Judgment of the Dark Hunter

Chapter 6
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9

Twilight fell. They traveled.

Both were wet and miserable from their ordeal in the river but they had to keep moving. It was not safe in the jungle at night. They needed to return to the security of their home.

Her mind was in chaos, jumbled bits of memory intruding in on the present, but not enough to make what was currently happening reasonable. Marguerite’s movements were shaky and ill timed. She had lost her footing twice and cut her left knee during a fall. Her companion watched, taking a mental note of her physical state, but did not help. Marguerite had been taken away from those she care about. She remembered that much. But at least Roxton was still here. She knew him. Her rescuer. A hero to all. The man she loved. ‘My master?’ her mind questioned. His eyes held no judgment … or perhaps they did. Marguerite wished she could think clearly.

Yet, with what she did recollect, the woman could not remember her own name. It was coming back to her. Slowly. ‘It’s French, I think.’ she pondered but could not be altogether certain. It was frustrating. But at least she wasn’t alone. Without question, she followed him as Dark Hunter led the way on an upward incline. Home -- to the treehouse.

‘Treehouse?’ No, no. It was a cave. A place with a warm fire and a cool, fresh spring.

She looked at his back as Roxton walked ahead of her. He had taken her hand during the beginning of their journey, pulling her along rather roughly for at least the first half mile of the trek -- as if he was afraid she would run away.

Why would she?

They had no weapons. They were vulnerable. Had to hurry. Had to go home … She followed very willingly, trying to keep up, but it was becoming difficult. “Roxton, please … wait.” Marguerite paused in her erratic hike and placed a hand to her head, feeling dizziness and nausea.

He turned to look at her, something like concern or impatience, in his expression. Her companion then glanced ahead once again and raised a hand, pointing to a hill. The sun was setting behind the mountains.

The flesh where she had hit her head, when falling into the river, had turned a ghastly color. Marguerite couldn’t see it but guessed she must look very unattractive. Roxton kept glancing at her but gave no indication, even when she asked, how he felt about her present condition. She stared at his profile, confused. Had Roxton always been mute?

Marguerite nodded, indicating she was ready, and they continued their walk. Others … There are others … in the cave … Unexpected, Marguerite’s vision grew dim. Her concentration was ebbing. The last thing she saw before blackness claimed her was the back of Roxton’s tattered shirt and trousers …

They needed mending.


“A boar?” Veronica questioned, leaning against the common room dining table. Malone and Challenger had just stepped from the elevator with the news not ten minutes ago. It made no sense. “Why would someone kill a wild pig then bury it without so much as butchering the thing first?” she questioned.

“The beast was drained of blood, Veronica.” Challenger clarified. “It’s throat had been sliced by someone who knew what they were doing.”

“But,” Malone added, “there was practically no blood in the grave.”

“So you’re saying someone drained the boar of its blood, probably for some tribal ritual, but left the rest to rot. Why?”

Malone said, “Seems to me they went to a great deal of trouble to bury the killing, so no one could identify it.”

“Maybe they thought dinosaurs would pick up the scent.” Veronica offered.

“Or,” Challenger considered, “someone was hiding it on purpose.”


The rest thought him asleep, lost in dreams or nightmares, and incapable of rational thought and movement. Yet, Lord Roxton had been planning an escape ever since he spoke with Challenger and Veronica that morning. Now that he was alone Roxton silently worked on the rope. They didn’t know about the thin switchblade he had hidden carefully under his mattress. It took a little doing, tied as he was, but Roxton managed to maneuver his fingers and pull it free. It had been secretly placed there just in case unexpected company dropped in. ‘This,’ Roxton considered, ‘is definitely worthy of the moment.’

Roxton hated deception but there was no other way. He realized his well intentioned friends were not going to budge. They planned to keep him prisoner until the wound healed. ‘And it’s not going to happen.’ Roxton knew there was only one way to clear the infection and that was to go back to the graveyard.

He needed to talk with Oseena.

The injury was obviously a punishment of some kind. She once told them to leave and never come back -- and he had. It was unintentional but a penalty was do and he was it. Roxton would make amends, do whatever she asked, and once cured he would search again, on his own, for Marguerite.



Having heard the call, she looked over the railing and saw Assai and Jarl below. It was getting dark. They shouldn’t have been outside the Zanga village during this time of the evening. Something, she decided, must be desperately wrong for them to brave such an excursion to the treehouse.

“We need to speak with you!”

Veronica detected a sob in Assai’s voice. “I’ll send down the elevator!”

From the Personal Journal of Marguerite Krux.

I was barely conscious but could feel his strong arms carrying me the rest of the way to the cave. I felt him lay me down on the bed pelt. The warm air had partially dried our clothing but we were still damp and uncomfortable. I felt him move away from me and as I lay there, dazed, I turned my head and watch him. Hunter was unaware of my gaze. He had built a robust fire. He then started to undress, laying his shirt and pants in an area where they could dry. He wore only a loin cloth and I couldn’t help noticing how well-built he looked. Wide, well muscled shoulders, tanned skin, a back which tapered down to a narrow waist … All this I had seen before - with Roxton - but it had taken on a very pleasing implication.

My eyes closed again when I sensed him turning to look at me. I felt his approach more than actually hearing it. I was aware that his gaze had fallen upon me. I felt his hands, his surprisingly gentle fingers, as they removed my under garments. I should have been affronted at the liberty …but wasn’t. Then, before I knew it, I was laying naked before him and could only imagine what he must be thinking. What was I thinking? Should a lady be allowing such a thing to happen?

Certainly, John and I had been intimate before, had seen each other when we were physically most vulnerable, but this time it seemed so different. And oddly … I just didn’t care. I accepted in my dazed and tormented mind that the creature occupying the cave with me was John Roxton. I loved the thought of his appreciative eyes staring down at me; wanting me.

I felt a touch to my temple then down further, to the leg, where I had fallen earlier and skinned my knee. He was putting an ointment of some kind on my injuries. Then he lay a large fur on top of me. The night air was growing chilly. He meant to keep me warm, free from sickness, as he worked on the fire, building it so the flames were bright and strong.

He had lain my clothes next to his to dry.

Again, my eyes flickered open and I looked at him. Strong. Handsome. Wanting. My hunter …I then whispered, practically without a will of my own, his name and he heard me. He turned to look at me and appeared so puzzled. He had to have seen the desire in my expression …but I was unwell and shaking … near tears.

He was confused and so was I.

I didn’t understand anything except that John Roxton was here, in this cave, and he was taking care of me …as he always has. I wanted him close. As close as a man and woman could be with each other. I lifted up a hand to him and, with no words, begged him to join me …


Dark Hunter paused, looking away from the inviting female for a moment, then walked over to where one of the smaller animal skins had been drying. He pulled it off its line and approached the woman. He sat on the pelt beside her then tugged on one of her arms, urging her into a sitting position. He took the soft, thin pelt and began to dry her hair, softly rubbing the skin at the nape on her neck.

Marguerite, holding the warm fur to her chest, could hear the wind blowing outside the cave. They had managed to get home before the cool of night could do them any further damage. Roxton was so wise … almost as brilliant as Challenger. Marguerite’s eyes widened slightly. Challenger. She briefly wondered where he and the others were but, in all truthfulness, didn’t mind that they were away. She was comfortable and enjoyed being fussed over. Whoever those others were they could stay away for as long as they liked …

“Someone used to dry my hair,” Marguerite whispered, speaking barely above a murmur, verbalizing a memory. “when I was a little girl, I think. It was a woman with long, dark unbound hair. She had wide, gray eyes and a creamy complexion. It could have been my mother … if I could just remember.” Marguerite turned slightly, looking up and staring at the face of the man who had been listening to her reminiscence. “Do you ever think about your mother, Roxton?” she asked, “Do you have recollections of her touching you, drying your tears, cooing words of solace in your little ear?” she reached to softly touch his face.

He pulled the thin pelt away from her hair and merely stared, continuing to listen to what the woman said.

“I don’t have a memory like that.” Marguerite confessed, “Not really. Sometimes I wonder if I was ever a little girl …”

As her fingers had touched him he now raised a hand to softly stroke her bare shoulder. An understanding, perhaps even pity, shown in the usually composed expression.

Hunter’s face hovered close to hers, close enough to kiss, but not seeming to know where to begin. Instead, he leaned forward and gently sniffed at her skin and his lips skimmed her cheeks, ears and hair.

Marguerite closed her eyes as he pulled the fur covering from her and his fingers traced downward, from her throat to the middle of her chest, veering to feel the soft pout of each breast.

Carefully but with an undeniable purpose, he turned her to him, feeling her lips reach for his own mouth. He then kissed her hungrily and, with no indecision, pushed her resolutely down on the bed-pelt, his body pressing against hers, his touch insistent as he, with a free hand, removed the loin cloth.

He held nothing back, exalted in his passion, moving deeply within her and loved her coarsely but sincerely. Dark Hunter took what he considered his, thoroughly reveling in his magnificent trophy -- as only the dark side of a good man could.


Later, as a satiated Marguerite lay on her side, gazing at the sputtering fire in the middle of the cave, feeling his warmth cover her back, his arms holding her possessively even in sleep, she felt loss.

As splendid as their loving had been, as many times as he made her reach a pinnacle that was explosive and utterly gratifying, Marguerite knew something, an article of very deep significance, was missing. She loved him, had always loved him she was sure, but in this aftermath, Marguerite felt hollow.

She closed her eyes, stifling an enigmatic sob, and a small tear escaped, dropping onto the bed-pelt, drying by the time the morning sun of a brand new day had arrived.


“You saw her? You’re absolutely sure?” Challenger asked the sitting Assai as she and Jarl, who was standing behind his wife, explained why they had come to the treehouse. “There couldn’t have been a mistake?”

“None.” Jarl said, “Assai knows Marguerite and it was her.” he assured.

“Was she harmed?” Veronica asked looking from the couple to the two Zanga warriors at attention on either side of the elevator .

“Not until she fell into the river.” Assai said then amended, “But she was afraid and seemed so relieved when she spotted me. Her hair was loose, she was wearing her boots but … dressed in her under things. Her outer clothing were missing. What could have happened to them?”

“They were taken from her.” Malone leaned his weight on their dining table, where everyone was gathered, his hands resting on the tabletop. He looked directly at Challenger and Veronica. “It makes sense now. Finding her clothes ripped, the missing boots, the blood, the dead boar … She was kidnapped. We were made to believe she was killed.”

“Who could have done this?” Veronica asked but it came to her during the same moment knowledge dawned on both Challenger and Malone. The graveyard. Oseena. “No.” she whispered, not wanting to relive that horror again. “But why and how?”

“What are you saying” Assai asked, confused by their sudden alarm. They explained to she and Jarl about the dinosaur graveyard, how many months ago Roxton’s darker side was taken from him and turned against all of them in the form of his evil double.

“We saw Roxton as well.” Jarl looked from Assai to the explorers, “He was trying to find her. He said …” Jarl considered, “He didn’t say anything but we knew …”

“We led him to her.” Assai was abruptly horrified, “We … we … oh no.”

Veronica placed a hand on her friend’s shoulder, “It’s not your fault. You didn’t know.”

“Roxton spilled blood in that graveyard,” Challenger thought, “and whatever super-natural forces conjured his double up the first time are at work now.”

“Oseena. She’s at it again.” Veronica appeared disgusted.

Malone was skeptical, “But she made it clear she wanted us to leave and never come back. I think that’s why we were attacked in the first place. Other than that she made no threats. Why would she send Roxton’s double again? She knows we learned our lesson.”

“Either she wants to make sure or …” Challenger started.

“What?” Jarl asked, fascinated.

“It’s possible this time the dark Roxton is acting on his own. Perhaps he’s here by mistake or his own iron will. Oseena may not have anything to do with him this time. Maybe Roxton’s blood was enough to bring him back and now he’s trying to live a life as normal as possible on the plateau.”

“But he’s lonely,” Veronica caught on, “and the only woman he really knows, the woman he finds most attractive, is Marguerite. As far as he’s concerned she is his mate.”

“He had things to consider. How to get her and keep the rest of us from trying to get her back. He can reason.” Malone pondered.

Challenger was direct, “It’s as you said. Make it look as if she’s been killed.”

“Roxton never believed it.” Veronica reminded, “He knew.”

“Yes, I did.” John Roxton, breathing heavily and holding his side, struggled up the stairs. A dash of warning was in his eyes. He would not be led back to bed again. No one better try.

“How did you …?” Malone started then thought better of it as he watched Jarl helped Roxton to a chair. It didn’t matter how Roxton got free. The fact was he had heard what was reported by Assai and would move heaven and earth to get Marguerite back home, safe. Nothing they did would stop him.

“My double is out there. This is why I’m not healing.” Roxton, even seated, leaned his weight against the table, exhausted. “That thing is my darkness but it’s also my strength. Without it I can’t function. My body knows it, knew it before we did, and if I don’t get it back soon I may never recover.”

“What can we do?” Assai asked, both guilt and determination on her pretty face. How could she have believed that silent bedraggled man she saw in the jungle was Lord John Roxton? Why didn’t she question him? ‘We were desperate.’ Assai answered herself. It looked like Roxton so therefore was Roxton. They had no time to quibble. “Our warriors are here. We can hunt him down, rescue her, and bring Marguerite home.”

Roxton nodded, hiding pain. He had never felt such agony in his life but the others would never know it.

“But there is more to it than that.” Challenger said. “We need to get both Roxtons to the graveyard. Oseena has to be involved. She must put them back together again. Only Oseena can do it. We need to capture him alive.”

Again, Roxton nodded. He came to this conclusion long before the others.

Veronica agreed, “And we’ve seen how that creature can fight. It won’t be easy.” She looked at Assai, “Can you draw us a map to where you last saw Marguerite?”

She nodded, “We will take you there.”

“At first light.” Veronica said.

“We have to go now …” Roxton began.

“John,” From across the table Malone reach over and put a hand on his arm. “We can’t track anything in the dark. You know how dangerous the jungle is at night. Besides, if Marguerite survived her fall into the river she is in no danger as long as she and that … thing … are alive. He won’t hurt her. You know that.”

Reluctantly, Roxton acquiesced. They were alive alright. Both of them. And if he hurt one hair on her head Roxton would settle the score. Even if it cost him his own life.


She expected to awaken in his embrace. Instead, she was alone.

Marguerite heard the squawk of jungle birds and chattering of monkeys from outside the cave. When she looked over to the opening she saw light. It was morning. A beautiful, clear morning she deduced with a mild smile. It would be a lovely day. ‘A perfect day,’ her mind enthused.

Yet there was one small problem. Marguerite closed her eyes and bowed her head slightly. The pain, ever so slight, had yet to leave. Marguerite lifted a hand and placed it to her temple. The mere touch of her gentle fingers was enough to cause a prickly hurt and she grimaced. She was aware that the sticky medicine, probably some medicinal plant juice, was returned. Roxton must have awakened at dawn, examined her, and reapplied the ointment.

Despite her pain and uncertainty, Marguerite smiled. He was very good to her. Kind and giving. ‘So why,’ an unexpected voice in Marguerite’s head asked, ‘do you feel so confused? Why are you so uncertain …?’ And forlorn.

Ashamed, Marguerite tried to refocus but could not quite do it. It certainly couldn’t have been because John Roxton was lacking in passion and devotion last night. On the contrary, his love making skills were fabulous and strangely raw. Marguerite frowned ever so faintly. But there was something strange. Not at all bad … just different. Roxton had been so earnest, at times appeared driven and even a little desperate. At one point when Marguerite raised her arms to embrace him, he grasped her wrists and held her arms down hard on the pelt. All the while he moved powerfully within her, as if he didn‘t want - at least for that moment - her participation. He wanted full control … And, in a strange way, it excited her all the more.

“Master over slave.” Marguerite whispered to herself, “A hunter with his … trophy.”

That was ludicrous, Marguerite fought with herself. He had let her have the advantage on many an occasion during their loving… and it was spectacular! ‘He allowed it …’ the unwanted voice pressed. Again Marguerite faltered, unsure why she was so insecure. It had been marvelous, really it was, like all the other times … when he had been so loving and generous and …

Determined to dispense with foolish thoughts, Marguerite stood and crossed to the spring. She washed quickly, glancing at her reflection in the water, taking note of her facial bruise, and turned to look at her clothes. They had dried during the night and she nearly picked up the undergarments from where they had been drape by the fire when something caught her eye.

She walked slowly over to the bed-pelt and, kneeling, picked up the fur and leather outfit which had been folded and lain at the foot. She had been sewing on this for over a week -- when first held prisoner. Prisoner?

Marguerite blinked. Nonsense. She was no ones prisoner.

Slowly - thoughtfully - she pulled on the clothing. First Marguerite slipped on the darker hand-sewn underwear, then the brown skirt. The hem dropped scandalously high above her knees. She then tide the laces of the halter top, which was snug but comfortable. “I made these.” she whispered, recognizing the stitching as something she was taught once, when very young.

Yet, Marguerite could not recall wearing these immodest garments before. Carefully, she slid into her boots. She smiled. “I made them as a surprise for Roxton.” Of course! It made sense now. She had a vague reminiscence of seeing herself in an outfit similar to this before. She had climbed trees and swung on vines. She had daggers in her waist belt and …

Marguerite looked down but saw nothing. No daggers. Could she be thinking of someone else?

Curious, Marguerite straightened and walked to the cave’s entrance. She looked out, noting the bright sunshine, the comforting warmth on her face, and looked about. She saw Roxton, off in the distance - in a clearing - wearing nothing but the loin cloth. He was gathering wood and making spears. A sheen of perspiration dotted his shoulders and back. The activity suddenly reminded Marguerite how vulnerable they were. She had dropped their rifle when she fell into the river. Obviously the gun Roxton had brought with him must have been lost as well. No wonder he was so anxious to get back to the cave last night.

“Marguerite?” came a voice. Familiar. Feminine. “Why are you dressed like that? Why are you here?”

Stunned, Marguerite turned -- but no one was there. She had heard it as plain as day. The brief image and worried face of a pretty young native woman with long black hair flashed in Marguerite’s mind. “My name is … Marguerite.” she whispered and smiled, relieved. But who was that other woman and why did she appear so alarmed? Shivering, Marguerite backed up and returned to the safety of the cave.

From the personal journal of Marguerite Krux.

When I look back on it I think I was living out some kind of bizarre fantasy. I couldn’t remember much except for Roxton and his feelings for me. Or my feelings for him. I couldn’t recall my past either. That should have been comforting in so many ways. My past has always gotten in the way of my relationship with Roxton. Yet, I was tormented. I wanted to know things, more than those fleeting images in my mind, and I wanted to know why I was having such doubts about John ... Or this creature that was the image of John … who was John but in another way …I still can’t fully understand it.

Yes, I had fantasized about him “taking” me and I got my wish … but having got what I wanted I still wanted more … or I wanted what I already had. So confusing.

But, did my confusion stop me from taking what I had right there and then? No. And I think that is where my real troubles began. Both then and now. I think I wanted to be blinded. I sought love in whatever form and it didn’t matter how things were as long as I was with John Roxton …

I can be such a fool when my defenses are down.


He walked. It was a couple hours past dawn. He had left them a note.

After everyone had gone to bed, once preparing for the journey in the morning, and Roxton was certain they were all asleep, he left the treehouse. Yes, it was a foolish thing to do. It was dark and he could barely see his hand in front of his face. However, he was debilitated and it would take him far longer than the others to get to the dinosaur graveyard.

That had been the plan.

Malone was going to go with him, help him, to the graveyard while the others hunted for Marguerite and his double. A good plan but it would take too much time. He didn’t have anymore time. Roxton needed to see Oseena right away. He was fading fast. If he didn’t leave in the middle of the night he wasn’t sure it would do any of them any good.

Roxton had until twilight. If matters remained as they were, if Oseena refused to help, he would die. There would be no saving him and, God help her, Marguerite could become his evil double’s slave for the rest of her life.

He knew this just as he knew she was alive, hurt and confused. She was afraid.