Then it rolled and one huge hand like a dead tree limb closed around her savior’s torso. Unsteadily, because of the shattered limb, it came to its feet, while he fought to get free, to strike at the thing’s face again. But its grip was as implacable as a mountain. It raised him over its head, then began to pound him on the ground.
Netra cried out but her voice was drowned by a distant, much louder noise. From the north came an explosion so massive she lost her footing. A cloud of dust and debris rose into the air far in the distance, swelling like a growing storm. The explosion caught the creature’s attention and it stopped banging her rescuer on the ground as it stared north. A strange, keening sound came from it and it dropped his still form as if it had forgotten he existed. Then it began to shamble away to the north, lurching on its shattered limb.
She caught movement from the corner of her eye and turned, stunned at what she saw. Covered in blood, his body a mass of wounds, her rescuer was climbing back to his feet, leaving a smear of blood on the rock behind him. For a moment he tottered there, then a harsh smile cracked his rough features. He held up his hands and she saw short, heavy claws extend from his fingertips. With a low growl, he charged after it.
He drove his shoulder into the thing, knocking it almost onto its face, then struck it again and again with his mighty fists, yelling as each blow landed, the words clearly challenges.
And all at once Netra knew.
He wanted to die.
The monster howled and struck at its tormentor wildly. Another blow landed and Netra gasped as she clearly heard the sound of breaking bone and her savior was knocked sprawling. He was slower getting to his feet this time, but the smile was still there and there was blood in it.
“Don’t!” Netra yelled, as he threw himself at the monster yet again. She spun, looking for something, anything, she could use to help him. But there were only stones too heavy for her to lift and no weapon would have made any difference anyway. It may have looked like wood, but the thing seemed to be made of stone, and if her savior with his great strength could not wound it, neither could she.