flASH fiction: Volume 4: More (8)

Jason Pere

Another fallen keep meant another treasure trove to be plundered by Koin and it’s followers. This castle had put up a greater resistance than any of the roving chimera band’s pervious conquests. Koin had been forced to lay siege to the fortification for more than a fortnight. The keep was positioned against the coast of the Bone Sea so the waves and sheer cliffs protected its back better than any walls or gates ever could. Koin had been reduced to a committed frontal assault. While the chimera hoard boasted numbers that far exceeded the fighting force of the Evermist Lord, the narrow terrain surrounding the keep had nullified the numerical advantage of the red rains creatures. The human warriors put up a valiant defense of their home but in the end if finished like all the other sieges that Koin had engineered to date, in fire, blood and the screams of the dying.

The greatest slight that the Evermist Lord and his host were able to provide Koin was the disproportionate spoils taken after such an intense siege. The people of the Evermist Valley were not known for being as materialistic as the aristocracy of Light House Bay or even the courts of Rayward or Blackcloud so the valuables to be claimed in this place were decidedly less plentiful than other corners of the Aeros continent. So far the riches won after the battle were by no means a merger haul but the amount of bloodshed that the wagons of silver and gold had cost Koin in chimera lives was considerable.

The scent of smoke and blood on the breeze was beginning to dissipate as the fires that consumed the Lord’s keep had died down to little more than glorified torch flames. The sight of an enemy in ruin helped to lift Koin’s bitter mood as it watched the post combat raiding. While the sight of the earth soaked red with fresh human blood always pleased the great chimera overlord, nothing compared to the joy it derived from claimed newly won treasure. The mighty beast grumbled and growled as it watched it’s devoted human fanatics leading wagons form out of the keeps smashed gate. Each of the rickety carts way stuffed full of assorted valuables and knickknacks. Koin ran its claws up and down its pointed black horns as it regarded the goings on from its positon at the mouth of the keep’s main gate. It watched as the fourth treasure wagon and the accompanying group of sniveling maimed humans passed it by.

Koin had to fight the urge to reach out and crush the bones of its pathetic human servants as they timidly left the burning keep. The unquestioning fanatical service they provided was enough for Koin to tolerate their presence for now, if only just barely. The great chimera leader felt it’s blood run hot as it longed for the day when it could dispense with all the necessary inconvenience of it’s maimed followers and see the world fully cleansed of all humankind. Koin was able to push past the craving to wet it’s claws with the innards of the nearest human as it glanced at the shining collection of trinkets tucked away in the wagon.

Koin reached out a hand as the wagon passed and plucked out a brilliant green gem. It was nearly the size of a grapefruit but the emerald looked more like a child’s marble when Koin held it in it’s broad palm. The jewel was flawless and glinted magnificently in the light cast from the various fires that still burned in the keep. The jewel worked a hypnotic sort of magic upon the vicious chimera. Koin marveled at the splendid green hue of the jewel. It compared the treasures color against the scales that adorned it’s chest and arms. The green was nearly a perfect match. Koin knew that for this reason, the jewel was going to one of it’s favorite pieces in the collection acquired form the keep. The mammoth chimera tossed the green gem back into the wagon. It delighted in the startled squeaks of the human escort as the jewel whizzed past their heads and landed in the wagons bed with a clang and splash of gold pieces. Koin turned it’s focus back to the procession of men and beasts pouring out form the broken fortress and eagerly awaited the sight of the next treasure wagon. Koin took pleasure in fantasizing and imagining all the possible items that might be yet to come from inside of the slaughtered Evermist Lord’s home.

Time passed and Koin grew impatient as it waited for the next wagon to emerge from the keep. The beast was on the cusp of bellowing out and making it’s displeasure known to all but before that happened, it was clamed by the silhouette of a wagon and entourage emerging from the flames of the keep. It was as the men and wagon broke free of the noxious black smoke plumes and became clear to see that Koin realized something was amiss. The wagon was not even half full. In fact was nearly empty. The sight of a paltry offering laying in the bed of the wagon set a match to Koin’s temper. As the barren cart passed by the gigantic chimaera shot it’s claws out with all the speed of a pair of striking vipers, grabbed up two of the human porters and tossed them howling over the side of the keep’s drawbridge. The scrams of the scarred men as they fell to their doom below was just enough to bring Koin’s rage into a manageable state.

“Marx!” bellowed the horned chimera.

Humans and warped beasts alike all took defensive retreats from their master and overlord while Koin fumed. Marx came hobbling up as fast as his maimed body would allow. He presented himself before the raucous grey and green creature as a child would come before an angered parent. “Yes, my master?” Marx asked with a quivering fearful voice.

“Why was this wagon only partially loaded?” snarled Koin. It cast a killing claw in the direction of the last cart to emerge from the smoke and fire of the smoldering fortification.

“My master, the keep has been fully scoured for trophies and spoils. The wagons were loaded with every last thing of value that could be taken. There is no more,” Marx said with penance filling his words. His tone was dreadfully close to that of a desperate man pleading for his life. The terrible reality was that notion was not too far removed from the truth of his current predicament.

Koin raised a clenched fist over the cowering form of his groveling servant. In one swift motion the chimera could have reduced Marx to nothing more than a red smear on the keep’s draw bridge. All seemed to hold still as Marx’s life was teetering on the brink of extermination, with only the faintest treads of mercy in Koin’s inner being holing the man from a lethal fall. The chimera did not let its first crash down instead Koin just spat and snapped it’s teeth. “These raids on the single estates that remain in the wilds are not enough. I will seem my coffers overflowing and at this rate it will take more human lifetimes than I care to count before that happens,” Koin said with wrathful fire in its voice. The beast allowed it’s jet black eyes to wander up to the horizon. It looked off long and far. Even with it’s unmatched acute predator’s vision it could not see the skyline of any of Argaia’s great cities or their monumental seal walls but it knew those bastions of men were out there, flinging their silent challenges at its hooves. “I need more,” Koin said with deadly purpose as it turned its horned head to the east where the city Rayward lay waiting. In that moment Koin felt as though he could hear the mocking call of Rayward’s king chanting in the back of its mind. Come and try me, came the phrase over and over in the chimera’s head. “Indeed I shall,” whispered Koin while putting every measure of ambition and greed it had at it’s disposal into the softly spoken words.

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