Penn Fawn

Chapter VII ♠ The Elephant Graveyard


Although Crowspeak had a limited vocabulary, it was sufficient for those fluent in that tongue to state whether he could see movement and from where, while perched from above, or surveying an area.

As such, Akua learned their most trusted messenger crows were dispatched to keep an eye on any movement coming from the southern front. They were to return to the base to report to them, and this reconnaissance mission would be ongoing.

Jogoo, their most trusted and faithful messenger, was not among those sent south. He was instructed to head west to Yagan to alert Thoroughmann and the others that a party was on its way.

The note around his leg read, “Fifteen thousand coming to you.”

Some twenty to twenty-five thousand of those who stayed behind were to march well beyond the village.

They were to advance as far out onto the plains as they could to meet Nyeusi’s men head-on, upon a moment’s notice of any advancement.

A day passed, then two, then three since Dalia and the others’ departure.

“Provided nothing has happened, they must be well on their way toward Yagan by now,” Mjumbe said.

It was during the early evening, the time was well after those who stayed behind had completed the day’s training and drills, and he and his friend Akua had returned home.

“That’s right,” Akua replied.

“I hope they’re safe,” Mjumbe said.

“They are,” Akua replied.

“How do you know?”

“I have a feeling,” Akua said.

“I didn’t know you could feel these things,” Mjumbe said.

Akua smiled. “I don’t care to say I do, but I do trust my feelings,” he remarked.

“Given how many of them left, I understand it should take about a week to get such a large contingent to their intended destination,” he said.

“A week, give or take. Yes,” Akua said.

“I see,” Mjumbe replied, and Akua became lost in thought.

“Still nothing from the messengers, eh?” the latter asked.

“Nothing,” Mjumbe said, “which worries me a bit.”

“Why?” Akua asked.

“Putting so much trust in animals,” he replied. “Trusting we can understand them.”

“You still feel this way?” Akua asked. “The Shetani trust them, and as far as we can know, they do just fine by them.”

Mjumbe thought about that. “I’m just a bit worried that something could be happening, and we may find out too late if we find out at all.”

Akua looked at him. “But you trust the wolves?” he asked.

“I guess I do,” he replied. “They do keep the ghouls away.”

“So there, maybe the Shetani’s got it right,” Akua said.

“What do you mean?” Mjumbe asked.

“That they’ve long had far greater faith, trust, and appreciation, for animals than we do.”

Mjumbe listened.

“We’re only just beginning to understand or value them, but it looks like it’s too late,” Akua said.

Mjumbe thought of this.

“The crows have never failed us,” Akua said, “and I don’t expect they will now.”

“I hope not,” Mjumbe said.

The reason they hadn’t heard from their messengers was Nyeusi was busy organizing a large body of men into a fighting force to send their way.

There was the small matter of arranging affairs like being properly attired, armed, and organized for battle.

There was also the small matter of fitting their elephants, ten thousand of them, with protective headgear.

Getting the word out to their peers who resided within the caves in the mountains—their primary base for large scale weapons manufacturing—also took a good deal of time.

It also took time for their peers—who lived in an area about four days’ journey from the Valley of Death—to arrive at their headquarters and join their march.

All in all, the whole process was such a lengthy undertaking that those who left for Yagan arrived over a month and a half before Darkwing, a cousin of Jogoo the crow, arrived during the midst of a military drill and spoke excitedly in Crowspeak about having seen movement on the plains of the southern frontier.

Akua’s Adam’s apple moved.

“What is he saying?” a fellow asked.

Akua looked him in the eye. “The time has come,” he replied.

A boisterous chant of “hooray” was heard.

Mjumbe raced toward where he placed his conch shell, blew into it, and once more, a chant of hooray came from the crowd.

Before long, a wall of sound that stretched for miles beyond their immediate area stemmed from the messengers who heard Mjumbe’s horn and responded by sounding theirs.

Men, who never before had been in combat felt their body temperature rise. On that day, many learned how emboldened, and fearless a man can feel when placed amid a crowd bent toward a given aim.

A most primal manner of thinking took hold of them, and as such, even those known to be reserved, timid even, felt inspired to fight.

For weeks, these were men who slept with their weapons near or next to them, men who were prompted to be prepared for action at any moment’s notice.

Word was sent out to form an assembly immediately.

Those near Akua stepped either to their left or right.

He walked through the parted crowd that closed behind him, then all faced south.

The pattern was duplicated where anyone was assigned a commanding role.

Presently, Oluso, the marksman, headed toward the crowd and then Zaeim and Mbou.

Noor, the explorer, was not there. He was among those who had departed with Dalia. Alpha had left with them too.

“I wish I were among the vanguard,” Mjumbe said.

“To be among the last line of defense is no small matter,” Oba, the elder, replied.

“Doesn’t change how I feel,” Mjumbe said.

“In life, we all have our parts to play, son. Or, we all have different roles to fill at different times,” Oba responded.

Fifteen thousand men left their homes that day.

They headed toward the direction in which Darkwing said he saw Nyeusi’s troops approaching.

A cavalry—defined here and at that time, as warriors who fought on elephant or rhinoceros back—of around ten thousand Shetani had been marching for the better part of two days when Nyeusi, who observed the proceedings from atop his favored kilman, swooped down before them and signaled to them to halt.

Kifo, his most treasured friend, then Amri, swooped down on the backs of their flying beasts. The former’s kilman landed on his right. Amri’s landed on his left.

“We’re about as far out as I deem it prudent to be from a supply of water,” Nyeusi began, “yet we still have a ways to go.”

“Those of you who are near me, I bid you listen carefully, for your lives will depend on it. When you are done listening, you are to spread the word about what I’m about to share to the person next to you, then he, in turn, must do the same until the message is received by all.

“Again, I bid you listen carefully, for this is a life and death matter. We will never have the means to reach their base if you fail to do as I say,” he added, and the men were all ears.

“Now I want you to observe, then do as I do,” he added.

Kifo stepped toward him.

“Remove your headgear,” he said, and Kifo did so.

Nyeusi procured a vessel and a bowl into which he emptied its contents.

A wind strong enough to disperse any powder out onto the fields had been blowing. Yet, he could empty the bedeviled contents into the bowl with no fear or concern whatsoever of this happening.

He applied some water to it, then he worked it in with his index finger until it had the consistency of a paste.

He used that very finger to draw a white X onto Kifo’s forehead. He had Amri come forward, then he marked an X onto his forehead too.

He faced and addressed the troops.

“When I bring this vessel to you, do as I have done,” he ordered. “To both man and beast,” he added, and they wondered what could it all mean.

“Have no fear about the paste ever coming to an end before all hath received the mark, for this won’t happen. Have no fear about the consistency of it changing for want of more water, for this won’t happen,” he added, and they wondered how on earth could any of what he said be true.

“How come?” he asked. “Because it is a gift from the necromancer.”

A noise emanated from the crowd.

“That’s right,” he added. “He who receives the mark shall for a month become like that accursed tribe from the world beyond. Ye shall not suffer from hunger or thirst. Not for a month! Which is long enough for us to endure this mission.”

“Is there any danger the spell stemming from the mark may have a permanent effect?” a fellow asked.

“None,” Nyeusi replied. “The mark shall vanish from your foreheads no sooner or later than after the spell has taken effect. This, as I have said, will last for around a month.

“No more questions. We will break to take care of this business now, then we resume the march.”

Most of them had never been this far north. The only ones known to have seen this landscape were those who saw it from above while atop the backs of the kilman.

There were, maybe, a total of five hundred of them, and this figure included those from all the Shetani strongholds with which this narrative is concerned.

Most came from the Isle of the Maimed, a volcanic island roughly seven miles east of the mainland of the underworld’s second level. It was a place of confinement where men who lost a limb or limbs after attempting to combat or harm the Shetani were taken to spend a lifetime of contemplation about all the ‘wrongs’ they did.

The place where they presently were, being semi-arid, unchartered, and largely unknown, is what bothered Nyeusi most.

Those factors led him to consult the necromancer for some kind of insurance policy against trying to navigate it.

There was a long stretch of dry land before them, and he was mindful of their dwindling supplies.

The weather was warm but tolerably so, considering they were out in the open, under the sun’s direct rays. It was such that they welcomed the opportunity to relax for a bit while man and beast received the mark.

A force of about five thousand more Shetani was nearly half-a-day’s journey behind them. These were foot soldiers, garbed in like manner of the frontline soldiers. They would be second in line to receive the mark.

Aside from those who worked deep within the forest, the Shetani residing south of the plains never covered themselves in armor like their counterparts within the mountains.

Presently, and for the most part, they wore the very type of armor their mountain-dwelling peers did, a plate with interlocking pieces that covered their shoulders and chests.

All forsook wearing the forearm gear the guards there wore because these had three curved spikes.

Fear of the spikes at some point inadvertently poking the elephants, and possibly contributing to a stampede, or otherwise harming their brethren while they were nearby, is what led to the decision to forsake it.

They instead affixed a shield over one of their forearms.

They were uniform in wearing a belt strung around their waists. These featured scabbards into which their daggers and swords were placed. Across their torsos were a bow and a quiver for their arrows.

They continued to administer and receive the necromancer’s mark. The recipients were astounded to note what they heard about the paste from which it was drawn turned out to be true. Its quantity, no matter how many men or beasts received it, never appeared to diminish.

All held it was the most bedeviling thing they had ever seen, so their faith in Nyeusi, the mission, and those who were skeptical about whether it came from the necromancer were reassured.

The vessel was returned to him. He withdrew a lid from his person, covered and secured it, then he made way toward the foot soldiers with Kifo and Amri flying at his side.

Amri’s brother, Dembele, who led the cavalry this far, led them onward toward Kimbilio.

Many who had cheered when Darkwing brought the news about the Shetani heading toward them shivered when what appeared to be a dark line on the horizon became more recognizable.

“My Lord and God,” a fellow said despondently. This was Feignmann, who presently was closest to Akua.

No one gave the order for the immortals to stop. However, many froze with a mixture of awe and apprehension as they watched an army of ten thousand strong on elephant back loom larger with the passing of each second.

Their entire army grounded to a halt. Men trembled, including those with the responsibility of manning the front line.

“Advance no further!” Oluso barked. “Assume your positions!”

Many Adam’s apples moved up and down in their throats, and their saliva felt like a lump of something solid after swallowing it.

A glance at what lay in the distance led Amri to think he was looking at a herd of wildebeest. Or, was it?

The Shetani at the front of the herd stared on yonder.

Dembele’s heart rate increased. He felt the eyes of his peers to his left then his right upon him.

Astonished, perhaps every bit as the immortals were, they could only imagine how many they might amount to.

He turned to both sides.

He signaled to keep advancing, and the cavalry marched without breaking stride.

“You know,” a certain Pseudomann mused, “I got to thinking the implausibility of being here is not so bad a thing after all.”

“What do you mean?” Feignmann asked.

“To stay hydrated without the need for water, nourished without the need for food. The inability to enjoy either without having any painful effect,” he replied.

“What a time to be thinking such things,” Feignmann remarked.

“Point is, like I said, at this time, I think it’s not such a torturous existence after all,” Pseudomann replied.

“You don’t want to die despite what we’re denied in this life, is what you’re saying?” Feignmann said. “I mean common pleasures we took for granted.”

Pseudomann was pensive.

“I think few ever do,” Feignmann added. “Except for the most trying situations, people don’t hope to die. They hope for things to get better.”

“Well, it sure looks like we have a lot of hoping to do now,” Pseudomann said.

Mbou overhead their talk. “They are many but so are we,” he chimed in, “and our arrows are tipped with the deadliest of poisons, the likes of nothing we’ve seen from where we came. Takes minutes for paralysis to set in, not hours, and hours, not days to cause death.”

“I hope we have as many as we need to stop them. I mean, from what I can see, their numbers appear unlimited,” Feignmann remarked.

“We can only do what we can do,” Mbou said. “And, I don’t think you suspect this engagement, all of it, will be from a distance.”

“Of course not,” he replied.

“Good,” Mbou added. “You’ve been trained as well as any of us about how to fight with the sword.”

“Right,” Feignmann replied.

He became impatient with what he held was the painfully slow advancement. It seemed to serve no purpose other than to jangle his nerves.

Zaeim, who was at some distance away from him, and leading the men over at that end, was one of many who felt the same way.

All became silent and focused, for there was nothing else that mattered in the world other than that which drew nearer.

They could clearly hear the elephants speak now in that language no immortal could understand. Palms became sweaty. Patience wore thin.

Thousands toward the front of their ranks were on bent knee, with their bows and arrows pointed upwards toward the sky, all mindful it was critical to have a preemptive strike, lest they ended up being on defense against such an imposing force.

“Give the order to fire already,” Pseudomann whispered.

His words were meant for his ears only, but Mbou overhead him and responded.

“Patience. The first of their ranks are almost within striking distance,” he said.

Pseudomann’s fear of being a fraction too late to fire led to a vision of his ranks cowering under their shields.

In his vivid imagination, the enemy had struck first, and now he could hear the uncommonly large herd of elephants charging toward them while they were in so vulnerable a state. Many would be trampled to death before getting a shot off!

“Fire!” Oluso barked, and within a fraction of a second, the immortals dispatched a volley of arrows. They free fell far and wide, hurtling with the impressionable pull of gravity toward the enemy.

The Shetani uniformly held their shields out before them. It was done in near perfect unison, but their defenses could deflect but so much.

Many an arrow lodged into some of their warriors’ legs, prompting a howling and grimacing in intolerable agony.

What didn’t bounce off the metal-plated armor covering the heads of their elephants lodged in other body parts of their beasts.

Many elephants rose onto their hind legs.

Riders who didn’t fall or were cast aside struggled to hang on. Within a matter of seconds, the Shetani toward the front of their ranks were in the middle of a commotion.

“Fire!” Zaeim yelled at the top of his lungs, and another volley of arrows was dispatched. The vulnerable and frenzied beasts took more lethal fire, and the fallen were crushed beneath their feet or under those animals which fell on them.

Nyeusi, atop the back of his kilman, reached the front of his army by this time. His eyes widened.

Amri and Kifo, also atop their flying beasts, looked on in horror.

Following Nyeusi’s lead, they flew past the dead and dying toward the immortals.

Men who weren’t awestruck by the beasts’ wingspan and stupendousness held their arms aloft and released several arrows. “Focus on what’s on the ground!” Oluso bellowed. “They can do us no harm from up there! Let those further back take aim!”

Few did, yet a concerned Nyeusi, who feared his animal may be struck, managed to fly higher, then beyond striking distance of the sparse number of arrows released.

Hitherto, not one fellow from the immortal army was slain. None, for that matter, was wounded, and the commotion they caused was such that the Shetani failed to dispatch so much as one arrow.

Amri and Kifo continued to follow their leader.

Observing from a birdseye view what the enemy army amounted to astounded them.

They were sure to fly past the breath of it, taking pains to estimate their numbers, then Nyeusi made a hand gesture which they understood meant they were to turn around.

More and more arrows came hurtling toward his men. They fell like rain, and immortals near the front line took to mercilessly firing directly into the flesh of frenzied man and beast.

The Shetani behind those in front, those closer to the middle of their army, found they could neither move forward nor backward and down the arrows continued to fall.

Those who focused on blocking them with their shields were thrown off their alarmed animals for want of firmly holding on to them.

Those who held on dearly were often too late in trying to avoid being hit while attempting to fend off arrows.

Like so many who almost always are the architects of their own misfortune and downfall, the panicked Shetani wondered how they got themselves in this situation.

What started out as such a bright and sunny day, one full of promise, turned out to be quite dark. Yet as dark as things seemed, they hoped and prayed there must be a way out.

They prayed there must be some saving grace that would give them just one more chance. They vowed to never partake in the mindless activity that is open warfare again, but hope soon turned to despair.

What became clear—or so they now believed—was they were going to face death one way or another, by an arrow or by being crushed, or maybe by some combination of the two.

A preoccupation with avoiding the inevitable end tortured them, and it was then that the uncommonly lethal poison from the arrow tips that penetrated or grazed them began to take effect.

Muscular paralysis damned hope of those who’d been praying the hardest.

The most optimistic among them felt that optimism die, for not only had the hope they would somehow be able to maneuver themselves out of harm’s way vanished, now they found they were unable to move much or move period.

What new form of devilry is this? The afflicted and incapacitated wondered. They would never know as they agonizingly took their last gasps of air.

Those who escaped being trampled or crushed by a fallen animal would expire within the hour. Although much larger, their animals were struck much more frequently and would not fare much better.

Those who only despised and thought little of common men now feared them, conceding they were far more an inventive, enterprising, and parasitical scourge than they had imagined.

Those toward the back of the ranks, those who were beyond the range of the arrows, made a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turn and headed back toward the direction from which they came, as man after man, beast after beast, continued to fall.

The notion of crushing their enemy like they were no more a match for them than mere ants was now long gone.

The idea of dismounting from their beasts to run them through with dagger or sword, while those still atop their elephants trampled the personal belongings in their villages, was now considered folly.

The idea of an invasion where every immortal would be put to the sword was now thought to be fantasy—and so their aggressors, those fortunate enough to have the opportunity to run, ran toward where they came from.

Nyeusi’s thoughts raced. He agonized over whether he should tell his advancing foot soldiers to hold their ground or retreat.

He wondered whether it made any sense at all to retreat, or should they fight to the last man to try and prevent the immortals from advancing toward their lands, or did the enemy have any intent on doing so?

Why were they so far out from their village?

What was their motive, and what prompted them to arrive at where they were, and in such numbers?

There was so much about them he didn’t know, so much about them and the developments that addled his mind.

He swooped down and flew low, in a parallel line to the advancing foot soldiers.

’Twas an act which meant they were to halt any further advancement, which they did.

He directed his mighty beast to fly higher, then to his left, and they headed back to the direction from which they had come.

Amri and Kifo, who watched his every move, directed their beasts to follow his, and as to what should he do next? ’Twas the question that gave his mind no rest.

He was sure he wanted a firsthand account on how matters were progressing on the battlefront. He headed there with haste.

“They’re all but a spent force,” Mbou shouted. “Look at them. What did they have to offer? Nothing!”

“Not one damn thing,” Pseudomann said.

Feignmann smiled, and everyone was in good cheer.

“What now, oh leader?” Feignmann asked. “They’re retreating. Are we to pursue them?”

“We will not,” Mbou replied. “Once we can be assured we’re no longer under any threat, we will return home.”

No further threat presented itself. Rather, many fleeing Shetani not quite out of firing range were struck in areas where they had no body armor.

Many of their elephants were struck in the buttocks or at the back of their hind legs or shoulders. The poison in their bloodstream from the arrow tips would ensure all failed to reach their intended destination.

“We were fools,” Akua said. “They’re but a specter of the fearsome image they would have us believe they are.”

“They are fearsome, but it is our cunning and their stupidity that gave us this overwhelming advantage. We were better prepared,” Mbou said.

Akua listened.

“Intimidating as their beasts appeared to be, now we all know they’re a liability,” Oluso said.

“There was no need for Dalia and the others to evacuate,” Akua said.

“Perhaps, but we had no way of knowing that. Did we?” Oluso replied.

“Right,” Akua said.

Nyeusi drew nearer to the battlefront and, in the distance, saw that his troops, or what was left of them, had aborted their positions and were heading back in the direction from which they came.

Further ahead were the stricken, those who tried to retreat but made it only so far before the poison-tipped arrows rendered them immobile. Of this group, who weren’t already dead were dying, and their carcasses were strewn like litter upon the open field.

Nyeusi’s face grew long, and his heart felt heavy, but further ahead still, or so he suspected, was what he thought he had to face above all else.

He didn’t have to fly much further before he saw the heap of Shetani and elephant carcasses. The fallen constituted the larger portion of his army. They all died during the melee and fell atop or alongside each other.

Not far from them was the cause of all of the death and destruction.

Nyeusi, Kifo, and Amri flew over them at a height too long a distance to be struck by arrows.

All eyes were locked onto what took place above.

They watched the three make a circle, and Nyeusi’s main interest now was to get back to his foot soldiers before any of his traumatized cavalrymen did.

“I have a feeling this is not over,” Pseudomann said.

“Of course,” Mbou replied. “How could anyone think otherwise?”

“And, what does that mean for us?” Feignmann asked.

“We will wait a bit more to see what they do,” Mbou replied. “We do not want to give up any ground.”

They didn’t wait long before realizing the dead, which stretched so far and wide, provided an obstacle neither army cared to circumvent.

An attempt to go around the carcasses would take a great deal of time. What’s more was, it would have taken them away from their preferred path, one that led directly toward the opposition.

A movement in the sky caught the attention of Nyeusi’s men on foot.

It was he, Amri, and Kifo, returning to the place where his men were told to await further instruction.

The three swooped down before them, and Nyeusi’s instructions were that they were to return home and be vigilant.

Amri was instructed to keep watch over what the immortals were up to.

Kifo was instructed to be another set of eyes for him and alert him in the event of any dire news.

“And, where would you be off to?” Amri asked.

“The Isle of the Maimed,” he replied.

“That far, eh?” said a surprised Kifo.

“Yes,” Nyeusi replied.

“How long do you intend to be gone?” Kifo asked.

“A couple days at least,” Nyeusi answered. “Our brethren need to be informed, and I need some time away from here, time to myself to think. This is bigger than I had imagined or could have thought of giving our enemy credit for.”

“Think we have that much time?” Kifo asked.

“Who can say for sure?” Nyeusi replied. “We can only guess at their intent.”

Kifo’s face grew more solemn. “I do not think you should leave,” he said. “It’s not right, not at a time like this.”

Nyeusi looked him in the eye. “Your leader I am, but I am but one individual. I would not leave if I feared a threat was imminent. For that matter, my mind tells me this isn’t so, and I feel assured of it.”

“That’s nothing absolute,” Kifo said.

“There never were any assurances,” Nyeusi replied, “but we did not know. This battle is over.”

“Or, just begun,” Kifo said.

“Then we must prepare for the next round,” Nyeusi said, “and we’d better be well prepared ’cause we can’t afford to sustain losses like we did today.”

Kifo said nothing.

“There was always going to come a day when I expected you to show leadership. I had no idea when it would be, but today is that day,” Nyeusi added.

He directed his attention to Amri. “You must take charge in my absence,” he said.

“Okay,” Amri replied.

“Fly north again and keep watch.”

“It is done,” Amri said.

“The sentinels,” Nyeusi began.

“What about them?” Amri asked. By sentinels, Nyeusi meant lions. For the immortals, wolves were their sentinels.

“They know these lands more intimately than you or I ever could. Have them monitor affairs for us. They will keep you updated.”

“I will do that,” he said.

“Summon them to fight with you if needs be, but pray, do not allow so much as a strand of fur from another creature to be defiled unless absolutely necessary.”

“Very well,” Amri said.

“Kifo, you will be my third pair of eyes.”

“It is done,” he said.

“In the meantime, this much we know or could assume. It would take a vast number of beasts to consume or move so much carrion, and only the largest congregation of vultures could dispose of the rest. Anything other than that and the stench of death is something no one will want to be near.”

“Right,” Kifo said.

“Had they a mind to, ’twill take time to circumvent the dead should they have the gall to approach us.”

“After what we saw, they will be emboldened now,” Kifo said.

“Then they are fools,” Nyeusi replied. “Find out for sure, Amri, and if needs be, deal with them accordingly,” he added, and with that, Amri departed.

“I must leave now,” Nyeusi added.

“Very well,” Kifo replied.

“I am not deserting you in this dire time,” Nyeusi said.

“I never thought so,” Kifo replied.

“Again, I don’t suspect I’ll be gone for more than a couple days,” Nyeusi added. He then mounted his beast and flew toward the Isle of the Maimed.

By the time Amri drew nearer to the dead, the immortals had amassed some distance between themselves and the area. Both armies, for some time now, had been walking away from each other.

He was mindful of flying overhead, too low to the ground, or beyond them, lest the immortals notice him and become panicked into possibly thinking their adversary did not have enough of the day’s events. And so, he remained a safe distance away. Their backs faced his, so none saw him turn around and head back to his men.

Nyeusi, with a heavy heart, continued to fly away from them all.

The immortals were well on their way home when those who felt a bit unsure finally began to concede it looked as if the battle was truly over.

There was no surprise second wave of attack. Nothing ominous appeared on the horizon. Nothing from their wildest imaginations proved to be real. No army of Shetani in the tens of thousands had navigated their way through the thick forests, got past all possible obstacles, then decimated those who stayed back at the village and was now heading toward them.

At least there did not seem to be any sign of that now, the most panicky and skeptical of them conceded.

Others, by this time, made light of the day’s events.

One fellow referred to the adversary they once so dreaded as the Shitani. This appellation stuck in his peers’ minds.

They had a hearty laugh when he mentioned this. Meanwhile, predatory and opportunistic beasts began to slowly then steadily appear where the dead lay to feast.

Lions ate with no concern about packs of thieving hyenas who dined not far from them.

Wild dogs appeared, and again, the lions could not have been less concerned. No covetous beast, after all, thought it necessary to steal anyone’s kills.

More and more lions came and packs and more packs of hyenas and wild dogs.

The area, which would henceforth be called The Elephant Graveyard, became the scene of the most enormous outdoor feast then known.

Black specs high up in the sky appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

It looked as though some were circling while others moved about haphazardly. These were vultures. They, plus the lions, hyenas, and the wild dogs, would all die after consuming the poisoned flesh.

By this time, Amri had already flown back to his men to inform them that an attack by the immortals on their base did not seem likely.



About the author

Penn Fawn

Bio: Penn Fawn, a graphic arts production artist with a research and writing background is a New Yorker. He is the author of the dark fantasy duology, Necropolis, and the spin-off series, The Underworld. His novels are an amalgam of epic fantasy, dark fantasy, and horror.

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