Holding my breath, I counted the support slats on the bed that sat just above, waiting for the little horror in it to go to sleep. I knew this was a big deal, but I just didn’t understand the tradition. To prove your monsterhood by hiding near a child… the whole practice reeked of barbarism. In fact, most lower class monster families has stopped altogether, preferring to do something less dangerous, less possibly deadly, like killing a cantankerous Serranx from the Fire Swamp of the Hag, and bringing back its severed head.
Not my family however, they decided that they still stood for the old way, and as prince to the Kutari region, I needed to prove my worth in order to be a bold leader. I needed to sneak into the child’s room, five nights in a row, and at the end of it all, steal a token to prove my valour. The larger the better, let them know that we had stood up their tyranny. As tonight was the last night, I had spent the last four nights cowered in the farthest reaches under the bed, trying to hide whenever the kid screeched for its family. No matter my stealth, no matter my subterfuge, he somehow heard me. That brat had ears like a Wollywamp.
At last I heard him drift off, put to sleep by the horrendous smelling liquid they commonly consumed called ‘water.’ How anyone could maintain drinking that consistently was beyond me. The stuff reeked of death and decay, of ancient creature’s piss. Looking out from under the bed, I saw what I wanted to grab. I had heard of it from others, but no one I knew had been as bold to take one. If I was stuck doing this ancient rite, then damnit, I wanted something good to prove my worth.
It sat, perched on the small table beside the child’s sleeping head. When the child was fighting sleep, it glowed, filling the room with unnatural and glaring light. Bulbous in appearance, it had some form of fabric shade to block out the light sitting on top of the contraption. The reason you would build a machine to create light, then stifle it was beyond me. Why have light in the first place then?
Carefully, I pulled myself from under the bed, and stood up to my full height, reaching for the light device. Silently it lifted from the small table at my touch, still warm from the diffused light it had put out only minutes before. Feeling proud of my success, once the object was fully in my grasp, I turned and made for the closet, to the portal back to my realm.
However, the object had some strange restrictive rope attached to it, nearly jerking from my grasp once it had reached it’s full length. Aghast, I carefully and as quietly as possibly, traced the rope back to it point of origin. There, it lay stuck in a plate inserted to the wall, and as I pulled, I saw prongs that held it in place. Feeling proud of myself, I paused, allowing myself to feel strong and brave.
My moment was stopped by a scream. A woman stood in the doorway, her beady little eyes wide in terror, hand pointed at me, no doubt trying to cast some death spell on me. Her cries summoned the leader of this tribe, his large stomach a testament to his ability to provide for those under him. No one moved and the mother’s scream stopped, as the child stirred from his slumber.
As soon as I looked to the young one, the leader of the tribe leapt into action, his loud footfalls drawing close to me rapidly. I turned to see a balled up hand coming towards my face, some primitive attack. I dodged the blow with ease, which surprised me. After hearing a millennia of horror stories, were these creatures not as strong as they proclaimed?
Not waiting to confirm the theory, I turned and leapt into the closet, falling through the portal with princely grace, clutching my prize close to my heart. I stood up, dusted myself off in the magic chamber of my household, the light giver still not broken. In the room stood my family, applauding my successful return.
“Success and riches be upon you son!” My father proclaimed as he took my claim from my arms. “This is the largest thing I have ever seen from their hellish dwellings. You will truly be a proper leader!”
I smiled and jutted my chest out bravely, still feeling the fear fluttering in my heart. Even if they weren’t as strong as we claimed, I still felt nothing but fear looking at the portal behind me.