When I did see it, I would have screamed if I could have breathed. I no longer heard the waves or felt the wind, and the sunset faded into nothing. Dark red scales and black horns filled my vision. The scrape of a leather belly against stone drowned out every other sound. I watched, frozen, as the creature I had seen in the map crawled yard by yard out of the spire.
The head was massive, with arm-length black spikes rising above nostrils and eyes, fangs as long as I was tall showing through snarling jaws. More spikes, longer than my arm and wickedly curved, fanned out from the back of its head to protect a thick, sinewy neck. The neck rose high above the spire then snaked down as a razor sharp set of claws scarred the stone. The intense chalkboard sound set my teeth on edge and stabbed my eardrums; I choked down a scream of pain. Another set of claws joined the first, and two muscular legs heaved the creature’s body into full view. The thing spread leathery wings, extending them so wide to blot out what remained of the sun. It reared up, a black shadow against the darkening sky. The wind from the movement of its wings nearly knocked me from my perch and I knew my time was up. I stabilized myself one last time as the creature threw its head back and roared.
The bellow was like nothing I had ever heard. It was as if all the stones in all the mountains in all the world fell in one great living avalanche, grinding and cracking against each other with a sentient voice. Flame spewed from its gaping jaws, a raging volcano spitting and splashing its molten death into the air. I could see very little in the deepening dusk, but answering roars and sparks lit up other crystal columns with a horrifying frequency. I had not yet been seen, but my strength was gone and there was no time to waste.