The Book of Soltana: Char – 13

Underrealm

Borscha

Borscha the Trow fire gauge whipped up another wall of fire, sending it in between his box of firewalls. It was a common trick of his that had worked perfectly. As the creature attempted to rush in around the main wall of fire protecting him, he’d create a corner on the aggressed end. The creature would usually scurry the other way, which he would then box in. He would then let the firewall do the work, cooking the target. If the target attempted to run through, they’d be covered in the very sticky flames. Those were good times, seeing a creature scrambling around to put out the flames. The strange shapeshifting creature shot out a large object, aiming towards the other downed Trows, a weak final attack. He heard a shriek as the creature inside caught fire, burning it to char. He waited as the fire burned. He waited as the shrieking ceased. He waited for the fire to do its work.

Then he waited until his stamina ran dry.

Down in the Underrealm, one could never be too sure. This creature was new to him and he fought many of the wild beasts, faerie folk and strange creatures down here. He never fought a creature that could shape its flesh like water.

“You ge’ it, boss?” The Trow armed with a pulse rifle asked with a gasping breath. He was breathing heavily, almost dead on his feet.

“Why’ou tired, Dasha? Get off it!” Borscha said with a grunt, turning back to see his rifleman was stuck with those dirty quills.

“No’ feeling good, boss.” He replied.

“Mm, poison,” Borscha concluded. He did quick work, pulling out the quills and letting Dasha’s accelerated healing do its work.

“Wha’about the others?” Dasha asked, eyes glazing over.

The firewalls finally snuffed out, leaving a smoking plume.

“Wha’about it?” Borscha said sarcastically, pointing his thumb at the other Trows that made their way over.

Only Mik was the total casualty. The strange creature had tried to devour him in an effort to stall their attacks. Borscha had no qualms about friendly fire.

To Borscha, fire was friendly; only to himself.

He glanced over at the second mound of a charred body, seeing a brown soul mote glinting.

He scoffed at that. He would find others. There was nothing he could do for collecting souls anyways. Wandering Trows from the old days would never fail to join up. He had the reputation among them. He was seen as a father figure or champion to them. None would fail to join him.

The three other bruiser Trows looked no worse for wear. Trow regeneration was top tier, making them terrifying attrition fighters. They usually attacked with little regards to defense, depending solely on accelerated healing and strength. It made their attitudes brave at best and arrogant at worse.

“Oi boss, we got it?” one of the bruiser Trows bellowed from afar.

“What’ya think, you mosshead?” Borscha shouted back, gesturing at the charred ruins of the strange shapeshifting monster. His new coat was ruined. But it now turned into a feast. He always looked on the bright side of a fight.

He sauntered forward, feet crushing the moss ash underfoot. Dasha followed behind torpidly. The other Trows made their way to the ruin remains, seeing the skeletal charred body.

“Nev’a seen that before…” A Trow murmured.

“Poor Mik.” Another replied.

Borscha stepped to the body, pressing his weight against the chest, crushing it through to an ash cloud. He bent down, grabbing a piece of charred carbon, and munching down on it.

“Peh! You were gunna eat me? Loo’at this boys! See who eats who!” Borscha bellowed. The other Trows cheered at the victory. The three bruiser Trows crowded around, ready to eat the charred body.

Borscha’s victory suddenly felt hollow. A truth escaped him up to this point. It struck as pulse sabot and just as fast.

Where’s the soul mote? He pondered, his mind turning.

He stared at the Trow body, seeing the brown mote, then back to the body in front of him, bereft of a mote. He looked at the two other Trows, seeing them eyeing him with vacant toothy grins. He heard Dasha let out a grunt from a strike, he turned to see the rifle Trow going to his knees from a blow to the back of the head, crushing his skull. The Trow grabbed Dasha’s ruined head, his flesh starting to sink and merged with his shattered skull. The fake Trow looked back into Borscha’s eyes with the same vacant grin on his face.

Borscha’s eyes widened as it now dawned on him.

He didn’t win.

It had escaped.

“I gave you a chance,” A Trow behind him spoke eloquently.

Borscha turned, sweeping his walking stick in a blind attack. He wrist was shattered from a blow by a scrap club. His head went ringing with black spots as the follow up struck his jaw, breaking it. He went to his knees, the blow stunning him. He mind reeled from the blow and sudden turnabout from his former ally. He sat on his knees, trying to process what was happening.

Tryin’ to take my place… He thought with a new confused rage building up. He would heal in a moment, then crush the usurper trow. His mind wasn’t in the right place to understand the true extent of his error.

The Trow that struck stood above him, eyes glowing a familiar red.

“Now the price will be paid,” The Trow spoke with a deep rumbling murmur.

Borscha’s jaw healed, allowing him to speak. He turned and spat out a good portion of his shattered teeth.

“Wha’ happen to the boys?” Borscha asked narrowly, his mind still stunned.

“They’re mine now. As are you.”

Borscha’s eyes went wide as the Trow in front of him split open from the head to torso, lined with massive teeth. The gaping torso maw opened up, displaying the full body horror of muscle, organs, and viscera to the trow. There was no blood flow from what appeared to be a mortal wound. What appeared to be significant damage was actually a mouth. A maw.

Maw.

It then occurred to him these weren’t trows anymore. It was the monster from before. Now it clicked into place. His stamina was drained and the magic was far from him. His skull was healing, his mind returning

Borscha could see the dead eyes on either side of the split head. He snarled a final resistance.

“Now, please be delicious,” The voice added.

The shrieking cacophony from the gaping maw startled him, filling him with only a single instinct.

Run.

The yawning maw crunched down.

>>> The Book of Soltana: Haze – 14

<<< The Book of Soltana: Prowler – 12

The Book of Soltana Glossary

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