Writing Group: Reaching into the Maw

Hello, caretakers and daredevils.

You know I’m never one to argue, but doesn’t this seem a bit dangerous? I’m sure you can handle it, but I just think you should be careful. This thing looks… mean. What if it snaps shut? I just hope you know what you’re doing, because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

Reaching into the Maw

Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!

What a way to close out the year, hey? A prompt that perfectly describes how we’re facing the new year head on, no matter how big and scary its teeth may be.

In the literal sense, a “maw” is a mouth. Reaching into one, I’m sure you can guess, isn’t always the safest thing. It could be a veterinarian, needing to reach deep to give some great stubborn beast its medicine. It could be as simple as a dentist tending to the teeth of his patient. Perhaps a couple of risk-taking adventurers got in a little over their heads, and one is trying to pull the other from the jaws of some hungry creature. Or maybe it’s just some pet that ate something it shouldn’t have, and their human has to pull it out.

But the term “maw” can be descriptive, as well. It doesn’t have to be a literal mouth. It could be a mage investigating some big mysterious cave, reaching their arm inside to illuminate the cavern with their staff. Perhaps a child lost their favourite toy down a gaping well, and they’re reaching anything they can into it to fish it out. Maybe the maw is the metaphorical jaws of depression, and a friend is reaching as deep as they can to help. Or perhaps the maw is the dark, gaping stairway to the basement, and one little child has to be brave and reach inside to pull the string for the light.

There are so many ways to take this prompt. So many literal, and not-so-literal interpretations. So reach far into the depths of your mind and bring us a story from within the jaws of your imagination.

Oh, and uh… mind the teeth.


Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.

Tune into the stream this Friday at 7:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!

The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit, and get ready to help each other improve their confidence in their writing, as well as their skill with their craft!

Rules and Guidelines

We read at least four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!

  1. Text and Formatting

    1. English only.
    2. Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
    3. Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
    4. Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
    5. Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
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  2. What to Submit

    1. Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
    2. Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
    3. Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
    4. No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
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  3. Submission Rules

    1. One submission per participant.
    2. Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
    3. Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
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    5. Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
    6. You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
    7. Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.

Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.

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Tamela Redfin
Tamela Redfin
2 years ago

Maw’s Gift
By Tamela Redfin


That was quite a fall. I’m surprised that I didn’t break anything. I tried to stand up, but my leg was pulsing with pain.

In time my eyes adjusted to the darkness. Maybe now I could move around, but something didn’t feel right. My leg was still in pain, but I knew it wasn’t broken.

I shouted to see if my siblings were around, but I only heard the dripping of the cave itself. Should I stay? Someone may be looking for me.

I saw a glint in the darkness. Could it have been a flashlight? “Who’s there?” I called out.
There was no answer. “It’s me, Cam!” No response. I waited for what seemed like hours, but no one came to rescue me.

At last, I came to the source of the light. It was a small, sand colored stone with a silver streak that seemed to produce its own light. I wasn’t much of a rock collector, though I felt the need to grab this curious object. Maybe I could use it as a light. I stared into the maw, navigating my hand through the sharp stalagmites and stalactites until the treasure was mine.

I held the stone and wandered through the endless caverns. The rock was brighter than I thought and it made a decent flashlight, but even that didn’t provide a way out. I began to question if there was even an exit to this cave.

Eventually, the rock was the only light I could see. I traveled deeper into the caverns. The further I traveled, the heavier my steps became. My vision started to blur. I had no choice but to rest for the night. I used my backpack as an impromptu pillow and laid my head on it. I held the precious stone close to my chest and I could’ve sworn that it provided me with warmth in the cold caverns.

When I opened my eyes, I was surrounded by green instead of beige colors. I dug my hand into the ground, and small beads of water clung to my fingers.

2 years ago

“A Seance for a Forbidden Past”

By Frei

What use did this serve? Preservation? No, she was perfectly alive, if not drastically different. Knowledge? No, the toxic blend in her chitinous hands put her in far more danger than irrelevant information could make up for. The brazier was before her, burning with mere wood chips and sage. The act of grinding of the blend was enough to haze the thoughts, and she drew a deep breath, catching the last fragrance of the benign smoke, as her hands opened aloft the fire.

Curiosity was her only reason. Enough crumbs were left behind that she hungered for bread, the nagging at her mind like the incessant convulsions of a starving stomach. The smell changed instantly, and the heat flashed brightly but briefly in blues, violets, greens, and crackling white.

The smoke turned thick and dark as the living memories churned. The ruins she awoke in, the icy womb of her genesis, the indecipherable carvings, and finally her insectile features paired with her own soulless black and amber eyes…

Her hands extended, tongue dryly sticking to her mouth as the muscles in her chest wobbled and tightened with nervousness. With a final sober breath, she waved the dark plumes towards her and was engulfed.

She nearly toppled face-first into the fire as an incredible pain fired through her skull. She relived her first oxygen-starved moments in this world, able to draw breath only after a torrent of black bile had passed. Then, a flash of clarity that was as cold water on an arid throat, or blood pushing once more through the parched veins of a mummy. A feeling of seeing higher than oneself, of feeling thoughts that were not one’s own. A feeling that nearly blotted out the burning of her airways. She felt a lattice in her hands that stretched to the world around her, tightening at the hearts of others.

But before she could tug those strings, the feeling was gone, leaving only the reeling from the psychedelics, poisons, and mystical stimulants she inhaled. She, and the lesser minds around her dashed to the ground in agony.

2 years ago

“The Teeth at Frostmouth”

By Arith_Winterfell

We had journeyed across the Scaren Peaks, a ruggedly mountainous landscape southwest of the wondrous City of Valenhost, to the wilderness of ice and snow. Now after our seemingly long and cold trek we had found the bandits cavern lair. Frostmouth Cavern was a fitting name for it, as it looked like the mouth of some large beast with icicles for teeth. We had kept quiet on our approach, not only to avoid alerting the bandits, but also to reduce the likelihood of an avalanche being triggered from the higher peaks.

Moren, one of the warriors in our group, however, was too impatient and after all this skulking saw fit to charge forward without the rest of us!

“By Balgor’s Fists!” Moren cried as he charged into their encampment, and the rest of us chased after him, hoping his battle cry wouldn’t bring some of the massive shafts of ice down on our heads. Moren looked around eagerly, clearly expecting bandits to come flooding out of the shadows to assault him and for him to glory in their slaughter. He slowed his enthusiasm as he finally noticed what the rest of us could see clearly, now that we were in the midst of the encampment. Dead bodies. Dead bodies torn apart by something savage. The bandits all appeared dead. All of them suffering from the same ragged wounds fringed with frost. Even Moren had begun to temper his previous excitement.

“Iceraths?” I asked of Melnor, my fellow mage in our band. He silently nodded his agreement. Our band closed ranks as we started to hear it. The sounds of softly crackling ice, followed by a ripple of hisses as toothy maws rimed with ice rushed out of the darkness deeper in the cave. Long serpentine creatures swimming through the air with rapidly unfurling wings, their legless bodies leaving no marks in the snow as they passed. The hunters were now the hunted.

Last edited 2 years ago by Arith_Winterfell
2 years ago

Deep Into Its Pockets
By Zerokz

The Prince’s footsteps echoed down the cavern halls. It was adventure that ran through his veins. The mere concept of traveling the world, fighting dastardly evils!

However, the stubborn Prince was very much underprepared. Fighting a ferocious reptilian-like monster was no easy task. The nervous energy increased as he took each step. It felt as though that energy snaked up his boots and set a shiver through his spine.

“My n-now. There is no need to f-f-fear. I-It’s just a… a giant lizard. No need for w-worry.” He assured himself, although his words were nothing but a small distraction. As he spoke, something squeezed around his leg.

A thin long tail wrapped around his foot, and dragged him to the monster’s lair. His chest collapsed under its claw. A large snout heaved foul, smokey air, and under these circumstances, the Prince grew small, fear overwhelming any form of confidence.

The creature’s voice boomed, its large maw almost brushing against the Prince’s face, taunting him with sharp teeth. “What do we have here?”

The Prince’s words turned to incoherent babbling, as he reached up and attempted to push away the large creature’s snout.

“Ah! So the little Prince wants to know more about my deadly jaw? Well, that is of no issue.” The creature opened it’s large mouth, and if the Prince wasn’t filled with terror, it seemed as if the reptile smiled. “Would you like to reach farther, little one?”

The Prince squeezed his eyes shut and violently shaked his head.

“You wish is my command, small being of power.” The monster lifted its claw off of the fright-stricken Prince, and moved away, still towering over him.

The Prince stared up at it, eyes wide. He managed to mumble a thank you as he scurried off, in hopes of reaching safety.

The dragon smiled smugly, and lifted its talons, revealing a large bag of coins. “The deepest of pockets deserve my gratitude.” It fumbled open the bag, and poured the small, gold coins down its throat. The beast was satisfied. Not with flesh, but with cold, smooth metal.

Michael Case
Michael Case
2 years ago


The cave walls closed in with a wet smack. The air inside the cave was thick. This Miasma was really kicking up my asthma. The smell was worse. Between every breath I had to choose between exhaling and vomiting. The warm damp air was making my skin itch. I started to get lightheaded and needed to sit.

After pulling off my backpack I pulled out the map again. “Crap, it said that the Cave Ignavum Draco should be right here. Instead, I got stuck in a mud cave. Where’s the treasure, where’s Ignavim’s tomb, where’s the… the anything?” No one was around so I was talking out loud to myself. So, what.

After trying to get my breath back I had felt a cool breeze float across my face. I followed it to where I thought it was coming from. It was from up in the ceiling near a smallish hole. I thought that I might be able to fit in there and get a way out, but the holes would have been tight. I started to place my foot up against the walls of the mud cave and use it to gain some height.

Just as I was starting to jump, the ground shook. I tried again in a panic. Mud caves as very unstable and the slightest of Earthquakes could cause the whole place to flatten. So, I used the wall again and was able to get my hands inside the hole where the air was coming in at. I woke up at Hospital after that.

On the Television, a news reporter was speaking: “After years of disappearances near the Scale Mountains in northern France, an answer for these questions was finally answered. The mountain itself stood up and ejected decades, perhaps even centuries of bodies. Some in advanced stages of decay, others still rotting. One of the rescuers said that a single living body was recovered. When asked if the person was conscience, the rescue worker only stated that the person mumbled out one word, Vivant.”



Last edited 2 years ago by Tale Foundry
The Man Himself
The Man Himself
2 years ago

A Poor Choice
By The Man Himself

“I said I’m staying here. It-I don’t think I really have a choice.”

The dull reddish glow of the abstract landscape around him gave the masked man and everything on him an orange hue.

“The similarly dressed woman beside him threw her hands up and took a few steps across the endless curve of the ground, away from him. She’d known he would say something like this. The third individual, a distinctly inhuman, near skeletal figure of straight lines and angles tilted it’s head towards him.

“What!?” It’s jaw clacked as it hinged open and shut.

“I gotta man, we can’t just leave this place unattended! It’ll be a bad scene for a bit but I’ll be fine-”

“You will not ‘be fine’!” It berated him, the maracas-like cracking of it’s jaw underscoring it’s point.

“Once I bail, and take my watch with me, there won’t be time here anymore. If that doesn’t scare you then you’ve understood nothing of our work so far! The world will end for you! You will not cease to breathe, there will be no breath, your body will not decay, it will just stop, stop interacting with anything around it, stop changing. You will be as dead as something can possibly be. What happened to me? To make me like this. Absolute pittance, PITTANCE compared to the oblivion you so casually condemn yourself to. Get a grip!”

“I-but we can’t just-”

The woman turned and addressed him tiredly.

“Think, for once. Alright? Even if someone comes back, and the concept of time with them, there’s no guarantee you will too. That might just be it, worse than hell, gone. Even if you snap back into existence… I mean look at our friend here!”

She jabbed a hand in the mannequin-like creature’s direction. “It mightn’t matter if you’re back. It won’t be you.”

“I-I guess. Yeah.”

“No shame in it, moron.” It gave the woman a dirty look as they prepared to leave the space.

“Just be glad we were here to pull your idiot head off the block I guess.”

2 years ago

Into The Breach
By Makokam

The blood pounding through Jostica’s ears and her panicked breathing were almost enough to drown out the sound of the fight going on on the other side of the car she huddled behind.

There were few places on the planet she would want to be less, than caught in the middle of a fight between a group of villains and someone who’d turned traitor. And yet here she was. The ground beneath her was vibrating from impacts and explosions. Debris and stray blasts impacted around her and shattered store fronts.

She should run. She should have run a long time ago. Why hadn’t she?

An eight-foot tall man in two-thousand pounds of power armor, a renegade super soldier, a mutant abomination that would destroy whatever it was pointed at, and two cybernetically enhanced psychopaths. She was just an 18-year-old who knew some magic.

But right now a villain-turned-hero, who had nearly died uncovering and dismantling a world shaking conspiracy, was fighting for his life against those same things.

And what had she been studying magic for? To track and find her Brother, of course. But also prove that if he thought he was a danger to their family, that she could protect herself. Protect them.

She studied and trained. She’d already risked her life diving into the Astral Plane. And what would her Master think if she ran? Hadn’t he taught her how to handle anything? Why had he given her such powerful gifts if not to help her overcome any obstacle she faced?

And just over there was a Hero who would surely die if someone didn’t come to his aid.

And wasn’t there someone already here?

She closed the clasp on her cloak, gripped her staff, and triggered the illusion of her hero persona. She stepped out from cover, casting a shield around Shockwave, then freezing Chimera in place. The spells would only hold for a moment, but a moment could save a life.

Furious and confused eyes turned to her.

Today the world met… Well, she’d come up with a name later.

Last edited 2 years ago by Makokam
2 years ago

Down the hatch
By David Chamberlain

Darclin’s leathery hand poured the emerald green liquid into his thick-stemmed cup. The cup had been fashioned from what was once the fang of a great beast.

 “Down the hatch.”, he thought to himself. Drinkin it and immediately pouring a second. The fluid flowed more like smoke than liquid and yet looked to be much thicker than water. The beverage seemed to climb at the sides of the mug as if gravity had barely enough grip to hold it in the vessel. “Down the hatch” he whispered to himself as he slammed the second shot.

“Are you ready?” someone shouted from the next room.

“I am.” was all he managed to vocalize as memories of horrific visions replayed in his head. Memories he hoped the nimbus brine would extinguish or at least assuage.

The lockstone in his left hand made a long deliberate swipe down the length of his warblade. The blade was given to him by his father on his 18Th cycle. Again the lockstone bit into the weapon and left a momentary blood-red trail along the edge which seemed to retreat into the handle. Almost as if charging a battery. At the end of each searing stroke, a wisp of vapor was expelled as the stone released its teeth from the blade.

The sound and smell of these actions combined with the nimbus brine forged his previously nightmarish memories into something else. Something between rage and rhapsody. The blood and screams, previously horrifying had taken on the appearance of a celebration or a carnival. He could feel the blade’s appetite for blood intensifying with each stroke.

“Time to fly!” someone barked from the other room.

He stood up and hastily poured a third shot of the green menace. He threw the strap of his bag over his shoulder. Grabbed his shield and headed through the door.

The next room contained a massive jaw-like structure. A shimmering gateway framed with great jagged teeth.

He threw back the third shot and dropped the cup.

“Down the hatch” he exclaimed as he drew his blade and leaped into the portal.

Preserves Roses
Preserves Roses
2 years ago

Asking for Help
By Preserves Roses

He watched the dark-clothed figure enter into his cave. Her distinct sent reached his nostrils, and he breathed deep, savouring the smell.

“It’s a rare treat when a princess comes to me,” his voice rumbled and echoed in the space.

“How do you know I’m a princess, “ She asked. Her voice remaining steady.

“I know the smell of a princess no matter what she is wearing, or where I find her. Are you here to kidnap yourself, in hopes of being rescued by a prince?”

She swallowed hard before speaking. ” A prince is my problem, he’s a rather nasty one. I was hoping you might be able to help me.”

The dragon brought his head down to ground level near the princess. “Well if you help me with something, I will give you a special dagger that will let you kill your prince no matter what magic protects him.”

The princess hesitated,” What are you asking in return?”

“Why simply that you take the dagger.” The dragon opened his mouth wide to reveal a dagger buried deep into his jaw; a sickly glow emanating from it.

Slowly the princess reached into the dragon’s mouth and tugged at the dagger. When the dragon didn’t move, she gripped firmly with both hands and pulled again. Finally, she set one foot against the outside of the dragon’s jaw, took a firm two handed grip and pulled with all her might. The dagger came free suddenly and she landed hard on the ground. She jumped up, and left the cave without glancing back, staring down at the dagger with a greedy look. Gripping it tightly in both hands.

In the cave the dragon stretched his jaw, blowing a blast of fire up in the air. Launching into the sky on stiff wings, he turned his thoughts briefly to the princess below, wondering what would become of her after freeing two predators into the wild; the cursed dagger and himself. With another great flap of his wings he banked to the west, in search of new hunting grounds.

2 years ago

Immortality at the Singularity
by Gamesolotl

What we once considered grandiose, nigh immortal beasts die before my eyes. One by one. Some twinkle away like a candle out of wax, others die in a blinding explosion.
I was not supposed to use my escape pod, but there is nothing I want more than this. Only in here can I be immortal, if only for a few moments. I always wanted to see this story through until the end, because the prospect of me not being able to witness it terrifies me.
The universe, now just a large blueshifted hole in the void, still seems within reach. I’m well aware it is planets away. The beasts are dying faster and faster, with fewer and fewer ones being born, just as expected. Their glorious light begins to fade, and after one final silent bang, it fades, never to return.

With the light gone, I finally notice the faint goldenrod circle close to the edge of the dark and empty fishbowl of a universe. It has been here for a while. It must’ve been. They are the last forms of intelligence to survive, orbiting my eternal tomb, desperately clinging onto existence. The goldenrod circle sits unchanging for minutes. They are running out of time. I am running out of time. I’m not sure if time means anything anymore.
I will never know if humanity passed the Great Filter, or if there is a Big Rip. All I know is that I am going to meet my demise at the core of the hungering universe behind me.
I suppose entropy has finally won.

Just as my last glimmer of hope fades, a white ring appears in the center of the goldenrod one. The escape pod picks up radio waves and begins to decode them, mere seconds before gravitational shockwaves violently shake the foundation of the cosmos. The circles are gone. As the process of spaghettification begins, I close my eyes and listen to the now decoded message.
They did it. They broadcasted instructions on how to warp to a different universe. I smile. Entropy hasn’t won yet.

2 years ago

A Daunting task

By Mathew

“Damn That’s a lot”
“Pfft. And Maggie thinks we are going to get this done in a day.”

Kevin and Anders looked out over the barren moonscape of creeper vine that had taken hold of this patch of woodland. It looked like something that had come out of a science fiction horror film pillars of weeping vine stood where trees once did, slight mounds that indicated where a large bush had been or maybe there is a house under there. It was really hard to tell what used to exist before this suffocating menace was left to takeover.
We pick up our tools and start cutting a path through the mass of vegetation, well a few paths the plan was to make enough access so we could bring the hoses down and blast this stuff with poison. Kevin looked quite shocked he probably had never seen an infestation this bad.
Sweating and dirty Kev went back to the car for a drink Anders was quick to follow but became rapidly stopped by the sight of a leaf that wasn’t creeper vine. A little cutting revealed a native sapling barely surviving but alive. Oh this was such good news.

“Hey Kev I found a native sapling still alive amongst that mess, I have cleared a little around it but make let’s make the buffer a little wider after our drink break.”
“No problem.”
At least this would mean the trees here can recover a little quicker.
“What are you up to this weekend?” asked Kevin.
“Not really much, just relaxing. What about you.”
“Just my usual soccer game on Sunday and then I’ll be watching a film with some mates of mine.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Mathew
Maggie Webb
Maggie Webb
2 years ago

Unsafe Shelter
By Maggie Webb

Czar dragged himself, as fast as his swelling arm would allow, across the desert floor. The pain muted the chill of the evening winds. Seb pushed the boy’s head against the sand. Only a skeletal bush concealed them. Czar didn’t need to look up to know his bodyguard was signalling him to stay quiet, or that the Lotus had abandoned them.
“Search the area,” called one of the soldiers. “Something fell from the plane—it could have been them!”
Lantern light drew nearer, erasing whatever escape the dark could have promised. Dogs barked and snuffled at the remains of Seb’s bag. Pieces of jerky spilled out.
Seb tugged Czar’s head away from the encroaching search party and towards the dunes. Strange shadows twisted and gathered within them. One large, circular opening awaited. Splinter-thin teeth lined the maw. Panic seized Czar’s chest. The moonlight reflecting off the beast’s milky eyes confirmed his suspicions.
He shook his head. He mouthed the word no. It didn’t matter. Seb, with a fistful of Czar’s shirt in tow, crawled towards it.
“What if it’s not dead,” he whispered.
“It’s this or we go back.”
Czar cringed. The mouth reeked of mould and ammonia. The grey tongue was a dry sponge under their feet. Air hissed through the back of the throat. Czar swore he saw the walls constrict.
His companion staggered deeper down into the creature’s gullet. His boots squelched the whole way. Fear kept Czar standing on the tip of the beast’s tongue, hugging his arm close to his body. The voices of their pursuers sounded like distant murmurs, growing louder. He hunched as much as his revulsion allowed. The needlepoint teeth, he hoped, made a good enough cover.
Adrenaline staved off the threat of sleep for now, but not fatigue. The young fugitive let his body sag against the deadly barricade. It wasn’t hard to stay still. The crunching sand had him frozen in place. He waited for the lanterns. He waited for the dogs. He waited for hours.
The only place they reached him, however, were his nightmares.

2 years ago

Reaching into the Maw
By Chengir

The area was quiet and smelled of antiseptic. The lab assistant reached into the creature’s maw. This one was presenting some problems. It had been the policy of The Union to save endangered species. Taking them aside and training them to survive before releasing them back in the wild. Ensuring that the species would endure without further intervention. But the process didn’t always work as expected.

“How’s it going?” the Inspection Officer asked.

The lab assistant looked up from the specimen and grimaced. “I’m not sure, sir. They seemed to be aggressive enough to subsist in their environment. But a lot of their hostility seems to be focused against members of their own species. Their brains register as more scrambled than an order of eggs.”

The officer was cold and distant. His eyes narrowed. “Well, see what you can do about it. Are there any other problems?”

Sweat started appearing on the lab assistant’s brow. He was new at this. It was his first assignment for the commission, and he was desperate to make a good impression. He’d worked for years to achieve this position and had no desire for his first appointment to be a failure. He’d worked all night on his subjects. After all, they wouldn’t be back in this region for quite some time. The travel parameters to this sector made frequent visits unlikely. “Well sir, the individual specimens display a high value for selfishness.”

“That’s not good.”

The assistant was having a tough time addressing his superior. There was a lump in his throat. “Agreed, but I haven’t been able to get them to respond.”

The officer scratched his chin. “Try adding the genetic pattern that creates the Peter Principle.”

“Sir isn’t that highly dangerous?”

“It does cause a problem to be sure. But it also tends to create the rare individual with an extraordinary capacity for self-sacrifice.” He stared at the lab assistant. His gaze was piercing. “Unless you have a better idea.”

He shook his head. “No, sir”

“What do you call this species again?”

“Humans, sir.”

Alan Baker
2 years ago

Descent from dignity (Tales from Adfidem – Book of Boghos)
By Alan Baker

Boghos bade his followers sit. Gathering them close, he told them this parable: “There was once a great people that lived by the banks of the river Arratut. Every year they toiled in the fields, and every year they were rewarded with a rich bounty. One day a just before the first harvest a conjurer by the name of Anvtangu Yun came to their land. With just a word, he turned stone into bread and water to honey. That fall, he created enough food to last until next year. When he was departing the people begged him to stay with them. They offered him land and a seat on their council. He agreed and settled down for the winter. Wheet rotted unharvested in all but one man’s fields. He urged his fellow citizens, ‘Put not all your faith in this man but in the work of thine own hands.’ But they only laughed. Four years later Anvtangu decided to move on but they implored him to stay, offering to name him king to rule over them. And so he stayed with them. The man pleaded with them, ‘Give up not your freedoms for easy bread.’ But was only met with scorn, so he returned to his farm, ploughed his fields and built a wall around his land. Ten years past and Anvtangu once more wanted to leave, so the people offered him their firstborn to serve him. This time the man said nothing and strengthened his gates and filled his storehouses. Twenty years past. No seeds were sown no stores made. But one day the conjurer fell gravely ill and died. Having no food for the winter, the people went to the man to ask him to share his supplies. But the man answered, ‘That which ye have sown now ye shall reap.’ ‘But what of our children?’ they asked. ‘You did not care for your children’s future then. Why should I care for them now?’ He shut the gates. There was much weeping in that land.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Baker
2 years ago

Love Under a Neon Sky

by BluePhireFoenix

Colin lay on the ground, doing nothing with extreme care. He tried not to breath in the smell of garbage, that was stacked high around him, although he could feel the juices seeping into his clothes. He was going to smell this place for days. He’d probably never forget it. Above him, drones twirled through the neon skyline like fireflies. If he squinted hard, he could see the dark sky, calmly sleeping above the frantic city.

Colin flexed his arms carefully; a full rotation of tensing and relaxing his arm taking a full ten seconds. Nothing else in the lot stirred, and so he continued, and as he did he remembered those instructions: “Lie down in this lot. Answer to Tyr. Wait for them to come, respond, wait for them to leave. Then you’ll have your money.”

Then he could go back to Mark. His face had been purple and swollen this morning, plump with blood like a berry. And the rest of him was so thin; Colin had barely felt it when Mark had squeezed his hand goodbye.

Wait, respond, wait, get the money, save Mark.

It was so hot; Colin kept wanting to wipe the sweat from his face. But instead he laid there, focusing on flexing, and keeping his right arm above the muck. In the dark, Colin heard the slurping of footsteps in the coagulated mud as someone walked over to him. He closed his eyes. “Are you Tyr?” came a calm voice.

“Yes.” Colin could barely hear himself over the blood pumping through his ears.
He heard something placed down. A clasp came undone. Rustling. A cool surface laid down under his right arm. A sharp prick in the palm of his right hand. Then a numbness that flowed up his arm.

Colin didn’t listen to the whirring next to him. He continued to flex his left arm.

He thought about Mark, healthy again, who would take his hand, and laugh with him as they sat at their tiny apartment window, and tried to find the night’s sky among the neon lights.

2 years ago

The Tale of the First in Centuries to Cross Realms (Tales from Alsair)
By ThatWeirdFish

“The energy source grows stronger in there,” Annata said and pointed to the cave. “That must be where The Elders have hidden the portal.”

“Of course, they had to guard it with a Rucksha.” Balek scoffed. He scowled at the undulating creature as it prowled about the entrance. He crossed his arms across his scarred chest. “Don’t tell me that we have to-”

YES. The word echoed from the voice-stream in Balek’s mind. SEEK. FIND.

“Queen’s orders.” Annata shrugged and started cautiously down the slope towards the cave. Balek snarled a hiss and followed his brother. He watched as the Rucksha lifted its bulbous head and tested the air with the tentacles that drooped from its jaw. It harumphed and continued its patrol. Familiar skeletons crunched beneath every step.

“Annata,” Balek hissed, crouched beside his brother behind a boulder. “You certain it’s in there?”

His brother cleared his throat against the beast’s stench. “Only one way to find out. I’ll distract it. You go in and find that portal.” Before Balek’s protest left his lungs, his brother lunged towards the creature; their war cry pierced the foggy air.

Balek muttered a curse at his younger brother’s audacity and crept past the two that danced with death and into the cave. Jagged rocks dangled precariously from the roof and shuddered every time the beast landed a blow to the earth.

There, half-buried in grime and gore, was the two twisting spires that marked the portal.

GOOD. The queen’s voice dominated the voice-stream. ACTIVATE IT.

Balek hesitated, unsure of where to start. His brother was the smart one. The one-

A choked scream cut his thoughts short. His taloned tail scraped sparks against the stone floor as he whipped around. The Rucksha lumbered towards him, his brother’s blood smeared along its writhing jaw.


Balek involuntarily staggered back between the spires. “No,” he screeched as the beast drew closer. He felt the hungering arms of the portal. “Annata!” He blinked, and the world he knew vanished.

Alone under a different sun and cut off from the voice-stream, he wept.

2 years ago

Reaching into the Maw
By RVMPLSTLSKN (repost from Private)

Padas lay awakened in the darkened, hollow temple. He stared up at the reflection of the Everflame’s pale light on the ceiling. Next to him, Vienas slept. Her breathing was perhaps her most rhythmic attribute. Her days and nights blended now that she was blind. He’d found her sleeping during the day several times, but she was always awake when he rose at dawn.

All told, her schedule wasn’t unlike his own. He ate when hungry and drank when dry. It wasn’t like they had many options for company. Just each other and their dreams.

He didn’t like his dreams. They were too often memories, twisted. They were why he couldn’t sleep tonight. All his faith, all the protections—the Everflame, the Pearls, Karas’s sword—and The Deep One could still reach him. Promise him better things.

He’d stood on a wave, he wasn’t sure how. He never looked down. It seemed normal.

He was alone. The Deep One saw him and in Its massive eye, he saw himself. It wanted him to join it, to eat and be home.

He knew this was false. He’d clung to a pillar and survived The Deep One’s tsunami when It rose. Ascended. It hadn’t seen him. If It had, he would’ve been one of…

One of Them.

But in the dream, he joined it. He stepped into Its mouth and crawled up the scaleless, slimy body and onto Its head. The crown jewel, he was. And he ate with his fellows as The Deep One swallowed gods old and new and unformed. It consumed the animals next, the fish and birds and clams. Then he’d awakened.

A god’s blessing echoed in his thoughts.

-This is for you, the Living.

Vienas slept quietly nearby. The Everflame flickered like a blue candle in the cavernous structure. Karas’s sword hung on the wall, held by two blessed nails. And the pearls were in a bowl, a dull reflection of the Everflame’s illumination.

This was home now, He thought. And he would make it safe. There might be other survivors who needed a place to feel content.

Mango Gravy
Mango Gravy
2 years ago

By Mango Gravy

Gridel stared blankly at the pile of gastroliths he’d retrieved from the corpse of a straandbeest. This had required him to plunge, head first, into the mouth of the creature, reach into its stomach, and wriggle back out with an armful of the fist-sized stones.

It was filthy work. He was covered in saliva, bile and maybe some blood, but if this is what his mentor demanded then he would do it. Apprenticing under Raum could kickstart his wizarding career and give him a head start over most of his peers. He may not have expected such grueling tasks but he had worked hard for this opportunity and would put his hand into a zathasha’s mouth if need be.

The door to the laboratory swung open and in came Raum, beard and face split by a ridiculously wide grin, wheeling his next assignment on a cart.

“Merlin’s bearded groin,” Gridel cursed.

There on the cart lay the unholy union of marshmallow and cactus. It was pudgy. Soft and round, topped with beady eyes, skin splotched pink and white, and with stumpy limbs tipped with blunt claws, it was the cuddliest looking thing in the world. But, as Gridel peeled back its lips and opened its mouth, it transformed from something out of a child’s drawing to the conjuration of a nightmare.

Every inch of this animal’s insides was lined with enameled spines, like a sea urchin turned inside out. Each one glistened with what Gridel knew to be toxic saliva and seemed to glare at him, threatening dire consequences if he dared put his hand inside the maw.

“A zathasha,” Gridel said. “I should phrase my thoughts better.”

“Consider us lucky,” Raum said as he stroked his beard, “A specimen this fresh is hard to come by this time of year. The venom samples will be brilliant.” And so he turned to walk out of the lab, a spring in his step, no doubt thankful he wouldn’t have to do this himself. “Oh, and do be careful. Peristaltic grinding motions can occur spontaneously even days after death.”


Last edited 2 years ago by Mango Gravy
2 years ago

A Struggle for Answers
By: Insania404

“Who or what are these Wounds you keep talking about? Do they pose some kind of threat to the corporation?”

A raspy chuckle emanated from the inside of the metal cell. “Questions only serve to plunge you deeper into the mouth of forbidden knowledge. Once you know his name, do you really believe you can escape his clenched jaws?”

I could tell he was toying with me, pulling my strings like a puppet master. I slammed my fist on the table. “More riddles? Why can’t you just answer me plainly? Must everything be a game?”

“It need not be a game, doctor.” The shallow, rambling voice replied. “You could perform the ritual yourself and Vinzeit, the missing eye Wound, might reveal the knowledge you seek. All it takes is a little blood. Here, he’s waiting.”

The emaciated creature passed a glass knife through the steel bars, brandishing a grin that chilled my veins. I picked up the blade and my hands moved of their own accord, marring my forehead with sinister slashes.

A small note materialized on the worn wooden table in front of me. I fought back against the encroaching darkness within and shattered the knife on the stone floor.

I tore the note open with bloody hands. It was from the director:

Alfred, I just received word that one of the Sugar labs was incinerated and I fear that the one responsible is coming for the corporation. The facility is now on lockdown. I’m doing as much as I can remotely, but I’ll be down shortly to help you set up the defenses.

My heart became lead in my chest and I struggled to swallow. My hands trembled and curses poured from my mouth like tap water.

The Deprived I had captured chanted as if under a trance. “The Wounds have answered us! Surely our victory is at hand!”

I paused the environment, freezing my tormentor in place, and lifted the top of my CiRFiS chamber. Blaring alarms and flashing red lights greeted me. “This is going to be a long night,” I muttered, cracking my knuckles.

Makeshift Mousepad
Makeshift Mousepad
2 years ago

The Great Gray Wendigo (repost from private)
By: Makeshift Mousepad

The transporter treads hit rough terrain causing Charlie’s already nervous fingers to slip from his rifle. The captain would’ve been pissed but Delta anticipated the event and grabbed the barrel before it could clatter against the floor. The other riders glanced over before promptly minding their own business.

“Really, rookie?” Delta’s voice filtered through his helmet’s speaker.

“Give me a break. It’s my first mission with the Dragon Riders and it’s the biggest one we’ve seen.” Charlie responded.

Delta rolled his rigid helmet. “Listen kid. If the name ‘Dragon Riders’ has taught me anything, it is that the media hams things up for the public. I mean… come on. ‘Operation: Wendigo?’ Next they’ll be sending us to neutralize Dracula.”

Charlie leaned closer, his suit clattering against itself. “They said this thing leveled a city!”

“What a coincidence. These guns can do the same thing.” Delta’s characteristic smirk seemed to beam through his visor. “And in these suits, we wouldn’t break a sweat.” He flicked his chest plate creating a few sparks.

“We’ve got contact!” A voice shouted from the driver’s seat.

Before they could raise their heads, a flash of light roared through the aisle of the transporter. The atmosphere of war washed past them like a freshly split oyster. Charlie and Delta quickly noted the distance between them and turned their attention to the light. At the delta of their ruined transporter stood a hunched figure with their arms stretched out to their sides.

Charlie, frozen in fear, couldn’t raise his gun. He could only watch as metallic spikes shot through all of his comrades who managed to move.

“Pathetic.” Joseph’s crimson gaze drifted over to Charlie. “Motionless, when moving mattered most.”

Charlie clenched his teeth at that and gained his resolve. Lunging forward, he readied his weapon. But like lightning, Joseph lobed off Charlie’s forearms with his bare hands. The screaming pain sent Charlie to his knees. “Why are you doing this!” He choked through his pain.

With contempt Joseph answered, “To save humanity from its own maw.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Makeshift Mousepad
Connor A.
Connor A.
2 years ago

Invitation (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.

Marcos flipped through a book as Death strode in. “Any leads on that Hunter yet?”

“No, unfortunately.” Death made his cloak vanish before opening one of the books on the table. “Nothing on the sword, either.”

Marcos looked up and almost dropped his book. He recovered just before Death looked up at him.

“Is something wrong?”

“Ah, no. Course not,” Marcos stumbled as he leaned on the wall. “Don’t think I’ve seen you without your cloak before now.”

Death looked down at his shirt and vest. “Ah, I suppose not. I have been meaning to try going around without it for awhile now, though finding opportunities to do so have been difficult.”

Marcos took a breath. “I have an idea. For your thing, I mean.”

Death tilted his head slightly. Despite not having a face, it was clear that he was displaying some level of curiosity.

The wizard found himself looking at the ground. “See, there’s a former client of mine that gave me an invitation to an upcoming party of his as thanks for lifting a curse on his daughter, but I’m not exactly a party type—”

Marcos felt a bony hand on his shoulder. He looked up and saw Death with a head tilt that implied some attempt at comforting him.

“Breathe,” Death spoke softly. As Marcos took a few slow breaths, Death continued, “If Nadia’s stories of Fadi are anything to go by, it almost seems like you are asking me on one of those ‘dates’ I heard about.”

Marcos looked back at the ground.

“Oh.” Death tried to determine what to say, but settled with a joking, “After the near-death experiences you had, flirting with Death is what makes you nervous?”

Marcos chuckled. “Go figure, huh?”

“…What time is this party?”

The wizard looked back up. “Really?”

“As tempting as it is to listen to Samuel’s misadventures—”

Marcos snickered at Death’s overly sarcastic tone.

“—I cannot recall the last time we spent time together outside of our investigations.”

Marcos gave Death a relieved smile. “Tomorrow at sunset.”

“I cannot wait.”

2 years ago

Traumfresser (Darkspell Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

Where was she? How did she get here?

The asphalt was cold beneath her bare feet. There was no wind, but a soft spritzing rain sprinkling onto her. The street was poorly lit and empty. The air was thick with a stench of sulfur. In the sky above her, she saw a massive jagged line, like the exit of a titanic maw.

“Hello? Dane? Rosie? Sol?” Mia called the names of her friends.

All she heard was the faint whisper of countless voices.

“Hello?!” she raised her voice. “Anyone?!”

They came. People, first one, then ten, then thousands oozed from the gaps between houses. The whispering grew closer and louder. Mia tried to make out familiar features, trying to find Dane’s wavy hair, Rosie’s freckles or Sol’s grey eyes. She desperately searched for telltale signs of her friends, until she realized that all these people were bald and completely featureless. Where faces should be, there were only pulsating patches of skin. Slowly, methodically, they began to circle her.

Mia backed away, until she bumped into something. She whirled around, seeing one of the faceless entities stretching its hands towards her. She screamed and backed away. The whispering had risen to a deafening crescendo; the stench of sulfur stinging her nose like an angry wasp. One word burned in her mind like a flare.

Traumfresser. Dreameater.

It had only been a laugh. A harmless little exercise by four magic students. A simple test, nothing more.

“Mia”, that was Rosie. “Mia, help!”

She turned. There were Rosie, Dane and Sol, all of them surrounded by these faceless. Hands were covering their bodies, dragging them into the mass of people.

“No”, she covered her face. “No, no, no.”


Mia couldn’t take it. She turned and ran as fast as she could. Tears flowed down her cheeks, as the voices of her friends grew faint. Hands reached to her. She screamed, sending hexes of white flame their way.

When she woke up in a hospital, they told her they’d found her in Sol’s dorm, surrounded by her three dead friends.

Fredrick H.
Fredrick H.
2 years ago

An Enemy of My Enemy (Crossroads City Canon)
By Fredrick H. (challeng3r22)

Angela threw her ice locked limbs against the ground as the building burned around her.

It took two hits for the ice to shatter, but it was too late to hope for an escape down the stairs.

Giving a silent thanks for her mystically enhanced strength she made her way to the window on numbed feet. As she stood on the sill, gathering her courage, the building exploded behind her.

She regained consciousness on the other side of the street surrounded by rubble. Her sword, still lit up in pure white luminescence, laid a few feet away, she crawled towards it as sirens blared in the distance.

As she grasped the hilt a shadow fell over her.

“Perhaps I misjudged you, Chosen One. You are quite resilient. Unlike everyone in that building,” its deep voice rumbled.

“What do you want?” she shrieked.

“Nothing more than the desires of My Lady.”

She screamed as the sword’s aura flickered black. She attacked wildly without ceasing. And all that effort revealed only minimal scratches.

A blast of green energy shot out from an alleyway knocking the behemoth off of its feet. A smile appeared on Angela’s face as everything faded to black.

Angela awoke in a canopy bed. Her wounds were bandaged. and in place of her oversized concert t-shirt was a silk nightgown.

“Glad to see you’re awake,” the young man at the end of the bed observed.

“Lord of the Forbidden Wilds?”

“Currently at bay. I’m merely the host body that got stuck with him. You may call me Anthony.”

“Alright, Anthony. Why did you defeat an ally of your benefactor?”

“Benefactor is a generous term. And the one thing we can agree on is that you’re more useful alive and stopping those who would upset the order of things. Also, we didn’t defeat him. He had already won.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Fredrick H.
2 years ago

Champagne Smiles and Glittered Kisses
by Lunabear (Private Repost)

The rancorous, drunk crowd howled just beyond the velvet curtain.

Taryn’s stomach wanted to revolt. Heavy bass threatened to vibrate her into a puddle. She could hardly feel her heart assault her ribcage.

Swallowing did nothing to alleviate the dryness in her throat.

The crackling of the ear piece caused Taryn to shriek. She slapped a stinging hand across her mouth.

“Cray just walked in. Corner booth.”

She bit her lip at Thane’s announcement.

“H-how many?” She hated the tremor.

“Six. Deep breaths, baby bird. All access points are locked down. Cray won’t slip out without our notice.”

She knew Dalton’s smile was pinched.

The song ended.

“You can do this, Taryn. Put those gymnastics skills to use.”

Kaila’s tight chuckle didn’t soothe Taryn’s frayed nerves.

She removed the ear piece and silenced it with fumbling fingers. She then placed it on a nearby table.

“Welcome to the stage, Starshine!”

Taryn’s lips felt like etched granite as she smiled and burst through the burgundy waterfall.

The place was packed, and the lights were far too bright.

She spied her comrades with minor relief. She couldn’t locate Cray, but his entourage stood out.

A hard rock song blasted as she approached the pole. The cold metal against her palm blocked her anxieties.

Lewd jeers rolled from her shoulders and fell to the glittered platform.

Her lids drooped, and she grew a lazy smile.

Taryn was soon a slave to the rhythm, and executed the practiced, complicated moves almost flawlessly.

The patrons were enraptured, nearly mobbing the stage.

Her heeled feet hit the wood again. A different sort of adrenaline doused her veins.

Through raining green, in the center front of the throng, stood Cray. His curved lips revealed crooked fangs.

She finished her set to thunderous applause and shrill whistles.

While collecting her earnings, she sent a flirtatious wink Cray’s way.

She blew a kiss and sauntered back through the curtain.

Once backstage, she replaced her ear piece and exhaled deeply. Her heart gradually slowed.

Footsteps echoed.

“Do you perform…private shows?”

Taryn’s gut clenched at Cray’s thick Russian accent.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lunabear
2 years ago

Donkey Butt
By Marx

“Oh come now…” Alex rolled his eyes at the tear-ridden girl before him. “I’m a demon. You like me BECAUSE I’m a demon. Why the surprise when I do demonic things?”

“You weren’t supposed to do them to ME!” Jasmine sobbed. “You knew how important my family was to me.”

“Only because you told me.” Alex chuckled. “Besides, I didn’t kill them. Your ‘friend’ did.”

“She follows your orders! You could have stopped her at any time!”

“Sure, I could have. But where’s the fun in that? Besides, I was hungry.” Alex grinned widely. “I think what you need to realize here is that the toy doesn’t get to choose how it’s played with. The mutt knows that all too well. Isn’t that right, mutt?”

“Yes, Sir.” Daisy happily responded from her kneeling position by Alex’s throne.

Jasmine scowled at her former best friend. She didn’t know if her friend was even still in there anymore. Jasmine couldn’t believe in the past that she’d actually envied Daisy’s place as Alex’s thrall. She turned back to Alex, her fury taking over. “I’m not your goddamn toy! I hate you! I hate you SO much!”

Alex seemed taken back by the words but when his grin returned, it chilled Jasmine to the bone. “You asked to be my thrall so many times. And I always denied you. Do you want to know why?”

Jasmine refused to take the bait and silently growled at the demon instead.

“Because I found you too interesting to just… claim you when you were so willing. No. That’s not a fun game at all. However… getting you to say those glorious three words. Now THAT… That was fun.”

Jasmine continued to glare until she fully realized what Alex meant. She turned and ran, knowing the futility. But Alex was much faster. His golden eyes glowed vibrantly as he dashed ahead, easily catching her.

“Alex, please! I… I don’t want this anymore…” She mumbled helplessly, knowing her last minutes of freedom were rapidly fading.

“Oh Sweetheart…” Alex purred. “Since when was any of this about what you wanted?”

C. M. Weller
2 years ago

My What Big Teeth You Have
C. M. Weller

There are several things wrong with taking a sacred vow to heal ALL hurts she met. Primary in her mind was the dragon with a sore tooth. It’s always the problem right in front of you that looms large, but this one was larger than most.

“You have poisons in your bag,” rumbled the dragon. Of course he smelled them. “Know now that they are insufficient to end me. Your attempt is pure folly.”

“I’m not here to kill you,” Allaine made a show of putting her bag down, laying out some of her tools. “I’m here to help.”

“I could eat you in one bite,” said the dragon.

“You’ve just fed on your tribute of elderly cattle. You’d make yourself sick,” Allaine insisted. “And you will still have the pain. It might be years before you meet another healer like me.”

The dragon tilted their head to one side, eyeing the tools Allaine laid out. “Most people try to kill dragons.”

“I’m not most people. I took a vow to heal all hurts and it turns out the Gods take you seriously. You do NOT ignore a prophetic vision twice.” Once was plenty for Allaine.

A snout the size of a hut came close to sniff her. The dragon didn’t need to do that. Dragons could scent prey across mountain ranges and some could scent them across oceans. Perhaps while she was here, she could check them for the sniffles.

The dragon knew she was their only hope. Allaine had only the trust in her Gods and the hope that this would release her from her vows if it all went to the dungheap.

“What do I do?” said the dragon.

“Let me prepare and then let me work,” said Allaine. “It will hurt, but that will be the end of your pain. With luck, the pain of ending your woes will be brief.” She had everything she needed. “Open. And stay open.”

The dragon COULD eat her in one bite. There was only one way to know if they wanted to.

Sleeves rolled up, she stepped inside.


Last edited 2 years ago by C. M. Weller
Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
2 years ago

The Bookshelf’s Valuable Lesson (Nyssa’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis

When Nyssa’s academic curiosity drew her to an old bookshelf within the dark dungeon, she didn’t realise anything was wrong until she stuck her arm right into the shelves.

At first she was confused. Trying to take a book, she realised that the pages seemed stuck together, and the books were fused to the shelf itself. The whole thing was just a single, seamless mass.

But before Nyssa could react, the shelves suddenly deformed into a mass of teeth, and slammed shut upon her arm.

The pain smashed into her, blurring her vision and deafening her ears with the sound of an awful, raspy scream – her own scream. Nyssa’s only thoughts were “Get out get Out Get Out GET OUT!!!”

With pure instinct, she clutched her other hand over her heart, and screamed again, but this time with a word of power buried within her howl. She felt the thunderous force build up within her chest, and prepared to release it outward–

–when she glimpsed Dante through the tears of her peripheral vision, the elven monk standing beside her as he unleashed punch after punch against the Mimic. Realising her mistake, Nyssa tried to hold back her spell–

–but it was too late. With a great crash, the shockwave erupted out of her. The Mimic was smashed against the back wall, teeth scraping across her arm – but it did not let go. Dante was flung to the side, impacting the stone with a nasty crunch. She heard a low groan leave his mouth as he slumped to the floor.

Nyssa tried to wriggle free of the shapeshifting jaws, to no avail. Desperate with fear, she looked away from the horror, closed her eyes, and yanked her arm with all the force she could muster.

A hideous noise, a great tearing pain, and her arm was free, and Nyssa was stumbling away. She refused to look at her arm. But the pain was indescribable. She could hear it dripping.

Then as she staggered onwards, the giant figure of Rosewin rushing past with greataxe in hand, she screamed once more.

“HELP! HELP!!!!”