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Crimson Drops of Life
The peaceful ice plain stretched for miles on end as though bewitched into a calm and soundless trance. The wind caressed the land gently, bringing in fresh scents of snow and life. A thick layer of ice-white dust covered the hard rocks like a cool blanket, putting the world to sleep with its dullness and tenderness.
But someone couldn’t be calmed by the gentle kisses of the wind; someone couldn’t be soothed by the alluring snow that danced from the heavens.
Tristan dragged his leg across the velvety snow, disrupting the land’s stillness. He resented the fragrance of morning snow.A thick club lay on his shoulder. His fingers twisted idly around the cords that tangled around his arm. He frowned at murmurs of the wind.
There, far in the distance, across uneven ridges, a black figure lay on its side. Another smaller figure lay beside it, its ivory fur almost undetectable against the pearly white snow. Tristan wasn’t surprised. He was experienced enough to know that it was a nursing mother seal feeding its weeks-old pup with rich and nutritious milk.
Tristan sighed. He despised the presence of mother seals during his performance of his job. They always caused plenty of trouble for Tristan who was reminded only too often by the occasional throbs in his ankle. He trudged over to the mother and pup. The hakapik’s wooden bar felt warm in his grip, its sharp metal tip cold but eager for the warmth of blood and flesh.
The mother seal quickly flipped over onto her stomach, her body glistening under dim rays of sunshine. Her charcoal eyes stared intensely at the towering man. He knew that she was readying herself for a struggle, but she had no idea what was in store for her.
“Leave, and I won’t hurt you,” said Tristan shortly, his voice dull and emotionless in the frosty air. He had the ability to speak with seals mentally. He could communicate with them in his mind before cracking their skulls and spilling their blood.
“Go away, or I’ll tear you to pieces,” the shrill, inhuman voice shrieked, followed by an empty silence that reverberated in Tristan’s head.
Tristan ceased twisting his cords, taken aback by the mother seal’s disembodied words of threat. He has become accustomed to developing non-existant conversations in his head between him and his victims that he no longer gave it more thought. Still, he had been expecting words of mercy, which was the usual case. “Just leave your pup and go. I haven’t got all day.”
“No!” screamed the voice, its non-existent echoes lingering in the stillness that followed.
This was getting difficult. Tristan never had trouble facing his victims before. But today, he sought the right words to handle this matter. Another voice chimed in his head, reminding him that he wasn’t here to talk; he was here to kill and leave.
“Go away, human thief! You’ve killed many of our children already, but I won’t let you take my baby!”
Tristan strained from swinging the hakapik and striking her dead for good. The other side of his head was pulling back on the violent thought. He could feel a last ounce of humanity lingering within him, and he was ashamed of it.
The mother seal, noting Tristan’s hesitance, took the advantage and ushered the furry pup away towards a hole a short distance off.
“Hey!” Tristan found himself shouting as he trudged after the seals. “You can leave and I won’t hurt you! I promise.”
“I’m never leaving my baby!” cried the beastly voice, but its shrillness and menace only fuelled Tristan’s determination.
“Just step aside, you stupid cow!”
Tristan’s hand twitched subconsciously, threatening to bring the hakapik down mercilessly like it had done countless times before. But another voice inside him stopped his legs and froze his muscles. Just this once; perhaps he should respect a mother’s protectiveness and confidence for just this one time in his long and cruel career. But he didn’t want to abandon that beautiful, silky fur and the huge profit it would bring.
He wanted to get it over with.
He cleared his mind of this thought. The mother seal’s courage and his reluctance had made him feel mortally humiliated and never had he, a clever and conscious human being, been humiliated by his lowly victims. A blaze of fury filled the rest of his mind, but again, his conscious suppressed it. One last time, he thought, I’ll give her one last chance. “I said, leave your pup and you’ll live!”
“No! I won’t! Get out of our land and leave us alone! What’ve we ever done to deserve all this?”
He must act; he must strike; he must claim the glory of the soft golden fur. But no! He should let them go; he should respect her will; he should give them one more chance just for this once in his life.
Tristan didn’t know which was more difficult to abate: the strong will of the mother seal, or his own soul battling against desire. His morality versus his lust for wealth.
Finally, he acted.
He raised the heavy rod that was his sole companion, bringing the dull side of the curved hook fiercely onto the mother seal’s glistening head. For a split second, he felt the intense vibration of a crack. Then, he heard a desperate, feeble yelp. No blood seeped through her dark, slippery skin, but Tristan knew that his blow was fatal.
Yes, he’d leave the wounded mother here to watch him murder her child, and then he’d let her die in agony and solitude.
He turned to the terrified pup who was wriggling away from him, its eyes radiating pure horror and hatred.
Tristan brought the formidable weapon over his head again, feeling the strains in his muscles and the flow of his blood. He twisted the club in his hands, readying the sharp hook for action.
He closed his eyes, his heart screaming for him to stop! But he ended the difficult and unabated conversation inside him by swinging the weapon down with full force.
He heard a terrified, strangled squeak as the dreadful club swished through the air. He registered the sickening thud as the sharp tip of the hook lodged deep into flesh and skull, puncturing everything in its way. He forced his eyes open, seeing the brilliance of fresh, warm blood as it flew into the air, landing with a soft splash on the snow-covered ground.
Soon, the ice was decorated with crimson drops of life.