The Horror

Something wasn't right with the evening. Bent-ear sighed restlessly and looked out westward towards the dying red haze where the sun had recently set.

An acquaintance walked by and Bent-ear smiled and wagged hello.

Bent-ear usually liked watching the sunset meld into the night. It usually calmed him down before the night, but something just wasn't right. Instinctively, he perked his ears and listened for a few moments.

The sounds of the village were typical enough. He could hear a few cubs roughhousing across the village. He could hear the shaman and his assistants performing some ancient right in their temple. Their murmur over the faded scripts almost as soft and steady as the babble of the wind and the trees.

It certainely was a fine autumn evening. It would be one of those cool, star-filled night when the wind and the trees seemed to be forever playing a gentle game of tag. A night when the whippoorwills would sing breathlessly for hours.

That was it! The whippoorwills weren't there.

Bent-ear listened harder. He knew from his hunting expirence that quiet birds could spook prey. Those forever-watchful eyes and resulting silence would often give away even the best of hunters.

Bent-ear flick-flicked his tail. His hackles and muzzle hair raised a little on their own. He didn't like this.

Bent-ear glanced around the village at some of his hunting pals in front of their huts. They looked uneasy as well. Some glanced back almost knowingly.

Something was very wrong.

The shadows lengthened as the last gasp of light swirled into darkness. The light from the fires danced and played with the shadows. Flickering about, it would dance in the corner of your vision to show you that something was there. Only to be nothing when looked upon directly.

Bent-ear blinked. No one would hunt near the village. Nothing ever hunted wolves. There were legends and stories of monsters. The stories that Shamen would use to scare cubs into their duties. But they couldn't possibly be true, could they? In the dancing firelight, Bent-ear wondered.

Bent-ear instintively jumped away as a horrendous crash shattered the uneasy calm. Barely visible through the darkness, one of the aged trees that ringed the village exploded into a thousands shard. His tense senses screamed in fear. Bent-ear stared in awe at the crumpled tree. Behind it, there was a moving mountain of dark, rolling fur.

A nightmare.

Bouncing with long, powerful strides, the beast entered the village. The orange light flickered off it's long fangs. They gleamed with saliva. Reaching down with a huge paw, it picked up the first wolf it came upon. The beast let out a deep, darl roar. Grinning down at the wolf in it's paw, it plunged it's snout forward and buryied it's teeth into the wolf's prone neck.

The roar of the monster and the screech of the victim was enough to jar the bones. The beast was easily thrice taller than Bent-ear. It's build was heavyset, adding devastating weight behind it's enormous strength. All of which seemed larger and more frightening in the blind night.

As it mauled it's first victim, it's hip brushed by one of the waist-high huts. It turned and waded through the structure. The structure parted for those powerful legs as if it was grass. The beast's thick and savagely powerful legs cause the building to split. The snapping rafters and crackling wood rang out through the dark as the beast walked further into the viallge without breaking stride.

With a gleeful grunt the enormous monster leapt and pounced upon the next hut. The impact of such power shook the ground. Beams and wall from the hut sprayed out in all directions as the beast instantly flattened it.

The beast paused for a moment. Whimpering at the site, Bent-ear saw the beast licking red pulp from it's paw. Some of the braver warriors ran forward with lances and knives ready. The beast looked up at their advance and loosed a deep, guttural snarl.

Those who could score a solid blow found that the beast's fur was much to thick for any damage to occur. Both those who could and those who couldn't were soon left broken, crushed, and gutted in the path of this powerful behemoth.

The monster stumbled around, blindly striking at the warriors. Some of the unlucky were caught under-paw as the mountain of fur and pain backed across their bodies and crunched them into the ground.

Bent-ear ran forward and tried to stab at the monster's underbelly. The monster swung a paw. Bent-ear tried to duck, but the huge paw caught his shoulder. It was a glancing blow that sent Bent-ear reeling and skidding into the next hut's wall.

Bent-ear's mind seemed a whirl with confusion and fear. He look at the mountain of muscle as it crouched and seemed to paw and play with one of the warriors against the ground.

Most of the villagers, with the exception of a few whimpering warriors, had ran off into the woods. Occasional eye-sparkles would show from the ring of trees and brush.

There was a high-pitched yelp and the monster grunted in annoyance as his toy crackled and popped. Bent-ear stood, wincing at his aching back, and joined four other warriors who were steadily advancing towards the distracted beast. Bent-ear knew this would be the final attack.

The beast looked up. Time stopped.

Bent-ear felt cold as it seemed the monster was eyeing him directly. In what seemed slow motion, the beast smiled. It leaned forward to place weight on it's forepaws. Bent-ear's courage faltered as he could see the gore squeeze from under the monsters paws as it's weight shifted.

Bent-ear found himself falling back at the mind-numbing sight of that ton of beast arcing towards him. Bent-ear tried to turn and run. His mind reeled. Pain bloomed through his body as the beast's deep chest slammed against him and threw him to the ground. Below him and two either side of him, four paws were firmly planted into the warriors who had been standing around him. Their blood spurting over him as the exploded under the mass of beast landing above him, Bent-ear realized the beast had landed on all fours. Bent-ear was trapped underneath the huge body above him. Bent-ear knew he would be the next toy.

Whimpering uncontrollably, Bent-ear curled into a ball and waited for the inevitable. Waited for the pain. Waited for then end. But nothing was happening.

The beast above him moved, it's breath sour and hot. The ground shuddered with a thump, as if a building had collapsed. Bent-ear wondered if the beast was trying to get him to glance up from his protective curl. The ground shuddered again, harder. Risking a peek, Bent-ear glanced upward. The beast wasn't looking at him, though. The beast's murderous snout raised and ears perked at the far-away sound.

The ground shook with a dull crash. Closer, this time, harder. Bent-ear's mind raced and raced. It was all too much for him. He whimpered again. From over the moonlit tree-tops another enormous form started to be perceived. It looked to easily be at least the height of 12 warriors. A giant, bigger yet, the treeline at it's knees.

Just above him the beast let out a bellow that shook him to the very core.

Bent-ear tried to press himself further into the ground. The giant seemed to be leaning over but all Bent-ear could see is that two massive paws to either side of him, and feel that beast mere inches from his tiny form.

Then it was just all gone from around him...

- - -

Lilpaw chuckled as he lifted the plush little puppy up from the ground, "There you are, you little rascal."

It yapped back happily at him, it's tail wagging furiously.

Lilpaw spotted the red paws and muzzle. "Busy hunting?"

Lilpaw smiled. "Your mother's worried sick. Let's go home, Rogue."

Story is © 1998, Bennie
Images are © 1998, Lisa Jennings
Bent-ear is © 1998, Bennie
Rogue is © 1998, his player