Noah rose and regarded the carcass before him. The massive corpse was a monument to his determination to survive, and his willingness to kill any devil that tried to stop him.
Haynes approached the body and began examining appendages. The massive fore claws were obviously too large to be of use to him. They massed as much as he did. Each leg segment was at least as tall as Noah. They were likewise useless. Then he noticed the smaller second set of claws. They projected from below the primary claws, tiny mockeries of the two massive engines of destruction. Tiny being relative. The foremost segment of each claw was a yard long and wickedly curved. The outer edge of each was razor sharp. Haynes smiled.
With a little work one claw came free. The second followed soon after. Halfway along each massive digit was a large spur that had been part of the joint. They made good handholds.
Noah hefted his new weapons. They were lighter than he expected. Not too light, though. They reminded Noah of his high school days, when he would hurl himself into any martial art he could find a teacher for. He’d spent a lot of time with tonfa in his hands. It was just like old times, except bigger and sharper.
I just killed a hundred long foot mantis with a pair of sharp rocks. I can raze Hell with these. Or a hell, anyway.
Despite his momentary jubilation, Noah knew his best chance for survival was to stay hidden. The lesser devils would probably go to ground if they thought something of this size was on the move, but it was only a matter of time before someone realized the titan was dead. He didn’t want to be there when the scavengers showed up.
Thick, cord-like tendons had pulled out of the forelimbs along with the claws. Haynes evaluated this material, and decided it was the best rope substitute he would find. He fashioned a lanyard for each of his blades, and placed a length of the sinew into his bag. As he worked, he noticed something odd. Beneath the thick layer of red dust, there seemed to be a faint design on his right trouser leg. Noah started to brush away the dust to view it more clearly, but then decided to leave it for another time when he wasn’t being chased by corporeal manifestations of negative emotions. Or whatever the hell they were.
Another question to ask Death when I get out of here. I should be making a list. Maybe the next devil I see will have a pen attached to his tail.
Noah slipped his hands through his newly made weapon straps and began to walk. He moved away from the area where he had started his journey. Away from the cave with the corpse at the bottom. Away from the field of slaughter.
Time passed. Noah couldn’t tell how much. He didn’t need sleep, and there was no night or dawn here, only twilight. He moved carefully, using the terrain to hide his movement and climbing to scout for opposition. He spotted the occasional devil, but he evaded notice. He resisted the urge to fight, even though the weight of the twin blades and at times even his own body screamed at him to do so. Combat wasted time and made noise. Haynes could afford neither.
Devils seemed to be becoming more common. At first Noah thought he could had just wandered into a more populous area, that he could just double back and travel through a less popular area. But the area behind him was also noticeably busier than when he had passed through it. The devils were becoming more active. Or there were more of them. The devils were also larger than before. Once Noah worried when he saw anything larger than a big dog. Now most of the devils were man sized. It didn’t bode well.
I’ve got to come up with a new strategy. Roaming like this was fine when there were only a one to an acre, but I can’t evade them if the keep concentrating in this area.
Then the situation changed completely. Noah had been traveling along a shallow, wide canyon when he came to a sharp turn. Peaking around the corner he saw a sight that would fuel his nightmares for years to come. The canyon expanded out into a basin, and on the floor of that basin was a pack of devils. A pack of devils and one young woman.