10/27/2013

`Ilio

The forest was quiet beneath the moon.  `Ilio leaned back on the koa wood throne he'd had made and gazed into the darkness, ignoring the whimpers of the girls chained to either side of his armrests.  His nostrils flared and his tongue darted out to lick at his muzzle.  Something was coming.  It stank of the Kin of Tāne...

Malena stalked through the darkened forest, cutting between ancient trees.  Two weeks ago, something had moved into this area, driving out the usual spread of hunters and tourists in the Molokai Forest Reserve.  A number of girls of all ages and young boys had disappeared from the towns on the island.  The two things were obviously related and Malena had decided to put it down with extreme prejudice.  Calls to past allies had yet to be returned, so she had set out on her own.

Her clothes, transformed to dark fatigues with an obsidian belt carved in the form of two eels biting the moon, rustled softly, but she moved slowly, trying to mask it with forest sounds.  It reminded her of the days she had Not that they were many; the birds and beasts had apparently cleared out, making it far more clear that the thing in the forest was not just a trumped up mortal.  Ahead, a twig snapped.  Malena froze.

A dark-haired girl rushed into view, crying breathlessly.  Not waiting a moment to consider, Malena broke her cover and sprinted to the child.  "It's okay, hoaloha, it's okay.  I've got you."

The girl sobbed aloud, then whispered, "But... My friends!  He let me go!  He has them!"

Malena grit her teeth in frustration.  "I'll come back for them.  I promise.  But you need to go home, now."

The girl sniffled and didn't move, so Malena scooped her up before retreating through the forest.  She headed for the hunter check point, where a ranger would be stationed.  He could take the girl and she could come back for the others.

`Ilio watched the Kin of Tāne go.  He delt sure he could take the woman, despite her blood.  She appeared unarmed and unarmored.  Her clumsy stalking in the forest would have given her away had he not been able to smell her from miles off. When she returned, he would take her.  He would eat her and return to the founding of his family.  The family that would rule Molokai and war on the Kin of hated Tāne.

Malena knelt over the spot where she'd found the girl.  The moon had begun its decent towards the west, which changed the shadows, but she was fairly certain she could make out the girl's tracks coming from the northwest.  She rubbed her fingers across them for a moment, trying to sense just what the girl had run from.

Rising, she stalked in that direction.  She shook her wrists, feeling the weight of the koa wood bracelets there hitting against the backs of her hands.  The night air was warm, making her clothes cling, and briefly she considered changing them to something more comfortable.

Ahead there was a clearing, moonlight pouring down on something polished and golden.  It look, for the most part, like a large chair, but two hooks protruded from the fronts of the armrests.  Malena paused a few yards back of the clearing's edge, watching and listening.

The Kin of Tāne pause, clearly afraid of entering the unprotected area of the clearing.  'Ilio snorted at her timidity.  He shifted his weight, creeping forward on the branch.  He hovered over her, waiting for her to look up at the sound of his breathing.  She didn't.

It dropped out of the trees at Malena, snarling maw descending towards her face.  Instinctively, Malena stepped backwards, letting her bodyweight shift and take her into a reverse tumble that brought her out from beneath the Titanspawn and back up into a crouch.  She smiled at it, toothy and wide.  It growled low in its throat and then spoke, "Kin of Tāne, I am the master of this place.  Leave and I will allow your bones to remain in your flesh for but a little longer."

She laughed in its ugly dog-like face.  "You've been watching too many Brock Landers movies, friend.  Where are the children you've stolen, hound?"

It growled again and darted forward, crouching low.  Malena leapt backwards, wrists coming forward in a snapping motion.  Her bracelets slapped against the backs of her palms and then flowed forward, forming into the familiar shark-toothed weapons she called Ukupanipo's Bite.  She spun, slashing out at the charging Titanspawn, who stopped short as it registered the weapons' appearance.

'Ilio circled, newly wary of the girl who'd come to face him.  He'd thought, given her relative clumsiness in coming through the forest, that she would be an incapable fighter.  Her sudden response to his attack had changed that perception for him.  He changed tactics.  "I've eaten all the children.  They were delicious.  Would you like to weep over their bones before I eat you, too?"

Malena grinned at the Titanspawn.  "Darling, the only way you'll make me weep is by your stench.  I know they're alive.  The girl you lost told me as much."

"Ah yes, the bait."

Malena pivoted as he stalked circles around her, keeping her right hand and the weapon there trained on the center of his chest.  "You're a descendant of Kaupe, no?  I heard your kind have no control, chasing after women like dogs in heat.  Trying to create more of your filthy kind."

"Are you offering to take their place?"  Malena danced right as he feinted towards her left.

"In your dreams."  She returned her own feint, watching as he guarded low as she took a sharp step forward.  And then all her tactical scheming ended as he doubled in size.  She backpedaled, her clothing twisting into a full set of tactical infiltraition gear.

'Ilio grinned, more like a dog's corpse rictus than any semblance of actual pleasure.  He lumbered towards the Kin if Tāne, clawed hands flexing.  I wonder, he thought, what a crossbreed of one of her kind and one if mine would be.  The strength of such a being...

Malena recovered, shaking herself to break fron the fear.  Boundibg forward and under the Titanspawn's outstretched arms.  Lightning quick, she struck at his solar plexus, driving the air from his lungs and ripping his flesh.

But it swatted her away like a fly and flex its midsection, revealing unbroken skin.  Malena's eyes widened in horror.  She scrambled for any inkling of a plan.

'Ilio laughed to himself as the girl turned and ran.  She bounded into the forest like a frightened rabbit and he was all to happy to oblige and play the role of hungry wolf.

Malena could hear the child of Kapue hot on her heels.  She dodged around trees and leaped a fallen trunk, all the while heading north.  A low hanging branch threatened to block her way, but a right cross burst it into a splintery explosion.  She pressed on.

'Ilio could smell the woman's fear.  It was aromatic and delightful, promising him months of enjoyment before her usefulness was expended.  He pounded on, focused, growing closer, ever closer, to his prey.

Malena heard rushing wind and water and pivoted abruptly to her left and sprang forward.  The Titanspawn was mere inches behind her, but with all his bulk, he couldn't turn as nimbly as she could.  He charged into open air, legs still pumping like a cartoon and begun to plummet.  Malena crept to the edge and looked down after him.

'Ilio howled at the Kin of Tāne as she gazed down at him.  He cursed her and her parentage.  And then all was black.

Malena watched the surf for signs of the Titanspawn surfacing, but after twenty minutes there was nothing.  Satisfied, she turned back to the forest to go and find the kidnapped children.