The Manticore

by R.T. Allenson

He staggered as he walked away from the trail and into the forest, blood dripping from where the beast had wounded him – deep, crimson blood that hissed and burned as it fell on the ground. The other men of the kingdom would find the beast gone, its body taken back to the earth; his axe they would find and think him dead.

This was a fitting ending for both of them –  man and monster, for the lords of fate had always fashioned cruel plots for the lives of man and beast alike. His thoughts raced back to the moment before he delivered the killing blow, in the darkness lit only by the baleful light of the moon. He knew then how cruel fate was when the Manticore, with venomous sting and formidable maw, stared at him with the somber eyes of his father, the king.

He carved his name on the face of the cliff with nails like stone, no more than a crude symbol now but purposeful that it would be testament to his heroic deed. They would honor him in death at least and perhaps when the time comes, when his own son would take arms against him, perhaps then he would find solace and rest.