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

No comments: