A Tour of the World Between Worlds
The body underneath my feet flowed faster than a river, yet I was standing like there was only solid ground. Occasionally an object protruding further out would brush past and risk snagging my black clothes. The fleshy form in front of me had a couple of branches lodged into its clay-like skin. It might have been pulled along if the creature didn’t tear its body to escape.
It took the two of us a moment to get used to this new spot. Having to dodge the objects while keeping my attention on the opponent was difficult, but I felt I didn’t want to let the monster out of my sight. It must have agreed with the sentiment since it worked to slowly creep closer to me as we got accustomed to the odd battlefield.
The mother of hunger let out a roar at the giant armor. The suit had been torn so much that I could now see Pythagoras and Lerato sitting inside. The goblin pointed to me and shouted to Orrin, who still rode on the head, but I couldn’t make out any words. Nor did I have time to try and read lips.
The clay-like monster reached striking distance and didn’t hesitate to attack. Dagger-shaped hands were thrust at my chest.
I parried with my own blades and took several steps away. I must have stabbed it enough times for it to learn how effective attacking in that manner was. With my blades at the ready, I waited for the next charge.
The fleshy creature lunged my way but fell to the side as the whole ‘arena’ began to run through the woods. Sounds of falling trees were drowned out by the massive beast’s roar. It was fleeing from the others. The damaged armor chased after while I slid my foot to keep standing.
My opponent fell over and was quickly snagged by the top of a tree, which must have been swallowed whole. It became frayed in the branches and was pulled away from me. I wished that would be the end of it, but I wouldn’t take any chances. My daggers remained out and at the ready for an attack as I watched the monster try to untie its flesh from the treetop.
My attention was diverted, and that was a mistake. Not even a minute after my opponent got swept away, something wrapped around my leg. I was pulled off my feet and began to slide down the mother of hungers back.
I stopped short of slashing as I realized what had gotten hold of me. A single arm, a human arm, stuck out from underneath the river of eaten objects that made up the outside of the giant monster. Some poor soul likely eaten in the world the mother had come from. I stabbed a blade into the beast’s odd hide and held it in place even though the ‘river’ continued to flow. How it worked, I could not make a guess, but I had managed to stop. The hand's grip began to weaken as it pulled my leg. In a matter of moments, they would have to let go.
“Hold steady, Kiko,” Azul shouted. “Your opponent is almost free. As soon as you escape from the grip, you must attack.”
I turned to confirm, and sure enough, the clay-like body was slowly emerging from the moving tree like a swarm of snakes. The smaller bodies moved up and fused into the smooth humanoid form. I shook my leg to try to shake the grip off faster.
In front of me, the green light floated down in front of my head. It said nothing but hung there a moment. A second later, I could swear I heard a crying voice. It was muted but clear. I stopped shaking my leg and turned back to the arm.
I slid my free dagger back into its sheath and grabbed the hand as it finally broke free. Between the blade stuck into the giant's back and my arm being pulled by the hand, I felt as if I might be ripped in two. Even though it was against my better judgment, I held on. I should have let go; I had no obligations. The green sphere floated away, and the crying stopped; I might have been manipulated, but I began to pull the arm close to me.
At the same time, I moved my feet so that I was in a crouched position.
“Kiko, your opponent is almost back together,” Azul warned.
I didn’t pay too much attention; the arm had begun to give way. I could only hope that this person was a great warrior.
With all my strength, I pulled. I could see the shoulder. Then a head.
It was a girl, maybe a year younger than me, with long burgundy hair and an expression of fear I didn’t know was possible. She coughed like she had been drowning, and I continued to pull.
The softness of her hands had already been an indication, and as more of her body came out, I could tell she was only a simple, sheltered girl. I ought to have given up as soon as I realized, but I didn’t stop until her feet were free of the river-like flow.
I about fell back as she was no longer pulled by the consumed objects. She wept bitterly as I turned around. My opponent had put itself back together, and now I had some stranger to protect. Had I made a mistake? What possessed me to do that? I didn’t have time to contemplate as the fleshy monster ran to me. I charged in, and we met in the center of the back.
The thing swung a knife-shaped hand at my face. It sliced the air just short of shaving off my nose as I ducked underneath. My own daggers were driven into the smooth legs. The creature screeched, and three points shot out from its body like spears. I barely managed to dodge as they flew past my face. Pulling out my daggers, I retreated several steps back. The creature shook its heads and looked back at the giant suit chasing after us, then to the girl who had managed to break from her crying. Her white eyes were wide with horror at the sight.
The monster charged at her, perhaps seeing another potential threat before it could take me out. I burst into a sprint. Taking the girl by the arm, I pulled her out of harm’s way before a pointed hand was driven into her skull.
“Kiko,” Orrin’s voice cried out from the glowing machine that chased after us. They had gotten close enough for his voice to carry, but still just out of the giant arms reach. “Pythagoras thinks you might be able to direct it if you stab an eye. Try getting it to go right!”
It sounded like they had a plan, but I could hardly do anything if I had to fight the other monster and protect the useless girl. Perhaps, I could alleviate one of those problems.
The girl let out a cry as I suddenly lifted her off her feet and threw her to Orrin.
“Catch!” I shouted to the green-clad man. I’d like to imagine his expression changed to one that was wide-eyed by my sudden actions, but he was too far away to be certain. Orrin leaped to the intact shoulder of the armor and went down the arm like a slide. Near the elbow, he leaped off, doing a flip in the air, before catching the confused girl in his arms. He landed softly on the top of a grey tree as I was carried away by the mother of hunger.
I didn’t have much time to contemplate what I just saw; seconds after, the fleshy monster swung a long arm at my face. I avoided the part where it had morphed its body to act like a sharp blade, but the stretched-out arm hit me like a club. I flew across the back and landed somewhere in the middle.
The creature charged at me as I had to avoid a long spear in the moving ‘river’—possibly Casey’s, but I didn’t have time to double check—that had the pointed end sticking out. My eyes grew wide, and before the weapon moved out of arms reach, I grabbed the spear. I didn’t pull, but I moved it like a lever so the point was aimed at the monster. It ran itself through and began to get pulled away by the flow.
I didn’t waste another minute and charged to the head. I could not see an eye, but I made my best guess before pressing a dagger into the spot.
The giant let out a roar and immediately changed course. I stumbled as we charged through the forest to a large pit. The glowing armor fell face down in the sudden drop as the spot became familiar to me. The dried-up world lake. The mother of hunger stepped right through the dam as it charged ahead. I looked back to see the glowing armor swept up in the flood of faux water before vanishing into the world. There was no telling if Pythagoras or Lerato were still inside as we quickly left it behind.
I grunted and tried twisting my blade. The creature let out another roar and changed directions again. There was no telling how I could possibly get this where the others wanted.
I pulled the blade out and prepared to make another strike.
“Kiko, look out!” Azul cried. I ducked to the side as two textureless hands grabbed where my throat had been. The clay-like monster had freed itself faster than I would have liked.
My blades were held up and ready to strike when the mother of hungers front went downward. In a panic, it had walked into a world lake, and I was going with it. A vine of flesh wrapped around my throat as we went under the sparkling water. I quickly cut it before my senses were muddled from the sensation of entering the world.