C h a p t e r V I
F r o m Z a r a h e m l a W i t h L o v e
It was dark now.
The only light came from a hue on the horizon where the sun had been only minutes ago, and torches around the Lamanite encampment. The Gang had hiked down the slope, and was now sitting on a nearby embankment looking down on the activity.
Gigel and his men had their weapons drawn, and were crouched down behind some underbrush, watching the two Lamanite guards standing next to the wall. The Gang was crouched nearby, also watching. There was quite a bit of noise coming from inside the camp.
Jon slowly edged past the rest of the group out into the open and crouched low. He pulled a special tipped arrow from his quiver, and dipped it into a pot of blackish liquid that he pulled out from his little pack also.
“What are you doing?” Kaitlin asked.
Jon set the arrow next to his bow, and pulled out two white stones. He scraped them together, causing a spark to jump onto the arrow. The tip erupted in a brilliant glowing ball of fire.
“Causing a distraction.” Jon replied. He pulled the arrow back, and began aiming off somewhere to the side of the camp.
“That’ll never work! Just shoot it into the camp!” Brian shouted at Jon.
Jon’s mouth dropped, and turned to look at Brian angrily. “Brian, shut up! We’re not trying to alert them of our…”
The arrow suddenly slipped out of Jon’s hand, and went flying up into the air. It flew perfectly, arched in flight, and went down into the middle of the camp. The sound of glass could be heard breaking, and a huge fireball erupted in the middle of the camp. Jon slapped a hand against his forehead and closed his eyes.
“CRAP! We hit their wine storage!”
The two guards had been distracted by the fireball, but turned at the sound of Jon’s voice. Several more came running out through the gate, and looked up at the Gang. The fireball illuminated the hills well.
“So much for sublimity…” Kenzi said.
The Ninjas theatrically rolled out of the bushes and into the open, firing off several arrows. Four guards went down instantly, while the rest continued charging up the hill.
“Time to go to!” Jon yelled, running down the hill.
The rest of the Gang took off following him, heading straight for the gate. Guards fell to the ground all around them as the Ninjas gave them cover fire. They plowed through the unblocked gate, and popped out next to a stall filled with horse being illuminated with torches.
“Get on!” Jon yelled, hopping the fence.
“Jon! Some of us don’t know how to ride horses!” Richard said.
“Oh shiitake mushrooms!” Jon said, trying to kick open the stall.
The horses saw Brian floating nearby, and began to get restless. Jon suddenly got an idea, and with one slice, cut the ropes holding the horses in. The horses all took off, and began knocking over oncoming guards.
Jon snatched up a torch and yelled, “Grab one and follow me!”
Everyone watched him take off, and grabbed a torch following Jon through the camp.
“Light the tents on fire!” He yelled.
As they ran, Kenzi waved her torch past the first tent and rushed past as it burst into flames. They continued running, everyone torching the tents, causing them to erupt in fire. As the camp filled with chaos and flames, everything began to steadily get warmer and warmer until it was blistering hot.
“Look!” Richard yelled over the raging fire. “The commander’s tent!”
Jon looked, and up ahead he spotted the ceremonially decorated tent of the commander that had been in charge of him for the duration of his time in this army. Just then a battalion of troops suddenly came running around the corner, heading straight for them.
“Keep moving!” Jon yelled.
The Gang ran past him, seeming to have not notice their new foe. Jon stood his ground as they came closer, weapons raised high, screaming traitor. Kenzi stopped at these new sounds, and turned to see them about to attack Jon.
Jon threw his torch at the closest soldier, and watched as he fell to the ground, grasping his face in pain. He then drew his sword, and sliced the next soldier diagonally down the chest.
The other soldiers had drawn their swords, and were almost on top of him. Jon spun around, with his sword outstretched, and sliced three more soldiers on the abdomen. They fell to the ground, and began to bleed to death. The last one paused, and watched as Jon slowly turned. Jon raised his sword to cut him down, but the soldier blocked his blow. Jon continued to hit at the soldier, but each time he blocked his blows with his own sword.
Jon finally gave him a roundhouse kick, which the soldier never expected, and finished him off by slicing his throat brutally. Kenzi gasped, and put her hand over her mouth.
Jon panted for a second, and spotted the dazed soldier, still grasping his face in pain from the torch burns. Jon walked over, raised his sword up, and stabbed straight down. The soldier screamed, shook violently, and then died.
“Jon!” Kenzi finally yelled.
Jon quickly looked up, and realized that Kenzi had witnessed the whole thing.
She just glared at him, but stopped at the sound of Richard’s voice.
“Guys! Over here!”
They quickly joined the rest of the Gang at the edge of the Commander’s tent, and rushed in.
Inside there were tables scattered about the middle of the room, completely covered in maps and other papers. The tent walls were lined with shelves covered with weapons, scrolls, and other objects. The only light came from a single torch in the middle of the tent, and of course the fire blazing outside.
Sitting at his feet was a ferocious looking jaguar with black fur. It hissed, but remained at its master’s feet. The Commander had his back to them when they first entered, but slowly turned to face them. Jon gasped.
The Commander was the one who had tortured Jon, trained him, and forced him to kill Seth. He had also been the one to promote him to scout, and teach him his skill… This man—this imposter—looked nothing like the Commander.
His skin wasn’t dark, but looked like a tanned-white. His hair was blonde, and he seemed taller than before. The Commander Jon had known was at normal height, but this person was well over six feet tall.
“Commander…?!” Jon said, still looking at him in disbelief.
“Half breed! After everything I did for you! This is your thanks?!” His voice didn’t even sound the same. The words belonged to the Commander, but this wasn’t the Commander talking.
Jon was still gaping at him. He finally snapped back to reality.
“Everything you did for me?! What did you do for me?!” Jon yelled back.
“I kept you alive! I taught you how to survive! I fed you!”
“Fed me?! I had to survive off scraps!”
“Well what did you expect?! A cheese pizza?!”
Kaitlin’s eyebrows suddenly shot up. “How…do you know…about pizza?!”
The Commander suddenly froze, and tensed up. His eyes darted about, looking from person to person. He cursed under his breath, realizing what he’d done. His shoulders slumped, and he slowly turned to look down at the jaguar.
“I will miss you Aero…”
He suddenly turned quickly, and reached for something on a nearby table. Jon lunged forward to slice him with his sword. There was a burst of bright light, and Jon was thrust backwards against one of the shelves around the tent wall. When the light cleared, the Commander was gone.
The jaguar had been surprised by this burst of bright light, and was now growling at the Gang, pacing back and forth, almost as if deciding which one to attack first. It stopped suddenly, and looked up at Kenzi. Kenzi gasped, and started to slowly back up. The jaguar walked forward, and began sniffing her. Kenzi froze in her tracks, and braced herself for the impending attack. Then, against what everyone expected, it sat down at her feet and began purring.
Kenzi slowly opened her eyes and realized what had happened. She then reached her hand out, and began to pet it. It continued purring, and Kenzi kept petting it, finally relaxing.
“Great…” She began. “We’re stuck back in time, have a messed up Jaguar, and a FREAK’N pizza-eating king!”
“That’s it, I’m outta of here.” Brian said, turning around and floating away.
Richard turned and faced Kaitlin. “Remember what I said about time-travel? I think we just found our little friend…”
There was a loud crash outside, and the Gang was once again alerted to the fact that the camp was burning down. They all turned and ran for the exit.
“Wait!” Jon yelled,
Everyone turned, and watched as Jon walked towards the Commander’s table. He picked up some pieces of parchment, and set them to fire. As the paper turned to ash, he turned to face the Gang, a look of cleverness on his face.
“Let’s see ‘em find Nephite territory now!”
They took off running out of the tent, heading through the burning encampment. Most of the tent coverings had been burned up, and only the wooden planks remained, scorching and still burning. It was then that Kenzi noticed the jaguar following her.
“No, no. It’s okay, you stay here…” She said, pointing back at the ten, looking just a little nervous. This big cat reminded her of a really big dog…she was scared of big dogs.
“There’s no time, Kenzi! We have to get going!” Richard shouted back.
They all continued running, the jaguar right beside them. The camp was literally burning down all around them. Pieces of debris fell from above, and crashed all around, narrowly missing each time. The heat was unbearable. They finally passed through the gate, and ran out, headed up into the hills. The Ninjas were still sitting at the top, with their bows armed.
“Well that was successful.” Richard said, looking back down at the now completely burning encampment.
They had all collapsed around the brush, and were still sweating from the heat. Jon had sat down on a rock to catch his breath, but could sense Kenzi’s stare burning a hole in the back of his skull. He turned around to face her, and looked right back. Her arms were folded, and she was looking at him furiously.
“So Jon…how many is it?” She asked in a hostile tone.
“How many what?” Jon replied innocently.
“How many have you killed?” She said coldly.
“Do you really want to know?”
“Fifty seven…including Nephites.”
Her gaze narrowed, and her mouth clenched. Everyone else’s jaw had dropped, and they all just stood there watching. Jon sighed angrily, and sat down on the rock. He pulled out his sword, and began wiping the blood off the blade.
“Listen,” He said firmly, looking a little depressed, “killing is necessary for defense around here, and you will have to defend yourselves eventually.”
The others had closed their mouths by now, and were shaking their heads solemnly. They knew it was true when you lived in this ancient world.
“But you don’t care who you kill!” Kenzi shouted angrily.
Jon glared at her. “That’s my problem, not yours!”
She was about to yell back when the Jaguar stepped between them, rubbing hard against Kenzi’s leg. She clenched her jaw once more, and Jon turned away, facing the others.
“So…do any of you know how to use some kind of weapon?”
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