The day was young as the battered and the weary trudged into the clearing on that cold winter morning. Ahead of them the beast stood, tall and imposing, looming above them all as Its empty gaze fell across them in their approach. Minutes passed into hours as more and more of them began to arrive, their numbers vast and incalculable, each as different from the next and yet all assembled for the same purpose, marching towards the same goal, trembling with the same fear...
As the sun rose into the sky, they gathered together, surrounding the living nightmare that their unified presence had summoned to this place. They held no illusions that they had trapped the monster within their circle. They knew all too well that they were the ones caught in the hunter's snare and there was no escape for them. Yet they would not run. They would stand their ground, just this once, and face the monster head on, knowing full well that they would not survive the encounter.
Steadily, their voices began to be heard. A chanting chorus echoing across the field. "For Maduin" "For Beth" "For Lucas" "For Lizzie" "For June" "For Cam" "For Nessa" "For Milo" "For Ray" "For Damien" "For Amelia" "For Luke" "For Logan" "For Sage" "For My Classmates" "For My Family" "For My Friends" "For Everyone" The chanting filled the air, growing louder and louder with each passing second, until suddenly... a hushed still... and a cry of unison, a battle cry, "FOR ZERO!!"
And the earth shook, as the crowd rushed forwards to meet their respective ends. Their minds could not be swayed, their determination could not be broken, they drew forth what petty weapons they possessed and launched themselves into the futile battle. The monster merely looked on as the masses approached, unfazed by their numbers or their cries. Those which opposed Him would fall, just as all the others.
And so it was, as the first man came into range that the monster tore him asunder, thrashing limbs tearing him apart piece by piece until there was nothing left. And yet the people still charged ahead, unblinking, undeterred. The creature continued His assault against the masses, ripping through them like a hot knife through butter, but for every soul He cut down another would take it's place... and another... and another. Endlessly they came, like lambs to the slaughter.
From the back lines, shots rang out. Marksmen carefully aimed to fire their bullets into the beast. Bullets made of Lead, of Iron, of Silver... some coated with Salt, others with Poison... more still with Operator Symbols carved into the heads... anything and everything to stand a chance of penetrating the monster and bringing Him down. But if the shots had fazed It at all, It showed no signs of it, as if the projectiles had never even reached their mark.
On the front lines, they struck with sharpened blades... knives, axes, and swords... they swung with blunt instruments... bats, hammers, and crowbars... yet each blow to land a solid strike drew no blood, produced no damage. Their attacks were as meaningless as they had ever been. Their numbers served them no favor. The creature would never tire, never rest, until It had consumed them all.
Perhaps that is why the creature did not notice until too late that something had pierced His unearthly flesh. A blade, not of iron or of silver or of steel, but of wood... wood that bleeds. The beast paused in His attacks to turn His blank gaze upon the man who had done this, upon the boy who grinned back at Him as he twisted the blade. "Cut from the very branch our hero hangs upon... Our gift to you, from ZERO!!"
With an inhuman screech, the beast tore the reckless Hero apart, drawing out the weapon and smashing it into cinders. It lashed out once more against the foes that surrounded It, tearing them to pieces as they approached... but the tide had already changed. The masses came no longer in reckless abandon, but with a guided purpose. They drove their weapons into the wound, hacking and slashing away with everything they had to give. They had been given a target... a Weak Spot, at long last.
And the beast recoiled... feeling, for once, the very same fear It had so masterfully inflicted upon Its victims. A black ooze bubbled up from the wound, pouring out with a sickly hiss... they were Hurting It. The monster's scream filled the air once more, but this time it was not with a lashing of limbs, but with a flurry of fire that He attacked. The flames igniting the dry grass and setting the field ablaze. The combatants withdrew from the fires, retreating to a safer distance to escape the expanding circle of flames. Within the center, the creature seemed to grow... towering and massive, like they had never seen It before. Its fear induced fury reaching its peak as It prepared to destroy them all in one fell swoop of His might hand.
But the people were not afraid. A glimmer of hope ignited in their eyes as they heard another chorus raise their collective voice. "The flame that purifies all, send this wretched creature back into the fiery pits from whence it came!" And the earth became aglow, a circle of magical inscription carved into the earth and empowered by the blazing fires makes itself known. With a final, resounding cry, the beast attempts to crush the assembly, but He is held secure within the towering pillar of light that shines forth from the battlefield... and in a blinding flash, He is Gone. Nothing remains of the circle but the scorched earth within and the survivors lying without.
There is a silence among the crowd. A shocked awe of disbelief. And then the cheering begins, an overwhelming symphony of laughter and joyous screams. They had done it. They had won. They joined together once more in celebration of their hard fought victory, sharing their memories of the battle and mourning for those who were lost.
They would return to their homes that night, sleeping soundly for the first time in a long, long time... But each of them knew, with no passing uncertainty, that though the battle was won, the War was far from over. They had sealed the creature away for now, but how long the binding would last they dare not guess. A year? A month? A week? It was impossible to tell. They only knew that one day the beast would return and their fight would begin anew...
But they had hope now... For even though the Wound may heal, the Scar would always remain. A reminder to all of them, that the Monster Bleeds. That It CAN be Defeated. That they can Win. Perhaps they themselves may never live to see the day the creature truly falls, but they know now that it is only a matter of Time...