“I do not believe I have ever witnessed a more disgraceful sight.”
It took me a few seconds to recognize the voice as my own. One’s voice always sounds different in one’s own ears than it does to others. But I knew the voice I heard speaking, coming from nowhere in particular but all around me, did indeed speak in mimicry of my own.
Or had I, my entire life, been speaking in his voice?
“Are you your god’s lapdog now, Reprobus? Has he trained you so well?”
As Lycanon materialized in form from the thickening night in front of me, I did, I freely confess, feel fear, so much more terrible did he appear than he had before, when he had appeared to me in my hour of greatest dread, whilst I remained captive in that cell in Rome. At that time he had gifted me with but a mere suggestion, a hint of his true self, a shadow-form approximating only a percentage of his reality. Now I beheld him in his opulence and complete terribleness. He, rather it, stood on two legs, twice again as tall as me. His arms dangled to his knees. Everywhere black, thick hair covered him, and his hands were gnarled, misshapen; his fingers were great spiders’ legs, sprouting claws long, yellowed, and curving like scythes. His feet were, I noted with mounting horror, more akin to cloven hooves than to the feet of a man or of a wolf.
I beheld his three heads:
One a human head, this perched atop his left shoulder, peering over it with dead, milky eyes; a man’s head, bald , beardless, and yes, dead, without a doubt dead. A swollen purple tongue poked out through the flaccid lips. A corpse’s head. The head of Lycanon the man, as he had once appeared? Had this abomination ever been a mere mortal man? Or did he sport this head in mockery of all men, as human hunters will sometimes keep mounted upon their walls the dead remnants of prey they have felled?
The head atop the right shoulder, in truth not a head at all, rather a skull, a wolf’s denuded skull, yellow bone glistening with blood in the moonlight, black blood, thick and pasted to it. Its eye sockets stared raw and empty but somehow alive, aware.
The head in the center looked like the head of a great black wolf. Its eyes were coals of scarlet fire, and flames, deep yellow and pale blue, kindled inside its mouth, flickered up around its slavering jowls, dragon’s breath, the teeth long and curving and dagger-sharp, burnt black by the fire but whole and intact. The saliva, or venom, that drooled from its gaping maw sizzled, boiling, when drops of it struck the rocky ground.
This, then, was the form of true evil I looked upon. A sight never intended for the eyes of men, and one few had ever looked upon, and none living to tell of it.
“Are you the devil?” I muttered, my insides on fire with the coming transformation.
“You speak of one,” Lycanon said. “We are legion, for we are many. I am the first, and the last. Alpha and Omega.”
“God is not mocked!” I spat.
“I am the first of the old gods, and the last. I remain where all others are fled away. I will not be humbled. Neither will I suffer mockery, little whelp, and least of all mockery from one of my own! You stand here in defiance of me, yet you are my child!”
“I am God’s child, not yours!”
“Who is your master, moreso than he who destroys you? Who is more worthy to call himself master? I will destroy you and feast upon you. Your meat will ferment in my belly and I will shit you out. That is all that will remain of you, dog of your god. Shit upon the ground!”
“God, grant strength to my flesh!” I could scarce speak now; my words were more snarls than words. “And sharpness to my claws and teeth!”
The change took me. With a roar, I threw myself upon Lycanon.