The flesh on Koin’s back and arms had stopped bleeding regularly at this point. His wounds were starting to heal but the pain of his burns was no less diminished. The chimera’s injuries hurt nearly as bad as when the Vermillion Councilman had doused it with the fiery alchemical potion. Most of the grey fur that used to cover the beasts body had been singed off by the flame, more had fallen out in the days after the encounter. Now the monster was a mass of marred skin and scars waiting to form. Every moment of the creature’s existence was agony but Koin’s thirst for revenge was motive enough to keep it from succumbing to its injuries.
Retribution and seeing the scales balanced once more in his favor was Koin’s paramount desire but it was unable to act upon the impulse at this time. Its physical prowess was formidable indeed, Koin had survived a bath of fire that would have killed any mortal instantly but he was stricken lame by the scorch. The monster had to put aside his need to hunt the man who had crippled him and focus on recuperating.
The great rolling hills and grassland of the Evermist Valley offered Koin little in the way of finding a safe haven. There was a profuse volume of open ground in the territory. Koin had managed to travel into some of the denser tropical foliage of the Valley near the center of the region. The travel was a grueling affair but the chimaera had managed to make their journey with impressive time and his efforts were rewarded with the discovery of a moderately secluded cave. It was not an ideal location for convalescing but it would have to make due for Koin.
To make matters even worse there had been a recently increased presence of humans in the realm of Evermist. None had spotted Koin but it certainly made it difficult for the chimera to do anything but sit, plot and brood. The men who had shown up to patrol the valley were not the simple farmers that Koin first encountered after the red rain had birthed him. The newcomers were clad in armor and rode stark white horses. These humans were warriors without a doubt. Koin might have been able to slay more shepherds and their flocks in its present state but claiming victory against trained and equipped fighting men would be impossible. For now all the beast could do was skulk in its cave and hope that it was not discovered by the armor clad humans. All the while the chimera cursed the face of the scarlet robed man who had reduced it to its present circumstances.
It was just passing mid-day and Koin was drifting in and out of consciousness. The creature longed for the setting of the sun to hasten so that it could hunt for some game under the cover of darkness. The sound of metal squealing and men shouting pulled Koin from its rest. When the chimera became fully awake it picked out the sound of a predatory roar that rose above everything else. The beastly cry was evidently not of this world. Koin detected a familiar and even kindred element to the noise. Past the sound Koin felt a slow growing warmth in its blood. The heat quickly evolved into burning but there was no pain from the internal sear. The feeling of fire in Koin’s veins was the like liquid power. The sensation was intoxicating and made the beast forget all the suffering and hurt of its ruined flesh. The chimera deduced that one of his breed was near.
Koin hobbled out of its refuge and began creeping thru the tropical underbrush. The beast followed the sounds of a battle in progress. As the chimera got closer to the fighting it was able to make out the voices of men shouting orders and battle cries as well as dying in horribly gruesome fashion. Soon the only thing that sounded in the dense jungle were the screams of men being slain by a monster. The bloody melody that Koin followed put a malicious grin on what was left of the beasts mangled lips.
The chimera made its way to the edge of a thicket clearing and found a spot to lurk while it observed what was happening just a short distance away. The creature saw the lush green vegetation Evermist stained with sprawling trials of red gore and blood. The ripped and mangled bodies of nearly a dozen armored humans and horses were scattered all about the clearing. These were the fighting men that had shown up in the region just a short while ago. Whatever had found them had torn thru there thick steel breastplates like paper. In the middle of all the carnage three men stood fast and held their position.
“Is it gone?” Asked the human who was wielding a long spear and was missing his helm.
“If it is we will have to give chase,” Said the human who had more decorations on his blood soaked armor than the other two men.
“Beg pardon, Captain but give chase. Just the three of us?” responded the first man with the spear.
“It was wounded badly. It could not had gone far. We can track it and finish it,” said the last of the three humans. He was a shorter stout man with a wide shield and broadsword.
The three men continued to cower in the center of the clearing amid the mangled remains of what used to be their brothers-in-arms. A few more moments of questions and debate were put to an end when the calm of the thicket clearing was assailed by the sound of a massive creature on the charge. The three men turned towards the sound of the monstrous howl and breaking branches as the thing that had attacked them crashed thru the underbrush.
Koin looked on in wonderment as the other chimera burst into the thicket and set upon the three surviving humans. The beast must have been a bear in the time before the red rain. It still had the shape of that kind of animal but instead of fur the thing was clad in scales of emerald green. It had boney protrusions around its head and mouth that appeared to be some kind of stone-like material. The same substance was what composed the monsters long rending claws. Despite the creatures armored hide it was sporting too many cuts and wounds to number. There was still the broken haft of a cavalry lance jutting out from its left front shoulder. One of the beasts menacing orange eyes had been cut from its skull by some kind of bladed weapon. It was clear to see that while the chimera had slaughtered the majority of these men, the humans were not an adversary to be ended so easily.
The man with the spear yelled in terror as the chimera rushed at him. He was able bury the tip of his weapon into the monsters flank but the blow did not stop the beast. The man with the spear was the first to die when the chimera clamped its powerful jaws around his face with crushing force. With a swing of its forearm the monster sent the human’s leader sailing thru the air and slamming into the trunk of an age old tree. The man fell to the earth crushed and dead. The last human hacked at the chimera with his broadsword and attempted to defend against the beasts claws with his shield. The chimera sliced thru the last man’s shield and armor effortlessly and spilled the man all across the ground. With all of its foes ended the bear-like thing gave out one final victorious roar and then fell on its side.
Koin watched the massacre with locked focus and continued to look on at his fellow chimera as it reeled from the plethora of battle wounds it had sustained. In the moments after the combat Koin became aware of something that ensnared his interest. The heated sensation in its blood did not die down after the battle. In fact it only served to amplify in its intensity. Koin continued to observe to wounded beast for as long as it could endure before the sensation it felt within forced him from his hiding place.
“Cousin, you have fought so hard. Your strength is formidable,” Koin flattered as it limped its burned and twisted body into the thicket clearing.
The wounded bear chimera snarled at the intrusion as tried to lift itself back onto its green scaled legs but could not muster the ability to do so. “The humans are weak and easy to slay. I will end all of them that I find,” it growled.
“I have no doubts. Your power will end many of these pathetic creatures,” Koin said as it nudged the remains of one of the men with its right hoof. “I am Koin. Who are you?” it asked the other chimera.
The bear creature looked at Koin with its one remaining orange eye gnashed its teeth before speaking. “I am violence. I am might. I am the will of strong who conquer the weak. I am Rankon,” said the bloody scale-clad chimera.
As the other beast spoke Koin was nearly overpowered by the sensation that pulsed in its veins. The utter sense of potency that radiated off of Rankon was near unbearable. Koin felt many things in that moment but more than any of the other sensations ambition and envy were at the forefront of its being. “Your strength is evident but the humans have some powerful tools at their disposal, cousin,” Koin said as it turned to present its flame seared body to the bear-chimera. “A small group of humans like this would be a matter of little consequence for we who carry the dragon’s blood but their numbers are vast.”
Rankon grimaced and tried to turn his head to snap at the broken lance stuck in its shoulder before responding. “One man or a hundred men makes no difference to me. I will slay any in my path. I care nothing for vast.” snorted Rankon.
“I think you may still underestimate the quantity of you foe. They dwell in cities with high walls and solid gates. The full measure of their numbers is a figure beyond counting,” Koin started. The chimera noted that Rankon began to take a defensive posture as it spoke its objections so Koin quickly amended its tone. “This is not to say that they are an insurmountable obstacle for one with your strength, but what of the cost to you?” Koin continued and as it did the creature indicated the many cuts and bloody gashes in Rankon’s sizable body.
“I will heal and attack again once I am fully recovered,” said the bear-creature as it failed yet again to rise up onto its legs.
“You and I have both suffered grave injury in battle against the human kind. We need not endure such wounds again,” Koin stated with an enticing lilt in its speech.
“What do you mean,” grumbled Rankon as it attempted to conceal its uncertainty at Koin’s statement.
“Individually we are a force, as are all of our breed. Singularly we could destroy humans by the dozen, hundreds even. Still, it would not be without significant hardship on our part to fight some of their more seasoned warriors and fortified strongholds. If the chimera were to unify their power, then even the best of humanity would topple easily…” Koin trailed off and motioned to the surrounding field of dead men.
“You words carry merit,” Rankon said as it took stock of the many wounds that adorned it scaled hide.
“I am glad you think so. Together we could do so much. I hope we can strike an agreement,” Koin said as it spread is clawed hands wide and stood as tall as its lame body would allow.
“We can kill them all together,” Rankon said with a murderous glint in its eyes.
“It pleases me that you accept this bargain,” Koin said with a macabre air of glee. “Together, indeed,” it continued speaking.
After a moment of stillness Koin’s sharpened claws shot out and buried themselves into Rankon’s neck and chest. The wounded chimera yowled in pain as Koin tore the beast open. Rankon was too weakened from the fight with the armored humans to defend itself from Koin’s ambush. After a few miserable and gruesome moments Rankon lay still. As the chimera’s blood drizzled down Koin’s arms it felt power like nothing else. Koin was overcome with an insatiable thirst and began to feast on the body of its kin. The chimera gorged itself on flesh and blood until its belly was full to bursting.
When it could feed no more Koin pulled back its crimson drenched snout from the remains of Rankon. Koin felt a new experience sweep over him. Inside and out Koin felt imbued with the sheer might and brutality of Rankon. The feeling passed and then was replaced by sharp waves of pain. Koin yelled and groaned in agony as its burned skin twisted and its bones and muscles snapped and contorted. After several excruciating moments Koin’s wits returned and it looked over itself to see what had transpired.
Koin was overjoyed to see that its ruined flesh had been made whole. The beast did not sport the fur it once had before the Councilman’s fire had burned it. Now that part of Koin’s body was clad in the armor like scales similar to the sort that had adored Rankon. The hue of the scales was not the green of the bear-creature but more reminiscent of Koin’s original ashen grey coat. Around Koin’s shoulders several small bone-like spikes had sprung forth from underneath its skin. The greatest difference was that Koin now stood his full height plus another quarter measure and his frame had significantly broadened to accommodate a grossly increased volume of muscle and bulk. Koin marveled in the spectacle of its new body. The monster gave one final look at the carcass of its fallen blood-kind. Koin strode out of the clearing with elevated spirits and physical prowess that was greater than ever before.