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stories & literature

the enchanted forest

"Warhawk's Deadly Journey"

by Christofori

Note: This is another story which was written out of the channel; so there is no IRC version. Some elements of the story may be inspired by actual happenings or sayings of people in the channel as I write this, however. Enjoy!

Some time had passed, and the Children hadn't been camping in a few weeks. The pallet of Coca-Cola had been extinguished; mainly by the Children, but also by a few passers-by who saw it and couldn't resist a nice, frosty Coke while out in the woods exploring. However, it was a nice weekend, and Christofori knew the Children would be back on another camping trip later that same day.

So, the Master Storyteller went to work preparing a wonderful campsite surprise for the Children. Not only would he continue to read to them, as that is why they kept returning time after time to this spot in the woods, but he also would have a few other surprises for the Children to see. He could barely wait to see the expressions on their little faces when they saw what he had in store for them!

Soon enough, the Children did arrive. This time, there were several more than just the usual crowd, but all of the "regulars" were there: Retro, Kruser, Chroniq, HyoCHAN, BardCat, and (of course) Slam; as well as some newer faces this time around, namely Brainwash, Lyrica, DreamSection, and Kyria. They were all immediately surprised to see Christofori already waiting for them; as well as an ornately decorated camp site, complete with a nicely glowing campfire, festive decorations, and a table full of snackies well suited for littler appetites. Slam was the first to speak up: "Christofori! You're already here! And, all this... COOL STUFF! Woah!"

"Yes, Children! I've been waiting for you to return, so that you may hear more tales from the Enchanted Forest!" exclaimed Christofori.
"Yay!" the Children all shouted.

Soon, everyone had had plenty to eat and drink (for there was another full pallet of fresh, chilled, Coca-Cola waiting for them as well), and they were all settled down and ready to hear more stories.

"The times were grim for those who knew and loved Warhawk," began Christofori. "Several days had passed, and Densebris had been wondering why his loving adoptive father was not moving or talking. You may recall, that at the end of the previous chapter, Warhawk had been struck down by an arrow of some kind. Cluelessbris, being not the most intelligent teenager in the Enchanted Forest, had just assumed that his father was ill and taking some time off to recover. However, tragically, Warhawk was really dead."

"I thought, a long time ago, that you said Warhawk couldn't die!" shouted Slam.
"Why, you're right! I did say that Warhawk can't really die; but, you see, I was referring to normal causes of death, like old age, sickness, disease, and the like. Warhawk was immune to such petty forms of ailment; he only suffered when he lost divine appendages, or in special cases. You see, that arrow which struck him down was no normal arrow! It was a golden arrow, and even had some magical properties!"
"Oh," concluded Slam. "So the arrow was, um, poisonous or something?"
"Well, not exactly. It was magical: it had been enchanted with a very dark, evil kind of magic," explained the Master Storyteller. "While Warhawk didn't show any normal signs of evil at the time he was struck, the wound did cause him to die. Had such an arrow struck Unfortunatebris, or even a normal child like any of you, it would've caused you to decay into a hideous, shriveled, black form which would be barely recognizable as any sort of humanoid."

"So," continued Christofori, "Warhawk was dead, though Brainybris was not able to discern that for himself. However, death is not the end of life as we know it; it is just another step in the journey of life."

"So... Warhawk is not really dead?" asked a confused Lyrica.
"No, he's definitely dead, dear child," corrected Christofori. "I'm speaking of the spirit world now!"
Lyrica, as well as the others who seemed to have been confused, instantly showed the look of immediate understanding.

"Anyway, as we leave Lonelybris (who is still quite clueless) for now, we come next to a rather unreal looking place. This place, commonly referred to as either 'Hell' or 'Hades' by commoners, is actually the opposite of the Ethereal Plane of Existence and Ponderance. This dark, evilly frightening place is called the Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone. It is truly a place of evil, as it is ruled by the god of evil himself!"

Christofori could see the Children as their eyes lit up with awe and wonder at his mere mentioning of this dark, twisted place. He knew that this place would both fascinate and haunt them, as he continued.

"Yes, the Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone is one place where the 'Recently Departed' spirits go. It's not really as black and white an issue as the common belief of Heaven and Hell; where good souls go to Heaven and bad souls go to Hell. No, this is more of a -- well, it's more of a journey, actually. You see, only the gods and beings that they wish to be there will ever go to the Ethereal Plane of Existence and Ponderance. Everyone travels to the Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone after their 'life' ends in the Enchanted Forest. After that, no one really knows for sure what happens; I guess you'd have to go there and find out, and then somehow come back to tell everyone else all about it. But no one has ever done that before."

"Do you think Warhawk will?" asked Slam.
"Well, I'm not quite sure," pondered Christofori. "However, perhaps the story will tell us." With that, he continued with the story.

"Warhawk, having died, now found himself in the Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone. He didn't really care for his surroundings when he 'woke up' there; you see, the place is really quite horrid. There are great plains of molten lava, stretching out in the distance for as far as the eye could see. Only occasionally would you find some sort of island or land of any type in the middle of this immense sea of lava. Warhawk actually found himself to be completely alone on one such 'island.' It was made of sharp, jagged rocks; normal humans entering the Plane of Ethereal Damnation and Brimstone would surely have massive and painful cuts and sores on their feet if they tried to walk or even stand on such an island. However, as we know, Warhawk isn't human; or at least, he wasn't human while he was in the Enchanted Forest. No, dear Children; Warhawk isn't human.

However, he was also no longer a massive hawk, as he used to be. You see, in the Ethereal Planes, no matter which one you are in, everyone and everything there is in spirit form. So, while the ground may have harmed a normal person like you or I, it had no effect on Warhawk's spiritual form as he stood to look around his new desolate surroundings.

Warhawk looked in all directions, and noticed immediately that he couldn't see anything but red hot molten lava in any direction. He occasionally saw great plumes of fire erupt from the surface of the sea of lava; and some were even close enough to the island to have seared the flesh off any mortal!

However, Warhawk was no longer exactly a mortal. Spirits, as far as we know, may be able to live forever; though, like knowing for sure what happens after the Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone, no one knows for sure about the lifespan of spirits. Many people believe that they commonly live indefinitely, often times coming back in spirit form to haunt the living of the Enchanted Forest and the outer world.

Well, as I mentioned a brief moment ago, Warhawk was not extremely fond of his new surroundings. He decided to see if he could fly, and was quite surprised to learn that he could; though he didn't have wings. He was able to simply float into the air, in any direction and at any speed he wanted! He quickly decided that he would try out his newfound ability, to see if there appeared to be any limits to it.

Warhawk flew very quickly in circles around the island, and then soared up, up, and away from the island towards the bleak sky. He kept going, and going... and going! Usually, by now, he thought to himself, he would have gotten light headed from being so high; or at least, he would have been tired from having flown so far so quickly. He was neither dizzy nor tired, but he did decide to stop and look back down to see how far he had flown.

Surprisingly, Warhawk spotted the island he had just been on as he looked down. However, it appeared to be but a tiny, black pinpoint as he looked downward; he had flown quite a distance, and hadn't even noticed! From this height, he could see for millions of kilometers in any direction he looked (you see, the Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone, like the other planes, is flat; so you can seemingly see forever, without losing sight due to any horizons in the distance).

Amazed, Warhawk then decided to look for other tiny pinpoints, which would indicate more islands. He circled slowly, much as he would have done back in the Enchanted Forest whilst looking for prey. However, Warhawk could find no other islands or pinpoints. Perplexed, he decided to head back to the island from which he came into this dank world. You see, Warhawk knew that if he couldn't see any other islands now, trying to fly off and find more would most likely just get him lost.

So, Warhawk gracefully swooped downward at seemingly record speeds, until he at last made it back to his island. He had decided that, since he appeared to be the only one here, he would call this Warhawk's Island. After all, he didn't even know if there were others in this place, nor did he even know what it was called! But, rest assured, there are others.

Suddenly, and as if on cue, another spirit appeared to Warhawk just as he'd been wondering about others existing. This other spirit was dark, and Warhawk couldn't really even see it clearly; all he could make out was a slight outline of what appeared to be a humanoid form. Warhawk instantly reverted to his previous nature of defensiveness, and flew right at the specter, as if he were going to attack it.  

Instantly, as Warhawk made a connection with the dark spirit, Warhawk was thrown back to the very edge of the modest island which seemed to be his new home. Somewhat dazed and confused, Warhawk stood, trying to shake off the feeling of cold chills. He felt as though he'd had a brush with something very, very evil indeed. Little to his knowledge, Warhawk really had! You see, he had just met the god in charge of the Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone; Cryssalid himself!

Cryssalid stood in the same place, motionless. Warhawk could have sworn that he saw the dark figure smile darkly as he stood.

"Welcome to my realm, new soul!" screeched Cryssalid.
"What manner of place is this atrocity?" asked a confused and still dazed Warhawk.
"This is your new home, dear soul," Cryssalid informed him. "You have been killed! You're dead! This is your home now; the Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone! Bwayayayayayaaa!"

Warhawk was not easily impressed; yet that laugh... That laugh just seemed evil.

Warhawk began to mull over the details that had just been presented to him. How could he have been killed? He was not supposed to be able to die. After all, the gods had blessed him with that which they called immortality; even intrusting him with some of their precious Talons!

"Yes, dear soul, you are quite dead, let me reassure you!" mocked Cryssalid.
"Oh, so you're some kind of telepath? You can read my mind?" asked Warhawk.
"No no, dear soul; I'm much more than a simple mind-reader," corrected Cryssalid. "I am the god of the damned! I am the ruler of all you see here."

"Well, erm... Nice place you have here," Warhawk said, attempting to mask his true thoughts of this place.
"You need not concern yourself with trying to evade me; I am all powerful in this realm. I'm quite surprised to see the hell you've crafted for yourself! It is quite interesting, indeed!" exclaimed Cryssalid.

"Crafted for myself?" asked a now reasonably confused Warhawk.
"Yes, dear soul. This is exactly what you'd envisioned 'hell' to be," continued Cryssalid. "You see, each new soul that ventures into this world also creates their own existence here; at least, for the beginning of their stay."

"I'm not sure I understand," admitted Warhawk.
"It's really quite simple, dear soul," explained Cryssalid. "This is just what you'd expected it to be, nothing more."
"I really wish you'd quit calling me 'dear soul' all the time!" exclaimed Warhawk.
"Good! You're no longer trying to mask your thoughts or feelings from me. This is a step in the right direction, indeed," said Cryssalid. "Soon, you will move on to bigger and better things; well, as far as 'bigger and better' goes in this realm!"

Warhawk was not exactly sure if he wanted to know what Cryssalid was talking about, but decided to go along with it for now. Warhawk watched as Cryssalid gestured out towards the sea of lava, and a river of black muck quickly appeared. Warhawk was surprised; though he tried not to let it show.

"This, my good fellow, is the river Styxx0rz. Surely you've heard of it," commented Cryssalid.

Warhawk indicated that he had not by a shrug of his 'shoulders.'

Cryssalid seemed somewhat surprised. "Know you nothing of this realm? You've never heard stories of those who have been here?"
"Can't say that I have," commented Warhawk.
"Damnit!" exclaimed Cryssalid. "I've simply got to get more publicity out for this place!"
Warhawk was somewhat amused at Cryssalid's admission.

Shortly, a strange boat approached Warhawk's island. There was a darkly cloaked figure controlling the boat, Warhawk noticed, as the boat maneuvered along side the island, as if waiting for passengers to board. Cryssalid gestured towards the boat, as if to say 'Go ahead.' So, Warhawk, deciding that he had nothing better to do, approached the boat keeper. As he tried to board the boat, however, the keeper stuck his bony hand out to block Warhawk's entry. Warhawk stopped suddenly, and watched as the keeper's hand then opened as though it expected something from the confused soul.

"You'll have to pay him to travel to other places in this realm," commented Cryssalid.
"Pay him.. with what, exactly?" queried Warhawk.

Just then, Warhawk noticed that he was carrying a rather large golden coin of some sort. Warhawk didn't remember having such a coin before; it was as though it had just suddenly appeared. He held the coin up so he could examine it closely. The coin appeared to be quite old, and looked as though it had seen many owners before Warhawk. It's obverse contained the striking image of a devilish looking figure; while the reverse of the coin showed only a river.

"Do I look good in that?" asked Cryssalid.
"This is supposed to be you?" asked a bemused Warhawk.
"Well, sort of. It is me, in a manner of speaking," explained Cryssalid.

Warhawk again shrugged his 'shoulders' and proceeded to hand the coin to the boat keeper, who took it and deposited it into a large pouch which dangled from his belt. Warhawk thought of trying to rob the boat keeper so he could travel to many more places; but thought better of it, remembering his bout with Cryssalid and how it had made him feel. He was, after all, still a bit shaken from the whole ordeal.

Warhawk and Cryssalid both boarded the boat, and soon enough, they were off. They traveled along the river Styxx0rz for what seemed like an eternity; though it was probably only three seconds. While they were traveling, Warhawk chanced a glance back towards his island; only to see that it was no longer there! All he could see behind them was the river; likewise, all he could see as he returned his gaze forward was more of the river. Warhawk decided that this place was quite strange, indeed.

"Yes, this is a strange place; to the uninitiated," explained Cryssalid.
Warhawk was not sure he wanted to know what Cryssalid meant, so he just played along again.

Soon enough, the boat finally came to a new place. This place was still dark and eerie, although it wasn't as bad as Warhawk had thought it could be. The ground here was like it had been on Warhawk's island, but there was no great sea of lava (although there were large bursts of fire plumes in the distance occasionally). Here, however, Warhawk could see millions of souls trudging around, doing nothing in particular. One of them caught his eye, however; it seemed familiar to Warhawk in some way. The spirit in question seemed to have been expecting Warhawk; as he was coming towards the boat as they approached. The boat had docked soon enough, and the keeper pointed out towards the land, as if to say 'get the hell off my boat!'

Warhawk and Cryssalid soon departed from the boat, to stand on solid ground once again. Suddenly, a thought struck Warhawk; he believed he knew where he'd seen the other spirit from.

"Schabuda? Is that really you?" asked a confused Warhawk.
"Yeah," answered the spirit.
"Wow! Still someone of many words, I can see!" exclaimed Warhawk. Warhawk hadn't seen Schabuda since he'd killed him ages ago (at least it seemed like it were ages ago...). "You're not mad at me for, erm.. killing you, are you, old chap?" he asked.

Schabuda shook his head, as if to say 'nahhh.'

"Great! So how did you end up here? I mean, I know you died and all that.. but...? I'm still confused," admitted Warhawk.
"Oh, you will understand soon enough," said Cryssalid. "For now, though, you must follow me. We have some things to attend to."
"Can Schabuda here come along, as well?" asked a concerned Warhawk.
"I don't see why not," said Cryssalid. "Just don't touch anything or anyone where we're going."
"Ah, fine by me. Where exactly are we going, then?" asked Warhawk.
"You shall see soon enough," commented Cryssalid.

Warhawk decided that he'd had enough of that line; sure, he'd soon see. But Cryssalid didn't have to keep him in suspense!

Suddenly Cryssalid sighed as he stopped abruptly. "No, I won't explain every last detail to you now. You have to trust me; besides, I've explained these things millions of times, and I'm tired of it. Why can't you people just figure things out on your own? Sheesh... you're all Microwave age children these days," sighed Cryssalid. He then continued in the same direction, and Warhawk and Schabuda continued to follow as they chatted idly amongst themselves.

Eventually, they came to some sort of temple. The exterior seemed grand enough; the temple was mainly a great spire which rose up into the bleak sky. Around the spire there were claw-like appendages; Warhawk wasn't too sure what they might be for, other than some sort of intimidating decoration. "What, is this place, is it supposed to be your temple or something?" Warhawk asked Cryssalid.

"Well, it might be," said Cryssalid. "I guess you'll just have to think of it as my home for the time being. For now, just know that this is the only place in the entire Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone that the other gods will visit."

"We're going to see other gods?" pondered Warhawk.
"That is a possibility, indeed!" commented Cryssalid.

As they entered the massive temple, Cryssalid asked Warhawk and Schabuda to wait in the anteroom whilst Cryssalid went to finish something, to which the two agreed. Cryssalid was off then, muttering "and make sure you don't touch anything!" as he left them.

Warhawk and Schabuda were finally alone! Before, they could merely chat amongst themselves, but now Warhawk felt more at ease without that weird "god of damnation" going everywhere with them. Warhawk decided to question Schabuda more on his time spent in this Plane of being.

"So, what did your place look like, I mean, when you first got here?" Warhawk asked inquisitively.
"Nothing special," commented Schabuda.
Warhawk could see why he'd killed Schabuda in the first place; he'd gotten tired of Schabuda's shortness in reply.
"Well, can't you tell me anything? For god's sake! Give me some details here!" pleaded Warhawk.

Just then, Slam looked as though he wanted to ask a question. "Well, go ahead, my child," said Christofori. "Ask your question!"
"Well, I just was wondering, why Schabuda never said more than a few words at a time?" he asked.
"You know, I'm not quite sure about that, dear child. I suppose it's just the way Schabuda is," commented Christofori.

Christofori had been noticing some movement outside the campsite, behind some shrubbery in the distance. He could not help having his attention drawn away from the Children now; the intruder to their campsite had gotten on his nerves. "Well, are you going to come here and join us, or stay back there to listen to the rest?" asked Christofori.

The Children were all confused; they looked around, trying to see to whom the Master Storyteller was speaking.

At long last, a lone teenaged male emerged from the thicket, and came forward. "I'm sorry to have been spying on you; I just noticed the Coca-Cola as I was walking by, and wondered if I could have some," the teenager asked.

"Well, I don't see any reason why not, young lad," reasoned Christofori. "Please, join us! I'm sure you're interested in the story by now; after all, you've been hiding back there for quite some time now!"
"I suppose I could, if you don't mind," countered the teenager politely.
"Of course we don't mind, do we, Children?" asked Christofori.

None of the Children seemed to mind, as they even began to make some room around the campfire for the teenager.

"What's your name," Slam asked the teenager.
"Oh, me? I'm Libris," he said.
"It's nice to meet you, Libris," said Christofori. "Now, let's get back to the story!"

"Anyway," continued Christofori, "Warhawk was pleading with Schabuda for him to tell more about what his experience in arriving in the Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone was, but just then, Cryssalid came back. The two stopped 'conversing' and gave Cryssalid their undivided attention.

"Ah, thank you!" said Cryssalid. "It seems, Warhawk, that the other gods do not want you to be here just yet. They seem to think that you have some... erm... unfinished business back in the Enchanted Forest. I'm not entirely sure who killed you, either; which is a big mystery. In fact, none of the gods know who killed you!"

At that, Warhawk seemed quite astonished. He know many of the gods well enough to know that they were all-seeing and all-knowing in the matters of the mortal world. "You mean to tell me that no one knows who shot me?" asked Warhawk.

"Well, to be honest, you're fairly correct," explained Cryssalid.
"But.. how can that be? I mean, I thought..."
"Trust me, I know what you thought," corrected Cryssalid. "The truth of the matter is that the gods are furious that they don't know much of anything that happened to you that day, after you left. They are not sure what is going on, or what force is causing them to not see the identity of your attacker; so, that's why they're giving you a second chance at life in the Enchanted Forest."

Warhawk was amazed! He would get to go back to his home, his son, and see everything all over again; and now, he'd also be on the lookout for anything and anyone suspicious traveling in the Enchanted Forest...

"Quite right, as you should be!" exclaimed Cryssalid. "The gods want you to be on your best behavior, and try to ascertain the identity of your assailant. Should you do this successfully, the gods actually have some sort of reward for you. Botch it up, and you'll end up in a worse place than this, I assure you!"

"Well, you can bet that I will do my utmost," assured Warhawk. "One question, though, before I am 'sent back' I guess: can Schabuda here come back with me? He might be able to help me out on this little mission of yours."

"I don't know that that would cause a problem," confessed Cryssalid. "The other gods even mentioned a similar plan to me; perhaps they just know you too well, Warhawk."

Warhawk again shrugged his 'shoulders' and nodded in agreement.

"Okay, then, it is settled!" exclaimed Cryssalid. "You will sleep, for now, and when you awake, you and your friend will be back in the Enchanted Forest. Farewell, Warhawk and Schabuda! And, don't let me catch you back here anytime soon!"

Warhawk was confused; he wasn't tired at all, and he garnered that Schabuda wasn't feeling a bit sleepy either as he glanced in his direction. Suddenly, though, a great wave of drowsiness hit the both of them. Soon, they both felt as though they could no longer stand, and collapsed to the ground, and were asleep. Cryssalid let out an evil, cackling "Bwayayayayaa!" as they slipped off into their own dreams.

* * *

When Warhawk woke up the next day, he quickly sat up and looked around. He was in his home, as were James-Bond, a Gamba root tribesman leader, and his own beloved son Incoherentbris. Also, Schabuda could be seen, off in the distance, munching on some poor lad's fingers.

"Slowly now!" cautioned James-Bond. "You've been out for several days! You shouldn't move so suddenly."

Warhawk just then noticed a stabbing pain from his chest, and, as he looked down, he saw a large wound that could have only been caused by some sort of arrow. He managed to lay back down, but still he had questions that needed answers.

"Wha... who?" he managed.
"Quiet, too! Talking about it won't make you any better," explained James-Bond.

Warhawk looked over in the direction of Schabuda, and asked simply "How?"

James-Bond smiled at him, and said "Well, Schabuda heard that you were hurt, and came over to help cheer you up!"

"But..." Warhawk managed, still confused.
"Shh, don't try to talk any more for now. You'll need to rest more, and save your strength, if you expect to heal!" chided James-Bond.

Warhawk seemed content in that, as he now felt very, very weary. He managed to glance lovingly to his son, who was so happy that his beloved father was going to get better now, that he... well, Predictablebris began to pleasure himself outside on a nearby vine out of sheer joy.

Warhawk began to think to himself. Was it all a dream? Had any of it been real? He had never heard the gods mention either Cryssalid or the Ethereal Plane of Damnation and Brimstone before... could those even exist? What really happened to him? These questions were all Warhawk could think of, as he nodded off to sleep........

The End!
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