The End

-by Jaduzen

He was armored again, marching with that confidant swagger, his heart beating in unison with all of those around him. They raised their axes and cleaved intruders with that same clockwork ecstacy. Their eyes shone with his murderous intent, and every cell of their beings thrilled under his gaze.

"'Ee is our blood an' flesh!" Jaduzen cried We shall rend the flesh of his enemies then! the chorus responded. "We are 'is fangs 'an claws!" He cried again, axe held high. Where his ire falls, we shall descend and tear! "His will is ours!" For we are his!

Jaduzen roared awake, his skin clammy, his limbs shaking. The barrens around him were silent, save for crickets and the baying of Kolkar hyenas. He panted, taking joy in the act of breathing alone until his heart stopped racing.

"I..I 'tink I betta go see d'elda" he muttered to no one in particular, sitting up. "It not right dot 'ee still calls t'me, even 'cross d'world like dis"

Jaduzen sat awake for a while longer, staring up at the moons. The air was crisp, though it was sweltering during the day. It was clearer than the jungle and drier, he had always liked that.

Bemused as he was, Jaduzen did not cry out when two searing fangs sunk into his neck, nor when a scaly red tail wrapped around his chest, compressing his ribs. He did not scream as those fangs struck again and again, until his shoulders were slippery with blood, and those coils gleamed wetly in the moonlight. Iyaz musta been 'ungry, afta' 'ee molted the wounded troll thought, bearing no ill-will towards his companion. He was named for the holyness he embodied, Iyaz, and this death would be honorable.

Jaduzen did not cry out until a voice spoke through the echoing haze of death, sweet in its madness, hollowly ringing from the wind serpent's mouth. Only then did the troll shriek. ............ Jaduzen roared awake, his body wet with sweat and blood. His nails dug into alien soil, his skin rubbed against unfamiliar clothing. Hissing and snarling, he looked about the Barrens fitfully until he saw a wind serpent, coiling nearby. It hissed, nodded, and flew eastward.

Jaduzen needed no other incentive. He leapt into a sprint, his blood singing with newfound fire. To Ratchet, off this hateful continent, and then to Booty Bay, to the jungle's he'd loved, where his master reigned.

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