Chapter 6: The Tale Of The Blade
Dust hung in the air from the fallen boulders. Jack walked up to the cave mouth, where a tree had been split in half.
Evooku and the girl stood and dusted themselves off. Jack smiled in relief. The greenskin returned the smile, while the girl checked herself for wounds, an annoyed look on her face.
“Well, thank you. I suppose,” she said, not looking at him.
Evooku waved his hands in the air twice - a sign of thanks. Jack gave a small fist pump in reply.
Evooku looked over the wreckage, then nodded and signed to the girl.
“The third wolf got away. It’s going to go back to Lycanthor,” she said.
“What is Lycanthor?” asked Jack.
“You meanwho. Lycanthor is one of the six guardians.”
“Guardians?” asked Jack.
She sighed and looked to the sky. She was silent for a few moments before turning to Jack.
“I’m not sure who you are, or where you came from. But you don’t seem like much of a spy. And you did just save our lives.”
Jack remained quiet.
She stared at him and he was amazed by the color of her eyes. They sparkled with a light that seemed to glow from within.
“Grab a few things; we’re going to need to get moving. You can come with us until we find somewhere safe for you to go on. If you are lost and need to return home, you’ll want to at least get out of the forest.”
The three companions gathered up some supplies. There wasn’t a lot to take but Jack found a small wooden shield and a strap that he wrapped around his body. He hung the sword on his belt and put a small satchel on his back. Inside were a few hard loaves of bread and some dried fruit.
They climbed up the ridge. As forest birds sang in the trees, the girl spoke.
“Three years ago, the kingdom was attacked by the Demon Emperor. Although the people tried to battle his minions, he proved too strong and took over.”
Jack saw tears form in her eyes.
“My father was the high king. I was at the castle with him when the Demon Emperor attacked. We wanted to use the Dragon Fyre Blade to stop him, but he managed to break our magic and the blade shattered. My father was turned to obsidian glass and I only just managed to escape with Evooku.”
Jack looked to the green man, who stared ahead.
“The Demon Emperor took the six pieces of the Dragon Fyre Blade and sent them to the farthest reaches of the kingdom. Each one is protected by a guardian, an ancient beast that exists solely to stop anyone trying to find the pieces.”
A crow called out, its haunting caw echoing in the woods.
“Only the Dragon Fyre Blade can stop the Demon Emperor. I’ve been looking for the first piece here in the Great Forest. It’s guarded by Lycanthor, a giant werewolf.”
Jack wasn’t sure what to think. The story sounded so strange, but he’d already seen giant wolves. How he had even gotten here was a mystery.
“Maybe you were sent?” said the girl hopefully. “Perhaps you can help us on our quest.”
Jack thought for a moment. He sure didn’t know a lot about fighting Demon Emperors and magic, but he was on his own. It might be tricky to get back home, but he knew he didn’t want to be alone in such a dangerous place.
“I’ll help you,” he said. ”And maybe you can help me find my way back home, too.”
The girl smiled. “If we can defeat the Demon Emperor, we can awaken my father and the wizards. If anyone knows how to return you to your own kingdom, it will be them.”
Jack smiled. “Great. So, what’s the deal with Lycanthor? You said he’s a werewolf? Like, for real?”
She nodded as she reached the top of the ridge. Jack joined her and they looked out across the forested valleys.
“This Great Forest is the home to the Wildermen, like Evooku. Since time began they have lived and hunted in these woods. The Wood Wolves were once their friends, but when the Demon Emperor rose, he awakened the evil spirit Lycanthor. Some say he was once a Wilderman, but has now been turned into a terrible beast by the Demon Emperor’s magic. Lycanthor turned the Wood Wolves against us and they hunt the forest, protecting him.”
“He knows we’re after the piece of the Dragon Fyre Blade,” said Jack.
“Yes,” she said. “We’ve been searching here for months, but recently Lycanthor’s wolves have been hunting us. We must be close. But we’re not sure where his lair is.”
Jack looked around. The forest spread out in every direction. He squinted as the evening sun burned.
Evooku tapped him on the shoulder and signed to her.
“We must rest for the night.Look, up there.”
They climbed up a tree and Jack found a large branch. Evooku helped Jack tie a rope around his body and looped it over the branch. If he fell, he wouldn’t tumble all the way to the ground.
When the sun went down it became colder. Jack wrapped himself up in the thin blanket that Evooku had given him. The three ate their food quietly.
“Hey” said the girl as Jack finished the last piece of stale tasting bread.
Jack looked up to see her staring at him, but with less malice than before.
“My name is Jasyra.” She said, then she turned and wrapped herself up in her cloak to sleep.
Jack stared out at the sky as the stars twinkled above. He found himself searching for constellations he might recognise but there were so many stars and his eyelids were so heavy.
In his dreams, Jack was running through the woods on a moonlit night. He was holding a staff with a shimmering green stone at the tip. Ahead of him, trees crashed and fell to the ground while wolves howled. A huge, shadowy shape leapt out at him, roaring in anger.
Jack awoke with a start. It was still night time. His companions slept soundly in the tree. There was no noise other than the call of some night birds and the fluttering of moths. Above him, the full moon glowed high in the sky. Jack wondered what the dream meant, and if he would ever make it back home.