Weird Tales entry - May 2019
|Rherrod pushed past the stone slab that had been placed in front of the entrance to the cavern. His mind fixed on rescuing his beloved Mohush. The labyrinth he followed was filled with pitfalls and traps set by the monstrous beasts.
The maze was long and dark, but he brought Seurkelos, Velhenge-Us Ogyag, which roughly translates to “The Scarlet Promise of Misery.” A thick bladed dagger that he used countless times to conquer these vile creatures. He also carried a medium-sized wood torch, capable of spreading enough light for him to see anything that may try to ambush him.
Unlike common fowl, these were nocturnal cave dwellers that frequently feasted on human victims. They had a propensity to capture the most beautiful women from the nearby helpless villages that surrounded their cave fortress.
Rherrod was a hunter, strong and brave. He heard many stories about the nightmares that lie waiting in the cavern.
As he continued traversing, he leapt over an obvious trap; a set of large jaws on the ground, which would ensnare and ravage anything unfortunate enough to step on them.
A small misstep on his way over caused him to fall victim to a separate trap. A depression that was loosely covered with debris; underneath the debris, in the hole, there was a pool of water, untouched for years. The stale stench of solemn death emanated from it as he tumbled into it. He was soaked past his waist, holding his left hand high to keep the torch clear from the water.
His heavy fall, however, sent a spatter of water into the air, coating his torch and dousing his obsidian black hair. The water tasted foul as it dripped down his face and into his mouth, unknown bacteria growing in it for who knows how long.
As he labored out of the hole, righting himself on the flat ground above, Rherrod could no longer see anything. He stood in utter darkness, his torch sizzling as the water evaporated from it, taking the heat of the flame with it.
After making it this far, he had no choice but to continue, not that he ever did. Rherrod would never leave Mohush to be devoured by the monsters of the depths. Following the walls slowly, feeling for any signs of another trap; he pushed on.
As he continued through the cave system, he hit a stairwell. The solid rock steps went down, farther and farther. He followed them down for what seemed like hours. As he got lower, he noticed a distinct change. The cold, damp environment finally grew warmer. Not by a small margin, it was an inferno as he reached its depths.
Another change took place as well. A small amount of light began emerging from below. As he spiraled down, he eventually reached an opening. Before him lie a temple, carved out of the stones that had grown up within an enormous cavern. More stairs lead down to a platform, where an unconscious figure was lying.
He cautiously began his descent, taking care to avoid the edge of the stairs. The bottom of the cavern was dark and far. A fall from here would lead to his death. As he neared the platform, the figure became more clear. An amazonian woman, with striking blonde hair and a delicate, but healthy frame. It was Mohush.
Rherrod’s heart was pounding, unsure if his love was alive. He hastily made his way to her and failed to notice a cardinal colored figure stepping out from one of the adjacent temple entryways.
As he reached her lifeless body, a deafening squawk echoed through the air.
He shook Mohush, hoping she would respond. Her eyes opened slowly and looked up at her hero. Fear poured from her piercing brown eyes; terrified from the events that had occured over the last day.
As he embraced her, she let out a small yelp. The red birdman had reached the platform and had her by the arm, tugging her away from Rherrod’s clutch.
He let go of her, pulling his dagger from his waistband and pointing it directly at the birdman. The hideous red bird, ducked in an attempt to dodge the blade as Rherrod lunged at him. A dozen more birdmen began storming from the entrances, surrounding the three of them.
It was too late for this birdman, who had already been impaled by the razor-sharp dagger. The birdman began to stumble, but never let go of Mohush, his prized feast.
He became evermore unstable, until he slipped and fell backward off the edge, dragging Mohush with him.
Rherrod dove after her, grasping her hand as her body was drug downward. The weight of the birdman and Mohush was too much and she began to slip from his grasp.
She slid from his hand and he watched as she fell into the eternal darkness. Devastated, he lie there, the other birdmen circled around him. He turned to face them as they encroached on him.
Slowly, he made his way to his feet, clutching Seurkelos, Velhenge-Us Ogyag firmly in his right hand. This was it. This was where Rherrod would make his last stand; on the cliffs of the birdmen.