The Broken World – Hooves
He did not know where he had heard the word, but he knew it from somewhere. Horses whose heads had been replaced with the torsos, arms, and heads of men or women. These atrocities, though, were not headed by men and women but by twisted mockeries: their skin a sickly yellow carapace run through with glowing green veins, their eyes and mouths leaking a steaming orange goo that smelled of sweet rot.
They pounded the earth around him, their iron hooves punishing the world as they circled him. The ground shook and Avaescent fought to stay balanced as he stood, trying not to gag from the overwhelming stench as their leaking eyes narrowed, their expressions curling with hate and pain.
Avaescent held up a hand in cautious greeting, wondering how one spoke to monsters.
“Hello,” he ventured, standing straight. “I don’t know who I am or how I got here. Can you help me?”
One of them trotted closer, the talons on its hands clenching and unclenching, eyes wide and dripping as tear spittle sizzled on its skin. Avaescent found himself tensing as the herd around him stomped in place, no order or rhythm to the beating of their hooves.
He was startled when the monster reared up, quick as the lightning above them, driving its hooves towards his face.
Panicking, Avaescent raised his hands and caught the hooves, his feet sinking into the mud as he struggled to keep upright under the weight of the towering monster above him. The human arms of the centaur reached for him, flailing with vicious intent, but with a roar Avaescent was able to toss the centaur off, backing closer to the tree behind him to keep himself from being charged.
The centaurs around him began to circle, rising and kicking with their hooves, charging to try and trample him under their mass, but Avaescent was quick to avoid being crushed. Still, they were many and he was only one, the iron of their hooves cutting his flesh, the talons of their hands raking his skin, pain and exhaustion driving him to his knees.
I don’t even know who I am, he thought, gritting his teeth and blinking back tears. The rain hammered the canopy, water mingling with blood along his musculature, painting him with blood. He screamed defiance and the weeping skies answered, beating back the canopy with a downpour that staggered even the centaurs that were killing him.
He wiped water and blood from his brow, howling as one of the centaurs closed in on him. The mud sucked at their hooves, leaving them unbalanced enough that when he pushed off of tree behind him, they were caught off guard. He went up, climbing the spongy yellowed torso, grappling his way onto the monster’s back.
The steaming orange goo that spilled from the centaur stung his skin but Avaescent hung on as the creature bucked and fought. His hands closed on the monster’s head and he could feel every breath the monster took, the light aching in the beating heart of the creature.
“I see you,” Avaescent whispered, reaching for that light – the soul of the monster in his hands.
Alright, new story time. This is the first part of Avaescent and the Broken World, which will update every Tuesday and Wednesday until the story ends. The cover art comes from Pixabay, and you can find it and other art like it by clicking here. You can read the first part by clicking here, the previous part by clicking here, or the next part by clicking here when the next part goes live. Good reading, and if you like it leave a comment or spread it around. Writer likes readers and comments.