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(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

This contribution is part of a series:-
1. Badlands (5-Jun-2014)
A knight and a demon, on a mission to save a town from an unknown danger.
2. Badlands II: God of Wrath (16-Jul-2014)
Revisiting an old love, the knight finds her missing. Only the demon can help find her - and, if possible, to rescue her from where she is.
3. Badlands III: Boat on the River (3-Dec-2014)
Something strange is happening to the world and the knight and the demon must solve the problem if they are to survive.
4. Badlands IV: The Beginning (3-Jan-2015)
Where it all began - The demon, the knight and the beast meet each other for the first time.
5. Badlands V: The Hatching (8-Feb-2015)
About a mountain slope on a winter night, a lost girl, a meeting with an entity, and how something was created, immortal and dangerous.
6. Badlands VI, VII & VIII (7-Sep-2015)
Three new parts to the series.
7. Badlands IX: The Mountain God (31-Jul-2016)
An erupting volcano, a cult which lives on its slopes, and the knight, the beast and the demon must attempt a rescue mission.

Page 1

The night was completely dark when he awoke.

His chin had been resting on his chest, and the muscles of his neck were cramped and aching, He had not meant to sleep, but it had been far too long since the last time heíd closed his eyes, longer than he remembered. The exhaustion was creeping up, but he couldnít stop now.

He shook his head and squeezed his eyes shut till lights flashed behind his eyelids, and then opened them again. The darkness was still absolute. There was the faint noise of the beastís hooves on the ground, but no other noise either.

He wondered how long heíd slept, and what had been happening while heíd been sleeping.

He knew what he had to do, and he did not want to do it. He resisted as long as he could, till he could resist no longer.

And then he called his demon, and his demon came to him.

"You took long enough to call me," it said, walking by his side.

He looked at the demon from the corner of his eye without replying. Tonight, it had chosen to look like a woman of sorts, her naked body bright red and glowing faintly. Huge horns sprouted above her ears and curled past her jaw, and her eyes were amber and feral. It wasnít by any means the first time his demon had decided to look like a woman. But at least it wasnít trying to tempt him tonight by looking like someone he would want to sleep with.

"Well?" the demon-woman demanded. Her tail moved, the barbed tip slapping against the flank of the beast, but it didnít notice. "What do you want to ask?"

He thought for a moment before he spoke. "Where are we? Am I lost?"

The demon stared at him. "You shouldnít have fallen asleep, Man." As she flicked her flaming hair back over her shoulders, sparks flashed from her hands and spiralled away into the darkness. "You arenít lost. Lost doesnít even begin to describe where you are."

"You brought me here," he said with complete certainty. "Iím not here just by chance. You brought me here."

The demon didnít say anything for a bit. Her feet and the beastís hooves hushed through the dust.

"Have you ever thought of where youíre going?" she asked at last.

He was taken aback at the question. "Of course. Itís all I ever think about."

"Itís been a long journey, hasnít it?" She glanced at him under an arched eyebrow. "Do you even remember how long itís been?"

"Of course I do. Itís..." he stopped abruptly. He tried to remember, but couldnít. "Itís just..."

The demon was looking at him with open amusement now. "And do you recall a timebefore the journey began?"

He made no attempt to answer.

"Well, then," she said, "it doesnít really matter where youíre going, does it? Nothing matters except the journey."

"And you," he said.

"And me," the demon agreed. "Now, we have another job to do."

"Another job?" He looked at her. "What do you mean, another job?"

She rested one taloned hand on his thigh. The nails were so sharp he felt their touch through his chain mail.

"Just a little thing," she said. "A little matter of putting a wrong to right." She laughed, the noise like crystals splitting. "Or a right to wrong, depending on your point of view."

Something screeched in the darkness, far away. The noise was like nothing heíd ever heard.

"What was that?" he asked.

The noise came again, from another direction. There was no way of telling just how far away it was. His hand instinctively went over his shoulder to touch the sword on his back. But there was nothing to draw the sword against.

"Donít worry about it," the demon said, her fingers still digging into the chain mail on his thigh. "Itís nothing you need to worry about." She smiled, her teeth like daggers. "What you need to worry about comes later."

[ Continue to page 2 ]

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Genre:General Horror
Type:Short story
Rating:7.5 / 10
Rated By:18 users
Comments: 3 users
Total Hits:22454

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