Raiders of the Forbidden Valley
Chapter 12: Casting the Runes
With the erratic bark of their assailants machine guns rattling around his head, Indy grabbed the steering wheel from Grey Wolf's grasp and jerked it to the side. The jeep veered wildly to the left. Susan screamed as a series of bullets rattled off of the heavily armoured side of vehicle. Indy turned around and looked out of the jeep. The black car was screeching towards them, throwing plumes of dust from the dirt road as it came.
Indy pulled out his revolver, aimed around Grey Wolf's head and fired three shots.
"Jesus Indy, what are you trying to do? Finish off my tracking career by making me deaf?"
Grey Wolf slammed the complicated gear system into reverse and pulled the jeep off the road and onto the grass verge. The car sped past the jeep, the driver unable to anticipate the maneuver and therefore unable to stop. As it passed the jeep one of the gun toting villains fired at the front of the jeep. Smashing the headlamps and severely denting the bodywork.
"Oh man, they're ruining my jeep!" Grey Wolf moaned.
"A few extra dents aren't going to hurt!" Indy chided.
"I am responsible for each one of the dents you see on this jeep Indy. These jerks are just taking liberties!" Grey Wolf growled as he slammed the vehicle into first gear and started after the sedan.
As the vehicles sped along the rough road from the train station into town, Indy continued to fire a volley of shots at the sedan. The rear lights were both smashed within seconds and the beautiful sleek, black paintwork was beginning to become riddled with ugly holes. The gunmen in the car were firing in return but their vehicles suspension system wasn't designed for such punishment and their aim was constantly being thrown off. The jeep, on the other hand, was holding the road and Indy was accustomed to these little skirmishes. His shots were being fired with amazing accuracy.
The vehicles sped along the road.
Gunshots were being fired back and forth.
In the back of the jeep, Marcus held Susan's hand paternally and protectively.
"Don't worry dear. This is quite usual for Indy!"
"I'm beginning to realize that Marcus!" Susan replied with a wry grin.
Indy fired a shot, but the hammer clicked onto an empty chamber. He fumbled in the front pocket of his leather jacket. Damn it! He had run out of bullets.
"Grey Wolf, I'm empty! My gun's empty!" he shouted over the roar of the jeep's engine.
"Under the passenger seat!" Grey Wolf replied with a grin. Indy looked at him with a puzzled expression and his newfound ally pointed to beneath his seat. He reached under the seat and found a long hard object wrapped up in a burlap sack. Indy pulled it out and found a rifle wrapped up in the sacking.
It was an old, but perfectly clean Winchester.
"What the Hell's this?" Indy asked incredulously.
"If you don't like it paleface you can always try your whip!" Grey Wolf answered Indy shrugged and aimed the rifle.
He gently squeezed the trigger and the recoil slammed into his shoulder with unexpected force. The back tyre of the sedan blew out and the car screeched as it veered wildly around the road. Indy loaded the next cartridge into the chamber and fired a second shot.
The next bullet tore into the second rear wheel and the car skidded to an inglorious halt.
The jeep sped forward as the men got out of the wrecked car. One of the gunmen aimed his Thomson machine gun at the jeep, but Indy fired the Winchester - the bullet ripped through the man's knee and he crumpled to the ground, firing a volley of shots harmlessly into the dirt in front of him. The second gunman saw his friend's dilemma and aimed his weapon.
The jeep, however, was on top of him. Figuratively and then a few seconds later relatively.
Susan and Marcus winced as the jeep crunched over his body.
The driver of the sedan, got out and started running futilely forward. Indy leaped out of the jeep, uncoiled his whip and lashed it around the escaping thugs feet. The man fell to the ground, cracking his chin off of it.
Indy dashed forward and grabbed the thug's jacket and hauled him to his feet. A hard punch to the man's kidneys took the wind out of him and put paid to all thoughts of escape. Indy spun him around and punched him in the mouth.
He looked at the man , surprised to see that he wasn't Chinese!
"Where's Qwam Sung Ho?" Indy hissed angrily.
"Who? " the man spluttered through bloodied lips.
"Don't play dumb! Your boss!" Indy growled and yanked the man forward.
"You're the one playing dumb. Buddy I don't know no-one called Qwum Sund Dung." the man sneered.
"Indy, let me have him," Grey Wolf said in a low even tone. Both Indy and the thug looked at him - he stood with a fierce and terrible expression on his face.
"I promised my grandfather that I would honor his grave with as many scalps as I could," Grey Wolf said. Indy looked at him with a shocked expression - the thug laughed. A gesture he instantly regretted as it seemed to provoke Grey Wolf, who drew a huge and wicked looking hunting knife from inside his boot. "It'll be a tough job without the proper ceremonial tomahawk, but with a bit of hacking and tugging, I should be able to get the whole scalp off."
He reached over and grabbed the thug's hair, pulling it taut and holding the blade at the top of the man's forehead.
"Well, don't be all night doing it," Indy said with an air of resignation - he looked at the thug and shrugged apologetically as if there was nothing more he could do. Grey Wolf dug the knife edge into the skin ...just a little, but the effect seemed to galvanize the thug.
"Aw Christ man, don't let this crazy injun scalp me!" he moaned to Indy.
"I wish that I could help, I really do, but his bloods up and he's a proud man." Indy looked at the thug.
"What if I told you who paid us to try and grease you?" the thug stammered.
"I don't know. It might help," Indy said casually.
"It weren't no China man that wanted you dead, it was a real fancy professor called Hume," the man looked wildly at Grey Wolf's knife. Blood was trickling down his face.
"Don't lie to me. My friend here is a determined fellow," Indy warned.
"No really, he gave me a picture of who he wanted killed! It's in the car, next to the steering wheel man!" the thug wailed. Indy looked at Grey Wolf and then moved over to the car.
Sure enough, there taped to the dashboard was a photograph. Indy's eyes narrowed as he examined the picture.
It wasn't of him!
The photo was of Susan. He glanced over his shoulder at her and smiled reassuringly, however while doing this he crumpled the photo up and stuffed it deep in his pocket.
"Grey Wolf, scalp the rat willya?" Indy hollered and the thug fainted!
Grey Wolf began to chortle and dropped the unconscious thug onto the ground.
"Does that noble savage crap work often?" Indy asked the man, warming to him by the second.
"Yeah, but only on tourists and stupid henchmen" Grey Wolf smiled and put the knife back into his boot. Indy clapped him on the shoulder and examined the sky.
"It'll be dawn soon. Marcus, I want you and Susan to stay here and tell the police what happened. Grey Wolf and I will go and pay Hume a visit. Is that alright with you?" Indy asked the powerfully-built Native American archaeologist who was in the midst of binding the thugs hands and feet.
"Sure, it's fine Indy," Grey Wolf answered.
Indy nodded and moved over to Susan, he smiled at her roguishly.
"I hope you're enjoying this whistle stop tour of the East, honey?" he asked.
"It's been hectic, but the company's been lovely," she smiled back. "Indy why does Hume want you dead?"
"I don't know sweetheart, professional jealousy maybe?" He muttered unconvincingly.
"Well, whatever the reason, just be careful." She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
"As always" was Indy's reply.
Alexander Hume was a broken and fearful man.
He sat in a small lodge on the edge of the river, The thundering crash of the nearby falls was a constant noise, but it did not diminish the evil and sibilant noises that filled Hume's head.
He looked at the table before him. Black and white 8x10 photographs were strewn over the surface of the table and on the surrounding floor. The clearest of these photos was an image forever etched in his head. A group photo of his party of students, each one smiling, enjoying the long and bright future that lay ahead of them. Most of them were now dead! The few who weren't were missing. Hume took a long and deep slug from a bottle of rotgut. When he looked at these photos one thing was clear and one thing alone.
These young people were dead because of him!
If only he hadn't went looking for that damned shrine! He knew what was there, he knew the legends but still he led a party of young souls to their doom.
The Kirkmuir boy had taken them back to Scotland, but it hadn't been far enough, the curse had followed him and taken his life.
And now his sister was bringing the stones back to him.
Unwittingly sealing his fate!
The poor bitch had no idea what she was doing and neither did that fool Indiana Jones.
He felt his soul wrench and tear as he thought of the three killers from Chicago. He had hired them to kill Susan and her friends. Another stain on his immortal soul.
He had met her once and liked her immensely. She was an innocent in this whole evil affair and now she was dead. Hume glanced at his watch, well if she wasn't dead now she soon would be. He would writhe in torment in places far worse than Hell if he had taken the Runes back. At least this way he would have a few years to make amends with God, try to ease the pain, try to cleanse the shadows on his soul.
Tears of self pity started winding down Hume's face.
If only he hadn't found that map. This would never have happened...
The jeep trundled along the road towards the "Pink Pillows" motel which had been built a few years previously when Americans everywhere began to see the vast possibilities of the Niagara Falls as a honeymoon resort. The motel was vulgar and tasteless, and did great business. It was situated near the famous and spectacular falls. Hume had checked in three nights ago alone the clerk had told Grey Wolf after some subtle persuasion involving a twenty dollar bill.
"Why do you have such a low opinion of Hume?" Indy asked his brooding companion.
"He's an idiot that puts more stock in sensationalism than in history and heritage!" Grey Wolf glanced at Indy "I had a few arguments with him a couple of years ago over some Native American heritage."
Indy nodded and waited for more information, it soon became apparent that it was not to be forthcoming. Grey Wolf was smarting about the damage done to his jeep by those tin pot gangsters.
Hume had found an ancient and portentous map deep within the bowels of the Miskatonic University. It was nestled in the private collection of one of the University's mysterious benefactors alongside books of infamous and dark reputations. There had been a note pinned to the map stating that it was one of only three copies of cartography drawn by ancient Norse seafarers when their ship had been blown far off course by a severe and violent storm. The ships captain, a brave and fierce warrior called Bjarni Herjolfsson did not explore the land but returned to Greenland, which had been colonized by Erik the Red after he and his followers had been banished from Norway due to his pagan beliefs. Bjarni had told Erik of this new land which set a chain of events into motion which would ultimately result in the discovery of America by Europeans.
"Why does Hume want that beautiful girl dead?" Grey Wolf asked Indy as they drove along the road. Indy glanced up at the sky, which was imbued by pinks and oranges as the sun started rising.
"I don't know Grey Wolf. I hardly know anything about the man, as far as I knew he was a slipshod archaeologist but not a murderer."
"He is a coward!" Grey Wolf sneered. "He would do anything to save his neck."
Indy glanced at Grey Wolf, who continued glaring darkly ahead.
"A few years ago he was in Minnesota hunting for some stone slab which was meant to be covered in Runic writings. He had some crazy fool idea that some Scandinavians had travelled there hundreds of years ago and had been struck down by some awful tragedy. He wouldn't say where he got the idea from, but he was convinced that some demon had stolen their souls and consumed their bodies."
"Demon?" Indy looked sharply at Grey Wolf.
"Wendigo, Indy! The eater of men. Do you know the legend of Wendigo?" Grey Wolf looked at Indy with a grim smile. "It doesn't matter what the fool believed in, but he damn near got two teenage boys killed by his actions. Blowing rocks up and using these young idiots to plant sticks of explosives with short fuses. The only reason that the local law didn't stop him was because the boys were Indians. The thing is, Hume's no racist, it wouldn't matter who got killed as long as he got his fortune and glory!"
Indy winced at the phrase.
Hume snuffled pathetically and drained his glass. The booze didn't ease the pain, nothing ever would. 'Why was life so unfair to him,' he mused as he looked at the photographs.
He had made a remarkable find - proof that Erik the Red's son Leif Errikson had discovered the North American continent. The map, which had been called "The Vinland Map" had traced a line of discovery which when compare to modern maps showed the progress these ancient explorers had made down the East Coast of America. From "Helluland" (modern day Baffin Island) down through "Markland, the land of forests" (which was probably Labrador) all the way down to "Vinland", the north east coat of America.
That was no great discovery! People were surmising a lot about the early colonization of America by everyone from Ancient Ethiopians and Egyptians to Irish and Scottish fishermen. Every nation worth its salt would have been struggling not to find it.
No the discovery wasn' t that Leif Erikkson had landed there in 1,000 A.D. but that he had found the remains of a Norse settlement from 800 A.D.!
The map was accompanied by an old leather parchment which had told of a mission undertaken by a band of Vikings to remove a blight from their village. They set sail carrying an evil cargo, a cargo that identity remained a mystery from all but a few village elders.
Their voyage had taken them to New England where they had buried the cargo in a small cave and built a barrier around the evil.
The evil of Fenris!
However, deep within the books of the Miskatonic, Hume had discovered that each culture that lived in the far northern reaches of the hemisphere had it's legends of ancient demons.
Fenris, Wendigo, the vicious ghosts of the Siberian tundra's. The scholars in the mythology of the ancient ones, commonly known as the "Cthulhu Mythos" because of that young sensitive writer, knew this demon by one name alone.
Ithaqua - the wind walker!
It had taken him years but he had found that these warriors had burned their great longship and moved inland and moved inland. Relentlessly pursued by echoes of the evil force that had been buried in the cave by them.
Eventually when they had travelled far from the site of this evil, they wrote it's location on a great stone slab so that none would forget them or the sacrifice that they had made. However, not wanting to ever release the force they hid the slab.
Only one who was destined by the gods would find the location of the evil.
It was after this that their encampment was attacked one night by a force of chaos that killed all but one of them! The survivor wrote down an account of these terrible events on a roll of ox leather and wrapped it around the handle of his axe.
What happened to this lone warrior would never be known, but Hume had found the stone slab and the axe. He kept these finds quiet, knowing that somewhere along the line he would find something that would change his life...forever!
The jeep was drawing ever closer to the motel and Hume. Indy and Grey Wolf were both engrossed in conversation, so much so that Indy didn't notice the feeling of movement within his knapsack.
The Runes were home and somehow they knew it!
Hume sat staring into the fire. He remembered with vivid clarity how he had assembled a team of young archaeologists and set forth to find the shrine.
Evil was a concept that belonged in the middle ages. Not now!
He had been such a fool!
He leaned forward as his stomach started grumbling.
A sharp pain shot through his side.
Christ, this drink was strong stuff!
Clouds scudded across the sky with unnatural speed. Indy was brought out of his conversation as a sudden and ferocious gust of wind nearly blew his hat off.
"Indy, it feels like a twister brewing!" Grey Wolf said, a worried edge had crept into his voice.
"Are you crazy... you don't get twisters this far up!" Indy looked at him, holding his hat on. "I know!" Grey Wolf said - he pointed to the sky.
The clouds were spinning around in a hypnotic motion above the motel The sky was getting darker and the wind was starting to howl eerily.
Hume was grasping at his stomach. His face was a concrete sculpture of pain - he clenched his teeth so hard that his lower lip had been smashed into a pulp.
The pain was worse than anything he could imagine!
His chest was writhing and knotting like a sack full of snakes.
He managed to utter a gargled scream before his world exploded!
The windows smashed in unison with his scream!
Far away, on the Black Orchid, Qwam Sung Ho snapped awake!
His eyes full of fear!
By all the gods, what had he done to himself?
Hume heard a wet rip echo through his skull. He twisted his head down and saw that five or six snakes had eaten their way from inside his chest! They writhed and squirmed, each one opening it's bizarre four pointed jaw.
He felt these vile unearthly creatures devour his soul.
There was no blood, but the pain was immense! It was as if his blood were lava pumping through raw veins!
Inside Indy's knapsack the runes were swirling around, as if puppets of the bizarre tornado that was ripping one of the motel rooms apart.
"What the Hell's going on Indy!?" Grey Wolf shouted.
"I don't know!" he shouted back.
Suddenly the jeep lurched off the road and crashed uncontrollably into the river.
Hume staggered forward - the snakes were everywhere, biting his body, wrapping around his neck. Eating his soul and poisoning his body.
He managed a blood curdling scream of absolute terror and fell head first into the open fire.
The motel room was shattered into a million pieces by the wind.
Then it stopped.
Later the police would find Hume's body, or what was left of it lying in the fire and eventually the verdict would come that he had got so drunk and fell into the fire.
There were no wounds on his body, no venom in his rapidly congealing blood.
The explosion would be a mystery that would eventually be put down to a faulty gas pipe. This would put the Pink Pillows motel out of business.
Which shows you that the supernatural is no respecter of romance.
"Indy, I've never seen anything like that!" Grey Wolf said in awe.
"I've seen similar," Indy muttered remembering the power of the ark. A thought hit him "Grey Wolf, we're in the water!"
The jeep was floating languidly down the river. Calm now after the sudden disappearance of the tumult.
"It's okay Indy, the jeep can float." Grey Wolf chuckled patting the chassis of the beaten vehicle.
"Yeah? Can it fly too?" Indy asked. Grey Wolf looked at him with a puzzled expression. Indy pointed ahead.
The jeep and its two occupants were sailing gently, but inexorably to the vast and majestic splendour of the Niagara Falls.
The jeep began to pick up speed!
"Aw Hell," Grey Wolf muttered just before the roaring of the falls drowned out his voice.
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: Hannibal King
Created: July 28, 1999
Last modified: October 4, 1999