Kishu balanced carefully on a branch stretching out a few feet over the muck. Six feet below him, at the edge of the large pond, was a pile of lush fern fronds. Six feet across from him, his brother Yan squatted on a similar branch. The ground began to tremble gently.
Kishu tensed and almost lost his balance. Yan whistled a warning and Kishu forced himself to relax and allow his body to move with the branch like Yan had taught him.
A fallen tree trunk popped as the foot of something very large broke it in two. A pine tree twenty feet away tilted as the shaking ground nearly vibrated Kishu off of his perch. Long, brown, and bumpy, a neck snaked its way through the pond grass below them. Kishu could just make out the sparkle of a large black eye as it passed. The shaking stopped.
The tearing of the ferns below him hardly registered as he kept his eyes on his brother. Yan flashed him a smile and leapt lightly off of his branch, landing catlike on all fours on the center of the great neck below. Kishu hesitated. If he missed that neck, he would land waist deep in mud. Help was far away. Help thought their sons were fishing and would kill them if they knew the truth.
He waited too long; the massive head rose quickly, carrying Yan fifty feet into the air. His brother let out a whoop and Kishu cursed himself for not being up there with him. He braced himself for the vibrations of the animal’s footsteps, but the beast didn’t move. Slowly, sniffing for the ferns, the fist sized nostrils sank to the frond pile. Yan sat straddling the neck and smiled up at him. Kishu jumped.