Soldiers had complained of hunger before but none of them what true hunger was. It tore at the insides and left one ready to rip into anything remotely edible. Worse than that was when the hunger could only be satisfied by one thing.
Just the thought of the substance sent his stomach into angry knots. Jin clutched at the ground in an effort to keep his body in place. He was an honorable warrior, proud to serve the emperor, not a monster to give into baser instincts and kill an innocent.
This curse would not ruin him. He would control it. All he had to do was not drink blood and either his body would adjust or he’d die with his honor. The cave was all that hid him from the world and kept away the sunlight that now burned his skin. How he wished to be able to feel the soft warmth of sunlight again but that time was never to come again.
It was a true monster that had passed this curse onto him. Made him into one of the awful Jiangshi, made him crave blood and turned his once graceful movements into jerking hops. But he had kept himself from attacking anyway while he sought out a cave, now he just had to continue the pattern.
But with each night, the hunger grew stronger and his mind twisted. Jin knew that his desertion on the battle field would send others after him but he had used the cover of night to travel further and further away. Desertion was better than killing his comrades for a meal.
He would rather starve and waste away to nothing than to kill the men who fought beside him.
Focusing on that, he crawled his way to the wall of the cave. He would find a way to beat this if only to prove to the world that he could.
Jin never remembered falling asleep but he did remember waking up. A soft voice and the sweetest scent that ever graced his noise startled him into awareness. The cave was still dark but his eyesight had improved with the onset of the curse.
“Are you alright sir?” The young woman drew her hand away from his shoulder but had yet to move more than that. There had to be a reason for her being in the cave but all his mind could focus on was the vein that he saw throbbing in her neck.
It pulsed to a beat of its own, drawing him in with its promise of a taste and the return of his strength.
“Sir?” The sound of her voice drew him out of that dangerous spot and he pressed himself further away from her. No, he could not allow the monster within to win. This girl was innocent; just concerned for a man she found sleeping in a cave.
“I am well, you may go.” He kept his answer short and as rude as he could manage in the light of her concern. It was still light outside the cave and he couldn’t get away from her that way. The cave did not go back much further so it was she that had to leave.
“You do not look well. You’re pale… Come, my grandmother made soup. It will bring the life back into you.”
If only. The thought arose unbidden in his mind and he shoved it back down. Nothing would breathe life back into his body. Only fire would free him from this torment.
Jin couldn’t believe the thoughts in his head. They were either malicious or they turned to a possible suicide to keep himself in check. He was a proud warrior of the Qing Dynasty, he would win. With every intention of turning down the young woman’s offer, he opened his mouth just as her hand came down to touch his forehead to check for a fever.
She smelt divine. His eyes drifted closed as the mix of her sweat and soft perfume wafted to his nostrils but even sweeter was the pulsing liquid beneath her skin. He had known blood to smell foul and metallic but he knew instinctively that the irresistible scent was blood.
Nothing could have prepared him for when the hunger scorched his entire being. A good meal was so close, so easy, and so very alone. It would be easy and enough time would pass before someone looked into a dark cave for her that he could escape.
Before he realized it, his body was already acting upon the darker thoughts. Her soft body was pulled flush against him and his nose ran up the column of her neck, all without him fully understanding why he couldn’t pull away.
It was her scream that awoke him but it did not wake him soon enough. Jin had already sunk his fangs deep into her jugular and by then, it was over. Drinking in greedy gulps, his curse completed itself. Blood was life and power.
And Jin felt more powerful in that moment than he ever had before.
You know, I’m not sure if I got this right. If anyone is more familiar with this particular creature, please let me know what you think. It’s hard to improve without the feedback.
Next Creature: Pixiu