Iohan leapt into the air and caught the beast in its arms with his blade. The metal sunk deep into the creature’s flesh, the weight of Iohan’s body turning the sword into a chef’s knife shaving away chunks of meat. The creature let loose an inhuman howl that echoed through the trees, that set the birds and animals of the forest crying out in fear and skittering away from the melee.
“Jimeno, grab it! Grab it and pull it from the trees!” Iohan didn’t check to see if the boy was following his orders. He was too focused on struggling with the beast, on maintaining his grip on his weapon, on planning his next move. If we don’t slay it here, it will escape. We can’t possibly follow it through the trees. If we don’t injure it beyond healing, it will take us again, this time out of spite. They’re not so stupid that they don’t crave revenge.
If this is Maria or Pol, they won’t rest until they get our blood.
“Jimeno!” Iohan shouted, a note of urgency creeping into his voice. If Maria or Pol had transformed, it would be very bad. If this beast was one of them and he didn’t slay it, that would be even worse.
Before Iohan could shout again, Jimeno’s hands joined his own where they were wrapped around the creature’s sinuous arms. Together they pulled, and the beast fell from the branches above like a cat falling off a roof, hissing and spitting.
The beast landed on the ground with a thud, but faster than a human could ever hope to, it righted itself. It’s entire body was covered in coarse black fur. It’s four limbs were each as long as its body, and as it shuffled in place studying Iohan and Jimeno, it moved like some kind of unspeakable spider. And it was indeed studying them. Its eyes, white and cloudy against its dark fur, spoke of incredible malice. It looked at the cazador and the novice with unbridled hatred. It was not merely angry at having its meal interrupted and being wounded in the process. It was planning how to make its aggressors suffer for their sins.
Its mouth opened in a snarl, white teeth stained red from Bartolome’s blood, and with a roar it charged at Jimeno.