The following excised excerpt is from my upcoming novel Sunday Morning at the Peak of Hell. I’ve removed it from the book as it runs too long and doesn’t quite fit into the developing narrative, but it was one of the first snippets I wrote for the novel and I still rather like it. So, on its own merit is the description of a Hellbeast.
Occasionally even the strongest brute was assaulted by a horde of flying creatures. The most common one had a fish’s head and dangling fangs. The wings were made of long flapping scales. These were somewhat loose and a strong gust of wind could yank them out, sending the beast hurtling in an involuntary kamikaze dive. Two long multi-jointed fingers protruded from the chest, ending in a talon with screw-like ruts running from the tip to the base. These were used to pin down smaller prey or to latch onto larger animals, while their large mouths ripped off chunks of flesh.
Sometimes a larger beast will shake off the creature, leaving the snapped off nails to fester in the wound. These will turn into a toxic jelly in several days time, killing the animal and poisoning the flesh for any other predator that passes along.
When breeding time approaches, the female nails itself to a bleeding tree and shits out a massive clutch of roe onto the ground. A male will then approach and screw itself upside down on the tree and drip semen mucus over the eggs. Those that are lucky enough to be fertilized, grow rapidly, enveloping the other eggs around them.
Eventually, two fertilized eggs attempt to absorb the other. The embryos will tear into each other, with flimsy soft talons and half formed teeth, until one is dead. This continues until there is only one egg left, or several eggs too far away for the other ones to absorb. They hatch over the next week, assuming a larger predator doesn’t come by and eat the whole batch.