The ocean crashes to your left as you travel northbound. It’s constant roar keeps you alive as you fade in and out of consciousness. You had let anger rule over your heart like you were some brain-dead runt of a hellhound- always flinging themselves into the next scrap. Because of your idiocy, your days are now marked with constant pain and hunger; you drink from streams and brackish puddles, hoping that the next day will see you to your destination. You limp and you crawl, your injuries are almost unbearable.
It was the crude iron war-axe of an Orc mistress that carved away one of your ears and a good portion of your face. Had you been any slower you are certain that most of your skull would be gone as well. The goblins, the small, swarming little green whores, their picks and their knives stole several of your fingers, and one of them hacked off half of your tail. You paid them back, of course; ripping their heads off and crushing their spines.
It was the master of the horde herself who is responsible for ruining you. She was a brute of an ogre, old and powerful, but not as old as you. You could have taken her down in a single lunging pass had you been of your right mind at the time. The rage had taken you, and because of it, her club fell swift and harsh. Your left leg is the cause of all your trouble. The bone in your left thigh is broken, splinters of it tear into your muscles, and you are sure that there is bleeding. You can only limp along, hoping that these slight movements will not cause you too much pain despite every movement smashing into you like a ragged burning dagger.
Were you any lesser creature you are certain you would have bled to death by now, your wounds ripping you apart from the inside. You are no mere creature, you are a hellhound, and your species’ is known for its heinous resilience.
The way you reset your bones makes your leg look misshapen, you are no expert in medicine so you are relatively certain that you set them incorrectly, so the lopsidedness would make sense. You would be fine with it, but it hurts so much that sometimes you just have to lay still and breathe until the searing sharpness go away. It makes traveling difficult. It would be easier were you able to stick to the road, but you are a Hellhound- a hellion beast not recognized by any of the kingdoms as a prospective citizen or even a sentient person. The only one that does- and even then it is only partially- is Xion.
So you head for Xion, you stay clear of the roads. The journey takes you about two weeks. Were you in greater health you could have made it in just less than four days. You have to stop in rest after you push yourself too hard. Something else- something important- inside you had finally given up, some hidden injury you had suffered during that slaughter. You don’t know what is wrong with you, sometimes you feel like your lungs are not getting enough air, other times your guts seem to be burning, the worst was when it felt like your skeleton had grown barbs and your urine was stained with red and smelled of blood. You are slowly dying, you are sure of it; the legendary resilience of Hellhounds only went so far.
During the choke filled moments when you are curled under a tree, begging whatever dark deity watches over you to ease the pain, even if only a little, you often find yourself thinking of the Boy and the Village.
You still don’t know why you went and did that, why you slaughtered that warband. It wasn’t in your nature to do things like that- you weren’t like other hellions; you always were methodical, pragmatic, calculating and cynical. You didn’t react without staunch reasoning beforehand, that was how you stayed alive all this time. Flying off the handle like you did was just asking to get killed- it was why there were so few elder hellhounds. They all went stupid and died young in a fight biting off more than they can handle, whether it was a Telothian Champion or a warband that they encountered they all eventually met there ends in one way or another.
The sun was rising when you make it to the outskirts of the kingdom of Xion. The grey peaked mountains in the distance bore the backdrop for the spartip-like turrets that jutted up from the high castle that sat behind the lofty walls of the city. On the wind that blows in from the ocean, you can smell the stink of your kind- the smell of Hellions radiating from the damp and watery mangrove forests that run along the main road towards the city of Xion proper.
You grunt, and shuffle your way into these fetid marshes. As you hobble through the groves, the murky water sloshes up to your knees as you lean on a venerable branch taken from a yearling pine. Sweat beads your brow, you are sure that you have a fever and that some of your wounds have likely gone septic as a result from your ravaged state. It is with visible relief that you come to a halt before shrouded wooden walkways leading further into the groves.
Your legs lurch almost drunkenly each step you take along the stilted wooden bridge. In time, you finally come to what could only be a village, raised wooden platforms and homes built into the hollowed out cores of giant yearling swamp-pines. You smell the guards long before you see them.
You stop, leaving heavily on your makeshift crutch, a sign of weakness that does not escape the two towering ogres that now stood before you. Pale green skin and tattered, skimpy clothes, they are likely twins, each mirroring the other in appearances and sneering demeanor, behind them scurried an Imp-Slave, purple skin highlighted by a deep red stone collar around her branded neck.
“Sister, sister, is that a dog I see?” One laughed, voice rough and gloating.
“It would appear that a stinking mutt has arrived at our door.” The other laughed, her voice a perfect mimic. You bite your tongue and let their blandishments wash over you. It is early in the morning, and the mist is thick and obscuring, you look around you, the marsh, the bridge and nearly everything else vanish into the fog. It doesn’t take long for the Ogre twins to grow board of mocking you once they see that you were not going to listen. They finally come around, and ask their questions.
“So far from home, this one is,”
“Indeed, indeed. What might be her purpose?”
“Got my reasons,” You snort, your voice is low, and your throat aches from long days spent traveling with no food and little water. The Twins stare down at you, clearly not satisfied with the non-answer, and they hold the silence over you like a proverbial guillotine.
“Any can have a reason for their actions,” The one on the right speaks.
“Your reason for being here is what we would know.” Says the one on the left.
“Just lookin’ for a place to stay.” You sigh, “Nothin’ else.”
The two Ogres’, who were by far the most eloquent you have had the displeasure of coming across, mutter something to each other before waving off their collared Imp, who scurried away, bat wings fluttering quietly.
“But why your appearance? So ragged and battered?” The one on the right asks. “I know of the pride dogs like you take in the counting of their scars, but surely, this is far in excess, is it not?” She gestures to your ravaged appearance.
“Maybe this one is fond of such sadism towards itself,” The one on the left titters to her sister. “Maybe its owner indulged it in its whorish desires?”
You have to endure three more minutes of this taunting before the Imp returns, she’s out of breath and panting, but she speaks cleanly and concisely to her owners. The Ogre twins tsk before turning back to you, waving away their toy.
“The Anvil would see you, dogs from the north like you, always capture her interest.” They are pouting, clearly not done with their mocking of you in your weakened state. Your teeth grind despite the pain it causes you.
The old tales speak of various worlds before this one. They are stories of distant and dead dreams; the times from before now, when the world was not of stone and forest, but of heat and light. Some say that there still exists remnants of the worlds that came before, but those are other stories, not the stories that you are thinking of now.
It is the old legends and myths of the ones who came before this world was ready- that is what springs to mind. The old lords of the primordial world were known as Titans and their progeny were their vassals, everyone and everything else was their property and cattle. They were the only beings who survived the cataclysm that made the world as it was now- they were the only ones to remain after the grand reshaping, and they ruled the new world just as they ruled the world before. Until the day came that the Titans fell.
The Titans were said to all be eradicated by the First Lords of the Black Mountain and the Hundred Kingdoms of Man. There are countless telling’s and legends of that climactic confrontation, where the Titans breathed their last. There are even greater telling’s of the great heroes who hunted down their children, and there are the tales of Woe that came from these actions, of the Heroes and their armies, driving the Titan Spawn into the abyss where their cornered wailing awoke the Hellion Deities that lurked in the abyss below and brought about the creation of the first Hellion Beasts.
The Titan Spawn were said to be slaughtered to the last, every single one meeting their end in those deep dark caves that touched the very edge of reality, where the meeting points between domains was at its most thin.
They say that all the Titan Spawn were dead.
The creature before you makes you question if it was true that all of the Titans Progeny were truly dead, and not just hiding in a different form. She was like any other Oni you’ve ever seen, but she radiated phenomenal power with casual ease. She lounged on a bed lain in the pelts of wild beasts many times her size, and her hut was bedecked in all manner of skulls and trophies.
She called herself The Anvil, and she went by no other name. A simple strip of cloth around her waist reserved her lower half, while her breasts hung free like an Amazonian, muscles rippled across her frame with perfect definition, her skin was a pale red, and her singular horn was a stark and Stygian black. She focused on you with fierce, seemingly colorless eyes.
“”So…” She drawled; pointed teeth glinting in the low firelight of candles. “You come here seeking shelter? You come here, to my village?” She may not be a Titan, or a child of Titans, but you are certain that she shares Ancestral blood with them.
“You wear quite a coat of scars, Hellhound, some old, but mostly new. Tell me, was it you who were responsible for the smoke that billowed from the south?” You nod and tell her of the warband and the village that they destroyed.
“The southern tribes…” She mused, placing a name to those you slaughtered. “They’ve been raiding further north every year, do they intend to strike at Xion?” You say nothing, knowing that she was not speaking to you but herself, you know not what thoughts and schemes she plotted, nor did you care, they were of no concern to you.
“I do not distrust you, I know better than to second guess your kind.” She wasn’t wrong. It is a strange quirk of your nature, and it cannot be explained, but hellhounds could not lie. You and your kindred could only ever speak the truth when asked. It was a point of interest that made hellhounds stick out among the various Hellion creatures who only ever spoke in twisted lies and deceitful half-truths. Out of all of them, only hellhounds could be relied upon to speak truthfully, and no one knew as to why, not even the hellhounds themselves.
She glances behind you, pointedly staring at your ruined tail and the faint shimmers of silver that lined it. “Strength enough to uproot trees, guile enough to mislead Kitsune’s, and graced with the vitality of the Black Mountain itself.” She sighed, as if wistful. “Are these not the legends that followed the silvered hellhounds?”
“Yeah,” You grunt in response. They were certainly legends, and that was all that they were. You’ve never been able to uproot a tree, you’ve never even seen a Kitsune, and you most certainly have limits to your endurance. The only thing special about Silver tailed hellhounds, was that they were old.
“But, I suppose, you and I both know that those are just legends.”
You don’t say anything, instead looking to various skulls and mounted heads that line the walls. The candles illuminate the place with a somber orange red glow, and the Oni before you appears to loom even larger than she really is, her voice mocking in tone and timbre. She truly does reek of strength, undiluted and unmerciful.
“Tell me, hound, why is it that you kneel before me like a whipped bitch?”
Indignation ignites in your chest, but you do well to keep it contained. You kneel because it is asked of you, and you do not know if you could stand even if you wanted to. Your body is dying. You grunt, noncommittally. “We have limits. Like everyone else.”
“Is that so?” The Oni purrs out her words, for some reason, you feel as if she is savoring your pain like it was some sort of ambrosia. “So what is it that you come to me for, then? What boon do you beg from me?”
It was a simple enough question, one you already had the answer for. “A home.” You say simply.
“A home, for a nomad such as yourself. Why would I grant something that you will so clearly abandon in due time?”
She had a point, and it would make sense mostly, but you had no plans that centered on more travel, all you wanted was for a quiet place to die. “I don’t plan on leaving.”
“You don’t plan to leave, so you say, but why should I allow you to stay? This is a community, one built upon the marshes and hostile at night. How can you bring greater wealth to this place? For what reason should I grant you refuge.”
“Need a guard dog?” You glance up at her. “You’re looken’ at one.”
It was the answer that she was looking for. Her grin tells you as much.
“Hello, sister.” The Arachane was of a younger sort; clipped yellow and white lower body with an olive skinned human torso. Her physique was lean and spry all at once, no muscle to be seen, not like you, her kind hunted from the shadows with invisible string traps. “You seem to be in dire straits.” She observed, her hollow fangs extended and retracted, if it was a threat you didn’t catch it, you can only shrug; she wasn’t wrong.
“And Anvil dearest wants me to look after you for free, was it?” She asks, “Another charity case I am to presume?”
“She just wants me walking right and not shitting intestines.” She seems satisfied by this, or mollified enough to work. She brings you to the back room. A small wooden table with a hide cot and furs draped about the floor, there were endless varieties of medical instruments hanging from the walls and shelves, a gut reaction told you everything that you needed to. This was not going to be pleasant.
“Get on the cot and eat this. I’ll need to cut your leg open and reset the bones by hand. After that it’ll be on to the ribs- it looks like your smuggling a cucumber under your skin.”
Charms stopped you from bleeding too much, and they kept most of the pain at bay, there was still more than enough to cause you to black out.
She cut for six hours before you were in reasonable enough shape. And it was eight more days before you could leave the cot.
The herbs she fed you help you heal. The charms closed up the more prominent wounds. Your body still hurt from where she cut you open and rearranged you on the inside, plucking fragments of bone from muscle and organ, resetting poorly healed ribs and leg bones, she had to re break everything before she could fix it properly. By the time it was done you had a whole new array of scars and scabs, and you were eager to finally move again.
“Your leg is still a mess, worst damage I’ve seen in a while, shredded muscles and compound fractures ontop of compound fractures. Had to waste a lot of magic just to get it into a state where you could move it.” You know she isn’t lying. You can smell the truth, and even without that you could tell for yourself back when it happened. Bone breaking through the skin in multiple places was and is never a good sign.
“It should still hurt when you walk sometimes but not as much as before, managed to get everything back into place well enough, but your body will never fully recover from something that traumatic.” You can feel the dull ache and pinch of muscle, and your walk is still unsteady. You give the spider creature your thanks and leave the apothecary hut for what felt like a fist time in over a year.
The grand city in the distance, up the road further north by a mile or so, is called Xion. It is the seat of power for the Kingdom that takes its namesake from the city itself. From what you know, the kingdom of Xion is a maritime power that controls the vast majority of import and exports throughout the surrounding lands. The various farmsteads and villages pay taxes to Xion proper and therefore are afforded its protection. From recent experience, you’ve seen the laxity of such protection carried out.
You also know that Xion is a small shining gem when it comes to diversity among its people. Unlike the grand majority of Human kingdoms and empires, Xion is one of the few that allows the distinctly non-human among its citizenry. Even Hellions like you are afforded some consideration; the marshland camps under the rule of the Anvil are one such consideration. In any other kingdom, a gathering of Hellions in such a number would be quickly eradicated. In the lands of Xion, they are allowed to exist peacefully, so long as they curb their desires.
You are given a hut by the Anvil, It is nothing grand, just a collection of logs and sticks bundled together with a thatched roof with room enough for a straw bed, and nothing else. Your door creaked when the wind blew, and the thatch was old and smelled of rot. It is as much a home as anything else you can remember, despite being at the very bottom of the Hellions Nest.
The Great Hellion Nest was of distinctly Arachne construction, though that made sense, considering that only they could ever hope to build something strong enough given the scares resources available and still remain above the mire below. The sprawl of bridges, rafts, and stilt-legged homes did not build outwards, but upwards. Nestled deep in the heart of the swamplands, the marshes were hope to towering and ancient trees that the Arachne spun their rope and silk strand webs that balanced overhead walkways and platforms that sprouted from the trunks of trees like fungal growths. Carved into the trees themselves were small alcoves and dens with signs and tapestries hanging outside. The further up you went the more formal and precise the various constructions, telling you plainly where the Arachne who are responsible for the creation of this grand Hellion home dwelt in prideful arrogance.
Your mornings would arise with the cries of the evening birds of the swampland beyond. Their songs were joyless and mournful. You would scrape yourself off of the straw mattress and grab a handful of brass coins you kept in a pouch hanging by your head. With these you would travel upwards in the Nest and buy yourself a side of chuck-meat from the cheapest vender to gnaw down to the bone before the sun fell beyond the horizon and your duties to the Nest would begin.
You were very much a guard-dog. A bone horn tied around your waist that let you raise the alarm, you patrolled the outskirts of the nest, around the edges of its territory where you first arrived and met the Ogre Twins. Out here, on the outskirts, where the fires and lights of the Nest were barley even visible, you had your pick of prey. Wild Imps, bog-beasts, rip-jaws and various other creatures that made no effort in conforming to the more civilized idea of the Hellion. You patrolled the Outskirts until dawn broke over the horizon and filtered through the dense canopy. At this, you make your way back to the Nest, back to your hut, and back to sleep.
You would dream of course, once the pain in your poorly healed leg fell to a manageable level. You would dream of that southern village and that nameless boy. You had mostly forgotten of your past experience with that village, and you had almost driven the face of The Boy from your minds eye, but you could never fully forget about how being with him made you feel at ease, and how enraged you were when he was killed.
You would wake up to the sounds of the birds, and your day would begin again.
You live like this for around two months.
You wake up early in the morning and you roll off your bed of crumpled straw. You are tired and sore from last night still, you’ve barley gotten three hours of sleep. You cant sleep over the commotion outside. You leave your hut to see a crowd of Hellions gathering about the entrance to the Nest. Your remaining ear perks and you trudge forwards over the half-rotten wooden planks that made up the ground-level foundation of the Nest.
One of the hunting packs had returned, from what you can tell. You can smell the swamp-stink of the hoods and cloaks of the dire wolves that are responsible for supplying the Nest with meat. You hear rumors that the meat is not always from low beasts like cows, deer, horses, elk and the like, but sometimes of one traveling monsters that no one will miss if they were to disappear. You’ve had the misfortune of talking to one of the dire wolves once. You still remember that red glow in her golden eyes, the way she grinned told you that she was weighing her chances against you, and likely what your flesh tasted like.
You push your way through the milling crowed, ghouls, lesser-Wight’s, imps, homunculi, manticores, and misshapen chimera. They all live on the ground level like you, trying to find a way to earn favor with the Anvil and move further up the Nest. You freeze when you see the object of the commotion.
It is a human child in bright blue garb with powder blond hair and almost feminine features. He looks about himself, staring wide-eyed at the countless varieties of hellions that surround him, some sneering and others blatantly hungry. The horde is watching him urgently, the desire to take this male and do things more unspeakable about their expressions, the only thing holding them back would be the five hunters; you glance down at the boy again. He is quiet, curious even, a ponderous gaze on his face as he stares up at the surrounding beasts that even well blooded knights rightly fear. The courage that comes from ignorance truly is a remarkable thing. He almost reminds you of that boy from the village in that regard.
That boy. Torn to shreds, ripped apart, no strength or blood left in him, his last act in life was to come and find you, to die in your arms. He died in your arms.
You weren’t able to protect him.
You don’t realize that you are pushing one of the dire wolves out of the way until you are standing before the boy, looking down at him with an ache in your chest you cannot rightly place.
“Excuse me, bitch?” The hunter you pushed aside snaps, she throws back her hood, her deep black ears standing ridged as she snarls at you, her fangs grinding against each other. “What part of ‘Fuck-Off’ did you not get?”
“What’re you doing here, kid?” You talk down to the human child. He takes a slight step away from you, surprised at your sudden closeness. “Don’t you know where you are?”
“Are you ignoring me, you cunt?”
“It’s dangerous for your kind here. Aren’t you scared? You should go home.” You squat down besides the boy, meeting him at eye level, his gaze is piercing in a ways, and you feel sad for some reason. “Your parents are probably worried, you have parents, right?”
“We’re taking this kid to the Anvil you runt don’t even think you’re gonna get a chance to-“ The leader of the pack grabs you by the shoulder, claws sinking in. You glance up at her.
That fire that is so customary to your kind ignites in the corner of your eyes, flaring briefly but more than enough to send the Alpha scampering back a step, her tail ridged. Her expression once filled with such venom now bares a distinct trace of fear.
“You need to leave, kid.” You pick a dead leaf out of the kids’ hair, your claws plucking it without harming a single hair on his scalp. “I’ll walk you back to the road.”
Someone in the crowd shouts, your ear pivots, and you can smell the bloom of blood from a severed artery.
And then there is chaos.
You grab the boy, pulling him close to your chest and roll backwards just as an arrow embeds itself in the rooting ground. You let the fire in your eyes explode outwards, your breathing quickens in time with your heartbeat, your body tenses and any pain you might have been feeling in your leg vanishes as you feel your veins fill with liquid wrath.
The crowd is at each other’s throats, the repressed desires that each hellion harbors finally reaching their breaking point at the sight of such untouched purity ripe for corrupting- ripe for devouring. And you’re at the center of all of it.
The Alpha stares you down, the rest of her pack lays into the hellions with claws and daggers, flensing through muscle and breaking bones. “Give me. The. Boy.” She growls. She’s larger than the others; the dirty brown clothes she’s wearing are baggy but do nothing to hide the abject strength in her posture. She’s not as large or as muscled as you, but you are willing to bet she’s faster. Her tail lashes through the air behind her, her hands curl around her bow and drawn arrow. You note her claws, and the straight dagger at her hip with casual apathy.
You hug the boy closer to your chest, and shake your head.
You shouldn’t be doing this. You tell yourself over and over, it goes against your nature. You are non confrontational, its how you survived for this long. Getting into pointless fights wasn’t your style. You are a tepid river in comparison to a raging torrent. You also tell yourself, or some deeper part of you tells you, that it’s within your instincts to do so- to seek out conflict like this. You are a hellhound. You can only go against your instincts for so long, until they boil up inside and overcome reason. You only needed the right trigger to appear before you. You let the Arrow fly over your shoulder, barley grazing you as you dart forwards, tucking yourself over the boy as you surge upwards at the last second and feel your jaws close around the wood bow.
The Alpha drops her weapon as it comes apart between your teeth, turning into splinters that you spit out as you twist around to avoid the plunging arrow that she tries to drive into your neck. The Alpha screams something at you that you don’t pay any heed to. Your gut is telling you that it would be best to run, but you don’t know if one of her underlings might take that opportunity to put an arrow in your back. Your best bet is staying in close melee with their leader, and hoping that this works itself out somehow.
The boy hinders you but also helps in a sick sort of way. You are less mobile and short one arm because of him, but at the same time the Alpha won’t risk hitting him- she want him pristine for the Anvil. You could only imagine what kind of reward that dreadful creature would give for a toy like this; clearly it was enough worth fighting you over. The Alpha snarls, ripping her daggers free she runs at you.
You hold the boy close with one arm. You can feel him hugging you back, wrapping his arms around you. You meet the charge of the Alpha, you reach out and block one of her daggers, its blade pierces through your paw but you ignore the pain, curling your hand around hers you let your claws sink into her first with sickening ease. Her other dagger slams itself down to the hilt into your hip, blade grinding against bone. Your consciousness fades, your sight tinted red, a howl ripping from your throat, these become the only things that you are aware of aside from the boy. This boy is yours. He is yours. Yours, and only Yours.
The alpha rips her dagger free from your hip, she tries to give you its blade again, you don’t give her the chance, lunging forwards, your mouth closes over her shoulder, just missing her throat. You aren’t the only one who has fangs- you can feel hers scraping against your collarbone as you overpower her, bringing your knee, up into her gut. She stumbles back and you rip a chunk of meat away from her shoulder, her first slips from your claws. You bit the hilt of her knife still lodged in your hand. It comes away with a sick sucking sound. Again, you barley feel the pain, it’s almost like an afterthought when in comparison to the boy pressing himself against you.
“Fucking hardy bitch,” The alpha growls, there is madness in her red eyes, “You think you’re better than me? I’ll fucking gut you! I’ll-“
Whatever else she was ranting about is cut off, a horn sounding in the distance- not unlike the kind you wear around your waist when your on patrol. It snaps the Alpha out of her rage, if anything it ceases the chaos all together. The Hunters, and the Hellions, freezing in place for a moment before scattering all together.
The Alpha feels her shoulder, palming over the gaping wound you left her with blood running freely. She spits in your direction before backing away, her tail lashing furiously. “I’ll fucking find you. You’re not getting away from me.” She might have said something more, you’re not sure, you are to busy with the boy.
The boy is held firmly against your chest, face seemingly buried in your ample bosom, smothering him with your breasts and chest fur. You gently set the boy down. He is shaking, blood has spattered over his fine clothes, he is in obvious shock from the events that had transpired, but he is not yet crying. You hesitate, squatting down before him, unsure of what to say, unsure of what to even do. So you start by talking.
“Are… you ok?” You ask, it sounded stupid, he’s likely traumatized, but you don’t have anything better to say. “Are you hurt anywhere?” He shakes his head, still shaking. You reach out and hesitate when he flinches back for a moment before shutting his eyes and letting you touch him.
You use your fur to wipe away the worst of the blood-spray that dirties his features. You’re almost to the point of obsession when you find yourself concerning with how he tilts his head back and forth in an effort to keep you from cleaning the smears of mud that all young boys seem to accrue. He tries to say something and you shush him, combing your claws through his hair gently enough so they do not cut as you work the knots free as gently as possible.
You whirl around, and your claws strike metal- a shield –instinctively your curved claws dig into the metal and pull, stripping it away from its owner with ease. You can see silver, and shapes, but consciousness is being lost in the face of the blood-induced rage that now overwhelms you in the face of something trying to turn you attention away from Your Boy.
“Myria-“ The boy speaks and it is enough to jolt you into control. A thin glint of silver cuts for your neck, and you dodge- leaping backwards- your hip gushes blood as muscles tense and constrict, you can barley feel the pain.
“Away from him, Hellion!” Your teeth are bared and your breath rolls from your lips hot and heavy with bloody loam, before you is a Xion knight, or a noble from one of their houses. Dressed in heavy fullplate silver armor with cobalt trim and banding. A helmet with wings flare off from the visor, they carry a long sword clutched in a double fisted grip. The shield the Knight once held is in the grip of your claws, the emblazoned surface torn up from your ministrations.
“I said away from him! Go!” Female, clearly determined, must’ve come looking for the boy. Makes sense, kid is clearly of noble blood- would explain the clothes. Is she part of the house guard, perhaps?
She charges when you don’t move, when you just stare and do nothing. Sword raised overhead, she lets loose a warcry and hacks downwards. You avoid it easily enough and return her shield, it slips from your claws and smashes into her side. You notice now that her armor doesn’t shine; it is a dull silver and blue. Worn from use. She’s clearly seen her share of fights, enough to be considered a veteran. By your standards, she is still a novice, though.
You lash out with a kick- knocking her down, onto her side, completely open to attack as her sword arm is pinned beneath her. Why don’t you just let him go? This knight is here to take him back. Why are you still fighting?
“Filthy- Beast!” She shouts, scrabbling back onto her feet. She’s not used to fighting monsters like you. Humans she could easily handle, bandits, raiders, orcs and trolls, creatures that used weapons of iron and steel and stone and wood, you have no need for such devices for you are nearly a weapon in your own right. She won’t win against you.
She attacks again, she goes low, swinging for your legs, and it leaves her completely exposed. You almost daintily jump over her swing, and then you have her helm in your claws- the sound of wrenching metal, and with a heavy tug that sends her fumbling forwards, you shred it from her head. Dirty blond-brown hair spills in flowing locks, along with blood from where you cut against her scalp.
She hits the ground hard, and you land on her back a second after, it would be simple to kill her now, bite down on her neck, crush her skull, and the boy would be yours alone. Nothing and no one would be able to touch him then, he’d be safe forever-
“Pl-please stop fighting!” Like dunking your head in ice water that soft panicked voice so easily rips you back to your senses and keeps you from the verge of madness. You almost choke with how fast you stop and freeze. The boy is tugging at your arm, claws poised to rip down into her exposed neck. You can barley feel him pulling at your arm he’s so pitifully weak. His legs are shaking and he smells of urine. You get off of the lady knight; she quickly scrambles to her feet and grabs the boy, forcing him behind her.
The lady knight heaves, the wind still knocked clear of her lungs, seething hatred in her eyes all directed at you. “M’lord,” she pants, looking to the boy. Kid is a noble, you guessed right. “Are you unhurt?” the boy nods, he regains his composure, but still is somewhat shaken. You can guess why, you glance at the scene, blood and armor bits lay around, there are bodies, most are dead.
“Did these beasts- did they do anything to you untoward?” She asks, almost frantic. The boy shakes his head again, not knowing what she could have meant. He’s innocent, too innocent.
She’s glaring at you again, “What foul things did you have planned for M’lord, Hellion creature?” You take this chance to really look her over; she really shouldn’t be talking to you in such a tone in her condition. You did a fair number on her without even trying to, knocking her around despite being in heavy armor. You shake your head and shrug. “Answer me with words, Beast!”
“Myria, please don’t shout!”
“I’ll have nothing from you, do you not know what panic you have caused?” She snaps at the kid and your hackles bristle.
“I… I just wanted to explore,” He whispers, thoroughly chastised.
“Think of your father and mother for once, these antics must drive them to insomnia.” She takes the kid by the arm, pulling him close. He struggles, trying to pull away but her grip is firm.
“I don’t wanna go back!” The kid actually shouts now. “Nobody likes me and I have to sit my room all day! I want to go outside! I want to have fun! You never let me do anything!”
“If I ever let you go out, you always run from me, I will not put your desires before my duty!” She tightens her grip, it looks like it hurts and you feel a growl building in your throat. “Of duties, you should think of your own! In this life we cannot let ourselves be possessed by our wants, M’lord.”
Her words don’t have any effect on him, you can see this clearly, and you glance around. They’ll be back, and they’ll be angry. Very, angry. You need to set these two on their way before then.
“Hey, kid.” You speak suddenly, and the kid is quiet almost at once, looking over at you with firm attention. “You shouldn’t stress you caretaker too much. Her jobs hard as it is.”
He’s quiet for a moment, and the Knight continues to glare at you, “She’s not my caretaker,” he murmurs.
“My mistake then.” You reply, “You should leave.” You tell the Knight. “The others, they ran at the sound of your horn. They’ll be back soon. There’s no way you could even take all of them on.” You should have curtailed that last bit. She looks ready to leave with her charge in tow, but your questioning of her martial skill brings her up short.
“Excuse me?” she snaps, her indignation more than visible, more than vocal.
“Forget I said anything and go.” You hastily reply, paws raised.
“You question my skill, you beast?”
“Please, just go-“ you hear horses, hooves on wood, armor clinking. A half cohort maneuvers through the raised cabins. Knights in shining silver and cobalt armor, six of them together, they disperse and surround you. You shut your eyes, exasperation overriding anything else. You don’t have to open them to tell that six lances are trained on you.
The situation did not improve, when you heard the slow purring rage of The Anvil.
“Silvertail,” You feel your heart still almost entirely, and your pride is not so great that you would not admit to feeling the cold needles of fear creep into you. “You disappoint me, Silvertail.”
The knights, the boy, and you all turn to face the Oni woman, by her side are the Ogre twins, Tess and Stess, slightly behind them you can see the Dire wolves, the Alpha in front of them, her eyes pointedly centered on you, her hate is a palpable feeling. The Anvil wields a massive Hammer, obsidian black head and a steel haft, it is as crude as a weapon can get, but by the way the featureless black head absorbs the light you are all to sure that it is not an ordinary instrument. It takes everything you have to resist taking a furtive step back, and she knows it.
“Look at these bodies, Silvertail, look at them and explain to me what it is that you have done.” You can hear the rage boiling just behind her words. You swallow any words that you think you could have said.
The Lady Knight steps forwards, she is fearless in that oblivious foolhardy ignorance that only a human can possess. She fishes some sort of unfamiliar crest out from a pouch on her belt and holds it up.
“I am Lady Myria, Captain of the Mariner Knights of Xion.” She spat blood, clearing her mouth; there is a fire in this woman’s eyes. “Am I to presume that you are the leader of this settlement?”
The Anvil stares at ‘Lady Myrian’, as if she were some sort of exotic and rare insect flitting about in front of her, pandering for her attention. She listens to the Knight for a full ten seconds, before she returns her attention back to you.
“Is this how you repay my hospitality, Silvertail?” She asks with mock kindness, you can feel the venom-laced barbs just underneath her utterances. You are under no illusions that she knows full well what happened here, the Alpha having clearly told her everything.
Myria steps forwards again, clear indignation in her eyes at being so promptly ignored; she thrusts her emblem forwards again, as if it meant something. “Do you not recognize my authority, Hellion?” She shouts. “You will not ignore me!”
The Anvil does ignore her, for a moment at least before lazily panning her gaze over towards her with clear disdain.
“What is it, whelp,” She spits. “I’ve little patience for you.”
“You must have more, then,” Myria snaps back, “You will leave and not interfere in this matter at hand.”
“Oh?” Anvil grins, “Is that truly a fact?” You can taste the preamble to violence flit through the air for a moment. “ You would dene to order me around like some squire boy? In my Domain?”
“This is not your land, Hellion, this is the land of Xion, granted to your kind by the royal family, and it can just as easily be taken back.”
“Is. That. So?” You could feel a malaise tainting the air; the world seeming to turn into sulfur, breath became difficult for you, and you desperately wanted this woman to stop.
“You know the agreement, Hellion, and you know what is at stake were you to give reason to promote grievances, the choice is yours to make.”
The power in the air remained, thick and cloying, uncomfortable in how it mimicked the humidity with a soft saccharine musk. All at once it stopped, the sense of power faded, a power that the humans did not feel, and so they did not know the danger they were so narrowly subjected to. Anvil snorts, she turns away, saying nothing, only instead casting a glance back at you and only you. There was hatred in that glare that you knew would haunt your dreams so long as you were to have them.
Then came the chains.
Chains… chains are a new experience for you. Sanctified iron with blessed silver inlays, they may appear rusted, and they were rusted, but that is because they were left in purified water during human holy festivals. They sapped your strength entirely; it was to the point where you barley had the strength to even breathe. Yet you were still made to walk if you did not want to be dragged.
You don’t know what will become of you.
As you stumble behind the column of horses, dragged along by holy chains, the only thing that keeps you upright is the tentative stare of the little boy looking back at you with wide, sorrowful eyes.
The gates of Xion grew in the distance, high walls reaching from the sea to the foot of the great mountains, encapsulating the port kingdom on either side like some sort of natural fortress. Indeed it was this location that had allowed it to remain unconquered for all of history.
You are marched through the streets like some sort of prize, but it is never you that garners the rapturous gazes of countless humans and countless inhumans, the Knight-woman, Myria, and the noble boy, they are at the center of it, and the mounted Knight Mariners closed around them in a protective formation, lances held at the ready and with raised at their sides, hooves beat down on the cobblestone street.
The procession stuck to the main streets, and you idly observe your surroundings, every street was seemingly polished, there were no filthy peasantry, no battered and beaten folk that you are so used to observing in normal rural towns and cities, nor did these common folk mirror the huddled shameless humans from the far north that was once your home. People here seemed to glow; they seemed to be ignited with some strange inner spark that you only ever heard about in passing:
The mansions grow in stature the further you delve into the castle grounds until you are journeying into the castle proper. Stone inner walls worthy of a fortress proper tower above you, and a wrought iron gate slowly draws upwards as you are yanked forwards, stumbling almost until you are in the inner courtyard, royal sentinel knights man each battlement with crossbow and halberd, steely grey helms staring out over the expanse of the kingdom.
You can feel your nerves begin to fray as the procession dismounts, and a knight takes up position to your front, sides, and rear, boxing you in and forcing you through the armored front entrance to the Palace of Xion, home to the most powerful ruling family along the Western Edge.
All too soon, you are limping along a marbled floor, the boy and the Knight Captain leading, a firm gauntleted hand on the boys shoulder as you are brought into a throne room, and your inkling fears realized. The kid is a prince. The knight is his sister, a Princess. Two thrones are before you, each occupied by what clearly is a king and a queen. A flowing scale dress made from mighty sea leviathan on the queen, and dwarven runic armor on the king. The paladin and The sorceress. You’ve heard of these two, the custodians of Xion, and the ruling family that have kept this kingdom afloat.
The King seems to glow with an aloof optimism, but the Queen, she fixes her gaze upon you. Thunder and fire seemed to be contained within her pupils, a whorled abyss of rumbling destruction barley contained by a meager human body. Graced with the elemental power of the sea itself wrought into an imperfect vessel; ready to burst forth at a moments notice and bring about a localized holocaust of elemental vengeance.
You never have felt smaller than you do now.