Chapter 3: Island Uncharted and Blood Red Eyes

Chapter 3: Island Uncharted and Blood Red Eyes

A Chapter by Cole Spire
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Xavier and the "Morning Sun" crew have found the island, but now that they are there what do they do?

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Chapter 3: Island Uncharted and Blood Red Eyes.

 

The Morning Sun had been out in the vast skies for just over a week when there was a sudden commotion that had the whole crew buzzing. It just so happened that there was a call from the crow’s nest about an oncoming storm. There were clouds that had darkness crawling through them and as Spirit gazed upon the oncoming clouds he felt a chill bite deep to his bones. It was an unnatural storm to say the least, and as he watched the subtle shifts and movements of those oncoming wisps of destruction he understood that the good and peaceful Lord of the Storms, Quezecotle, had nothing to do with them.

It was on this morning that Spirit went to Captain Dust with his fears. The storm clouds had not moved with the winds that were constantly blowing on the sea of skies. At one point the wise wizard watched as the winds blew hard against the clouds, Siren trying to clear the way, and observed the thick mist like pieces of white cotton candy stood completely still. His light and quick footsteps brought him to the Captain’s quarters immediately and he wasted no time in knocking, merely throwing the doors open catching the good Captain in the middle of a bath.

“What is the meaning of this?” Captain Dust asked a little perturbed by being disturbed.

“We have come across dark magic sir!” Spirit said without missing a beat.

“Dark magic? Are we in danger?” the Captain asked half getting out of the porcelain tub.

“No sir. But I fear we have come to the end of our search for the island that the Goddess Siren was talking about.”

The Captain pulled himself free of the warm water and quickly wrapped himself in a thick terrycloth robe as he walked up to Spirit. The Elven wizard didn’t know what the Captain was thinking or even what he was going to say but he stood his ground. Captain Dust was known for his compassion, intellect, sense of honor, but he was also known for his ruthlessness. He wasn’t like a pirate, not even close, but he did have his limits of how far he could hold his temper. Spirit felt like he had just tested those limits with his lack of respect shown by barging in.

“Get a dingy ready. We will be traveling to the island in the evening.” Spirit’s shock was complete as the Captain took a hold of his door and started to close it. “Make sure it has the blessings of the Goddess Spirit, I do not wish to fall to our deaths while pushing through to the island.”

Spirit nodded and started to ask “Who shall be going?” but never got the chance. The Captain had already closed the door and he could hear the water being emptied into the small buckets underneath the drain so the water could be disposed of. He really didn’t need to ask who was going to be making the trek to the island because he knew exactly who was going. It would be himself, Xavier, the Captain, and three other crewmen. With his orders in mind Spirit made his way to the deeper parts of the ship to prepare his own spells for the task that was ahead of them.

It wasn’t long before Captain Dust, Spirit, Xavier, and two other crewmen were standing at the rail looking down at a small dingy floating at eye level. The oars seemed to float in the air as if they were being submerged in water, and the small boat swayed with the soft breeze that surrounded the boat. The look on Captain Dust’s face equaled those of Xavier and the two crewmen. None of them believed they would float in the small boat more than a foot before falling to their doom.

“Is it sky worthy?”

Spirit looked appalled that anyone would question his magical ability but nodded his accord. “As ready as she’ll ever be.”

“Is it just me or is taking a dingy into a cloud of impregnable magic a really Bad idea?” Xavier said looking from the tiny craft to the looming clouds and back again.

The others look from the craft to the foreboding task in front of them and share the same sentiment. All four of the crew, the Captain included, had been through more than a few trying times and more fierce battles than they could count. Yet something about this cloud formation seemed damning. The sense of impending doom struck deep into all of them, but like the honorable men they were they were going to face this charge head on.

“Lady Siren wouldn’t send us on a suicide mission Xavier. You must have faith in the Lady of the Wind, and trust in the fact we are doing the right thing.” Spirit said softly, his voice no higher than a whisper.

“You could have just said ‘Shut up and get in the boat’ ya know. It would have worked a lot better.” Xavier said with a chuckle.

“Trust in the Goddess huh? Right. Because the Gods truly care about us lowly mortals.” Captain Dust said with dead pan timing.

The two crewmen stepped up into the small dingy and sat at the oars waiting to usher the landing party through the clouds. As soon as the small sky craft pushed away from the larger schooner the air seemed to grow heavy and thick. A sense of foreboding and dread fills the air as the cloud barrier grows closer. Almost as if it were a warning that entering would not be in the best interest of anyone.

The sky seemed to be still as death as the bow of the dingy touched the cloud barrier. The wall wasn’t as dense as the group first thought; in fact it was light and almost graspable. The small boat pushed through the first cloud and the men were suddenly thrown into darkness. All the light from beyond the wall seemed to halt and vanish once inside. The ultimate comparison of light against dark, as if the darkness was more tangible than the light in this strange place.

The more the boat moved forward the darker it seemed to get. Neither of the rowers could tell if they were still moving forward or even if they were moving in a straight line. But the farther they got into the darkness the more they were greeted with a strange sound. It was soft at first, a small click or snap, but as they traveled the snap turned into a loud slapping sound that wasn’t as easily ignored. It wasn’t the sound of wood cracking so they knew their small craft was staying intact, but the noise was definitely alarming.

“What in Hades is that damned noise?” Captain Dust said getting very agitated.

Almost as soon as he asked, the small dingy slowed to a snails pace. All the men could feel the resistance that was suddenly pressing against the wooden boat and the slapping grew louder as well as closer.

“I don’t know sir; I have never heard it before.” Spirit said looking around.

The crewmen looked around as well, which was almost completely useless within the light starved barrier. Spirit scoffed and raised his hand into the air saying a small incantation. Within seconds the area was bathed in a harsh white light that seemed to flow from the Elven wizards fingers.

“It’s water!” one of the men exclaimed.

Xavier had seen water before so it wasn’t much of an event, but he was curious as to how they had been drifting through the sky and the cloud wall to suddenly be buoyantly floating on the glassy surface of Leviathans waters.

The other crewman looked over the side and suddenly blanched. “It’s sea water!”

Xavier looked at the man as if he was suddenly stricken with a spell of panic; water was water whether it came from the sea, a river, or a lake. With a question on his lips he began to ask what the problem was but never got the chance.

“We have to get the boat out of this Captain!” the panicked crewmen said agitated. “It will sizzle up and then we are all done for.”

“What do you mean?” Xavier asked unsure of what the crewman was talking about.

“Don’t listen to him Xavier, nothing but old wives tales.” the Captain interjected and then turned back to exploring the area.

“Wives tale nothing!” the crewman spat and then turned to Xavier. “The ocean that lies beneath the continents and islands is contaminated. The water is acidic to the touch and dissolves anything that falls into it. Haven’t ye ever wondered why Siren brought all the land into the sky? It was to protect us and the other races.”

Xavier’s only response was to c**k an eyebrow even more confused than before.

“Long time ago, the Gods fought and bickered amongst themselves. It got so bad that Leviathan decided to punish Siren, Odin, Alexander, and all the others that had living beings on the continents. She poisoned her ocean waters, making the fish deadly to any who ate it. But that wasn’t enough, in the wake of her wrath; the waters boiled and began to dissolve the island shores. Boats sank by the hundreds, sailors died in agony as soon as their flesh hit the sizzling waters below. After prayers and pleas for help filled the air Lady Siren, in her benevolent wisdom, raised the land masses into the sky. She raised them so high that the vile waters could never harm a living soul again.”

“Acid?” the crewman’s words had Xavier a little perplexed. Why would a Goddess go to those lengths to hurt the living creatures of this planet? It didn’t make sense.

Quickly looking around the small dingy to answer some of the questions suddenly flowing through his mind. In his young ambition, he wanted to prove to himself and to the crewmen that the Gods weren’t that harsh. Especially to the mortals that worshiped them. His wolf-like eyes scanned around he caught the glimpse of one of the two crewmen’s swords lying unattended on the floor of the small boat. He quickly grabbed it and without a second thought he stabbed the blade hard into the water.

He wanted something to happen, anything to happen really to make the crewman’s story to be true. Out of a sense of morbid curiosity Xavier wanted to hear the metal sizzle and crack as the deadly waters turned it into nothing more than a useless pommel. He watched as the owner of the sword sputtered and cursed at him to pull his weapon out of the water and give it back. Even going so far as threatening to throw the werewolf overboard.

Xavier stood there waiting, paying no heed to the irate crewman and his idle threats. He slowly counted to ten in his head before pulling the sword out of the water. If the man’s tale had been true he would be staring at a melted piece of weaponry and an even more furious crew member. He kept his eyes closed until he knew the blade was right in front of his eyes and slowly opened them. His answers were right there in front of him, believing was indeed seeing, the sword was still intact if not a little wet.

His crewmate was visibly upset but even more flustered that his story was proven false. He quickly snatched his sword back from Xavier and sheathed it on his hip. He turned his back on Xavier and the young wolf knew he wouldn’t be talking to him any time soon.

“Acid huh?” Captain Dust said with a laugh. “You’ve been listening to too many bar wenches Tommy.”

There was a pregnant silence filling the air as the small landing party floated endlessly through the fog. Spirit’s light was the only thing that gave them any visibility and it was obvious that the spell was starting to take its toll on the Elven wizard.

Without warning, the small dingy suddenly stopped nearly throwing every man in the boat overboard. In the same instance the fog grew lighter and finally vanishing all together. The sight that now greeted the landing party made even the battle hardened Captain Dust whistle in amazement. The small craft had come to rest on the shore of an island, a tropical one at that. Palm trees sprouted up everywhere looking like patches of weeds than a jungle, the shore was covered in ivory sand that looked untouched by any mortal inhabitants in a long time. By all appearances this place was deserted.

Spirit looked up into the bright blue sky and immediately canceled his light spell. The sun was shining down on them as if they hadn’t even moved through the darkness of the dense fog and had been kissed by the warmth of the day the whole time. It made the Elf feel uneasy, he knew about mages and wizards that could produce spells like those that created the wall of clouds, but creating it and sustaining it for any long period of time would be almost impossible. He could still feel the remnants of the magic that was keeping the place hidden all around him.

“There is strong magic at work here.” he said softly, as if speaking above a whisper would break the spell and the sun would crash down upon them.

“How is this place even possible?” Xavier said amazed at the sight of the island. “It looks like no one has been here or even dared to brave the fog for centuries!”

Captain Dust stepped forward and placed a hand over his brow to block out the suddenly too bright sun. “Fear of the unknown keeps more than a few at bay son.”

“That and the fact that rumors of death follow any who enters the fog keeps all but the extremely brave at arms reach. But the Captain is correct, fear is the best motivator when it comes to keeping things hidden from public view and scrutiny. It makes keeping a secret very easy.” Spirit cut in shortly after the Captain had finished.

“But I thought you said this island was uncharted. No one knows where it is.” Xavier asked a little confused.

“Yes and that also adds to the mysticism that is needed to keep people away from a place like this.” Spirit said smiling.

The youngest of the two crewmen moved to the edge of the dingy, his expression a mask of fear and resolve. He had been assigned to pull the boat higher up onto shore so it wouldn’t float away with the waves that were gently lapping at the sandy beach. He pushed his foot out tentatively towards the pearl white sand and pressed down. Once he saw that it wasn’t a mirage he put weight on it and stepped fully onto the beautiful shore, probably the first man to set foot on the beach in over a hundred years. He winced as if expecting the sand to swallow him whole the instant he let go of the small craft. When it didn’t happen he casually grabbed the front of the dingy and pulled with all his might until he got the boat halfway onto the shore. Once the boat had been stabilized, the rest of the small party disembarked and went about tying the dingy to a rope and a stake that had been driven into the ground.

Captain Dust and Spirit moved closer to the edge of the mass of palm trees to get out of the bright sun and the two other crewmen worked feverishly to set up a small camp so that everyone could relax for a bite to eat. Xavier, on the other hand, had stayed right on the shore line. His feet half buried in the warm sand and his toes wiggling to get them stuck even deeper in the muddy mix of sea water and white sand. Even with the water caressing the beach it didn’t turn a muddy brown but seemed to get even brighter. Sure the young wolf had been to the lakes on Lunaticia, but the shores were made of dirt and mud, nothing like this. In a moment of youthful exuberance, Xavier plopped himself down right where he stood and let the ocean water wash up over his legs and thighs. It was cooling and a completely new experience for the young wolf. A moment he planned on stretching as long as he could.

“What next Captain?” he heard one of the crew members ask and he knew his private time was all but over.

“Well.” Captain Dust began. “We need to check the interior of the island first. You, Spirit, Xavier and I will all begin with a soft search of the area.”

“Soft search?” Xavier mouthed to himself. Why would he only want to search the edge of the island? The mark would be on the interior wouldn’t he?

“If we decide we need to dig deeper, then we will anchor the boat and all of us will head deeper into the jungle.” Captain Dust finished as Xavier made his way over.

“What do we do if we get separated?” Xavier asked cautiously.

“Head to the north, once you find the shore follow it back to the boat and wait for us there.” Spirit said callously, as if it was common knowledge to every one of them.

“And if we find anything… interesting?” the crewman to Xavier’s left said with a broad smile.

The Captain smiled back and began to chuckle. “Hope to Tarderus that it isn’t hostile.”

They all shared a good laugh as they turned to look at the jungle. The levity of the situation hadn’t truly hit them yet, but it would and in the most violent of ways. They were going after the worst of the worst, Demon Spire wasn’t just a man that made a name for being harsh and brutal like a demon, they were going after a real demon. A creation from the heart of the King of Demons himself; Diablos. Rumors of the demon’s vile nature were well known to every mortal and immortal being on the face of May-Terra, but mainly in story or tale of legend that drifters would exclaim. Demon Spire had been and would continue to be the favorite villain in Bard’s tales until the creature was brought to justice.

Xavier was the one to take the lead, taking the first tentative step away from the landing party and into the unexplored island’s jungle. Each man took a few steps apart and fanned out to cover about twenty yards of the dense foliage. They stepped over long forgotten roots and bramble bushes. Even coming to a spot where a palm had fallen over of old age and began to decay and return to the forest floor like every other tree before it. Even being ten feet within the jungle, the canopy of trees was thick enough to block out most of the sun.

As Xavier looked around he noticed that he could no longer see the Captain or Spirit; the two men that had been on either side of him. Turning a complete one hundred and eighty degrees, he started to make his way back to the shore. But as he looked at the path he had just traversed he saw that the jungle had swallowed him up. He couldn’t see the white sandy beach or even the ocean water that seemed to span forever, he could only see the brown of the trunks and green of the leaves from the palms that surrounded him.

“Captain?” he called out. “Spirit?” he called again looking for his companions.

The young wolf’s ears twitched and turned trying to pick up any sound, any reply that would indicate he hadn’t lost his friends. Only there came no reply. The werewolf’s ears flattened as he realized that in just a short period of time he had become separated from his party. His eyes darted left and right trying to discern any signs of movement as his ears continued to try and hear any calls for help.

“Perfect.” he mumbled after he understood that no saving call would answer his own. “Not even ten feet in and I’m already lost! My father would have a field day if he knew that his son was lost in a jungle.” he heaved a heavy sigh and turned back around looking at the trees.

“Now then, which way is north?”

Xavier stood there for a few minutes trying to figure out which direction north could possibly be and growing more frustrated by the second. He was a werewolf for god’s sake, he was supposed to have an uncanny sense of direction and on top of that it was in his blood to be one of the best trackers if not survivors in the world. His kin were known for being able to find their way out of a desert without even a single drop of water. A jungle should be no different.

Growling out of aggravation Xavier began to walk straight ahead. He figured that if he was on an island he would come across the opposite shore eventually, and then he could just follow that around back to the boat. He just hoped that the boat would still be there when he arrived.

“Captain!?” he called out again into the uneasy silence of the terrain, and once again there came no reply.

As Xavier walked forward he could have sworn he saw the foliage shift to block his retreat. He stopped suddenly having a very uneasy feeling about his position. He felt exposed and even more than that, he felt as if he was being lead somewhere. He didn’t know where it was leading him but he was sure it would be a place he didn’t want to be.

His ears twitched again trying to pick up anything that would indicate that he was being followed or even being tracked. He could simply wait for who ever it was and confront them, if it was one of the landing party that would be even better.

Once again, the young wolf took a deep breath and tried to judge the direction north was set, but the canopy of the jungle seemed to block out almost all the light. On top of that Xavier could swear the shadows had been crawling toward him slowly, as if the darkness itself was alive and was thirsting after some werewolf flesh. He didn’t know how he knew it, but he got the distinct feeling that he shouldn’t let the darkness close in around him.

Taking a suggestion from his gut, Xavier decided it was a better idea to keep moving than stay put. Something about the mood of the jungle was making the fur around his neck stand on end.

As soon as he took a few steps back in the direction he was headed, the sharp sound of a twig snapping caught his attention.

“Who’s there?” he wasn’t sure if it was a predator or a friend so he let his animal instincts keep him on alert.

Xavier’s eyes widened in fear as he saw what was happening. His mind didn’t want to believe what was coming for him or what had caused the twig to snap. The shadows of the jungle seemed to be crawling along the surfaces of the foliage and over the ground. Reaching out at him like the hand of death, willing to grasp him and steal his soul from his body.

“What magic is this!?” he yelped as he began to back away.

As if the darkness could understand he was about to run the creeping finger like shadows started to move faster. It would not be denied a meal of fresh meat and even fresher blood. Xavier had other plans though; he had never seen this before but understood it was some form of black magic. He wanted no part of it and took the fastest route away from the slithering death.

Xavier turned tail and ran! His legs pumping as fast as they could forcing his nimble form around trunks and over upturned roots. He could hear rustling behind him but didn’t dare turn to see what was coming. If he lost his footing and tumbled here, he somehow knew he would never get up.

Grabbing the trunk of a tree Xavier swung himself around and turned almost as if he were on a track. Out of the corner of his eye he saw brush near his feet lunge out at his feet. The limbs of the small bush opened and clasped down on his ankle. Pulling as hard as he could Xavier wrenched his foot free and continued to run. It was now a race against; not only the darkness but the jungle itself. Every where he looked he saw the plant life creeping in on him. As he turned his head he felt a branch reach down and grab his shoulder and another bush reaching out wrapping up his foot.

It seemed the more he fought the faster the plants moved. Whole trunks of trees just uprooted themselves and shuffled closer to him. If he didn’t get free Xavier knew he would never have a chance to even make it to shore. The young wolf did what he could, being the animal he was Xavier tore, scratched, bit, and clawed his way through the foliage and hit the ground with his feet in motion.

Light shone through the dense vegetation almost fifty feet ahead of Xavier showing a clearing within the jungle itself. He now knew exactly where he had to go. As he thrust his feet into the soil he could hear the jungle trying to grab at him, and as if the foliage knew exactly what he was thinking; the opening started to close up. His salvation was disappearing like so much rum around a gaggle of Pirates.

“No!” he called out as if that would put a halt to the sealing of his only escape route.

With a final burst of energy, perhaps the last bit of energy he had left, the werewolf bolted for the clearing. His exit closing more every second but Xavier didn’t care. He didn’t let roots or branches hold him long enough to do more than tear ragged cuts into his flesh. Bushes tried to get in the way and tangle his legs but they merely were ran through, even vines had joined in but they snapped like brittle twigs as the wolves blood pumped desperation into his veins and adrenaline from his pores.

Taking a leap of faith, Xavier prayed to Luna that if he didn’t make it that his death would be painless. He threw himself fully at the almost sealed opening and felt the brunt of the jungles resistance to letting him go. The branches and leaves seemed to weave into a wicker basket to try and stave off the weight of the wolf’s charge but even that couldn’t hold Xavier back.

His body collided onto the soft green grass of the clearing, he could feel the fresh dew of that morning tickling his cheek and soaking into his fur. He took a huge breath and started to laugh. He was free of the jungle and even more so he was alive. The young pup rolled onto his back and looked up into the almost flawless sky of May-Terra and smiled contently. He would have loved to just stay there and regain his strength while letting the wounds he did have heal over, but he felt something tickling his feet. As he looked down he saw that the jungle had not given up on their feast of live flesh and was reaching out to ensnare his ankles once again.

Xavier let out a disgusted groan and quickly scooted away from the jungle only to watch the trees, brush, and vines slink back into the dense foliage and return to normal. Appearing unassuming and tranquil instead of blood thirsty. Xavier lay back down with his hand on his chest and let out a softer but more content sigh and closed his eyes basking in the warm sun in the vacant clearing.

From behind closed eyes, the werewolf could sense the change in light as well as hear the rustling of something coming near him. He wanted to be a wise a*s and ask them to politely get out of his light, but he thought it would be disrespectful especially if it happened to be Captain Dust or Spirit. His eyes snapped open and saw three darkened forms looming over him like demons stalking a child from over their bed. Xavier began to protest and ask who they were but he saw one of the creatures lift their foot.

The last thing Xavier remembered seeing after the heavy foot collided with his face was feet. Clawed feet that looked as if they had been made of solid stone. Then he finally gave in to the clouded vision and comfort of an unconscious sleep.

* * *

 

Pounding sounded in his ears and the harder the pounding was the more pain was sent through his dreamless sleep. He couldn’t remember if he had asked his mother to wake him up by pounding a drum next to his ear or if his father was playing a dirty trick on him, but all he knew was that it was quite rude. They had never woken him up like that before.

The pounding seemed to get louder and he could feel it behind his eyes almost forcing them to open. Xavier fought against it as much as he could but the pounding won out over his need to remain asleep. His golden eyes popped open and he regretted it instantly. Sunlight slammed down onto his blood shot pupils and forced them to close once more. Tears seeped out from around his eyelids and he turned himself on to his side away from the sunlight so he could open his eyes with less discomfort.

He rubbed the agitation and tiredness from his eyes and blinked more than a few times trying to focus his blurry vision back to clarity. After he could see again he ran his fingers through the fur on his head only to feel the gritty texture only dried blood had. He could smell it, the scent was thick in the air and it was something he didn’t like. He was sure all his wounds had healed; even the head wound that had caused his fur to be matted to his scalp, but what he didn’t know is where he was.

Forcing himself to focus on his surroundings, Xavier found that he was in some for of hut. The walls were made of bamboo and it was circular in making. The roof was made of thick straw and leaves that looked like they had come from more than a few of the vile trees in the jungle. As he glanced around more he noticed the door frame was fitted with bamboo as well, only this bamboo was placed vertically like those of a prison rather than a door. The bamboo bars were much thicker than the reeds used to make the walls, though and even thicker than the small bars on the window. To his immediate right there was a pile of straw that he was sure was some form of a bed for him and across from that he could see a small chamber pot.

As he looked at his surroundings it suddenly dawned on him that he was in a jail cell. Bamboo or not he was behind bars. The fact that the hut was so escapable made him think more about the reason why. Were his captors that naive or was it the fact that they weren’t afraid of a prisoner escaping because they were prepared or strong enough to deal with them no matter the race of the captive? These things flowed around in Xavier’s thoughts as he pushed himself off the cold ground and moved over to the window.

His furry and clawed fingers gripped the reed like bars of his window and he tested their strength. They gave enough to let him know that with enough pressure they would snap. As he readied himself for a new fight the young wolf suddenly gasped in confusion. A creature had passed by his line of sight and it was one he had never seen before. He had heard of them but only in legend and as for as he knew they were all but extinct. The creatures stood at least two feet taller than May-Terra’s tallest man, backs strong as granite with a set of wings that could carry the weight of the beast’s massive frames. Their bodies were sculpted out of the same stone that bore them and their eyes glowed with a ferociousness that he could feel even from the distance he was at now. Yet from all the tales he had heard from the elders of his tribe, he knew these creatures were filled with more compassion than even the kindest Dwarf. He couldn’t believe his eyes and his mind didn’t want to comprehend what his golden pupils were telling him, but it was true and the beasts were real.

They were Gargoyles!

As the werewolf stepped back not even knowing where to begin contemplating this new discovery, he was pulled from his thoughts in the way of two Gargoyle’s stepping up to the door and looking in at him as if he were an animal on display at a zoo. One of them pointed at him and began to speak in a very guttural language that he didn’t understand. The words sounded more like rocks being ground down to dust than any sense of actual vocabulary. After the one had stopped talking he seemed to wait for Xavier to respond.

Instead he stayed glued to the spot and only stared at the two creatures that were not even supposed to exist anymore. He knew his mouth was hanging open but his body was too numb from shock to do anything about it. He couldn’t even be sure if he was standing or not let alone answer back.

The two Gargoyles looked at each other and then back to Xavier, both of them looking as if they were ready to tear the wolf to ribbons before giving him a second thought. Xavier could tell they were aggravated, but he wasn’t sure if it was he couldn’t understand them or that he hadn’t done what they asked.

The one who spoke before began again, repeating the same words in the same grating language that Xavier assumed was their own dialect. This time he could tell there was more force behind the words though, they were demanding something from him and he couldn’t respond or do as they asked because he didn’t understand it. It really wasn’t that he couldn’t understand it was more to the point that he couldn’t even comprehend what was happening.

“I don’t understand.” he said plainly.

As he looked them over, it was more than a little obvious that they were guards. These two beasts were the reason the hut was so unassuming. If he did escape these two brutes would hunt him down and slay him without a moments notice. That thought sent a shiver down his spine as he gave them a once over. He could see that they had more bulk to them and had been fitted with reed armor that would do little in the way of protecting them from anything. He didn’t know if they were really stone or if that was a rumor but then again he didn’t want to know. The spears the two carried were not so make-shift. These weapons looked finely crafted and he could see elements of stone within the workings of the handle. The blade at the tip was polished and looked as if it could pierce the heart of Alexander himself. It was suddenly quite obvious how dire the situation really was.

The second guard spoke this time, even more forcefully than before. He ended his order with a hard jab from the blunt end of his spear. Even that small jab sent a jolt of pain through Xavier’s side. He jumped back, his limbs finally awakened by the sudden burst of pain, and growled a bit.

“Hey! I said I don’t understand you!” he responded a bit forcefully himself.

The first guard barks the same orders at him in the same dialect and once again Xavier didn’t understand. This time though, the orders were punctuated with the threatening raise of the spear, the sharpened edge pointed right at the werewolf’s heart. The young wolf didn’t understand what they wanted or even what was being said, but he did understand a threat when he saw one.

“Throw that at me and you’ll not live to regret it!” he growled through clenched fangs.

The second guard, seeming to understand the threat, jabbed the spear into Xavier’s thigh causing him to jump back far enough away from the bars to keep the werewolf at bay. The effect of the jab wasn’t what the creature expected though as Xavier lunged at the bars, fangs bared and snarling like a caged animal. His claws fingers reaching for Gargoyle flesh to sink into and tear apart.

The two guards jumped back, their huge leathery wings spread causing them to land slowly more than a few feet from the jail hut. Both of the beasts looked at each other and then back at the young werewolf, the looks on their face were plain enough to determine. Neither of them believed that the captive would try and attack them. Shock and a little bit of fear stretched over their lips and crept into their gleaming eyes.

“I said I don’t fricken understand you!” Xavier growled at them grasping the bars trying to crush them in his grip.

“Of course you don’t.” A deep but calm voice spoke suddenly from right next to the young wolf.

A large mass of marble and granite stepped into Xavier’s view obscuring him from the guards. He could see that this Gargoyle was someone of importance because of the wardrobe it was wearing. An oversized silk robe adorned the gargoyle, its earthy tones almost too bright against the stone grey skin of the wearer depicting symbols Xavier had never seen before. Lines of silver criss-crossed around the sleeves only to meet in a glorious sunburst at the shoulders. He could see that there were holes cut out in the back for the Gargoyles wings to fit through and could also see that more symbols followed all the way around the robes. Sitting atop the beasts head was a giant headdress that was even brighter than the robes. Large feathers brightly colored with greens and blues were clumped together to make something that looked like a crown. A single pink feather sat in the middle of the headdress and seemed to hum with energy. There was definitely something off about the crown of feathers but Xavier couldn’t quite place his finger on it.

“They choose to not sink to the level of a prisoner and speak their language. It is something more of a pride thing. I’m sure a being such as yourself could understand that?”

The pompous tone in the gargoyle’s voice told Xavier immediately that he was dealing with the chief of this small tribe. He inwardly groaned while trying to remain calm, this was the second time he had run into authority and it just happened to be just as bad a meeting, only this time he was dealing with a supposedly extinct race.

“But you have no problem sinking to my level?” Xavier scoffed, trying not to put too much sarcasm into his voice.

The chief seemed to be taken aback by the short outburst but he smiled anyway. “Of course, I do enjoy speaking with the captives.”

“I did nothing wrong!” Xavier growled staring hard at the chief. “Release me!”

Making a clicking sound with his tongue, the chief only shook his head. He pulled out a small scroll and opened it reading quickly and then looked back at Xavier. His smile was still there but there seemed to be a bit of malice behind it. “I’m afraid I can’t do that. You were found on sacred grounds and that is punishable by death.”

Xavier felt the color drain from his face.

“And on top of that.” The chief continued unphased by Xavier’s suddenly appalled expression. “We are all wondering how exactly you came to be on this island.”

That was an easy answer for the young wolf, he would just explain to the Gargoyles about the fog and the cloud wall. They would go look and find it there and release him to find his friends and get back to Port King. They would see what a huge miss understanding this all was and he and Spirit would be laughing about this over a pint of Dwarven Ale in a manner of hours.

“I got here from going through the cloud wall.” he said bluntly. “Through the fog that surrounds this island, how else could I have gotten here?”

“The fog?” the chief asked back, quite unsure of what Xavier was speaking of.

“Yeah, that giant cloud wall surrounding the island. It’s clear as day, sitting about twenty yards off of the shore. Go look for yourself if you don’t believe me.” Xavier said with a bit more force in his voice.

The extravagantly dressed Gargoyle placed a finger to his chin and looked at Xavier hard for a few seconds as if deciding to believe a single word the werewolf was saying. After a long pause he nodded his accord to a mental question and then smiled again.

“Alright captive, I will have my warriors check on this so-called fog. If it is indeed there, we will discuss your release and eventual return to where you came from.” the chief nodded and quickly walked out of view without giving Xavier as much as a wave.

The guards had left shortly after the chief made his exit and left Xavier to his thoughts in a deafening silence. The only thing that the young pup was able to do was lay back down and close his eyes. Those orbs of gold watched the blackness of his eyelids for a long time before he felt his consciousness start to slip and found himself in a deep sleep.

Within his mind Xavier found himself standing on a marble plateau that overlooked the world. He could see the clouds and the sky clearly; the sun stood high over the marble floor and beat its warming rays down onto his cold body. He could tell he was in a safe place and felt the presence of his Goddess all around him. He wanted to look around this heavenly place but for some reason he wasn’t able to move. He wanted to turn and see his Goddess, he wanted to catch a glimpse of the moon Goddess and have her tell him everything was going to be okay when suddenly the marble began to crumble and the skies turned a dark maroon, the cloud shifting from pure white to an evil green and, the sun turned from the warm yellow to a foreboding black.

Even as all this was going on he couldn’t move his feet. The marble plateau was crumbling fast around him with the chunks falling into the endless void below. Xavier felt an evil presence then, something other worldly and so vile that it sent a shiver up his spine. Just as the marble floor crumbled from under his feet and the young wolf was sent sprawling end over end into the abyss he heard a devious laugh. He cried out in anguish as his plummet sent him streaking into darkness. He gasped as two giant blood red eyes opened under him and a huge maw with rows of razor sharp teeth welcomed him warmly and closed around him engulfing the young wolf in shivering blackness.

Xavier woke up with a start, his heart pounding in his ears and his breath coming out in huge gasps. It had been a dream, one like he had never had before. It had been so vivid, as if he was seeing the possible future, but he was no seer so it was impossible. There was no foresight in his family and on top of that the only seer that had been a Werewolf had died long ago.

The sound of gravel crunching caused Xavier’s ears to twitch and shift to hear the noise better. The crunch sounded again and then again, the rhythm of the noise was in time with footsteps of something very heavy. Sure enough, the chief Gargoyle appeared in the doorway of the jail hut once again. He didn’t look any different than before except for the fact that the sun was low in the sky and it seemed to give his feathered headdress an aura about it.

“There is no fog or a cloud wall anywhere near this island.”

Xavier scrambled to his feet and moved to the front of his cell and placed his clawed hands on the thick bamboo bars. He could see the sun setting fast on the horizon and he felt that it mirrored his life.

“That’s impossible!”

“There is nothing there stranger. I sent my warriors to the edges of this island looking for your mysterious fog and they could find nothing. Not a single one could confirm your tale.”

The young wolf stepped back and frowned. He was perplexed to say the least, he knew that he and the landing party had come through the cloud wall and traveled through the fog to land on the shore of the island. He didn’t understand how it could not be there, Spirit had said that the barrier had been placed by strong magic and he doubted any one of the Gargoyles were strong enough to banish something that large so quickly. It was impossible wasn’t it? Xavier shook his head and looked right into the Gargoyle’s eyes and stood his ground.

“I’m not crazy. I know what I saw and I know what I rowed through to get to this island.”

As if on queue the two guards from before made their presence known by barking an order at Xavier in the same grinding language. He once again didn’t understand them but he got the gist of their tone. They thought he was too close to their chief and wanted him to back up. He gladly did as he was ordered and watched as the guard closest to the chief Gargoyle began to speak rapidly pointing at the werewolf.

“No, I doubt he is a spy my friend, his death would be unwarranted and I do not wish to have his soul bearing on my own for the rest of my life.”

Xavier’s eyes widened and for the second time that day he found the color leaving his face. Along with the pale complexion came a weakness in his knees that forced him to sit down rather hard onto the hard ground.

“M-My death!?” he couldn’t move. Just the thought of his life ending so soon was enough to sap his strength completely. “I have done nothing wrong to be sentenced so harshly! Or any sentence that justifies me even being in this cell.” he tried to reason with the chief.

The three Gargoyles turned their backs on the prisoner and began to have a very active conversation. Tones and body language told the young werewolf that he was being discussed and the outcome didn’t look good. After what seemed like an eternity the chief turned to face Xavier once again.

“Let me out of here and I swear on the moon that I will never darken your doorstep again!” Xavier pleaded. “I swear it!”

“We will convene the council.” the chief said softly. He honestly looked upset that the young wolf might possibly be sentenced to death. “Your fate cannot be decided by one man. You will either be breathing in the morning or returned to the stone.”

The three Gargoyles turned and began to walk away. Xavier found himself reaching out at them, he didn’t know if he wanted to tear them apart or beg for release again. His protests fell on deaf ears though as the beasts disappeared into the darkness of the night. Once again Xavier found himself surrounded by a pregnant silence. His life had been so short and there were so many things he had wished he could have done before this time came.

He looked out the small window in his cell and saw one very welcomed sight. A full moon. His prayers could be heard by Luna more clearly during the full moon than any other time in the phases. He had to try, if anyone could help him or guide him it would be the moon Goddess. Xavier did something then that he rarely did, if ever, he kneeled at that window and prayed as hard as he could.

* * *

 

Sunlight crested over the clear blue water that surrounded the island reflecting back the precious beams of warmth that thousands of different plants craved, and bringing nourishment that would boast new life from pods and seeds that had dropped the night before. The massive ball of light brought life and on this particular morning; death. The first few rays pushed through the opened window of the hut where Xavier rested. Those creeping beams of warmth cover his skin and fur bringing a welcomed burst of heat in opposition of the freezing night.

The young werewolf yawned and stretched, his joints popping as his muscles released their built up energy. He pushed his hands above his head and reached for the wall all the while flexing his fingers. Anyone watching would assume he was more like a cat waking up after a long nap than a form of wolf that had been known for its vicious hunting style and uncanny tracking skills. Xavier’s eyes fluttered open as he basked in the warmth of the sun, and that is when it dawned on him. He was able to wake up! Maybe the Gargoyle council was letting him go, or they had found that he was telling the truth and had seen the cloud wall for themselves.

All these things raced through his mind when he pushed himself up. Taking the first step towards his barred door Xavier suddenly stopped. His eyes were still filled with sleep but he wasn’t relying on his ocular senses at this moment. It was something deeper; a warrior’s instinct that told him something was out of place, something that made him growl and his ears flatten.

Xavier blinked a few times to clear away the sleep and stepped forward more than a little shocked at what he was seeing. The bars of his cage had been destroyed, not broken or shattered by someone trying to rescue him or even by him trying to break out. No the bars had faded to a deep sickly grey and had cracked in many places. Old age had sent the bamboo bars sprawling to the ground and forcing them to break under their own weight. With his senses on edge, the young werewolf looked all around the small hut that was his prison. The thatched roof was brown and dying, holes appearing almost right in front of his eyes. It seemed that the roof could cave in at any moment. On top of that the walls had been affected by the same age that the thicker bars had endured. The hut was definitely in shambles and in more than a small need for repair.

Dust was thick in the too still air, and the more Xavier looked around the more he was convinced that something was wrong. Looking in the corner he glanced at the chamber pot and curled his nose. The pot was cracked in numerous places, small spider webs had formed in the thick clay and there was a deep brown stain that trickled from those cracks and pooled around the base of the pot set in by time and never to be removed.

Not really wanting to, because he was afraid of what he might smell, Xavier inhaled through his nose letting his keen sense of smell pick up any disturbance that he might need to be aware of. Aside from a soft musk from the pot in the corner the young wolf could smell ash. It was curious that he smelled ash, because that means there had been a fire and possibly he had been left for dead. But that wouldn’t explain the age warn prison cell. Ash meant that the fire was out and from the staleness of the scent the fire had been put out a long time ago.

Not wanting to be inside the hut if and when it did collapse, the werewolf pushed his way through the thick bars and stepped out into his freedom. As his hands touched to bamboo bars they seemed to crumble and break as easily as kindling. He was standing just outside the door when the entirety of the hut imploded in on itself. Xavier yelped and jumped forward grabbing his tail, making sure no part of him had been caught in the collapse. After making sure he was completely unharmed the young wolf turned to face the village he had seen through his barred door.

Once again, his mouth dropped open.

The village was completely deserted and just as age had attacked the prison hut; it had dug its claws deep into the village. The place had been abandoned and from the looks of it, it had been a long time since there was any living and breathing body wandering around. The houses that were similar to his former prison were in the same condition. Each one looked as if it was about to collapse. Tables that rested outside the huts were broken and dilapidated, some had folded in on themselves making a standing “V” out of the thick wood. As his eyes scanned the area he could see multiple objects cast about the village. These were personal objects, clothes that had been caked in thick mud, small hand made dolls poking out of piles of fallen bamboo; he even saw a few works of art tossed aside as if they were less important than escape.

“Somebody sure left in a hurry.” Xavier stated to the vacant village.

He moved through the dilapidated homes and looked at the surrounding piles of rubble. As Xavier passed a larger hut he couldn’t help but see an awkward shaped pile of junk. Upon closer inspection it made the young wolf jump back in shock. It wasn’t rubble or broken pieces of bamboo at all. It was a pile of skeletal remains!

The more he searched through the huts and around the tables the more he came to realize that the Gargoyles hadn’t abandoned this village. They had been annihilated within the manner of a few minutes. The whole tribe of gargoyles had been destroyed and from the evidence around him it had been a complete surprise attack. Xavier started to look more at the ground than at the buildings and with good reason. After a second large intake of breath through his trained nose he frowned. He could still smell magic surrounding the village and that meant that what ever spell or power that took out this tribe was more than he could handle alone.

As he looked at the ground he could see scorch marks. All the signs of the attack seemed to radiate from a central dais and then expand outward to the edge of the village proper. Following one such mark Xavier’s foot bumped into a small stone sending it hurtling into a pile of bamboo and leaves. As the stone collided it sent the mass of debris crashing to the floor. Inside the werewolf saw something that made his young heart ache. There were two skeletons within the small hide. It was an adult and an infant; the adult’s skeletal wings were wrapped around the small child protectively. The last change attempt of a mother trying to save her babies innocent life.

He couldn’t stand seeing any more and returned to the main signs of attack. The annihilation of the Gargoyles seemed to begin from the giant fire pit that rested in the center of the village. Cast about the fire pit were spears and swords buried and rusted by time. Broken lances littered the ground and stone sharpened tips of spears stuck out of the thick ash in the pit like a gruesome spiked trap. It was obvious that the Gargoyles had put up a fight and lost.

“How could I have slept through all of this!?” he asked aloud astonished by the destruction.

He dusted off his hands and took another deep breath and said a silent prayer to Luna for the fallen creatures. He looked over the entirety of the small town and frowned. He had seen a race that was supposed to be gone, the Gargoyles had been rumored to be extinct and the reason is always different. Yet here he was, standing in the middle of one of the legendary beasts villages.

The sound of bamboo cracking caused his wolven ears to twitch and move to try and search for the origin of the noise. It was behind him, and that made the werewolf spin around his claws ready to tear into any beast that had decided to wander through looking for leftovers. Instead what he saw made his golden eyes widen.

All around him the huts were crumbling. Not as if the weight of their structure was finally too much for the aged bamboo, but as if they were being pushed on from the tops. Pieces fell inside and outside of the homes, the structures looking as if they were in a time warp and decaying right before his eyes. As each home collapsed, the following implosion expelled a thick mist that seemed to collect and clump together with other clouds of the mist that had been forced from within the huts.

As the fog moved closer to Xavier it climbed over more homes and tables, causing those objects to decay almost instantly and collapse as well. Each fall of a structure brought about more mist. It seemed to be creeping towards the young wolf. Xavier looked left and then right seeing that the mist had started to close in on him like the claw of a giant lobster. A pincer slowly slamming shut to engulf him in the destructive fog.

Xavier took a small step backward as to not alert the fog that he was going to move. “That’s not good.”

In a flash the young wolf turned tail and bolted at top speed out of the village proper. As he moved past each building it seemed to understand what was happening and collapse in on itself expelling more thick fog to try and grasp at him. He could see the edge of the village in front of him, the edge of the jungle called to him as the fog seemed to reach out and grab at him.

Pushing as hard as he could Xavier rushed past the edge of the village and ran over the clearing he had fallen into after escaping the jungle itself. That thought didn’t seem to cross his mind as he looked back at the looming mist and the thoughts of what would happen to him if he allowed himself to be caught within.

With a final grunt of energy, Xavier threw himself head long into the jungle and rolled to his feet. He turned around to see if the fog would dare follow into the jungle and found himself pleasantly surprised when the mist halted a few inches from the very first palm. Giving out a loud cheer of victory, Xavier took in his surroundings once again. He heard the twigs snapping already and could feel the vines creeping up on him. He had jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

“Aw hell!” was all he could get out before a palm leaf wrapped around his mouth and pulled him to the trunk.

He looked up at the canopy of the jungle and suddenly wished he was dealing with the fog once again. It seemed that the jungle had missed him and was coming alive to reclaim its lost victim. He could see the entirety of the jungle come crashing down on top of him!

Within the mass of jumbled leaves, brush, vines, and roots a pain scream could be heard echoing around the island. It was a cry that only the Gods of the pantheon could hear but the real question was had they been paying attention to the young wolf enough to care?



© 2008 Cole Spire


Author's Note

Cole Spire
All comments are welcome, good or bad. i want to know what you think.

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I have read about half of your chapter three and wish the world would leave me alone long enough to let me read on. I need to go back and find the beginning of this I think to completely understand what I am seeing here. What I have read has left me with a great fantasy with reality resting just between the lines. I know what it take to sit before the keys, write you vision, hit submit and see no one come to read. Sweetie it is the way of the world these days. Rush, rush, go on to the next, rush some more, need to do this, need to do that. It really is no ones fault and the greatest of published novels get laid aside for a better time. i will be back sweetie. It may take me some time but I will be back. Keep the ink flowing and hug your little one for me. Blessings, Lesa

Posted 13 Years Ago



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Added on October 23, 2008


Author

Cole Spire
Cole Spire

Holloween Town, NV



About
"Being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life." -Hank Moody Those are words so true that it is scarey! Aloha! My name is Cole Spire. Colstainous Spirion to be exact but mos.. more..

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A Story by Cole Spire