CHAPTER TWO: Out of the frying pan - into the fire!

February 11, 2018

           Malheur was his name.  A Howler, and actually a runt among his kind, but no less formidable.  The former black captain of the Howler guard had nothing left to give.  Pursued for endless hours by his would-be captors hot as hell on heels.  He could not shake them, try as he might, and especially so in his wounded condition.  He had a small stroke of unlooked for luck a few hours back by temporarily flying into a massive lightning storm in the hopes of shaking his pursuers.  Strangely though, he was nearly killed himself by what must have been an armored silver dragon – impossible!!! Whatever, he didn’t have time to think and dodged this new unforeseen threat at the last millisecond – which resulted in half of his would-be captors directly behind him perishing in what appeared to be a suicide midair collision on the part of this silver dragon and the pursuers. How could this be possible? Dragons and their dragon lords were thought to be extinct? He would have to ponder this bizarre twist luck and riddle later if he ever survived his next gamble to save his leathery wings and furry hide.  He gave one last desperate push of strength as he ‘howled’ through the air at near bullet like speeds. In what seemed like forever he was nearing his destination. Brilliant azure oceans below him were beginning to make way for a white sandy strip of beach that was fast coming into view on the edge of a huge island he only had heard about by the name of Seargar.  He grinned cynically and thought… he might just make it; but then what?   

            Within a few moments, Malheur crashed into the beach, somewhat unceremoniously. He had nothing left to give. Barely able to move from his impact, and slowly bleeding through his orange white hot plate mail that hissed as the rivulets ran across the metal, creaking and making cooling noises as the orange glow slowly faded into a dark red; he immediately stripped off and threw his horned helm to the side.  If he was going to die this day - let it be with his handsome blue-black furry face turned skywards! Slowly drawing a 2-handed simple, but also cruel looking black sword from his back which he thrust into the sand on his left.  His main weapon, a lance, he pointed skyward with his right arm and then got into a battle stance.  He knew he had to prepare for what was inevitably incoming next; and within seconds the distant specks of the remaining pack of four Howlers that were hot on heels and pursuing him quickly came into view.  The light of an afternoon sun sparking against the shrieks of noise hurtling towards him like fiery meteors falling from Heaven! What a sight! Thought Malheur. Normally this type of a spectacle would have swelled him with pride….if they weren’t trying to kill me he mused. A few seconds later they all hit in rapid succession, creating four successive dull sounding blasts around him that left small craters in the white beach spraying both dry and wet sand in all directions around him.  He was surrounded. 

             The skirmish was over quick enough. The four larger, plated winged creatures were much larger than their prey. Everything occurred blindingly fast amidst the mingled sounds of various cruel looking weapons hitting each other’s’ plate armor, sparks flying, coupled with that unmistakable ‘tinking’ sound as their armored metal cooled. Malheur was weak, fatigued, and wounded from his flight. He accounted well enough for himself though, skewering, but not killing one of the closest Howlers standing easily about half again his height or more with his skylance. He was able to get in a few more desperate swings with his 2-handed sword wounding a second Howler that was twice his height and weight; but not mortally enough. And then, it was over. The other two, had him pinned.  He couldn’t move. Two of his assailant attackers had him flat down on the ground. Both of his wings were immediately pinned down into the sand with their cruel looking flat black two handed sword that to the normal eye would have seemed as large as a small tree. The biggest of his pursuers, a Howler known to him as “Marder” began mocking him. “All of your power will now be mine you piece of shit!” followed up by this, … Marder… kicking him hard in the side with his enormous Troll sized armored metal boot knocking the oxygen out of his lungs. The last thing he heard was – “Strip this pathetic fool and excuse of a Howler of his armor and let’s have his wings! Malheur thought – NO! Anything… anything but that! That armored metal boot hit him hard and square on the jaw again and this time, he mercifully blacked out. 

             Within a few minutes, Malheur regained consciousness; woken by the sounds of the Howlers he wounded earlier yelping in pain by the crude, yet effective searing noises being made as they cauterized the wounds he’d inflicted on them. He tried to rise but could not due to the stabbing pain in his wings and the rest of his body. He was bound in chains wrapped multiple times around his torso, arms, hands, legs, & feet.  Hope of breaking loose now was all but lost.  However; in the back of his mind, there was still a slim hope.  They were after all not supposed to be here he mused; but did the rest of them know that? 

            Malheur was then pulled upright by the huge hand of his biggest captor.  He spit in the direction the face slowly coming into focus; but was immediately slapped hard across the face by a gauntleted wrapped hand that dwarfed his head.  He spit blood and spoke aloud for the first time: 

“Oh Marder… if you only knew…..”  “You do realize that without your little gang I could have killed you? I should have killed you.” You are bringing destruction down on all the Howlers; and who knows, maybe we all deserve to die and be punished for our transgressions”

Marder responded.  “Transgressions!? Shut up you piece of shit! Save it.  You are hereby being charged for the most grievous treason to our kind, and we’re taking you back; but not before I exact some small revenge on you.” He looked at the others and ordered them to gag him.  This they did with one of the remaining large double link chains.  Marder’s deep voice booming and mocking: “How could you Malheur? How could you stoop so low as to question your, our, rightful nature?” “Hmm….??? To even consider turning towards good - Is the most vile of transgressions and you know this!” This would surely be our undoing”.  “This weakness in your character brings shame to us all!” “We cannot allow you to exist”. “You are more than an embarrassment to our race! You’re more like an … infection.”

             The four figures then each took turns beating on the smaller figure prostrate on the beach before them.  Kicking him multiple times through the chains, mocking and ridiculing him for a few minutes and then stopped. Malheur never made a sound. However; what they did next did elicit what can only be described as exhalations of the most intense pain.  They forced him face down into the sandy beach speckled with Howler blood which was amidst the small impact craters they’d left where they all hit the sand when trying to surround Malheur. Marder withdrew his battle axe and began butchering the wings off of Malheur; slowly, in pieces not stopping till he got close to the shoulder blades. All the while laughing and saying….  “Oh Malheur….how far you have fallen! Look at you! You will never have to fall again after this”. For this you have been charged and found guilty. The others grinned and chuckled. One of the other Howlers grabbed pieces and shreds of his bat-like bloody wings that no longer graced the shoulders of the once mighty captain of the Howler black guard and began tearing them into smaller pieces. Marder, seething with hate in his voice: “You see Malheur? What I have done to your wings – so too shall be done to your body”.  “You will be chopped and shredded upon our return to the Hut”.  “We shall erase all traces of you and your memory that we can.” Malheur then did something for the first time in the history of his race. He did not recognize it at first. However; a blue salty tear silently appeared out of his right eye, traveled down his furry cheek, and fell silently, dripping into the hot white sand, melting, before he faded again from consciousness.

             With Malheur unconscious. Marder spoke up once again. “Ok boys… we’ve had our fun. Our quarry has finally been clipped for good! Time to take his pathetic carcass back home for the tribunal and final sentencing. They grabbed some of the chains and started dragging the broken body of Malheur across the once pristine white sands leaving blood stains in their wake. 

             The four Howlers each stood clasping one of the four massive chains binding their quarry’s torso; and stood in a square pattern with Malheur in the center.  Then they started shaking out their wings, heat soon began emanating from their bodies blurring the focal point around them. The bleached sand beneath their feet beginning to liquefy & then fuse, but not fully stick to their metal shod stumpy feet.  Slowly they began rising into the air, beating their wings, powerfully, in more frequent intervals.  As the four lifted from the ground; the fifth unconscious body of Malheur followed last – now suspended in the air - dangling from chains between the four; each of his extremities dangling lifelessly at his side.   

             However; in that moment something strange happened.  One of the chains holding Malheur went slack.  There was an odd tug and the weight of Malheur became heavier.  Marder, without looking behind said.  Grab that chain again you laggard!

             They all stopped moving skyward for a split second and were then all yanked from the sky back to the ground by an intense force from which originated from the position of the slack chain; which surprised them all.  However; now there were only three Howlers sprawling on the sand and trying to regain their footing. The fourth Howler was missing; and where he should have been there nothing but a red and silvery mist still lightly falling towards the sand. The fifth body, which was Malheur’s was still comatose; in the middle. However; that wasn’t the biggest surprise to Marder. No… the biggest surprise was what was holding onto the chain that yanked them back towards the beach so effortlessly.  In front them stood a most uncanny sight indeed. A strikingly beautiful, tall, young woman wearing light gauzy white clothing appropriate for these sultry shores was staring back at Marder with intense steely gray blue eyes, framed by a head of sun bleached chestnut tresses. 

            She spoke in a seductive, yet scary tone of voice.  “How dare you come to these shores?” “Howler’s? Here? In my realm and uninvited? Do you not know the price?”  

            Marder wasted no time - already knowing who he was dealing with – this must be Lie’Anna – mistress queen of Seargar. (Malheur you smart bastard! He thought). He barked out “Kill!” The two remaining Howler bodyguards lurched in the woman’s direction but it was too late – poof – poof!  They too also disappeared into a cloud of red and silvery mist that floated slowly towards the ground. 

Published by Matt Ployhar (Thought Ops LLC)

February, 2018

First (Web) Edition

Jhost (tm) Series, and The world called Hope is Copyright © 2018 and TM 2018 by Matt Ployhar. All content posted to page copyright ©2017-present, and intellectual property of Ployhar. All Rights Reserved. No use or reproduction of characters or artwork permitted. This story & book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. Do not use, edit, re-upload, or redistribute any content in any way. Visitors may view content belonging to the author and nothing more. Any use in any way is strictly forbidden. All of these works are not public domain, never have been, and never will be. Do not use, re-upload, edit, etc. any text, image, or character. Artwork of Jhost uploaded to artist's portfolios share these rights and reservations.Any similarity between persons alive or dead is purely coincidental.

Online published in the United States of America

First Printing, 2018

Jhost™ is a primary character from my original fantasy fiction novel. Jhost is navigating his way in a world called Hope - he does not recollect. The story of Jhost has been around since 2003 and is only now being unveiled summer of 2018. �

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