Do not pity me. For it is at my own machinations that led me to wake inside the lions den. Not for the first time either, for the scars across my heart tell the tale. The lion that rules this pride is unlike any other for he is Herculion. The poets claim the Demi-god fought and killed this mighty lion and returned with his iron hide. Yet the stories are false to this tale, as Herculion plucked out Hercules heart and gorged while it still beat. In a twisted muse Herculion sent Zeus’s son back into to the world. Condemned to fill the void that now takes hold in his breast.
Yet here I woke deep in the den. Herculion sniffing me out, looked down upon me and said “You seem to forget if you are friend or foe, Man”. This quip roused the other decrepit lions in the den. Those that follow Herculion are not prideful lions such as he, for they are twisted and broken all the same. “In my heart of hearts Herculion, I do not know if I be friend or foe.” I calmly state.
“The question seems to fill you will fear, Man, I can sniff it out” Herculion claims.
“The sent of fear is one you know well Herculion, for you are ruled by it” I throw back at him.
The cave shook as Herculion let out an elemental roar. The rest of the derelict pride slinked back into the shadows, fearful for what was to come.
“What do you know of fear, Man? What do you know of me, Man?” Herculion booms.
“I know you feed on the hearts of others, for your own heart bleeds. You Consume in hopes to plug you gaping wound. For you fear the wound.” I retort, thinking smartly of myself.
Herculion’s demeanour drops for a moment. “This banter displeases me Man” he states calmly, turning away on his rock. I sigh out in relief but it is already too late. For before my own breath has left my mouth he is upon me. As quick a lightening Herculion leapt from his perch and pinned me under a single paw.
“This talk of hearts has left me famished” Herculion jeered with a laugh. The other lions cackle in the corners, slowly creeping out in hopes of scraps in the coming feast.
“I resign my fate to you Herculion, yet my heart is made of stone” I warn him mournfully.
“You think I haven’t feasted on others before who claimed the same? My jaws shall crush your heart like all those before you, Man” he boasts.
And with that Herculion raised his unoccupied paw and flicked out a single claw. Slowly he pressed down on my chest opening scars once healed. I look in horror as I stare helplessly into my own soul, yet it beats triumphantly in the face of its own destruction.
“So much sorrow, so much life, so much joy, so much essence” Herculion claims with a smile.
And with that he scoops out my heart and casts it into is maw.
I watch as Herculion chews on my soul, yet he cannot break it. “What you claim is true, your is heart is tough indeed. But I shall break its will” spits Herculion. I watch from under his paw as he chews and chews until frustration takes him. “Enough” he roars. Herculean opens his mighty jaws as wide as they could go. Inside his maw I glimpse all those helpless souls trapped in his gullet. The souls wisp out trying to escape, they cover me and all the cavern, only to be drawn back in by an indomitable breath. With all the might of all the gods Herculion crunched down on my heart. A violent blast of sparks and flame, followed with his teeth shattering into an array of stars. I watched my heart fly across the wallow and the pride of filth scatter which way and that. The paw of Herculion still crushed my chest. I reached for a fragment of his tooth and struck down on his paw which pierced his hide. Herculion recoiled in pain as his blood pooled around him. As quick as I could, I took my leave, scooped up my heart and ran.