Key of Kannux
by Wm Jay Carter III, 6/18/15
Condition: Dirty, Appealing
Color: Tomato Red
As you march along the forest path you occasionally hear the heavy thud of someone chopping wood. Soon enough you pass a cottage where a dark-haired man is doing just that, the muscles of his bare back flexing beneath his pale white skin with every downstroke. He stoops to gather a few logs and when he stands you see a badge of black metal fixed to his chest, carved with delicate appealing swirls.
Uncertain how the badge manages to stay attached to bare skin, you greet the man and ask about the curiosity. Without responding, the pale man drops the wood in his arms and rips the badge away from his body, revealing a long serrated wooden spike that oozes with thick liquid the color of ripe tomatoes. He offers it to you, evidently unaffected by the fresh wound the spike left behind. “Perhaps you’d like it for yourself,” he says, his dark eyes becoming hungry, his teeth sharpening by the moment. “I won’t need it any longer…”
A closely-guarded secret among the seraphim, vampires are not only real, they are actually corrupted members of the bat-like race. The first among them, Tulok, was tainted by a subtle curse placed on his pirium circlet. Instead of absorbing light or mana, the magical metal began to drain his life force away. Tulok’s essence ebbed even after the circlet was destroyed, driving him insane with a hunger for blood to satisfy the curse’s demands. The more Tulok fed the greater the curse’s hold became, and the more he reverted to his bat-like form.
Only after several nights of crazed feeding was Tulok able to return to his senses and come to terms with his transformation. He found himself in the forest, surrounded by the brutalized bodies of women, children, and animals. Fleeing the horrific scene that he had unwillingly created, Tulok hastily stumbled through the forest. All too soon, his carelessness landed him at the bottom of a ravine where he lay impaled through the heart by a freshly broken tree branch.
The next morning Tulok awoke in a cottage, a white sheet laid over his body as if someone had found him and presumed him dead. With some relief he discovered that—despite the gaping wound in his chest—he was still alive, and had returned to his rightful form. Realizing that the living wood had supplied the curse with the life force it needed, thus restoring his mind and body, Tulok fashioned a serrated spike from a freshly cut branch, thrusting it into his heart again. Immediately, he felt the pirium curse diminish; it was still present, but with a mere fraction of its former strength. Thereafter, the spike of living wood kept the curse’s power locked away, granting him a normal life again...so long as the “key” remained in his chest.