The Culling 5

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I was staggering from the sight of the carnage. I felt my body reject the meat I had eaten earlier and I wretched the entire meal into a snow bank. I stood shivering in the snow feeling sick, not wanting to return to his shelter.

"Are you alright, Gregor?" the deep voice sounded kind, gentle. I shivered when I remembered what that voice had said, how it had sounded.

A large, heavy hand engulfed my shoulder. I started shuddering violently and uselessly tried to escape his grip.

"What's wrong, Gregor?" he asked again, softer.

I turned to face him, briefly noticing he was fully clothed, there was no outward sign of the slaughter, "Why did you kill all those soldiers? They were fighting for their lives and you were just having fun showing off."

"Gregor, they weren't coming up here just to shake my hand, they were here to kill. Any one of them would have been fully satisfied to have my head on a pike."

"But they could have spent all day swinging swords at you and no harm would have come to you. You just defeated a small army with no injuries. You could have spared them with no harm for yourself. We arrived here a day ago and it seems you have done nothing but kill." Some distant animal part of my brain was warning me that this was a mistake. Jedrek had saved me from a horrible fate with no bloodshed (I hoped) and this was rank ingratitude. But as much as I had loved the Eoghan story, actually seeing the carnage had fouled me.

Jedrek did not look angry. "Gregor, you are seeing things with the eyes of a man who has not come to power. You will see differently when you are elevated."

"If my mind changes that much, than I do not wish your elevation, Jedrek." I stared him squarely in the eye. Almost like I was daring him to close his fingers and destroy me.

Instead he took his hand from my shoulder and faced me squarely, "I hope this helps you to understand. These men were sent by a man like us Gregor. He is part of the brotherhood as am I, as are you through our attraction to men. He needed to know he had sent a killing quest against one of the brotherhood in no uncertain terms. He will now lower the barriers to trade he had erected in his ignorance. The world is a harsh and brutal place and we need to keep our place in it."

Some part of me wanted still to scream at him and wash the horrible sights from my memory. But as he had been talking I was thinking of all of Jedrek's kindnesses to me and, selfishly, my fate without him. Also, there was perhaps more that I did not understand, that made such a bloodshed necessary.
I attempted a wan smile, "For all you have done for me, I owe you my trust," I said out loud but vowed to myself never to "elevate" if it meant slaughtering others.

Jedrek's smile broke over his seriousness like the sun dawning, "For one so young, you are a good man. We have one last chore before leaving this place and we best finish it before the sun leaves the sky."

"What do 'we' need to do today?" I asked fearfully.

"Snap the tether, Agnieska has on you." he said, savoring the syllables of her name.

"What tether?" I asked running my hand around my neck.

"Your witch woman has done something she has thought of as very clever. She has developed a way to siphon off your power into her own and she's using your own life force to do it. In other words, I remove the spell and you die."

"What do I do?" I asked going cold inside.

Jedrek's softened a bit and he once again laid a heavy hand on my shoulder. "There are ways to break this that will leave you unharmed. Agnieska does not understand completely the nature of the bond that holds you both and she will pay."

"You won't kill her, will you? I stand here thanks to her mercy."

Jedrek spat into the snow, "You stand here thanks to her ambition and pride. However she did do something right, unintentionally. But she will still pay, I will try to keep the worst of her payment from her. Better than she wished on you Gregor. Now take off your clothes and bathe in the river. Return and sit here on the mat in the middle of this circle.". He pointed to a circle on the ground with a silver material lying in the center of the circle.

I marched to the river. The current was swift and icy but I was able to stand it and the water cleansed me. Nothing in the forest seemed to move as I made my way back to the circle. Jedrek had his eyes closed and was singing softly under his breathe.

I knelt onto the silver fabric and....

pain shot through every part of my body searing me like my innards were being held over the smith's fire. I tried to open my mouth to scream but could not move. I was seized in a perfect vise that would not let me make the smallest movement. I could no longer see the forest or Jedrek just a kind of boiling blackness that entered my being.

Then all was whiteness and I longed to shut my eyes against the glare but could not and black tendrils were being pulled from my body. I could feel them pulling scablike from my skin. Ripping and tearing and then I heard a scream.

Agnieska was running but the blackness shot at her ripping into her soft, elderly body flaying her. I heard a thundering then realized it formed words; it was Jedrek. "You sought a power that was not yours and now you must pay."

The black tendrils from my body were now latched onto Agnieska, connecting us. She stared at me with naked hatred and loathing. Then as the tendrils thickened her face went white with pain. Tongues of blue flame burst on the tendrils and they writhed shaking both Agnieska and me. There was a roar and all was blackness.

I was aware of the cold, the blessed cold of the snow as it fell on my body. I started shaking feeling raw and exposed. My eyes were shut but I could feel myself being picked up gently and I was put in a soft warm place. I slept.

I woke up in the tent, my body was curled against Jedrek's back. It felt like warm marble but still it was solid and made me feel safe after what I had gone through. His breathing was soft and even. His back swelling slightly and pushing my body with each intake and then returning. I could hear the sound of the wind outside but the coldness could not get in to me. I snuggled in deeper and fell back to sleep.

The next day we began hiking. Jedrek admitted to not being that familiar with this region but knew the correct general direction. We were traveling through the wilds and even though this land is rumored to be filled with the most dangerous animals, we saw only signs of their existence, none crossed our path. They know an even more dangerous animal has come to their territory, I thought looking at Jedrek's massive form.

"Is Agnieska still alive?" I blurted out.

"She lives and I was able to spare some of her power as a favor to you, Gregor. Although that small favor cost me something. I am recovered. She will experience a much longer penance." Jedrek's voice sounded regretful.

"Thank you Jedrek once again. I hope I will be able to repay you."

"We are in the brotherhood, Gregor. You will soon see what that means."

I started to think of some of the things Jedrek had told me. Although some boys my age had been with the girls already, I was obviously not one of them. Jedrek had told me that sex was the path to the elevation. I had worried that Jedrek would take me just to awaken my powers and then I could be a better assistance.

Something on the second day of walking must have alerted him to my thoughts for in the middle of a talk about tracking he broke off and stared me in the eye, "Gregor, while you are a comely young man, I do not deflower virgins. Also the power does not come through rape. It must be combined with desire, although I think that is not lacking in you." he winked and I was almost overcome by his rugged handsomeness, but kept in my mind about my vow to resist the elevation.

Shortly after this conversation, we entered a canyon and hiked through it for another two days. The storms of the past days gave way to gentle sunshine and the day seemed warmer. As we approached the other side sheer unclimbable walls of hard stone rose in front of us. "I guess we need to travel back out of the canyon and find a way around this," I said my words echoing off the stone around us.

"I have a faster way," Jedrek said with a mischievous grin. He stripped off his shirt and breeches revealing once again his amazing muscularity. This saved his clothes when his muscles expanded with exertion.

He walked purposefully over to the looming face of the cliff. He seemed to peer intensely at the rock, like he was looking deep within the structure of the hard stone.I looked at the hardness of the stone and then the even harder and more rugged terrain of Jedrek's back feeling my*organ respond by doing its own expanding and pushing against the rough material of my breeches.

“Let’s break some off and look at it,” he suggested. He held his hand up to the rock and cocked his middle finger behind the tip of his thumb. This caused a large knot of muscle to writhe on his forearm. Then he flicked his finger at the face of the cliff. It sounded like a gigantic hammer slamming into stone, only much louder. A large patch of rock around the point of contact, was instantly obliterated and flew out as a cloud of dust, leaving a bowl of depression about 2 feet across. Leading out from the depression on the top and bottom was a jagged crack that extended down to the bottom of the face of the cliff and up about 15 feet over his head. Jedrek had seen a fault line in the stone and flicked his finger at the precise spot to cause the cliff to crack like glass.

I audibly gasped into the stillness after the explosive sound in my disbelief at the power he had in one finger. Jedrek smiled at my reaction, his eyes wandering low enough to show me he was aware of my arousal. I felt myself blushing furiously.

He turned back to the depression he had created with his finger and pushed his huge beefy arm into the hole filling the two foot wide hole. He extended his arm and could see the big striated horseshoe shaped muscle on the back of his arm start to flex bigger against the stone around it.

The ground started to shake. Pebbles fell from above as part of the mountain began to break away. Jedrek was flexing his muscles…. Slowly. He was contracting the muscle and expanding it harder and expanding it some more, exerting millions if not billions of tons of pressure on one side of the crack with his flexed arm muscle. The crack got wider and wider, ever so slowly. Jedrek was giving Mother Earth a chance to adjust to his demands. To his stronger muscles. To his will.*

There was a thunderous BOOOM! The crack suddenly moved farther apart and the base of the cliff shifted abruptly also. Then he flexed his arm harder and the muscle expanded quickly and huge. A crack formed moving horizontally from the top of the crack above Jedrek's head traveled several feet and started downwards again some ten feet away from where he stood. The crack formed a large oval shape in the cliff fifteen feet high and and ten feet across at the bottom making up about a third of the entire cliff face. The entire one-third of the cliff face moved 2 feet. He had separated a huge block of stone from the rest of the mountain face. Jedrek relaxed his arm, that had just forced apart a chunk of a mountain. He walked to the corner of the slab, though ‘slab’ doesn’t really describe the mass of mineral he had broken from the cliff, and grabbed onto the huge chunk of mountain. His back and arms and legs exploded with muscle sinew and veins. With little effort, it seemed, he lifted and carried the half mountain out in the open where we both could see the enormous mass of stone fully. He kept pulling until the piece came out fully over a hundred feet from deep in the mountain. It must have weighed hundreds of tons and Jedrek just carried it out in the open.

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM! He dropped the monolith of stone by the side of the canyon where it flattened the ground underneath it.

Jedrek again did not look like he was winded but his magnificent muscles were even bigger, he looked like he was maybe fully three times his normal size."You're not going to be able to put your shirt back on." I said in awe.

"This is just a little pump I get when I use my muscles a little. It will go down eventually. But you will get a bit of a show before we get through this mountain. He gestured and his staff flew to his hand with a light blazing upon it. "Hold this," he said thrusting the staff into my hands, and he pulled on his large pack and started into the tunnel he had created.

The back of the tunnel was jagged with rock from where Jedrek had wrenched the stone apart with his muscle flex. He shoved his thick fingers into the edges of the rock in front of us. CRRRRAAAAACK! CRRRRAAAAACK! The rock around the edges made thunderous noises and then Jedrek placed both his hands on the jagged rock at the end of the tunnel. I could see the muscle tension in his back, arms and legs as thick ropes of muscle stood out taught creating ravines muscle across his body. Jedrek shoved and there was a vast groan from the mountain around us as the earth gave way to Jedrek's superior power. Then there was a vast roaring sound as the whole of the rear wall suddenly shot away into the darkness.

Jedrek's back had grown even more massive. In the half light from the staff he seemed to take up almost the full width of the cave and the rest of him was even more muscular. Vast mounds of muscle pushed up around his neck and his chest thrust out almost three feet in front of him. And his arms were bulked up bigger than several barrels and furrowed with veins. His legs so wide they pushed his feet out. He was a monolith of a man.

I found myself once again spewing seed into my clothing but I was so awed by his power I was not even embarrassed.

"We should be able to continue our journey now." said Jedrek.

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