In this excerpt we meet the Kind of the Barrier Wood and learn or the jade amulet by which the demon, Jackal, controls him. He is perturbed by the loss of prisoners he was holding and the disappearance of the eagles…
Of Rocks and Gold 5
The King of the Barrier Wood prowled just behind the main body of mindless as they neared the Ravensrill camp. As he walked he toyed with the pouch around his neck and muttered to himself. “Eagles gone. Prisoners gone. What’s goin’ on here?” He let the others get farther ahead, then dropped to his haunches and removed the pouch from his neck. With his back to the tunnel ahead, he slipped the amulet from the leather bag.
In his hand lay a piece of jade worn smooth with much use. Inscribed upon it was the snarling head of a jackal. The king lost his air of bravado as he gazed at the amulet. He fell forward with his head in the dirt, hand outstretched, the amulet held as high as possible. Unintelligible words poured from his mouth. A dank, foul mist rose from the upraised hand, filling the air around the king’s head. When the smell assaulted his nostrils, the king lifted his head and looked with dread at the amulet. A face so evil it frightened even the King of the mindless, had replaced the snarling jackal. “You dare to question me, you human dirt bag?”
“Please, Great One. Things are happening you didn’t tell me about. The
eagles have disappeared, our prisoners escaped even though they were half dead…
Even our scout party in Ravensrill had problems…”
“Shut up!” The head blazed and the king dropped the amulet. Immediately his hand curled in agony as punishment came swift and cruel. “Pick up the sacred stone! How dare you play with it so carelessly!”
The king placed his hand over the red-hot jade, wincing as the fire blistered
the slowly uncurling fingers.
“Now. Losing the prisoners was your fault, but angels from earth stole the eagles. I don’t know how they got here or how they know what we’re doing, but they did and they do. The rest of it is just bad luck. Are you trying to get out of our bargain?”
“Oh, no, Great One! We are just about to carry off more loot than we’ve ever seen. These fairies are so simple and harmless; it’s like stealing from babies.”
“What about your end of the bargain? Have you managed to introduce
jealousy, greed, hate into this world?”
“N-n-no, your honor. We haven’t had time. We did try with those prisoners
we took, but somethin’ kept us from ‘em. But we will, sir. I promise. Just as soon as we get the gemstone.”
“Go. Your henchmen are coming to find you. Just don’t try to trick me. You know what will happen!” The face of the jackal returned and the stone cooled. The king slipped it back into the pouch, noticing as he did so that the blisters on his hand were gone. The pain remained however, and his temper grew to match it.