Friday, October 31, 2008

“Warriors of the Midnight Sun” - Act VIII

This is it! The last act and the story is 100% complete! Enjoy!


“Warriors of the Midnight Sun”
© 2008 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.



THE BEJEWELED NIGHT: Wherein Gogi the Grasshopper Ascends the Giant Demon-dog Yaska Selith; Xiao-tep Faces Fei Li Mi Once More; Fei Li Mi Steals the Jewel of Zingtai; Loved Ones Are Reunited



Szu Ri fluttered fiercely against the wicked winds whipping across the Plain of Adoration. The battle roiled far below as she clutched little Gogi close to her chest. Balori followed after them with Momoki on his shoulder.

The screams of men and women filled the air around them, as did their clang of weapons and fighting. Gogi shivered nervously, afraid.

Szu Ri held him closer still, feeling his little body shivering. Tears welled within her eyes. She cried out, “I love you, Gogi!” but he did not hear.

Closer they flew to the giant Yaska Selith. Gogi shivered more fiercely as he clutched onto his hat that was threatening to fly off.

Szu Ri’s heart hardened against the pain she felt, against the fear she felt.

Balori flew into the face of the demon-dog, tossing Momoki at him. Momoki grasped onto fur and began stabbing at the cheek of Yaska Selith as Balori flew in, stabbing the demon in the other cheek with his battle axe and slashing with his kopesh. Both knew they could do little to harm the demon-dog, but that was not their purpose and as they witnessed Szu Ri fly overhead with Gogi, unnoticed by Yaska Selith, they knew their true purpose was a success.

The head of Yaska Selith came under Szu Ri and Gogi. Szu Ri, crying, fearful, hurting with pain far larger than she then did the hardest thing she had ever done in her life.

She let go of her love.

Gogi fell onto Yaska Selith’s head.

Szu Ri flew to Twila’s side, pressing herself into the neck of her friend and sobbing greatly, deeply there.

Gogi struggled, crawling his way through the fur. Szu RI had held on too long and he had been dropped far onto the back of the demon-dog’s head instead of near his forehead. He fought against the rushing winds and moving Yaska Selith. As he reached the forehead of the demon-dog, the rushing winds picked up in ferocity, whipping Gogi’s hat from his head and disappearing. He watched after it, making a quick, soft apology to Szu Ri for losing it.

He turned back round and crawled down the forehead of the demon-dog. There he found the small lids of the third eye. He shook with nerves one last time, refused to look out at the battle far below, closed his eyes and reminded himself if only he could do this one small thing for Momoki, they could all return to the Chamber of Despair together where he could quietly go about his gardening.

Gogi’s eyes snapped open, focused with determination. He removed from the small of his back his toothpick where he had tied it. He crawled down to the lids. He pried them open and, when no ruby beam of destructive light came forth, forced his way into the socket.

Yaska Selith raised his hand and swatted Momoki away. Once more Momoki fell to the plain far below.

Balori refused to move, attacking repeatedly the demon-dog all about his head until he saw, at last, Fei Li Mi streaking through the sky, descending towards the rear of Yaska Selith. Balori paused in his attack long enough to watch Fei Li Mi digging at the ground there. His trunk lifted up, trumpeting loudly and growling angrily, “He goes after the Jewel of Zingtai!”

Balori removed his battle axe from the back of Yaska Selith’s head, with both weapons in his hands, flew swiftly down to the plain to challenge the catfish.

Wu Chan Chu, Comet Fox and Roku delved back into the fray of the battle upon the plain.

Xiao-tep flew high into the air, the Spear of Sorrows outstretched, its blades biting at Yaska Selith’s skin, though not deeply. He came up some distance from the demon-dog, level with his head. He peered closely and saw the rear of Gogi wiggling, sticking out of the third eyes, struggling before he finally slipped behind its lids.

Xiao-tep spoke softly, “May the gods be with you, little one.” He then raised his spear and streaked down Yaska Selith, slicing at his skin once more.

Fei Li Mi found the Jewel of Zingtai protruding from the ground behind Yaska Selith. He dug his guandao into the dirt there and free the jewel. He then pondered how he could carry it, freeing his hands, so he could fly with it back to the Eternal Empress.

The strong winds carried to him Renorio’s cloak made of skin that had been loosened by an angry Dian as she severed the head from the vile murderer.

Fei Li Mi picked up the cloak, tied off the ends to form a makeshift satchel, placed the jewel into it and placed this whole thing over his shoulder.

Balori descended on him, trumpeting his approach.

Fei Li Mi lifted his guandao in time to fly sideways out of the way of Balori’s attack and cut his right bicep. The elephant trumpeted in pain, turned and attacked Fei Li Mi.

The kopesh first came down on Fei Li Mi. He flew sideways to dodge it but could not retreat from the sideways slashing battle axe. A large gash appeared on Fei Li Mi’s stomach, blood pouring out of it.

Fei Li Mi, panicking and wanting to get away, turned and flew away.

Balori chased after.

Xiao-tep came level with the ground after his attack on Yaska Selith an witnessed the chase. He, too, took up the chase, pulling to the side of Balori.

Unable to catch Fei Li Mi as the flew over the Black Mountains, Xiao-tep arched back and threw his Spear of Sorrows at Fei Li Mi.

The catfish, looking back, saw the oncoming spear and turned, pulling up to knock the spear out of the air with his guandao.

Balori came to Fei Li Mi as Xiao-tep chased his falling spear.

Balori lunged, striking out with his battle axe. Fei Li Mi backed away and brought his guandao up to block Balori’s slashing kopesh. Balori pressed the fight, pulling nearer to Fei Li Mi.

The catfish, busy with parrying the elephant’s weapons, did not see Balori’s trunk lashing out until it was too late.

Balori tightened his grip with his trunk around Fei Li Mi’s throat. Fei Li Mi’s eyes widened. He tried to raised his guandao but Balori knocked it aside with his kopesh.

The elephant lowered his head and brought his trunk up, raising Fei Li Mi to smash him in the face with his head.

Fei Li Mi grunted in pain. He eyed Balori and said, “I know what you want, elephant.” Fei Li Mi swiftly raised a free fin and untied the satchel about his body. Both satchel and jewel feel free from him. Said Fei Li Mi to Balori, “Go get it.”

Balori let go Fei Li Mi and flew after the fallen jewel. He snatched it up in the air.

Xiao-tep came to his side and together they watched Fei Li Mi escape.

“Should we go after him?” asked Balori.

Xiao-tep shook his head. “I doubt he’ll return to trouble us this day. You have the jewel. We should instead return to the plain and help our friends.”

Xiao-tep began flying back towards the Plain of Adoration.

Balori did not.

When Xiao-tep noticed the elephant was not with him, he stopped, turned and called out, “What is the matter, Balori?”

Balori eyed the jewel. He looked to Xiao-tep. “I came only for the jewel.”

Xiao-tep, saddened by the elephant’s response, flew back to his side and said, “But those are our friends upon the plain, many of the m dying, perhaps dying without our help. You have the jewel, it is safe now. It can wait a moment longer as we give aid to our friends.”

Again Balori eyed the jewel before looking at Xiao-tep. “What of my people? They’ve waited long enough. They’ve suffered long enough.”

Xiao-tep could give no answer. He turned and flew back to the Plain of Adoration.

Balori looked northeast to the land of the Bizo. He looked at the jewel and longed to return it to Zingtai so the Eternal Empress would free his people. He thought of Negkendra, wondering how he was faring on the plain, not yet knowing of his death and sacrifice upon Owl Bridge. He then thought of Shabar, a man that became a friend. A man that was so long ago so kind to him an the other elephants. He wondered how he was faring, as well, not knowing of the loss of his leg or his healing within the kingdom of Aniabas.

They had traveled a long way to help him, to right the wrings they and others had committed. They had not abandoned him. He knew then he could not abandon them.

Balori tied the makeshift satchel and slung it over one of his shoulders. He turned to face the Plain of Adoration before flying there, following Xiao-tep.



Gogi struggled, crawling his way deep into the third eye’s socket. Yaska Selith felt him there, but could do nothing to remove the grasshopper.

Gogi crawled deeper, covered in blood and gore, until he came at last to the socket’s base and there he found the slightly dislodged Ruby Bug. He could not breathe the air here. It was thin and putrid. He knew he had to hurry lest he grow weak with struggling and breathing the rankness hear. He brought forth his toothpick made long ago on Taliesin, the Mountain That Lived in the Sky, and struck deeply in the muscle behind the Ruby bug. He sank it deep and pulled backwards, his legs stuck out to the sides of the eye and forcing him backwards.

The toothpick slipped. Gogi thought he would have fallen out the eye if it were not such a cramped space. He placed the toothpick behind the Ruby Bug once more, now slippery with blood. He applied force once more and pulled.

The toothpick, much to Gogi’s despair, broke in half. He eyed the piece in his hands. He wanted to cry for he knew no other way to pry the Ruby Bug loose. His mind raced with thoughts. He wanted Szu Ri to be at his side, to hold him close and comfort him. He wished he had the strngth of Momoki so he could simply latch onto the Ruby Bug and pull it free.

And it came to him that was what he should do.

Gogi placed the broken half of the toothpick behind the Ruby Bug. He held it fast with his left hand and with his right reached around the bug and grabbed the other half of the toothpick still lodged there. He closed his body around the Ruby Bug and ppuleld with all his might. He pulled and pulled, not wanting to fail Szu Ri or Momoki, Twila or Xiao-tep. And when he was thinking he could not succeed at pulling the Ruby Bug free, it tore loose from the muscles holding it fast. Blood welled within the eye socket, causing pressure. Blood and bits of muscles geysered out from the third eye, pushing Gogi out as he held the Ruby Bug tightly, afraid he would lose it.

Gogi flew through the air, falling, crashing, slamming hard onto the plain until he rolled, getting battered and bruised.

Szu Ri watched it all from the comfort of Twila’s side. She lifted onto the air and flew, searching for her love. She found him at last and lowered herself to his side.

She approached slowly. She called to him, “Gogi?”

Gogi did not answer. He did not move.

She drew near him, listening. She touched him and felt his heart, felt his chest moving with small, labored breaths.

“Oh, Gogi,” said Szu Ri as she lay behind him, holding him close to her.

The demon-dog Yaska Selith shrank in form, growing smaller. The fighting all around him ceased and as he became the battered dog Pup once more, the Bone Warriors found themselves without their master and broke from the plain, running in fear.

Xiao-tep flew to Gogi’s side. Behind him came Balori. They had come over the Black Mountains in time to see Yaska Selith destroyed. Twila came next, crawling. Soon all the surviving fighters of Aniabas, Wu Chan Chu and Balori drew near. They all stared down at Gogi, still desperately clutching the Ruby Bug.

Momoki came to his side.

Gogi’s eyes opened. He coughed fitfully. He looked up at Momoki, looked to Szu Ri crying and kissing his cheek.

As Momoki looked at his small friend, in awe of his courage and will, he thought of the words Gogi had once said. He spoke them softly now, “Some have paths set before them that lead them into greatness, while others are destined to be their friends.”

Momoki knew then that he was the friend.

Gogi coughed again. Weakly, he pushed the Ruby Bug out towards Momoki and said, “I-I did it, Momoki. I did it.”

Momoki smiled. He said, That you did, my friend. Thank you.”

One by one all the warriors, mercenaries, soldiers, men and women, each in turn, thanked the little grasshopper.



Ebi ran to the side of his Pup. The dog’s body was beaten and had many cuts all over. Pup was badly beaten all over.

Ebi kneeled next to him. He reached out slowly and pet the dead dog. He wept for his Pup.

A bark came to Ebi. He turned and there, at his side, was Pup now black as a shadow with wounds all over him glowing crimson like his eyes, bright as the Midnight Sun.

Ebi smiled an unseen smile. He picked up and played with Pup, his laughter echoing in haunting, warm tones.

The forms of both Pup and Ebi slowly dissipated as smoke, disappearing from sight. The two old friends were finally together. The two old friends were finally at rest.

On another part of the plain, Dian continued to wail. So loud, so haunting, so anguished was her cry no one dared draw near her. Only her husband tried to comfort her, but as he did she pushed him away in anger and fear. Her cried, her sobs, her wails were long and sent chills through all who heard them. She threw herself upon her dead daughter.

Not one of her allies knew what to do. Not one moved to help her, not knowing if she could be helped.

One of her fellow Warriors finally came to her side. Roku the Misfit stepped forward. Joto Ba, kneeling beside the body of his daughter, looked up at him as he approached.

Roku knelt. He reached a hand to Dian. She raised up and slapped him away. Joto Ba grabbed his wife and held her.

Roku bent low.

Dian and Joto Ba watched him.

Roku placed his mouth upon Inno’s. He breathed out and as he did his form dissipated, dispersing and Inno’s lungs filled with life.

Roku was gone.

Inno breathed easily, alive yet unconscious.

“Now that was a hero,” said Angolas the Soldier.

Comet Fox, who was standing nearby, thought a moment. He cocked his head curiously and asked, “Who was a hero?”

But neither could remember whom they spoke of. High in the Heavens, Stork picked up the slates holding Roku’s life and smashed them against the floor.

Roku the Misfit had been erased from the Record of Memory.

King Aniabas approached Joto Ba and Dian. Vitor followed behind him with several of his soldiers. He said, “I can take her. I will give her a home and we will care for her.”

Dian and Joto Ba nodded and thanked the king before dissipating, fading from the world and resting, at last, in peace.

The men of Aniabas picked up Inno and carried her gently back to their kingdom.

Aniabas and Vitor then approached Angolas.

Aniabas eyed him a moment before saying, “Vitor, let it be known, when we return to our kingdom, that Angolas, soldier with my army, died with full honors this day.”

Vitor said, “Yes, my liege.”

Angolas nodded. “Thank you, my liege,” he said and faded into peace.

Aniabas then approached Momoki. “Momoki, it has been an honor.”

Momoki bowed. “The honor was mine. Thank you, your highness.”

Aniabas eyed the body-strewn plain. “I think it will take many days, but my people will make sure they will all be properly buried.”

“Good,” Momoki was thankful.

Aniabas and his men returned south to their kingdom.

Zom Loa came to Momoki. He eyed the Ruby Bug within his hand. He said, “Dear marmoset, I know I’ve not been fully trusted thus far, but my heart is now with you. I know some alchemy and many mystics. I think I could find a place for that jeweled bug.”

Momoki was wary.

Wu Chan Chu approached. She thought of Zom Loa helping Ebi in battle, of his changed loyalty. She said, “Momoki, he came be trusted.”

Momoki took Wu Chan Chu’s word, nodded, and handed the Ruby Bug over to Zom Loa.

Said Zom Loa, “I know not how as yet, but I will find a way to destroy this thing.” He then left the Plain of Adoration.

Balori turned to Xiao-tep. He adjusted the weight of the jewel slung over his arm. He said, “I should go,” then added hesitantly, thinking back to their confrontation on the Mountain That Lived in the Sky, “I’ll have to return to Taliesin.”

Xiao-tep said, “Balori Shongoyo is always welcome in Taliesin.”

“Thank you,” said Balori. He mounted his mystic cloud once more and flew off the plain.

Momoki mounted Twila, resting upon the back of her shell. He then lifted Gogi and Szu Ri upon his shoulder. Twila crawled in front of Xiao-tep, Wu Chan Chu, Comet Fox and Stavros.

Said Momoki, “Thank you for your part, Xiao-tep.”

Xiao-tep bowed low at the waist. He said, “It has been an honor, Master Momoki.”

Momoki considered the four friends a last time. He said, “Xiao-tep, you and your friends are on a most righteous path. Stay to it.”

“Thank you, Master Momoki,” answered Xiao-tep.

Momoki’s horse appeared beneath him. With his friends he rode off the Plain of Adoration, riding home for the Chamber of Despair.

Xiao-tep touched his wound.

Wu Chan Chu watched him and asked, “How are you, brother?”

“I’m well, thanks to you.”

Wu Chan Chu croaked happily and smiled. “What will you do now?”

Xiao-tep said, “I’ll be returning home.”

Asked Wu Chan Chu, “To father? Or your mother?”

Xiao-tep shook his head. “No, to Taliesin. You should visit me some time, sister. I would like you to visit. I think you would appreciate Taliesin and its rolling, flowing fields. It’s quite beautiful there.”

“It sounds wonderful,” said the frog demi-goddess, “but perhaps some other time. I think I’ll return to the Peony and recover my championship.”

Xiao-tep smiled at his sister’s desire for fighting. He could not share her desire. He looked at Comet Fox and Stavros. “What of you two?”

Comet Fox rubbed the back of his head nervously. His ears twitched. He said hesitantly, “To tell the truth, I could really go for a drink right now.”

Stavros laughed uproariously. Wu Chan Chu and Xiao-tep joined in the laughter.

Stravros slapped Comet Fox on the back, saying, “I think you and I are going to be good friends.”

Laughing, each enjoying the company of the others, the four friends left the Plain of Adoration.



Over every countryside, through every valley and woods, Shabar hitched rides with many different people including merchants and a moving family. At last he came to the farmlands outside of Bizo. He had ridden as far as he could and did not have to travel through Bizo itself. He wondered if the Eternal Empress would ever release the elephants. He wanted to know, but moved on, limping slowly towards his farm. Aniabas’ people had replaced his leg with a wooden peg lashed to his leg above the knee with thick leather straps and buckles. It made walking difficult. He wondered how it would affect him working his land.

He hobbled on and on, walking, limping towards his home.

As the sun was setting, as Kalavata flew overhead, Shabar came to his farm.

He saw his house from a long ways off. He kept watching for movement, watching for his wife. He saw none around the house. He wondered if she had left, if she was staying with Old Man Arnas, if she had left the country completely.

He watched his home as it grew larger.

As he drew near, he was hesitant to enter, but he did.

There he found the wife of Old Man Arnas. She was cooking at the stove. Nearby, in a crib, lay a baby.

She turned and eyed him. “You’re home.”

Shabar nodded. He looked to the baby.

Old Lady Arnas said, “You’ve another son.”

Shabar smiled. He limped to the crib and picked up the child. “He beautiful.”

Old Lady Arnas looked at Shabar, was happy to see him smiling, then considered the wooden peg where once his leg had been.

Shabar kissed and held his son. He looked to Old Lady Arnas. “Where is Alia?”

“Despite my protests, she’s working the field.”

Shabar sighed. “That’s my stubborn wife. How is she?”

“The birth was difficult, but she’s stronger than she’s been.”

Shabar nodded. he thanked Old Lady Arnas and kissed her on the cheek. He then exited his home and limped into the fields.

There, working diligently, was both his wife and older son. They were harvesting from the field.

His son saw him first. He cried, “Daddy!” and ran to him.

Shabar bent and picked him up, kissing and hugging him. He then set him down and told him to go into the house.

The boy touched the wooden peg. “Daddy? Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yes, boy. Now mind your father and get inside.”

The boy ran joyfully into the home.

Alia stood motionless, staring at her husband.

They stood a long time looking at one another.

Shabar’s mouth, his chin quivered. The sides of his mouth lowered into a frown. Tears welled within his eyes.

At last, he said, “I-I didn’t know if you’d… have me.”

Alia wept. She dropped the basket she had been placing her harvest into and ran to her husband. They embraced and cried together.

Shabar kissed her gently around her face, on her lips, on her neck.

Aia pulled gently away. She straightened her husband’s clothes. She reached down and touched his wooden peg, but said nothing of it. She would never speak of it. She looked him in the eyes and said, “Come, come inside and meet your new son.”

“I already have,” said Shabar.

Alia appeared momentarily saddened by this. She then smiled. “Then let’s go eat supper. Old Lady Arnas is a wonderful cook.”

They smiled, kissed, embraced a last time and then went into their home together.



Balori Shongoyo flew high into the clouds and landed gently upon the bright, green field of Taliesin. He carefully climbed the mountain to come to the side of Aglina and Zingtai. He produced from the makeshift satchel the bright emerald.

Zingtain squealed excitedly. She examined the jewel. She found the chips missing from it and wondered if it would still fit.

“You should try,” encouraged Balori.

Zingtai grew to immense size, part of her hanging off the sides of Taliesin. Balori walked slowly to the outer reaches of her wing and found the hole there where the jewel had been removed. He raised it above his head. The jewel fit. It stayed. Zingtai’s wing healed over.

Kalavata’s head peeked over the horizon.

Zingtain flapped her wings with anticipation.

Aglina cooed a loving goodbye.

And as Kalavata flew overhead, Zingtai lifted off Taliesin and joined him, chasing Etain across the world, restoring the stars to the night sky.

All over the world, people came forth from their homes. They craned their necks and looked skyward. And there they found the beautifully sparkling night sky.

Celebrations were held.

Bonfires were lit.

Fireworks were lighted in honor of the stars’ return.

The world below the night smiled together as one.

Balori mounted his mystic cloud and flew beneath Zingtai a long time, chatting, telling her of the grand adventures he and Xiao-tep had, of the Battle Upon the Plain of Adoration. He made friends with Kalavata. And for the first time in a long time, Balori smiled and laughed and was filled with joy.

In the world far below, the Eternal Empress and her children witnessed the return of the stars and she remained faithful to her word. The next morning, before a gathered crowd of her people, she declared the Elephants of Ife free and outlawed slavery in her country for all eternity.
Balori left Taliesin to follow his people. A few stayed in Bizo and other parts of the world, but most made the long trek back to Ife and Balori went with them. He then returned to Bizo and thanked the Empress.

With his task in life, Balori found himself restless and wondering at himself. He returned to Taliesin. Xiao-tep was there and welcomed him. Balori stayed with Xiao-tep, cultivating the mountainside, harvesting the gardens and tending to the fields. Each night they would picnic with Aglina and waved to Zingtai as she flew overhead.

Xiao-tep and Balori become friends and together they took on the role of caretaker of Taliesin.



In a far part of the world, in a sea made lastly by the misty hands of the Cosmos, on an island brought into the world as an afterthought where men and women came long after its birth there lived a family called Toya. The family was headed by a father who worked hard at fishing each day and his wife was a good gardener that loved to grow things and with them make preserves. They had a child named David and they loved him dearly. David would often work the seas with his father, fishing for their family’s food.

Lastly, perhaps firstly, there was Gramps, father to Lady Toya. He did not live with them, but rather made his home on another part of the island. But from time ti time throughout the year he would come to them for a brief visit.

Such was the day Gramps told David of the stars.

“Father,” called Lady Toya. “Can you go to the pantry and bring forth a few jars of plum preserves?”

“Certainly,” said Gramps. He left the hut behind and descended into the makeshift underground pantry where Lady Toya stored preserves.

He gathered up three jars of plum preserves.

As he returned to the hut, he overhead a conversation between David and his mother.

“Mother, can I go to the beach with my friends tonight?”

“No,” said Lady Toya. “You’re grandfather visits. It would be nice if you stayed at home to spend time with him.”

“Spend time with Gramps?” asked David. “But all he ever wants to do is talk, to tell stories about things that happened long ago that no one truly cares for. He is so very boring, mother.”

“Hush your mouth!” Lady Toya was appalled. “That is your grandfather, my father, that you speak of. He has lived a good, long life and without his work neither I nor you would be here now.”

Gramps heard David moan. He sighed, sad and feeling suddenly lonely. He entered the hut, acting as though he hadn’t heard a thing.

“What goes on here?” asked Gramps.

David started, afraid Gramps had heard his unkind words.

Lady Toya worked diligently in her kitchen, eyeing the jars of plum preserves. She said, “Thank you, father. If you can bring them here, please.”

Gramps set the jars on a table near Lady Toya. He asked David, “What are you doing tonight?”

“We were discussing that before you returned with the preserves. David wants to spend time with his grandfather,” said Lady Toya.

David sighed, yet smiled at his grandfather whom he loved dearly.

“Aw, go on,” said Gramps. “There is not a kid in all the world at the age of ten, such as David, that wants to spend time around a dusty, old, crotchety man like me.”

David lowered his head, ashamed of what he had said.

Gramps reached out, placing a hand upon his grandson’s shoulder. He said, “Why don’t you go on and play with your friends tonight?”

David looked up at his grandfather, his eyes alight with hope.

“Father,” said Lady Toya, “he should spend time with his grandfather.”

“Nah,” argued Gramps playfully. He winked at David. “Go on, boy. Go out and be with your friends.”

David cried, “Thanks, Gramps!” and ran from the hut.

“He should be home with his family,” scolded Lady Toya.

“No, he should be off having grand adventures with his friends,” said Gramps.

Night came to the tiny island. Father Toya, Lady Toya and Gramps ate a fine meal together. Father Toya apologized for himself, but said he had to sleep early if he wanted to get an early start on fishing the next day.

Gramps was fine with Father Toya turning in early.

As Lady Toya cleaned the plates after their meal, Gramps asked, “Would you mind if I go for a small walk after that large supper?”

Lady Toya smiled. She said, “Go on, father. I know how you like to walk after supper and smoke.”

Gramps smiled, kissed his daughter on her forehead and left the hut.

As he walked the beach he came to a small hill covered with wild grass and two trees. one of the trees had fallen long ago and its trunk used for fires so all that was left was its stump. Gramps sat upon the stump on the grassy hill overlooking the sea. He watched the moon and the stars. He watched Kalavata flying high overhead.

He produced a pipe that had been carved from briar and shaped with a skilled knife into the image of a marmoset sitting atop a rock. He placed some fine tobacco into its bowl and lit it, drawing the thick smoke down the pipe and into his mouth, tasting the strong burleys. He sat, watching the night.

The sound of children playing, hollering, laughing came to Gramps. He sat, looking for his grandson. He saw him as his group of six friends crested the hill and drew near.

Said David, “Oh! Gramps. I didn’t know you were here.”

Some of the children asked David if he knew the old man.

“Yes,” said David. “He’s my grandfather.”

A few of the children kindly introduced themselves. Gramps gladly met them, thick smoke rolling from his pipe.

“I didn’t think anyone would come here,” said Gramps. “I’ll be out of your way.”

“No,” said David. “It’s okay, Gramps. You can stay. We came only for a moment to look at the stars. This hill has the best view of all the nighttime sky on the island.”

Gramps looked to the stars, nodding in agreement. He said, “Well, as long as you don’t mind an old man smoking his pipe and sitting on a stump sharing the stars with you, then I’ll stay.”

A few of the children said he could stay.

One child, a boy a year or so younger than David, approached Gramps. He asked, “That pipe, it’s awfully grand. What is that carved on its side?”

“That?” said Gramps, happy to be talking to the children. “Why that’s Momoki the Marmoset. In fact, he helped to restore the stars to the nighttime sky long ago. Have you heard his story?”

The children all shook their heads. Gramps looked to David, thought of his words earlier. He said, “It’s a good story, but I won’t bother you with my old, boring stories.”

David frowned.

“Besides,” said Gramps, “Who would want to hear about elephants and grasshoppers and warriors and battles and such. That’s all old stuff, long ago dead.”

Gramps turned on the stump, looking out over the sea, his back to the children.

The children looked at one another curiously.

David blushed, ashamed he had been found out, overheard.

“Wait a minute,” said a girl. “Who wouldn’t want to hear about such things?”

“Yeah!” said a boy. “I’ve heard of elephants. They’re supposed to be huge!”

“Gigantic!” said another boy.

“I want to hear about warriors,” said another boy. “Some day I want to leave the island and become a soldier in some king’s grand army. Please, tell us!”

Gramps, his back to the children, smiled. he then straightened his face, even furrowing it in confusion and turned round to look at the children. “Are you certain? I mean, they’re simply the old ramblings of an old man.”

It was David who spoke. “Of course, Gramps. Who wouldn’t want to hear about elephants and battles?”

Gramps smiled internally. He shrugged, puffed his pipe. He said, “If it’s truly what you children wish.”

The children agreed that they wanted to hear the tale. They all sat round Gramps upon the stump. David sat right in front of his grandfather, attentive and listening.

When the children were settled and staring at him, Gramps said, “It all began long ago in a land called Taliesin. On this Mountain That Lived in the Sky lived its caretaker, Momoki the Marmoset. And with him lived his friend, the mighty warrior known as Gogi the Grasshopper…”


By the gods, this was along tale! This is the first full-length novel set within The Choldren of Gods Universe. I do hope you enjoyed it. And thanks for reading!

Friday, October 24, 2008

“Warriors of the Midnight Sun” - Act VII

This is the second to last act! I hope you're all enjoying!


“Warriors of the Midnight Sun”
© 2008 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.



MANY ROOTS HOLDING TOGETHER A GREAT TREE: Wherein Comet Fox is Reunited with Roku to Fight Against the Forces of Yaska Selith; Friends Fight Together as One; Xiao-tep Faces Fei Li Mi; Momoki Tastes the Bitter Vinegar of Failure; A New Hero Arises



Comet Fox cartwheeled towards Raiju Yu who stood, his three weasels Kama, Gala and Jian at his feet, holding a Moon-Toothed Spade. The fox-god then jumped, spinning as if in a cartwheel yet without his hands being placed on the ground and instead reaching to his waist to retrieve from his sash his two ulus. As his feet came down they cracked against Raiju Yu’s head, knocking him backwards.

The three weasels attacked, running to and biting at Comet Fox’s legs.

On came Roku the Misfit, passing by his former master. He, too, produced his two ulus from thin air and they glowed like a crescent moons on a cloudless night. Roku lunged, one of his ulus streaking out at the gut of the Weasel King.

Raiju Yu brought up his Moon-Toothed Spade, knocking away Roku’s hand with its shaft. Roku lunged again and again. Each time Raiju Yu blocked and parried.

Comet Fox kicked at the three weasels. He swept one off his leg and kicked at the other two. He then lifted onto the air and flew at Raiju Yu. The Weasel King lifted his weapon and spun it as a windmill, knocking away both Roku’s and Comet Fox’s attacks.

The three weasels turned and attacked Roku. They bit at him, climbing his form and where they bit new holes in his form appeared letting out small bits of crimson glowing light and droplets rising off him as if bleeding into the sky.

Roku ceased his attacks on Raiju Yu and swept his ulus down his form, knocking away the rabid, hungry weasels. As quickly as they dropped to the ground they were once more on Roku, eating away at his darkness.

Comet Fox thrust and lunged. He switched from Capoeira to Drunken Style, staggering and falling. This confused the Weasel King and he backed away to consider his foe, but Comet Fox was soon on him, stumbling as if not in control of his body and falling into Raiju Yu. The fox-god quickly, quietly slipped his ulus into the chest of Raiju Yu.

The Weasel King gasped, crying out more in horror at the successful ruse than at the pain, and backed away, using his Moon-Toothed Spade to push Comet Fox away so harshly the fox-god fell to the ground.

The weasels looked to their master, saw him hurt and abandoned their assault on Roku to attack instead the fallen Comet Fox. They were on him instantly, biting and chewing through his fur and flesh. Comet Fox yelped in pain and lifted into the air to hover over the plain before knocking the weasels free.

The weasels fell to the plain and ran to the side of their master to assure his safety.

Comet Fox descended back to the side of Roku, saying, “Mayhaps we should first kill the weasels so we may then attack their master in full concentrated effort.”

Roku nodded in agreement. They attacked.

Roku ran towards the Weasel King. The three weasels leapt into action, countering Roku’s attacks with their own.

Comet Fox came around from behind Roku and with his foot stomped on the head of Kama as the other two climbed onto Roku. He ground his pawed foot down, stomping on the neck of the weasel. Kama squealed in pain, but he did not die. Seeing this, Comet Fox then placed his ulus within his sash and reached down, grabbing up the weasel and held it fast. He looked to Raiju Yu as he slowly twisted the Kama’s neck, breaking it, the sound of cracking bone echoing between them.

As Comet Fox let Kama’s dead body fall, Raiju Yu smiled at him. The Weasel King gave a small cry, a chittering, chattering form of talk and from the mountains, down the foothills and onto the plain came a new weasel to replace Kama. It first drew to the side of Raiju Yu before turning to attack Comet Fox.

Roku used his ulus and stabbed at the weasels on him. They fell and where they landed he bent and stabbed them, slicing them each in two.

With more chitterings and chatterings from Raiju Yu, two more weasels came from the mountains and joined the fight.

Comet Fox and Roku bit, sliced, stomped and strangled weasel after weasel. With every dead weasel came a new one from the mountains.

Raiju Yu cackled wildly. He said, “You cannot kill all the weasels in the world!”

Comet Fox sighed. As he brushed off a new weasel he said to Roku, “I fear he may be right. Perhaps my plan of action was not fully correct. This Gifted One obviously commands the weasels and can call as many as he needs to his side, fortunately always in threes. If we do the same, yet this time concentrate all our efforts on the Gifted One instead of the weasel, mayhaps his demise will end the oncoming weasel horde.”

Roku once more nodded in agreement.

Comet Fox flew at Raiju Yu while.

Roku ran at their foe, ignoring the weasels biting at his chest, arms, legs and face. More and more, with every bite, new crimson holes appeared on Roku’s body. While it pained him greatly and he desired to free himself of them, he instead attacked the Weasel King.

Raiju Yu brought up his Moon-Toothed Spade and knocked away Comet Fox’s ulus.

Roku rounded the Weasel King and together with his old master, attacked the Weasel King from both sides.

Comet Fox speared out his ulus.

Roku ducked the Moon-Toothed Spade and extended out his arm, the ulu in his hand biting the air and hungering for Raiju Yu’s flesh.

Raiju Yu defended, his spade reaching out first left, then right. The crescent-shaped blade bit into Comet Fox, his blood spilling onto his fur as he yelped. The spade then bit into Roku’s form, a new gash opening on his darkness in a streak of flying crimson.

At last Comet Fox put away on of his ulus and grabbed the spade by the shaft. Raiju Yu smiled, working the spade so as to flip Comet Fox around and send him falling to the ground.

Comet Fox landed hard onto the plain, yet he did not let go of the spade. Instead, he held it fast, looked up at the Weasel King and smiled.

Raiju Yu wondered at him, at the fox-god’s smile. He then realized his weapon was held fast and he was therefore unable to defend with it. His head turned, his eyes wide, in time to see and feel Roku rush at him with both ulus. Roku slid one of his weapons up into the Weasel King’s armpit, the other sinking into his chest.

Roku placed all his ghostly weight onto his left arm with the hand holding the ulu in Raiju Yu’s chest. The ulu slid sideways and down, slicing open the chest and gut of the Weasel King.

Raiju Yu gasped. He gurgled. Blood filled his mouth and spilled down his chin as it spilled also down his gut and waist. His head turned as his eyes went from Roku to Comet Fox. He tried to call, command his weasels. They stood instead, still latched onto Roku and no longer biting, staring at their dying master.

Roku pulled free his ulus.

Comet Fox let got the Moon-Toothed Spade.

Raiju Yu fell.

The weasels jumped from Roku and ran for the hills, up and over the mountains, leaving the Plain of Adoration far behind.

Roku’s ulus disappeared. He bent low and offered his old master a hand. Comet Fox accepted and, with Roku’s help, stood. Together they sighed. Together they breathed deep and accounted for their wounds. When they each saw the other would survive, they each produced their ulus and, together, returned to battle.



Angolas had broken from the side of his fellow Warriors and instead fought at the side of his former liege and commander, King Aniabas and General Vitor. They fought, the three of them, side-by-side as one until they came before the commander of the Bone Warrior army: Sinverguenza.

“Give up your forces now,” called King Aniabas to Yaska Selith’s second. “We will let you live.”

Sinverguenza cowered. He was not much of a fighter, he knew, but was surrounded by the best of the Bone Warriors, many former mercenaries and soldiers from other parts of the world. He looked skyward and found the giant Yaska Selith there. He felt comforted standing within the demon-dog’s shadow and looked to Aniabas, calling out, “Bring all you can! Your best will not be good enough!”

King Aniabas the Ugly, Vitor the Loyal and Angolas the Soldier charged at Sinverguenza and the Bone Warriors. Weapons flashed, dancing off one another. Angolas whipped out his arms and from them extended his massive boulder weapons chained to his wrists. He swiveled his shoulders, lifting the boulders into the air and bringing them down, heavily crashing into the heads of two Bone Warriors, crushing them completely beneath the incredible weight. He swung the boulders about, knocking his enemies aside and killing others.

Aniabas charged through the Bone Warriors to the side of Sinverguenza. He lifted his sword high and attacked. Sinverguenza backed away nervously and two Bone Warriors stepped between their commander and the king. Aniabas lunged at the Bone Warriors, thrusting and parrying their attacks.

Vitor’s blade sank into the chest of a Bone Warrior just below his leather chest plate adorned with bits and pieces of bone. The blade drank deeply from the enemy as Vitor worked the sword, turning it sideways to wreak severe damage inside the Bone Warrior. He pulled free the sword and the Bone Warrior fell. He turned and attacked another.

Angolas crushed three Bone Warriors at once and was suddenly at the side of Sinverguenza who, looking to Angolas, thought he recognized the black and crimson ghost.

King Aniabas slashed widely, the tip of his sword biting deeply into both the Bone Warriors before him. The two foes fell and Aniabas was once more standing before Sinverguenza.

Vitor stabbed the last three Bone Warriors at their commander’s side, each after the other. He then drew to the side of his liege Aniabas.

Sinverguenza shook nervously. Once more he looked to Yaska Selith, wishing the demon-dog’s interference. At last he felt his death, though he did not want to die, may not be well placed in the service of such a creature. He eyed Aniabas.

The king ran forward, his general at his side. Together their swords sank into the gut of Sinverguenza below the ribs. Together they twisted their blades. Together they pulled free their swords and stepped backwards, looking to their ghostly fellow soldier.

Angolas twisted his shoulders. One of the boulders lifted into the air, crashing down on Sinverguenza who stood watching his gut bleed.

The boulder broke every bone in Sinverguenza’s body. The body disappeared beneath the weight and girth of the boulder. Only the trickling, spattering, squirting blood that came from under it gave any sign that once a man had stood there.

Word spread of Sinverguenza’s death spread quickly through the battle. Many Bone Warriors broke and ran from the plain.



Xiao-tep broke through the cloud layer, pulling level with the catfish Fei Li Mi. The two fish hovered in the air, amidst a mass of cloud cover, staring at one another.

Fei Li Mi worked his guandao in his fin.

Xiao-tep repositioned his hand on the Spear of Sorrow.

“Come to our side,” lured Fei Li Mi. “The power of Yaska Selith is comforting. It fills one with purpose, with place.”

At this Xiao-tep thought of Taliesin, of the rolling fields and garden, of Oti and Aglina and Zingtai. He answered Fei Li Mi, “I have such a place, such a purpose in my life. I need no demon-dog to fill me with purpose.”

“Mayhaps,” said Fei Li Mi, “but the strength of the demon-dog is felt worldwide. We do something here that affects lives everywhere, if at least indirectly. You cannot argue the importance of Yaska Selith.”

Xiao-tep nodded, mockingly agreeing by saying, “You are correct. I cannot argue with the importance of ridding the world of his presence.”

“Bah!” spat Fei Li Mi.

“Demons belong in the Many Hells,” said Xiao-tep.

Fei Li Mi felt the argument moot. He shifted to another matter plaguing his thoughts, “Are there many like us?”

Xiao-tep shook his head. “Not that I know of. I must confess I did not know of you until we met over the plain a day ago.”

“You said you were a god?”

Xiao-tep nodded. “I am son to Hapi the River God and Lei-zu the Thunder Goddess.”

Fei Li Mi’s jealousy welled. He said, “I am no son of gods. I was made by a mad alchemist bent on making Gifted Ones. The very alchemist that made me made Balori Shongoyo. As I was once a mere catfish, so too was Balori once an elephant. We did not choose this life, it was brought onto us.”

“I could say that very thing,” said Xiao-tep, thinking of the father that hated him.

“You know nothing, fish-god!”

Xiao-tep gave no answer. Instead, he asked, “Why are you here, Fei Li Mi?”

“I came seeking the Jewel of Zingtai, much as Balori does. I may yet grab it for my own, yet,” Fei Li Mi’s eyes gazed down through the clouds and thought of Yaska Selith sitting upon the plain, “I have found a home here.”

“Leave it,” said Xiao-tep. “Leave the demon-dog’s side. He will lose this battle and be destroyed. Help Balori instead return the jewel to Zingtai.”

Fei Li Mi considered the matter once more. He then wondered at the response of the Eternal Empress to such a union. He refused to share the glory with Balori and told Xiao-tep as much.

“Then you will fall with the demon-dog,” said Xiao-tep. He brought the Spear of Sorrows level, pointing its blades at Fei Li Mi.

Fei Li Mi’s eyes narrowed in anger. He said, “Come, fish-god. Let my guandao taste the blood of a god.”

The two fish flew at one another. Spear and guandao locked, slapping against one another. Each blade slid across the other and from it fell great sparks that fell to the ground far below. The clouds filled with the thunderous roar of their fight, shaking the very grounds far below. To this day it is said when one hears the thunder of a coming storm and witnesses lightning flashing across the skies, it is Xiao-tep the Ankh-fish and Fei Li Mi the Protector perpetually locked in battle.



Akadia Dorn swung his large stone war hammer with such force it knocked the head off the shoulder of a Bone Warrior. At his side fought Macia Thrace and Shabar. The three dug deeper into the plain, fighting constantly, never given ground.

A sudden surge of Bone Warriors stalled their progress. Their back to one another, they defended themselves from every side. They had been cut off from the main part of their fellow force.

Akadia said, “Let’s send them to the Many Hells!” and charged, working his hammer left and right, taking wound after wound to his body.

Macia dove into the fray and was cut repeatedly by a Bone Warrior and his masterful skill with a short sword.

Shabar, having been trained long ago to protect the Eternal Empress but never having been proven in battle, took his first life, blooding himself.

Macia backed away from the Bone Warrior with the short sword. This opened the side of Shabar, leaving him exposed to a flank attack. Macia did not read this and was much too late to block the swift sword of the Bone Warrior as his sword flicked out sideways and down. The short blade cut into and through Shabar’s leg below the knee.

Shabar lost his balance as his left leg fell away from him. He fell backwards to the ground.

Macia lunged out, the short swordsman now open to attack, and killed him.

The Bone Warriors, smelling the blood of Shabar, hearing him scream in pain at the horror of his lost leg, crushed in on them.

Macia looked down to Shabar. He commanded his friend, “Get off this plain! They’ll kill you!”

Shabar, hearing the words of his friend, rolled onto his belly and crawled between legs, blocking and dodging weapon attacks the best he could.

Akadia and Macia together screamed in a loud, awful battle cry. Their screams distracted the Bone Warriors and gave Shabar time to crawl away, off the plain and into the awaiting arms of those few loyal servants to Aniabas who could not fight and chose instead to remain behind near the kingdom to heal the wounded.

As the servants picked him up, Shabar eyed his friends. He watched, as he was being swiftly carried away, as a Bone Warrior closed on Macia and slipped his sword up into Macia’s gut. The blade ascended inside Macia, cutting through heart and lungs until the tip of the sword came out at last to protrude through the back of Macia’s neck.

Shabar watched as Akadia hammered one Bone Warrior after another, yet found himself suddenly alone and vastly outnumbered. The Bone Warriors, lusting for the blood of their enemies, descended upon him. They beat and battered and stabbed at him, but Akadia did not fall. He hammered two more Bone Warriors, crushing their skulls, before he was beaten and battered and stabbed again. The Bone Warriors fought with one another to get closer to him, to hit and slice at Akadia, but Akadia stood his ground for a time longer than most men could not. At last, minutes later, after Shabar had been taken far from the sight of the battlefield, Akadia took his last breath and fell.

With the deaths of these two mortal men, though the Bone Warriors had lost many of their numbers and some key figures, the battle shifted once more in their favor.



Fei Li Mi flew at Xiao-tep, his guandao extended and circling the Spear of Sorrows.

Xiao-tep knocked Fei Li Mi’s weapon aside, spinning to bring his spear high into the air before bringing it down to slice through the cloud beneath him, then up once more to knock away the guandao.

Fei Li Mi’s barbs wavered on the air as he lunged at Xiao-tep.

Xiao-tep’s long fins flowed noiselessly as he flew at Fei Li Mi.

Thei weapons clashed and sent sparks to the plain below. Together the two fish spun, attacked, defended, working the clouds into roiling fervor about them.

Fei Li Mi threw out his guandao, catching it at its very base.

Xiao-tep swam through the air sideways, bending his body to dodge around the oncoming guandao and, with his spear, slapped at the offending weapon.

Fei Li Mi swung the guandao down and around, bringing its blade screaming down atop Xiao-tep.

Xiao-tep lifted the Spear of Sorrows up, placing it over his head and blocked the attack. He then flipped backwards, knocking the guandao away by the shaft with his tail.

Fei Li Mi backed away.

Xiao-tep pressed the fight.

The Spear of Sorrows lunged at Fei Li Mi, Xiao-tep extending out his arm and shifting his weight forward.

Fei Li Mi backed away.

Xiao-tep attacked in the same manner.

Fei Li Mi studied the attack, feigning a gasp of surprise as he back away.

Xiao-tep, having believed the feint, lunged a third time.

Fei Li Mi smiled. he shifted his body to curve around the blades of Xiao-tep’s spear then, with his body rubbing harmlessly against the shaft of the spear, spun twirling his guandao and bringing its blade down at Xiao-tep.

Xiao-tep gasped a real gasp as the guandao’s blade slid past his spear, through his defenses and sliced open a part of his chest and gut, taking with it many scales that fell away, slowly floating on the wind and into the foothills and mountains bordering the plain.

Blood spattered from Xiao-tep. His eyes widened in horror. He arched backwards and as the skies overhead grew silent, as those fighting on the plain noticed the end of Xiao-tep’s and Fei Li Mi’s fight with the following silence, they witnessed the long, beautiful butterfly koi known as Xiao-tep the Ankh-fish of 100,000 Sorrows and beauty fell from the sky.

Xiao-tep landed hard on the ground near the foothills. Nearby, his friends Gogi, Szu Ri and Twila watched him.

Gogi eyed the fallen Xiao-tep,saw his chest heave with labored breath, and said, “He’s alive! Though badly wounded. We must help him!”

And without thought Gogi leapt from the grass in which he was hiding and went to Xiao-tep’s side with Szu Ri and Twila following.

Amongst the many that had witnessed Xiao-tep’s fall was his half-sister, the demi-goddess Wu Chan Chu. With a leap, then another, she left the depths of the battlefield and land at the side of her brother. She lowered herself to him and said, “Brother, are you alive?”

Xiao-tep moaned.

Wu Chan Chu eyed the cut.

Gogi crawled up on Xiao-tep’s side and examined the wound, as well. He said, “It’s not too deep, but long. Szu RI and I can heal it, but not quickly.” He looked to Wu Chan Chu. “We must find turmeric. It grows wildly. There must be some on this plain.”

“There’s some over there!” said Szu Ri as she spied some of the plant growing at he base of a nearby hill.

Gogi looked then looked at Wu Chan Chu. “We have to quickly grab some and polace it on the wound, but it is much to large for Szu Ri and I to do alone.”

Wu Chan Chu understood and said, “I will help.”

With a single jump Wu Chan Chu was at the hill and picking the turmeric. With another jump she was back at Xiao-tep’s side and following Gogi’s instructions. Szu Ri followed along behind the fast working frog demi-goddess’ hands, patting the turmeric down into the wound where Wu Chan Chu’s large fingers could not go.

Twila moved to Xiao-tep’s head, speaking softly to him with loving words. “We miss you Xiao-tep. How brave you and your friends are. Please stay with us. Your sister is here and she’s helping Gogi and Szu Ri heal you. Please, oh please do not die.”

Gogi then thought alound, “Can a god truly die?”

Wu Chan Chu, without pausing in her work at placing the turmeric upon the wound, answered, “Yes, at the hands of a Gifted One or another god.”

Gogi worked quickly, following Szu RI’s example and patting down the healing herb where Wu Chan Chu could not.

“Please,” said Twila, her small head rubbing against Xiao-tep’s temple, “Please do not die, Xiao-tep.”



Momoki crawled and climbed his way to the very top of the demon-dog without notice. He came up the back of Yaska Selith’s head until he was clutching the thin hair above the third eye. He examined the eye, now tightly closed. He thought his finger wide enough to slip into the socket, so he forced in a finger and felt around.

Yaska Selith felt this and tried to look atop his head. He could not, so he raised a clawed hand up and felt.

Momoki saw the hand coming and ran to hang off the back of the demon-dog’s head and avoid being swatted at or found out by him.

When the hand retreated, Momoki once more crawled to a spot above the third eye. His finger plunged into it once more and before Yaska Selith could take action to bring up his hand once more, found his finger simply was not long enough to reach deep into the socket and fetch the Ruby Bug.

Momoki scurried back once more as the demon-dog’s hand came near. Yaska Selith, Momoki could tell, was growing impatient and most likely was now convinced Momoki was there. He took only a brief moment to watch the hand retreat one last time and think out how he could reach into the depths of the third eye.

He then thought of his long, thin pipe and it appeared once more in his hand. Momoki, determined to get the Ruby Bug, crawled back to the front of the demon-dog’s head a last time. He raised the pipe and plunged it deep between the eyelids. He felt immediately, as the pipe sunk halfway into the demon-dog’s head, its mouthpiece strike something hard.

Yaska Selith cried out in pain.

Panicking, Momoki dug around with his pipe, found a side of the jewel, and worked the pipe furiously to dislodge the Ruby Bug.

This time Yaska Selith did not raise a clawed hand to his head, but instead opened his third eye. A great ruby beam of light flowed out from it and as Momoki’s pipe, arm, shoulder and half of his head was disintegrated, he thrust hard with the pipe and the Ruby Bug pulled free from some of the muscle that held it fast deep within Yaska Selith’s head.

The pipe burned up into ash. Momoki’s hand, arm, shoulder and face fizzled and burned away. Yet slowly, slowly, almost immediately, his missing body parts began to grow back.

Yaska Selith forced his third eye open, but the destructive beam did not pour forth. The Ruby Bug had not been removed to destroy Yaska Selith, but it had been dislodged enough to disable his third eye.

Momoki thought this over. Thought he that he could continue to dig into the socket and pull free the Ruby Bug.

Yet Yaska Selith’s leg, not his arm, raised up. Momoki, fearing it another searching hand, scurried to the back of the demon-dog’s head. The pawed foot came up and scratched at the back of Yaska Selith’s head.

Momoki was grabbed by the paw and pushed, thrown out from Yaska Selith fur.

Momoki the Marmoset fell, landing hard on the plain near his friends that now tended to the wounded Xiao-tep.

Balori, having spied Momoki falling from Yaska Selith’s head, flew to his side. Comet Fox and Roku soon joined them, as well, soon followed by Ebi and Zom Loa.

The turmeric took, its healing properties seeping into Xiao-tep until his eyes snapped open and he raised himself slowly off the ground.

Gogi and Szu Ri jumped from his rising body and, with Twila, went to Momoki’s side.

Wu Chan Chu eyed her brother Xiao-tep. “How fare you, brother?”

Xiao-tep eyed the turmeric along his wound. He looked up, “Better now, thanks to your aid.”

“It was not so much I,” said Wu Chan Chu, “as our little friends Gogi and Szu Ri and Twila.”

Xiao-tep flew to their side and thanked them.

Gogi nodded, accepting the thanks.

“It pleases us you are well once more,” said Twila.

“What has happened?” asked Balori of Momoki, unconcerned with Xiao-tep’s wound for he suspected more fighting was to come.

“That third eye of his, the one with the destructive beam, I think it might be the place the Ruby Bug has settled within Pup to make him into Yaska Selith,” explained Momoki.

Ebi nodded at this, understanding the thread of Momoki’s next thoughts. He said, “If he pluck it out?”

Momoki nodded back at Ebi, “We may be able to end the curse of your Pup, the curse of the world and it would destroy his form as Yaska Selith.”

“Then we will pry out that ruby eye!” Balori growled.

Momoki shook his head. “I do not know that you could, Balori. I am far smaller than you and my fingers could not fit into its depths. I had to use my pipe simply to dislodge it. I think it may be enough to rid us of that light, but not to rid us of Yaska Selith.”

Balori raised his axe, saying, “I will chop my way through his skull to retrieve the Ruby Bug.”

“His skull would be thicker than your arm,” said Comet Fox. “It would take us an eternity to cut through that demon-dog’s head.”

Balori growled again, this time in frustration.

Momoki thought of the moment Radiant Gui had charged him with the task of ridding the world of Yaska Selith. He thought that his purpose. He said, “No, if we are to destroy Yaska Selith, it is I who must do it. I have the smallest fingers and my pipe has proven effective in digging out the Ruby Bug.”

“But all the effort you have put forth at this moment,” contested Balori, “you have disabled his destructive light, that I cannot argue, yet here you are swiped from his head as a flea. How many more times must you climb him and be swatted off? How long must we wait for you?”

Balori shook his head. “No, there must be another way.”

“There is no other way,” argued Momoki.

“The only other way is to find someone smaller,” Wu Chan Chu chimed in.

And then the smallest, tiniest voice amongst them spoke up.

“I-I think, perhaps, I-I could fit.”

They all turned to look at little Gogi the Grasshopper as he nervously worked the brim of his hat within his hands.


The tale wraps up next week with Act VIII! See you then!

Friday, October 17, 2008

“Warriors of the Midnight Sun” - Act VI

And here's Act VI.


“Warriors of the Midnight Sun”
© 2008 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.



DARKNESS WITHIN A NEW DAWN: Wherein Stavros Battles the Brothers Jackal; Momoki Determines How to End the Battle; Dian Wails; Xiao-tep and Fei Li Mi Meet Once More Within the Clouds Over the Plain of Adoration



On ran Stavros of the Ruska Roma, diving headlong into the depths of the battlefield, fighting hither and thither as he searched for his sworn enemies, but to by fighting to say to allow himself stayed long enough only to push off one Bone Warrior after another so that he may continue his search. His blade bit flesh, but not once did he strike with a death blow. He left that for the two he sought.

At last he came to them. At last the Brothers Jackal, Tavaras and Trebizond, stood nearby, both now armed with large bones for clubs. The three eyed one another. Where the brothers smiled crooked, toothy smiles, Stavros grimaced with hatred.

Stavros worked his sword in his hand.

Tavaras said, “Look brother, our old friend has come back to us.”

“He must desire playful bonding,” cackled Trebizond.

As the jackals hooted and howled with laughter, Stavros said, “You have defiled those that were as my mother, my father, my family. You have dishonored them and yourselves. You foul the world with your stench and loyalty to the demon-dog.”

“Oh,” said Trebizond, “Has the rat come seeking revenge?”

“He wants to right the wrongs done to his pets!” mocked Tavaras.

“How will you fight us this time,” asked Trebizond. “On your back? I see it has a crook. Are you certain it has yet healed?”

Stavros said nothing. He bared his teeth, angry and plotting, watching.

“He desires no more idle chatting, brother,” said Tavaras.

“Too bad. I wanted to discuss how much I enjoyed fouling his people,” said Trebizond. “Some of them even to death.”

“And beyond!” cackled Tavaras.

The jackals laughed as one.

Stavros cried out, “I’ll let my blade speak for me!” He jumped in the air at his foes. He lunged and thrusted first at Tavaras.

Trebizond rounded to the other side of Stavros so that there stood a jackal on either side of the rat. Stavros fended them off, twirling his sword about his form, first high then low, much like the blade of a windmill.

Tavaras swung his bone club and Stavros stepped back out of its way, coming nearer Trebizond who, seeing the rat backing near him, thrusted his bone club out as a spear at Stavros’ crooked back.

Stavros leaned back, his arms above his head and holding his sword pointed at the ground, using the blade to swat away the oncoming blow. He twisted his torso until he stood facing Trebizond.

Trebizond swung his club wide. Stavros leaned forward and down, ducking under the blow, and reaching out with his sword. The tip of the blade bit into the jackal’s stomach, though not deep, and a bloody wound opened there. The jackal yelped and jumped backward.

The rat turned round to face Tavaras, who was already swinging his club. Stavros could not dodge this blow. The bone his left shoulder. Stavros winced.

Tavaras brought his club up and streaking down. Stavros raised his sword with both hands and blocked the blow. He shifted the sword until the club fell away.

On and on the three fought, not one gaining on the other. Stavros swung his sword about in many circular motions, blocking and parrying strike after strike of the jackals. As soon as he would block, Stavros would attack but each attack was light and swift and if it struck the resulting wound was never deep.

Soon each jackal had collected a dozen open cuts or more as Stavros was aching from bruises caused by the few blows his foes had landed.

Then the jackals struck as one, Trebizond’s club arcing high, Tavaras’ club swinging wide and low. Each brought their clubs down and in on Stavros with incredible force.

Stavros could not block them both. He chose to block Trebizond’s, raising his sword high for a parry and with his free hand tried to snatch at Tavaras’ club but missed.

Tavaras’ club struck Stavros in the left thigh. The rat cried out in pain as he collapsed to the ground.

The jackals jumped on their prey. Trebizond arced his club high once more and once more brought it down with incredible force onto Stavros’ shin. Stavros cried out as the bone within cracked. He tried to roll away, but Tavaras had hold of him and bit him in the forearm of the hand his sword was holding.

Stavros screamed again. He violently ripped himself free from Tavaras’ hold. He rolled across the grass plain, putting distance between himself and the jackals who were now standing and laughing joyfully at their success.

All around them the battle raged. Men and women and Gifted Ones and gods cried out in pain at the agony of the fight and of death. Stavros, his vision blurred and his eyes tearing up, felt himself a failure. He eyed the fighting around him. The blurry images of battle reached out to him and in the distance he thought he could see and hear his people, ghastly in form and crying out as they had as they were being slaughtered, called to him. On the air he thought he could hear the faint, shrill tone of a lone fiddle screeching out a song of his people.

His breathing hastened. His vision cleared. He looked to see the jackals walking towards him.

Stavros, struggling, stood on his broken leg. He sneered. His eyes leveled. And, as the jackals neared, he jumped with his weight on his good leg.

Stavros flew through the air, he leveled his body with the plain, his torso spun as he stretched out his arm, stretching out the blade that flashed in the morning sun. The sword came down upon Tavaras’ head and, with help from Stavros’ falling weight, bit through the skull, sliced down through the neck and into the chest. Blood sprayed forth from Tavaras’ body and spattered all across Stavros.

As Stavros landed harshly on the ground, his sword bit free from the jackal’s crotch and split him in twain. The two halves of Tavaras rocked, bleeding, then fell.

Trebizond gasped in horror, staring at the gore of his dead brother.

Stavros, ignoring the pain in his arm and leg, stood. His teeth were bared. His right side was streaked with blood. He stepped forward, towards the remaining jackal.

Trebizond, eyeing Stavros, panted heavily and stepped backward. For the first time in his short life, Trebizond was afraid.

Stavros pressed the fight. he attacked again and again. Trebizond parried each sword thrust and swipe. When the rat thrusted, Trebizond parried the attack, twisted his wrist and brought his club around Stavros’ sword and slapped his shoulder.

The rat pressed the attack.

Trebizond, backing away, thrust his club out at Stavros’ face. The club hit, but lightly. Trebizond tried the same attack, hoping this time to apply more force.

Stavros read the attack. He brought up his sword to smack at the club. He then stepped to the side and into the jackal’s attack. Sword and club slid past one another. The club went by Stavros’ head. He grabbed Trebizond’s arm, holding it fast as the sword came to a spot just above Trebizond’s shoulder.

Trebizond’s eyes grew wide.

Stavros twisted his wrist, bringing the blade sideways to point at the jackal’s neck. He shifted his weight, swung his shoulders. The blade bit into Trebizond’s neck. With incredible celerity, Stavros lopped off Trebizond’s head.

Blood geysered from the jackal’s neck, filling the air with crimson gore and raining down upon Stavros until his hair matted to his skin. In the years to come, as word spread and tales were told about the Battle Upon the Plain of Adoration, he would come to be known as Stavros the Red. And when the question was posed why a brown rat would have a name like ‘Red’, the most common answer given would be, “Because he bathes in the blood of his enemies.”

Stavros, his arm held wide, twisted his wrist again and brought the blade down and through Trebizond’s gut, slicing his torso free from his legs. The torso fell to the ground, Stavros still holding the arm holding the bone club. Once more Stavros twisted his wrist and swung the sword out and down, his sword slicing through the right leg above the knee. The remaining waist and leg wavered in the wind that blew across the plain before finally both falling.

In the distance, Stavros thought he could hear a softer, happier song of a fiddle. The voices of his people quieted. The Ruska Roma were finally at rest.

He let go the dead jackal’s arm. He breathed deep. His breathing became easier. His eyes leveled. His face calmed, losing its grimace.

Stavros limped deeper into the plain, lopping off heads and limbs as he went.



Balori flew upon his mystic cloud above the heads of those battling upon the plain. He swung his heavy club a time or two, knocking lose the heads of several Bone Warriors. On he flew until he came at last to the foot of the giant demon-dog Yaska Selith. His cloud lifted him high and when at last he came to the demon-dog’s chest he brought forth his broken tusk, with great effort and a terrible trumpet from his trunk, plunged the long ivory spear deep into the flesh of Yaska Selith.

The demon-dog winced, but only slightly, and peered down to the elephant floating atop his cloud.

Said Yaska Selith to Balori, “I thought I had swatted you from the sky once before.” And with a swing of his arm sent his hand out towards Balori.

Balori wrenched at the tusk. It broke further more, a great mass of it stuck under the skin of the demon-dog. With a small bit left in his hand, Balori commanded his cloud deftly, lifting him higher and above the offending hand. He came level to Yaska Selith’s eyes. With the remaining bit of ivory in his hand, Balori assaulted the demon-dog once more. He threw the bit of tusk and it sank, breaking the thin film over Yaska Selith’s left eye. It stabbed at the eye and great mounds of jelly spilled out, mixing with blood that ran from the corner of the demon-dog’s eye and together the falling, viscous liquids spattered across the plain in a vile rain.

Yaska Selith growled and barked furiously. He howled in pain and the men and women fighting upon the plain stopped, though momentarily, to spy what was the matter with the giant. His hand lifted to his eye and with his good eye stared at Balori.

“I’ll eat you alive!” growled Yaska Selith.

Neboshazzar, who had been resting upon Yaska Selith’s shoulder, lifted into the air and dove at the elephant.

Balori glided his cloud sideways, readying his weapons in his hand and trunk.

Neboshazzar came at him, wicked talons extended.

Balori let him draw near before he commanded his cloud sideways once more. He raised his kopesh and smacked the black birdman across the head, peeling flesh off his black, bald head to reveal deep crimson muscle beneath. Blood poured from the wound as Neboshazzar’s eyes closed and his wings ceased to flap. He fell some small way before gaining flight once more. He flew away and eyed Balori.

The elephant stood upon his cloud, ready for another attack from either Neboshazzar or Yaska Selith. Neither came at him. Instead, flying from below, came the catfish Fei Li Mi, his guandao outstretched and menacing.

Balori’s cloud slid sideways in the sky.

Fei Li Mi came level with Balori.

Neboshazzar flew to perch upon Yaska Selith’s shoulder once more, both he and the demon-dog content to watch the battle to come.

Fei Li Mi lunged, his guandao outstretched and twirling, his barbs flapping about his form. Balori backed away and knocked the guandao aside again and again with his kopesh.

Fei Li Mi slid the guandao high over his head and out, bringing it down to slap Balori in the head.

Balori grunted angrily. His trunk lifted and threw the mambele, the three-bladed throwing knife, at the catfish.

Fei Li Mi twisted, contorted, bending his body sideways to let the mambele pass without harming him. He then smiled at Balori.

Balori harrumphed with disdain. He was the one to attack this time. He came at Fei Li Mi with both his battle axe and kopesh flailing about.

Fei Li Mi defended himself with great skill and little effort, which only served to angry Balori furthermore. When Balori came at him with both the battle axe and kopesh, side-by-side in his hands, and Fei Li Mi parried the dual blow with the shaft of his own weapon, he slipped the guandao out from under the two weapons and around, spinning the shaft about his waist, until the blade came about and sliced into the left side of Balori’s rotund belly, though not deeply.

This panicked Balori and he backed his cloud away.

Fei Li Mi smiled a wicked smile.

Yaska Seltih lowered his blood-covered hand. His eye remained closed and showed small signs of swelling and redness. With his one good eye he looked to Neboshazzar and said, “Help our fish friend and finish that elephant.”

Neboshazzar, the blood on his head already drying and crusting over, dove onto the elephant Balori.

Balori descended, his cloud swiftly falling.

Fei Li Mi, sensing the killing blow near, flew after him.

Balori raised his weapons and swatted away first Neboshazzar’s talons then Fei Li Mi’s guandao. Neboshazzar lifted in the air and dropped again and again as Fei Li Mi attacked. So caught up was Balori by Fei Li Mi’s attacks that Neboshazzar’s talons were able to slip through his defenses and cut at Balori’s shoulders until he had dozens on streaked, bloody marks across his shoulders.

At last Balori reached up with his trunk and grasped one of Neboshazzar’s legs. The dark creature gave out a long screech of terror as Balori then threw him into Fei Li Mi, knocking them both back.

Balori watched as they regrouped and charged at him again. His chest expanded time again with his heavy, angry breaths. His throat rumbled with low, hate-filled growls as he wondered if he could survive the fight.



Xiao-tep spun his body, swinging the Spear of Sorrows and Aelis trapped within around in a circular fashion. The blades of the spear sliced into three Bone Warriors. Tears fell from the willow branch tied at his waist as the Bone Warriors fell.

All across the plain men and women were fighting. Xiao-tep took a moment to peer at the battle. He saw Akadia Dorn, his bow now forgotten and swinging a massive, heavy, hard stone club. The head of a Bone Warrior became as liquid beneath it. Akadia laughed at his efforts. Xiao-tep could not find humor or joy in the deaths and dying going on all around him. He thought how far he had come from the enchanted Celestial Gardens where once he had flown a kite with his mother.

A breeze passed him on the plain. He thought how lovely it would be to fly a kite here. He looked skyward and saw Balori battling Fei Li Mi.

Xiao-tep lifted onto the air. He flew to Balori’s side.

Balori lunged at Fei Li Mi, his battle axe extended out and his kopesh held high over his head. Fei Li Mi flew backwards, the barbs on his face flicking out as if taunting the elephant. He lifted his guandao and circled it round Balori’s battle axe until Balori pulled it back.

Balori then came closer to Fei Li Mi and brought his kopesh down.

Fei Li Mi brought the shaft of his guandao up and blocked the falling sword.

Xiao-tep flew at Neboshazzar, the Spear of Sorrows spinning. Neboshazzar flew backwards, screeching so loudly Xiao-tep winced. He pulled his spear back, came up quickly beside the black creature and swung the spear round, slapping the side of Neboshazzar. He then pulled the blades sideways, cutting free feathers from his left wing.

Again Neboshazzar screeched as he fell, his missing feathers causing hampering his flight. He laboriously flapped, descending slowly and much to his distress towards the plain. He flew instead towards the foothills of the Black Mountains.

Seeing the fiend Neboshazzar disabled, Xiao-tep turned his attention to helping Balori. He joined Balori in his fight against Fei Li Mi. Xiao-tep lunged at the catfish, now on the defensive against two attackers, and slid his guandao down the length the Spear of Sorrows and pushed it aside.

Balori flew in then, swinging first his battle axe then his kopesh. Fei Li Mi flipped backwards as though swimming on the air and dodge both the attacks.

Xiao-tep once more attacked. Spear and guandao slapped together once, twice, three times before Xiao-tep could push the guandao away and slip deep into Fei Li Mi’s defenses, bringing his spear down and across the catfish’s belly in a light slash, bloodying the catfish.

Fei Li Mi gasped in horror. He turned and flew higher, disappearing into the clouds.

Xiao-tep looked to Balori. He said, “I’ll go after the catfish. You try your hand at the demon-dog.”

Balori eyed Yaska Selith. He then looked to his weapons. “I plunged my broken tusk straight into his heart. It did nothing. My weapons could not pierce deeper. I doubt I can do much more to the evil creature.”

Xiao-tep sighed. “If we rid ourselves of the demon-dog, surely his followers will flee. He is key to this battle. We must find a way.”

Balori nodded in agreement. “I know not how this will end, but if I am to have a hand in it, I will find a way to end the life of this Yaska Selith.” At this he looked to Xiao-tep. “Fei Li Mi will want to rob me of the Jewel of Zingtai. I cannot trust he will ask for the freedom of my people. We must prevent him from delaying me. Xiao-tep, please go after him.”

Xiao-tep nodded. “May the gods be with you.”

Balori nodded and watched the fish-god fly into the clouds high above.



Black tentacles lashed out, wrapping around the necks of three of Balori’s archers. Zom Loa stood amidst the chaos of the battlefield, his tentacles lifting the three mercenaries into the air, holding them high, slowly choking the life from them.

As the first of them died, Zom Loa flung the lifeless body to the ground. The body bounced off the plain and he pulled his body further into the battle with his other tentacles. Never had he wanted to take part in such a great battle. Never had he wanted to murder as he was now. Yet here, upon the Plain of Adoration, within the dark shadow of the demon that once was the dog Pup, he felt the presence of power, of desire, of longing. Lo, how he wished to please Yaska Selith, to make the demon-dog reel with the weight of his loyalty and actions. “How much the idiot was I,” thought he, “that I ran when first I saw Pup’s change. Look how much he alters the world with his presence. All my life I have worshipped and chased demons. Now is my chance to serve one.”

Zom Loa searched for more victims, more foes to murder to please the demon-dog. His eyes peered deep within the plain and found the odd sight of five beshadowed warriors, now sans their horses and all as dark ghosts, fighting as one against a surge of Bone Warriors. He marveled at their union. He drew near them, studying them, his victims still clasp in his tentacles.

He saw the red-riddled Angolas, the farmer fighting with the sickle, the woman fighting with a long knife. He saw the misfit fighting as if dancing with moon-shaped blades extending from his black hands. He saw, and recognized, at last the fisherman Ebi fighting with a giant hook.

Said he softly, “Ebi?”

He dropped the bodies of his victims, two unconscious and one gasping for air, fearful and running from the plain.

He came nearer the undead warrior.

Ebi turned and recognized Zom Loa.

“Ebi?” asked Zom Loa once more.

“Hello, old friend,” spoke Ebi with his deeply haunting, echoing voice. “Have you come to rescue Pup, as well?”

Zom Loa’s mouth worked. He thought of his time with Ebi in his home, of their friendship, of how Ebi had treated him kindly, almost lovingly. His heart welled with joy at seeing the one man he could truly call his friend. He then thought of Pup’s change. He eyed Yaska Selith. He looked to Ebi and thought of the moment he witnessed the demon-dog devour the fisherman.

Asked Zom Loa, “Are you dead?”

Ebi nodded.



Motharus took to the air, flapping his wings and stretching them out to glide over the plain. As he did, he summoned forth fireball after fireball and sent them down upon the attacking fighters of Aniabas. Within his head he heard the voice of Adonai Ku-jal, “Good. This is your destiny. Kill as many as you can. Remind the world evil yet exists in the world, demons are the true rulers of all.”

Motharus obeyed the voice. He dove again and again atop the enemy fighters, his knees extended out and crushing their heads as he landed upon them.

His keen eyes then caught sight of most unusual fighter, five in all and dark in form, fighting against the Bone Warriors. He chose one, the closest, standing near the Gifted One known as Zom Loa the Black Tentacled and dove upon him.

Zom Loa looked skyward and found Motharus diving there, aiming for the fisherman Ebi with his outstretched knees.

Zom Loa panicked. He thought matters over quickly. He could not let his friend die yet once more. He cried out, “No!”

Tentacle after tentacle whipped out, streaking high into the air and latching onto the form of the descending Motharus. Caught mostly were his legs and Zom Loa pulled at them, bringing him off his course and crashing into the ground. Motharus, aghast, struggled to stand.

“What is it that you do? What do you mean by attacking a fellow Bone Warrior of Yaska Selith?” Motharus demanded, attempting to pry the tentacles from around his legs.

Zom Loa held him fast, held him bound to the land. He turned to Ebi and told his friend, “I will help you.”

“Traitor!” Motharus challenged. He flapped his wings and lifted a small way into the air, but Zom Loa pulled him back to the ground.

The nearby Wu Chan Chu spied the matters occurring between Zom Loa and Motharus. She knew Zom Loa immediately to be the very Black Tentacle she was seeking, but she understood he held Motharus. She did not concern herself with the matter as to why she would do this, but felt her first attack would be best served against Motharus since he was being held and was therefore crippled. He would not be able to fight back.

Wu Chan Chu ran. Her newly donned leather armor at her shoulders, borrowed from the stores of Aniabas, slapping against her skin. Her powerful legs contracted and she leapt, giving out a horrible croak as a war cry.

Zom Loa, Motharus, Ebi – indeed, all the men and women fighting nearby – looked skyward and there found Wu Chan Chu falling, her knees outstretched before.

As she crashed down onto Motharus, she asked, “Remember me?”

Motharus collapse beneath her weight. Her knees slammed into either side of his neck, breaking both clavicles. She then brought her fists, both adorned with her brass knuckles, harshly onto the sides of his head, the brass knuckles cracking the skull at the temples, all before they hit the ground.

When at last they landed, Zom Loa slipped his tentacles free and Wu Chan Chu sat back, placing all her weight on the chest of Motharus so he could not move. She then rained punches down upon him, one after another. Her fists slammed into Matharus’ face, further cracking his beak. Blood ran from his broken jaw. His eyes swelled.

Weak with punishment, Motharus called out to Adonai Ku-jal, both within his head and vocally through mumbles. The demon within his head did not answer. Motharus searched for his presence and could not sense it. He had been left alone to die.

Wu Chan Chu punched again, this time into the neck of Motharus. Bones and larynx both cracked and collapsed beneath her fist.

Motharus was dead.

Wu Chan Chu picked herself from off her prey. She then turned and eyed Zom Loa.

Zom Loa, fearful of the scene that came before her, Wu Chan Chu’s fists and belly bloodied by the spatter of her enemies’ deaths. He stepped backwards as she drew near.

“Black Tentacle. I’ve come seeking justice for you theft of the Peony coffers,” said Wu Chan Chu.

Zom Loa shook his head. He said, “N-no. That was stolen from me! I now longer have anything to do with the matter! Please! Oh, please! Do not kill me!”

Zom Loa cowered in the presence of the brutish Wu Chan Chu.

Ebi said to her, “Friend, Zom Loa is ours. He comes to help with Pup.”

“Pup?” asked Wu Chan Chu, not knowing nor caring for Ebi’s tale.

“The demon-dog!” explained Zom Loa.

“This one stole from the Peony Tea House,” said Wu Chan Chu to Ebi. “And my friend Comet Fox was blamed for it.”

“I no longer have the coffers!” cried Zom Loa.

“I know, I took them from the soldiers that had taken them from you. I returned them to the Peony,” said Wu Chan Chu.

“Then the matter is over with!” Zom Loa tried to reason.

“Please,” said Ebi. “He is with us.”

Wu Chan Chu eyed Zom Loa. “Who do you fight with?”

Zom Loa looked to Ebi, then to the frog demi-goddess. “I fight at the side of my friend Ebi.”

Wu Chan Chu considered matters. She breathed deep and croaked disagreeably. She pointed a finger to Ebi’s face. “He is your charge. Make sure he does not betray us, or I will kill you both.”

At this the frog demi-goddess jumped, leaping away from them and into the fray of battle.

Zom loa thanked Ebi.

Ebi the Fisherman and Zom Loa the Storyteller stood side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder. They fought together against the onrushing army of Bone Warriors.



The battle raged across the plain, breaking and flowing, moving, fluxing with surge after surge. The demon-dog Yaska Selith joyously laughed with every death, with every maiming and wound. As a soldier in service to King Aniabas was slain, the demon-dog laughed. As one his own Bone Warriors fell, the demon-dog howled gleefully. How he loved the sights and sounds and smells of battle, of wickedness, of death all around him.

Renorio strayed from the center of the plain. He desired no part in the battle. He spied on everything from the coast, standing next to the sea. He watched as Sinverguenza guided Inno, the young girl crying hysterically, to hide behind a boulder near the shore.

Sinverguenza left her there, crippled with fright. He ran onto the plain, disappearing into the battle.

Renorio eyed Inno from afar. He stalked her from his place by the shore, his cloak of skins flapping on the wind whipping off the sea. He worked his mouth, smacking his lips and swallowing as he concentrated on her smooth, soft, youthful skin.

Inno paused in sobbing long enough to see Renorio coming. She screamed, stood and ran for the plain.

Renorio ran after her. He grabbed her up. She screamed, afraid. No one noticed as her screams mixed with the cries of men and women in battle and death. Renorio dragged her back to hide behind the large boulder by the shore. He produced his trusty knife.

Inno begged with Renorio. She pleaded with the gods. She asked for her life.

Her prayers went unanswered. Renorio slipped his blade into her chest. She struggled some time before going limp in his arm.

Renorio removed the knife and went about his work of slowly, carefully sliding its blade beneath her skin.

On a far part of the plain, Momoki rode his stallion to the foothills and there safely placed his friends Twila the Turtle, Gogi the Grasshopper and Szu Ri the Silk Moth. He rode from their side, riding into the battle and they watched him go, afraid for him. His friends hide amidst the tall grass growing there.

Gogi, Twila and Szu Ri eued the plain. They were in awe of the sights and sounds. They were horrified by the many deaths.

Said Gogi, “The fate of the world if decided by people far larger than we.”

Twila and Szu Ri nodded in agreement.

Momoki rode swiftly into the battle. By now his five warriors had broken their union, fighting in separate parts of the plain. He caught up with the farmer and mother, Joto Ba and Dian. His horse disappeared beneath Momoki, dissipating as smoke floating onto the air. Together the three swung their weapons, attacking, defending, fighting their way through the plain without strategy or concern other than their own survival.

It was Dian that heard the shrill cry for help, picking it out from all the others, of her daughter floating on the air. She said to her husband and Momoki, “Inno.”

Momoki and Joto Ba ran through the battles, following Dian who ran on in fury, frustration, confusion as she searched for her daughter.

A last scream came to her ears and she left the battle, breaking free to run to the shore.

Joto Ba and Momoki chased after her.

They came to the shore. They searched and there, behind the boulder, they found Renorio, donned in his cloak of skins, squatting and hunched over Inno.

Dian screamed a long, lonely wail that haunted the whole of the plain.

The three ran at Renorio.

Renorio stood. He turned to face the oncoming warriors. He knew not how to fight. he desired not to fight. Yet now the fight was coming to him.

Dian came to him first. Her massive knife slashed out. Renorio backed away, brandishing his own small but sharp knife. He was afraid. Afraid of having been found while doing his deed and afraid of having to fight. He backed away.

Joto Ba came next. He arced his sickle high, wide.

Dian lunged at Renorio and he forgot the sickle.

The curved blade of the farming tool plunged deep into the chest of Renorio, its point slicing all the way through him, the tip of the blade protruding from his back and the wood handle hugging closely to his chest.

Dian lunged once more. This time Renorio did not dodge the attack as he was busily eyeing the sickle sunk in his chest.

Where the sickle was in Renorio’s left chest, Dian’s knife plunged into his right. The knife sank all the way to the handle, the tip of the blade protruding from his back.

Renorio then stared at the knife in his chest. His form wobbled. Joto Ba and Dian both let go of their weapons and Renorio the Skinner fell to his knees.

Last to come was little Momoki. He jumped on the air, his tail twirling behind him as he streaked across the small distance between him and the man covered in skins. As the marmoset came down on the man, he plunged his pipe, pointed mouthpiece striking downward, into the temple of Renorio.

Momoki jumped away from him.

Renorio rocked back before falling forward.

Momoki approached him.

Renorio, lying on the ground, looked up at Momoki with a small smile. His eyes were quickly glazing over as he asked, with some bit of wonder, happiness and anticipation, “Will you be taking my skin?”

Renorio smiled. his eyes rolled back into his head. He died.

Momoki struggled to pull his pipe free.

Dian ran to her daughter’s side. Joto Ba joined her. They looked over their progeny.

As the two realized their daughter was dead, Dian sent up a long, angry, sorrowful banshee’s wail that paused the battle, only momentarily, as the many fighting shivered with dire chills.

Momoki slowly approached his two warriors. He eyed the young girl now dead. He eyed the blood-stained pipe in his pawed hand. He thought how he hated death and killing. He wished he had not come to the plain, but knew he had a purpose to fulfill. Never did he want to kill again, but if he must, he desired to kill just once more.

As Momoki thought this, he turned, looking up and eyeing the giant demon-dog Yaska Selith, laughing at the horrors occurring upon the Plain of Adoration. He wondered how a small creature such as he could topple such an immense demon-dog, then he thought of Xiao-tep’s words explaining that every demon had a weakness.

“If only,” said Momoki, “I could discover his weakness.”

The marmoset thought of the tale of his warrior, Ebi, and of how Pup had eaten the Ruby Bug to create the demon-dog Yaska Selith.

At that moment, Yaska Selith opened his third eye and sent forth a destructive beam of red light that destroyed and lit afire all it touched.

The third eye closed. Yaska Selith rolled back on his haunches in uproarious laughter.

“I wonder,” said Momoki, “if the Ruby Big be the source of that light.”

Unknowing, uncertain but determined to find out, Momoki left the side of Joto Ba and Dian wailing over their lost daughter. He ran deep into the plain, nearing the demon-dog. As the battle raged all about him, as men and women died alike, as fighters fell on both sides alike, Momoki grabbed handful after handful of fur and began the long climb up the demon-dog Yaska Selith.


Be sure to check back next Friday for Act VII

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Warriors of the Midnight Sun" - Act V

Here's Act V of "Warriors of the Midnight Sun". We're more than halfway through! And in this act, the final member of the Warriors joins Momoki in the Many Hells. The big fight can't be far behind!



“Warriors of the Midnight Sun”
© 2008 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.



THE SOLDIER: Wherein the Warriors of the Midnight Sun Join the Forces Gathered at the Kingdom of Aniabas; Momoki Asks His Friends to Stay Behind; Battle Plans are Made; The Battle Begins



“We should not wait for his attack,” said Wu Chan Chu. “We should take the fight to him upon the plain.”

King Aniabas and General Vitor both nodded in agreement.

“But,” said one of the king’s captains, “defense is historically best. We would stand a greater chance defending our castle if we fortify it than traipsing into the open plain.”

“But if we remain,” said Angolas, one of the king’s most trusted guards, “and he comes he will destroy everything here. All our buildings, our farms, everythings. Then what purpose would we have in remaining here? No, our only choices are to attack him on the plain or flee entirely as he desires us to do.”

“And that is what we will do,” said Aniabas. “It is the best course of action, wouldn’t you say, Vitor?”

“I agree, my liege,” said Vitor.

“He has given us three days’ time. We will attack a day earlier. that leaves us a single day to prepare,” King Aniabas thought out loud.

“We should attack now!” cried Angolas.

“Who do you speak to?” demanded Aniabas.

Angolas cowered some. “Forgive me, my liege. I am impatient with plotting.”

“We all are, Angolas,” said Vitor. “But without a plan we would fare better chances at survival if we were to throw ourselves upon our own swords.”

They stood in the throne room of Aniabas. Surrounding him were Balori, Wu Chan Chu, Angolas, Vitor and his captains.

“I wish we Xiao-tep would return,” said Wu Chan Chu.

“He’ll be here soon,” soothed Aniabas.

“I stay say we attack in full force now!” said Angolas.

“Angolas!” yelled Aniabas. He drew so near his guard their noses nearly touched. “If you cannot speak calmly here, perhaps you need to remove yourself from our presences and cool your temper.”

Angolas, hurt that his king would send him away, gasped. He leveled his eyes. “As you wish, m’lord.”

Angolas left the throne room.

The others remained, waiting to hear from Xiao-tep.

Angolas left the castle and entered the barracks. There he met secretly with a group of twenty or more men who shared his desire to attack Yaska Selith right away.

“Two days?” asked one. “The demon could have lied and plans to attack tomorrow. Two days is unreasonable.”

“That it is,” said another.

The rest agreed.

“If we were to attack right away,” said a third man, “our king would not allow us to go headlong into death. Surely he would come right behind us with all the forces. In that way we could force his hand and attack immediately.”

Again the men all agreed.

A plan was made. Horses were taken and saddled up. With Angolas as their commander, the men rode out of the kingdom and onto the plain against the demon-dog and his followers.

An alarm was raised and King Aniabas learned of the attack. He ran to the highest tower of his castle, the others who had been meeting with him following, and through a spyglass watched his men riding to their deaths.

“What do they do?” asked Balori, who was cramped in the tower.

“They commit foolish acts,” said Aniabas.

“Should we go after them?” asked Vitor.

After some consideration, Aniabas shook his head “no”.

The men were met with severe force by Yaska Selith’s Bone Warriors. All of them, every last one, was slaughtered except the one known to be their leader. He was kept alive.

Angolas was stripped bare. Two large stones were brought forth. Each was so heavy that many men had to roll each one near. Chains were attacked to the stones and then shackled about Angolas’ wrists. He was taunted and tortured the rest of the day and at last Yaska Selith called for Renorio. He came to the demon-dog obediently.

“My loyal friend,” said Yaska Selith to the skinner who now no longer feared wearing his cloak and cowl of skins in front of the others. “Can you do what you usually do to this one shackled and bound here? But keep him alive?”

Renorio had never done so, but thought he could and said so.

“Then do it,” commanded Yaska Selith.

And Renorio skinned Angolas alive. He began at the soldier’s legs, peeling the skin until Angolas passed out from the horror of the pain and sight of his own torture. He was awakened with smelling salts and made to watch as Renorio worked around his waist. He passed out again when Renorio worked on his genitals. Renorio kept skinning Angolas and Angolas was kept awake.

The skinner stopped only when Angolas could not be awakened. The soldier’s pulse was checked and Yaska Selith, who had been watching nearby with great joy, was told he had died.

Renorio was told to stop. The body of the soldier was not released from the chains. Instead he was left shackled and carried as others laboriously pushed the stones to a cliff and dropped into the sea.

Angolas’ body sank with the stones.

When he awoke again he was standing before Momoki in the Land of the Midnight Sun. his form, unlike the other warriors that had come to Momoki, was largely glowing red. Only his left shoulder and head remained dark. His eyes mimicked the Midnight Sun.

Momoki eyed this new warrior. He said, “Welcome to the Many Hells. I am Momoki the Marmoset, Master of the Chamber of Despair. You have been chosen to ride with me against the false demon Yaska Selith.”

Angolas said, “I know him.”

Momoki nodded. “Know you also how to fight?”

“I do, though I am a fool.”

“Whatever happened in your former life is of little concern to me. I must know only you will follow me.”

Angolas nodded, “I have learned what I did wrong. I will do as you say.”

Momoki considered him. He nodded, saying, “Since you know how to fight I doubt I’ll need to train. Have you a weapon you are familiar with? Think of something now, something you knew in your former life well, something you can use effectively.”

Angolas thought a moment. Then from his hands extended large stones attached to him by chains. As the stones crashed into the black ground they sent up shards of broken landscape.

Momoki again nodded.

Together they returned to the Chamber of Despair. Waiting there were Ebi the Fisherman, Joto Ba the Farmer, Dian the Mother and Roku the Misfit. They were each introduced to Angolas the Soldier.

Gogi was harvesting his garden and proudly showing it off to Szu Ri. She smiled at him as he worked. She ate one of the fresh vegetables he had handed her and found it to be sweet and full of juice and delicious.

Momoki came to them. He said, “Gogi, Szu ri, the warriors are gathered. It is time to leave.”

They looked at him with some sorrow, but they each understood. Gogi asked if he could finish harvesting and storing his foods so they would be fresh when they returned. Momoki allowed this.

Szu Ri quickly spun together a silk satchel in which Gogi placed a few preserved vegetables. He slung the satchel upon his back, put on his weathered, beaten hat and picked up the pick he used to dig tobacco out of his teeth.

Szu Ri eyed him, in awe of his will to go forth so easily. She smiled.

Twila joined the group. Momoki sat atop Twila and Szu Ri and Gogi sat on either of Momoki’s shoulders.

As the doors to the Chamber of Despair opened, they ewre met by Radiant Gui. At his feet were six stallions, dark as midnight and looking as billowing, smoky shadows.

Each of the warriors took a horse.

Angolas helped Momoki, Twila, Gogi and Szu Ri onto the sixth horse.

Together they rode.

Momoki told Gogi and Szu Ri to once more close their eyes and not open them again until he had touched their shoulders.

The small lovers looked at one another, clasped hands and did as Momoki told them. They kept their eyes shut. They did not see the many-faced demons, the ghastly horrors, the murders and ugly sins around them. They barely heard the cries, the demons calling out their names, as Momoki and the others rode swiftly through the entrance of the Many Hells.

When at last Momoki touched their shoulders they were once more in the land of the living. They smiled at one another and hugged. They held the stallion’s man tight, as did Twila, as Momoki urged the dark beast onward.

On rode the Warriors of the Midnight Sun, across one country after another. Everywhere they rode the land was momentarily blanketed in darkness. The people nearby would look to the skies and wonder if storms approached. In every land they entered the people would whisper of things unknown, of sounds in the night, of voices heard when one was alone, of articles moved by unseen hands, of death and of dying and of the dead that haunted the lands. The warriors left behind no sign of their presence, the stallions left no footprints save frost atop blades of grass on chilly morns.

They stopped few times, and then only so Momoki could urge Gogi into asking a few people for directions and news. They never stopped to rest. They were relentless in their ride.

Gogi and Szu Ri slept atop the black horse, clutching its mane as they went.



Xiao-tep eyed Fei Li Mi. They had flown into the clouds far above the land and here remained, talking.

“I wish to return the jewel, too,” said Fei Li Mi.

“Then join Balori and help us.”

Fei Li Mi thought of this, thinking of how the glory would be shared with Balori, of how perhaps the Eternal Empress would ask Balori to watch over the children with Fei Li Mi. he could not allow that.

He shook his head, “No. and I will impede him in success. If either of us return to the Empress with the jewel, I will and I will do so alone.”

“Then we are moot here,” said Xiao-tep.

Fei Li Mi nodded.

Xiao-tep sighed. He turned and descended, flying towards the kingdom of Aniabas.

Fei Li Mi watched him go and said, “I’ll see you on the battlefield, then.”

And they would.

Xiao-tep returned to Aniabas and told him of what he saw, told him of Fei Li Mi. Comet Fox saw Xiao-tep return and joined the others in the throne room. Stavros followed him. Aniabas thanked Xiao-tep for the information. Balori took great interest in Fei Li Mi and asked many questions of Xiao-tep, and the fish-god told him of Fei Li Mi’s plans to stop him in his quest.

“He’ll not stand in my way,” cursed Balori.

Xiao-tep was told of Angolas and the men who had ridden to their deaths.

“We think we should attack instead at first light,” said Wu Chan Chu.

“And we put it off until then only because the world begins to grow dark as we speak,” added Aniabas.

“It would seem Kalavata comes early this day,” agreed Xiao-tep. “As I returned I noticed it was unusually dark.”

One of Aniabas’ men then ran into the throne room. In hurried tones he said, “My liege, more soldiers for our fight have come.”

“Good,” said Aniabas. “Show them the barracks and feed them. I will meet with them shortly.”

“I doubt they’ll need such amenities, m’lord.”


The servant told the king of the forms the newcomers had. “I don’t think there are amongst the living.”

Aniabas eyed his fellows nervously. He then looked to the servant and said, “Send them in. We will meet them now.”

The servant did as he was told.

King Aniabas, General Vitor, Balori, Wu Chan Chu, Comet Fox, Stavros, the king’s captains and Xiao-tep were all in awe of the newcomers as they entered the throne room.

Came first Momoki atop Twila and with Gogi and Szu Ri on either shoulder. Behind him followed his five warriors.

“Th-they are ghosts,” stammered Vitor.

Wu Chan Chu nodded, thinking the same.

They drew near. Momoki bowed gracefully and introduced himself. “I am Momoki the Marmoset, Master of the Chamber of Despair. And these are my warriors.”

Gogi looked at all the Gifted Ones gathered here amongst men. He then noticed an old, familiar face. “Xiao-tep!” he called as he jumped from Momoki’s shoulder. He ran towards the fish-god.

Xiao-tep inspected the small grasshopper that approached. He bent low and asked, “Gogi. Is that you?”

“Yes! It’s me, Xiao-tep! Do you remember me from Taliesin?”

Xiao-tep chuckled. “How could I forget my little friend? It is fine to see you again. How are you?”

“Oh!” gasped Gogi. He reached up and asked for Xiao-tep’s fin. Xiao-tep offered his fin and allowed himself to be lead towards the marmoset.

Gogi turned and said, “Xiao-tep, this is Momoki.”

He then turned to Momoki and said, “Momoki, this si Xiao-tep, the one I told you about. The one that… oh my, erm, Xiao-tep, that is…” Gogi grew nervous, uncertain how Momoki would feel having bee replaced on Taliesin.

Momoki nodded. His red eyes looked up at Xiao-tep and completed Gogi’s thoughts, “The one that replaced me as caretaker of Taliesin.”

Gogi nodded vigorously. “Yes, yes.”

“It is an honor,” said Momoki.

Xiao-tep smiled and bowed deeply. “The honor is mine. You are still often spoken of in Taliesin, and it is always the highest of praise. You were very well loved.”

Momoki’s smile went unnoticed against his dark form. “Thank you, Xiao-tep.”

Comet Fox inspected the other warriors. He then thought he recognized one of them. He stepped forward and asked, “Roku?”

Roku nodded. “It is I, Master.”

Comet Fox looked over Roku’s dark form, trying to understand the red splotches that appeared to bleed all over his body. His mouth worked, but no words came for a long time. At last he said, “Are you dead?”

Roku nodded.

“Oh, Roku. I’m so very sorry. My training was not enough.”

Roku shook his head. “No, my path was molded by my own hands. You merely tried to help. Do not be sorry. It is I who tried to trick you. I left your side to fight at the teahouse.”

Comet Fox sighed. “It is good to see you again, even if you’re in this form.”

Vitor drew near Angolas’ bright red form. He asked, “Angolas?”

Angolas nodded.

“By the gods, have you come to haunt our king?”

Angolas shook his head.

“This one was brash in his life,” said Aniabas of Angolas. “His death was his own doing. Why is he here? To betray my trust once more?”

“He is under my command now,”Momoki said, “He will not betray you. He is here to redeem himself and his actions in his former life.

“We’ve come to help you in your fight against the false demon Yaska Selith.”

“False demon?” asked Aniabas, letting go his mistrust of Angolas.

“Indeed,” confirmed Momoki. “He is a dog that had eaten an enchanted bug. He is no true demon at all.”

“He may not be a true demon,” said Balori, “but he is quite powerful.”

Momoki agreed. “Which is why we have been sent to you.”

Aniabas looked at Comet Fox and Xiao-tep. “Can you vouch for these warriors?”

Xiao-tep nodded. “Gogi is a friend, as is Momoki. I trust their purpose here.”

Aniabas said, “Welcome, then. Welcome Momoki. Your warriors are our warriors.”

And so plans were made. Xiao-tep described what he had seen.

Wu Chan Chu said, “Our best chance would be to attack from all possible sides.”

Aniabas agreed. “We could send some to the Black Mountains, perhaps archers, to descend from there and attack their flank. Then we could send a smaller group north to cross Owl Bridge and come at them from behind while our main forces attack them from here.”

“What about the sea?” asked Wu Chan Chu.

“We’ve already lost our ships to the demon when we attacked once before,” explained Vitor.

“Then that leaves us only with attacks from the kingdom in the south, from the Black Mountains in the west and across Owl Bridge to the north,” surmised Wu Chan Chu.

“We’ve a few that can fly,” said Balori. “Myself included.”

Aniabas said, “True, but they count only three: Xiao-tep, Comet Fox and yourself. With due respect, that’s hardly a proper force.”

“What of the silk moth that came in with Momoki? She can fly,” suggested one of the king’s captains.

Momoki shook his head, “No. Szu Ri the Silk Moth and Gogi the Grasshopper are not to be considered. They are not fighters. They are here for my counsel only.”

“Again,” King Aniabas carried on the conversation, “we’ve no forces to attack from the east from or over the sea. That idea is out of the question. It is as Wu Chan Chu said: here from the south, from the west and from the north.

“Now we must decide the forces of each.”

“Your idea of archers to the west, attacking from the mountains, is good,” said Xiao-tep. “The elevation there could only aid their attacks.”

General Vitor explained, “And archers attacking a flank is always good strategy.”

Said Balori, “Most of the people I came with know how to use a bow.”

“I’m certain some of those that came with me were archers, as well,” said Wu Chan Chu.

King Aniabas nodded. “Then we will sort the soldiers into archers and send them to the Black Mountains under the command of Balori.”

“We would have to leave immediately if we are to prepare before dawn,” suggested Balori.

“As will those that move to the Owl Bridge. We will dispatch those men and women to the Owl Bridge and the Black Mountains as soon as we settle our strategy here,” said Aniabas. “Now as for the forces that would cross Owl Bridge, what do you know of that area, Xiao-tep?”

Xiao-tep answered, “There is a good number of the demon’s warriors some distance to the north. I am uncertain if a large force could make it there by morning, neutralize them and cross the bridge in time to attack with the main forces.”

General Vitor suggested, “Perhaps a smaller force would be best. They could slip past the demon’s men in the dark of the early morning and cross the bridge. Our main forces will attack from the kingdom here and Balori’s men would launch arrows at their flank. All we would require from the force to the north is a presence strong enough to add further confusion and frustration to the demon and his army. A half dozen men, perhaps a dozen, would suffice.”

Aniabas nodded. “Xiao-tep, you have seen the area most recently. It would be best if you lead the Owl Bridge dispatch.”

“This I will do,” said the Ankh-fish.

“Who would you take with you?” asked Aniabas.

Xiao-tep eyed his sister. “I’ve fought at the side of Wu Chan Chu before. Our experience together could be useful.”

“That may be true,” replied Aniabas. “But she brought with her nearly two hundred fifty mercenaries. I could only assume they would trust her as a commander and therefore I need her here to help command her branch of the main force.”

Xiao-tep nodded with understanding. Thinking his words still held some truth about fighting alongside one he had fought with before, Xiao-tep then suggested Comet Fox.

“Comet Fox would be good,” agreed Aniabas.

“If I go with you, Xiao-tep,” said Comet Fox, “I can suggest Stavros to join us. He has a good sword.”

Xiao-tep nodded, agreeing that Stavros should join them.

“Then our strategy is settled: Xiao-tep and his men will cross Owl Bridge, Balori will command archers from the Black Mountains and Wu Chan Chu, Momoki and I will attack from the south. Balori and Xiao-tep must depart immediately. I say they should make their respective destinations some time just shy of dawn. Wouldn’t you agree, Vitor?”

“I think they could,” agreed Vitor.

Balori and Xiao-tep both nodded in agreement to this.

“Then we will set our attack to an hour after dawn,” said Aniabas.



Momoki’s warriors did not mingle with the other soldiers, nor did the Aniabas’ men or the others approach the warriors. They remained instead with their dark stallions outside the castle. Only Gogi and Szu Ri broke with their company and found the company of others.

Szu Ri and Gogi quickly made friends with a young woman archer that had come with Balori. They chatted lightly and the woman liked Szu RI immediately for she had always had an affinity for moths and butterflies.

“I used to watch them,” said the woman, “every spring as they would break from their cocoons outside my family’s home in a tall tree and fill the skies with their flutterings. How I loved those springs.”

The woman asked then what part Gogi and Szu Ri planned in the coming battle.

Szu Ri answered, “We came only to support our friend Momoki, leader of the Warriors of the Midnight Sun.”

This name caused a chill to run down the spine of the woman. She shivered and said, “How brave you two are for making such a journey with such creatures.”

Gogi this time answered, “Momoki is our friend. We go where he goes.”

Szu Ri nodded.

The woman decided then to teach the two little creatures to find and identify turmeric and use it quickly to heal open wounds. Said the woman, “Perhaps you can help by healing those that are hurt. Even if you cannot, your knowledge could guide them to heal themselves.”

Gogi and Szu Ri happily learned to heal whereas all around them were so concerned with harming one another.

As the two learned from the woman, Momoki and the rest broke from the castle and began preparations for the battle planned for the next morning. Momoki came to them to check on them a last time.

“Momoki!” cried Gogi excitedly. “Look! We learn to heal o we may be of help on the battlefield!”

Momoki’s face grew sour, though his dark form did not betray this. Said Momoki, “You cannot come onto the battlefield with us tomorrow, friend.”

“W-what?” asked Gogi. “Why?”

“It is dangerous,” explained Momoki. “You came this far to escape the danger of Radiant Gui. You must now stay at the castle. King Aniabas will leave a small number of his soldier here to guard the town and castle. You’ve no need to go into battle with the rest of us.”

Szu Ri said, “But Momoki, we meant to stay with you through it all.”

Momoki shook his head, “No. That cannot be.”

Momoki left them to prepare his warriors.

Twila met him near their shadowy horse and he told her Gogi and Szu Ri were meant to stay.

“No,” said Twila. “They are your friends. They have delved the depths of the Many Hells to be with us and now you turn them aside when we may need them the most.”

“But it’s dangerous,” said Momoki. “They may die. There is no use in them riding into a battle meant for me.”

“They are your friends. Our destinies are intertwined. What you are meant to do, they are meant to do.”

“Surely you can see my logic, Twila. Surely you can see they’ve no need to get in harm’s way.”

Twila spoke slowly, considering all things, “I do not wish them harm. I wish them a long and happy life, if possible, with us. But I fear too much concern on your part my harm their wills, their desires. If they wish to go, let them come with us.”



Gogi left both Szu Ri and the woman archer behind. He wandered the streets of the town alone, unaware Szu Ri followed him. He eyed the many soldiers bustling about, readying themselves for battle. He saw Xiao-tep fly by with Comet Fox streaking close behind him. He came to and passed by Balori as he gathered together his band of archers. The elephant truly towered over everyone, most especially Gogi.

As Etain disappeared far behind the horizon, Gogi came to sit upon a stone just large enough for him to look out over the wild grass that grew outside of town. He watche Kalavata’s massive wings flap once, twice as night came over the lands.

He looked at the wild grass and knew, had he been standing amongst it, he would be lost for it was far taller than he.

Szu Ri quietly, carefully crawled onto the stone next to Gogi.

The two sat together in silence a long time.

At last, Szu Ri said, “Perhaps what Momoki suggests is for the best. I’m certain he wishes us to part now for our own safety. He cares for us deeply and does not wish to see us harmed.”

Gogi nodded in agreement, unwilling as yet to talk.

As the world roared about them with activity, the two small creatures reached out their hands and clasped them together.

Gogi finally spoke, though nervously for he did not wish to appear timid in front of Szu Ri, “S-sometimes this world seems so very big and I-I so very small. There are many great people gathered here. Balori is so large and powerful-looking. I-I bet he could squash dozens of men at once if he wished. The nights and days go on without concern of the stars.”

He thought a moment before saying, “My garden back home is probably failing with me there to tend to it. That is a great thing about a garden. You can feel in control of yourself. I-I feel I-I am capable of taking care of us when harvest comes.”

The two small creatures looked up at the night sky together, the many hundreds of men and women preparing in the town behind them. Gogi finished his thoughts, “B-but here, now… I feel so very small.”

In time Momoki and Twila came to them. Together they asked Szu Ri and Gogi to join them on the battlefield the next day.

Szu Ri and Gogi happily accepted.



Balori gather together his men and many from Wu Chan Chu’s to make his force of archers. Negkendra stepped forward and said, “I know nothing of how to use a bow.”

“We could teach you,” said Akadia Dorn and Macia Thrace.

“There is no time,” argued Balori. “Perhaps you should go with Xiao-tep and his men.”

Negkendra was given a short sword and scabbard and he joined Xiao-tep, Comet Fox, Stavros and six others to make the Owl Bridge force.

Balori and Xiao-tep left with their men.

Balori arrived at a perch within the foothills of the Black Mountains on the side of the plain, unseen under the cover of night. They rested for some time, awaiting dawn when they would come into formation with their bows.

Xiao-tep and Comet Fox wished they could fly to the Owl Bridge, but knew the rest of their small band could not. They traveled closely with them. They came at last to the northern border of the plain as Etain’s head crested the far horizon. They were tired, yet ready to fight.

The large collectiong of Bone Warriors were camped some ways north of the bridge. Few were awake and moving about when Xiao-tep and his men came there. They snuck by easily enough. As they crossed the bridge, Xiao-tep leading them, Stavros said softly, “Mayhaps we should leave one or two of our own to spy the encampment lest they find us and charge at us while we are caught crossing the bridge.”

This was deemed a good idea and Negkendra volunteered to stay behind to watch the camp until all the rest had crossed the bridge, he then planning to quickly follow after.

The bridge’s expanse was immense. The going was slow for the bridge swayed with every bit of wind. At last Xiao-tep and the others came near the other side of the deep, deep gorge and found another small group of Bone Warriors resting there. One was already awake and he raised an alarm.

Xiao-tep and the others swiftly emptied the bridge out onto the small hill and attacked the small number of Bone Warriors.

Negkendra heard the sounds of battle come to him from across the massive expanse. He turned and could barely make out the fighting through the early morning mist.

The sound carried on the wind to the larger encampment of Bone Warriors. They awoke, also raising an alarm.

Afraid, Negkendra darted across Owl Bridge as swiftly as he could. As he ran, the bridge made of rope and wood bounced beneath him. He chanced to look back and found the Bone Warriors chasing after him gaining. He knew he wasn’t a fast runner and was unsure if he could make it to the safety of his fellows before those chasing him caught him. He chanced a second look and knew he wouldn’t make it to Xiao-tep and the others.

His breathing labored. His mind raced. His feet and legs slowed their pace.

Negkendra stopped.

He turned to look at the oncoming Bone Warriors. They had reached the bridge and were filling it now. He looked to Xiao-tep and the others. He calculated matters.

He turned to face the enemy. He reached to the scabbard at his waist and pulled free the short sword there. He was not much of a fighter, he knew. He wondered if he could fend off the on-rushing mass. He thought he could not. He thought he would be easily overrun and the Bone Warriors would make it to his fellows, delaying their progress onto the plain.

He peered and could see Etain easily now. The hour past dawn approached and Xiao-tep and the rest would need to be making their way onto the plain as Balori would come down the mountains and Aniabas lead his men from the south.

There wasn’t much time left now.

Negkendra had to give his fellows the time they needed.

Xiao-tep, fending off three Bone Warriors at once, spied from the small of his eye Negkendra upon Owl Bridge lifting his sword into the air.

Comet Fox, fighting five men at once, was able to look long enough to witness Negkendra bring the sword down.

Negkendra swiped the sword downward and to his right. The blade bit through the two ropes sustaining the bridge there. The bridge buckled so that Negkendra had to reach left and grab the rope still holding the bridge.

The Bone Warriors coming at him stopped. They stared in horror. Many turned to run back the way they had come.

Negkendra once more lifted his sword. Once more he brought it down and through the ropes of the bridge.

Owl Bridge was split in twain, each half crashing into the cliffs bordering either side of the deep gorge.

Xiao-tep cried out for his falling soldier. He lifted into the air but was held fast by the hands of the three men that were after him, their hands clenching the fish-god’s long, flowing tail fins.

Comet Fox fought hard to gain ground and escape to rescue the falling Negkendra, but the five men who were on him proved too much.

As Negkendra fell, he gulped air as it rushed past him. He fumbled about to return his sword to its scabbard. He said a quick prayer to the gods, asking that his death be swift and painless. His prayers were granted as his body smashed to pieces against the jagged rocks along the bottom of the bottomless gorge.

Negkendra the First Mahout became the first to die at the Battle Upon the Plain of Adoration.

In a flurry of haste, Xiao-tep fought the three men. He stabbed at two of them and they fell dead. Tears exploded from the willow branch tied at his waist.

Stavros brought his sword down onto his foe and then leapt to Comet Fox’s aid. The five men were dispatched by them together.

The remaining Bone Warriors broke and ran in fear, hoping to raise an alarm, hoping to warn their master, Yaska Selith.

Xiao-tep came to the edge of the gorge and peered into it. He considered flying to its depths but knew Negkendra was dead.

“The bloodletting begins,” said Xiao-tep forlornly.

Stavros drew near and peered into the gorge with him. “Thou I am sorry it was one of our own,” said the rat, “I, for one, am glad of it. I thirst for the blood of my enemies.”

Xiao-tep did not share Stavros’ sentiment.

Comet Fox said, “We must go. We cannot let them gain more ground ahead of us and send up an alarm.”

Xiao-tep nodded.

He and Stavros turned from where the Owl Bridge had once been. They walked with Comet Fox and the other six men. As their minds filled with the death of the fallen friend, their pace quickened. Soon they were running.

Stavros placed the blade of his sword between his teeth and bent low until he came to run on all fours as he would when he was still a mere rat.

Xiao-tep and Comet Fox flew closely overhead.

They descended the hill and entered the Plain of Adoration.

Those that had run from Xiao-tep and his men made it to their master’s side, crying out and waking their fellow Bone Warriors. All of them rose, donning their leather armors sewed complete with bits of bones and teeth and death.

To the west, Balori’s men sent volley after volley of arrows, four in all, onto the plain until the flank of the Bone Warriors broke and ran in fear of the dropping arrows. Balori then stood upon his mystic cloud, raised his trunk high into the air and trumpeted a great, bellowing sound. With his broken tusk in hand, pointed at the plain, he descended the hillside, his men charging after him and sending up cries of war.

To the south, the soldiers of King Aniabas charged from the kingdom onto the plain. At their lead and upon horses were King Aniabas himself and his general Vitor.

To their side rode the Warriors of the Midnight Sun atop their black horses. Leading their charge, riding ahead of them, was Momoki the Marmoset, Master of the Chamber of Despair. With him rode his friends Twila the Turtle, Gogi the Grasshopper and Szu Ri the Silk Moth, all clenching the thick mane of his billowing, black, shadowy stallion. With them came chilly darkness into the newly dawning day.

Thus the Battle Upon the Plain of Adoration was begun.


I hope you enjoyed. Look for Act VI next Friday!