Chapter 30 of Lead Heart is up, please enjoy it! (Author’s note: sorry for the late release, I apparently scheduled it for 12am the 26th and not 12pm the 25th! )
Leaves rustled in the cool breeze, fanning Leliana while she caught her breath. She couldn’t remember being so winded before.
The forest canopy was high, but it wasn’t all that dense. A patch of glittering green leaves reflected sunlight down into a shining mosaic broken across the underbrush of the forest floor. Crickets and mosquitoes sang their deafening chorus, drowning all else in the shadows.
But something was definitely wrong.
Leliana turned in a slow circle, feeling things out. She’d been pretty careless just skipping into the trees. Expecting the brothers to just be hanging around near the tree line she supposed.
“Where are you?” She whispered. Her eyes swept everything they could while she backed away.
Her instincts were shrieking at her, raising the hair on the back of her neck. Shut up she told herself. Panic just clouds the issue.
Where were the birds, the tiny forest fuzzies?
Leliana hurled herself forward as the world erupted behind her. Dirt and decayed leaves blew themselves into her eyes and mouth even after she’d rolled behind a tree.
What the hells?! She whirled and came face to face with a big, brilliantly blue eyeball.
The size of her face.
The beast pulled back, rising two, three times higher than her. Dazzlingly green scales shimmered and sparkled, and the biggest snake she’d ever laid eyes on loomed above her. It’s mouth was a sharp, green beak and huge fan-like ears jutted out from either side of its face. There were gems peppered along the beasts’ skin, encrusted in divots or atop ridges. Those scales were gorgeous, too, and they were a damn decent camouflage; she’d had no idea he was even there. He? It?
“You the protector?” She asked.
Muscles rippled up its jaw. Leliana rolled through a low branch, the whoosh of the beasts’ open maw gouging a chunk of lichen-covered bark. As soon as all fours were on the ground she sprang to the side and was rewarded with a fresh scrape the entire length of her arm. She met its eyes, waiting for its next move.
The snake’s tail flung her solidly into a tree. She twisted to catch herself but was too weak to catch herself. “What the h-”
The enormous beak slammed into the ground inches away. She wrapped her hands inside the nostrils and held on for dear life. The snake shook its head and sent her flying. With a flick of the jaw, she flew a dozen feet through a bush that she was pretty sure had thorns.
Leliana’s arms gave out as she tried throwing herself to her feet. Damn. She scanned the surroundings. There were lots of huge logs and boulders and an infinite amount of tiny twigs and rocks. Nothing useful as a weapon. It was a pretty big stretch to think she’d have been able to take this thing even in peak condition. She grit her teeth.
Ivy and ferns flew when the serpent charged again. All these jerky, jumpy movements were getting a bit predictable though and Leliana was able to control her reaction to this time. She hopped up into the air a split second before the sharp beak bit into a jagged tree stump, landing atop the scaly head. She latched onto one of the ears.
The inside of the ear was an alien black and purple color with a bizarre, sharp odor. It oozed a viscous slime which both made it difficult to get a good grip, and made her want to wash her hands. Leliana managed to cling to its head while it thrashed this time. The snake whipped back and forth, gashing trees and splintering saplings while it tried to scrape her off.
“Ha!” She’d caught on to the trick to keep her footing and was focusing on just riding the snake now. The forest suddenly accelerated. Branches flashed by as the snake dodged between saplings, fallen trees,
“Woooo!” She hooked a leg around each slimy ear and threw a hand in the air. “Let’s G-”
Leliana jumped clear as the ground rushed to meet her. The snake’s head disappeared into a cavernous hole in the ground it’d tried to use to scrape her off with. Successfully. She watched, mesmerized as the sparkling jade colored scales disappeared row-after-row. She caught a whiff of dank must and mildew from behind her, and turned to see it rocketing out a side-tunnel straight for her again. Leliana moved forward, under its jaw, and gave it a few good punches. Damn this thing was strong.
The snake fanned a wide arc around her. She realized too late that the shiny green snake encircled her entirely now.
The huge, toothless grin weaved back and forth at the top of its thick neck. Undulating slowly in each direction, beautiful blue eyes boring straight through her. Leliana took an involuntary step back.
The gemstones scattered along the skin were twinkling of their own accord, casting a rainbow of shadows through the small clearing. As the serpent wriggled back and forth, they threw multicolored reflections of light dancing across her face, each a new color. Pinks, blues, yellows. Had she ever seen gems this big? They must have been the size of- SLAM!
She was suddenly pinned to a tree. With astonishing speed, the gemstone reptile wound itself around her and the tree five,six times. She managed to get her hands free to protect her head, arms trembling. It wasn’t enough to free herself entirely. Her lower half was stuck fast against the wood on her back, but now her upper half was losing room too. She moved her face sideways to avoid being smothered, but it was all she could do.
The tree groaned in protest, and small splinters exploded from the trunk like little bullets. Shards of wood impaled themselves all along her face. Every time she breathed, she lost just a little more breathing room.
Alright, she thought to herself. It’s time to have a brilliant idea and bust out of here, right?