A Wylde Tale by T. J. Schaaf and Cal Westray
Chapter 10: Death Dispatch
“Wake up! Oh, wake up already!”
“Huh? I’m up, I’m up. What are you doing here?”
“I should be asking you that. You shouldn’t be stuck inside your head. There are plenty of things to be done outside.”
“Yeah, I know. At least I’m not dead.”
“Yes, you still have your soul. But now what are you going to do?”
“With the girl of course!”
“I don t know. I could kill her, but that would be another death on my hands. Something I don’t want. I can’t just let her go. She may try to kill us again. I can’t believe she led him right to us! How could she do that?!”
“Calm down. You don’t know what all happened. As I recall, she came bursting out of the forest trying to warn you.”
“We wouldn’t have needed a warning if she hadn’t come! They are all dead! Every last one of them. I was chosen to save them, and now their people are extinct.”
“True, but maybe your job isn’t finished. Perhaps your duty to them still lives on. It was never clear why or what you were chosen to do.”
“It’s time for me to go home. There is nothing more for me to do here. I’ve done enough as it is.”
“You can’t go home. That’s the irony of it. You can’t go home until you’ve completed your mission.”
“I don’t have a mission. I have nothing.”
“Really, you just said you wanted go home. Sounds like a mission to me.”
“Excellent. He wants to know how. Here is the only way I know of. Either you get someone to teleport off this world, or gain enough power yourself to leave. Now, we both must go. Every time I speak to you, it gets harder for me to return the next time. And you have things to do outside of your head. I will go now. You start meditating and healing your body, and when you can, go back to the conscious world.”
“Okay. Think you later.”
After mind-meditating for a bit longer to get some strength back, I slowly started returning to the conscious world. After a short time, I woke up. For some reason, as I awoke, I felt a presence. I can’t describe what it was, just a presence. I tried to use a bit of empathy to see who all was around, but I didn’t get any response. It’s like the power was gone.
“Good morning, my dear boy,” said a familiar voice.
“Please tell me that’s Wylde,” I responded.
“In point of fact, it is.”
I then rolled over to greet my friend who I had not seen for nearly a year.
“How have you been, Wylde?”
“By the uh, looks of it, a bit better than yourself I suspect.”
“Oh yes, the eye. I’ll remember that one for a while. By the way, where is she?”
“You know she’s...”
“Yes. I know she’s here.”
“But how? You were unconscious.”
“We have a lot to talk about my friend. But first, I’d like to get cleaned up if you don’t mind.”
“Of course. There is breakfast if you want it. You have been out for some time.”
So after Wylde showed me around and to where I could clean up, I did. It has been a while since I had a shower and a shave. Upon looking in the mirror, I discovered I had nearly a full beard. I hate the hassle of shaving. But this time I went for an Irish-type cut, with just a line going down my cheeks and connecting under my chin. I thought it looked cool. After that, I asked Wylde if he had any other pants I could wear. Mine were in desperate need of washing. He brought me back a pair of brown leather pants from one of his younger friends here. I thanked him and proceeded to get ready for what was ahead.
I had no idea what that would be, but I none the less got ready for it. I then proceeded outside to a table where I thought I saw the figure of Wylde. There were other figures, but I couldn’t tell whom. You see, I need glasses in the first place. Take away those for now and an eye, and well, I’m screwed. I proceeded to walk towards them. “Good morning all,” I said, surprising most of them.
“Good morning!” they all replied.
“It’s good to see you are good spirits,” said the older of the three women who were sitting with Wylde.
“Why shouldn’t I be, I’ve been betrayed, lied to, nearly soul sucked, teleported to unfamiliar territory, and lost an eye. Heck this is the good life!” I shouted out. That got em. They weren’t sure what to think with that one. “Don’t worry, I’m fine,” I said trying to reassure them of my sanity. I then tried to get a look at their auras, but I couldn’t do that either.
“Please, have some breakfast,” insisted Wylde.
I gladly accepted. And then thought it a good idea to make conversation.
“So, Wylde, I see you have surrounded yourself in beauty. Care to introduce me?”
“Oh. Of course, where are my manners, T.J., this is...”
“Please, Thomas now. It’s been awhile since I’ve been called T.J.”
“That’s new. Of course, Thomas, this is Madame Moonscrye, she is a healer and matron leader of the gypsy caravan” he said pointing to the older of the two. “And this is Cassandra Dragna, an uncommon mage and teacher” he said pointing to a very attractive woman. “I’ve already introduced them to your young friend.”
If I didn’t know better, I’d say by the tone of his voice when he said her name, I’d think they had been best friends for years.
“Ladies, this is Thomas,” he said finishing the introductions.
“It’s a pleasure,” I added sincerely.
“The pleasure is ours,” they responded with equal sincerity.
“And you,” I said towards the girl whose name I still didn’t know, “have you found what you need yet?”
“Almost,” she said, unsure of exactly what I meant by the question.
“Good, we’ll talk later.” Without warning, I saw the villager’s faces in my mind. Something I would remember for a long time. So much death. So much pain. That reminded me of something I had to do. “I have a question, well many, but the first is how did I get here? I ask this because, I need to go back for a while. I have some things to clear up.”
Wylde smiles proudly. “I teleported us here. I believe, if we are not needed here now, we can go immediately. But do you think it’s safe?”
“So, that’s how you got to me so quickly before, at the temple ruins. I thought you got there awfully quickly. And yes, I believe it's safe. Daylight will be our friend and protect us.”
“Uh yes, that’s what I did before. Well, if you are ready, I believe we can leave now.”
“May I join you?” asked the girl.
“I don’t see why not.”
Wylde addresses Moonscrye and Cassandra. “All right then, we shall return tonight, I’d imagine ladies. Have a pleasant day. Now, if you two would please grab hold of me, we’ll see if I can do this a second time.”
So, we both grabbed onto Wylde and took a step forward. The next thing I knew, we were
back in the village. At least what was left of it. “If I am not back before dark, it’s best that you leave without me,” said the girl.
“Okay,” I responded.
With that, she ran off into the forest. Hopefully wherever she went, was none of my business.
“Wylde, will you help me gather the bodies for burning?”
“As you wish,” he said in an unpleasant tone.
“I know. But it’s their way.”
She continued to run.
I lit the torch, and cast it onto the pile of unjust deaths. I hoped that this would give them at least some peace. “So Wylde, how have things been the last year or so that we’ve been apart?”
“Well, interesting. I need to know what you know about me. What did you mean when you said that teleporting is how I did it back at the temple ruins? I don’t exactly know how to put this, so I’ll just come right out with it. I haven’t had my full memory since we got to here. Which brings me to my next question: where is here?”
“Wow. Okay then. I’ll try to fit the pieces together as best as I can. I believe you were sent to me as a bodyguard. Someone was trying to kill me for some reason. You stopped them twice that I know of. Once in a library, the other time at some ruins. I called for help on your pen, but you were far away. Only a short time later, you arrived. I didn’t know how you did it before, and I didn’t have time to ask. I believe now, that you teleported to me. And as for what I know about you, I now know that you can teleport, you are very strong, and have many neat gadgets. Where we are? Well, now we are in Stralanth. I’m not sure if that is the name of this world, or just the area. I don’t know if where we were is in Stralanth, or another world. I hope that helps.”
“It does a little bit. It confirms what I thought I knew. And which gadgets are you referring to?”
“Your pens. The communicator and dart gun.”
“Would you show me, please?” he said sounding slightly embarrassed.
“Certainly. Wait, you have more?” After he showed me the gadgets he had discovered, I showed him the pens and how to work them. I also gave him the same explanation of what they are that he to gave me so long ago.
“Excellent,” he said. “I’m sure they will come in handy later on.”
“So, what have you been up to for so long while not having a memory?”
“Working on getting it back, it seems. I have actually been searching for you most of the time. All I knew was a face and what notes I kept. Fortunately I had them, or I couldn’t have found you or even know of your existence. They indicated that you were in trouble and I was assigned to protect you. And now I seem to be preparing to stop a fire warlock from destroying the town of Talladale that I have begun to call home. Cassandra has been teaching me magic. And you?”
“Training. All training. But that’s a story for a later time. What about this war?”
“It appears a fire warlock is coming to destroy the town. I’m not sure why yet, but I do plan on stopping him. And before he can reach Talladale.”
“How goes the preparations so far?”
“Decent. I believe we have a very good chance. My friends and I each have powers that I think will be the key element to victory. There is one spell in particular that I just learned, I think it will be quite effective and deadly.”
“And that is?”
“Wind control. I will be in the eye of a powerful tornado, as powerful as I can make it.”
I think back to the devastation of the Xenia tornado, back home. The thought of using it as a weapon startles me. “I see. What about supplies?”
“We can always use more. But we seem to be in good shape at the moment.”
“Then let me help further. Anything here that you can teleport back is yours for the taking. It’s better that you use it than let it decay and become lost here.”
“That’s great. Not to sound so happy at your loss, but we truly could use them. I wish that we could have helped prevent this.” Wylde motions at the devastation. “I am trying to prevent it from happening in Talladale and beyond.”
“Good, then we will gather them up and take them back. I would also like to hear about some of your adventures. I don’t have many, but I’ll gladly trade scar stories.”
“Then let’s get to work.”
She once again found herself at the bald spot in the forest, and in the middle of waiting this time was the forest elder.
“You return,” he said.
“And you as well.”
“Have you found what you were looking for?”
“I think I may have.”
“Then the sacrifice has begun.”
“What do you mean?”
“You have made a decision by yourself. That hasn’t happened for a while. That means you are free from his influence.”
“That s good, though.”
“In some ways, but in others, you will suffer more than you have imagined.”
“What are you talking about, everything is getting better now!”
“You are free from him, and that means his power as well. Where will you get your power from now?”
“He fed you before. He gave you your strength. Think about it. You never ate, you never needed sleep. And yet, you have great power. You accepted it. Now it’s gone.”
“You tricked me!”
“No, I told you that you would have to sacrifice everything. You laughed at the thought. You thought you had nothing and so wouldn’t be required to give up anything. Wrong. All you had was your power. And now you don’t even have that. Now it’s time to find out where he ends, and you begin.”
With that, many things happened. The sun began to fall. The elder disappeared into the trees. And her world was once again turned upside down. Upon realizing that the sun was going down, she knew she had better get back to what was once the village, before her ride left.
“I’m not sure who was more startled when you started cursing them in their own tongue: you, or them,” I said with a laugh.
“Indeed, it was a surprise to both of us. The language was a distant part of myself and came to me naturally. Now tell me. What was your “training” all about?”
“This,” I said motioning to our surroundings. “This was what my training was supposed to save. This is what I was supposed to save! But I couldn’t even do that. The woman I thought I loved, ended up condemning them to their deaths. And even then, it wasn’t her fault!” I screamed, falling to my knees crying. “I was brought here to save these people, I was their chosen one, and I let them down. I watched those who I loved like family get cut down in front of me. And then I was forced to burn their bodies!” I screamed as tears ran down my cheeks. “Maybe I should have let them lay and come back as vampires. Then they could have killed me and the circle would be complete,” I said in words filled with hopelessness. “Now all I have to keep me alive is the hope of getting off this world.”
“That is not true!” Boomed a voice from the trees. “Everyone is counting on you. My master is counting on you. I am counting on you!”
“Where were you last night, bird?!”
“I was getting help! And as for these people, if you crack now from losing them, you’ll never survive what is ahead of you!”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“It’s not your choice! Your mission is bigger than your feelings! Get over it!”
“You have no idea what you have been chosen for! You believe it was to save these people just so you can say you failed and are done! It doesn’t work that way! You know what power you wield! You know what you might be! Accept it! This isn’t a dream! You know where you are! You know who I am! You know what you must do! This is not a coincidence! Unfortunately, it happened too quickly. I admit that. We admit that. But that doesn’t mean you can run away, simply because it’s sooner than anyone thought! You always thought you were destined for something more. Why do you reject it now that it is here? Look at your life. Your training hasn’t been for the past year. It’s been for the past 18 years!! You know what I say is true! And when you finally accept it, then and only then will you begin to grow into what you have always desired! But only then!!”
Looking at Wylde and seeing how confused he was, I tried to give him a little peace.
“It’s a long tale, one that you are helping to write. And hopefully later on, I will be able to answer your questions. But for now, you must leave me here and return to the town. I can’t tell you why, but I ask that you return tomorrow morning to get me. To get us.”
Without a word, he did what I asked. He placed his hand on my shoulder in a show of support. I think he didn’t know what was going on, but did at the same time.
Once again, she ran. This time, it was to the village. That was new. As she got to the edge of the forest, she crossed the edge just in time to see the faint glow of the spell. They had left her there. She knew she told them to, but couldn’t they had waited another minute?! With that, she walked toward the center in hopes of finding... she didn’t know what she hoped to find. Then something happened. Something she never expected. A word she never thought she would hear again.
“Jade,” said a soft voice from inside a hut.
She couldn’t control it. She lost all will to stand. So she fell.
“Jade would never have wanted this.”
“How dare you speak that name in front of me!”
“How dare you abandon that name child!” Came another voice from the trees.
“So, you are my brother.”
“Oh no, I’m not your brother. We re not related at all.”
“But I felt his spirit.”
“And you will continue to feel it as long as you are near me. Let me show you something.” I stepped toward her, handing a book to her. “I found this on one of my first days here. Read it. Look at the picture. And after you do that, tell me everything.”
“This cannot be!”
After hearing her say that which I had screamed in my mind so many times, I raised my eye-patch.
“Then explain this. But first, tell me everything you know!”
For the rest of the night they spoke. Each of them learning something that they had never fathomed could be possible. They never went to sleep. They were so curious as to what was happening. Then the sun began to rise.
I left Thomas in the village. I left him among the funeral pyres and the memories.
I recalled the smell of death and burning bodies. Even with my memory loss, those smells brought back strong memories of war. I also recall trying to forget it, but it only burned the experiences into my mind.
I know that I will see it again, and soon. And I wish it could be avoided.
I returned to my wagon. Cassandra left for Dragon’s Peak. Moonscrye left for her wagon. And I was alone. I get a bottle of brandy, pour myself a very large glass, and sit in my favorite chair. I need something to dull the ache in my temples. I could drain the bottle and I know that it won’t help, so I just have a tall glass and toast to the people who gave their all in countless wars. And to the wars to come.
I soon decide that it’s time to quit being maudlin and do something useful.
I visit Colonel Wynne to get a status report and tell him of my progress. He is pleased to hear of the possibility of getting more supplies. An army tends to consume more supplies than it can replenish. He shows me where he would like them stored. I memorize details of the storage area.
I explain the spells that I have been learning and ask for his suggestions for others. It helps to get other views in warfare, especially from experts in the field. He nearly dropped his drink when I told him about summoning a tornado. He is cautiously optimistic of our chances and agrees that I should face them well before they reach Talladale. I leave, giving him a lot to think about.
I check on my horses and make sure there has been no reoccurrence of the bot flies. Satisfied, I keep busy with other minor tasks and manual labor. Anything to keep busy at mundane tasks.
Hours pass and it is getting dark. It should be morning in the village by now. I gather a few large sacks to carry supplies and head back to Thomas’ village.