April 2020 Monthly Challenge
Published on / 1 Chapter(s) / 2 Review(s)
My entry for the March-April 2020 monthly challenge for DracoStryx. There are big snakes afoot!
“MONSTERS IN THE FIELD! MONSTERS IN THE FIELD!” the man called out, scrambling through the town in a blind panic. No one really paid him any mind except for an eyeless stanger and his flock of stryx.
The stranger looked to the biggest stryx who was with him, “Faux, would you mind getting that man’s attention?”
The big blue gryph twitched one of his ear-like feather tufts and extended a wing as the man got closer to their group. The panicked man skidded to a halt, a dust cloud poof up around his ankles, “Out of the way! They’re coming after me.”
“What’s coming after you?” The stranger asked.
The rest of the flock watched the man curiously as he struggled for breath. A shy looking tyto named Hylia, a small hawk with an amused look on his face who went by Havas, a large harpia who looked like he would rather be anywhere else named Titan, Faux, the blue gryph who had stopped the man and, an eerie looking tyto who’s eyes glowed teal, the air around them cold.
“Didn’t you hear me?” The man snapped.
“Yes monsters, but what kind of monsters?”
“What are you, some kind of monster expert?”
The stranger sighed, “For the sake of my sanity, sure.”
The man paused, “Well why didn’t you say so sooner, the name’s Skip.”
“Bloom. Now tell us about the monsters.”
“They were great big blokes! All teeth and spikes, they came from the forest that borders my fields.”
The eerie tyto growled. “Ah yes Whisper makes an excellent point, you are describing quite a few monsters. How about you point us to your field’s and we’ll take care of it?”
“I have nothing to pay you if you do,” Skip frowned, crossing his arms.
Bloom shrugged, “Whether you pay me or not I should like to see these ‘monsters’.”
Skip squinted at the strangers, “It’s your heads.”
The flock lifted off one at a time, each stryx creating bigger and bigger dust clouds until they were high enough not to disturb the dirt. It was a short flight to the field Skip had mentioned, from the sky Bloom could see that everything had been flattened by whatever had spooked Skip. “Eyes open guys! Let’s split up and try and find whatever trampled through here. Do not engage if you spot the creature, call for me and we’ll deal with it as a unit.”
Each stryx, except Titan and Faux who stayed together, split off into a different direction when Bloom finished talking, him and Hylia choosing to investigate the field below.
Havas moved towards the forest, sharp eyes retracing the monsters tracks. He dove into the pines, his small frame allowing him to fly relatively safely through the trees. The monsters had left deep furrows in the ground, whatever had scared that poor human had been huge and it seemed like more than one had crawled from the forest. The trenches in the ground crisscrossed and zigzagged in no discernable pattern. It looked like the trees had been haphazardly ripped from the ground and smashed to pieces by whatever the creatures were, almost as if there was a mad scramble to get away from something further in.
Havas spotted something in one of the small trenches the creatures had made as he flew by. He wheeled around and landed on the forest floor, the soft spongy ground absorbing any sounds he made, a sense of foreboding was creeping up the hawk’s spine and he was itching to get out of the trees and back into the sky. He peered into the trench, a piece of shed snake skin was sticking out of the freshly churned dirt. Figuring it was important he gently picked it up with his beak, and quickly lifted himself into the air, wanting to get out of the forest as soon as possible.
Faux and Titan had stayed together, their larger sizes limiting where they could search. They followed the tracks across the field, trying to figure out where the monsters went. Bloom made sure Faux stayed with Titan to keep the pale harpia from lazing about, though he found ways to be lazy anyway, like now. He was allowing Faux to herd him as they followed the destruction of the fields but he wasn’t being particularly helpful. However, Faux was scanning the ground diligently, looking for anything that could help while also keeping an eye on Titan.
The pair of them followed the tracks until they reached a river that sliced through the fields like a knife where they suddenly stopped. Faux wheeled around, annoyed trying to puzzle out where the monsters had gone. Titan snapped out of his stupor when he realized Faux wasn’t herding him any longer, he noted the gryphs frustration and spared a glance at the ground, noticing that the tracks didn’t continue past the river. Titan cried at Faux hoping the gryph would follow and wheeled around to head back to Bloom. The monsters had fled to the river, almost as if they were running from something.
Whisper had turned towards what looked like a destroyed cattle pasture, the fences that bordered it had been torn from the ground, barbed wire strewn about just waiting for something to dig into. She descended closer to the ground, trying to find the cattle that had no doubt been here only moments before. A loud hiss pierced shot through the air, startling the tyto. She lifted herself higher with a powerful down stroke, trying to locate where the hiss had come from. As she flew higher she noticed that one of the tracks veered off from the others, doubling back towards where she had just come from.
Panicked bellows echoed through the field as Whisper followed the trench, the cows presumably. Whisper picked up the pace, hoping to step in before the creature got to the cows as the flock would no doubt be blamed for any loss of livestock. As she sped across the field the tyto was starting to realize she was heading towards Bloom and Hylia. Whisper pushed herself to fly faster, Hylia was a sweet tyto and not one to fight even to defend herself. She opened her beak and let out a screech, hoping her warning would be heard before the cows and the creature reached them.
Bloom and Hylia had descended towards the field with the most damage, right at the edge of the forest. Bloom was hoping to figure out what the creature was before they faced it, most likely Skip had done something to startle it, though the magnitude of the destruction seemed excessive for one beast. As they landed in the churned dirt Bloom muttered, “So it must have been more than one.”
Hylia twisted her head to look at him, “More than one?” she chirped nervously.
“Not to worry, we’ll be fine.”
Hylia doubted that but she chose to believe him, she started to scratch at the dirt as Bloom dismounted. “If you find anything let me know,” he called as he moved to examine a particularly deep trench.
Hylia didn’t reply as she hopped into a different trench, occasionally picking things out of the dirt though nothing she pulled out was out of place in the dirt. She was just about to hop out when she saw some smooth objects scattered on the ground. She picked one up to examine it. It looked like a spine of some sort, though she had no idea what it had belonged to. She crouched down, readying herself to jump out of the trench when Whisper’s warning shriek reached her ears right before the ground started to shake violently.
Hylia burst out of the trench frantically searching for Bloom, her eyes falling on the largest snake she had ever seen slithering right for her. She froze, heart thudding in her chest eyes wide with terror. She didn’t notice the cows rushing past her and into the forest beyond.
Havas zoomed out of the trees, grazing some of the cows with his wings, he heard Bloom calling from a large trench and raced to get him.
Faux, Whisper and Titan all saw the basilisk at the same time and Hylia cowering before it, too scared to move. Faux let out a roar and flung himself towards the tyto, hoping to get her out of there before the basilisk reached her.
Titan and Whisper dove towards the snake, hoping to distract it, Titan aiming for the head while Whisper moved towards its back end.
Bloom could hear a commotion above him, he had heard Whisper call out a warning just as he realized he would need help getting out of the trench. He was worried no one had heard him calling for help until Havas had swooped low enough for Bloom to grab his talons. The hawk lifted Bloom out of the trench with ease, zooming off to help Titan and Whisper drive the beast back.
Faux landed with a thud in front of Hylia, the basilisk slamming into his back just a moment later. He let out a grunt of pain as the basilisk hissed in frustration. Hylia’s gaze was unfocused and she was shivering, she couldn’t get the image of all those teeth coming at her.
Titan raked his talons along the basilisk’s tough scales, drawing its attention away from Faux and Hylia, he wheeled sharply towards Whisper, hoping to make the big creature turn away. Whisper flew over the basilisk’s tail, grabbing what she could in her talons and yanking as hard as she could. The basilisk roared in annoyance and turned to follow Titan with surprising speed, jaws open, wickedly sharp teeth getting closer and closer to the harpia’s tail. Havas flew by, raking his talons across the snake's snout, determined to give Titan enough time to fall back to a safe distance.
Bloom had run to Hylia while the others distracted the beast, “Hylia, Hylia snap out of it. You’re safe, I need you here right now.”
Faux watched with a worried expression on his face as Hylia slowly blinked, her gaze clearing as she came back to the present. “There she is,” Bloom cooed, “Come on we have to stop the others before they get hurt.”
“I, there was a giant snake,” she looked at Bloom, “You said we’d be fine.”
Bloom sighed, “We will be as long as everyone stops harassing it.”
Hylia looked at Faux who gave her an encouraging look, “Fine,” she hissed moving to let Bloom on her back.
Hylia leapt into the air and sped towards the basilisk and the three stryx trying to draw it away. Faux followed suit, his talons leaving more gouge marks in the earth below. “EVERYONE STOP,” Bloom shouted, “BACK OFF, LEAVE IT ALONE.”
Whisper pulled up out of her dive as she heard Bloom call out, she made sure she was out of the basilisk’s reach before turning to look at the wolf-man, moving into a hover. Havas whipped around the basilisk, pulling his talons in as Bloom called out before moving to join Whisper. Faux overtook Hylia and Bloom and moved to intercept Titan before the harpia could inflict more damage to the basilisk but he wasn’t fast enough.
Titan screeched in challenge as he ran his talons along the basilisk’s hood, large beads of blood dripping to the ground below. The basilisk roared in pain, coiling up to strike when Faux soared over its head, stopping Titan from diving back towards it. The gryph herded Titan over to Whisper and Havas, the four of them waiting on Bloom’s command.
Bloom signaled for Hylia to hover in front of the beast, who looked at her with open hostility in its eyes. “I am sorry for my flock, they were protecting one of their own. You need to leave or else we will be forced to make you leave.”
The beast narrowed its eyes, muscles tensing as if preparing to strike. Havas, Whisper, Titan and Faux cried out, reminding it they were still there. They circled above, ready to dive in if need be. The basilisk growled as it weighed its options, gaze darting back and forth between Bloom and the four stryx above it.
Realizing it was outnumbered and surrounded the beast turned with a hiss, slithering off towards the river with surprising speed. Hylia climbed towards Titan, Whisper, Faux and Havas, watching as the basilisk slid into the water and followed its brethren. “I wonder what they had been running from,” Bloom muttered as they watched.
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