Friday, July 19, 2013

The Treasure of the Iron Range-03

“I know the name,” Ken said, “but not the significance. Tell me.”

The figure approached and placed its hands on Ken head.

“Know.”

Ken’s vision blurred as his mind flooded with memories of years long past. Thrown far beyond the records of the Old World, the spirit showed Ken the world that once was when men first arrived in this land. In the time after a great flood that washed over the world, nations of men once more arose and with them came the reasons for that flood: the half-men, the giants, the great men of renown that were not truly men- monsters, really, great and small alike.

Wendigo was one of these things. He was a great, furred giant of a half-man with a taste for man-flesh that, in time, could not be sated. First his subjects fed him sacrifices of animals, and then of enemies captured, and in time their own dissidents and criminals. Finally he consumed the live flesh of all that displeased him before he lost his reason and became a ravenous monster wholly and utterly, and those who once worshipped him as a god either fled from him, died trying to kill him or kill themselves instead of being rent asunder by Wendigo.

Hunger unceasing transformed the monster into a cunning, feral beast-man that tracked those that fled and stalked them solely to consume them. Some succumbed, and some escaped, but only to delay the inevitable when they found other tribes. The horror spread throughout the land, and soon a desperate nation felt no option but to throw itself into a fight against it. Heroes arose and assembled, armies massed, and a catastrophic war against Wendigo began. Many men died. Many heroes died. Yet, at the last, they struck down Wendigo and slew him.

But Wendigo was undying. Though his corpse be burnt and his bones scattered, his spirit did not leave. Those that slew him he cursed, and those he cursed became like him, and the nation fell into another panic, with wounded heroes succumbing and transforming into monsters that terrorized their tribes before being struck down in turn and passing the curse to their slayers. Once this became known some of those known to be cursed took their own lives, but this did not end the curse.

At last, a strong young hero known to take up the burden despite the dangers sought out a wise old elder who had once been a hero and now was alone in the wild. He found the old man, living by a lake, alone and with naught but what he needed to feed, clothe and shelter himself. The old man saw the young hero approach, and welcomed him.

“Words carry far on the wind, young man.” The old man offered the young man some fish. “I know why you seek my counsel.”

“Elder,” the young man said, “if you know my purpose, then I will ask you simply: is there any way to break this curse?”

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