Freedom felt good; it was alive — again. Chained between two pillars of stone deep underground was not the way to spend five millennia, even if the passage of time held little significance for a creature that could almost live forever. It remembered the thirteen shaman wizards hurling their “Magyk” in tightening bands to bind its limbs before they dragged it into the pit. Now was the time for revenge!
Born in the void of interstellar space, this creature had survived for a million years. It had manipulated the bi-pedal race of hairless mutations after the other apes rejected them, chasing them from the trees to scratch a living in the dust. It ensured their survival by giving them intelligence of thought and communication in sound. They called it Chimera, yet in the end they had turned against it, found other gods to worship, gods of the repulsive “Magyk.”
It stood on a sloping bank of vegetation, staring at the approaching glow through eyes tuned to the body heat of its prey. The darkest of nights, yet with infrared vision it could see equally well as if this had been daylight. From the vibrations sensed in its feet through the ground on which it stood, it could estimate the size of the quarry. Very little vibration suggested it was light-footed and would therefore be no more than a snack. Having eaten nothing since breakfast so many centuries ago, and that was only some scrawny bag of bones that had dared to call itself a warrior, there was little chance the repast would sate the beast’s ravening hunger.
The last decent meal was the plump, fair-skinned female chained to its feeding post. It could still hear her screams as it breathed acidic flame to char her flesh, not too much; it preferred the meat still raw, still living. If they had only fed it more regularly, it would never have felt the urge to go in search of its own food. The creature, it was irrelevant to call it he or she, being a mixture of both, remembered the terror it had caused. The devastation to the small dwellings, four wooden walls daubed with mud and thatched with tinder-dry grass on the roofs, which flared up so well in the aftermath of its fiery breath, fanned by the beat of membrane covered wings.
It remembered the fleeing warm-blooded morsels as it searched for the most tender, juicy prey, those females of the species carrying young life in their bellies. It took two back to its lair in the lake before they came looking for it. Less than ten wizards and it would not have been overpowered, but no, they had to go for the full complement, the magic number the gods had decreed to be unassailable. It hated wizards, and yet it must be thankful, for it required a far more powerful wizard to break their spell.
Uncertain as to how it had been awakened from its coma, it could recall nothing other than the sound of the incantations summoning it from the tomb. The single, deep, resonating voice in the darkness, “…worm of Hades…may these chains release you!”
The Chimera knew that simple words were insufficient. Alone, they would have been useless without blood of the magi’s sacrificial offering. Whether for an awakening, summoning or even simple cry for help, the laws of ‘cause-and-effect’ decreed the surrender of life.
Just the thought of suffering caused juices to drool from its jagged razor-glass teeth. It imagined the stone altar, a knife drawn across the neck, a vermilion stream pumping into the chalice. It imagined the chant, the words of power as the blood was consecrated. It knew for certainty, because this was how the gods had instructed the wizards to bind their enemies with “Magyk.” And yet… for one moment, there was uneasiness in the creature’s thoughts, almost as if it had half remembered something. With a shake of its horned reptilian head, it dismissed the worries. It could deal with such matters once its hunger was appeased.
It watched the approaching quarry, judging the speed of its approach, to time the unleashing of an assault that would catch it unawares. The length of its imprisonment had caused tardiness in its awareness. The victim was approaching more rapidly than expected, but no matter. It could readily exert more energy to compensate. From the pulsing red glow of heat from the prey, two small ones—probably eyes — sat above a larger, more intense source, obviously the body, it guessed it was around half the size of the predator about to feed on its lifeblood.
The quarry growled a warning as it approached. Seemingly, it feared nothing. Obviously, it was young and naïve in its unconcern for the danger that lay ahead. Razor sharp talons would soon rip the growl from the victim’s throat. The hunter crouched in a shallow depression, hidden from the view of the unsuspecting morsel by trees and undergrowth, holding its breath so that no telltale flame would reveal its presence to the unwary.
Almost within range. Almost. It leapt!
“My god! Did you see that?”
“What the hell was it?”
“Some kind of animal… came right out’a the bank it did.”
The two men in the cab stared at each other. “Ere Ted…d’you reckon we ought to go back and check?”
“Bit difficult now,” answered the driver, not slackening the pace of the vehicle. “Gonna be a job turning a rig this size round on these narrer roads. ’sides we’re already running late.”
“But what if it’s injured?”
“No chance…went straight underneath us. Don’t think there’ll be much left when it’s spat out the back. We can have a look on the way back after we drop the trailer if y’like.”
Darkness swallowed the red glow of tail lights. The creature lay on its side staring after its adversary. Black bile ran in hissing, steaming pools on the tarmac from a rent in its belly. It tried to move. Bone grated against bone in shattered limbs. The scaly skin of its wing stretched between broken ribs lay useless beneath it. It tried to suck air into its lungs through shattered teeth. The bile, combining with the oxygen ignited in a blue flame. Its ability to destroy by fire was now its demise. Spontaneous combustion would burn with such intensity that even bones would turn to dust. The final memory was of the thirteen shaman wizards as they cast their spell. The echoing voice of their leader, “Only when comes a warrior with the power to slay you, worm of Hades, may these chains release you!”