's 2019 Horror Write-off:

Dreadshapen III - The Blood Princess

Submitted by Luna Wolf

Nim ran forward, even as Leaner’s tongue slipped from her arm. Ran further into the darkness that only she could see. She hoped she would trip, that a root would catch her foot. She wanted to turn around, to save her friends, or at least die with them. But again, her body would not listen to her. Just wanted to survive and let everyone else die for it. Soon the radio speech faded from the air. Only the sound of trampled leaves.

Finally, her foot missed the ground. She met the floor a little below what she expected. It felt like a warm embrace, she could easily fall asleep in its comfort. She didn’t really want to save her friends. She just wanted to remain here. Wanted what her body wanted. It was all just excuses. She was just rotten inside and sometimes pretended not to be. Dying would be the right thing to do. She never did anything right. She just wanted so bad, so bad to appear that way. She learned healing magic, like a good and kind person would! Just for show. Playing pretend. Awful person. Awful, horrible, dirty little maggot.

“You just keep running in circles, Nim.”
Must be a hallucination. Or maybe her nightmare finally begun.
“Get up.” Hands pulled her up but she would not move a muscle to help. “Get up already.” she at least refused to collapse back down when she stood. “And take that thing off.” he removed the muzzle from her eyes. There he stood, in the flesh. Nim smiled.
“Always such a crybaby.” her father said. “You didn’t even bleed and you just mope in the dirt like that.”
“What a mean thing to say.”
“I’m just glad you’re okay.” he rubbed her arms up and down. Like any modern Ziyn, he lacked hands, but it was still a gesture they were familiar with.
“What are you doing here?”
“Where else should I be?”
“Rotting up in the north I think.”
“Are you not happy to see me?”
“I quite hate it, yes. Can we just get this over with?”
“Pah, you’re no fun.” he turned away, acting insulted.

“What do you think, by the way?” he stretched out his arms. “Just like home, right?”
“It’s nice to be able to see.”
“That’s what I thought when I got here. Though, you being the last thing I saw was quite nice too.”
“What a way to go, huh?”
“You truly have no remorse for killing me, huh? Your good old pops?”
“If only he could hear me talk about him like that.” Nim sat back down on the ground. When was this thing going to run out of patience and just kill her?
He squatted down in front of her and tilted his head like a puppy with that proud father grin.
“You learned a fire spell. That’s a quite common beginner spell. It’s easy to wrap your head around, teaches you to be careful with magic. Umbrisan learn it. Humans learned it too, back when they still had mages. But we Ziyn don’t, living in a forest and all. Fire spells aren’t allowed. So who taught you?”
“I did it myself.”
“I thought you would. Such a prodigy. That human just exploded, huh? If you did that, we wouldn’t be in this mess, hm?” he sat down properly. “You got your father’s eyes, you know?”
“You don’t.”
“My husband shot me in the head.”
“I’m sure if I grew up with parents, they’d have told me, girl, don’t marry a cop twice your age.”
“I’m not following anymore, what are we talking about?”
“I thought you were past this charade?” her father changed into a human with curly hair. “There, better?”
“So who are you now? Leaner’s mother?”
“I’m myself.”
“Are you not another monster?”
“Oh, I am. I’m just not as mindless as some of the others. Still got my memories from my life as a human too. I think I’m unique in that way.”
“So it’s true all these things used to be people.”
“Most of them.”
“How did you end up here?”
“I didn’t die from being shot, if that’s what you’re asking. Just like for you, the scars have faded. Used to have a bit of a dent, right here.” she tapped over her right eyebrow. “Then I got shapeshifting powers. Creativity took a bit of a hit with the brain damage, so I can’t think of a cool monster form to take though. You’ve fully recovered though.”
“Physically, yes. And my father had to die for it.”
“If you want, you can trade his eyes for mine. You’ll be able to see in the light. But you’ll be blind in the dark from then on.”
“Fine by me.” The choice was easily made. It made her appear like she cared for her friends and wanted to look for them. Giving up her father’s eyes felt like relieving some of the guilt of taking them in the first place. Flesh magic allowed for an easy transfer of body parts. Usually you would switch out a damaged organ with a healthy one, from a dead body. Nim never used it like that. She only ever took from the living.

After the transfer, it was like she wore the muzzle again. Only this time the darkness felt more like a wall than the iron plate did. At least the darkness didn’t sting the human eyes like the light. She saw her skin glow in the dark though. And her father’s eyes looking back at her.
“Good luck Nim!” then the eyes closed, or their new owner vanished entirely. Nim couldn’t tell.”
She found the muzzle on the floor and picked it up in a magic grip. Somehow, she felt sentimental for it. Maybe it really wasn’t too late to save Leaner and Zinci. Nim made the trade because she wasn’t planning on living much longer anyway. For some reason, she wasn’t so sure about that anymore. Hope was such a cruel bastard.


It didn’t take long for Nim to get out of the dark forest and back into the lighter one. Now that Nim could see, her feet were caught in vines and roots almost every second step. She tried walking with her eyes closed, but it didn’t help. Well, if she used up all her bad luck here, that’s only good.

She finally found herself on the ground, but it was not the plant life that caused it. Some creature fell out of the sky and now perched over her with a hand on her throat and a knife in the other. Before Nim could even assess the situation though, the person got off her and put the knife away, then turned their back and walked away. They didn’t quite fit the look of the local bestiary. Alien in a different way. Nothing else in the Dreadlands had blue skin or carried weapons. Horns poked out of their forehead and a long spined tail brushed the dead leaves.

“Um, excuse me?” Nim got back on her feet, shock of the impact still vibrating in her lungs.
“What? I didn’t kill you, what more do you want?”
“What the hell are you?”
“I’m a huntress. I only hunt creatures that can fight back though.” she spread her wings. Nim could see the trees through one of them, but she took off. Moments later she crashed back down to earth and curled up in pain long enough for Nim to catch back up.
“Your wing is injured.”
“Leave me alone.”
“I’m a healer, I can fix it. I just need some flesh and bone to transmute.”
The stranger sat up, giving her a judging look. “You can do that?”
“Like I said, with some meat and bone. Unless you want me to use a few of your fingers instead.”
She put a satchel on her lap and took out a severed limb, possibly a lower arm. “If you use this, will I have a pale spot on my wing? This color is disgusting, you can make it the same shade of blue right.”
“I should be able to do that much.” she hoped the arm was from a monster. She took it out of the strangers hand and she turned around to let Nim see her wing. Nim never fixed a wing before, she didn’t even know people existed that had them. It would take her a bit to get it right and functional, using the other wing as reference.
“So what’s your name?” Nim asked.
“I’ve not seen a being like you before.”
“Yeah, I’ve not seen one of my kind in this world either. Granted, it doesn’t look very inviting.”
“You’re not from here?”
“Yeah, from another planet. We are called Shanttari. Long ago, our planet blew up and ever since we would pick a planet and live out our lives there. I happen to have picked this one.”
“How did you survive your planet exploding?”
“Our goddess sacrificed herself to save us, or so the legend goes. You got a pretty cool goddess too.”
“Which one do you mean?”
“The one that made all this. I’ve never had so much fun. The beasts in here are magnificent!”
“Don’t tell me you live in the Dreadlands by choice.”
“At home, nothing ever managed to take a bit out of me. There’s an actual thrill to the hunt here.”
“Are all Shanttari that obsessed with hunting?”
“No, that’s why I left. Even the aegil are all terahly. It was terrible.”
“Got it. What exactly were you hunting before you came here if your planet is gone?”
“Oh it isn’t gone, we still live on it. It’s just in pieces, circling a black hole. The sacrifice of the Torn Goddess made it so there’s still gravity on the pieces and we won’t get sucked in any time soon. The animals we are allowed to hunt were extremely regulated to avoid extinction. But here, no one is gonna be upset with me if I kill these things.”
“I guess not. I’m done with your wing. And it’s still blue.”
Spirra moved the wing, let the light shine through it. “Hmm. I used to have a spot right here though.” Nim pointed her wrist at the spot and made the skin a little darker.
“Close enough. There a reason you don’t have hands by the way?”
“We lost them to win a war, basically. It’s a really long and depressing story and while it happened before my time, still pretty raw for me.”
“Yeah okay, I’m not that curious. It just struck me as weird, since you just repaired my wing.”
“I was born without them and got my magic to replace their function. Just not worth it.”
“You do you. Well, bye.” Spirra spread her wings again in preparation.
“What? You said you were done.”
“Don’t you want to travel together?”
“You can’t fly.”
“You can walk.”
“You just fixed my wing!”
“Yeah, wouldn’t you want to keep me around for the next time something takes a bite out of it?”
Spirra folded her wings back up. “Fair point. I’m a bit of a firel anyway, so who cares? But we’re done with conversations now. My mouth is starting to go numb.”
Nim just nodded and Spirra lead the way, jumping in the air with a single flap of her wings, to try them out.


Leaner woke up to the sun shining red through her eyelids. Something laid on her stomach. It was Zinci. Did she drag her out of the forest? No way, the environment probably just shifted around them again. It now resembled the desert. Leaner didn’t believe for a second they were on uncorrupted land. This were still the Dreadlands.

Leaner lifted her arm into view. Still looked bruised and she’d probably keep the scars where the bone poked through, but it at least had the right shape again. Zinci did a good job with the bandages. When Leaner applied any, they usually unraveled after half an hour. Well, usually she was awake and just couldn’t stop readjusting them. Arm still hurt to move. Leaner carefully placed Zinci’s head in the sand, without waking her up. Let her soak up the sun some more. The featureless terrain allowed for a far horizon, except for a rather high dune in… some direction. North? Leaner wasn’t sure if she and Zinci remained in the same spot and the environment shifted around them or if they geography remained the same and they’ve been brought to a different area of the Dreadlands. She’d climb up the dune, but didn’t want to get too far away from Zinci, so she just sat down and tried not to be blinded by the sun.
She wondered if anyone ever survived in the Dreadlands for this long before. They only survived on luck so far. The skin monster would have killed them the first day if they didn’t get lucky with the molten chocolate. There was talk of a big hero going to kill the Tumor God on her own. People said she could hold her own in any fight, but only against what human society could throw at her. Leaner wasn’t often in the position to pick up gossip, but she was sure that girl was never heard from again.

“Looks like we both survived.”
“Luck is with the stupid.”
“You humans can be wise when you try.”
“Your people got any sayings like that?”
“Hmm… we got… a seed that grows downwards will still eventually reach the surface. In a way, it will be the tallest, but never recognized as such by the other plants. I guess. That made no sense to you right? I translated it on the fly.”
“A little? Honestly, I forgot you had your own language. How come you can speak English so well? Preparation for being a death god?”
“No, you just learn it growing up. Let’s you communicate with other people easier. The Ziyn language is just way too hard to learn for outsiders, especially the modern form. And the Ink and Akephalians only speak English.”
“Wait, hang on, something doesn’t add up. The Ink speak English? As far as I know, humans never really interacted with them. Why would they know English?”
“You know, it really is weird that you humans came here already speaking our language.”
“I’m pretty sure English is our language. Like, I have books we brought from Earth written in it.”
“You mean, Ink are aliens that came from your home planet?”
“We only had humans on Earth…”
“You aren’t making any sense Leaner. I think we might just not be informed about history.”
“I did grow up under a rock, I guess.”
“Let’s keep going. We can worry about this once we are back on uncursed ground. With Nim.”
“You’re right.” Leaner got up and turned her back towards Zinci. “Hop on then.”
“I’m not going piggyback while your arm is broken. We should take it easy with the walking anyway. It’s been a while since you’ve eaten something. If we’re lucky, this copy of the desert has some jackalopes to hunt. And no horse wolves.”
“I can take out a horse wolf.”
“You can’t take out a horse wolf, Leaner.”
“What do you call horse wolves in your language?”
“Voum. I can’t really translate it. Like, wandering death rock, I guess? What does horse wolf mean?”
“A wolf the size of a horse.”
“That still doesn’t mean anything to me.”
“We likened them to Earth animals. I’ll have to show you a book when we get home.”
“I’d love to see a… horse.” Zinci smiled with genuine anticipation.
Leaner smiled too and the relief of surviving the hardships until then finally washed over her. They had a genuine shot at making it through this. For a moment the sun did not hurt Leaner’s eyes. Something blocked it out for a second.