Ties That Bind (Chapter 3)

by Len

Terror

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Ties That Bind

Chapter Three

Terror

The forest was relatively quiet; only the constant drone of insects and the calls of frogs in love, along with the occasional bird call. Suddenly the forest erupted in a series of hoots and screeches. A small dark-skinned man riding an anteater charged under a fallen tree. He resembled a jousting knight, with the tip of a spear leading his charge. The anteater’s tail swung wildly behind feeling for the pursuers as they ran.  A pack of blood monkeys were on the chase. Although very fast for short distances, the anteater was not built to keep running and quickly tired.

The man dismounted and pulled a shield from the saddle. He stood with spear leveled; ready for the incoming attack. He gave a few clicks with his mouth and the anteater reared up on his back legs; the anteater stood two feet taller than the little man. The creature sported large thick claws which were capable of keeping jaguars at bay. Man and beast stood back to back; ready to die together against the blood monkeys.

The monkeys had killed his entire village, except those that were out on scout patrol like him. When the tiny man, Qari, returned he saw the bodies of his tribesmen. They were mere husks, drained of their blood by the monkeys and their leeches. Qari had run, hoping that the monkeys were gone. However, they had positioned a scout and the chase was on.

The forest went deathly silent; all of the animals were quiet as the monkeys made their way to the strange duo. “More blood,” they screamed.

“I will give you blood,” Qari said through clenched teeth. “I will spill it all over this ground.”

“Of that I have no doubt,” a blood monkey said smoothly as he lowered himself slowly from a nearby branch. “That is the plan, after all.”

*****

“Hey look,” Bynn pointed at a large green and red bird with two long tail feathers which stretched from his perch to the ground. “It’s a quetzal. That is a sign of good luck, right?”

“It’s true,” Kaa admitted. “The ancient elves of Carinth named them among the seven guardians of the island. That is a male, and he is ready to mate.”

“How can you tell?”

Kaa smiled. “Most males show when they are ready to mate. The quetzal grows the two long feathers.” Kaa turned and looked Bynn over from head to toe. “We elven males show it in … a different way.” The hunting master walked slyly away from the younger elf and continued his speech. “Beware though, Bynn Al Tor, the bird is not THAT lucky.”

Bynn stood dumbfounded for a few heartbeats, and then looked around embarrassed. A giant toad sat on a low branch, staring the elf in the face. The toad blinked its eyes as it swallowed, and continued to look right into Bynn’s eyes. Bynn quickly walked after Kaa, betrayed by his own body. However, he was amazed at how perceptive the elf was.  “Does nothing get by Kaa?” he wondered.

*****

Munkus heard the screeches of the blood monkeys. They normally did not travel this far north, but there was no mistaking their shrill cries. Usually the groundling would mind his own business and continue on his way. However, today he carried the Heart of Carinth. The fist-sized stone allowed whoever held it to control the earth magic of the island. It was his one chance to use the power of the heart before he turned it over to the elves.

Munkus channeled the power of the stone and teleported away. In an instant he stepped out of a tree right beside one of the blood monkeys that surrounded Qari and the anteater. The groundling backhanded the monkey in the face with his sturdy wooden mace. The simian creature’s skull cracked loudly with the impact.

The monkey in front of Qari made the mistake of glancing toward his comrade. The small human made him pay with a powerful spear thrust through the abdomen. The force lifted the monkey from the ground. In an instant, the odds had changed from eleven on two to nine on three.

It did not matter how many blood monkeys came against Munkus; he held the heart of the island. Vines the size of boa constrictors wrapped up four of the blood monkeys and choked the life out of them. Qari and his anteater each killed another monkey. The remaining three attackers fled; realizing that to stay meant certain death.

“Thank you,” Qari said with a sigh. “We would not have survived without you.”

Munkus gave a low bow to the man. “I was glad that I could help.” The groundling went over to the dead bodies of the monkeys. He reached into a satchel that one of them had been carrying. He pulled out one of the melon leeches. Munkus threw the disgusting creature on the dirt.

“Gotta kill those,” Qari stated. He pulled a knife from his belt and sliced the giant leech in half. Blood that once flowed in the veins of his tribesmen splattered his face. One by one, the man killed the leeches.

Munkus and Qari said their goodbyes. The groundling continued in the direction of Silkwood. He enjoyed walking through the forest. It had been a long while since he had been alone. Spores, Stumpy and Tiranis had consumed more of his time than he liked. Qari mounted the anteater and headed toward a neighboring colony. He hoped they would accept him, but he had little choice. It was almost impossible to survive in the forest alone.

*****

The two elves had been tracking a terror bird, and now their stalking was about to pay off. They used their hand signals to formulate a plan. Bynn had taken position in a tree and watched the large and powerful bird with a great deal of respect. The beak of the terror bird was dangerous, as were its huge legs. However, the tiny wings were useless. The creature was so large that Bynn could have ridden on the back of the great bird. Its feathers were dark blue, with some bright yellow and red on the face. The elf slowly pulled an arrow from his quiver, careful not to make a sound. He watched as Kaa snaked his way through the forest; inching closer and closer to the terror bird.

Kaa was in postion. Bynn took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Then, with quickness foreign to most other races, he knocked and fired his arrow. Before the first arrow hit the target, another was on its way. Bynn didn’t wait to see the effect of his arrows, but instead swung from his perch and headed toward Kaa. The aim had been perfect, though, with both sinking into the throat of the bird. Just as the elves had planned, the terror bird spun and headed right at Kaa.

Kaa came out of his hiding place with a two handed chop. The large sword almost cut the bird’s head completely off. Instead, it fell awkwardly to one side causing the bird to lurch and run forcefully into a tree. It was over. Almost.

Kaa looked toward Bynn. The younger elf’s eyes were wide. “Panic or elation?” Kaa wondered. He saw Bynn knocking another arrow as he ran toward Kaa. “Panic,” he realized, but it was too late. A second terror bird had come from behind. Kaa did make mistakes. This one would cost him an arm.

The terror bird snapped its huge beak forward, and Kaa was barely able to get an arm up to block. The bird latched on and viciously shook its head from side to side. Kaa was thrown into the brush while the bird feasted on his arm. Bynn let his arrow fly, but the bird hardly flinched as it stuck just above the leg. He dropped the bow and drew his swords; both long and short.

The terror bird moved its head in quick jerking movements and circled out of sword range. In spite of everything that had just happened, Bynn concentrated. He remembered the lesson Kaa had taught him just two days ago. Bynn ignored the strange head movements and focused on the eyes of the great bird. When the bird jumped at Bynn, the elf was ready. The terror bird landed with two swords buried in its chest. It made a strange gurgling noise, and dropped to the ground.

Bynn ran to Kaa, but the elf was unconscious. He was losing a lot of blood from where his arm had been ripped off. Bynn tried to tourniquet what remained of the arm. He was determined to get Kaa home, hopefully while he still drew breath.

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4 Responses to “Ties That Bind (Chapter 3)”

  1. Woa, didn’t see that coming! (well, neither did the poor elf). Keep it up!

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