To Collect What Is Owed
The pain in what had once been a black glinting sinister eye was Koin’s constant reminder of what failure had cost. The first siege the chimera had brought upon Rayward’s Gate had gone form nearly crushing victory to total defeat so suddenly. The only mementos of the upset that Koin had were it’s memories of the day, a snapped horn and it’s ruined eye. The elder chimera now sported a mangled lump of pulp in it’s skull, thanks to the noble sacrifices of the Rayward army. One man in particular was to blame for the beast’s half sighted state. The death of Sir Liam Broadcliff was not enough to assuage the slight against Koin’s being and it’s condemnation to existing as a cripple thing. Now whenever Koin blinked, or even looked too far to the right, it was reminded of the mighty blow that Sir Liam had struck for the Argaian people. The pain Koin felt in its eye was sharp and cutting, undiminished by the passage of time.
While the physical torment that the chimera endured from its war wound was considerable the greater source of discomfort came from the sense of scales that were out of balance. Koin had seen to ending the miserable man who was responsible for marring it so viciously. Sir Liam met with a suitably brutal demise but his suffering was nothing compared to what Koin had to endure. Every day since the attack on Rayward’s Gate Koin had been subjected to debilitating physical agony while his nemesis rested peacefully in death. It was the affront of an uncollectible debt that caused Koin the most vexation. An aching sightless lump rotting in the beasts head was comparable dwarfed next to the inability to inflict further harm and torment upon Sir Liam Broadcliff.
A rouge gust of wind whipped up just so perfectly as to blow directly upon Koin’s shredded eye. The icy chill of the Frostdale air cut into the core of the powerful chimera like an expertly thrown javelin. Koin bared it teeth and snarled before shutting it’s eyelid tightly and offering every infernal thought and curse that it could for the awful place that surrounded it. Normally the cold of the northern wilds were a blessing for Koin. While most others rued the cold, the numbness that the frost brought with it was a welcome medicine for the perpetual discomfort that was known to Koin. The warrens that were carved deep into the earth below the snow of the surface helped to shield Koin from the razor wind that ruled the world above. Every so often the wind’s grasp made it down as far as Koin’s inner sanctuary. In those few and fleeting moments the age old chimera was filled with nothing but hate and animosity as the world itself seemed to turn upon it.
After the initial flash of burning cold subsided to the usually incessant misery that plagued the chimera, Koin returned it’s mind to the present. With it’s one good eye, Koin scanned over the lavish collection of sparking treasure and finery that filled it’s hall. The trinkets and worldly possessions helped to comfort the great monster like they so often did. Being surrounded by splendid wealth and excess filled the creature with the most profound sense of calm. If there was anything that could make Koin forget the pain in its eye for a few heartbeats it was a sprawling horde of silver and gold. As the creature regarded the staggering collection of magnificent items that surrounded it’s dais and throne the hatred it felt for humanity took a momentary rest. Koin took in a few deep breaths and let the cold of Frostdale return to work it’s pleasant numbness on it’s beaten and scarred body.
The chimera guards stationed at the mouth of the hall shifted and moved with an alert and combative sense. Quickly after observing it’s underlings change in demeanor, Koin picked up on the source for their disturbance. The faint sound of bear feet slapping against the cold stone of the carved floors began to echo in the chamber. Not long after the sound of footsteps materialized out of the low burning torchlight the shape of a man appeared at the entrance to the hall. The man was halted by the crossed blades of two of the chimera guards that resembled reptilian birds of prey. After stopping the human, the two intimidating scaled creatures turned to look at their master. Koin did not speak but with a gesture of it’s claws instructed the guards to let the man pass.
The scared and maimed man humbly approached the seated monstrosity that was his chimera overlord. Koin looked upon the weak pathetic husk of flesh and bones. The beast could only feel contempt and disgust for the man despite the human’s unwavering loyalty. With it’s one working eye, Koin glowered at the man. “Make your offering,” Koin spoke with the sound of coppers clanging together in a heavy purse.
The man pulled a shoddy looking and heavily tarnished knife from the rope belt that cinched the rags he wore. With a quick and familiar motion he drew the edge of the weapon across his left palm and opened a fresh cut amid the collection of scars and wounds in various stages of healing. The man let a long trail of blood fall from his hand onto the cold stone at Koin’s cloven hooves.
“Is that all?” Koin said with a thoroughly unsatisfied quality in it’s voice. The beast snorted indignantly at the petty blood tribute.
The man wordlessly switch the blade to his other hand and opened a matching cut on his right palm. He fell to the freezing ground and pressed his palms flat on the stone. A long silence followed and two pools of red began to take shape under the man’s bleeding palms.
“Proceed, with your account,” Koin said after the two pools of blood had mingling into one large crimson puddle.
“My lord and master, news comes from where we fought the dogs of Frostdale. The Argaian forces have beaten back the latest raid on thier outlying settlements. Your warriors were wiped out completely,” said the man with a tone that was void of any courage and quaked like a bare skinned chilled who had just climbed out of a frozen lake.
“What else?” Koin said with an all knowing quality in it’s speech and a fold of it hulking muscular arms across it’s broad green scaled chest.
“The dogs know that there are humans who serve your cause now. Your followers are no longer a secret to the red cloaks and their allies,” responded the man with fear.
“Hum,” spat the great goat headed beast. “It makes no mind if they know I have men and women at my beck and call. The time for study is over. I know all I need to know about the forces of the Vermillion Council and their beloved Amurai. They will not be able to stop me or my cousins before we shatter the seal wall of every last city,” Koin bellowed with confidence and malevolent gusto. Koin noted the man was still kneeling fearfully at it’s hooves even long after it’s bout of maniacal self-praise had faded. “What is it, now?”
“The dogs who defended the village against the latest attack. They were led by a boy, it seems. He wielded powerful magic. Something like they speak of from the old stories. The boy slayed as many of your fighters as the rest of the dogs combined,” said the man as he swallowed enormous gulps of anxiety.
Koin’s one good eye seemed to turn an even deeper shade of black. The anger of the elder chimera began to intangibly ooze from it fur and scales as the beast silently seethed in its throne. “A boy,” Koin started with insulted inflection and a predatory cock of its head. “A boy dispatch not only a heard of my followers but a horde of those that are born from the rains as well? A boy, you tell me this?” Koin snarled with teeth bared and claws raking at the armrest of its throne.
“Please forgive me for the news my master. I only tell you what I was told. I was not there,” groveled the terrified man as he pressed his head to the floor.
“I will see this boy ended and buried in the snow just the same as all the other humans that huddle behind the walls of Frostdale. First I must decide what it to become of you, however,” hissed the aged chimera as it stood up to its full height. Koin loomed over the trembling man and let its black eye visit all the judgment and hatred it had for all of humanity on it’s pathetic subject. “You come here and carry the heavy price of failure upon your head and in your words. A simple offering of blood is all you give me to erase the debt you have accrued with this displeasing news. I think you will need to give me more if you wish to set the scales to balance,” Koin spoke lowly and with clenched teeth as it greedily fixated on the two toes that remained on the man’s broken and mangled left foot.