King Tarsilis the Crowned and Queen Virma of the Storm, the legendary protectors of Xion. The king was a seasoned warrior of countless campaigns, pitting his might against the royal legions of Teloth time and again, it was said that he had the favor of the Gods. The Queen, an encapsulated thunderclap made manifest; her origins were as enigmatic as her ageless beauty and phenomenal power.
The king was said to be a gregarious fellow, quick to laugh and slow to anger, a consummate diplomat that held no love for war but was not one to shy away from it should the need arise. The Queen was his inverse, dark and brooding, holding her feelings close to her chest and striking low any who would oppose her without a moments hesitation.
The throne room was chilly; you could almost see hoarfrost forming on the marble floor. You were on your hands an knees, body still scraped broken and bruised from both your scouring of the Hellion village and your forced march to Xion where you now stand. The floor is cold, and as you kneel you cannot help but to wince in pain from your many injuries. Behind you, you can feel the presence of Myria, the Knight Captain, and apparent princess. She takes after her mother, her steely gaze and dour grimace
“Been awhile since I’ve last seen a hellhound,” The king rumbles, his voice was like a crumbling mountain. “And a silvered one at that,” You resist the urge to snort, you’re not much living up to the legends, and it is hard to call yourself a silvertail when you’re missing half of your tail already.
“So. We have you to owe for my sons life and purity.” The Queen speaks now, and even though you do not look up. You can tell that her eyes are like a barley-contained storm. You’ve heard stories of the Queens wrath, kept in check only by the firm empathy of her husband- but only barely. She could summon up a halo of lightning were she to wish it, and use it to burn you into ash.
“Yes,” You speak; something kicks into you from behind- the princess- “Yes Ma’am.” Another kicks, harder this time. “Yes, My Queen.” You crush any anger that sparked from such treatment. Now was not the time.
“Yet, it is also you who is responsible for the scars on my daughters face.” Ice in your veins, the room seems to dim- an electrical current runs through the air. “…Yes, my Queen.” You are far more hesitant as you say this.
“Virma,” The king cautions his wife, and the pressure in the room dims somewhat.
“Did you think that you could steal my son away? Ransom him? Destroy his purity?”
“No, My queen.”
“Why should I believe you?”
She must not know of the nature of Hellhounds, not know of your racial anathema to subversion and falsehoods. “If I wanted him back at the camp, then no one could have stopped me.”
“My daughter is Captain Myria of the Knights Mariner of Xion, Hellion Beast. There is nothing that could best her.”
“No.” You shake your head, beads of sweat roll down your brow. “I could have ripped her throat out if I wanted to.”
“This is true, Myria?”
You can tell that the Princess is angry. You would be angry too. “Y-yes… Mother.”
The Queen turns back to you. “Then why didn’t you?”
You look back at the Prince. “He asked me to stop.” You shrug. “So I did.”
The Queen is silent, but the storm still brews in her eyes, filled with promised rage were your answers not forthcoming. “And why would that be, you, a Hellion Hound, heeding the words of a child?” She taps her staff against her armrest, the metal of the throne clinks with every touch.
That was the question. One that you’ve been asking yourself since it began yesterday. When you try to rationalize it, you get nowhere. You only find yourself back at that town, amidst the bodies, digging an unmarked grave for some boy whose name you can’t remember.
So you tell them your story. You tell them of your homelands, far beyond the mountains, where the people are feeble and the days are long and cold. You tell them of your journey from those lands but not of your reasons that are your own, and you tell them of the village by the sea with an old orphanage. You tell them of the boy, who would constantly bother you, and you told them of the warband- you told them of your slaughter, and of the cairn you built afterwards.
For this tale, in its entirety, the Queen was quiet.
It is not the Queen who breaks the silence seemingly imposed; it is the King instead, leaning forwards in his throne. “My soldiers found a fishing village south of Xion, its people massacred by a warband, and the warband itself butchered as well. They thought it to be a Teloth Champions work but the wounds they received were not akin to any blade.”
“For the simple reason that they murdered an orphan child that wasn’t afraid of you?”
You nod again.
“Also, I am to believe that you saved my son from such a fate for this same reason?”
You remember the quiet intensity of his gaze, that look of wonder in his eyes even when he was surrounded by the Hellions of the mangroves. You find yourself nodding.
You stare down at the marble floor, polished to such an extent that you can see your reflection. You truly are old, so very, very old. You can’t even remember your age, and your memories of your youth are distant, dying embers in the closet of your mind, slowly snuffed out by the menace of time. The face staring back at you is a mask of ruined features framed by ragged black locks of hair with a reddish tint.
Your eyes are red and orange orbs surrounded by an inky blackness, but they are tired, and do not simmer with the embattled tension that is common for your race. You try to recall the last time you let yourself smile, you try to recall the last time you looked in a still pool of water and didn’t see this wreckage of flesh.
Your one remaining tattered ear perks up when you hear the laughing of the Queen.
Life is full of remarkable changes of course. They come by suddenly and without warning, carrying any caught in its wake on new and unpredictable roads.
You are a Hellhound who has lived long enough to see silver streaks grace your tail. You have traveled from the cold wastelands that lay beyond the mountains to the temperate seaside kingdom of Xion.
Your journey has not been kind, and you have suffered much. But life has taken you upon one of these new unexpected courses, and now it has deposited you upon a new road that you could have never have ever foreseen in all your long years.
You are standing in a room, and you are wearing a dress.
You look at yourself in a full-length mirror, partially disbelieving what you see in the reflection. Your hair, long and obsidian, had been groomed free of knots and curls, it has been tied back into a ponytail with a scarlet bow while your long bangs frame your face. You are wearing a deep cobalt blue dress with ruffled white sleeves and a powder blue skirt, a deep cut along the neck of your dress drags low against your cleavage as if to give a teasing view no matter how much you adjust your clothing.
Like your hair, around your waist you have a scarlet ribbon tied and braided with intricate knots. The adornments do not end on the surface, as beneath your dress, you are made to wear undergarments. Ivory lingerie more suited to a courtesan, lacy and white, they contrast against your body almost too well, what’s more, an underbust corset props up your cleavage as if to show onlookers your assets. You do not like this at all.
You are annoyed with the circumstance concerning the clothing you are now wearing, but it is by far more bearable when put in contrast to the thing around your neck: a collar. It was an ornate gem studded affair made out of sapphire and opal, it sat around your neck on svelte velvet ribbon with the seal of the Xion royal family pressed upon the metal inlay around the stone. You look both beautiful and refined, as well as rugged and alluring.
The Court physician and mage-alchemists saw to it that such a thing was possible for you, while certainly fearsome with your tattered appearance, and mangled body, you were of high-society now and needed to look your best. With your ear and fingers regrown, as well as the latter half of your tail, they went along and removed the more gangrenous looking of your battle scars. The finer, more ‘handsome’ cuts they kept upon you, something to ‘make you look grim and experienced.’ they said.
You felt stuffed and overplayed, you weren’t used to clothing, as you never wore anything before. That had to change now; you were to command respect and nobility with your appearance. You were a symbol of status, a rarity, and a possession. This much you understood.
A hellhound is not a thing that can be domesticated, not even the creator gods were able to tame your kind, yet, here in Xion; the royal family had seemingly achieved just that. Of course, in reality, they hadn’t. You were not domesticated, you were here of your own free will. The only reason you wore these clothes and endured the collar because the Queen saw an opportunity.
You were to be the Princes personal Guardian and Caretaker.
It had only been three days since you were dragged out of the mangroves and into the castle, just three short days and nights have passed since you were put to trial before the royal family of Xion, just three days and nights since you looked up at a laughing queen, confused and unsure, your one good ear not fully comprehending the offer she made to you on the spot despite the protests of her daughter. You agreed out of hand, a simple nod and shrug signing away your fate with an ineffectual brand- the crest of the Royal Family- just above your tail by the same mage-alchemists that have restored your body.
Three days, three nights, and your head still spins.
The doors to the room open, and a familiar boy walks in. Your body straightens, your posture changes, you have been waiting here for him, it is his room after all, and you were to never leave his side, like the loyal guard dog you are to become. The collar around your neck itches incessantly; it goes against your very nature to allow it to stay upon you; you resist the urge to rip it off.
Tyrian, his name is Tyrian. You say that to yourself repeatedly as if to dissuade the visage of an orphan boys cold dying eyes from plastering itself over the young princes face in your mind before you. There is another name you repeat relentlessly, driving it into your memory through repetition, it is your name- something you’ve never had before.
Moka, the king named you so, and it is written on your collar.
You are a hellhound who has lived long enough to see silver streak her tail. You are the caretaker and Guardian of the Prince of Xion, and your name is Moka.
The boy- Tyrian, Prince Tyrian- the door closes behind him, and he stares up at you with those wide blue eyes that had so entrapped you before. There is nothing said between you, but there is a tension in the air, a hesitant uncertainty that could very well be called awkwardness. You have been receiving lessons on royal formality, they were strict classes taught by the Queens advisors as well as the queen herself- she would regularly shock you with minute bolts of lightning whenever your attention wavered.
It is the first real day of your duties, and you have been told of the majority of the basic tasks that were required of you. You avert your eyes as the young Prince begins to disrobe, obviously unnerved by your presence as he undresses. This was a new experience for him as well, most noble sons and daughters had an army of servants tending to them at every moment of the day, for young Tyrian it had only ever been his parents and his sister. Now that he was of the age, such things were deemed not fit for a boy, he only now had the services of a Caretaker: You.
“Umm,” he murmurs, snapping you out of your daze, your ears perk attentively. “Could you…” His court garments, you had helped him into them this just morning. His vest had an irritating clasp on the back that he couldn’t reach. You deftly go over, and kneeling down you can’t help but to breathe in his scent. He smells clean, pure, young and innocent. You shudder as you remember him, surrounded by Hellions in the Mangrove swamps. This scent of innocence would not have been the same had you not been there. Had you not acted when you did…
Cold and dying eyes, a cairn on a mound of earth, a death you did not prevent.
You undo the clasp, and pull off his shirt and trousers.
Now unclothed and bare before you, you have the brief chance to see the young Prince fully. His skin is soft and without flaw, light and pale, descendant of noble blood, rumored even to have descended from the line of the Telothian Nobles should the legends of the Exodus hold true. His hair is a fair pale blond, perhaps even able to be mistaken as white, so much does it shimmer and shine. His features are fair, almost elfin in their androgyny, he would be able to easily pass as a young girl should he ever don a skirt or dress.
You can’t help but feel the heat within you rise to your cheeks as you spin him around, carefully checking him for any unseen injuries and in general observing his health. Your nose sniffs for any odds scents and your eyes and hands check for bumps or bruises of any sort. All the while he rigidly holds his hands over his modesty, lips pursed and face flushed with embarrassment. It is without a shadow of doubt, perhaps the single most adorable sight you’ve laid witness too.
You spin him around once more, your hands, with claws able to rip through fully armored knights and tear away shields, begin the delicate process of fitting the young prince into his afternoon riding vestments. You are still unused to clothing, even more so you are unused to putting it on someone, and more than once, Tyrian softly mumbles the correct method of doing a button or lacing a knot.
He is ready now, as ready as he can be, pulling at his clothes and shuffling nervously. You sigh, wondering just how hard fate must be laughing at you expense. Shaking the thought away, you take your charge by the shoulder and lead him to the door. The stables were waiting for your arrival.
Tyrian, even at his tender age, was not exempt from duty. While his duties may not nearly be as severe as those of his sister, as the prince of Xion, he was an integral figurehead for many of the peasantry. He is a soft-spoken and sweet-hearted boy, hopelessly optimistic and all too innocent.
He was now expected to walk among the peasants and lesser nobles, so as to show solidarity with their strife. It was important for the royal family to keep its working force contented and in line, sometimes, this was through a show of force, but it was far more preferable if this was done in a more subtle but no less extravagant fashion. The Prince was just one such measure. It is also an excellent way of showing off you.
You are under no illusions of your political weight in being indentured to the royal family, you are a Hellhound after all, and your kind is untamable and savagely prideful. Even more so, was the fact that you were already quite mature, and of excellent temperament. Rumors ran wild about you, and of how you came into possession of the royal family,
Some said that the Prince himself caught you, wooing you with his purity of spirit and innocent charm. Others said that it was Myria who captured you, besting you in combat and then having the queen herself charm you with a powerful loyalty hex. The truth is purposefully obfuscated in this instance so as to promote the more fanciful tales of the Princes Hellion bodyguard.
Tyrian rides upon an ivory white pony, a mane of black and a saddle of ocean green and blue. His apparel is as formal as ever but with a touch of wear so as to appear in a humble light, scuffed boots and tunic, with leathered gloves. At his waist is a badge of office- a thin bladed rapier with a sapphire gem upon the pommel. Tyrian is not adept at it, he has years to go before he is anywhere near the skill and finesse of his sister. You yourself believe that he will never be attuned towards the ways of violence. His soul is far too gentle.
You walk beside you charge, the pony whinnies nervously at your presence but it is a disciplined beast and it does not buck or panic as other beasts would have at the aspect of one of your kind being so near. The castle gates were not far from the royal stables; various chargers and other warhorses were housed within for the elite royal guard. There was however space set-aside for the royal family and their own personal steeds. The gates open for you and Tyrian, and they close just as thunderously behind as you make your way through the mansions of the nobility housed in this quarter of Xion. The cobblestone road is dignified and well maintained, side paths lead away from the road, up to the many villas and gardens that house those who curry favor with the ruling masters of Xion.
The noble quarter is home to the masterworks of Xion. Countless legendary craftsmen had left their mark upon the city as ages past but it was the great plaza of the noble quarter that shone the most. Flagstone covered the majority of the plaza, engraved with names and heroic scenes from the kingdoms storied past, establishments, famous across the land lined the outskirts of the plaza, while the center was dominated by a grand fountain, carved entirely out of star fire sapphire. Whorled fluted pipes speared upwards into the air, jettisoning mist from the top that left faint rainbows in the air, carried along by the breeze.
The people themselves, were also a sight to behold. In the afternoon sun, countless aristocrats and nobles walked or were carried in carriages or on horseback. Some even lounged upon the back of Centaur guards or were followed by lewdly clad and flirtatious Lamia escorts from the arid deserts. There were gallant knights leading along the daughters of rich households, followed by packs of suitors. There even could be seen the swashbuckling pirate lords of the elves who have come to make business with the aristocracy. This was the high society of Xion, all arrayed before you. The kingdom was indeed a melting pot of almost every culture upon the world.
Even with the noisome chaos that permeated the grand plaza of Xion, there was no overlooking your charges arrival. The nearest groups and individuals taking note almost at once of Tyrian upon his ivory pony. The young prince, for all his soft-spoken shyness, expertly played the part of the charming, dashing prince of noble lineage. His back straightened, a hand on the reigns before him and one hovering close to his rapier should he need to make his point known.
You easily caught the soft murmurs that parted through the crowed, gestures and whispers. With your keen hearing you could easily tell that almost every noble and lord who saw him had made ready their various plots and schemes. Tyrian himself knew this as well; this was not his first public outing. Though, the ones he had taken before- when he was younger- were with his sister, the princess and captain of the Mariner Knights of Xion. Any attention had been solely focused on her, and any who had words for him had to pass through his sister first.
He was of age now, and it was time for him to take up the responsibilities of his Princehood, and be a servant of the People.
For better or ill, your shadow kept many of the aristocrats that circled like vultures at bay, despite the garments you wore you were still a Hellhound, and no feeble noble was yet ready to chance your anger. Not all nobles were so feeble, and your ears perked and shift to catch the sounds of someone approaching. You stop and turn around, Tyrian noticing your action only moments after. You stiffen almost at once, claws ridged, you still don’t make a move, this isn’t fear- it is instinct.
You are a Hellhound, and there are very few other non-hellion monsters that could ever make you flinch. The first among them is of course, the Dragons.
Griffons come in at a very close second. And one of them stands before you.
Proud, arrogant, and domineering. They hail from mountain peaks where they make their nests among crag canyons. For miles around they patrol their territory, marking its edges with the carcasses of bested monsters. When the season takes them they will leave their territory, and search for men. They are picky and prideful, only settling for the strongest mate they can find- knights and champions and wayfarers, anything less is but food to be ripped apart.
You have seen countless corpses of your sisters, strung up in the branches of dead trees as warnings to any outsiders that the land they walk on is that of a Griffon.
Once, you even saw the scaled body of a dragon queen, proudly splayed across the trunk of an ancient oak, her guts torn out and wings clipped. You can recall the feeling of absolute dread that crossed over you at that time. The same dread that a human feels- drowning in the ocean blue, no land for miles around- and then, a fin breaks the surface just next to them- and begins to circle…
The griffon before you is taller by a narrow margin; she is a powerfully built creature with fierce hazel eyes that shine with a sharp and determined perception. Her hands end in great talons that are only matched by those on her feet- wicked scythe like things that you know the feeling of all too well- your back still stings with the scars of one such encounter.
You hold yourself steady and firm. Those scars from that encounter are not scars that went unanswered for, for you have claws of your own and you are a Hellhound, and your heart is forged from Rage.
“Why, isn’t this a chance meeting,” The Griffon speaks with a clarion voice that seems separate from her toned and hardened figure. She speaks like a noble without possessing the weak and feeble bearing of one. “Prince Tyrian, out for an afternoon stroll are you?” She finally shifts her gaze to you, as if acknowledging you for the first time, trying to test your patience. “And you must be… the guard dog?”
You take the barb in stride, though your tail flicks back and forth, the heat inside you begins to rise, the flickers of embers in your eyes. “You are?” you ask through grit fangs. Tyrian answer this one for you, fumbling, turning his pony around with wide eyes, trying to look his station.
“Ah, um,” He swallows as the Griffon turns her gaze to him. She is wearing a dress that could only be described as provocative, showing plenty of cleavage and coming down only to just above her knees. “Madam, madam Colta,”
“My Prince,” She responds warmly- too warmly for your liking. “I hope today finds you well,”
“You as well,” Tyrian nods, He seems as if he doesn’t know where to look, the poor boy, the griffon folds her arms under her chest, subtly accentuating her breasts. “Can I be of assistance?”
“Well, I’d hate to trouble you, but I was wondering if I could perhaps chance a summons with you? There are several matters I would simply love to discuss.”
“Oh, Well, I’m sure that the royal court would be more than obliging to…”
“Oh, Tyrian, dearest, you know as well as I do that those oafs take forever to ponder even the simplest of trivialities, hence why I would ask this small favor of you in the first place,” She was laying the charm on thick, all smiles and eyelashes, her feathery wings rustling behind her like she was some giddy hatchling and not a fierce griffon greywing.
“I… I guess it wouldn’t be that harmful…” he exhales, wringing the reigns in his hands. “You can tell me, if you’d like too.” You growl low to yourself so it would not be heard, watching this candid display of political maneuvering. The griffon is quick to chirp her concerns and requests, asking Tyrian to put in a good word to his Sister Myria, on behalf of her Troop- she was apparently a ranking Matron among the Griffons of Xion.
The name rang a bell somewhere in your memory, but you didn’t know nearly enough about Noble Court Politicking to add any context to the conversation. All you managed to tell is that the birdbrain really wanted her sisters to become part of the nobility, and that the fastest way to get there was through serving under one of the noble houses- the royal family especially. Such was how the Mariner Knights of Xion made their namesake in the founding days of Xion.
“Thank you so very much, I know I can rely on you, Dear Prince-
“That’s enough.” You snap, interposing yourself between the prince and the Griffon. “Get lost, feather-head, you’re starting to get annoying.”
The Griffon changes almost at once with your intrusion. Her bubbly personality immediately turning into something steely and hostile, “Oh, so you must be the source of that wretched hellion stink I cant seem to get out of my nose.” She crows, “Now what would a Mutt like you be doing at the princes side?”
“I said get lost, Griffon.”
“So, tell me, have you despoiled our dear Prince yet with your vulgar body? Or do they lock you away at night so that you don’t ruin his purity with your filth.”
“I won’t ask again, you molting whore, leave, now.” The griffon stares back at you with her hard amber eyes. The intensity between you two is palpable. After a moment she snorts, folding her arms and grooming her feathers back down before tossing her hair and sending a winning smile and wink over to Tyrian before the click-click of her talons sounds across the cobblestones and the pony whinnies in relief.
You look back at Tyrian, who wiggles uncomfortably in the saddle, put off by your display of aggression. “T-There was no real need for that…” He mumbles. “She wasn’t going to…” He trails off.
You shrug. “She was getting too friendly.”
It is not a lie to omit part of the truth. Part of the truth being, that you simply didn’t like how she was flattering Your Prince so much.