Chapter 5
      The Dire Githrox flew from the wreckage of its crate in a graceful arc, its four powerful limbs fully extended before landing in a ready crouch.  No less than eight feet tall at the shoulder, the creature was covered head to foot with a layer of glistening black scales, each one ending in a dark red barb.  It flexed the six powerful tentacles set in a double row along its spine and lashed its long prehensile tail, causing the heavy ball of spiked bone at the tip to whistle though the air.

      Its head, a strange mix of panther and shark, whipped back and forth in an oddly bird-like motion.  It tasted the air with a serpentine tongue and observed the room with seven, dead, lightless eyes, the largest of which was set directly in the middle of the creature’s forehead.  It roared, opening a three segmented jaw lined with rows of wicked fangs.  The sound rattled Kal’s teeth.  He had seen pictures of Githrox in books.  They did not do the beast justice.

      The Githrox lunged towards the nearest smuggler, driving him to the ground and tearing at him with razor sharp claws.  He screamed as the beast ripped at his throat, finishing him in a spray of blood.  The Githrox raised its head and let out a baleful howl, the sound radiating malice and rage.

      Everyone in the room exploded into chaotic, useless action.  Some smugglers drew alch powered pistols and fired, sending colored lightning sizzling across the room in wild directions.  Some plunged towards the cave’s exits, tripping over each other in their haste.  Others simply cowered, and one grabbed the money chain Kal had given to Torma and ran.  Typical.  No time to worry about that now.  Torma barked orders to his men, trying to organize them, but his words were drowned in a sea of shouts and screams.

     Kal felt a wave of panic.  The flow of Pyrel’s weiyld grew turbulent and began to slip away from him.  He grabbed hold of his emotions and exhaled his fear, reinforcing his attunement.  Torma had managed to rally a few of his smugglers.  The Githrox leapt towards the nearest and slashed him viciously with its claws.  It grabbed another with two of its tentacles and heaved the screaming man off his feet, carrying him into its waiting jaws.  It bit down with a bone crushing snap.  Kal steeled himself, act or die.  He drew his pistol, flicked the charge lever and aimed.  Blue lightning leapt from the pistol’s barrel and slammed into the Githrox, catching it on the side of its head.  The beast whined in pain, but Kal could see the blast had only managed to scorch a small patch of scales, barely a scratch.