Realm of the Netherworld

Darius Torres ran as fast as he could, trying to make a break for the forest where he might stand a chance against the beast pursuing him. He needed more time...

Darius could feel his bones cracking and shifting as he ran, but he was used to the pain by now. He'd been a werewolf for more than ten years. He'd even learned how to control the transformations, and the wolf - to an extent. He charged into the trees, offering only limited protection because the leaves were missing. It was winter in the Netherworld, after all - the harshest season of all. He stumbled to  the base of a tall tree and curled up into a ball, shivering with the cold, the fear, andf the agonizing pain of the transformation. Then, he let out a piercing howl - the change was complete, and he was now a hulking wolf. And then he looked up into the face of his pursuer. He was looking into the gaze of a Panopteryx, one of the deadliest beasts in the Netherworld.

Panopteryx always appeared in different forms, and this one had the body of a wolf, a snake's head with horns, and a scorpion's tail, all carefully colored and placed to make it look completely natural. Darius stood a good three feet tall and four feet from head to tail, and the Panopteryx before him was probably two feet taller and at least a foot longer. It hissed at him with its ugly mouth and charged. Darius decided instantly what his primary goal was: eliminate the tail. He did not need a dose of venom from this thing.

He snapped and snarled at the creature, hoping to give it pause, but it just kept coming at him. He leaped for the tail, hoping to tear it off with his powerful jaws, when the Panopteryx launched the tip of it at him like a rocket, narrowly missing him and getting stuck in the tough ground behind him. Darius bit ferociously at the end of the tail, hoping to at least sever the venom reservoir - at the middle - from the tip.

Crack. The tail's hard shell exterior snapped open, and Darius renewed his efforts, finally tearing off the tip and turning to go for the monster's throat. Not only would this kill the Panopteryx, but it would mortally damage the sac in the beast's neck that acted like a second heart, sending an enzyme that allowed the Panopteryx to regenerate coursing through its veins. This would prevent the beast from coming back to haunt Darius after he'd assumed it was dead.

With one last fierce growl, Darius attacked the throat with all his strength, easily biting through the Panopteryx's soft tissue to destroy the internal organs. The beast gave a loud, shrieking moan and collapsed to the ground, bleeding profusely and still making incoherent noises as it died. Then, it went still, and Darius breathed a sigh of relief. He'd survived. Again. He wondered why he always got so surprised.

The End

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