Disclaimer: I only own my own imagination. Everything else belongs to other people.
A/N: Reviews, PM's, they are my bread and butter so do me a favor and feed me. Let me know what you liked, what you didn't like, and anything else that might be on your mind about this story.
As always, massive amounts of thanks to the two Muses who continue to inspire me.
Now, on with the show...
The stumpy-legged catoblepas confidently waded into the shallows of the swamp, lowering its head – so much akin to a warthog's, just much uglier - to graze upon masses of waterlogged marsh grass. For years, the loathsome beast had stalked its claimed territory secure that its long, muscular tail tipped with a knotted bone mass, and large, drooping, bloodshot eyes capable of paralyzing any gazed upon, were more than enough defense against any that would threaten it. Not even the savage tribes of Lizards that dwelled in the same terrain posed much of a threat to the catoblepas.
Laying in wait barely three feet underneath the muck of the marsh floor, the mottled worm sensed the vibrations of catoblepas as it approached, then began to feed upon the bed of grass the twenty-foot long aquatic nightmare had staked out as an ambush area. A sudden explosion of water marked the attack. In seconds, the six-and-a-half-foot tall, four hundred thirty pound, buffalo-like body of the quadruped was being constricted. Squealing in distress, the catoblepas repeatedly lashed out with its tail, striking the mace-like tip against the worm's rubbery hide to no effect. Even its much relied upon gaze also proved useless given that the verme was blind, operating strictly on tactile responses. With every breath, with every struggle, the constriction grew tighter.
Bone and cartilage audibly snapped under the extreme pressure. The beast that had ruled this area of swamp for over two decades knew it had to escape otherwise it would die. In an act of desperation, the muscles of its long neck surged to whip its head – more specifically its bore-like tusks – into the invertebrate's skin. Viscous, lime green fluid spewed forth as the catoblepas tore its tusks free and how the worm roared!
Still, it was a vain and futile attempt. While constriction would have eventually won out, the worm had no desire to suffer through another goring from its meals elongated teeth; thus, the quickest death was sought to that end. It brought its own tail – tipped with a wicked stinger filled with lethal venom - into play, driving the needle-sharp point into the side of the catoblepas, just behind the front shoulder through a lung and into the heart. Feeling the body go limp, the mottled worm gave one last mighty squeeze just to make sure before it uncoiled, repositioned itself, widened its lamprey shaped mouth – filled with dozens of razor sharp teeth, and began to slowly devour its latest meal – tail first - in peace.
Or so it thought.
Tracking the catoblepas had been relatively easy - the thing did little to hide its passing and its stench was unmistakable. It wasn't just caution that kept other creatures at a respectable distance as the beast marched across the soggy ground; the noxious odor was so putrescent, prolonged exposure could physically damage nasal cavities. As the long-neck grazed, the leader of the hunting party was prepared to signal his underlings to launch their planned long range attack when the mottled worm struck. To the faithful worshipper, it was clear that Sobek was showing his children favor. While far from being considered a delicacy by any sentient race, the abundant meat of the shaggy, bloated bull was an excellent source of nutrients; there would be enough food to feed his Tribe for two moons, maybe even three.
Using a highly developed signing code in combination with the release of specific pheromones, the leader of the reptile band relayed a message to wait until the worm had fully swallowed the catoblepas, becoming lethargic as it began to slowly digest the shaggy, burgundy skinned bovine. When all but the head had been consumed, fingers flashed and chemicals swelled the air "sounding" the charge. They came from seemingly out of nowhere; a swarming, hissing mass of Lizards that jabbed into the cylindrical body with jagged, wicked javelins and spears. Even with the smell of death driving them into an obvious frenzy, the reptiles tried their best to avoid extensive damage to the catoblepas; no reason to ruin a good meal.
Lethargic or not, the gigantic bottom dweller was still a formidable opponent and managed to mount a significant defense, repeatedly lashing out with its piercing tail, knocking away four Lizards and stabbing into two more to deliver fatal doses of its potent toxin. In all likelihood, it probably would have been able to hold its own against the entire hunting party had their leader not decided to enter the fray – and he just happened to be a Troglodyte.
Taller than Lizards, with a far denser musculature, ridge-like crest running the length of forehead to base of tail instead of spiny row, a rougher, more leathery scaled hide, and enhanced abilities such as venom delivery, membranes to allow limited flight and gliding capabilities, even a hypnotic gaze, Troglodytes were a subspecies of the reptiles originally bred thousands of years ago in an attempt to create a genetically superior stock unbeatable in war – a "pure" race, a "perfect" race. The success of those endeavors into selective breeding experimentation remains to this day, subjective at best. To Lizards, the Troglodyte was the ultimate expression of their God, Sobek – one of his most beautiful children. To the rest of the universe, the Troglodytes were a serious threat not to be underestimated in the slightest.
Although he was a deadly marksman with the javelin, this Troglodyte – intimidating by even the standards of his breed - preferred close quarters combat to the safety of long range. And his favored weapon just happened to be a nightmarish two-handed executioner's axe. It was this very weapon the Troglodyte hefted in a spinning arc as he charged in, hopping over a sweep of the worm's tail to deliver a tremendous overhead chop, embedding the two foot long blade into the worm's head, severing its miniscule brain in a glorious display of carnage and gushing fluids.
As the cylindrical body shuttered and shook in the spasms of its death throes, the Troglodyte tore free his axe, reveling in the shower of gore spewing forth from the fatal wound, lusting the chanting of his name, Sutekh, from his underlings.
With every kill, with every conquest, with every display of dominance, Sutekh was gaining prestige and followers. Soon, he would be able to challenge his King for leadership of the Tribe. Soon, he would return his people to their rightful place as a dominant, Keystone species.
Though the twenty-footer had been an unexpected quarry, Sutekh's Lizards had no difficulty fashioning an adequate transport sled crafted from fukiya (hollow, highly durable marsh reeds often averaging forty-eight inches long), the large leaves of bog palm, and snake vines. In no time at all, the group had its kill plus one, loaded up and ready to return. By all measures, the hunt had been a rousing success yet, the Troglodyte couldn't shake the ominous, disturbing feeling that clung to his bones. There was an unusual scent - something he couldn't describe - on the wind.
Kolobos – the principal city of the Lizard race. Located deep within the Swamp of Serpents, those not of reptilian or amphibian blood would be loathed to call it a gem of a city by any standards yet there was a certain primal beauty to the mud sculpted structures. Its inhabitants were used to seeing many types of creatures flying about from dragonflies to vultures, but the vision of the titanic black dragon long known as Skell – and from the massive, forward curving twin horns set into the gaunt skull to the sword-like end of its dreadful tail there could be no mistaking - taking wing to soar over the city after nearly a century of slumber, was something none but the oldest of Lizards could fathom let alone comprehend. In moments, the Lord of the Swamps was joined by more of its kind along with a score of leathery scaled, crocodile-jawed greens, armored coppers, whose wing patagium – like that of brass and gold dragons – extended past the hind quarters to their tails, and, most terrifying of all, a pair of flame belching reds, each easily over one hundred feet long with wingspans twice their body length. So many of the supreme creatures filled the sky, the high crested sun was blotted out, darkening the sky as if an eclipse had overtaken the fiery orb.
By the time Sutekh and his hunters breached the canopy of trees that marked the western edge of Kolobos, the flight of dragons was fully underway and nearing its completion. Seeing as his home was thus far unharmed, the Troglodyte decided there was no reason to launch any form of attack against the second children of the cosmos. He was many things but stupid was not one of them. Any attack against even one dragon would bring down the wrath of all, ensuring the destruction of Kolobos. Even a city as well defended as Thundera would not be able to withstand the sheer destruction and devastation brought on by a flight of dragons' combined wrath.
No, Sutekh's main concern was hiding his group's bounty from any possible scavengers (not that any such creatures would be about with one active dragon let alone dozens) before making sure his father the King and his youngest brother Slythe, whom he favored above all other members of his family, were safe.
Slythe looked on in disgust as his father and brothers prostrated themselves in prayer, begging for divine protection. Like his eldest brother Sutekh, Slythe was a Troglodyte, and like his eldest brother, he did not believe in running from a challenge. He'd wanted to stay above ground when the dragons were spotted. He wanted to wait for Sutekh to return so they could fight by his side as he'd dreamed of for years now. Instead, he had been forced to follow his cowardly family down the Deep Pools – the series of networking underwater channels and passageways constructed by the semi-aquatic Lizard's that led to a vast complex of subterranean caverns far beneath Kolobos.
"You troubled Bpobhilon…more so dan usual."
If the completely silent approach or the raspy, wheezing voice of Yevena, the elder shamanic priest of Serpentis, startled the young Troglodyte, Slythe didn't show it.
"I look at my father, Rhagos, and my brothers, Issul, Slavryn, and Kieluth, all I wish to do is tear out their throats with my teeth. They run; they hide; they bend knee to Cats. They shame our Gods with cowardly acts then ask for their blessings. Tell me, Swamp Witch, why should Sobek, Set, or any other show them any consideration at all?"
The dry-scaled crone gave a hissing cackle - so much like sandpaper being rapidly rubbed across a length of wood. "Bpobhilon, you be spendin' too much time wit you hisstacheen Suteckh, you be startin' to sound like him more an more. Next ting I know, you gonna start comin' down des caves like he do, always seekin' me out to learn bout de ol' ways."
"Sutekh knows the old ways are the better ways, yesss. Had he been leading our people against the Cats, we would not have lost and that damnable Treaty of Atreides would never have been agreed to, let alone signed. Our lands would not have been stripped away; we would not be forced into squalor paying undue reparations to undeserving wretches, and we most certainly would not be relegated to residing in swamps and bogs, suffering starvation and forced to endure accursed, hell-sent swarms of blood-gutted marsh flies! We would be ruling the Pride Lands and all that surrounds them! We would be the dominant species on Third Earth, not of a bunch of hairball hacking kittens!"
Yevena slowly bent her sagging, mottled grey form into a crouch, motioning for the young warrior-prince to do the same, before casting a handful of bones from her gnarled claws to the damp, stone of the cavern. "Bones don lie, Bpobhilon. Dey be talkin sometin fierce lately. Dey say de ol' ways gonna be comin back. Dey say dark clouds n tlincallis be gathering 'round a pyramid o' black, dat dah red-eyed demon o' dread from de ol' days gonna come callin again. Dey say Bpobhilon, dat when him come callin, you faddah ain't gonna be livin to answer."
"Does my father know of this?" Slythe asked, suddenly very interested in the seer's foretelling.
"No Bpobhilon," rasped the priestess as she collected the bones and used the Troglodytes rotund, muscular frame to raise herself. "An he ain't gonna be knowin bout it. Our Gods, dey wantin what be happenin to be happenin. Dey don be wantin Rhagos to be tryin to change tings dey don be wantin changed."
"So we have lost the favor of the Gods? Is that the reason for the dragons; to finally bring about the end?"
Again came that sandpaper laughter. "Dis got nuttin to do wit dah Second Sons o dah Cosmos; dey just tendin to dey own business. Not a single one wouldah bothered any us no how less we bothered dem first, but you faddah jus be scarred o anytin with a shadow bigger den him own. King Rhagos n King Rhagos alone got dah Wrath o Apep on him. He stink of it and no amount o prayer gonna wash it off. His sons gonna need to make a choice; do deh stand wit dey faddah or do dey stand wit dey Gods. I tell you now, Sutekh done already made his choice. You need to be tinkin bout where you gonna stand."
Turning his gaze back to his father, still on his knees in worship to crudely chiseled stone representations of their reptilian deities, Slythe narrowed his bulbous eyes, a sure sign his deviously calculating mind was at work. He despised his father, thus the news that the Lizard King would soon be dead delighted the savage royal. Still, the passing of Rhagos meant that Kieluth, eldest of the five sons would more than likely inherit the throne. Although, if something were to…happen…to Kieluth, the throne would belong to Sutekh.
That was a prospect Slythe could live with.
A Culinary Treatise:
The Joy of Wendigo: How to Properly Prepare, Portion, and Present
Body Preparation: I dare say freshness is paramount for best results. Another suggestion is to try as often as one can to obtain potential meals that have been raised in captivity rather than taken from the wilds. If you are fortunate enough to have a delectable selection at hand, ensure the animal has no access to food for at least two full nights, but does have copious amounts of water available. Forced fasting will help to clean the system, flushing and purging the body of wastes, toxins, and other substances that may negatively affect the flavor of the meat, making the processes of bleeding and cleaning your meal easier. Once fasting is complete, it is recommended that the meal be dispatched of as quickly and cleanly as possible. A meal that is excited and struggling will not only create a mess of its surrounds, its body will produce massive amounts of hormones such as epinephrine in addition to greater quantities of blood that can spoil that taste. A sharp blow to the back of the head, directed at the junction where the brain stem and spinal column connect, is an ideal and personally preferred method. I loathe the use of substances to dull and incapacitate before a death blow is delivered because it defeats the entire purpose of fasting your meal.
Hanging: After the meal is dead, it is ready for the next stage of preparation - hoisting. There are various means to properly hoist an animal but the two I suggest are binding and hooking. In binding, to begin, the limbs are looped with rope or tether attached to a support agent overhead. Careful consideration should be taken in selecting the binding agent – a rope too thin may break or worse, sever limbs at the point of restraint, a rope too thin may slip causing your meal to unceremoniously fall to the floor. Once the limbs are bound to the ropes of the support agent, the rear section is raised first, followed by the forward section making sure that the head is distal and inferior to the tailbone. This will allow an easy and controllable flow during the bleeding stage. With hooking, an incision is made behind the main tendon of the ankle – an antiquated name for this being the Achilles tendon – before hooks are inserted through the openings. Once done, the body is suspended in a vertical position with rear appendages spread so feet are past the shoulders. Access to the pelvic region is provided and the butcher need not worry about forward appendages getting in the way; in fact, this position allows for easy removal of the aforementioned extremity when the time comes.
Bleeding: To begin, select an open vessel, large enough to collect the full quantity of drainage, beneath the meal's head. Using a long-bladed knife, start at one corner of the jaw and make an "ear-to-ear" cut through the neck - deep enough to sever the larynx as well as the internal and external arteries - to the opposite side. After the initial pressurized jet of blood, the flow should be manageable and can be directed into any adequate receptacle. Drainage can be assisted by massaging the extremities down in the direction of the trunk. A prime-picked meal will contain roughly six to nine liters of blood depending on species and size. The collected fluid can be used to brew an excellent blood wine that serves very well with a variety of dishes.
Beheading: After the bleeding process, decapitation can begin. The butcher should continue the initial cut through the throat, around the entire neck, from jaw-line to the back of the skull. Once muscle and ligament have been properly sliced away, the head can be cleanly removed by gripping it firmly on either side while twisting it off. Separation will occur where the spinal cord meets the skull if properly executed. This process is similar to the methods used for dividing other bones or joints, in that the meat should generally be cut through first with a knife, and the exposed bone then separated with a proper implement such as a saw. Depending on the specimen, the brain and tongue can be harvested to be used in a number of excellent dishes, soups, and stews.
Skinning: Once the head is removed, wash the rest of the body down with a warm water solution which will soften the connective layer of adipose tissue beneath the dermis. Because there is no major market for such hides, extensive care in removing the skin in a single piece is not necessary and makes the task much easier. The skin is in fact, a large organ, and by flaying the carcass, the muscular configuration is exposed, not to mention hair and the tiny glands which produce sweaty oil are removed as well. At this stage, a short-bladed knife should be used so as to avoid slicing into muscle and viscera. When removing the skin, first score the surface, cutting lightly to gain a measure of depth and direction. The diagram of the skinning pattern should follow a strip-style, dividing the surface into portions easy to work with and handle. Reflect the skin by lifting up and peeling back with one hand, while bringing the knife in as flat to the skin as possible to cut away connective tissue. The external genitals present only a small obstacle. In the male, they can be pulled away from the body and severed, in the female the outer lips can be skinned as the rest of the body. Note that it is important to leave the anus untouched to this point as well as an adequate circle of skin should be left around it. Distal extremities can be ignored during the skinning phase unless the chef plans to pickle or use in a soup or stew. The skin can be disposed of, or made into fried rinds – a particular favorite of mine. Boil the strips and peel away the outer layer, then cut into smaller pieces and deep-fry in boiling oil until puffy and crisp; dust with seasonings and serve as a delightfully indulgent appetizer.
Gutting: The next major step – and possibly the most important – is the complete evisceration of the carcass. This is accomplished by making a cut from the solar plexus - the point between the breastbone and stomach - almost to the anus. Be very careful not to cut into the intestines otherwise you will contaminate the surrounding area with bacteria and possibly feces. If contamination does occur, thoroughly cleanse the area with large quantities of water. A good way to avoid this is to use the knife inside the abdominal wall, blade facing toward you, and making cautious progress. After making a cut around the anus, tie off the section with a generous amount of butchers twine to prevent additional contamination as well as to prevent the body from voiding any material left in the bowel regions. Next, using a quality saw or other similar severing utensil, cut through the pubic bone making the lower body completely accessible and allowing for the physical removal of the organ masses such as the large and small intestines, kidneys, liver, stomach via cutting them away from the posterior wall of the body cavity.
For the upper torso, cut through the diaphragm - the muscular membrane which divides the upper, or thoracic, and the lower abdominal cavities - around the inner surface of the carcass first. After the diaphragm has been severed, remove the breastbone, cutting down to the point on each side where connection with the ribs is established, then saw through and detach from the collar bone. Some prefer to cut straight through the middle; this is entirely dependent on the preference for cuts in the final stages. The heart and lungs may be detached and the throat incised to remove the larynx and trachea. Extra care must be taken to ensure the preservation of the heart as it is the raison d'être for the entire ordeal. That being said, once all of the inner organs have been cleared, any leftover blood vessels or remaining pieces of connective tissue can be trimmed away from the interior of the carcass before it is washed out thoroughly.
Remove the Frontal Limbs: Now that the meal has been properly cleaned and dressed, the actual butchering of the carcass is now ready to be undertaken. To begin, cut into the armpit straight to the shoulder, and remove the arm bone from the collar bone and shoulder blade. Paws, claws, talons, hooves, hands, et cetera, can be severed an inch or so superior to the wrist. Most of the consumable meat of the arms is located between elbow and shoulder, as the muscle groups here are larger and more abundant due to the fact that there are two bones in the forearm. Finally, cut into and break apart the joint of the elbow and are now ready to be carved from the two halves of each arm.
Preparing the Carcass: Once the frontal limbs have been cleanly removed it is now possible for the main body to be severed in half. Some prefer to saw straight through the spine from buttocks to neck. This method leaves the muscle fiber encasing the vertebrae on the end of the ribs. The meat here however is tightly wrapped about the bone, and many find it more suitable to be used as a stock base. My personally preferred method is to completely remove the entire backbone by cutting and then sawing down either side from the tailbone on through.
Quartering: Now that the carcass has been separated into two, unless the preparation table or butcher's block being used is too short to accommodate, the halves can be taken down. Now is also the time to begin consideration about how the meal will be served, as this will determine the style of cuts you are about to make. These cuts will also be greatly affected by the muscular configuration – the overall physical tone - of your specimen. First, dismember the feet at a point about three inches superior from the ankle. Be advised that often, the bones are very thick where the leg connects to the foot and a certain degree of effort will be required to successfully work through. Next, you will want to divide the sides of meat into two further principal portions: the ribs and shoulder, and the half-pelvis and legs. In between is the "flank" or belly, which may be used for fillets or steaks if the meat is thick enough or even bacon strips if you wish to cut this thinly. Wide and thin strips of flesh may also be rolled and cooked to serve as a roast. Trim away along the edge of the ribs, and then decide whether you will cut steaks from the flank into the thighs and rump, and carve accordingly.
Preparation of the Top Quarter: You may now trim away the neck, or leave it to be connected with the shoulder, as "chuck". The first major step with this mass is to remove the shoulder blade and the collar bone. The best and easiest way found is to simply cut along the outer edge of the shoulder blade, removing the meat on top and then dislocating the large bone. To excise the collar bone, make an incision along its length, then cut and pry it away. Depending upon the development of the breast, it may qualify as a "brisket." If this is the case, remove it before moving onto the ribs. In female specimens, the breast is composed largely of glands and fatty tissue, and despite its appetizing appearance, sadly, it is rather inedible. The ribs are, quite often, the choicest cut of this quarter.
Preparation of the Lower Quarter: This is where most of the consumable meat is in all upright animals. The muscle mass is often largest in the legs and rump. The main pieces are the buttock or rump and the upper leg, the thigh. The typical division is to cut the leg off at the bottom of the buttock, then chop away the bony mass of the knee, at places two to three inches away in either direction. Before doing this, however, you may want to remove the whole calf muscle from the back of the lower leg, as this is the best cut in its area. The upper leg is now ready for anything, most especially some beautiful, thick round steaks. The rump will have to be carved from the pelvis in a rather triangular piece. The legs attach at the hip at a forward point on the body, so there will be little interference as you carve along the curve of the pelvis. Remaining meat will be on the thighs in front of the pelvis.
With an exasperated sigh, Addicus ceased his reading aloud, carefully marked his place, then closed the flesh-bound book, setting it upon the kitchen countertop with a tender pat to its cover before turning his attention to the struggling young Monkian, gagged and bound prone to a thick oak carving table.
"Oh-oh, you are being very rude you Batous" the older primate chastised, "I am trying to share something that is very rare, vary fascinating, and very informative and you, oh-oh, are making such a racket, I oh-oh, can't even hear myself speak. I had oh-oh hoped the offspring of our reigning Son Goku, the 'mighty' Raucan would show better manners; we will have to do something about that."
Addicus moved from the helpless noble to a simple cabinet set in front of the table. Opening the doors, the sadistic Monkian allowed his captive - held for three days now - to fully view the horrors held within. Knives, spikes, hammers, clamps, clips, and all other manner of twisted tools born of a madman's most pleasurable fantasy waited patiently for their master to once again put them to use.
"I oh-oh, must admit, I am rather looking forward to watching the look upon your father's face as he sits at my dinner party, enjoying the taste of his own son sliding down his throat into his stomach!"
The son of Raucan watched as a massive bone - the femur of a Brute Man, its bulbous tip stained a nocturne crimson – was selected, examined, approved, and removed. He saw the look of pure joy in the eyes of the brilliant military general and seated noble of the Parliament as the respected elder turned towards him.
"Please, feel free to be as afraid as you desire. A oh-oh, point of disagreement I have with the text you so oh-oh, rudely interrupted is that fear spoils the flavor of the meat; I think, oh-oh, it adds something… unique to the taste."
Securing and steadying the younger ape's head with a firm grip of his left hand Addicus raised the bone-club in his right, took careful aim, and, with a swift swing, delivered a perfect and instantaneously fatal blow to the neck, crushing not only the spinal column but the brain stem as well.
Addicus, who walked with the Wendigo – the Cannibal God – watched with glee as his table of guests eagerly consumed every last morsel he'd set and served for them. Most had no idea they were consuming the flesh and meat, cooked in various fashions, of the son of the very King that was seated at the head of the table. Those in attendance who shared their host's particular palate had to suppress their giggles whenever any of the gentry seated at his table - even Raucan himself, would compliment a particular dish, expressing their belief it was passion upon their tongues.
"It is a pity my son Batous could not join us," the baboon King lamented in between hearty spoonfuls of the most scrumptious brain pudding he'd ever tasted. "He would have enjoyed such a feast, but I fear his thirst for knowledge has gotten the better of him; earlier, I received correspondence that he has decided to follow and study the most curious flight of dragons that occurred this morning."
"Oh-oh, a fine endeavor for such an, oh-oh, adventurous youth," toasted Addicus with a raise of his blood-wine filled glass. "While we all wish he were here…in the flesh…to enjoy the meal I have worked so, oh-oh, diligently to prepare, I say best wishes on his journey – from beginning to end."
"Here, here!" the table cheered, each raising a glass of the provided wine before sipping deeply.
"Yes, we had heard those dreadful beasts were coming out of their holes en masse," piped Baroness Pompriss, an obnoxious, overly perfumed mandrill that Addicus would have loved to get upon his carving station. "At first, we thought all the commotion was due to those horridly wild Warrior Maidens of the Trees. Frightful lot that bunch. No breeding at all. Still, we do so hope the young master returns with many a story to tell; we do so love a good story."
"I had heard that even ForeverDawn, the venerable Gold of the volcano Mt. Hephaestus was seen in flight." Garok-Garog, a cleft lipped gorilla Earl that was well aware of what he was eating added. "I know for certain that SilverFrost has been confirmed awake and active, and there is word that Skell of the Black Horns has ended its hibernation as well. It is as if every breed on Third Earth is en route towards the same place."
Addicus feigned interest with all the practiced skill of a master thespian throughout the rest of the night. He truly did not care for any of the guests or any of the conversations - his mind was too busy planning ahead. First, he would need to dispose of the bones of Batous – a simple matter of planting them near the borders of Thundera. When Raucan, Son Goku of the Monkian's, discovered that the remains of his only child had been discovered so close to lands controlled by Cats, he would of course believe without a doubt that the felines were to blame. If everything went according to plan, war would be declared without a doubt, and with a war, Addicus would have no shortage of flesh to consume.
Such was the eternal hunger of the Wendigo. Such was the promise of the red-eyed sorcerer who walked as a ghost.
"Sobek looked upon the vessels carefully crafted by Mau with open contempt and for the first time, a God sought the blood of another God. The crocodile called to his side the likes of the vulture Harpy, Nemesis the bull, and Okkoto the boar, who shared Sobek's views, to rally others against Mau. Still, Gods such as Amaguq of the canis, the ursine Artio, even Horus the falco, aided the feline…"
Inside the windowless, white-walled room, Professor Sigmund Van de Graaff sat across from the six-year-old jackal, observing his body language and mannerisms, jotting down notations in his tabular as the cub read from a book the psychotherapist did not recall ever seeing before.
By all outward appearances, the jackal, Kaynar by name, was a healthy, inquisitive male – at times too inquisitive – with a developing mind far more advanced than anything the owl had ever witnessed before. One could never have guessed that just over one year prior, the child had picked up his father's pugio one cool autumn evening and used the 12-inch blade to slit the throats of his parents before repeatedly stabbing them. When the scene was discovered, little Kaynar was soaked in blood, busy using the freshly removed hearts to doodle strange, archaic symbols upon the adobe walls; most numerous being the arrow pierced Ankh – easily recognized as the mark of Upuaut – and a lesser known brand - a twin-headed serpent twisted into a near figure-eight so that each head was facing the other – that none could place.
"Upuaut read from the Tablets of the Dead, stolen by his hand from his father Anubis, learning secrets and truths not meant to be known to such a young God. At first, Anubis found the pilfering an amusing distraction, an act brought about "simply by the curiosity of youth," as he would often say. However, no amusement was to be found when Upuaut, eager to replace his father as a Greater Power, used the Tablets to strip all but a handful of the God's vessels of their immortality. In vengeance, He Who Guides took back the Tablets, struck down Upuaut, decreeing that not only would his own son face a century of exile to the now mortal realms every millennia, but that all those now mortal who followed the cast down God, all those who sought him out to learn the forbidden knowledge, would be forever touched with blessed madness…"
It was a heinous, unthinkable attack that confused, baffled, and confounded all who became involved. Van de Graaff, who had gained fame serving in some of Third Earth's most prestigious physician's courts, had been summoned to the Mens Sana Corpore Sano Sanitarium of Akkadia in order to evaluate the cause of such a tragedy.
In the time that followed, Van de Graaff discovered something about the boy that chilled his blood, causing him to strongly consider requesting that Kaynar never be allowed to taste the air of freedom. Kaynar was possessed of an absolute lack of sympathy, empathy, and compassion. It was as if the part of the brain that differentiated between right and wrong, moral and immoral, simply did not exist. Living behind those innocent appearing eyes was nothing but insanity, chaos, and pure, unfiltered evil.
The two bulldogs guarding the main gate to the sanitarium had never before beheld such a steed as the one that came clip-clopping along to a dead stop directly in front of the expansive structure. Its mane and tail were ragged and unkempt, coat blacker than coal, eyes of glowing red, and hooves that burned like the coals of a mighty dwarven forge. From its flame orange nostrils billowed forth a caustic smoke, stinging the eyes of the sentries as they moved closer to investigate. Then, as suddenly as the equine creature appeared, it was gone, dissipating into a haze of foggy vapor.
"Oi, what's goin on 'ere?" demanded one of the guards, his gruff voice cracking with uncertainty and a twinge of fear.
Both guards spun back to the main gates upon hearing the earthen voice at their backs to find…not a living soul.
"Over here." Again the voice came from behind the guards and again, both bulldogs turned to find nobody there.
"This some wanker's idea of a laugh," called the second guard, "Trying for some shits and giggles, eh? You done piss all of a job."
At the noise, the second turned to his companion just in time to catch the canine as he fell forward, his throat sliced cleanly open.
"Bollocks!" cried the bulldog in sheer panic, dropping the dead body and turning to the safety of the gates.
A whip flashed, breaking the air with a sharp crack, wrapping around the guard's thick ankle. A strong tug violently took him off his feet, laying him prone. As he raised his head in a desperate attempt to issue a baying alert, the whip lashed out once more, this time around the bulldog's throat, taking his voice. The heave that followed pulled the guard backwards so that he was staring up at a cloaked and hooded figure that had seemingly materialized out of nowhere.
"I am Paracelsus," introduced the Shape in the same earthen voice that had tormented the guards as he drew back the hood covering his head to reveal a face half covered by what seemed to be a mask of pure gold, "and you are dead."
From a special sheath contained in a wrist bracer extended an eighteen inch blade, its edge finer than a razor's. With a downward thrust, the blade was plunged into the bulldog's chest, trough his sternum, and into his heart.
A snatch of keys, a turn of a lock, and Paracelsus was inside the sanitarium where another guard rose to meet him, and fell dead at his feet.
Marching through the corridors, Paracelsus searched for his quarry, searched for the individual he'd been sent to retrieve. Any and all who stood in his way soon learned that death had come upon them.
"By the branches of the eternal Yggdrasil," proclaimed Professor Van der Graaf as crashes and commotions continued to echo from the halls. "What is going on out there?"
"Communion, Herr Professor," replied Kaynar with a bone chillingly psychotic laughter. "Through the Blood all things are possible. Allow me to share such insights with you."
The tan furred youth sprang across the table with such a sudden speed of action the owl never had a chance to raise a hand in defense. Jaws clamped around feathered throat, teeth sank into flesh and, with a jerking tear, blood poured freely.
Paracelsus found Kaynar just as the child had been found the year prior; covered in blood, using the precious life fluid of one he'd killed to draw symbols upon the rooms surfaces.
"Ah good, you're here," noted the jackal, again with that psychotic laughter as he shuffled over to poke at the body of the owl. "I was just starting to run out of squishy things to play with."
Paracelsus ran a hand through the portion of hair not covered by precious metal – a shock of orange with black striping – and gave an amused sigh. There could be no doubt, this was the youth the lich had chosen to be his High Priest. "Perhaps you'd like to get cleaned up before we leave," he offered, motioning to a portion of trachea stuck in the corner of the jackal's mouth. "By the way, you've got a little piece of someone right there."
Deep in the center of the forbidden lands of Moorwen, powerful bolts of lightning coursed down from black clouds to strike the tips of the four massive obelisks, each placed in correspondence to a primary directional point to surround the foreboding structure known to all as the Onyx Pyramid. From the obelisks traveled the lightning's energy, flowing through pathways down into the pyramid's central burial chamber, focusing into the towering sculptures of the four primary Ancient Spirits of Evil.
Ghost Fire leapt from wall mounted torches to illuminate the nightmarish room. Four sets of stone eyes opened after countless ages, casting their sightless, all seeing gazes upon a time worn sarcophagus that suddenly began to hiss and expel stagnant air, teeming with lethal aspergillum moulds. The lid shifted away and over ever so slightly as a withered, decrepit, bandage-wrapped hand slowly slithered out, stretching and flexing out the innumerable years of rigor mortis before grasping the edge of the heavy top to shift it aside.
"Ancient Spirits of Evil, transform this decayed form, to Mumm-Ra, the EVER LIVING!"
A/N: Hope those who have taken the time to read have enjoyed the material. As always, your thoughts are welcomed and wanted so drop a review or a PM.
Bpobhilon - Lizard tongue meaning "young warrior"
Hisstacheen - Lizard tongue meaning "favored family member," a more relatable term would be "Big Brother"
Kolobos - Ancient Greek slang meaning "to mutilate or to visciously sever/cut
Mens Sana Corpore Sano - Sound Mind Sound Body
Patagium - Membrane found primarily on wings of bats
Second Sons of the Cosmos - Old terminology used to reference dragons. The origin of the phrase lies in the belief that the only reasons the Gods came before the dragons was because the bodies of dragons were too large to fit through the Wellspring of Creation and they became stuck, allowing the Gods to squeeze by. Thus, dragons missed their chance to be "first."
Serpentis - Primary religion of Lizards and Troglodytes
Son Goku - Monkey King
Treaty of Atreides - Signed by the Lizard King, Rhagos, to end the Lizard Uprising.
Verme - worm