The Portal Part Two By: Kevin Miller


The Portal
Part Two
By: Kevin Miller

To my surprise, it was no simple crest, but rather a bluff overlooking an expansive valley that cut into the desert floor like an angry scar from some long-forgotten battle. I ducked down low, trying to remain hidden, as the floor of the valley was covered with what seemed to be thousands of humanoid figures. I began to make out the nearest creatures in the dimness, and my heart sank as I realized the similarities between these creatures and the creature that I had battled earlier. Drawing the old sword, now sheathed in its golden nimbus, I considered the forces that were arrayed against any attempt to pass. Sword or no sword, it was obvious that any frontal assault would be suicidal.

I scanned the horizon as best I could from my crouched position, trying to determine if there was any way around the massive encampment before me. I crept back from the bluff and began to move as quickly as I could to my left. Despite the lethargy that I felt, my sense of urgency to circumvent these assassins soon drove me nearly to a run.

It was at this brisk pace that I crested a particularly steep dune, and found myself in view of a small group of short creatures that appeared to be humanoid in shape only. Each one was about four feet tall with skin covered in a thick, scraggly fur of a red so dark that it was reminiscent of dried blood. Its head was like none I had ever seen before, its mouth looking almost feline in nature, with long whiskers extending to either side, yet its eyes had the eerie deadness of a reptilian gaze. Surmounting its head was a pair of gleaming white horns, about six inches long, swept backward in a graceful arc. Its legs were decidedly beastlike in nature, like the hind legs of a dog or a cat, but the arms of the creature were more humanlike, except for the razor-sharp claws that terminated the tips of its fingers. A long, doglike tail trailed behind it.

Each creature wore a sort of a uniform that was made of a blue burlap-like cloth, with crude symbols made of metal on their collars; I assumed that they were military markers indicating rank. They hissed at each other in sibilant, whisperlike noises that sounded similar to a hissing snake. As they spotted me, they brandished strange weapons in the shape of a half-moon, with the handle parallel to the concave side of the blade. The three leaped into a sort of line, one of them hissing orders at the others, and they readied their moonlike blades. The one that seemed to be the leader opened his mouth to reveal a set of catlike fangs, and his tongue seemed to twist and contort as he shaped two hissed words: “Die human!”

Sand flying from beneath their feet, the strange creatures began to charge toward me. I crouched into a defensive position and, as they reached me, I swung my sword with both hands, connecting with the hastily-raised weapon of the one on the right. They hesitated long enough for me to take a step and jump over them, twisting around and bringing the sword down on the one in the middle. The weapon crashed through his defense, cutting deeply into his shoulder, eliciting a scream that resembled that of a bobcat. The two to his sides shrank back for a moment, then attacked me in unison.

The one on my left cut upward, the blade of the weapon covering his arm and the other attempted a backhand strike with his right hand. I dodged back out from the uppercut and blocked the other strike, spinning around in a sweeping attack at the creature’s neck. The attack succeeded and my weapon sheared effortlessly through his shoulder and into his chest. I kicked the creature off of my sword, then regarded the two remaining creatures.

The wounded one turned to flee, and the last one raised his weapon menacingly, though somewhat hesitantly. I raised my blade as if to strike, then brought my foot up and connected with his jaw. Seeing that he was stunned, I lunged forward, burying the sword in his chest. As the strange being went limp, I swung the sword around, flinging him off of it. I then sprinted after the last one.

He was bounding away at a surprising speed and, having gotten a head start, he had gained a good distance on me. The black sand beneath me churned spitefully, slowing my progress, but I finally managed to close the distance, just as he was cresting the bluff that overlooked the camp. I lunged forward again, managing to dip my weapon into his back. He began to scream, but gurgled off into a sigh as he fell forward into a lifeless sprawl in the sand.

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