The Devil's Gift

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XVI

The great beast towered over the pair of us, standing transfixed, contemplating. It took a thundering step closer with its colossal feet. It was like some horrible conjoining of man and wolf. Over seven foot tall with a long furry tail, covered all over in a coat of thick black fur. It leered over us as its long snout sniffed at us and took in our scent. Oceana and I stood silently, allowing this animal to determine our fate, fear being the best incentive to remain deathly still. Below its snout, a set of long teeth were bared dripping in saliva that ran down its chin. It’s piercing yellow eyes glared at us, inches away from my face, apparently under the impression I was much more of a threat than Oceana, though I did not feel like a threat. I felt like an ant about to be stepped on, there was no possible way I could overpower this thing. Had my heart still been able to beat, I’d have felt sure it would be thumping right on the beast’s arm with each beat though I was still about a foot away from it. I slowly grasped hold of Oceana’s hand which she squeezed tightly, trembling with fear. It was like a giant dog that had learnt to walk on its hind legs. Its long, thick arms hung heavy either side of its matted, muscular torso. Its hands, or rather, paws could’ve been a better word, were the size of dinner plates, with long fingers like it was holding five, thick sticks ending in pointed sharp talons that seem to glisten with what looked like my own blood. Though my wound had stopped bleeding profusely, my torn robes were soaked scarlet, as was the majority of my torso.

I remained motionless, wondering what sort of power this strange beast has, contemplating running. But even if I could outrun it, what of Oceana? Where would I go? I couldn’t return to the castle, how many vampires would it kill before it’s stopped? The only place left then was into the streets. But of course, that was no good, how many people would be slaughtered because of me, what if Sophia was one of them? No, I decided running was not an option, I wouldn’t risk the lives of my clan members or Sophia. It felt like hours before the beast decided I would not be its meal. Before I could move, however, a soft, disembodied female voice spoke through the fog,

‘Calm Venator.’ The voice was impassive, undecipherable in its allegiance. It seemed to speak as if through a door, never quite reaching us fully, it sounded muffled slightly, as if from a parallel world, speaking through time, not here, but not quite there either. The only thing I could definitely conclude, though was that the beast, whatever creature it was, answered to the name Venator. The beast unleashed a howl as it submitted willingly, obeying the voice. The creature retreated a few paces as the silhouette of a familiar figure became visible, sending my mind crashing back to the year seven hundred and fifteen where the Devil had greeted me in the exact same unearthly fog, outside the ruined churchyard. This is who approached once again.

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