I wake up slowly, a leisurely easy stretch. I don’t have to see to know where I am. I’m in the dungeon at the Keep. My room. I lie in my bed just taking in the atmosphere. When I last left this place I was certain that it was for the last time. I reach over for my hurricane lamp. Fumbling around with my hand I seek the lamp and that pack of matches. Why do these things hide from me? The bed side table is small. It must grow in the dark. Maybe space gets larger in the night… K, found matches. Using my thumb nail I strike a light. Lamp is right there. They hide. That’s gotta be it. Walking around I light the other lamps which I’ll be needing, I don’t need nor desire much light, I’m a creature of the dark. My Sisters insist that I keep my people guise when in this realm. The spells cast make sure I don’t cheat. “No claws. No teeth. No climbing the walls and no hiding in the shadows!!!” It’s not hiding. It’s recon. You never know what other haunts are out there.

I look at the door. It’s unlocked… It’s unlocked!!! Oh joy!! With two leaps I’m in the rafters and moving like a wraith toward the kitchen. “Freeze!!! Back to your room and get some clothes on!! What have we told you about clothes and sneaking around this place? You are home. Not out in the wild. Go get dressed and put on your man form. Big, dumb, dopey Monster. March!!!” Chastened I fly back to my room and follow most of the order. Walking out of my room I feel a presence, familiar and most welcome. Big Cat. Humans call him a panther. I call him friend and co-accused. Things are shaping up for a fun, day-night. Whatever. “Hey big guy. You hungry or want to play?” He answers with a chuff and a nudge leading me to the kitchen. Food it is. Up the stairs, around the corner. Up the winding stairway I restrain myself from turning and flying up the maze of stone and mortar. Whoever invented legs just had the ascetics of the female form in mind. Flying and climbing is much more efficient. Now I’m really feeling hungry.


Quietly I move toward the entrance of the Great Hall. If there’s going to be a trap this will be the best place. You’re at home, safe. Stop it. Home. No claws, no teeth.  I straighten up and brazenly enter the hall… No attack, just one of the Sisters smiling. “No attack Monster mine. Come on.” Big cat pushes me away forgetting friendship in his hurry to beat me to the first scratches. Asshole.  Gaining entry to the kitchen I’m assaulted with smells and light of the warmest nature. It momentarily stops me. The urge to change and run is difficult to control. No claws, no teeth. Home.  I walk in not even moving to the walls. Right through the centre of the archway. No attack. Home. No claws, no teeth. The reward is instant. Feels like all my Sisters are here. Their attack is instantaneous. I’m cuddled from all sides. I don’t stand a chance.

Being cuddled by my Sisters is a bit like drowning. It’s inevitable and in your deepest, darkest inner place you just can’t fight it. There is a calm comfort in it that defies explanations.  My Sisters. There’s a lot of them. Counting them is difficult. More than one. Lots. Looking at them??? I don’t know what they look like. They’re uniquely individual. Each their own. They feel the same and different. Strong, soft. Hard, yielding. Loud and gentle. I know each as her own and yet can’t tell them apart until they contact me. Physically or spiritually. My first Sister found me in a cage at the Daemon Asurod ‘s demises. It and I have battled sporadically over the long aeons. Never more than a few centuries at a time. The Old ones always intervened before we could do more than spar. It had got me in a time of weakness and I was its prisoner. The Sister saw my plight and through some kind of trickery secured my release. At first I was going to destroy her and her coven for daring to presume to be able to touch me. To no avail. I was hers. She became mine.


You might believe this is witchcraft. That I am under a powerful spell which halts my true nature and calms my intentions. Not so. I am fully able to wreak havoc wherever and whenever I so choose. I am free. Well mostly free. The Sisters have a power that escapes in their very essence which renders them virtually invulnerable to Evil. Mischief is another matter. Another matter entirely.

So here I am in a Keep of my own design. Living in its lowest level. Secure from mine enemies. They in turn secure from my deprivations. Master of my realm, slave to the rules set in stone above the hearth.  They insist on a mostly human form. Chairs and couches are better utilized with that form. Hugs exchanged readily. No claws, no teeth. They are not needed except to “smile and chew ones food with.” Above all they desire communication and respect. If one fails to make notice of one of them or utilize proper “manners.” This is a grave offence indeed. It’s not an arduous existence nor is it uncomfortable. It is difficult to remember the rules and how to work within them. I find myself chastised more often for a breach of a rule that came from another rule that I had no idea was a rule. You see how this can become confusing.

The Sisters have little use for my powers. Indeed they seem amused when I build an arch that spans a chasm which utterly defies physics, yet is there because of the rules of it. They just pet me and use it as if it’s just another bridge. Amazing creatures.  Before you think that they are lesser creatures. You’d be a fool and regret this notion quickly. I once saw a shape changer, bent on attack and murder, challenge their right to a place of worship. Before I could act the beast was … Well, it was gone. Respect is due to these amazing creatures.


Why am I here? I often find myself asking that same question as I wander the halls and climb the spires of this Keep. Big Cat often at my side pushing me to greater feats of strength and dexterity inside the mortal guise. Maybe I’m a pet. Maybe a prisoner. Maybe. There are a lot of possibilities.   Looking, sensing in the great warm place that seems to be the centre of this massive edifice I built and The Sisters gave life to I perceive something new. Something different. Something. No claws, no teeth, I cautiously move toward a very tiny very delicate something. Stretching my senses to their highest level I explore this small wonder. Shaped like a Sister, tiny. Its emotions raw and pure in their honesty and immediate need. “That’s Miranda. Monster meet Miranda.” One of the Sisters picks up the bundle with a care and familiarity that stuns me. “This is our newest member of our family. Would you like to hold her?” Shocked at this I almost change. Hold a creature so small. Its breathing is almost negligible.  How can something so small be a Sister? “Monster put your hands like this. No, move your arms like…..” My Sister proceeds to arrange my limbs into a shape that pleases her. “I’m going to place Miranda into your arms. Don’t be scared.” Me… Scared. I’ve fought Black Dragons thousands of years old. Daemons wept at my feet looking for mercy. How could this barley breathing creature scare me? Sister places little creature into my prearranged arms. It doesn’t weigh but a whisper. Warm, still and sleeping. I stand partially mesmerized at the small creature placed in my protection.”

“Come, sit Monster. You must be hungry. You’ve been asleep almost 2 months. Your last foray into the world of man must have been eventful.” They snicker at an unseen jape or joke that I can’t fully understand. A breath and a wail shock me into almost changing. I go to leap to… Frozen. “Monster. We told you not to be scared.  It’s Miranda, she’s awake, wet and hungry.” I can feel their amusement and… something else. “Eat Monster. There’s bacon, beef, mushrooms, broccoli, potatoes all the things you like. Mind your manners. There are ladies and children present.” Laughter bubbles up all around me.


What is children? My repast complete I settle back and try to gaze at my companions. They all have names. They all have faces yet escape my mind and vision. My frustration is minimal yet I seek a way to see. I am curious. What do these wonders look like? How can I attain clarity of vision? As I ponder this the small creature wiggles on the floor. I’m not allowed to do that. Why can it? I slide upon the hard granite floor and approach this tiny marvel. No claws, no teeth. It focuses its attention on me and moves quite well to grab hold and make strange sounds. An attack? Yes, definitely. I fall back and let this little one bravely surmount my body, squealing, grabbing it relentlessly seeks to get near my face. Pulling, sliding, wiggling making all kinds of immature beastly noise I let it do what it will. It gets to my neck and as I’m positive it shall try to rip my throat apart and drink my life’s essence it stops and sighs. Holding tight it… It starts to fall asleep? Its breathing becomes slow and regular. What kind of creature is this? Strange and stranger. I hold this little warrior carefully, aware that everyone in the room is intently watching. As I move it holds a little tighter and cuddles closer. My warmth. That must be what it seeks. I raise my body temperature to warm it but not too warm. It’s delicate. For a time this is acceptable. My Sisters are murmuring among themselves. It’s a happy, comforting sound.

One approaches. “I think you have a friend. She likes you.” I gaze up at her and try that smile thing they find so pleasing. “The things we see when we don’t have a camera.” They burst out into a joyous sound awakening my little warrior. After a time she departs to find something she wants I’m sure.  “Monster there’s something you and Big Cat might want to look into on the South Spire of the castle.” One of my Princesses says with a practiced casual almost nonchalant tone. “We’re not certain what it is but we think it might be best for you to investigate.”  I know this feeling. I know this thing. The urge to change and attack is almost unbearable. But, take Big Cat. There is more to this than is apparent. Very well. I look at my friend and he opens one eye as if to say “I’m not hurrying. I’m comfortable.” Lazy thing. It’s a long walk to the South spire. I built it on a whim of a stray thought from my Sister. The Crimson One. She dreamed of a place high in the clouds were she could gaze at all creation. I fulfilled this as best as mortar, steel and stone could. My favorite part is the cleaver lift system using boxes, rope and counter weights you can ascend into the sky in a blink of an eye, without having to walk up the 118728 steps which spiral up into the heavens. I prefer to fly. Big Cat gets my attention. Time to depart.


As we get ready to leave The Sisters once again surround me and Big Cat. “Monster, we have a few gifts for you.” Gifts? What could I require that I don’t already have? The Sisters pick up a heavy chest . It takes one on each corner to lift it to the table. “Please open it without wrecking the locks.” They grin. Silly things. Like I’d casually wreak havoc on such an intricately and beautifully crafted thing. The locks are ornate and extremely complicated. Requiring a lot of examination before deciphering their workings. As I take a small metal rod and shape it with a claw. One claw, no teeth. The Sisters are silent and unmoving. At last my efforts are rewarded with a click and the Lud moving up slightly, free from its long rest.

The Sisters push forward and open the lid with an eagerness that is almost un seemingly.  “How do you do that? We’ve been trying to open that thing for 2 centuries. You do it in 2 minutes. We lost the key in the last move from the Mountain.” They happily pull cloth, foil and all manner of strange items out of this trunk, giggling and squealing all the while keeping a constant happy chatter that warms me. “Here you go Monster, these are yours.” They place two amazing silver axes, ornate and as sharp as a blade can be on the table. “Plus this.” A sword most often referred to as a sabre.


“Oh, and these” Two awesome daggers appear in front of me. “Oh, don’t want to forget this.” A big piece of wrought steel as intricately carved with ruins and shapes as could be imagined. I run my claws, hands. They’re hands. Over all these amazing weapons like a wind pours over the landscape. Not missing any detail. Why? I need this not. I’m Monster. What is this about?  My Sisters make more noise about this and that. I’m fairly certain that they’re just being themselves. Noisy and Sisters. I look at the metal sheet thing. It’s interesting. It has two loops on the inward curve and looks like it fits something. A rod? A curved rod? No. There’s a grabby thing!! Oh, it’s a blocker for something!!! Of course. They have fairly frail bodies that don’t regenerate quickly. They hide behind this! I deserve a cookie. As if reading my thoughts they place a basket of food in front of me as well as belts and… Armour… Armour??  Why would I need armour? Wait a … Oh , they want me to keep this form. I look all around. Their shapes are becoming a little clearer the longer I inhabit this body.  I start to don the armour and they make bigger noises and laugh.  “Not here Monster. You undress and dress in private unless… That can wait till later. Out!!!” Confound things.

They let me do the change of clothes whenever before. More strangeness. Mad creatures. Oh well when near the Sisters expect the word no. A lot.  I move to the Great Room and start doffing and donning my garments. The soft fluffy things first. This form is pleased with that. Then the harder pliable skins. Last the metals and irons. Thing the belts I’m surprised at the weight is beginning to tell. This form needs more strength. I think a bit of tissue growth. Not too much the clothing won’t fit. Enough to support the extra weight.  Clothed I return to the kitchen to gather weapons and food. They all gaze at me and I feel their warm thoughts and something else… No matter. Big Cat is up and pacing. Time to move.


It is a fairish journey to the South spire. The keep is larger inside than it’s outward appearance betrays. I designed well. The walls would stop a 4000 year old Dragon. He’s still out there and most angry with me at the end of our last meeting. The eggs are almost near ready to lie.  Its inner halls all are easily defended and just as easily sealed if breached. I made enough Sister sized hidden tunnels to get them from any point to any other point quickly and in utter secrecy. If enemies show the audacity to attack just the labyrinth of halls will confuse them into circles allowing time for weapons to be brought to bear on their doomed bodies. They didn’t like a dank, dark, moist atmosphere that was my initial design. It wasn’t comfortable. In war comfort is not needed nor desirable. They were quick to remind me that here there would be no war. No teeth, no claws. I wanted to argue the point but that does no good with them. They’d just figure a difficult and noisy way to alter things to their liking while forgetting to feed me.

In the central hall I built rafters that hide lights of pure sunshine that when activated should blind any nocturnal creature. Sisters saw this and were most pleased. Pleased enough to demand they be left on. Permanently. So much for defense. They then brought in pots of dirt and placed tiny rocks in which through some strange alchemy grew things of green and yellow, blues and reds. All manners of colour and a cacophony of smells. So vivid you were deafened by them. They then asked me to make a pool of water. Clear and deep so they could jump in, squeal and splash. I did, knowing that what they ask is usually easier given than thwarted. It was pleasing to hear their noises and sense their pleasure at that  work.


The South hall is in itself an edifice to envy. It can function as a standalone keep. Its defenses many and varied. With less than a score of warriors one could keep 35 legions at bay for a hundred years. Living comfortably as well. The tower just may be my greatest creation. I saw it in a dream. Its purpose to hold time/space together. Mine to amuse the Crimson Sister, (Duchess) it has a lift system that can lift you to the heavens in moments. Or you may walk its perimeter in a great spiral gazing out to watch the land disappear into the dark. Or watch the land appear as the light gains dominance as it does in its eternal cycle.

Big Cat easily keeps pace nudging me occasionally to remind me that he’s still there. I give him scratches and pets as needed/ demanded. Now he stops in from if me and raises up as if in a slow attack. He’s hungry. So am I. Good Kitty. After finishing our repast we sit back for a time. Digesting our meal. I seem to be seeing differently. There’s more colour. Less precise distance perception. It’s also dark. I’ve always functioned well in the dark. Hearing where everything is. Now? This is disconcerting. What is going on? I feel… I feel? No claws, no teeth. I change… No, I don’t change. Something is happening. No, something is not happening. I’m not changing. No claws!!! No teeth!!! No wings!!! No scales. No… Nothing. I foresee serious problems ahead of me.


Big Cat is impatient. Pawing me and head butting with more persistence and force he forces me to the present and our mission. Is this fear? Is this emotion? Is this the end? If it is I’m determined to make an end that will shatter everything in creation. After 9600 years this Monster is going to go out as a Supernova!!! I shall rock the world and alter time/space in my death throes.  Throwing caution into the wind I spring into a run that even Big Cat is hard pressed to keep up with. Drawing my blade and axe I surmount the last few levels as a bolt of lightning. I reach the top to see my nemesis. The Sisters. They look at me. I see them. I see them very well.  “Put your weapons away you big , dumb , dopey Monster. We’re looking for your name. All men of The Twisted Path need a name. Especially you. You’re going to be a handful.”

Mikey Monster


The Orphan Killer 2: Bound x Blood coming this summer




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