Chapter Fifteen

ME, MYSELF & I

Eager to put as much distance as he could between himself and the Tear, Melkaz ran to the safety of his village. But as the night wore on, so to his amazement, did his energy. Finally, puffing and wheezing, he had to stop and sit down to catch his breath. Only in the Tear had this ever happened before and now he was back in his world; he'd assumed everything would return to the way they had been. Methiyal’s warning which he had so casually dismissed, was starting to worry him. Gingerly placing his hand on the back of his neck he reassured himself that there was nothing attached to it. ‘It was nothing but his crazy dreams’ he thought. But in his heart, he wasn’t so sure. After catching his breath, he got back up and continued his journey.

By the time Melkaz finally made it back to his village, three days had passed, and he'd lost a lot of weight. Unbeknown to him, the more he weakened, the faster the Silth grew. It had already grown to the size of a large hen’s egg.

Staggering into the village, he was received with great concern as his poor condition was a shock to everyone. He was ushered into the longhouse and while he was made comfortable, one of the elders wive's rustled him-him up a large bowl of hot vegetable stew (his favourite) which he eagerly wolfed down.

As he was bending over his bowl, one of the villagers spotted the Silth, and discretely pointed it out to some of the others. Though concerned by the ugly thing, protocol would not allow them to address the matter while Melkaz ate. After he'd finished his meal, one of the elders politely asked how his travels had been and where they had taken him. Many others gathered round, eager to hear his story. Pushing his plate to one side, Melkaz spoke of his journey to the plain of Alcor and visit to the Gnarl of the Stovall Kern. He talked of Sombals, Shrikes and Karsing, and the wonderful smell of the hall of the Stovall Gnarl. He conveniently neglected to mention his visit to Nocturne.

Luten, one of the elders, awkwardly broached the subject of the Tear, asking him what his thoughts were on the subject. Melkaz was lost for words for several long seconds and was about to reveal the very awkward and unpleasant truth when he had a revelation. Why he or someone else had not thought of it before amazed him. Much relieved, Melkaz told his first deliberate lie. “I have given the subject much thought, and have seen the error in my logic. As the book of Woade so clearly tells us, we should avoid the Tear in the Sky at all costs. And so have I done, and forever will that be so.”

The assembly sighed with relief, though two of the elders were troubled by the revolting way the Silth was pulsating.

We are glad to hear wisdom continues with you Melkaz,” said Luten, beaming brightly.

And it is good to be home.” Replied Melkaz truthfully, “But my journey and the excellent meal has made me very weary. If it is well with you, I think I had best retire to my bed.” Rising to his feet, Melkaz made ready to depart.

Just one small matter before you leave”, said Luten,”It would seem that you brought with you a new and most peculiar creature.”

Whatever do you mean?” 

There is something on your neck; I am surprised it does not trouble you.”

Melkaz placed his hand on his neck but felt only skin.

To the revulsion of those watching, the Silth had retracted completely into Melkaz’s neck, leaving only the end of its tail showing.

Here,” said Luten, “let me remove it from you”. Melkaz thought he must have been referring to a tiny insect, as he couldn't feel anything. “Indeed, I would like to see it.”

 Luten grasped the Silths tail, and despite its slimy texture he managed to hold onto it. Melkaz screamed as he attempted to pull it from his neck. He turned to face Luten, a bewildered look on his face. “What did you do to me?”

Everyone  was shocked at what they had just witnessed.

I simply tried to remove the creature, nothing more.”

Melkaz touched his neck, expecting to find a gaping wound but much to his amazement he felt nothing.

I don’t know what you did to me, or why you speak in such riddles, but I must get some sleep.”

Melkaz left the room and went directly to bed as he was physically and mentally exhausted. Sleep came quickly, but it was far from restful as his mind was tormented by nightmares. While he slumbered, an urgent council was organised due to the seriousness of the matter. The entire village came together to discuss Melkaz and the mysterious creature. It was the longest meeting in their ancient history, and many ideas were explored. By the time Melkaz finally woke, they had still not arrived at a consensus on what to do with him or the attached creature. Undecided, they agreed it was best to do nothing for now.

Days turned into weeks, and weeks to months, and still they were undecided as what to do. While they procrastinated, the Silth continued to grow, and Melkaz’s behaviour and appearance became increasingly unpleasant. People found it best to avoid him and his obnoxious and unpredictable behaviour.

As months turned to years, Melkaz grew to loathe villagers and their patronising, pathetic ways. He even took to sleeping during the day and roaming the village at night to avoid interacting with his pious, self-righteous, brethren. His reclusive lifestyle also suited the other villagers, as his appearance and manners had become increasingly more grotesque. Not knowing what to do with him, this informal arrangement seemed the best way to deal with the unpleasant problem.

This arrangement also suited the Silth, who had grown to enormous proportions, reducing Melkaz to a stumbling hunchback. One afternoon while Melkaz was having a very nasty nightmare, the Silth sucked the very last drops of nourishment and nastiness from his withered body.

Detaching itself from his neck, its bloated form oozed across the floor of his hut. The sun was still shining brightly outside, and though filled with an overpowering urge to seek fresh necks for her eggs, the bright light forced her to wait. Four hours after sundown, while the villagers were tucked in their warm beds; the Silth energetically began her loathsome work. Just before sunrise, after a very successful night of injecting eggs, she retreated to the darkness of Melkaz’s hut.

The next evening the Silth didn’t start her work until nearly midnight, as the previous night's labours had taken their toll. On the verge of complete exhaustion, she retreated to the recess of a cave, which lay not far from the village. Melkaz had often retreated to the privacy of the cave, so she knew it well. Though it was only a short journey, it had sapped the very last of her reserves. Detaching herself from her the remains of her heavy egg sack; the Silth disintegrated into a rancid slimy ooze.

The day before Melkaz’s putrefying body was discovered, the Silth’s egg sack split in half, releasing thousands of the hatching eggs onto the cave's floor.

Death had arrived in the World of Men.

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