Welcome to he next section of the ongoing story The Black Medallion. You can catch up to where we are now by following the links below.
Through the Night Fog
The chill of the night air Brought a fog with it. The billowy mass filled the area around him so fast that the buildings on each side of the street disappeared from view. Cold, alone, the only light he could see came from his hand and the amulet he grasped. The pulse of blue light gave him just enough illumination to see the area directly in front of him and Tisdan used it to guide him along the street toward the stations.
The trip, a short few blocks away, had taken a turn unexpected. In the distance, howls filled the night air, the baying of hounds on the hunt. A cold chill crept from his hand, down his arm, and gripped his spine. But he soldiered on. The station wouldn’t that much further, just one foot and the next. He forced himself forward, the hidden world around him gave him a little solace.
The howls came again, closer this time. Their voices came from three directions around him. And again closer still. The beasts pushed him forward, away from their cries. He wanted to run, to escape the beasts but he knew it wouldn’t be enough. He could feel it deep in his bones that the only way to break free of their hunt was to leave. The words had come into his mind and he knew them to be right but even then he couldn’t understand what they meant.
Tisdan stepped through the mists back on the street, but not where he had started. He knew the neighborhood. He had traveled from hightown to midtown, a block away from Jak’s apartment. Bright burning street lamps illuminated the empty streets around him.
The amulet no longer glowed. He slipped it back into his sash as the fog was cleared around him. He jogged to Jak’s place the last of the night chill left him as vapor in the run. Tisdan’s steady breath and thump of his feet on the road were the only sounds to greet him. The hounds in the mist had become little more than a memory.
The door to Jak’s apartment was open just as his had been, the lock sliced clean through. Inside, the apartment was shrouded in darkness. He pulled the amulet from his sash and willed it to light. Strange shadows danced with its bluish glow.
The apartment had been ransacked. He found Jak in the training room, what was left of him anyway. His body had been broken and battered, cold and dead. The fingers from his right hand were missing. By the look of it, they had been pulled from their sockets, torn from the stump of his hand. Cuts and bruises covered his upper body and his head hung loose at an odd angle, no longer attached to his spine.
He carried what was left of the man to his bed. Though it wasn’t much the thought of leaving him like he had found him was unbearable. He had never been a religious man but he did his best to say a few words before he closed the bedroom door, closed himself from the memories of Jak when he had still been alive.
Tisdan weighed his options. He could stay here for a bit longer, the damage in their search had already been done. But he couldn’t bear the thought of sharing the space with the memories, and with the dead. He felt like an intruder, an interloper in a mausoleum.
As he sat in the living room a glass vodka in hand, his final salute to his friend, he remembered the extra work Jak had done to the building. Jak had built in an escape route that would still be hidden. A trap covered a tunnel that led to a building on a street away from this one. If he was quick and quiet he could make it there and slip away without being found.
The rug was still in place, though covered now by a chair. He pushed the chair aside and lifted the door, giving himself enough room to slip out and shut the door again. The rug would stay in place keeping the door hidden.
The amulet gave him enough light to see the path. Cold, rough, earth comprised the walls. The passage had been built for Jak, giving Tisdan some clearance. Though it was tight, there was enough room to move comfortably. The tunnel itself was straight. It went directly to the next building without side tunnels. He was at the exit in just a few minutes.
He still couldn’t believe what he had seen. Jak was good, beyond belief good. That was one of the reasons Tisdan had been studying with him. Whatever had gotten the drop on him and torn him up like that, that was something Tisdan didn’t want to come across.
How it had found Jak in the first place was a mystery in itself. He assumed that it was a search for him and Jak was caught in the search. Jak must have died trying to protect him. Betrayal wasn’t out of the question but still, he liked to think that he and Jak were more like brothers. Brothers don’t turn on brothers.
He stepped into the room just outside the tunnel. Another trap-door covered by a rug was the egress from the tunnel. The room was empty. The rug covering the tunnel looked out of place. Opening the trapdoor and moving the rug had kicked up dust, though around the room it had settled in a thick blanket. His footprints would be obvious when he left the place.
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