Night was long in the Secret Lands. Long, dark, and brutal. It came strong, and it came quick. The day creatures all but disappeared, knowing full well that the denizens of darkness would feast
merrily upon their flesh. The birds flew up above the canopy, the rodents dove beneath loose hills. Small lizards crawled into the knotholes of the jungle's tall trees, and even the mighty
rhinoceros sought refuge within the dense foliage. Not even the insects dared to march on through the night, quickly scattering to their respective homes to hunker down and wet for sunrise. Truly,
all day creatures took to the shadows at night, each with the knowledge that they may never again see light.
Young Brrda was no exception.
Before he was the Savage Savior, Brrda was but a child wrapped tight in his mother's arms. His father, Orrda, pushed thick stone slates to cover the sight-holes and entrance. These stones were
important on most nights when Orrda remained awake for many hours studying the language of their ancestors by the light of captured glow bugs. Light which could attract undesired attention.
"Why does it matter?" Brrda's mother asked as she held her son to her milking breast. "You put us in danger to look at those drawings, Orrda. Cover the glows and sleep."
"I have to," Orrda replied. "I have to know what these mean. Something happened, Kal. Something that took this language away from us. Something that took most of our people away from us. Something
like what happened when we were young..."
Kal pulled Brrda away as she lurched onto her feet. Her eyes were hard, her jaw was tight. "This obsession of yours has already lost us my brother. I've had enough of this from you, and now you put
our son at risk—"
"Don't you see?" Orrda turned away from the clay tablets then. "I do this for him. Whatever came for our ancestors, whatever came for us, it will come back for him. And it will come for the rest of
the jungle. How can I be expected to stop it if I don't even know what it is?"
"You will stop it," she said sternly, "because you are a man."
Orrda looked his mate, looked deep into her eyes. Brrda watched from the darkest corner of the room, tears building in his eyes.
"Your father was a man, my father was a man, our uncles were men, our cousins were men, our neighbors were men, our warriors were men. Now they are dust. Men alone cannot accomplish all things."
Kal scoffed, then snorted, then spat on Orrda's toes. "You're a coward."
There was a crack as Kal's fist lunged forward, pressing into Orrda's jaw. The man tumbled back, falling into the structure which held the tablets and spilling them to the ground. Brrda hugged
himself as his mother's shadow loomed over his father, her shoulders rising and falling with each panting breath.
"You are a coward," she said again, her voice rising. "You are a coward, and you are weak, and you family will die because of it. Your son will die because of it." Her voice broke into a yell.
"You're pathetic. Reading words you could never hope to understand. Wasting your time, risking our lives. And you have the gall to insult my father? You are nothing but a lowly worm!"
Kal's foot crashed through one of the tablets. Its shards shot in all directions, one bouncing softly off Brrda's foot. He pulled it back, sobbed quietly. Then stopped. There was a sound, like wind
moving the branches. Instantly his eyes snapped to his father's. There was a frightened look in them that said: "I heard it, too."
His mother carried on berating Orrda, stomping the tablets into dust. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. SMASH! A black tendril shut through the floor, coiling tight around Kal's ankle. She screamed and dove for
the tendril, but another snapped up and twisted tight on her wrist. Brrda pushed back against the wall, kicking his feet desperately against the floor.
Orrda moved fast, grasping a tendril in his strong fist. He squeezed, crushing it into a mess of purple and black gel. There was an ear-splitting shriek which caused the stick shack to tremble.
Four more tendrils burst up through the floor, these ones thicker than the others. They flailed wildly, roping and reaching for anything to pull into the darkness. Kal gave one final shout before
she was ripped away into the darkness.
One of the large tendrils slapped over Brrda's body. It was wet and slimy, like a fish. Before the young savage could utter a word, the tendril had twisted itself around him. He looked up, tears
clouding his eyes, and reached for his father, but their hands missed as he was ripped through the floor and sent spinning through a mass of writhing darkness.
Spinning, tumbling, tossed and turned by thousands of squirming tentacles. And then at once the jungle darkness opened into a brilliant, grotesque yellow which peered at Brrda hungrily. There was a
sick splashing as the eye blinked. A roar reached across the land as the creature's beak spread open. And then—
Brrda rolled to the floor, his head drowning in pain as it landed with a heavy thump. He darted up, breathing in a frenzy. Retsis snapped up from her slumber, staring at her master intently and
scanning the darkness around them.
The dream faded. Brrda wiped the sweat from his back and looked around, remembering where he was. His bandaged wounds burned slightly, urging him back to rest. And after a moment of hesitation, he
did as they asked, returning the soft cushions and remembering what it was like to be cradled in her arms.
© Copyright 2016 Nathan DiYorio. All rights reserved.