Situated safely upon a cliff, Kimber sat high above the rest of the world. Her eyes were preying upon the giant beasts that would delight in eating her alive if they could.
With her naked eye, they looked like green and brown specks. However, with her magnifying goggles on, she could see muscles rippling beneath their scaly flesh. Teeth rending a bloody carcass that she couldn’t identify. Their eyes flickered in her general direction, though she knew they couldn’t see her just yet. Their noses held high, they took in the scent that clung to the air. Her scent. Human flesh was a rare treat for these creatures, a delicacy they wouldn’t easily pass up.
Kimber knew that even the slightest misstep could result in her being taken from this world forever, lost to the pits of their bellies. Just like her father had been. As with him, they’d have nothing to return to her mother; the monsters were known to eat bone and all.
The council would relish in showing her mother what a failure Kimber had been. She had been the first girl to attempt their course, and if she failed their challenge, it would further prove that women forever belonged at the bottom of their precious empire. Kimber had to prove them wrong by becoming a member of the Guard.
However, in order to do that, she had to throw herself amongst the dragons that stood between her and her goal. The weeks she had spent in the wilderness, trying to survive and prove herself worthy were more trying than she could have ever imagined... And the end was in sight, just past these monsters. She glanced down in their direction, taking in their majestic beauty and strength one last time.
Praying silently that her plan would work, she checked that her bow and arrows were secure in her bag. Slowly, she walked down the hill and headed straight for the horde. Knowing that they would track her down in a heartbeat, she knew it was pointless to try to go around them. And they were much faster than they looked.
Carefully, she made her way to the valley floor; a sprained ankle or other injury would be instant death at this point. She needed to be agile and quick while executing her plan.
Seeing a hummingbird hovering directly to the left of her, she wondered to herself if it was the council watching her through a fake, mechanical bird. They had the power to do that sort of thing. But perhaps it was simply a living creature curious about the stupid human standing before it. Paranoia warped her brain these days.
It really didn’t matter either way at this point.
The sound of heavy feet crashing through the brush drew Kimber’s attention. They must’ve picked up her scent even quicker than she’d anticipated. She had counted three creatures from above, but three were more than enough to kill her in seconds.
She knew that if she wasn’t careful, they’d drive her to the ground and rip the flesh from her body. They craved blood and violence almost as much as they did the meal itself.
Knowing that they desired the chase and thrived on her fear, she knew she could not run. So she walked backward, to the east toward the riverbanks. Walking in a zig-zag pattern as she moved through the brush, she knew this would slow the heavy footed creatures down a bit. They had trouble navigating a crooked path because of the way their bodies were built.
Yet, they descended upon her quicker than she ever would have imagined. They were the ultimate predator and Kimber was their prey.
Sweat was dripping into her eyes as the heat of the sun beat down onto her face. The twigs snapping under her feet made her jump every time as she kept thinking something was sneaking up on her from behind. Her heart nearly exploded when a flock of birds took flight, likely scurrying away from the very predator she was tempting her fate with.
The footsteps got louder and more persistent as they closed in, confident that their dinner was within reach. Her own feet threatened to give out after weeks upon weeks of fighting, her knees wanted to buckle from fear. But she kept walking even as the creatures got closer and closer.
Out of the corner of her eye, the strip of cloth marked the next stage of her plan. From there, she turned around and sprinted, while maneuvering herself carefully onto the board she placed in her path yesterday. Balancing herself as best she could while her legs were shaking, she hurried across makeshift bridge. Creaking and flexing, the board buckled and felt ready to give out just as her aching legs threatened to do the same.
As she reached the other side, she quickly yanked the board toward her, away from the other edge and out of their reach. They likely were too heavy to make it across, but she wasn’t taking any chances. For a second, she finally felt like she could breathe again, though she wasn’t sure she should feel relieved just yet.
She watched as they emerged from the brush in front of her. From this distance, she could smell their rancid skin and see their nostrils flaring. The poison that seeped from their skin would paralyze a person in seconds and carried a distinct, bitter odor. Desperate for a taste of human flesh, they eyed her one more time before rushing toward her, a roar of triumph rumbling from their throats. It took only a second before they fell into her trap.
Tar pits. She had narrowly missed some herself the day before and learned to recognize them from the steam rising upward. Otherwise, they were practically invisible, covered by leaves and moss. They blended into the ground perfectly.
The smell of burning flesh hit Kimber’s nostrils immediately. Screeching, flailing and snapping at the air impotently, they tried hard to fight for their lives, only causing themselves to sink faster with their wild thrashing.
Bellows of pain and fear echoed through the air around her as the beasts descended down into the earth forever. However, the silence around Kimber was sudden and profound. There was no sign of life in the forest around her, even the birds seemed to be holding their breath.
Kimber’s own heart finally slowed a bit, and her breathing returned to normal. Praying for no more dragons on her quest, and hoping she slayed them all for good, she made her way around the tar pits and back onto the path toward the castle. The end of the course was within her grasp.
She had won. She had beaten them and had proved herself worthy. If to nobody else but herself.
(This is my third entry for Week 34 of therealljidol. Again, no need to read in any order and there is no connection between the three. However, this is a piece of a larger story I have in my head and I wrote on last season. This piece is meant to stand on it's own, however the first part can be found here if you'd like to read more. As always, thank you for reading!)