• Islander

    Written by Xavier Hetherwick

    Chapter 1- Ship Wreck

    Nichol, my beautiful wife of six years, and my three-year-old son Andre sat across from me eating our dinner at our favorite restaurant, Slicker’s Diner. We were here because I was given a big journalism report from my manager at the National Geographic, Dr. Daniel Coal. But I was still waiting on the call from him to find out where I was heading.
    My cell phone rang, Nichol asked, “You think it’s the call we’ve been waiting for?”
    “ I don’t know,” I said, shrugging my shoulders as I answered it. “Dr. Coal?”
    “Yeah, Damien. It’s about your report. We got news about an expedition team heading to a newly discovered island called Keiowa in the Pacific Ocean and I think you’d be perfect to cover it. It’s a few miles off the coast of Australia.”
    “A new island?” I asked, standing to head out of the restaurant for better sound. The waitresses had just started sing the birthday song to a pudgy kid with a stubby nose.
    “Yes,” he answered. “Do you want the job?”
    “Of course!” I said, excitedly.
    “Well, good. The plane’s set to take off in two days. From there, a ship called the S.S. Nails will take you to the island. Now, the island itself is about the size of Alaska. When you get off the plane there will be a woman by the name of Destiny White. She’ll inform you on what else you’ll be doing there. You got that, Damien?”
    “Yes, sir,” I say after realizing he couldn’t see me nodding.
    “Alright. There will be a nice paycheck for what you do on the island,” Dr. Coal explained.
    “Thank you, Doctor. I don’t know how to repay you for this,” I said thankfully.
    I walked back into the Slicker’s with a smile on my face. I sat back down and my wife asked me, “ Good news?”
    I said, “Yeah. I’m being sent to a newly discovered island in the Pacific. Only thing is, I don’t know how long it will be until I get back. The Geographic will send a paycheck to you for the work I do over there, but I don’t believe that will be enough to live on for when I’m gone,” I said to her with fear and concern in my voice.
    “That’s O.K honey,” she told me. “I have my job at the hospital and I’ll take the day shift so I can just drop off Andre at daycare or at one of his grandparents’ houses for the time I’m gone. Don’t worry about us. This is going to help our son in the long run.”
    We finished our dinners and left the restaurant, excitedly talking about the possibilities of what I would encounter on the island. On the way home, I looked at Nichol and Andre and my thoughts took a morose turn. I imagined what would happen if I didn’t come back. My son would barely know his father; I would miss my son if he gets married. He would graduate without a father to cheer him on. My beautiful wife would be a widow. I would miss growing old with her. Then I saw their happy faces and shoved the thoughts onto the backburner.
    The rest of the night was quieter than I thought it would be. My son was tuckered out from the outing. Nichol and I spent the rest of the night watching T.V until we fell asleep on the couch. What does this island hold that the world had not yet seen?
    The two days before the trip passed fairly quickly. I woke up at nine that morning. I performed my daily kissed my wife and child and left out the house. I got to Kennedy Airport and I was off to Australia.
    On the 10-hour trip, to Australia instead of watching the in-flight movie, some sappy love movie, I took out my laptop to see what I could find on this place. The website told me almost the same thing that Dr. Coal told me. But there was some new information. It told me that there was an attempt to colonies the island in the 1800’s by the English but was stopped by what was said to be the island itself. I looked at the page for about an hour before I fell asleep.
    The plane landed at eleven the next morning. I stepped off the plane to see the woman that I was supposed to meet. Destiny White was dressed in a classy scarlet pants suit with black heels. Her bright red hair was pulled back in a tight bun on top her head.
    “Hello, I’m Damien Wallace the journalist from the National Geographic,” I said, extending my hand for a handshake. “You must be Destiny White.”
    She looked at my hand and then said, ‘Well yes. Please, we have the limo out side waiting for us.”
    I stepped in the limo and I saw an old man sitting at the far side of the limo. Destiny stepped in the car and told me, “ Mr. Wallace, this is Doctor Harvey. He’s the man that will be leading the team on the island.”
    An elderly man with thin, white hair and liver spots on the backs of his hands with a stern look on his face sat across from us. His purple three-piece suit was in pristine condition, and in his lap sat an oak cane, in which tribal symbols were engraved.
    The man took out a purple folder with Keiowa stamped in bold black letters from his briefcase. In a very raspy voice the man explained the content of the folder, pictures of the island from satellite.
    “As you can see,” he began, passing out the photos. “The island is split up into four parts: the forest, the mountains, the desert and marshes. We sent out a team of ten special force soldiers. Only one lived to come home. By the time he came back to us, his mental state had deteriorated into delusion. He told us that it was like the jungle itself was attacking them. He is now in a mental hospital. Tests are being run for possible toxins, but we are assuming there are tribes of indigenous peoples who have infected him with a toxin unknown to us. I’m just giving you fair warning.”
    The photo of the soldier passed to me. “Now, you’re telling me that nine special ops were killed on this island and we are going into this place with no weapons,” I exclaimed.
    “Oh, you will be armed on the island,” Destiny told me.
    It was about a three-hour drive to where the S.S. Nails was docked. The ship was a navel vessel and cruise ship combined. It had Gatling guns and men walked around the deck with AK-47s. A couple of them were staring at me like I was a bucket of chum placed into shark-infested waters. I averted my eyes and took my bags up to my room. The rooms looked like middle class cabins.
    The captain came on the intercom to make the announcement that we would arrive at the island around midnight that night. I started exploring the ship to kill the time. I searched for about an hour until I found the weapons room.
    I inspected the guns. Then I heard a voice say, “You like what you see?”
    I spun around to see a big man standing by the back walls. He was wearing a t-shirt and camouflage cargo shorts.
    “Yeah,” I replied, turning to look at the weapons once more.
    “Best gun selection I’ve seen outside of a gun shop,” he said. “You the journalist I’m responsible for making sure you know how to shoot?”
    “Yeah,” I said. “You don’t have to worry about me too much. My dad took me hunting a lot as a kid.
    “Well, then that’s good,” he said, turning to leave.
    “Hey, what do you know about the island we’re going to?” I asked.
    “All I know is I’m suppose to provide weapons for the team,” he said. “The name’s Marcus Williams, by the way.”
    “Well, Marcus, what do you suggest I use to keep me safe on this island that killed nine special ops?” I asked.
    Marcus walked up the wall and picked out a Tommy gun and a fifty round barrel. “Here. If you have any more needs for that gun come to me. Oh, and here’s something else.” He tossed me a bowie knife. The blade was steel and silver combinations with a snake skin and leather grip.
    “Thanks,” I said before heading back to my room. I placed the weapons on the dresser and got in bed. Even though it was only eight, I went to sleep.

    I woke to the sounds of gunshots and yelling. I jumped from the bed and ran through the halls. I could just about see the deck in front of me when a bellowing roar erupted through the cacophony of sound and sent shivers up my spine. I stepped onto the deck into a swirling mixture of blood, seawater, and rain.
    “What’s going on?” I screamed to Marcus, who stood a ways up the deck.
    “ There’s something in the water.”
    As if it heard us, a monstrous serpent rose from the water. Just the part we could see was 18 meters long and had four large fins. Its head was bony with four spikes on either side. It opened its mouth to reveal the three-inch knife-like teeth. The monster crashed into the ship, dropping another creature onto the deck before disappearing below the murky depths once more.
    This new creature was seven feet tall, covered in muck and seaweed. The beast carried a large sword with ragged edges. The monster called its name, “I am the champion of the Rail, Tianoes.”
    Tianoes placed his sword high in the air and exclaimed, “Now son of the god Tesen the Alcos. Rise form the ocean.” He brought the sword down hard in to the hull of the ship. From the sea, humanoid creatures emerged. Their left arms were encased in a coral that functioned as both a shield and weapon. They carried the weapon of Poseidon, a trident made of metal and more coral. They threw these things at us. If it hit someone it created a black muck that enveloped us until they carried the person beneath the waves. From what I could tell, they had the same gland that allowed sharks to sense blood in the water.
    I turned my attention to Tianoes, who was looking at his work with a fiendish delight. I shot at him but it barely fazed him. Then I thought of the Gatling gun. Once I started firing the rapid-fire bringer of death, he got mad. He placed his sword into the ground and said, “I call upon the sea god Tesen to give me his power.”
    The Alcos stopped fighting, turning their weapons upon themselves. Their souls escaped their bodies, only to become infused with his, forming a dense cocoon around his body. When he emerged, he the muck melted away to reveal his light blue skin and strong frame. He wore a flat metal mask over his eyes, red goggles obscuring them. His sword became an anchor covered in bottom-dwelling creatures like barnacles and starfish. He jumped at me, crushing the Gatling gun. I rolled back, barely missing any debris that flew at me. Then he stood on top of the wreckage and raised his anchor, commanding his people to retreat, diving back into the ocean.
    As everything calmed, I saw that we had arrived at our destination. The island was only a quarter of a mile away. Marcus and I looked at each other.
    “What a night, man,” I said.
    “To think we’re not even on the island yet,” he laughed. Then the ship started to rock violently as the creature that was controlled by Tianoes was attacking the ship. Then the attack stopped. We stood still as the S.S. Nail started to vibrate. Then the sea serpent burst thought the side of the ship. It started to fall onto is side.
    Marcus looked at me, commanding, “Jump.” Before we jumped, one of the Alcos threw a trident at Marcus, catching his right arm and starting the germinating the black muck.
    I agreed and we jumped into the ocean along with many others. We hit the water. I swam to the top of the water and saw Tianoes standing on top the shipwreck laughing. Then he commanded the Alcos to attack us. We swam for our lives I saw more and more people getting killed. We finally came to the shore of the island Marcus, a woman, and myself. We collapsed on the island as we got there.

    Chapter 2 – Native Choice

    I dreamt that night of my funeral Nichol and Andre crying during the thing. My mother and mother-in-law looked at the tribute video of my life. Even my Dr. Coal came to pay his respect to me. Then an unfamiliar man walked up into the church. He was the only one not crying or trying to act like they’re to tough to cry at funeral. He took off his cap to reveal that he was Tianoes. He materialized his Anchor of Tesen and his army of Alcos and commanded, “Get them.”
    They began to massacre the entire room. After most of the people were dead and it only came down to my wife and child he stepped up. He said, “Get her.”
    Then I heard some one scream, “No.” It was I. I got up close to the man and said, “ Your soul has been abolished.” I gave Nichol a powerful kiss and kissed Andre on the forehead. Before I was jerked away by an otherworldly force. As I screamed, “NO.”
    I was startled wake morning. Marcus told me when I woke, “Morning sleeping beauty.” The wound on his right arm stopped generating the black muck but became a rash that slowly creped ups his arm. The jungle was bustling with noise. The woman that got to the island a couple minutes later then when we got here was cooking some kind of large bird some eggs that must have been the birds over a fire. We looked at the sea to see signs from the night before. But there was nothing no bodies or even some wreckage from the ship.
    “Well my name is Jessica Hollow but everyone calls me Saint,” the woman said. She wore a navel uniform and sneakers she had a pistol on her side. Had a large scar across her right cheek.
    “My name is Damien Wallace,” I told them.
    “O.k. if we’re ever going to survive on this island we are going to have to explore this place. Well. Lets see what we have to work with. How much ammo do you have left? I got about a quarter of a clip,” Marcus looking at his gun.
    “Have about 14 bullets left,” Saint said.
    “I have a half a barrel left that means I have 25 bullets left,” I told them. After we ate the bird that tasted kind of like chicken and turkey and the eggs, we started to explore the location.
    It was noon before we had to stop and rest. “Wow, this place is beautiful,” Saint stated.
    “Well I going to scout out ahead,” Marcus told us.
    “So how did you get it,” I asked.
    “How I got what,” she asked.
    “The scar on your cheek.”
    “Oh, abusive boyfriend. Took me six mouths to get away from him. That’s why I joined the Army.” She started to cry as she told me.
    “Oh sorry for asking,” I yelled suddenly.
    That’s when Marcus came back. He gestured for us to follow him. We ran for a couple feet until we came to a heated battle between a large monster and girl from the age of 15. The girl had light green skin, a tribal tattoo going up her left side, and three piecing in each ear. She wore a colorful silk cloak that covered her upper body and loose animal skin pants. On her left arm was a newly made slash. On both of arm her she wore a gauntlet with large scythes protruding from one side.
    The monster was two meters long from head to tail. It was a four legged furry but with had patches of scales. The monster had a bony head with large spike going up the center. The monster was covered in slashes all over its body probably from the blades of the girl. Its tail was covered with large spikes. I gave this creature the name of a Styx, the same as the river in the Greek underworld.
    She ran at Styx with her blades and eyes flaring with the fire of thousand suns. She slashed wildly at the monster. It slipped pass al her attacks. The ruby red blades glistened with the purple blood of the creature. His jagged teeth caught the blade. She slashed out dislocating the Styx’s jaw. His mouth became loose and lifeless. It ran at her as one last attempt to kill her. She rolls to the side. It misses and drops onto on the ground. It doesn’t have the will to live anymore. She walks up to the animal takes one of her blades and stabs it in the back of the neck. She walks away to the north- east.
    After she is well and gone we run up the creature. I took my knife and slice open the animal’s stomach. It had the same organs as anything else. We dug deep into his insides. We found a large liver, four stomachs, a large heart, a large spleen, and a least ten feet of intestine.
    We started there for the night. We feasted on the animal. “Hey Marcus. I what to know something hay are you here,” Saint asked him while I was face deep in three of the animal’s ribs.
    “I’m here because I heard that they were paying a lot of money to go to this place. My wife and kids needed the money. I didn’t believe all this would happen because of it,” Marcus told us.
    The night ended on that note. I feared to got to sleep for the fears of have another dream like from the night before. I fell asleep close to midnight.
    The next morning we woke early to see if we could find were the girl from before was going after she killed that Styx back there. We follow a hidden path to a clearing that lead to a village in the middle of a large clearing. The huts were made into a large circle. The guard towers were centered in the entrance. They had two large gates were set at the back and the front. We walked up to the place guns ready. When I looked back I saw on Marcus’s chest there was a red dot. I looked up at the guard towers I saw that the men had weapons aimed at all three of us. They had arrows aimed at us all using high tech bows. One of the men commanded us to get on your knees and slide your weapons away. After we did they what they sent out three people. One was a large man with a large crown and carried a large club. The one to the left of him was a muscular man he had a cutlass with tribal marking on the blade. The one to the left was the woman from before. The big one says something in some strange language. I say, “What? I can’t understand you.” The big one calls three guards over to us. They take three patches on our chests. They injected some thing into our chests and fell off.
    “Now the Alfracbos should have reached your brain. Now, what are your names,” the crowned one said. “I am the chief of the Renvie Hoco. This is my son Rel and my daughter Haul.”
    “We are researchers for the United States,” I told him. “I am Damien Wallace. This is Marcus and Saint. Some kind of giant monster and some guy named Tianoes destroyed our ship of the coast about a quarter of a mile away from the shore.”
    “I think we should kill them right here,” Rel says with a blade to Marcus’s throat.
    “I agree brother,” Haul says with one of her blades at my heart.
    “No, children,” Chief Hoco says to his kin sternly. “We shall let the Witch doctor decide what to do with them.” He gestured to his children to bring us to follow him. Ico made Marcus to walk with his sword to his back. Haul forced Saint and me to walk.
    We came to a medium sized hut in the middle of the village. There were two men in front that they called the Guardians. The Chief called into the hut then a couple seconds later a decrepit old man came. “Move you two. Let me get a good look at these three,” the witch doctor told Haul and Ico. He looked deeply at Saint and then said, “This one shall be sent to the shaman on the desert tribe called the Hake.” Then at Marcus, “ I send you to the tribe of the coast the Ravels.” He came to me and he looked into my eyes. As I looked into his my heart felt like it was being suffocated by the man’s soul. Then a force of nature pushed him back. “This one I send to death,” he said with shake hands pointing at me.
    The two guardians started to walk toward me. I got up and ran away from them with Haul and Ico behind me. When I was outside the village I was attacked with a barrage of arrows. I grabbed my gun and ran for the cover of the forest. I was able to get to the carcass of the Styx before Ico and Haul caught up to me.
    I shot at the two but they were fast. I was cut by Rel’s cutlass a couple times. I didn’t even what to know what wood happen if Haul’s blades cut me. Then, I saw an opening in Ico’s fighting style. I took the chance while he was having the recoil of his strong attack I kicked him. Haul ran up to save her brother but she missed and was knocked out when she hit the ground. I looked at Ico and shot him. His eyes closed as the life of him slipped away. I took the sword and ran as his sister came to. I was a couple feet away before I heard Haul scream.
    I walked for hours hearing things that look like monkeys. I came to a fork in the road there was a left path and a right. I picked the paths very careful using on of the most scientific ways possible. I took a deep breath and said, “My mom told me to pick the very best and you are it.” It landed on the left path. I walked on the path to find a monster. It was hulking with two large horns like a bull with rings around them. It was the size of fully-grown oxen and is covered in shaggy brown hair. It must have been a pet or some thing of another tribe because it had armor that covered its head and covered his eyes. The name I gave it was a Feral.
    It turned toward me snorted and got ready to charge. I raised my gun and fired. It was no use for the armor protected him from my shots. Then it charged. I was able to roll away, but it was to late. It caught my leg and it started to bleed heavily. The Feral had his teeth bare and was about to stab me again before I swag out with the sword and slashed his face. It stopped from the slash. I slashed the animal’s knees and it fell. It cried and I sliced its neck. It took about an hour to take off the armor of the animal.
    I limped to the fork in the road carrying the armor. I took the left path this time. Along the path I saw strange insects the size of coconuts with large lights on their backsides. I soon came to a large metal door. The wound was still bleeding heavily and I passed out as a man opened door.

    Chapter 3 – The Shaman’s Training

    I woke the next day, I believe, in a hut. The walls were covered in masks and different voodoo like things. In my face was an undead mutt with his teeth bare. It was the size of a German Shepard and was twice as mean. Its skin was light blue and smelt of brimstone. Its hair going down its neck and around its ankles was a scarlet fire. I reached for my sword on side of me. A voice coming from behind the dog said, “I wouldn’t try that. You’ll be dead before you are able to get your blade even close to her.”
    I look behind the hellhound to see a man working on the armor I got from the monster I killed. I asked, “Can you call of your dog, man.”
    “What’s the magic word,” he says sarcastically at me.
    “Now,” I say angrily.
    “I was expecting please, but that’ll do. Willow down,” he snaps his fingers and the dog disambiguates into the ground.
    I got up limping over to be where the man was. I watched what he was working on the armor turning it into something. “So where did you get that sword from, kid,” the man asked not looking up.
    “Found it,” I lied.
    “Huh, looks like the one that the chief’s son Rel has. You took it didn’t you,” he says eying me.
    “Yeah but he was dead so he has no…”I’m interrupted.
    “Wait, you killed the chief of the Renvie’s son,” He says with his face in his palm. “Kid your screwed. You’re going to need some help.”
    “Why,” I ask oblivious.
    “Because the Renvie have a policy. Kill one of their soldiers they don’t care, but kill one of the chief’s children they are going to kill you. Now we start the training in the morning because your wound should have healed by then,” The man tells me.
    “Wait, what should I call you,” I ask.
    “Call me Shaman,” he says going into a room. I settle back down in the makeshift bed in the corner. I go to sleep a couple minutes late.
    I heard a large bang the next morning. I opened my eyes to see the man had just plopped down a large bowl of something by me. I looked at it and started to eat.
    After I finished, he handed me an armguard. I realized that the armguard was the armor from the feral I had killed. I put it on and followed him outside.
    I looked at the area around the hut. It was fenced in with large wooden stakes and chains with a large one in the middle in front of the house. It had a spring next to the house. Shaman raised his hand and said, “Take your sword and slash the wooden pole.”
    I took the sword and hit the pole. It hit me with a limb it contracted and then fused back into pole. I fell and said, “ What the hell was that?”
    Shaman walks up and says, “This is a special kind of wood. It’s called fighting wood because its strange ability to hit back when struck.” He hits it and blocks it. “Your test here is to predict where it is going to hit and chop the tree down.” He hits it then jumps avoiding the low sweep.
    I go at it again and but was hit again. I then hit it multiple times thinking it wouldn’t have time to react to it. But it just hit me as many times as I hit it. I complain, “How am I suppose to win against this thing?”
    “Look for the slightest sign of it is about to hit you,” He tells me.
    I send the rest of the day stabbing and slashing the fighting wood before Shaman calls me in for dinner. “Mow how was your first day off training,” Shaman says sarcastically.
    I look at him and continue to eat. “Here, Kid here a book you need to red if your going to survive here.” It was a large book with a cover of wood and animal skin. It was at least the size of a dictionary and was twice as thick. I opened it to see it was a book of types plants and animals on the island. It also told the strategy to stop each one and if they were safe to eat or not.
    “Thanks, Shaman,” I tell him.
    “Your welcome,” he replies.
    I stay up to find the fighting wood reading through it as I went. I saw the animal I saw as I came here. Then I came to the fighting wood. The book said that the fighting wood is used for training of warriors. Even when it is separated from the root it will still fight. The main strategy to take down this plant is to look at wear the whip root is about to form and cut the limb before it forms. I settle down in my corner and went to sleep.
    The next morning I wake up and walk out side to the fighting wood. I take a swing and it tries to hit back, but I hit cut the limb before it is able to hit me. A small piece falls off of the pole. I attack again and another piece falls. I start slashing at it tons of times until it finally falls. Shaman comes over and says, “ Good you’re done for the physical part of the day. Now we work on the mental part. Now come.”
    I follow him inside. We sit at the table and he says, “O.K, you remember Willow, the Hellhound that was about to take of your head the other day. Well your going to get your own,” he told me sliding me a scroll of parchment. The parchment had an instruction. The instructions called for a lock of hair from a beraxe, the blood of a wildahound and the blood of the one that shall control it.
    I search the book for the animal the wildahound are mid sized creatures that scavenge off of the dead. They have heated blood that turns to crystal when cooled. Beraxe are shaggy haired animal that like to stay in herds. They are not easily startled. Shaman told me there is a large herd of beraxe near the village of the Renvie. I took my sword and armguard and left out that night.
    I got to the village early the next morning. I stealthily snuck past the guard and got into the pen of the animal. I got the lock of hair and were about to leave before I heard a voice, “You really thought that we would let you leave that easily.” I turned to see Haul with her blades ready. I got my blade, which she saw was her brothers that only enraged her more. She came at me fast and furious. I blocked the scythe like blades with my own sword. I ducked under the blades and believed a hard shoulder to her chest. She fell and I placed the sword to her neck. I was about to finish her off before I had an instance of mercy. I ran toward the forest and disappeared in the forest.
    Following the trail I came to the carcass of the Styx Haul killed. I heard some thing chewing at the bones of the animal I looked for a couple minutes until a large creature emerge from the animal entrails. It was a wildahound. I killed the animal and took the animal to the hut. I got back to the hut to see Shaman had an altar set up with a large cup set in the center.
    I handed him the supplies. He heated the blood in the cup, buried the fur and placed the ashes into the blood. He took out a ceremonial dagger and told me, “Give me your hand.” I gave him my hand and cut it. He placed some of my own blood into the concoction and mixed. He took a small chisel and a hammer. He started tattooing a symbol on to the palm of my hand. He chanted a couple unknown words over it and it started to glow yellow. “You know you it won’t work until you name it,” he told me.
    I stood and faced the opening, stretched my hand out and commanded, “Rise, Cerberx.”
    The ground started to shake as it formed a hollow stone figure of a dog. A blue flame was lit inside of it. The fire gave color to the markings and created eyes. The flames turned to teeth and red claws. It walked over to me and bowed its head to me. I placed my hand on its head. The glowing symbol was now on her head. Shaman exhales heavily and says, “ Not the name I would of chose but still she seems like she’ll be a good hound in your life.” I looked down at Cerberx. She looked back at me with her blue eyes and gave an animalistic grin.
    “Come on kid. You and your dog will need the rest for tomorrow,” Shaman told use going back into the house. That night I fell asleep with Cerberx at my feet.

    Chapter 4 – Elemental Fire

    Shaman called Cerberx and myself to the yard. I watched as Shaman placed four dead human bodies on the ground. He stood in front of me and transforms the corpses into zombified monsters. The first corpse stood and was consumed by the vegetation on the island. His lower portion morphed into a large tree trunk that became rooted in to the ground. His skin turned to bark and the man beard moss. Earth around him became refined turning into a large sword he kept in the ground.
    The other three-fused turning into a larger three-headed version of Cerberx I knew from my time researching Greek mythology it was known as Cerberus the guardian of the Gates of Tartarus. It stood staring at Cerberx. Then Shaman stood in front of both of them and said, “ These shall be your fighting partners from now on. Cerberus shall be Cerberx and Gynox is going to be yours.”
    Cerberx looked at me as I commanded her to attack Cerberus. She started to attack Cerberus but was over powered because of the more mass and the three brains. I attacked Gynox, which was a master sword fighter. I rushed toward it but was slowed down by roots he sent out to attack me. He slashed at me with his sword when I was in range of his 6-foot sword. I was tripped by one of his roots and fell to him. He took his sword and stabbed it toward my body. I thought I would die before I heard Shaman call, “End.” Gynox stopped his attack before it hit my heart. Cerberx had a large gash on her hind leg. I walked away with Cerberx limping on side of me.
    We sat across from Shaman as he said, “I didn’t expect you two to win. But it is a motivation to find this.” He rolled out a scroll that told of a fire elemental that lives in the center likes to wander the forest. His name is Pyrostalker. He is very miss understood is actually quite friendly to most people. He sends his time in the grove of firepine for these do not burn when he touches so he calls these trees his friends.
    I left out that night with Cerberx next to me. Cerberx sniffed out the firepines and got to the grove by nightfall. It was at least ten o’ clock at night the grove was lit like as if it was day. As I touched the scarlet red tree my hand was burned. Then as Cerberx her skin was not burned. I figured that since she had been living in the fires of hell. We searched the grove until we came to a cave.
    I walked in to the cave to find Pyrostalker meditating in a trace like state in front of an alter. He blinked his eyes and stopped his meditation. He stood he was he looked like a mixture of burned wood and bone formed like a skeleton. He snapped his fingers and sent a white flame across his body lighting him on fire. He walked toward me with his fire proof armor like pants generating as he walked and asked in a withering voice, “Who are you?”
    I replied, “I am War, I was sent by Shaman to get a pair of talismans the will allow me to control fire.”
    “Well one thing, no one can control you may harness, but you can’t control fire,” Pyrostalker told me.
    “I understand the reason why I was sent by Shaman because he is teaching me to survive this island,” I told him.
    “I see why you need the talismans, but I don’t know what you can do for me. Then again the there is some thing you can do. There are two Maricos, fire demons; brothers that go by the names Marco and Stike that like to steal my tree’s fruit in the spring to the east of here. Bring me their hearts and then I will train you in how to harness fire. Oh, don’t call me Pyrostalker call me Flamgos.”
    I left with Cerberx close behind me. We walked eastward until we came to scorched ground in the shape of footprints. We followed them to a camp were the two of the Maricos. They each had four large blades made of bronze and red-hot. I unsheathed my cutlass as quietly as I could, but they must’ve of heard the metallic sounds of my sword because they threw three ninja throwing knives. I had no use hiding anymore so I stepped where the two could see me. They tightened their armor started to morph. Their backs became another upper part of their bodies. The other torso drew the swords and came at me. I looked at Cerberx and she knew what to do. She attacked one of the brothers. I watched the fight between Stike and Cerberx until it was time to fight Maricos. I got my sword and went on the attack.
    We cross blades, my own and two of his. As we were locked in I could feel the heat of his blades. I saw the second torso of Maricos about to stab with his own blades. I was able to get out of there before I was killed. When I went back on the attack he pushed me away throwing me off balance. Cerberx who was also out matched soon joined me. I looked at her and said, “They’re too powerful for only one on one of us.”
    I jumped high in to the sky and started to come down on him. He was ready for Cerberx but not for me. I got up close to him and stabbed him through the stomach. I pulled out my sword and turned to Maricos. Then in a raspy lisp he said, “Brother, you shall die!”
    Cerberx flame grew as she licked the blood of the fire demon. Her body became larger. Her body became larger her head moved to the right side. Her shoulder morphed into another head along with the both of them gaining horns.
    I looked at Maricos and attacked. Cerberx ran at him fighting the second torso as I fought the main. I my sword and slashed his arm. His arm became limp possibly because I cut the tendon. I placed the next cut into his left shoulder, disabling the other arm. Then I slashed his neck. Both of the torso connected heart stopped and it fell. I cut out their hearts to bring to Flamgos.
    Flamgos was happy to see me and upgraded Cerberx. I gave him the hearts and stepped inside the cave. He said in front of the altar and said, “Beyond this altar there is a statue of a man meditating with two plates in his hands with plates in them. Place the two hearts in the plates as an offering.”
    I walked past the altar and found the statue I placed the hearts there. The man’s eyes began to glow as he drew all the blood from the hearts and turned it into an orb above his head. Then he shot the orb at me in the chest knocking me down. The blood soaked into my chest and left a burning in my chest. Then four rectangles were the tattooed on to my body. After he fashioned two talismans from the hearts of the two fire demons. Then he placed them on to my hands. They burned my skin and embedded themselves in to my hand fusing with the veins and bone. I tiredly walked away from the statue tired from the whole experience.
    I walked to the mouth of the cave using the cave walls to steady myself. I got to Flamgos, Flamgos in his unlit form, and Cerberx who were happy to see me. Flamgos in his unlit form. “You’ll need your rest so get to bed,” Flamgos said fixing up a corner Cerberx and me.
    I woke with a burning pain on my arm. I opened my eyes to see Flamgos putting his finger on my arm. “Wake up, War,” Flamgos told me. I stood looking at him was in his lit form. I looked at the stones in my hand stepped out side following Flamgos.
    Flamgos stepped at least thirty feet away from me and said, “This is target practice.” He placed his hand on the ground and created targets made of molten rocks. I tried to shoot the fire but it backfired and only blew up in my face. “Harness your body heat into one burst of energy,” Flamgos instructed.
    I stood focusing on my body heat I drew my inner fire in and let it go. The talisman glowed as the fire shot from my hand at one of the targets. It smashed the target in two. “Good, War. Let’s make it harder,” Flamgos said. He placed his hands on the ground and made the targets move. He summoned smaller, spectral Styxs. They ran at me as I tried to shoot the targets. I figure I had to shoot the mutts before the attacked me. I shot the other targets. Flamgos created disks made of the same molten rock. He threw them with a combination of the spectral Styx and the disks. I had to be quick on the draw because of the speed of the shear speed of the projectiles and the monsters. I finished the task, thanked Flamgos, and started back for Shaman’s compound.
    I got back to compound and was shocked to find the compound in a wreck. The wall was had a large hole though it. The blast itself looked like it had been made by a bomb of some kind. I stepped through the hole to find Gynox and Cerberus dead. I walked through dead bodies of the Renvie warriors and finally came to the hut had been burned down. I searched the wreckage to find Shaman lying on the ground with blood coming from his mouth. I found a faint pulse. Held him and he woke still coughing blood. I said, “What happened while I was gone.”
    Shaman grabbed my shoulder and said, “It was the Renvie tribe lead by the chief’s daughter Haul.” He coughs more blood and continues, “The blasted through using an explosive creature called Suicdals. Gynox and Cerberus fought for their lives but their war beasts over powered them. I sent Willow back to Tartarus. Before they trapped me in this place and burned it down. Now, as one last gift I give you is my own hellhound Willow.” He places his hand on my own and now on both hands I have the hellhound symbol. Shaman die soon after that. I made three graves for the warriors that died in battle and I vowed to avenge the three men that died to the hands of the Renvie and to kill the woman that lead them.