Another long, hard trek into the wastelands, another trek returned. He sought the unfound treasures of a world buried in heat and dryness. The distance yielded little, but artifacts were found — they were brought to market, to collectors of the world lost in the Age of Solis.
“Easy boy,” said Toa to his lean limbed zefon he named Ko, a strange creature with short tan fur, several stripes across its rear, and a long lean snout with small shy eyes.
Toa walked beside, as Ko was not used to ride, instead he hauled an extended supply of water and some extra food. Three weeks into the wasteland he could travel — a feat matched by no one else.
His latest trek began, turned and left the dim mountains of Bolann where he lived among a set of nooks, a solitary life. The dry winds crossed his nose too many times, a spell of harkened quench reversed the damage of dry membranes, a unique healing spell Elrock taught him the day he requested Toa take on that new, strange way of life.
Toa was there to watch the dark energy surface and disappear, while he claimed what he wanted from the wastelands of the North — carrying back something worthwhile, and information of a priceless kind.
Toa walked the distal plain of the wasteland flats for days and found the rear cliff ridge of the desert flats. He stayed among the fallen kingdom and drew water from its ancient well, for the second time replacing the bucket and rope lost months before. Toa made it down the far mountains, beyond the Azben ridge where the heat raised over 130 degrees, leaving any traveler parched and scorching dry. Like few others, Toa could tolerate the exorbitant heat. It was a special talent he possessed, the reason Elrock made the special request. Toa pressed on into the dry expanse where abandoned cities could be found.
As he wandered, searching through the remnants of ancient life, he kept an eye on the development of natural phenomena around him. Among the desert flats, he saw ambient lights from time to time, rare exhibitions of an evolving light. Flickering shadows occasionally caught his eye. Violet or blue expanses of auras manifested and floated in the air, sometimes a hundred feet long or more. It was not the light of magic; it was the light that Elrock feared, a natural polar tip into the dark energy of life and death.
Toa moved along the forgotten lands, and approached a long road he walked many times before — forty miles beyond the Azben palace, 132 degrees and rising, the heat rolled across his eyes with impunity.
Ko walked with lean reaching steps, but stopped. Toa sensed an air of disarray. The heat was vapid from within, he shifted his awareness from the sublime type required to walk the desert, leaning on edge.
Toa removed the cloth that covered his mouth and smelled the air. Ko could sense reason for alarm, his back raised and ridged in a higher posture.
The buildings of the lost city spread out, short and desolate, and from the distant road, a creature of dark nature pushed out of wide alleyway and roved above the street. Its ambiguous body was 9 feet wide, and its head a small concentrated dome. Toa was on edge, having never seen something so large and vicious among the wastelands.
The beast screeched a deep and wailing call, and set forward with great speed. Toa pulled out his short staff and called out a spell, “Yova Nichta”. A shield raised up and from his staff a blue excursion found the air.
The beast soared faster than a horse and grew in size as it approached. Long limbs fell from the ambiguous mass and touched the soil — it manifest the forms of a living creature, no longer an apparition. The beast charged. Ko moved behind Toa who sent out a furious light of charging static.
The beast ran into the energy and found itself writhing in an electric surge — yet its approach did not stop.
Toa was forced to turn aside. The beast reared and fell with a massive jaw that stretched low and slammed into the Ko’s narrow shoulder. Toa saw his calm friend’s eyes torn with desperation — Ko’s long jaw opened and tried to bite the shoulder of the beast.
Toa nearly lost his mind, and scrambled up. The beast let go, and turned to face him.
Below, the screaming zefon kicked and squirmed against the ground. Toa reached within and pulled his chords of reason, “I must fight this thing...”
The beast set upon him with a roaring scramble. The long dark legs sought to pierce his limbs. Toa found his dagger and jammed it in the creature’s gut and pulled. The beast leaned down and chewed at his chest and shoulder.
Toa’s life was clasped between its jaws.
Bloodied Ko found the creature’s feet and pulled — one hard snap at a time, the creature was displaced.
Toa saw the dark beast shift; its eyes were vacant. Ko tugged so hard it could not ignore the force.
Toa ripped his knife from the beast’s belly and stabbed the creature’s neck — it reached to clamp down again, but Ko pounced upon its back and made it impossible to chew on Toa. He stabbed, and stabbed, a dozen times, then a dozen more.
The beast moaned in torrential bursts, as long strings of black blood poured out.
Ko reached and snapped the beast’s shoulder with his narrow jaw. He snapped again and clamped down on the round dome head and pressed down with all his might.
Toa found a moment to slip out. He raised his staff and screamed for shattering energy spellwork. Ko let go and stepped aside. The beast’s head exploded like a dew drop; a dim green juice sprawled throughout the air. Toa stood firm and watched his dear zefon chew and pull and nag on the beast’s twitching limbs for several minutes, until the beast no longer moved.
The evening passed in dire conditions and the setting sun brought little relief. A long hard week followed as Toa and Ko walked back, limping, wounded, near-broken. He said to his silent friend, “It is our last journey to this place. The time has come that Elrock spoke of. Now harmless apparitions will shift to bodied beasts. The First Wave will soon manifest… I will take us far away.”