I guess yesterday was simply the calm before the storm because all hell broke loose today. Shortly after ten this morning, as Armbranch was preparing to leave the clearing, the entire wall of traps rippled and shuddered. I recognised it immediately as a reflexive action, the way a muscle might flinch when pierced with something sharp.
When it happened a second time Armbranch shouted at me to move closer to the crevice. He started darting along the wall, stopping to examine and test it in places. I followed him. After spending yesterday in such a state of anxiety, I was glad something was happening, glad to finally have something to direct my anger at.
When the wall shuddered a third time it was all I could do to stop myself firing into it.
Moments later something sailed over the clearing. Briefly I hoped it was the ‘wind’ returning after somehow finding a way to enter the envelop. Armbranch was under no such illusion. Instead of the smooth and graceful whoosh of the ‘wind’, the sound above us was rougher, hoarser, almost like a sickly, wheezing breath.
Even before Armbranch mentioned the Basilod’s name, I knew well what was there.
Moments later a fat, pink ball the size of small car dropped from the sky. For one long moment I just watched it fall without really understanding it was a compacted ball of flesh instead of our enemy. I was so shocked by the sight I barely had time to raise the shotgun before it hit the ground, burst open, and a river of severed heads, legs, claws, and long strips of spine spilled out across the ground on the far side of the crevice.
How can I describe what happened next? I don’t know. My mind is still struggling to comprehend it. I thought I’d seen the worst the Parawerthan had to offer but everything that came before was nothing but a sideshow compared to the obscenity the Basilod prepared for us. Every single one of those body parts was alive and able to move. They came for us immediately. Raw skulls with fangs the length of fingers sailed through the air. Clawed limbs scrabbled across the stone. A leg about five feet high and as thick as a man bounded across the crevice and smashed into the ground beside Armbranch before I blasted it apart with the shotgun.
And the spines! Good God! How they wriggled and writhed across the stone like snakes. One of them moved so fast it was around my leg and squeezing hard before I got a chance to fire at it.
The envelop protected us. Gradually, as we fought for our lives, it sucked the energy from these obscenities. Ten minutes later the clearing was quiet.
We barely had time to catch our breaths when another ball of flesh exploded in the clearing and we were fighting again. It happened another three times before that sickening noise above us faded and the clearing fell quiet. It wasn’t so empty now. Lumps of raw pink flesh and bone lay everywhere. A collapsed nightmare. That’s the only way I could describe it. The Basilod made a mistake. Instead of trying to wear us down it should have launched an all out assault with these things. Had it played its cards that way, we couldn’t have survived.
What power that thing has. What terrible, terrible power and cruelty. I know now why it left us alone yesterday. It was busy elsewhere, busy preparing a different cocktail of horrors to plague us with. I suspect it went on a killing spree across the river to gather up all those bits and pieces. They certainly weren’t traps. Armbranch didn’t recognise a single creature as coming from an envelop. I think he has an idea what some of them are, though. He picked up a shattered head earlier and spent a few minutes matching it to a leg like he was piecing together some crazy jigsaw.
We spent the next hour kicking all that dead, broken flesh into the crevice. It burned quickly and violently. No smoke rose this time. All that came from the pit was a distant cacophony of howls and bawls and insane laughter.
It sounded like something was feasting down there.