The Skadivers' Tale

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The Fight for New Sky Hold

The Fight for New Sky Hold

There was only one torch burning as Sam and Genie had a bumpy landing on the stone slab. They were glad to see they didn’t need the parachute, however. Genie unstrapped it and they stashed it under the stairs with Sam’s rig. They heard a gunshot from the direction of their chambers, and decided to go down to Hazgorn’s cavern.

“Can I have my ring back?” Sam whispered to Genie. She gave it to him. Using the Ringspeak, Sam called for Hazgorn.

The dragon was glad to hear from him, and once they had established what was going on, he told Sam that there were several of the dark men near the lower entrance up the tunnel from him. Sam said he would need a diversion in a few minutes, as they got closer.

Sam readied the shotgun, and Genie, her bow as they continued down the corridor. They could hear the men talking below. Sam told Hazgorn to let a little Dragonflame go into the opening. Moments later, the men came running around the corner to escape a fiery death only to meet a different kind. Genie loosed first and the quiet of the arrow appearing in the chest of their fellow invader startled the other two. Sam blasted one of the others while he gawked, and Genie had drawn down on the other.

“Don’t!” was all she yelled.

But did he listen? No. As his gun came up, his head went back with an arrow through the eye.

“I would have got him,” Sam said.

“That thing is way too loud in here. My ears are ringing.”

“I see your point.”

“He got my point.”

“So ‘eye’ see.” Sam collected the weapons, and they went down the smoldering passageway to the door to find Hazgorn and Vyrna waiting.

“You are welcome, Samuel,” Hazgorn said with a touch of indignation.

“Hazgorn, my friend, I do thank you,” Sam said with a bow. “Where is the rest of the Company?”

“They have fallen back to the square,” Vyrna said, “The Sky Hold weapons were too strong, so they gave up the Hold as far as the Great Hall. Your friends are keeping them contained inside.”

“We need to go to them,” Sam said.

“Samuel, you have just cleared this flank. You could approach them from their rear now,” Hazgorn pointed out.

“That’s a great idea, Buddy. So, Genie, you and Vyrna go tell the Company to meet me here. Tell the guards to stay there and keep them penned in at the Great Hall.”

A little while later, the Company came jogging into the dragon’s cavern. Sam laid out the sketchy plan, emphasizing that the lamp could not be allowed to fall back into Rent.

As they went up the passageway, Sam pulled Gensonn aside, “Do you remember your lines, Wizard?”

“I do,” he replied. “And Kemann will be in the shadows to assist me.”

“Cool,” Sam said.

“You say that a lot, Lord, what does it mean?”

“If something is good, it’s cool; not good, it’s uncool.”

The Wizard nodded. “Do you perceive a wind?”

“Crap, it started,” Sam said. “Rent has become unstable again. I’ll bet the mist has split up again. Let’s get a move on.”

They hurried along. Once they passed the Rent chamber, they were facing a head wind. Inside his chambers, Sam peeked in to find one of the ‘dark men’ lounging on the bed, drinking wine.

Sam signaled Gensonn to begin the charade.

There was a flash of light, and the man on the bed was startled. He grabbed his Glock and swung out of bed, drawing a bead on the Wizard.

“What are you supposed to be?” the man said.

“I am the Jinni of the Lamp,” Gensonn said. “Who are you?”

“I am Suffir Nassar. Where have you been, o Jinni of the Lamp? I’ve been here for hours, and you just now show up? I was starting to think all the old stories my family told over and over for centuries were a crock.” He stepped over the table and grabbed the lamp.

“You should not be here,” Gensonn began. “I come to you on Earth. You do not come to my home.”

“Well, I’m here now, and the question is, Jinni, ‘what are you going to do for me now?’”

“What do you wish?”

“Right, wishes. How many do I get? Three, right?”

“Let us begin.” Gensonn clapped his hands and let loose some lightning illusion for a couple of seconds.

“Okay, Jinni, I wish all these assholes were dead.”

“You refer to my people?”

“I do. If you’re my jinni; kill them all.”

“No, a jinni may not kill. Your wishes are for your world, not mine.

“What the hell kind of jinni are you, you won’t grant my wish? Can you make me the most powerful man in the world? My world, that is.”

“If that is your wish.”

“Really? I’m starting to see why my family has been set on getting you back. But to grant my wish, I have to go back. Is that right?”

“You came to my world; that is forbidden. Even now, you can feel the winds increase. Soon all will be swept away.” The lamp was actually starting to pull towards the Rent chamber while in the man’s hand.

“Oh, bullshit,” Suffir said, getting angry. “The way I see it, if you can’t kill me, I can kill all of your people and you, and this whole place will be mine. I do kind of like it here. It’s like living in a Dungeons and Dragons game. It could be like my hobby, a big-game safari vacation destination.”

Sam had been listening, and these words hit home. Was this what Sam was looking for? A hobby? A vacation destination? Now that he was a Lord here, what did he hope to do? What gave Sam the right to be here over any other?

“Who are you? You are of Nassar. He too came here. It took powerful magic to repair the damage he caused. He lost his mind,” Gensonn answered. “These people that you would have me destroy are all descended from the enemies of Nassar that he had sent here.”

“So, what? Are they like your ‘pets’ now?”

“No. Friends. Your first wish has proven that the descendants of enemies are still enemies. It was he who tried to bring an end to Jinnkind.”

“You killed him, didn’t you?”

“He was a fool, but I did not kill him. A jinni does not kill.”

“Well, I do.”

Nassar’s descendant leveled the gun at Gensonn and fired. The bullet was diverted. And the next and the next.

“He killed himself,” Gensonn said at last.

The sound of the gunfire went all through the Hold, and six of the twelve that had come into Hordann came running into the room. They surveyed the situation and spread out. All guns were pointed at Gensonn. Kemann blinked in behind Suffir. Several of the henchmen changed their aim over to him. Suffir was startled and turned to see the young Wizard very close to him. Using their newly discovered power over the metal of bullets, the two Wizards combined to force the gunmen to point at only each other. Then, they took all the guns. The amazed men watched the guns float to Gensonn.

Kemann relieved Suffir of the lamp and blinked out to give it to Sam. Sam gave it to Genie so he could lead the Company into the chamber.

Suffir’s eyes widened, but they were growing stormy with his anger.

“More of your people?” Suffir asked sardonically. Sam heard the familiar sound of the tactical knife open. Suffir had discovered the ability to jump here on Hordann, and he launched himself at Sam.

Sam braced for impact and took the full force of the man’s advance, causing him to fall backwards. Suffir raised the blade and brought it down into Sam’s side before he was subdued by Hannegelt.

Sam got up and took the blade from the man. He looked at him in the eyes, and said, “This is what happens when a Sixth level Thief takes on a Level Ten armored Fighting Man.”

“You. You are the one who took my lamp,” Suffir said. “How? You are not of this place.”

“That’s a much longer story than I feel like telling,” Sam said. “I will say that the lamp is not yours. Your asshole ancestor lost it, and rightfully so. He died, the lamp was hidden, and we found it.”

“Finders keepers,” Genie added, “and did you just try to kill my husband?” She fingered the arrow nocked in her bow.

“This is my Genie of the lamp,” Sam said. Suffir spit in Sam’s face, and Sam gave him a powerful blow to the solar plexus. He doubled over, gasping. “You should probably call the rest of your men up here before our dragons turn them into charcoal briquets.”

“Go to hell,” he answered, “you and your dragons.”

“Wrong answer,” Sam said, “Captain, would you, Dannhelm and Kemann take one of these gumbas down to the Great Hall and tell the others they are done here?”

“Yes, Lord,” Dextmann responded. The three men took Henchman number four and yanked him down the hall.

“Lord,” Suffir said, “that’s a joke. You are an out-of-work stuntman.”

“I see you did your research. Yeah, I didn’t put Lord of New Sky Hold on my resume yet,” Sam smirked. “And who’s the dumbass here? You and your family have been dreaming of a jinni for a thousand years. Guess what, the jinnis are all dead. Gensonn here, is a Wizard.”

“Lord Samuel’s Wizard,” corrected Gensonn.

“So, you came here from Earth and enslaved these people using my lamp?” Suffir asked. “Wake up, you idiots! This guy is just a stupid actor.”

“I didn’t enslave anyone, you jerk,” Sam answered, “I came here and made friends, and that’s way more valuable than a jinni.”

“Are there any more of you back home?” Genie asked, “Because I’m sick of looking at them.”

“What the Lady Genevieve is asking is if there are more Nassars, who would want to come after us,” Sam re-phrased.

“There will be after I get back,” Suffir seethed, “I will make generations to come for you.”

The rest of the henchmen came filing in, disarmed. They joined the others and stood there looking lost.

“What are we going to do with all of them?” Genie asked.

“They need to go home,” Gensonn said.

“And make them take their three friends with them,” Genie suggested, “They are down at the other end of the hall.”

The group was not happy about any of this, but they skulked down the passageway. The Company was behind them, driving them like cattle. Near the end of the hall, they found their compatriots lying dead. At that moment, they made a break for it. With their increased agility, they sprang down the passage and into the cavern at the end.

Sam and Genie had alerted the pair of dragons that the ‘unfriendlies’ were coming. When the men burst into the cavern, they didn’t go far. Waiting there, on all fours were Vyrna and Hazgorn.

The men began to try to ease their way around them, hugging the walls. Hazgorn hissed a laugh. “They think we are stupid,” he said to Vyrna.

“You can talk!” Suffir said.

“Yes, Suffir,” Vyrna said.

“Help us! I will give you whatever you want,” he begged.

“We do not judge by what is said (or in this case promised), we judge actions,” Vyrna said.

“And you have just tried to kill our friends,” Hazgorn continued. “Even so, they have agreed to let you return to Earth.”

“I should like to cook them,” Vyrna suggested, “What was it he said? Big Game Hunting? Did he mean us?”

“He must have meant us, though there is bigger game at sea,” Hazgorn played along. “Still, Lord Samuel wishes them to return to Earth. So,” he said looking back to Suffir, “you have your choice. My mate can cook you, or you can go back to Earth. Choose.”

Vyrna let loose a tiny wisp of Dragonflame. The group eased their way back to the passageway, and disappeared around the bend.

Genie had gone down to the Great Hall and called the Guard upstairs. There were also two dead that needed to be carried up to send away as well. When the defeated invaders came up the hall, they saw ten archers in formation blocking their progress from going beyond the entrance to the Rent Chamber.

Obediently, they entered the room and were escorted to the circular stone border. There, Sam had Dextmann take their wallets and identification. He grabbed up all of the Earth cash and put it in his pockets. The wind had been increasing over the last few hours, and was now nearing gale force. Sam made them all sit on the ledge with their fallen comrades over their shoulders, while he and Genie began to put on their rigs. The Company spread out around them.

“What are the parachutes for?” Suffir asked.

“Oh, Genie and I are going flying after you guys are out of here,” Sam said. He looked at Genie. “All set? Altimeter?”

She patted the lamp in her jumpsuit. “All set. 4200.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Suffir demanded. “Where are we going?”

“Well, we’ve been here for about three hours. Based on prevailing winds, I’d say we are going to Kansas.”

The Company pushed the men in, and Sam whispered to Suffir, “Let’s test my theory on how your ancestor killed himself.” With that, he pushed him into the quiet blackness of Rent. He and Genie sat on the ledge and Sam pulled his gun out. “Just in case I’m wrong, and we end up in the shelter with these assholes. Ready with the lamp?” She nodded.

“3-2-1, go!” Genie shouted and they dropped into the pit.

The sensation was markedly different from when Rent had been stabilized, and they had passed easily back and forth. This time was like the first time, and Genie knew she had to be ready with the lamp as Sam had done the first time they did this feat. As the spot of light grew, she pulled out the lamp and began to rub. She was a little earlier on this attempt than Sam had been on the first time. It was fairly hard to judge when to do what. Sam saw the disc of light stop increasing in size as they fell towards it. He got a horrible feeling that it was getting smaller while they plummeted towards it. Was it possible to get stuck in Rent? They didn’t know.

Before they could worry too much about it, however, they popped out into a bright sky. Sam watched the cloud pursue the lamp and overtake it, to then get sucked into it. Genie stashed it back in her jumpsuit, and they stabilized. Almost a thousand feet below, they saw the tumbling bodies in black. Suffir’s men freaking out in freefall without skills (or parachutes).

Sam found himself counting them. He had only just started when he got hit. Suffir had come tracking in and nailed Sam. Obviously, he had experience sky diving, and was now desperate to get the parachute. Sam attempted the easiest solution, and that was to deploy the chute before Suffir could do anything, but Suffir had other ideas and kept one hand on the rip cord while the other tried to bash Sam’s head. He landed a couple of blows before Sam grasped the Glock he brought and shot the wild man in the gut.

Suffir’s eye got big, and he stopped beating Sam. His grip released, and, as he pulled away from Sam, he himself pulled the rip cord. The canopy jerked pretty hard when it popped open, and Sam watched as Suffir flailed in the air getting smaller and smaller.

Genie had dumped as soon as she saw Sam’s chute go, but she was still a couple of hundred feet below him. Sam put the gun away and spiraled down to her.

They didn’t have long under canopy on this jump. The fight during freefall lasted only a few seconds, but since they didn’t jump from a higher position, it had delayed their opening and caused them to fall well below the safe opening altitude.

When they hit the ground, they quickly folded the chutes and got them back on. They walked across the field and located a couple of the fallen men. Of course, they were all dead. There were no lakes or haystacks or whatever other Hollywood gimmicks that magically allow a person to survive that kind of a fall. No, they were all just ‘pancaked’. It was actually fairly gruesome, and Sam thought back to the day he had run over to find Skip’s mangled body. The thought of that indelible image seemed to diminish this victory.

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