Inktober VIII: Frail in Endhaven | World Anvil
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Inktober VIII: Frail

Artists' credit to Halycon450
Cheyenne swatted yet another gnat that had somehow made its way past her feathers and bitten at her skin. By her count, this made about three hundred swats today, corresponding to about five confirmed kills. She hadn't complained about Roland and Elijah choosing to take up the expedition of the jungles without asking her first. She hadn't complained when Roland chose to bring along two pots instead of a single pot and salt. Hells, she hadn't complained when she'd nearly drowned in a tar pit due to Elijah's shoddy navigation. But these gnats had been persistent, and her nerves were as thin as spider silk by now.   As she was lost in thought, Cheyenne nearly trudged straight into Roland had she not noticed that she was now in his towering shadow. She looked past his bulky armor and ahead, where a small, frail tanned form stood apart from the greenery about fifty feet away. She craned her neck over to the side and saw Elijah now looking up from his map, staring at the form as well. He glanced back at the pair, deviating every few seconds between them and the stranger ahead.   Cheyenne blindly scoured her pack, eyes locked on the figure until she felt the cool touch of metal, and donned the goggles. She twisted a knob on the side and her vision magnified on the creature. From the size and proportions it seemed to be a child, though Cheyenne couldn't guess what race or even species it belonged to. It had two arms, two legs, a torso, and a head, but the rest of its defining features were just lumps of flesh sprouting out randomly across its scrawny frame. It was as if someone had taken all the muscles and fat from a child and thrown them into sacks before stapling them back onto the body.   "What do you see?" Elijah whispered, voice quivering.   "Some kid. At least, seems like one."   "Seems like?" his voice cracked. "We're two day's travel from the nearest village, what kind of kid would be out here?"   "One that I will fell if it gets too close," Roland's voice echoed from within his helmet. He unsheathed his sword, balancing its weight in front of him as he called out. "You there! Explain your presence or engage in combat!"   Cheyenne saw the small figure perk up, as if just recognizing the party. It turned towards Roland and started slowly toddling towards them, careful not to let its growths throw it aside with each step. Roland shifted forward before charging forward, sword high in the air and letting out a hearty roar. Cheyenne looked away. She knew that once Roland was in motion, no force in the realm could stop him, let alone her pleas to show mercy to a potential threat.   Within the darkness, she could hear Roland's battle cry reach a crescendo before abruptly being interrupted by the clattering of many pounds of metal. With one eye, she peered over to where Roland had been running and saw a large, indistinct mass of tawny, bloody flesh sat just before the smaller figure. Under one of what seemed to be a small, vestigial leg for the monstrous form, she could see an armored leg poking out from beneath.   Cheyenne couldn't move. Blinking, breathing, even the act of thought all ground to a halt as her eyes stayed motionless on a similarly inactive portion of metal plate. She only barely registered the gargantuan flesh mound's guttural roar, and made no effort to help or hinder Elijah grabbing her by the shoulder and half-running, half-dragging her into the bush. Just before she blacked out entirely, she could see the larger form turn to its kin, letting go of a potential for a larger meal. They had an entree just before them, freshly prepared.

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