The Jade Spear

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Eviscerator came to a sudden stop.

“Ow!” Lady Shadow hissed. She had run into Eviscerator, and had a dozen small cuts to show for it. “Warn me the next time you do that, cretin.”

Eviscerator made an ambiguous grunt in reply. He had learned not to worry too much about the individual opinions of his leaders. As long as he did his job well, they’d forgive him for little slights. Between Lord and Lady Shadow’s games and the Skull King’s insanity, trying to sooth all of their egos at once was likely to interfere with your work, and if you screwed up, it didn’t matter how much they liked you.

He ran a finger along the patterns of the temple’s wall. The temple was hidden, deep in the wilds of China. The jungle was slowly reclaiming the temple. Vines crawled over most of the walls, and a tree had split the stone floor in the middle. The temple resisted grudgingly, but time was not on its side, and Mother Nature was patient.

No man had set foot here in centuries, but…

“This place seems familiar,” he said finally.

“It’s all familiar, man,” Firebug said. “Circles. Always in circles. Only way to leave them is to burn a new path!”

“I’m sure that make perfect sense in that rotting melon of yours,” Lady Shadow said, before turning to Eviscerator. “We’ve looked at a dozen of these temples already. It’s only natural that they start to look alike.” She paused. “Or is this one of your ‘spiritual’ things?”

“I’ll let you know when I know.”

“Maybe this means we’re on the right track. If my husband finds the Jade Spear before I do, I’ll never hear the end of it.”

“Probability is on our side,” Eviscerator assured her. “Firebug’s the only one who can translate that map. We can check half a dozen temples in the time it takes him to find a single one.”

“Six to one odds are not good enough. My husband can always find a way to cheat at games of chance. Plus he’s got Mystara working for him.”

“Can we go?” Firebug said, a child-like whine in his voice. “I hate the jungle. It’s hot, and there are bugs, and nothing burns well.”

“Back!” Eviscerator said in a hushed tone. He grabbed Lady Shadow and and Firebug, pulling them into the shadows behind one of the pillars.

Two men walked into the temple. The first was an old man, dressed in simple robes that were dyed a bright green. The other had black armor, decorated with bits of jade. A jade monk and a temple guardsman? But the order had died out hundreds of years ago.

They walked slowly, discussing something in Chinese. As they started up the stairs, the guardsman turned to face the hidden S.K.U.L.L. agents. Eviscerator didn’t move. There was no way the guardsman could see into the shadows. Movement would only make it easier for him to see them.

The guard winked at Eviscerator and followed the monk to the second floor.

Eviscerator turned to look at Lady Shadow, who had an impatient look on her face.

“Do you mind telling me what we’re doing?” she asked in a harsh whisper.

“I assume you didn’t want to be spotted.”

“Spotted by who? Nobody’s been here in centuries.”

He turned back to stare at where the two men had disappeared. There had been something familiar about the guardsman.

“You… you didn’t see anyone?” he asked.

Lady Shadow let out an exasperated sigh. “I brought you along because I needed somebody sane. I can’t put up with Firebug on my own, so please tell me there’s some logical thoughts running through your head.”

“Dying memories of a dead building,” Firebug said with a manic grin. He wasn’t looking at either of them, but was watching a moth float by. “Failed and betrayed, until its entire purpose…” A burst of flame shot out of one of his arm-mounted flamethrowers, and the moth was vaporized. “Gone up in smoke.”

“Did you see someone?” Lady Shadow asked.

Firebug looked at her with a blank expression. “Who would I see in an abandoned temple?”

“Ugh. I don’t know if you actually have twisted moments of insight, or if you just babble nonsense until some of it seems to make sense by sheer chance.” She shook her head. “Let’s just search the temple and be done with it.”

That familiarity surged with every step. When he arrived on the second floor, his instincts whispered to him – slit the left guard’s throat with a quick slash, then slip the knife between the second guard’s shoulder plates before he could respond. Follow with a quick kick to the back of his knee to bring him down, then stomp on his arm to break it. Both guards would be incapacitated in less than a second. The monk would flee, but he could only go farther up the temple.

His knife was already out of his sheath before he realized there was no one here to kill. Two moss-covered skeletons lay on the floor. The one on the right had a broken arm.

Eviscerator began to laugh.

“What is wrong with you today?” Lady Shadow said. “I swear, if you join Firebug in cuckoo-land, I’ll kill you both and leave you here to rot.”

“Don’t worry, my lady,” the assassin said. “It’s just one of those ‘spiritual things’, as you put it. I just need to confirm one last thing, on the next floor.” He climbed the stairs to the third and final floor of the temple, a rush of adrenaline filling his veins as he did. It was as if he was hunting down a target, but the target had died three hundred years ago.

The third floor was empty, save for an altar clearly designed to hold a staff or spear of some kind. A skeleton was pinned to the wall nearby, still held up by the Japanese knife sticking through its ribs.

“Right temple,” he told Lady Shadow, as she caught up with him. “Wrong time.”

“So you know where the Jade Spear is?”

He pulled the knife from the monk’s remains. He wiped the dust and grime from the blade. It was coated in rust, but a symbol etched into the metal just above the hilt, could still be distinguished. Thirteen swords, hilts touching in the center, formed a star.

“It appears it is now the property of the Bladed Suns. I’m sure my grandfather will let you borrow it for a price. I’ll even put a good word in for you.”

Lady Shadow smiled. “I shouldn’t have doubted you, Eviscerator. You always come through in the end.”

Prompt: Déjà Vu

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So, I didn’t get last week’s prompt up until Monday… again. Still trying to get back on track, so this week’s prompt is déjà vu, the feeling you’re experiencing something you’ve experienced before.

Good luck and good writing!

Good luck and good writing!