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I wrote this out of sudden inspiration in one night. Hope you all like it. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- BLACK CORONATION A Rude Awakening tale A sizeable crowd stood before him. The man clad in blackened steel stood above his subjects-to-be in sheer height, helmet in absence. Though he was not of the size of a jirapa giant like ol’ Big Tuma, his belonging to the Elite caste of skrall still made him taller than non-Elites. He walked forward betwixt the crowds twain, they kneeling as he approached them. Skrall of both types, even male and female together, knelt in union before him, as did the agori servants of both Nealite breeds (small Kontes and tall Pisiles). He walked confidently without body guards: anyone that posed a serious threat had since been delivered to Greani Ateir in the next life, and even those that wished to challenge him he would welcome with open arms before their swift demise. None did so from either sheer fear or complete respect and allegiance. The only one accompanying him was a scared tall man of sand-blue color, even his height being down-played by the great presence before him. He was only here because his noteworthy skills in chronicling, his existence being a sign of taboo and making him the cause for many a hunt, in-turn causing the man to have paranoia; and now here he is in the wolves den. The truth of the matter is that he was nearby and was forcibly ‘convinced’ to come here as none of the skrall here could read or write, including their new lord. “Make him look good, scribbler”, he was commanded by his captors at blade-point before their arrival. And the chronicler did as prescribed, for his fate was completely in their hands. The bulky man of great prestige walked to the end of the aisle of sentients, where a great door laid shut. He took a deep breath, briefly glared out of the corner of his eyes to what he saw as an abomination before shutting his eyes, and exhaled, thence opening the heavy doors with ease. More people were inside the long building, the genders playing different parts. The women, who all wore hooded robes, stood silent with their heads down and kept them as such until the man of the hour walked past them; the men were all garbed in gears and arms of war, they all bracing their shields and their swords or axes. Everyone said his name thrice, “Stronan, Stronan, Stronan!” With the men having melted to the back of the crowds, the women proceeded to throw violet-blue flower pedals high into the air into the middle aisle as the black-clad champion and the unwanted guest passed by, whilst the men behind the women began to stomp their feet, bang their sword or axe onto their maze-decorated shields, and exhale short howls, this beat of noises slowly getting louder. Even outside, the rhythmic uproar could be heard. Stronan, or Stronius as the Nealites flavored his name, walked with his scarred red-pink face proud, his bearded chin tastefully lifted, and his hairless lips slightly smirking to one corner, conveniently the end away from his scribbler. He finally stopped a few cubits from the stairs, and his only living suitable rival, the champion Branar, approached with a sharp, gold pointed crown of emerald and onyx decor in his hands. Stronan knelt before his scared-strait servile swordsman, causing the whole of the area to mute in complete silence, and Branar carefully placed the jagged crown upon the warlord’s head. When this happened, the chronicler removed himself from the scene, placing himself near it at the front-most of the crowd. The crowned Elite looked up past his new champion, and looked at his throne, cut from black rock in the likeliness of their former-homeland of the now-destroyed Black Spike Mountains. It was decorated with the carvings of the unique torso maze patterns of his dead rivals, symbolically ruling atop their corpses, and many empty patches had been left there for future generations to etch on if they were to conquer similar foes. The throne had pillows installed into it and it was carved in a way to be most comfortable, no-doubt having been in the works for years. His eyes then looked past his throne, and focused on the symbolic stained glass shipped straight from Vulkanus. It contained white cupped hands pressed together at their sides, the symbol for Grunchar the Primordial Potter, displaying his gift to the world, the ancient green Skrall hero and saint, Greani Atier. Greani stood there, helmed shirtless with a mail sleeve and skirt, both hands touching another in their grasp of the lost holy sword, the Arm of Grunchar. Atop Greani’s helmet was a crown, exactly like that of Stronan’s, which made the veteran warrior smile. As Stronius stood up, Branar symbolically knelt before him and bowed his head. Stronan climbed the low staircase, turned around, and with everyone’s eyes glazed at him, sat down upon his throne. At that moment, Branar yelled while still kneeling and closed his eyes, “All of Spherus Magna behold, the King of the Skrall, king Stronan the Strong!” Horns blared thence and the building became alit with rekindled noise, the uproar becoming deafening. The chronicler was obviously displeased with the noise volume, who rolled up what little he had writ up his armpit and plugged his ears with futile fingers, as did follow some of the agori. Stronius raised a single hand, and the place soon died in decibel once more. He spake thus in his deep voice of power, “Branar, arise!”. The man did as such. “Your business with the crown is not finished. Fulfill what you swore, or become of my decor”. In agreement, Branar removed his glove to reveal a scarred hand, and then sliced his thumb up one of the sharp spikes of the crown, blood trailing down the crown and even onto the king’s stolid face. His life by sign of lifeblood was now tied to the crown of the King. A kontes agori slave brought out a cup of Tesarite wine for Branar to put his wound in, which he did as soon as he got out of the way. Stronius then stood from his seat, yelling to all: “What has been achieved here today, is that which has not been achieved in an age. No longer will we Skrall bow to anyone. Our Jirapa giant overlords see their end over the horizon, and the Nealites to the south who have disgraced our honor before by means of Mata Nui now cower before the likes of too many an enemy. The ancient Spirit of the Mountains has returned from under his hiding rock and seeks to enslave us once again. Anyone who is caught seeking to join this false-god will meet their end by my hands. Anyone in-general who crosses me will meet their demise by my grasp, is this understood?” He walked over to the slave that brought Branar the medicinal drink and slew him horribly with his bare hands and sheer strength to serve as an example with a stomping finish, which with that some in the crowd slowly began to stomp in rhythm. Gazing at the pieces and whipping his hand down a few times to get some of the liquid off he looked at the crowd, and said, “You will all then come to find mercy in death by my mighty club and serpent saber if there be even a whiff of transgression, as they are but my instruments and not of my body, my being”. The chronicler was awestruck in fear and disgust by what he had just witnessed, and threw up in his mouth at the realization of what he sees now and that he has been touched upon by carcass's crimson spray. The king turned to him briefly with a japing face of disbelief at how 'weak' the historian hybrid reacted, then back to the crowd. Already the men were beginning to rise in their pounding noise of praise; the younger women were whooping with excitement, while the conquered remnants of the now-powerless, elderly Sisters of the Skrall were merely clapping. The men were chanting in a scary, barbaric rhythm while horns were blown to the beat. Stronius grabbed the cup of bloody wine from Branar and filled his mouth with it. He swished the funny liquid around and then orally poured the wine onto his hands, thence wiping the mess onto a given towel. The towel was thrown at another slave, whom the king then tasked with also feeding the bodily remnants on the floor to a spikkit. Sitting upon his new throne now, Stronan began moving his head to the rhythmic dark uproar of savagery with a closed smile. Later that night, noises of a festival from inside the great hall could be heard from the chronicler’s prison as the preserved heads of the lord's former-rivals were delivered beyond the big doors upon pillows one by one. Apparently, Stronius saw further use of the poor blue man, which meant nothing good. While writing of the events that transpired that day, the man was visited by Branar, the new champion of the fresh king crowned. “Here, I believe I am done. Is it fitting, my lord?” Branar took it from the chronicler’s hands and read it. “Hmm, it is good. ...Too good“, the skrall smirked, “I heard that you enjoyed truth.” “I do sir, but this court has forced my hand”, he replied. "if it is of any consolation, I was planning to write words of accuracy once I was released, but now that doesn't seem to be the case...". “Only by their claw's reach”, Branar began, then opening the gate, “Go now, and spread the truth of this animal despite his wishes, beyond said thing's grasp. These people have replaced a monster with a monster, and thus are fools; and by Greani’s example, all monsters of darkness must perish. Stronan’s day of felling will come, and only then do I want you to return: only upon this I will tell you everything. In the meantime, I am forced to stay here, leashed. There is a rock steed waiting for you outside the prison, and the guards here will not be a problem for you, trust me. Oh, and you'll be needing this, wont you?", the standard skrall of pale-pink pigment spake, holding the hybrid's tattered brown hooded robe, then throwing it at the up penman. "Good bye, Iaredios”. The chronicler said his farewells to the true king of the Skrall, not feeling like he got the full picture, and fled south. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Edited for better wording.
1 Strakk tore his axe from the now-deceased Sand Fox and slung it over his shoulder. The canine creatures were small, but enough to keep him from starving for perhaps a day or so. Besides, a few more days were all he needed to find his true prey. A small movement in the corner of his eye startled him. Instinctively, he darted behind a nearby chunk of metal and peered out from behind it. A Vorox crept into view, its gaze darting back and forth. It could smell him, and he knew it. The Vorox began to inspect the corpse of the Sand Fox, poking it with its spear cautiously. Silently, Strakk cursed himself for leaving behind his only food. Now he was going to fight for it. Leaping out from behind the metal and drawing his axe in one smooth motion, he let out a ferocious battle cry in an attempt to frighten the beast. Apparently, it only served to anger it; in retaliation, the Vorox let out a blood-curdling shriek of its own and charged forward. The opponents collided, but the Vorox’s strength was overpowering, and Strakk couldn’t prevent himself from falling back onto the ground, pinned down by the unprecedented weight of the beast. Not ready to give up, he bent his legs and pushed up, propelling the Vorox off of him. While it reeled from his defence, he snatched up his axe and raised it to make to the finishing blow- “Don’t.” What felt like a pair of protosteel bonds had gripped his wrists, preventing him from completing his strike. This was hardly what startled Strakk as he recognised the voice: “Malum?” “Yes,” came his gruff response. “Now drop the axe before I crush your wrists.” After a moment of hesitation, Strakk decided it was best not to resist against the warrior who had once almost killed him, especially in this energy-deprived state. Malum took it from his grasp and cast it on the ground. The former fire tribe Glatorian made a foreign sound, prompting the Vorox to pin Strakk’s arms to his sides. “You’ve been hunting me,” Malum said, standing over the axe as though it were a fallen soldier. “I don’t know why and I don’t care. “Because what you must understand is that you can never find me. I can only find you. And now that I have…” Malum raised his boulder of a foot and stomped on the axe blade, shattering it like glass. “You’re going to regret coming for me.” _________________________________________________________________________ Gali Nuva looked over at Tahu with concern for what seemed the fiftieth time in the past hour. The two had been roaming the wild hills and terrain of the planet in search of a location for New Atero, but Tahu seemed to be marvelling more at himself and his newfound power than anything. Every time Gali had spared a glance, he had been eyeing his gleaming golden armour and testing out small fractions of his powers. This time, it seemed, he had caught her looking. “Something troubling you, sister?” At first, she contemplated telling him of her fears, but she knew how irrational he could become when offended. And besides, it wasn’t as if he was wrong to be impressed with his new abilities. Perhaps if given some time, he would return to normal. “Nothing, brother. Just checking you’re-“ Gali froze as a flash of red in the trees behind Tahu sparked a sudden sense of déjà vu. “What is it?” Asked the Toa of fire, scanning the trees for danger. “I thought I saw… No, it’s impossible.” “What did you see?” Tahu asked, his voice growing fiery. Both Toa snapped into battle positions as a tree exploded into flames, sending a squadron of birds fleeing for their lives. Gali immediately doused the flames with a flash of torrential rain, transforming the fire into steam and fog, clouding the trees. Without their vision, the being would be forced to leave its cover. Sure enough, a red-armoured leg stepped out from the mist. Then another, then a body, then finally the whole creature was within sight- “Tahnok!” Tahu exclaimed. “But how?!” Gali frowned. Sometimes it paid to be right. “I don’t know, but apparently it seems to think it’s still on Mata-Nui.” “Time to put a stop to this.” Raising a hand, Tahu willed a small cyclone to appear around the Bohrok, sending it spinning into the air. Gali, summoning her Pakari, caught the machine creature in mid-air and slammed it to the ground, cracking open its head plate. She was shocked to find that there was no Krana hidden within. The Toa exchanged uncomfortable glances. Without a prime directive given by the Bahrag Queens, Bohrok without Krana would simply obey any task given to them. This meant that someone must have ordered it to cause destruction. “And that’s looking past the question of what a Bohrok is doing on Spherus Magna.” Pointed out Gali. When Tahu did not reply, she looked to see he appeared deep in thought. “Everything alright?” “Look how damaged it is.” He replied without looking up. The Tahnok was indeed battle scarred, with intense scorch marks, melted areas and chunks torn straight out, exposing the mechanical workings within. “It looks as though it’s been thrown through a furnace.” Gali observed. “Exactly. I think that may be a clue as to how it got here.” “What do you mean?” Finally, he met her gaze. “We should keep going. The Tahnok isn’t going anywhere, and we can come back for it if we need to. Our main priority is still finding a home for our people.” Gali nodded, and with one final disturbed glance at the fallen Bohrok, the two set off again. Behind them, the Tahnok’s sapphire eye flickered. _________________________________________________________________________ Stronius looked out over the lake with both satisfaction and bitterness. On the one hand, the planet had been restored to life and water was now in abundance. On the other hand, the Skrall had been battered into submission, their empire now reduced to scattered groups throughout the wilderness. The last three days had been spent camping beside this lake, awaiting word from their scouts of any other Skrall in the surrounding area. Not a single one of the scouts had returned as of yet, and Stronius suspected it would be a while before any sign of them would show. As if in response to his thoughts, Legato, his second in command, appeared at his side. “Stronius, sir.” “Speak.” “Two of the scouts, sir. They’ve found something.” “Show me.” Legato led Stronius to a tent on the edge of the camp, outside of which two more Skrall stood guard. Already he had an idea as to what they had found. Inside, the two Skrall scouts stood over a heavily damaged mechanical form. “Another one.” Stronius said, looking down at the creature in disgust. “This one had already been disabled, sir.” One of the scouts informed him. “Someone else had apparently found it a short distance from the crash site and fought it off, without realising its significance.” Stronius nodded. “Then whoever found it isn’t a Skrall, or they would have recognised the similarities between this and the Baterra.” “It’s odd, sir,” said Legato, examining the exposed inner workings of the creature. “What’s ‘odd’?” Stronius asked irritably. “That they’re so similar. The Baterra were already there when we found them, but these… These things are falling from the sky.” _________________________________________________________________________ Strakk spat out a mouthful of dirt as he pried himself from the floor of Malum’s cave. All around him, Vorox stared, gripping their primitive spears and grinding their razor sharp teeth. He could see it in their eyes that they desperately wanted to rip him apart, an invader in their land, but Malum had them under control, somehow. “I have something to show you, Strakk.” Malum taunted, grabbing him by the back of the neck. He struggled in vain as the stronger Glatorian dragged him across the cave to another chamber, which was left dark and unlit. Malum released him, and a huge stone slab moved into place to block the chamber entrance. Left in pitch darkness, Strakk stared into the shadows, and a pair of glowing ruby red eyes stared back. Review Topic
Welcome to the eleventh installment of the Glatorian Chronicles series! This story stars Stronius as he and a fellow Skrall are hunted by a mysterious monster. As with the other GC stories, here's a brief summary of what the GC is about: The Glatorian Chronicles is a series of Bionicle fanfiction short stories/short epics that star each of the twelve Glatorian characters released as sets in 2009. All are written in first person point of view from the point of view of the starring Glatorian. Each story is completely independent of the others, so a new reader can jump in at any point in the series with little-to-no confusion on the reader's part. If you wish to read the previous ten GC stories, you can find links to them in my library here. And with that out of the way, I now present to y'all the eleventh GC, Obsidian Among the Frost: As a special forces Skrall, it was unfitting for me to run away from any battle. It was disgraceful, dishonorable, and could result in a loss of respect from the soldiers I commanded. Moreover, I had a name – Stronius – and named Skrall never, ever ran from battle. The fact was, though, that I and my lieutenant (who hadn’t done anything to earn a name, unlike me) could not defeat this beast. My club was unable to pierce its hide and my lieutenant’s sword and buzz saw shield couldn’t even scratch it. We could be forgiven for temporarily retreating in order to devise a new plan against it. As I and my lieutenant sat behind a boulder, doing our best to keep quiet lest the monster hear us, I recollected how we had gotten to this point. Perhaps there was a secret to defeating this monster hidden in the past, though I doubted it. A few hours earlier, I’d led a battalion of Skrall on an attack on the Ice Valley, which was the only thing standing between us and the pool of silvery liquid that our tribe coveted. There we’d run into the Fire army, which had wrest control of the silver pool from the Ice army. It’d been a fierce battle, one to make any warrior proud, but due to an unforeseen assault from the Water army, we were forced to retreat. And during the assault, my lieutenant and I were separated from the rest of the battalion. Normally, that wouldn’t be an unsalvageable situation. My lieutenant and I were strong enough to survive in the Northern Frost on our own for a while. It wouldn’t be hard for us to find the rest of the battalion and rejoin them. My men were probably looking for us even now. I knew they were loyal to me and would never abandon me unless they were sure I was dead. We therefore faced only one problem: A monster – bigger than the two of us combined – was trying to kill us. Where it came from, I couldn’t say. One moment, my lieutenant and I were walking cautiously and carefully through the snow, keeping an eye out for enemy soldiers that might be waiting in ambush; the next, this beast just came out of nowhere and attacked us both. We’d just barely managed to fend it off and retreat, although it was only a matter of time before the monster found us. As we sat there, I remembered with a repressed shudder what the beast looked like. It resembled a Snaj – giant snow beasts that towered over all Skrall – but it was even bigger than that and had deep black armor. It’d had dozens of small spikes running down its back and a long, even spikier tail that could cut through stone. Its head had resembled the slanted, narrow head of a Snaj, but it’d had two tusks protruding from its mouth and a large horn sticking out of its head. Also, its armor was incredibly thick. No matter how many times I’d hit with my club – and I’d hit it dozens of times – I couldn’t even so much as dent it. Its armor was even harder than rock, or so it seemed, anyway. Neither of us knew what the beast was. We’d never seen or heard of anything like it before. My lieutenant had suggested that it might be some Northern Frost beast we’d never seen before, but I disagreed. Whatever this thing was, it didn’t look like a natural beast. It looked like a monstrosity; a creature, in other words, that shouldn’t exist. Whatever it was, we couldn’t kill it. It probably could kill us, though, which didn’t make me very happy. I peered around the boulder and looked at the surrounding area. I saw rocks, snow, mountains, and cliffs, but no monster. I didn’t even see any paw prints, but I wasn’t dumb. It was probably hiding, waiting for us to come out. It was possible that it’d left, but that seemed unlikely. Such a vicious monster wouldn’t give up that easily. At least, if I knew that if I were a beast like it, I wouldn’t run away just because my prey had disappeared. “What do we do, commander?” asked my lieutenant anxiously. “Is that beast still out there?” “No,” I said, shaking my head. “But we should still wait. It might be a trap.” “As you command, Stronius,” my lieutenant answered. “I’m just anxious to return to our allies.” I looked at him, unconvinced. “Yes, I’m sure that is all you want to do. I suppose your son has nothing to do with this?” “Well, that too, commander sir,” said the lieutenant, somewhat sheepishly. “I mean, I haven’t seen him for months now. I’m hoping we can go home to-“ “Be quiet,” I snapped. “Think about your own survival for once. Or have you forgotten what happens to Skrall with preoccupied minds during battle?” “Yes, sir,” said my lieutenant. “I’ll stop thinking about my son.” I sighed. My lieutenant had just recently mated with a member of the Sisters of the Skrall. She had given birth to a male and in accordance with tradition the male baby had been given over to us, the male Skrall. The infant was currently in the care of some Rock Agori, who oversaw our younglings while their parents were off to war. When he was old enough, my lieutenant’s son would join the war effort, which was the only useful thing that came out of mating with the Sisters. The only reason I knew about any of this was because my lieutenant talked about his son constantly. I’d never had a child before, so I didn’t understand his fascination with his only child. What was so interesting about a baby that couldn’t even hold a knife? Perhaps it was just something that fathers did, although it seemed foolish to me just the same. I disregarded that thought and focused on our situation. If we couldn’t kill the beast, then we had but one option in order to ensure our survival, although I disliked it. Still, I wanted to live to see the end of this war and my lieutenant wanted to see his son again, so my lieutenant would have to agree regardless of his personal feelings. “Lieutenant, I am about to ask you to do something very un-Skrall-like,” I said to him. “What do you mean, commander?” asked my lieutenant. I looked around, feeling sheepish and embarrassed, but then I looked him in the eyes as seriously as I could and said, “We’re going to have to run for it. We can’t kill the beast. As much as I hate to admit it, retreat is our only option.” “Run away?” said my lieutenant in surprise. “What will Lord Torxus say if he hears about this?” “Do you want to see your son again, the one you keep blabbering on about?” I asked. “Well, yes, of course, commander sir,” said my lieutenant. “But-“ “Then follow my lead,” I said. “That’s an order.” My lieutenant nodded, but he still didn’t seem happy about it. I didn’t blame him, but right now our survival was a bit more important than our honor. We could worry about that later, after we were no longer threatened by an invincible monster. I looked around the boulder again and saw nothing. “The coast’s clear. On the count of three, we’ll run for it. One . . . two . . . three!” We ran from behind the boulder and across the clearing as fast as we could. I looked to the left and right for any sign of the monster, but saw nothing. That was both good news and bad. Good because the monster might really be gone. Bad because the monster could be hiding, waiting for the right moment to strike. We were taking a big risk, but I’d taken similar risks in the past and had come out of them all right, so I never doubted our survival for even a moment. When we were about halfway across the clearing, however, something huge and black slammed into me. I was sent flying into my lieutenant and we both went sprawling in the snow. After we untangled ourselves, we looked up and saw the monster standing before us. It looked just as I remembered it, although it looked angrier. Perhaps it was angry that we had outwitted it so far. Whatever the case, I didn’t have time to think about it. The beast charged at us, but fortunately, we managed to get out of the way in time to avoid being impaled by its horn. The creature lashed out with its claws, which I managed to block with my club. Somehow my weapon got caught on the monster’s claws and, when the monster pulled its claw back, my club went flying out of my hands, landing several feet away from me, well out of my reach. Now I wasn’t totally defenseless here. I had my Thornax launcher, after all. But my club had been my primary weapon. I wasn’t as skilled in Thornax launchers as I was in smashing things with my club. Of course, my club hadn’t been useful against the monster in the first place, but I still felt vulnerable without it. The beast bent down to leap at me when my lieutenant suddenly jumped on top of it. Startled, I watched as my lieutenant raised his sword and brought it down on the monster’s head, yelling all the while, “For my son!” To my amazement, his sword actually pierced the monster’s skull. The monster shrieked in pain and threw my lieutenant off, who fell onto the thick, soft snow. I quickly backed away as the monster bucked and acted crazy, blood running down both sides of its face. Seeing it in pain like that brought me satisfaction, for I was sure the battle was ours. Then, to my horror, the monster shook its head and the sword went flying out of its skull. I just barely managed to dodge the flying blade, which embedded itself in the stone wall behind me. Then I looked at the monster and saw its skull regenerating. Soon the only clue that a sword had been in its head was the dried up blood on its face, and even that seemed to be disappearing rapidly. So apparently the monster could heal itself. I’d never heard of a creature like that before, which again made me wonder just what this monster was. If there were any more of it out there . . . even I, a mighty warrior, shuddered to think of what they could accomplish if someone tamed them or if they chose to leave their mountain homes and attack the outside world. I’d no more time to ponder this, however, for the beast had completely recovered by now. It looked around and, as soon as it spotted my lieutenant, bellowed in rage, in a roar like I’d never heard before. It chilled me to the bone, but I acted quickly just the same. Raising my Thornax launcher, I shouted, “Die, monster!” I squeezed the trigger, sending a ripe Thornax flying at the monster. The Thornax exploded upon contact with the monster’s hide, although it only seemed to stun the monster rather than hurt it, for the creature didn’t screech in pain. The explosion gave me just enough time to run to my ally’s side, picking up my club as I ran along. “We’ve got to get out of here while it is distracted!” I told him. “The thing can’t die. You saw it regenerate, didn’t you?” “But we’re Skrall warriors,” my lieutenant protested. “True Skrall never run from a fight!” “And did you know that true Skrall also never fight an enemy they can’t beat?” I asked harshly. “I understand your concerns, but we have no choice. Unless you don’t want to see your son again, that is.” My lieutenant looked like he wanted to argue, but he just nodded and said, “Yes, sir. You walk and I will follow.” So we began running away, but the monster seemed to have recovered from the Thornax I’d launched at it. I heard it roar and, looking over my shoulder, saw the monster chasing us. It was fast. Clearly, it was used to running in the snow. I’d no doubt that it’d catch us quickly, and when it did, we’d both be dead meat. I looked around again and saw a cliff up ahead. A plan formed in my mind, a plan that, if it worked, would get rid of that monster once and for all. And if it failed . . . well, my lieutenant would never see his son again and I’d never see the Rock Tribe’s inevitable victory over the other tribes. “This way!” I said, running toward the cliff. “Are you crazy?” my lieutenant asked as we ran. “What-“ “Be quiet and follow my orders,” I told him as we stopped at the edge of the cliff. I peered over the side. It was a long, long way down to the bottom. No doubt a fall from here would be fatal. If my plan worked, there would be something dead down there soon, but it wouldn’t be either of us. We turned around and saw the monster running at us. Within a few seconds, I knew it would reach us, but we still had to wait. The timing needed to be just right before we could act. And then – when it was only a few feet from us – the monster leapt at us. It flew through the air, claws outstretched, roaring loudly. It was coming almost too fast to dodge . . . almost. “Duck!” I told my lieutenant. We both fell to the ground as the monster sailed overhead. Unable to stop its trajectory, the creature flew over the edge of the cliff and disappeared. I heard a roar of shock and anger, followed by a loud crash. Then there was silence. My lieutenant and I stood up. We looked over the edge of the cliff and saw exactly what I thought we’d see: The broken body of the monster lying on the hard, icy ground hundreds of feet below us. It lay in a pool of its own blood, coloring the snow red. The monster’s healing abilities didn’t seem to be working, but I didn’t intend to stick around and find out if they were delayed or something. “Let’s go,” I said, turning and walking away from the cliff. “The monster is finished.” “What a brilliant plan, sir,” said my lieutenant as he fell into line behind me. “Though I still wonder what that beast was and where it came from. The ability to heal itself is something I’ve never seen in any creature, whether in Bota Magna or in the Northern Frost.” I looked toward the north and said, “Perhaps it is a creature from neither, lieutenant. Remember what the silver pool does to those that touch it; it transforms or destroys. Maybe this monster came into contact with some of the stuff and was mutated by it.” “Whatever it was, I’m just glad it’s dead,” said my lieutenant as he glanced over his shoulder. “And I’m also glad it is a single creature. Imagine a whole species of such monsters, commander. That’d be a nightmare.” I didn’t look at him as we walked. “Yes. I have imagined what more of those creatures would be like . . . and it is as you say: A nightmare.” - Comments, criticisms, reviews, and so on are all welcome . Also, creds go to Cederak, who not only looked over this story for me before I posted it but even came up with the title. -TNTOS-