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Blood Lust
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 1

"I still do not understand what it is you want from me," said the shaman to his visitor.

He turned from the jars and bowls on the table, fingering his boar’s tusk charm. As long as he had it in his hand, he was safe. The boar’s tusk charm was ancient and powerful – surely more ancient and powerful than the thing that sat at the other side of the tent.

"I thought it was clear," said the creature. Its voice was low and harsh, as if it had not spoken in a long, long time. It raised its hooded shoulders, which so nearly merged in the shadows, and for a moment it was as if great leathery wings stirred in the tent.

"I have never had occasion to, ah, interact with one of your kind before," said the shaman. His wispy white beard wiggled, and his hand stroked the boar’s tusk charm over and over. "And never is it that I have even thought to hear such a demand."

"There’s a first time for everything." The creature hunched forward, its glowing red eyes staring into the shaman’s own. "Will you do this thing for me, magician?"

"I don’t know how to," confessed the shaman. "I have never thought I would face a situation like this. And, frankly, I would know something of your motives."

"My motives?" The sibilants in the creature’s speech were so stressed that it did not speak so much as hissed. "You want my motives, magician? Then sit down and listen. I shall tell you a little tale."

Never taking his eyes off his visitor, still fingering his tusk, the shaman pulled a stool with his foot towards him and sat down on the edge of it. The creature stirred again and settled, as it seemed, further into the shadow. Only the red eyes glowed.

"Picture, magician, a lovely city in a distant land, a city ruled over by a benevolent king, where nobody went hungry and everyone had a place to sleep and clothes to wear. Nobody was rich, perhaps, but nobody was poor.

"And then imagine in that city, in a little house a child was born to a poetess and an artist – creative, gentle, intelligent people. Maybe they were not the most perfect parents in the world, being dreamy and forgetful, but they did the best they could, magician, and no one should ask for more.

"And so the child grew until he was old enough to begin to know his own identity. Imagine this child’s mind fumbling in the mists of new knowledge. Imagine.

"And then, imagine that war came to that land, a sudden invasion that laid the city waste and turned the golden halls into gutted ruins. Imagine the glow of fires in the sky, night and day, and the ashes falling like rain. Imagine the few survivors stumbling from the horror of it all, envying those who had not lived long enough to have to see the end of their world.

"Not everyone died, magician. That was the pity of it. An artist died, cut down with his brush still in his hand. A poetess, with a verse trembling on the edge of birth, slaughtered like an animal, and raped before it, so many times that it was impossible to say if she had lived till the final knife. But the child – they missed the child. The child did not die.

"And imagine then the child, magician. Accustomed to being looked after, even if in a sketchy and dreamy way, surrounded by dreams and love, he was thrown into the midst of fire and smoke and horror.

"And then imagine the child – no longer a child, though, forced to be a man – crawling for shelter among charred corpses, when on the verge of starvation, being forced to eat of them – to eat the flesh of his own burnt parents. And vowing revenge – revenge on all those who had done this, on revenge on all those who had brought about the end of his world. Can you imagine that?

"Imagine, then, an ancient curse come alive again, a curse that had waited, undying, for such a thing to come to pass. I see you tremble, magician. Fear not, I am not going to hurt you. You can even put away that charm. Powerful as it is, it has no power over me.

"And so that child changed. He changed not at once, but over years, and centuries, changed even as those who had destroyed his world were destroyed in their turn, and their destroyers destroyed in theirs. He grew lean and insubstantial, and at the same time preternaturally strong. He came in the night to those he could find, and feasted on them, because that was all that gave his existence any meaning. The thirst for revenge on what he once was – because it was something he was not.

[ Continue to page 2 ]

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Genre:General Horror
Type:Short story
Rating:7.51 / 10
Rated By:47 users
Comments: 2 users
Total Hits:10415

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