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The Labyrinth (For momy3's Mythical creature/fantasy challenge

Short story By: Sparkey

Entry for mommy3's challenge. The Chimera is a ferocious monster that is ravaging the land. Can a young boy with a warriors heart stop it?

Submitted:Dec 4, 2009    Reads: 268    Comments: 3    Likes: 3   

The first of the beast's roars was bone shattering in its ferocity. The second, a hair raising holler that invaded the small warrior's mind. He nearly made to turn back then but steeled himself
No I must do this. I must do this for the sake of my family and for families everywhere.
He crouched down in the gloomy tunnel and picked up his sword that he dropped with fright. He took a deep breath and stepped forward.
The stone floor was damp and slippery causing the boy to keep his hands on the wall to prevent him from falling over. He glimpsed puddles occasionally, gleaming orange from the flaming torches hung on the walls at regular intervals. The torches stopped at a fork in the tunnel. The boy had no idea which way to go until he heard the beast bellow in the depths. He followed the sound to his right.
What had been smooth, stone floors became cracked and rough, almost like a cave tunnel. Small stalactites hung from the ceiling, dripping so slowly, it seemed time itself had paused a moment to witness this boy hero's demise.
The darkness consumed him, clung to his clothes, invaded his mind; projecting images of how he could be lost in this tunnel forever. He could barely see a few metres ahead of him and the feeling of not knowing what was right in front of him made his skin crawl.
The tunnel turned and branched off but the boy just picked a tunnel and kept walking. He feared that if he stopped his fear would prevent him from going on to face his fear. This cave was unlike any he had entered before. Most places he explored were not very deep and the noise from outside could still be heard and light still shone.
This cave was pure evil.
It penetrated deep into the earth were fresh air did not blow and the sun dare not shine its light. Where the only sound was the echoing footsteps of the boys fearful walking and the only smell was the choking stench of animal faeces and charred entrails. This was a place were darkness was complete and it guided the actions of any who enter through fear.
The boy reached a round cavern with several tunnels, branching off in different directions. One caught his eye.
All of the other tunnels were smooth and clean whilst this one was uneven and something oozed down the walls
He went over and touched it but immediately wished he hadn't.
It was blood.
It was splattered all over the walls and floor, a crimson coat of death on cold stone walls. He stepped into the tunnel and his boots crunched on something, He glanced down and recoiled in horror. He had just crushed a human skull. He noticed other shards of bone, littered on the floor and ripped pieces of flesh, animal and human, hung gorily off them.
He fought back the urge to retch in this god forsaken tunnel, instead opting to hold his sword just a little tighter and continue, being careful not to step on the decaying meat. He gasped for clean air as the rotting smell overpowered him, even the musky, stale air of the other tunnels were preferable to this. He heard a deep growl penetrate the silence and he held his breath. He was well and truly in the beast's lair now.
He heard a scraping sound, like metal grinding against concrete and began to panic.
I can't do this, I can't do this.
He breathed slowly, trying to calm his nerves.
No. You need to this. You can do this. You have to do this. Who else will fight if you don't? For too long this thing has terrorized us. Now we need to fight back.
It had all started many years ago when the boy hero was a mere child. A dark sorceress, scorned by all who she loved, fled for the mountains. There, she plotted her revenge. She made a monster so powerful and so fearsome; it would surely make everyone suffer for what they did.
Part Lion.
Part Ram.
Part Serpent.
All demonic.
It had a power unlike any other monster in the land. Capable of great destruction and with a thirst for blood that would make even a vampire cringe, it swept across the land. Burning, killing, and destroying.
It spared nothing and no one.
It retreated back into its cave and ever since then, every year it comes out to feed again. It is nearly time for this to happen once more.
Unless the boy hero had anything to say about it.
He continued through the darkness, creeping through the slaughterhouse that once was a humble cave. His feet lost their grip on the bloody floor and he slipped, smashing into the ground heavily. His hands landed in a pile of fleshy meat and he wretched up his guts.
The beast roared in triumph, rage and hunger as the boys cry alerted it to his whereabouts. He immediately cursed himself for giving in to his disgust and scrambled up, oblivious of the blood running down his shirt and arms. He knew walking was no longer the safest option so he broke into a run, his footsteps resounding through the tunnels.
"It knows where I am," he whispered in desperation.
The beast roared again, this time the noise was closer and louder than ever before and the boy felt like curling up into a ball and crying. Particles of dust drifted down from the ceiling as the beasts thunderous steps began getting faster. The boy was on the verge of tears with fright.
What was I thinking, this is a real monster. A very powerful and real monster.
The boy burst into a cavern, this one had a small lantern hung in the centre and the change of light made him shield his eyes. Then he noticed.
The sounds had stopped.
Silence once more wrapped around him like a blanket as the sounds of the beast died away.
This is torture.
"Come on. What are you waiting for? Just kill me!" he screamed but the only sound he heard in reply was the echo of his voice.
Several minutes passed, standing in the hazy light of the lantern. He didn't hear so much as a snort. He spun around, looking into the shadows of the tunnels around him, unsure of the direction the onslaught would come from.
Fear tickled his skin and he kept imagining it was the beast's hot breath causing his hair to stand up. Every fibre in his body was quivering with fear and anxiety. Where was this monster? Would it come from the left or the right or from behind him? The unknown factors made his situation a whole lot worse. All the tunnels looked the same now, gory and horrific beyond comprehension. He continued on, not knowing where he was going, whether he was going away from the beast or towards it. His hands were shaking with fright and his spine stood on end. He couldn't take it any more.
"Show yourself! For goodness sake SHOW YOURSELF!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. But the sound just hung, suspended in darkness before being sucked away into the dark void of silence.
This monster may be an animal, but it obviously wasn't stupid. It knew how to play the game of cat and mouse extremely well. It was the supreme hunter, a killer like no other and its tricks were clearly working on the boy; once so full of confidence, now replace by terror. The tunnel became steeper and colder as he descended ever deeper into the belly of the beast. He wished with all his might that he could just fly out and be free of this nightmare. But he knew he would never truly be free unless he killed this monster.
Suddenly he emerged in an enormous space, lit up with giant pools of fire. The walls were made up of hundreds of stone pockets, large enough for the boy to stand up in. They ran all the way around the massive cavern. They stretched ever upwards, so high that the light of the flames did not reach the top. The boy stood, awestruck by the amazing cavern, before realization flooded him.
He had reached the end of the labyrinth. This is the beast's true home!
His face melted into a look of dread and he pointed his sword out in front of him, afraid the monster might jump out and attack him. He crept forward, slowly and cautiously, running along the walls so he didn't leave himself open. He heard a scuffle and spun around, his heart beating loudly inside his chest. Sweat formed on his skin as he realised this was it, he couldn't go back now for the monster had him trapped.
Both he and the monster were here and only one of them would leave. He caught a shadow flitting out from tunnel he had emerged from but he caught no sight of the creature he sought. A growl drifted down from above him in the upper reaches of the cavern where no light could reach.
His eyes darted back and forth, searching and waiting for the beast to attack and end this torturous game. Then it happened
He heard loud clicking, like claws scarping stone and a massive boom from behind him. He turned around and beheld the Bane of the land.
Its massive golden frame towered a good metre above his head. The first thing he saw was a sickening version of a rams head. It's eyes were glowing an evil red and a pointed snout with sharp teeth poking out. Massive horns curled out from its skull, and poked up ending in a razor sharp tip that could gore open a wild boar. A tuft of fur stuck out under its jaw and irregular patches of hair were scattered around its face before they snaked their way around its neck to form a magnificent golden mane, splattered with blood.
The monster reared its head, revealing the demonic lions head underneath with the same red eyes. Its front legs were that of a lion; powerful and muscular with fearsome black claws, these legs were made for hunting and killing. The tan fur continued down the back legs where it turned darker and formed a bony hoof that clicked on the stone floor. Near the tail of the beast, the fur transitioned slowly into dark green and tan scales. The scaly tail curved up and snaked its way up to the front of the beast where it formed the head of a serpent complete with forked tongue and fangs dripping with poison.
The rams head reared again to roar, revealing a white hot mouth that emitted intense heat. The lion head roared as well and the snake tail hissed in rage. The monsters body twitched and a river of fire spewed forth from the ram's mouth, flying into the sky before dissipating in the air.
It was the final feature of fire breathing that confirmed the boy's suspicions. This was the beast he sought.
This was the dreaded Chimera.
The Chimera took a step forward and the boy took a step back. All his thoughts of killing the beast, all his courage was swept away as he gazed into the ruby eyes of the monster, the same colour as the bloody corridors he had wandered through.
"No," he said under his breath, his throat tightening as an overwhelmed feeling came over him.
He turned and fled, running away from the terrible, yet glorious, beast that he had once thought of killing. There was no way he could do it now; no way he could defeat a monster as mighty as this.
Have to get away.
The Chimera charged and the boy got a vision of his limp body impaled on the terrible horns, his blood running down and matting into the creature's fur.
"Please," he begged as he ran, "Help me!"
He knew there was nobody who could spare his fate but had to try.
"Somebody help me!" he screamed into the darkness.
"I'm no hero! I can't do this by myself!"
As he neared the opposite wall of the cavern the inevitability of his death dawned on him. He was going to die down here in this horrible darkness. His blood and bones mixing with that already in the tunnels. He hit that wall and begged, "Just make it quick".
The Chimera roared in triumph and slowed, savouring the kill that was to come. The serpent tail strained forward, desperate to be feasting on human flesh again. The boy closed his eyes and waited for the end. He felt the hot breath of the Chimera on his face and fell to the floor, his legs going limp with fear. He heard a low rumble as the Chimera closed in. He whimpered and began chanting.
"I'm no hero. I'm no hero-"
Intense heat buffeted his face as the rams head opened its fire-breathing mouth. He could feel his skin burning before the beast twitched and his face disappeared into flames.
The flames stopped and there was nothing left but a blackened skull. The body slumped and the Chimera stood over it, allowing the lion head to gorge on the soft man-flesh. The snake hissed in victory and the ram reared before letting out a deafening bellow. It was letting any who dare stand against it that there was no stopping the Chimera. Nothing could stand in its way.
The mighty Chimera will not die.


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