Chapter 59

Chapter 59


Talia watched between slow-bites of roasted Eel, as the tiny blue serpent across the table carefully lifted and set several large pebbles atop the surface. As she chewed, making another cut into the monster-steak on the recently added stone plate to match her stone utensils, she was careful not to look away from its activities.

This was abnormal behavior, even for this particular snake.

She had yelled at it early, and said a few rather unpleasant things in an effort to make the strange creature stop shooting globs of streaking fire over the walls. Perhaps it was still upset.

The final bite of Eel went and followed those before it as Talia set her stoneware down, eyes purposefully ignoring the now-revealed details and finery of the plate's surface. A three-headed frog wearing a cap bowed before a two-headed frog staring majestically over a sunrise and clouds. On the border was a snake wrapping around and eating its tail with a zen-like expression.

"Ridiculous." She whispered quietly, pushing it aside on the table as the snake continued its strange work. If it heard her, it made no motion of recognition as yet another large pebble found its way to the table's surface.

"Hisss..." Its tongue flicked out, head lifting to bob slightly as it looked them over. Then, it turned to face her, confirming her attention.

"What are you trying to do this time?" Talia asked, eyeing the pebbles. "A game?" As she reached towards one of the pebbles, it hissed again.

"Sssss..." The pebble molded before her hand reached it, shape turning and twisting as if the rock had dissolved. By the time her hand reached the stone, it had become a small human figure. Talia paused, staring at the piece. It was like a child's toy, shaped to oddly specific impression.

The blue serpent bobbed its head as if to encourage her.

"Is this... me?" Slowly she picked it up, turning it about. It really was her, her armor, her cloak... even a small but happy looking face. "This is fantastic."

The snake bobbed its head happily, as if agreeing. Another pebble shifted, turning into a snake spiraled up in a coil with its head raised.

"You?" Talia asked, picking that piece up as well to inspect it. "Are you trying to explain what you are?"

Her question fell on deaf ears, as the table surface between them rippled. The stone shifted, churning about into the impression of waves, and in its center, a slow rise brought a distinct impression to form. Bit by bit, it lifted up until it was unmistakable.

The island, Talia realized. The island and... the underground lake. What had once been a table, was now a map. Before her eyes, more and more details came into form. Other distant islands lifted from the table's surface, and the border edges of what were likely walls formed a generally circular outline on its surface.

Then, the walls lifted on the edge of the island itself. Details of stone and spikes, and eels molded out with frozen thrashing shapes as the familiar tower began to lift up out of the table like a thin spear. Higher and higher, it lifted until soon it seemed an exact replica. As if built to scale the island they were now sitting on was also atop the table.

The snake stared at her once again.

"Hiss..." It looked at her hands, eyeing the two pieces as it slithered up onto the table's surface- stopping to direct its tail towards the inside of the islands walls. Then it moved back slightly and did the same thing, pointing to the dramatically detailed figures of the dying Eels.

"Alright..." Talia put the two figurines inside the walls beside the tower, leaning in closer to the island to look at the Eels. They were frighteningly carved, eyes wild, sets of teeth almost polished. "I think I understand so far."

"Hiss..." Before her eyes, a single Eel moved. Clumsy, it broke off the wall and fell with a "thud" before breaking into pieces. The snake moved closer to it, concentrating as several more eels came out of the table's surface, each one picking up a piece of the first shattered figure.

Talia's eyes narrowed. "I've seen them doing this. It's why they've been so active recently."

"Hissss..." The eel pieces seemed to flatten out, no longer being recognizable portions of scale and flesh, but spreading in a wide puddle. Talia's eyes narrowed.

"Is that... Blood?" She asked, pointing to the surface.

"Sss..." With a tired hiss, the serpent turned to the far side of the table, contorting it. Slowly, the mold raised up, moving towards the island and the Eels, but more specifically: Towards the flattened pool of "blood." Then from the raised lump of stone, a single piece broke free of the mold.

A fin.

Talia stared at it. No matter how she considered it, it was definitely a fin. Turning back to the tiny-blue snake, head now resting on the table with a quiet hiss, she watched as the fin settled back into the table. "Hisssss..." Then the stone around the represented Eel blood quivered, and then lifted as a massive head took shape. Jaws of hundreds upon hundreds of teeth lifting up and over the carefully shaped and detailed eels.

"Thump." Atop the table, the tiny serpent flopped down exhausted, remaining magic obviously spent on the effort to show the scene- still uncompleted as it was. Still, as Talia looked it over, there was more than enough to understand the message clearly.

"Oh... Light help us." She murmured, as her hand traced along the half-molded form. A cold eye, scars covering stone skin, with a maw that rivaled the size of the scaled-island beside it.

A giant monster.

Even unfinished as it was within the shaped stone, Talia could tell it looked hungry.