This is a continuation of the Mortis Custos Part 41 by @lex-zaiya.
To start at the beginning of the story please see the links provided at the end of this post!
Viewer discretion is advised due to gory violence! Undead! Swords! Death! Beware!
Derric stood up. All in the camp was quiet. They had travelled for what seemed to be three days. The terrain made no sense and there was no way of know if they were travelling in circles or not.
The strange bovine animals sustained them, the large wolf did most of the hunting. He had gotten bigger. Before they had gone to sleep he had brought a kill to the camp. Usually they shared the carcass among the entire party, but Derric knew that it would not be enough.
The brutish Gorox took the carcass and began gutting and skinning it, the mage made a fire and the party ate well. Derric did not stay long.
He had ranged out again, sought out another flock of the cow-like creatures. They had been more skittish but he had quickly caught up to them. This one was for himself and he ate it raw and bleeding away from the edge of the camp.
When he had returned the knight Mortis had looked at him, for the Revenant could sense the blood. Mortis knew he had eaten away from the camp. Most of the others did not seem to have notice and they fed him his share from the kill.
Right now, they were all asleep again. A distant rumbling had woken him. His hackles were raised. It was not a good feeling.
The landscape was sometimes fair, and sometimes it was corrupted, the crystals that had gouged and scratched him littering the landscape. His wound had hurt at first. Adiran had checked it many times. There had been a crystal lodged into his shoulder but it was decided that surgery on their hunter would mean the end to the party's survival.
Derric did not mind, the embedded crystal had stopped hurting for days now. He loped off easily into the Dawn. There was something moving out there.
He had begun to notice how to sense and avoid more Gallopods. He did not want to tell Adiran and the others, or else they might ask him to stop hunting on his own, but his hunting was keeping them alive and he did not want help from a human. The Child of the Forest could fend for himself.
The Gallopods needed to come to the surface of the landscape to attack, but they could travel under the surface. This was not the cause of the rumbling, however. The impossible creatures did not seem to move the earth around them when they travelled, it was as though he was tracking the movement of a fish in a pond. Only they were more like squid and the size of a castle.
The Gallopods would swim under the surface of the earth without digging, but when they came up to the surface they had to break through the last few meters of the ground to surface in this place.
Perhaps these creatures were not wholly of this place... there was an echo between them and the corrupted landscape.
Derric shook his head, flicking his long ears. Those are thoughts for the Mages. He trotted up an incline to stand at the top of a large hill. There is something out there.
His right paw dug into the dirt at his feet, his claws flexing out and cutting a furrow in the earth. Whatever it is. It is not a good thing.
He closed his eyes and tried to shift back to his human form. Will I be larger as well as a human once I change back?
There was something that was blocking him. It was like the door to his cottage was getting stuck on a branch and could not close. Similarly, he began shifting but there was a pin in his flesh that prevented him from shifting.
At first he thought it was the crystal, but he soon discovered the location of the pin hold. It had been in his upper arm yesterday. Same shoulder as the crystal. Now it felt as though it was near his elbow.
Unable to change into a human he decided to use his abilities to change other things. He had feasted on purpose. Gorged on flesh and crunched bones no human would be able to consume.
He flexed his shoulders and pushed with his shifting ability the way that Millmor had instructed him to do. His chest deepened, and his forearms grew. A set of teeth like his wolf was good, but he needed more weapons.
His jaws strengthened, and his front paws grew larger claws - rather cat-like. He was pretty sure he was breaking the rules on blending in. Millmor had often taught him that using a shape that is found in nature.
Yet they were in an unnatural place and he needed to be an unnatural beast. The Child of the Forest needs to become more than one beast in order to survive this place.
He stalked across the landscape. Everything hummed in a vibration. He was on this plane with his body, yet his essence was tied to the other side. He could see the figures swimming on the other side of the veil.
Where he walked, corruption followed.
The grass died beneath his feet and light blue and purple crystals sprouted where his blood was spilled.
He was wounded. Again.
A lesser Gallopod had ambushed him soon after he had begun is journey, the beacon in his mind pulling him forward to some sort of goal.
He could not think as he did before. As a man.
The Gallopod had ambushed him. Small. Not like the one that had caught him. This one wanted prey, to simply consume him. The size of a small house, the creature's tentacles had snagged his legs and side, ripping into his flesh.
Aaron spat an acidic gop of spit on the ground. Where it fell, the crystals also began to grow.
The Gallopod's flesh had tasted vile.
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