The Last Sand Golem
Chapter 4: Retrieval Mission
The howling of sand dogs filled the area, birds were screeching, and paint cries could be heard. But al of that was overshadowed by a low grumbling roar and splashing water. A nukunuka. Those were one of the animals that gave the Sakata empire some problems. They live in the ocean but ever so often they swim up the rivers and feast on the boats or people on the riverbanks. Their meat was considered a delicacy in the empire.
#11077 once already slayed such a beast, but it took 15 sand golems and a lot of equipment. The nukunuka is able to spew high pressured water that can cut through stone, and the long body is able to snake out of the water quite far before it has to rehydrate again.
Seeing the 20-meter-long nukunuka jump out of the river and snatching a bird out of the sky. #11077 pondered if he should run away or just slowly back off. Fighting this giant animal was not an option. It could easily drag him down into the river. Water doesn really damage sand golems, but it hinders their movements and sand forming.
The long eel-like animal shone in the moonlight. The glistening of its pale silver skin made it look quite ethereal. The Nukunuka not so elegantly dropped back into the river, making a big splash.
The animals ran away or stayed out of its way.
Having seen enough the sand golem just stood up and walked away. He glanced towards the pups that were already ushered away by their parent. His new destination is the Castle of Rukia. It´s time to meet up again.
Some weeks passed.
A few hours after sunrise the sand golem felt a slight breeze coming from the north. It was already steadily marching north. Turning his head he saw a giant sandstorm coming his way. He ignored it and continued placing one foot after the other, completely fine being bombarded by fine corns of sand. His vision might be distorted by the fine sand, but it also kept the dangerous animals away. Allowing him to walk even during the night.
The sight of sand golems isn´t like that of humans, as they rely on vibrations and energy signatures. So they essentially have a 360 degrees field of vision, but they still turn their heads as the face isn covered with armor that blocks those vibrations and energy signatures.
The walk was calm, as many animals avoided the sandstorm, but a few were unaffected. In the distance, the sand golem picked up an energy signature. Walking toward it, he soon noticed a pack of gingas. They calmly lay on the sand and rested. Their eyes had a hard lens that made the grains of sand bounce off, and a fine-meshed nose that didn´t allow any sand to go in. Their thick dense fur protected them against the sand. They were relatively calm creatures and were used as mounts.
He silently walked past them, as they keenly watched his moves. With a quick wave, the golem disappeared out of their sight.
Another day passed.
The sandstorm continued to rage. The feeling of sand hitting his body was quite pleasing for the golem, his mood soured and his pace relaxed.
While walking he noticed something huge a few meters in front of him. Looking up he could see the rough outline of the giant shell of a desert behemoth.
It was a creature far older than even the earliest of kingdoms and rumored to have come here from a faraway place. They have grown to ginormous heights by feeding off the minerals and very little biomass from the sand. Normally those creatures are peaceful, no harm to them no harm to you. They consume large amounts of plant matter and energy-rich minerals. The golem wondered why this one stayed relatively small for its species, despite being older than most behemoths out there. Their age could be seen by the color of their shells. The color was a dark red, indicating that it was at least over 1000 years old.
He knew they weren aggressive creatures so he petted the huge creature a few times to ask for permission of climbing its shell. Seeing the shell lowering a little he bowed slightly before climbing up the giant creature and sitting in the middle part of his shell. Sometimes he wonders just how intelligent those creatures truly are. They were sacred animals for the Sakara empire, as large amounts of metals and earth crystals grow on their backs. Killing one was the greatest sin one could do, there were many religions and cults around them, but #11077 only saw it as a quick transportation method and energy recharging bay.
He stood between two long light brown crystals that protruded out of the shell. The sand moved out of the way as the golem hugged the crystal, pressing the core on it.
The journey on the behemoths back was calm, nothing big happened. At night a few brave griffs tried to attack the sand golem, but they were quickly killed by a few javelins. The corpses were quickly eaten by earth beetles, fist-sized brown bugs that live in a symbiotic relationship on the shell of the desert behemoth. They only eat corpses, unannounced visitors, and earth crystals. Keeping the behemoth clean and its back side protected in exchange for a save ride, a home, and a constant flow of food.
Another week passed and, still on the back of the desert behemoth, which was slowly trotting through the sand while taking mouthfuls of sand. A hole near the throat pushed all the sand out, filtering it.
The sun was just about to set and the large creature finally took some rest, laying down and curling up.
The golem had nothing to do so it just stargazed, counting the countless light dots in the cloudless sky.
An almost imperceptible rumble ran through the sand. The behemoth immediately stood up and looked towards the distance. it opened its mouth and a low and high-pitched sound came out. The earth crystals on its back lit up, shining brightly. A few seconds later a ray of white energy shot out of its mouth in quick bursts. The sand in the distance exploded, melting the ground as the sand quickly crystal is es. Molten sand splashed everywhere were the giant animal pointed his head.
The ground trembled and the soldier nearly fell off, struggling to hold on to the shell. The earth bugs are frantically scurrying around, latching onto the crystals and giving them energy.
#11077 couldn´t see what was going on but the vibrations in the sand pointed toward the burrow worms, also called desert menace. The vibration came in a giant wave just right under the sand making long streaks that quickly approached them.
The desert behemoth didn´t stop shooting as it slowly backed off. Bits and pieces of flesh flew around wherever they hit. But the numbers seemed to be endless. All the way to the horizon the sandworms slithered toward them.
The silent night turned into a battlefield.
Those were one of the highly dangerous predators around. Very efficient in their killing, working in large groups, and being nearly completely undetectable until its too late, makes them one of the most dangerous animals around.
Normally desert behemoths would prey on them. But such an large group was unheard of. In the past the humans would cull their numbers, but with them gone they were just left to multiply endlessly, with no one really reducing their numbers.
The first few desert menace reached the behemoth, they jumped out of the sand like fish out of water. One got its ugly head blown off while the other latched onto the creatures leg. The behemoth stomped its leg trying to shack it off, but only more burrow worms jumped the giant turtle. The hide was thick but the thousands of rotating teeth shredded it in seconds. Blood drew and the desert menace only got more agitated.
The behemoth trembled and cried out in pain as giant sandworms sprung out of the sand and dug into its legs, ripping huge chunks of meat off before diving into the sand again like it was water. The blood spurted out in mass coloring the whole area in crimson blood.
Stomping and thrashing the giant behemoth tried everything to get them off, but there were just too many, tens if not hundreds of thousands of the worms latch onto it.
In a desperate attempt to save their host, the earth bugs jumped off the shell. Spreading their wings they all homed towards a different target. Hitting the burrow worms they glowed bright brown and exploded like fireworks. It would have been a pretty sight if not for all the blood and gore flying everywhere.
A few of the worms manage to jump up towards the shell, #11077 saw the giant rotating maw of the worm. Quickly forming a spear he threw it with all his might. The spear soared threw the air, and penetrated right threw the head.
The worm flew over the shell and the corps landed on a few other burrow worms.
The battle was an endurance test. If the giant behemoth buckled and ran out of energy the desert menaces would eat it alive. And the giant behemoth must endure and kill enough of them for them to disperse.
But even with the massive energy reserves, hundreds of earth beetles suiciding, a sand golem chucking spears, and constantly shooting concentrated energy, the swarm was just too large.
The behemoth held out for 3 days and nights but their number was seemingly endless. #11077 was constantly symphoning energy from the crystals and throwing precise javelin into the worms head, but he wasn suited to deal with large numbers of enemies.
They overwhelmed the creature with pure numbers. The damage accumulated and the worms already reached the bones. The desert behemoth was losing the battle and slowly buckled.
The sand golem was nearly all out of core sand when the worms tried a large push. Looking down at the carnage that was happening he thought if it was finally time to return back to the desert.
The behemoth under him let out a deep cry that vibrated through the air. The golem nearly slipped off. The ground under the golem shook.
Seeing the incoming demise the desert behemoth turned his head towards the sand golem and the few earth beetles that are still around.
#11077 saw the creatures giant eye glimmer with sadness, but it accepted its fate.
Its eyes shone bright golden, engulfing the passengers on its back. The light died down and they were gone.
The behemoths back legs finally gave up, after nearly 100 hours of preserverancing through the pain. Feeling light headed from all the blood loss the desert behemoth crashed into the sand, crushing dozens of pestering burrow worms in the process. It looked around itself and saw the whole place wiggling with desert worms. Pointing its head to the sky it let out a massive cry, its shell lit up brighter than ever, turning the night into day.
The swarm surrounding him died to the sound, but the behemoth only got swarmed again. Laying on the cool blood-soaked sand it held its head high and pointed towards the sky, as big chunks of meat got ripped out every second.
For a split second, the world seemed to stop, as the shell of the behemoth cracked.
An ever-expanding ray of pure energy shot into the sky seemingly reaching the heavens. The light engulfed the whole region in an instant.
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