Chapter 5 ; Chosen
" …Chosen were and Chosen will be… "; Eidolon was reading the inscription on the ancient stone doorway :" … and Death's goblet will overflow… To shade's heart across the black see… No help, no hope, no Light's blessed glow… "
Deep night was still shrouding them marshaling shadows over the land and the only light were distant pinpricks of fires in the main camp. Excavation area 41 and all others were deserted, though considering the situation, it wouldn't be long before the diggers return to work. Under new supervision, of course.
But she had to come here, to the place where it all began. And as soon as she took one look at the stone door frame, she realized what the carvings meant. The madness that took her seemed to have withdrawn to some hidden corner of her mind, giving her freedom over herself again, but she knew it was only a temporary relief.
She wanted to get rid of it. The medallion was still dangling on a cord around her neck, a black silver disk with a bright copper line, infusing her with such power she hardly felt she could contain it. It was like a constant surge of electricity running through her, or like having a hoard of ants crawling under every inch of her skin. It terrified her, and at the same time she was ecstatic. Something was changing within her, making her stronger, more focused, more determined. The colors of the world were so clear and distinct she almost felt like she had been blind her whole life until now. And if she'd focus hard enough, she could hear even the sounds coming from the distant camp. It was all scrambled now. The abundance was confusing without… It… to listen as well.
Her fingers reached for the necklace again, and stopped. Nm'bopo tried to remove it a while ago and the next thing she knew he was on the ground, looking at her as if she was… It was only after a few moments that she realized that 'It' took over her again to prevent Nm'bopo from touching the medallion, and she didn't remember what 'It' did to him. What she did to him…
Yet again, she forced herself harder, and her fingers just barely touched the edge of the small black disc, but it was as if her hand had bean shackled, refusing to remove the thing from her neck. The… What ever it was, It had taken her as Its host and bonded with her. She could almost feel It nesting within her, making room as if tiding out a new apartment. It made her sick. She wanted to vomit with illness in her belly. Unfortunately, that ship had sailed.
" And… "; she gulped :" … And there's an inscription further below… : You shall unleash death of the world. "; she looked at Nm'bopo :" I think… I know it's intended for me. "
Bo was standing close by, but not too close. He'd learned that lesson well as soon as he failed to take the medallion off. His concerned eyes were fixed upon her and he seemed focused to that measure, she wondered if he had even heard her. He smelled… frightened. Both for her, and of her. And his blood was throbbing in her ears with every insufferable beat of his heart. Forcing herself not to listen to it, she looked back at the camp :
" We must help them… "; she said :" Jack and Yrona… "; she hoped Yrona was alive :" They came for this… thing ! This cursed medallion !"
" I might know someone who can help. "; Nm'bopo said :" But we must go now. "
" …do not go with him… "
" What ?'; Eidolon asked
" I said we should go now. "; Nm'bopo repeated
" … he wants to rob you… "
Eidolon got agitated. It was a male voice. The whisper was coming from everywhere, it seemed. Trying to keep her coolness she looked around but it was pointless ; she had already known the two of them were alone on the digsite.
" … he wants to take us apart… "
" Who are you?"; she asked
Nm'bopo tossed a quick look around and than back at her. Despair glittered in his eyes.
" Ms. Barker… ?"; he spoke, stepping closer
" Stay back !"; she pulled away :" I don't want to hurt you !"
" … thirst so strong… "; the whisper echoed :" … blood sings… hear the song… smell the sins… "
" Shut up !"
" … Kill him ! Kill them ! Kill them all ! Take the blood ! All that… "
She was on her knees in the dirt and sand, pressing her palms to her ears, but it only seemed to close the Voice and her together within her head. Nm'bopo was on the ground too, holding her shoulders, shouting something, trying to get trough to her. By the state of her throat, she was screaming… or maybe snarling. But she managed to bounce the alien voice back before…
Nm'bopo was still holding her. She wanted to cry ; he seemed so juicy to her. So... ripe and fresh and tasty and... She wanted to dive her jaw into his meet, tear open his veins and drain him dry. No ! She would not ! She could not. He had to get help. He had to go alone, not with her. Not when she could turn on him at any moment and…
" Please… "; she whispered :" Go. "; he hesitated :" I don't know how much longer I can hold Him off. "
Nm'bopo lowered his eyes, and she smelled guilt in him. For a while he said nothing, and than he reached and took off his necklace, a big sharp tooth bonded with red feathers. He took her hands and placed it in her palm, closing her fingers over it.
" My Ju-ju. "; he said :" It had always protected me. It will help you in your fight. "
" Thank you. "; she spoke, and he turned and ran in the jungle without another word. Time was wasted on 'good byes'
She didn't watch him go. She wanted to tell him how sorry she was for all she had done, but no apology seemed fitting. She killed… She drank that man's blood… She tried to hurt him… No ; there was no eloquence in the world to convey such an excuse. Her only hope was that he'd find a way to forgive her some day. Opening her palm, she looked at Nm'bopo's necklace. An odd thing. That must have bean a crocodile's tooth and the feathers belonged to a parrot or something. Protection ? Ju-ju ? Who would think she'd ever seek aid there ? But any aid was welcomed to her, as well as anything that would connect her to her dear friend.
" You know what I want. "; a rough voice spoke behind her. It echoed in the chest and resonated in the throat with unseemly arrogance.
She slowly turned to the speaker already knowing who it was. But not even with her new sight could she see him clearly. His form was all blurry and dark, standing a few paces away with crossed arms. It appeared human, but she knew better. His clothing was a purple armor with a metal mask to hide his face, and from his right shoulder hung a long narrow cloak with the symbol of the medallion. He seemed huge and muscular like a giant with hair black as the blackest night and his eyes, glowing with red fires, were resting upon her with amusement.
" Leave me alone !"; she snarled at him through her terror :"I want to save my friends. "; The spectral vision tilted his head in a curiously bird-like fashion. Of course, he was not really standing there, merely appearing to her eyes. Anyone else standing by would think she was talking to herself like a lunatic. God, she wished she was so lucky.
" And I want my family. "; he said back :" You are strong. Not strong enough, but you will do. "
" For what ?"; she asked him angry
" The sun will rise soon. "; he looked towards the horizon, as if he didn't even hear her :" My powers will vane during the day. And your friends will probably die by then. "
" I won't let you use me. "; she spoke to him defiantly :" I won't have the blood on my hands. "
His snarl forced her back almost knocking her down to the ground and the shades around him started to boil and to stir, bending and twisting :
" Blood is mine ! You can never keep me from it !"; he growled at her :" You sad fool ! You have opened up what your ancestors prayed stays sealed forever ! Now you will serve my goals !"
" I will have nothing to do with you, nor will I serve you ! Take these… these powers back and be gone !"
" I am here to stay, whelp. And I chose you. But for my purposes I will need more. So, I will let you use my… gifts… to save your friends. " A smile cracked through the scorn in his words. " You know I am the only chance they have. "
" No… Nm'bopo will bring help… "; but she knew it was a lie. He'd never get back in time. Everything was spinning around her. She had to take a hold of herself :" What… are you do... doing to me… ?"
" First, I will teach you a lesson in manners. "; he spoke and her awareness seamed to shrink abruptly, forcing her to gasp in fright as he took away a good chunk of her world away :" I will leave you with the sight and the sense, but the power you will receive only when you beg for it. And beg, you shall. "
His visage faded into wisps of smoke and his presence retreated back somewhere deep within her. Eidolon took a shuddering breath. The strength faded from her, and the power coursing trough her veins drew back, but like he had promised, her senses remained. She could hear and see everything as if in the clearest day, even the things far from her, but that was all. That and the sense of his presence tucking himself somewhere deep within her like her soul served him for a blanket.
For some reason she felt alone, lost in a vast emptiness and dark. It took all her effort not to give in to tears. She almost reached for the medallion to ask him to come back, but she stopped herself. Instead she took a tighter grip on the tooth on a cord in a bundle of small red feathers. At least Nm'bopo was away and safe. And he wouldn't be there to see her go to the lion's den alone to try and save her friends like any idiot would.
Tying the cord of Nm'bopo's tooth to her wrist, she turned back to the camp. The scent of people reached her nostrils even without the wind to carry it. They held her friends. Those bastards came here to steal her finds with their guns and their fancy fanatical ideals ! 'The Master Race' ! Nazi ! Rage took over where fear had been such a short time ago. She knew it was His rage, hate of the creature from the medallion towards these men, but she couldn't fight it back. It was so intense. She wanted their blood. She wanted their lives. And she would take them, to save Jack and Yrona.
Animals fled before her as she ran towards the camp. But not like before a running man, but like before a shadow of a predator. A shadow with burning crimson eyes and bare white fangs.
The light in the lantern seemed to flash stronger and the room spun around his head. The Nazi shook his black-glowed fist off, tossing a few drops of blood from it, before wiping it with a white hankie. In the distance he could hear Yrona crying not to hit him again, but he doubted it would make any difference.
Jack shook his head trying to sort his thoughts out. It was still a question whether they were beating him to tell them where Eidolon was, or just for fun. He and Yrona were both bound to chairs in Eidolon's tent that had been well ransacked and searched, but obviously nothing had been found. He couldn't believe she even killed one of them during her escape. That African Zulu… Nm'bopo… was definitely spending too much time with her. Soon she'd start wearing animal hide and a spear.
As his sight cleared he saw the man who was giving him the 'treatment' talking to another at the entrance of the tent. Yrona was far at the other corner, strapped to the second chair and with a bit of blood staining her jacket. A bullet caught and scratched her shoulder, but fortunately it was not bad. He only hoped it didn't get infected.
The two men at the tent's flaps were arguing. Jack tried to overhear what they were saying but it was all in German. He would sooner understand a chimp screeching. Even so, it was obvious that they were upset. From what he could make out, there wasn't all that many of them, only about twenty, but they had hired the local thugs, Arabs, Turks and other lowlife to serve as muscle. That discouraged him. Perhaps he could take those two at the door, but he and Yrona would never get out alive.
The two stopped arguing. The man who had been hitting him stood before him again him and smiled :
" Well, Her-Jack, it seams that your missing friend found more than she was looking for. "
" ... told you... what I know. "; Jack wheezed :" What more... do you want ?"
" The Relic !"; the Nazi said and got into his face by yanking his head up by his hair :" It's not on the knight's body any more. Your friend must have taken it and that means she'll be dead soon. "
" You underestimate her. "; Yrona spoke loudly from her corner :" She knows this continent like her own pocket, each and every place where she can get a ride back to Cairo, and from there on to Europe. Assuming that's where she's going. "
" You think we won't find her ?"; the Nazi tossed her a freezing smile :" The Fatherland's arm is much longer than you know. And besides, why would she flee without you ?"; Jack scowled defiant, but the man just snorted :" Whether she comes to us, or we find her later, I promise you, she'll pay for sticking her nose into our affairs. "
Before he knew what happened, Jack was graced with another punch and Yrona's yell was replaced by the sound of bells.