The Hall of Meating

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From the Adventures of Grant McSwain, Explorer of Exotic Vistas, Defeater of Deadly Villains, and Charmer of Care-Free Vixens,

Accompanied as always by his hapless assistant, Teagan O'Daire, the Ginger of Galway... and Tepandorixotl

Even on an alien world, under the light of two moons in a sky of magenta, Grant remained true to his nature—an anchor Teagan desperately needed as she sought a solution to this chaos. Surrounded by featureless humanoid shapes of hazel-colored mud, Grant threw himself against the overwhelming odds without hesitation. His thick fist splattered the face of one creature, and his boot kicked through another's leg.

The soft earth rose to a low hill nearby, and Teagan spotted a mud-spattered structure like a ziggurat or pyramid. She ducked beneath an arm of living clay and swept her attacker's legs with a low kick. The creature bellowed and flailed in the air before it splatted into the mud.

"Some kind of shelter, Grant," Teagan shouted, pointing at the building—the only one in sight. The barren horizon rose and fell in slight ripples and small hills, but Teagan saw no flora, no fauna, no signs of intelligence.

A voice boomed in her head, one single echoing word: A-round.

She clutched her ears in vain and struggled with each step, her boots creating pockets of suction in the moist earth. Beside her, Grant tore through the mud, his boots cutting deep troughs, and his fists carving a path through the alien foes.

A-round you, the voice repeated, pausing between each syllable but picking up speed. In-tel-li-gence. We are all around you, flesh-one.

To Teagan's right, Grant caught a lunging mud-man and flipped it overhead, using its momentum to smash it into the ground. With Grant bringing up the rear, shoving the creatures back, Teagan reached the bottom of the hill and started the ascent toward the exposed structure. As she climbed, her foot sank through the hazel clay and hit the stone of the covered building.

You do not belong here, the voice hissed.

"Are you hearing this, Grant?"

Grant dodged a swing from one of the misshapen beings, and huffed in exhaustion. "What are you talking about?" Unable to wait for the answer, he intercepted another mud-man and grappled with the creature.

You hear me, the voice whispered.  I sense it.

Teagan scrambled out of the muck and up the steps. Two metal doors leaned against the wall, broken from their hinges. Though weathered and discolored, Ixthacan runes and art covered their surfaces.

The voice, now eloquent, continued its tirade in Teagan's mind. Long has it been since our kind was forced to form crude, linear concepts and structured expressions suitable for the lesser minds of flesh.

"I think it's reading my mind, Grant."

Correct, the voice answered. Regrettably. An image filled Teagan's mind–that of her form, but made up of rotten steaks.

Grant stood at the edge of the stairs, shaking clumps of mud off his hands and clothes. The creatures stopped their advance where the stone pyramid rose out of the mud. "I don't know why they stopped," Grant said, "but this dirt is shifting and moving, rising up the sides."

Sacrilege. Meat-husks do not belong here. The way back is closed to your kind.

Teagan ignored the gibberish and looked at the peak of the pyramid. "I don't get it. This is Egyptian architecture, quite similar to the great structures in Geza. But those are Ixthacan runes on the entryway..."

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