It was not words that first disrupted his peace, any sound to jar away the moment's rest from kindred's revelry while he poked through an ancient tome. It was a faint feeling, almost déjà vu, the memory of a light caress down his spine. His canine snout lifted as ebony feathered wings sprouted, his form changing to that of a gargoyle. He placed the papers down carefully, extending the magic residing in his very being to summon the one who requested his attention. The gargoyle appeared before him, craning around to search her new surroundings.
"We are safe," he told her with a gentle grin before enfolding her in a double embrace. "It seems longer apart every time." She murmured agreement, both content to rest in the circle of safety. Finally, the female drew back with a regretful look.
"I came to ask a favor," she admitted.
He gave her a rueful grin. "That is about all that brings us together lately. But I did come to you last time, so it is only fair for you to return the favor. What is it? Clan business, I presume?"
"I found a Vampyre."
His teeth bared in an involuntary snarl, eyes glowing cobalt in anger. He'd thought the monsters destroyed. Like their Hollywood generated descendants, true Vampyres fed off the mortal races. But instead of blood, they fed off minds, absorbing mortals and denying proper death to themselves and all their victims, thus falling into his sphere of influence. Bringing true death to those abominations had been something both he and his former mate had found satisfaction, if not pleasure, in.
Her unexpected words killed the glow in his eyes. "Then why come to me?"
She sighed and looked away. "It didn't finish feeding.... on one of the clan."
Ahhh. That explained it. It was how the monsters bred; if they fed partially, when they died their captured memories fled to their former victims. It was not a pleasant fate, let alone one he would wish on a clan member. "Then all I can do is bring a swift and gentle end."
"No!" She put a hand on his arm, eyes begging for an alternative. "She's needed for the prophecy."
Oh Lord. If there was one thing he ever regretted about his time as a mortal, it would be his mate's visions. It was her major talent, although erratic and whimsical for the most part. "Which one?"
"Does ultimate evil, end of the world, destruction on all levels ring any bells?"
Oh. That one. "But even for that, I cannot meddle." She turned away, mouthing silent oaths. "Love, you know I cannot favor one being over another. And I am banned from interfering with mortals." He grinned faintly. "We should know that better than most."
"Wait." She whirled back, impish grin once again on her face. "You're right. No messing with mortals. But if she's transitioning to a Vampyre...."
"She would no longer be a mortal. My love, once again you remind me why I stay on your good side." He dropped a quick kiss on her cheek. "Give me a few hours. I need to research the monsters should there be a precedent. You should do what you can with the mortals in case that falls through."
He was pulled into an embrace, a reminder of another reason he stayed on her good side. "In a while, lover," she promised before disappearing in a flash of blue light.
Alone. God, he hated being alone. Although the god part wasn't really that accurate. Considering what he'd been through, he had no faith in any idiot 'higher being' that might be out there. If there was a god, there was a heaven, and a hell. And while he inhabited what he'd often considered hell, and once glimpsed what he'd thought might be heaven, any higher being would be such a sick bastard (not to mention the fucked up sense of humor) that there was no point expending the effort of belief.
The small sound was an explosion in his isolated world. Not only was it sound other than his frustrated screams, but it was sound made by another being. Starved for any connection, his green beak jerked up as he looked to who or what had spoken. Hate made his eyes blaze nova white. "You!" he snarled, hands spreading to make claws, wings flaring, and tail lashing. "You bastard! You lied to me!" He lunged at the dark colored gargoyle, intending to permanently remove that jackal head.
The other gargoyle raised a hand, slamming him to a halt against an invisible wall without any effort. "I said nothing about what you would see after life."
"She promised there'd be people!" the green gargoyle snarled, slamming his fists against the invisible wall. "She said there'd be others here." I thought she'd be here.
"But they are." A wave of a black hand, and his vision wavered. People... there were people, both human and gargoyle, around. He yelped as one of them walked right through him, oblivious to the world. As oblivious as he had been....
How long? How long was I doing that? How many people did I walk through? He shivered at the thought. Creepy. Well, don't get more creepy than bein' dead. "So why show this to me now?"
The jackal-like gargoyle hesitated, then seemed to mentally shrug. "I'd appreciate your... assistance."
He snorted with laughter. "Ya gotta be kiddin' me! You stick me in this little corner of hell and expect me to help you? Fuck off, asshole."
Pupiless cobalt eyes narrowed. "I do not need your help. I am aiding a mutual acquaintance if you concede to aid her."
"The blue chick? She can roast here too for all I care."
"No, not her. One of your clan, Topper."
A chill ran down the green gargoyle's spine. His clan.... It'd been a true miracle that he'd managed to get back to some semblance of life... how long had it been by now? Days? Months? Years? Whatever. When he'd finally managed to get back to his clan, he'd been surprised at the connections he'd felt. Who? Who was in enough trouble for Anubis, god of the dead and member of the third race, to come to him for help? Topper snarled quietly, hating himself for the plethora of emotions he had now that he had been alive for awhile, hating Anubis more for dangling the irresistible carrot before him. "Damn you," he growled. "You know I can't turn that down."
The jackal god nodded. "It is not without a reward for you as well."
Anubis hesitated for a moment. "Then you will go to the place you saw in that vision."
A faint smile lifted the canine muzzle. "That will be your decision. Will you help?"
He growled again, then dipped his beak in assent. "Alright."
Anubis nodded slightly in response, far too smug for the gargoyle's tastes, then motioned him to the side. "We have others to recruit."
"Why am I not surprised?" he mumbled, moving obediently aside.
Anubis led the way to a tall, dark skinned human who paced restlessly with haunted eyes. He was dressed in a rather sissy long blue robe, but even with the dorky mustache he managed to pull it off. They stopped before him and Anubis waved a hand before the man's face. Recognition dawned in the man's eyes. "Anubis. I thought I'd see my son, where is he?!"
"In a better place... literally. Your soul was too close to the balance to join him."
"Then...." Horror spread across his face. "Never again?" the human whispered.
"Not necessarily. It is a fine balance that can still be tipped. If you venture to save another child, you can rejoin with yours."
"I thought you did not play favorites."
Anubis didn't seem bothered by the obvious hostility. "Even I have enemies."
Greaaaaaaat. Jackal god o' death big bad ass Oberati has enemies he wants US to go up against? Shit, this is not good. Thoughts of the empty boredom awaiting him otherwise kept Topper's more smart ass comments silent, though he sighed. "Look, yer worship, it's back to bein' the only dude in the universe or risking life and limb so you can be with yer brat." He happily followed the fey's lead and ignored the look of righteous anger directed his way. "Just make up yer mind soon 'cause I gotta clan member that needs my help."
The man visibly wavered, then let loose a longsuffering sigh. "Very well. I will help."
Anubis nodded, while Topper edged over. "Yo, buddy, since we're workin' together an' all, just what the hell's yer name?"
Dark, narrowed eyed bored into him for a moment. "You may call me the Emir."
Uh huh. Riiiiight. "Sure, yer worshipfulness. I'm Topper. Pleasure's all dog breath's, I'm guessin'."
The god in question apparently was oblivious or not willing to pay attention. Instead he made several elaborate gestures, and in the next blink a new human had appeared before them. He was short, stocky, muscled, kinda ugly in a pug dog human way. His long, tan hair was matched by a very obvious receding front and long white moustache. The clothes were rather surprising, something Topper vaguely recalled as a tunic and trews getup, accessorized by metallic bracers, a blue cloak, and a rather vicious looking sword.
"We gotta take Conan too?" That got him a glare from His Worship, but Anubis still ignored him. Damn. What's it take to yank that dude's chain? Again with the gesture thing that cleared the human's eyes. He studied them with cautious interest, seeming more concerned Topper and Anubis. "Yes?" he finally said. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" He had a thick, antique Scottish accent, confirming Topper's half hearted fears that they were doomed. This was not gonna be fun. A pansy, an antique and him. 'Nuff said. Greaaaaaaaat.
The jackal god nodded. "Will you help a gargoyle and his clan?" He gestured towards Topper. "He needs the aid of a tried warrior."
The Scotsman hesitated. "I failed the last time," he admitted.
"Then this is a chance to redeem yourself."
He thought that one over, then nodded. "Very well."
Once more, he did the hand wave thing. This time, a new gargoyle appeared. Female, skin a strange tone of midnight blue at her feet lightening to the white horns poking through her black hair. Human features, and dressed in a white, classical tunic.
"Stella?" Topper asked in surprise.
She grinned, the dazzling display of small fangs taking the trio's attention off of Anubis, who disappeared. "None other. I too am here to further my lord's will." The grin turned rueful. "I too have sins to repay."
Topper's eye ridges involuntarily rose. "You? Ya gotta be kiddin' me."
Now it was a bitter smile. "I've done more, worse than you can imagine."
"Uh huh. Sure. Right. Ok lady, let's just get goin', 'kay?"
The Emir cleared his throat. "I for one am interested in just what we are doing. All I know is it involves saving a child's life."
Stella nodded. "Child is... perhaps not the best term. A member of Topper's clan was attacked by a creature that is trying to take over her mind. We have been selected to go in and stop the creature."
She shrugged. "That I do not know. Perhaps it is just that we have much to repent for." She looked around. "We'd best share skills before going further. I am Stella. I've good hand to hand abilities-"
"Oooh, care to show me before we go?"
The gargess paused to glare at Topper in response, then continued. "And I've a general idea of where we are going. A guide, I suppose is a good description."
'Guide' was more than apt. I mentally sighed as my companions bickered their way through introductions. The Captain of the Guard with his issues, the Emir with his superiority complex, and Topper... and Topper. I'm not sure just where I do stand on that subject. He's more than handsome enough to make my hormones sit up and beg, but that attitude, it was more than enough to cool any ardor beneath a severe desire to hit him. After so many smart ass responses, the maiming impulse was definitively winning.
Duties and hormones or not, it was going to be a long quest ahead of us.
It took awhile, but we finally got through all names and skills and shit. After a moment of uncomfortable silence, Cap finally spoke up with a very intelligent "What now?". Yes, that was sarcasm. Me and his Worship just looked at Stella. I mean, come on, we all know who's in charge here.
She gave us this cat calm look, then shifted her eyes over to me. "Topper knows the way."
"What?" I squawked, almost backpedaling in denial. "Hey, you're the expert here, not me! I don't know nothin'!" I mean, really. Do I look like I have the remotest idea what the hell I'm doin?
She just kept up the cool look. "But you are the one with a connection."
"Look lady, I don't have a clue, ok? You're the Guide, so freakin' guide!"
"Truly an auspicious beginning," the Emir drawled.
"Look, dude, don't get me started!" I snapped, whirling to get in the human's face. Better that than going against Stella and her accusations, right? 'Sides, I really don't like that dude.
Unfortunately, Stella has her own ideas. She stepped between us, eyes flaring blood red. "No!" she snarled. "Emir, enough of your prodding. Topper, you know the way. Truly. I would not lie about this."
"Lady, look, I don't gotta clue, ok? What do you expect, me to pick a direction at random and say 'yup, that's the way, folks'?!" I gestured while talkin' pointing every which way until I ended up with this overdramatic pose pointing off to the horizon - or whatever it is that passes for one around here.
Stella just pulled that cat look again - have I mentioned how damn sexy that is on her? - took a gander at the place I was aiming at, then nodded. "Yes." With that she started walking.
My jaw just dropped in what had to be comedic look of the year. "Say what?"
As the Emir had declared, not an auspicious beginning. It'd taken a few minutes before the males caught up, demanding to know what the hell I was doing, no matter how obvious it was that I was following Topper's lead. Anubis had given me instructions to follow, to help them succeed with his mission. The only problem was to convince them that I knew what I was doing.
Males. Whatever the species, they're intolerable.
In the empty gray wasteland of the afterlife, we seemed to walk forever. Not that Topper's continual whining about "are we there yet?" helped any, but it seemed more hell than purgatory. Even I had begun to doubt when we suddenly appeared at the mouth of a large cave.
"That was unexpected," the Captain said dryly.
I shrugged, pretending nonchalance. "This is a place more of the mind than reality. Normal rules are not to be expected."
"Wonderful," Topper sighed as he strolled into the cave without any apparent concern for possible danger.
I drew in a long suffering breath, silently begged Anubis for patience, then motioned for the others to follow. Couldn't let someone that cute die on his own, now could I?
"Aww, crap." I glared around at the three tunnels leaving the main cavern. As far as I could tell, they were exactly the same. Long tunnel in the rock, poorly lit from some unseen source (convenient, innit?), and nothin' else. "Which way?" Even as I spotted Stella's cranky look, I held up a hand. "I don't gotta clue, remember?"
The gargess rolled her eyes and moved over to my side, then suddenly covered his eyes. "Hey! Whafuck?" Not that I'm gonna complain about a hot babe like her bein' that close, rescue missions come first.
She snorted and gently pushed my shoulders until I finally turned around a few times. When she stopped, I waited for more directions. I mean, what else am I gonna do, really? "Pick a direction," she ordered.
"Look, I told you ten times already-"
"Shut up and do it."
Dead or not, I know better'n to argue with that tone of voice. So I shrugged and pointed with my left directly ahead. Stella removed her hand, and I looked to see I was aiming at the centermost tunnel. "Lucky," I growled, not willing to fall for this idiot dog and pony show. That earned me another eye covering and spin. This time I figured I'd trick her, so pointed behind me. When I could see again, I was aiming at the center tunnel again. Apparently satisfied with her point, Stella started down the passageway.
I hesitated, then me and the other guys followed. Not that I was really believing this shit or anything, but ya gotta admit, the view was damn impressive. 'Sides, who'd wanna be alone there? Not me, thankyouverymuch.
I quickly lost my mental trail of our path as we took turn after turn, following Topper's still uncertain selections through the maze of tunnels. We'd been so turned around I wouldn't have been surprised to come out where we entered any moment. Thankfully, instead we nearly stumbled down a steep flight of stairs that suddenly appeared in the hallway.
The Emir glanced at me with a raised eyebrow. "A sign?" he asked.
I resisted the urge to mimic Topper's shrug and "I don't gotta clue" line. Instead, I retreated to copying his sarcasm. "You expected a clearly labeled banner?" Rather than give him time to reply, I slipped past the males and start down the steps. I soon regretted it, however. They were steep, and only seemed to be getting taller but smaller in width. It was soon difficult to even stay upright, and I was forced to dig in talons to keep from tumbling downwards. Gods only know how the humans kept going, particularly when the stairs began to spiral around. I was so concentrated on not falling that it took me quite a while before noticing the light was dimming.
The Captain noticed that as I did. "This is not good," he rumbled.
"No shit," Topper snapped back. That seemed to be a cue for darkness to slam down.
"Lovely," the Emir sighed sarcastically.
"It means we are on the right path, though," I added.
"You mean you didn't know if we were going the right way?"
It's amazing how grating a person's voice can get. I had I restrain the impulse to physically make the Emir be quiet. "Let's go," I ordered instead, "if you feel carefully enough, it's not that bad."
"It's worse," Topper mock whispered.
I ignored him and continued down.
It was indeed much easier said than done, particularly as the steps began to vary in size. It was totally random, one stair nearly a ledge, the next a mere finger width tall. Far too many were ridiculously narrow. I don't know how many times Topper and/or I took chunks out of the stone in an effort to keep everyone from tumbling down. When his hold let go and he and Captain tumbled into the Emir and then myself, I thought for sure we'd all tumble to our deaths. Broken bones can lead to many painful, messy ends. And I refuse to discus the times when the walls narrowed, claustrophobia nearly driving us all back.
It was a dark, sweaty, and tired eternity before the lights came back. At first I thought it was more sun spots, the lights your eyes create when there is only total darkness. But it remained, even increased steadily, until suddenly we spilled out onto a mountain ledge (never mind we've been going down, we were most of the way up a mountain now), situated in the gray landscape that now seemed so bright.
All but Topper collapsed, blinking rapidly as our eyes adjusted to light. My fellow gargoyle instead remained standing, head thrown back and wings and arms spread wide. "Thank you God!" he bellowed. After a moment of deep breaths, he to flopped down. "Jeeee-zus. I never thought we'd get outta there."
Ooooh, man. After that fun little trip through the rabbit hole, I was more'n ready for break time. Guess we all were. Stella looked the most worn out. Well, she did take point - so much for me knowin' the way, huh? - and those tumbles into her were not good. Oh well.
When we finally finished resting, I got to lead again. Yay. Can you tell I was just thrilled, or do I need to point to the big neon sign that spells out 'sarcasm'? Annnyway. The spin pointing thing had me going further along the ledge, around the mountain here we come or whatever the hell that song is. Still not fun for the humans. Loooong way down, with just the crumbly, thin stone between us and pizza city.
No, I was not having fun.
The path ended on an outcrop of rock, jutting out from the mountain and creating the start of a rickety rope bridge that is never seen outside of adventure movies. I mean, everything down to the creaking sway in the suddenly very high winds.
"What now?" His Worship bellowed over the wind. Tall, skinny dork like him, I thought he was gonna fly away. Too bad he didn't.
"We cross, right?" Stella asked me.
We all took in the fraying ropes and decaying boards. Shit.
"I don't supposed ye could glide us over?" the Cap asked doubtfully.
Stella shook her head. "Not in these winds. It would shred our wings in seconds."
"Fun," I managed. None of us moved. It was much nicer to just stay there, lookin' at the distant mountain ledge where the bridge ended, then a lot further in the down direction. That was actually pretty, ya know? Like a Road Runner cartoon, where the coyote always falls down? The reminder of how he always ended up, compared to how those of us who aren't cartoons would look, kept me right where I was. I like bein' over an inch tall, thankyouverymuch.
Finally the Cap stepped forward. "If it holds me, it'll hold all of us. And I'd prefer a gargoyle ta catch me than ta try th' other way 'round."
Stella was a step behind him. "It looks like it will hold both of us. If not...." She shrugged. "T'will be better if I'm there to catch hold."
It was not a pretty picture, watching them sway back and forth as they edged out onto the creaking bridge. It actually seemed to be holdin' up pretty good, so I managed to play it cool til they hit just this side of the middle of the bridge. Worst dose of swayage there, but all was good until literally outta of nowhere this giant fly came and dive-bombed Stella and Cap. It looked like a first try run, since it missed by a good bit before banking and diving at them again. That didn't worry me too much.
It was the swarm of bees that followed it that I was spazzin' about, those and the beetles an' other bugs that were changing the sky from gray to black. It was like what Starship Troopers should'a been. In other words, it was soooo not good. I was movin' before I realized it, bouncing along the rope like some squirrel (I'm nuts enough for sure) chargin' down along a clothesline. I managed to get goin' fast enough to catch up with them sorta quick. I had enough time to notice that the Emir was babbling something to himself in some foreign language before I got caught up in bug squishing.
Ya know how innards go everywhere when you squish a bug? Image in the blast radius for bug guts when the damn thing is at least half as big as you. That's a lotta squishy fun. If it gets all over you... it's a complete bitch. And monkey guts? That's just ridiculous. Not that flying monkeys straight from Wizard of Oz are any serious matter, especially when they're in the middle'a bug swarm from hell, but ya know.
Yes, the monkeys were there too. Don't ask me, I just mangled them. Stella an' I were goin' claw to claw with bugs and the occasional chimp from bellhop hell, while Cap was doin' a pretty cool job slicing and dicing with the big ass sword he was carrying around. For a bit I figured His Worship was staying safe outta the way, until all of a sudden some'a the bugs turned on their own crowd. More of the foreign chanting got our attention off to the side, where the Emir was walkin' along cool an' collected, some of the bugs hanging around him like favorite puppy dogs. With some of the bugs on our side, we managed to get across in most of one piece. We were all bleedin' a bit ('cept His Worship, of course), but nothing' major. Considering we managed to take on the bug horde from hell, that was pretty damn good.
"What the hell was that all about?" Topper demanded, nursing the jagged slice along his ribs. For once, I had to agree with him. The sudden aid of some of the insects had been unexpected, but turned the tide of battle. I truly doubted our chances of success without them.
The Emir smirked and casually waved the insects away, sending them scuttling over the cliff edge and out of sight. "I happen to have a few magical skills. I never thought that knowing how to control scarabs would become useful, however." When he noticed Topper's shell shocked look, his smirk widened. "My people's history has some fascinating aspects few but extreme scholars realize."
"I've a question," the Captain spoke up. With our curious looks, he nodded back towards the bridge. "Ye said ye couldna glide in those winds. So how could they?"
I blinked, suddenly registering the oddity. "I... don't know," I stuttered, looking back. "It should be impossible for anything to be airborne in those winds."
"They did attack us, right?" Topper asked. "I mean, that wasn't a fucked up hallucination, right?"
"Right," the Emir echoed uncertainly, his expression thoughtful.
This was bothering all of us, but I had been warned somewhat beforehand. The expected was not, and could not be here. "Topper?"
"Where do we go now?"
He was obviously disturbed, enough so that he acted without questions, or more significantly, no smart ass comments.
We followed a small, steep, and highly dangerous path down the side of the mountain, sliding down often enough by accident that the trip was fairly quick. At last we found ourselves at the mountain base in what had to be the entrance to a swamp. It was oddly dry for the amount of foliage. Other than the dryness, it looked and smelled all that I've ever associated with a swamp (albeit with far more dangly bits from tree limbs than usually come to mind), but the ground was hard, dry, even somewhat sandy ground.
"Tis like no moor I've ever seen," the Captain muttered. Good, I muttered in my mind, at least I'm not the only one bothered by this. Anubis, just what have you gotten us into? Unsurprisingly, there was no answer.
Topper reluctantly led the way, breaking through the multitude of spider webs and vine barriers linking the foliage together. I was so concerned with watching around me that I never noticed when I set foot upon a patch of blackened ground. A faint increase of heat was enough make me hurry a bit forward, so I mostly missed the explosion of flame arcing upwards from the spot I'd stood only seconds before. My tail and wings caught much of the blast, as did my tunic, which caught on fire. Topper tackled me and rolled me on the ground, extinguishing the fire and leaving us suddenly aware that he was on top of me, face to a very desirable face. He studied me for a second, then flushed and bolted to his feet. I know it was neither the time nor the place, but I couldn't help but to be disappointed.
"As I said," the Captain repeated, "tis like no moor I've ever seen."
"I think we've established that as a fact," Topper snarled back.
I moved between them, hoping it would be an unnecessary action. "Peace. We're in the realm of the mind. It does not have to make sense."
"It would be nice, however," the Emir added.
"Then we wouldn't be doin' our jobs right," Topper said, turning away to scan the trees around us. He abruptly froze. "Did you see that?"
"Dunno." He frowned, brow ridges furrowing as his wings shifted restlessly. "Saw somethin' move. Least, think I did."
We all turned to see, so it was a surprise when something burst from behind us and tackled the Emir. He fell with a shout, grappling with the brown thing that chittered angrily while trying to remove the human's throat. The Captain moved first, sword clearing scabbard to take the thing cleanly in the side. It reared up and off the Emir, snarling even as the Captain retreated a step before lopping off its head.
Finally still save for faint death tremors, the creature was much more recognizable. "Uh, guys?" Topper managed to say, "Please tell me that's not what I think it is."
I cautiously prodded the carcass, rolling the creature onto its long, bushy tail. "I think it might be." It certainly looked like a giant squirrel, if one wished to include claws more suitable to rending flesh than climbing, evil red eyes that had moments ago glowed like an enraged gargoyle's, and overgrown teeth that looked far sharper than necessary to eat nuts.
"So we survived giant bugs, and now we gotta take on giant squirrels to? What sorta fucked up munchkin place is this?"
"Your clansister's mind."
That managed to quiet Topper for a moment. "Oh."
"Her mind?" the Emir broke in and repeated. "Hmm. Interesting." That got our collective attention. He ignored us, eyes rather distant as he scanned our surroundings. "I wonder...," he murmured. He finally spun to face Topper. "Are gargoyles generally claustrophobic?"
"Small spaces, are they good or bad?"
"Uh, bad. We can't spread our wings, and -"
"Good, good. That takes care of the mountain passage. The insects, that's a general phobia, but the bridge...."
"What are you talking about?" I asked. If he knew what was going on.... Well, it was more than I was going on. Somewhat.
"We're facing fears."
I blinked, not sure I understood. I've never been that fearful of small spaces, and I didn't believe Topper would have that many problems either. "But I'm not that bothered-"
"No, not your fears, her fears!" The human was so excited he was gesturing wildly as he made his points. "The clansister of yours. Enclosed spaces, bugs-"
"Squirrels?" the Captain asked doubtfully.
That was enough of a point to get the Emir to calm somewhat. "Well.... That is a valid point. But the high winds leading to death by falling, that's something only a gargoyle would fear."
Topper made a face. "So why even bother with us seeing the bottom? I mean, just falling, isn't that worse?"
The Captain spoke up. "Which is worse, fallin' with a chance of glidin' again, or actually hittin' the ground?"
"Which is beside the point. We have bigger problems." That got their attention back to me. "We faced a swarm of bugs. Why only the one squirrel?"
Topper snickered. "Now that sounded seriously weird. It's a good point, but weird."
'Weird' pretty much defined the rest of our trip through the 'swamp.' If it wasn't the squirrels from hell trying to pull 'raptor attacks on us, it was fire explosions, killer plants, or even more fun, the spiders. I swear everything that jumped us was a psycho critter on steroids. And that rat that tried to literally hump the Emir's leg to death.... Ok, that one was amusing, ya gotta admit. The rest of it though.... Not fun. More battering, bruises, and blood.
Blood. Yeah, shoulda seen it coming. The next challenge. When we finally broke out of the trees, it was to find we were on what could probably pass as a seashore. We stood on a bluff overlooking a stretch of sand surrounded by rocks, waves lapping up in slow ebbs. And now for the disgusting and/or freaky bit. It wasn't water.
Sea of blood.
How gross can you get? Whoever's mind I was in, it was totally fucked up. Especially when I noticed that there was none of the usual junk in there, just... body parts. Seriously gross. I so could see why she was scared of this.
We took a bit of a breather when it was clear we had ta go out on that shit. Then it straight to work on making a raft. With the critters still attackin', that was a blast. Almost as much fun as actually setting sail on that thing. Makes me glad I'm dead. 'Course I was still bleedin' myself at the time, but I'm still dead. Details, details.
When we were out of sight of the shore, the best part of all hit. Those body bits and pieces I mentioned? There were more... lots more... and way too freakin' many were still attached. Ever have a blood drenched creature - human, gargoyle, or otherwise - suddenly come up and try to pull you off a raft and into the sea? Probably not. Believe me. It's as fun as watching Titanic twenty times then having to listen to Britney Spears a hundred times or so. We're talking seriously sucky, and do not get me started on what some of those things were spurting. When we finally made it ashore, we were drenched with blood, thankfully most of it wasn't ours, and more'n ready to just throw in the towel and go home. Too bad that wasn't an option.
Annnyway. We landed in a graveyard. I think most of the residents were still out swimming. This time there was a path out, which freaked me and probably the rest out, but whatcha gonna do when it goes the right way? Before too long, we were in the middle of a downpour to dwarf baby hurricanes. Whatever the thing was that I was following kept us going, rain, sleet, hail and dead of night until thunderous silence crashed down.
"What-?" His Worship gasped.
I was more concerned with what the stop in weather revealed. Things were back to gray, empty landscape - empty except for one small figure curled up on the ground ten feet before us.
"Oh my god," I whispered unconsciously. This was the last person I expected to find here. Anyone but her, really. The thing is, there's no way I could be mistaken.
There's only one human in my clan.
Many thanks to some nifty people who helped me with this evil monster:
Denis, who started the idea which I couldn't do justice to (sorry bro!)
LeAnne and Sarah for thier story input (beware the squirrels!!!) and putting up with the bizzare roommate who is always at her computer
M.C. Friend, co-conspirator, general cool person who puts up with a lot of weirdness from me
Datafage. Thank you for your proofreading and friendship.
And of course, the Repeat Offenders, who are just plain cool.
Wait, who was that? The Characters.
Well? What happens?? Part 2, Body!
I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive
Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home
PLEASE send any and all feedback -good, bad, and ugly- to: Norcumi@backtick.net
Gargoyles, Anubis, the Emir, the Captain and any other related material belongs to Disney, used without permission or profit, no infringement intended, so please don't sue. The Connecticut clan, Stella, and Topper are my own (don't steal!). Assorted weirdness is copyrighted by other people, spoofing is probably intended, though infringement is not.