Chapter IV : 144 II

Chapter IV : 144

“ Linnorm “

Four tall, grey pillars came into view just as the group passed by 144. As their mount continued to run towards it, the grey pillars seemed to be getting larger. The rock formation was truly a sight to behold; it was like a massive mountain in the middle of the desert, but the humans knew that the only mountain ranges of the World were all contained within the oak forest.

“ If you don’t disturb them, “ Hunter inhaled and exhaled deeply. He seemed to know just what that place was, “ – they won’t disturb you. “

As he held onto the tardigrade’s shell tightly, the tamer looked down at the grey beast.

“ So Puppy, “ he finally spoke to the blue-blooded creature, “ Why are we going to disturb them? “

They arrived at the rock formation without incident. Hunter, who had an idea as to what was going on, hopped off the tardigrade first. He slung his bag on his back and held the bone knife tightly with his right hand. Steel walked up to the tamer and stood by his side.

“ These rocks are very ancient, “ the farmer used his expertise, “ But they don’t seem to be natural. “

Hunter looked up at his comrade while Thyme helped Rina get down from Puppy’s back.

“ You see those rough edges and the way that the rocks are slightly inclined? “ Steel pointed at the formations around the four pillars, “ Those things could only be formed if there was a sudden disturbance that broke through the ground and displaced the solid rocks around it. “

“ An impact? “ the historian piped in, “ Could this be… Impact Cavern? “

Every human in the World knew what Impact Cavern was. The Age of the Sun which changed the whole planet began when Apocalypse occurred. The remnants of Apocalypse were within that cavern. According to the history book which Errol wrote and distributed to towns, the Overlord found something called the Mechanism deep within that cavern and she activated it. Upon its activation, life on the planet began to improve, but not before humans had already begun to experiment with Black Blood.

“ I wish I could open this, “ Rina held onto a familiar thick brown book in her arms, Errol’s original History of the World, “ There’s no lock, but I just can’t open it… “

While the humans murmured amongst themselves, Puppy walked a little closer to the massive rock formation. Then, he burped. It was a fairly loud burp that echoed through the grey rocks, and some of the smaller formations began to move.

“ Tardigrades? “ Thyme rhetorically asked, but he was mistaken.

“ No… “ Hunter finally spoke to him, if only to answer his question.

The grey figures began to glimmer and they unfolded to reveal long bodies. They then slithered towards the humans and the tardigrade. Steel noted that most of those creatures were as large as the acacia, while some were much larger.

“ … armored desert snakes, “ the tamer said, his voice as soft as possible.

Their armor-like scales reflected light, thus under the aurora, the desert snakes seemed beautiful. But the humans could not deny the stories that travelers once related. It was rumored that one full-grown desert snake could completely destroy a large town overnight. Despite their bulk, they also moved fast, just like tardigrades. But oddly enough, armored desert snakes did not require food or water. The plates along their back seemed to gather nourishment from the most abundant resource on the planet: the sun.

“ They feed on sunlight, “ Hunter pointed out, “ And they don’t bother humans unless they were bothered first. I wonder if this counts as bothering them… “

A gigantic shadow, almost as large as one of the four rock pillars, slithered from farther within the rock formation. It soon revealed its face: an armored desert snake whose plates seemed to be incredibly heavy, and whose armor scales reflected the most beautiful colors of the aurora. Its eyes were wide set and its face had deep lines that indicated its advanced age. It took one look at Puppy, lowered its head towards the tardigrade and, with one quick movement, the snake gobbled Errol’s pet up.

“ HWAAA! “ Rina screamed.

“ Puppy! “ the guard finally did something unselfish. He threw his spear at the desert snake, confident that its porcupig quill could hurt the creature enough to make it drop the tardigrade, but the spear was simply deflected by the armor scales.

Before the humans could even consider running away, three desert snakes surrounded them. They were much smaller than the old snake but they were still massive. Finally, just as Steel considered tackling a snake to let the others get away, the old snake lowered its head and spat Puppy out. The tardigrade did not seem fazed at all; in fact, it seemed to be feeling much better.

The humans would have talked amongst themselves to try and figure out what was going on, if not for the sudden movement of the old snake. It gobbled up all four humans at the same time. Hunter held his breath as he was helplessly sloshed around by the creature’s tongue. Every now and then, his head bumped against someone else’s and by the time that the snake was done with them, his head hurt and he was covered in desert snake slobber.

“ Was that a greeting? “ Thyme asked once they were on solid ground again, to which Puppy replied with a happy grunt.

Oddly enough, the slobber did not taste or smell bad. Their joints and muscles, which had been aching earlier, felt lighter. Their cuts and bruises began to heal up just as the slobber itself evaporated. Hunter checked Puppy’s ripped leg and instead of a large gash, all that was left was a scar. The tardigrade still could not put all of his weight on it though.

“ You’re him, aren’t you? “ the tamer walked up to the old snake, “ Errol’s friend, Linnorm. “

His question was answer with a loud burp which the tamer interpreted as a simple yes.

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