Sweat beaded down the grey face of Sozo but he pumped harder. Though the gongs on the shrinking manor rung faint in his ears, he knew the knights that would answer them would ride with haste and rage. He couldn’t out run them, he wasn’t trying to, he prayed only that he’d put enough distance between them and himself. One particular hiding place was his goal, one that had many a time been his shelter while he subsisted in these woods.
The ground became ever more rocky proving he was headed in the right direction, however direction wasn’t his fear. Would he make it? His pace had fallen considerably, four times he’d had to stop and rest, and now the heat of midday was upon him. He trudged on, past tree after tree, until at long last there it was. A hill of stone, like boulders piled on boulders with trees growing up from the cracks hither and thither. As if drawn by in overwhelming force, he scampered over the rocks straight for his cave. It wasn’t long before he reached its mouth.
He wanted to smile at his own good planning, if he could remember how, but a wild hiss screamed from behind. He twirled to face a huge zila lizard. He realized that this creature had taken over his cave while he was gone putting him in a dangerous position, between it and its new home. Unless he ran now, a battle was inevitable. He clutched his scythe tighter. This cave was worth more to him than a heap of gold, and every pound of meat that lizard was made of was solid silver in his eyes.
The zila shot forward like a lightning bolt. Sozo had to will his weary muscles to obey, barely catching the lizard’s snapping jaws on the shaft of his scythe. The impact drove him back nonetheless, but he managed to stay on his feet and return the shove.
As the creature recoiled, he charged with a mighty swing at its body. His blade slashed the underbelly of the beast but it was far from a direct hit.
The attack only seemed to further aggravate the lizard. It whorled around, launching him with its powerful tail and smashing his weapon from his grasp.
The world spun for a moment as he struck rock and the lizard bore down on him. Its head lurched for his jugular, but he caught it in both hands. He could smell its rancid breathe as he fought to keep it away.
Adrenalin coursed through his veins. With a roll to the side, he slammed the head of the zila against a near tree trunk.
His opponent pulled back, yet he held tight, even as it lifted him in the air.
He wrestled the beast, a kick to its belly brought him back to the ground, and slammed it again on the tree. It retaliated weakly this time, as though dazed, letting him thrust once more. That was the terminal blow, as it fell limp at his feet.
He allowed himself only a moment’s rest for the knights would soon be drawing near. His heart still raced at a hundred miles per hour as he took up his scythe and dragged his kill into the cave. Finally, he collapsed. It’d been a long hard day, but he now had the treasures of safety and enough food to wait out the search.
(Below are a couple of pictures showing how the main picture was accomplished)