• Sunsette

Scene 16: Beasts

Two great beasts coursed through the jungle at rapid speed, their fur sable, their fangs ivory, fallen leaves stirring into storms and swirls in their wake. Each stood as tall on all fours as a human did on two legs. They both resembled wolves, but there were differences besides size. No wolf had one prehensile tail, let alone three; wolves had two eyes, and these had six, three to a side, that glowed violet; and where they passed, so too did thunder and lightning.

The beast in the front carried the limp form of a fifer, tightly bound to its underside by the grip of two of its tails. A short forelock of its fur was purple. The beast behind had three eyes faltering and grey and slobbered with rage, its headfur streaked violet all 'round.

It had been a long time since the one behind had worn this shape for this long; it was hard to think in words, but it could think in shapes. The red boy-bird would have to carry on what it had been doing before; he was the only one that could. And in return, this three-eyed beast was the only one that could do what it was doing: save the boy ahead of it.

Animals bolted from the path ahead of them; even the most ill-tempered of mere fauna knew better than to test the rage of the storm.

Three-Eyes charged with magnificent speed, sinking her teeth into the Thief's flank; the latter howled, and whirled about to return the favor on her neck. Three-Eyes pulled away just in time, but Thief continued her assault, headbutting and battering Three-Eyes before whirling into a tight circle and leaping for a ledge nearby, leaving brown clouds of dirt in her wake.

Three-Eyes growled, pulled herself back up to her feet and was about to leap when she noticed a little bundle of brown beside the dirt. The rabbit. Rabbit? The rabbit was annoying — but it was light. Food later. A tail scooped the rabbit up and onto her back as she resumed the chase. Leaping onto the rock, she braced her paws wide and let out a howl of thunder. Amethyst lightning struck once, twice, three times in a line along Thief's path, the second singeing her fur and leaving her smoldering.

Not good enough — but a start. Three-Eyes raced across the dirt, springing over roots and rocks to make up for lost time. But Thief sprang back to her feet and responded by unleashing a gigantic blast of howling air that sent Three-Eyes and the rabbit sprawling backwards, kicking up dust.

That would not stop her. She would not stop until Thief was nothing but a red mist in her jaws.

Three-Eyes resumed the chase anew. Three-Eyes knew where Thief was going. And she would not permit it. Three-Eyes stared into the gulf between them, and — for the briefest of moments — Three-Eyes was suddenly One-Eye, a raven soaring past electrical bolts with all speed until she was Three-Eyes again, diving atop Thief.

The two fell to wrestling, clawing at one another's face, nipping, rolling. Three-Eyes bit, Thief slashed, Three-Eyes' tails wrestled against Thief's, Thief slammed her shoulder into Three-Eyes, Three-Eyes kept rolling and pulled Thief with her. Thief landed a strike, biting Three-Eyes' paw, lightning coruscating through the limb. Momentarily stunned, Three-Eyes rolled back, while Thief kept on.

Three-Eyes howled with utter rage. She dashed after Thief once more. This battle was not yet over.

Before long, it was indisputable that Thief was the faster of the two sable beasts, but Three-Eyes was the more deadly; every evasive maneuver or forced turn Thief had to make through the jungle was an opportunity for Three-Eyes to bolt like lightning and force a new confrontation, often slashing Thief with her claws, scraping her fangs against the furred flesh, or pummeling Thief with those muscular tails. And it showed. Thief's fur was marred by deep maroon blood.

In comparison, every time Thief retaliated with thunder, Three-Eyes withstood the blow and had an opportunity to introduce a counterattack. It was simply not possible for Thief to win this. And both of the beasts understood this.

But the game changed the moment that they left behind the towering trunks of the jungle for the sparser vegetation of verdant grasslands; a sea of green with islands of trees. As Thief broke past the last line of trees, there was a slightly unnatural cry of thunder; then in a flurry of fur and feathers, a badly injured violet-headed black condor lifted into the air, the boy grasped between its claws.

Three-Eyes snarled and leapt into the air with tremendous speed and force, ready to devour the fool bird. Then night turned into day and all the colors of the world inverted. A chorus of voices rang out.

"Symphonic Art: Sundered Skies!"

Three luminous eyes turned to the side and settled briefly on a mass of figures in midnight robes, motionless within a lightning pentagram. Darkness overwhelmed the eyes.

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