II – Carefully laid plans………?

After I had opened my mouth at the meeting and stuck my large foot in it yet again, I was left with but one course of action. I needed to go below and assess the danger for myself.

So thinking, I rounded up a small group of really big Praetorians and headed off to the scene of the slaughter. The earlier reports had not been exaggerated. The room was a mess and the stench of decay was worse than any battlefield. Also, most of the odor seemed to be coming from beyond the wrecked doorway.

The bodies of my soldiers were still there as nobody had the nerve to remove them. Really couldn’t blame them. After all, whatever had done the slaughtering might come back for seconds. Bits and pieces of human bodies were scattered about the room in a careless fashion not unlike a child with it’s toys.

I had seen some truly bloody massacres in my time but I’ve got to say, this was right up there in the number one spot. The hole where a door had been gaped open, while the door itself was a shapeless piece of metal laying in a distant corner of the room. The hinges of the doorway were twisted and mangled, while the originally round doorway was now chipped and broken all around the circular frame.

This guy was really strong and, probably, really big. Definitely mean.

With that thought, we cautiously edged over to the opening and peeked through. What we saw caused every one of us to draw our weapons and back up a little bit. After the initial shock, we had a good look, just to assure ourselves we weren’t seeing things.

There was a body. I know. Big deal.

There were lots of dead bodies more or less scattered about. Difference was that this carcass wasn’t, couldn’t be, human. We stood there for awhile, talking among ourselves and considering our options. Nobody, myself included, wanted to get close to the thing until we knew for sure that it had passed on to it’s next life.

Unfortunately there was only one way to find out. You guessed it. We had to get up close and personal with it. Curiousity finally overcame caution as we stepped through the doorway to get a really good look at whatever it was.

It looked worse close up. The body lay face down in a green pool of what seemed to pass for it’s blood, while the carcass itself was a thing out of a child’s nightmare. From the top of it’s head to the tip of it’s spined tail, the thing measured at least nine feet in length. Ridged plates covered it’s entire body save for the head. At least I think it was a head.

We stared at what could have passed for a large grey skull cleaned of it’s meat. Short tusks stuck out from either side of it’s jaw and it’s teeth were numerous and looked very sharp. There were eye sockets but we couldn’t see any eyes. Only dark pits.

Moving from the head I decided to take a good gander at it’s arms. What I saw didn’t help my disposition any. The arms were heavily muscled, with the same ridged scales that covered the rest of it’s body. However, it was the hands that really grabbed my attention. Each one had three fingers and a thumb topped by a set of foot long, serrated claws. Those things could probably slice through armor with little or no trouble at all.

Explained pretty much why our boys couldn’t take the thing down. When it came down to it, they hadn’t stood a ghost of a chance. I found it necessary to look further down the body at it’s legs.

Both were large and also heavily muscled. They terminated at feet that looked very much like that of a bird. That is, a bird with big feet and long talons. That included the nasty spur located at the back of each foot.

It was one of the Praetorians who brought up the question I had been trying to avoid. What had killed the killer? Not who, as a normal man wouldn’t stand a chance in Hades against that thing.

Was something still out there . . . waiting? My plans had just taken a major shift. I was going to have to think really big if I wanted to avenge my fallen comrades. Caesar was not going to be happy.

I sure wasn’t.

Chapter III

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Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 1:37 PM  Leave a Comment  
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