Chapter 63

Chapter 63


"I'm choking you stupid serpent: God-damnyou, choking!" Talia coughed the words out, as the snake around her shoulders and neck hissed and spit in a terrible panic. "CHOKING!" She shouted again, hand reaching for the handhold that quickly sprouted out of the pillar's side.

"HISSSsSsSsS!" The grip about her throat loosened as the snake's head leveled with her own, blue scales flushing to a paler shade Talia could only interpret as fear. "HISSSsSsSsS!"

"I'm going! Just keep making the ladder!" She shouted at it, tired arms reaching for the next ledge to form, fingers sinking into the stone like putty as it molded beneath them.



"I'm not even going to grace that with a reply." Talia muttered, risking a quick glance to the dizzying distance below. They were past the halfway point by now, but things were slowing down- for both of them.

Her arms were shaking they were so tired, and the serpent was obviously pushing magical limits. It looked as though it might turn into dead-weighted rope with every tiny cast, but none of these things were of real concern compared to the greater threat.



The real threat came from the massive beast rampaging on the island below.


Stopping to catch her breath, Talia felt another shot of panic take to her veins, as the beached behemoth twisted and shook- vibrations on the island carrying up beneath her hands and feet with every terrible "chomping" bite. Through the glow of her last chanted cast, she could see hundreds of monsters falling in droves to those giant jaws. Contrast to the warm light at the tower's base, the brutality was sickening. Strong or weak, large or small: All went down under teeth and violence the same- crushed beneath razor teeth and unstoppable force.

As did portions of the island, she soon realized.

In its efforts to take in ever-last living monster below, it was eating the ground, the walls, the stone: Everything. The massive jaws crushed what could not be cut, shattering anything in its path.

"HISSSSSSSSssssSSSsssSSS" The basilisk let out another bout of panic as more handholds began to sprout from the stone with renewed vigor, pushing ahead of Talia's own pace. Twenty more steps worth, they filled to the ceiling. After those were surpassed, they would be at the top of the stone pillar, where Talia could see some sort of tunnel was present there, reaching out into the ceiling.



Below, the ground shook again, vibrations running up the stonework so fierce that Talia almost lost her purchase, feet struggling to maintain their stance. Looking down in horror, she saw the monsterous teeth sinking into the tower.

"Why?" Talia couldn't help but let the question out. "Why the tower? Does it want us that badly? Are we truly worth so much trouble-" Then she realized the answer to her own question. "Oh no."

The Stone was still glowing with the powers of faith, never removed in the mad-panic of their ascent. With nothing else left to consume, the beast had taken the unintended bait. The illuminated base of the tower.

"No!" Talia reached for the magics in her mind's eye, but fell short. They were too far away now, hundred paces or more above the creature. To manipulate the glowing stone from this distance was impossible- it would carry on until its mana expired.

The teeth sunk in deeper, terrible shock-waves running up beneath the stone. Rattling measures of force that brought cracks and creaking noises that popped and sprayed dust along the hard-worked rock. It was going to being them down.

"HISSSSSSS!" Wrapped tightly around her neck, the blue serpent fell limp- just in time with the sudden ceasing of motion. As if the creature had used the last portions of its strength with one sudden and desperate gamble, it began to uncoil, caught by Talia's free hand in a split-second of panic.


For that instant, handing there by only her feet and one tired arm, dread filled Talia's chest.

The illusion of falling swinging up over her thoughts. The sudden lack of shaking, of motion, of vibrations threatening to throw her from the tower's ledges.

Then, it was over.

Beneath her feet, the tower had ceased to be. Cut clean and falling away, a perfect slice tumbling down below, breaking into long shards and pieces with the earth's embrace approaching. Eyes wide, she watched as they smashed down atop the jaws, crushing the behemoth's mighty skull beneath untold rock and weight. Like spears and stones tossed from a cliff's edge, they rained down with a barrage of destruction.

"GRRRRRRRRRaaaaaa-" As the beast's scream was buried beneath the stone, Talia pulled the blue serpent like a scale-covered scarf, gaze set to the summit of their climb.

She knew then: it was up to her.