An excerpt from a recent chapter of Crusaders:
“There’s no way back through that!” Ganf yells over the steaming gale coming from the fissure now blocking the tunnel to the surface. He watches as the gap grows wider and the heat grows unbearable.
“There has to be other tunnels, other ways out, right?” Ganf asks.
“The others, they used other tunnels, we could find them and get back out that way but what about the trials?”
“Maybe getting out alive is the trial!” Ganf is rapidly looking over the room they have found themselves in. The room is dark aside from the glowing, steaming line blocking the tunnel and the red light of his ring.
“Arn? Where are you?” Ganf loses sight of Arn and the light from his friend’s ring.
Spirit’s mystical senses, his ability to sense the essences of others, fails to locate Aalst. He feels awash in that great, ancient energy that permeates this place.
Cold creeping of fear seizes upon the back of Spirit’s neck.
Spirit yells Aalst’s name. It is swallowed by the darkness of the cavern.
He composes himself and focuses on expanding the light emanating from his hand.
“This shouldn’t be this difficult,” Spirit assesses as sweat soaks his brow.
Spirit closes his eyes tightly and grabs his right wrist with his left hand.
“You always struggled, even as a child. Has manhood made you no more adept than this?”
A familiar voice speaks from somewhere in the chamber.
Spirit does not immediately open his eyes.
The bearer of this voice is long dead.
He senses nothing beyond the tangled mass of energy around him.
“You are to speak when an elder addresses you… Spirit!”
Spirit opens his eyes.
From the dark appears Master Tok.
Just as Spirit remembers him. His gray robe, long beard, ornate sash and close cropped hair.
And his eyes.
As stern and disapproving as the last day he’d ever seen them.
“Have you lost the power of speech as well as your book?” Master Tok speaks through gritted teeth.
Thunderhawk is hoarse from yelling. Feather is nowhere in this endless darkness.
His rage boils.
As he begins to yell her name again he is grabbed by an unseen assailant, bear hugged and lifted into the air.
Thunderhawk overcomes this shock and senses that the man lifting him this way is strong, his size or even larger.
“Where now is your great strength brother? Your Fury.” The man taunts, sounding as if the effort causes him no strain to hold Thunderhawk captive.
Thunderhawk’s eyes flash with white light as he roars with rage. He breaks the hold of his attacker.
“Thunderbear!” Thunderhawk shouts.
“You should’ve taken my life brother. Our father would be avenged and I would not be destroyed under the weight of this madness!” Thunderbear says.
“I didn’t know what you did for certain. How would more death have changed anything?” Thunderhawk shouts.
Thunderbear lifts his great mace above his head.
“I grant you the moment brother! Fight Me! Avenge our father and grant me mercy!” Thunderbear smiles. His eyes glow and crackle with the same flow of lightning that covers his weapon.
The pools of red hot liquid are everywhere. Arn steps carefully to avoid the edges of the steaming fluid in the red light of his ring.
“Ganf could have fallen into one of these pools.” Arn, to his horror realizes.
The heat and the effort of his search draw him down to his knees.
A sudden brilliant yellow and orange flame lights up the cavern. A small geyser of fire is erupting in a nearby pool.
Arn leaps to his feat but remains transfixed on the sight of fire spewing like plume of water from the small lake.
He shields his eyes as the light grows unbearably bright.
The sound of the eruption ceases. Arn looks and recoils in shock as a huge chunk of steel protrudes from the spot the flames had been spewing from.
It rises from the glowing pool around it. As it ascends, it reveals it is a sword of shining metal. The hilt emerges and reveals no hand holds this weapon. It moves of it’s own accord.
The guard of this bizarre weapon bears a face. It appears frozen, cast in a determined gaze.
The weapon begins to float through the air towards Arn.
“Has your sword grown too heavy to draw it champion?” The previously frozen face speaks.
Arn draws his sword.
“Your strength will not save you.”
The sword appears to grow in size and then darts at Arn.