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Choked with thick, enormous trees and verdant growth, this section of the forest practically drips with life, creaking and groaning, chirping and chittering.


A sallow, grizzled form adjusts his ebony topknot as he leans against a tree, his thick, peppered stubble marking his time since he's seen civilization. Four days. He stares at the small, drab, sparrow-like bird fidgeting with the latch of his rucksack nearby, his eyebrows lowering. "Hey!" he yells in a rumbly bass, causing the bird's head to turn and regard him. "Get out of there!" A fulmination of color and sound erupts from where the bird once was, and as the tiny fireworks fade, the bird is gone. "The Shadow is thick here," he intones. The figure straightens his long, bloodstained tan tunic, and then his belt. He stares at his callused, pinkish palms, then flips them over, the raised, hard knuckles caked with redstone-hued blood. Reaching down and unfastening the clasp of a pouch riding on his hip, a poultice is drawn out, and wrapped tightly around one hand. He shudders silently as the herbs slowly seep into his wounds.


A rustle eminates from the trees above, the head-sized, jade green leaves seeming to shudder in echo of the man.


The man's eyes narrow and he immediately drops to a crouch, his good hand opening to its widest extent and beginning to glow an eerie cyan blue. A small, cyan blue globe appears, slowly growing in size. He reaches carefully down to grab the shoulder strap of his rucksack, lugging it over one shoulder. The ebony topknot bobs once, then is still. In wait.


With unnatural speed, a demon of inky black smashes against the intruder, flattening him against the ground and knocking the wind out of his chest, the rucksack slipping off of his shoulder and throwing his arm back. The glowing ball goes flying, lodging wetly against the side of a nearby fruit tree, now only serving to provide ghastly illumination for the eight-legged horror perched solidly atop him. Eyes wide, the man's pale lips draw back in a fearful grimace at what stares him in the face, gasping desperately for breath.


Two large, mirrored, spherical eyes peer down upon the man, pulsing with an anemic blue hue. Its hairy, slick pedipalps spread apart, and a greenish glob explodes from between them, splattering against his topknot and the ground. The creature spits, again and again, covering his arms, then his legs in the drab olive sauce. Struggle has become useless.


Twisting desperately in the thick substance binding him to the ground, epithets are thrown like daggers, his cheeks reddening with the struggle, a thick sweat collecting on his brow. It is only then that he sees a fifth pair of legs unfold from beneath the creature, each leg ending with a short, needle-thin claw. The creature slowly pulls these hidden legs apart, clicking and gnashing eagerly as the claws begin to glow the same sickly blue as its eyes.


"You," the human whispers hoarsely, his mouth agape, recognition dawning in his widened hazel eyes.


The recognition doesn't seem to travel both ways. The monster tilts its head for a moment, its pedipalps rubbing together greedily. It is only then that the claws are plunged into each side of the man's neck with a doubled scythe motion, each entering with a *pop-shlick* noise.


The man howls in pain as the needle-claws plow into his neck, his forehead breaking into a thousand creased cracks eminating from just between his eyes as every muscle tenses. The claws move about within the sides of his neck with gory, fleshy noises, each new movement provoking a new pained cry. His eyes stream with tears, his neck joining in the weeping with its own rusty tears.


The claws' shifting ceases, and a deathly blue begins to creep over the arachnoid's entire form, the wormwood glow slowly sliding over the man's neck, then his head, and slinking over his torso. Where it touches, veins begin to bulge, then glow a rich purple. This purple seems to be drawn towards the claws, pulled across the man's skin like mobile bruises, pumping into the legs like blood into a mosquito's proboscis.


The man's eyes flicker as he screams with pain once more. He has begun to, for lack of a better word, disintegrate. With flickers of metallic greens and purples beginning to lick at his form like flames, his form peels away to reveal a form beneath... that of a bubbling, boiling purple anthropoid, its head entirely covered in a greyish gauze. The figure writhes silently in agony as the outer man-shell is sucked away through the glowing claws. The arachnoid's blue enriches, tinting a rich, cornflower hue as it sucks the man apart.


The magmic, heliotrope anthropoid shudders silently, its 'fingers' balling together, and the sound of a deep breath can be heard, in, then out. The sound is ragged, its consciousness waning. An otherworldly humming noise begins, growing louder and louder, a pounding dirge that speaks of desperation, of pain. Rucksack, anthropoid, and assailant all begin to flicker, their tones all fading to a rich purple.


The creature jerks its head up, pedipalps wildly gnashing, its now royal blue eyes flaring in confusion.


And then all three disappear.

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