Autolycus and Muran: "The Valley of Guan-Di" (part 2 of 4)
February 6 2009 at 9:58 AM
As Autolycus and Muran run through the woods.
Lightning flashes behind them, but they do not look back, not for one second. They hear the howls of rage from the creature but still don't look back.
"What was that thing?" Autolycus gasps.
"It looked like a demon," Muran replies. "It also kinda looked like it was from Chin..."
Behind them, the beast lets loose a long burst of Chinese profanity.
"What'd it say?" Autolycus asks.
"I'm not sure," Muran says, "why don't you go back there and ask him to repeat it more slowly?"
A lightning bolt splinters a tree near the running thieves.
"Aw, to hades with this..." Autolycus says as he reaches out and grabs Muran's hand... and they vanish a burst of green light.
The Parthenon West Coffee House, 1964, An Oasis in the Intellectual Desert that is Beverly Hills
A bearded beatnik stands on a bare stage in a basement coffee house. He is lanky and good-looking, clad in a ratty grey turtleneck and tight black jeans. He holds a bongo drum tucked under one armpit and pats on in rhythm to a poem he recites.
"Who knows, but that the universe
Is not one vast sea of compassion actually,
The veritable holy honey,
Beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?"
The small audience responds with appreciative finger snaps.
The beatnik smiles appreciatively, and then lets out a high-pitched squeal as a green flash of light fills the stage and Autolycus and Muran tumble out.
The other patrons of the coffee house get to their feet, spilling coffee and letting cigarettes drop from their lips.
"Like, wildsville," says a good-looking youth with a ducktail haircut as he steps back, dropping his pomade-smeared comb.
The beatnik on stage beside Autolycus and Muran steps aside.
"Like, what kinda trip is going on here?" he asks.
"Um, it's hard to explain," Muran says.
"Life is, like, hard to explain," says a nerdy-looking, diminutive beatnik with coke-bottle glasses.
A few of the patrons snap their fingers appreciatively at his observation.
Autolycus and Muran exchange confused glances.
"Look, we're just passing by," Autolycus says. "You can get back to your... whatever the Hades you were doing when we got here."
A rip appears in mid-air right behind Autolycus, as if a dimensional rift were being torn open by a shimmering, crescent-moon-shaped blade. Autolycus and Muran dive to either side as the red-faced demon warrior steps through the rift.
"Gotta hand it to this guy," Autolycus says as he does a cartwheel. "He's working hard."
"Work???" a gangly, goateed beatnik toward the back of the room yelps.
THe demon warrior waves his hand, sending a bolt of lighting toward Autolycus, who holds up a bongo drum to protect himself.
The blast burns a hole in the surface of the drum, and Autolycus stares through it as the demon warrior howls with rage. The gangly beatnik screams at the top of his lungs and runs up the stairwell out of the coffee house. Other patrons pause for a second as the demon warrior snarls and assumes a battle stance, then they all scatter... well, all except a blond beatnik with a poncho and sunglasses, who sits serenely as if nothing was happening.
The demon warrior turns to Autolycus, crescent blade battle staff ready.
Autolycus smiles apologetically and holds up the golden amulet. "You, um, can have this back..."
The warrior snarls and swings his battle staff. Autolycus does a backwards tumble to dodge the attack.
"Leave him alone, you big jerk!" Muran yells from the other side of the stage.
The warrior turns, his eyes flaring with pure rage.
Seeing Muran, he pauses.
And tilts his head quizzically.
"The Mu Ran?" he asks, his voice raspy and perplexed. "You are the Mu Ran... the Destined One."
"Aw, crap," Muran says. "Let me guess, you're a god of war, aren't you?"
The demon warrior kneels reverently. "I am Guan-Di, God of War, Protector of the Dead, and Defender of The Bean Curd."
"Bean... curd?" Muran asks. "You've gotta be kidding."
"Millennia ago, the Aspects of War lost track of you, Mu Ran," Guan-Di says. "We had nearly lost hope that you would ever be found again. How, I ask, did you evade our notice so long?"
"Welllll," Muran says, "I didn't exactly evade you that long." She holds up her hand, showing her Chronos Ring. "We can kinda skip through time with these rings."
"You need not evade us," Guan-Di says. "It is our sworn duty to protect you and let you fulfill your destiny."
Autolycus steps up beside Muran.
"Well, if she's that important to you, then I'm sure you wouldn't want to hurt her good buddy, chum and protector, right?"
Guan-Di spins his crescent blade staff and lunges forward with a ferocious roar, bringing the blade under Autolycus's chin.
The warrior's eyes flare. "You shall still die, for desecrating hallowed ground," he growls.
"Not the answer I was hoping for," Autolycus gulps as we...