The Law of Blood and Fang

This place was once a beautiful pastoral town watched over by two ancient cedar trees. Those trees remain, guarded by my siblings and I, but the rest is just a small settlement of survivors too pathetic to even give surviving an honest try. They haven’t adapted at all–no currency, no trade beyond a few occasional shipments of weapons and equipment when theirs break, and no entertainment. Everyone walks around like they’re a body without a soul. I envy them.

These people can survive despite their lack of any sort of effort. Monsters prowl the abandoned farm fields to the northeast and they repel them with such apathy that it’s amazing this town hasn’t been completely destroyed, yet that lethargy hasn’t stopped them at all. They’re all still here…and here I am struggling every day not to see my own sister as a slab of meat. I’ve been trying for at least a century at this point to show these mongrels the Law of Blood and Fang.

Sometime after the world went to shit, the town was attacked by monstrous wolf-like creatures–all black fur (sharp like needles) and glowing red eyes. The wolves attacked from the forest, tore into half the survivors before we could react; those who didn’t die from the beasts’ fangs soon turned against us. They transformed themselves into the hulking abominations and devoured their own families. When I felt sharp fangs sink into the back of my neck, I assumed the same would happen to me…all I remember is the color red.

When I came to hours later, I was surrounded by my siblings. In the next few days, I noticed that the dozen or so survivors looked at me with caution and gave me a wide berth more than usual. My siblings were even more “aware” when they were around me; I couldn’t blame them I guess. The eldest of us explained that after I was bitten, she too was convinced I would turn on the villagers. Instead, I had turned immediately to the nearest beast and tore it to pieces before I threw myself at the rest of the hoard. It was like it had been ingrained in me from birth–the Law of Blood and Fang.

My siblings and I are a large family of druids who tend to what little is left of nature, particularly the two cedar trees in town, and it was that magic that prevented me from fully succumbing to the monster’s bite, I’m sure of it, but I’m also sure that at least part of my resistance came from my desire to protect the town. Blood is the tie you have to those you call “family”. Fang is your will to survive. Without Blood, you can be little more than a slavering beast with no guidance, a monster who seeks only the preservation of yourself; without Fang, you can be nothing more than a coward who will surrender instantly in the face of insurmountable odds. One without the other is even worse. Blood without Fang makes you reliant and weak and incapable of defending those who would defend you with their lives. Fang without Blood makes you the worst kind of snake, who would sell their Blood for any price in exchange for saving your own skin.

Sometimes I dream of slaughtering these townsfolk. I wake up feeling regret for not having done so at my first transformation. The man who runs the Exchange is a sour old bastard who haggles with the elderly over a single ounce of grain. The couple who run the inn are too drunk to do anything except halfheartedly greet guests and forget to clean. One of the farmers deserted the town after her family was killed; she has no Blood since she decided to abandon what little hope she had left for finding new ties. Point at any resident and I can tell you they are missing either Blood or Fang or both. I haven’t met one yet that deserves a place in this new, broken world…even some of my siblings are lacking.

Not even the Pitmaster is deserving. He was once a normal resident here before he joined a band of mercenaries–he was a hard worker, dedicated to his father, capable of surviving. He had both Blood and Fang. I suppose mercenary life didn’t suit him, because one day he returned, but he had changed. I could smell it. He started a fighting pit and soon people flocked from all over, risking life and limb just to see fellow people battle each other or battle beasts to the death. The Pitmaster always insisted that he wasn’t a leader; yet everyone followed his word, even when he matched them with opponents they had no chance of besting. They lacked Fang. Seeing so many throw their lives away, I offered the Pitmaster a deal. I would be the only competitor in the arena, and I could choose the opponents; all he would have to do is make a show of it, make the crowd wonder who would be picked. I could smell the lacking virtues from a mile away. Some were surprisingly full of both Blood and Fang. Those who weren’t faced me at my strongest. Their physical blood felt nice sliding down my throat.

I protect this town for the sake of my siblings. If it were up to me, I would slaughter the lot of them. For now, I’m content to tear apart anyone foolish enough to face me in the pit, and the Pitmaster is wholly entertained by my occasional “rabid wolf” routine where I assault those who watch on in fearful curiosity. The Pitmaster allows me to kill without penalty, and for that I have kept him alive. But the Pitmaster is lacking in Blood. His cares for his father have dwindled in the shadow of his lust for carnage and death. Sometimes I dream of pressing my claws straight through his neck and watching him gurgle out his last breaths.

My eldest sister disapproves of my activities in the arena. She believes that all of these useless whelps deserve to live. She has plenty of Blood and Fang, but she is also wrong; those villagers would sacrifice her in an instant if they needed to. Our magic is what helped me maintain myself as one of those awful creatures, but without Blood and Fang even that magic wouldn’t have been enough. The others who turned had none of those, and so they turned on their own families and friends.

Lately I’ve been playing a new game. At night, when everyone has gone to sleep, I sneak into the room of a random villager and tear them to pieces and bury those pieces in the empty farm fields. They are convinced some creature is doing these things, but they are so lacking in Fang that they either don’t suspect me or are too cowardly to confront me. So I will continue committing these mercy killings in the night until they do. I think the Pitmaster suspects something, but he enjoys seeing the destruction, I’m sure of it. I am not the monster who stalks children’s nightmares and keeps anxious mothers from sleeping at night, but I very well could be. A monster is only a monster if you acknowledge its terrible acts and seek to prevent them, otherwise these acts simply become the cultural norm. I’ve seen many of these people leave out platters of meat in their bedrooms overnight as offerings. They’ve very much accepted me as just some creature stalking them in the night who they can never hope to overcome, and so they’ve decided to leave their lives up to chance.

The Law of Blood and Fang is absolute.

 

 

 

 

 

I DM a Dungeons and Dragons campaign set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy setting. This is the first of a series of monologues told from the perspective of one of my NPCs! They make for a good standalone story, surprisingly, so expect to see more in the future!

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