The Autumn Keep - Chain Link 4

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Last time on The Autumn Keep

Chainlink 3 of The Autumn Keep by @zakludick found Griffin and his uneasy friend a giant beast attacked by winged monsters whose toxic claws numbed them on top of a felled tree across a vast chasm.

It is now @fromage's turn to add a link to the story in Chainlink 4.
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Chainlink 4

The man-thing was brave it was sure of that. It felt a twang of regret at the death of such an interesting creature as it snapped its jaws at the Greyl. It was tired. The Greyls' claws had found flesh. The toxin was not strong enough to kill, only slow. The effect is the same. Soon they will tip me over the edge. I am as dead as the man-thing.

The Greyl that had been about to dig into his flesh evaporated. Searing pain bloomed across its body as a spear of light seemed to leap up into the air. A cry of mangled elation seemed to tremble in the air. It was thrown back, the balance of its long tail the only thing keeping it from tumbling into the abyss. Once it had its footing it looked around frantically.

Man-thing... As it searched the wailing intensified and the light with it. The anguished screams of the Greyl mixed with the wailing. Finally it caught sight of the man-thing, dangling unconscious from the edge of the bridge, metal skin caught in the great tree's bark.

It grunted in disgust as it hoisted the man-thing in its jaws, fighting the instinct to gag. If I ate you now it shut its eyes tight as the light grew to a blinding intensity I wouldn't even get to enjoy the screaming. It leapt from the tree back into the forest, a pulse of energy from behind slamming it into the treeline. The man-thing spilled out onto the ground.

It struggled to rise. A leg lay pinned beneath a fallen tree that had splintered in the impact. The splinters dug into its flesh between the metal plates of its skin.

In the panic of escape it had not seen how, but the bridge had vanished. A pale blue light suffused the air above where the tree had been, eerily reminiscent of the man-thing's glowing box. The Greyls had all been destroyed or fled. Shame. It settled in and began to lick its wounds. They are rather tasty.

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Griffin snapped awake in a panic, struck in the back of the head. He leapt to his feet and his hand went to his sword, ready to fight as a second and third acorn pelted him from above. The squirrel chattered at him furiously until he wandered back toward the chasm. The sword. His mother's sword. It was gone. Likely somewhere at the bottom of the chasm. His pack was still slung across his back at least.

"Man thing...flutterings...forever hunting." Griffin screwed up his face. Forever hunting? Snapping his head back to the chasm he grabbed a nearby stick and held it defensively, starting as the Beast began to growl and snarl. It was laughing. "Forever hunting...gone and not coming back, man thing." Griffin lowered the stick, laughing at his own reaction as he lowered himself to the ground.

Looking up at the Beast he realized that one of its legs was wedged beneath a log. "You need help, beast. Let's get you out of there" Placing the stick under the log he and the beast were able to lift the tree up and off. "Are you alright?"

The Beast stood and stretched. "I live. New path, man thing. Follow." The Beast began to travel along the chasm, uncomfortably close to the edge for Griffin's taste. Only then did he notice that the tree bridge was completely gone.

"My lantern..." he paled, chuckling uncomfortably. "I...I guess it was enchanted." He'd learned by rote as a child just how dangerous and unstable magic was, but he'd never seen its effects in person.

The beast turned back to Griffin, standing slack-jawed on the edge of the chasm. "Come, Man-thing. Far to go. It is only worse from here. The Keep awaits."

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Chainlink 4 completed!

Now the torch is passed back to @zakludick to add in Chainlink 5 of the story!

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