by Dr. D
When your godlike family betrays you, how to you seek revenge?
|By a small smoldering fire in the forest sat an old man dresses in tattered mismatched clothes. Most would have taken him to be no threat but every move was purposeful and precise. He had arrived two day ago and set up camp a mile from his destination. He had a haunted look of remembered misery and stared into the woods at nothing as if listening. He was thrice cursed yet could not die. He along with 29 others became the Meklor and were imbued/ cursed by the Goddess with power and the compulsion to serve her and to destroy the world that rejected her. They all were given names and he was given the name Raven and he became the most feared. She could contact them at times and they could not control what they did except by her command and must complete any mission she set them on. They also could not feel empathy for those they slaughtered. They slaughtered hundreds of thousands but somewhere in the middle Raven started feeling and wanted to stop what he was doing or at least stop feeling. He even tried to help others but ended up killing them. He could not kill himself and he hated the Goddess deeply as she was like a scab in his mind that he wanted to pick out but couldn’t. He talked about his feelings with the other Meklor when they met, and the laughed and called him cursed. He knew he was twice cursed, once by the Goddess and once by his feelings. He tried to hide his hatred for her in his mind but she eventually found out and laughed. He was the best, the strongest and the most ruthless yet she cared not of his feelings to her as long as he did his commission. He could almost feel through the connection that she found pleasure in his mental torment. After years most of the other Meklor were killed by resisting peoples, many of the remaining peoples trying to be faithful to the Goddess now but fighting for survival. The Goddess about forty years ago told her Meklor to be inactive, as they had nearly, especially Raven, destroyed all humanity on the small subcontinent and she still wanted to have subjects to adore her in the remaining two continents. So they would roam the land and the people avoided them. Then thirty years ago the remaining Meklor heard the call, it was somewhat familiar like the Goddess yet it caressed the mind and did not rape it like their master. Raven was the first to arrive and he stood before the spot where what he would eventually call “The Spirit” emanated. He did not know why but he felt that if he could answer the call then the Goddess’s hold on him might break. He could feel it pass through him, judging, and he was rejected. He was angered, ‘how could it reject me, I am the best, the most powerful Meklor, he should be chosen’. He even dug out the ground and found the gold piece and tried to hold it, but it burned his skin and mind and he threw it and it landed by a small cliff and it still called. He paced the area for two days when another Meklor named Red Helm entered the area and went directly to the new place of the Spirit. Raven looked at him and realized it was calling others of great strength. In his partially sane mind he resolved that he would kill all other contenders then it would have to accept him. He then attacked Red Helm and what ensued would have been described as an epic battle if anyone had been there to watch. Raven won barely and he knew others would come so he planned and in the next few months he took out the other Meklor one by one and still it rejected him and still it called. Six months later the Goddess Morvana contacted her Meklor and found that surprisingly only Raven remained and she reinforced on him that he has to survive at any cost as she may need him in the future. So he roamed the land as a beggar and tried not to have interactions with people. If he got close to anyone he would eventually involuntarily kill them and then he would have to move to a new town. He could always hear the call and every year or so he would come back to the Spirit and find himself still rejected. A month ago the call changed and got more insistent and he knew it had found a worthy soul, one that he would find and then dispatch. So he gathered supplies and headed down the familiar roads to the Spirit. He arrived with his senses heightened and prepared.
It had been two days and no change when suddenly the old man’s head jerked up and he looked in the direction of the stone, it was time. The tone had change and was almost fever pitched. He gathered some items and headed to the Spirit. He arrived at the cliff and everything looked like it always did this time of year and he stood and waited. He stood for hours as the call fluctuated and compelled, but it was not for him. What would this champion look like that was his competition? In all his journeys he had found none to compare to his strength and speed. His staff was made of Cumber wood that could crush armor and not break and sharpened at one end and spiked on the other. He could hear scuffling footsteps and hoof beats in the distance. Suddenly a small girl appeared at the top of the cliff with poor clothes and unkempt gray hair. For a second he thought the champion was chasing her but then a horrifying realization came to him as she then looked in his direction. His eyes widened wide in surprise, the spirit had chosen this milksop over me, and his eyes narrowed in hate at her and she looked shaken. She turned as some horses came to a stop and he decided to step back and hide so she could come down and get close to the spirit before he dismembered her. She threw something at them and said “I’m sorry, here is your jewel, just let me live”. I smiled, she would never leave these woods alive. He heard a man further away say “Will you promise never to steal again”. And he saw her body lose its tension and relax as she replied “Yes Captain sir, I will never...” then an arrow went partially through her and she spun and fell near the Spirit and he could hear one of her arm bones break. The old man could not move in unbelief, the Spirit’s call did not stop but increased in intensity. He knew that there were men at the top of the cliff looking down and any other day he would have chased them down and slaughtered them for being so close to the Spirit. But he could only stare at the girl’s body as the men left. She was weak and broken and she moaned. It would be so easy to crush her skull with his foot, but he could not move. Her good arm under her moved and the call was almost deafening, and her small fingers reached into the ground and he knew she grabbed the stone and he could see and almost smell the Spirit jump to her and latch on. The girl’s body arched and she screamed but he was left in silence, the call was gone. He let out a hopeless howl that reverberated throughout the forest. He then fell to his knees and was sobbing on the ground.
He cried as he had never before for hours, his only hope lost to him and he wanted to die but he was not allowed to. He finally stood up and the broken girl was still there. Her hand still in a fist he was sure still holding the stone. She had a dark burnt stain on her that left arm that was smoking. He so wanted to rip her body apart and he saw her tremble. His fists clinched and he approached her. He looked around and decided he would not give the Spirit dignity by killing the girl here it its special spot, but would bring her to his camp and do it slowly there. So the broken man roughly picked up the broken body and walked back to his camp reliving over and over in his mind how he was going to make her suffer. She moaned once on the way and opened her eyes briefly and he looked into them and cursed himself as his will momentarily broke with concern, “no, not now” he gritted through his clench teeth. And just before he reached the camp, an idea came to him. He would let himself care for her as he knew that anything he cared for he would viscously destroy. He smiled at his resolution. At camp he set her on a blanket near the fire and examined her broken arm. He gathered some straight sticks and made strips of cloth from an old shirt. He pulled her arm to set it and she screamed and fainted. He smiled in pleasure at the pain it had given her and then he tied the wood splints to her arm, thinking that this is only the beginning. He had left the arrow in her as it was not in a position to be life threatening and would continue to give her pain. He needed her to be awake and aware when he killed her so he went to the stream and got water in a flask. He got a cloth wet and dripped water into her mouth and she swallowed slowly a few times. He got some ointment from his bag and rubbed the burn mark on her arm. It was like a blurry column with three zigzag lines running through it. As he rubbed it he thought he almost heard a faint clear musical note as if from a distance. He immediately got up and searched the woods around him for a couple of hours for the source of that sound but found nothing. When he came back he wrapped her arm in a dirty cloth he had and then felt her head and it was warm to touch. He was confused. He needed her alive. He wanted her dead. So he got a blanket and put it on her. He walked into the forest and set up a vigil, for any marauders but none came that night. Throughout the night the village trash would moan and he would get up kick her leg hard and she would stop then put another log on the fire and she would begin a few hours later and the cycle repeated.
Durina woke in a sweat screaming. She had troubled dreams all night of going down a long hall that had no end yet she was running to find it. She had pain all over. She saw the arrow sticking out of her blood stained tunic and closed her eyes remembering her last moments of thought. She could feel the arrow every time she took a breath. “That pig actually shot me, if I ever see him again I will rip HIS heart our” she thought but knew that she would never be able to do it. She opened her eyes again looking around her but not moving. She was covered by a blanket and near a fire, which was good. When she tried to lift her right arm she grimaced in pain and saw that it was splinted which probably meant it was broken. She raised her left arm that had a painful itch to it and it was wrapped by some dirty cloth. Her leg felt like it was broken but she could move it. Perhaps Kek got courage and came to my aide out here, but she doubted he would take the risk. She licked her lips and tried to turn her head to get a better look around her when she saw the old man with the crazy eyes come out of the forest and her heart almost stopped. She closed her eyes quickly and tried to wish herself small. Would he eat her, would he rape her, would he torture her? Involuntarily she scrunched her eyes and he said “Ahh the cur spawn awakes.” She opened her eyes and he was standing over her, thin with a ratty beard and gray and black streaked long stringy hair that looked as if it had never been washed. His clothes were more like rags assembled to resemble a shirt and pants. He did not move like an old man and his eyes were bloodshot and green and seemed to vacillate between hate sorrow and concern in repetition. He picked up three metal bars next to the fire pit and connected them as a tripod over the fire then hung a pot from it. He put another log on the fire and poured some water in the pot. He pulled out some vegetables from bag and cut them up into the pot and put two pieces of dried meat in. “Are you going to eat me?” He glanced at me with an odd look and went back to his task. “Not enough of you to eat and besides people don’t taste good.” he said as he leaned down to pick up another bag put some powders, presumably spices, into the pot. “Are you going to kill me?” Several looks quickly crossed his face, one which looked like anger, one like pain but finally it settled into a smile. He then softly replied cryptically “No one can escape their death when it is time.” She breathed a sigh of relieve but that gave a twinge of pain that added to all the pain she was feeling now. She felt her life was not in immediate danger as he had taken the time to do some tending to her. So she ventured “My name is Durina, but most call me Gray Rat”. “Fitting” he replied. He was not much of a talker she thought. “What is your name?” He remained silent for a time the replied “You may call me Tumor” What kind of name was that? She tried to shift a little and more pain welled up for a moment but she continued “Aren’t tumors bad, I mean I thought the Mayors daughter died from one on her neck.” “Yes, I tend to grow on people and yes they will eventually kill you”. She must have swallowed wrong because she coughed and then squeezed her eyes from the agony. “Sounds like you are ready to eat.” He pulled the pot off the fire and poured some in a cup and put it down to cool. He then went to his tent and pulled out a pack and a pillow and propped her up sitting. He obviously was not concerned by any pain it caused her and then he sat next to her and started spooning the soup into her mouth. Every move he made was smooth and deliberate. He was comforting and terrifying at the same time. When he was finished feeding her he just stared at her, then he got an odd look and stood up quickly and went about ten feet away and started mumbling over and over and wringing his hands. “She can’t find out, this is mine, She cant’ find out, not about this, This is not hers, shut it out.” Then he went silent for a time and just stared straight ahead. He mumbled at times and finally somewhat with emphasis he said “As always your eminence I serve you.” When he finally came out of his trance he looked relieved. This only confirmed in Durina’s mind that he was crazy. He was dangerous and she was broken and could not escape. She could tell in his eyes he meant to kill her and did not understand why he hadn’t yet. She had so many dreams of reaching the great cities and becoming something, anything. It was her bad luck that led her here. Maybe nobodies like her did not deserve to enter those cities and what she called luck was only the nature’s way of saying you are worthwhile or you are not. She had always known that she was a scab on the world and any time she would be picked off. Now was apparently the time. Tears started flowing down her cheeks as the finality of who she was sank in. “I am Grey Rat”, she told herself, “I may be nothing but I will not face the last moments of my life cowering”
Morvana paced. These past centuries have been busy. She and her sisters had populated their worlds that their father had given them. He had not said so but they suspected that he was looking for one to eventually take his place on the Council. So as much as they had tried to get their worlds to reach amazing heights under their rulership they also tried to hinder their sisters worlds. They also had responsibilities to deal out judgements on other of her father’s worlds. Most of the Krak liked humans as servants as they were the most complex and creative but could also be a pain in the neck with their insubordination. It took four hundred years of building amazing cities and a dynamic culture arose but they somehow got in their minds that they should live without her. She suspected treachery but knew it could not be their ancient captors as they would not dare be so close to her Father’s star. The rebellion must have been fomented by one of her sisters, as that is what she would have done and did do to one of their worlds. In anger she scoured her Father’s planets for foul creatures and then brought them to her world to plague the people into submission. Surprisingly they did not relent so she brought in Nigta ships and had them assembled on her planet and then sent them with bombs to break the cities and open the walls to the creatures. Even then they did not submit. So she begged her father for him to send some Gagtani and he said he liked her spirit and she was pleased. The Gagtani were getting rare but they had the technology/mental ability to put a mind under submission by implanting a device in a brain and connecting it to a receiver they made look like a stone. The device was tuned to one mind as a controller and the controller could communicate with the receivers and could force the receivers minds to do what they wanted. The receivers implants made them faster and stronger than most people. These implanted ones were called the Meklor and were feared through the galaxy. She had 50 men trained hard in combat and tactics and strength to become her Meklor, her champions. Each implant and subsequent tuning of the connection took a mental and physical toll on the Gagtani and she was impatient and ruthless with them allowing few breaks. Eventually, by the time only 30 were made, all four Gagtani collapsed and died. Her Father was miffed but did not reprimand me. She then released the Meklor in the world and it trembled. Within two years she was getting pleas from the people to forgive them. But she let the Meklors rage across the land still. Her favorite was Raven who was the bloodiest of them. She, as she talked to him through the bond, found out he developed feelings for those he killed and she could feel his guilt and disgust of himself. It made her so happy. He tried to hide something from her but when she pushed hard on him she found that he hated her with a passion. At first that disturbed her but she relished the pain he was experiencing so she told him that she knew and it did not bother her. Of course she would never let him in the same building with her. She stopped the Meklor about forty years ago when they had nearly depopulated the smaller continent. She wanted at least a few to rule under her. At that time there were ten left. She checked in ten years later and there was only Raven. She asked him about them and said he thinks they died. Meklor are so stupid, of course they died, but at least he lived though he seemed a little changed. Now as she paced she worried that her fathers timeline for her and her sisters was getting shorter and she needed her world to adore and submit to her by that time. She had sent out highly trained champions she called “Seekers of the Truth” a few years ago with the mission to find the last of the rebellious subjects and kill them but to leave the innocents alone. She really did not care if they killed innocents, but if she told them that, then the stupid humans would spend time killing indiscriminately and not dig deep enough to find the real problems. Her goal was in the next 10 to 20 years, when it was time, to pour her grace on the world and rebuild an obedient world in her image. She would show her Father and sisters what it was to lead humans totally broken of their spirit. The first of the Seekers would come back this week so she was a little nervous as she knew that a few may go rogue. She sent spies to watch them but some spies did not return. They were so unlike her Meklor that she could directly control. Yes, she thought, it is time to ready my backup plan. She went to the corner of her study and put her hand on a white sphere and it started to glow blue. She knew it would take a few minutes to warm up and tune in to her last remaining Meklor, and she could feel his mind becoming clearer. “Raven, I need you to be ready” He replied somewhat cordially in her mind “Yes, your eminence”. She could sense waves of his tortured soul coming through that always delighted her but she could tell he was still trying to hiding something from her. She inwardly smiled, he still thinks to hide his hatred from me, well I will let him have his secrets as it makes it more torturous for him as he obeys me. “Raven, I have sent out champions called Seekers of the Truth to find the last of this world’s resistance to me but, unlike you, some may go rogue. Be on alert, I may need you to eliminate those that become a nuisance. Make sure you stay alive and fit.” “As always your eminence I serve you.” he replied firmly and she broke the connection. She had so many things to juggle. Finishing plots on her sisters worlds to destroy their chances of succession, constantly monitoring her own world for her sisters schemes. Finalizing the destruction of the rebellion and planning her glorious emergence of her reformed world and at all times making sure her Father sees her as his best choice.
Tumor relaxed after the Goddess spoke to him. She had not inquired about his current situation and he knew he needed to deal with the Rat girl quick. He glanced over to her and he could see that she had tears on her resolute face. Did she think that crying would stay my hand? It had never done so before. He wanted to put his fist through her face and feel her bones crunch as he had done so many times. He started moving towards her but then he stopped and thought about the Spirit and how he hated it now. Ha, he would let the Spirit have her till evening, thinking that it had won, then he would strip the skin off the girl alive and show it that he could not dismiss him without consequences. Tumor almost quivered in anticipation as he sat by the fire stealing glances at his current project. Yes he would hate himself tomorrow as he did thousands of times before, but it would feel so good. He knew that she knew that her time was short. He got up and took the cup he had fed Gray Rat with and filled it with soup and sat by the fire again and began eating. “Have you been to the great cities before?” the girl enquired. He responded “Yes”. “Are they as beautiful as the say they are”, she was looking at me with resignation. “Once they were” he said sadly. “Can you describe them to me?” and she closed her eyes to listen. He gazed at her innocent face and a fleeting memory of a life before the Goddess grazed his mind and then sadly went away. It was hard to recount anything without reliving his past. He began carefully “The walls were tall and strong” and in his head remembered the prince and his guard he slaughtered with an axe at Tartaly on the walls. “ The Towers rose to the stars” and he remembered the courtiers he had thrown off a tower in Morabund . “The gardens were full of colorful flower and scents” and remembered the children he beheaded at the Garden of Tal in Gorset and the smell of blood in the air. “When the sun set it would leave the walls ablaze and the windows reflected like rainbows.” And remembered the fall of Jantel where the Meklor went street by street killing anything that moved and the setting sun glistening off the wet blood on the walls making it almost glow. She opened her eyes and said softly “Thank you, I have always wanted to see the great cities and you have just given me that gift. I am ready now, you can kill me.” He searched her face for sarcasm or hate but all he found was honesty and resignation. No one had ever asked him to kill them. They all begged for mercy but he had none. He wanted to go over and cradle her…but his thought continued … then break her thin neck. He stood up and walked away a few feet with clinched fists. Why couldn’t he care for something without wanting to kill it. He needed to end her NOW… Now… now but his body did not move. His head ached with the warring emotions and thoughts that tore at him. He was ready to scream when a stray thought seeped out of nowhere: She is not worthy to be killed. But he had killed thousands not worthy before. She is not worthy to be killed. But she is just a child of course she is not worthy. She is not worthy to be killed. She does not need to be worthy. MAKE HER WORTHY. He was confused, maker her worthy? Why did his thoughts go there, it made no sense. And then realization hit him that if he was the greatest warrior ever he would have to beat the Spirits Champion for it to choose him. But he would need to train the girl hard to be the better than best she could be so the Spirit would see that he truly was the best when he killed her. Yes, he would do that. He did not realize in his decision he stepped into a gray zone that did not exist before in his forced service to the Goddess. He turned to the girl and said “You will die, but not now. I will train you and make you worthy for me to kill and then in a few years I will end your pathetic life.” With that he poured some more soup out and went next to her and fed her with the spoon. He had thoughts of shoving the spoon through the back of her throat but he resisted thinking “not now, not now”. He put the cup down and got his ointment out again and some other small bag and more cloths. He then leaned her forward gently then lifted up her tunic and she had a panicked look in her face. He shook his head and said “That is the one thing you do not need to fear from me as those desires were burnt away long ago.” He maneuvered her Spirit arm through the arm hole. He then with one hand on her back he took the arrow and shoved it deeper and she gasped, he broke off the end behind her then pulled the shaft out quickly. Her teeth were clenched and he felt her shudder in pain. He then grabbed cloths and held them on the wound for a moment then holding her up with his knee he got out a bag and put a powder on both sides to stop and seal the bleeding and held it there a moment. He then applied some ointment, put some fresher cloths on both sides then with a longer cloth wrapped it around her so it would hold the poultice together. Her eyes were still squeezed tight but she said nothing. He pulled the backpack away but left the pillow and laid her down. He pulled the blanket over her and then went and found her knife that he had stashed away. He pulled her hand from under the blanket and placed her knife in it. She opened her eyes looked at him seriously and said “You know that I will try and kill you with this” He smiled “I fully expect it.” That night he slept soundly and the next morning for the first time in 50 years he whistled a happy tune.