It was as if all the fear I’d clutched so tightly within myself, had suddenly manifested in front of my eyes.
Giant glinting coils rose, stretching up toward the patch of blue sky at the centre of the clearing. My wide eyes followed their scaled path as they twined up and around the large stone columns, which held up a roof that seemed to defy all the laws of nature. Crumbling from the passage of what had to be countless generations, it seemed to my eyes, to be part formed from ancient weathered stone and part out of the living jungle canopy itself.
Large creeping strangler fig vines had been trained in and around the original stones, living ropes, binding the whole crumbling structure together. As if man and nature had come together in its creation. It took my breath away.
How ironic that the people of my tribe had all in some way been correct. I couldn’t help but wonder if we would both be allowed to live long enough to return home and confirm their beliefs?
Although within the first few moments, once my initial terror died down, my brain had registered that the giant coils were actually that of a giant inanimate stone statue, rather than the final embodiment of my Goddess’ wrath, I still found the large obsidian orbs set into the serpent’s twin heads sickeningly familiar. I was still frozen to the spot but I was certain that, if I ever found the courage to move again, those black stone orbs would follow my every step.
“Regretting helping me yet?” My voice was reedy and my small nervous giggle sounded discordant and out of place in the deathlike stillness of the clearing.
I wasn’t actually expecting him to answer me, my words had only been a vain attempt to push back my anxiety enough to allow me to take the next step.
“Never” his voice was so low that I couldn’t be sure that it wasn’t my own imagination running away with me. Glancing over at him I found his grey gaze on mine once again with that unreadable expression which was fast pushing my already frayed nerves towards breaking point.
“Come on then, let’s get this over with.” My voice was a little high pitched but at least it sounded steady, a fact which I got to be proud of for all of two paces before a terrifying shriek broke the stillness.
“Sacrilege!” the voice howled its harsh notes echoing off of the surrounding tree trunks.
Screaming, I stumbled back a pace my foot disappearing straight through the moss-covered tangle of roots. Landing flat on my back on the damp musty ground, my scream died in my throat as I found myself pinned in place by a pair of furious looking blood red eyes.
“Intruders…. Defilers!” The eerie voice sounded like it was coming from everywhere all at once.
I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the creature’s crimson gaze, but I heard Solen pull his bow smoothly from the sling at his back, and the soft almost imperceptible tap as he notched one of his deadly black-tipped arrows in place.