And now, WIP for you:
They came over a small loose-dirt rise, perhaps seeking drink (did they drink?). The midday sunlight glinted from specks of mica in their aggregate. The Pack fanned out to block any escape in the direction they’d come. They growled and grunted to one another, sounding for all the world like rockfalls and grinding millstones, and assumed a formation with one large, black veined-shale beast at the center. One, the second-in-command, darted forward, but cowered back as the huge black one snapped at its nape, sending shards of obsidian and shale flying.
At a snapping bark from the leader the Pack surged forward.The leader of the Pack’s charge darted aside, allowing the beta-male to bowl Father over. The thing must have massed the same as a small boulder: Niles heard his father’s bones snap and crush as the thing rode him down. Somehow Father swung the rod, connected, glanced off a shoulder angle. As the stoneglass knives of the beast’s maw bit down on his off shoulder he shouted, even as he swung the rod again, this time connecting with something in its head. The head split like a bag of gravel bursting and the Pack beast collapsed like a dirt sculpture under a torrent of water.Pinned, Father could only bellow to them: “Run! Save yourselves! Anneli, remember me!”Shrieking with grief and horror, Mother had almost crushed Niles’s hand as she fled with him in tow. Unable to turn away, even as they ran, Niles watched as the other four Pack members surrounded Father as he shouted defiance at them, one dragged him from under the rubble pile, and his yells turned to screams as they tore at him.
Life in the jungle, especially hundreds of years ago, was a great winnowing. The Muurari people grew hard, practical and unyielding. Yet they preserved their unique skills, passing them down from father to daughter, mother to son. Unfettered by social pressure from other bands of people, they flourished amid the fetid steam of the jungle’s relentless growth.Seeing that would-be horror focus, yet?
And the jungle bore its own Blights. Trees that dissolved themselves with acids as they grew, lopsided, to lengths of hundreds of feet through the undergrowth. Monkeys that sprouted mushrooms from their backs. Creepers and vines that strangled, garroted and snared their prey, yet sounded perfect major chords in the afternoon wind. Glowing flypaper moss, mud that rotted and birthed clouds of stinking, chattering flies; trees that bore heavy, candy-sweet-smelling seed pods that disgorged putrescent, rotten cattle upon bursting. Beautiful water scorpions whose sting threw the victim into priapic or sapphic lust toward any and all around them. Bubbling-from-nowhere bogs of manure that made perfect fertilizer, yet called with a haunting minstrel’s voice to all the pubescent girls in nearby villages--those succumbing to the call never to be heard from again. Boars with babies’ faces that shrieked obscenities. Insects that chewed nonsense Latin phrases into trees’ gigantic leaves and laid eggs in jewel-like clusters smelling like ripe fruit.