I am bathing in warmth. Rich crimson saturates me, and I sense sweetness, sweetness of once beating hearts, sweetness that sang life into bodies and hastened at another's touch. It is life, and touch I cannot bear. I lower my head and completely submerge. I sink, immersed in warmth from those lives who couldn't escape my voracious jaws. Heat tingles, tangos on my lips, and I hunger for this richness that bathes me. I crack my lips to taste the blood; let it coat my mouth in pleasure, but none comes. My eyes fly open and a dark, cold cave spans before me, not a lake of succulence.
I stand, and my stomach howls within me. I open my mouth, and release its cry; my guttural tones piercing the night's silence. Sauntering to the mouth of my cave, I see my reflection. Red eyes that mirror the hunger within my soul stare back at me from a shadowy lake. There will be death tonight; yawning to the marrow deep within my bones I know this to be true.
So I dive, head first, beneath the stagnant surface. The water burns white cold, deep and melancholy blue. Adrenaline propels me through the depths that could easily stifle a lesser being. My webbed claws pull and urge, creating waves of their own until they grip land.
I emerge, and shake the wet from me. Each droplet flung from my body freezes midair, and shatters upon impact to the frosty ground. I lift my head to smell for my prey. A tangy scent permeates the air; warriors' sweat mingling with joy and alcohol. My lip curls at the thought of their heroic party, their futile toast to ethics and god. What is immortality without the possessor's existence? What is life without indulgence; the blood of another lusting inside you calling for more?
Their voices reach me now. Hearty laughter, and drunken singing raid my ear drums, and I move faster, yearning to end their jovial banter. The icy ground crunches in response to my ponderous feet, and I slink nearer, slithering through the trees; the very reincarnation of stealth. Their hall looms before me, and its arches like twin smiles, beckon to me: Come tear my walls down till they frown.
As I run forward the light within extinguishes, and the night is doused in silence. No stirring, no sound, no light to aid them as they sleep. I smile an easy victor's smile as I reach for the wooden door's handle. The door creaks a warning as it swings, and crashes down from its frame.
Then I, a single participant in the ravenous tumult, run, and drop upon my first victims' sleeping body. He hasn't time to scream, or utter his gods name before I shred soul from body. His essence departs through my claws, and I tear into the tangible remains. Blood gushes liquid fire down my insatiable throat, dazing, warming and exhilarating me. I drain him, and then dissect his bones from flesh. Cracking each frame piece, I scoop marrow from talon to mouth. Its richness is cloying, dripping heavy life, intoxicating, satisfying my most subconscious and appealing desires. I finish leaving little more than a husk of man, before striding toward my next sufferer.
Before I reach him, a lone figure steps in my path. He stands poised in the gloom. Upon seeing him a final bell tolls in my soul, and reverberates in my heart, stopping it momentarily. Never before has a man's presence stricken me, let alone one standing stationary, alone, with no weapons. But I, descendant of Cain, Grendel, will not allow this mere maverick of mortal muscle to thwart my intensions. No, I will leave with this victor of victor's blood on my claws, and in my gullet.
We stand locked in a warriors glare for a moment before I lunge forward tearing at him. Then I stop. Some act of god or hell has rendered my arms immobile. I pull, and heave with all my might, but my arms hold in place. And now I look down as I feel my wrist and talons quake, then crunch. The victor of victors is holding fast. It is his great hands not divinity gripping me like stone. I struggle harder, and more desperately than ever in my life. But there is no escape, this warrior will not cease. Not for his life line, not for his string of fate. And I feel fear for the first time in my existence, because I know I will be the death tonight; yawning to the marrow deep within my bones I know this to be true. I haul from my knees grinding my teeth wishing only to flee, but even now the pain is too great. My arms suffer as no one ever has. All hell's fury and flames have encased my arm as the great victor of victors pulls flesh from flesh not by blade or talon, but sheer strength. I fall to the oaken floor but cannot feel agony. Feeling is truly an understatement of being. I am pain, pain is Grendel.
With a final wallop, a simultaneous break and snap grief falls from my shoulder leaving a gaping, aching, pouring wound. I roll disfigured and bleeding wasted blood. I roar and shriek. None have known such anguish, and mortal humiliation. Hobbling, stumbling, I find my feet, and they find balance. Nausea overwhelms me as I manage to escape the hall, its arches like twin smiles whisper advice: Go Grendel, flee, seek respite.
I run. No flowing lope for this lopsided creature. No graceful dash for this disfigured beast. I have to slow as strength is leaving me now. I look up. Those stars, why have I never taken notice before? The sky itself seems lower than ever. I could nearly snatch a star from the sky; grasp a conclusion from fate. I can sense fate now closing in on me. It is black as the night sky, and I am dying, I know. I reach and dab a drop of blood to my hand. I lift it to my mouth and taste. This decadence, this sweetness that flows within us, who knew the finest treasures were so close, much closer than those I sought. I have seen now with my savoring eye that lives are for their own taking. I plan to take hold of mine tonight, but first there is the darkening sky, first there is the biting cold, first I seek respite.