The little creature was unconscious, breathing heavily to itself. It was about the same size and shape as Arksi, but more ‘feral’, with a pair of large, curved horns protruding from behind its eyes. Its skin was black, but the armour plating covering its body was yellow.
Ct’Era edged over to the creature and nudged it, causing it to squeak in pain.
“I think it is hurt.”
“Well, duh,” Kindyna tutted. “Poor thing lying like that. Looks a bit like a Rethan. But how comes Arksi and I couldn’t sense it? It’s clearly alive and my telepathic range ain’t that fucking short!”
Ct’Era nudged it again, trying to see where it was injured. It was the first living thing that wasn’t a Deitic that they had seen for a while, but Ct’Era was unsure that it was actually alive. It was definitely moving though. The creature stank of death.
“Maybe it’s a zombie?” Verlais suggested. “I mean, if you were scanning for something that’s alive and this is un-alive, then that’d make sense, right?”
“I guess… What do you think, Arksi?”
Arksi stood behind them, unwilling to come closer. He knew exactly what the creature was.
“Arksi, are you alright?”
He wasn’t. Verlais walked over and put his arm around Arksi.
“You’re not alright. What’s wrong?”
After a moment of silence, Arksi pointed at the creature. “That is my brother. That’s Arkay. Or something pretending to be him… But it has to be, he has the Ksa marking on his neck, same one I have. ”
“The yellow Rethan we met in that office while we were being debriefed?” Verlais asked, as he took a second look at the creature. A third look told him that Arksi was right.
Ct’Era smiled, and picked the creature up, carrying it in her arms and nuzzling it affectionately. “Did not know your brother had horns.”
“He doesn’t!” Arksi panicked. “He’s like, mutated into something!”
“Into a Veth?” Kindyna suggested.
The others all turned to look at her, none of them sure what a ‘Veth’ was. As Kindyna realised none of them knew what she was talking about, she decided to explain.
“In Thanatian mythology, a Veth is a child of the Lady of the Cycle. They’re born mortal, but they become heroes while they are alive. If they do enough to impress the Lady, she grants them a part of herself, giving them strange powers. When they die, they join the Lady and defend the Cycle, rather than being reincarnated like everyone else. Whenever someone tries to break the Cycle, the Lady turns her blessed mortals into immortal, unkillable Veth, in order to fix whatever is trying to break her.”
“And a Veth looks like… that?” Verlais asked.
“Well, they look like their mortal selves but better and stronger. And Arksi’s buddy here, if he’s the guy I think he is, he kinda fits the description as the sort of guy who Lady Death would turn into one of her pets…”
“I did not think you were religious?” Ct’Era looked confused. “I thought you did not believe in gods?”
Kindyna shook her head. “Oh no. The Lady isn’t a god or anything. Just a personification of a part of nature. Most Thanatians find it easier to understand things that way. But that Arkay guy could totally be a Veth.”
Their realisation was interrupted by a terrifying roar in the distance and the fact that the sun had almost set. The roar woke up the creature in Ct’Era’s arms, causing it to panic and struggle. It broke free from Ct’Era’s grip and started limping in the direction which the roar had come from.
“I think it’s scared of the roar…” Verlais worried. “I think we need to move…”
Everyone else was thinking way ahead of Verlais and had already started running. Ct’Era had one again grabbed the creature and was carrying it, while Kindyna and Arksi made sure the path ahead of them was clear.
The roars began to get louder as their owner approached. The hill of rubble the four beings had been on collapsed into nothingness as a huge, red monster tore through it, bellowing with a blood-curdling cry. It had to be 12 meters tall at least, and twice as long. It had four huge horns coming out of its skull, as well as many more spines and spikes running down its heavily armoured back.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT FUCKING THING?” Elksia screamed as rubble fell around them.
The monster quickly spotted them and gave chase, as they weaved in and out of fallen buildings and piles of debris. Rather than pursue them around the rubble, the monster stampeded straight through anything in its way.
“YOU THINK IT WANTS THE LITTLE ONE?” Verlais shouted as he dodged falling glass and swipes of the monster’s claws.
“I DON’T FUCKING KNOW, WHY DON’T YOU FUCKING ASK IT?” Kindyna shouted back, before realising that both the little creature and Ct’Era were no longer following them. But her question was unanswered as she found herself running into a wall.
“Oh crap…” Arksi muttered as he helped Kindyna to her feet. “I fucked up… Wall didn’t break telekinetically like I expected it to…”
“You can do that?” Verlais interrupted, panicking quite a bit. “Can you like, teleport or something because that monster is RIGHT ON TOP OF U- wait…”
The monster seemed to have stopped chasing them. It was looking away, to a building top where Ct’Era was standing, holding the little creature up in her arms. Any hint of the monster’s malice was gone.
Ct’Era put the little creature down, and it limped over and nuzzled the monster, looking positively small and tiny in comparison. After a moment of happiness, the large monster turned around and began to walk away, only to be stopped by squeaks from the little one, who was tugging at Ct’Era’s arm. The large monster grunted, then continued on its way, stamping towards the horizon.
The little creature squeaked some more, then rushed back down the building, dragging Ct’Era with it, to where the other three were standing.
“H-how the fuck did you do that?” Kindyna gasped, jaw hanging open in shock.
The Banikan smiled. “It takes being a monster to know a monster.”
“You’re not a monster!” Arksi protested, as the little creature (who was in fact as tall as Arksi) ran up to him and hugged him, knocking him down. It then started pulling at Arksi’s leg and squeaking. “Um, I think Arkay wants us to go with him or something.”
“Might not be a bad idea,” Kindyna admitted. “Maybe we can work out why there are giant monsters and why Arksi’s half-brother has turned into some sort of feral animal.”
“Never mind that!” Verlais shouted as he stomped off. “There might be some food!”