TW: Swearing and gore.
Danielle had fought monsters before. Compared to the giant beast before her the rest were harmless flies.
“I guess this is how I’ll die,” the knight said to herself. She inhaled deeply.
Blood rained from the red sky. The breeze from the monster’s mighty wings flapping chilled her bones. Scorpion legs that could carry a castle scuttled towards her.
“Prove me wrong again, little knight,” said the herald of a hateful god. “Kill this beast and I will tell you my name.” His melodic voice had lost the hints of scorn. She wondered if he was only saying it because he expected her to die.
“This is a greater chatter-jaw?” Sir Danielle Longbow asked. Her voice rose in pitch and volume. Her heart thundered a drumroll in fear.
Four snapping jaws mounted on tentacles snapped at her. Little black eyes ringed each jaw. Being anywhere near the mouths was suicide. Tentacles uncoiled from behind the snapping jaws. Teeth unfolded along the length of each tentacle. Each one was a saw the size of a tree. Every tooth was the length of Danielle’s sword.
“Yeah. I’m fucked.” She darted her head around to look at the devil who’d challenged her to fight monsters. He hovered in a throne of carved wood behind her. His silver eyes reflected her and the looming doom of the beast. His bone-white skin gave no hint of age. “Any tips?” Danielle asked him.
“None of my people has ever defeated a greater chatter-jaw before,” he said as she turned back. A clawing tentacle lunged at her. Danielle danced back from it.
“Then why the fuck do I have to fight one? It looks like my worst nightmares had children with fly-covered leftovers at a fish market.” She struck a tentacle lined on one side with the deadly spines. Her sword left a gash in the tentacle that would be a mortal wound for anything smaller than a bear. The creature made a horrible hissing noise and rushed forwards. Two jaws snapped at her as muscular tendrils encircled her.
“You must fight it because you overcame your last three challenges,” said the deadly god’s herald. Danielle ran through the tentacles as her guide through hell spoke. “I never expected you to come this far.” Her sword pressed along the thick hide of the monster’s belly. The blade she had sharpened to a razor’s edge that morning barely left a mark. “I am bound by the deal we made and my duty to my god,” said the pale herald.
“I must give you a challenge you could not reasonably be expected to survive. Three times I have. Three times you have triumphed.” His voice was undiminished by Danielle’s cry of pain as a spine from one tentacle punched through a gap in her armour. Burning pain blossomed in her left armpit. “You have earned my respect, Sir Longbow.”
Tails tipped with spikes a spear would envy stabbed at her. She cut at one. Her sword damaged the limb that was as thick as her mighty arms. The tail withdrew. The beast turned with her beneath. Still the herald spoke with a voice that was a balm to her mind, “with my respect comes greater challenge. Slay five monsters to save Crann Kingdom from my god’s wrath for a millennium. That was the deal.”
Sir Danielle could barely move her left arm. Clutching her shield close to her chest, she tested a leg of the beast. The sword clanged against the black articulated chitin as though it was rock. She looked for a weakness in the join. As the leg bent to trample her Danielle thrust her sword into a gap. The leg lurched out of the way. The monster tried to shake her free. Her sword was stuck fast in the joint. She could hear moist cutting sounds as the monster’s own movements severed muscles. At last, hanging from the sword, it came free.
Ignoring everything but those same joints on the other legs, Danielle ran to each. One after the other she hobbled the greater chatter-jaw. Twelve legs winced as her sword slipped between its armour.
The spike which had pierced her underarm had not reached her heart. It had damaged nerves. Blood was dribbling from the wound. Adrenaline could not cover the agony.
Tentacles came for her. Most had a slash through the rings of black eyes that circled the claws at the tip. Danielle was knocked flat by a slashing line of teeth hitting her in the chest. Knowing she’d have bruises if she survived, she slammed into the ground.
Then the beast came down on whatever passed for its knees. Sir Longbow leapt for empty space, not wanting to be stuck beneath it. Her shield fell away during the dive. The mouths of the thing faced her.
There was no escaping them. She heard the wooden clapping sound that gave the beast its name. She jumped into the maw of the horrid thing. Acrid odours of stomach acid made her want to gag. She dragged her sword along the inside of its throat. She scored a deep line through pulsing flesh in the dark.
The tube rose vertically, trying to drop her down into its stomach. Danielle threw her weight behind a stab. She held onto the handle of the slick blade. Roaring shook every fibre of her body. She was dizzy from the smell. The long neck slammed down, trying to shake lose the splinter that was cutting it up from within.
Danielle’s sword slipped from her fingers. Thrown flat against the wet walls of the throat, she looked around for the sword. A pale glimmer in the dark as the chatter-jaw’s mouth opened was all she needed. She dived for the sword. Both slid down the throat as the neck rose again.
Covered in drool and bile she slid down at breakneck speed. Her sword punched through flesh as she tried to anchor herself. Nothing stuck as she plunged from darkness towards death.
Danielle seemed to double in weight. Bobbing in the air, she realised the beast was flying. Air rushed in through the open jaw. A fresh breeze was welcome. The long fall was not.
The chatter-jaw rolled in the air. Sir Longbow’s gloved hands could not grip the handle of her sword. She hit the top of the throat and slid back to the bottom as the roll slowed.
Other beasts flapped through the air. She saw them through the open maw. Predators come to finish her work picked at the greater chatter jaw. She knew that if they killed it her fight would be for nothing. Only she was allowed to stop the beast’s heart if she wanted to go home.
Pulling the sword free Danielle let herself slip further down the throat. The muscles contracted. Vomit hit her in a wave. Closing her eyes didn’t save her from the gunk filling her helmet. It soaked through everything she wore.
Another beast the size of a dog flew in through the open mouth. Barely injured, the thing which had batlike wings attacked her. She cut it in half with a swipe before losing her feet. Gripping the sword for all she was worth she slid down and down.
Seeing light from three other tubes, Danielle and the halves of the little monster fell into a chamber. A glowing eye watched her from above a sphincter of teeth. The eye was an orb big enough to fit her inside.
The lost knight leapt for the eye. Eyelids thick as old leather closed. Danielle snuck her left hand between and held on as gravity betrayed her. The pain from her armpit told her she did not have long to live.
“Please. Please. Just die.” The tip of her blade pierced the gelatinous surface which wept acid. Blood poured out. The glowing ooze slowly burnt her skin.
Pushing the sword in and twisting it, she let go and grabbed the eyelid with her right hand. Both lids tried to crush her. It wept gore as she pushed inside. Light everywhere was useless to her except to outline her sword as a silhouette.
The lids closed behind her, leaving her in the monster’s head. Slipping around inside, she gasped for oxygen. Her sword swung through the heavy gelatinous mass of the eye until the socket was leftovers. Everything else had been blinked away. A nerve hung in the socket. Danielle sheathed her sword and clambered up the optic nerve.
Dizzy without enough air to survive she felt her muscles weaken.
Danielle lifted her sword to the hole the width of her arm where the nerves went from the eye socket to the brain.
Her world flipped as the beast fell through the sky. Upside down, her sword slipped from her hand. The blade dived into the mind of the monster. Hot knives cut butter well. A sword flung by gravity from the sky to the ground cuts a greater chatter-jaw’s brain almost as well.
They hit the ground together.
Danielle was cushioned in the mess of the monster’s inner eye and its brain. Knocked out by her own helmet, she was lost to black unconsciousness. Bleeding internally, the two raced each other towards death. The greater chatter jaw won the race by moments.
With the duel done, the god’s herald split the beast in half with a blink. Lifting Sir Longbow from the mess he healed her wounds. “Well done, little knight. You win again.” His lily-white skin stroked her hand. The gore which had soaked her every garment vanished.
With a snap of his fingers, he created a tower of granite. The granite like that of Crann, would keep the knight safe. In the tower’s bed he lay her down to rest.
“My name is Obag Sleagh. It means magic spear.” She was fast asleep, so he sat with her and waited. It would be a day or two before she awoke. “Next, you’ll have to fight a dragon, little knight. It’s all I have left to throw at you.”
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
Hi Graham! I was given your story to critique. Your descriptions were amazing! I was able to visualize everything clearly and vividly. The only thing I have to suggest is your format. The indent is proper for a book style, but short stories (especially those read on a phone, which is common for this website) should be double spaced between paragraphs instead.
Thanks for the feedback Keri. I’ll have a look at your work as well.
Gotta love those fight scenes
It’s not too much?
No way, I loved it.
Here's the next, the climax of this story arc. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/nicqao/
The blood rain is disgusting. Where did that idea come from? Yuk! Glad to see the next one ends this story. Ive been reading these for ages! Theyre good though…
Thank you. Yes you’ve read more in on go that I would expect anyone to. Thanks so much. The blood rain was me thinking about the currency in a world of suffering. The god only values strength and violence so the blood is what nourishes everything. Everything is carnivorous or omnivorous.
That is imaginative and really gross!
For the next story in the series, use the link below. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/nicqao/