Savage Kingdom

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Twenty Four

A midnight update cuz I have been working on editing it and decided to publish it.

The end of the tunnel had light. There had to be more lava ahead the more went slightly deeper into the unknown. Clara kept her eyes forward when she saw something else out of place in the cave.

A shadow of a man darts from one end of the stone wall to the next corner, the shadow possessing a tail and ears like Kito. She only caught a glimpse of it when they walked by the other passageway and twirls her head and gasps, startled, “Kito, someone is here.”

He was alert. He turns his head where she peers and stares at the dead end, “Alira?”

“No... ” she points. “It was taller and... It looked like a guy. Someone else is there.”

Kito didn’t doubt her. Especially when the shadow appears again, stepping backward to reveal itself purposely, and strides out of sight again. The owner of the shadow never reveals himself.

“I do not smell another here,” he starts walking forward. “But this passage I can tell the Nahgua didn’t go. Come on.”

When they made it to the area the shadow was seen Kito had the urge to speak, to call out, “Is anyone else there?”

He didn’t get a pleasant feeling about this when he saw a closed-off section where she said the shadow came from, but there was another area that was lit. Not by lava but rows of lit torches.

Torches that offered light to show the deep carvings imprinted on the flat walls. Symbols that Kito knew almost well. He stepped forward as his eyes inspected them. Clara positioned her hand on the wall to feel the markings. He was wondering who was down here that had times to light torches decorated into the wall. Like a temple hallway...

Her curious eyes investigated everything. She looked to him for answers, “What’s this?”

“An ancient language that my kin and others once used before we learned one to understand each other. It was such a long time ago,” his hand glides over the wall to feel them. “A few can speak it now. I understand only a little, the only ones that I know can speak it well is my mother and brother, some of the old stories are symbols. My brother and father's staff has them, which is why they learned the language to understand what the others before they carve one into the staff. This looks like the old Xutashi symbols,” he could understand them to a certain extent. He wished that Zeta was here, she could read them like a scroll.

“Can you make out anything? Like... Did you ever pay attention to her when she spoke to you about it?” They step down the hallway slowly to keep their eyes on the work. He was curious about how the torches were lit... Unless someone was here before. He hoped that it wasn’t Alira. It must have meant she was close.

“I think they are telling a story,” he examines more closely at them. Now he wishes that he had paid more attention to his lessons with his mother. “This is speaking of the Gods. This symbol,” he places the tip of his index finger on large stained charcoal drawing the size of his hand. “This is Dannica, the Goddess of deceit. And this,” another symbol. “Is Keranni, she is wisdom. She is the one who sent Dannica away, trapping her in a place that she could not escape to do any further harm. That must be what this section is speaking about. I already know this part. Dannica could still speak to people in the form of whispers because there is a crack in her sealed area, perhaps a sealed in a cage. Her whispers could lead ones to...” His words trail off when the sight of Alira came back to mind the last he saw her. The signs that she gave away that he didn’t notice until now.

“Oh, Gods, ” he walks a bit further. “I think Alira is being influenced by her. Dannica preys on weakness and most likely sensed hers, and now she is using her. An actual Goddess was speaking through her.”

It impressed her how they had their Gods here. Yet, if they could influence them to kill people then that was a serious problem. “She did say something about something here fighting each other, remember? Before she trapped us with that thing? ”

“She did say that something was fighting, ” he agrees, he was trying to decode the wall for answers. Hopefully, if his ancestors found a way to come down here and carve this then maybe there is a way out. Hopefully. He tried to understand each symbol the best he could.

"If only Zeta was here... But this section of the wall I don’t think I have heard of before. It speaks of Dannica and Keranni again, but this time there is another that they speak of. I have never seen this symbol before this way, but it is familiar,” he tilts his head at the strange image.

“Dannica had a devoted self-created Champion, one that had... Wings?” He scans it over to see if he was seeing it right. “I may have it wrong. But this follower was also punished by Keranni for carrying out some of the horrid things that Dannica wanted. This one was female. I can’t understand the name.”

“Look!” Clara walks a little further downwards. “Actual drawings! It looks like cavemen drawings but it should be better than trying to read an old language. Give your mind a break.”

He chuckles and steps close beside her to look at the pictures. His humor went away when he saw the surprisingly dark images, faded colors of untouched pictures that depicted a much gruesome display of the story. Each of them viewed them and was entranced by what this could be.

There was on picture large enough to meet Clara’s size on the wall, a dark figure of a creature with wings, it’s hands had claws and red paint depicted blood around it with a snout and sharp teeth. He couldn’t see a cub beholding this with a smile.

“You were right about the wings,” she winces. “Jeez. They sure didn’t play around with the bloody messages.”

The pictures continue. Beside the creature was bloodshed, each woman, children, and males that laid on the ground limbs and head torn. Moving onward it twisted a neck bending way to another stranger. One that was a dark shadow as well, a man who Kito could not tell of the race due to the shape of his tail. Kikera’s had a little extra fur at the end of their tails while Xutashi's were slender, even the ears had him confused. What were his ancestors trying to paint here?

“Keranni is the largest moon,” he could see the large moon that was over the kneeled image of the man. He didn’t look happy, however... He looked as if he was screaming. Furious. “This is similar to Deru but... Different. I do not know who this is.”

“The shadow!” She points to the end where the shadow that they saw before appear, and when Kito looks the stranger disappears again. She starts running for it. “Hey, wait!”

He follows. He didn’t want her to go on her own following a stranger through the now more unusual part of the cave turning into something more handmade. Especially in a section that was once inhabited a long time ago.

The shadow evaporates around the corner and there were more paintings. They dismissed them and tried to find the owner of the strange shadow, and when it vanished again around a corner they were baffled. It was leading them. They made it to another opening now. A larger one than the others.

Large enough to have its natural stone bridge over a larger pool of lava that covers the ground. The strange stone bridge seemed like it floated over unmoving.

"Here I finally am,” another voice spoke loudly so that the large cavern was filled with it. To the end where the bridge led to there was solid ground. A large shadow painting on the wall nearly took up the large space. Standing there facing it was Alira who was facing it. Her arms moving. “Come to me, Agana. Trap him and help me escape. I know you're close." Again the guttural language followed the understandable words. Not even Kito understood them.

The ground starts to shake.

They lower themselves to the ground to keep from falling over to their painful deaths of the scorching hot liquid. They tried to hurry still half crawling when they saw Alira use her bare hands to try to remove the stacks of rocks under the black image, throwing them behind her, the blood of her cuts the rocks made on her hands dripping to the soil and ignoring the pain.

She attempts to dig too quickly and removing as much as her hands were able, and the more she digs the more the world shook. Harder and harder. It was right over an area that shouldn’t be touched while equally chanting an old language that echoed around them.

“Alira!” She ignores Kito’s screams. Or she didn’t hear him at all. She had a goal set in her mind and she obeyed with everything in her, the green in her eyes now formed black. Her expression is mindless.

They rush to the other side. He yanks by her tunic away from her task and was met by a blood-curdling scream. “No! I will do this even if I have to kill you myself!”

She turns and pounces, smashing him on the ground with more force than he predicted and the world goes on to shake harder and rocks drop. He clasps her hands before she tried to use her nails to scratch him, her hands from the tip of her fingers to her wrist had distinct bulging black veins. Her face is unruly and savage. All trace of sanity fled her as her mind succumbs to the whispers that consume her mind. “You should have let that beast kill you!”

Clara rushes from behind her with a rock and bashes her head, knocking the insane woman unconscious on top of him. He threw her off beside him and scrambled up, his eyes wide and wiping the black blood that dripped from her hands and onto his face. “We need to get out of here! I think this place-”

The area that Alira had been digging moments before erupted. Dirt flew everywhere, even into the lava where it sizzled before it existing no more. A large dark shape burst from the ground and upwards, making it only so high before it fell onto the bridge and rolled, cracking stone.

Two leather wings sprouted, each was large and reminds Clara of one’s on a bat. More soil was thrown around as the creature shook itself of its mess, turning it’s black eyes to the two watching as it’s hand covered its face. Two fingers were parted for the eye to peek through, that dark void of one of its soulless orbs peering at them.

It hisses.

The creature was large. It was haunched over so estimating its height was impossible, but it has front Z legs and dark grey textureless skin and a long sharply pointed tail. Its legs were thinly crooked, beastly, and it had talons on its hand that were slender and thinly curved. It seems starved.

The two remained frozen even when it stood up slowly, taller. It was tall, it’s hand lowers from its face to show it’s half leathery skin snout of it hideously singed. The other half looked like an animal with large round eyes and long singed black hair that has hints of singed white from the heat. It also has fangs... Long, protruding fangs peeks out under its top lip with a closed muzzle.

It was the beast from the cave paintings.

The ground shook again. When it did the creature ignores them and looks back at where it had come from moments before, and with a terrified look spread its wings and hurled into the air and used its feet and claws to dig into the stone easily, climbing upwards in rapid movements.

Kito knew that if it escaped it would cause massive havoc and destruction from the sights of the illustrations. His heart fell at the thought of it escaping.

The ground shook even harder.

The walls crumbled down and stall each of the creature's attempts to climb to the top. The large crack coming from below the wall spread through the middle and to the top like a lightning bolt, crooked and noisy, and it tumbled down with large pieces falling into the lava, and Kito instantly pushes Clara out of the way of the excess burning liquid. The wall cut away to reveal another section that seemed to be a way to escape.

“Run!” He helps her up, and although they scrambled to fight against the shaking floor, they ran over the broken pieces and to forward, forgetting the unconscious body of Alira behind them. He was more concerned with Clara’s life more. Rocks were even falling from the ceiling and smashing the ground around them, it made running a few feet without stumbling impossible.

Kito was close to having a rock fall on him if he hadn’t fallen. No, he didn’t fall. He felt something grab his ankle and pull, he swerves his head to see what grabbed him but saw nothing there.

Clara snatches his arm and pulls him upwards, “C’mon!”

They flee through the tumbling chasm which also was the remains of a forgotten temple. The creature was climbing over a rock and pillars to the top of the cave with its large black wings. Each flap made a heavy noise. It was just as desperate to break out as they were when it struggled to find any exit it could. There was nothing.

The creature shrieks when something dark blocked its vision, a rock falls from the ceiling and hit it where it drops. It fell on the ground hard, but the two that were running to escape the chasm didn’t care to watch it. Kito saw the fresh crack at the end of the wall that looked large enough for them to slide through and not the monster. Whatever it was.

The beast stood up and let out a low hiss with its own black eyes catching the same exit as well. It leaps from the ground and retreated towards it, uncaring that it was too large to fit through it, it wanted to tear apart the rocks to break free. Any exit was a chance to escape.

It flew over them and used its speed to reach the hole first.

The crack rips apart and something else jumps from the confines of the stone. A large, dark figure that was only a blur collides with the creature hard enough that the two were flown across the air and on the ground, rolling. Kito almost rolled into the lava.

The figure, who Kito looks back to see, was attacking the monster with brutal determination as growls overcame hisses. The second beast he couldn’t see well, but smaller, yet it had the creature fighting and biting back to try to free itself and take to the air, only to be brought back to the ground and attacked again. It howled.

“What is that!?” Clara screams.

“Keep going!” He urges her into the hole the second thing burst from. “Now, don’t look back!”

They went on to climb the twist and higher, the upwards ascent getting larger into a tunnel. He helps her to get them elevated much quicker. He didn’t know where it led to but with everything behind them closing off he knew that anywhere was better than where they were now.

She screams when the conflict tear through the stone like a hot blade through butter and crash into the other side. The figure, now seen by Kito was a humanoid being, sunk his fangs in its arm and causes the beast to cry out in pure agony and flap its wings in panic. It moves away at the price of torn flesh and black liquid splattering on the wall. The man -or a beast himself- snarls and slashes more skin again for more black to splatter.

Kito and Clara abandoned the two in their battle and slide past them in a hurry. She grabs another rock to pull herself up but slips on its moss, cramming her ankle between two rocks. She cries for Kito before he made it any further up, “Kito! My leg, my leg is trapped!”

He snaps into action. He lowers down to her and tries his best to free her ankle by pulling the rocks apart, looking up to see the two fightings edging closer.

The winged leather animal used its crooked legs to hurl its committed foe against the wall, snapping its black eyes to gaze at Kito. It screeches and in its angry bloodthirsty rage it sized him up as the only challenge standing in its way closer to freedom. It lashes out, claws outstretched, it took off to attack him.

Kito couldn’t allow it to get any close to Clara, terrified of not, he met the animal in the middle to fend it off. She screams a high pitched scream when she watched him fight it, her heart twisting bitterly as she sees him whipped against the wall and rolling down over stones. She was stunned at how he straightened himself on his hands and the front of his feet and went after it again.

The second monster springs onto the beast, stripping its attention off Kito. This time it tried to rip its leather wing.

Kito didn’t waste the opportunity to return to Clara and remove the rocks keeping her captive. Once freed he hoists her, using his strength to throw her over the remaining rocks to the tunnel above. She drags herself out while he follows her and vacated the two to continue their bloody battle. He was hurt, a slash over his back from his bare shoulder to his spine where the creature had gotten him with its talons. He felt the bleeding but pushed through it, his main focus was keeping them alive. Mostly her. He wanted her alive. He felt himself weakening.

They flew through the wider, larger tunnel as the chaos behind them went on until it stopped. The tunnel was wide enough for the creature to fly past, knocking the two back on the ground and a gush of wind surrounds them when it fled up a tunnel that was in the ceiling. It disappears.

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