The Book of Earth
6. The Philosopher's Stone
In the darkened morbid forest stood a demon of red iron scales, strong and in good form, a cape of red buck leather is the only soft element of the chimera, from the violent covens of witchcraft and innocent sacrifice it moved south following a seven headed constellation named Leviathan, through the forest setting fires and other vile mischief, unto a valley where he summoned innocent victims by wishing for shooting stars in sparse amounts and preying, each would suffer and he would carve their bones, every time he would wash in their blood and drink from their skulls if an entertaining battle had occurred, until the boredom of malaise offered only immense grief to the hunter demon. He thought of the end of the world and of the dark horizon, another stargazer came and was lynched against a tree and drained by the demon for the chance to drink his blood and torture simultaneously, like a sack of horrid wine the wrist was slit and blood let, and then more contemplation. In the foothills of a mossy crumbling mountain he had never seen a cat, and so with that thought he slit the other wrist, with the blood the chimera raised a panther in the night with fire and black magic, the red warrior summoned the thing from the ground and raised it through the soil with a grasp of the nape, pulling it from the fertile earth.
Chimera: "Unholiest hunter I call darkness, speak and be heard."
Panther: "You have made another way to die."
The cat lowered, scowled, and leapt at the chimera demon, a horrible roar and swift soar with claws and jaws of fearsome fangs, a skirmish to battle death, and the demon was bit in the waist and hurled the cat with both hands into a tree. He grabbed his scurrilous blade from a sheath filled with poison oil as the panther leapt again. His cape was torn as it lied against his wounds as the cat attempted to batter with its claws the open sores from the bite. With his hand he took the panther's throat, pressed against the same tree he held the poisonous dagger to the throat, his arm beheld the blade blocked the other paw.
Chimera: "Hunt for me and I will not kill you!"
The claws in the black paw retracted, the chimera demon reasserted his choke hold and taunted with the sickening blade once to display dominance as much as to flinch his own insanity. He released the cat that slunk down the tree and cowered, timid and skittish not knowing if it could escape the demon.
Chimera: "It is not my flesh you smell, it is this creature’s; eat of the kill as I, without fear of your food."
The demon cut into his prisoner who screamed if dire agony, a piece of flesh was tossed to the predator who did not hesitate to feast.
Panther: "What is it you will of me?"
Chimera: "Fear me and not these things make you a spy but not their enemy."
Panther: "To what end?"
Chimera: "I task you to feast on the village over the rise, unless you cannot hunt or are scared?"
Panther: "Why not do you go?"
Chimera: "I cannot freely pass among them, besides, you can speak, speak as their god and they will follow you to any cave."
Panther: "And from a horde of rats I will run them to you."
The panther thought as it licked its paws and cleaned itself, incessantly spreading the smell of blood over itself before lazily heading over the hillside. The hostage had died, below the body the chimera digs a hole in the fertile earth, and the remaining blood was drained and began collecting in the bloody pit of horror. The demon looked at his hand of stone and submerged it in the red blood, removing it the stone was gone but the scathing from the cat remained.
Often heathens would practice pagan rite, a fire in the night inside a sitting circle of those who took turns tossing a different colored flammable powder into flames and repeating some words from a book written by a drunkard or a mad person, hoping that a devil would approach them for they to ask upon it their wiles. The panther happened upon them by circumstance and tended to exploring for to curiosity is a solemn thing that a cat cannot leave to chance. The fire was frightening to the panther with its seamless saunter, but there were few enough men to maim them, and take one for supper, but first it would have to watch them in their baggy clothes and see if they carried knives as they tarried.
The fire was alluringly mysterious, how it brought twilight to the trees but not into the darkness where the hunt resides. The patience wore thin and the cat's hunger became a lungful pang. Insidiousness lasted until the cat heard them speak the word for enemy in any word and effortlessly the cat leapt to the dirt floor from the shadows.
Panther: "You have called for me, I am Osiris of legion."
Bash: "We seek a magic for which to kill nations."
Panther: (pacing) "Which nation do you wish to kill?"
Petric: "Those beyond our borders that keep us in asylum."
Panther: "You know them not?"
Montu: "There is a vast army that brings horror; we cannot enslave enough to fight them"
Bash: "We offer our worship and fealty o great panther spirit."
Panther: (sitting) "A dark, in the cold moon, my power."
Bash: "By your ken, do you grant or share your power?"
Montu: "Will we be magical or immortal?"
Halroy: "By so close you should not be, if ever to spells and lessons."
Panther: "You will be remembered."
With a fierce angered roar the cat clubbed Bash and delivered a strike a deathblow and a bite to Petric. Bash pulled daggers and pricked the panther in the back as Montu wielded a torch club and strikes the cat with fiery spear. A sinister growl half-quieted by anger as the panther leapt to Bash's chest forcing him to the ground on his back as the panther tore his throat with fangs, on four legs the panther paced encircle thirteen gait and lunged with a roar to wake the ravens from their nightmares to kill Montu, but what feared three to strike made Halroy flee into the darkness. Even in darkness the earth was solid, the moon was reborn a shadow of itself and barely a sliver of light reflected from the moon to show the black cat a hunting paradise, but such levels of vision are not afforded to man and Halroy ran in the darkness. Tripping on mounds and broken boughs, the panther trod through clearings and leapt obstacles, a leisurely indirect course of sport weaving playfully through the trees, the victim did not stand to chance, claws to the back so painful was the agony that intensity did not allow him to faint before he died, he was consumed as the moon draws near.
When the panther ate his full he moved sluggishly back to the fire and began to feast, the chimera silently approached and clubbed the cat with a branch across the head from behind it. The panther was put unconscious, but eventually woke to the demon eating an eye from the end of a knife.
Chimera: "I asked you to lead them to me."
Panther: (yawning) "...you would have me share my kill?"
Chimera: "I will have you lead me to your hunts, if you are chased, you can lead them to me."
Panther: "Or I could tempt fate with you again."
The chimera opened his mouth and hissed, just as a cat, showing his fangs, sharper than that of the beast. The demon continued to eat and cautiously the panther joined him. As was wished the cat stalked the forest with the demon following behind not far, after each kill they would choose a new direction circling the fortified city, which held a contemptuous interest of the demon. In this way the talking cat terrorized the forest for three years, three months, three weeks, while insulting the gods before each prey lured by intrigue and the allure of promised power followed by slaughter, but took an overwhelming hatred towards holy men and made certain to play with his food at these confrontations.
The travelers came into the city sparingly, but citizens rarely ventured, and hunting parties searched for the cat, each party larger than the last, when they began to be too big to kill or lead to the demon, the demon would fell them earnest by all at once slowed with spells to mire them and have target practice with a knife on a whip. In the newest day a war began from the tensions of southern raiders and the woes the demon and panther had begun in the woods. The fallen warriors in the infinity war cycle had not perished but had gone to war leaving the huge city less the most of its regiment. On that night the panther sleeked into the city and after clubbing him unconscious took a hostage of a holy bishop into the woods.
From thence this action the cat made ally with the tenant farmers wherever it could, and spoke to them of sedition and treason, first upon the first that he found twelve men farming through the sunset and complaining as they worked.
Panther: "If you hide he will find you and lie to you there."
Blither: "Don't trust the black cat."
Panther: "If you quarrel by axe, does not your lord take an axe to you? Show me the way to your landlord and lead him out of home to me."
Egregiously the farmers gladly accepted the advice of the cat and lead the landlord to a place in the wood predetermined, where they met the bishop in a chair deep in the forest drugged by the demon.
Landlord: "What is this bishop?"
Panther: "The bishop said I should bring you here for your death, that I may have my peace."
The Bishop: "I said no such thing, across your path this black cat brings hex upon us all...no!"
The chimera demon silently approached one of the farmers and with sword began to hack into him, the others fled in exhaustive fear. The panther slipped behind the bishop's chair and with a voice mockingly similar to the bishop said, "kill them all my demons," and then leapt after the fleeing farmers. After killing one the chimera shouted to the panther urging a postponement of further hunt. The farmers returned to the city and took holy hostage at the first temple they found, demanding to know the meaning of their dilemma, through chaotic anger the hostages were killed and a bloody civil war broke within the city.
With the city in turmoil the demon sneaked into the city, maiming and claiming lives while heading toward the main temple. At the holy cemetery three guards battled and lost to the demon, the chimera knelt before one of the bodies and stabbed the dead man countless several times, as more guards followed the path of destruction they found the demon had lifted the pierced body over his head to revel in a shower of blood.
The demon vaulted the body and profusion of blood to bash six from a score of guards to the ground. The other men fought bravely but were slain one by one, as if they were toys. Behind the demon stood a door with a board across it to keep whatever contained, with a strike of the sword the beam was cut and the door was then kicked from close. The room was painted black, in the center a rough diamond with a chain suspended in the air over a limestone block with moss the white color of soft lightning effulgence, growing from the walls to the relic except beneath the philosopher's stone. The chimera's skin that faced the rough diamond began to cover with a dust that gradually turned his scales and skin to granite stone, he swiped the diamond from the air, his hand pained him so as it turned to freezing stone, he opened his fanged jowls and swallowed the precious stone being sure to loop the golden necklace under his silver tongue as to not swallow it completely. Soon nepenthe coursed his veins, the stone sickness was purged, his scales turned black and his leather skin became white or smeared with ash, the chimera hunted the panther and hung it from the city gates while fires within burned. It was there he was hunted by every able hunter to the white cliffs where the demon was forced to stage a spurious death.