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Here is a Chakan story I call SPELL BOUND that tells the events that took place right before the Forever Man entered the "Journey of 100 Candles" Spell.



The Ascension


     The private jet Chakan contracted had whisked him away from the small city of Akron, Ohio and across the ocean and equator to reach this obscure mountain range on the South American continent. The flight had been uneventful with just two brief stops for refueling and bribing corrupt banana republic officials to look the other way as to the identity of the passenger and the final destination of the jet. It was money well spent. It was worth it for Chakan to pay them off to keep as low a profile as possible. The pilot had done a god job of arranging the clandestine flight.

     The rough hewn pilot of the jet was known to effectively deliver things both legal or illegal if the price was right had been used by the Forever Man before. Chakan liked that this pilot didn’t ask questions and had a reputation for not talking about any of his past flights. Chakan lived in the shadows of the modern world, and appreciated those who could keep the spotlight off of him and his doings.

    As to the pilot, Chakan was a dream client – he didn’t haggle over price and didn’t seem to judge him. Another bonus was that as far as he could tell the businessman never transported any illegal contraband. No illicit drugs or banned weapons were one less thing for the pilot to worry about, and in his shady line of work, less worry was a good thing. Yes, to the pilot, Chakan – whom he knew only as Mr. Jones - appeared to be a middle-aged businessman of some sort with an impeccable, tailored suit and a tanned, fit look. He figured Mr. Jones had his reasons for discreet travel and those reasons were no business of the pilot. Besides, the pilot was much more concerned with the money he made than what his customers were having him smuggle. That was another thing Chakan liked about the pilot, he was more greedy than curious.

    In fact, the only thing the pilot had thought twice about Mr. Jones was why the broad shouldered passenger never quite made direct eye contact with him. That thought had crossed the pilot’s mind about the third or fourth time Mr. Jones had hired him. It was just before they were about to board the plane when that thought had occurred to him. Of course, as soon as he had seen the businessman bring stacks of cold hard cash out of his leather attaché to pay for the flight, the thought of money erased any thought of how the two had evaded any direct eye contact. The pilot did not know how lucky he was to have never met the steely gaze of the Forever Man for to look directly into those eyes would cause the Guise Spell to fade away and would reveal the fiery orbs and skull-like visage that was the true face of Chakan. The impeccable suit would be replaced with the long, dark gray overcoat covered with pockets of all sizes and shapes and littered with weapons seen and unseen. 

  You see, Chakan’s Guise spell could never entirely override the Reaper’s Curse, which long ago had perverted and twisted his features to mimic the Lord of the Dead’s skeletal looks. It could make him look mortal and give his garb whatever appearance was needed to fit in with his surroundings, but its mystic camouflage had its limits. If direct eye contact was made, or Chakan was too focused on other things - such as in the midst of a chaotic battle or casting an alchemic or mystic spell – the spell would fade and Chakan’s true appearance would be revealed. Although he had no way of knowing it, the passenger the pilot was ferrying halfway across the world was far from his usual client. The unassuming man was in reality the deadliest warrior ever to walk the planet, the cursed and immortal Chakan the Forever Man. The pilot had no clue, and that was just as well, for most who saw the true nature of the timeless warrior usually did so just before they died. And that was the last and greatest thing Chakan liked about the greedy flyboy. The shady pilot was the kind of sleazeball Chakan had no problem killing to protect his secret. Again, the pilot was fortunate that his greed trumped his curiosity.

   Chakan was dropped off at a small airstrip whose runway was little more than a ribbon of dirt. The unkempt landing field was as close as any plane could get to Chakan’s mountain destination, but it was still several hundred rough miles away. The pilot lived to fly another day and Chakan rented a jeep to cover the remaining distance. He drove the rental as far as it could go before the terrain proved too much for it, but at least the jeep had taken him within sight of the mountain before the route became impassable. Hiding the car, Chakan grabbed his gear and headed out on foot toward the specific mountain his map told him held the Spell called “The Journey of 100 Candles”.

  “This was a good place to hide the Spell”, the Forever man thought as he surveyed the foreboding landscape. It was an ugly place.

   The air was beyond brisk and its sharp bite gouged its chill into his bones. The harsh terrain had patches of snow and ice that covered small rocks and surrounded larger ones.

The sparse vegetation that poked out from the frozen ground was dead and bleached white from its exposure to the elements. This place was about as far from a tourist destination and travel brochure photo that Chakan had ever seen. It was a forgotten corner of the world that made Siberia look like Paris.

   Chakan hadn’t seen anyone for the last few hours of his drive and there weren’t any signs of people here either. Chakan could see why. This place had every reason to make a person avoid it, but for Chakan, it was the only place in the world he wanted to be. If the Spell had been on the shores of the river Styx then that is where Chakan would want to be.

   He started his trek towards the mountain.

   It was not an easy hike. Because of all of the loose and jagged rocks piled one on top of the other each step was a conscious decision. There was barely any ground between the rocks to step on and each time Chakan stepped on top of a rock it tried to slip and spin out from under the sole of his boot. The landscape was so hard to negotiate that even the surefooted warrior’s progress was slowed to a crawl. Eventually he had traversed the distance and stood expectantly at the base of the mountain, glad to finally be able to start his climb.

  Chakan quickly ascended the lower icy slopes of the rugged mountain where the Spell was supposed to be. He felt strong and refreshed with the knowledge that every step taken and every ledge climbed brought him closer to the Spell called “The Journey of 100 Candles.” After lifetimes spent looking for it, being so close to it made each step lighter, each jump easier. Besides, the climb itself was not that steep and the mountain was not to tall.

   Chakan had climbed higher and steeper mountains than this one on numerous occasions. He remembers the sheer cliffs and deep crevices of the Himalayas. He had climbed scores of those mountains to track down and kill the demon beast the locals called “Yeti”.  He had also climbed more imposing mountains of Europe and North America to hunt and slay all manner of supernatural beasts. Werewolves, devil tigers and demonic snow lions were slain. Frost dragons, ice vultures and malevolent spirits from mountain valleys, rivers and caves were killed. Monsters all over the world had been ferreted out of their various hideaways to meet the warrior’s vengeance. In fact, so many beasts of myth and legend died by his hand that his swords and spells had driven most of them to extinction.

   Yes, Chakan is no stranger to mountains. In fact, he has shed a lot of blood in those mountain caves and meadows and valleys and peaks. But over the years he has also been drawn to the mountains for their promise of solitude and beauty. When you have lived as long as Chakan has, it is nothing to spend a year on a single mountaintop just watching the sunrises and sunsets as time slips by. The days are long when you have no hope or purpose, and Chakan had spent centuries with nothing to do but await a chance to break his Curse.

  That chance may finally be here.

  This very mountain and the Spell it houses may hold the key to break the “Reaper’s Curse”. That thought is enough to quicken his pace.

   As Chakan gracefully climbs from foothold to foothold, he thinks about how terrible the Reapers Curse has been and how much suffering it has made him endure. Some men fear that when they die they will be taken to some nether world of eternal torture and damnation.



   Tartarus, Mictlan, Jahannam or Abaddon. The names change with the culture but all talk of the place of damnation where errant souls are taken in death.

   Chakan had not needed to die to experience his own personal hell. His existence has been filled with tortures and pains to rival any netherworld man has ever named or imagined. He has lived it every day since that fateful encounter with the Reaper long ago. Chakan remembers the epic battle he had with Death incarnate and the Curse that was the aftermath of that duel as he deftly scales another sheer stone face.

   His mind ticks off how the Curse’s effects have created for him a living hell. The Curse sculpted his face into a grotesque replica of the skeletal face of Death. Next, the Curse forced him to hunt and slay all supernatural beasts by day, while by night it replaced his dreams with nightmares where demons attacked innocent victims while Chakan felt their pain. This horrific cycle was repeated day after day, month after month, and year after year for centuries. The Curse had made him immortal, and so no matter how much he craved it, the Curse continued throughout time. This was the hell Chakan called life, and he was left with only one option for ending the Curse. The Reaper had told Chakan that when he had killed all the supernatural evils he would regain his mortality and finally be allowed to die. For Chakan, who has lived with the accumulative weight of the Curse’s burden, his death cannot come soon enough.



   He takes a quick breather as his memories do a quick slideshow of the creatures he has crisscrossed the planet to slay. It is a large and impressive slideshow. In addition to the mountain monsters he had recalled earlier, there have been Vampires in European castles, Cyclops and Minotaurs and Hydras along the Mediterranean, and Mummies from the sands of Egypt. There have also been Zombies, Witches, Warlocks, Devils and Demons. All these and more have fell before the Forever Mans’ rage and vengeance.

   He resumes his climb as the memories continue. All of these beasts killed and battles waged because of the Reaper’s promise that the Curse would be lifted. And so Chakan had come close to the improbable. He had killed each and every supernatural entity except one. The demon Geldundrin was the last demon on Earth. He remembers how he had so anticipated killing him. Like this path he is on now to find the Candle Spell, he had high hopes that he could finally end his hollow existence. Chakan and Geldundrin fought beneath a full moon on the beasts sacrificial grounds. Chakan remembers killing not only Geldundrin but also a whole village of his followers as well.

   Thinking he had fulfilled the terms of the Reapers Curse by finally cleansing his world of supernatural evil, Chakan had driven a wooden stake through his own heart fully expecting and in fact hoping to die. He did not. Instead of the death he craved, he just writhed in pain on the ground as the Reaper reappeared before him. The spectral God of the Dead finally revealed the totality of the Curse that Chakan had been forced to receive. With Chakan still in agony on the ground beneath him, the Reaper pointed to the stars in the cold night sky. Through pain glazed eyes Chakan looked overhead overhead while the Reaper spoke.

   The words hurt Chakan more completely than any wound or injury ever could.

   The Reaper told him that around each star in the sky there were planets, and that many of those planets had supernatural evils that preyed on the innocent. He reminded Chakan of the exact words of how to end the Reaper’s Curse. Those words were that the Curse would end when “all” supernatural beasts were slain. Because the beasts on those faraway planets still lived, Chakan’s Curse was not broken. Chakan realized at that moment just how hopeless his situation was. With no way to reach the stars, the curse would never be broken. It would just go on and on. Forever.

   While the Spell was not broken that day, the spirit of Chakan was shredded and torn apart.

   The long Curse became even more unbearable as Chakan endured the unending torture of being trapped on Earth without any way to reach his Demonic tormentors that were spread throughout the universe. With the enormity of the Reaper’s Curse made clear to him Chakan lived an empty existence devoid of hope and full of regret.

    Perhaps this time the “Journey of100 Candles” Spell will save his tortured soul.

    As he redoubles his effort up another vertical crack on the isolated slope Chakan recalls how he first gained knowledge of the Spell he now pins his hopes on.

   Soon after he had slain Geldundrin a new demon had come to haunt his nightmares as he slept. It had been a Dream Demon. It lived in the dark places in Chakans mind, and every night Chakan’s sleep was haunted by this Demon. It brought him nightmare after nightmare and vexed every night’s sleep for centuries. Chakan, through meditative practices was finally able to enter his own dreamscape and purge the Demon from his mind. He had killed him and as a reward for this feat of will, the Reaper had appeared to Chakan once more. This time he gave him a scrap of information, the name of a spell that would enable Chakan to leave the Earth. The Spell was a mystic portal of transportation called “The Journey of 100 Candles”, and it would enable Chakan to reach his unreachable foes. Death had not revealed much more than that, just the name of the spell and that it had a starting point on earth.

   Although Chakan had learned full well not to trust the Reaper, at this point he had nothing else to lose, so he immediately started looking for the Spell.

     Chakan was sure the Reaper enjoyed the gray warrior’s exhaustive and futile search for the Spell over the many centuries that came and went after he had been told of its existence. Chakan wandered the world hoping for a clue to where the entrance of the Spell was.

   No luck.

   From that time generations ago until not so long ago he had tried to find out more about the Spell. He scoured ancient manuscripts and documents of the dark arts and myths of all cultures.

   Not a trace.

   Many times Chakan had given in to that dark thought that theSpell was just another lie from the mocking entity that had deceived him after their cosmic struggle long ago. Maybe the tale of the Spell that promised release from the Curse was just further amusement for the Reaper. For Chakan, however, the thin sliver of hope the Spell offered was all that kept the madness of loneliness and hopelessness of his Curse at bay, and so he continued searching.

   Many years came and many years went and nothing was found. The cloth of Chakan’s hopes became threadbare and worn to the point of transparency with holes so large that no seamstress could mend it. That tattered hope was near the point of being discarded by the Forever man when suddenly it was made whole and new again. Chakan had found a clue to the Spell! Finally, after all that time Chakan discovered what he had been looking for.

    The warrior had come across an article about a strange archaeological discovery.

    He had feverishly read the story about the strange clay tablet with inscribed glyphs of an unknown civilization and from a long ago time period. In the article, none of the scientists interviewed had the slightest clue as to its origin or how to interpret it. The archaeologist who had discovered it was an eccentric professor from the Midwest city of Akron, Ohio. He was not well known by his peers, and what was known about him was his penchant for proposing theories most felt were based more on hunch than science. So when the article about his unique find hit the internet it was widely denounced as a fraud.

   The discovery did not fit in stylistically or time-wise with known Myan or Incan pictographs or any other known South American civilization. And then there was the carbon dating. According to the Akron professor, the tablet was from around the time when homo erectus first walked the Earth. It was hundreds of thousands of years before modern civilization and predated the earliest known writings of man by several millennium and then some. It was widely debunked and quickly dismissed by the mainstream, so the professor was forced to slink back to obscurity.

   Chakan had not dismissed the discovery though. He knew exactly what the strange find was. His long search for clues to the whereabouts of the Spell had made him a keen student of all the sciences that might offer up a tidbit to help him find it. He had studied satellite photos, read books and articles and always kept his keen eye open for that one scrap of information that would help him in his long search. And then there it was, right in front of his eyes, as clear to see as a desert sun.

   It was a map to where the Spell had lain hidden to him for eons!

   The clay tablet gave directions to the Spell called “The Journey of 100 Candles”. The pictures accompanying the article showed the ancient symbols that were the common writing style from the time period Chakan knew as “The Before”. It was a time before this new incarnation of mankind, it was the time period that Chakan was born into and where he had came to power. New Man (Chakan’s terminology for present day mankind) did not know how to decipher the tablet, but Chakan easily and greedily soaked its knowledge up. Within the flowery descriptions of the text Chakan found a list of exact directions that would take him to the mountaintop chamber where the Spell could be found.

   It made sense to him that the clue had come from an antediluvian time. Because Chakan had not heard of the Spell in his youth, (a time when the knowledge of magic had flourished and peaked on Earth) he speculated the Candle Spell must have predated even the time period of his birth. If the Spell was that ancient, Chakan assumed no incarnation of man had created the Spell. He theorized it had been crafted by some mystical beings near the early stages Earths development. Its origin probably was lost in the dawn of time as the tablet only detailed where it was located and little more.

   He thought about the tablet. For him it was a miracle that it had survived and now had surfaced to guide his steps. It seemed to Chakan that some scholar from “The Before” time had somehow divined its presence and had left this scant record of its existence and whereabouts. While it did not give details of the workings of the Spell Chakan figured he would have a chance to investigate it once he reached it.

   Travel arrangements had been hastily made and then Chakan was off. He would make a quick detour and then follow the directions from the tablet straight to the Spell. The detour was to Akron Ohio to pay a visit to the archaeologist who had found the tablet. Researching him, Chakan had discovered that cancer was quickly taking the man’s life and Chakan wanted to personally thank him for discovering the tablet. He felt he owed it to this stranger who had found the clue that he had searched lifetimes for. Chakan wanted this scorned man to know that his life and thoughts and theories mattered. The gray warrior just felt that this was something he should do, which was very unlike the Forever Man.

   Chakan usually stayed comfortably distant from interacting with the men and women he now dismissed as mere mortals. He had little use for them, as all they had ever been to him was a source of pain and sorrow. In times of weakness he found temporary solace from loneliness with various friendships and relationships, but Death had eventually ended them all. Chakan had long ago descended into an existence where he was in the world but not of the world. He mingled with the mortals to the extent that he had to, and was more than willing to save them from any supernatural threats that arose, but for the most part he lived a sad and solitary life. Having done and seen so much in his violent existence and coming from such a distant and different time, he could no longer relate to

the people he encountered.  Chakan was more or less numb to their comings and goings as they bustled through their busy lives, and he had settled into trying to find the location of the Spell. And now he had. Because of this mortal who was unappreciated by his fellow man, Chakan finally had a chance to break the Reaper’s Curse.

   So grateful was the Forever Man, he had decided to make a quick stop to personally thank the man that had unknowingly showed him the way to the Spell after all this time. That is the reason he had detoured to the hospital in Akron, Ohio. Unfortunately, the quick stop did not go exactly as he had planned. In fact, his simple stop had gotten unexpectedly complicated as he tried to leave the hospital. The complications he encountered were unbelievably huge venomous spiders and massive ethereal ninjas!

   Not exactly what Chakan thought he would have to deal with before his mystic Journey could begin.

   The giant venomous spiders - mystically enhanced - and a group of men who seemed to be their handlers had attacked him in front of the hospital as he was leaving it. He lost his sword in the fierce battle that followed and barely escaped defeat by leaping off a bridge and crashing into river of the gorge below. Not even fully recuperated from the spider attack, Chakan next found himself facing ghastly ninjas when he tried to retrieve his lost sword. Using the “Sensing spell” that binds him with his mystic rune swords, Chakan had been drawn to its location at a small diner in the inner city of the rustbelt city of Akron. There, all around the restaurant where the lost sword was, monstrous spirit ninjas had gathered and surrounded the building. They seemed intent on getting his sword from the mortal who had found it. The spectral wraiths stormed into the diner while Chakan descended upon them with death in his eyes. With machine like precision, Chakan made sure that the ghostly warriors did not reach his sword. The gray warrior killed them all, then retrieved his sword from the mortal who had found it outside the hospital where he had lost it. Reclaiming his sword, Chakan had left Akron far behind him.

   Chakan had not anticipated the mystic attacks of giant spiders and spirit ninjas and he still wondered about their origin. Who and what had conjured the demonic adversaries he had faced in Akron was unknown to him but the warrior had no time to hunt down their masters and find the answers to those questions. He had much more important things to do. There was a Spell to enter and a journey to begin. Chakan was finally close to his only chance to leave Earth and end his Curse. Perhaps the Spell even contained enough magic energy to replace the power the Reaper had stripped from him long ago. Maybe a rematch with the Reaper awaited the gray warrior. Chakan had almost smiled at the thought of crossing swords with that grinning bastard after all this time.

   As Chakan nears the mountains peak, he forces the memories of how he got here to fade into the background of his thoughts. He looks over the instructions from the clay tablet and the GPS unit that he had entered the tablets information into. The entrance to the spell is near.

   Chakan opens up his highly refined senses to the chill mountain air. He senses the Spell of Illusion that hides the opening of the Spell. He takes a long look at the world around him - the numerous snow covered peaks all around him and the gray clouds in the sky above him – because he knows this might be the last view he will ever have of his home-world. He then turns, draws his sword, and walks purposely toward the face of the sheer cliff wall in front of him. There is a slight shimmer of the air around him and then he fades from sight.

   Chakan has breeched the mystically disguised entrance of “The Journey of 100 Candles” spell, and unknowingly started on a path that will soon make his nightmarish existence on Earth seem like paradise lost!



Chakan is Spellbound



   Chakan can tell the wooden door is as old as a door could ever be, but still in pristine condition considering the extreme elements it is exposed to. The door is oversized by normal standards in all dimensions - nearly six feet wide by twelve feet tall and six inches thick. Its hinges are plain and of a metal not identifiable to Chakan. With no immediate threat Chakan lowers his sword.

   “The Illusion Spell that obscures it from view must also protect it from the elements,” Chakan thinks as he stealthily strips out of his mountaineering gear and piles the insulated suit, the harness and rope bag, the crampons and pitons, his ice pick/axe and other assorted climbing gear neatly against the wall near the door he has just entered.

He finds himself in a rock chamber, its walls perfectly smooth and there is not much of interest to him except the next door that awaits him. That door, identical in construction to the one he has just passed through lies just twenty paces in front of him.

    Chakan slings a large equipment bag he had hauled up the mountain over his shoulder, then heads for the next door. This bag is full of the equipment and supplies he hopes will help him survive the Journey he is about to set out on. He does not know much about the Spell called “The Journey of 100 Candles” so he has packed a little of everything that a mage and alchemist and warrior might need. Leaving his climbing gear behind he again readies his rune sword as he cautiously approaches and opens the next door.

   The second door easily opens. Both doors have been so perfectly balanced on their alien metal hinges and so perfectly fitted into their frames that very little effort is needed to open them.

   The second door opens up into a perfectly cylindrical tunnel about forty feet long. The walls of the tunnel are meticulously carved with runes and glyphs unfamiliar to even the Forever Man, who has watched the birth and death of almost all the civilizations of man and is familiar with the writings and hieroglyphs of most ancient cultures. He is also well versed in the magics and rituals of those who have gone before him, yet the mystic energy that radiates from this place is also unlike anything man has ever made. There is no doubt in his mind that this place was old before man walked the earth. He marvels at the strangeness of this place and his whole being is alert and ready for whatever this unknown place will offer up to him.

    Many of the glowing runes give off light of different hues, giving an alien and eerie feel to the room. Although incredibly ancient, the carved symbols are vibrant and clean and polished, as if time has stood still for this place since its creation eons ago. Chakan finds it grimly humorous that he has actually found a place that predates even him. Like a stalking panther Chakan noiselessly glides towards the end of the tunnel, where a third door awaits.

   The third door, identical to the first two, does not wait for the Forever man to open it. Instead, it swings slowly open as he warily approaches it. The Spell, and whatever controls or created it, knows that Chakan is here.

   A chill runs the length of his spine as Chakan has an unfamiliar flash of fear flicker in his mind. He brushes it aside and boldly marches onward. Chakan has no idea what wonders and horrors await him within the depths of this Spell, but he has a sick feeling there will a disproportionately large amount of the horror side of the equation.

    He passes through the third door.



Chakan and the Candle


   Chakan takes stock of the large chamber the third doorway has led him into. Like the tunnel he has just passed through, the walls and ceiling of the cave like room are covered with intricate carvings and inscriptions that slightly illuminate the space. Unlike the first tunnel, there is evidence that this chamber has been visited and inhabited by man. There is furniture of wood and stone, primitive and incredibly old, but built in human scale – unlike the huge doors which seemed built for beings or creatures much more massive in size. He also notes that all around the glowing symbols are nooks and crannies that have been carved into the walls of the cavernous room. Sections of the rock walls and floor have been smoothed and leveled and worked into a living space. Where the wall bulges at its base, a chair has been hollowed out, where a crevice runs from top to bottom, shelves have been built in and filled with papers, scrolls, and books. Against the wall a flat slab of stone has been placed on four stalagmites that have been leveled to the same height to make a usable table. The way these furnishings have been worked into the caverns natural irregularities is a pleasing blend of natural and manmade beauty.

   The comforting sound of a thin stream of water flowing down one of the walls and falling into a small natural basin catches the Forever Mans attention next, and he is surprised to see moss and fernlike plants clinging and growing around the waterfall. There is no dust on the table and shelves, and the place seems like a place lost in time that has been captured by a photo.

   Chakan senses something amiss about the chamber, but he does not discern a pair of eyes that watch his every move from a shadowy hiding place.

   He is distracted as a bright light flares up in the center of the room. It is a candle, large and squat, and its flame has suddenly come to life. Chakan approaches it for a closer inspection and sees that runes similar to the ones etched all over the interior walls of this chamber are also inscribed on its surface. It is very bright and the warmth it radiates beckons the Forever Man nearer, where he studies it further and sees that though it burns, no wax drips down the Candle’s sides. Like the room it illuminates, it has a timeless quality to it. The candle and this chamber have caused an uneasy feeling to well up in the warrior.

   Things are different here.

   Chakan thinks of a timepiece that no longer works and has its minute and hour hands frozen at the moment it broke. In this chamber it feels as if Time itself is broke or does not follow the same rules he is used to.

   Shrugging the feeling of apprehension off, and still unable to detect the eyes that are focused on him from the shadows, Chakan goes about his work.

  The gray hunter opens up the large equipment bag he has brought with him and spreads out the gear on the floor in front of him, carefully inspecting what he has brought.

   The gray leather trench coat he wears has been custom made with an abundance of small medium and large pockets and loops crowded all over its interior and exterior. He fills each pocket with food rations, herbal potions and powders, cords and weapons very precisely. Everything has its place and each has at one time or another saved his life or eased his injuries. Things that are seldom needed are put on the inside lining of the coat, or in pockets on the back of his coat. There are other pockets that are extremely well constructed, and in these sturdy Chakan places things that are fragile or can be affected by the elements. Each throwing dart or blade is sharpened before being inserted into its sheathe or pocket. All pouches are checked for wear before they are belted. They contain precious stones and gems that can provide warmth, light, obscuring smoke and other mystic abilities. His wide brimmed hat, modeled after the fishing hats of his native village that were used to shield his people from the sun and wind and storms is set to one side of the coat, his boots with their hidden knives and his two swords are laid to the other side. Checking his equipment before a hunt is a task he has done thousands of times, but this time he is much more attentive than usual.

   So engrossed with his preparations, he still does not notice the hidden figure that watches him from across the dimly lit room, hidden by a spell that helps it blend into the shadows.

   A second small detail also escapes his attention. That detail is a very small spider that had hitched a ride beneath Chakan’s collar as he left a dirty little diner in Akron, Ohio. He had gone to the diner to reclaim the rune sword he had lost, which he did, but unfortunately he had also picked up the spider stowaway as well. Now this is not a normal spider that one would find in a flower-filled backyard garden or some neglected basement corner. No, this spider has been enhanced with an artificial intelligence and cunning and then turned into a soldier that is part of an arachnid army that works for its evil master Arachne Dane, the Spider Queen. This particular spider soldier has been most effective. The eight-legged stowaway has been letting the Spider Queen keep track of Chakan’s movements and whereabouts as he made his way to this mystic chamber. The spider has communicated to her all this information and now she knows her way to this place of arcane power. The Spider Queen uses her black magic to send her little drone new orders.

   Per her instructions it creeps away from the clothes it had been hiding in and makes its way over to the caverns wall where it scurries up the wall to take a place overlooking the chamber as it had overlooked the battle in the diner in Akron. The spider patiently waits for its next set of instructions, observing everything the Forever Man does.

   Chakan, unmindful of the spider and the concealed figure that spies on him, continues his inventory of weapons and rations and potions and powders. Soon everything on his mental checklist has been checked and rechecked and put in its proper pocket or pouch. Each strap is securely fastened around its accompanying weapon and sharpened knives and swords are sheathed except for the one rune sword that has been laid at his side in case the quiet of the room is broken by an attack from the Spell.

   So far so good.

   Chakan puts on the clothes and weapons that have seen a hundred thousand battles and dealt at least that many deaths. Some deserved, some not. He tightens various belts and cinches different straps tight to his body until they are in their familiar comfortable place.

   He has done this prep many times, but this time is different. This time he doesn’t feel like he is just going through the motions of readying to hunt and kill something. This time, for the first time in a long time, there is a chance for something more – the end of the Reaper’s Curse. This time represents his last and only chance for peace.

   He is also going to be stepping into the unknown. The drab sameness of his long life is now about to enter a whole new experience. This Spell has the ability to transport him away from his homeworld. Chakan will be stepping slowly away from this place, this planet, perhaps even this universe.

   But first he needs to figure out how to activate this “Journey of 100 Candles” Spell.

   He scans the inscriptions on the squat candle and the glowing runes on the chamber walls trying to glean any knowledge of the Spell and might encounter as he can.

   They are not very informative. The most he can interpret are warnings to not enter the Spell, and to not follow in the footsteps of the elder god/being that created it. That is not an option for him, so Chakan finds frustratingly little to help his cause.

  It is about what he expected. There is no guideline on how to navigate within the spells depths, or even how to enter the first stage of this Candle Spell that is said to lead away from Earth and out into the unknown.

   Satisfied he has learned all that the carvings in the walls can offer him, Chakan once again finds himself within the glow and warmth of the candle. He circles the candle warily, as if expecting it to lash out at him. He is concentrating so hard on the flickering light he circles that he is still not aware of the spider and the other figure that watch his every movement.

   Chakan gets into a low, ready fighting stance, one hand open, the other hand tightly grasping onto the hilt of the light sword he recently had been reunited with. Its runes seem to pulse like a living thing as it reflects the candles eerie light.

    The wide shouldered warrior briefly revisits the recent events that have led him to this moment of destiny. There are too many unanswered questions and unresolved mysteries for his liking. He wonders what happened to Rob, the human who had rescued his lost sword. Who or what had conjured the giant spiders and spectral ninjas that he had faced in that small city half a world away. He had a hunch that they were not from the same source, their residual magic signature seemed from different schools of the dark arts, but aside from that he had no inkling of their origins.

   He now had a further hunch that he may yet discover that source, possibly somewhere deep in the inner space of the Spell he is now trying to enter. Only time would tell.

   Chakan brings his mind to the task at hand and stares at the candle for a quiet moment, pondering his next move.

   However, it is the Candle, not the Forever Man, which makes the next move.

   The candle flashes to life.



   The light of the candle instantly grows in height and intensity and it rages in front of the Forever Man, who without thinking instinctively leaps backwards and withdraws his other sword.

   The fire takes the form of a spectral face that howls at Chakan.

“WHO ARE YOU THAT DARES THE JOURNEY?” The voice is large and booming, and it feels to Chakan that it echoes inside of his skull and body. Chakan shifts his feet, making sure his stance is solid and rooted as he eyes the apparition.

   Other eyes still watch him from dark shadows.

   “I am Chakan, the Forever Man.” Chakans eyes narrow to glowing slits and his jaw clenches as he prepares to defend himself.

   The floating face booms again, ”WHY DO YOU SEEK TO TAKE THE JOURNEY OF 100 CANDLES?”

   “I have my reasons,”Chakan replies.

   Hot gusts surround Chakan and a wind howls as the great face contorts in rage. Again it speaks, ”THAT IS NO ANSWER. AGAIN, SPEAK. WHY DO YOU SEEK TO TAKE THE JOURNEY OF 100 CANDLES?”

   “I have my reasons,” Chakan repeats slowly as rage surges through his body replacing the initial shock and awe the specter had first instilled in him. Chakan, with menace in his voice, spoke again, “and they are mine alone.”

   The fiery face studied the gray warrior who stands unbowed in front of him. It was as if it was curiously trying to discern the nature of this Forever Man.


   Chakan’s mind races to find a suitable reply. The request of the flaming monstrosity is not unreasonable. Chakan knows full well that most magics do require some sort of price or sacrifice to be paid.

   “I will give you a sword,” Chakan says plainly, “but be warned, any trickery and it will not be meekly handed over. A hint of treachery and it will be thrust through you or any other who tries to block my way.”

“SUCH ARROGANCE, LITTLE MAN! HOW DARE YOU THREATEN THAT WHICH YOU CANNOT EVEN COMPREHEND, ” the voice then lowers its tone to a harsh whisper,” Foolish mortal, have you not learned from your own past! Did your arrogance not already cast a dark shadow upon your soul?”

   Chakan is taken aback for a slight moment. His eyes narrow to glowing slits as the dual flush of anger and shame flares through his body like a bolt of lightning. The beast knows. It somehow knows of the duel with the Reaper and the tragic consequences that followed. Somehow this creature knows Chakan’s darkest secret. It knows of all the innocents that died that day. He wonders what else this Being knows about him. Chakan is unsure of what he should do. At first he prepares to leap toward the giant hovering face that continues with its loud demands but instead listens as it continues.

   “I do not wish your sword, Chakan. Although it is a sword of swords, filled with mystic power and imbedded with valuable gems, I, the Guardian of the Spell, crave something much more precious than mere material treasure. I asked you for a sacrifice, and that is what I must have. I need something more valuable than your magical weapon. I need something more…personal. ”

   “What will grant me passage, Guardian?” Chakan asks coldly. His teeth clench.

   The fiery demon chuckles as it continues, the brilliance of its flame increasing.

    “I want…an important part of you…a small slice of what you are made of. Memories. I want a few of your memories. A small slice the life you once lived. I want the memories that you most cherish, Chakan. I want you to render unto me your youthful remembrances of your mother and father, family and friends. Let me have the sights and sounds and smells you hold the most dear. Let me strip them from your brain. That is the sacrifice I demand from you. I just want those few memories given to me. If you give me what I request I will grant passage to explore the depths of the Candles’ Spell. Think of it Chakan, for such a small price you can leave this world and access the untold power of the “Journey of 100 Candle” Spell. Besides, once I take them from you, you will not even know they were there!”

    Chakan is shocked by the strange request. He remembers another choice made a long time ago on a blood red field and the lifetimes of regret he has experienced since that time. He ponders the request for a short time. He knows he is on the threshold of all that he has searched for over the ages, a chance to reacquire powers lost and the ability to leave this time and place. The Spell offers a hope to confront the Reaper and to end his Curse. In return he has been asked to give up a few scant years worth of memories.

   But they are the memories of a simple time of family, friends and sand and sea. They are memories of dreams not nightmares, contentment not constant strife. They are of a time when love ruled over hate, when life held sway over death. They are also much too precious to lose. While Chakan still lives, those precious memories will live within him.

   Chakan gives his direct answer, “You ask too much.”


   The winds that swirl around Chakan grow stronger.

   On a long ago day, drunk with power, Chakan may have easily given away the small slice of his mind that holds his humanity to gain even more power and access to unnatural abilities. But that Chakan has been beaten down and tread over by the grind of time and the pain and hopelessness he has endured. The arrogance and pride of the warrior who once fought Death himself is long gone. The Chakan who now stands before the Guardian of the Spell is a different man. This Chakan is willing to battle this fiery wraith for eternity before he would give up that special spark he carries within him.

   Chakan stands firm in the midst of the maelstrom. He grimaces as the gale force winds try to uproot him. He raises his sword overhead as if to strike or charge the Guardian but instead he drives a third of its length into the rocky ground in front of him. Chakan stands erect, looks directly into the face of the image before him, and speaks in a low growl, “ You can have my sword. Handed over, not thrust. My other will be needed to get through whatever tasks are ahead of me. That is my final offer.”


   It has come down to a fight.



   Chakan knows that he cannot turn back and leave this chamber because the Spell is the only hope he has to escape the Curse. He also knows that he will not let his memories be devoured by the beast that towers over him. He must go forward. If that means a battle with this specter before him, so be it. Chakan has offered his sword in peace but it has been rejected. He does not know how, but he will pass this apparition. He withdraws his sword from the ground, he looks at the blade that has dealt so much death, then locks eyes with the writhing ghost-like being in front of him.

   The time for words have passed, he prepares to charge. Chakan may not know much about this Spell, but he knows a whole lot about fighting.

   Then something happens that he does not expect.

   The fiery beast is gone.

   The scorching winds are stilled.

   The bright light is gone and the squat candle’s flame is once more small.

   It is as if it never even happened. It is as if the beast was never even there. There is no sign of the beast. Chakan realizes that in reality, it was not real. It was a spell of illusion. Like the cloaking spell that disguised the entrance to this chamber and similar to the Guise spell he uses to walk the human world undetected.

   Chakan has been tricked, and he now senses the eyes of the prankster staring at him from a shadowy hiding place. Chakan would normally kill the illusionist that fooled him with a well-thrown dart or a quick thrust of his sword, but he needs answers more than revenge for his wounded pride.

   Chakan sternly speaks, this time it is his words that echo throughout the chamber.

   “The game is over. Show yourself and pray you have the answers I want.”

   A familiar voice calls out to him. “Is that any way to greet an old, old friend?”



Tea for Two



   Chakan questions his sanity at the sound of the familiar voice. It is a voice he has not heard since the days of his youth a thousand lifetimes ago. It is one of the four Elemental Masters who had trained and created the gray warrior in the long lost time period called “the Before.” It is the voice of his teacher Master Air!

   “Hello old friend, it is good to see you again after such a long, long time. It has taken you quite a while to catch up with this old soul," The old master voice warmly addresses the stunned gray warrior.

   Chakan’s mind reels as the old man steps out of his shadowy hide away. Master Air greets him with a smile and continues, “I apologize for the test you have just went through. I needed to see what your choice would be. You have changed much since last we met.”

   Chakan is still puzzled. How could this be real? He wonders if this is another illusion or trick of the Spell. After all, how could Master Air still be alive?

   “I see you have many questions, Chakan, and I will try to answer as many as I can before you begin your journey. Come with me. We must hurry, for there is much for you to learn and our time grows short. Let me make us some tea.”

   He pats the forever man gently on the shoulder and leads him down a corridor to a small room with a wooden table surrounded by four simple wooden chairs. There is a small stone centerpiece on the table that looks very familiar to Chakan. It is a cube with four sides intricately carved with a different element on each face. One side has the symbol for Fire, one for Earth, one for Water and the last for Air. Chakan knows the symbols well. They are engraved on his sword and were tattooed into his skin a hundred thousand years ago as he had mastered each school of energy mastery. He had taken great pride in being the only man ever to fully master all four schools. For good and bad, they had helped make him the warrior mage he later became. A candle sits atop the stone centerpiece and adds a warm glow to the room.

   Chakan takes a seat as Master Air prepares the tea. A wave of Air’s skeletal hand and a small flame flares to life. The old robed figure then places a pot of water on the dancing flame. Next he sprinkles the dried, crushed leaves of tea in the warming water and the tea begins to brew, its aroma a calming force in the room.

    Chakan is still incredulous to see the man he thought long dead gliding around the small alcove preparing him a cup of tea. Chakan still half expects some sort of treachery or trick but does not sense it. Although much, much older than when last they met, the Master Air in this chamber seems authentic. To the eyes of the warrior Master Air looks small and fragile and his thin body seems lost in the folds of his well-worn robes. Chakan also notices the thousands of wrinkles that crease the pale translucent skin of the Monk’s face and hands. The once vibrant and sharp Air Elemental symbol tattooed on his forehead has nearly faded away with time and age but Chakan believes that it is indeed his old mentor.

   Chakan has been caught off guard and had many surprises thrown at him as he has prowled the Earth for eons, but Master Air being alive is as big as they get!

   Master air pours the tea into two plain earthenware cups and brings them over to the table. To Chakan, this unforeseen situation has a surreal quality about it.

   “The tea needs to steep a bit more for the best flavor.” The monk says as he places one cup in front of Chakan and then takes a seat across from him.

   A wry smile crosses Chakan’s face as he looks across at his old teacher, the same teacher he thought he had killed a long, long time ago. The old man seems to read his mind.

   "You thought me dead along with most of our world, did you not?" he says somberly.

   The wide brimmed hat nods in silent agreement.

   “Let me explain to you how we are able to sit here now and sip our tea. Be patient, for it is a long story. It begins when you were a pupil of the school. You know you were our greatest student, Chakan, the only man to ever master all four Elemental Schools of the Brotherhood. It came so easy for you, and at such a young age. You quickly became more powerful than me and the other three masters combined, but we knew your training was not complete. Your spirit had a dark side, a thirst for vengeance stemming from the violence of your early life. We were afraid that one day the darkness would manifest itself and with your mastery of the Energies so strong, we would not be able to stop you.”

   “You were right.” Chakan says softly.

   “That history is written and there is nothing you can do to take it back or change it. It is what it is. I believe you have paid the price for that which you have done.” The compassion in the old mans voice does little to take the melancholy from the warrior.

   “Some wrongs can never be righted.”

   “I believe all things can be made right, in time, Chakan. Now where was I…oh, yes now I remember, I was about to tell you how me, Master Earth, Master Water, and Master Fire survived the aftermath of your duel with Death.”

   Chakan perked up at the mention of his other three masters. He wondered if they could possibly still be alive as well.

   “Now, Chakan, although you had mastered the four Elemental Schools that me and my three brothers taught and became the greatest of all the Energy Masters, you did not learn all that the Brotherhood knew. As I said, we the four masters of the system were afraid that you would not be able to find the inner peace needed to control your growing power, so we decided not to let you know the Brotherhoods most closely guarded secret.”

   “The existence of this Spell?”

   “Yes. Just think what would have happened if you had known of a Spell that contained this much mystic energy. The day you fought the Reaper you would have tapped into its power and the whole world would have been turned into a burning red ember. In reality, the entire universe could have been destroyed, such is the potential power of this Spell. And so, we did not teach you of the Spell.”

   Chakan assured him he understood his decision and admitted he would have done the same if he had been in Master Airs’ place.

   Master Air continues the story as he takes a sip from his cup of tea.

   “Drink up Chakan, a good cup of tea can heal your soul.” The master smiles and Chakan takes a drink. The tea reminds Chakan of the old temple school of the Brotherhood. It does warm his soul, and a rare sense of contentment comes to him as his old friend continues his tale.

   “One of our early Fire Masters discovered the Spell during a “pilgrimage of learning” he was on. I believe it was the third Master Fire during the early Wen time period. He was a predecessor of the Master Fire that taught you by about five generations. It was written that when he came back to our school from his pilgrimage he was not in good health. He was exhausted, his robes torn and soiled like a street beggar, and the scrolls say he was fevered and spoke with the tongue of madness. He told crazed stories of a place across the sea, a mountain that had a cave with three doors and a solitary candle in its center. He claimed that there was more magic energy in that chamber than anywhere else in the world. He even thought that all magic had emanated from this Spell. He died soon after his return and never regained clear thought. Most in the Brotherhood thought his story of the Candle Spell was the result of madness until the tablet was discovered.  The scrolls read that after his premature death, the Masters found in his belongings an inscribed clay tablet that had directions to the Candle Spell of his stories. It was written with a clarity that convinced them that Master Fire was of sound mind when he had inscribed it.”

   “That must have been the tablet that was found that I used to guide me here…” Chakan sipped more tea as the frail Master Air continued the story.

   A tablet I let be found to bring you here, old friend, as I will explain later on in my tale.” He took a sip and smiled at his own cleverness.

   “Now then, let me see… Oh yes, the Brotherhood had found the tablet. They knew that if the dead monk’s stories were accurate, then it had the potential to be very dangerous if the wrong practitioner found it and usurped its powers for evil. To prevent this, they decided to send four of the schools best students, one from each Elemental discipline, to find out more about this Spell of magic. The four never returned. Next, a group of eight of our strongest Energy Masters was sent to find out what had happened to the first four. Only one of the eight returned. He told the Masters of their journey to the place on the mountain, and how there they had found evidence of the lost brothers, but no bodies. The eight were talented Energy masters in their own right, and could tell that this cavern of the candle was indeed a place of great power. They tried to decipher the glowing ruins here so that they could tap into the Spell to learn more about it and the fate of the four brothers that were lost to us. The scrolls say that the Spell came alive and took the eight students into its depths. Only one was able to escape its grasp and return to tell the Masters.”

   Master Air takes a quick break from his story to refill their cups with more tea and then continues where he left off.

   “The surviving Energy Master did not have much information about the Spell. In short, the monk said that the eight were taken from this world to another, where green lights lit barren corridors and voices of spirits called to them from far away. The voices called this Spell “The Journey of 100 Candles” and threatened them to leave. They did not know how to leave and soon the voices grew near. The eight monks meditated and focused their combined energies to try to protect themselves from whatever evil was coming their way. The surviving monk said a green bolt of light shattered their circle, scattering their eight bodies all over the hall. Most of them were killed immediately, thrown into walls and slammed into the ground with mortal wounds. Some were burnt and charred while others had their bodies crumpled and warped in horrible ways. The lone survivor passed out from his injuries and when he awoke he was back here in this Candle chamber. Although gravely injured himself, he returned to the Masters of the Brotherhood and told them what had transpired.”

   “As you can imagine, Chakan, the masters were very upset and concerned. From what little they knew, it was obvious that this was a dangerous place and if its immense power were to be used for evil, the world would be enslaved or worse. Finally, the masters promoted their best students to replace them, left orders to guard the knowledge of the Spell closely, and went to inspect the Spell themselves. They studied it for years trying to divine its secrets. They carefully probed its depths with their energy as much as they could, but the Spell was beyond them. They did learn a few things. One thing they learned was that the Spell was not of man and was nearly as old as the world itself. They thought that the spell was probably a way for its creators to move from one world to the next, possibly even to other universes and dimensions beyond our realm. They believed that the Spell had a series of Chambers or spell rooms that got progressively harder to navigate unless you had the knowledge to of how the Spell worked.

 And finally, their most important revelation was that this Spell was part of the firmament of our world, our galaxy and our universe. More than just a way to travel the universe it had the potential to destroy the universe. That is how powerful they divined the Spell to be. Anything that could master this Spell would be the master of all things. It was a sobering conclusion. They sent this knowledge back to the Brotherhood and told them that they would stay and protect the candle from those with evil intent. For years they reported back to the reigning Elemental Masters of the four Elemental Schools. In their writings, they said that in this place they did not age as quickly as people on the outside and they outlived many of the masters who came after them at the School.”

   Chakan thought of his first impression of the chamber, and how he had detected a different sensibility to the way time passed here.

  “Years after you had left the School and were of the world, a message was delivered to us, the four Elemental masters of your time. It was from the old masters who were still alive and still guarding and studying the Spell. It was not good news. They said the Spell had been corrupted, and that they needed our help to try and fix it. The old Masters said that the Spells energy had started getting chaotic, the candle flaring up from time to time. Then, the mountain would sometimes shake and shift. Several times strange beasts and devils had made their way through to our world and the masters had to defeat them. More and more of the evil creatures came and so in desperation the Masters had sent for our help.

And so, my brothers and I made the trip here to the mountain about the time you were to face Death. As the world shuddered and shook during your duel, we four were taught all that the old masters knew of the Spell including how to open the first portal. They had discovered how to do this over the years. It was decided that they would enter the Spell and try to stabilize it from within. They had done and learned all that they could from here, and if the Spell was not fixed, all of creation could be destroyed. There was no other way, so they entered the Spell. We followed their energy for a long time, but eventually we could detect no trace of them. Their sacrifice seemed to help keep the Spell stable for quite some time, but eventually the darkling beasts started to come through the portal and into our world. We fought and defeated them all. The four of us continued the vigil of our elders to protect the Spell from outsiders and to destroy the monsters that assaulted us from within the Spell. We aged slowly here, but we did age. The creatures and forces of evil got stronger while we got older and weaker. We were in a losing battle and we knew it. Then, about 2,000 years ago the corruption of the Spell worsened and we had to act. We made a pact that we would enter the Spell one at a time and defend Earth from within the Spell before its dangers could reach us here. And so, one by one, my brothers did just that. I tried to sense where and how the Spell took them, but it was very difficult. The Spell seems to be a labyrinth that evolves to another place and time, not a linear path. I think its chaotic path seems to change for each traveler that enters it. All I know is that my three brothers were sent on very different paths until they were finally lost to me.”

   Master Air pauses briefly as if reflecting on their loss, then goes on with the tale.

   “There was one more piece of the pact that I, as the last of the Energy Masters, was to fulfill. It was up to me to seek out the only one we knew that had a chance of entering, surviving and hopefully mastering the Spell. That one, as you have guessed by now Chakan, is you. I traveled to a small village and saw to it that the clay tablet would be found and hoped that news of it would reach you. I counted on it to lead you here.”

   “You succeeded. But why the trickery with the flame Guardian when I first got here?” Chakan asks.

   “I had to test you Chakan. I was not sure if you still had the same mindset as when you challenged the Reaper long ago. You are like the double-edged sword you carry, a formidable weapon that can be used for good or bad. I did not know which edge you would be. The illusion was to see what you valued, and what you were willing to fight for. You passed the test.”

   “And if I had failed?”

   “Well then, these old bones would have tried to stop you somehow. That is why I hid in the Shadow spell. I knew surprise would be my only chance. I know in reality I would not have succeeded, so believe me, I am quite glad time has changed you!”

   They exchange a good laugh and finish their tea.

   “And so you see, Chakan, time is short. My brothers are long gone, and I am old and nearly done. It is up to you Chakan, to enter the Spell and set things right. I fear there is not much time left. I… I have been having visions during my meditations.”

   “What sort of visions?”

   “Images, pieces of a puzzle I cannot put together. There are spiders and a woman who is half spider, a swordsman from the East and his armies, shadowy creatures and dark places. Three people from the West, one is a woman and two are men. I believe all of these are to play a part in the events surrounding the Spell that will decide the fate of the universe.”

     Chakan tells Master Air of his encounters with the giant spiders and ghostlike ninjas right before his trip to the mountain, and the two agree that they are probably connected to the swordsman and the spider witch of Master Airs’ vision.

    “Is there anything else you can remember from your visions?”

   “Well…it is troubling, but I have visions, brief glimpses really, of my brothers, your old masters. They are horrific images and quite disturbing. Perhaps I have just been thinking of them a lot lately as I near the end of my own life.”

   Chakan nods his head in understanding.

   “We must rest now Chakan, for in the morrow I will send you into the Spell. Come, I will show you to your room.”


   Chakan settles into the padded mat that is the traditional bed from his time period in the “Before.” Being in the presence of his old master makes Chakan think back to how he had acquired his curse. Chakans mind flashes to the fight with Death, and the terrible toll it had taken on everything and everyone from that time until now. He shudders, trying to brush away his shame. He had been so foolish then, ignoring the four Teachers warnings, thinking them weak. He has had a lot of time to regret that mistake.

   He also thinks of the terrible burden his four Masters had gone through as they defended the Spell. Chakan can’t help but think that their fight should have been his. It should have been him that fought toe to toe with the hellspawn from the Spell all these years.

   A wave of sadness sweeps over the warrior. It is a thick fog of melancholy that crowds around Chakan and chokes his spirit. Chakan knows the truth. He knows why the masters did not try to contact him centuries ago. He knows why the monks had waited until all else had failed and all hope was gone before they summoned him. Chakan was their last option. And the Forever Man knows why he was the last option. They did not trust him. They feared him almost as much as they did the Spell. The heavy burden of guilt and regret that the Forever man always carries with him feels double the weight tonight.