(Link to Part 10)
I began to search frantically for any sort of weapon. I'd have even settled for the broom, if it hadn't already gone into hiding. The birds, squirrels and small people also took cover as a giant brown hand, about ten times the size of my own, began to tear viciously at the branches while leaves and twigs rained down on us. The storm had not abated, either, so that water fell through the growing openings, drenching us and everything else.
I still couldn't find a weapon, though. I began to think, seeing the size of the creature, that nothing short of a bazooka would help anyway.
"Edmond --" I shouted, though I wasn't certain what else I would have said.
Edmond leapt from a table which had suddenly decided to take cover as well, along with practically everything else in the cottage, including the plates in the kitchen. Everything seemed to be crowding into the bedroom, for whatever good that would do. I had an urge to run and throw myself in amongst all the other things taking cover, though I suspected the thing that was trying to get in would simply tear that room apart to get me.
Lightning flashed overhead and the rain fell harder. The creature tearing at the tree grumbled like closer thunder. By then only Edmond and I remained in the cleared area of the room.
"Edmond, go --"
"No," he shouted.
I knew better than to argue with a cat.
A huge chunk of tree fell and we both danced backwards, barely avoiding getting hit. By now a I could see more of the enemy. Strands of scraggly hair, twisted into snarls that looked like the gnarled roots of a tree, fell forward, blocking all but a view of a huge, red eye. The creature roared this time as it caught sight of me, and began to tear more frantically at the tree. I'd be facing it soon. I had no idea what to do.
The creature snaked a too-long arm and huge three-fingered hand through the covering, the dirt-brown fingers grasping and trying to catch hold of me as I pulled quickly away. Then I saw an opportunity and dashed forward, kicking the thing in a knuckle. I'm not sure if that was a good idea or not, but at least I had made one blow in my own defense.
And it felt the kick, too. The thing howled and pulled the hand back in haste, which at least gave us a little more time.
"Weapons?" I shouted to Edmond.
"Not in a healer's home!" he replied.
That made sense, I supposed. I thought about trying to get a knife out of the kitchen, but then I remembered how everything there had run for cover, too. Didn't seem like arguing with a knife would help much right now.
"Help is on the way," Edmond shouted, maybe louder than he needed to. Trying to scare the giant off? Warn the creature it was in trouble? I only hoped something would work. And I hoped Edmond was right, and help was on the way. I didn't think another kick would do much good.
"What is this thing?" I finally asked. "Why is it after me?"
"Looks like an Earth Elemental," Edmond replied. He leapt away from another falling branch and glared up at the creature. "And that means something else is working with him -- prodding him into doing this since earth elementals are calm beings. Besides, he couldn't have called the storm."
"Why? Why push him into attacking me?"
"I don't know," Edmond said and gave me an odd look. "Something seems to be moving against you."
"Why?" I said, startled by the idea.
"I have no idea. Careful!"
More of the roof came free and caught in the wind, flying away. The elemental now had a far better view of the interior of the cottage. I threw myself against the wall by the door, where he could not see so well and signaled Edmond to join me.
He didn't. Instead he leapt up on part of the fallen tree and began to climb up through the broken branches and tattered leaves. I wanted to yell at him to come back, but he wouldn't -- no cat would -- and I feared to give him away. I didn't know what he planned to do, but I feared for his safety. Sometimes cats are as bad as Chihuahuas -- they have no sense of how small they really are.
Now I was frantic for something I could do. Grab hold of the giant hand when next it appeared? Oh yeah, so I could have a free ride up to the head. That didn't sound wise.
There were broken limbs everywhere, though. I grabbed one, tossed it aside and took up another. The elemental was still trying to find me. I inched closer to the door, wondering if I could get outside while it was trying to find me in the house. What would I do then, though?
Something daring. That, as far as I could tell, was the only hope I had now. So I inched closer to the door, even though I feared the giant would see me. I felt the door knob at my back and the way the door quivered with fear. I felt sorry for the place. Time to handle this as best I could.
The giant reached in again and I swung the limb, hitting him hard enough to break the wood. He howled in pain again and blood dripped from two of his huge knuckles. As he hastily drew the hand back, I turned and shoved at the door.
It would not open. I shoved again while the storm raged even worse and I wondered if that wasn't a reaction to someone's anger.
"Open!" I growled.
And it did. But I wasn't ready. I sprawled out into the mud, just below where the giant clung to the wall.
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