Glad you could join us for the next marked episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Flying to hang in front of Sirehta, the General scraped a sparking red powder from his back with a rear leg, and said, “To seal your commitment, each of you will submit to marking. Allow me to demonstrate. Pietro!”
Scuttling forward, the little Stinger stopped directly below him. The wasp descended to press his foot against Pietro’s back which began to sizzle and steam, leaving a grooved scar. The General rose, scraping his back again. It was only then Sirehta noticed the youth’s carapace bore countless identical marks.
“Is this agreeable?” the wasp asked.
Sirehta waited for each of his brothers to nod in approval.
“It is,” he replied.
Lowering his head, he resisted his instinct to snatch the General out of the air, and accepted the searing pain without flinching.
So it was with each serpent.
Instructing Sirehta to remain behind, the General divided the viper force into pairs and sent each team in a different direction.
“Your first assignment is to scout to the edge of the Arids and rid the region of any who don’t belong here. Report back to me at dawn.”
“How are we to know which don’t belong?” Cahret asked.
“Residents are marked. Report back at dawn.” General Hai retreated to the cavern without a backward glance, followed by his loyal throng.
The General’s response chilled Sirehta’s blood. Alone, he watched his brothers blend into the night until a tiny voice coming from a chink in the wall caught his attention.
“Psst!” it insisted, “I know who you are.”
To be continued. . .