flASH fiction: Volume 4: Final Offerings (36)

Final Offerings
By
Jason Pere

In all of its time spent marauding over the face of Argaia, Koin had never been so livid. The prize of a great city had been within reach. Koin had to do little more than reach out a clawed hand and it could have claimed Rayward for its own. For days on end the mighty chimera overload had wedged the city between a brutal frontal assault and a deep cutting strike from the inside. It was counting the seconds until the hulking barrier that was Rayward’s Gate was torn from its frame. Koin thirsted to witness its horde of twisted monsters pour thought the sundered gate like a wrathful tide of mayhem.

Koin was bound to stand and skulk from afar once more. Though Rayward’s Gate was cracked and bent the structure managed to continue taunting the great horned beast with its sustained existence. Koin was almost whipped into a bloody frenzy just by looking at the intact state of the city’s seal wall. The half goat thing raked its claws down the bark of the closest tree it could find. Leaving five lengthy gashes in the wood of the tree trunk did pitifully little to assuage Koin’s temper. It set upon the tree, snarling and flinging globs of hateful spit in all directions as it proceeded to reduce the towering evergreen to kindling.

With each new line that Koin carved into the wood, it thought of the days gone by. At first Koin reveled in the masterful way his force had infiltrated the city by swimming up a river of the human’s own filth. The thrill of knowing that it’s brethren had bypassed all the formidable defenses of the city and started spilling blood in the streets intensify Koin’s scraping and thrashing. Koin’s fervent assault on the evergreen escalated into a wild fit of unchained rage as it recounted the most recent turn of events beyond the seal wall.

A fleet of ships that were so modest in number had appeared from the horizon of the Bone Sea not long ago. Koin gave the news of the vessels arrival little concern when it first heard of them. The massive chimera wondered where the ships had come from. It was not curiosity bred form fear of failure but more the desire to know what nation had defied it. Koin had begun to plot a way to strike at the native port of the fleet as soon as it had taken Rayward. It would see all who dared try and aid those it meant to destroy promptly join their allies in an equally gruesome end. Once Koin had learned that the fleet had somehow managed to blockade the waterfront access to the city and stem the flow of chimera swimming into the Rayward from the Bone Sea, it had taken on a completely different demeanor. The news of the city’s successful oceanside defense had cost the life of the messenger as well as the closest two chimera that stood near Koin as it received the information.

Having to withdraw its forces from the siege on the gate, nearly broke Koin. It could still feel the bitter taste of the retreat order in its mouth. It was one of the cruelest experiences that the chimera master had gone through since it started its tirade through the wilds an into Rayward’s shadow. The city was on the verge of collapse and all of a sudden an assured victory was turned into a telling defeat by a handful of humans sailing under some ragtag banners. Koin would never admit it but it had to wonder if its current emotional state was what humiliation felt like. Seeing all the resources it had spent on attacking the seal wall squandered and put to waste set Koin’s blood to a boil. For the first time since it had opened its wicked black eyes, Koin found itself placed into debt by the chimera’s war against humanity. Dwelling in such a state of being was sickening beyond description to the massive chimera.

Koin turned its attention from the tree that it had all but torn to splinters and looked out over the collection of its lesser brethren gathered in the woods behind it. Koin took stock of their killing claws and slashing teeth along with the dreadful absence of human blood staining either of the two lethal instruments. Before its ire could rise too much further at the sight of predators without prey to slaughter, Koin found its attention wader to the meek forms of its human followers dotting the chimera horde. Seeing its feeble and marred doters only served to intensify Koin’s wrath. Watching its great army of beasts rendered as helpless as the ruined humans who served at its beck and call brought Koin’s fury to the forefront of everything. For the great horned goat thing there was nothing in this moment but hatred.

“You!” Koin shouted as it cast a razor talon in the direction of its closest human servant. “You and you,” it continued pointing in turn at each one of the marked humans that fell under its seething black stare. “All of you. You miserable human things come forward!” Koin roared. Its voice cut through the forest with such ferocity that human and chimera alike heard the sound of wood cracking as the trees nearest to Koin suffered under the pressure of its booming voice.

The ranks of the chimera fighting force parted and made way for the masses of broken men and women to answer their master’s call. People moved forward as fast as their crippled bodies would allow. All took immediate postures of subservience and deference as soon as they cleared the front line of towering chimera. Most of Koin’s humans fell to their knees, some of them even flung themselves prostrate on the earth while sniveling and groveling with a slew of self-deprecating sentiments. Marx burst forth from the faceless sea of Koin’s warriors and took his expected place at the head of the congregation of filthy begging people.

Koin waited for the last of its human follows to show and present themselves. It scanned the whimpering collection of scarred flesh and missing appendages. It reflected on the spectacle of all the bloodletting offerings that its humans had given of themselves during their time in bondage. The gruesome tributes were no longer enough. Koin felt its internal scales of profit and loss tipped so grossly out of alignment that it needed to collect more form its people than ever before in order to see balance restored.

“Rayward is to become my possession now. The time has come for all of you who have followed me to make your greatest offering yet. I will take of you unto the last measure of worth,” Koin said with black vapors trailing from its mouth like a cloud of nightmares. It’s powerful clawed hands crackled with green and gold light as it summoned up vile magic from deep within itself. It swung its hands forward and unleased a brilliant shockwave of energy into the gathered throng of people. All was silent for but a single breath before Koin’s humans began to writhe and howl in transformative agony. “Now to your purpose. You shall all buy me that city with what grows inside of you,” snarled Koin as it pointed towards Rayward’s Gate. “Make your offerings,” Koin screamed as it commanded its army of men and monsters to charge the city once more.