Read Parts I, II, III, IV, V

 

It stood in the center where most of the clutter had been cleared away.  It was tall, eight foot or more.  Its black hair, bristled and frayed, ran from its scalp down its back and grew thickly around its thighs.  Its bare skin was a deep burgundy and muscled.  Its face was almost that of a man, but with a blunt snout and deep set, gleaming eyes.  It stared directly at Amana.

Oetho recognized it immediately, and reacted quickly.  He darted in front of Amana. As Prime Hunter for the People years ago, it had been his job to know everything there was to know about the Ban-Tho; eating habits, mating rituals, herding behaviors and survival instincts.

“Say nothing,” he said to Amana.  He held a hand back to her.  He could sense her tremble and still hear the withering strain of her voice.  He looked quickly to his sides for something he might use to defend them, anything, a pole, a knife, and then he saw the markings on the floor; the diagram below the Ban-Tho’s clawed feet. 

“Who summoned you, beast?” said Oetho.

The creature had not taken more than a step since either had arrived.  His brow pinched as if perplexed and then a smile spread across its face.  It opened its mouth and a deep rumble echoed from its lungs, forming a single word.  “Djookzin,” it said.

Oetho gritted his teeth.  Juxin, of course, only he had the gall to send a Ban-Tho into the heart of the Imperial city.

“Calm yourself, Amana,” he said, his voice shaken.  “It’s trapped.  It cannot exit the circle.  There is nothing to fear.”  He wanted to believe it too.  Juxin’s spell would hold he was certain.  Yet, the Ban-Tho were savage and resourceful creatures.  He had memories of too many battles, dreams of too many felled by the hands of one such as this.  Amana, too, had memories she had never forgotten.

“Murderer!” Amana screamed; her voice breaking.  She charged forward, pushing Oetho aside.  From a table she grabbed a large glass bottle and flung it at the creature.   The Ban-Tho cringed and ducked.  The bottle passed through the circle and smashed across the wooden planks of the floor.

“Amana,” Oetho placed his hand on her arm.  “This is not what …”

Amana pulled away and screamed, “You murdered my son!”  She tossed another bottle and it too missed. “You murdered his wife.”  She lifted a wobbly coat rack into her hands and threw it with all her might.  “You murdered his family!” The rack fell sideways across the turned back of the creature, nearly knocking it down.

Continue to Part VII