We could see that the small trees and briars beside the trail were broken where something had burst through them, something broad enough to crush a track as wide as five men, yet not so tall as even a short man like Star.
'What, then,' Star said,' is this thing that I am to kill? Enlighten me, great-hearted one. For I have seen nothing like this. A serpent's trail might be this broad, and like this not break branches past the height of a boy of nine summers, yet a snake, even a great snake, would leave no footprints, and see, there are two, yards apart and with the toes splayed for yards.'
I had seen such tracks a time or two and knew them.
'They are,' I said,' the tracks of a Flat Ogre.'
Sometimes, when foolish evil men work the Rituals of Blood, justice does not wait for me or other heroes to pass by, but is swift and mocking. They make their kills and they say what they think are important and powerful words and they have the evil will, and yet something distracts them at the moment when they should be remade, and remade they are, but not as they would wish. The rush of blood and pain changes and melts their flesh, as they intended, and instead of growing to giant or dark titan, they become something fat and flopping, or drawn out sideways. They are Flat Ogres, now and always, and the more they kill, the worse their state becomes......
Five man broad and more was the thing that struggled towards us and its head was like two dishes atop its shoulders, its eyes squeezed to the sides of its mouth and the mouth held perpetually agape by teeth that had spread and grown and filled it. It still clutched a child's torn carcasse in what was left of its arms, flaps of skin and bone squeezed to disjointing by the endless sideways stretch of its shoulders.
We were, as I had guessed from the start, too late to save, but in time to avenge.
I passed Star my spear, and with it, my unspoken blessing.
He looked at the creature, almost retching from disgust, and stabbed it again and again. You have seen a white puffball sitting in rot at the roadside and seen how, at a touch and again a touch, it falls to rags and spores and nothingness. Such was the fate of the Flat Ogre, and Star drew its death out of it and was, himself, remade, and not as monster.
Sometimes my imagination worries me.