Something snapped as the jaws of the monster clamped down on my arm, crushing flesh and bone alike. More than the excruciating pain, the smell was what got to me. I couldn’t decide whether to howl in pain or proceed to promptly faint from the stench of the rotting teeth.
A scream tore through my lungs. Shit, shit, shit it hurts!. Even if I didn’t die from the enthusiastic chomping, I’d die of septicaemia from the looks of these teeth!
Oi monster, didn’t your mommy teach you to brush?
Even while I was dying, for the second time mind you, my thoughts were clear. Needlessly so. I could even feel the blood trickling down my arm slowly losing its warmth. The harder I flailed, the more blood I lost. Damn. I thought I could see the pearly gates already. Oh, look, flying piglets beckoning me to the great beyond.
A shrill voice shook up my interior monologue. Leave me alone! I complained in my head as letting out even a groan seemed to much trouble. What does a guy have to do to finish his last monologue?!
A pretty redhead girl cackled in some unknown language while bobbing up and down a few inches from my face. Her body shivered as she looked my battered body up an down, a hungry glint in her eyes.
The girl seemed positively ecstatic with each time her lower mouth crunched down on my arm. No, not that lower mouth. Her pretty, naked frame was attached to the head of the monster that munched down on my arm like college kids at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Even the fucking demons in this fucking world are fucking annoying. Too many fucks in that sentence? Wait till you hear my story and you’ll agree with my vocab.
The girl part of the monster drooped down to lick the blood off my temple, which somehow had got torn up in the thrashing. As her little, red tongue flickered on my skin, she moaned in pleasure at the taste of it.
Fuck this shit! With the last remnants of my strength, I stretched my fingers into a V and drove them through her eyes with a wet squelch. Then I proceeded to make whatever was inside that head into a nice, bloody batter.
“You forgot to say please”, I growled. This'll count as cool last words, right?
The monster screamed and spat me out of its mouth while wailing in probably what was sailor-grade Demonese cusses. Greenish blood dripped down her busted eyes and soaked the lush grass underneath.
Yeah Yeah. I love you too, sweetheart. My half chewed up arm throbbed, pain lancing up my entire body. I spat out a mouthful of blood. My mouth curled up in a wry smile at the coppery taste. Maybe...maybe this time I'll die for good. Then, everything turned black.
So, you ask exactly how I got to know this lovely lady? but before that, you want to know what the actual fuck is going on?
Let’s rewind a bit. Since the birth of time...no not that far, to just a few hours ago. There I had been, happy that I had finally got to pass the exam. I had planned to withdraw some cash to celebrate with my friends. I mean, I did deserve to party hard after all the studying, didn’t I? I had gone to the bank and the eternally grumpy cashier was looking through my chequebook, when she simply…froze.
Come on! Don't make that face! I know I don’t have savings! Dammit, I’m just 20!
“If you know what is good for you, put your hands up and slowly get out of the counter, otherwise we will ....” threatened a gruff voice behind me, "pew pew".
I glanced back- a man wearing a Tengu mask waved a gun at the cashier’s counter.
Oh. A robbery. I calmly took my chequebook from the receptionist and tried to walk away.
“What are you doing, asshole?” The robber guy shoved his gun at my face, demanding to know.
I, in turn, shoved my chequebook towards him. “Look at it. It’s horrifying enough to give Stephen King some ideas. I don’t have anything to do here, do I?" I grumbled as I had to show another person the yawning pit of Tartarus that was my account. "Also, did you just say pew pew?”
Apparently, the guy took offence. Maybe he didn’t like Stephen King. Maybe he wanted exclusive rights to say "pew pew". He shoved me towards the hall where his accomplices were rounding up people as hostages.
I sighed, prepared to spend some quality time with my hands over my head and threats thrown around. I crouched and sat beside a terrified mother and her child. I hope this gets over soon, I have dinner to make after this.
After some time had passed, I could hear police sirens closing in. Finally, they decide to be here!.
The robbers froze for a second. The Tengu-mask barked at his men. The robbers' movements became frantic. One of them hurried over to where I sat and grabbed the mother by her hair and dragged her towards the door.
Using hostage to get away?
The mother let out a pained scream, her hands clawing the floor.
Her daughter ran after them.
Oh shit! No! I tried to stop her but she scampered fast on her little feet. The child grabbed on the leg of the robber dragging her mother and bit down on his leg.
“Son of a …” the robber yelped and hit the little child with the back of the gun. With a sudden jerk, he then pointed the muzzle at her.
"Stop! Please stop!" The mother screamed as tears streaked across her face. "I'll...I'll do whatever you say. Let her go! Please", she pleaded. "She is just a kid!"
Nope. Don't be a hero, I told myself.
The robber snorted. His fingers tightened on the trigger.
People started screaming one by one.
Time stretched. I hadn’t even felt my muscles tense when I sprang up and clambered after the child. What am I even doing? I barely shoved her away with a savage thrust when I heard a loud bang. The wide hall seemed to reverberate along with the split second flare of pain I felt in my chest. You know how people talk about how they saw a hole in their chest when they got shot or felt a paragraph worth of emotions when they do something instantaneous? They lie. What happens with a gunshot is, Bang! Sploot! You are dead!
There it is. The tale of the wonderful first-time hero Rigel and how he died. The name is Rigel by the way, written with the kanji of…oh dammit. Too many years in Japan have affected my mannerisms.
At any rate, I didn’t know why the robber tried to shoot a little girl. Maybe the robber was new and got fidgety; maybe he was an underpaid intern. Who knows? But losing composure is unbecoming as a professional. If there was a yelp for robbers, I'd give them the lowest rating. Also, Fuck those guys. I hope the police drill you full of holes, assholes. And then, I died for the first time today.
A dull throb spread through my body, while my eyelids felt like lead. I...I am alive?!
I woke up in an eerie room where darkness extended infinitely except for a throne some distance away. The throne, seemingly made of solid gold and silver, had a curious illumination. The light is not...spreading to the surroundings?. Slowly, as my eyes adjusted, I could make out shapes of bones and skulls on that throne. Some parts of it shone like steel. But even more astonishing was the figure sitting on the throne.
At a glace, he was a remarkable person. Probably a decade older than me? The light faintly shone on his high cheekbones and aquiline nose before getting absorbed in his head of rough shoulder length black hair. His skin itself glowed with faint luminescence as he flipped through a book on one hand and rested his chin on the other. His robes shimmered black and green as if a snake had spit its venom on those clothes.
Huh? What's happening? My head reeled, trying to take stock of my situation. Who is that? Why...why is he wearing a robe? Why does he have a pair of swords attached to his hips? What is with his horrible Edgelord fashion?
“What are you supposed to be, O Lord of the faintly glowing cheeks and a tasteless throne?” I knew I was going to pay for this, but I couldn’t help quipping. Seriously though, what the fuck is going on?
As the man turned his head to face me, the crown on his head glinted with the white of bone and--are...are those shadows coiling around it? what the... A chill ran down my spine. My hands shook a little.
“I am a god, and you are dead. And dead men don’t talk. I don’t hate impudence...but only from those I want to break.” replied the god of horrible fashion sense.
“You are the...God?" I stuttered. "Shouldn’t you be like…all white and with angels instead of this depressing Evil Overlord setting?" Dead huh. Is this...some weird hallucination while I'm being rushed to the hospital or something? "And dude", I couldn't stop myself speaking as if it was the only thing that kept a strange fear from welling deep within me. "I too wanted to have a soulful last moment where I describe everything around, about and with me, you know" I added. "That’s how people die in fiction after all!"
The self-proclaimed God rolled his eyes at my reply. “I said a god. Also not of your world. And again, silence, mortal. Hear my words and depart, kin of the fallen”, he waved his hands, “You will be sent to another world. You will fight the demons there to defeat the demon lord. I will give you 3 gifts as mandated by the Covenant…”
I hoped this was a dream. What the actual hell did I get high on?
“Stop stop..wait. Why? Why was I chosen and why the heck would I fight battles for some other world?” I protested loudly. Did I already get to the party? This must be some goddamn fine weed to make me this blacked out.
“Shut up, mortal. Know your place. You will do as I say because you have no choice; you are dead in your previous world and have nowhere to go. You will do as I say because you are powerless to refuse. You will do this to provide us with entertainment. Do not think for a moment that you were chosen to be a hero, or that you are special. We the gods choose mortals to play with. It is how we entertain ourselves. You are our pawns and nothing more”.
“What? I won't do it! I refuse!” The dream grew more and more lucid. This...couldn’t be real, could it?
“You still seem to be misunderstand something”, came the reply in a voice of cold steel. The form of the god blurred as he appeared right in front of me. As fast as lightning, his staff whipped out at me. With a resounding crack, my lower jaw broke and dislocated. He added on in a voice like dripping acid, “You have no choice. Either, struggle and entertain me or die deliberately on the other side. If you do so, I will bring you here and send you again. Then again. In the end, you will beg me to kill you, and your's won't be the first skull on my throne either.
I lay there in agony, unable to even whimper as I realized somehow, he had made me unable to talk. As a warm liquid dripped on my hands, I understood he had ripped out my voice-box too with his sword. When...when did he even whip out his sword?!
The world contracted around me as my vision tunnelled in sheer pain and horror. I frantically clawed at my throat trying to put back the things that were starting to spill out of it. Blood gushed out of me and disappeared into the dark floor beneath.
“So, then”, he seemed to grow cheerful at my frenzied struggle, “as I was saying, three gifts as per the Covenant and no more. The Gift of Knowledge, The Gift of Might and The Gift of Miracles. Honestly, I would have sent you with nothing, but our games dictate some base decorum, so there you go”.
I felt the relapse of my long-standing depression. The realization of being made into a pawn slowly sank in, and a dull ache set in my heart, Fuck this!! I hated the situation with all my might, I hated it with all I was. Yep, this is definitely real, with so much pain, no chance that this is some blunt. The thick coppery smell from my pooling blood wafted up, burning my nostrils.
“Good. That is right. Hate with all your might. Hate with your being. Because down there, only hate can save you, kin of the Fallen”, said the spiteful god, sounding amused as he continued. “I need your consent to send you to another world, Rigel. Please say ‘yes’. If you think you will refuse, you know what will happen”. He swung his sword in a fluid motion. Droplets splattered my face. My own blood!
His face pulled up in a grin, “The Covenant only asks for consent, not how it is obtained.” He cleared his throat, "Do you wish to become Lord Zain's vassal and see to it that my will be done in Sangraal?"
What? No pop-up windows? I still had a faint hope that this was like the start of one of those Japanese novels and anime I had read so much of. A game world! or...or a fantasy world! That must be it!
“I guess your silence means ‘yes’”, His Nastiness gloated.
You son of a…you ripped out my voice box! Oddly enough, the blazing pain from my ripped voice box had started to numb out into a slow, throbbing tempo.
The god, Zain, made a sweeping motion with his hands and my wounds started to heal. The wounds closed by itself as I felt nerves and muscles stitch together of their own volition.
“Yes”. I said in a hoarse voice. Fuck you! “Do I get weekly holidays and insurance?” I added as some measure of trivial resistance.
The god glared at me with his eyebrows raised, “You really are...impudent. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to pick you anyway”. He added with a dismissive gesture, “Off you go; go forth and entertain".
He turned away from me, his leather boots squeaking loudly in that silent room,“If you have any questions, I'd advise you to keep them to yourself. My vassals aren't exactly...thought well of down there". "Hope you had a pleasant evening”, he said with a shit-eating grin.
This god. I will kill him someday.
I felt a searing pain flaring on by back, and then I lost consciousness. This again?!
I woke up with the sun in my eyes. The bed of grass I lay on pricked my skin softly as I looked up at the pleasant…what the actual hell?
There were broken masses across the sky from horizon to horizon in a broad slanted belt. Looking closely, they seem to be clumps of broken landmasses.
Something like Saturn’s Belt? More like belts of whatever-land-I-was-sent-to.
There were two moons visible in the sky close by. I hope they crash and destroy this world. I was lying in a broad vale, full of trees that extended on all sides. They were quite normal, almost same as trees back on Earth.
I guess expecting glowing trees and talking plants are too much even for fantasy settings, huh?
As I was thinking to myself, a mesmerizing voice reached my ears. Someone sang in a foreign and exotic sounding language. I picked myself up slowly like a fragile glass sculpture. Huh? Doesn't hurt? In spite of the extreme violence that god had visited upon my body, it didn't hurt now.
I guess that bastard really is a fucking god, I thought as I jogged towards the source of the song. The voice gradually strengthened and it was as if…the voice was pulling me towards it.
“Let’s try to get some info out of the splendid songstress”, I said to myself aloud, as if to dispel the fears of a new world. Talking to myself again, huh?
I suddenly burst into a clearing. Lush blue and red vegetation ringed a small pond, its water a vibrant shade of emerald.
There you are, fantasy plants.
Oddly, there were no birds or insects around. The area surrounding the pond was silent, except for the ephemeral voice. Tracing the source of the voice, my eyes fell upon a girl. While she sang, her hands cupped water and trickled it down her snow-white skin. I took a gulp, Now this is a fantasy. On so many levels. I felt like a voyeur upon a sacred scene, even so, I stood rooted to the spot. I admit, the myth of Actaeon being turned to a stag because he saw Diana bathing had indeed come to my mind. A sense of fascination and danger sent shivers down my spine. Or maybe it is her voice?.
Suddenly the girl turned around and looked at me, in a flash covering herself up with leaves. Her blazing scarlet hair clung to her lithe form like a dress made of fire.
I wondered what to do when the girl beckoned me with inviting gestures, water dripping down her curves. I walked up to her, thinking of what to say… I felt so confused, walking as if in a happy haze.
The girl smiled like an angel and rose up through the water. I mean literally above the water, the girl was attached to a 10-foot high frog-like monster. The monstrosity hopped on its two hind legs just like a frog. Water cascaded down its mottled grey-green skin with reddish spots spread on its back.
Far from running away, I stood petrified on the spot. My legs gave way beneath me. The frog opened it’s terrible maw. As two sets of razor-sharp fangs lining its mouth expanded, overpowering stench of rotting meat assailed my senses. The girl was attached to the frog’s head, much like the glowing lure attached to an Anglerfish, made to lure prey. The girl screeched in a shrill voice, unlike her godly singing before.
I guess I won’t be taking you home tonight, eh?
The monster leapt up with a speed unbecoming of its huge size and charged at me. My vision tunnelled, focusing on the huge set of teeth which loomed in front of me like a badly maintained guillotine. Its jaws chomped down on my arm while it rammed into me at the same time, throwing me against a large tree trunk, blocking my escape. The girl bobbed up and down strangely from her lower body that was attached to the frog head by a thick tentacle...no, like a mermaid, only in place of a tail, this bitch had a demon frog.
The girl had smiled at me, her hands rubbed at her nipples as if the situation excited her. Well, it probably had. Her mouth had opened in a grin, a soft sigh escaping her lips as her lower mouth ripped at my hand.
And then, the massive maw had clamped down with a fearful crunch.