MY SCREAM ECHOED OFF the rocks and came back to us in a hollow mockery of my rage. The creature turned and bounded towards me, scattering sand and rock in every direction. I held up my hands to deflect his charge, pushing energy from my core directly into is path. It closed within ten yards of me, moving so fast it was almost a blur. When it hit the energy barrier erected in front of me its body contracted and it fell to the ground, writhing against my restraining force.
I held the monster there, under the weight of my energy, not allowing it to rise from the ground. The rasp of a sword being drawn pulled my attention to the Warrior. For a moment my attention wavered from the creature and I could feel it struggling against its bonds. With a quick thrust of my mind I forced the monster back to the ground.
“Wait,” I said a I held up one hand to restrain the Warrior.
Drakon studied me for a moment, his sword in the ready position to lash out and separate the monster’s head from its neck.
“Would you allow this monster to live?” the question echoed within the vaults of my mind. I couldn’t turn and face the Warrior. My focus needed to stay on the monster at my feet. I didn’t know how to convey my thoughts directly to his head. The monster pushed against the energy barrier, struggling against my restraints. Shaking my head, I took a step towards the creature.
“No,” I said, surprised at how steady my voice sounded. “I will let you kill the creature, but I need to know its secrets.”
Reaching forward, I placed my hand on the monster’s chest. It recoiled from my touch, but not before I caught a glimpse of its mind. Hunger. Deep abiding hunger overwhelmed my senses. My belly was full so I knew it wasn’t my hunger. The creature’s entire being was consumed with the need to feed. Placing my knee on its chest, I pinned the monster to the ground and grabbed its head between my hands. It flinched away from my touch and struggled under me for a moment. I twisted my fingers through its hair and grabbed handfuls of it in my fists, twisting until its face twisted in pain.
I studied the creature’s angular face, looking for the mark of evil I knew had to be there. These monsters fed on the souls of innocents. There had to be some indication of their evil deeds. I wanted to find the mark delineating this monster from the humanity of the world.
The creature bared its teeth and offered me a deep, primal growl. Its teeth flashed white in the moonlight. I studied its face, looking for any strange mark. Pale skin, dark eyes, skinny, wiry. I could feel its muscles contracting as it tried to force my restraining energy away. Forcing my knee deep into its chest, I forced the creature to hold still. My energy pinned it to the ground and restricted even its most feeble attempts at movement. The creature seemed to be a pale version of a human. Its skin was nearly translucent. Where its cheeks and lips should have been pink from the flow of red blood through its capillaries, they were so white I doubted if it had any blood flow at all. It stared up at me through golden brown eyes so light all I could really see was the black pupil and the black rim surrounding the iris.
A strange gurgling sound echoed from the depths of the creature’s throat. I suddenly realized the monster was laughing at me. It ceased its struggles and stared at me with its pale eyes.
“Kill me then, Hunter,” it said. “You may slay this body, but I will never die. I will take possession of your soul and live forever in you.”
I nearly released my hold on the creature. A shudder flowed through my body at the thought of this evil taking up residence in my body. The memory of the monster crouched over the body of the hapless hiker blurred in my mind and was replaced by the sudden image of me in my priestly garb pinning down the girl and giving her the Devil’s Kiss.
I shook off the image and refocused on the monster. The Devil’s Kiss. I had never heard the term before. At least I don’t remember hearing the term. I knew what it was though. I had seen the other monster perform it. Had seen the life-force being drained from its victim. I remember even feeling it one time when we were locked in battle. I lowered my face close to this monster’s, piercing it to the ground with my gaze.
“You are mine to control,” I said. “No more will you cause harm to others. Even in death I will control your every action. Your life is forfeit. Your soul will be trapped and will never be reborn. Just as you consumed others, I will consume you.”
The monster gasped as I lowered my mouth over its. I felt it release itself into me, relinquishing control of the energy it had just consumed. The girl’s spirit flowed through me, grasping at her salvation. I lifted my face off the creature’s and opened my mouth wide, allowing the girl’s spirit t flow into the universe where it belonged.
The creature lay, gasping, where I had it pinned to the ground. Its body had taken on a wizen look, shrinking into itself. I finally noticed the creature was male, but even this piece of information did not allow me to see any humanity in its form. It was all monster. All destruction. All death.
I stood, releasing the creature from my physical restraints but still keeping it pinned with my energy. The rasp of a sword being drawn from a sheath shattered the night. With one smooth motion the Warrior separated the monster’s head from its body. I watched as its body crumpled to dust and scattered in the wind.