Whispers from the depths

Prologue

"Onin says to beware of the withered flower, for its roots still reach the darkness," Pecker said, voice rising and falling to provide drama.

Jak and Daxter blankly watched the talking hybrid, while his shriveled up boss finished drawing sparkly symbols in the air with her fingertips.

"We're supposed to be scared of dead plants?" Daxter finally said.

He quickly looked around the tent, and within a second gave a loud shriek.

"Aaah! Look out, Jak! It's a dried daisy!" he shouted, pointing a violently shaking hand at one of the boughs of herbs hanging down the tent wall, "it's gonna eat us alive!"

Jak rolled his eyes, Pecker pressed a wing against his protruding face, and Onin pursed her lips in a "you're gonna regret making fun of me once it's too late, chum!" look.

In the moment where Jak found himself right now however, he kept questioning himself why the hell the old hag could not just explain what she meant so that these kind of things did not frickin' happen. Oh yeah. "Beware of the withered flower." Thanks a lot, that helped. Really helped.

"Uhm, Jak?" Daxter whispered, "are you okay?"

There were so many things he could have answered to that, most of it profanities. But Jak really needed to save that breath, and use it for something better. For example, the oxygen could be used to fuel the muscles in his burning shoulders, or aching arms, or hands that risked loosing all skin on the palms.

To further add to his discomfort, the leathery vine he held dug its thorns into his flesh and caused tiny red streams to trickle down into his sleeves, adding to the sweat which by now had begun to soak him completely.

Oh yes, he really, really hated that vine. It simply had to be lying there as the recoil from the Peace Maker made him stagger backwards, and cause to him to stumble and fall. Fall over the end of the ledge, too.

At the same time, he had to appreciate the vine's qualities. It at least had the ability to be within reach as he fell, and it was a nice skill it had, to keep him and Daxter suspended in the air instead of plunging into the molten lava thirty feet below. The question was of course how long it would be able to keep doing so before it snapped.

There were no snarls coming from the ledge above them, at least. It seemed like he had managed to get the whole group of hulking metal heads in one shot. Hell, he would know if he had not, by now. Any survivors would have come this way to look for him already, and the morph gun laid up there as a big fat clue.

One thing was certain, and that was that he could not remain here.

Gritting his teeth he curled the vine around his right leg, and carefully removed a bleeding hand from the thorny lifesaver above his head. He reached up, grabbed more thorns, and heaved upwards-

He felt the movement with his whole body, and his heart nearly froze. Immediately he stopped moving. Moments passed, and the vine continued to hold.

There was no way he could make it up before the edge of the stone platform above grinded the vine apart. Jak tried to dab his lips with a sandy tongue. This was what he got for using up his charge of white eco on slowing down the time for the first metal heads he ran into. He really should have known better. But there had been so many of them, and generally he had learnt that it was wiser to save his dark powers for heavier attacks. Yes, so much for tactic. He had stupidly figured that if the front was guarded by such numbers, it would be even worse deeper inside.

At least, it seemed stupid now.

He still felt a small remain of light supply within, but it was not enough to use his wings.

"Dax…" he croaked.

The ottsel gulped, but quickly crawled up Jak's arm and onto the vine.

"I'll be right back!" he promised, trying to sound as cheerful as always.

No reply.

As he hurried up the plant as quickly as he dared, Daxter still took the time to glare at the dry remains of the vine's flowers he passed. They were turning into hard cocoons of seeds now, only brown, torn leaves remaining of the petals.

"Swe-e-et warning, Pecker! Just sweet!" he muttered to himself, "is it really that hard to say something like 'Onin says to look at the floor behind you before you shoot or you'll get one hella deep fried death' instead!"

He cautiously peeked over the edge before clambering onto safer grounds. No metal heads in sight. The morph gun still remained where it had fallen after Jak lost both his balance and grip of the weapon. Before going any further, Daxter turned around and poked his head over the edge to look back at Jak.

"Hang on buddy, I'll find you something more to hold on to!" he called.

"Great!" Jak snarled.

Obviously he was not in the mood for appreciating a good joke. What a bore.

Daxter shrugged and stood up.

"Okay, now for some more plant tentacles…"

He headed for the wall. Several more vines hung down along it, but it was nothing that Daxter could pull down. Muttering under his breath he hurried further down the ledge, trying to keep his eyes open both for dangers and help. For every step he took he grew more alarmed at how far away from Jak he was getting.

The end of the ledge came into sight, and no helpful vine offered. There were only the handful of skull gems left from the group of nasties that Jak had blasted before falling, and they were not that good to use for climbing. Nervously gnashing his teeth, Daxter turned around and hurried back to look in the other direction.

That was when a shadow fell from a ledge above him.

Jak heard the noise, and he knew what it meant long before he looked up.

A grinning metal head looked back, drool dripping from its fangs as it regarded the silhouette of an elf against the floating fire below. It seemed very pleased, indeed. Jak did not.

"Shit, shit, shitshitshitshit…!"

The claws slammed down on the stretched vine, cutting through the living fibers. The already tortured plant could not take any more of it.

It snapped.

"Jaaak!"

Jak hardly heard Daxter's shrieking above his own scream as he plunged towards the ocean of molten rock.