Try though he might, he could not refrain from smiling over the trap he’d laid. Upon arriving in the area sometime back and discovering this inland pond filled with man-eating lampreys, he’d stuck around, feeding crows to the eel-like suckers, sporadically, so as to be certain they remained alive.
Preparing to toss the biscuit to the pond’s center, Mugger leaned in. He drew his arm back and then tossed the bait, following through with his swing.
In that moment, his former student knew three things with utter certainty. First, when the bait hit the water, the lampreys would squirm about, revealing their true size, nature, and strength. Second, Mugger, not entirely sober, was off balance at the moment, which made him vulnerable. And third—there would never be another chance like this. So, taking no risk that this window of opportunity might be lost, the man stepped up, placed both his hands on Mugger’s back, and then pushed.
He hit the water’s surface with a mighty roar. His arms and legs thrashed about. As he groped for a rock at the pond’s edge, which broke away and scattered into fragments, the previously hidden nest of lamprey surrounded him. He writhed, screaming, as the beasts wrapped their forms about him and then latched on with their funnel-like sucking mouths.
He shrieked and flailed about. “Help!” he cried. “Help! Help me!”
As his screams continued, the beasts pulled him farther away, then down deep into the pond’s center. Above, the water seem to boil, bubble, and foam.
A minute later, a cloud of crimson, eerily reminiscent of the color of Mugger’s teeth, rose to the surface.
He was no more.
His former student looked up to find the boy approaching.
When the child stood just feet before him, he bowed. “Master,” he said, looking back up, “teach me.”
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