Tag Archives: Carter. Blake

Rise of the DarkWalker Chapter 4

 

The screams echoed off the stone walls and faded away. A large fire pit sent dancing shadows through the room. Another scream sounded as a dark-haired dwarf in blood begrimed clothes pushed a finger into a wound in a human’s chest. The dwarf withdrew his finger, wiped it on a rust brown rag and picked up a quill pen. Dipping it into an inkwell, he made a few notations and blotted the parchment.

He gestured and a pair of orcs turned large cranks, rotating the table with the prisoner until it was flat. Taking up a thin bladed knife, he sliced a line from the man’s left shoulder, across his chest to his right. Then, he did the same at the human’s waist, from hip to hip, ignoring the wails of pain. A line was cut down the center of his torso, connecting the other two. The prison shrieked even louder than he had before. Blood gushed from the new wound. The dwarf placed the blade next to other sharp instruments and picked up a wooden bowl. Gathering some of the contents in his bloody hand, he sprinkled it over the human while chanting.

The orcs watched the black powder begin to glow and change color as it liquefied. Wherever the magic liquid touched, the blood withdrew into the man. The two looked at each other, and then back to the dwarf. He pulled the wound wide, eliciting a scream that sounded like it tore the human’s throat. To the amazement of the orcs, no further blood flowed. They stepped closer to better see, drawing the dwarf’s attention.

“You appear puzzled, my friends.” His voice was smooth, powerful. They nodded. “Allow me to hypothesize. You desire to know why the human’s lifeblood no longer flows.” Another nod. “The conjuration is named ‘Prohibere Sanguinem.’ It maintains life while I conduct my experimentations.”

The orc to the left spoke. “Why do you experiment, Master?”

“I seek knowledge of better interrogation techniques.”

The one on the right tilted his head. “What information do you seek?”

Drago stared at him, stone faced. “You’re joking.”

“I meant that you would need better interrogation techniques for.”

The Dark Dwarf’s countenance brightened. “Oh. It is for when the demons bring me Keeper Dearbhaile. She has the most delicious secrets, I’m sure.”

A door at the far end of the room opened. Moving with a swiftness that belied their bulk, the orcs slipped between their master and the opened door. One orc drew a hammer from his hip and muttered a command word. Seconds later, the small tool has expanded into a huge Warhammer with a wicked looking spike at the opposite end of the blunt one. The other unhooked a coiled chain and stretched it out, spinning the large spiked ball at the end. The two prepared themselves to fight to their deaths to protect their lord from the intruder. None were allowed to disturb him in his laboratory.

When the human dressed in deer skin, with shoulder length, curly brown hair entered, the orcs dropped to a knee and placed their left hands over their right chest, covering their hearts and offering their fealty. She flicked her gaze over them and walked past, ignoring the orcs’ salutes. She didn’t care for the ugly creatures, always cringing in the face of a superior foe, and then plotting behind its back. . Like the demons, but mortal. Drago continued his experiments, unconcerned with who might have entered. The orcen warriors would have given him enough time to prepare for any enemy. Though she hadn’t seen him in battle, she knew enough about his training regimen to believe he’d be a formidable enemy.

She curled her thick fingers into fists at the thought and then reluctantly opened them. This was not the time to challenge him. For now, his enemies provided enough of a challenge to keep her satisfied with being his second. ‘I wonder how Bjorn and Fenrisúlfr are doing? Do they miss me?’ The twins had been her friends and self-appointed guardians for as long as she could remember. She gave herself a mental shake. ‘Focus on the present. Leave the past where it belongs.’

She clapped her fist over her heart. The deer hide muffled the sound, but she knew the keen ears of Drago picked it up. “Belial has captured Dearbhaile.”

“Of course he did, my friend.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Did you doubt me?”

“No. Just the half-demon. He’s constantly coming up short against Carter.”

Picking up a rag, he surprised her with a laugh as he cleaned his hands. “Belial has a twisted sense of humor.”

“What do you mean?”

“He enjoys setting up his opponents to think they’ve bested him only to later strike them down.”

Her eyebrows went up. “He enjoys being cut down with his own sword?”

“The pure white broadsword?”

“Yes.”

“Razorwing cannot harm him. It’s made from his own essence.”

“But, I’ve seen him both decapitated and run through with it.”

“Do not trust your eyes where the Prince is concerned. Or any of your other senses for that matter.”

“Are you trying to tell me he is invincible?”

“Of course not. You just have to know how.”

“Hmm.”

She walked over to the dangling human. Dried blood covered the areas of his flesh that remained whole. His remaining eye was fogged, whether from pain, or blindness, she didn’t know. With the speed of a striking snake, she punched her fist through his heart, putting him out of his misery.

“Why did you do that, dear Sera?” The dwarf’s voice held only curiosity.

“You can’t learn anything from the tortured.”

“On the contrary. I’ve learned quite a bit from this one.”

“But was it true, or was it a lie to get the pain to stop?”

Drago scratched his smooth cheek, sending scales of dried blood to float through the air. “What do you mean?”

“Back in my world, torture is banned because you cannot gain reliable intel from your victim. People will say anything they think you want to know, just to get the pain to end. It is a sadistic war crime to torture.”

He raised his hand. “Your people try to uphold laws in war?”

“Not during, but after. And only some laws. Usually moral ones.”

He leaned his hip on this table. “Even though morals are subjective?” She nodded. “Humans are odd creatures.”

“We’re odd because we have figured out what works and what doesn’t?”

“No, because of the war crimes. Who decides what the crime was versus what was acceptable in war?”

“The winners.”

He laughed, his head thrown back. “Perfect.”

Sera snorted. “I had a feeling you would approve of that.”

He sobered. “Where is Dearbhaile now?”

“Belial is awaiting her delivery to him, and then he will bring her directly to you.”

“Excellent.” A bell tolled once and then went silent. “Excuse me, my dear. I must see to this.”

She clapped her fist to her chest. “I will go prepare the troops for the invasion.”

Drago dipped his head in acknowledgement and hurried off. The young woman watched him go. ‘I will find out what the hurry is all about soon.’

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Rise of the DarkWalker Chapter 3

I opened my eyes to blinding light. Squinting them shut, I raised my hand to shield them. A rattle of a chain sounded as my movement came to an abrupt halt. The sunlight on my face almost blinded me again when my eyes flew open. I pushed the pain to the back of my mind as I blinked my eyes rapidly to clear them. I needed to see what kept my hand from moving. A moment or two later, I made out why: I was chained to stakes, my arms spread in a cruciform fashion. ‘By all the hells…”

“…What the actual fuck?” I yanked on the shackles. “Why am I chained?”

“You attacked Lady Orwen, Carter.” Robilar stood over me, blocking the sunlight from touching me.

A flash of my unprovoked assault went through my mind. With it, the memory of feeling like another was in control of my body. My jaw throbbed as my head ached. “What the hell did she hit me with?”

“Her fist.”

I slowly shook my head. “Not just her fist. She held a spell.”

“I do not know.” He glanced over his shoulder and then back down at me. “Why did you do it?”

“Another controlled my movements.”

He shook his head. “That’s not possible.”

“Why not? Wen was possessed by Belial.”

“You’re the Walker of Worlds. You can’t be demoniac. Your nature precludes it.”

“Maybe I’m not really him.”

He uttered a tired sounding chuckle and knelt beside me. “You’ve already forgotten what I am?”

I carefully shook my head. “No.”

“Then you know how silly you sounded.”

“Bite me.” I closed my eyes rather than continue to look over at Robilar. “Walker, or no, something was controlling my body. It was like I was literally outside of it, looking on.”

“In all of my long years, I’ve never encountered anything that could.”

My eyes popped open and I turned my head to him so fast my neck cracked. “What? How can that be? You said you knew me in the future.”

“I did, or do. But, I’ve not come back to this point before. Remember my limitation?”

“Yes. Yesterday you said you couldn’t travel back to a point in the past after you’d already hit it.”

“True.”

“Alright then, how is it that you don’t know about this?”

“In prior lifetimes, we’d meet long after you were the full-fledged Walker. This is the first timeline that I sought you out before that date.”

“So what happened to make you come here?”

“I told you yesterday. The Lamp of Allah-ad-din.”

“Actually, you said your purpose was to make sure Drago didn’t get his hands on it. I’m asking how will being here at this time, help you to do that.”

Before he could respond, Corath touched his shoulder and whispered in his ear. He nodded, rose and followed the Wild Elf, leaving me to lay on the ground, still chained. I lay my head back with my eyes closed. I was grateful this was a springtime sun and not a summer one. ‘How long are they planning on keeping me chained?’

 

***

 

I woke at the sound of my wrist manacles being unlocked. Weijia smiled and placed her index finger over her lips, telling me to keep silent. I sat up as she freed my legs.

“Corath and Robilar are asleep.” Her whisper barely reached my ears.

“What are you doing?” I made sure to speak at the same volume.

“Setting you free. You’re supposed to be our leader, not our prisoner.”

“I did attack Lady Orwen.”

“You said someone was controlling you.” She rose and offered her hand. I took it stood on shaky legs. “I believe you.”

“Where’s the Princess… Queen, I mean?”

“She headed to a nearby temple to pray for guidance from Kellün.”

I followed Weijia as she guided me away from the camp. “I don’t think she’s going to have any success.”

She glanced over her shoulder. “Why not?”

“Remember when she tried to heal me and was unable to?”

“Yes. You got really upset about that, too.”

“I wasn’t upset by not being healed. It was because of what she said, that Kellün wasn’t responding to her prayers.”

“Why is that significant?”

I thought back to the BattleHammer rules for clerics and Warpriests. “A god will refuse to answer a cleric or Warpriest who has betrayed that deity’s tenants.”

“Keeper Dearbhaile said that Lady Orwen was pure. Doesn’t that mean she hadn’t?”

“Yes.” I stepped over the trunk of a fallen tree. “There’s one other time, that I know of, where a god won’t answer prayers.”

“Which is what?”

“When a god is fallen.”

Rise of the DarkWalker Chapter 2

I stalked outside, leaving Adora to jog in my wake. All I found, to my intense displeasure, were Robilar, Corath, and heaps of dead demons, their remains beginning to steam and stink in the early morning sunlight.

“Damn it.” I stopped before the two men and scowled at them. “Did you fuckers have to kill all of them?”

Robilar’s chuckle sounded tired. “We didn’t come close to killing all of them.”

“About twenty minutes ago, the demons broke free, and ran.” Corath wiped at ichor on his face, but only smeared it. “We have no idea why.”

I slammed my sword into its sheathe, cussing under my breath. So much for that idea.

“Where’s the Keeper, Carter?” Whatever he saw on my face caused Robilar to blanch, and back away. “Sore subject. Never mind.”

“I’ll not never mind.” Corath marched up, and poked my chest with his finger. “You have a lot to answer for, human.”

I growled, and reached for my sword. I met Adora’s warm, calloused, hand instead. “Now is not the time, Corath.”

“Tha—”

My blade pointed at his larynx, and a ruby droplet formed at the tip. “Utter one more word. I dare you.”

The Gorauch clamped his mouth shut so fast he bit his tongue.

“Smart man,” the Chronomancer said.

“Robilar!”

“Y-Yes, sir?”

“Ha-How did you do that?” The Lady’s voice cracked as she spoke.

I ignored Adora for the time being. “Can you track demons?”

“I can do better than that.”

I sheathed my sword again, and folded my arms over my chest. “Go on.”

“I can bring one from the past, to the present.”

“Do it.”

Robilar nodded, closed his eyes, and furrowed his brow. He took a deep breath, and held it. Sweat rolled down his cheeks as he rolled his arms through the air like Dearbhaile has when we played in the river at the beginning of our journey from Lady Soo-jau’s palace. Wonder what the Vaush-Tauric is up to?

A glowing white rectangle appeared before the Chronomancer. His eyes flew open, and he thrust his hands into the light. A mighty yank, and one of the wingless bat-like demons with rippling, angry red muscles, and a clear, glistening and viscous fluid to roiling down its body tumbled free, rolling across the ground.

Before it regained its senses, I had it lifted in the air with my right hand wrapped around its throat. “Hello, Ugly. You’re going to answer some questions for me.”

It screamed, and chittered in rage, slashing at me with its sharp claws. When they raked over my forearm, I squeezed.

“Carter, don’t kill it, yet.” Robilar’s voice was a hoarse wheeze. “I’m not going to be up to Pulling another for some time.”

I growled, and hammered the demon to the earth like I was a professional wrestler executing a choke-slam. Where I got the strength, I didn’t know at that point. The demon had ceased its squirming, stunned from the impact with the ground.

Adora’s rough hand touched my shoulder. “Carter, allow me to question it? I speak Infernus.”

“Really?” I glanced at her over my shoulder. “Alright. Make it quick. We’re losing time.”

The demon rolled to its belly and tried to scamper away. My foot in the small of its back sent it flat again, putting an end to its attempt. The Princess, or Queen, technically, chittered at the daemon which made the sound in return. A few minutes of back and forth made my head hurt worse.

I stepped away, focusing on the smoking ruins of the keep. The fiends had used some magic which had melted stone like tallow. An ungodly scream ripped through the air, causing all the hair on my body to feel as if it all wanted to run. I spun around so fast I must have looked like a top, even though it was a one-eighty. Made me dizzy as hell, too.

A silvery-white glow engulfed Adora’s left hand. The bat demon’s right shoulder oozed a greenish smoke. She chittered something loudly at the creature which then shook its head. Her radiant palm clamped down on it. It shrilled. I thought it was pain, but there was an odd note to it. The Princess… Queen… released her grip. The fiend panted. A glint shone in its eyes. She spoke to it, but it cut her off, much louder.

I strode over and caught her hand as she went to touch it again. A thousand bees stung me simultaneously and acid dripped from their stingers. I felt a jolt in the center of my chest and found myself looking up at the sky with no clue how I got there.

My field of vision grew darker for a moment and then I realized I was surrounded by Adora, Weijia and Robilar. “What happened?” I attempted to sit up, but my abdomen felt as if someone had beat it with hot hammers. “Fuck me.” I tried to scream it, but the pain left me breathless. To be honest, I don’t know if I made a sound other than a groan.

Adora took my hand in hers and fire raced up my arm. I recoiled and rolled to my hands and knees, scrambling away about five feet. I tried to rise, but it was as if someone else controlled my limbs.

“Carter? What’s wrong?” Concern hoarsened her voice.

A crimson bolt shot from my up thrust hand. She leaped away and it hit a tree which exploded in flames. A hissing cackle erupted from my mouth, tearing at my throat. I found myself flying through the air as whoever controlled my body leaped to attack her again.

A black aura engulfed her fist. ‘Oh, shit.’ Her hand suddenly vanished from my sight and the lights went out.

Rise of the DarkWalker, Chapter 1

We smelled the town of Dunskillen long before we saw it. The area was thick with the acrid odor of smoke and the sick, sweet scent of rotten meat. As we got closer, the breeze changed intensifying the cloying stench. Thinning trees gave us sight of the skyline filled with smoke. I nudged Dearbhaile to behind me. I drew my sword and Robilar did the same.

“Wen, scout ahead,” Corath said. I cocked my head at him. “None of you are as stealthy as Elven.”

I conceded his point with a shrug. The Gorauch disappeared into the distance.

“What should we do, Carter?” Lady Orwen said.

“Ready yourself for battle. We could be attacked at any moment.”

Keeper Dearbhaile moved slowly to the center of the circle again, with her lips compressed in a thin, white line, clearly upset, but she held her peace. The sun rose higher in the cloudless sky, pounding down on us. Sweat rolled down my face, and soaked the top of my buckskin pants. The moisture served to aggravate the moss in my belly. The maddening itch mounted in my mind. I squirmed and gripped my sword hilt tighter. My abdomen burned with the urgent need for me to scratch. I groaned, and clenched my jaw. I jumped when a cool hand landed on my back.

“Are ye alright, Carter?”

“Not really.” My voice sounded raspy even to me. “This damned Tianarri moss is driving me bugshit.”

Dearbhaile leaned back, blinking. “Bugshit?”

“What does bugshit mean?” Robilar said.

“Crazy. The desire to scratch is maddening.”

“So scratch.” Robilar chuckled. “What’s hard about that?”

“He cannae. He be infected with Tianarri moss.”

“Wen returns.” Lady Orwen called.

“I’ll fill you in later, Robilar.”

The Gorauch approached at a shambling run. The way his limbs flopped about, as if not under his control, caused a knot to form in my belly, pushing out the urge to scratch. My heart kicked into overdrive as I locked onto his approach. I threw a glance over my shoulder to my Rishka. Seeing she was safe, though intent on the approach of the white-haired Elven, I turned back. I raised my sword while I did so.

“Carter?” Lady Orwen said. My name was the signal Wen waited for. He launched himself into a sprint at me, eyes ablaze. “He’s possessed!”

“Wen!” His brother shouted. Time slowed around me. I moved to intercept him. “No, Carter. He’s my brother!”

Corath’s voice sounded slow, deep, and drawn out. The controlled Elven’s steps decelerated as if he were running through molasses, then halted. I broke into a run, and raced passed Wen. As I did, I caught whiff of decayed vanilla: a L’Arc demon had him. I hoped what I learned about possession during game sessions was accurate and the demon’s body would be nearby. ‘Kill the body, kill the possessor.’

I found the L’Arc standing at the edge of a wall, staring at Wen’s back. This one was different from the others. Its shoulders were broader and it wore blackened gold plate mail. The others were stunning, beautiful, statuesque and nude women with flawless milky skin, raven hair, large bat wings that unfurled from their shoulders and slender black tails. This one had scars over its face, eagle wings and stubble over its jaw. This one must have been one of the males. ‘Wow. Either Belial, or his dad, are sexist bastards. They have the females running around naked, yet they cover the males in heavy armor.’ Not that I wanted to see this demon without clothes. Time resumed its movement. The demon registered my presence, eyes wide. As its mouth dropped open, I ran it through with my sword.

“Carter!” I spun around at Dearbhaile’s scream. The others were under attack. I raced back to my friends. Halfway there, a rush of wings caused me to halt. The sky was blotted out by the shadows of about twenty L’Arc demons. I didn’t wait for them to land before scything into them. ‘Stupid demons.’

I heard my love scream again. I looked over. A large, muscular humanoid with greenish-black skin stretched tight over his frame had her neck in an immense clawed hand. He flipped his middle claw in the air, then vanished with a boom. I howled my rage to the heavens. A crimson fog descended over my eyes. I slashed, and chopped, sliced and hacked at any demon that was near me. I stopped when I realized Corath’s brother stood before me.

“Greetings, Carter Blake.” Wen’s mouth moved, but the hoarse, graveled and sweet voice belonged to Belial. Now I knew who had my love. “I have your woman. If you want to see her again, come to the former tower of Wizard Cora.”

I pointed my blade between Wen’s eyes. “I’m coming for you, Belial.”

He laughed. I bellowed and cleaved his neck with the sharp dryad weapon. Wen’s head fell from his body, still laughing. I kicked it away, and shut my eyes. I visualized the opulent room where I’d last seen Wizard Cora. I saw again the torches as they burned in brackets on stone walls, rich tapestries hung here and there. I remembered seeing the thickest rug I had ever encountered. I was able to picture the entrapment sigil drawn on the floor underneath. The sounds of the battle faded until all was silence. I felt a pressure on my body not unlike that time I’d went scuba diving in the summer when I was nine. I remembered marveling at the knowledge of all those tons of water surrounding my body, waiting to crush me, yet knowing my soft form was capable of withstanding it. I pushed that memory away and refocused on the summoning chamber. How did the outline of that tower look? I intended for nothing to slow my run on the demon’s new headquarters.

The pressure vanished. I opened my eyes, and saw the chamber I’d been visualizing. How the hell did I do that? I shrugged away the question. I’d worry about the riddle later. I readied my sword and went to the door. I placed my ear to it. I heard nothing, so I opened the door. The hallway was also lit by torches. I surprised one of the short humanoid wingless bat-like creatures I’d encountered during my escape from Belial’s fortress. The thing’s angry red muscles rippled as it moved, causing a clear, glistening and viscous fluid to roil down its body. Nictitating membranes flicked across its oil drop eyes when the demon discovered me standing in the room. I reacted first, slashing my blade across its throat. Blue ichor splashed my front as the creature collapsed. I continued on.

Down a second hall, I spotted another of the demons standing guard outside a big wooden door. I slipped along, until I was about a meter away. I hope Ugly doesn’t turn my way. The fiend did, and chittered something at the top of its voice, raising a spear. The door was yanked open. A L’Arc spilled out, shield leading the way. At the same time, a blackish green demon with oversized claws appeared beside me. This was either the one that took my Rishka, or was similar. Either way, he had my full attention. I lunged at him.

A clawed hand intercepted my sword and redirected the weapon to the side. I was hit from behind and shoved towards an incoming swipe from the other hand. My chest was slashed open and I found myself behind the L’Arc. I thrust my blade into her back, right between her wings. The sword went in as if she were warm butter. The bat-like demon thrust its spear through the L’Arc’s body and into my left bicep. I screamed, and was behind the thing without my sword. I felt as if my hands were guided by another as I gripped its head and put it in the path of the black demon’s stab. I shoved the smaller demon forward, further impaling it on the other’s claws which sliced my face. I growled, and tried to ignore the burning of four cuts traveling from my forehead to my cheeks. I didn’t understand how the demon missed my eyes, but I was glad he did. Damned thing tried to blind me!

He went for my eyes again. I grabbed his wrist. Blasted demon was a hell of a lot stronger than me. All I managed to do was slow the approach of those lethal claws. Once more, I had the feeling that another guided my hand as I punched the demon in the base of his neck. The force on my right hand let up. I rammed the clawed hand into the demon’s own eyes and brain. The demon fell to the floor. I bent at the waist, panting. The adrenaline seeped out, allowing me to feel my wounds more. I leaned against the wall. I gritted my teeth, then bit my tongue to keep the blackness at bay. Dearbhaile needs us, you pussy. Get going!

My left arm burned like fire. I pushed the pain back enough so I could enter the open door. Belial stood within as if he’d been waiting for me. Belial leered at me.

“Where is Dearbhaile?” I yelled.

“She’s… being taken care of.” He laughed. “You’re all alone Carter Blake. No Moment of Prescience, no Dearbhaile to rescue you. This time, I’m going to kill you.”

“Before, I might have needed them. I’m not the same person who surrendered to you to be your slave. I’ve grown.” I raised my sword, tilted my head to the left and right, making my vertebrae crackle. “Let’s dance, monkey.”

He snarled, showing off his black teeth, and charged. Our blades clashed, sending shockwaves through my arms. I tightened my grip, and pushed the steel against his snow white one. I knew he was stronger than me, and wanted him to push back harder.

The half-demon shoved hard. I ducked and at the same time, released my weapon which flew through the air behind me. As I hoped, his arms went over my head, leaving him flat footed. His sword arm was across his chest, and I was in perfect position. I punched him in the groin as hard as I could with both fists. All the air left his lungs in a rush. His grip slackened on the white sword which dropped. Mind blank, I snatched the longsword from the air, spun 180 degrees, and after spinning the weapon to a better grip, slammed the length into him.

The pure white blade sank into the half-demon’s chest like a hot knife into warm tallow. His jaw dropped as if he couldn’t believe what had just happened to him. I released the hilt of the sword which was heating fast. I stepped back and Belial crumpled to the ground. Seconds later, the wound caused by the white blade split open further, spilling out a flood of squirming maggots. I jumped back, trying not to puke in revulsion. The maggots soon evaporated, leaving a pulsating, silver blood-covered sapphire sphere. The sphere, as it pulsed like a beating heart, grew larger before my eyes, draining -something- from Belial’s corpse. The corpse looked more and more desiccated with every passing moment. Soon, a hollow husk was all that remained of Belial. The sapphire sphere pulsed faster and faster. Cracks formed in it, violet light streaming upwards. The sphere shattered into little pieces, leaving a huddled form lying on the ground. As the violet light faded, the form began to move.

The form soon showed itself to be a man curled in a fetal position. He rose to his feet and stood before me. He was about eighteen centimeters shorter than me and about the same in kilograms lighter. He had short brown hair, friendly brown eyes and a faint smile. To my discomfort, he was also nude. Before I could say anything, he looked down at himself, shook his head and caused clothes to appear on his body. He wore a faded blue chambray shirt tucked into sun lightened blue jeans stuck into travel battered leather boots with a pair of crossed gun belts slung low on his hips. Large revolvers with sandal wood grips were in the holsters. A faded bandanna was tied around his neck. He glanced back at me with his hands out to the sides as if asking for my approval of his dress. I noticed I got his eye color wrong. It wasn’t brown after all, but a faded blue color. He looked like the way I always pictured Roland Deschain of Gilead, from Stephan King’s The Dark Tower books.

I folded my arms across my chest and frowned. He looked back down at himself and shrugged. His clothing shimmered, and then changed again. When he looked up at me again, he had dark gray eyes, cinnamon colored hair in a ponytail and a Van Dyke beard. He wore a black three-piece suit with a lavender shirt. He was broader across the shoulders than I and a little narrower at the hips. His grin seemed to ask my opinion of his appearance this time. I shook my head, causing him to shrug again. This shrug seemed to say, “To hell with it.”

His cinnamon hair darkened to the color of fresh coffee, his shirt flashed to white and his eyes showed crimson for a moment before settling on hazel. He grinned at me again, wiggled his fingers at me in a wave and vanished in a flash of black tinged violet light.

I walked over to where the mysterious stranger had been birthed from a sapphire shell and picked up the sword I had used to kill the half-demon Belial, son of Lucien the Demon King and Zatanna the Lich Queen of Amcorath. The sword was no longer pure white. The blade had a faint outline of violet which only showed up when I moved the sword a particular way. The weapon also no longer sent waves of cold through my body, but felt warm to my touch. I turned to join the larger battle outside and discovered Lady Orwen standing in the doorway with a worried look on her face.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m not sure, Carter, but I think he was Samhaine.”

“So?”

“He ruled the Pits before Lucien. It’s not good that you just freed him.”

I growled. “I was not about to allow Belial to get away with his crimes, Princess.” She blinked as she leaned away from me. I don’t think she was aware of it. I sighed and headed towards the door. I didn’t care for the look of wariness on her face, but bit my tongue. My head throbbed. “We need to find Keeper Dearbhaile.”

“Corath has already searched the tower. He found no sign of her. Carter, I think Drago has her.”

My jaw tightened. I stared at the floor for a few seconds as my heartbeat accelerated again. I gripped the hilt of the white blade so hard my knuckles creaked. I peered at Lady Orwen from under my eyebrows. “Looks like I’m going after her.”

“Where will you search?”

“Let’s ask a demon.”

“I don’t think any will be talkative, Carter. If we can even capture one.”

“I’ll make one talk.”

Rise of the DarkWalker: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book II

Prologue

 

Firelight played over the aged face, turning a silver Van Dyke a reddish-orange. The drip of water from stalactites, the crackle of burning wood, and the sting of smoke were all ignored as he concentrated on reaching out to the untrained mind. It was harder than anticipated. The young one fought for his life against seeming insurmountable odds.

“Focus, Carter. Stretch your mind out. Take advantage of the temporal slow. You can do this.”

The words, crackling with power, seemed to hang in the air. His words had no effect. He’d have to step in. A wrinkled, yet still strong, hand circled on the ground, and then rose up. It briefly faded from sight, before being drawn back. A poisonous green jewel flashed in the firelight as the hand reappeared. Wrapped around a braided leather swathed hilt, and dull black pommel. The elderly man rose to his feet, dragging the hilt as he stood. A saw-toothed, lusterless black longsword came from the ether.

“Are you certain this is wise, Nicholas?” The voice sounded from the shadows, deep, and gravelly.

“I am, Rhynskald. I must aid my grandson.”

“Be careful, Walker.”

My Newest Work In Progress

“Hey, why are you starting another story when you haven’t finished any of the others?”

Well, imaginary speaker for my fans – both of them – technically, with this, I am finishing one of the others. Or, continuing it, anyway. This is the continuation of The Chronicles of Carter Blake. I have a prologue and three chapters complete. Maybe posting them here will be the kick in the pants I need to finish.

“It didn’t work for the other stories, jackass!”

Stifle yourself, brain. You keep me up too much.

It’s Finally Available

My novel, Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake is now live on Amazon. For now, it’s only available as an e-book. As soon as I get enough money to get the cover expanded, I’ll be offering print versions, too. Here is where you can order it. When my next post goes live, you’ll be able to order it from one of my side bars. 😀 I hope you guys like it.

cover

Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C4, S7)

Previous subchapter here.

 

 

Subchapter 7

 

The midday sun beat down on our head when we arrived at the remnants of the town of Rivorei. The fires, having consumed all they could, had all but burned out. The acrid stench of smoke, burned wood and charred flesh hung in the air like a wet blanket. The horses refused to get any closer, so we dismounted, tied their reins around some trees, and entered on foot. The city walls, once proud evidence of the town’s prosperity, were melted like wax candles. We walked through the sagging, gaping hole in the wall. I was amazed by the scale of the destruction and the absolute silence. I was cognizant of Keeper Dearbhaile sliding her hand into mine, but at the edge of my awareness. The cobblestones underfoot were still warm from the fires that just raged through the city . A charred wooden wall had the blackened remains of a person hanging from a spear through the gut.

We found ourselves walking through what had been an alleyway, the buildings on either side slumped from the fire. I stepped in something squishy and wet. Looking down, I realized I had my foot in a stream of a thick pinkish brown liquid with a greasy film. ‘What the hell?’ I went to one knee and dragged my finger through the slurry. I caught the stench of sewage and blood. I recoiled so hard I fell on my butt.

I noticed something odd sticking out a little from the mess. I fished the thing out and dried in on my pants. It was a flat, grey stone with some odd etchings on one side. Keeper Dearbhaile helped me to my feet, her eyes brilliant with unshed tears. She moved further into the ruined city and I stuck the stone in my pocket without thinking about why I did so. I turned to ask Angriz what he thought had happened here, but he was gone. I turned and headed out of the alley.

I found him in the center of what might have been the market square. The scattered piles of burned wood and bodies made identifying things difficult. Men, women and children lay about, hacked into pieces. Some had arrows, or spears, in their backs as if they had been killed as they tried to flee. He was looking at a huge emerald flag hanging above a pyramid of slain townspeople. In the center was an emblem of a colossal silver dragon clutching a dozen spears in one fist and the throat of a vampire in its other.

“Shit, Angriz. Isn’t that the flag of the Orwens?” I said.

Eyes still fixed on the flag, he nodded his head.

Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C4, S5)

Previous post is here.

 

Subchapter 5

 

I awoke with a start. Sunlight streamed through windows I hadn’t noticed before. I took a few minutes just to look around the room, savoring the joy of sight which was something I hadn’t realized I had taken for granted. Things I would have overlooked before I had become blind, I now took pleasure in. ‘Sight is awesome!’ There was a mural on the far wall from where I sat. It was of a forest clearing with a blue dragon which sat, posture regal, upon a stone plinth and at her feet was a clan of elves kneeling, worshipful. I assumed it was a female because my hostess was. I took a deep breath and turned my thoughts to my dream.

I remembered it with extreme clarity. I’ve never been able to do that before. There was the tall, muscular man with the cinnamon hair and uncomfortable Armani suit; the curvy woman with the dark hair who was about my mother’s height; that strange, yet familiar, control room with its many screens, the technicians, polished granite floor and the sleepy, rumpled looking man who stood in the center; and the asteroid which I knew was going to destroy everything the big man knew and loved. A rapid knock at my door, startled me. ‘By all the hells! I almost soiled myself!’ The urgency of the knock caused me to leap from the bed, dash to the door and yank it open.

“What is it?” I said to a surprised Keeper Dearbhaile.

Her eyes grew large as they traveled down and then she blushed scarlet. Wondering why, I glanced down as well. Imagine my mortification when I realized I had forgotten I’d slept nude, just for the experience mind you, and had answered the door that way. I gave a yelp of embarrassment and jumped behind the door. I stuck my head around the edge and repeated my question.

“O-Oh!” she stammered, playing with her necklace. “Lady Soo-jau sent me to get ye. She said ’tis urgent.”

“I’ll be right there!” I shouted as I slammed the door.

My face aflame, I scrambled to where my clothes hung drying from the washing I gave them the night before. As I began to get dressed, I ran myself down for not being smoother with the accidental flashing. I wondered how Angriz would’ve handled it. “Nah. He wouldn’t have answered the door that way. He’s always aware of everything,” I said to myself.

For once, I was glad to have simple deerskin clothing rather than my jeans; it just pulled on and I was ready to go. I picked up my shoes and carried them in my hand as I re-opened the door. Keeper Dearbhaile stood waiting with her hands clasped in front of her. Not knowing how to handle what happened, I resolved to not say anything about it unless she did.

“Let’s go,” I said.

“Aye,” she replied.

As she led me to the Vaush-Tauric, I asked, “Where’s Angriz?”

“With Lady Soo-jau.”

I nodded and said nothing more until we were before the Lady. This morning she wore a light red dress which flattered the color of her scales and was seated on a raised dais on a bronze throne with ornate designs. Something about her posture told me she was upset.

“Carter Blake,” she began without preamble, “your original quesst hass come to a conclusssion. Your sssight isss ressstored. Now you have a choissse: you and Angrizzz may go to the ressscue of Adora Orwen and perhapsss sssave her life; or you may go north and perhapsss encounter the architect of thisss war. What will you do?”

I paused for several moments. To tell the truth, the sudden hissing from my hostess scared me. After a bit of thought, I assumed it was due to her being upset and was able to put my unease behind me.

At last, I said, “You didn’t indicate a direction for the rescue attempt.”

The Vaush-Tauric sighed. “I do not know the direction she is to be found. All I was able to learn is: To aid her, you must first journey to Rivorei City. There, you will find your clues as to where she is hidden. Know these things as well: One, there is not time to achieve both goals. Whichever you decide, you lose the other. Two, thirty days from today, Adora Orwen will be dead and the architect will be gone to another realm. Three, if you and Angriz split up, you will both die.”

I thought about this for a couple of minutes. Then, I had an idea:

“Would you aid us, milady?” I asked.

“I cannot,” she said. “Because of what I am, I am both bound to this location and forbidden from interfering.”

“What is a Vaush-Tauric?” I asked. “And why are you forbidden from helping?”

“She is a conduit to the draconic gods,” Angriz rumbled.

Smoke rolled from his nostrils. Something told me he was upset by this choice.

‘Why me?’ Aloud I said, “Angriz, your thoughts would be appreciated.”

“From a strategic perspective, it would be best to go after whoever is behind this war. However, Lady Orwen has been my friend since she was a child.”

For some reason, hearing it in Angriz’ voice crystallized it for me.

“What a minute!” I exclaimed. “I thought Drago was behind this war?”

“He is a pawn in the scheme of someone else,” Lady Soo-jau said.

“Alright,” I said. “We know what happens to Lady Orwen if we fail to rescue her. What happens if we find this architect? Will stopping him stop the war?”

“No, but the number of people who die will be limited.”

“Hellfire,” I said. “Why must I make this choice? I’m only fourteen!”

“A man’s age,” Angriz said.

“Not where I’m from. I don’t want this kind of responsibility. This is nuts!”

“Nonetheless, Carter, you must take this on.” Lady Soo-jau spoke in a soft voice meant to soothe.

“Why?” I demanded. “Because the Great and Mighty Mordecai pulled me from my world? Or because Morgrid the Soul-forger ordered him to do so?”

“No,” she said. “You must because you are the Walker of Worlds.”

“What the hell is that?” I shouted.

“I cannot say,” she said. To her student she said, “Keeper Dearbhaile, you are to go with these men and aid them in any way you are able.”

“Aye, Mistress.”

“I will now take my leave of you,” the Vaush-Tauric said. “Good fortune to you all.” She vanished like a dream in the morning light. I looked at my friends and let out a sigh. “What should we do, Angriz?” I said.

“Wherever you lead, I shall follow, Carter.”

“And I also,” said Keeper Dearbhaile.

‘These two are adults declaring they’re going to follow me. I don’t even shave!’

‘Why are you doubting yourself?’

‘No one’s life has ever been in my hands.’

‘Come on, how is this a question? Faceless strangers versus your friend, Lady Owen. There’s no contest.’

‘Any other time, I’d agree, but what would she say if we told her we rescued her instead of trying to stop the war?’

‘Who says she needs  to know?’

Internal argument complete, I knew what needed to be done. I looked at Angriz and Keeper Dearbhaile who waited, expectant.

“We’re going north,” I said with as much conviction as I could muster. “It would be selfish of us to let innocent people die just to rescue our friend.”

My companions nodded agreement and we walked from the throne room.

Into the Realm: The Chronicles of carter Blake, Book I (C4, S4)

Previous subchapter here.

 

Subchapter 4

 

I found myself in a high school gymnasium. The basketball hoops were cranked up to the ceiling with crêpe paper chains connecting them. LED Christmas lights were twined around the chains, windows and doors. The bleachers were secreted away behind recessed sliding doors of their own. Blue and gold carpet covered the hardwood floor. I guessed they were the school colors. At the far end of the gym, a stage had been erected with instruments at attention, waiting for the band. Tables, with white coverings and lit by Chinese lanterns which floated in mid-air, were scattered around a wide open levitating section of floor I assumed was for dancing. The lanterns and Christmas lights provided the only illumination, and yet were all that was needed.

I felt myself drawn to this large guy who reminded me of Angriz. He was taller than me, broader shouldered and narrower at the hip. He had dark gray eyes, cinnamon colored hair in a pony-tail and a Van Dyke beard. He wore a black three-piece suit with a lavender shirt. He was talking with a much shorter woman. The top of her head came up to the bottom of his ribcage. Her hair was a dark golden brown, her eyes the color of a Hershey’s Kiss. Her skin was a light tan. The young woman’s lips were a moist looking bright pink. She had high cheekbones and a heart-shaped face. A lilac blouse, black jeans and black sneakers trimmed in white made up her outfit. In her left ear was the black and yellow emblem of Batman. In her right ear was the red and yellow “S” shield of Superman.

She smiled up at him as he bent to kiss her. Just by that, I somehow knew they were in love. I also somehow knew that they were not destined to be together. She moved away from him and he went over to the stage where some folks had begun playing music. The large man climbed up on the stage, which had risen into the air, and passed the man on the keyboard a note. As he hopped back down and approached me, I heard the opening notes of Breaking Benjamin’s “I Will Not Bow” begin. Breaking Benjamin is one of my favorite bands.

“Hello, Carter,” he said to me.

“How do you know my name?” I asked with puzzlement.

He smiled. “Follow me.”

“Where?” I said, the hair on my neck stiff as steel wool.

“You’ll see.”

“Why should I trust you?

“Carter, don’t you realize when you’re dreaming?”

He led me passed the stage and over to the steel double doors I remembered from my time in public schools. He pushed the bar that opened the door to the right and stepped through. I followed him, wanting to know how he seemed to know me. I strode through the door and, rather than a school hallway, or a parking lot (which I would have expected), I found myself walking along an asphalt road that wound through a mountain, or else we were underground. Either way, the tunnel was huge.

It looked like it would run for miles before we came to a destination, yet after five steps, we were before this titanic door. Victory Keep could go through it with feet to spare. It swung open in silence and the big guy sauntered through. Again, I followed him.

I was amazed by the sights. The ten meter screens with their images from various spy satellites. The ten techs sitting in front of their control panels typing. Sixteen operators chatted into their headpieces with various operatives around the world, and the many assistants scurrying about the place. I was in some sort of control room. I watched as the huge guy crossed the mirror polished granite floor to the middle of the room where a much smaller man stood studying reports and on occasion looking up at the central screen. He pointed at the screen the other guy was looking at.

It showed the cold, dark reaches of space. There flew a huge, dense mass of rock.  It was potato shaped, cratered from meteor impacts and was the size of the state of Texas. It was flying right at the camera. Before I shouted a warning, the big guy spoke to me.

“If you have my back, I’ll have yours. That’s how I work.”

Then alarms whooped, and Klaxons screamed of danger. A loud-speaker shouted:

“Warning! Warning! Impact from heavenly body imminent! Warning! Warning!”

There was a huge shaking of the ground beneath my feet and…