Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mysterious Enemy #4

The muscles of his long arms were taut with strain as he hefted the axe, just as he had hefted it a thousand times before. Once, he'd been thin and almost fragile, like all of his people. Once he had been a drunk, happily slurping watered down swill by the flagon and wasting time in a border town racking up debt to the local money lender.

Now he was hardened. Scarred and coated in slabs of muscle. He' been beaten and raped and nearly murdered here in the lumber camps. When the drink cleared from his head and bones re-knit and bruises faded, it all happened again, and again, and again. That was the lumber camps and they had been his crucible, a crucible of hate and violence that no creature could survive unscathed.

There was no weakness in him any more. His pale grey flesh was tough like that of his desert-dwelling cousin race. His extra knuckles and joints were no longer fluid and limber, they were tough and knobby from blows struck. His thin fingers and small palms were callused from hefting the axe and moving lumber.

His uncaring, hedonistic heart had been replaced by something cold and as callused as his palms. This empty, hollow heart of his cared for nothing. His mind was a blank thing that only thought in terms of instinct, survival, with higher functions limited to placing his axe blows with skill and remembering which guard to avoid eye contact with.

His mind was empty, his axe blows precise, but he heard the roaring from above. Like a beast from the south hunting for prey. His orange eyes flicked upwards, his arms still swinging the axe, and all he saw was fire raining down from the sky. His axe fell from fingers and he raced away from the falling piece of burning sky, now noticing screams and cries of rage that had been going on for some time.

As he ran, he saw death and fire raining down from the sky on the heads of his jailers and his co-workers. As he ran towards a crumbling piece of the camp's wall, something slithered out of his heart. Something as cold and hollow as his heart, the cold, banked coal of vengeance, and a grim smile like the blade of an axe split his face as he fled the camp's borders.

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