You knew it was coming. Enjoy!
Twilight hung over the raw battle field, covering the dead bodies in a shroud of darkness as the sun set. A tick haze rolled across the shadowy field, covering the fallen and setting fire to what was left of the trampled grass adding smoke to the ethereal haze. A strange howl rose up, making the ground shudder and the smoke and haze swirl as if it were boiling.
High above the battle ground a lane figure stood watching as the light waned and a new menace entered the field. Bright yellow eyes missed nothing as she gazed at the unfolding scene below. A hot wind flew up, tossing her cloak behind her in billowing waves .
She was not pleased with what she saw below. Nor was she pleased with what was coming out of the deepest depths of Hell. This was just the beginning of a war she tried to prevent between the gods. The price of blood for this battle was already paid and now, those souls would not be able to see the rest they deserved.
“What do you see, mother?” A soft male voice came from behind her as a large hand reached for her shoulder. He stood tall and burly, dressed in armor and carrying a helmet beneath one arm. Only his feet were bare, letting him feel the earth beneath his toes and let his claws dig in deep while he fought.
Another howl broke the silence, shuddering the ground once again as mother and son observed. Looking up at him, she smiled, whiskers twitching at the acrid scent of metal and leather. That smile faded quickly with her reply. “I see a large menace coming to us, my son. We will have to fight again.”
“The men are tired. I don’t think they could go another step right now.” His voice sounded concerned for the men under his command.
“I know, Yaneh, I know, but we are left with no choice.” She heaved a heavy sigh and turned to walk back to the encampment. “I have healed all that can. The rest… will have to make do with a potion. Prepare them, son.”
Her words were just as good as any command from a king or emperor to him. Yaneh nodded then followed his mother back to where his men set up their camp. Though his mother was smaller than her, she had about her a strength he could never describe and learned quickly never to question her motives.
He jogged ahead and called out the orders to have all the men assemble before night was fully upon them. It wasn’t much time, but he knew they needed to be ready. As soon as his orders were passed along through the ranks, he left to help his mother prepare her potion.
“The men are gathering.” He stated as he came to a stop by her fire pit. “Do you want me to help you?” He grinned slightly at her and tilted his head.
Blue eyes met yellow briefly before the smaller feline nodded. “If you want. You know what to do as much as I.” From a pouch hanging from her belt, she dumped out several musty smelling bags. Together, she and her son picked through them and poured the contents into boiling pot of water over the fire.
The flames danced high, changing colors with each new addition to the pot. As the last ingredient was added, a fox came running up, panting hard from his exhaustion. “Lady Sab’Eth! Lady Sab’Eth! We need you. The enemy is coming up the cliff toward us.” He no sooner got the last words out and he fell into a heap, dead with an arrow through his back.
“Quickly son! Drink the potion then get it to our men as fast as you can.” She flung her arm back to whisk her cloak away from her body then glared into the night. Behind her, she heard the heavy thud of her son’s feet hit the ground as he ran back to take care of his contingents.
From out of the darkness, two sets of reflected the fire light. As they moved closer, the faint sound of chains clinked and the vague outline of the huge apes appeared in the flickering light.
A whoosh of wind rushed through, tugging at her cloak s Sab’Eth stood there, glaring at the intruder with her hands down at her sides and the tip of her tail flicking slowly with her contained anger. “So,” she growled, “you decided to surrender? Good. We don’t need any more bloodshed on this land.” She sounded as bold as she felt and knew the demon wasn’t there to end the war but to end her.
A loud, booming, laughed rumbled through the earth toward her before the baleful glare of a demon entered the ring of light cast by her fire. “What ever gave you that idea? You know as well as I that I’m here for you.” He laughed again.
The giant apes rattled their chains and strained against them to get to her. Sab’Eth smirked then barked a laugh of her own. “You can’t have me, Grax. You don’t have the balls to try and take me.” She flexed her fingers, showing off the claws she kept sharp and hidden.
Grax smirked then released the chains. “Get her,” he commanded the giant apes.
The beasts howled as they leaped at her, digging hand-like paws into the ground and throwing up dirt with each step. Their headlong rush to the smaller feline lady skidded to a stop when their bodies felt nothing except for the slash of searing pain along their hind legs.
They turned quickly and rushed her again only to receive the same treatment.
She wasn’t aware of the attack on the camp, only the demon at her own and the pets which were coming after her. Round and round she lead them, slashing at exposed flanks and legs. Many times she tried for the head and missed. They could see her coming.
As she wiped her forehead, she smirked. “Looks like you finally found a pet worthy of taking me on, Grax. Let’s see If they can handle another demon.”
The spell she recited jerked her body as the demon’s laughed at her attempt. He watched as the apes continued to attack, barely breaking through the spell’s field to touch her contorting body. The feline humanoid body reshaped through flashes of brilliant light, turning her from a morph to a panther-like demon with pupiless glowing eyes and a dark aura surrounding her body. Knotted muscles twitched beneath a short pelt of ebony fur as she roared her anger at the attacking apes.
Almost as large as the demonic apes, Sab’Eth rushed at them and slashed with claws sharp enough to slice through metal as if it were butter. She gave as good as she got in the fight with the monstrous apes. She could smell their determination to kill her as commanded. They were her equal in strength, but she had a slight edge; she still had her intellect and could out think both beasts with ease.
Grax kept watch, his eyes narrowing when the cat-woman changed shape. He snarled with how easy she could avoid the worst of the apes’ strikes. But they were two against one. He had the advantage. Just to make sure, he tossed in a spell of his own, adding to the speed and strength of his minions. Then, just to add to his own amusement, tossed fireballs into the fray.
She was without backup and now, the advantage shifted over to the demon’s side. Dodging fireballs and trying to avoid being tackled by the apes, she twitched and turned, letting her own instincts guide her movements while she considered her targets.
For what seemed like hours, she battled the apes. Her energy was beginning to ebb and her three opponents were limitless. She was starting to show the effects of being out numbered, but she kept fighting on, getting slower and slower, but her strikes more devastating. She’d sooner die than lose a fight to these beasts and Grax.
Over the howls of the apes, a loud roar echoed, startling the demon enough his throw was off, hitting his own minion rather than the panther. The chance gave her an opening. While the ape burned, she went for the throat, swiping with her paw to main it and get out of the way of the acid coursing through its veins.
Again, a roar startled the apes, giving her another opportunity to strike. She was getting too tired to fight, but she took every chance she could. Rest would come later.
“Mother!” The shout sounded more like another roar and the acrid scent of transformation reached her nose in time for her to see the tendrils of dark aether wrap around her son. When he emerged, he looked much like her only larger, stronger, and better protected by the very spirit he held within him. As he leapt into the fray, he roared to her, “Run! I have this.”
Sab’Eth shook her head then dropped to the ground to let him tackle the apes before they could crush her. “No! Tale care of them. I’ll get Grax, their leader.”
No sooner said than an army of the demon apes arrived, howling their hunger. Some were dragging their victims. Others were licking their lips and drooling at the prospect of more than just dinner.
Just as the demons arrived, so did the army her son led. They shouted and banged their weapons against their shields then charged. A clash of metal and stone like flesh rang through the mountains as the two armies merged into one battle under the pale moon light.
Over it all, the maddening howl of the beastly apes shook the ground and the roars of the clans answered them back. Only the rising sun, hours from that point, would tell who the victor would be.