Branches whip my face and arms. My feet kick up dry leaves and thorns leave long gashes in a strange uniformity along my legs. I'm sprinting through an unfamiliar forest in the dead of night.
I kick a rock and fall on my face. Scrambling to my feet, I take off to my right... and almost fall off of the cliff that pops up out of nowhere.
"What kind of sick person puts a cliff in the middle of a forest?" I ask to no one in particular.
I don't know where else to go so I sprint along the dropoff.
"Well whoever it is, he's not exactly helpful." I mutter to myself.
This cliff seems to go on forever. I try to focus on not falling and avoid getting beaten to death by low branches. I pass through a clearing and can see another cliff up ahead, parallel to this one. It's not far to jump but it might give me an edge to whatever I'm running from.
Then it hits me.
What am I running from? I ask myself mentally. I dig my heels in and skid to a stop. Looking around I begin to laugh with relief. Thank god that's over with.
Just as the thought passes through my mind, the stones at my feet start to bounce and shake.
A giant tree hurtles towards me as I whip around. Ducking under the flying oak I get a look at what has just burst into the clearing.
Enormous is the first word that comes to mind. It stands about ten feet tall and fifteen feet long. The massive beast has the structure of a dog but that's where the resemblance stops. This thing has a monsterous head with cavernous eye sockets, each sporting a ball of what looks like magma, the maw on it is twisted into a snarl revealing teeth at least eight inches long each. It's coat is riddled with gashes and smells like decaying tissues. Through the rends in it's pelt I can see the exposed muscle and sinew. The entire inner structure of the monster seems to be rotting. The joints throughout it's body look to have been ripped out and replaced with a swirling mass of... bubbles?
I laugh to myself Bubbles, I think, that'll piss him off.
I turn and sprint in the other direction, towards the adjacent cliff but it's still about twenty yards away and Bubbles is closing. Fast. But he's having a hard time along the narrow path and I make it to the edge and get ready to jump.
Suddenly, there's a sharp pain in my back and I'm flying across the gap and Bubbles is falling to the river below. I see his form splinter when it hits the rocks protruding from the riverbed just before I'm slammed onto the grass on the other side.
Rolling and gasping for breath, I turn to look at the opposite side. Bubbles is standing there sniffing the edge of the dropoff. Confused, I look harder and see a flattened area behind him.
There were two. I think. One to chase me and one to cut me off.
I suck in air and watch Bubbles pace on the other side. He looks worried about the fall after seeing the disfigured lump that was once his companion.
Turning, I give him a haughty wave and walk towards the treeline. Bubbles howls in rage and launches himself into the open air. He hits the ground. Hard. I sprint back into the woods.
In my panic I can hear the crashing behind me that means he's not far behind. Adrenaline courses through me as I tear through the forest making random turns. It isn't until I'm hoplessly lost that his pounding footsteps fade.
But I don't stop. Adrenaline keeps me going. I'm nearly passed out from exhaustion when I hit him. Bursting through a fern patch, I tackle someone. Following my initial reaction, I try to pin and my captive and thenl I feel the mop of curls, smell the odor of spices and hear that laughter that infuriates me so often that I relax.
We burst out laughing.
"Dude, you got the short stick. This place is a nightmare!" I say between laughs of relief.
"Nah, man. Someone's got to babysit you. This place is nowhere for someone like you" He replies.
"Yeah, I got that. Some big dog things just tried to kill me and I didn't really appreciate it."
"Wait, what?" He asks suddenly serious. "Dog things? These wouldnt happen to be huge zombie dogs, would they?"
"Holy crap, you saw them too?"
"Uhh yeah... On a completely unrelated topic, have you seen Alex?"
"Wait, why's Alex here?"
"We're hunting down arguably the most powerful being to ever walk the earth. No biggie. So, you seen him any-"
He freezes. His eyes glaze over and his mouth hangs half open. I turn to look at what he's staring at and when I see him my muscles shut down.
Behind me is a man. No, not a man. Something with a resemblence to a human. He has massive spiked armor covered in pulsating red strands. His legs are coated with the same armor shell and spidery veins. His hands are huge and sport six inch talons on each finger. His head is topped with a mass of spikes in the form of a crown and empty pits with a deep seated glow are in place of his eyes.