Chapter VIII

     "We are certain. Somehow he has gained the ability to travel great distances at great speeds. We've sensed him through Gawron, Ryan and you all within the past day, and you are all many miles apart."
     "But I'm on a completely different continent than the other two," spoke Aaron within his dream. "Can he really move so quickly?"
     "He has already begun to reach his greater powers," informed the Prophets. "Destroy him now before his strength increases!"
     Aaron awoke from his dream contact with the Prophets. His target was within a half a mile to the north. As far as he'd learned from the Prophets' perception through Ryan, the transgressor looked like a human boy, and he was prepared to destroy this being and whatever allies he may have on sight.
     He moved to the location the Prophets had given him and began to track something moving through the mountains. His keen senses allowed him to visualize his adversary. He was alone. Aaron closed his eyes, opening them to the view of his adversary's scope of vision, putting his free will to work.
     "I see... rocks... he's approaching someone... WHAT?"
     Aaron quickly returned to his own vision and turned to the right where his opponent was advancing upon him. "This is no humanlike creature!" he realized just before the monster fell upon him. He felt a draining sensation and nothing more.

     The followers who had remained with the Prophets ran to their aid as their elders fell out of trance. They waved them off and went back into their meditation. What they were dealing with was already very powerful, and only now with the loss of Aaron could they begin to focus on an actual experience of the threatening creature's abilities. From what they could tell, it's true powers were much more terrible than they were previously able to contemplate.

     Tim's hand hurt from all the cranking he'd had to do, but the glider was finally high enough to make the journey to the City. The air was thin at their altitude and Tim didn't dare try and admire the scenery from such a height, so he attempted idle conversation with Drum Boy, letting Psycho navigate without interruption.
     "How far from the City are we going to land?"
     "We're really not too familiar with the surrounding terrain," replied Drum Boy. "Psycho will land us wherever the ground is flat, but definitely not within a mile of the screen. We're not going to drop in on those riffraff uninvited."
     "Actually," spoke Psycho, whose attention must have been partially with their conversation, "I was considering trying to land atop one of the skyscrapers. It will be easier to get to in a hurry if we needed it."
     Tim became very drowsy due to the thin air and lost track of the time. He became very relaxed and was not at all prepared when a massive jolt of the glider snapped him to awareness.
     "Are we th..."
     "No. Shut up!" spoke Psycho, frantically working the glider's controls.
     "We're under attack," explained Drum Boy briefly while quickly recharging the navigational battery. Another jolt rocked the vessel. Tim watched as a large hook shot up through the platform. Suddenly, Psycho activated the glider's lift fans, but the vessel didn't gain any height.
     "It's got us anchored!" he growled. "I'm taking us down. No one does this to Lord Psycho and lives!"
     Psycho pulled the cord to increase their descent. The glider began to plummet toward the ground. It was almost enough to make Tim experience vomiting for the second time in his life. What happened next made him do just that.
     A third harpoon struck the glider from below. The increased force of the hook against the descending craft caused the projectile to smash through the deck, shaking the entire craft violently and causing an end portion to snap and drop suddenly. Tim, finding the deck falling out from beneath him, rolled off the deck itself and dropped through the air toward the forest below. Striking and breaking a branch on a tall tree, Tim continued to plummet until landing stomach down over a stronger, lower one. As was stated, Tim's digestive system fell into reverse.
     Taking a moment to recollect and gain his bearings, Tim realized that he was in danger. The craft was attacked, he had fallen, and now whoever the challenger was was probably looking for him. Checking himself for injury and finding no more than some bloody scratches on his face and limbs, Tim cautiously made his way down the tree.
     As he reached the ground, Tim could hear footsteps approaching in the fallen leaves. He drew his sword and hid within a patch of bushes from where he could see in the direction of the sounds. As the being drew near, he could make out the four black, thin legs of a horse.
     Suddenly, the steps halted and the bushes around Tim parted, revealing the hidden boy to his pursuer. Tim could now see the creature as clearly as he could be seen by it. It was not a man on horse, but a creature who came across as being like a centaur, only its entire body was coated with black fur down to its hands and it had the face of a dog. Its hand was outstretched toward the bushes, and spotting Tim the creature bore an evil grin.
     "I am Gawron," spoke the creature. "The Prophets have commanded me to destroy you, and so I shall."
     Tim wanted to ask why the Prophets wanted him dead in the first place, but this being didn't seem very sociable. He had to keep his guard up, so he tightened his grip on the sword. The creature, Gawron, extended its arm to the side.
     There was a sudden noise from the left. Tim turned and saw a tree fall to the ground. Gawron charged him as his attention was diverted, but Tim rolled out of the way. He plunged his sword within the side of the beast who then shrieked in pain. As Tim tried to pull the sword from the wound, however, the weapon was instead pulled inside the beast. Tim released the handle and watched in shock as the monster's gash closed around the swallowed blade.
     "Let's see how you do without your toy!" snarled the creature. Gawron extended his hand toward Tim and the trunk of a tree behind the boy snapped with a loud, splintering crash. Tim narrowly dodged the falling plant and darted behind another. It too snapped and fell, sending Tim running once more. Desperately needing a weapon, Tim lunged for a large branch laying before him. Before he could reach it, however, it was pulled away and into the hand of the beast. Gawron smiled.
     Tim was running out of options. He couldn't expect to avoid the monster's attacks until his companions arrived, assuming they had landed safely. He quickly dug through his pockets looking for the pen he'd been carrying. What he found was the plastic semi-circular protractor he had been given by the Bane Annoying who had called the device a calling card. "Stay back!" warned Tim, arming himself as best as he could with the measuring tool.
     "And what is that thing supposed to be?" laughed the beast.
     "It's a PROTRACTOR, you idiot!"
     "You dare talk to me that way?" snarled Gawron.
     "I-it wasn't me!" stammered Tim.
     Suddenly, Annoying appeared from behind a tree. "Quick, boy!" he shouted. "Throw me the protractor!"
     "Wha, this thing?" Tim asked.
     "Yes, and hurry!" Tim lobbed the semi circle to the bane. Annoying held it aloft and called out, "Power of the Protractor!"
     Tim couldn't believe his eyes. With the protractor in hand, the bane who before introduced himself as a wandering salesman increased in size and strength. In a flash of light, his apparel changed from drab shirt and pants to a tight-fitting colored uniform with cape. The entire ordeal was surreal.
     "You would do better to leave alone the friends of Super Protractor Man!" shouted Annoying.
     "Ah, a bane with the powers of metamorphosis," acknowledged Gawron. "I'll be with you in a moment, boy!" The creature turned and faced Annoying. "Metamorph or not, prepare to die!"
     "Oh, I think you underestimate my strength," warned Annoying. "I am armed with the Power of the Protractor!"
     "You must be the Bane of Irritation or such," deduced Gawron.
     "No, I'm Annoying," he corrected.
     Gawron tossed the branch aside and threw out both his hands. Instantly, trees uprooted themselves and flew towards Annoying, burying him underneath. Much to Gawron's surprise, an explosion followed, scattering the flaming wood in all directions. Tim took cover behind a stump from where he could watch the duration of the battle.
     "Now it's my turn," declared Annoying. "CHAMELEONIZE!" Annoying threw himself to the ground. The word having been spoken, Annoying vanished from sight. Gawron was surprised at first, but then began to advance toward Tim. The boy found the pen he had searched for and prepared to somehow do battle against the creature.
     As Gawron passed over the area where Annoying had vanished, the beast was suddenly lifted into the air. Annoying reappeared, holding his adversary aloft. With a massive heave, the creature was thrown to the side, smashing yet another tree to the ground. Gawron had trouble returning to a standing position and remarked, "You're more crafty than I'd considered."
     Tim could see the tip of his sword protruding from the monster's side. He realized that his blade must still be intact within the creature's body. Gawron clenched his teeth in pain as he retracted the weapon within him once more.
     "Annoying!" called Tim. "He's got my sword in him! I think it hurts him!"
     "I saw it, boy! Close your eyes!" Annoying stood his ground as the creature stamped the ground and began a charge. Just before the beast reached him, Annoying turned directly away from the beast. Shouting something, a brilliant flash of light emanated from Annoying's hindside and was directed towards the advancing monster.
     Gawron shrieked in pain, his eyes searing and the fur on his face aflame. "Aargh! How?" Annoying ran toward the beast, picking up the branch it had discarded. He took a mighty swing and struck Gawron directly where the sword had protruded just before. The sword's tip became visible again and blood began to pour from the wound.
     Gawron, enraged and in pain, began to buck about, able to stop neither the pain in its face or the pain in its side. Without the ability to focus on just one of its wounds, Gawron continued to shriek and jump about, spilling more blood as the weapon protruded further.
     "Open your eyes and run, boy!" shouted Annoying, who was doing the same. The crazed beast began flailing his arms and trees and rocks were being thrown about everywhere. The two ran until they were beyond the tempest of telekinetically swirling debris and waited until the last pebble settled on the forest floor. Returning to the site of the battle, Annoying kicked aside the monster's bloody fleece, revealing a pool of blood and an old, ornate sword. Tim retrieved his blade and Annoying, relieved, reverted to his original form in an unimpressive fade. Exhausted from the metamorphosis, Annoying fell to the ground panting.
     "Thanks, I owe you a big one," acknowledged Tim.
     "Yeah, well, just make sure you protect me until I wake up," Annoying turned onto his back and immediately began to snore loudly.
     Tim, perplexed by this behavior, did as Annoying asked and had a seat next to the sleeping man. There he waited, hoping his friends were safe and would find him, in the center of a new clearing in an otherwise dense and humongous forest somewhere in the World of Affliction.

[Chapter VII] [Chapter IX]

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Last page update: 7.21.98