The Perfect Monster: A Tale of the Scourge By Matthew Perrett www.mattperrett.com email@example.com Epilogue 2: The Cruel Hunt Henrik Trulson cursed his miserable luck as he fled for his life through the stinking swamp of the Wetlands. Things had just been starting to look up for him, too. His parents had died at an opportune time, leaving him ample inheritance money to start a small, but profitable, smuggling operation in Menethil Harbor. With the Scourge and the Horde a constant threat, the authorities had more important things to worry about than a few crates of quasi-legal goods. It didn't hurt anyone, and the few guards who were aware of his operation were taking a little extra coin home to their families. Henrik hadn't even had to split the inheritance with his insufferable peacock of a brother, Tomas, as the Scourge had taken care of that problem nicely. Tomas had suffered a nasty wound to his side in the first few moments of the surprise attack, and had clearly been in no shape to escape from the ravenous undead. The monsters had barely been paying attention to Henrik, giving him a golden opportunity to run. All he had had to do was walk away from his elder sibling; it was the easiest thing he'd ever done in his life. How delightfully ironic that his brother's tendency to hog the spotlight had doomed him and saved his perpetually overshadowed kin. Now, however, a mammoth abomination was hot on Henrik's heels, and he had absolutely no idea why. Sure, he had done some trafficking for a few necromancers, but they all seemed quite pleased with his work. It was remotely possible that they were attempting to tie up loose ends, but he was certain that he was still useful to them. Besides, there were more subtle ways to kill someone than to send a huge, slavering monstrosity to murder them in the middle of the night. No, this wasn't business; this was personal. He frantically searched his brain for likely suspects as he continued his desperate flight, but came up with nothing. Anyone who hated him this much was already dead. Henrik had very nearly soiled himself when the enormous, meaty arm smashed through his bedroom window and snatched him out of bed. Being a man who prepared for many (but clearly not all) eventualities, he had grabbed the gun under his pillow just before the necromantic horror dragged him outside. Unloading the pistol in the monster's face had distracted it just enough for him to break out of its grasp, but he landed hard â€“ the creature had lifted him further off the ground than he had expected. He had struggled to rise before his attacker could recover from the gunshot, but had been too slow. Before he could get off another shot, the abomination had lashed out, knocking the firearm from his hand and breaking his wrist. Fighting through the pain, Henrik had decided that the wisest course of action was to run away as fast as his lanky legs could carry him. He had cried out for help, shouting that the Scourge was
attacking the city, but no one had responded or come to his aid. Where were the guards or those good-for-nothing adventurers when you needed them? Passing a shadowy alleyway, his sharp eyes had spotted the bodies of several guards. Whoever his opponent was, he had been crafty enough to prevent the local authorities from interfering. Henrik had tried to head for the harbor, hoping to cut through a busier part of town and sail to safety on any vessel he could find, but the hulking monstrosity had blocked his path at every turn. It was almost as if the creature knew every inch of Menethil, and it was surprisingly quick for its size. Changing tactics, he had doubled back and bolted for the nearest gate out of the city. If the harbor wasn't an option for him, then the boats anchored in the cove where he had based his operation might be his only salvation. The sentries had been absent from their post here as well, but he had wasted no time thinking about their fate. The abomination's hooked chain had sailed past his head and crashed into the stone wall, narrowly missing him and reminding him that the chase was still on. Tripping over an unseen root, Henrik fell face first into the muck. Sputtering and coughing up the foul water, he glanced behind him and saw that his pursuer was still lumbering after him, steadily and relentlessly. He surged to his feet just as the hook embedded itself in the spot where his hand had been only moments before. As he took off running again, it suddenly occurred to him that his enemy had passed up several opportunities to finish him off. Was the terrifying creation, or rather its master, toying with him? Regardless, it wouldn't matter once he reached the cove. There was no way something that massive could outswim a boat. Henrik turned the corner and stopped dead in his tracks, his desperate optimism replaced with horror. His boats were smashed, useless hunks of timber scattered all over the beach. His last hope of escape shattered, he raced into the grotto where he hid his supplies. He frantically searched for something, anything, to defend himself with, but the cave was bare except for a torch and a lone piece of flint. Presumably, the monster had thrown it all in the water after destroying his boats. Quickly lighting the torch, he started to make his way outside when the abomination's enormous frame closed off the entrance. It somehow managed to squeeze inside the cavern and stalked towards its prey with a low, menacing growl. Backed into a corner, Henrik felt his resolve strengthening. He was no timid and cravenly wretch. If he were to die today, he would die as a man. "Go on," he raged at his tormentor, "kill me! That's what you're here for, isn't it?!" The creature stopped advancing and gazed at him calmly, as if waiting to see what he would do. "Do you expect me to beg for my life?!" shouted Henrik furiously as he continued his tirade. "I'll never beg! I've never groveled before anyone, and I'm not going to start now! You'll get no more pleasure from me, you sick bastard!" Instead of attacking, the abomination cocked his head as if listening to something, though Henrik heard nothing but the waves and his own labored breathing. Slowly, a broad grin spread across the undead behemoth's visage, a sight more horrifying than anything else he had seen that night. "Tomas says goodbye," the monster stated simply in a deep, echoing voice. Frozen with shock, the torch slipped from Henrick's limp fingers. He was too stunned to do anything but watch as the monstrosity opened its gaping, toothy maw, and for a moment he could
feel his brother's presence. Something snapped in his mind, and with the realization of the truth, he screamed a terrible, soul-rending scream. The abomination's jaws descended towards his head, and then there was nothing.