Chapter 43.2 – The Path of Hatred (2)
In the distance, the danger drew ever closer. Anxiety mixed with anticipation. It took time for the Madness of the World and its legions to make it to my lizards. They did not rush in, but waited deep in the forests, assembling their armies and scouting their opponent. But they were not the only ones spying on their enemy, and we had one significant advantage our foe did not: flight.
Flying scouts brought back news of bases and supply routes being established all along their path. Maps were created marking all the areas taken by the enemy, and they began to strategize where to hit them hardest to disrupt the chain of supply. Always seeking new information, the flying lizards learned very quickly to color their black scales with a mixture of white, blue, and gray to camouflage themselves against the sky. It only took several sacrifices shot down during the scouting missions to realize that. The fewer deaths the better. The road to victory would be paved with blood, and I could only hope it was more our enemy’s than ours.
After months of preparation, assembling brigades, battalions, and troops, and planning formations, attacks, and contingencies, the day finally came. And for those that now faced their once faceless adversary for the first time, the thoughts were unanimous.
Ugly. Stupid. Vile. Hate.
Just seeing the visage of their foe incited rage into their hearts, rage that I perpetuated. Thoughts of formations and strategy were lost as they rushed in a great deluge towards the enemy, a flood of lizards bent on bringing the opposing army to their knees in blood. They were like warmongering barbarians, their attacks in disarray… and yet, despite their lack of plans and their haphazard attack, they still coordinated beautifully.
The family heart, once a refuge for thoughts and feelings, now acted as a sixth sense. Through the sensations of their fellows, the placements of allies and enemies were all wordlessly relayed through the heart. If a lizard saw another about to be blindsided, that rush of adrenaline sped through the heart, alerting the other of the danger. It was not perfect, and knowing of danger could not always route it, but it was a significant advantage, one I did not know we had until it blossomed on the battlefield.
The disorganized attack of raging lizards put false morale into the hearts of the near-humans and lumbering beasts of the Eyes of the Hills. How could the blumbering attacks of barbarians be effective against their war-seasoned selves? But when the lizards drew upon them, their height almost as tall as the blue musclebound, misshapen creatures, and the war displays on their scales, their opponents could not help the fear that grew in their hearts. And if the swing of a weapon didn’t smash their skulls, then the whip of a powerful tail would crush their sides, or powerful feet with great claws would rip them to shreds. The hulking creatures only had their strength, and the near-humans only had their agility, but my lizards had many powerful natural weapons. They lived many ages relying on both them and the weapons in their hands. Although they were not created for war, they were very suited for it.
Blood and bodies littered the field, lizards and enemies alike. No longer did black dominate the rocky ground, but the stain of red. Red was not a color often seen in the lizard’s forests, but when it was, it was usually the sign of something bad, something to be wary of, something poisonous. The field was like a poison, it infected me through the eyes of my heart, filling my heart with red, the need of red, the desire of red. I wanted more, I wanted the blood of our enemies to rain down the hill sides, to cover the mountain, for nothing soothed my craving for hate like that of blood. I saw the looks upon the faces of the creatures as they were assaulted by the very ones they had come to defeat. My formless essence twisted into a grin, one filled with glee at the prospect of others’ misfortune—misfortune they deserved.
My bliss transmitted through the heart, and my lizards felt a surge of ecstasy every time they let the blood of their foe. It was not unlike the peak of an orgasm, and soon, my lizards came to crave the same release as I did. Killing the enemy was no longer enough, and the lizards turned savage as they hacked into flesh, spraying blood as far as it would go, bathing in it. Mutilation, torture, suffering, pain… all felt long before the sweet release of death.
I could feel my essence surge, and as my lizards continued to push forward despite their dwindling numbers, I pushed with them until I clashed into the Madness of the World. Our essences pushed against each other like opposing tidal waves. We were like oil and water, never quite mixing despite how entwined we were. I would not be soft, and I was no longer the weak, cowering innocent I once had been. The Eyes of the Hills provided no help, its already broken self could not hope to provide aid as our emotions went wild, each seeking to dominate the other.
This was how the battles continued, countless skirmishes waged. We won as many as we lost, and yet our morale did not drop despite our losses. We were too enraged to see beyond the next battle. When the near-humans retreated to the beaches, and their open backs faced the water, the shore colonies took them by surprise, slaughtering every last one, staining the pristine black beach in ever more red. And when they tried to hide in the forests, with the aid of flyers, my forest-dwellers got the drop on them, just like the great snakes of old.
I became Valhalla, a respite for fallen warriors who fell in war to protect their home and their kin. I gave praise to their memory, to their valiance. And soon the lizards began capturing enemies, and offering their blood in a ritual of sorts that not only raised their morale, but pleased me as well. I took joy in every life taken to honor me, the precious lifeblood dripping away as the light slowly left their eyes fulfilled every dirty desire I ever dared dream. Serves you right, I thought. Suffer more. Let your despair teach your Overseer, the Madness of the World, what happens when you hurt mine. We will bleed you dry until you are left with nothing! Vile, delightful, barbaric thoughts.
The season of blood had only just begun, and it would take much more until I was truly satisfied. So much more.