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Malik stood in the center of the battlefield, sweat rolling into his eyes. All around him lay the bodies of his army, most dead or dying, and the agonized cries of those still living filled the air. A few men cried out as he looked upon them, beseeching the gods, or whoever was listening, for mercy. Malik felt bile rise in his throat as the perpetrator of this massacre approached him, stepping over the corpses all around. The man wore a dark helm, visor raised so that Malik could clearly make out his features. He had cruel dark eyes, glittering in his pale face. His brows were jet black and he had a cold beauty that made Malik’s skin crawl. Beyond the man, Malik could now hear other sounds as some of the enemy warriors bent over the bodies of his fallen men. Malik watched in fascinated revulsion as this man before him reached down and lifted the body of one of his lieutenants from the ground. Grinning, the enemy warlord lifted the body to his own mouth and brought his teeth down on the corpse’s throat, tearing it open and biting off the flesh. He dropped the dead man to the ground again and turned his gaze back upon Malik, who was retching silently. Dragging one dirt smeared hand across his mouth, he smiled at the warlord, taking another step closer. Malik shuddered in terror and tried to move away, not daring to look where he was going. Malik tripped on the body of one of his men, and fell to the ground. In a moment, the monster loomed over him. His eyes danced with manic fire and his mouth, smeared with blood, turned up in a horrid grin.

“Who are you?!” Malik cried.

“Bionatos,” the man hissed, leaning forward to draw Malik close in to him. Malik could smell death, the rotting, fetid odor of the flesh, on the monster’s breath.

Malik struggled at the man’s reply. This was a monster, a creature of myth. The tales of his youth came at once to mind, stories of an arrogant warrior who had pitted himself against the gods. This man, his real name lost to legend, had dared to defy customs, refused to allow the burial of a slain opponent, favored of the gods. The man had defiled the body, for pleasure and sport, finally leaving the remains for carrion. The family of the dead boy had cried out to the gods for vengeance. In response, the gods had visited a terrible curse upon the man. They had made him a monster, a creature not human, nor animal, but some sort of hideous thing in between. The man, Bionatos, was for all intents immortal. He could live forever, but his body required a steady diet of the flesh of man. He was forced to wander the world, outside of all society, shunned by those around him.

Bionatos held Malik firmly before him. “I could destroy you, devour you like your men,” he said, raising one hand to stroke Malik's face hungrily, “but I will not. I let you live and set you free, to warn all who stand in my way. My army and I will sweep through the lands. I will rule this empire in darkness and blood. Warn everyone you meet, Bionatos is coming. Prepare for the feast!”

Malik struggled to his feet when Bionatos dropped him to the ground. He crawled away, glancing back again and again to witness the horror of Bionatos and his men feeding on the dead and dying of the battlefield. Finally, when he had reached the shelter of the forest, Malik fell back against a tree. His mind reeled from what he had seen and he struggled for composure. At last, he lost the fight, and dropping his head in his hands, Malik, the great and powerful warlord, wept.

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