The Monster's Bellows

There’s a sound. 
Can you hear it?
A breathing in the wind.
A noise between the trees.
And then a bellow.
It hits your ears as if a thousand glasses shatter.
And that is when you see it.
It’s ten taloned feet thudding, three tails blazing forked fire, as many heads slashing their gnashing teeth through the air in ripping snarls. 
A monster.
Your feet back up as quickly as your jaw drops and you take in the gleaming red eyes that pulse with each closing of scaly lids.  Until you feel the wall of an ancient castle tight against your back, the deep moss soaking through your clothes, the points of uneven stone making small cuts as you push willing it to move, or, better still, fold in around you.
You feel the clang of metal hit against the stone, a reminder that the silver that runs down your leg is no more than a toothpick in comparison to the monster that wildly advances.
Sweat drips down your face and back and neck as you draw the thin blade.  It’s the shake of your hand that draws your line of sight up and down the beast, the nerves that allow your eyes to fix upon a strange wooden stump sticking out of one of the ten legs.
A thorn.
Cautiously you take the tip of your sword, dart in, and brush it fast against the top of the overhanging lump.  The creature roars with pain, and a slash of sharp claw would have taken your head had you not ducked just in time. 
Another hit against the thorn, and yet again you fail, sending the creature into howls of rage that threaten to leave you without limbs.
Still you press on.
And the third time…
There’s a groan as you close your eyes.  And then the feel of breath crosses your face, the wet hot gas of relief. 
The monster shudders once and walks away.
You have your freedom—that’s the thanks you get. 
It is by far thanks enough.
 

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