Septimus washed his hands in the river, getting rid of his bloodstains and quickly looking around to see if anyone was nearby. He had been running for the past day, having no rest and no stopping points. He had to scrape what little food he could from the fruit hanging off the trees. He had just killed a small creature and was hoping to eat it. Twice he had almost been caught. By who, or what, he was running from he did not know.
The first time he had almost been caught had been at night. A strange beast had emerged from the woods as he was crossing the river. It had tried to follow him, but seemed wary of the rushing water, as if afraid that something would strike it if it got too near. That had bought Septimus some time, but not a lot.
The second time he had almost been caught had been that same night, as he was plucking fruit from a large tree. He had been in the branches, reaching for what looked like a pear, but had frozen when a twig had snapped. Looking down, he got a glimpse of the face of his pursuer. It had four flaps to its mouth, two dark green eyes, sharp pointed teeth, and it's skin color was blue.
Septimus had assumed it was going by smell, and had done everything he could to get rid of his scent. Not five minutes previous, he had rolled in a pile of dung larger than himself. The task was repulsing, and Septimus had thrown up quite a few times, but this was about survival. And it had paid off too. The beast had been put off, and had run in a random direction. Septimus had been surprised that the smell of animal poop hadn't given his position away.
As of now, the hunt was on again. The beast had caught his scent, and Septimus doubted that he could pull off the same stunt as before. He looked around, trying to find something to slow his pursuer down. He couldn't be more than five minutes away, and Septimus couldn't set up more than a rabbit trap in that time. Deciding to make a break for it, he ran off in the opposite direction of the beast.
His clothes were ragged, and his look was wild. His dirty blonde hair was now brown, and his shirt was torn in several places. His feet were bloodied, as his shoes had been ruined several hours ago, and he had not had time to make new ones.
He wondered who he was, and where he had come from. The colors around him seemed less vibrant, and were duller than what he assumed he was used to. He couldn't remember who he was, or what was going on but something just felt….wrong. Like everything had been tipped upside down. But he didn't have time to worry, and worrying wouldn't do him any good. He had to think, be on his toes, and not let his guard down.
He came to a clearing, finally out of breath for the first time in twenty-four hours. He placed his hands on his knees, beads of sweat running down his face. He was running out of energy. And time. He had to make his stand. But what could he use to defend himself?
Septimus raised his head, looking for anything he could use as a weapon against that vicious thing. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't human. Moving to the other end of the open space, Septimus grabbed a particularly large tree branch, and started to saw through it with the only thing he had besides his clothes. A butter knife.
The sound of the approaching beast was unmistakable. Though it made no actual sound itself, the sound of birds flying away and trees hitting the ground made it clear that it was getting closer.
Septimus was almost done. Just a little bit more…
"You are what I've been chasing?"
Septimus whirled around, branch in hand, raising it like a sword in front of him.
The beast laughed. It looked different than before. It no longer had four flaps for a mouth, looking like a regular one with an upper and lower lip. It's head was oval shaped, with pointed ears. It had large bat wings, and the only article of clothing it wore was a pair of black pants. Its fingernails were razor sharp, and they looked like they could tear through steel.
"I can't believe that I was led around the entire Shadow Forest by a mere boy, and a pitiful one at that," It's voice was deep and throaty, and it made a guttural sound after it spoke, almost as if it was choking. It took a step towards him. "So boy, have you come to slay the beast? The horror, spoken of only in legends?"
It took another step, and Septimus backed away. "I don't know what you're talking about."
The creature laughed. "I don't believe you. At aaaaaaall," it lunged forward, arm extended in front of it.
Septimus' eyes widened in surprise, and he barely smacked the hand out of the way before it ripped out his throat. He ducked as a second hand appeared next his head, almost landing a killing blow. Rolling backwards, Septimus came up and brought the tree brand around. The creature laughed, and once again lunged forward.
The smack was audible as the branch connected to the beast's face. It let out a whimper similar to that of a dog, and flew backwards into a tree. It fell to the ground, a low growl starting to echo through its throat. The beast touched brought it's hand up, touching it's cheek. It drew it back, and red blood stained its fingertips.
"No one had landed a blow on me in over two years," it said, green eye's trained on him. "You will pay for that."
The world suddenly darkened, and Septimus felt the air suddenly get colder. In front of him, the creature began to change. It's mouth changed to that four flapped stage, and it doubled over. It's muscled seemed to ripple and grow in size. Septimus gulped.
"Now you will face the true might of the Night Stalker," It's voice had changed also, and it now had an echo. Septimus looked up to pray to whatever gods he might have once believed in, only to find that the sun had changed to a moon. Bringing his head back down, he looked at what he thought was called the Night Stalker in horror.
"What are you?" he whispered, falling to his knees.
"The ultimate predator."
The Night Stalker ran forward, almost faster than Septimus could blink. He feebly brought the branch up in front of him, hoping it would buy him another second of life. It was all he could hope for.
A torrent of water rushed past Septimus, hitting the Night Stalker head on. The beast flew back into the tree again, knocked out cold.
Septimus stared in shock at the water, which was now forming into what appeared to be a body. It swirled and revolved, never once taking a solid shape, except at what presumed to be the head. There a mouth formed, with two beady yellow eyes to complete the image.
"Come with me, quickly. Before he wakes up," it said, it's voice like the tides of the ocean, never staying on a certain pitch.
"Who are you? Why do I need to follow you?"
"They call me Morphling. And if you don't, you will die."