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Morbid Curiosity

Emporer Menelik stared into the gleaming glass eyes of the two faced-wolf. The taxidermied beast stood on an altar. At nearly eye level with the mighty warlord, the lifeless animal’s dual faces were locked in a perpetual and silent scowl that gleamed an impossible cluster of cerated teeth. Its dual faces locked in a perpetual snarl gleaming rows of serrated teeth. Menelik’s heart froze in his chest.
Did it just growl?
Menelik was shaken from his trance by the arrival of his high priest.
“All is ready my Emporer,” the silk draped religious functionary informed him.
Menelik took a breath and nodded his head. “I am ready,” he said with unmistakable confidence
During his reign, Menelik had acquired a vast collection of foreign curiosities. They varied wildly in origin, but what they all had in common was they defied the warlord’s understanding of the world. He kept a menagerie of bizarre creatures. Some were of truly dazzling designs painted in colors and patterns well beyond anything on the spectrum of human imagination.  Others were grotesque abominations, but in either case, Menelik saw in these aberrancies the very pulse of creation.
Menelik was a conquerer by birth and inclination. He was always on the move, driving his armies on a march that in his words would end “only when there is no more world left to conquer.”
Long before he reached the edge of the earth; however, Menelik found something that brought him to a screeching halt.
Hidden in the heart of a forest,  were the remains of crumbling concrete buildings that had long been swallowed up by encroaching wilderness.  Near the ruins was the rusted skeleton of a giant vine wrapped iron wheel, presumed to power some ancient mechanism of a monstrous scale. Most intriguing of all, though was an immense steel-plated concrete mound.
Hetman Menelik became instantly obsessed with this ancient superstructure.
Local legends said it was a forest forsaken by God. The air, the soil, the very essence of the place seeped into the flesh its corrupting force warped and deformed every design of creation. Once Menelik discovered the two-faced wolf, he was an instant believer in the power of this place.
Menelik’s iron-plated guards parted the sea of haggard workers for the gold gilded Emporer. The stinking masses watched Menelik approach the forbidding form in suffocating silence.
A man-sized hole had been cut into the side. Menelik looked inside the darkness was absolute.
“Bring me the light!” Menelik called out, and he was instantly joined by a cadre of guards holding burning torches. Menelik grabbed one of the flames and stepped inside the breech. The taste of iron filled his mouth. A sudden rush of wind swept through the ancient structure stirring the long-stagnant death-filled air.  Now freed from this massive tomb the invisible specter of death could ride the wind, carrying its everlasting poison across the whole of the world.

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