Beasts such as that were supposed to be extinct. Talpa had wiped them
out long, long ago, before Sekhmet was even born. But he still
recognized the beast, a creature straight out of his worse nightmares.
Sekhmet was staring, black eyes to jaundice yellow eyes, straight at a
It was twelve feet of purple-black scaled snake body, mounted by a
grostesque mockery of a human head. A darker hued, spiney crest began
between the fey creatures eyes and ran back, over the smooth brow and
for some distance down the finely scaled body. It smiled, or more,
grimaced at Sekhmet, revealing it's fanged maw, dripping with saliva. A
forked tongue flickered in and out between those teeth, tasting the air
and scenting its opponents. The far end of its tail was topped by a
humming rattle and a vicious, poisonous stinger.
Cye moved close to Sekhmet's side, swallowing his fear of massive naga
and setting himself to aid a friend in need. Kento circled around to
Sekhmet's other side, never taking his eyes off of the beast for a
The naga, L'das, surveyed its opponents with equal intensity, looking
for openings in the armor they wore, grinning grotesquely as it measured
the fighting ability and potential speed of the three warriors. L'das
was not stupid, by far, it had not survived so long in that pit of
Darkness without cunning on its side. It slithered forward a small bit,
coiling its long, thick body beneath it.
The rattling of its tail was rubbing Kento's nerves the wrong way, and
he didn't like it in the least. Readjusting his grip on his tetsubo
staff as the thing shifted forward, he waited tensely for the attack
that was imperative.
In a fury of motion, Sekhmet drew two of his Snake Fang katanas and
lunged at the creature. L'das hadn't expected the attack, and barely
managed to draw its vulnerable head from the path of the slicing,
venom-dripping blades. One of the two blades nicked its scales, a minor
wound. Sekhmet leered at the sight of his venom dripping over the
naga's scales. L'das fixed Sekhmet with a jaundice stare.
"Your poissssion issss pathetic." L'das hissed. "Assss are your
Its mocking laughter enraged Sekhmet.
Kento hesitated, unsure of what course of action to take. But Cye
moved into action, intent on pinning the barbed stinger with his
trident. L'das saw his movement out of the corner of its eye, and drew
the tail and stinger from his path. Cye looked startled as his target
flitted away with amazing speed. L'das suddenly reversed the direction
on its tail, sending it, stinger outward, flying back at Cye.
Cye raised his eyes at Kento's warning cry and attempted to leap out of
the way. The very tip of the stinger raked across his face, stinging
his skin and raising a thin, red line across his cheek. L'das cackled
wildly and avoided another of Sekhmet's strikes.
Cye fell awkwardly backwards, losing his grip on his trident. He put a
hand up to his face and wiped away the trail of blood, already clotting.
The hit hadn't struck for much damage, but Cye could feel an undenyable
lethargy creep over his body. He struggled to his feet, reaching for
his trident. He never knew if he grabbed it though. All feeling was
lost from his fingers. Darkness closed in.
* * * * *
The ghost smiled as Artemis
looked from him, to the Jewel of Life, back
to him. She didn't know what he expected; she had no clue what he was
about to do.
"Place the Jewel at your feet," Anubis instructed, after having her
lie flat on the couch.
Artemis followed his order, then lay back, resting her head against the
"Comfortable?" Anubis asked. Artemis nodded. "Good," the ghost
continued. "Because you won't be home for a bit."
Artemis began to sit up, alarmed at his words. "What?"
She never got the question out; Anubis was pushing her back down, a
substansial hand on her shoulder. But his other hand, as insubstansial
as mist, passed through her body, dipping into the area just below her
ribcage. Artemis gasped in shock at the cool sensation. Anubis closed
his phased hand within her, grasping, for all descriptive purposes, her
spirit. He smiled down at Artemis' brilliant, wide shocked eyes as he
began to stand, and pull her away from herself.
Artemis' perseptions shifted as her worldly eyes closed, and her
spiritual eyes open. She felt no different, standing between Anubis and
her body. Except the activity of looking down at her body was decidedly
different. She looked to Anubis and found him amused by her momentary
"Is this what being dead is like?" she asked rhetorically, her own
voice echoing eerily in her ears.
"This is what being dead in a world of the living is like." Anubis
answered. He drew her a step towards the Jewel of Life, pulsing deep
red with power. Artemis felt drawn to its depths. "I will show you
what being dead.. truely entails."
He tugged on her hand, and Artemis felt herself slip apart.
* * * * *
They left Archeron's cadaver
lying in the clearing open and vulnerable
to the scavengers of the forest. Whiteblaze sniffed around the
perimeter of the clearing, looking for some trace of the scents that
dominated it. He found faint traces, obviously covered, leading off to
the northeast. Pausing before entering the faint game trail, Whiteblaze
That was the signal for the group to come together.
* * * * *
Sekhmet backpedaled away from
the sudden strike of the naga. L'das was
unrelenting, lashing out. Sekhmet struck back, his swords finding time
to nick and scratch at the thick purple-black scales. The Overlord of
Venom looked about, trying to learn if Hardrock had pulled Cye to safety
Kento was worried for his little friend. Cye wasn't responding to
anything, not the sound of Kento's voice, not the light shakes that his
best friend tried to wake him with. Kento raised his eyes to Sekhmet,
but the Overlord was too involved in his battle.
The stinger bit deep into Sekhmet's shoulder, through his armor. He
ground his teeth from screaming, and ripped himself backwards, off of
the impaling spike. L'das thought it surely had the warrior now.. the
sleep poison in the stinger would overtake this one like it had the
Sekhmet knew what the stinger was supposed to do, and swooned slightly,
as if falling under its influence. The charade paid off. L'das
retreated slightly to watch the poison do its work. Sekhmet powered up,
drawing the remaining Snake Fang blades.
"SNAKE FANG STRIKE!!"
The six blades scored home, biting deep into the scaly hide around
L'das' human head. Thick, hot blood began to fall upon the ground, as
L'das found itself, for the first time in its long exitance,
overwhelmed, by snake venom.
Hardrock looked around, hearing the signalling roar of Whiteblaze
barely over the din. Hoisting Cye over his shoulder, he glanced
questioningly at the winner as Sekhmet left the still-writhing naga
behind him. The Overlord lifted Cye's head slightly.
"He'll sleep for a while longer, but otherwise, he'll be fine."
Kento looked fearfully back at the snake-like naga. "What is... was
Sekhmet chuckled, and hid his pain from the Ronin. "A nightmare."
* * * * *
Cale looked to his right, hearing
the call of the tiger. Sage was
still peering into the shadows, trying to discern the eyes that watched
him. Kayura tapped his arm, calling his attention away.
"We have other things to attend to." She breathed, pulling him away
from his scrutiny of the shadows.
Cale took up the rear of the line, and glanced back into the shadows in
time to see a pair of scarlet eyes surveying him. He blinked and they
were gone. Must be my imagination, he thought, scolding himself