Noxia

It was a beautiful forest, that much was uncontested.

Ancient, sagely oaks towered to the heavens as if to declare their wisdom and superiority over the puny vegetation resting in their shade. Their massive gnarled roots shot from the verdant soil and entwined, creating footstools for the scampering woodland critters. The rays of the setting sun cast the emerald landscape with soft hues of yellow, orange, and white.

Families of deer pranced. Wild hogs sniffed the ground, searching for truffles and berries. Butterflies fluttered around in an aimless circle, creating a cortex of magnificent colors. It seemed the whole world existed with a breath-taking harmony.

But one creature didn’t belong. He was an ugly little thing that disgraced the serenity with his vile presence as he bounded through it.

He raced through the dim twilight peeking through the entangled branches above, moving like a grand specter. His dark cloak bellowed behind him like the wings of some sort of mutant bat, the image only reinforced as he dove from root to root, using each one as a platform to hop to the next.

The denizens of the forest sensed him long before he came near. Whether through the sharp clicks of his boots against bark, or the stench of his sweat and adrenaline riding ahead on the breeze. Boars and bucks scattered alike, retreating back into the foliage. Squirrels chattered and dropped their meals, ascending backup the oaks. Birds seized their song, taking to the safety of the sky.

The man remained unperturbed – he wasn’t after meat. He was out hunting for a more cunning sort of prey.

The green maze of the forest seemed to shrink ahead. His pace slowed, and only then did the cloaked man become aware of his own labored breathing. The soft flecks of light in his path grew larger and larger, drawing him in like a great black moth.

The world seemed to crawl by for a few endless seconds. He paced forward, steady and tensed. It was the crescendo of the hunt, and at that moment countless feelings swirled in his chest like a typhoon.

Exhilaration. Shame. Happiness. Fear. Guilt. His nerves bundled in his stomach, his heart thumped like a war-drum. Despite all that, he felt at peace.

The world around him was calm, and he was hit with something akin to clarity. Birds serenaded him. Insects chirped to each other. The leaves crunched under his boots with each careful step forward. The westward wind carried the sweet scents of honeysuckle and pine, and he inhaled it without a second thought.

His chest bulged. His head swirled all around the emerald paradise. He felt a oneness with it all, and for a moment, he forgot why he was there and the cruelty outside of that little bubble. The outside and what it was forcing him to do.

Then, reality hit him like a sack of bricks. A sharp exhale, and he narrowed his icy blue eyes dead ahead. He cursed himself for being so sentimental at so pivotal a moment.

“I’m just doing what I have to,” he snarled, his voice gruff and impatient, “What I have to…”

He broke the treeline before the meditative aura of nature crept into him once again. Shuffling out of the brush with his cloak caked with leaves, he found himself perched atop a hill. The man approached a huge boulder, tittering at the edge of the hill. The only thing keeping it from plummeting over the edge was a thick length of rope tethering it to an oak.

His eyes were as cold as ice, and they raced across the beaten trail below with an emotionless precision. Then, like prophecy, he found what he was looking for.

It was a fine wagon indeed. The wood was polished a garish velvet red, and bore the overly complicated crest of some noble family he couldn’t be damned to remember the name of. It was being trotted by two white horses. The old fellow piloting the coach was just about as snooty as one could look. His nose was aimed so high it was a wonder he didn’t run the whole wagon off the road.

Only a single bead of sweat dribbled from the cloaked man’s chin. He noted that his nerves were worryingly steady. He licked away the dryness on his lips and nodded to himself.

One hand brushed away the dark curtain of his cloak. Another reached for the dirk at his side.

He muttered a silent curse at Father Time for his inconsistent pace. The flow of things seemed akin to the crawl of a dying dog just a minute ago, but now the wagon seemed to race forward at a ridiculous pace. The marauders shoulders squared underneath his cloak- this job demanded pinpoint accuracy. He raised the blade into the air, ready to bring it down at a moment’s notice.

Another bead of sweat crawled down his forehead, threatening to blind his left eye. The thumping of the horses hooves seemed to follow the rhythm of his heartbeat the closer it came; the grinding of the wooden wheels became an insistent whine in his ears.

The moment of truth came, and the man didn’t hesitate. He brought the dirk down like an executioner’s blade, putting all of his strength and weight into the swing. The edge cut through the thick twine like paper, letting the massive rock tumble down the hill.

It didn’t bounce and roll wildly, however. The cloaked man had taken precautions. He had dug a small, barely noticeable trench along the hill. Just enough to ensure the stone rolled along a designated path until it crashed right into its target.

The tense silence was gone. A mighty crash, shortly followed by whines of agony and shouts of confusion. The few brave avians still stationed at their nests and branches finally fled at the world-shaking collision.

The highwayman might’ve called it a glorious sight- if he were an anarchist with a fondness for blood and a bad case of equinophobia. As it stood, it turned his stomach. The horses softly whined as the writhed in the dirt, their bodies impaled by splintered wood. The wagon laid some distance away, its front smashed to smithereens.

The vessel’s old pilot sat somewhere in the middle, his fine clothing caked with blood and dirt. The snooty fogey quietly sobbed in pain, staring in horror down at the gargantuan splinter jutting from his thigh. The man responsible for the mess grimaced down at it, but he stood and dusted off his knees.

There was work to be done.

The bandit slid down the hill, his midnight cloak flapping behind him. Even when the worn soles of his boots met with the equally beaten trail, the old coach driver didn’t seem to notice him. Snorting, the cloaked marauder marched towards and loomed over the injured geezer.

The fogey didn’t notice the highwayman till he was trapped in his shadow. His old bones stopped clattering for a moment, his entire body seizing up until he peered towards those soulless blue eyes hiding in the bandit’s hood. Then, he shivered with something other than pain.

Wordlessly, the marauder seized the piece of wood jammed in the old man’s leg. The wrinkled fellow gasped, too afraid or too confused to formulate a coherent sentence. Instead, he aimlessly blubbered until the wood was yanked out.

The old man’s eyes rolled to the back of his head. He threw his back to the dirt, his body doubtlessly erupting in white hot pain.

“Get out of here, gramps. Wrap that wound up and limp over to town.”

The old fellow didn’t have to be told twice. He didn’t seem comfortable enough to dress his injury in the bandit’s presence, however. His liver-spotted hands grasped at the dirt, and he mustered enough strength from his wrinkled body to pry himself to his feet.

The highwayman tossed away the bloody piece of wood and turned his attention over to the cart. Already, two guards swarmed out of the wreckage like hornets out of a kicked nest, both clad in simple iron armor. One carried a broadsword and kite shield, the other a two-handed axe.

The bandit spat out the bitter taste sitting on his tongue. Now came the ugly part. The men swiftly encroaching on him were birds of a feather with him, in a way- bastards willing to maim and kill for coin.

At least, that’s how he used to justify it in order to gain some semblance of sleep in the night. But that time had passed. He tossed his cape back, an impressively large sheath seeming to spring from the black void of his cloak.

The bandit’s hand clamped down on the hilt of his sword before his cape fluttered back into place. His icy eyes narrowed, burning a hole through the two men standing opposed to him. He stared right through them, for his gaze was on something else.

Visions of a young boy flashed in his mind. The boy’s face was brimming with innocence and admiration. He could still vividly remember that cloudy spring day, the boy running up and proudly presenting a fat toad he discovered under a log. His eyes sparkled a brilliant baby blue, a world apart from his own ice-filled gaze.

That foggy memory faded. The bandit grit his teeth, unsheathing his massive blade. With its sloping quillons and round pommel, it’s design was immediately identified as foreign by the two armed guards. But when they saw the blade- four feet of heavy iron- that surprise quickly burst into fear.

The bandit slung the greatsword over his shoulders. Another memory surfaced. The sun’s warm kiss upon his face and the innocent boy’s light weight balanced upon his shoulders sprung to his mind. He struggled to cross them both across a cool stream, only to slip, collapse and dunk them both in the drink. They both came up laughing, the boys sweet melodious giggles undermined by his booming chuckles.

The first guard snarled and approached, his axe cocked back. The marauder returned the action, letting the tip of his blade leave a long scar in the road as he dashed forward. A final memory popped before his eyes- the same little boy, his skin pasty and clammy, shivering and sweating under a thick layer of blankets.

All reservations were gone. The marauder’s lungs boomed with a roar more beast than man, the massive weight of his sword rising from the earth. The two guards were no longer humans with dreams and loved ones of their own- they were simply obstacles in his way, begging to be cut down.

The highwayman dug his feet into the road, swinging his massive blade with all his might. The guard’s weapon came down far too late to stop it. The weighty axe fell to the road, it’s blade sinking into the dirt. A few feet away, a disembodied hand plopped against the earth, it’s armor rattling as it was showered with the brilliant arc of crimson it left behind.

The guard facing the marauder collapsed to his knees, howling in white-hot agony as he gripped his worthless stump of a wrist. The poor guard’s lungs wildly pumped for a few moments as his pain-addled brain scrambled to piece together just what the hell had happened. The moment it managed to do so, the guard stumbled back to his feet and dashed away, hoping to get to the town and a doctor before he bled out.

The bandit focused in on the next guard. If the armored man had any fear, he did a damned good job of hiding it. Squaring his feet, the warrior raised his kite shield and reared back his sword. The highwayman tightened his grip around his weapon.

The greatsword came crashing into the kite shield  and bounced off with a resonating clang. As the marauder recoiled, the guard sprang forward and lashed out with his broadsword. The blue-eyed bandit retracted his blade at the last moment, deflecting the blow.

“Take my advice and throw down your sword. I don’t want your life… just your gold.” the bandit snarled in warning.

The guard smiled from under his helm, shaking his head to both sides, “Sorry. Can’t do that, friend! I’ve got three mouths to feed!”

The two warriors broke apart, each one studying the other for any sign of weakness. The guard sprung forward first, and the bandit roared as he was forced to engage for a second round.

The sounds of reinforced iron clashing against itself echoed throughout the forest. The two fighters swung their weapons like madmen, taking turns trying to slice out a lethal chunk of flesh and both coming close to accomplishing their goal. Too damned close for their foe’s comfort.

The guard slammed his shield into the highwayman’s rib cage, making him cough up bile and stumble back. The highwayman returned the favor in full, bringing his blade down on the guard’s armored shoulder with enough force to smash through the metal and bite into skin.

Both had picked up a sword for the promise coin, but copper and silver couldn’t have been farther from either of their minds. Now, every part of their minds were devoted to not missing a step in the deadly dance for survival. Each knew the steps well, but one was bound to slip eventually. The guard’s shield and armor normally would’ve given him a definitive edge against any cutthroat, but the weighty sword being continuously rammed against him was slowly chipping away at his edge.

The bandit snarled in fury, the cuts and bruises all around his body only serving to ignite his survival instincts. He relentlessly slashed at his enemy with the endurance and fury of a wildebeest. Inevitably, the guard’s iron defense was shattered.

The highwayman knocked his foe’s shield away with a powerful swing. While the guard was still reeling away, the blue-eyed bandit spun on his heel, using his unstoppable momentum to bring the sword down on the opposing swordsman’s helm. It split open like a fruit, cleaved down the middle and leaving a macabre red mist spilling out. The guard collapsed to the ground, dead and defeated.

The cutthroat let his sword hit the dirt, splashing blood all over his boots. He looked towards the sky, the painkilling adrenaline quickly fading from his body. He felt every bruise and cut bite at him like a swarm of ants, but didn’t concern him at the moment.

He lurched forward, starting towards the broken remains of the wagon. With the harsh melody of battle no longer ringing in his ears, he heard a young woman’s soft sobbing.

“Fuckin’ great…” he muttered. He stepped into the upturned wagon, finding a little mound of white and yellow huddled in the corner. The thing rose and fell to the tide of the sobs, letting him quickly deduce it was the woman cowering in fear.

“Hey! Don’t pretend I ain’t here, girl!” he barked, slamming his foot against the wooden interior of the wagon.

The little ball the girl was curled into unraveled. As she sprung to her full unimpressive height, she pressed her back against the wall and defensively raised both hands. Doubtlessly, a show of surrender.

“T-t-t-there wasn’t supposed to be any bandit tribes in this area…”

“There’s not.” the marauder snapped, “Just me. Maybe you should’ve stayed on the safe side and hired more than two bodyguards.”

“P-p-please don’t hurt me! I’ll do whatever you want!”

The cutthroat stepped forward, eyeing her up and down. She wore an immaculately white frilled dress that hung off her lithe frame. Blonde curls extended from down her scalp and wrapped gracefully around her thin shoulders. He couldn’t deny she was a cute little thing- even with her big, round eyes shining with tears.

He stepped forward, threateningly looming over her like a blood-thirsty reaper.

“You know what I want…” he growled, extending an open palm.

The girl’s back went rigid. She flattened herself further against the wall, but had no further room to retreat. And yet she pressed, as if she’d slip through the cracks in the flipped floorboards and make a hasty retreat. But as the man continued to leer down at her, she realized that escape was becoming a swift impossibility.

“I’m not after your cunt, little girl. Give me all your valuables and you’ll walk away without a pretty little hair on your head hurt.”

He could almost see the relief flow out of her. Not that he rightly blamed her for being afraid. She quickly stripped herself of the many shining trinkets adorning her body- a few gem-studded rings, a pearl necklace, and all of the coin her obscenely fat purse. The bandit pocketed it without a second thought. Then, turning his back to her, he fled back into the dense wilderness from which he came. Totally overwhelmed, the rich young woman slid back onto the floor, tucking her face into her knees and bawling.

It was a grating sound for the bandit, but one he had gotten quite used to.


He didn’t stop running until he was good distance away. Even then, he kept pacing through the dense foliage like there were wolves howling in the distance.

Despite the bulk of muscles hiding in his cloak, the man moved with a practiced caution. Not a branch snapped, nor was a bush noticeably disturbed. He knew the woods as well as a lover. Every nook and cranny was his; every twist and turn acting as a natural labyrinth to aid his escape. He traveled in a roundabout twisting pattern to throw off any tracking dogs. He wasn’t about to let any fat lawmen’s pet get the better of him.

He stopped by a large stream, which dropped off a steep cliff and into a pond in the form of a miniature waterfall. Listening to the rhythm of babbling water against a stone reef below, the man carefully washed himself and his boots.

Feeling a tad refreshed, he set off once more. He grinned as he found himself reaching the home stretch. Weaving around a bristle-coated bush, he brushed aside a hanging branch and found something that made his heart sink.

A deer. It was freshly killed in a brutal fashion. Tentatively dipping a finger in, he found the blood pooling around the unlucky beast was still warm.

“What in the seven hells…?”

He leaned over to examine it further, only becoming more unnerved at what he found. The deer was missing several chunks of its flesh. Only one blow was lethal- the gash in the poor things throat. The others messy pits around its body seemed to be prime areas for tender meat, picked away from its body.

The icy fingers of fear grasped at his heart, but his curiosity won the day. He continued looking over each of the dead deer’s wounds, keeping his ears pricked up for any sign that the killer was still around. After a thorough scrutinization, there wasn’t a doubt left in the marauders mind. The blows were dealt out by fangs and claws.

But a beast wouldn’t concern itself with only prime pieces of meat. It’d instinctually gorge itself until its belly was stuffed. The hunter had to have had at least some considerable level of intellect if it went searching for the best cuts of the animal.

He shivered under his cloak, but not from the swiftly encroaching chill of the night air. Judging from the evidence, there could have been only a single culprit responsible. The forest seemed to grow grimly silent as he came to the realization.

A monster.

And from the looks of horror and pain etched into the cadavers face, clearly not the work of the scant and relatively docile few native to the area.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck… they shouldn’t be around here. They shouldn’t be here!” the man swore, his pace resuming with a considerable ramp in speed.

The moonlight broke through the canopy of branches overhead. Blackness crept up on the forest on all sides. A not-so-distant owl hooted, and it almost sounded like mocking laughter to the bandit.

Night had descended. He had once thought the darkness his ally, but at that moment, he felt a stinging sense of betrayal. He was locked within the woods with a monster, and he had no clue where it was. For all he knew, it could’ve been watching his every move.

The hunter had become the prey, just as he turned his fellow man into a target. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he thought karma might’ve finally caught up with him. He might’ve even opened his arms and accepted it, if not for the job he had yet to finish.

The highwayman’s careful stalking and navigating was a thing of the past. Being so close to civilization, feeling the precious metals jingle in his pockets, he didn’t care if he left the forest ablaze in his wake. All that mattered was the promise of safety.  The guarantee he wouldn’t end up like that deer after so much sacrifice.

The sounds of leaves crunching and cracking from below was the farthest thing from his mind. But the back of his brain honed in on that little detail, feeling something was amiss about it.

He didn’t slow, but the highwayman listened with all the care that was expected of a hunter. And what he heard was more snapping twigs and leaves from behind. That bone-chilling crunch came in a rhythm of four. A quadruped, but bearing a similar weight to a human.

The marauder didn’t dare to look over his shoulder to confirm just what it was. From the black pit in his stomach rising, he felt a primal fear bubble to surface. He held onto that terror like a precious gift, letting it steer his racing feet through the dark woods.

The monster had found him.

The sound was disturbingly close. The hunter was closing in on him, and he was helpless to stop it. With no other options, he threw back his cloak and drew his greatsword. Grinding the soles of his heavy boots into the wild grass, he skid to a halt and turned to face the demon nipping at his heels.

But he only found the torn forest he left in his wake. That owl hooted once again, mocking his predicament. He wanted so badly to scream at the damned thing to shut its beak, but he was too out of breath for it. Sweat rolled from his forehead and into his eyes, but he was too afraid to wipe it away. One second of inattention was all it would take. The smallest of slip-ups, the slightest lapse in concentration, and the beast would pounce.

The cutthroat gripped his sword tighter. He didn’t know how, but he could feel the beast was near. Perhaps it was the deep scratching at the back of his mind, begging him to flee.

Time seemed to slow when he was waiting for the wagon to roll by. But now, it was like the flow of the world stopped outright. The wind was still. Toads and bugs went silent. Even that mocking owl seemed to be watching with bated breath.

It seemed to stay like that for hours. Eventually, the marauder mustered enough of his bearings to realize he couldn’t just stand there through the entire night and wait for the rising sun to save him. He downed the lump in his throat, staring off into the dark brush where his pursuer lay hidden. No matter how scared he was, he knew he had a better chance of survival in a head-to-head fight than trying to outrun it.

“Come out and fight!” he spat in a poorly veiled display of false bravado. The metal of his sword shook with both the thunder in his voice and the shivers in his hands, “Unless… unless you’re scared of some weak little human!?”

The woods remained lifeless. The highwayman stood rigid as a statue, not sure if his goading had even reached the beast’s ears.

“Boo~!”

The highwayman felt his heart explode from his body. From behind him, he heard an ever so gravely female voice whisper into his ear. A breath bearing the embers of a smelting furnace rushed shortly behind the words. He shivered, a small part out of fear, another out of something else entirely.

The fear, however, quickly overwhelmed that small and unknown feeling.

The man wildly screamed to the heavens, lurching away and thrashing his sword in every conceivable direction. Not so much as nicking the specter that suddenly popped up behind him, he hit the ground and rolled through the grass. He stumbled back to his feet and defensively raised his blade towards her.

Though shaken with terror, his cold gaze pierced through the night and found the monster. The cutthroat was dangling on the edge of panic, but found himself dangerously disarmed the moment they locked eyes.

He had never seen such a beautiful girl in all his days. It took him a moment to trace out her curvy frame from the dark backdrop of the night time forest, but he when he had, he noticed was her lupine features. It was an oddly bewitching site. She looked like some sort of devilishly perverted god took the ideal woman and a ferocious dog, then carefully crafted them together into the gorgeous hellbeast standing before him.

Her skin looked soft and smooth, and an immaculate ebony in color. Shaggy raven hair fell over her shoulders, topped by two triangular ears. Dark fur of red and black covered her arms and legs, leading his eyes to roam over the paws she had in place of hands and feet.

The second thing he noticed was how scantily dressed she was. Granted, the few monsters he had spotted from a safe distance either went totally nude or wore just a bit more, but seeing it up close was a totally different beast. A pair of thin black panties covered her crotch, but she left little to the imagination with her breasts. Some odd pair of three-pronged metal clamps covered her nipples, and that was about it.

“My eyes are up here, buddy.” she taunted him, a large, fluffy, and wolfish tail wagging out from behind her back.

The cutthroat’s gaze broke away from her body, racing back up to meet her gaze- they were as dark and endless as a starless night, but her crimson pupils burned through the void and studied him with a playful glimmer. Her lips curled upwards in a wide smile, displaying a set of dangerously sharp teeth that could only belong to an apex predator.

“Y-you…”

The marauder stepped back, vexed at the part of him that begged to rush forward. He had always been a man to let his instincts guide him, and he now found himself torn on what to do. The inner turmoil was only second to when he had made the decision to dip his toes into the unsavory profession of banditry.

“Hehehe~ I knew I smelt a human around these parts! And your scent matches up, pal!” she cheered. As the jubilation spread across her face, two gouts of searing flame jetted outward from each side of her eyes. The bandit nearly jumped out of his skin at the display.

The man’s pulse raced. Even from their distance of a few feet, he could still feel her overwhelming heat lick at his skin. She burned like a toasty bonfire on a winter’s night, and like a foolish insect filtering to the flame, he repressed every urge to draw in closer. To do what, he was uncertain.

The man clenched his teeth. He didn’t understand her magnetic attraction, but he could feel that same pit in his stomach churn and warn him to keep his distance. All he knew was that he had to escape, and he could sort everything else out later.

“W-what do you want? Money?”

Before waiting for her answer, the bandit jammed his fist into the pocket that held his ill-gotten goods. Fishing out a gold ring topped with a fat ruby, he hurled it towards her. Still grinning, the hound woman caught the jewelry with her paw and tilted her head in confusion. Her ears perked up, and she slowly leaned forward. Putting her nose above it, she inhaled several deep whiffs.

“Hmm… this doesn’t have your scent on it… smells like a gal who uses too much perfume.” the hellhound slowly peered back up, stalking towards him.

The image of the hellish beauty was shattered. Now, the fear of the savage and unseen thing rose back up, and he doubled away from her as fast he could. Her nose scrunched up once again, sniffing at him. Her pace picked up, and the bandit wheeled backwards faster in turn.

“Hmrpmh… I can smell blood on you! I heard there was a big, scary bandit that stalks around these woods! That’s you, isn’t it?!”

The cutthroat was already sprinting back from where he came. The accusation didn’t sting half as much as the branches that snapped against his face as he went.

“Aha!” she cried, taking after him, “I gotcha! Stealing is wrong, doofus!”

Was she some sort of emissary of hell, gunning for his tainted soul? Did whatever god that inhabit the heavens steer them together as punishment for his crimes? Did Lady Luck just have it out for him?

A dozen and more theories swirled in the bandit’s head, but he couldn’t properly process any of them. Every fiber of his being was devoted to fleeing. He only understood one thing at the moment- there was a monster pursuing him, and he had to escape.

Branches fell. Sticks were smashed to splinters. But above it all, he already feel the beast’s hot breath against his ankles.

‘Is she going to eat me like everyone in town says? Fuck! Fuck! I can’t outrun her!’

Upon the realization, a primal force other than the paranoia of death spread throughout his body. He didn’t had no clue what would happen if she were to pounce on him. There was no way he could allow that to happen. He had to fight.d

These were his woods, and he was the top of the food chain. Not even some beastily bitch from hell would change that.

A renewed sense of purpose filled him, and an indomitable vigor surged throughout his sore muscles. Sharply increasing in speed, he hopped over and grabbed hold of a low hanging branch, bending it back to just before it snapped and letting it fly.

The hound woman was sprinting on all fours, but the branch was close enough to the ground that it smacked her right on the forehead. She looked more stunned at the sudden impact than the actual pain from it, but either way was fine for him.

He threw his boot at that monster’s forehead, hitting the hound’s nose. It knocked her back, making her whine in hurt and annoyance.

“Ouch! Jeez, you jerk!”

He’d been called far worse. But even if she had thrown the most biting insult of his life at him, he wouldn’t have processed it. His survival instincts were swinging in full force, and he let his body take over as he drew his greatsword to chop away.

The hellhound sprung to her back paws. The bandit hewed apart branches, chipped away chunks of bark, and even felled a budding tree or two, but none of his wild and arcing swings hit the black beast.

“Hehehe~ gotta be quicker than that!”

The bandit snarled angrily at her taunting words, but he took them to heart. Even without all the foliage slowing his slashes, he had a minimal chance of hitting the beast. Then, he realized with a sinking heart, she could’ve easily struck back and crippled him with her claws.

She was toying with him.

He retracted his sword, slinging it over his shoulders as he dove back into the dark thicket. He couldn’t best her with a blade, but there was a reason dog served man.

Man had tact, after all. He’d make sure the bitch would pay for her overconfidence. If he couldn’t do it himself, he’d use the forest he had spent so much time in.

The vision of the babbling stream, running off a cliff into large pond filled with a reef of stones, came to mind. It was a respectable drop, and it wasn’t too far away. A twisted smile curled under the wrappings he used to protect his identity.

He came back to the line of towering oaks. He dove from trunk to trunk with expert precision. But the hellhound was still fast in pursuit, tailing him before he knew it.

Feeling her flames licking at his back once again, he dove to the next oak and held up his black cloak like a matador. And like a matador, he dove to the side and hopped to the ground right before he and his enemy made contact. Not being able to stop her velocity, the hellhound rammed head-first into the mighty tree and plopped into the dirt.

“Ow, ow!” she whined once again, rubbing both paws on her sore noggin. Shaking the stars from her eyes, she spotted the bandit fleeing back into the thicket the instant her senses returned to her.

Her brow furrowed. She hopped back to her paws, taking after him, “Hey! Get back here!”

The dog girl’s furious barking sent a chill down the cutthroat’s spine. Playtime was over, it seemed. That was perfectly fine for the bandit. He had reached his destination.

The dog girl smashed through the thicket, finding nothing but a small stream running off a cliffside. She stood on her hind legs, sniffing the air. She detected his smell among the varied scents of the foliage, but she didn’t see him anywhere.

Then, her ears pricked up. A wild war cry, followed shortly by a branch snapping.

She hopped out of the way just in time. The bandit’s massive blade sunk into the earth where she had just been standing. And yet, the man fell farther away than it, having predicting she would avoid it. He crashed right into her, sending them both tumbling into the stream.

The hellhound burst up around the flow of water, her ears flapping. The man rose from the depths not a moment afterwards, unfettered by his waterlogged clothing. He rushed forward, slamming his fists into the hound with an inhuman rage.

Even the hound was taken aback. She lifted her paws, letting his fists bounce off her furry forearms. And yet, he didn’t stop. Howling like a madman, he kept pushing, delivering punch after wild punch to the hellhound.

She dug her bottom paws into the ground, but it was of little use. The soft mud left little traction for her, and in a matter of a few short seconds, the man had her pushed to the edge of the cliff. As the roar of the waterfall behind her alerted to just how serious the situation was, she grit her fangs and pushed back.

Jets of searing flame exploded around her eyes. She caught one of his wrists, trapping it like a vice. Unperturbed, the man threw the second fist, but it was caught just like the first.

The man froze, acutely aware of everything around him at that one moment. The chill on his soaked back despite the hellhound’s radiant warmth heating his chest and face. Even through his boots, he could feel the frigid stream divide around his legs. The hound’s hot paws, curled around his wrists with an inescapable iron grip. That cruel owl hooted in wild laughter at his foolishness somewhere from the dense behind him.

But in front of him, the hellhound proudly flashed her fangs. Her eyes glistened with fire, lighting up the night all around them. He had thrown everything he had at her, but she still brought his stride to a screeching halt when he was but an inch away from victory. She assumed she had come out as the winner. The man’s face twisted into a deep scowl.

‘Not yet.’

He slammed his knee right into her liver, and her face immediately twisted up in pain. Her fingers slipped for just a moment, but a moment was all he needed. With his knee still planted in her stomach, he swung his other foot up and seated it on her diaphragm. Before she could recover, he pushed off and sent her hurtling away.

The man crashed ass first into the stream, gasping for breath. Looking dead ahead, his heart jumped with joy as he watched the monster teeter at the edge of the waterfall, wildly swinging her arms forward in an attempt to pull herself back to safety.

Grasping at the air did her no good. The bandit shot to his feet, watching as the monster plummeted off the cliff. He rushed over just in time to watch her make a painful landing- she fell right atop the rock reef at the waterfall’s end, one ankle painfully rolling upon impact. A loud whimper of pain raced up to his ears.

And then, with a grim plop, she fell into the depths of the pond.

The marauder peered over the cliff for a long moment, down and the ripples and bubbles where the hellhound had sunk, still astonished he was even able to accomplish such a task. He dug his fingernails into his palms, checking to see if he wasn’t just dreaming. Echoing laughter heaved his chest as it rushed out into the crisp air.

The hunter had taken back his throne.

The cutthroat turned his back to the pond, the high of victory washing away any of those confused feelings of attraction he had felt towards her. He took a step forward, the wetness in his boot squelching against his blistered foot. He collected his greatsword, returning it to it’s sheath.

Then, he stopped. Something unseen compelled him to peek back over that ledge, to look down upon the hellish creature he overcame with grit and guile. It tugged him towards back to the edge like a marionette on a string.

He snarled at himself for being such a damnable fool, but he returned to his spot of triumph regardless. He stared over the edge, watching two midnight-colored paws burst from the murky water and reach at the rocks, grasping for anything to help their body breach the surface. They came flailing dangerously close to the rock reef, but missed every time.

Occasionally, her head burst from the water, gasping for a breath of air, surrounded by a froth of bubbles and steam. But with her injured ankle, there was little she could do to keep it there for long. She sunk back into the drink, flailing for her life.

The man gulped down a lump that formed in his throat. What put it there, he couldn’t rightly say. His thoughts betrayed him, filling his vision with the hound’s lifeless body floating on the surface of the pond, her beautiful face eternally twisted into a visage of agony.

That magnetic pull he felt when she eyed him returned with a vengeance. He felt his hands curling into fists, and his feet slowly shuffle to the edge. Was it some sort of demonic trickery? He didn’t know, and he didn’t care.

He had absolutely no reason to save her. She chased him through the woods, gave him the worse scare of his life, and he had no reason to think she wouldn’t rip him into bloody shreds the instant she got out of the water. He was a killer, his conscious already muddied beyond repair.

Yet he couldn’t stop himself. He couldn’t allow her to drown! In a frenzy, he kicked off his boots, letting them tumble down the cliff and land at the edge of the pond. His foreign greatsword and the rest of his gear soon followed, hurtling into a wet pile.

Lastely, his wet cloak and shawl. He pulled them both off, letting his head full of wild, iron-gray hair meet the cool air. He tossed his dark garments away, squaring his naked feet into the grass.

Once again, thought abandoned him. He backed away, then sprinted forward at speeds he didn’t know he was capable of. Waiting until the cliffside threatened to send him plummeting down to the reefs and join her, he leapt into the air and dove.

Cool air rushed past him. He hit the water like a cannonball, sending rolling waves in every direction and a pillar of frothy bubbles flying up for a few short moments. His head peaked above the water, his icy blue eyes combing the murky surface until they found that rippling black shape a few feet away. His overworked adrenaline allowed him to ignore the frigid drink until he reached her, where he was immediately awarded with a comforting warmth.

She writhed in his grip, unsure of what was happening. But upon realizing it was him, she relaxed and let him slip under her arm. Bearing her weight on his broad shoulders, he paddled them back to the shore, dragging both their bodies up and on the grass.

The iron-haired bandit plopped down, spitting out water and heaving for air. The hellhound was in a similar situation, albeit coughing up far more water.

Her warmth drove away the cold, ensuring his only worry was what the hound’s plan of action was. Until she recovered, he laid back and waited, watching the stars twinkle all the while.

Her coughs slowly died down. He felt her snuggle up to his wet tunic, but made move to stop her. She sat one fuzzy paw atop his chest, tucking the other under his back and holding him close.

“W-why…? Why did you save me?”

The bandit kept his eyes on the stars, unsure of that himself.

“Bah. Hell if I know. Maybe I’m just some sucker with low self-esteem. Can’t say no to a pretty face and all that.”

She giggled. It was a sweet sound, one that tickled his ears. It further unwound his frayed nerves.

“…so, it’s true what they say, isn’t it? That all monsters are girls? That’s pretty crazy.” he said after a short silence.

“You’ve never seen one before me?”

“A few, from a good distance away. Just some slimes and orcs, though. I just assumed the slimes were changing shape to trap horny drunkards. And orcs seemed backwards enough to send the women out hunting while they sat on their fat asses.”

Another a giggle, one that caused him to break into a chuckle in turn. Placing a hand over his belly, he turned to the monster, “So, how’s your ankle feelin’?”

She paused. Looking towards it, she tried to flex it out, only to wince in pain.

“I think I sprained it…”

“…yeah. I’m sorry about that. But ya kinda scared the shit outta me back there. Here, let me help.”

He tore off a strip of cloth from his trousers, using it as a makeshift cast for her. As he carefully wrapped it around her paw, he felt her gaze on the back of his head.

“You… you don’t really seem like the kinda guy who would turn to banditry.”

“Well…” he sighed as he finished wrapping her up, “It ain’t exactly like this is what I planned on doing when I was a kid. But shit happens. My baby brother is sick- he needs a dose of this expensive medicine every week, or he’ll die. I don’t have the brains to do anything beyond manual labour, and I can’t go join the army or anything and leave him behind. We’ve only got each other left.”

The hound kept her head down, her tail tucked between her legs. She scooted her knees up to her chest, staring at her bandaged paw. The blue-eyed bandit sighed as he plopped back into the dirt.

“I know that’s not a decent excuse,” he began, “Yeah, I know I’m piece of shit. I’m a murderer who deserves to be strung up by the sockets. But you know what? If I hadn’t done it, my brother would be dead. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him. If that makes me evil… well, so be it, I guess.”

The hellhound sat quietly, seeming to digest his words. A silence as thick as the morning fog hung over the two. It wasn’t until the monster spoke up it was broken.

“What’s your name, human?”

He looked towards her, and he found their red and blue eyes locked once again.

“It’s Aaron.”

“Mine’s Valerie.” she giggled, “And I don’t think you’re evil. Just a bit of a misguided jerk.”

“Oh. Thanks, I guess. So, what now? Are ya gonna eat me or somethin’?” he asked, only partially joking.

It all happened in a moment. Flipping herself over on her good foot, Valerie pinned Aaron to the ground. He sat helpless, trapped under the weight and heat of her furnace-like body. He stared up at her with wide-eyes, watching as those two streams of hellfire that signaled her excitement returned. They flared more fiercely than before.

“No…” she cooed, her tongue tracing along her lips, “I’m just gonna fuck your brains out!”

Aaron was taken completely a back. Her perfect body, her straightforwardness, the all-encompassing heat that radiated from her body- it was all just a bit too much for him to handle at once.

“A-are you serious? We just met!”

A borderline manic grin was the hellhound’s only response. Her paws ran across her breasts, undoing the metal clamps doing their best to keep some modicum of modesty. They plopped down to the ground, leaving her black nipples open to bite of the night air. Aaron’s eyes nearly popped out of his skull. The fire around her eyes flared up ever higher, her temperature starting to make him drip with sweat.

“Stop! Are you out of your damn-”

She threw herself forward, smashing their lips together. A forced kiss, one that felt sickeningly right. The hellfire from her eyes licked at his cheeks, but it didn’t dare to burn him. The bandit seized up under her,and her tongue quickly found and coiled around his. It was far thinner than a human’s, rough and warm and strong enough to keep his cries muted.

He thrashed underneath her, but he was caught like a rodent. Her front paws pinned down his shoulders, and she sat herself down on his pelvis. The stifling warmth seemed to grow stronger and stronger around her pussy, and his cock began to harden in spite of his mental protests.

Valerie pressed herself down further, ripping open his tunic and letting her naked breasts rub against his chest. His body was a patchwork of muscles and scars, a living display of his countless misadventures and scuffles. Something that only served to further excite the monster.

She ground herself up and down, feeling his cock harden in his trousers with each rock of her hips. The hound’s heat surrounded them like a wavering dome, and the bandit could feel his head swim with each passing moment.

Everything is burning,’ he grimly thought. But he knew it wasn’t his body, but his mind, melting down. The serenade of the nocturnal woodland creatures abated, now he could only hear their wet lips sucking at each other, and her sweetly beastial moans behind it. His cock throbbed between them, demanding more of the feeling of her wet lips tracing along his shaft. Thoughts jumbled, his very reality was seeming to liquefy and crumble into a jumbled mess. Her scent, something akin to burning hickory with the slightest traces of sulfur, filled his nose. The darkness abated, and he could only see her, her grayish-black skin reflecting the fierce orange-red of the hellfire around her.

Aaron felt her padded paw slide into the crotch of his trousers and smallclothes. He made no move to stop it. The hound’s happy tail slapped the insides of his bent knees as she fished around. Feeling her soft, hot paw wrap around his dick, he grit his teeth and tore at the grass.

Ecstasy. Desire. His better judgment. Everything was melted down and swirled together, oozing into mush like candle wax. He couldn’t tell up from down, right from left. All he knew was the monster in front of him, peeling off her underwear and flicking them away the moment they hit her feet. She relentlessly stroked his shaft with her paw, sending more rolling waves of pleasure up to his scrambled brain. He felt his sensitive head rub against the soft pads of her paws, his crown slipping through her fingers and meeting the soft fur of her wrist. His precum leaked out, staining her hand and further making a mess of his engorged cock. He threw his head back, grunting and roaring.

The blue-eyed bandit was left helpless as she sat up. She lined his cock up with her pussy. The hound’s ears folded down, and her previously wagging tail stood rigid up against her spine. She slowly pressed down, her wet folds parting.

Aaron’s breathing hitched. Through the strands of his unkempt gray hair, he watched the black beast of a woman slowly drag herself down. With each tortuously long second, the flame jetting from her eyes only seemed to rage ever higher.

He felt the head of his cock hit a barrier, and Valerie paused and bit down on her lower lip.

Is she still a…?’

Without any further hesitation, the hellhound dropped all the way down to his base. They both shuddered, Valerie letting out several loud whimpers of pain. Beneath her, Aaron groaned and pounded his fist against the earth.

‘Fuck… I guess she ain’t anymore…’

The bandit peered up, one eye half-shut and the other tightly clenched. The hound’s face wasn’t contorted in pain, but she heaved with every breath. Her breasts bounced lightly as she began slowly rocking back and forth, trying to get used to the man penetrating her.

Aaron had sheathed his cock into his fair share of lonely village girls, but none were even remotely comparable to how the hellhound felt.

It was tight, almost painfully so. He was already dripping with sweat from her incredibly high temperature, but her slick, gripping walls seemed invigorated with a fire of even grander intensity. It squeezed down on him like a warm vice, trying desperately to wring him out.

Valerie began slowly, gingerly bucking her hips into the man beneath her. He wasn’t able to tell if it was because of her injured ankle or she was still trying to catch her bearings after popping her cherry. When he saw her full lips tremble and edge into a lusty grin, he knew one thing for certain.

The pain was fading, and it wouldn’t hold her back for much longer.

The hellhound leaned forward, anchoring her paws on his stomach. Sitting on her knees, she began riding him faster and faster. Her pace swiftly became feverish, her glinting fangs parting to allow her tongue to hang out.

Her wet cunt squelched with each impact. Her tail stood rigid. Her ass clapped every time she came down on his thighs. Her breasts wobbled and shook with her movements. Aaron dug his fingers into the dirt, his head rolling back. He was doing everything in his power not to lose his mind, but he couldn’t stop himself from slipping.

His traitorous hands sprung from the grass, pinching her sides. She dragged herself halfway out, only to slam herself back down. Not quite knowing what he was doing, and not being able to stop himself from doing it he aided her and rammed the girl down on his cock.

The fires of hell enveloped him like a shroud. His reality had burned away, and he couldn’t tell where he started and she began any longer. He only gripped her hips tighter, riding the waves of pleasure.

Now, he bucked up whenever she slammed down. Their tempo soon broke when the hellhound changed up the pace, gyrating her hips around in a wild swivel. The burning blaze in her core increased by the second, enveloping his dick in an overwhelming pleasure.

Aaron’s whole world flashed a stark white. He felt his prostate tighten, and everything melted away in a haze. Everything had burned to ash, replaced by an irresistible urge to pump the hellhound’s womb full of his cum.

With a final thrust, he grunted and growled like a wildman, filling her insides with long, thick ropes of semen. Her pussy clenched down around him for a final time, wringing out shot after shot until he totally spent. Her back bent, and she let out a pleasured howl towards the full moon.

His cock went limp and slipped out of her slick cunt. Immediately, a sticky trail, stained pink by her broken hymen, flowed out from her. It stained both of their thighs, but neither could be damned enough to care.

“I’m yours now, babe…” she cooed, “And you’re mine… my precious human~”

With the last remnants of her energy, Val playfully kissed at his lips and affectionately licked at his cheek. Without any more words needing to be said, the hound collapsed atop of him, hooking her paws around his body. She almost immediately fell into a heavy slumber. The raging infernos blasting from her eyes became harmless little jets of embers that fizzled out harmlessly against his chest.

Aaron wasn’t a magician, so he couldn’t rightly say why he wasn’t being burned. Nothing made sense about the woman, right down to her biology. But he was too tired to dwell on the matter further.

He gazed up at the stars a final time. His eyes, cold as the endless void the twinkling little dots were trapped in, closed shut.

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9 thoughts on “Noxia”

  1. I was wondering if this story (d)evolves as much into a harem as the first one, as you said you’ve already written a few chapters of it and the setting seems pretty different.

    As much as I liked Umbra, that was the one thing that kinda bummed me out about it.

    But I like where this is going so far.

  2. Abandoning Umbra is a stupid idea. If you don’t like where it is going change the destination. If you just give up on it, you will do the same on this rewrite when you hit a similar snag. If you want to do a rewrite / alternative story that’s fine, but do it for the right reasons: I.E. not because you don’t like the way the other story was going, and don’t want to put in the effort to correct the course.

    That being said, tons of mistakes in this chapter, not up to what you have been doing lately:

    teetering – not tittering. the boulder was not laughing in a cute way.

    Back up – not backup. These are two different things.

    trench – not alcove. An alcove is a space carved out of a walled area. For example a very shallow cave could be called an alcove if it was in a garden wall. He would have carved a trench in the side of the hill for the boulder to follow. Or you could simplify it into more readable language as he carved a path.

    Fogy / Fogey – not foggy. Foggy means covered in mist. Fogey means old person.

    Gasped – not gaped: you gape AT something or an action. It seems in this instance you meant he gasped, as in a reaction to something.

    Howling – not hollowing. Hollowing means removing stuff from the center of something. Howling means to howl E.G. “Last night I heard a wolf howling at the moon”.

    The highwayman tightened his grip around…… The rest of the sentence is missing in action.

    The bandit’s shield and armor normally would’ve given him a definitive edge against any cutthroat – I think you meant the guards shield.

    beasitel – bestial. Alternatively the archaic spelling ( and interestingly enough common use spoken form ) beastial.

    There were a few more, but I didn’t write down what I saw after that. The last 1/4 of the story seemed written better or edited better. I don’t know if you wrote it at a different time, or you paid more attention to it because it was the lewd scenes, but it was markedly better writing than the first parts.

    I do have to give some props though, you got shuddered correct. So many people can’t seem to do that. Shutter is NOT shudder.
    Shutter means to close up / board over. Shudder is a short not excessively violent shaking.

    1. Thanks for all the spotted mistakes. I’ve fixed them.

      That being said, I heavily disagree with you. A story isn’t just an endless forward motion; you need to engage people from beginning to end. I might just be too critical on myself, but I think everything from chapters 1 to 30 is total garbage, and I’ll probably start thinking the same way about the rest too. You can’t just expect people to dig through trash to get to the good stuff, and I don’t even think its grammatical or dialogue/ characterization issues that can be fixed with minor editing or even structural issues that can be fixed with major editing.

      I find the plot to be melodramatic, unfocused, and flawed on a fundamental level. Beyond salvation, in other words. You can’t just suddenly steer a story in a complete opposite direction from what you’ve built up. It’s like a house, not a the drive down the road . I’d have to replace the foundations if I want to improve it, not just make a u-turn then expect everything to go peachy from there.

      Also, what the fuck? Are you trying to say I’m taking the ‘easy route’ by redoing the entire story instead of just buckling down and plowing through it, which would doubtless make both the quality and myself miserable?

      I write to unwind. I find it relaxing. Thats why I really don’t mind doing a full reboot. But I just wasn’t having any more fun with Umbra and found myself unable to push through the rut because of the questionable directions it was heading, of which I was too far in to turn back.

      Still, thanks for the input.

  3. I did personally like Umbra but at the end of the day it is your story and we all have to respect your decision to do what you believe is right. I did have a question, and perhaps this was already answered but what’s up with the Autism tag? I’ve seen it in your works and have been trying to figure it out.

  4. At first I was concerned about the protagonist being an actual piece of shit but I guess he has some kind of excuse to do what he does.

    I remember dropping Umbra about the same time the guy with the slime appeared (chapter 1X I believe). I enjoyed the first chapters but I think I began to loose interest as soon as the story started to turn into a harem.

    I enjoyed this chapter. The story looks interesting considering that both main characters aren’t exactly good people.

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