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By jkowalski All Rights Reserved ©


Short Story

For days he tracked the beast, all the way into the frozen wastelands beyond the mountains. With each passing day his desire for vengeance grew, but so did his frustration. Once he reached the wastelands the monsters trail grew colder and colder until he feared he had lost it. He continued to wander aimlessly in the wastelands, trying to keep in the same direction that the end of the trail pointed in. As he wandered he became more and more afraid that he would fail to avenge his people, so savagely slaughtered by this demon. He lost count of the days he wandered in this barren desert of ice and rock; it seemed to him that he had been there forever. At night he would sleep under the stars, with no fire for there was nothing to burn in this forsaken land, and every morning he would begin his hunt anew, but with each passing day he grew weaker. Only rage and the desire for revenge that consumed him sustained him, and his steadfast determination to see his quest to the end pressed him onward. One bleak dawn, as the pale sun slowly peeked over the horizon, exhausted and starving he stumbled upon a peculiar rock. Its deep color almost blended with this colorless environment, but still it stood out. Weak from hunger and his failing hope, he crawled to the strange rock, and upon closer examination discovered it was not a rock at all, but a chunk of hide from the monster that had destroyed his home, from the wound that he had inflicted upon it before it fled into this desolate place. It was frozen hard as a stone by the ever present cold of the region, but the scales of the beast's armor-like skin were still clearly visible. Just beyond where the piece of hide had fallen the beast's trail began again. New found strength flowed into his limbs as his hope was renewed, and as quick as lightning he followed the trail. He paused only when it became too dark to see the trail, but with the first light of dawn he was off again. On and on the trail went until at last it led to a cave, deep and dark as though it were the mouth of the world stretched open, ready to swallow him and any other that foolishly dared to venture inside.

The trail led into the cave, down into the belly of the earth, down into the monsters very lair. Knowing that his quest was at its end, and his vengeance was near, he drew his sword and entered the darkness. Down he went, winding his way deeper and deeper into the cave, feeling his way in the absolute dark. So deep was this cave that it seemed to him that it truly did reach to the very belly of the world. Suddenly, in the distance he beheld a faint point of pale light. As he drew closer the light grew into an unholy glow that surrounded him. It emanated from a large cavern, at the center of which lay the source of the evil light, the demon he had been hunting. It had its back turned to him, and he slowly entered the cavern and quietly crept closer to the monster. His footsteps fell on the chamber floor as soft as feathers and his sword was raised above his head, ready to strike a fatal blow to the foul beast. Just as he was about to strike the creatures tail suddenly lashed out and threw him against the wall. His sword was knocked from his grasp and the demon turned around, ready to charge him. He quickly pulled out his dagger, and just as the beast began to charge he threw the dagger at its throat. The blade missed its target and instead firmly lodged itself into the monsters shoulder. It gave out a terrible cry of pain, and the light it gave off suddenly became blood red, and the demons hatred and anger became so great it took on a life of its own. As the creature clawed at the dagger in its shoulder, he quickly retrieved his sword and with a mighty yell, he charged at the demon. The beast rose up to meet him, it stood nearly twice as tall as a man, with wide gaping jaws and claws like newly sharpened daggers, and a long tail like a whip that was razor sharp at the tip. The two locked into a deadly struggle that only one would survive.

For what seemed like ages the pair wrestled. Back and forth they traded blows until both were ragged and bloody from numerous cuts and wounds. The battle was so fierce and violent that it shook the very earth above them. Slowly the monster began to overpower him. It sank its jagged teeth into his side, grievously wounding him, and threw him to the ground. Believing its victory secured the beast lunged for the final kill, but as it came down upon him he gave one last mighty swing with his sword and struck the demons head from its body. As the monstrous head rolled away, the unholy light created by the beast went out, and he began to feel his way back out of the cave. He finally reached the light of day and looked up with joy at the sky. He had done it, he had avenged his people. Exhausted and weak from his wound, he lay down to breathe his last breath, or so he believed...

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