Vol. X

    Ponti was a gluttonous god. He hid his true form; a gelatinous, grey sac of flesh and fat. He wore only red, satin pants on short, fat legs, and a golden mantle of jewelry over his chest. His mouth was too wide for his face, his eyes too small and his oily hair kept his in a high ponytail. Rings of silver and gold, set with gems sat on every finger. He wore bracelets on his thick wrists, and jewelry in his ears that jingled every step he took.

    When Ponti went to Earth, he changed his form into that of a handsome, tall, young man with long black, wavy hair, sun kissed skin, dark eyes and a slim, muscled body. He was known as Akhad al Shanir, Sultan of Al Ralsif. In his palace, he sat all day on pillows. His red, satin pants were loose, and belted with a gold sash, on his shoulders was a crimson shawl and on his head a white ghutra with a golden band. The women in his harem danced around him, faces hidden by a small cloth, feeding him and tending to his every need.

    Only on Earth could Ponti enjoy his favorite meal. He bedded human women, and made them have his children. He seduced woman quite easily, but when that didn’t work, he used his authority to get what he wanted. When the child became a year old, he ate them—a delicacy. No other children could satisfy him quite like his own. It was only those who came about from his own seed that he craved, half gods, children who never lived past a year.

    One day, a woman from a faraway land came to Akhad’s palace. She was a beautiful priestess from Sudan, a healer with a black cobra on her arm. She called herself Zafeera of the Ahati. Ponti could feel her powers and knew that if she bore his child, it would be by far the most delicious thing he would ever taste. So he went about pampering her, wooing her and offering everything he had in order to bed her. It took a month of this until Zafeera finally confessed her love for Akhad, not knowing his true identity. Ponti was filled with glee, and took her to his chambers, but Zafeera told him she was bound by oath to fulfill her duties and would only stay with him if they were to marry.

    With haste, Ponti agreed. He wanted her child, many of them. He told this to her and Zafeera told him if they married, he was to give up his harem, to swear himself to only her. If he did this, she would give him as many children as he wished.

    The gluttonous god agreed and they soon married. Within a year, Zafeera had lived as his wife, became pregnant and had her first child, a boy the color of sweet honey. Ponti could smell the child ripening as he grew. He could smell his power and strength as a half god and child of a priestess. Every night, Ponti watched over the child with hungry eyes, awaiting his first birthday.

    The day came when the child turned one, and Zafeera was overjoyed to have such a healthy son. She spoiled him and celebrated during the day. However, when night fell, Ponti visited him once more. He took his son from his bed and lifted him into the air by his leg. The boy began to cry as his father’s form changed and his mouth widened. With almost two years’ worth of waiting, Ponti was more than ready to consume his son, but his cries had woken his mother, and just as Ponti was about to eat the child, Zafeera stepped into the room.

    The sight was horrifying for Zafeera. Not because of what Ponti was, for she had suspected he was more than human by this time, but because he chose to devour their first son. She grew angry and told Ponti how she had loved him and even in the face of his hideous form, she would accept him, but she would not forgive him for trying to murder her child.

    Shocked to see his wife, Ponti released his son. Zafeera, in her anger, took the baby up and ran from the palace. Ponti had never been caught before and was left stunned, but when his empty stomach began to rumble he grew furious at Zafeera and went after her.

    Zafeera was quick and ran half the night, through the desert, calling on the wind to speed her steps. She fled to the nearest town, past it and to a temple that sat inside red cliffs. She entered with her baby, torches lighting at her passing. When she entered the main cavern, she saw the familiar stone idol of her goddess, Demora. The statue stood with the grace of a woman, flowing robes frozen with a crow on one shoulder and a snake wrapped around the opposite arm. She was hooded with and item in each hand, a dagger of war in one, and a cloth to wipe wounds in the other.

    Zafeera placed her son on the altar and fell to the floor before the statue. She could sense Ponti was drawing closer. He could smell her power, and taste the scent of their child on the air. The priestess prayed to her goddess, begged her audience and help. She told her of Ponti’s schemes, how he married her and wished to kill her first born to satisfy his hunger. Zafeera called on Demora and Demora heard her.

    Darkness appeared, smoking shadows writhing around the stone statue, right in front of Zafeera’s eyes, but she did not fear, for she knew it was her goddess manifesting. Zafeera heard a voice speak from the darkness that coiled around the idol and danced like fire. It told her to create a fire and place her child inside of it. Zafeera was in shock from her husband and hesitated. Demora repeated her commands and the priestess followed them, doubtful but loyal. She poured oil into the bowl shaped altar her baby laid in and grabbed a torch. She watched the darkness around the idol, said a small prayer and set the baby aflame.

    Her child did not cry, it did not make a single sound as the flames consumed it. Zafreera waited and the voice of her goddess told her that when the flames went down, there would be another child there, a different one. This child was special, born of one of her immortal Ahati and one of her Mansa. It was a creature Demora could not tolerate, for it was an abomination. Demora told the priestess to give this child to Ponti, and in exchange, Demora would take her son to her sanctuary and name him Saleem al Tahir. There, he would be raised by the Mansa until the age of fifteen.

    The darkness and voice vanished and Zafeera cried at the loss of her only son. She wept for his loss, and in joy, for he was safe. When the flames died, another baby was there, just as her goddess said. It looked the same as her son. She could not tell the difference between the guise Demora had fixed the new baby with and her own son. However, she had no choice but to trust her because Ponti arrived at the temple, furious and hungry. He swore to turn her into worms if she didn’t hand over the child.

    Zafeera took the baby up, nude from the fire, and handed it over. Ponti ate it without question. He opened his mouth in his human guise, wider than any man could, and swallowed the child whole.

    In his haste, he had not noticed anything different, but when the child reached his stomach, it melted in the acid there and turned into a noxious, dark gas that began to burn like fire. Ponti groaned and held his stomach in pain. He knew he had not eaten his child then.

    Behind his wife, an image appeared, one that only Ponti could see. It was Demora. She spoke to him in a voice that could only be heard by the Panthera and told him he would be cursed to live in agonizing hunger for trying to kill a child with her blessing. She told him it was his own greed that got him cursed and that the only way to ease his pain would be to drink from the lake of water in her domain.

    Ponti knew she would not allow him to have the water so easily. And he was right. Demora spoke to him again and told him that in fifteen years, his son would be sent to back to Earth. If he did not consume anymore children in that time, Demora would allow his son to take with him a jar of water from her realm. Then she disappeared and Ponti was left to his burning hunger. Zafeera also left him to go about her duties, renouncing her marriage to him. Ponti left the temple and went back to his palace alone. He continued his duties with no harem and no wife. Agonizing every day, it would be fifteen years before he could eat again.

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