Niclaos dove behind the tall, gnarled tree, just in time to hear a deep thunk. He peered around to see a spear shaking in the trunk behind where he stood. He spun and ran, dodging fallen logs and trees. Behind him, the chanting from the village he had just left had grown louder, closer.
Duck He did so and heard a blow dart fly over his head. He dove into some deep bushes, hoping to throw off pursuit. Seconds later the air whistled, and another dart embedded beside his head. So much for hiding. He charged full speed forward out into thick copse of trees, darting left and right. A low hanging branch whipped his face, drawing blood. It dripped onto his pouch, and a crimson light glowed from inside. Desperately, he tried to hide the light.
A loud scream was followed by a spear coming directly at him. A glow surrounded him and with a preternatural speed, he dove into a roll, spear flying harmlessly above him. A deep voice echoed out of the darkness “Rudisha sanamu na tutawaacha uishi. Endelea kukimbia na kufa.”
Return me and you live. Keep me and become a god. The glow from his pouch became brighter. He wrapped himself tightly in his black cloak to hide the light. Now unable to run in the tight wrapping, he stepped as lightly as he could. Still, his step crunched and snapped branches. Niclaos cursed. Put him in a city and he could walk past a guard in full daylight unseen. Why had he come to this damnable wilderness?
You know why. Again the voice echoed in his head. He supposed he did, as he gave up on stealth and charged ahead. A rush of air, and a hard thud pushed his shoulder forward, toppling him. He looked and a dart pinned his cloak to his thick leather jerkin. He shuddered at what kind of poison he had barely avoided. Leaping to his feet he ran faster.
He came to a sudden stop. Before him, a giant jungle cat lay in front of him on a low hanging branch. It looked up lazily, eyes piercing through him. Repeat after me came the voice and he mimicked a complex phrase. Energy flowed out of him, leaving him winded. The cat leaped over him, charging into the woods. This was followed by screams. He bought some time, somehow. Determined not to waste it he charged full bore into the woods his legs pumping desperately.
A few moments later and the voices had fallen into the distance and he slowed slightly. He looked ahead just in time to come to a skidding stop. Before him, a chasm opened in the jungle, with steep cliffs going 100 feet down to the lagoon below. He glanced around and saw his small ship sitting on the shore. It seemed impossibly far. He began to try to find the path downward when a spear struck the ground inches behind him. He spun around, bouncing slightly on his toes as if to dodge the projectiles. He had lost. He had risked everything and lost. He would at least put up a good fight. He pulled a dagger from his belt and waited.
Fall. You will be unharmed that voice again. He looked at his pouch and the light was bright enough to shine through the thick leather. “That’s crazy! I’d rather be killed by a spear than commit suicide.”
Trust. I have gotten you this far. I will grant you power beyond imagining. The words burned insidiously through his mind, pitting his will against the voice. He lost. Putting his arms outwards he dropped backward off the cliff. A spear flew inches above his face. The air seemed crimson and slipped by quickly until he hit the water with a crash. He bobbed to the surface and the air turned normal again. Swimming to shore he ran to his boat and rowed out to sea until his small sail could catch the wind.
Finally feeling safe, he reached into his pouch and pulled out the idol he had stolen. Shaped like 100 headed dragon, touching it sent whispers through his mind. He had heard the call and answered. Now he wouldn’t be a fearful young thief. He would teach others to fear him. Yes. I will guide you. Your enemies will fall before you. First, you must awaken me. This is what you must do.
The man once known as Niclaos felt energy flow through him, and his eyes grew crimson in the looming darkness. Yes, he would have all the power he ever dreamed of.