Chapter 28. The Lion and the Fish

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Sensing the disturbance the Cali stormed for the well, but what they found there caused them to tighten their hold on their spears.

The creature was well a head shorter than most of the female lions. Its large under-bite made its head seem lopsided and disproportionate, it looked almost comical, but the sharp fence of teeth that lined the lower jaw were covered in mucus and blood.

It’s two soulless black eyes displayed no comprehension of mercy or thought at all. It was a monster, born of instinct, and it looked to be not a vegetarian.

The creature wore some kind of skin tight fabric across its body, hiding its sex but not its muscles. On its broad chest, almost like a symbol was a large sapphire which refracted the light of the sun.

Its pale white scales were covered in large dark stains that ominously stank of death. The monster reeked of fermented sturgeon, though dripping wet and alive the odour it produced simultaneously wet the Cali’s tongues and turned their stomachs.

This intruder was rotten and unnatural. It did not belong to this world.

Blood dripped from the creature’s taloned hand. Below its ungraceful form was the still body of its latest victim.

Experimentally, as if it was not use to standing on land, the monster picked up the dead Cali and sniffed its cooling body.

The creature opened its mouth to a disbelieving angle like a snake, and behind its many fang-like teeth hid a dark purple tongue.

A howl of pain escaped the creature as a spear shot into its arm, interrupting its mid-morning meal.

The creature aggressively turned its beady black eyes toward Surine, who was already gathering another spear.

No longer shocked but disgusted by this thing that had intruded into her pride’s territory, the jungle became filled with Surine primal roar.

The other thirty Cali females, drawing strength from their mother and elder took up the battle cry and ran for their own spears.

Wounded, the creature ripped the protruding spear from its arm and narrowed its black, pitiless eyes on the alpha predators around it. It showed no fear, nor concern, it talons flexed as its meal was preparing to fight back.

Surine, the veteran and leader of the pride’s hunting parties scooped up another spear and gave a rallying cry. Old but far from dead, the huntress charged for blood.

Close enough to feel the carrion on the creature’s breath, she sent the tip of her spear for the creature’s head. There would be no playing with this one.

With a swiftness that nowhere near belonged to a beached fish, the creature eased out of the way of the spear and as Surine’s weapon passed by it bit down hard on the wooden shaft.

The spear broke easily under the creature’s impressive jaw strength.

Shocked, Surine stared at her broken weapon. She tilted her head up just in time to see the creature slap her against the face.

The creature’s talons were like three pickaxes pounding into soft cheese.

Surine briefly saw her own upper lip sail away before her head snapped back. Unlike her sons the old lioness had not felt a thing before she had died.

Rather than spreading fear through the ranks the Cali grew agitated at seeing their old mother die. They co-ordinated into tactics reserved for hunting omtry and other dangerous prey. Their goal was to surround and subdue the creature with strength and numbers.

Five of the females threw their spears, intending to wound or strike a vital spot from a distance.

The creature covered its eyes and head with its meaty arms and took the blows. It screamed as all five Cali scored direct hits on its person, one spear penetrating through its chest, her spearhead driving through the meat and through to the other side. But still it did not drop.

The other twenty or so Cali were in mid sprint, each of them hoping to be the one to deliver the fatal blow.

Getting pretty sick of this the creature spoke. Just as with the lake monster the words were not as simple as ordinary lingual communication.

Studies had shown that certain sounds affect the human and animal brain differently. Over minutes a person being assaulted with high frequency noise could find themselves experiencing migraines and bleeding from both nose and eyes.

Doctors use sound to break away solid objects such as kidney stones, there are even historical instances were military organisations used music for psychological warfare. There was one classical rumour going around that agencies used Britney Spears albums as a torture implement.

The noise that had affected the underground lake monster and the Cali was all this and more.

It was neither loud nor intense. It didn’t matter if you were deaf, it didn’t matter if you stabbed your own ear drums with a pencil. It cut through water, it cut through meat, it effectively ran through the brains neuro pathways as effectively as molten steel being poured into an ant hill.

In an instant the Cali stopped. Their eyes were hollow and vacant, their anger and hunger torn from their tortured minds which could not handle the alien dialect. They stood and stared at nothing.

The creature, satisfied that the threat had temporarily recoiled began to remove the pointed sticks from its body.

What is this?” Came the bellowing call of T’Chull

The elderly lion, hearing the call of battle had woken from his slumber. His claws digging into his fire spear in anticipation, T’Chull went outside to confront this new challenger.

At seeing the gathering of females T’Chull’s muscles grew tense and he mentally prepared himself to spread more of his sons’ across the ashen arena.

Move.” T’Chull ordered but when they failed to listen he pushed his bulk through the lines of females.

At the centre of the ring the creature let out a guttural snarl as it tore free the last spear. It was wounded but still combat effective, the pain was not enough to neither awaken its dormant host nor hinder its goal.

To the creature’s surprise it had felt a change in the air. It went ridged as it sensed its prize close in. It turned its body with a sudden jerk as it felt the unnatural aura which was growing closer.

At the same time T’Chull broke through the wall of stunned lionesses to confront the intruder.

The two parties saw each other.

T’Chull saw the creature’s mutated body and turned his gaze downward to see the bodies of his past and present favourite lovers lying dead.

Like-wise the creature identified that this old and fat mammal was one of the thieves who took its master’s precious stock. The creature mimicked T’Chull’s actions and looked down to scrutinise to the long and otherworldly object in T’Chull’s grasp.

The spear looked as if it had been used as a toothpick, the thief had decorated it with the skulls of small animals and scratched the shell with its claws. The thief had ruined the value of the spear with his finger prints and carelessness.

Through the thief’s actions and irresponsible handling the limited addition Orga spear became that more limited.

Enraged, T’Chull turned the tip of the spear upon the creature who murdered and destroyed his possessions. The Cali growled in satisfaction as the beast, whatever it was, stood no chance against his awesome weapon and divine might.

Eventually, T’Chull abated his attack. Over the years he had mastered control over the disastrous spear. It was never good to hold down the catch for such prolonged instances. It was too simple for the blaze to grow out of control and start a forest fire.

Even with the half-a-minute burst, the stick nature of the spear’s fire caused everything around the well to be saturated in intense flames.

T’Chull could see little as he stared at the fire. The orange tips were nearly waist height and the years of inhaling the acid smoke had left T’Chull’s sense of smell and taste numb.

T’Chull coughed and then roared in triumph as he had defeated another rival. There was a splash and droplets of water fell uselessly onto the burning ground.

From the depths of the well a taloned hand reached up to grasp at the edge of the well, and with terrible strength the creature drew itself up to the surface.

The Cali male thought it a trick of the fire as the creature freed itself from the well. He could not believe that anything of this mortal world could weather a direct assault. The spear’s holy fire had never failed him. It had always proved it dominance.

Red blood oozed from the creature’s slimy bulk. The females had hurt it, but T’Chull had left his own mark upon its flesh. A part of the creature’s side was covered in hot fire that was slowly climbing up its side.

Not even the pure waters of the well could hope to douse the spear’s alchemic fire, its strange properties allowing it to survive without air.

T’Chull frowned, this thing was dead. For a moment he had been worried, but his doubts in the spear causing fear to travel through him. Of course the spear would not fail him.

Only one other had ever survived its holy fire, and she was most likely nothing but bones left to rot in some beast’s belly.

Soon the fire would burn through this monster’s white scale, and engulf if it in its hot splendour. The fire would not die for days or until it was coated in mud, even then the ash had a tendency to ignite.

Nearly screaming in frustration at the creature’s stubbornness to accept its fate, T’Chull prepared for a second strike.

The creature was not as proficient on the land as it was in the waters that ran under the jungle, its long disproportionate limbs and webbed feet caused it to look clumsy.

Its attempts to run made it look as if it had a burning pine cone wedged up its fishy ass. Eventually it found that marching proved to be a more effected means of escape.

Sensing the oncoming flames again, the creature leaped back from the well, and ran ungracefully for the edge of the village. It wanted to increase the distance between it and of spear’s maximum range.

Not surprised that the cowardly beast would flee his power, T’Chull cried out to his harem, “Kill.” But the females did not heed to the call of the hunt.

Some of T’Chull’s haram were on the ground, trembling like kittens seeking warmth from a nasty chill. Others were laughing at nothing, their giggles and grunts belonging to the deranged and the mad.

Still there were some were so distort that they grabbed nearby rocks and began to shack their heads as if it would bring sense back to the world.

One of T’Chull’s daughters saw the inferno her father had created and uttered a quick giggle before running into the devouring fire, all the while waving her arms frantically saying, “Look at Ziza. Look at Ziza.”

T’Chull was incredulous. Had they all lost their minds? “Ziza, get away.” T’Chull ordered his daughter, not able to come to grips that she was already doomed.

One Cali, pointed to the side and held her nose with her other hand paw, “Stinky fish.” she said.

T’Chull tore his gaze away from the burning and laughing Ziza to see that the creature had shot out from the bush to the side.

The wily beast had used the trees as cover so that it could come around from the side. Though slow its strides were purposeful, its insatiable hunger to complete its mission and punish the thief for his transgressions.

It did not care that its way was blocked by five females, it did not care that is body was slowly burning, what it lacked in speed it made up for in its need to need to complete the mission.

Angered by the loss of his daughter and the sight of this creature that refused to accept its fate, T’Chull turned his spear again toward the intruder.

Seeing the spear being pointed its way again, the creature swiftly jumped to the side, craftily using the invalid females as an obstruction.

Again a roar of frustration came from the old male Cali.

It became a race as both the creature and T’Chull intended to close the gap. The creature, driving its wounded and burning body forward; T’Chull pushing aside his lovers and daughters to vanquish the creature and feast upon its burnt heart.

Every time T’Chull got his spear into position the creature was one step ahead, sometimes going so far as to crab walk in a semi-circle, the creature continued to use the females as its personal meat-shield until T’Chull could take no more and battered a giggling female to her stomach.

Now free of obstructions T’Chull was in range and free to turn the foul thing into nothing more than a stain of embers.

Not close enough to commit to a gambling lunge, the creature turned to desperation. It delved deeply into its sleeping other half’s awareness. Not wanting to wake up its weakling self, it searched for a civilised way to deal with the thief.

Willing to sacrifice a piece of itself the creature used one of its taloned hands to jab into its flesh. With a loud intense shriek it tore away the hunk of its skin that T’Chull had ignited. It then threw its own burning meat at the thieving Cali just as T’Chull squeezed the spear’s secret catch.

Unprepared for the sudden and expected scene of the creature mutilating itself, T’Chull hesitated and got a face full of abandoned muscle and blood in the face for his trouble.

Pain erupted across T’Chull’s muzzle. The quick exchange was not enough to set T’Chull’s face a flame, but the few embers that managed to stick to the Cali’s nose and fur was enough of a shock panic the lion and causing him to wipe at his face.

The distraction was enough for the creature to take several rushed steps forward and lunge for the thief.

A new pain blossomed in the old cat as the creature buried its talons into T’Chull’s gut. It’s lunge had been meant for the quick kill, but its own inexperience on land had hindered it enough to come up shout but not miss entirely.

Driven by pain mixed with bloodlust, T’Chull remembered that he was still holding his spear. With all the strength it could muster, the old alpha lion sent the spear into his attacker’s torso, sending the spear straight through the creature.

As an extra insult, T’Chull squeezed the catch and a lance of orange fire erupted from the creature’s back.

The creature, refusing to die and give in to the trauma and the heat opened its mouth to a near 180 degree angle.

T’Chull warily caught a glimpse of an impossibly huge maw of teeth and a slimy purple slug of a tongue before the creature closed its mouth around his face.

All around the Cali’s village the fire spread from rock to stretch of grass, to tree, to house. With the female Cali driven mad, the primitive monument that the Damu-shami had built for their captors was left unguarded and so the spear’s fire consumed everything.