VOID FINALIST: MONSTER

_Story by H20Dartford, for the [A Touch of the Void Writing Contest](https://boards.oce.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/player-creations/GffcOA6K-a-touch-of-the-void-writing-contest-sponsored-by-logitech). You can vote by [going here](https://riot.com/2J51DIl)!_ *** _Hunger. _ A howl of frigid wind tore through the trees, bringing with it the scent of rain. The rustle of shivering summer leaves echoed across the valley, announcing the start of autumn. Ahri flattened her ears against her head, hugging herself to stay warm. She stood at the edge of the forest, where bramble and bark gave way to careful, meticulous rows of wheat. If there had been moonlight, it would have bathed the long expanse of farmland in a soft, white glow, and hounded away the darkness like a flock of frightened sheep. But tonight was no ordinary night, and the moon lay hidden behind a thick blanket of clouds as if it were too afraid to be seen. The only semblance of light lay at the edge of the fields, in the window of a small, homely farmhouse. There, Ahri could find Life. Sustenance. She had tried to resist for far too long. Ahri felt her way through the gloom without thinking, head slouched, her bare feet stumbling over winding roots that seemed intent on blocking her from her destination. She heard the angry rumble of the sky echo across the valley like a stampede of a thousand horses and could not help but wonder if it was directed at her- At the monster that wore her face and thought her thoughts, at the monster that left a trail of empty bodies as it went. She crouched at the edge of the farmland, carefully lowering herself into the paddy field with thin, trembling hands. She had starved herself for far too long. She needed to feast. _Monster._ Her arms, weak as they were, gave way. Ahri shouted in surprise as she splashed feebly into the field, the biting iciness of the water shocking her out of her trance. The water seeped into her soiled clothes, covering her once-white tails in a blanket of muck. Cursing and spitting water, Ahri stood, shivering harder than before. Her clothes clung to her skin, showing traces of the hollow ribs underneath. _Too cold. I need warmth. _ Taking a deep breath, Ahri willed magic to collect in the palm of her upraised hand, forcing heat and light into a ball. A small blue-white glow appeared, hovering like a midsummer moon. It shimmered against her skin, throwing a light azure cast over her face. Her features, despite being young, were sunken and starved, her once-golden eyes now a dull yellow. The orb of light grew, expanding outwards from her palm- then flickered out like a candle without wax. Growling through gritted teeth, Ahri tried again, her white knuckles straining against her skin… There was no glow. Her magic had finally run out. Soon, beads of rain began to fall from the sky, as cold and sharp as broken glass. The melancholic drumming of rain created a harmony with the rattling leaves, a counterpoint of sorts. Ahri paused, turning her face skywards with closed eyes and furrowed brows. Hoping. _They say the rain will wash away your sins if you let it; they say that the rain can cleanse the evil in your soul as it cleanses the earth. _ _Clean me. Wash it all away. The hunger, the hunger… Please let it stop. _ Ahri opened her eyes again, looking towards the farmhouse. She could still feel the insatiable craving deep within her, rumbling as loudly as the cobalt thunder in the swirling sky. She was as hungry as ever, and the life coming from that house looked so inviting, she could not resist… A streak of purple lightning flashed in the distance. Ahri kept walking. *** The door swung open without resistance as Ahri stepped into the light, her face pale and streaked with mud, shivering arms hugging her body. A pile of well-worn furniture was pushed up against a wall, and a modest fire burned in the center of the living room, surrounded by a ring of stone. A single oak chair was placed near the fire, and in it sat a very startled pair of hazel eyes. Ahri’s fatigue was forgotten in an instant. She didn’t hesitate. Exhaling slowly, she focused on the emotions of her prey, Pushing from surprise to confusion to relaxation. This was easy. This was natural. The prey swayed, pupils widening, then shrinking. Ahri watched as the girl slunk back into her seat, shoulders hunched, eyes aimed lazily at the ceiling. The fight was over before it had even begun. Ahri smelled the air, ears twitching with anticipation; it buzzed with the essence of Life, sweet and strong and musky. She stalked closer, focusing on the breath of the prey, and inhaled. Essence of Life streamed into Ahri, reigniting a fire deep within her bones. Her once-frail fingers buzzed with energy, her hands opening and closing to test their newfound strength. She had forgotten what it felt like to be alive. She laughed. Why had she been so afraid to feel alive? Ahri opened her eyes, truly looking at her victim for the first time. The hazel eyes were framed in dark hair, raven like her own. The girl’s cheeks were marked with streaks that, Ahri realized, looked very much like her own. But it was not the girl’s face that caught her attention. A scaly, grey film hugged her body like skin. It was like nothing Ahri had ever seen. It coated the girl like a glowing, pulsating tar, covering her from chest to toe. In some areas it was smooth, and in others it was notched- Ahri saw the orange lights that glistened inside them, like the eyes of a thousand starving spiders. She saw the marks that curled around the girl’s chest like claws. It was eating her, digesting her. Ahri tasted the air again, hissing. It had a Life of its own. The girl was an abomination. _Monster. _ Ahri’s eyes widened, taking a step back just before the Memories brought her to her knees. She had always forgotten about the Memories. They came surging towards her like a tsunami, choking, biting, invading. No. These were no ordinary Memories. _Darkness._ _She crouched, scared, alone. Rock surrounded her on all sides, looming, hungry. She could hear other cries, but they were distant. Too distant to call back, for she was afraid of being heard by the nighttime horrors she knew sulked in the depths of the caverns. She began to crawl, hands scraping the ground in front of her. Inch by inch, deeper into the dark. Someone? Anyone. Please._ _Please. _ _She paused, listening. She had become good at that. Perhaps that was why she was still alive. The faint cries were still all around her, calling for help, calling for family, calling for a lover. There were much fewer cries today. The older ones were not always the wisest. She crawled forwards again. Quietly. That was the only way. She had called to them before, but their lives had been spent to give her a lesson._ _Quietly. That was the only way._ _There! Wait- What was that? She could see. A dot, barely brighter than the feeble glow of a daytime star. Star. She missed the sky. She missed the light of the sun, she missed the smell of her home. She inched forwards again, following the light. She did not know where it led, but she knew that anywhere would be better than here. She began to crawl again, her knees oozing a small trail of blood. _ _Blood? No. _ _Clack. Clack clack clack. A sound, coming from the distance. A sound, coming closer. There it was. No, it can’t be- Not now, not her. Faster, faster. She crawled faster, hands scrambling against the ground. _ _Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss._ _She began to cry, hot tears leaving fissures in the dirt on her face. Quickly. QUICKLY! She stood up, yelling in surprise as her head hit the rock. It knows. She began to run, the naked flesh of her feet slapping against the ground. Towards the light. It is brighter here. The cavern is blanketed in soft purple. She could finally see. She risked a look behind, a look at the beast that haunts her waking dreams. _ _There it was. _ _Monster. _
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