The Beast of Stone

Winner-4thewords Fire Legends of Gantsu Writing Contest Winner - 4thewords Fire Legends of Gantsu Writing Contest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
FIRST PLACE WINNER in 4thewords Fire Legends of Gantsu Writing Contest! (Official Booksie contest sponsored by 4thewords.com) The Beast of Stone manage to attain first place from out of 50 contestants, granting me the reward of "1st Place: $100 + 1 Year Subscription on 4thewords.com" !

Read more from the contest page: https://www.booksie.com/contest/4thewords+Fire+Legends+of+Gantsu+Writing+Contest-3#i8iZduB4BD7fOl7w.99

ALSO, First Place Winner in Crazygirl's "Scream of Terror" Halloween Short Story Contest! As taken from Crazygirl's news page-

"For first place: S. K. InkSlinger who wrote the short story The Beast of Stone.
The Beast of Stone was full of mystery and suspense. It had a very frightful turn for the worse. It was full of great detail. I would thoroughly recommend this book to any of you horror loving readers out there looking for a good scary short story to read."

Read more at https://www.booksie.com/users/crazygirl-173862#dQH
Contest page: https://www.booksie.com/483395-scream-of-terror

First book of The Pits of Fear horror short stories collection.

Submitted: November 02, 2016

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Submitted: November 02, 2016

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“And they lived happily ever after...” The bard finished with a contented sigh, his lips pursed in a romantic gesture that followed every single one of his cheesy tales of romance.

 

“Ooi, shut yer trap, Radast!” A portly man bellowed from the other side of the campfire. The blazing flames danced, casting wild shadows amidst the three men, lighting up his face in a ruddy glow.

“I’m sick of all yer stupid romances! This prince meets that gal, then they live happily ever after.” The man spat out in disgust, his face contorting with poorly-disguised contempt. “Bah! I tell you!”

“How about yer tell a story of your own, huh, Olfrid?” The bard, whose name was Radast, spoke up in a rush of anger.

“Although I think you ain’t up for it, being a half-arse who could hardly even appreciate a proper story, one as told by meself. They too good for your mud-choked ears, I bet.”

Before the two men went against one another in a spar, a third man, his fair hair plastered wetly against his forehead, stepped in between them.

“Just stop it, both of yer. We aren’t here to kill one ‘nother, aren’t we?” Even softly spoken, his voice carried a certain authority that was registered by the two men.

Radast sat down first, a mutely rebellious expression upon his face, followed by Olfrid, who was still cursing and muttering hotly under his breath.

“We’re here as comrades, Olfrid. It will be good to remember that.” The sickly looking man gazed over at the still-muttering Olfrid. Without any warning, he bent over in a fit, coughing up a splotch of black blood. In a raspy voice, he continued,

“Radast had offered to tell us a story today, and we should appreciate it.” He gestured to the scowling bard.

“You already told yours yesterday, Olfrid, and mine the day before. With my conditions, I certainly don’t feel like tellin’ ya goons some wee stories today. Or do you disagree?” The man motioned at the portly Olfrid, daring him to go up against his verdict.

Olfrid bent his head down in a gesture of defeat, and a corner of the man’s eyes crinkled with amusement. “But we still could still have entertainment tonight, I think.” Scanning the edges of the camp, he shouted,

“Hey, you there!” He called out to a figure, humped just beyond the flickering flames of the campfire. “Do come over here for a wee bit, if yer don’t mind!”

The figure gathered himself up, his dark shawls brushing against the earthy forest floor. He is a new addition to the trio of traveling merchants, whom they had just met in the last town they stopped to trade with. The man had asked to join them with the reason that he was doing an errand for a friend up the country, and was afraid to traverse the dark woods alone.

For the last two days, the man had kept to himself, eating alone and talking in what had seemed more like a whisper to himself. Radast and Olfrid had kept away from him, both in superstitious fear and lack of curiosity, but, Harold, the head of their party, harbored no such feelings.

“Come, sit by us, kind stranger!” Harold greeted warmly. With a friendly gesture, he motioned at the two other merchants,

“Me and mah friends, we had already ran out of stories. Being a member of our traveling party now, would yer like to share one of yers?” His tone was amiable, but it also held a certain firmness to it, such that the offer couldn’t be easily refused.

The man spoke up clearly, in what had seemed like the first time in days, “If you people would like to.” His voice was deep and sonorous, like a minstrel’s, and carry well across the silence of the dark forest. That piqued the curiosity of the trio sitting around the fireplace, and they bent over in anticipation of the story.

“There was once a group of travelers, merchants all, traveling through the heart of a deep, dark forest. There were four of them, as there are four of us now.” The stranger glanced at the faces of men surrounding the campfire. A shadow hid half of his face, rendering an air of mystery to the tale.

“Having traverse through the forest for the whole day, the group came to a halt at a small clearing. One of the men slipped away from the group of four, while his friends were busy setting up their camp for the night. The man was parched, almost dying with thirst. With this spurring him onward, he blundered through the ominous forest. Without friend, and utterly alone…”

As if to torment his listeners, the man lifted up his mug and slowly tipped its contents against his lips. Streams of wine, dark crimson in the dim light, flowed languidly and trickled down his chin. The trio of men gazed at him, feeling as if they could die with curiosity, as the man finally finished his drink. With the wine smeared across his lips, the man could have been drinking blood in this poor, flickering light.

In a deep, sonorous tone, he continued, “Alone, the man ventured far and wide, looking for pools and forest springs from which he could drink from. At last, after fruitless hours of searching, the merchant stumbled onto a vast, clear spring.”

At this point in the story, Radast stood up and excused himself, saying that he needed to tend to nature’s calling. Harold nodded his head distractedly before gesturing at the stranger to continue.

“Its water was luminous, clear as glass, and smelled faintly of jasmine and wildflowers. The man had no hesitation as he jumped into the pool and gulped thirstily. Humming gleefully, he spent some time there, washing off his road stains and relinquishing his thirst.”

“Just as he was about to leave the pool in search for his friends, the man felt it. He couldn’t move. Could not budge his limps, however hard he tried. With increasing fright, he glanced down at his own body and shrieked. His pale skin was slowly turning to stone, from the bare tips of his hands and feet, up to spread all across his body.”

“As he howled and cried in agony, the man’s screams were gradually replaced by a more guttural sound, the roars and howls of a beast. His eyes glowed like shards of ambers, bright and harsh as firelight. Fangs, sharp as sickles, erupted from his jaws. Claws, pointed as ebon knives, protruded from his fingers. With a beastly howl, the Tylu made of stone leaped out of the spring and prowled off into the night, searching its prey, its bloodlust never satiated.”

Pausing for effect, the stranger glanced at the men surrounding him amidst the firelight.

“Legend says that the Tylu still prowled these woods, hunting for its prey in the cover of night.” He eyed the duo with a sincerity that brought an unbidden chill deep into their bones.

“It says that the Tylu could disguise itself as humans, and sometimes travel along with them in groups.” The stranger’s tone had shifted into an eerie whisper that set the backs of Harold’s and Olfrid’s necks prickling.

 "It blended in with its preys, where it waited patiently until the deep of night. When all were asleep, the Tylu would crept into their tents, and devoured them to the bones. Before any of its preys could scream, lest manage an escape. Only remnants of the travelers’ tents and smears of blood would be left the next morning, to be identified by other passersby. To warn them.”

The stranger’s tone was chilling as rasped on, “To caution them. That these woods are prowled by the Tylu. And they would need to beware.” Looking up, he gazed right into the eyes of the two men,

“Such that the old rhyme goes,”

 

 

Four travelers walk into the forest

One went alone, left them unsaid

Became the Tylu, who’s made of stone

Devour its victims, deep to the bone

 

 

At this, Olfrid shivered against a non-existent breeze. Harold rubbed at his arms, futilely trying to hid the goosebumps that had sprouted up along his bare flesh. Just before they could make any remark, Radast appeared from behind a row of hedges, his hair a wild tangle.

“Where in God’s name had yer been, Radast?” Olfrid shouted at the bard, trying to put on as much a brave air as possible. “Yer miss the whole goddamn tale!”

“Surrey, I got lost!” Radast swore in frustration, “Darnnit, had the story ended?”

While moving back toward his place by the fire, Radast noticed something queer in the shifting form of the stranger’s shadow. They were not in the shape of a man, but a monstrous beast. Its fangs like sickles, claws like knives, hunched over like a beast waiting for its prey.

Blasted angels, I must have been having too much to drink to be this fanciful. The bard mused drunkenly as he slumped onto his spot on the forest floor. Just as he went down, he caught the stranger’s pale eyes, bright as shards of ambers in this starless night.

Regaining his air of composure, Harold coughed, drawing all of the men’s attention toward him.

“It’s gettin’ late, ya’ll. We should try to catch some sleep before morn. I will take the first watch myself, if no one disagrees.” His voice rang loud and clear across the heavy silence of the forest, startling a few bats from their trees.

Still somewhat spooked out, the other men broke apart and went back to their respective tents. By the time the rain started pelting down, most of them had already gone into a fitful sleep.

 

The stranger shifted and squirmed uncomfortably in his furs, struggling with the idea of falling asleep. As if to make matters worse, the rain battering against his tent had found an opening, and ice-cold droplets made its way onto his bare skin. Just when he thought sleep was enclosing over him, there were noises.

They were soft, tap tap tap, against the folds of his tent, near the entrance. Frowning, he rubbed the sleep off his eyes and threaded groggily toward the opening. He was more than surprised to found the three companions standing before his tent, drenched in the maddening rain.

“What are you lot doing here?” The stranger questioned, his tone made crabby by the lack of sleep. “It’s late in the night, and raining cats and dogs out here.” Despite his irritation, the man’s voice was tinged with a thinly veiled curiosity.

“What about the other three?” Radast inquired. His voice was cold as marble, lacking any emotions.

“What? I can’t hear you.” The stranger shouted over the din of the brewing storm.

“What about the other three?” Olfrid asked. His voice was strangely low and guttural, like a beast’s growl.

“You mean the tale?” The stranger cursed and swore vehemently, almost spitting out his words of rage, “Why in god’s blasted name would you come in the middle of the night, asking after a damn folk story? Off with you!”

“What about the other three?” Harold whispered hollowly. Glancing up, the stranger saw that his eyes too, had a hollow look to them. No – they were not hollow. They were shards of amber, bright as firelight in this dark, cloudy night. The two other men had eyes like this. They stared at him, flashing the most horrible of smiles.

With a flash of lightning illuminating the forest, he saw that the three had skin as smooth as stone. Their fangs were sharp as sickles, their claws like knives. The stranger gave one final scream as his blood gushed out in a fountain, painting the nighttime forest a lurid red.

 

Four travelers walk into the forest

One went alone, left them unsaid

Became the Tylu, who’s made of stone

Devour its victims, deep to the bone

Beware, travelers, or they will find you

Caught you unaware, as one of your own

 

 

 

 

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© Copyright 2017 S. K. Inkslinger. All rights reserved.

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