Blood dripped slowly onto the fire, hissing and sputtering. The flames hurt Grishak’s eyes, not just with their light, but the accompanying waves of heat which had instantly dried out any liquid and now burned slowly and painfully. Quickly he closed his eyelids, only serving to momentarily block the intense pain, not extinguish it.
They had suspended him upside down over the fire and one after the other they came, tossing more fuel onto the conflagration. His hands were tied behind his back, his arms forced together and looped over an iron rod. His legs had been treated similarly and he was slowly being roasted alive.
His vaunted, god-given powers of recovery were useless here. The arrow wounds had started to heal but the flesh on his bare chest had begun to crack and peel. Tribesman danced and cavorted around him, and as he was rotated slowly he heard the accompanying ribald laughter.
Now, the flames were touching his back and he started to scream, long and endlessly.
Cornelius was losing consciousness, the agony being replaced by a sweet blackness. Pain flared again, this time near his neck, and he realised that Clari had bitten him. He forgave her. What could she do against this thing? Hands relaxed and his knives clunked to the floor, the pressure on his head overwhelming.
Clari was not angry, nor was she frustrated. She knew what she had to do. Another slash of her jaw opened the wound on Cornelius’ neck wider, red blood pumping clear. With a twist, her tail was in her mouth and she ripped into her own flesh, her green life’s blood mingling with that of her Master. Her tail tightened against Cornelius’ neck, forcing an invasive contact.
It burned. Oh, how it burned. No longer was he in a safe place, a coruscating fire had torn him free. It raged through his system. He was dying, badly.
The barrier flickered, its energy loss visible as the Ambryn flung themselves against it. They had seen the Tauran pass through and hunger drove them on. He had stayed a moment to taunt them, although this did little to excite them. Their urge to feed was strong, as was the other driving force of their existence, procreation. One followed the other, causing individual Ambryn to turn on one another. Without warning, the barrier collapsed and they could smell not only the Tauran, but a multitude of other meat.
Hissing, snapping and snarling they slithered over the rocks, vying with each other in their haste. Self-preservation to them only came with the satisfaction of their primeval urges.
Guest post with D.P. Prior
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