He hated humans now as fiercely as he’d hated them for centuries. If not more so.
They were dust, the walking dead. Frail and unworthy.
They were less than the most simple of beasts.
It was their cunning, their intellect that allowed them to rule. And yet their base nature always reasserted itself.
Time and time again they raised civilization to unimaginable heights only to plunge it into a dark abyss of decadence and decay.
He’d witnessed it for more years than he could count, seen the cycles of humankind repeat themselves over and over again. Blissfully he could no longer remember all of the details.
He was old. Hundreds of years old. That much he knew from what memories he still held.
Perhaps his age could be measured in thousands. The heavy weight of his soul whispered it might be so, though why he should be so convinced he had a soul was beyond him.
His form was human, but it wasn’t his true form. He was positive in that regard. Just as he was equally sure the name resonating through him was his own. Tir. Though he hadn’t heard it spoken in centuries and would never willingly share it with any of his captors.
Was he the last of a supernatural race no longer walking the Earth? Tir didn’t know the answer. He had never met another of his kind.
Great stretches of his remembered life were spent in darkness, in damp underground catacombs, his ankles and wrists manacled. In the early days the priests and their acolytes cut out his tongue periodically so he couldn’t speak, then later, as science gave them other tools, they sewed his lips together and fed him through a needle in the arm.
He could no longer remember why his human captors feared what he might say. Apparently neither did they—though they still feared what he might do.
They were right to.
One day he would be free of the sigil-inscribed collar around his neck. When that day came and his memories poured into him along with the power he sensed at his core, he would wreak vengeance not only on the human race but on whatever beings had first enslaved him.
He would have his revenge. The promise of it had kept him sane over the centuries, given him the strength to endure torture and dismemberment, depravation and degradation.
In the cage next to Tir the human finally succumbed to his injuries. His rattling breath was a death knell making the hyenas laugh and the lion charge.
The wereman, his body caught in a grotesque blending of cougar and human, paused in his savage assault on the bars of his cage, his lips pulling back to reveal broken teeth and a bloody mouth.
At the far end the lethal dragon lizards turned their heads, flicked their tongues out to capture the scent and taste of death. Their huge size and venomous bite, their aggressiveness, made them terrifying creatures, illegal to house or transport, though Tir had seen little evidence humans obeyed the laws they were so fond of creating.
The sound of footsteps drew Tir’s attention away from the companions he was caged alongside. He shifted his weight and the chains tethering his shackled wrists and ankles to a metal belt around his waist rattled.
There was enough play in them to allow for a shuffling walk, to allow him to scoop food into his hand and bend his torso to eat, but not enough to allow him to kill—though given the opportunity, he wouldn’t hesitate to attempt it.
His hands curled around the bars of his cell. The door at the far end opened, allowing pure sunlight into the building. His eyes stung but he didn’t close them. He let the light burn itself into his soul, let it strengthen him and feed his resolve for freedom and vengeance.