Still Valley

He can see what appears to be a clearing up ahead in this god forsaken swamp. Spindly and thin, willow weeping trees form a small circle, causing the soil to appear almost black in color due to their shade.

He can hear the wind blowing through the trees and see small shadows flicker around the water saturated grounds, as the branches rustle in the musky smelling breeze.

The cool air hits his sweat covered flesh, sending a chill down his spine. An uneasy feeling rises in his heart from the clearing ahead. But there is no turning back now.

He curses Likan and Bori under his breath for convincing him to have joined this mad venture. The old map sold to them by some old travelling Atsigani in exchange for a handful of gold. The tall tale of the hidden treasures and forgotten riches in the middle of this haunted land, waiting to be claimed by those brave enough. And the promise of the hiding place of the the Horn of Vengeance.

The water here runs cold and clean, so clear he can see the mossy stones at the bottom, and catch sight of the small grayish eels darting between the submerged stones and rotten logs. All he hears is the clicking of claws and teeth from strange reptiles and crustaceans and the lapping of water against logs.

He is lost. Has been lost for days now. Likan dead almost a week ago torn apart by a giant black panther that pounced on the camp, that faithful night. He can not recall when Bori fell behind. Two maybe threes days ago. He didn't care. He had been holding him back, anyway.

Night was falling. He needed to find another hole to huddle for the night. Hoping he could live to see another day break. This clearing could offer some safety he thought despite the uneasy feeling he was getting. He scanned the grounds around him before he heard the sound of huge flapping wings and seeing a massive shadow fall upon him. He turned and screamed in terror.

Not two metres from him stood a visage from hell. A bird like creature with a wing span the size of a small tree, standing on two long legs that ended in razor sharp talons, two times his own size. Its plumage was dark almost midnight black, as if blending with the surrounding swamp shadows. It had a crocodile like skull with a long thin neck that ended in huge sharp beak, as long as a sword. He tried to reach for its weapon but the Heron like nightmare, as fast as lighting, pecked at his neck with its long beak, skewering the man through his windpipe feeding on his blood...

The crushing of bones and flesh echoed through the dusk...

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