Palan smiled as he strolled through the lizardmen’s city. The streets were deserted and dark, the only source of light coming from the moon. The houses seemed empty with no candles or orbs to illuminate the buildings, but Palan could tell that they weren’t: he heard the lizardmen breathing in the darkness, sensed their beating hearts, smelled their fear. His eyes inspected the doors of the houses as he walked by, large crosses painted in blood decorated their exterior.
Palan chuckled as he sauntered past a house with an open window, heading towards the more affluent area of the city. A child screamed inside the house before it was cut short and muffled, most likely due to its parents. Palan smirked as he started to whistle, his eyes scanning the buildings ahead. His gaze stopped on a mud-brick house, its door pristine and unmarked by blood. He smiled as he walked up to it and pressed the red blade of his dagger into the doorframe before sliding it downwards, cutting the latch that held the door closed.
The door creaked as Palan pushed it open. Shouts rang through the room as a lizardman scrambled out of bed and picked up the axe that was propped up against the wall. It was too dark to see and the lizardman swung wildly as it pressed its back against the wall. After two minutes of swinging, it stopped and panted as it glanced around the room, unable to discern outlines in the poor lighting. Its heart pounded in its chest as it lowered its axe and tentatively took a step forward.
“Boo.” Palan’s voice whispered in its ear.
The lizardman screamed as it whirled its head to the side, swinging its axe. A hot flash burned the side of its neck as its axe cut through the air, hitting nothing. It touched its hand to its throat; a warm liquid flowed down its arm as it gurgled in an attempt to breathe. It coughed and sputtered as it slowly collapsed onto the ground. Palan stood in the center of the room and watched the lizardman’s chest heave up and down until it stopped moving, a pool of blood spreading outwards on the ground.
Palan kneeled next to the body and stabbed into its chest with his dagger. There was no resistance as he cut open its rib cage and pulled out its heart. He propped open the lizardman’s mouth and wrapped its stretchy tongue around its heart. He left the mouth open as he pressed his palm into the pool of blood and stood up while walking to the wall. He drew a smiley face with the blood on his hand and took a step back, admiring his work. He nodded and left the building, leaving the door wide open.
Palan’s ear twitched as he heard footsteps on stone in an alleyway near his location. He snorted as he followed the sound with his dagger in hand. He rounded a corner and frowned as he saw a diminutive lizardman holding a piece of half-eaten bread. Its head reached half-way up Palan’s thigh, and its orange skin seemed to glow underneath the light of the moon. The tiny lizardman froze when it saw Palan and dropped its bread as its body trembled. “Y-you’re real,” it said as it fell over backwards as Palan stepped closer. “P-please, don’t h-hurt me.”
“I dislike killing children,” Palan said as his nose wrinkled. He squat down in front of the lizardman and stared at it with his bright-red eyes. Scars could be seen on its body, and a layer of dirt and grime covered its scales. Palan twirled the dagger in his hand. “Why are you out at night?”
The lizardman nodded as its eyes widened and stared at Palan’s red dagger. “I-I was hungry,” it said and glanced at the piece of bread on the floor. Tears formed in its eyes and it hung its head while its body shivered.
Palan’s brow furrowed. “Don’t you know about the demon? About me?”
The lizardman nodded as it sniffled. “No one’s s-supposed to go out at night.”
“Do you know why?”
Palan sighed as he stood up and pat the lizardman’s head, leaving behind a bloody handprint. “Go home,” he said as he began to walk around the child.
“I can’t,” the lizardman whispered and started to cry. Tears rolled down its cheeks as its body spasmed from its sobs. It wailed. “That lady won’t let me. I want my papa.”
Palan frowned and stopped moving. He stared at the curled up child before snorting. He walked forward until he was two buildings away from the child before turning back. The lizardman was still there, its sobs piercing into his ears. His brow furrowed and he sighed before walking back towards the child. He tapped its shoulder. “Where’s your home?”
The lizardman looked up and blinked at Palan; the scales around its black eyes were red and chafed. It pointed in a direction towards Anidun’s cave. Palan grabbed the child’s arm and lifted it to its feet. “I’m going that way anyways; I’ll drop you off and have a talk with that lady.”
“Lead the way before I change my mind,” Palan said and crossed his arms over his chest. The lizardman nodded and picked up the piece of bread on the floor before scurrying off. Palan followed the child while scanning the doors of the houses; all of them had crosses painted on their exterior. He arrived at a mud-brick house with the lizardman child.
“That one,” the child said and pointed. Palan nodded and walked up to the house, inserting his dagger blade between the doorframe and door. He slid the blade downwards and walked into the house with the lizardman child following after him.
A scream resounded through the house as an pink lizardman scrambled up in bed. It opened a drawer and pulled out a glowing blue orb. The light shone off of Palan’s smiling face. He tilted his head and pulled the lizardman child in front of his body. The pink lizardman shouted, “I painted the door! I painted it!”
Palan nodded. “I’m not blind.”
“Then why?” the lizardman asked as it shivered and clutched the glowing orb to its chest. Its eyes widened as it stared at the child. “It’s your fault! You cursed child! I should’ve killed you!”
The lizardman child bit its lip and hung its head. Palan chuckled. “You remind me of someone,” he said and smiled as he ran the edge of his dagger along his tongue. He stepped forward and clutched the pink lizardman’s neck as it screamed. He turned towards the child. “Was it this person who gave you those scars?”
The child looked down at its body and nodded. “She hurt me after papa disappeared.”
Palan licked his lips. “I’m going to enjoy this,” he said and tossed the pink lizardman outside onto the road. She coughed and scrambled to her feet as Palan sauntered towards her, twirling his dagger in his hand.
“They said you wouldn’t kill anyone who painted their door!” the pink lizardman said as she walked backwards, bleeding from some scrapes.
“Yes, that’s true,” Palan said and nodded. The lizardman’s body relaxed. “And what did they say about being outside at night?”
The lizardman’s face blanched. “No,” she said. “I was inside. You—”
“And now you’re outside,” Palan said as he lunged forwards, sweeping his dagger. Screams echoed through the city, but no one dared to step outside and investigate. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the night fell quiet again. Palan exhaled as he looked up at the moon, blood dripping from his dagger. He turned around and stared at the lizardman child who was staring back at him with wide eyes and mouth agape. “Did you enjoy that?”
The child gulped and nodded as it walked towards the unrecognizable puddle of flesh beneath Palan’s feet. It clutched Palan’s pants as it peered at the body, tilting its head. The corners of Palan’s lips quirked upwards. “You really didn’t like her, huh? Was she your mom?”
The child shook its head. “My mom died when I was born,” it said. “This is my papa’s second mate.”
“I see. You don’t seem scared of me anymore,” Palan said as he poked the child on its head and separated it from his pants.
“You’re not going to hurt me, right?” the child asked and blinked at Palan. “Then I shouldn’t be scared.”
Palan raised an eyebrow. “Even a few demons would be scared of me after seeing something like this,” he said as he gestured towards the lump of flesh. “What’s your name?”
“Cleo,” the child said.
“Cleo,” Palan repeated. He nodded. “Well, alright. Bye.” He turned around and started to walk towards another house in the distance.
Cleo blinked as she watched Palan leave. “Wait!” she said and dashed after the demon. “Can I come with you?”
“The hell?” Palan asked and frowned. “No. You’ll get in my way.”
Cleo furrowed her brow as Palan continued to walk away. She followed after him.