On the trail of a beautiful worm...
|Sir Tomlin’s troupe had been on the creature’s trail for over a week now. They caught glimpses of a worm-like form through the trees yet no clear view.
In the villages along their way, the latest Wellington, a tiny farming hamlet on the edge of the forest, they got varied descriptions. It was a creature that rests unseen in the shadows. Only the glint of fangs betrayed its presence. A trail of slime followed it, burning the soles of boots. At the sound of church bells, it’d howl a deathly note sending shivers up the minister’s spine.
Whatever the tall descriptions, it’s victims were clear evidence of its work. Limbs would be missing. Chunks of flesh torn from their stomachs. Faces ripped away to a fleshy skull. Their innards were still warm, pulsating as they slowly turned a shade of deep green. And the smell, even the undertaker had fits of vomiting when getting too close.
This creature did not belong here. Not in this world.
Sir Tomlin, a loyal knight to Lord Aughton, was charged to seek and destroy the abomination.
Setting out with five, only three of Tomlin’s soldiers remain. The creature struck at night. The first guard was caught unawares, not knowing what to be watching for. The second attack was a swift lunge that defied its wormlike form. The guard could not even scream before his head was locked inside the creature’s jaw.
Guards now stayed awake in pairs, back-to-back with wide eyes scanning the trees. The faintest of disturbances would wake the others from their light slumbers.
Plodding through the forest became a morbid tour; a path paved by corpses, of birds, rabbits, deer, and the occasional boar. All with telltale marks of darkened green and the gut-wrenching stench. The trail was uncomfortably easy to follow.
A gurgling banshee howl oft tore through the forest. The men would pause, tighten the grips on their weapons, and contort their faces to hide the fear.
They were walking along a ridge where the trail of bodies continued with reduced numbers. It led towards an opening in the rock face. Sir Tomlin left no time for hesitation and walked inside.
Ten meters within, the narrow passage opened up, with light from above filling the chamber.
Lying dormant, in the middle of the room, was the creature. No longer sleek and agile, it had a ridged crust with several large veins pulsating its length.
One of the men jolted forward, raised his sword. A downward slash tore open veins. The strength of the skin allowed for only a small gash. A deep-green liquid spewed from the wound, covering the soldier. His agonizing scream was short lived. Tomlin could just watch as the soldier’s features melted away, crumbling into a corrupt mound on the floor.
The knight held his remaining two men back. They watched.
The wound pulsed. Slowly the casing ripped open, revealing an obsidian mass within.
Still, they waited.
A spindly construct protruded from the hole. Matched by another, two boney appendages tore further at the opening, making way for a kind of head to follow. It pulled itself out, a full two-meter long body. It stood upon a set of rear legs, extending its arms upwards.
One of the remaining three men dashed forward, lead by a spear. A leg quickly stomped down on the spear, and an arm grabbed the man. He was pulled towards its head where an insect-like mandible opened. It was but an instant before a headless body was dropped back to the ground.
The creature shuddered, it’s body and legs trembled. From it’s back unfurled majestic wings. Like its body, they were all black, but by no means plain. Glass-like patches shined in a network of fibrous matte-black patterns. It was a painting to shame even those in the Lord’s cathedral.
The last soldier hesitantly advanced, with a shield to his left and short sword to his right. Tomlin stood awestruck at the smoothness, the elegance, with which the creature moved. The moment the soldier raised his sword the arms of the beast grabbed him. It did not toy with its victims, immediately gouging flesh from the soldier’s stomach and tearing the body in half, tossing the remains to the side.
Sir Tomlin raised his shield and sword, gesturing to the creature, and dropped them. With open arms, he inched forward to its left wing. He gently placed his arm on the supporting ridge. The creature’s stance relaxed, giving room for Tomlin to step lightly towards its body. He traced the patterns in the wings with his fingers. They seemed to light up with the touch.
With its head tilted slightly back, the creature was now bathing in the light from above. It glistened and flickered. The Lord’s treasures, even the regal tiara of the queen, held nothing against this display.
Tomlin neared the body. He placed a hand gently on the thorax, stroking it slightly. A deep warbling murmur came from its throat. Patterns of light raced outwards through tracks in its wings. This was beauty.
Sir Tomlin’s right hand rested on the spot where the radiance originated. He watched, transfixed by the lighted patterns, by the appeal of this creature. This was majesty.
A majestic perversion.
Deftly, with his left hand, Tomlin pulled a dirk from his belt, thrusting it deeply just above his right hand. He pulled down to create a long gash. A deafening shriek shook him wholly.
He sprung backwards and rolled out of distance. The creature swung its arms wildly, grabbing at the knight, but came up empty. The shriek and agitation ended a few seconds later. The masterpiece wings folded as the abomination collapsed.
Tomlin emptied a bottle of oil on the remains. He dragged the bodies of his fallen comrades to join it. He sparked a fire and watched it all burn.