I raised the severed head of the beast in front of me as a sign that I had what I was protected from its magic.

“Wuzgald!” I called out to the dark cave, “I’ve come for your head!”

With my other hand I raised the Light of the Seven, a mystical relic that I was told I’d need to combat The God of Darkness himself.

It illuminated the chamber. Bones, rubble and puddles of filth dotted the floor. The mess contrasted the fine dining set in the middle. There was space for eight, with glasses of wine poured and ready to feast. Mold was growing above the wine, overflowing over the rims of the glasses. The bread, meat, and cheese looked to share the same fate.

The air pulled to an open doorway, deeper into the cave, like the cave itself was taking an inward breath.

A deep, shuddering word echoed from deep within the reaches of the earth.

“Why?”

I did not hesitate in my response, for I had been journeying too long to lose my resolve now.

“You have grown too powerful. No single mind should have as much power as you,” I bellowed, marching towards the opening.

“Mmmmmmm,” came a throaty rumbling. It pondered my words.

I crossed the precipice and gazed on the next chamber. It was a kitchen in form, but a grisly sight. Blood, viscera, and butchered people were everywhere. Organized, but handled with little regard.

“You have grown into a monster. This is disgusting,” I said.

“Are you so different, Red-Hand?” Wuzgald’s trembling voice echoed from deeper still.

I froze in place, scowling. It was one of the man-god’s mind tricks.

“You will not trick me, old one. My resolve is strong. My weapons are ready. And you are at the end of your power,” I responded, taking a step forward.

“I saw you on your journey here,” its voice slithered out from under the closed door to the next chamber.

“Then you saw the death of your attempts to stop me. I wield the head of the monster you sent. I wield the light of day!” I shook the Light of the Seven at the door.

“I saw your crew. I saw your friends. I watched them die, and I saw how easy you turned away from them to get here,” Wuzgald hissed.

“You call me a monster,” I growled, hands wringing the eyeless snakes from the severed head.

“You’re in a cave, dead men are all around you. You are the monster here.”

I readied myself at the door.

“You sacrificed much to get here,” Wuzgald took a deep breath, with air rushing in under the door, and then whispered loudly, “But none of your own blood.”

“I will not be made a fool. I am not the monster. You are!” I bellowed.

Without giving room for the man-god to speak again, I kicked the door open.

It was a bed chamber. A luxurious bed was coated in dust and mold. Beside it, a nest of sorts. Pieces of cloth mixed with bits of wood on the floor. There was a wardrobe, a dresser and a changing screen in the corner. I was sure this was the final chamber, and yet Wuzgald was nowhere to be seen.

“What will you do with this newfound power of yours? And the vision of your drowning comrades?” Wuzgald whispered softly from the wardrobe.

I smiled, my victory was soon.

“You speak as if you are a wounded fox, begging to be released from a trap. Perhaps you are afraid?” I gloated.

“I am afraid, Red-Hand. For now the power has shifted from a single entity to another. And like you say, it is corrupting,” it croaked from the wardrobe, its voice was weakening with each passing moment.

“My men died in selflessness. You kill in selfishness. And now you are punished. Finally,” I said like a sermon.

They were words given to me by my 1st officer. He was a holy man, and told me to keep those words with me at all times to keep my resolve higher than Wuzgald’s verbal traps.

I reached out my hand, and using my free fingers I yanked the door open. Wuzgald retreated and hissed into the left side, and I opened that door. Upon meeting the Light of the Seven, his flesh flaked as if being burned. After meeting the eyes of the severed head, his face recoiled in horror.

The gray beast-form of a man turned to Oni shrunk in size as it burned away. Eventually leaving a small pile of gray dust on the surface of the wardrobe.

“It is done.”

 

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