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“Five-Minute Escape”

short adventure story.



TIME: Before Recorded History. PLACE: The Great Desert Wastes

 Copyright Terofil Gizelbach, 2013


She stood boldly in the campfire’s glow, surrounded by the chieftain and his band.

“Do I look like a child that you can dazzle with your lies, Tandor?” she asked. “Pig! You sent him to die!”

Tandor smiled, and offered up his palms. “You wrong me, girl. The Tsoggoth slew him; or he slew himself by going. I had no hand in it. He made his choice.”

“You goaded him into facing the Tsoggoth! You knew he would fight if you challenged his pride!”

Tandor shook his head with mock sympathy. “Amanth always did think well of himself. It was his undoing, I think. But he cut the creature ere he died, slashed its wing. You should sing his praises to the gods, girl. He died a hero.”

“Aye, and his death, Tandor, made you chieftain.”

Tandor laughed and fingered his scimitar. “That,” he said, grinning, “cannot be helped. Choose one of us, Selena. Pick me. You will make a beautiful companion; I’ve thought so ever since you straggled in half-dead from the Wastes. Choose me, girl, and I will drape your pretty curves with jewels looted from the finest caravans from Zantibar.”

Selena hissed through her teeth. “I would kill you first, pig,” she said, the firelight playing off her red hair as she raised her bow. “And I will kill you now if you make a step towards me. Verily, I will skewer any fool here who moves to touch me!”

She stared at them, the lone woman in a nomadic raiding party. Swarthy, bearded faces, ugly with lust, stared back at her. But not one among them moved.

“Cowards!” she spat. “Amanth was worth ten of you! He was a man. Kind. Strong. Decent. You wait here for the Tsoggoth to prey upon you one at a time. I go to avenge his death!”

She backed slowly away from the men—her bow string taut—until she reached the edge of the light. Then she turned and strode rapidly into the darkness.

“Such waste,” she heard Tandor call after her. “A pity you must die…”




She stood alone, on rock stained by Amanth’s blood, her slim figure outlined by stars in the plateau’s cold, wind-swept darkness.

You should have listened to me, Amanth. I begged you not to go…

Drawing the robe tight over her mail against the cold, Selena looked to the red campfire flickering in the Wastes far below. How foolish Tandor was to light a blaze on a night when the Tsoggoth took wing.

“Ah,” she whispered to herself, “but he expects that I will be its prey. You misjudge me, Tandor; I will not die. I’ve not the strength to match a Tsoggoth, but my bow arm will be ready. And I will fight!”

The hour was late when at last the Tsoggoth appeared from the stars. Ten times the length of a man, it soared across the moon and blotted away its light in an endless flow of fangs, scale, and claw.  It wheeled effortlessly, turning on green leathery wings, golden eyes aflame. With a piercing screech, it dove: armored scales glittering with moon glow; pinions folded close to its ribbon body; its talons distended, quivering.

Selena dropped to a knee as it swept in shadow overhead. Pulling the bowstring to her ear, she unleashed an arrow that melted into the thing’s belly. It turned, flew directly upward and then paused, silhouetted against the night sky, impossibly huge, its wings spread in a cross. It bellowed in anger, its roar clapping the plateau like a thunder roll.

It is a storm, she thought. And like a storm it cannot be defeated. But I must defeat you, storm creature, and you will die—for Amanth. Or I must die trying.

It dove again, its giant wings beating against the night. It grew, until it seemed that the entire world was a Tsoggoth and that it must crush her. Selena resisted the urge to flee, to cower against the earth. Drawing her bowstring, she prayed and let another arrow fly. A claw tore her mail, bloodied her skin. She cried out, staggered to a knee. The Tsoggoth roared overhead, staring with its ancient golden eyes.

Like a pin prick to an oliphant, she thought, nocking another arrow and wincing from her torn shoulder. I must slay it quickly ere it slays me…but how? Where is its weakness?

 The creature hove to, wings pounding like kettle drums, the vibration coursing through Selena’s sandals, causing her legs to shake. It lunged, a vision of teeth: razor-edged, white; jaws: snapping; and golden eyes—toad like, glaring—

Eyes! Its golden eye!

The Tsoggoth caught her in its talons as she drew. Selena aimed and released, her shaft blinding the thing’s golden eye.  The creature stiffened, roared. She gasped as talons dug into her mail. Coiling its neck moonward, its jaws snapped convulsively, sending blood splatters flying. It keeled over, limbs flailing; crashed heavily to the ground in a cloud of dust. Selena, caught in its talons, was slammed to the rock. In a daze, she fought free as the Tsoggoth writhed its death throes.

“For you, Amanth,” she said as it died. “I killed it for you.”




She stood just beyond the campfire’s glow and threw the bloody Tsoggoth’s claw into their midst.  In a rattle of scimitars, the startled raiders glanced up from their circle.

“Is that you, girl?” Tandor asked, looking to the shadows. “Speak!”

Selena spoke. “It is dead, pig. I slew it. And you were wrong, Tandor; I am still very much alive.”

Tandor grinned into the darkness. “Then come into the firelight, girl. Come hither and claim your prize.”

The men laughed.

Selena, invisible in her black robes, remained very still. “Nay, I think I will stay where I am, Tandor. I have my bow; it is dark and you will not find me. And I will kill you—any of you—if you move beyond the campfire’s light,” she said in a quiet voice. “By Amanth’s spilled blood, I swear you will drop before you take two steps.”

Tandor frowned, less sure of himself. “So I stay. But for how long? Until dawn perhaps? You cannot kill us all, Selena. Not if we can see you. We have bows too.”

It was Selena’s turn to laugh. “I have not long to wait, nor have you. It is coming. My hearing always was better than yours, Tandor.”

“What is coming, Selena? The sun? The Tsoggoth is dead. You killed it!”

“Fool! I killed a Tsoggoth, Tandor…not the Tsoggoth. It had no slash on its wing, the thing that died. That which I slew must have been its mate. It seems well, does it not? It killed my mate, I slew its mate. Now it comes to kill you. In my black robe the Tsoggoth will not notice me, but it will mark you well in the firelight. And after you are slain, I shall kill it…and the circle will be complete.”

“Listen, Tandor,” she said. “Is it coming? Do you hear? Do you hear?”

From the cold stars, the men heard the beating of leathery wings…

“Listen well, Tandor, listen well! ’Tis the sound of…vengeance!”




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ABOUT THIS BLOG… Each “Five-Minute Escape short adventure story in this blog series will be kept under 1500 words; most will clock in at about 500. The “Five-Minute Escape” short adventure story will allow you to log on, take a fast trip, and get back quick to what you should have been doing in the first place…though hopefully the experience will stay with you long after you have moved on to something else. Subscribe to the blog and take a weekly…”Five-Minute Escape!” “Five-Minute Escape short adventure story copyrighted Terofil Gizelbach, 2013