The Squire found the monster sleeping beneath the splintered shade of a dying willow, deep within the ancient forest. Its poisonous carapace the size of a redwood’s trunk, its terrible tendrils slithering like great leeches into the pale, variegated earth. Where once eft and mew had gibbered with frivolity, there was now only silence.
All about the fathomless, grotesque singularity, the skulls of various animals lay in fractured disarray. Bird and bitch. Lizard and shrew. Heifer and man. The porcelain remains of the children proved singularly disquieting.
The Squire unsheathed his glimmering blade and inhaled sharply, quietly, steadying his kettle-drum heart, steeling his fraying nerves. His travel-stained boots furrowed the decaying vegetal carpet. Muscles tensing like corded wire.
“For The Maiden,” he declared silently to himself before throwing his leather-cuirassed body from behind the foliage of the wasted dale, straight for the hideous calamity which lay slumbering some twenty feet off.
The young man had scarcely unconcealed himself when the beast addressed him.
“Thou hath two eyes yet miss my thirty?”
“I care not for whither thou sleepest nor wake. Only thy destruction shalt sate my want. Ruin thou hath wrought upon the fair maid’s crop. And so, by my hand, a like bane shall be befall thee.”
“Then upon thy marrow shalt I sup.”
The great beast shifted upon its amorphous stalk and opened its terrible jaws that bore a likeness to both the crocodile and tardigrade. The Paige brandished his blade and ducked one of the monster’s leathery, vine-like tentacles, then hewed it from the ghastly body with a powerful slice. The beast issued a bloodcurdling howl and barreled forth in squamous, erratic increase.
Again and again the nascent knight weaved skillful circles round the vile aberration, dodging its feral movements and dismembering its grotesque and swarming weaponry. At the last, the beast had more wounds than appendages and swiftly reared up upon its thick russet trunk, lashing out with it’s last venomous tentacle and unleashing a vicious creaking snarl that shook arbor and earth alike.
Before the paige could strike the unhallowed creature down, a voice intruded upon the scene.
The young boy turned to behold Stacy, similarly aged, some eight years old, pigtailed and garbed in baggy overalls, stained at the knees with grass and mud. The girl jerked her thumb over her shoulder toward the clearing beyond the wood.
“Ma made pancakes.”
Oswalt smiled, dropped his wooden sword and raced up with Stacy to her parent’s vinyl-sided stucco house.
A old crow flapped down from its thorny throne to look with odd angled gesticulations at the thorny, mangled weed upon the fencepost and the chipped and ligneous blade beside it.