known”.
She laughed as her dagger cut again and again.
Vile fought back, but he proved too spent.
Jack crashed to the ground when the noose of death disappeared. He tried to just breathe, but when Tynilia shouted, he had to look up. Shivers raced down his spine and he open mouthed stared at Tynilia as she raised the severed head of her world’s incarnation of Vile Darken.
Come back next Monday to see what choices Jack and Tynilia will make in the aftermath of Vile Darken’s Death.
June 6, 2016
As the mighty dragon, Thrashing Storm, hurled toward the trees, the two humans clinging to his back looked on in horror as they neared impact.
“Let go, Jack!” Tynilia shouted.
He’d grown to trust her and despite how insane it sounded, released his handhold on the chain. She gripped him tightly and flew off the dragon’s back seconds before his huge body splintered through the trees.
Jack looked down in dismay wondering if even a mighty dragon could survive such a brutal collision, but soon had other matters on his mind as the voice of none other than Ville Darken boomed from the battle that raged behind them.
“Primus! Worm of useless filth! You have saved me the trouble of hunting you down and digging you out of where you were cringing in fear in order to avoid your well-deserved fate.”
Without meaning to, Jack felt his chest where the scroll designed to kill off all the Stalwarts on every world still rode. Vile’s incarnation from his world created it and although Jack should have destroyed it weeks ago, the thought that he might still be able to use it as a weapon had held his hand. But if he was captured and Vile was able to get his hands upon it, his choice would doom all that ever was and all that would be.
Tynilia took them in a flying arc away from both Vile in the battle, which he knew must not have been an easy choice because it remained her home that The Darken army besieged.
“This would be about the time, I’d love to see the rest of those dragons show up,” he said through the rushing wind. But they both knew that the rest of the dragons waited for Thrashing Storm’s report and for all Jack knew the dragon had passed and if he hadn’t the war dinosaurs and hundreds of warriors rushing its way could quickly change that.
Tynilia looked back and saw the part of the army that had broken off and headed toward the dragon. “Is there a way we can help him?”
“I was going to ask you that,” Jack said, and then he continued. “Get me closer.”
She complied and once they hovered near enough, Jack let the powers of Yig flow through him and the jungle beneath them came alive. Trees entangled the giant lizards and vines wrapped themselves around the wild men’s throats. He tried to control the dinosaurs, but they had long since been corrupted beyond his ability to influence. The trees wouldn’t stop such huge creatures for long, but he had bought Thrashing Storm some time. He could only try to maintain the hope that there remained a reason to do so.
“Oh no, Jack, Look!” Tynilia screamed in the loudest voice he’d ever heard her use. He had just a moment to look to the east before he saw the dark form of Vile Darken riding off his floating obsidian throne and rushing their way.
“Go, just go. As fast as you can.”
Jack looked behind them as Tynilia sped west. He saw Vile raise his hands together over his head and a giant blackness gathered there. “Brace yourself,” he called out.
The primal force of evil jetted out toward them appearing as an ebony lightning bolt. It hit Jack like an ocean of knives. He screamed as though the devil ate him a bite at a time. His body thrashed, but somehow the continued roar of agony let him know he still lived.
He expected them to be falling into the jungle at any moment, but the blast hadn’t affected Tynilia.
Shaking her head, she managed a grim smile. “Fool forgot that the followers of Tezcatlipoca are immune to the assaults of pure darkness.”
Not believing his luck, he clung to her tighter as she continued to rush away from the battle.
Still looking back behind them, Jack saw Thrashing Storm rise from the forest and fly to the north. He looked injured and had to struggle to stay aloft, but at least some level of success had reached them and his spell had made a difference and given the dragon time to escape.
If only he could think of a way to save them.
“We end this today, Primus. You shall not escape me again!” As the destroyer of worlds pursued them, his tattered black and purple cloak billowed behind him for yards. “If your whore is immune to those assaults, I’ll merely seek another.”
Another lightning bolt blasted toward them, this one glowed a fiery red and connected with Tynilia’s back. She didn’t even have time to scream, before her body went limp, and for the second time that day, he felt himself plummeting toward the ground.
Come back next Monday to see if Jack and Tynilia can somehow survive.
May 30, 2016
Tynilia’s arms clung to his waist with a tight desperation as they raced through the skies thousands of feet over the earth. Nothing but a chain wrapped around Thrashing Storm’s thick neck held them in place on the mighty dragon’s back and Jack’s two hands stayed white knuckled around its length.
He fought through the roaring winds to call back to her. “Between the two of us, you’re the one who flies, why does this bother you so much?”
“One, I’m not in control. And two, I would never go up this high.”
“Still, I’m the one that will be in more trouble if we were to fall off.”
He felt her relax some. “Don’t worry big man, I’ll keep you safe.”
Talking over the wind remained difficult so they dug in for the long trip south. Still, despite the distance, they moved quickly. Jack saw the snow covered mountains disappear into the murky forests. Areas which had taken them days to traverse passed in mere minutes.
If nothing else, Jack felt relief that he wouldn’t have to relive the journey that had claimed six out of the eight original travelers. As they quickly neared the areas with which he and Tynilia were more familiar, he shouted directions to Thrashing Storm and the dragon curved to the west.
Doubt plagued him for he couldn’t be certain how far the armies of The Darken had advanced. It had been nearly a month since the adventures had set off and the overwhelming army could have all but destroyed his allies in that time.
As they dropped in elevation Tynilia’s words echoed his thoughts. “We should assume they have long lost the pass they were attempting to hold. I guess the question is, should we head to village of my allies or yours?”
“I think Darken would attack the Village of Yig first, since Stalker had made that deal with him.” After giving Trashing Storm directions, they headed toward the village of Yig where Jack had spent several nights in what seemed like an eternity ago.
Long before they reached it, Jack knew he wouldn’t like what he found. A huge black line of destruction cut through the lush jungle from the south. The wide path of death ripped through the green like a giant highway of darkness killing all it touched.
The village had failed no better. In its place a crater of lifelessness stretched into the trees like a corpse’s hand. He could only tell where the village had once stood by the huge circle of obliteration fanning out into the jungle.
The party grew silent and Thrashing Storm descended into the center of the circle of death. No trees or obstacles stood to block his landing and Jack jumped down as soon as the dragon’s feet hit the ground. He shouted a few times, but got no answers from the quiet forest. Not even birds sang as if even they too mourned the destruction of the Yig followers.
The dragon spoke. “My condolences child of Yig. I fear we are too late to rescue your fellows.”
Jack didn’t reply, instead he marched around looking for clues or survivors and found nothing.
Tynilia and Thrashing Storm gave him some time, but then she approached him and her gentle fingers brushed his arm. In a soft voice, she said, “There is nothing here, Jack. Perhaps they retreated to my village. Either way, we have to go. My village could still be fighting.”
He nodded and knew she was right. Together they mounted the dragon and sped to the east.
The path below them remained easy to follow and they flew over the long black ribbon that cut through the jungle. Tynilia’s arms gripped him tighter as her stress level rose. He knew she must be wondering what they would find at her home.
Jack called back to her. “Maybe he hasn’t attacked the village of Tezcatlipoca because of the deal he thought he was making with Stalker.” She didn’t bother to answer and they flew on.
As they drew close, the sounds of battle reached their ears. Tynilia clutched him hard. He laid his hand over her wrist. “Please don’t fly off until we know what’s happening.”
They figured out the situation quickly. Hundreds of battle dinosaurs towered over the ranks of easily a hundred thousand warriors. Within their cluttered mass, other darker forms lurked. The center of the dark army held a massive throne carved from black obsidian, but since its huge back faced them, Jack couldn’t see the occupant, but knew it must have housed his ultimate adversary, Vile Darken.
Jack gripped Tynilia tighter and shouted back, “Perhaps Vile held off until he sensed Stalker die and then attacked. It could the only reason they are still-”
He was interrupted by the massive roar of Thrashing Storm’s fiery breath blasting into the Army of Darken. A thousand men and several dinosaurs cried out in agony as the fires consumed them.
Before they could recover or react, the dragon hit them again.
Thrashing Storm circled around the army and drew in for a third attack, but then suddenly roared in pain. Jack held onto the chain when the dragon lost altitude. The dragon’s body rocked and he appeared to be having trouble flying. The jungle rushed up at them and the two humans cried out as Thrashing Storm crashed into the towering trees.
Come back next Monday to see if Jack and his allies can somehow survive.
May 16, 2016
The king of the dragons had a name impossible for humans to pronounce, but translated to Thunder’s Flame. The number of other dragons surprised Jack and amounted to far more than he could have imagined. The Lava Dragons proved to be no myth, quite the opposite, they thrived in their hidden mountain refuge.
The dragons loomed like endless towers of red and gold, but even these colossal figures stayed dwarfed by the titanic might of their King. The size of a city, Thunder’s Flame remained difficult to perceive. Jack had a hard time wrapping his head around being in the presence of such a godly figure.
Wings the size of soccer fields flapped around them. Growls and serpentine whispers filled the caves with loud noise. Claws and long tails scrapped over piles of coins and giant mounds of treasure as the pair waited for things to settle down.
Tynilia gripped his hand like she was suspended over a cliff and he had never seen her look so terrified. Her self-confident bravado had felt her and she clung to him as a woman already doomed.
When things quieted down to about as much as Jack could expect, he stepped forward and spoke in the loudest voice he could muster. “King Thunder’s Flame and all the rest of you noble dragons please heed my words. I, Jack Primus, hail from a world far different from your own, but despite this, I wish to save the planet you call home from the otherworldly evil that has ventured here and now grows like a cancer threatening to destroy all that you hold dear.”
Booming voices interrupted him. “Destroy you maybe, but never us.”
“Nothing of your kind could ever be a threat.”
“Let the ants eat away at each other. Whole empires could fall and we would not feel a difference.”
“Your words ring true,” Jack shouted, “but The Darken will not stop with us. He stops at nothing short of complete power and domination. I have no doubt that you and your kind are the mightiest creatures on your world, but will even you be able to withstand the might of an entire planet pitted against you? And even if you could, would you want to? Would you enjoy seeing your mates and younger ones fall to his hand in a war without end? And I know this from experience, if your own planet’s resources fail to bring you down, he will bring the might of other planets to bear upon you until you are forced to flee your homes and have nothing left but your lives.”
Voices murmured, but he didn’t give them a chance to build. “Or you can work with me to defend your world before it is too late, strike now and with might such as yours, you can end the war before it begins. Leave him stinging so harshly, he will have no desire to return and face your strength again. Do this now or wait to the end and fight him at a hundred times his strength while no chance for allies remain. What say you?”
Thunder’s Flame paused and for once all the dragons grew quiet. Silence ruled the caverns while they waited. Minutes stretched as a warm sweat collected on his back and armpits. Tynilia’s grip tightened.
At last the king of the Dragon’s glowing eyes regarded him and he spoke. “You words sing of brave intentions and wisdom, but we have seen nothing for ourselves. I will send my son, Thrashing Storm back to your mate’s homeland to see if your words ring with truth as well.”
Jack smiled toward Tynilia before bowing deeply. “We could ask no more your majesty and thank you for the kind offer.”
“Rest up, we will celebrate with you tonight for you will leave at first light!”
Jack turned to Tynilia, “Hey, if nothing else we don’t have to walk back.”
Come back next Monday to see if Jack and his allies 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.
April 4, 2016
Stalker and Shadowknife had seen the glowing fires of the active volcano and they returned to the cave. Some luck had found them because they had slain a small rabbit like mammal before their return. Jack stoked the fire while Tynilia grumbled about being forced to do woman’s work while she gutted the small creature.
“So what is the plan now?” Stalker asked from the shadows. He’d wrapped his fur cloak around himself until his entire body was obscured, save his face, which rested in shadow.
Jack had been sharpening his axe, but paused as he looked his way. “I’m not sure what you expect me to say. We march there tomorrow. We should be able to make the journey in a day. Once there, we find a safe way in and try to figure out if these Lava Dragons are more than just a myth. If they are real and still breathing, then we’ll work together to figure out a way to communicate with them.”
Stalker didn’t let the matter go. “Even if we can communicate with them and they also don’t try to eat us. And we can also find our way into an active volcano, what makes you think they’d be willing to help us?”
“If I can get them to see that Vile will be coming for them later, when he’s stronger and has put down all his other enemies, perhaps they will be smart enough to relive that this is their best chance to eliminate a threat that will one day be finding them.”
Shadowknife spoke up. “I do not mean to dash water onto our goal, but I believe you are assuming they will think like humans and use logic, which in both cases seems unlikely.”
“Well we didn’t come all this way to give up now in sight of the place,” Jack stated. “All we can do is give it our best shot. None of these issues are new. We knew what we were getting into before we left.” He looked around the cave. “Are some of you having seconds thoughts? Would you have us turn back and face Vile’s dinosaur mounted horde with our axes and spears?”
Tynilia joined the discussion. “I don’t think anyone is suggesting that, Jack. We just want to have an outline, a plan.”
Jack paused and rubbed his temples. “Okay, I hear you, but I really think this might be a one step at a time process. First we get in. Then we see if they even exist. We try to talk to them and do they best we can with what we got.”
“And if that doesn’t work?” Stalker asked.
“They we try to escape with our lives. Now let’s cook that wannbe rabbit of yours. We’re going to need an early start. One way or another I have a feeling this will be our last day of hiking for a long while.”
The small group regarded each other and the silence was only interrupted by the raging wind.
To be continued next Monday
March 28, 2016
The remaining four members of the team sat around a shallow campfire in silence. They had found a small cave just big enough to fit them, but not big enough to keep out the howling wind and the bitter cold.
No one spoke. The loss of Huth had hit them all hard. Jack was no exception. Huth was the first person he met on this strange world that hadn’t tried to kill him. They had problems getting along at first, but in the end the both grew to respect each other, but now he was gone.
He looked over at Tynilia, who had at least stopped weeping, but still rejected any attempt he made at comforting her. Shadowknife and Stalker kept up a silence bordering on the profound. He couldn’t say he was sorry, when Stalker mumbled something about trying his hand at hunting again, and Shadowknife joined him. Yet as soon as they were gone, he realized that this left him alone with Tynilia. He wondered what she might have expected from him and wondered even more if he had what she needed.
He felt relieved when she broke the silence. “Do you still think we have any hope of finding the Lava Dragons?”
“We’ve gone through so much. We have to be close now.”
A humorless laugh escaped from her. “Close… how can you say that? We can’t even be sure they still exist and even if they do, there’s no real reason they should help us. Hell and balls, there’s no real reason they shouldn’t just eat us.”
Jack gazed into the fire as he spoke. “I guess it comes back to, we have to try. If there is a chance that it could work, we have to try. We’re talking about the fate of your whole world here. If we don’t stop Vile now, he’ll become unstoppable soon enough.”
She also refused to look his way. “How do we even know if the villages are still there? We might be struggling to rescue people that aren’t still alive.”
“I’m sure there are more people on your planet and they all need saving too. Left unchecked, Vile will destroy all that’s decent and good on this world and then just drain it of all isn’t energy and resources so he can use them to move on to the next place. Unchecked, he will leave the whole Multi-verse in ashes.”
“Sometimes I wonder if that might be what we deserve.” He sighed. “We struggle and struggle and then what, just grow old and die. Maybe it would be better if we didn’t exist at all.”
His mouth felt dry and no words came easily. “Perhaps the struggle is what life really is. The desire to strive, do better, make things better.”
“Well, I think it just sucks. I…”
She paused looking past him. Outside the night had just begun to blanket the land. Her voice became a whisper. “Jack, what’s that behind you?”
He turned. In the distance, he saw that one of the mountains glowed in a fiery light.
His voice dropped too. “Looks like an active volcano. We couldn’t see it during the day. There on the side, it looks like lava is flowing. That has to be it. They both stood and she let him embrace her. “We found it Tynilia. We found it!”
“Now we just have to do the impossible.”
To be continued next Monday
March 14, 2016
Jack tried to think quickly as he and Tynilia watched the colossal robotic machine chase Huth across the tundra toward them. There had to be something he could do to destroy it, but nothing came to mind. He had already discovered that his Earth powers of Yig proved limited when trying to work on the frozen ground. He could still use his abilities on snow, but the wind had blown most of the snow away from the western slope.
Two explosions ripped through the mountain silence. One landed behind Huth, but the other hit only a dozen feet from where Huth sprinted up the slope. Jack watched in horror as his only remaining ally of Yig spun in three circles before his body slammed into the frozen ground.
Thankfully Huth still had the strength to return to his feet and continue his mad run toward them.
“What the hell was that?” Tynilia cried.
“It’s called a missile and they’re closer to the types of weapons one might see on my world.”
“Glad I’m not from your world, but how can we save Huth?”
Before he had a chance to answer, he saw two dark forms flying at the massive construct. Stalker and Shadowknife started off their attacks with offensive spells, but neither of their mystic assaults appeared to have hurt the thing. They switched to flinging spears at the giant robot, but might as well have been tossing beans against a tin can for all the harm they appeared to be doing.
Two more missiles crashed into the mountainside near Huth. He was knocked off his feet again and took longer regaining his footing this time.
“He isn’t going to make it,” Jack said through clenched teeth.
“Hell, I don’t think any of us are going to make it,” she called back.
Jack slammed his axe into the earth. “I have an idea, but you aren’t going to like it.”
“I wouldn’t have expected it any other way.” As spoke, he saw that the robotic thing had stopped firing missiles as he closed the gap between it and Huth. Soon its one hundred foot strides would eat up any head start Huth had gained.
“I’m going to become a snake and I want you to fly over that thing and drop me on its head.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
“Probably,” he replied, but then started to transform himself into a serpent before she could have time to argue.
He lost track of the battle as his body shrank and his sense of hearing disappeared, but he had no trouble feeling the vibrations of the machines huge footsteps and the felt damn close.
Just as he figured he was about to be smashed into a ribbon of guts, his body was swooped up seconds before the ground fell away. Tynilia’s flying proved to be a wilder ride than he would have liked. They arced through first missile and then a stream of scarlet flame. He wanted to cry out, but could find the breath to hiss as they passed through a cloud of inky smoke and almost ran into the forty foot arm of the massive robot.
Eight seconds later, Jack felt himself falling. Looking down, he saw the head of the construct rushing toward him. The robot’s body proved to be so unexpectedly hot that he almost lost control and slid off, but with a combination of tail and fang, he held onto the head of the thing. Once he had a grip, he returned his form to that of a human.
The wind rushed by him and he struggle to maintain his hold on the back of the metallic monster’s head.
And that’s when the machine exploded.
The only thing that kept him from being incinerated instantly was the explosion had occurred in the lower part of its body. The shockwave sent him spinning through air in insane circles.
The whole thing had been a trap and as he started to plummet toward the frozen ground two hundred feet below, he wondered if that would be the last thought of his life. As he fell, the extent of his wounds became evident. Most of his body was covered in second degree burns and much of his armor and supplies had been destroyed.
Something slammed into his back like a brick wall and he gasped out as he was pulled up by his armpits while only a dozen feet above the earth. “Got you,” Shadowknife said with a grunt.
Figures, saved by a Xemmoni, he thought to himself.
Shadowknife flew him to where Tynilia wept as she kneeled before the still form of Stalker. He felt the heat of the fire wash over him as he drew near and it caused his burns to blaze with more pain. Once they set down, Jack could see that Stalker looked like he still breathed. So what was…
Then he guessed it. Huth had been caught in the explosion, nothing of him was left. As Jack watched the fire burning away the permafrost, he said quietly, “Half of us gone.”
From behind Shadowknife added, “And then there were four.”
His statement only made Tynilia cry louder.
To be continued next Monday
March 7, 2016
The first thing Jack sensed upon regaining consciousness was the heat and crackle of a fire. He moaned as the full extent of his injuries began to hit in like a tumble down a cliff.
“Oh, you’re awake,” Tynilia voice said, “Lucky thing you aren’t the only healer in the group or you’d have never woken up.”
He moaned. “I feel this bad after being healed?”
“Go ahead and heal yourself more, if you have to, but save some for me. Huth used most of his on you and Shadowknife’s skills were stretched pretty thin trying to help the rest of us.”
Sitting up, he saw she was the only one that shared the fire with him. The sun was just painting the western sky with a sea of violet clouds. The snow covered pass had taken on an indigo sheen, which faded into a pale turquoise as he watched. They must have moved him to a space between a cluster of man high black stones and a good sized pile of firewood rested near the small blaze. Most of the men’s gear also land in piles about their new camp.
“So everyone else is alright?”
“For the most part. There was some argument over whether the Yeti-men should be skinned and/or eaten. In the end Shadowknife and we Tezcatlipoca follows outvoted Huth and the other men when back to do the deed, while Huth set himself to collecting fire wood.”
Jack didn’t speak for a moment and it was Tynilia that broke the silence. “With every delay, I can’t help but wonder if The Darken’s forces have reached my village or maybe destroyed the enter resistance.”
“Well, that other me, seems to be a pretty crafty fellow, hopefully he’s keeping the majority of his forces where they can’t be easily reached.”
“Yes, this world’s incarnation of you does have some skills.”
“It must be strange to know, well intimately, two versions of the same man.”
He saw a grin she failed to conceal. “It’s had its advantages too.”
“Care to try to make use of some of those advantages before they others get back. It’s been a while since we were alone.”
She laughed. “I thought you said you were wounded.”
“I’m feeling better.” Jack moved a bit closer to her and the fire. “Now, just let me heal myself a bit and-”
A shout interrupted him. It sounded like Huth. Even though he could finally understand the man’s native language, he seemed to be yelling something that didn’t translate well.
“That doesn’t sound good,” Tynilia said as they both rushed to their feet.
He healed them both as they hurried out of the ring of stones.
They both stopped in their tracks for neither could believe what they saw. In the foreground Huth sprinted toward them as fast as the snow covered mountain would allow, but what loomed behind him caused Jack to wonder if he wasn’t still asleep and having a nightmare by the fire.
Crashing through the snow was some type of automated machine. It was roughly human in form, but its chest had a wide rectangular shape and round arms which ended in fingers almost as long as Jack stood tall. The thing, which should not have been allowed to exist on this primitive world of magic, stood over a hundred feet tall.
“Vile must have sent it after us. I heard rumors he trades creatures and technology with his incarnations on other worlds.”
“How do we stop it?”
“I have no idea.”
To be continued next Monday