The Return of Tsul Kalu is the fifty-fourth chapter of Zak Saturday's Immortal Love Life. It was first published on February 23, 2016.
We were back at our house that we haven’t been to in months. It was still destroyed from when Fiskerton built those robots with his brain and the divining rod was still where it stood.
“So, I forget,” I said. “Did you guys buy the insurance policy that covers giant robotic Fiskerton damage, or not?”
Fiskerton looked offended.
“Hey, nobody said it was your fault.”
“Sorry, boys, but it’s too dangerous to even start thinking about rebuilding,” Dad said. “The Secret Scientists may have stationed someone here in case we were stupid enough to come back home, which apparently, we are.”
“Only temporarily,” Sarah said.
“So we stick to the plan,” Mom said. “Get what we came for and get out. Fast.”
“Right,” I said. “All business.”
Sarah grabbed my hand and we walked inside.
Mom and Dad went off and the rest of us looked over our destroyed stuff.
“Gah, not the video games,” I exclaimed, picking up a half broken disc.
“Really, Zak?” Sarah said.
Fiskerton still looked a little guilty.
“I told you it wasn’t your fault,” I told him. “Look, if I wasn’t Kur, none of this would’ve happened. Which means, it’s kind of my fault. Like pretty much everything else lately.”
“Zak,” Sarah said, giving me a comforting hug. “Nothing has been your fault. Stop thinking that it is.”
I wanted to believe her, but I couldn’t.
My parents came back.
“I hate to interrupt, boys, but we really shouldn’t stay here any longer than we have to,” Dad said. “We’ve already grabbed all your mothers books on Kur. We just can’t take time for any other—”
“Aww, look at this,” Mom interrupted, holding up a crayon drawing that Fisk drew of me and him together.
“Aww, that’s so cute,” Sarah said.
Dad stared at Mom.
“I don’t think five seconds to grab a crayon drawing will give anyone time for a sneak attack,” she said.
Then Komodo sensed something and growled.
“We’ve got a scientist,” Dad said.
All of us got our weapons ready.
“No,” Sarah said. “It feels more animal than human.”
Just as she finished saying that, a two legged creature appeared in front of us.
“Dad, I don’t think that guy’s here for science,” I said.
“Tsul Kalu,” Dad said. “The great hunter.”
He looked kind of scared to see it.
“Wait,” I said. “Tsul Kalu? Like, the hand of Tsul Kalu? The thing at the end of my claw?”
Tsul Kalu swiped its claw at me.
“Whoa, grabby. What’s your problem?”
“Run, now,” Dad said. “Go.”
He picked me up and we ran.
Tsul Kalu followed.
“Dad, what are you . . .” I said. “Just put me down!”
“You have to trust me on this, Zak,” he said. “Everyone keep moving.”
“Doc!” Mom said.
Somehow, Tsul Kalu had intercepted us. Well, he’s known as the great hunter, right? I’m starting to see why. He threw an axe at us.
“Down!” Dad said.
We ducked. The axe flew past us and back to Tsul Kalu. He charged at us.
Dad put me down, then used his power glove to break down a door and we ran into it. Dad grabbed me again and we hid behind some wreckage.
I was getting really annoyed.
“Dad, what is going on?” I asked.
We ran around, but Tsul Kalu stopped Dad and I. He blew a flute and knocked us away. Then we hid again.
“It’s just one cryptid,” I said. “Why aren’t we fighting back?”
Dad was clearly ignoring me.
I grabbed the claw. “Ok, great hunter. Let’s see where you’re hiding.”
I activated my powers.
“Zak, what are you doing?” Dad said.
Something weird was happening with my powers. The color kept flashing orange and white. Then I saw a vision of the world on fire. I didn’t like it.
“Zak!” Mom called. “Zak, honey, focus on me.”
I did and my powers deactivated.
“What was that?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Mom replied. “But I think trying to use the hand of Tsul Kalu on Tsul Kalu might be a bad idea.”
Dad was fighting him off. But then he grabbed me again and we ran.
“Seriously, Dad,” I said. “Why are we running away?”
“We’re not running,” he corrected. “It’s too late for that. He’s already marked his target.”
“Wait. What exactly does that mean?
“It means we need to keep moving.”
“Ok, so he’s marked his target, which I’m guessing is me. So what? Six on one? Why don’t we just stand and fight?”
We came to a room. Dad put me down and closed the door behind us.
“’Cause the last time I did that, I came out with a blind eye,” he said.
I gasped and looked at his blind right eye.
“But you said that happened in an accident,” I said.
“It was an accident, Zak.”
“There were just a few more . . . you know, details, sweetie,” Mom said.
“Like what?” I asked.
Dad sighed. “Do you remember when we found one of the missing Judacalla rocks in the Smoky Mountains?”
He told me the whole story, how I had accidently set off an avalanche in Tsul Kalu’s home territory, he hunted us down to our house to find me, and Dad fought him on the roof during a thunderstorm.
Tsul Kalu used the claw against him, it grabbed on to him, lightning struck it, and his eye got hit and became blind, but Dad won the fight.
“It was the hardest battle I’ve ever fought,” Dad said. “I honestly thought I didn’t have a chance. In the end, Tsul Kalu was an honorable hunter. I walked away with the claw and my life. But some things were lost forever.”
I was speechless.
“So it was my fault,” I said heartbrokenly.
“Zak,” Sarah said soothingly.
“No, it wasn’t,” Dad said. “This is why we never told you. I didn’t want you to feel responsible for—”
“He’s coming,” Mom interrupted. “Boys, you have to be ready to move the minute that door opens. If we get to the airship, we can buy enough time to find another solution to this.”
“No,” Dad said. “There’s only one way to stop this, and it looks like it’s gonna happen again.”
He ran out of the room. We followed.
Dad and Tsul Kalu were having a little stand-off.
“Hey, you want to take the claw?” I asked the great hunter, holding it up with my powers active. “I’ll fight you for it.”
“What?” Dad asked. “Zak, no.”
“Sorry, Dad. But too many people have been hurt already because of me.”
I charged at Tsul Kalu, and he charged at me.
When we came close to colliding, the floor broke open at our feet and we fell. After landing about twenty feet down, we had gotten separated. I heard something close behind me, so I turned and attacked with the claw. He deflected it and I heard a clang. At least, I thought it was him.
“Sarah?” I asked. “What are you doing here?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” she said, putting her sword down. “I want to help you.”
“No. This is my fight and my fight alone.”
“I beg to differ, Zak. Whatever you do, I do with you. And there’s nothing you can say or do to change my mind.”
“Not even if I punch you and tell you I hate you?”
“We both know you wouldn’t do that. And even if you did, you wouldn’t mean it. We’re doing this together.”
I sighed. “Fine.”
Sarah smiled in triumph. “Thanks. And with me helping you, we can find him easily.”
“Alright. So where is he?”
She pointed behind her.
We went that way and saw him. I slingshot the claw at him. He jumped to dodge it. I activated my powers, but they weren’t helping.
“Zak, are you here?” Mom called.
We ran to a different section and spotted them.
“Zak, you don’t have to do this,” Dad said.
“Yes, I do,” I replied, then turned toward Sarah. “Where is he?”
“On the floor above this one,” she said.
We walked toward a hole leading up to there. I took one look at my Dad before we climbed up it.
I tried activating my powers again, but I was just shone another vision of the world and its destruction by cryptids. He found us and attacked by throwing his axe, almost hitting us. I grabbed the axe with the claw and threw it back at him. It was enough of a distraction to get away and go down to the sub level. I activated my powers again and saw people running away in fright from the nagas.
“Your next command, my master Kur?” one of them told me.
The vision went off and I felt so tired that I fell into the water.
“Zak!” Sarah called.
She jumped in and helped me up.
I noticed Tsul Kalu a few yards away.
“What are you doing to me?” I asked him.
He jumped at us, but I used the claw to get us away. I knocked a chain down to him and he climbed it. We ran to the green house and quickly hid among the plants. He ran around.
I tried my powers again, but I was just given another vision, the worse one so far. I was controlling cryptids to kill a human and he asked me why I was doing this, and I told him that it was because he was human.
“Zak, I can see the visions you’re having,” Sarah said. “They’re like a nightmare.”
“It is a nightmare,” I said. I came out of our hiding spot. “What, so you’re trying to play mind games with me? Making me see my worst fear? You can’t beat me in a fair fight, can you? Come on, legendary hunter. Come out and fight.”
I tried my powers and they hurt this time.
“Zak!” Sarah called.
I deactivated my powers. He was in sight now.
“You want your claw?” I said. “Just take it. Just get out of my head.”
I slid it over to him. He pushed it back.
I was confused, but then he did a combat gesture.
“The honorable Tsul Kalu’s gonna fight for it, huh?” I said. “If that’s the way you want it.”
I picked up the claw, then looked at Sarah.
She held her hands up. “I’ll stay out of this fight and let you do this on your own.”
“Thank you,” I said.
She stood far enough out of the way.
I turned back toward Tsul Kalu and we charged at each other. We kept throwing one hit after another. I tripped him a couple times with the claw. When it got in contact with him, I was shown another vision about seeing myself as Kur. I tackled him to the ground and kept punching him.
“All I ever tried to be is the good guy,” I said. “I know I’m Kur, but I’m trying. I never wanted to hurt anybody. I am not a monster. Why are you showing me these things?”
Then a realization hit me.
I got off of him and looked down at him. “Wait. These visions. They’re not my worst fear, they’re—they’re yours. You’re scared of me. You didn’t just come for the claw because you missed it, you came to keep it away from Kur. Please, just take it. If even the good cryptids think I’m destined for evil, then I don’t know why I should fight anymore.”
I tossed him the claw and fell to my knees. Sarah came over and comforted me.
Tsul Kalu gave the claw back to me.
“What?” I asked, confused.
He bowed to me and walked off. I picked up the claw.
“Zak!” I heard Mom calling.
They were running our way.
“You’re alright,” Dad said.
“Tsul Kalu . . .” Mom said. “He’s gone?”
“You won the fight?”
“Better,” I said. “I think I won an ally.”
“I think you did too,” Sarah said.
Then she gave me a kiss and a hug. I greatly returned it.
Yeah, not much different about this chapter. The next one should be a little better.
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