Chapter 19

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The creature moved across the forest floor in silence, turning its head left and right--searching. Four more of its kind stalked in and out of the trees in a coordinated line making sure no area was missed. The little sunlight that pierced through the tree's canopy was fading and the night was approaching.


There was no chance to turn back now.


With his back against the trunk of a tree, Bor watched as another creature--a stalker-- began circling the base below. He listened to the others as they walked ahead, but kept his eyes on the one twenty feet beneath him. This one was bigger than the rest.


With its black exoskeleton that gleamed red in the twilight, the creature walked silently on all fours inspecting the tree and looking up. Bor held his bow with his left hand and kept the stalker in his sights even though he knew the creature could not see him from here. Not with its poor vision and Bor's position hidden amongst the thick overgrowth. From his vantage point, he stayed perfectly still. He controlled his breathing until he became a part of the trees that even the monkeys that swung around nearby paid him no heed.


Earlier, Bor had found what appeared to be the stalker's nest. Formed by mucus and dirt on the side of the rocky terrain, the moist dens looked like infected pustules growing from the rocks. Today was meant to be for scouting. That changed when he watched the air shift ahead of him just before a stalker appeared. As it roared its screeching cry stilling the forest and alerting its kin, Bor had taken in the necessary details of his enemy as he pulled out his blade.


It walked on all fours. Its two front legs appeared to be vestigial wings. The thin, translucent membrane of skin was soft under his blade. There had been only a small impact under his blade when he cut through the radius bone forcing the creature to fall to the side off balance. Turning on his heel with one fluid spin, Bor lashed out to the second stalker that had come up behind him and kicked it in his chest. That part of the creature was not as soft as its two front arms. The rest of the exoskeleton as well as the helmet-like hood that covered its head was impenetrable to his blade. With each slash, kick, and swipe of his claws, Bor mapped out the few vulnerable spots of the stalker's body all the while avoiding the most dangerous part--its tail.


He had taken to the trees when he realized he was being quickly outnumbered. Bor dodged and climbed listening to the whistling sounds coming closer and landing around him in splintering thuds as they missed him. He caught two glances at the projectiles but it was all he needed to commit them to memory. Long thick spikes oozing something bright and blue. The deadly darts came from the end of their prehensile tail reminding him of a scorpion. Gaining a lead on them, he raced through the canopy above them and found his spot amongst the thick branches covering him from sight.


Now as he stood in that same spot, Bor watched and calculated his bow's shot to the stalker below. The name he gave them truly was fitting. Silent and able to cloak, the creatures seemed to rely on sound and smell to find their targets due to near useless slit of eyes sunken deep into their skull. Even the eyes could not be used as a hit spot. That left only their underside and between their layered black scales as a viable vulnerable spot.This would indeed be a worthy challenge.

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