Judgment of the Dark Hunter

Chapter 1
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Chapter 2
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Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Epilogue

From the Personal Journal of Marguerite Krux.

I was not there so I cannot tell you first hand what happened. I can only repeat what was told to me by Ned Malone, then much later by Lord Roxton.

They were walking, talking and hunting. Then, somehow, the men found themselves in the dinosaur graveyard. It was the one I told you about half a journal ago, near the Inland Sea -- where Roxton had first encountered Oseena, the dinosaur guardian.

What were those fools thinking? Malone should have known better and Roxton … How could he have lived through what he did and learn nothing from it? Malone swore it was unintentional but once there, surrounded by the dead trees and that stark, smoky landscape, as had we all at one time or another, they grew curious. Roxton and Malone began to talk about its curse as they explored.

Then they heard a beastly cry. Could someone else have wandered in and been attacked? Was Oseena, as they stood there motionless, testing yet another unenlightened trespasser? They should have ran at that moment. If I had been there I would have told them as much.

God help me, as I pass on this story, I could almost hate Roxton and Malone. Such male arrogance! What were these courageous fools thinking? Could they not remember what Veronica said? “Graveyards are for the dead.” Why tempt fate?

***

The impact was tremendous as the creature gouged him, tossing his athletic body in the air, only to land in a dazed heap near the temple, the up-righted mammoth tusks.

“Roxton!” Malone shouted, running to his friend, trying to assess the damage. He turned the hunter over and examined him carefully. Roxton was in bad shape, pierced hard underneath his right side ribcage. “Talk to me, Roxton! Why didn’t you shoot?!” Malone exclaimed then looked upward, seeing in the distance that the triceratops had turned about once again and was preparing for another run at them. “Damn it!” the journalist hissed and reached for his own rifle.

“No!” Roxton breathed outward, his tone deep with pain but insistent. “Don’t kill it or we will both die!”

“We’ll die if I don’t …” Malone began then, looking down at Roxton’s pleading expression and recalling his account of an earlier encounter, he stood rigid with the rifle and made a show of laying it down.

The triceratops reared as if it was ready to strike. It then simply disappeared as if it had never been there in the first place. But it had. The evidence of its attack lay before him.

Roxton’s blood stained the white sand.

“You have chosen wisely, Mr. Malone.” a female voice echoed about the graveyard.

Ned dropped to his knees and covered Roxton, frightened for a moment.

“Take Lord Roxton home.” Oseena said, “And never return here again.”

“Will you help him? He could die …” Malone said, desperately looking about the graveyard for the owner of the voice which spoke to him.

“I cannot. Take him home quickly. Tend to his wound. If he should perish, let it be amongst friends.”

“Why have you done this?!” Malone shouted with fury, “He’s a good man!” but there was no reply. Angered and distraught, he helped the half conscious Roxton to his feet and, holding him up as best he could, Ned walked with his friend in the direction of the treehouse.

Malone did not observe that one of Roxton’s Webley’s, a firearm of significant potency, had been left behind. Slowly it was swallowed, as if by super-natural means, into the grasping sand.

****

From the Personal Journal of Marguerite Krux.

I don’t know what was happening in that dinosaur graveyard while Ned brought John home. I can’t even fathom what was happening in the jungle beyond our treehouse while we watch him, laying in bed, fevered and gasping for air. The infection was terrible. No matter how hard we tried to keep it clean, how long I sat by John’s bedside and swore to him that I would not allow anything to happen to him, Lord Roxton - the man I love - grew weaker and weaker …

I heard Challenger and Veronica talking quietly in the common room, trying so very hard not to reveal what, deep down in my heart, I knew was true. He was dying. I couldn’t accept it. We had been through too much together for him to pass on like this.

In denial, I left John briefly. I took his blood spotted clothes down to the lake. I scrubbed as hard as I could, amongst the leaves and foliage, attempting to get those stains out. “Lord Roxton must not awaken to soiled clothes,” thought I, “and when I mend this rip he‘ll not even recall how it was torn.”

Then I wept, helpless.

Little did I know, while caught up in my despair, that I was being watched …

***

Blood churned in the sand, a whirlpool exploded, and soon he was standing, looking about his surroundings as if for the first time. But he knew where he was. He’d been here before. It was home.

He looked down at himself. No clothes or boots. No weapons. Naked.

“Return.” a voice called, “You have not been summoned.”

But he had. The blood of Lord John Roxton and some personal possession had brought him to life once again. He was the Dark Hunter, a part of Roxton that he did not want to face, and he lived again. Slowly, Hunter walked, heading into the woods.

“Return!” Oseena called once again.

He paused but did not look behind him. Dark Hunter continued to walk. He knew exactly where it was he must go.

He needed shelter. Food. Clothing. He also required something more … a freedom from loneliness. He had need of a mate.

Suddenly, a beautiful female with long dark hair, wide gray eyes, pale-smooth skin and lips that spoke both of commitment and lies entered into his mind. He wanted her still.

She had made him a promise. She would be his or die.

***