Note: Here's a new short story. I hope you like it.
I am O-Bo. I am what the God made me. I am the largest and strongest of all those who dwell in the highlands. Tonight, I hunt.
says to be careful when I hunt. She used to bring me my food, but now I
must hunt, for her bones creak and her skin sags. Her fangs have fallen
out. She will not hunt, but must lie upon her bed of bright stones. She
will soon be gone and stand before the God and it will ask her if she
has reaped a good harvest of flesh, and if she has not, she will be cast
out of the Hunting Grounds, and be no more. So will it be with me,
should I fail the hunger inside me—because the God put it there, and it
is my entire purpose.
I creep into the darkness and it hides me,
but the Night Face shines above, so that I may see by its dim light. The
God put the Night Face there for such as I, who hate the Day Face and
must go abroad by night. The God pushes aside the brambly hedges as I
pass. I seek the lair of the monsters, who are fat and fleshy. I do not
wish to enter their lair, only to spy upon it and catch one or two if
they stray from their shelter. They will be good eating, and I will
bring one to Mother, though she says her time has come to face the God
and she will not eat it.
The lair of the monsters is far below
the rocky land where Mother and I live. At the hedge-edge that rings the
hill-country I see the hateful orange lights of the monsters' flames.
They forge their bright claws in hot fires. These claws they hold in
great esteem. I have hidden outside their flimsy wooden gates and
watched. Silver water turns to sharp claws, and the monsters hammer the
claws until they are long and terrible. Sometimes the monster with the
red robe speaks foul words to the sword, while another punches queer
signs into the still-shining claw as it cools. Mother says those claws
are to be feared. The monsters put evil spirits into such claws. The
spirits enter the monsters who wield the claws. The monsters are thus
emboldened to hunt our kind, for they hate the God and everything it has
I smell the carcass just before I smell the wolves that
surround it. I stomp heavily as I follow the scent, to frighten the
wolves away. They too venerate the God and it has put fear of my kind
into them. I hear them scatter through the brush, seeking prey closer to
the monster lair in the valley below. There the monsters gather large
pens of wild creatures, which they bend to their will to do their work,
or which they fatten for the slaughter, spoiling the meat with their
The carcass lies twisted beneath an ancient oak.
It is a monster, encased in hard gray skin. It is folded back upon
itself. Did it climb the tree? Did the oak throw it out? It is easy to
crack the skin and scoop out the meat inside. It has been here for days
and the mung is suckable. I enjoy this before I grind through the
pungent flesh and snap tiny bones with my teeth.
Then I notice
the bright, hard claw that lies upright behind a clump of thick bushes.
Its point pierces the ground. I do not think it was put here by design,
but dropped by the monster when the oak ousted it from its perch. The
handle catches a ray from the Night Face and for a moment, gleams like
the bright stones of Mother's bed. I have fangs in my mouth. They are
sharp. I have small black claws on my digits. They are sharper still.
But the monster-claw, long and gleaming, bound by its handle of gold, is
even sharper. This much is clear from the way the rays of the Night
Face play across its surface. There, I see the monster-signs hammered
into the claw. If its spirit makes a monster more powerful, if its
spirit hates the God that made me, I will take this thing and break it
upon my knee.
I reach and grasp it. It is small and awkward in
my big hands. Perhaps I should not snap or shatter it. Perhaps I could
use it. If the monsters make such things to slay such as I, then how
much more so would it slay them? I can eat my fill, and Mother too, and
perhaps she will rise from her bed of bright stones. Perhaps all will be
as it once was, in the days when the God was pleased and all was right
with the land, before the monsters came with their sun-flames and sharp
claws, to rip up the trees, to tear the soil, and to fill the night with
their blasphemies against all that the God has made.
Now, I can
feel that the claw is less awkward in my hand, as if it has grown to
fit it. Or does my hand shrink? Do I shrink? Do the rays of the Night
Face grow darker? Mother? Where is O-Bo?
I am Varakian, slayer
of monsters. I am what this blade makes me. Tonight, I hunt. It is my entire purpose. With this
sword, forged under the auspices of the Priest of the New God, inscribed
with the Words of Power, I seek out the lair of the ogre queen, who legend says lies upon a couch of jewels. I shall slay her, thus ridding the
valley of her evil. Men say she is guarded by a hideous son, a
repugnant thing, a monster. And yet, the New God speaks clearly to me,
and I understand, without knowing or caring why, that as long as I hold
this spirit-forged blade, I have nothing to fear from the ogre-queen's