Uncovering an Orm
Angeline’s face mottled. Raised on a farm, she couldn’t help but scoff at the fact his lordship was rather bold for someone of his rank. In all her years at the Castle, not even a peasant had dared to spit in front of a Lady of the Court, let alone relieve himself. It was exasperating keeping her back to him. He was right behind her doing his business while she was trying to gather wood. Dropping what little she had in a pile, she decided it would have to wait. He was in the way and she was in no mood to go too far from the camp. She watched as the horses started fussing and fidgeting at their hitching tree. Her eyes caught a strange movement from the tree. Once more, the bare tree shuddered and one horse screamed, pulling its reins tight as it backed away.
“There it is.” Cedric finished and turned around to walk back to the horses. “Stay back.”
“What is going on?” Swallowing her nervousness, she watched the dead tree quiver again and more screams came from the horses. “What is happening?”
“Dinner.” Scoffing, he stopped halfway; the horses were frantic and trying to tug free, biting at their reins.
Despite the distance, Angeline could see the whites of the eyes of the horses that were now pawing at the tree. They were desperate and frightened beyond anything she had ever seen. One horse managed to break free and sped off down the trail, leaving its companion screaming and bucking. The other horse was fighting to free itself, but all it produced were raw spots from its harness that dripped blood down its cheek. The bright red lines glistened in the sunlight as the struggle continued. A rumbling was coming from the ground as the dead tree started to grow taller as if a weed pulled up by an unseen hand. The horse was bucking and squealing, foam dripping from its mouth, eyes wild with fear. In horror, Angeline watched as the ground exploded, the horse pulled high in the air.
The dead tree was the horn on the nose of a Sand Orm. It was a massive serpent with scales running down into the ground that imitated the look of an earthworm. Smooth and the color of the soil, she marveled over its size as she caught glimpses of a treelike fin that ran the beast’s length. Once more, the ground trembled under her feet. The mammoth Orm snatched the horse dangling from its nose-horn into its mouth. Its gapping jaws were large enough to hold three horses with room for the riders. She slid to her knees in awe as she watched the massive creature eat. Its jaws muffling the horse’s scream quickly, despite the lack of any teeth besides the hard, boulder-lined lips. Her ears met with a mixture of crackling and popping, unsure of when she was hearing the bones of the horse or simply the stony collision of the monster’s jaws.
Lord Cedric was unmoved. The Orm turned its enormous head to face Cedric, a low groaning rippled from it as it did so. Trees and bushes shifted and moved just behind it and down the trail. The entire forest snaked back and forth like waves on the ocean connected to this monster that towered over them like a small mountain. There had been talks of whole forests changing and moving, but seeing an Orm so close explained everything. Its back fin was the forest and with a shudder, it could shift and change acres of what could be mistaken as legitimate trees and underbrush.
“Whoa!” Cedric spat. “You’re much bigger than I thought.”
Snorting dust clouds from its nostrils, it moaned louder in response. It sounded like boulders falling and sent vibrations through the ground, shaking the air in Cedric’s lungs. The plant-like fin rattled and the remaining birds fled from their homes misplaced on a demon’s back. Two glowing eyes opened to peer down at who dare stand against such power. With another shake of its woodland appendage, the Orm came crashing down towards Cedric. An explosion of soil and rocks flew up and past the tallest of trees.
The roaring of the ground muted Angeline’s screaming. The rolling cloud of dirt blocked out the sun and overwhelmed all her senses. As she coughed on a lungful of wet soil, rocks fell from the darkened sky. Crawling across the shaking ground, she desperately sought one of the sleeping bags or any cloth to help her breathe. Wheezing harder, she ripped her skirt, covering her mouth and nose. Her eyes stung from the debris. She could barely see her own hands in the darkness, let alone tell if the Orm was closer or further away. The ground shook violently again, the sun a distant memory in all the chaos and hell that swallowed her now. She scrambled backwards, but a hand pushed against the middle of her back and she froze.
“Stop moving.” Cedric’s whispering lips caressed her ear. Chills ran down her spine and through her limbs. “It can’t see you, but it can feel anything move on the ground. Even when the blasted thing is moving around, it can pick out a grasshopper among all of this.”
Her stinging eyes struggled against the dust. She could only focus on−Fangs! Lord Cedric’s pristine lips embellished with the fangs from her nightmare. Fear stricken, she shuddered as muddy tears begin to run down her soil-covered cheeks. No will power left to scream she sobbed hysterically. Nothing was breaking her gaze towards the fangs that framed the corners of his mouth. Cedric’s lips were moving, but the dread had washed away his words.
“Come on.” Snarling at her, Cedric’s green eyes shined through the shadowy cloud of dirt, pulling her eyes from his mouth. “Keep it together, pet. I have no time to baby you. Stay here and do not move. Cry all you want, but do not move from here or risk being eaten.”
Dashing away, he left her there in the unknown. She heard another deafening crash as more dirt and rocks fell about her like hail. Her body would not move despite her mental pleas to her legs to run away. In her mind, and with every painful blink, all she could see were the green eyes of the demon named Cedric. Shoving her face into the piece of cloth, she continued sobbing, no longer concerned with the rumbling and raining soil. Nightmares about this strange Lord were coming true in each passing second. She had been married off to the devil himself, no hope to ever be free of the hell she will now call her life.Seeing nothing past her cloth, she realized the only wailing she heard was her own. It was unclear when the ground had stopped moving, but she was reluctant to look. Most of the dirt made its way back to earth as her eyes focused through the muddled daylight, and then she gasped. The Orm’s massive head fell close to her, close enough that the smell that greeted her nose was a mixture of mud and blood. Catching sight of what was left of a mangled horse leg her eyes jerked upward, caught by the color green. Cedric was kneeling on the top of the carcass, mouth bloodied as he exchanged glares with her.