Getting hold of the first basilisk wasn't too hard. It was cackling up a storm, and Nelda closed in on it by sound alone. It took giving herself a very strong talking to, to grab it, hold it down, and stab the warm, feather body with the dagger. What she assumed was blood seeped up between her fingers. Then it was still.
After that, it became that old metaphor for futility: a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that isn't there.
[But the basilisks are here. Somewhere.]
"Are you all made of stone?"
[I really, really, really, want to look. But logic suggests that because I saw the snake-birds getting dropped on us. I'm the only one who thought to close my eyes. And the evidence is that no one else out there is making a sound. So that means I need to keep going with a not-currently-losing strategy and hope the centaurs take their time coming down her to stomp me.]
She stayed down on her hands and knees, moving slowly towards where she had last seen Jen.
[There were four of the creatures. I think.]
Nelda had done an undergraduate internship in a lab that was studying the visual abilities of chickens. Which was pretty good, chicken eyesight, that is. So no Jurassic Park tricks were going to work here.
She stopped and listened. There was a rustling sound to her right.
Trying to lure the creature closer Nelda made a sound like a hen. "Buck, buck, buck. Buck, buck, buck?"
"You do a terrible chicken impression," HoneyBeard replied.
"HoneyBeard! Do you have your eyes closed?"
"Of course I do. I may associate with idiots, but I am not yet one of their number. Do you have any idea what happened to BugleHead?"
"All I say was Jen going all granite. There should still be three of the little feathery fucks around here somewhere. I got one of them."
"Maybe the le… ah! Ah! Ah! It's pecking me."
"Grab it! Grab it!" Nelda shouted.
The air was filled with puffing and clucking and thrashing.
Nelda crawled cautiously towards HoneyBeard.
"I've got the stabby little bastard," the satyr said. "But they are impossible to k… oh, the dagger. It works then?"
"One hundred percent success rate so far. Where is it?"
"Keep the pointy end well away from me. I'll hand the basilisk to you first. You can take it from there."
Nelda's flailing hand fell on HoneyBeard's wiry hair. "There you are."
"You know," Honeybeard said. "Now I will be able to honestly tell BugleHead that I gave you cock."
[Ugh. I think there/s enough jealousy in the air as it is.] "Puns are the lowest form of wit, brother. Just hand it over."
The creature got one wing free, and it's long tail thrashed across her face. The beak stabbed into her wrist, and she grabbed it by the neck before feeling HoneyBeard let go. She missed and thrust it into the dirt several times before finally feeling the blade go through muscle and fine bones. The basilisk sighed and stilled.
"Right." Nelda shuddered with disgust. "I was trying to keep quiet because of the centaurs out there. But it's been a little while, so they either went away fo they will be here any second, and we need to be able to deal with them with our eyes open."
"They wouldn't be immune to the basilisks gaze. They wouldn't risk it while those things are wandering around," HoneyBeard reasoned.
"But they caught at least four of the bastards somehow, so maybe they have a trick or two we don't know about." [Mirrored sunglasses would probably do it? And maybe those little hats they put on falcons?] "And the point is we need to deal with these things we should just make a lot of noise and draw them to us while they are still nearby and pissed off. It looked like they were in attack mode. Better we take care of them now rather than just leave them wandering around out there turning the local populace into statues."
"You feel free to do that."
"Yeah? Okay, Watch me. I mean not literally obviously. But if one of those things gets near you, grab it."
Nelda stabbed the dagger into the ground to have both hands free. She took a deep breath and shouted hoarsely. "Come and get me you Kentucky fried bastards. Come to Momma. Here I am!"
A burst of irritated clucky came from somewhere behind her. Grass and twigs breaking. A whistling through the air.
It was like being hit on the back of the heat by a warm, down-filled watermelon. The basilisk bounced off but somehow got tangled in her hair. It hissed and crowed as it swung around her head.
Grabbing wildly, she caught it by what felt like a wing, but now she couldn't find the dagger. [Shit. I must have moved, but I have no idea in which direction. Being used as a chicken maypole is a bit distracting, ya know?]
She wrestled the basilisk down. "HoneyBeard, you okay?"
"I think so. I think the metal bird brought me a dead basilisk. But I don't know if he killed it or just found it."
Nelda pinned the writing basilisk with one hand and felt around with the other. "Fuck it. I'm just going to have to risk it. If one of these things gets me, just remember, the alicorn is good for poison. I'm hoping it'll reverse the stone-gaze if killing these little butterball bastitches doesn't reverse the effect."
She felt up the creature's neck to the head and covered it with her hand. Then she opened her eyes. The bright light burned the sight into her mind. Her own pale arms covered in blood that seemed more black than red. [I hope that's not the toxic part.]
Looking around, she saw HoneyBeard kneeling on the ground holding a limp, mottle-feathered basilisk rather gingerly. The Jasper phoenix beside her yodeled discordantly as she looked at it.
"I guess metal birds are immune, huh? But how did you kill it?"
In response, the bird made a sound like a car horn crossed with a dying jackal.
"Well, good on you, anyhow."
Castling around, she found the tiled hilt of the dagger sticking out of the trammeled ground. It was a bit more difficult to do now that she could see the creature's body under her hand and knee, see it taking each breath.
"Needs must," Nelda mutter is she drove the blade down through its spine and chest.
Once the creature had stopped moving, she released it cautiously. The stood and looked around. All was still and quiet but for the sound of insects chirping and the wind rustling reed and branch.
Of to one side, she could see the jutting stone limbs of most of her erstwhile party.
"I think the coast is clear," she said,
"Let me know when you are sure," HoneyBeard replied.
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