The Headless Horror
October 13, 2014
This weekly Serial began 7/14/14
He figured they would have to suffer through a cold camp that night. After all his battles and hiking, dealing with a foul Darcarre speaking within his head left him feeling like he wanted to sleep till next Monday, not that he knew what day of the week in was on this strange world he found himself upon.
He had just resolved himself to sleeping within his wet clothes when Mythcul somehow got a fire lit. The older man smiled as his hands warmed themselves on the fridges of the flames. He spoke to his younger ally in the language they shared. His soft voice did most of the talking.
Huth-allan-nith looked Jack’s way a few times with an expression that remained hard to read.
The jeans over his kneecaps had just dried when sleep claimed him. He would only find out later that his new fellow Yig worshippers hadn’t woken him up to help with the watch that night.
* * *
They began the march early. The three of them followed a path of sorts and the forest became wetter as they traveled. They came to a long marsh and it surprised Jack to see a log bridge stretched over its black surface.
Taking this as a good sign, he tried to communicate with Mythcul and ask how much longer it would be to his village. The shaman kept answering, in his non-verbal manner, that it would be one more passage of the sun, but Jack couldn’t figure out if that meant they would reach the village that day or would be required to sleep one more night in the woods.
After a while, he stopped trying and just focused on keeping Huth-allan-nith in sight. If the younger man’s pace was any indication, it appeared that he hoped to reach his camp as soon as possible.
They had just moved past the swamp when disaster struck. Something, a livid horror of undulating tentacles, erupted from a pile of leaves to Huth-allan-nith’s right. The man tried to raise his spear, but half a dozen ropey appendages slammed him into a tree.
Without waiting for its next move, Jack flung his biggest spear at the chaotic beast. Its tip pierced a few inches into a tentacle, but was quickly bashed away. As Jack readied a javelin, he took in the creature that rose to its full height before him.
If a mad god had decapitated a crocodile and placed an octopus the size of a car where its head was, that would just begin to describe the abomination that faced them. Course fur covered it in direct confrontation to the rest of its structure. Instead of feet, it had hands, large rough looking things that most likely had the strength to tear a man in two.
Then the battle field exploded into action. Jack tossed his first javelin, just as Huth-allan-nith struggled to his feet. Again it pierced a tentacle, without much effect. Jack had one javelin left, but wasn’t sure what to do. The thing had no head to strike and its armored body looked impervious to the primitive weapons his force had. But then he had bigger problems.
While Mythcul began a loud chant, the beast attacked Huth-allan-nith full on. The man got in a good blow with his spear and tore a tentacle off the thing, but it still had about nineteen more and half of these batted the young warrior hard enough to send he flying a dozen feet into the air. His body smacked a few trees on the way down and Jack hoped the man still breathed.
With a mucus ridden roar, the creature turned toward Jack, but that was when Mythcul’s spell caused the jungle to come alive and grasp at the horror. However, its strength proved mighty and all the spell did was give Jack a few extra seconds to prepare.
He hoped it would be enough.
First, he prepared a spell of his own. Then, with a yell, he raced forward with his last wooden javelin and plunged it past the tentacles into where the thing’s head would be, if it had one.
Instead of batting Jack away, the beast’s tentacles grasped him and began to pull him in every direction. Mythcul’s spell still slowed the beast, but Jack knew it wouldn’t be enough to keep him from being drawn and quartered, if he didn’t do something fast.
With a motion of his fingers, he enacted his spell and used his ability to mold nature to cause the wooden shaft to the spear to splinter out and grow.
At first, he couldn’t be sure it had worked, for the monster still tore at him, but then a wet groan filled the air. Seconds after that, the tentacles went limp and Jack crashed to the ground.
He tried to hurry to his hands in knees, in case the creature resumed its attack, but need not have bothered. It stayed limp and Mythcul helped Jack to his up while healing him.
After patting him on the back, Mythcul hurried to his fallen comrade. The rest of his mystical strength still wasn’t enough to help the man regain consciousness, but it looked like Huth-allan-nith would survive to fight another day.
Mythcul started flashing hand signs at Jack, but the Stalwart quickly said. “I get it, time to get a fire going. One way or another, we won’t be reaching your village tonight.”
As he searched for dryer things to burn, he thought he caught a glimpse of a figure retreating back into the forest. “Great, more folks hunting us. That’s all we need.”
To be continued next Monday