With Its Chicken Cut Off

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Ñox Cayù storms into the temple's main room, running on its four grotesque limbs. It misses me by a couple yards and hits a wall. Damn it! I hoped it would be caught immediately, but it passed the stone head by like it was nothing. It probably needs to stay in place longer than that. Sorry, I'm not staying.

I join Domenica and Nathan behind the statues. I feel stupid when I realize that by going towards them I have put them in serious danger. At least they don't seem too affected by the chicken god's zombifying aura. "Go down he mountain," I say as quietly as possible. "I'll join you once I have it sealed." Domenica agrees. I hand her the flashlight.

Nathan grabs my hand. "please remember to take the stone head," he says. "We can't leave it here." Then they're gone.

Even in the heat of the moment, I am bathed in a warm feeling sending them away. They're going to live on, that's not nothing. I don't realize in the moment that this move is about sacrificing myself. Funny how they try to make you a hero and you end up doing hero stuff. I'm not any more brave than I was before, but I have a mission now. Save my skin for as long as I can while running around. That I can do.

I'm saved at first by how narrow the passage actually is. I think we stumbled upon a corridor more than a room. It curves immediately and seems to be running along the wall of the main temple room. Maybe this is the actual way to Ñox Cayù's real head? If it is so, it would have to bulldoze its way through the corridor to get to the end. Sounds like I could get some time to flee before this happens. Good thinking, temple architects.

Still, it's not the best moment to be day-dreaming, as the mad god reminds me by slamming into the wall I hid behind, sending dust and small rocks all over my face. I was wrong about it forcing its way through: it seems to be planning to level the whole temple, instead. When is that damn stone head gonna work? Maybe it's not close enough to be sucked in, or maybe this was shady to begin with. How did I end up making life-or-death decisions based on an eight years old, again?

I start running along the corridor, trying to find the way out before the headless chicken god busts me out. There must be at least one, given how Domenica and Nathan have not come back yet. The move is made difficult by how little the moonlight reaches here, despite the small openings cut in the stone nearly ten feet up. I must avoid making noise, as Ñox Cayù seems to notice me and slam into the wall every time I unwillingly kick a rock.

I make a run for it. There's dust everywhere. Does no one clean in these old forbidden mountain temples?

Maybe it's the dust, maybe it's the pressure finally getting to me but I'm very out of breath. As I settle, I hear the thing growling, gargling, that... sound you make when you have no head. It rakes the walls with a wing, listening. Trying to find me. I don't know exactly what happen with the townies down below, but it wasn't enough, apparently. Just to my left, there seems to be an opening, but I'm pretty sure it just goes back into the main room. I peek through another row of ancient statues: damn, this temple is full of holes. The creature is busy elsewhere trying to sniff me out. If I want to attempt a getaway, it's now or never. I slide as silently as I can between the statues. Good. The chicken god's powers apparently don't include supernatural awareness of its surroundings. At this point, I'm expecting anything.

I stay focused on Ñox Cayù while I go towards the door. It really seems to have forgotten about me now. It's just digging in the back of the room, among the bigger pile of statues and decorations. Suddenly I see something move and my heart drops.

Domenica and Nathan are still there, maybe five meters away from the gross creature. I get it now. Without its head, Ñox Cayù is blind. They must have taken the same path I did. Maybe it was blocking the entrance. Anyway, at this rate it will find them in less than five minutes.

Fuck.

I don't have a choice anymore, do I? Nathan's story better work out, because otherwise I'll be dead in a flash. I locate the stone head on the floor, still in the same place: apparently the chicken god has avoided the center of the temple room while it was searching for us. That gives me a tiny bit more confidence. I walk slowly towards the stone head, towards Ñox Cayù, ready to bolt anytime if it suddenly feels me, with whatever sense it's currently got.

I think I got this. How it moves, its frightful speed and power. If it goes straight for me and happens to stumble upon that stone head, I can avoid it. Dodge, jump, whatever. If it's still there when I get up, though... I hear a small rock skidding on the stone floor. In a room that has fallen silent in order for the monstrous bird to locate us, Nathan just gave a pretty huge clue of where he was.

"Hey you chicken brain! Yeah!" I say. I don't have time to feel ridiculous, though: as soon as I see it turning around to jump me, I roll sideways and hear a crash near me that shakes the ground. I frantically scramble to get up, expecting the thing to drop on me at any point now. But all I'm met with is an eerie wailing. Looking at where the stone head was, Ñox Cayù is now strapped to the ground, like the carvings are physically holding it down. The air becomes moist, vibrating. It smells like warm resin. I'm not complaining: it's a welcome break from what that thing smelled before.

Before our eyes, it shrinks on the ground, or it gets... absorbed just like the bodies were. The mad god is losing its physical shape. All the while, it tries to claw at the ground, to pry open the trap that got him there. It's a lost cause, but I'm not feeling particularly sad about it. More like nauseous, as more and more dead flesh falls off and turns still again. At some point, the pile of flesh stop moving and it's done.

We've done it. We've caught a rampaging god with a rock.

Before things can start going haywire again I get up and pick up the stone head. It's messier than I though, and the smell... I get out of the temple just in time to get on my knees puking, stone head still in one hand. I honestly don't know if this reaction comes from the smell or the shock of what just happened, probably a mixture of both. Going out was a weird reflex, though: it's not like the inside of the temple was gonna get any dirtier. Well, at least here I get to enjoy some fresh air while I settle down a bit.

Before I left the temple I saw the other stone, the original stone egg, crumble to dust. I guess this broken statue part is what contains Ñox Cayù now, huh. Is it also gonna try to bring another innocent person up to the temple in order to invade this world again? I hope Domenica, Nathan or someone somewhere has a better option, because I'm not gonna let what happened to Tig happen to anyone else.

I raise again, slowly. My stomach is still upset, getting better. I guess there were worse things than the factory to witness. With the head tucked under my arm, maybe it's time I worry about how the other two are. They seemed to be OK last time I saw them.

Suddenly, a bolt of sharp pain hits my lower arm and makes me scream. The stone head is alive and it's biting my arm.



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