“You were too late,” came the symbiotic voice, echoing inside his mind; unheard by any else.
“Really, I hadn’t noticed.” The Werewolf Hunter, Feracil, stated as he picked his way carefully through the dense, forest clearing.
He’d been tasked with hunting a particularly vicious pack of wolves. The sort that wasn’t afraid to prey on the human inhabitants of the Taikos region. As was evident by the scene before him.
The clearing was a scene of abject horror. Trodden into the dried, leafy undergrowth were the remains of the wolves’ hapless victims. Scores of spattered blood and clumped piles of entrails that the wolves had decided not to eat; mostly the lining and contents of stomachs and intestinal matter that wouldn’t have made the most succulent of meals. Bones had been gnawed upon and in places picked clean leaving a gleaming white staccato amidst the carnage.
The werewolf hunter took it all in with an impassive face. He’d seen the like before, albeit on a smaller scale.
“There must have been at least a dozen.”
“Wolves?” Came the internal questioner.
“People,” Feracil replied flatly.
He put his foot on one of the larger bodies. One whose remains were mostly intact. He nudged the victim over and as they turned their face glistened crimson in the light of the full moon. Nothing of their features remained, just a large, gaping hole where their face had once been. Feracil crouched to his knee, earning himself a better look at the cadaver. His leather-gloved fingers traced the edges of the orifice.
“Smooth,” He commented to himself more than the entity he shared his body with. “A werewolf didn’t do this.” His tone of voice was low, musing the thoughts before fully committing to them.
“You sure?” Came the questioning reply.
Tentatively the Werewolf Hunter licked the blood from the tip of his middle finger. To him, it tasted bitter and tangy. Argur within him writhed in instantaneous agony, like a slug dipped in salt, desperate to escape its own torment.
“Yes,” Feracil stated as he got to his feet, moving away from the faceless corpse. “The town will need a Witch Hunter to deal with that one.” He let the corpse slump back, hole down in the mud.
“Coward,” Argur tormented.
“The weapons I have won’t do a thing against such a creature.”
“It’s a Kishi, they’re not so powerful. Just a witches familiar.” The demon within protested, eager to chase down the prey of a lesser demon, to assert his dominance over something it deemed beneath him.
“I’m not letting you risk us both,” Feracil replied “Look around, it made short work of these people.” He indicated looking at the floor, the viscera scattered beneath his feet.
“You say that like you have a choice.” Argur pressed.
A searing pain shot through the Werewolf Hunter’s head and his hands raised with a gasped breath. Grasping at the sides of his head as the demon within pressed against the line where the two of them met. A crisp, cracking sound like a pane of glass being strained etched across his mind. His eyes opened a pitch-black and he sank to his knees in pure agony, trying to breathe heavily through the pain. His teeth ground and he managed to throatily utter a single word through the torment. “Stop.” His vision swirled, pitted blinding white at the edge before darkening and he fell to the floor, blacking out from a pain that seared from his head, ripped down his neck and over the centre of his back. The last thing he heard before unconsciousness overtook him was the shattering of a mirror and the slick, slurping sound of rendered flesh.
When Feracil regained consciousness his head was thundering. His vision swam as he tentatively opened his eyes once again. He couldn’t tell where he was and there was a stillness to the air, a silence that sliced through his head with every small breath he took. Around him, there was more carnage. Slowly, he pushed himself from the floor he’d been laying on. Blinking, taking in his surroundings. More bodies. He was inside a small wooden hut, the door was flapping and, he realised, screeching in the breeze. The top of the door had been sheared off, claw marks embedded deep into the wood. The wooden walls of the hut were covered in various markings and although he had no innate knowledge of the arcane, he recognised them as demonic. He ran a hand through his long, shaggy hair and tried to make sense of what he was seeing. He moved his legs out from underneath him and with it brought the sticky string of internal matter. His hand reached out and uncoiled the entrails from around his boot.
“What did you do?” He murmured, but no reply came from the nightmare within. The hunter pushed himself up from the floor and slowly limped around, trying to regain proper feeling in his legs. As he looked around the hut there was evidence of the inhabitants; a collection of jarred herbs, small animal bones, feathers and dried flowers.
“Their coven?” Whispered the hunter. This was well out of his experience to deal with. He hunted beasts, moon-light transformers that had lost control of themselves, not witches. And certainly not an entire coven.
Feracil took a look at the bodies on the floor. They’d been torn viciously to shreds, limbs rendered from bodies, their blood sprayed onto the walls of their home, cloth shredded alongside them, this was a heartless, violent attack. He felt his own blood drain from his face when his eyes lingered on one of the corpses. A small female body lay amongst the rest. He felt bile rise swiftly in his throat and pushed his way out of the hut and vomited violently on the floor.
He’d killed them all. An entire coven lay in that hut. He’d seen no trace of the demonic familiar that his own inner demon had been so desperate to chase and hunt down. He felt disgusted for what he’d been party to but had no control over. The Werewolf Hunter spat on the floor, trying to get the sickening taste of churned stomach contents from his mouth. His entire body shook with anger and adrenaline.
A set of footprints led away from the hut, his keen eyes noticed the drag of a leg in the imprint and the blood flecks on the floor. Pulling his pack over his shoulder he started to follow where the steps led.
The trail he followed, eventually led him back to the clearing he’d originally found. In the middle of the carnage, a single figure stood, silent, looking towards the sky. Quietly, he took his trusty crossbow from his back and pressed a bolt into place, pulling the string back with a snap. He pushed through the undergrowth and watched the figure carefully.
The figure’s hood twitched as the Hunter stepped on a twig and they rounded on him, their hands outstretched looking to throttle the life from him. Instinctively, the callous hunter fired the bolt from his bow, his aim true, striking them deep in the chest. They faltered in their charge and he swiftly reloaded the weapon but the second shot wasn’t required. The figure fell back amongst the desecrated bodies, gurgling on the blood flooding his lungs.
Feracil moved to stand imposingly over the figure. His expression was hard. “I don’t understand,” he said to the dying man.
“You don’t need to,” spoke the voice from within.
Feracil frowned. “I think I do.” He replied, seeming as though he was talking to himself. “What is this?” He indicated to the gurgling wretch on the floor, the hood revealed a blank-faced entity within.
“The Kishi.” Argur answered.
“Explain,” Feracil demanded.
“Dominance.” Argur pressed, once again straining to take control. “I want to devour it. Let me. Before it fades.”
“They’re dead already,” Feracil answered, walking away from the newest corpse on the pile.
Argur lapsed into silence.
“What was this?” Feracil looked around him.
“A battle of covens, I’d imagine.” The demon answered. “Pathetic humans thinking they could use a demon for their own gains.” Argur writhed within the human he inhabited, wanting nothing more to be free of the body he was trapped within.
Feracil’s stomach turned again as the demon squirmed within and felt a fresh wave of bile rise in his throat. He spat the acidic contents onto the floor and unhappily groaned. “Stop doing that.” Life had been so much easier when he’d been nought but a simple huntsman, looking out for small beasts he could hunt, officially or poach, to feed his family. Then the formless entity of Argur had found him and infested him; rendering them co-dependant on one another. He longed for the day they could come face-to-face, so he could look the demon in the eyes and plunge a dagger through its wretched heart; assuming the beast had one. Until that eventuality came about, however, he was stuck with the inner beast and had to endure the suffering that he brought. He Brough his hat lower over his eyes and left the clearing and its mess behind. He had to return to the town and tell them that their ‘werewolf problem’ had been dealt with. That there should be no more hunters preying on the weakness of the village.
It would take a couple of hours to get back to the comfort of the village and although he didn’t feel like eating, his stomach growled, he’d spend the night in the forest trying to come to terms with just how wicked the demonic entity within him was and, once again, mull over the options that he had in terms of dealing with his unconventional possession.