The Hell and Back Archives
Tonight All Is Silence In The World, Part II
Character(s): Malak't, et. al.
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Jungle Land or whatever you want to call it
Title of Post: Meanwhile....
Malat'k didn't like his new "allies" one bit. This Dr. Swank and his pets had him watching his back when he should be out conquering Salagia. The dinosaur hopped feverishly from one leg to the other. He knew he needed to get rid of them; the question was, how.
Nick fingered the water totem with pleasure. So far, he had gone undiscovered. Now was the time to cause some real chaos. Under the guise of Kong, he walked into the chamber where the golem the caterpillar had brought was kept.
After making sure nobody else was around, he shifted into the form of a bird and flew over the open neck of the creature. Once above it he dropped the totem into the creature. He then landed and shifted back into his Kong form.
Nick smiled and called forth the power of the water totem. The golem filled with swamp water. It roared to life and then collapsed, water flowing from every opening.
Nick heard a group of folks appraoching. He shifted into the form of a butterfly and flew away.
"What is it?" screamed Malak't.
"We don't know yet," said a man sized dinosaur.
"Well, find out!"
The dinosaur ran out of the room to see what was going on. Malat'k paced about the room, furious. This was no time for delays. He needed to find the Obelisk of Air, and soon. Malat'k walked off to prepare his troops. Time for some action.
Author: Laura Redish
Title of Post: Extrapolation
The Rat Pack were relaxing at the base of the jungle cliff when Ember, Jack, and Vas flew in from out of absolutely nowhere. Khyrisse managed not to cry out but did spill her drink everywhere. I... hate... illusionists. Khyrisse gritted her teeth and cantripped herself clean. "What news?" she said, pleased at how polite it came out.
"Well," said Jack, as Ember landed him gently on the ground, "Tarrin was right; it was pretty easy to identify the epicenters of the last three obelisks." Ember took her arm from around his waist like she was a little bit sorry to, and squeezed his shoulder. Valende frowned slightly. "If we assume the four obelisks are equidistant from the center, I can extrapolate a position for the fourth."
"What the hell is he talking about?" demanded Kerouac.
"If you wait long enough, he tells you," said Kit.
"The radius is pretty long, though. We're approximately 12.4 kilometers from the missing position, and it's on the other side of a swamp."
"What the hell is a kilometer?!" yelled Kerouac.
"You have to be patient," said Kit.
"A swamp?" said Alphred, anxiously. "The fourth obelisk is on the other side of the Swamp of the Plants That Eat You? That is two days journey from here!"
"And what the hell is an obelisk, anyway?"
"Can we use the Carriage?" said Skitch.
"It is impossible. The jungle is too thick."
"Two days is okey-dokey," said Tarrin. The Diari psionicist was in an especially cheerful mood. He had called his wife, who had been frantic over his long absence and was desperately glad to hear from him. His son had won the science competition at school. Everything was going well for them, and Tarrin was thankful. "We have the two weeks."
"Then we must cross the Swamp of the Plants That Eat You to capture the obelisk and defeat
Malat'k," decided Alphred.
"Cross the swamp, capture something, and kill someone!" shouted Kerouac.
"See?" said Kit. "Patience is a virtue."
Character(s): Captain Kyber
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: Lost at sea
Title of Post: Redux
"The Slavers' Guild?" said Ralchar, and made a low whistle. "They haven't been a real force on my world since the Diari authorities executed Ebreth Tor back when I was a teenager. Not that the slave trade doesn't still exist, naturally, but since Lita Paris led that campaign against it on the islands slavery hasn't been legal in any municipality in Ataniel, so it's been driven pretty far underground."
"Tell us again why you left your timeline," said Luthien.
"Well, you seemed like you really needed help," he said, and shrugged.
"Well, welcome to the real world. There haven't been Parises on the islands since Tor's necromancer shored up the Remnant." Noyarc lit a cigarette in the shadow of his hand. "The Slavers' Guild is worse under Mageson than it ever was under Tor. It doesn't help that Tor's running the entire Archipelago at this point and St. Augustine took Rimbor back after Javert was killed in the Madness. But make no mistake about it, the Guild is Mageson's. And he's got a lot to answer for."
Luthien, whose trollish fortitude was still in effect, stabbed his knife into his leg. It was still more satisfying when he did it to Shilree. "Believe me," he said, "he will."
"Well, he's docked in Rumi," said Noyarc. "He doesn't even bother sneaking around. No one has the balls to refuse him port anymore. He hasn't disappeared with any youth groups yet, so I assume he's here for a meeting. Though I can't imagine who he could find to meet in an out-of-the-way little port like this one." The werewolf shrugged.
"Who cares?" said Norna. "Let's find him and kill him."
"Are you nuts?" demanded Noyarc. "The Slaver King has allies on every street corner, and this town riots over chess matches. You'd never get out of here alive. Don't you think we would have done this already if it was that easy?"
"If his ship is docked here," said Flicker, "we could stow away on her. The golem won't know the difference between you and the Slave Lord. We can just walk on and lay low till we're away."
"Golem?" said Berryn.
"Slaver ships are guarded by stone golems," said Luthien, quietly. He would really rather not have remembered that.
"What about the rest of us?" disagreed Norna. "He can't do this alone."
"The golem won't stop him," said Flicker. "He can just bring us aboard as if we were slaves."
"I'm not pretending to be the death mage's slave!" shouted the Valkyrie.
"Why not?" snapped Luthien. "I've been pretending to be yours all week."
"If we can kill Luthien the Slave Lord at sea, ours can take his place and order the crew to turn her about," said Flicker, ignoring Norna. "If we're lucky, they won't even know the difference."
"It sounds like a good plan to me," said Ralchar.
"Yeah, but you're from the world where everything goes right," said Shilree. "What if we're not lucky?"
"Then we get a big shipboard battle." Flicker couldn't help grinning. "It's been too long anyway."
Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Title of Post: We Never Covered the Other Dangers of the Fireswamp, You Know
Khyrisse stood with a sigh and coaxed Ebreth to his feet. She looked up at his blank face and sighed, then rested her forehead on his shoulder for a moment. " 'The Swamp of the Plants That Eat You'... What a charming and hospitable place the jungle is, Ebreth. I can't imagine why I ever preferred city life," she added, lifting her head and flashing him a rueful smile.
"Me neither," Skitch said sourly.
Vas grinned a bit. He reached out and rumpled Skitch's hair. "Peacock."
"Hey, knock it off! I've got enough stuff in my hair, I don't need any help!"
"As if you had room to talk, Vas," Valende remarked, still studying Ember out of the corner of her eye.
Vas mimed being mortally wounded, eyes sparkling in amusement.
Khyrisse pushed aside a giant fern, trying to keep Alphred in sight. Vas flew up and hovered next to her, floating backwards in order to study Khyrisse's face. He looked mightily amused about something. Khyrisse squinted suspiciously up at him. "How are Jack and Ebreth and Val doing?" she asked, after discarding several less-sociable remarks.
"They're fine... Valende is tying knots in Jack's supply of rope-- no surprise there-- but is being frustrated by his ability to untangle them-- no surprise there, either," he said, grinning.
Khyrisse grinned. "You're terrible. How is Ebreth?"
"He and Marty are fine, if a bit too calm."
Khyrisse sighed. She pushed more overgrown plant life out of her way, then paused, a surprised look flitting over her face. "Vas, I smell something burning!" she whispered. "You don't think that fire-demon is around here...?"
Vas glanced around, looking for Alphred, and disappeared. Khyrisse crept along cautiously, concentrating on moving silently. In a few moments, Vas reappeared, wearing a startled expression.
"Milady, it has to be seen to be believed," Vas said. "But no, it is not connected to the fire-spirit Sz'aal. Alphred tells me that it is the normal state of the Swamp of Plants That Eat You."
Whats the normal state? Khyrisse said, ducking under a curtain of moss-- and stopped dead. Oh... my... god.
The jungle floor dropped down a sharp incline here, giving her a better view than she wanted of an overgrown, tangled morass of swampland. The smog hanging above the... plants (she could tell even from here that they were not trees, although they were the right size) obscured the details a bit, but the entire area was lit from within by erratic and frequent bursts of multi-colored flame. The air was humid and warm and stank of scorched greenery.
Grendel, were back in the Abyss, she murmured, eyes wide.
Oh, gross! Skitch shouted in horror from behind her. We're not going to go through there, are we?"
Apparently we have to...
Alphred dropped down beside the stalled procession. Come, Spirit Maiden. We must hurry. Malatks spies will surely find us if we stand here.
Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Title of Post: Flashback
The surface of the swamp broke in a rubbery bubble near the Rat Pack's left flank, spurting fiery muck up in a splash of unsteady heat.
"This is SO cool!" cried Kit, eyes wide as saucers. Skitch said a bad word as several drops of burning goo landed on his tunic.
"Oh no!" cried Marty, as Ebreth shied into him with an animal choking sound, knocking them both over. "Did something fall on him again? I'm sorry, master!"
"Easy, Ebreth," said Jack. "We've got you. You're okay."
Ebreth lay where he had fallen, his teeth clenched, his fist shaking. I didn't. Do. Anything. He gasped for air and struggled to ride out the sudden explosion of memory, sweating with the effort. Ebreth thought he heard someone calling his name. He didn't know if it was the name he was imagining or the pain. Was he a prisoner dreaming of freedom or a free man dreaming of prison? Ebreth Tor didn't know. I didn't do anything, he tried to tell them, clinging to it, but his jaw wouldn't unclench, and the words didn't come.
I don't suppose you ever realized that you were in Hell because you deserved it, huh?
He shut his eyes and let oblivion close over his head like waters.
Author: Laura Redish
Title of Post: The Pun Laura Couldn't Resist
"Khyrisse's boyfriend isn't very manly," commented Kerouac.
"He's suffering from post-traumatic stress," Jack explained, half-lifting the larger man to more of a sitting position.
Kerouac had no idea what that meant. "Gotcha," he lied. "Uh-- that's not contagious, is it?"
"Oh no no," said Tarrin, reassuringly.
Ebreth was breathing, barely, but otherwise might have been dead. "I think we'll need to carry him for a while," Jack said.
"Kerouac thought there were no psychodramas in the jungle," said the wild elf, confused.
"Who told you that?" said Alphred.
"There are psychodramas everywhere," Kit said beatifically.
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Skeins of Fate: Lost at Sea
Title of Post: A Bad Feeling About This
"No," moaned Shilree, clicking her fingernails against her eye gem. "How can this be? My future is becoming more possible!"
"That is ridiculous," snapped Norna. "We will kill all these Luthiens and the future will be averted."
"Something is going wrong! My timeline was fading, but now it is strengthening! Luthien was right! Luthien was right!"
Flicker was getting a bad feeling about this.
"Shut up, Diari. We must follow the Myriad."
"Luthien was right!" she said, high-pitched. "This isn't working! This isn't working!"
"We have to finish killing them," snapped the Valkyrie.
"Can we at least kill the one from this world?" said Luthien.
The mad Shilree made a helpless giggle. "Why not. If I have to fail, I may as well fail killing Luthiens!"
"Well, you can't kill this one until I'm done with him," said Norna, standing belligerently between them.
"How do you people get anything accomplished?" Noyarc asked Berryn.
"Mine is not to question why," sighed the frustrated thrall.
Character(s): Drosera Altissima
Author: Laura Redish (with help from Anhthy Nguyen)
Title of Post: The Plants That Eat You
"I hate it here," whined Skitch. "It smells!"
"There's something very beautiful about it," said Ember quietly, looking about at the mangroves and glittering tendrils of sundew rising from the steaming bayou, bursts of flame erupting here and there and being absorbed back into the sticky earth.
"Your ability to find beauty in the most unlikely places is an inspiration to us all," said Vas, with fervant chivalry.
Val was muttering something beneath her breath, but Khyrisse couldn't catch it. As the elven priestess glared after her brother, her arm brushed against one of the glistening threads of the giant sundew. "Ow!" She pulled back as if stung, but the red dewlike globule at the tip of the thread was so closely adhered to her forearm that her reflexive jerk away from it sent her rebounding into the plant, whose other threads immediately closed on her. It looked for all the world like she was trapped by one of the crystal fountains of Trade. "HEY!" Valende struggled, but the droplets of fluid were an inexorable glue, and the only way to go was towards the center of the leaf.
"The plants that eat you are sundews?" exclaimed Khyrisse.
"Sundews are very deadly," said Alphred solemnly.
"Get me out of--" Valende thrashed as the bending stalks forced her inward.
"Kerouac will help you!" cried the crazed elf, brightening. He grabbed the glistening tendrils in both hands. "Kerouac is stuck!"
"Jack!" shouted Val, as more globules fused to her skin. "Vas! Do something, it's trying to digest me!"
"Kerouac hates plants!" shouted the berserker, as the tendrils entangled themselves inextricably in his Bon Jovi hair.
Character(s): The Monster Society of Evil, Odn, Adolph
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Bungle in the Jungle
Title of Post: Monster Roll Call
"I hereby call this meeting of the Monster Society of Evil to order!" Thaddeus Bodog Swank cried out.
"Who made you leader?" the worm Swank yelled.
"This plan is mine!" Malat'k added. "I should be leader!"
"I control the might of Mister Adam!" worm-Swank yelled.
"I control the Creature Commandoids!" Thaddeus Bodog screeched.
"I control the flying monkeys!" offered Malat'k.
Suddenly, a giant stone figure blocked the sun.
"You all serve me, mortals," the obsidian Ta'al said. "And I have learned that your enemies mass to take the fourth obelisk. This can not be countenanced. Without that obelisk, my spirit will not be freed to rule."
"Your will is mine, master," Malat'k bowed.
"Enough of this prattling!" Thaddeus Bodog cried. "Let us go now and take the obelisk! We shall teach them that none may defeat the Monster Society of Evil!"
"I was going to say that!" the worm moped.
Far, far away, Odn watched his ex-guest plan and scheme. The worm had already recruited new allies. Given time, this "Monster Society" might interfere with his plans. Unless Odn could exercise some control over them, that was...
"Adolph!" he called, and moments later, a tall, muscular blonde man with a crew cut entered the room.
"Vas is it, mein herr?" the man asked.
"I have a job for you, Adolph. One that requires you to prove your loyalty to me and mine."
"You know zat I zerve you vis all mein heart," Adolph said. "Ever zince I vas a little kinder, you haff taken care of me, raised me... trained me in ze arts of var."
"And now the time has come for you to go forth into the world. I need you to join a small band of adventurers... and to report to me their plans and movements... and to betray them when the time comes."
"Your vill is mine vill, Odn!"
Odn handed Adolph a green and black outfit. "Disguise yourself in this, and head to Salagia. Assist this group in their battle for the obelisk. Win their trust. But do not let them know who you really are."
"Vat should I call mein self?" Adolph asked.
"Call yourself... Captain Tres," Odn smiled. "That should do nicely."
"And who do you vish me to infiltrate, mein herr?"
"They call themselves... the Monster Society of Evil," Odn said. "Now off with you. Time is fleeting."
Author: Jeff Hersh
Title of Post: Ignore that man behind the curtain
The obsidian statue of Ta'al watched Malat'k with his horde of birds and dinosaurs, the two Dr. Swanks, and the Creature Commandos march off into the jungle. After they were gone, Ta'al started to laugh. The obsidian statue melted away into the shape of the Jungle Lord.
"That was too easy!" said Nick between laughs.
As he was laughing, a large shadow passed over him.
Nick turned around, and all color evaporated from his face.
"It cannot be," he whispered.
There was a rush of evil wind and Nick was gone.
Character(s): Garal, Val and Kerouac
Author: Eric Gasior
Title of Post: A Sticky Situation
Garal watched Val and Kerouac struggling against the plant. "Both of you, hold still!" If they couldn't move away from the plant, maybe he could move the plant away from them.
Kerouac kept struggling.
The plant was as large as a good-sized tree. It could capture the whole party if they weren't careful. Garal moved closer to the plant, taking advantage of his small size to dodge the tendrils. Choosing a spot from which he could see the two entangled elves, he placed his hands on the tendrils covering the stem. The glue stung, but Garal ignored it as he created a portal.
Portals in places where the dimensional fabric was strong were hard to make. Portals of an exact size and shape in such a place were even harder. "I said hold still!"
Kerouac briefly stopped stuggling, surprised at the insistance in the halfling's voice.
Garal pushed. A three-dimensional sundew-shaped portal opened. It ran between the plant and the glue on Garal's hands, but an inch away from Val and Kerouac. He did not want to risk sending pieces of the elves off into Limbo. The plant glowed red and disappeared, and there was a painfully loud thunderclap as air rushed in to fill the void.
The air threw Garal off his feet into the space the plant had occupied. The elves, who were already on the ground, didn't notice. Kerouac stood up.
"Kerouac is free!" and to Valende, "Kerouac will help you."
"Kerouac, no!" By the time Val had spoken it was too late. Kerouac had helped her to her feet, but got his hand stuck to her upper arm.
"Kerouac is stuck again!" yelled the mutant elf as he looked down on the cleric. "You are prettier than the plant."