Chapter XI: A MEETING WITH EVIL
and Stratos were riding north for five days already; Whitemane and the other
horses were showing the first signs of fatigue. Whitemane, the stronger mount,
was now carrying Teela and Stratos, still too tired to fly, while Adam was
riding Teela's horse, Skywave. The landscape was too rough and hard to travel by
easily. But Krygar was the one who seemed more tired. He kept following his
friends, at a slow pace, and hardly leaving their path to hunt and explore as he
used to. All the life he always shown, the energies he had to spend, seemed now
to be hiding far, deep inside the feline. His watchful eyes were now half shut,
as if he was always sleepy and uninterested. Krygar was acting really, really
oddly, and his fellows quickly began to worry seriously about the wild tiger.
They couldn't, however, guess what was wrong with Adam's "pet",
and so there was nothing they could do to help him. What sort of disease could
have affected the animal in such a way to make him so weak and tired? Krygar had
always been fierce and strong, and all his life no disease had ever caught him.
It probably had to be something serious.
Adam, although showing concern for his friend, had his mind clearly far
away. He was quite different ever since he collected the strange heart gem at
the top of the obelisk. The gem, a large, glowing purple and red oval
translucent stone, was now being carried in a leather purse in Adam's shoulder.
Its luminescence was so intense that it glowed through the leather bag, giving
it a brown-reddish shine.
The former prince of Eternos was notably changed. Most of the times he
seemed to be in another place, and some times he addressed his friends as if
they were somehow strange to him. And an aura... a strange, intense and strong,
almost divine aura surrounded him now. However, his current reactions and
attitudes did not seem to be a consequence of a newly earned arrogance or
vanity; Adam seemed to be confused, as if a lot of new information had been
injected in his mind the very moment he grabbed the stone. His companions,
especially Duncan, understood this, and chose not to make any questions that
could make him even more disturbed.
They had already left the Grim Woods three days ago. They had once again
entered the stone fields they've passed before, on its eastern side now, where
the stalagmites were even taller and stranger. That had been the worst part of
the trip, since the lack of vegetation also meant that there was few game for
them to hunt, specially Krygar who had just eaten a couple of small lizards
along the way. After passing this lifeless place, they started to see vegetation
once more; small grass and bushes, but yet it was a pleasant sight after all
those rock-fanged lands. These were the green fields of Eternos, on the eastern
side of the kingdom, south from the Evergreen forest and southwest from the
On and on they rode, until they met a small lake, where Duncan decided it
was time for a halt. Adam agreed reluctantly. He knew they were tired and needed
a rest. He knew the horses couldn't hold on that pace the entire trip without
rest. And he also knew Krygar could not hold on as he was for long. However,
Grayskull called at him, urged him forward, and attracted him almost to the
point of insanity. His blood flowed madly and hot in his veins, as if he was
about to explode from inside, and he felt that only in Grayskull would he cool
down the frenzy inside of him.
He sat by the lake, staring northwards and eating only a small piece of
His friends watched him with worry from afar. They had a light meal while
Duncan tried to figure out what was wrong with Adam's tiger. He simply had a sip
of water from the lake the moment they arrived and laid down resting, without
even wanting to eat anything. And Krygar was usually always hungry.
Teela was having a chat with Stratos, trying to know more about him, but
with no success. He did not seem to remember anything to tell her. She also
seized the chance to explain him better the reason of their presence there, and
some topics about living in Eternia. During their conversation, Stratos noticed
her constantly glancing at Adam, and the look of concern in her young beautiful
face. Her usually flaming green eyes were now deprived of their shine.
Night came. All of them were preparing to lie down to sleep, except Adam.
He insisted on making the first watch, and told them not to worry for he would
probably be awake all night long, so there was no need for them to make turns.
Duncan and Teela did not oppose him, but settled between themselves to awake
later and also make watch, even if Adam kept refusing to sleep.
Rain started to fall, no more than a drizzle, yet an annoying one. Out in
the open fields, the low grass and short bushes gave little protection, and the
nights were getting colder each day. Rain would only make the weather more
unbearable. All the adventurers were wrapped up in their blankets, except for
Adam, covered only by his loincloth and leather boots, and still appearing to be
the one with less cold.
One hour later the rain began to pelt with more intensity. Larger, colder
and more drops of water began to fall. Soon they would get unbearably wet, and
risk a disease. Duncan awoke, angry because they should have chosen a better
spot to camp, a shelter. Yet he knew that there were no signs of rain when they
halted their voyage.
He was about to say something when Adam gestured him to be silent.
"Horse steps. Not far away." Duncan could still not hear a sound
except the rain falling and the soft breeze running by, and Krygar did not even
awake. He was surprised by his young fellow's acute hearing. Adam was indeed
Teela and Stratos awoke. Krygar was still asleep, and the horses were
awake yet calm. They all started to look at where Adam was staring, westwards,
and soon they too started to hear the horses' hooves Adam told them about coming
from that direction. The sound seemed to be just near enough for them to see
their opponents even through the dark rainy night when Krygar awoke. Strangely
enough, the tiger did not gaze at where they were looking, but in the opposite
direction. Teela noticed this, and curious tried to see where Krygar was looking
She saw no horse, and the sound of hooves suddenly stopped. Before her
was a cloaked man, riding a dark feline beast, followed by two other strange
figures. She gasped. Krygar roared in rage with all his remaining strength.
Adam, Duncan and Stratos looked at the strangers as soon as they heard
Teela. This could not be. The sounds came from the opposite direction, everyone
heard that clearly, yet now they stopped and figures appeared from the east.
"Magic?" - Adam, thought.
Mounted on the dark feline of yellow eyes was a tall, slim man under long
dark vests. His facial features remained hidden, yet they could clearly see two
shining red dots where his eyes were. The stranger said no words, yet he
stopped, and was apparently gazing at the party as if studying them. Behind him,
one of the other figures roared, a strange, peculiar, yet somehow familiar roar.
That moment, a lightning bolt lashed the sky. For a second, all was
clear, and they could distinguish the strangers' features. One was a blue, four
eyed man with large fangs. The second one, a bestial simian creature of
brownish-orange fur, which Adam immediately recognized as the one who attacked
his sister some years ago. But the grimmer one off all was the man riding the
black beast, for when the light struck him, they could see his hooded face. Yet
it was no face.
Only a skull was underneath the hood, with two shining red lights in its
eye sockets, a grim, horrid, threatening skull, which looked dead yet seemed to
be alive. Teela let away a squeak, and Stratos backed one step. Only Duncan and
Adam did not show reaction to the sight, while Krygar tried to roar even louder.
The man raised a staff, and muttering some words, it began to glow a dim
light. Then, his staff held high above his head, he started to behold
individually each of the adventurers, until finally he looked at Adam. He
stopped there, watching the young warrior deep in the eyes, now seeming to be
him the one who was surprised.
His staff's light faded. He urged his mount forward, and the beast
responded, almost trampling Adam and Duncan who had to dodge out of his way. The
other two walked after their master, before anyone in the party could react. Not
that there was something they could do, though. These men were surely sinister
and probably dangerous, and the beast man was a known foe, but they had no
reason to begin a conflict with them now. Although Adam felt impelled to do so.
The strangers quickly got out of sight. This time, there was no sound,
not even the hooves from horses that apparently did not exist. All was silent
except for the sound of rain falling.
"Who... who were they?" - Stratos asked.
"I do not know, save for the simian man. I have seen him already
years ago, at the palace of Eternos' entrance, attacking my sister. I fought him
at the time, and with the aid of the royal guard, managed to make him flee
without hurting Adora. I have never seen him again ever since. And now I meet
him once again with two creatures even grimmer than him. I don't like
"He was macabre, the skull-head man. What sort of creature could
that be?" - Teela asked.
"...A demon... or something alike. His aura was incredibly strong
and dark. But strangest of all, there was something familiar in him. I don't
know what, but there was something in him that made me feel that we've already
met, although I have never seen his horrid face before." - Adam replied.
"I felt the same. There is something deeply odd in him, something
much more odd than his dead skull face. I believe this was just the first time
we have seen that creature." - Duncan added.
|« Previous||INDEX||HOME||Next »|