Into the Darkness

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By: Primus, the One and Prime (Sergio Rodriguez)

"Run! Run!" That's all that J'lit's mind was screaming as he pounded through the undergrowth. His hands unconsciously gripped for his silver sword, despite the fact that it was gone. The githyanki's eyes tried to pierce the dark Karasuthran jungle with magical precision; his body tried to dodge out of the way of dangerous pitfalls or sharp undergrowth as he raced through the dark eternal forest. Behind him he could hear the heavy, ponderous footsteps, the solemn and unhurried gait of those who would deliver punishment upon him. His sharp hearing noted that, despite the entities' slow steps, the noise was never falling behind, his pursuers would not lose him in this jungle.The githyanki warrior's heart raced. The canopy, enough to conceal any city in the multiverse, filtered out every bit of starlight that the ominous night of the layer allowed in. The fetid jungle floor clung to his boots, threatening to trap him in the mire. Still he pounded onwards, the footsteps of his relentless pursuers bearing down on him with deadly precision. All around he could hear the growls and moans of this dark layer, the screams and groans of beasts best forgotten and wonders that echo in the woods. The noises were soul-shivering, even the panicked J'lit felt it, but the pounding of those massive fell boots were so much more daunting. His lungs burned in his chest and as he ran, his knees grew wobbly and weak. His githyanki muscles, always trained and toned, began to feel fatigue set in, the cold clutch of fear reaching for his heart as his energy began to wane. His legs pounded over the shadowed earth, his heed to his surroundings lessening as his thoughts were completely drowned out by the all consuming need to escape - the urge to flee from his pursuer no matter what the cost. He barreled through the underbrush, racing past massive snakes, dangerous plant-life, and beasts half-seen which would have caused some fiends to shudder. He didn't care about such beasts, for he knew without a doubt that his pursuer was gaining on him. With a completely reckless step the Githyanki stumbled on a piece of a log. His intense speed made correction impossible, sending him into the viscous jungle-floor. J'lit struggled, but the mire held him tight. He was trapped in the mud, his thrashings only serving to cement its hold on him. The githyanki released curses on everything as he struggled. He cursed the mud. He cursed the darkness. He cursed the arcane whose machinations had brought him to this twisted end. He cursed himself and his stalker, who grew ever nearer with each heartbeat.

A feeling by his leg made him wince momentarily. A snake. Merely a snake. The creature's venom was probably potent enough to kill the githyanki instantly, but he no longer cared. Struggling to turnabout so as to look his enemy in the eye, J'lit watched as it stepped into view, his heart quailing like a child confronted with a nightmare straight from its own imagination. In the darkness of Karasuthra the beast's eyes blazed like twin suns. Its skeletal goat-like head burned with a malevolence that was unmatched by any other being. It was the stuff of pure horror. It was the beast that all mothers told their children to check for under their beds. The essence of true evil. The baernoloth.The baern laughed a laugh that could make moons shatter and hefted its weapon. "So I have caught you at last. It has been an interesting chase, my prey, but now it ends." The vile beast seemed to hold the darkness of the place at bay for a moment as it hefted the mighty weapon that had slain more mortals than J'lit had ever seen. The mace's head seemed to glow in the dim light, causing J'lit to swear that he could see the red stains of blood upon its face. For a moment, J'lit wondered at the beings the weapon had slain as it descended towards him like meteorite. J'lit's eyes closed in final acceptance, his mind whispering a thought-prayer to Gith, though he could not repress a wince as the weapon fell. The blow never came. A roar rocked the dark night of the Beastlands, its ferocity even causing the baern to jump its blow landing in the mud beside J'lit with the force of all the fiend's hatred. The creature looked up for a moment as a shadow burst forth from the forest around. J'lit caught sight of a massive serpentine maw as it engulfed the baern, first of the yugoloths, and consumed him as the creature screamed for its life. The draconic beast vanished into the forest, leaving J'lit with fleeting images of its hideous beauty, a reptilian countenance of such terrible majesty that the dark dreams of all beings could not begin to describe it. The humbled gith stared in admiration of its ruthless grace and power.J'lit glanced surreptitiously at the small pile of cast-off spines, shattered from the Baernoloth when the serpent struck, and entertained a brief thought. Rise up, spike in hand, and fight, like a true githyanki. There was nothing effete or indolent about his species- the Lich Queen would not have it. His muscles spasmed as he tried to free himself from the mire. As he fought, he felt a great mass approach. The leaves in the trees that soared miles into the sky trembled and creatures of all types squealed in fear. A shadow descended over the githyanki, a shadow deeper than the near-perfect darkness that already surrounded him. J'lit's body began trembling. A sound, a sound like the hissing of millions of snakes reached his serrated ears as he gazed into the blackness, as he was able to discern hundreds of glowing shapes in the dark. No. Not shapes. Eyes. A prayer to Gith was on his lips, and then the gaping maws all opened in unison and the words never came.

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