Ivan's Hunt Part Seven
Rebecca Cavey was a surprisingly limber ghoul, bending at an angle that cracked her spine as she somersaulted away from Ivan, a veritable flurry of vermin flying from her wounds as she spun. Two long tendrils of intestine, each ending in barbed mouths, slithered out of her gut, another up and through her mouth.
"Oh my..." Father Donovan said, the various roaches and spiders gathering together in a roiling pile, bubbling like boiling water over a hot cauldron.
"Father! Focus on the vermin, I'll deal with the girl!" Ivan cried, twirling his long-handled dagger in his hand as he rushed at the pale body, its ragged throat wound slowly being torn wider as another fanged tendril wormed its way out.
Ivan ran up to the monster, rolling between its legs with a wide slash to its right calf. A deep wound was cut deep into the gray tissue, causing the undead to falter for a moment. Congealed blood seeped out like cold molasses, white maggots writing in the muck happily as they were exposed to the chilled air. Rebecca cried out, bending at the waist to scratch at Ivan's back, her hands catching on his leather overcoat. Her nails were jagged but flimsy, and merely broke away from her fingers rather than find purchase. Ivan pushed himself up, his left shoulder catching Rebecca in the crotch and sending her tumbling to the ground in an undignified heap.
Father Donovan was eyeing the mound of insects warily, having scooped up the lantern so that he could examine it better. The minute creatures seemed to be forming a circle on the ground, lines of glittering centipedes traveling through the center forming a complex seal. Panicking, Donovan walked into the mire and stomped on as many insects as he could, kicking them away from the profane formation they were making. He cursed as they began to swarm up his legs, biting at his wool pants and burrowing into his clothing. He abandoned his overcoat when he felt the prongs of some bug pinching him through the material. A feral cry made him look over just in time to see Rebecca drop to the ground with a solid crack of bone-striking-wood.
Ivan spun around and dropped onto his knees, each one pinning Rebecca's arms to the ground with a crunch of bone. She screamed, her black eyes going wide as Ivan's dagger was rammed to the hilt into her chest. Her cries grew ragged as he began sawing through her chest, cutting through ribs and sternum alike in an effort to peel open her torso. Donovan was so captivated by the sight that he forgot of his pwn predicament, until he felt scratchy legs running along his bare skin.
"Dear Lord!" He cried out as one creature bit him, followed by a dozen others. He patted at his body where he could, but it was no use. He could feel the spiders, roaches, and centipedes burrowing into his body, their fat bodies squeezing through the tight openings their jaws had created in his flabby body.
"Focus Father, I need you to keep them occupied for at least another minute!" Ivan bellowed as he pushed his hand into the gel that was Rebecca's blood to find purchase within her chest. Gripping bone, he heaved, the sound of flesh ripping like linen being pulled between petulant children made only the more profane by Rebecca's low moan of what could be pain or pleasure. Inside her chest, a swirling vortex of insects squirmed around her beating heart, a black organ no longer connected to veins. It had new tubes growing from it that connected to the lungs, which had slits in them. The heart was pumping the new lifeblood of the monster Rebecca had become.
Spiders crawled from her lungs in droves, roaches hot on their trail. The thickened intestines slithered out, one wrapping around Ivan's free hand. Another lashed out from her the interior of her throat, rolling back in from the mouth, and bit into his dagger arm. Ivan could feel cold sludge pumping into his wound but he chose to ignore it in favor of raising his dagger. He reached in with his free hand, despite the struggling tentacle holding him, and grasped the heart. Bringing the dagger to bear, he slit the tubes connected to the lungs one after another, before cutting the heart out of the back of the rib cage. Each cut weakened Rebecca and slowed the stream of bugs. Several dozen spiders were over Ivan's arm, biting him with their toxic fangs, when the compulsion to do so began to fade.
Pulling the heart from the body, Ivan looked down at Rebecca, her black eyes growing dull as the last vestiges of energy left her body.
"I wish I could tell you to send a message to your master," he said as Rebecca smiled one last grim grin. "But I'll be sending them to Hell soon enough. Be at peace now knowing that your mortal remains have been laid to rest and that they shall no longer wander."
Ivan brought the heart up to his mouth and, after a small gulp, bit into the toughened black meat. Tugging a ventricle away, he chewed on the rubbery meat before swallowing. Already the bites that had been numbing his arm were shrinking, the sludge pumped into his wrist that made the limb ice cold dribbling out as he ate the heart of the creature responsible for it.
Father Donovan, now shirtless with hundreds of bugs burrowing into his back and chest, looked over at Ivan and shivered. "Help me!"
Ivan stood up from the ruined form of Rebecca Cavey and walked over, passing the jellied heart into the Priests hands. "Three bites should do it. Save the rest, as I think we'll have need of it. Whoever this witch is, they aren't afraid to show off their power."
The Priest desperately took a large bite of the putrid organ, chewing hard enough for a bit of congealed blood to dribble down his chin. "You think they'll prove that challenging for you?"
"Every witch is a challenge," Ivan snapped back. "From the novice to an ancient crone, they all have unique gifts and abilities bequeathed to them by their unholy masters. The difference between them all is discovering who their Patron is, and figuring out how to best combat them. The demon lords all have different skill sets they generally stick with when granting boons, abilities they have an affinity for."
"So who do you think this witch serves?" Father Donovan asked around a mouthful of heart. Already bugs were crawling from his frigid flesh, emerging from bleeding holes to fall to the ground, wracked in pain.
"My best guess would be a demon not native to the region. You don't have any gods dedicated to decay or rot that I should know of, do you?" Ivan asked.
"No," Donovan said, picking up his shirt from the floor to pull it over his head. "The only thing I can think of that would fit that bill would be an actual demon, not any kind of heretical god."
"Not all demons are the same. The one we witnessed was more prone to using creations to test my abilities. That suggests a god that isn't known for physical strength. Perhaps Pazuzu or Shalim..."
"Let's retire to the cathedral for the night," Father Donovan said as he shook his overcoat clear of bugs. "I find myself in need of a large glass of mead and we happen toi have a few barrels that were donated by a passing merchant."