Relax, this isn’t going to hurt. You may feel some slight discomfort, but that will fade. Just close your eyes and listen to the sound of my voice. I am going to tell you a story, something you have never heard before. We will pass the time wisely before it is done. My mother says that fear enhances the flavor, but I disagree. Tenderness may be improved, but I find that sour aftertaste that lingers…indigestible. I prefer you to be comfortable when I savor you.
I have not always been like this. Once upon a time, I was just like you. I had both of my eyes. My skull was smooth, and my wings had not yet sprouted. I sense your confusion. I am not surprised. Few remember the lost art of Shifting these days, but obsession and need are excellent fuel for the wicked. I have traveled through many strange lands to become the beast I am today.
There is much that has been forgotten, but some can be recovered for those willing to earn it. I did it the hard way, bashing my skull against inanimate objects until obscure secrets were revealed. See this bony ridge on my forehead? Somewhere along the way I lost an eye, or plucked it out. It is difficult to recall the details of my transformation. I do know that it was the formula to grow wings which turned my skin this dusky shade. I have no regrets. I have learned to leverage these adaptations. I squint for focus, and have filed my bony brow into a sharp, gleaming point.
During this grisly work I discovered many strange things. The first is that we were all (mostly) human once. I know this because I have devoured countless hearts, and for the most part, they all taste the same. Whoa, settle down! I told you, the process is relatively painless. Besides, hearts are a renewable resource. This was the second lesson. Really, the host is not impaired if you don’t bite too hard. I admit it took time to perfect the technique, with my own heart bitten once or twice in the process. The real difference in flavor is found in their brains. Sweet, salty brains. This by far, is my most favorite part. My weakness. I could lick brains all day long.
Now brains are a lot rarer to access than hearts, because the skull is a tough shield compared to the ribs. It takes effort to open them up. If I get the angle just right, I can usually pierce the skull swiftly and with one quick jab of my horn. With luck, I am able to get my tongue into the most delectable places. This is a pleasurable experience once the initial shock subsides. If my aim is off, we both end up with a headache for days. When it works, it is a wonder. The stories I have tasted! The memories, the songs, the joy and terror and all flavors in between. This is how I stumbled across the third great secret that I wish to share with you today.
There are Insects among us. I don’t know where they come from. I suppose they might have been human once, but they do not have hearts. Instead they have hard shells with soft squishy insides. Some have argued that they might be nutritious, but I do not recommend consuming them. They are bitter and cold. They secrete a biotoxin that affects vision. It is absorbed through the retinas. Perhaps this is why I am somewhat immune, as I receive half the typical dose. This chemical confuses the People. Their vision becomes fractured, like an Insect, and the world they see is divided into stark colors. This is a mighty trick, as the Insects appear to be human and fool the People to see what they choose. Black, White, Red, Blue, of all the colors the Insects are attracted to they favor Green the most. They eat it you see, and they have cozened the People into believing that we need to eat it too. This is the third component of the lost knowledge. We are enough. The People can sustain themselves.
I prefer to describe folks by taste instead of appearance. I have spent long hours savoring the Sky People. They taste like a bright summer day, subtly flavored with music, art, and ideas. They favor Air and Water, and have built fabulous cities full of aeries stuffed with abstract knowledge that reach up toward the heavens. I have likewise swirled my tongue through the Dirt People. They taste like the clay of my homeland, wood smoke, steel, and strength. They favor Fire and Earth, and have spread across the land creating fertile fields, powerful industries and practical solutions to provide all manner of things, as they dig down to explore the depths. When the People fed each other, there was harmony. These days are filled with turmoil, as the venom from the Insects has infected everyone. This pleases the Insects, as the People retreat to their compounds to mine the Green that feeds these parasites. Sadly, I fear this toxin is becoming concentrated in healthy brains, which ruins the flavor. This sickness agitates the People, confuses them, and makes them all long for chaos. I have tasted it.
The Sky People have become disconnected from the Dirt People. They have fooled themselves, thinking they are some kind of separate species. Many hate the Dirt People, and have convinced themselves that their earthbound brethren are illiterate, and barely human. The Dirt People are likewise tired of the arrogance of the Sky People, who forget that all of their food, trash, and resources flow through the Dirt People’s hands. Their backs are breaking under the weight of the towers of the cities, and so they have worked a great magic to shift this burden. The land has opened, and the lava is flowing. Predictably the Insects have infiltrated these matters, passing themselves off as heroes. Nothing pleases them more than the buzzing of the Hive.
But these are things we can discuss another time my pet. For now, I have tasted your heart, and am satisfied that you are human. Surprised again? I bit into it with my other mouth while you were distracted with words. Painless really. I am not violent, merely Violet. Don’t worry, once I suck that poison from your mind you will be able to see my true form clearly. I can teach you to squint. This will only hurt for a moment. I am excited to discover what lies behind the glorious arch of your head. I am ready. Let’s begin.