Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Featured Creature: Gift of the Pyxis

Sigurd and Donna were fighting again.  Behind me, at the second table of artifacts, they stood over the ancient box that had been found at the new dig site and all but spat in each others faces.  An inscription translation was the item of contention this time.  I tried to concentrate on translating the runes on the sword in front of me, but they continued to escalate.

Professor Lincoln wasn't at camp today and in his absence they always went after each other.  They had not liked each other from the moment they had met.  A week in the cramped quarters of the base camp had not helped their temperaments at all.  Any professional courtesy had quickly withered until only venomous disagreement remained.  All common ground was lost.

"The inscription clearly calls this chest the Pyxis of Union!"  Sigurd said with derision.  Donna sighed heavily and flipped several pages in her notebook.  She read from her notes and glared back at Sigurd.

"The rune for death and transfiguration is clearly displayed at several key points on the chest.  It is the Pyxis of Death!"

"Pyxis of Death!"

"Pyxis of Union!"

"Are you two eight years old?  Just open the damn box and be done with it!"  I looked back over my shoulder angrily.  "Some of us are trying to work."

"Fine!"  Donna spat.  The both reached in to lift the lid of the box.  There was immediately a bright white flash and Sigurd and Donna both screamed. It felt as though I'd been hit squarely in my back by something large.  The force threw me over the table.  The table tilted on its side as I flew over and onto the ground.  The sword I had been studying clanged once against the metal table and stuck point first into the ground a few feet away.

Behind me I could hear Sigurd and Donna, but something was wrong.  Their voices were gravelly and rough.  It sounded as if they were sobbing in unison.  I pulled myself up and looked over the table.

Where Sigurd and Donna had been standing was some creature.  It's skin was a bright pink as though it had a sunburn.  It had four arms and four legs, but all were at odd angled to each other.  Its breathing was audible as it crouched over the table where the box had been.  The table was melted through the middle as though by a great heat.  The remaining bits had rough molten edges that glowed orange.  The box lay on the ground beneath the creature, skewed and open.  A thick haze filled the air.

The creature took a deep breath and raised up, screaming.  It had two heads that were melted together, much like conjoined twins.  I realized then, looking at the anguished faces, that it was both Sigurd and Donna.  They had somehow been merged into a single entity.  The creature slapped itself about its heads and chests and roared in pain.  Its skin was slick and glistening.  Drool fell away from its screaming mouths in thick strands.

As I watched, the creatures skin grew dark.  The darkness quickly became blackness as flames erupted all over the creature.  It screamed and screamed, the dual voices creating an unpleasant cacophony that made my stomach churn.  I moved away as the heat quickly became too intense.  The creature howled and chased after me as I fled the tent.

It stumbled awkwardly, a living fireball.  Behind it the tent was rapidly consumed.  The creature doubled over.  As it did, a set of wings sprouted out of its back, stretching out.  It flared its wings as its two heads howled at the sky.  It spat fire in an arc and caught several of the other tents on fire.  I ducked the fiery spray just barely.  It flexed its flaming wings and in one fluid motion, took to the air.  I fell to my knees, watching in dismay as it disappeared beyond the tree line.  It screeched and screeched as it flew off and away, leaving a thick black smoke trail across the sky.

{created in Adobe Photoshop}

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