by Tyr Kieran, posted on Pen of the Damned last week!
Time has become meaningless. I can sense the rise and fall and the wax and wean of the moon, but I’ve long past the point where it matters. I am a forgotten relic.
They used to watch over me, wary of any changes and They have remained vigilant for many lifetimes—passing down, from father to son, the responsibility of guardian and the knowledge with which to prepare themselves for corrective action should change take place. But of course, time devalues all things. Each generation of vigil grew more indifferent than his predecessor until, eventually, no one came or cared.
The world lived on without me, just as They had intended.
And so, I reside here, in this unmarked grave, for longer than I can recall. My motionless body, a dried husk in the earth, imprisoning my mind, waits for… for what? The end of eternity, I suppose. I don’t have much say in the matter. I’m a slave to time and fate, and fate has firm control of my reigns.
When last was I in control? My final night of freedom?
It was a blood bath.
– – –
I was drunk with power, glutting myself on the life-force of men distracted by war. I cared little about the reasons or results of the conflict. The Polish and Lithuanian’s uprising against Teutonic rule—paltry bickering of feeble men and I was no longer one of them. My strengths and abilities were developing far faster than the world around me. I believed myself nigh invincible.
War raged through the land and I gladly accepted its invitation for indulgence—deaths were expected, blood spilled in abundance, and no one questioned wounds or hunted for missing bodies. I could feed freely without all the games and subterfuge. Yet, despite this reprieve from scrutiny, one still needs to retain a sense of caution.
Temptation got the best of me.
Feeding at the battle’s fringe, I pulled men off their feet and into the shadows along the cliff basin. I drained nine men—six too many—before I was forced to purge. With my vision blurred and my legs weak, I fell to my knees. Consumed blood vacated my body like the violent purge of water through a broken dam. The crimson pool was massive.
A small band of men saw the lake of death oozing from the shadows and were compelled to investigate. I spat the last bit of bloody bile and stood in time to see four Knights arrive. They stopped at the pool’s edge and stared with jaws agape. I wiped my mouth with a long drag of my sleeve and stared back.
It didn’t take long for them to see me as a threat to the religious purity of their world. I witnessed the realization change their expressions from wide-eyed pallor to tight-lipped scowls with hooded eyes.
“Go back to Hell where you belong, Demon.” The lead knight said, pointing his sword at my throat. His silver armor glistened in the vibrant moon light. His dark green eyes stabbed from behind a sharp angular nose. His shield and helmet trappings spoke of nobility.
My senses stabilized. Hunger returned, gurgling and aching in my empty stomach. Overconfident again, I smiled. My sharp, two-inch-long fangs glimmered like their armor. “Hell? What do you self-righteous soldiers know of Hell?”
“Enough to know that you are a blight upon God’s earth and we must see to your destruction.” To his credit the Nobleman held firm, unwavering despite the sight of my razor-blade smile.
“Choose your next actions wisely Nobleman! Your mistakes might come to haunt your descendants.”
“You’ll not pester anyone from the bottom of your grave,” he said and swung two fingers through the air.
I leaned forward, preparing to lunge, when a flurry of flaming arrows pelted my chest. I stumbled back against the cliff wall, batting at the flames.
“Bleed him out and let him burn.” The lead knight looked me in the eyes as he ordered my execution. The others rushed in, swords drawn, and stabbed me repeatedly. I tried to fight back, but without sustenance and my own life-force draining away, it accomplished little. Then the nobleman stepped in and slit my throat.
I crumbled to the ground with my flesh crisping in the flames and my blood soaking into the soil. Consciousness faded from me as I caught his final orders for my disposal.
“Cover the demon in leaches and tar, then bury him in the forest.”
– – –
Many generations later, I lay buried and bored, deep in the Bialowiea forests of Warmia. The blur of time, relentlessly marching, has silenced my inner obsessions over the how’s and should-of’s, the dreams of retribution and plots of revenge. Chalk it up to the erosion of hope, if you like. I prefer to label it as patience.
Tonight the moon is high, full of promise, and it seems I have guests.
Two hikers veer from the path and stop above me.
Through the dense earth between us, I could sense their steps, their weight, and their heartbeats. Muffled voices filter down to my sensitive, dried-out ears. They’re a youthful male and a female couple, talking and laughing. Then a flurry of movement, mostly from the heavier male, before each thumped to the ground. Sitting?
Maybe he set up camp for the night. No, it was a moonlit picnic, the odors of bread, cheese, and grapes… correction, wine, wormed into my sinuses like a wraith through cemetery soil. My empty stomach turned.
They ate and drank amid short bursts of conversation. I could hear the wine in its work to lighten their tongues and heavy their limbs. Their hearts beat faster. Their blood flowed more freely through their veins. It was an agonizing tease, an unnecessary torture before the inevitable return to solitude.
Of course, when the refreshments were gone, their appetites shifted toward each other. Fumbling, chaotic thumps and knocks against the earth soon found rhythm. The percussion of love worked toward a crescendo, accompanied by moans and whispered pleas. My stomach turned again, but a sudden shift drew my full attention.
The air pressure changed. I could feel a greater density like a charge that precedes a lightning strike. Their hearts fell out of sync. Their rhythm slowed, becoming disjointed.
She whispered a question in a voice still overwhelmed by passion.
He answered with action.
Thrusting, he stabbed deep into her, over and over, but not with his member—he used a weapon of a different kind. The woman’s gasps and coughs played to me like a symphony. The sensation of surprise was exquisite.
Her gurgling breaths told of punctured lungs and severed arteries. I could feel his hatred for her, pulsing from his heart in shock waves that tickled my bones and weighed against my chest. He shouted obscenities, punctuating each with another blow from his knife.
“Whore! You had to sleep with him. You tainted your chance at salvation. And now you’ve ruined mine. Damn you! Slut!”
The pungent scent of her blood birthed my hopes anew. My bones quivered in anticipation.
Pumping away more and more of her life-force, her heartbeat slowed to a stop. Her killer flopped back and fell still, whimpering in the night air.
Blood trickled down through the soil. The first drop hit my sternum. With the leaches and tar bindings long withered to dust, the drop absorbed uninhibited. It felt like ice against skin baked in the desert sun, a burning cold that takes your breath away.
More claret drops reached me, soaking into my brittle flesh, and reactivated my cells. The drips grew into steady streams, painting my corpse crimson. Tendons stretched and fused to bone. Muscle fibers rehydrated. Organs swelled and pulsed. My body burned under the fires of rejuvenation—the pain was both unbearable and exhilarating.
I sucked down my first breath and clawed for the surface.
Finally free from my grave, I stood tall, brushing dirt from my shoulders. With a deep breath I took in the night sky—at last, one again with the lunar pull.
The man’s whimpers turned to screams as my eyes found his. He fumbled to his feet and tried to run, but I grabbed his shoulders and lifted him in front of me. Face to face, I took in his dark green eyes pleading from behind a sharp angular nose. I smiled at fate’s ironic sense of humor.
“How’s your family, boy?”
~ Tyr Kieran
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