A few days had passed, and I was still at the same place where I had abandoned the group. I wasn’t mad or anything, I was just trying to provoke that swamp monster to attack me again, but I think it left the area.
I had returned a few hours after storming off when I had cooled down. Despite our discontent of each other, they were genuinely nice people, and didn’t know or had any way of knowing that I wanted to stay inside the creature’s mouth. Hell they barely even knew me, so how could they tell I had my reasons of wanting to die?
When I returned they were already gone, their tracks pointed south, with the addition of a new pair of feet, small and frail by the looks of it. They must have met a Vaan. I was going to follow soon enough, but I wanted to try and find the swamp monster again. I threw rocks, slapped the water with sticks, and threw insult after insult at its mother, but nothing worked.
I suppose I could have actually gone into the water to find it, but my pride would not allow it. I’ve done some dirty things including horse fertiliser and a terrible incident with a transvestite hooker. But swimming in a swamp is one thing I'm proud to say I haven’t done, and I have no intention of changing that!
After the first day I noticed something though, it wasn’t the swamp monster I shall now affectionately call Loretta, it was something else. A creature with three legs, two at the front, one at the back in the middle of them, two tails, large feathery wings, a white beak as big as my head, and talons the size of my feet walked past me.
Its bird like head looked at me but gave me no other attention as I stared at it. I swear I’ve seen this type of creature before, but from where eluded me. It stalked past me, and followed the tracks south after the group. I paid no attention to it as I continued to make fat mother jokes at Loretta, and my mind wondered as to where I had seen it before.
Soon enough, I decided it was time to leave Loretta, and re-join the group. Hopefully they haven’t been torn to shreds by now, that would be a serious waste of time on my part. I began to follow the now fading tracks as something came to my head. The bird thing! It’s called a Lyphronis! And I saw them at Sethos’ palace! That thing was bad news! They were personal steeds of his most trusted followers!
I bucked my head, kicked my feet, and ran at full pelt to catch up. I could feel the skin on my cheeks ripple backwards as the speed I ran at was nearly too fast for the naked eye to see. I stumbled a few times; at that speed it’s hard to avoid traffic collisions. Maybe I should make a safety belt!
It the distance they must have covered in a day, I must have covered in an hour. I still saw no sign of the Lyphronis, or Loretta, but I knew one of them had to be around somewhere. The tracks however were erratic, they led out of the marshes one way, and then they went deeper into it. Whoever was leading them must have been pretty stupid.
Their tracks were fresh now, and I knew I was closing in on them. Sure enough, within half an hour, I found them squelching through the mud. I slowed down, coming to a near stop right behind them. They hadn’t noticed my presence, so I walked up right behind them and stayed silent for a minute as they went on in silence.
All eyes were on the lead, a bald headed tall man, who seemed to be fraying with age. Must have been a hermit who lived around here, only explanation as to why they found somebody in this godforsaken place. They seemed to be very uncomfortable around him.
“Do you think he’s leading us the right way?” Lyra asked.
“He knows the consequences if he doesn’t” Destran answered stiffly.
“Have you tried asking him? I'm sure he’s a reasonable fellow!” I blurted out, causing everyone to jump.
They were all amazed to see me back safe and sound, and all rather scared as well, like they were afraid that I was gonna attack them or something. I told them to relax, and that I was fine, and that I was willing to agree to any relaxation methods to recover from my ordeal that any female of the group would have suggested.
I got nothing.
Brena was the first to ask me where I went; I simply said nowhere and brushed her off. Zahkon and Lyra were giving me dirty looks, the kind that only couples can make when they think their love is better than others. Made me want to vomit.
I pointed at the old man who seemed rooted on the spot and hadn’t turned around. “Who’s this?” I asked.
“Somebody we met as soon as you left” Brena answered.
“Oh, hello there? What's the matter? You got constipation or something?” I called out to him.
“Hello Jack” he said turning around, my blood instantly boiled.
There, with that same goatee he had from when I met him, those grey eyes, and that snivelling smirk he always had, was Urysus standing in front of me.
“Hey!” I said with a stupid grin and a high pitched, silly voice. “I know you! From a real long time ago!”
Urysus smiled. “Really? Well that makes me really happy Jack! I was afraid that in your pointless and countless suicide attempts, you might have gone a bit mad and forgot me!”
“Oh no, no, no, no! You completely misunderstand the situation!” I continued with the same stupid voice and a chuckle. “Me knowing you is not a good thing. You see, everybody I know from a long, long time ago is dead… except for one person” I went on with a loud, forced laugh.
Urysus gulped. “And?” He asked, joining me in with the laughter.
“And ha ha!” I looked at him with a face that looked silly, to murderous within a second. “He’s the reason they’re dead!” I snarled with such anger and malevolence that even I was scared of it.
Before anyone could say anything, and before Urysus could even make a shriek of fear, I flew through the air and punched his stomach as hard as I could. A pulse of power blasted away from the impact, Urysus was lifted off of his feet, and blood splattered out of his mouth. The next second he went blasting away into a dead tree, a loud snap coming from his back upon impact.
He yelled in pain, and that meant he was still alive, so I went to finish the job. I was so angry, and I literally trembled with rage, I could barely hear the cries of protest coming from the group. I stomped over to him and picked him up by the neck, he reacted by pulling a knife out from his sleeve and slashing my neck.
It was painful, but I didn’t show it. I stood there with so much hate on my face as my neck healed up that I could barely control my grip. I threw him back to the floor and unsheathed my sword to kill him quickly. I didn’t want him to suffer, and I didn’t want to give him a speech over how much I wanted to do this.
I just wanted him dead now.
That’s when Brena stepped in front of me. “What the hell are you doing Jack? He’s just an old man!” She yelled at me.
“Move” I told her. She didn’t comply.
“What’s gotten into you?” She asked with urgency.
I was in no mood to talk, I grabbed her collar and tossed her aside like a ragdoll and proceeded towards Urysus who was backing away on the muddy ground and whimpering. I barely made two steps when an arrow hit my leg, and Destran tackled me to the ground.
“How dare you hurt Brena!” He yelled at me, giving me a quick punch in the face.
“Get off of me” I said coldly.
“Not until you tell me what's going on!” Destran demanded.
“Get off of me now Destran” I repeated.
“Destran?” He replied with confusion, he had never heard me say his name before.
I punched his chest, and he went a foot in the air before landing beside me. I got to my feet and withdrew the arrow; I threw it back at Zahkon to make him dodge before he could fire another. I proceeded to Urysus, ready to kill again, when Yara and Lyra grabbed my arms and forced me backwards.
I flexed my arms and caused them to go crashing into each other. I was getting very annoyed at their repeated attempts to stop me, but I had taken care of them for now. Urysus was just within my reach, I raised my arm to strike.
An intense pain came from my elbow; I looked and saw Brena had swung her axe at my arm. The axe went through the skin and bone and began to come out the other side. However, when the case of dismemberment or decapitation came up, my healing was much quicker and more active. The side of the arm her axe entered was already healing, before the metal had even left my skin, by the time the axe left my arm, barely a second in there, my arm was already half healed.
My arm flopped as it was literally hanging on by a thread, but shot back into position as the bone, muscle, and skin reattached themselves. Brena stood and watched in amazement as she saw a strike that would have normally chopped off a man’s arm, became nothing but a minor annoyance to me.
I rounded on Brena, who looked very fearful, but stood up to me in a display of bravery anyway. “He’s an old man Jack! Why are you trying to kill him?” She demanded to know.
“Just because” I answered.
I wasn’t going to tell them anything.
Just then, a loud squawk came from above me, I looked up to see a talon stab me in the face. I fell to the ground, temporarily blinded, as my eyes and face reattached their selves. Once I could see again I looked over to Urysus, who was already mounting the same Lyphronis I had seen a few days ago. I immediately made a break for him, but tripped when Destran, Zahkon, and Brena tackled my legs, before I could manoeuvre; Yara and Lyra jumped on my arms and pinned me down.
Five people on top of me were just enough to slow me down for a bit. Giving Urysus that extra time needed to mount his steed, and take off from the ground. I forced them all off of me eventually, and they all fell into the mud. I jumped as high as I could but could not reach him; I even threw my sword but was just out of reach.
I fell to the ground and watched him fly away with my heart racing.
“You’ll never catch me Jack!” Urysus called out to me.
“DAMN YOU! I’LL KILL YOU! URYSUUUS!!!” I bellowed at the top of my lungs. But he was already gone.
“Give me Urysus” I demanded Sethos. I was standing in the same throne room as I had when I first met Valak, although it was only me, Sethos, and Desdemonda here now. Valak had already been paid and left.
“Why?” Sethos asked, his face covered in shadows.
“Don’t play stupid with me, I found the stone! It’s in the desert; I’ve already marked the location and route to it on the map I gave you. Now give me Urysus! That was the deal!” I raised my voice.
“I ordered you to find the stone for me, common sense dictates that that means you bring it to me too. Plus Urysus, despite his grovelling, is a good servant, and a good man. Why would I want to condemn him to your mercy?” Sethos mocked me.
“Don’t give me that bull crap! Since when have you ever cared if somebody is a good man?” I said, feeling a little hot.
“I think you need to get over yourself Jack, let’s not play games anymore. Join me, become the General of my armies, like you are meant to. You and Urysus need to get along from now on” Sethos said with a casual voice, like he thought I knew what he was talking about.
“BAH HA! That’s a good one, I never saw you as a comedian! But seriously, where the hell is Urysus?!” I yelled at him.
“I'm very serious Jack, I need you, and I need Urysus. You need to work together from now on” Sethos commanded.
“No! Go to hell!” I shouted at him. Desdemonda writhed in pleasure at the sight of me defying her father.
“This is not up for negotiation, Urysus does not deserve death. You have marked him for death of an unjust cause, I will not sacrifice my servant just so you can erase your past” Sethos said calmly.
“So you’re going back on your deal? Bad choice” I said through gritted teeth.
I threw my sword at him, which was immediately deflected by an invisible barrier around him. It went flying back towards me but I grabbed it in the air, and I jumped at Sethos, preparing to strike him down. An energy pulse hit me, and I fell out of the air and down the steps to his throne.
He stood up, preparing to make an example of me, when I recovered and grabbed Desdemonda to my side and put my sword to her neck. She was half surprised, half moaning at my sudden touching of her.
“Give me Urysus or I’ll kill her” I warned Sethos.
“Do what you will with her, her worth is nothing compared to yours” Sethos said uncaringly.
“I’ll never join you!” I told him.
“You don’t have a choice in the matter” Sethos said, taking a step forward.
“There’s always a choice!” I said defiantly as I picked Up Desdemonda and threw her at Sethos.
Sethos was surprised at the unorthodox tactic and caught her with his arms instead of magic, but threw her aside straight afterwards. Much to Desdemonda’s clear unhappiness.
I had already made a break for it, I escaped through the throne room doors, and I could hear the screaming of Sethos’ displeasure as I ran through the castle, to the keep, over the walls and away from the structure itself, dispatching many of his guards and creatures along the way.