The Attack

RUN!!!

It’s after me, nipping at my heels. Barking, growling, harassing, biting. I fall, scramble to my feet, just in time to feel another blow, just behind my knees, and another one almost simultaneously I get pummelled in my abdomen.

I fall.

Dust choking my lungs, coating my lips and mouth. And all goes quiet. A foot fall, crunching gravel behind me. Another slow step.

Crunch.

Crunch.

A claw appears at the edge of my view. Dust, gravel, and the taloned claw, itself covered in dust and dried blood. Another slow, methodical step. Another evil talon appears. A snort, and everything goes grey. I can barely breathe between the dust and the sulfurous fog that’s drifting in. I lay still, battling within myself.

FOCUS

I’m too tired. He’s won, he’s right there. There’s no escape

FOCUS

I can’t. I’m too weak. I’m overwhelmed

FOCUS ANDREW

I can’t, It’s too much

I’m getting angry with myself. I can’t give up, I’ve fought to hard to get here. I’ve been down before, wrapped up in his claws, on the brink of death and battled back to freedom. And I know I must do it again. But I’m so weak. I can barely breathe. Every fibre of my being throbs from the assault. My very spirit is dimmed and weakened. I squeeze my eyes shut and breathe…. and cough, a wracking spasm brought on by the vile fog and choking dust. Distant laughter — mocking, echoing back on itself. I don’t’ know if it’s an actual sound or just the villainous lies within my head. I force myself to take a slow breath.

In

Out
In

Out
In…

Out…

WHAM!

A kick in the back, bruising ribs and slicing through skin. And then…. nothing.

Breathe.
InOutInOutInOut In Out In Out In Out

In

Out.

In…

Out….

I can feel myself slowing down. My thoughts slowly solidify. I open my eyes and wait for the physical world to regain focus as well. My head throbs. I can almost feel my heartbeat in the roots of my hair, the pain is so intense…. but I set it aside, as best I can.
Breath.
Blink.
Focus.
Breathe.
Blink.

Focus.

Breathe…

Breathe…

I feel myself drifting off, snap my eyes open again… distant laughter mocks me still, but I sense whatever it was has left me alone for the moment… Focus.

I’m in yet another chamber…. High ceiling in this one, fairly wide. A couple sputtering torches throw dancing shadow-light across the cavern. Rusted chains hang from one wall, I push myself to my feet… testing sore limbs, staggering as my balance slowly returns to me.

Stand.
Breathe.
Focus.
Breathe.

Stand. Breathe. I begin slowly testing myself. Checking for new injuries, mental or physical. Feeling old wounds throb to life. Heaviness… A familiar heaviness settles around me, the exhaustion from battle…. How long can you do this? I ask myself. Not out of bitterness, or mocking of the enemy… but out of the depths of my being, I ask. I know — without some strength beyond my own, without something to fuel myself — I won’t last much longer. Every battle feels like the last one. Every time I recover, it takes longer. It takes more focus. It takes more out of me, when so little remains

Breathe.
Focus.

My left arm hangs limp — the small shield cinched to it almost worthless. “Always the shield arm, never the attack arm” I mutter to myself. I unstrap it, freeing the weight from my numb limb, and sling it over my back. Grimly I remember, this beast doesn’t care about how much you can attack it, as long as you can’t defend yourself. It always attacks your defenses first while pretty much ignoring whatever attacks you try to bring.

Breathe.
Focus.

I look at the floor, seeking signs of where it went. Looking for signs of where I was, where did I come from…. how did I get here? I can’t say how, but this area of Depression’s lair looks different. It feels different. Colder, perhaps, but not as closed in. Passageways are wider, grottos and rooms taller, and airier — but I’m wary. Any change could be closer to the pit — or closer to escape. Every time it’s hard to say.

Breathe.
Focus.

As I get my bearings, I realize how weak this attack has left me. I need to find some shelter, some sustenance, and rest while I can. The constant vigilance is exhausting, but I need to find true rest before this beast consumes me.

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