Ahh the Marshes. It had been a few years since I had come here and it was still as dull, dreary, and threatening as I could remember it. Well what can you expect from a place where the Vaan live? I don’t have anything against them per say, but when every member of the race would rob you and your mother at the whiff of treasure… well you get idea.
Mud everywhere, dead trees too. No manner of wildlife; and the signs of life you do see are the ones you want to avoid, lest you meet a swift, painful end. Not that it matters to me anyways, though I often carried the hope that one of these beasties could kill me.
I had been mocking Destran for beating up a woman for at least four days now ever since we left Kalajes, and I think it was getting to him. I'm pretty sure him and Zahkon were conspiring with each other, because I always felt a powerful wind gust by my head every time I made a stupid face at Destran. Didn’t stop me though!
I had asked Yara and Lyra whether or not they felt comfortable here, seeing as how we were surrounded by swamp waters. They said no, ungrateful cows. It’s water! Doesn’t matter how muddy it is, they should feel safe in the fact that if they were hurt, water was around everywhere to heal them. The said something about rather dying then getting healed in swamp water. That put me in a foul mood for a bit.
On the fifth day, I interrupted Zahkon from his usual ‘I'm miserable but I'm in love’ routine with Lyra. I put my arm round his shoulders trying to act buddy like, I got a blade in the gut for my trouble.
“Bit over the top don’t you think Idiot?” I said as I rubbed my already healing stomach.
“Don’t touch me Valenstar” Zahkon said stiffly.
“I don’t see Lyra’s name on you!” I argued.
“Oh leave him alone Jack! Can’t you see he’s upset being here?” Lyra chastised me.
“The Marshes has been a dead land for a long time, so what's the point in being upset about it?” I laughed at them.
“This land… it’s completely empty, and the smells here are foul. It hurts my soul to see nature in pain like this. Of course, you’re still the foulest smelling thing here Valenstar” Zahkon said with a smirk.
The others burst out laughing, Lyra attempted to stifle a giggle. I was quite insulted, so I gave Zahkon a little punch on the shoulder, to which he completely overdramatized by flying several feet ahead of us. I laughed, the others berated me; the same old shindig I had become quite accustomed to. Zahkon responded by shooting an arrow in my knee, well bugger! I guess that’s my adventuring days over! I took the arrow out and give him the middle finger, and went to join Yara and Destran.
“So how’s life?” I asked Destran casually.
“Terrible, you’re here” he said without thinking.
“Hey! You wouldn’t even have life if it weren’t for me!” I bragged.
“How long are you going to keep on at that?” Yara questioned.
“Until you go on a date with me” I grinned.
“I don’t date useless piles of Darma droppings” Yara said with a laugh.
“Even if this particular Darma dropping had the anatomy of its maker?” I said whilst pointing to my crotch.
Yara went red in the face and covered her mouth with her hands in embarrassment, Destran looked mortally offended and went for his sword before stopping, realising it would do nothing. I laughed and started to do some pelvic thrusts at them, when Brena came along and dragged me away by the ear.
“Come now, enough Jackinisms for one day” she said with a bored expression.
“Ow ow ow ow! Let go Barma!” I pleaded with her.
“Brena, why can’t you remember it?” She asked as she let go with a flick in the ear.
“That’s what I said though Balma!” I said, rubbing my ear.
“Brena!” She shouted.
“How many times do I have to say it? Brana, Barma, Bulma, Billma, Brooda, Banda, Banana!” I teased her quite gleefully.
“Just shut up Loudmouth!” She said whilst stomping on my foot.
“Loudmouth? I'm not that loud Banana” I said, sensing her frustration.
“Fine!” She said with an overly long sigh. “I guess that’s better than nothing.”
“You like Banana?” I asked confused.
“Eh, it’s funny I guess” she said with a shrug.
“I must say you’re acting rather… tolerant around me… Could it be that you’ve fallen in love with me after that little… peck?” I said as I etched towards her ear.
She paused, before turning around swiftly and slapping me. She then continued on her way like nothing had happened, I decided to pursue the matter, hoping for some amusement.
“Come now Banana! That just proves to me that you DO love me! BAH HA!” I laughed heartily.
“In your dreams Loudmouth! But thanks for reminding me, I forgot to give you another slap for that” she said indignantly.
“Any time Banana, but you can’t. Lie. To. Meeee!” I said with a stupid voice.
She grabbed by collar and pulled me towards her, staring me straight in the eye. “Why did you do that?!” She hissed.
“Do what?!” I asked innocently.
“Don’t act stupid!” She said loudly, before turning into a whisper. “Why did you kiss me?”
I shrugged. “I dunno boredom? Excitement? Seemed like a good idea at the time? Maybe I love you?” I winked suggestively.
“Well I could never love you! I don’t think I’d be able to survive it!” She said whilst letting go, realising she wouldn’t get a straight answer out of me.
“You can’t protect yourself from the truth! You silly lady!” I said with a high pitched, queer voice.
“Bite me!” She blew me off with a wave of her hand.
“With pleasure!” I said before lunging in.
Brena reacted swiftly to my attempted bite/kiss by kneeing me in my manhood. I keeled over and she tried to push me over before I jumped out of the way, but the mud on the floor made me slip my landing. I didn’t fall over but I kept on going as I tried to regain my balance, taking one wild step after another, heading straight for Lyra and Zahkon, whom didn’t notice me coming up behind them quickly.
I yelled to get out of the way to avoid collision, but Lyra turned around instead to see what the commotion was. I lost my footing completely and fell forward, straight into Lyra, my face onto her face. Zahkon turned to look at us like bolt lightning, but was paused at the shocking event he saw. I could actually tell the moment between when his heart was filled with shock, surprise, and sadness, and replaced with anger, jealousy, and pure rage. My lips had landed on Lyra’s, so I guess at first glance it could have been misleading, seeing another man accidently kiss his love.
The next thing I knew, his fist was hitting the side of my head. I fell down and he got on top of me, punching my face until it went black and blue and he tired. My face healed up in a matter of seconds, and I laughed at him.
“Ha look at her face!” I mocked him whilst pointing at Lyra, whose face was red, gagging, and spitting on the floor. “She liked it! Clearly I'm a better kisser then you!”
Zahkon’s tattoos glowed before his roar of anger ever left him, he punched me again and I felt my neck snap, but heal as soon as Zahkon’s fist left me. “You have to try harder than that Idiot!” I laughed.
He picked me up with his bare hands and threw me into the air; I enjoyed the ride until a massive energy blast hit me, emanating from his hands. I went flying a ways ahead of them, until a smashed into a large mould hill in the ground, a strangely soft mould hill.
I slid down, my arms reconnecting with themselves as I went, and I was back on my feet in moments. I began to walk back towards them like nothing had happened when I heard a deep moan coming from behind me. I turned back to the mould hill which began shaking, and the bit where I landed began to move. The green mould slid up into itself, and in its place was a large yellow eye. An eyelid!
The hill moved up, revealing a long face, nose, and a set of large yellow eyes. Its mouth opened up, revealing a thousand sharp teeth, and the ground below us began to move, as the moss and dead twigs connected with each other moved towards this creature. A thundering, deep roar came from its mouth and I was stunned! I had never met anything like this before, and it looked powerful! My lucky day!
The head veered forward, coming for me. The others pounced into action and Brena yelled for me to get out of the way. I closed my eyes, outstretched my arms, and let the beast consume me, hoping that this could be the time I could die. Feelings of immense guilt washed over me, sadness too. I prayed to whatever god there might have been that this would be the last time I could sense those horrible feelings.
The thousand teeth punctured me all over my body, and the pain was nearly unbearable. I yelled in agony, but it was good agony, this was dying agony. It was pitch black inside its mouth, smelly too, and I could feel my body healing itself all over as the creature chewed me. I think I was receiving more wounds quicker than my body could heal them, which was a good sign amidst all the unbearable agony. It was hard to concentrate.
Just as I felt consciousness slipping away from me I smiled. I seriously thought this was it for me, but that’s when I heard it.
“JACK! STOP THIS AHHH-”
“NO! SOMEBODY HELP MEE-AHH!”
“SPARE MY CHILDREN! PLEASE! TAKE ME!”
“JACK WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
“IT’S A MONSTER! SAVE US FROM THE- AAACK!”
“JACK! THIS IS YOUR FATH-AAAHH!”
“HENRY! JACK WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO- GHUUA!”
“Jack… you’ve killed them all… why?”
“Georgia?!” I screamed as my eyes shot open and I darted up. I had been lying down, and the punctures on my body had already disappeared. I looked around, and I could see the mould creature roaring and slowly retreating its head under a large bog of water. Zahkon and Destran were in front of it, Destran throwing knives at it, Zahkon blasting it with magic.
I could see the trail of saliva and blood from the bog to my position, and Brena was kneeling over me. I rubbed my face and saw Yara and Lyra supporting the two men.
“What the hell were you playing at?!” Brena yelled with a very angry look on my face.
“What do you mean?” I said with a groggy voice.
“You let that thing eat you! If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were trying to get yourself killed!” She shouted.
“And I would have too if I was still in there!” I yelled back, getting a little aggravated as I dealt with the realisation that I just had another failed dying attempt, and her incessant voice drowning my ears.
“Why would you want that? If it weren’t for Zahkon and Lyra working together, you would have died!” Brena went on, shaking me a bit.
I stood up, nearly knocking her down in the process and stared at Zahkon who was embracing Lyra over their victory. “HEY!!” I yelled with such a loud voice, it echoed several times in the area. Everyone shook, especially Brena, who had never heard me shout so loud, so violently, or with so much emotion in my face before.
“WHO SAID I WANTED SAVING HUH?! YOU ARROGANT BASTARDS!! DID I ASK YOU TO TAKE ME OUT OF THERE?!” I screamed. I was literally shaking with anger, although on the inside I felt more depressed then anything. I really hated those two at the moment, I could have finally died if it weren’t for those meddling love birds.
Lyra gulped and hid behind Zahkon, who put a brave face on, but it was clear that he felt a bit of fear as he saw me storm up to them. “This is how you thank us for saving you Valenstar?” He said with a quacked voice.
I instantly put my hand around his neck and lifted him up off the ground. “NEXT TIME YOU LEAVE ME IN THERE! UNDERSTOOD?!” I screeched, barely able to contain the feeling of wanting to snap his neck.
“Jack what are you doing?!” Lyra screeched as she stepped forward and began bashing my arm. I grabbed her collar with my other arm and lifted her up too, barely able to keep rationality on my side.
I could feel my self control from killing them slipping when Destran tackled me and brought me to the floor. Zahkon and Lyra coughed as they fell to the ground and kept their eyes on me. Destran tried to punch me when I grabbed his hand with my own, I wasn't in the mood for playing. I used my foot to kick him off of me, easily sending him a few feet away.
I got up and everyone looked at me like I was deranged, I turned around and walked away from them. Away from their love stories, away from their doomed to fail quest, away from their incessant question of my past, and away from the people I had started to form attachments to.
I watched Valenstar walk away from the group. Now was the time to introduce myself. I however, decided to wait behind the dead tumbleweeds and trees I was using for cover, until I knew for certain he was gone. I don’t want him to sour first impressions between his new friends and me.