The silver light cast shadows in the forest meadow. The moons glow gave everything an ethereal cast, the wind blew gently, whispering through the trees. From the deep dark of the forest emerged a misshapen creature, all around the woods fell silent, as though all animals held their breath in anticipation. The breeze died, rendering the clearing silent. As the creature moved through the meadow it left a trail of death, with each step forward the flowers and grass died. in the middle of the meadow by an alter of rocks and wood lay the carcass of a deer.
The flies which once crawled over the rotting flesh had vacated the carcass as the creature moved towards it, fleeing from their meal. The glassy, lifeless eye reflected the glow of the moon. Its once soft and warm fur was cold and matted, coated in its own blood and the filth it gathered as it was dragged to the altar.
The creature approached the altar, smelling the air, sniffing excitedly. The meat was fresh and still contained traces of the life the deer had once enjoyed. Hidden in the trees a man lay in wait, coated in mud to help hide his scent, he could smell the creature, the stink was heavy and hot. He watched with revulsion as the creature devoured the meat of the deer, leaving only the bones. The creature looked around once more and, satisfied with its nightly feast, turned and left the clearing. As the sun rose all animals let a sigh of relief, those who were asleep settled, suddenly relieved from nightmares. The man smiled. The creature had once more accepted the offering. He stood up slowly, stretching his stiff and cracking joints before making his way to a nearby stream where he would clean the mud from his body and enjoy a cool soothing drink. Having cleaned himself in the river the man headed back to the village to tell the others not to fear, for another week they and their children were safe from the wrath of the beast.
It had been that way as long as anyone could remember, the creature required a sacrifice and once one was made it was happy. Those that had seen it had no doubt that the creature would be able to catch its own food, yet it still wanted a meal brought to it. Before it had snatched children and people, seemingly at random, sometimes destroying houses. They had tried and failed to kill the creature, its skin was incredibly tough, spears and arrows bounced from its flesh, its stench was strong, so much so that those who got within five feet of it were overpowered. It seemed to be a small price to pay for safety. The village was never that prosperous, but attackers steered clear, occasionally hunters came to hunt the creature but they never returned from their expeditions. The creature did not seem to blame the village for the attacks, perhaps the death of the hunter was enough to sate its anger.
He entered the village, a few villagers breathed sighs of relief as he approached, some stayed to hear of the night but most left to go about their business. He spoke briefly to those left before going to his house to sleep. It had been a long night and there was still work that had to be done, he needed a rest if he was to be any use for the rest of the day.
The creature moved slowly, full and sleepy from its meal, behind it was a trail of dead and dying plants, it didn’t concern itself with such things, the trail was never there for long. Though it killed the plants it passed over, new ones grew within a few hours, helping to conceal the trail of death. It was in no rush, the sun was warm on its back and the slight breeze was pleasant.