Presently, Matka Niebo was in a dangerous situation.
What started out as an liesurely walk in the blue-gray fog of morning had suddenly become an affair of life and death. Surrounding Matka were four bipedal, dog-faced beasts which had emerged from the haze as if they were born of it. Covered in matted light grey fur, their gaunt bodies almost blended into the misty air even now. Mostly what prevented such a thing from happening were their eyes, which were possessed of an eerie blue glow that was somehow familiar to Matka though he was quite certain he had never seen such a thing before. Though that fact alone would probably have sufficed to intimidate, it didn't help that the brutes were easily seven to eight feet tall, even stooped over as they were. Making low, guttural noises from behind clenched teeth, they circled him slowly. However, they had not yet descended upon him with tooth and claw, and Matka was trying to figure out why.
I am certainly outnumbered, and visibly injured. Famished as they are, I would have expected a little more impatience. But those eyes… As he considered them he tried not to look directly into their strange blue glow. Though unsure why, he had the impression of something cold and sinister lurking on the other side of that gaze. Could it be that they are being cautious? A cold chill crept up his spine at the thought of these beasts being intelligent predators. Perhaps they stay themselves because I am as outlandish to them as they are to me. After all, I have seen no one else since waking up here, wherever here is.
Matka Niebo was one of a race of beings whose origins could be traced to purely magical nascency of Man and Dryn combined. Ten days ago he had woke up with nothing but a rucksack full of both dried food and flasks of water. Even his memories were gone, leaving him to speculate on how and why he was where he was.
Matka was hairless, and his body was covered in a thick armor of vibrant, keeled scales. In particular, Matka's scales ranged from a scarlet hue on most of his body, fading to vermillion on his hands, feet and face. Protruding from his back was a pair of large leathery wings, one of which hung limp and useless. Aslo protruding from his back was a tail, only a few feet long but ending in a mass of bone resembling a knobbed mace. He had a broad, triangular head that was covered in several small horns. Two larger horns jutted up from each side of his head, just above his ears. Though his eyes were the round eyes of Man, and not the slit eyes of the Dragon, the carmine color of the irises still spoke of his Dryn blood.
Something that sounded like a string of snarls, barks, yips and howls began to take place back and forth amongst the four monstrous beasts. Matka didn't recognize any of those sounds, but he did recognize what was going on. The way the four of them acted left no doubt in his mind that they were communicating on a level above animal instincts.
"Can you understand me," he asked, speaking slowly and projecting so that he was more easily heard above their guttural sounds. Hearing himself speak was a little unsettling, and he realized it was because he hadn't done much of it lately. The sound of Matka's voice, which was the sort of robust baritone that announcers the world over prized, silenced the four doggish beings.
One of the four let out a few guttural grunts and barks, and Matka guessed that it must be the leader of their small group. When it finished, the beast to Matka's left began shrugging its shoulders uncontrollably while making a sound that was reminiscent of dry heaving.
Is it… laughing at me? The icy chill that had crept up Matka's spine earlier was fading, and a fire began building inside him. His eyes narrowed as he slowly turned, glaring at each of them. Clearly they noticed, for they drew silent and tensed up as if ready to pounce. A loud growl, more primal and angry than any previous, was Matka's cue that the attack had begun. It had come from behind him, where the brute that had 'laughed' at him stood.
Matka spun to face the creature just in time to witness its massive clawed hand descend on his chest. Fortunately, his tough scales protected him from suffering a wound. Inside Matka, the fire began to swell, and with it came an unaccountable dizziness. What's going on? He shook his head, trying to focus on his present situation. Another menacing growl came from his right, and he spun to face it but lost his balance, stumbling to the side and directly into one of the four doggish beasts. Effortlessly, it pushed him away and back into the ring they had formed, which was quickly growing tighter. Matka stumbled again, falling to his hands and knees. The creatures howled loudly and closed in on their prey.
Something was terribly wrong inside himself, he knew, but was unable to figure out what was happening. He was trying to sort it out and center himself, but the ground was spinning, spinning, spinning… and there were spots, motes of white on black drifting back and forth before his eyes. Four hungry, doggish monsters were on top of him now, clawing and biting, but Matka was only vaguely aware of them at this point. Something else was there too, just beyond the spots and the beasts, but he couldn't focus on it long enough to make it out. Then, suddenly, the white motes dissolved, and he was left with only the black depths of unconsciousness.
The first thing Matka felt was a flash of pain in his left hip. As the curtain blocking his awareness receded, his senses began to feed him information. His vision was still adjusting, but he could feel that beneath him was something cool, firm and slightly damp. Recognizing it as the ground, which he frequently slept on, he began to focus on his other senses. Vision was still a little blurry, and one eye seemed reluctant to open as if something was holding the lid shut. An eerie silence surrounded him, though it was not the silence that came with being deaf but more the type of silence experienced when everyone is holding their breath in anticipation of something. Worst of all was the smell, and although Matka did not recall having even smelled it before now, he somehow knew exactly what it was: death.
Agonized again by pain in his left hip, he shifted his position so he could get a better look at what the cause might be. Doing so brought an unexpected wave of dizziness that washed over him, and he paused for a moment to let it pass. Attempting to recall what he had been doing before he blacked out proved futile, as his mind was still trying to regain its composure. As he sat there waiting for the mental fog to clear he raised a hand to the eye which was closed and felt it. Something was caked on it, but it rubbed away easily enough and the lid popped open when he blinked, allowing him to see what the obstacle had been. It was crusty and brittle, like dry mud, but not as thick. Realizing that his vision had cleared and that he was no longer dizzy, he raised his head and took in his surroundings.
What he saw was nearly enough to cause him to faint again.