The green beast jumped, claws stretched in front of it. The spear wasn’t swung around in time, and claws found their target in unprotected flesh. One hand dug into the shoulder while the other reached up and gashed the throat. Blood sprayed across the dry grass and she fell over, limp and lifeless. A few of the green ones swarmed to the body, biting and clawing at it.

Dees lost the last of her self-control; seeing Shae fall to the beasts was too much. Not even her consort Natik’s death had touched her so deeply. But Shae, her sister in all but blood, fell to the ground and was savaged by the frenzied green swarm. Her vision darkened as grim reality set in. The jeering green beasts were all around her and she became a spirit of death.

Dropping her spear, Dees took up two stout clubbing sticks and ran toward the body. Swinging with reckless abandon, she caved the skulls of two of the green ones. Another jumped back out of range, then leaped at Dees in a vicious attack. She easily side-stepped the attack and then brought one of the clubs crashing down on the creature’s skull. It fell to the ground and twitched a few times before finally expiring.

The body was still there, blood still weakly gushing out of the gaping wound in the neck. A blank eye stared upward at nothing; the other burst in it socket, pierced by a claw scratching at the face. She would have been overcome with grief it the battle rage hadn’t taken control of her. A scream of another green one charging drew here attention away from Shae’s body.

She spun around and flung out her leg in a savage kick, catching the green one in the face and throwing it to the side. It landed rough, but gained its feet quickly and jumped at her almost instantly, only to catch a club on its shoulder and crumple to the ground. Dees stepped forward and crushed its neck under her foot.

Looking up, she saw two other green ones near by; their bloody mouths showing that they had been gnawing on the fallen. Her eyes narrowed and with a shrill battle cry she charged toward them. One fell as she beat it against the side of its head, but the other dodged out of the way and ran off. She gave chase, her long legs allowing her to outrun her small green prey. Raising her club over her head, she swung hard and brought it crashing down on the back of its skull, dead before it even reached the ground. The body tumbled a few times then landed in an ungraceful heap.

She looked to the left to find other prey as another green one crashed into her from the right. It pinned her arm against her body, claws digging into her ribs. She swung wildly with the other club, but the awkward angle made it difficult to hit the beast. It grasped tightly, digging claws deeper as she fell over on top of the creature. She jammed her shoulder into the creature, crushing it beneath her as it dug its claws in one last time before going limp.

Dees stood up and looked back to where she had last seen the others, but nobody was there. She started to run back, but a pain in her side slowed her down. Panic built up as she didn’t see any of the rest of her tribe near the area she had left them.

Behind a bush, she finally found what was left of her tribe. Erdt was slumped on the ground, a pool of blood around him in addition to a pile of green corpses. She heard Prin sobbing and followed the sound to the other side of the bush, where the young one was bent over. The body of Bralla with dark stains over her clothes finally brought Dees to her knees. The battle frenzy had worn off, and the horrible truth finally sunk in.

Dees tried to speak, but couldn’t get enough air. She felt as if she were drowning in the middle of land. Dropping one of the clubs, she grabbed Prin’s clothes and yanked to get her attention.

A tear-stained face met her gaze. “Dead, they’re dead,” Prin wailed. “Oh, why?”

“Prin,” Dees said, finally finding her voice. “Go to the Slow Fishers. Find my sister.”

Prin blinked, then muttered, “Heena?”

Dees nodded. “Go!”

“The bodies! We must go to a sacred place!”

Dees shook her head and coughed. Pain shot through her side and she heard an unnerving crackling noise from inside her chest. “No, go. I’ll do it.”

Prin just looked at her, then looked down and turned pale. “Dees, you’re….”

A scream announced the arrival of a new group of green ones, cutting Prin off. “Go!” Dees said with all the force she could muster. Prin stood, grabbed a spear, and started to run as fast as she could.

Dees leaned over Bralla’s body and whispered a word for the dead. “I will see you soon, wise one.”

Grabbing her club, she struggled to her feet and faced the direction the scream had come. Let them come, she thought. Let them come and meet their doom with me.

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