This was the most ferocious beast you ever did see, with flies in its nose and boils on its back, all claws and mangy fur and incurved ears like witches’ hands, cupped for drawing foul and odorous elixirs to the mouths of the desperate.

It dwelt for its time in a cleft-carven gorge cut into the Whistlewinds. It was never a threat to the people of the valley, only the sheep, and even then quite rarely the sheep, but nonetheless men, as men do, came through the years to throw their swords upon it.

I was one of those men. I came to the gorge of the Zigglewomp on a cool autumn day, late into tidepart.

When I first saw it through the forest of the gorge it was looking at me like it had been looking at me a long time. Its limbs were thick around as tree trunks and it walked with a limp that boomed and shook the trees and leaves around it. After a moment, it turned and trodded off.

It led me up its gorge to a clearing of young birch. The beast circled me slow, dragged itself around me. Its nose twitched at me and my spear. It smelled of nothing. I saw only curiosity in its beady black eyes.

“Well, beast,” I said to the beast. “There is no stopping time.”

It nodded, almost. I took my spear from its strap on my back. We both took one step backwards.

In that ring of golden leaves like shimmering coins I dueled the beast. The day waned and the wall of the gorge began to block the sun and in the proceeding dark the moon was our only witness. It, too, left us after a while.

Three suns more came and went. On the dawn of the fifth day I pulled myself from that golden glade. The Zigglewomp’s head lay still upon the duff, and in its gaping maw was my own right leg. I had felled the beast.

Harthacnut, last king of Daybreak