It was impossibly tall and thin, towering over Pon with its antlered crown caught in the lower branches of the trees. Its leather cloak rustled as it glided toward him, its feet silent and invisible while the points of the crown scrabbled through the branches like living things. Moonlight gleamed from its teeth as it opened its mouth.
The wheel-stone spun up into an air-burning frenzy; its heat sizzled the skin of Pon’s hand.
“Naobel!” He gasped, and before he could even bring his talisman up before him, holy light exploded forth.
There was a scream in the sudden glaring light, and a sound like flapping leather.
“Those are no antlers,” whispered Pon as his mind floated away from his body, “and that is no cloak it wears. Naobel!” The light flooded out from his fist again, and again there was a frustrated screech from the air above him. A hot, fetid wind washed over him as the creature, the monster from the other side of the mountains, spread its huge, leathery wings and flapped away from the searing light of the protector god.
“Naobel!” Another burst of heat and light from the stone, now a vortex burning in the air around the smoking leather cord. It was enough to keep the monster away, but not enough to drive it off. Pon did not hold his ground and wait for the power of his nation’s god to banish the incursion of evil into his nation’s land. Instead, weeping with fear and the pain in his ankle and hand, the boy ran. Downhill.