What I’m currently working on in the latest chapter of No’va.
Its puce skin looked soft and moist from being in the humid climate. If not for a few sharp features and wings flinging even more mud at their faces, it might not have looked very intimidating. Another bubble brought several more into the air. One even carried its young, which clung to its underside and squeaked when the parent made any sudden movements.
Providence held his position, keeping himself between the men and harpy-demons. If he spoke to them, it came out in a series of clicks and sharp gurgles. Whatever the meaning, the creatures returned with threatening hisses. Soon the Healer began to back up where the men were standing. Slightly turning his head to peer over one shoulder, he warned, “Prepare yourselves.”
While the men just looked at one another and around at their sloppy situation, Jenario had his eye somewhere else.
“The water.” He nudged one of them in the direction of the island. “We can swim for it.”
The idea of swimming in swamp water was no more appealing than what suddenly swooped down at them. At a shout from Providence, the men turned to flee. Some of them ended face-down in the muck while harpy-demons clawed at those who still managed to keep their footing. There were at least twelve, with more on the way as Jenario noticed larger bubbles beginning to pop along the tunnel’s edge.
Like the others, Jenario kept his arms over his face when he was attacked. They came in pairs, effectively moving the men away from those who carried young. In between the chaos of yanking at his clothing, pinching claws and bites, he noticed those carrying smaller ones stayed back. There was no sign of Providence, though he caught a hint of green robe in between flapping wings and heard his commands to get as far from the tunnels as possible. Whether the harpy-demons actually attacked the Healer, he was unsure. At the moment, they just needed to find a way out, so Jenario took the one opportunity he had before a leathery wing gashed his cheek.
He dived. It came as a surprise that his boots got the traction they needed for the final push over the mound and down under the water. It was too murky to see, but he could hear several splashes from above as though the creatures tried to follow.
Jenario did not wait. The water was not deep, as his hand quickly touched a slimy bottom. Things that grew underwater slipped along his stomach. He could feel the bark of trees, or what he assumed were trees silently decaying in the dark. He found places to hold and started pulling himself along. Best to stay low, he realized. If they see any disturbance in the water, they might come back.
His thoughts drifted to the other men when muffled variations of dives came from behind. It was an oily sound, like slapping a thick soup. The cooks used to do that back at Mayla when they had just hauled in unusual looking shelled fish, fresh from port. They would slap their ladles across their hard backs in attempts to keep them down, just long enough for the pot’s lid to clamp shut. After the steaming process, they were then peeled and ladled into a thick stew. It had made a delicious impression on the council, who requested it more often than the normal broths containing just vegetables and beef. One would think a chef would not have needed an alchemist, but tasteful ingredients were always needed. Thus Jenario found himself called upon for food preparation more so than medicine, and he hated every moment of it. The very smell of his current pardictument was a good reason to despise becoming a culinary alchemist. A sudden flashback to himself pulverizing oil glands from a stinking fish corpse made his stomach churn.
He thrust up for a quick breath, unable to hold it any longer. The water did not fully break as quickly as a clear stream would have, so he received a mouthful of floating debris and muddy water. This set off a sputter of choking
gasps and hacks to clear his lungs. The gash on his cheek stung once in open air, sure it would get infected from whatever else sufficated in its muddy clutches.
The image below might be something they swim in to reach the so-called ‘island’