Into the Wild – Chapter 30
Chapter 30 – Devon
Devon was jolted awake by the sound of muffled cries and thrashing. Disoriented from sleep, his mind tried to fill in the blanks. Where was he? The cave, that’s right. What was that noise? There it was again. Lok struggling, that’s what it is. His eyes went wide. Had Mat started without warning him.
As he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, he was momentarily distracted by how hard he’d slept. In a cave, on a bedroll, in front of a dead fire. As he got his wits about him, his mind dallied upon the thought that maybe here, in this cave, he felt the safest. It was theirs after all, and no one could get in without them knowing.
Again, the noises.
Searching, Devon’s sleep heavy eyes came to settle upon another pair, just staring at him, now quiet, Lok’s. The druid thrashing had momentarily stopped as Devon watched little bits of drool drip from the rag, they’d used to gag him. The leader’s eyes made him feel uncomfortable. Was he trying to cast a spell? Shaking off the feeling, he looked for Mat. He wasn’t here. No surprise. Devon was pretty sure he knew where his friend had gone, and if he had to guess, that’s where he’d spent the night.
He had a thought. Hmmm. He looked back to Lok and then let his eyes shift again to the entrance of the cave. There might not be a better time. Maybe…
“After I get some tagret, if you behave, I might remove the gag. Now sit there and think about how you can get yourself out of this mess,” remarked Devon, never breaking eye contact. The noise and struggling began again until he raised an eyebrow, then, as if on cue, Lok stopped. “Better. Let me get a little caffeine, and then we can have a chat before Mat comes back. Keep this in mind, as well. When my friend returns, I’m stepping back and letting him take over.” Now breaking eye contact and turning to fish coffee, or tagret, out of his bag, he added, “and we both know where that is going to lead. YOU BEAT HIM,” barked Devon, never looking up as his anger surfaced and was quickly brought back into check.
Though he’d told Lok to stay quiet, he’d become too quiet, causing Devon to look back over his shoulder. The Druid was just sitting there with a defiant look on his face. Well, as defiant as you can look with a gag in your mouth and your hands and hooves tied. Mat had wanted to hogtie him, or whatever it’s called they do to cows at a rodeo, but Devon had talked him out of it. He’d acted horrified at the suggestion, but in all honesty, he’d almost given in.
With a wave, the fire pit burst to life as he started to prepare his morning coffee, leaving their captive to glare holes through him. Devon forced himself to ignore Lok as he enjoyed the first half of his mug. When he felt the first tinges of the potent brew and had prepared himself mentally, he went over to start what he knew was going to be a futile conversation. “I was hoping to have some time with you alone. I’m going to remove your gag so we can talk. If we can find peace, there is a chance you’ll survive this.”
Devon reached for the gag and heard the activation words of the spell Lok had been preparing. When the spit covered cloth used to silence him came free, Lok closed the spell and unleashed a bolt of force against Devon so strong as to propel him across the cave. With a bone-jarring thwack, Devon’s head bounced off the rocky wall. As he slid down the rockface, his head bleeding; he struggled to hold onto consciousness. Pushing himself back to his feet and hearing the Druid already conjuring his next attack, he noticed the rat creature, about the size of a small dog, frantically knawing at the bindings. Where had that thing come from?
Devon barked in wild anger as he flicked a spell from his fingers with little more than an afterthought, causing the creature to explode in a nova of flames. Standing and sending healing to the wound on his head and his confused mind, he marched across the cave. Lok had gotten his hands free and hurled several rocky darts towards him. Quickly bringing up a shield, he never stopped as the projectiles bounced off his protection. With a bark, he casts solar burst causing a pillar of blinding light to explode from his chest and slam into the defiant druid’s face.
Devon was shaken from his rage by the sheer intensity of the bright yellow plasma he’d summoned as it crashed into the druid. Through the glare, so intense even he flinched, he could see Lok’s skin begin to blister and smoke as he screamed and fell over on his side writhing in agony. Curling into a ball, the druid tried to cover as much of his body as he could as the air filled with the smell of burning hair and charred flesh. Devon maintained the spell, letting it continue to consume his attacker’s body as he marched closer. When Devon was standing just outside the affected zone, he cut the mana stream; and with a snap, the solar blast faded, returning the cave to dimness. “Clearly, in your arrogance, you never took the time to learn who you were dealing with. Never realizing just how much more powerful we are than you little cow. I’d wanted to try and save your life, but no more. You will become a plaything for a man you should’ve never have challenged, let alone tortured.”
“He isn’t going to die. I hope you’re satisfied now, after that little display. He’s mine, and I have far better suffering to show him than the simplicity of death,” said Mat from the opening of the cave. Turning, Devon watched his friend stroll forward as the glow of pentagrams danced in front of his hands. “I’d forgotten about the anti-magic spell until his mages reminded me at the camp.”
Lok’s head snapped up in response to hearing Mat’s. Devon winced when he saw the damage on the druid’s face, he was blind now.
“Yes, Sir Loin, what you never discovered was we are both multi-class. I’m not just a rouge, but a necromancer as well.”
Devon heard a gasp. “What did you do to my people?”
“To be honest, I’ve no idea. I have a feeling it didn’t turn out too good for them either. Can you heal his vision?” Mat asked Devon.
“Yes, but why?”
“It’s clear he knows something about necromancy. I want to watch him as he realizes what’s about to happen to him, and I can’t do that if he’s blind,” answered Mat as he sat down beside the fire, pulling his bag to him.
As Devon knelt before the druid, pulling his gag back over his mouth, he examined Lok’s eyes. “He will never see well again. It seems my anger ramped up the spell.”
“Don’t worry about it. He won’t be needing those eyes much longer.”
“So you are going to kill him?” said Devon.
“Nope, not the plan.”
“Here we go with that plan again.”
Placing a hand over the druid’s eyes, Devon muttered a few words and heard the struggled intake of breath as some of the pain lifted, and Lok’s eyes cleared and focused.
“You can remove the gag. The magic shell will keep his shenanigans at bay.”
As Devon and Lok watched Mat root around in his bag and mumble, he glanced down at the defeated druid. “I gave you a chance. It is beyond my understanding how you can hold so much hate? But sadly, he can,” whispered Devon motioning with his head.
With a loud cry of triumph, Mat yelled, “Ah-Ha. I knew they were in here,” as he withdrew a small container, about ten inches square and high, from the bag. Opening it, he removed one of two large crystals resting in the velvet-lined box and held it up for them to see. At first, Devon didn’t think much of it, maybe a reagent for something until he heard a cry from Lok, which quickly morphed into terror.
“See, giving him back his sight has already born fruit,” commented Mat as he watched the druid with a genuinely evil glint in his eye.
“What am I missing?” asked Devon.
“Do you want to tell him or should I,” Mat asked Lok. When their captive didn’t respond, Mat continued, “Sure, I’ll do it. This is a soul stone, an empty soul stone. Lok knows what his fate is now, don’t you little cow. Once I’ve removed your soul, and you’re no longer in need of that body, I plan on having your ass with some mushrooms and onions in a red wine sauce.
Based upon the fear frozen on Lok’s face as he began to beg and the smile on Mat’s, Devon knew that whatever a soul shard was for, it wasn’t for anything good. He watched as the druids pleading grew, he was stammering, his mouth frothing as he bellowed alternatives such as imprisonment, enslavement, even at times suggesting they just kill him.
Mat began to trace a circle about fifteen feet in diameter on the ground. Devon was impressed at how perfectly round it was. That had to be a memory from the training he’d never really had. After the first ring was complete, he followed with a second smaller one about a foot inside the first. Next came a set of intricate runes in the space between the two circles and then again above until the only remaining space was a three-foot circle in the dead center. “Help me move him,” said Mat as he grabbed the kicking and screaming Lok by the horns and started dragging him across the cavern floor. “Can you do something about this?”
With a gesture, Lok’s body went rigid. “Should we talk about this. I don’t understand what you’re doing,” asked Devon as he helped lift the druid and carry him into the pentagram.
“Watch your step; don’t break lines. The time for discussion is over,” snapped Mat as he dropped the druid in the center. “You stand over there, and once I start, don’t disturb me, that would be bad.”
“Just tell me what’s happening…” Devon insisted until Mat flashed him a look so cold it sent shivers down his spine.
“He is not going to allow me an honorable death,” Lok finally volunteered.
“He can still talk? No, that’s fine, I want to hear him scream till the very end,” remarked Mat as he looked down. “Do you think you deserve one?”
“MAT, tell me what you two know that I don’t.”
“He is going to capture my soul in that gem.”
“Of that, I’m not sure yet. Originally, I was going to allow Darth to have it, but it’s too precious,” explained Mat.
“A person’s soul? Yes, I would say it is precious. What purpose does it serve?”
“When I say precious, I’m not talking about the value of a soul as something divine or whatever. As far as I’m concerned, he is worthless, and therefore his soul is. But there are many uses for one as a reagent. That is why soul stones are created, and we carry blank ones. Just in case we come across someone in a battle that might serve future needs. In Necromancy, there are hundreds of applications for an imprisoned soul. Until I figure out what specifically I want to do with his, I’m not wasting it.”
Both Mat and Lok’s eyes shifted to Devon. He could feel them, and each with a different agenda. Mat hoping he’d allow him to continue and Lok hoping he wouldn’t. “Is it painful?”
“Yes,” barked Lok at the same moment, Mat said, “not really.”
“Which is it?” asked Devon, looking at Mat.
“There’s pain in the transfer, but far less than my original plans for this piece of shit. After that, the soul is imprisoned in a void inside the crystal.”
“With no sensory input at all. It would be a prison with no windows, doors, light, or feelings.”
“But after the initial pain, nothing else.”
“No, well, not until I need to extract if for something.”
“Do you not understand you fool; it will drive me mad. To someone like me, someone who lived in a forest, under the stars, basking in the joys of food, wine, and companionship, it would be an eternity of Hell,” pleaded Lok.
For a long time, Devon stared at Mat, occasionally his eyes shifting to Lok, but always back to his friend. “Do you need me for this?” asked Devon quietly.
“No,” answered Mat.
Devon gave a single nod and walked from the cave.