Isabel watched as Crystal threw her hands out, arresting her fall midair. Before Isabel could even think about what form she was going to shift into next, Crystal twisted reality to raise the ambient light seeping into the room.
Isabel nearly fell out of the air at the sight. The chamber was immense, easily the size of a football field, and circular. Wires and electronic devices hung from the ceiling, of a make and purpose Isabel couldn’t begin to deduce. Five immense pillars, arranged in a pentagram, jutted down from the ceiling, covered with walkways and more electronic gadgets.
At the bottom of the pit was the Typhon. It was so immense that, at first, Isabel’s mind refused to believe it was a single coherent creature. It covered the entire bottom of the chamber, a sprawling mass of tentacles that writhed maliciously. In the center was the creature’s torso, one that looked almost like a giant torso of a man, although covered with red scales. It turned a head that was eerily human upwards to look at its new visitors, and Isabel realized that each of its eyes were as large as Crystal. It was slowly raising its arms, two immense masses of flesh that ended in dragon heads the size of school buses. Along its back were another series of tentacles, each of these ended in a serpentine head like the one that had pursued them into the pit.
How can we possibly kill this thing? Isabel thought in despair. It was too big, too powerful. It was too much for them to destroy.
“Move!” Crystal shouted, startling Isabel out of her reflection. Isabel banked to the side just as the snake head that had reached all the way up into the shaft above snapped its jaws shut. It caught a couple of her tail feathers, but missed ending her life in a single bite. The dragon heads were now aimed firmly at Crystal, and each of them took a deep breath. Oh no, Isabel thought, flapping to get as much distance between herself and Crystal. Crystal’s eyes widened and she allowed gravity to reassert its hold on her.
The dragon heads let loose a torrent of fire. The temperature in the chamber leapt like a blast furnace. Even the creature’s own snake head broke off pursuit of Isabel.
When the flames cleared, Crystal had landed on one of the walkways of the pillars. Typhon bellowed a laugh that shook the chamber like peals of hateful thunder. “Good. I have not killed anything in far too long. I look forward to this, little thing.”
Before Isabel could fully process that this monstrous thing could speak, let alone speak English, The serpent heads hissed and struck towards Crystal and Isabel. Isabel lost sight of Crystal in the mass of attacking snakes, and was forced to duck and weave. Each one was large enough to kill Isabel with a snap of those jaws; even ignoring whatever poison they had dripping from those horrid fangs.
The parrot brain offered little guidance in how to avoid this many incoming attacks. It had spent its entire life around humans, and the closest thing it had ever encountered to a predator was when its owner was cat sitting. Isabel’s erratic, panicked flapping made her a wild enough target to keep her safe, but she knew that couldn’t last long.
If she was going to survive, she needed something that could handle this. I can’t even try to land! Isabel thought in panic. The snakes were swarming around her, forming a web of scaled flesh that threatened to envelop her even if she managed to avoid being bitten. The parrot was panicking now, which didn’t help at all. It knew they were in danger, it knew it was going to die, and all it wanted to do was to fly away, a frantic thought that would make them sitting ducks for the serpentine heads.
Another one snapped shut just above Isabel’s head. She could actually feel the scaled mouth of the serpent brush through her feathers.
That was too much for both Isabel and the parrot. In desperate fear, she began to flap furiously, trying to put as much space between herself and the viciously hungry heads.
A gap opened in the mess surrounding her as the snake heads began to pursue her. Crystal was down below. She’d drawn a pair of thin sword out of her nanoverse and was fending off the Typhon’s attempts to bite her with preternatural grace. Isabel had never seen anything like it. Crystal seemed to be reacting to threats before Typhon even knew where the next attack would come from, like the monster was fighting with two seconds of lag behind the goddess.
It also was apparent that it wasn’t enough. Crystal was drawing thin lines of blood from the scales of the monstrosity, but she was just cutting the hundreds of snake heads. She couldn’t pause to hurt Typhon directly.
And right now, I’m no help to her, Isabel thought. If anything, she was a distraction. She had to do something. She had to not just evade. She had to fight.
Isabel pushed the parrot’s body to fly downwards, away from the serpents that struck all around her. The parrot didn’t want to. The parrot wanted the freedom of the open sky. Isabel just wanted space to shift.
The moment she had it, she banked as hard as she could. The next snake that came striking towards her was met with talons that sunk into its neck.
Isabel let out an instinctive and triumphant shriek.
The harpy eagle was native to the rainforests of the Amazon, and was built to fly in between the thickly packed branches of those tropical environments. It was perfect for flying between the grasping snakes heads Typhon was throwing at Isabel, and its talons were more than strong enough to actually puncture the thick scales of the serpents’ hides.
This particular harpy eagle’s mind was strong in the back of Isabel’s brain. It was confused by the threat they were against, but it wasn’t frightened. It was an apex predator in one of the most dangerous places on the planet. It was an apex predator that shared its dominion with jaguars and anacondas.
So, with Isabel’s heart pounding and her brain demanding that she choose between fight and flight, the harpy eagle strongly felt that the second option was for prey. He was not prey. He was the predator.
Isabel went along with that instinct, hoping that the harpy eagle’s soul would have a better idea how to survive what came next than she did.