This section is the first time a minor retcon becomes apparent – I’ve dropped the idea of the gods being able to telepathically communicate. Just FYI to avoid confusion. If you want to see what else changed in book 1, you can pick it up here!
More snake heads, Isabel thought, tucking in her wings and diving through a gap in the tangled web of necks that was being woven around her. She lashed out with her talons as she passed, and spurts of blood welled from the scaled skin.
“Isabel,” Crystal’s voice said, a whisper in her ear carried by the wind. Or… whatever Harpy eagles have in place of ears. Isabell pushed aside of the distraction for the rest of Crystal’s whisper. “This is Lemurian technology. There has to be a bloody kill switch. I can find it, love, but I need you to distract the Typhon.”
Isabel dove for an isolated snake neck, a furious shriek rising from the Harpy Eagle’s throat. She sunk her talons into the scales beneath her, ripping into the neck as hard as she could. The momentary perch let her whip her head towards Crystal. The goddess was fighting her way through an even greater mass of serpentine heads. As one drew close to her, a bolt of electricity leapt off of the air around Crystal and sizzled against the snake. I hope she realizes that means I heard her, Isabel thought, folding her wings and diving off the neck.
She was starting to get dangerously close to the floor of the chamber. Writhing tentacles pulled themselves from the floor with sickening pops and began to reach for Isabel. She splayed her wings and banked her dive. The tentacles rose into the air and began to undulate blindly. Isabel banked and began to weave between their mass.
The hissing of Typhon’s snake heads grew more distant. I’ve got some space to work with now, Isabel realized. The tentacles were far too thick for her to even risk sinking her talons into, but they didn’t have eyes. Their flailing could strike her, but for right now, she could dodge them easily.
It was a good thing. Time to think was important right now. If Crystal needed the Typhon distracted, Isabel would provide a way. But how? Every animal she could think of that could possibly harm the Typhon would have to land in the tentacle field, where the Typhon would have no problem tearing them apart. I could go for a tiger, sink my claws in, but as big as it is…I need to think bigger.
Isabel’s eyes widened, and she began to flap for altitude. Much, much bigger. As soon as she was out of range of the tentacles, the hissing began to draw closer. Her path had taken her behind the Typhon, not that it provided much protection. She could at least see where the snake heads were attached here, sprouting out of the Typhon’s shoulder blades. How big is this bastard? She wondered as she pushed for more altitude. Forty feet tall? Fifty?
Ryan was never going to forgive her for this, Isabel thought, straining the muscles in her wings. The serpent heads were catching up to her, snapping and thrashing. Isabel tucked her wings and dove past the initial assault, the rush of the jaws ruffling her feathers as they passed. No more time, Isabel thought, folding her wings in and aiming at the spot on Typhon’s back.
Ryan’s never going to forgive me for this, Isabel thought as the Typhon’s back grew in her vision. She flared her wings at the last second, feeling the soft flesh of the Typhon give under her talons. She’d landed right at the base of the Typhon’s neck. He roared, and at first Isabel dared hope that she’d managed to hurt it.
Then the roar turned into a laugh, and Isabel’s heart sank.
“Little bird,” he bellowed. This close to the Typhon, Isabel could hear his words vibrating his skin. “You have fought well. But you surely know you are too tiny to hurt me.”
Yeah, I do, Isabel thought, and then her form began to shift.
The Typhon’s laughter cut off abruptly as the sudden weight forced him to bend forward. Isabel could feel his spine straining to stay upright as her weight shot up past the rhino, past the elephant, and kept growing. Suddenly the Typhon didn’t seem so large. Suddenly the Typhon didn’t scare her, it infuriated her. This was a strange place for the mind of the creature Isabel had turned into.
It didn’t care. Its intellect was limited, because it hadn’t needed intellect. It hadn’t needed anything but to hunt and feed and defend its territory. This place, wherever it is, must be this creature’s territory because it was here, and for this beast its territory was wherever it roamed. There was no predator that could challenge it, and even the mightiest of prey animals could fall victim to it. The Typhon was still larger than her, but no larger than some of the beasts this animal had once fought.
Isabel was so wrapped up in the sudden, overwhelming sensation of this creature’s mind that she didn’t think to sink her new, far larger talons into the Typhon’s flesh. Fortunately, this creature had hunted at times by clamoring onto the back of its prey. It knew exactly what to do, and this time when her talons sunk in, the Typhon’s bellow contained no mirth. The great brute was completely doubled over Isabel’s weight that those talons were enough to keep her steady, and following the creature’s instincts, Isabel lowered her stomach to the Typhon’s back.
It brought the otherworldly flesh in reach of Isabel’s claws. Claws that seemed absurdly tiny whenever Isabel saw them depicted, almost comical in how small they were compared the animal’s bulk. When they got in range of the Typhon’s back, however, Isabel found they were perfect for shredding through flesh, packing the musculature that would have been wasted on a larger body into a smaller, more compact cutting and shredding surface. Those claws weren’t weak; those claws had the ferocity of a tiger.
The Typhon’s wits began to gather, and with that the snake heads were able to focus their attention. Isabel felt them biting onto her, annoying pinpricks against her new, thick hide and the protective feathers that gave her black and gold stripes. Part of Isabel wondered if they were still sinking deep enough to inject their venom, but for the most part she just felt furious. In response, she sunk her teeth into the Typhon’s shoulder, grabbing a mouthful of the bases for the serpents in jaws that could bite hard enough to shatter the bones of giants. She tugged, ripping dozens of them free from the Typhon’s back, and this time its bellow held real pain.
Isabel answered with the ear shattering roar of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.