This collection of short stories features myths and lore from Perilisc, a unique fantasy setting. Journey deeper into its history. Struggles of royalty, immortal love, unruly wizards, lost heroes, blistering vendettas and more, provide gripping insight into the scope of this realm.
For your entertainment, here is one of the short stories from this book.
To Love a Beast
~110,000 Years Before The Escape
Impact was the world, hard and earth-shaking. Screams of men he loved filled the air. No matter what he did, nothing could stop the blood and fear that spilled out from the ones he led. Clark, the one they called the First King, had led them all into a death trap.
Around them, anasazi rained from the sky. The trees were filthy with them. Every ounce of land carried their webs, their feces, their young. The trap was well-laid. Panic ran through the ranks, breaking manhood and bravery into shreds. The worst decimation of Clark’s forces ran the battlefield. All manner of begging and pleading filled the air.
Clark knew he could not save his men, could not staunch the flow. He could not leave this field as anything but disaster. But one man, he could not do without, one whom, if lost, the worst would befall the world. Clark sought Benjamin the Mighty.
Clark’s sword was lightning on the edge of madness. It was glorious terror waiting to be wrought upon the world. As he carved out the death he had in mind for his enemies, the First King found the Mighty on his knees, begging.
A monster beyond all others stood above him. It possessed a spider’s body. Its mouth boasted the tentacles of a thing lost to the depths of the sea. They waved in a terrible dance that nearly froze Clark’s blood, reddened teeth poised to rip Benjamin in pieces.
Clark was of screaming and destruction. He was of wrath and rage. His sword found every soft spot, every tender area of that monster, and drove death forward into oblivion. Clark pulled back, gathered his mind and his poise, grabbed his much-needed general, and began dragging him back.
The men all knew their king was in full retreat. He was not coming back for them. But they covered for their beloved leader, as he took the only one of them who mattered and fled for his life. It would haunt Clark for years to come. Every man he passed threw himself in the way. Every man he was forsaking covered the escape.
Hours later, Clark pulled free of the battlefield, a drudgery that none could fathom. After hours of dragging the fallen Benjamin, Clark found a nook, a hidden section of the forest outside of Jandar. He dropped atop the body of his mightiest general and he wept.
He bound wounds and hours passed. The worst of Ben’s bleeding had ended. Clark could only watch over his friend and pray. But the gods had destroyed everything; there were none to pray to. Clark prayed to the only one who had ever listened. Clark prayed to his father, Simon Bard.
“Father, if you see me here in this hidden place, alone and afraid, come to me and deliver me from this defeat. Bring me to safety and let me find my feet again. Behind me, my men die, slaughtered by an enemy so terrible, the mind reels that the gods would have allowed them at all. Save me here. Let me—”
“He cannot hear you,” a terrible voice hissed.
Clark jumped to his feet and spun, his sword up, his eyes searching. But he found no villain. “He has been torn from this world and cares for you not. He begs now for his life and asks piously for mercy. For he has a god to worship, and that god is death.”
Clark looked into the trees around him, searching for a vile tongue but finding none. “Step out here and face me, vile monster. Whispers in the darkness are nothing to be listened to. Face me here in this place. Weigh your truth against my sword and tell me of my fate. For without bravery, your words falter, and I will not listen to them.”
From the trees slipped a figure so drenched in sex and tantalization that Clark nearly fell to his knees before her. He held his sword between them, though his only desire was to rush to her and beg her body. He looked upon the loveliest being he had ever seen, and he steeled himself against killing it.
“You come to this forest seeking refuge from your defeat and you think you will find it. You come here to find only me, and I am anything but merciful.”
“It is not your wrath I fear,” Clark said, the dead sword in his hand unwilling to summon the strength to fight. He knew himself bewitched and helpless. “Your beauty makes a coward out of me.”
“Beauty,” the woman hissed, “You know nothing of the word.”
“I am Clark the First King. I know beauty, just as I know strength and treachery, and I know what you are,” he said.
“What name have I then?” she sneered. “What can you claim to see in me?”
“You are not a goddess, but you are immortal. Without this, you could not stand before me so tantalizing and so terrible. You will find my death in your jaws, beast.”
“How know you I am a beast?”
“No thing so beautiful as you can be anything less than goddess or monster. I would not be surprised of either title.” Clark dropped to his knees and laid his sword at his feet. “I only beg your mercy for my man here. He is vital to the human resurrection. He is to take up where I left off, for he is the only man who can compare with me, and all hope of deliverance now rests within him.”
“How can you say this when you breathe?” the woman said. She stopped close to a tree to hug its girth and stare into his eyes. Clark looked her in the eyes and shook his head.
“I have been unmanned. I am nothing now, a weakling in the shell of a once great man. For I see a beauty to possess a soul, and it has claimed mine. Fragile hope has shattered in my hand and left me bereft. All I can do now is pray for a time when you might touch me and grant me deliverance.”
“From a darkness without your blessing.” Clark stared at the woman before him, knowing he had no hope of survival.
She was at once before him, her claws digging into his throat. “I am a thing unnamed and horrible,” she spat.
“I care not what you are. I only wish to be seen by you.”
“Seen by me, why?”
“In your eyes, I can truly be judged. Not as warrior or king, but as man, as flawed and tragic, as powerful and fallen. Take my life and everything that comes from it. Curse the human race to slavery, for I am helpless and young.”
She stared at him, curling her hand back to slash his throat to ribbons of flesh and ruin, when a company of anasazi burst from the trees and snarled.
An insatiable need to destroy possessed Clark. He was at once a conquering man and a desperate man, both driven by hate and the need to defend what was beautiful and right. He placed his back at her and killed everything that sought to claim her. He was reckless in his striving, taking risks and throwing himself into the jaws of death to keep her safe. In less than a breath, Clark the First King had destroyed every monster.
He dropped at her feet and laid his sword down. “You have defeated me. Take my life or grant me your touch. I have earned nothing less.”
Ferallorn gripped him by the side of the head and held her claw back for a killing swipe. She stared into his eyes, but saw only the insatiable need to keep her alive and safe. She thought back to every man she had met before this one. Every creature had begged for her. No one had ever possessed the nerve to fight for her. She shrieked in his face and, with terrible claws, she took form. With the beating of her wings, she lifted into the air to carry him away. He was worthy of her, and she needed him in her now.
Clark opened his eyes as she ripped him from the ground, and he held back his scream with dogged reserve. She was changing and shifting in the air. Her breathtaking face snapped and pulled, running like warm wax, to a new form, one of snout and jaws, a form riddled with fangs and horns. The body he had been so drawn to stretched and expanded to levels that dwarfed any other being he had ever seen. The arms that held him became claws, became talons, and he gripped tight to his nerve as he fought to make sense of the one who held him. She turned in the air and, with pumps of her leathery wings, spun away with him.
He fought back the urge to pass out as the wind gripped him and fear rioted through his body. But was it fear? Clark tried to put a name to the emotion that rushed through him. It was not fear. He had faced beasts of nature before. His enemy, the anasazi, were unrivaled monsters. The world was filled with unnamable creatures, and he fought or lived peacefully beside every one of them. In all his excursions, he had never experienced anything like this. She was less of a monster and more of a deity.
When she dropped him in a high cave overlooking the forest below, Clark jumped to his feet and backed away. The beast pumped its wings one more time before it diminished in size and was at once the loveliest woman he had ever seen.
She paused. She held back all her words and let him gather himself before she spoke again. Clark waited.
“What know you of a thing such as I?” she said. She did not sit, though she possessed a throne. She did not stand over him or menace him in any way. She appeared nervous, almost scared.
“You are legendary. You are the goddess of beasts. You are a dragon.”
“I devour men and animals alike. Nothing can stand before me in the face of my grandeur.”
“I did,” Clark said.
“You were unmanned by me. You said so yourself.”
Clark stepped closer and she stepped back. “I am unmanned by your beauty. I fear not your power, your breath, or your claws. This form will be the death of me. It is the woman, not the beast, that I fear.”
“Then why do you come for me?” she said. Clark noticed her perspiration, and he suddenly needed to taste it against his lips. He licked them and her eyes were drawn to his mouth, where they lingered for far too long.
“I desire nothing from you,” he said, but that was a lie. “I only want to lay hand to your skin before you slay me.”
“My scales,” she corrected.
“No, I wish to touch your true power. I wish to touch your flesh. Every dragon has scales. I can hunt any of your kind and lay my hand to their scales. But you have me captive. I can only imagine you will rend me to bits of flesh and bone. You will sear me to char and dine on my remains. This I fear, but not as much as the fate that stands before me now.”
“What fate is that?”
“To never have touched your flesh.”
She stepped closer to him, bold and fearless. Her hand trembled as she closed her eyes and pressed her body forward. “I will devour you,” she whispered. “But you may.”
His trembling fingers touched her jaw and traced to her neck. She opened her eyes and he stared at her. He placed his palm against her throat and steeled himself for death.
“You grab my neck when I stand here, allowing your touch? Why not my breasts? Why not my body?”
“I do not wish to defile you. It is not lust that drives me,” Clark whispered. His husky voice was charged with more emotion than he had ever felt before.
She pulled close and stopped a breath from his mouth. Her eyelids fluttered closed and she barely spoke at all when she said. “What is it then that presses you forward?”
“Love,” he breathed.
She kissed him, stepping into his body and gripping him by the back of the head. Her other hand gripped his armor and wrenched it from his body, slashing his clothing to ribbons. She threw him to the ground.
Clark stared up at her, his erection, hard and powerful, charged with desire and need. She was naked in a breath and she dropped down atop him. She screeched in pleasure and clawed his chest. He gripped her body as she rode him, and he whispered tenderly to her. “What can I call you?” he asked.
“I am Ferallorn, daughter of Ember. I am alone no more.”
“You will never be alone again if it is my say.”
“Tell me your name, before I wither and die.”
“I am Clark the First King, leader of the Second Age, son of Simon, lover to the goddess of the sky.”
When their lovemaking was over, Clark turned to ask her, but he needed not. She tossed his sword to him and gripped him in both arms. She leaped from the cave into the four-hundred-foot fall. He wrapped his arms around her as she warped and changed. He found himself on her back as she spread her mighty wings and turned her eye to where she had found him.
She dropped, like an arrow in a dive, to the place they had met. Before she slammed into the trees, she took her womanly form again and Clark plummeted to the ground. He rolled to his feet and turned to find Benjamin dropping to his knees.
“Master and King, what has happened? What fate has befallen us?” The great man bent his blonde mane, as if in defeat, and his voice came from a place of sorrow. “What has become of my men?”
“Rise, Ben the Mighty, and we will find out.” Clark turned to Ferallorn and smiled. She warped into her terrible power and Benjamin dropped to the ground. “Come and be not afraid. We have a battle to fight and men to avenge.”
Both men leapt atop Ferallorn’s back, and she lifted into the air. She roared and blasted the world with a fount of flame. They soared back to the battlefield.
They found Clark’s men on the ground, their heads down, their weapons at their knees. Clark dropped to stand before them. “Rise, men. Fight beside me and my love! The war has turned, and man will have his day!” Ferallorn breathed out her searing anger. The Army of the Second Age screamed their battle cry and rushed the enemy with blood hot and curses on their lips.