by Vendikarr DeWuff
As the echoes of that question drifted off into the jungle, another sound replaced it, a loud roar. Carter and Shiera Hall turned as one toward the source of the sound and saw a dinosaur crashing through the brush. Hawkman took to the air, as did Scarab, who reached over to grab the spear in Shiera’s hand. She violently pulled it away, however, and screamed, “No!”
Momentarily startled, Carter landed and grabbed a large, almost-straight branch and took to the air again. Scarab moved forward and charged the dinosaur, slamming into its skull with his invulnerable body. Carter took his makeshift staff and rammed it into the throat of the beast several times while soaring out of reach of the massive jaws snapping at him.
Shiera grabbed Alexander Lane by the collar and dragged him a few feet away, then charged the belly of the beast with her sword. The blade easily tore into the flesh and was coated with blood. “No,” the voice screamed to Shiera, startling her again. “This blood is not alive in the mind, only the body.” Shiera stopped her attack with the blade and used the blunt end on the creature. But her initial wounds had done the damage, and the wounded beast charged back into the jungle.
Carter landed and confronted Shiera. “There was no reason to maim that creature. We could have driven it off without drawing blood.”
“What’s wrong with blood?” asked Shiera defiantly.
“Shiera!” said Carter with surprise in his voice.
“I’m sorry, Carter, I can’t explain what got over me,” said Shiera.
“Well, we’d better make a camp of some sort,” said Scarab. “Alexander needs to rest, and the rest couldn’t hurt us either.”
“Good idea, Jared. Why don’t you and I get some wood for a fire. Shiera, can you make Alexander comfortable?” Carter said.
“Consider it done,” replied Shiera.
The two men then set off into the jungle to find firewood, and Shiera stood over Alexander with her spear.
“Worship me,” the voice said in her head.
Shiera shook her head, saying “No.”
“Worship me. I require sacrifice.”
Shiera Hall stood over the prone body of Alexander Lane, shaking as she raised the spear to strike.
Hearing a noise, Shiera looked up to see a lizard creature of some kind staring at her. The creature moved toward her, making attempts to speak. Strangely, she understood that this creature was lost from his family and needed help. She moved toward him, and he pulled out a blade.
Shiera smiled, and the voice echoed, “Sacrifice. Worship me.” She moved toward the lizard man, poking at it with the blade end of the spear. The two did a macabre dance of blades, thrusting and moving away. Shiera managed to strike the creature. “Yes,” echoed in her head. “More.” She lunged at the lizard man but found nothing but air, as the lizard was now several feet above her in the hands of Jared Stevens.
“What have we here?” asked Jared. “You OK, Shiera?”
“That thing surprised me, and I had to defend myself,” replied Shiera.
Carter then returned and found the four others. “Seems I miss all the excitement these days,” said Carter as he dropped his armful of wood to the ground.
“It appears we have a little thief here,” said Jared. “Looked like he intended to carve up Shiera and Alexander.”
“Well, maybe our little friend here can be of help,” said Carter. “He might be able to tell us something about where we are, or maybe even know of someone who can help us.”
“I hope so; otherwise he’s of no use to us,” said Shiera, with the voices in her head getting louder.
“What’s your name, Frogger?” asked Jared.
“No Frogger… Grell my name,” replied the reptilian. “I need food, gold. Grell take. Is the way of the outlands.”
“Outlands? Is that the name of this place?” asked Carter.
“Stupid human. Outlands is place away from cities. No law here,” replied Grell.
Carter then said to Jared, “At least he knows what a human is. Means we can find more of our kind here.” Carter asked Grell, “Can you take us to a city?”
“Cities no like Grell. I take, they run me off,” replied Grell.
“We can keep you safe if you come with us. We are new here and need a guide…”
“And what does Grell get? You have much gold?”
“No gold, but we can get some, I’m sure,” said Jared.
“You get gold, then Grell help.”
“How about you help to stay alive, lizard?” Shiera said as she kicked Grell to the ground and positioned the spear at his throat.
“Grell help… Grell help,” screamed the frightened lizard.
Shiera took the spear away from Grell’s throat and turned to Carter and Jared. “Boys, a savage land need a savage touch. Try to keep up.” She then walked away from the two startled men.
“Something’s wrong with her, Carter,” said Jared.
“I know. Let’s keep a closer eye on her,” Carter said as he helped the trembling lizard man up from the ground.
Although the sun never seemed to set in this land, a kind of night came when a moon passed over the sun, causing everything beneath it to fall into darkness for several hours. Grell told them that they should rest during this night and leave when daylight returned. Shiera stood with spear in hand at the edge of the darkness, Alexander and Carter both slept, and Grell crouched by the fire, cooking some small creature he caught in the jungle.
“Grell, where is the nearest city?” asked Jared, more to fill his own boredom than actual curiosity.
“City three days walk down road. Best city for you. Lady Tara says all welcome. Even Grell.”
“Three days walk down road? Where is the road?”
“Road five days walk. That way,” said the reptile, pointing behind where he was sitting.
“So actually eight days walk. Could we fly?”
“Grell no fly. Do you see wings? Do I look like bird?”
“No, Grell; we can carry you. Or better yet — you’ve been a help, why don’t you go? Give us directions, and we can be on our way.”
“No. Grell said he would help. And that one,” he pointed at Shiera, “scares Grell. I no make her mad.”
“You’re a good man… err, lizard, Grell. Glad to have you on the team,” said Jared. “Do one more thing for me, Grell?”
“What?” asked the lizard.
“Keep an eye on her. Something is wrong with her, and I need some sleep.”
“Grell watch. But if she get mean, Grell wake you.”
“Thanks, Grell,” Jared said as he turned over and laid down to get some rest.
In a city not far away, a woman sat in a tower in the royal palace, deep in meditation as she let her thoughts go and felt her magical energies recharging. Recent events had left her drained. Her recent defeat of an ancient Atlantean demon had taken much from her and left her with several broken ribs.
As she felt the mystical energies helping her mind and body, a new sensation hit her. A new magic had entered the realm — a dark, dangerous magic. The platinum-haired beauty quickly opened her eyes and looked around the room. The sensation had disappeared. She began her meditations again.
Not long after continuing, the dark magic touched her again. She bolted to her feet and threw on a robe. It was a possessive magic, looking for someone or something. And the woman felt that nothing good could come of it.
She again started to meditate, this time searching out the magic to try to learn more about it. She sat, legs crossed, and closed her eyes. After a short time the feeling returned. Instead of retreating, the young woman confronted the magic. Strangely enough, she then found that there was another sensation coupled with the first — a secondary magic, a force of good. She wondered if the two were in combat. The magic of good was attractive, almost seductive.
The woman decided that she had to get closer to learn more about these magicks and to make sure that there was no threat to Shamballah. She dressed and cast a spell of levitation, and Jennifer Morgan flew out the window to find these magics.
Carter Hall awoke, having had a very unrestful night in this strange land. He was worried about Shiera Hall. She had not come and lay beside him during the night, which he thought was strange. She always laid close to him when they were on a dig, and this situation would not be very different. He turned and saw that she was standing in the same spot where he saw her before laying down, still clutching the spear.
“Lady been there all night, just lookng,” said Grell, their reptilian companion. “Just looking at forest. Grell look but not see anything.”
Jared’s eyes popped open and looked over at Carter and Grell. “Anyone check on Alexander?” asked Jared, concerned about his friend.
“I’m up,” said a weak voice to Jared’s right. “Where are we?” asked the gold-garbed youth.
“I was hoping you could tell us,” said Jared. “This is where we ended up when you created a doorway to get us out of Tunisia.”
“Must have been a power overload when Neonic blasted me,” said Alexander Lane. “Looks like a rain forest.”
“Well, it’s like no rainforest I’ve ever seen. There are dinosaurs and talking lizards here. Alexander, meet Grell.”
The lizard man walked over to Alexander and stood over him. “Hello,” said Grell.
Alexander looked up at the lizard and stared, then replied, “Hello.” Then he said to his companions, “It doesn’t appear we are anywhere on Earth. I should be able to get us home; let’s try.” Alexander picked himself off the ground, walked over to a pair of trees that formed a natural doorway, and concentrated, and soon enough a doorway appeared.
“Well, let’s go,” Jared said and walked through the doorway, only to find himself still in the jungle. “Doesn’t look like it works,” he said.
Alexander collapsed the doorway and once again re-formed it. “I am concentrating on sending us to JSA Headquarters.” He then walked through the doorway. He, too, ended up on the other side, still in the jungle. “I don’t believe my power is working.”
“Maybe you need to rest a while longer,” said Carter, who rose off the ground and walked over to the young man. “That energy discharge may have taken more out of you than you thought.”
“You could be right,” Alexander said as he sat back on the ground. “What’s for breakfast? I’m starved.”
Nearby Shiera Hall barely heard the exchange going on around her. She was too focused to put her mind anywhere else. The voice that was making its demands of worship had been getting stronger and more insistant. She realized that she needed sleep, but she feared she would lose all control if she did sleep.
As it was, she had more than one battle with the voice during the night just to keep it in check. The demand for blood was becoming overwhelming, and she had barely kept herself from killing the others.
“Worship me,” constantly echoed through her head, and she screamed inside her head again and again, No! But the voice would not care. Shiera feared sleep, and she feared losing this battle. Outwardly, she couldn’t warn the others. The voice had that much control.
After hearing the comment about breakfast, Shiera heard herself saying, “I’ll go look for something. This spear should come in handy for that.” She then turned and headed in the direction of the road Grell had mentioned the day before. The voice’s demand for blood was leading her toward a place where sentient beings would surely be found, a place where the blade’s hunger could be satisfied.