The Hound. Ch7


Colta. That fucking pigeon-bitch Griffon whore. She has this smug shitty look on her face, looking down at you with a degree of confidence that she didn’t have before. She was always condescending in her interactions with you- short and sparse, as they were, fraught with hostility. Whenever you walked with the prince in the city streets and she waylaid you, she would always have this mocking tone of derision that was almost perfectly honed in making you insensate with rage, but there was always an unspoken standing between you two. You are the Princes personal caretaker and guardian, she, is just some upstart noble of some sort. You are so far above her that it’s laughable. She can preen and croon all she want, snub you with barbs and snickers, but she knew her place enough to scrape and bow. Now? Now she’s on equal footing with you, equal standing and she knows you know it too.

Your fangs grate against each other, the iron hard implements they are, spark the air before you as embers roll out from your nose with each heavy growl. Your claws twitch and click against one another, sharpening themselves in preparation for hacking through meat and bone. Your mind wanders now, a dangerous prospect given how hard you are trying to restrain the growling, burbling, cast-iron cauldron of violence within you that seeks to overflow and be unleashed upon this feather-headed bitch-bird.

You’ve killed Griffons before. You’ve hacked them up, swallowed them down, and shat them back out. The last one was some time ago; you still wear the scars from that encounter to this day. Long flensing cuts along your back, from shoulder to hip, cutting deep and wide. They are faded now, and the pain you feel from them whenever you move is old and familiar; practically a balm on your mind at this point. They do not restrict your movement all that much like how a similar wound would forever incapacitate any lesser creature, such is the tenacity of a Hellhound. The Griffon that had given these wounds to you, had found you in her territory, the area you were stalking apparently under her dominion. She had struck from above, silent and fierce, the only warning of her presence being the rush of wind as she came out of her hurtling dive with a spread of her wings, and the terrible pain of her talons as they gouged chunks of muscle from your back and exposed your spine to the open air. Your rage numbed the pain as you rounded on her before she had the chance to swoop away, you lashed out where others would have stumbled and fallen, your claws dug deep into her legs, dragging her to the ground. From then on, it was a bloody mess- her talons against your own, her fangs against your own. You tore each other to pieces, and were you not Hellhound you would have died. She was faster, she was bigger. You? You were tougher. You had the stamina; you had the rage, your blood clotted almost instantly and the pain beset on you numbed back into a further explosion of rage. The unnatural vitality granted to hellion species the most apparent in your fire-eyed breed. Every strike she landed on you was repaid; every bleeding cut was answered for. Sheer tenacity won you that fight in the absence of your now hard-earned experience and skill after so many other skirmishes. A fight between you and the Colta, would not be anything like that old bought. Colta is bigger than you, taller but likely lighter given the nature of her kinds affinity with flight, but not to the degree of harpies or other avian races. Her legs are strong, well toned and adapted to the impacts of landing. You are the inverse of this, shorter, but stocky, and broader of shoulder. Her muscles are receded, lithe, and unapparent.

Yours are defined slats of obsidian across your abdominals, arms, legs, and back, all too readily available and called upon. In a contest of strength, you would without any uncertainty be the superior with the ability to crush a human skull without much exertion on your end. Strength is not an absolute in a fight, being strong means nothing when the foe can simply outstep you and outpace your advance with swiftness of their own. The dexterity of Colta likely outshines your own, the bulk behind your muscles while not obscene is enough to hinder you but it does not benefit you either, raw dexterity goes to her. It wouldn’t mean much, in close confines like this any maneuverability is pointless, dressers, mirrors a desk and a chair, the bed and the doorway getting in her way- leaving everything pointblank and close-in. Your kind of fighting. Brutal. Animalistic. No artsy’ bullshit, just a raw contest of will to survive and a measure of how much damage one can dish out in the shortest expression of time. You are ready to explode into a blistering howl of violence at the next provocation, at the slightest inclination this bird-bitch has of testing you, you’ve been all too civil, straining to retain your decorum in the public eye, but here and now? In Your princes room, in Your home, in Your den? Your claws flex, the fire burns from your eyes you revel in baring your ghoulish fangs, and a growl rumbles from the black pit within you, its timbre is menaced with the echo of damned souls that beg for the absolution of oblivion that will be forever denied to them. Colta, earns merit in her resistance, likely as eager for a confrontation as you are. She is a Greywing, a griffon powerful enough to hold dominance over all other griffons within an area; it is not a position that one holds idly without constant conflict. She has forced those around her into submission and will do so again if need be. Her hackles raise, her wings spread apart a bit, increasing her figure. Her talons, hooked, silvery things like a farmer’s sickle but tellingly sharper with how they gleam.

The claws on her feet, hooked but larger than those on her hands, click against he stone tile floor with habitual malevolence. Her amber eyes, the pinprick slit of her pupils stare into your own hell-orbs with an unspoken challenge. She isn’t afraid of you, not in the least. She isn’t some creature you could intimidate; to put a monster like her in her place would require butchering. Yet, were you two to fight, you are not certain if you would be able to win. You’ve not been idle, you’ve asked around about the Matron of the Griffon Knights household of Xion. Colta was a veteran, she’d been through plenty of fights, and survived against a fair number of creatures that, quite frankly, you’d never even consider facing. She held the title of Drakonmorta, dragon-death, Matron Colta was one of the exceedingly few and scarce individuals in the entire world that could lay claim to the feat of being a dragon slayer. It wasn’t even hyperbole, or overblown, nor was it a mere drake or wyvern, she had done so alone and unaided against the single most powerful natural creatures in the world and emerged victorious- and not even some young stripling dragon or sickly one, her kill was a known scourge of the lands to the north of Xion proper. That is easily a feat far greater than what you are capable of, but at the same time, you don’t use handheld weapons or armor like she did for that feat, how she would fare against you, unarmed and in close quarters like this? Without armor and only her own claws and fangs to rely upon? You guess you’ll find out.

“No!” Tyrian shouted, scrambling out of beds in only his night-cloth, a gown that fell past his knees. His hair is a mess and you have to keep from turning away from the griffon and licking it back down. Your prince almost jumps at the feeling of cold stone against his feet; he looks up at you and Colta in quick succession, pleadingly. It is enough to pull you back from the edge of madness, far enough to speak.

“Why. Are. You. Here?” You seethe, smoke rolls from your lips with each word, panted out between rolling growls, you so desperately want to put this featherhead down. She folds her arms, eyes narrowed and penalizing she smirks at you, her grin like a dagger in your gut. “Whatever do you mean, Dog?” she croons. “Did the princess not already inform you?” She chuckles. “Or is your memory really so diluted by the ravaging of dear young Tyrian.”

“Are you trying to say something, you overstuffed pigeon?” You growl. “I don’t understand shit-speak from walking lunch-sacks like you.”

Colta rolls her eyes, you both fall back into a semblance of routine, her chiding and goading, your indignant hostile replies- the exchanging of word daggers. “Pay more attention, then, dog.” She sniffs. “The good princess Myrian has appointed me to the much lauded position of royal tender and servant of the goodly prince’s person in all capacities.” She sighs. “With it, so does my own noble household become that of the Xion Royal nobility, does your mind not understand anything save for that of the more carnal nature?”

You growl again. “The only thing that matters to me is protecting Tyrian. All that political crap can shove off.”

Colta leans in, your growl ratchets up and your claws spread as wisp’s of smoke leak from the corner of your mouth in turn. She doesn’t do anything aside from take a long audible sniff. She sneers and leans back, arms folded, one claw tapping against the floor. “It would seem that more carnal delights also account for your immediate matters of interest as well.” She looks to Tyrian now, her features softening a degree. “Dear prince, fear not telling me if this dog has mistreated you? Is she too rough? I promise I will be much more gentle.”

“Eyes here- pigeon-bitch.” You snarl, clicking your claws together in threatening promise. “No-one else touches him but me!”

She tilts her head to the side, glaring her loathing at you. “That isn’t for you to decide,” She growls, like a griffon, it’s higher in pitch, like an elongated sub-vocal chirp, rather than the rolling growl of a canine like you. “Should the prince desire me than he’ll have me. And I believe it is most truthful when I say I will be far more caring and gentle than you’d ever have the capacity for. After all, do you even care about him or is it his seed the only thing that drives you?”

Something in you snaps at that. A twitch in one of your eyes as if a wire has broken just behind it. You feel the blood start to pump as anger slowly overwhelms you, something like a laugh rolls out from your mouth before you can sputter and speak through the grin threatening to overtake you. “More shit-speak?” You laugh, “You gotta death wish?” You cock your head to the side, still grinning madly. Colta hesitates, not sure with how to deal with this new aspect upon you. She takes a step back. “I can do it for ya’.” You take a step forwards, advancing on her retreat, your ebony claws scraping against each other in succession, one at a time. “Only’ take me ah’ few. Or- I could draw it out, if yuh want.” “Try it.” She doesn’t sound certain. “They’ll be able to fit what’s left of you in a shoebox by the time I’m finished.”

“That’s all?” You giggle, something is not right with you, you can feel it, restraint now begins to hurt- you want this bitch to bleed and plead. “Honestly I’m flattered you’d go to such lengths. I’d do you no favors.” You are about to remind yourself of what Griffon blood tastes like. “I’ll just choke you down and shit you out like the dung you are.”

“P-Please no!”

Like before in the Hellion swamps, when you were poised to rip Myrian apart, Tyrian stops you. His voice a clear light to a desperate sailor, he draws you out of the storm of rage that engulfs you. He stumbles between you and Colta, looking back and forth at both of you, eyes wide and panicked, he fumbles his words. “N-No fighting!” he pleads. Your shoulders slump and you look away, “I-I forbid it!” You want to whine and scoop him up and hold him close to you in a tight, warm, hug- trying to sound like a noble, like a king, it doesn’t suit him in the slightest but Colta eats it all up.

“Why of course, my prince.” She curtsies. You glare. “As you command. I apologize for my antagonism earlier.” You know that she really doesn’t- you smell the lie, but Tyrian shakily nods in acceptance. You watch as Colta claps her hands together and curtsies again. You place a hand on Tyrian’s shoulder and pull him back against you. “Why are you here.” You ask again, calmer now, willing to listen and actually understand the words coming out of her mouth. Colta sighs in exasperated response, having yet to explain it to you again.

“As I said, the Princess told you.” She says. “It is as exactly as she said it would be. I am to protect the prince and serve him in any capacity. I was an obvious choice, my rank and my motivations are well known, and they coincided with the Princess’s own rather nicely.”

“That so?” you grunt. “If you really do want to help, than start by fucking right off.” You wrap your arms around Tyrian, couching down and hugging him closer to you. “He already has the one servant he needs.”

“You really think that?” Colta snorts. “A single Hellhound?” she asks. “How could you hope to offer protection and service all the time?” She asks. “Seems to me that you simply wish to have him all to yourself, isn’t that so?” She grins.

“You’re really cruising for hurt, you know that?” Your fangs are glimmering white, the corners of your eyes are smoldering pits of hellfire. “Why shouldn’t I be possessive, I’m the only one who cares about him, all the rest of you just want him for your damn games!”

“M-Moka,” Tyrian whines, your accusation ringing in his ears, you bend down and shush him. Colta folds her arms and looks at you derisively. “Quite a bold statement you’re making, Hound.” She shakes her head. “I’ve never thought of the dear prince as some sort of chess piece,”

“Don’t bother on trying to lie to Me I can smell it on your breath, you bitch.” You snarl, cutting her off before she can poison the air any further. “Now get lost and stay out of my way, the prince has duties to attend to.” You pick Tyrian up, cradling him in your arms possessively; you push past the Griffon, glaring her hate at your retreating backside. You don’t put Tyrian down as you walk to the dressing room, you don’t listen to his demands or his requests, fury still radiates from your being and it pushes away the menial servants, leaving you to tend to the prince by yourself- just as it should be, just as it Will Be.

The Royal Collection of Xion is touted to be the greatest Library in the entire known world, the vast shelves of scrolls, books tablets and maps are all collected underneath the great mountain that the castle itself was built into. The Collection extended deep into the mountain, an expansive vault lit by dry torches that were built along the smooth stone walls and extending from the massive support pillars that rand down the center length of the vault. There were chambers built into the walls of the vault, small alcoves in which tables, chairs, and various other amenities were kept for the privet use of scholars and visiting dignitaries with a passing interest in the collections vast stores of knowledge, culture, and history. You’ve no interest for such things, but you’ve become accustomed to listening to them, as they were lectured to your prince from an old, leathery face.

“…as established in the reign of the third great family, the territories of Xion were retracted from the north and south so as to strictly fall under the shadow of the Urun mountain range and all things therein.” The wizened scholar sets the hard covered book, an ancient text of past glories, down on the polished wood of the table. He clasps his hands and looks across at his dedicated charge. “Now, good prince, could you tell me where is drawn the new border of these territories?” The tutor of the prince, a mentor and master of most if not all things concerning the history and legacy of Xion as well as the inner workings of its courts. He is a robed human of considerable age, with watery blue eyes, and a pale complexion creased with wrinkles. He is named Master Torgart, and he is your Princes personal tutor. Tyrian answers at once, it is something he knows well, being the public image of the royal family demands it of him. “From the Desolation to the north, and to the Splitpeak Mountains of the south, those are where our territories end.” He says, even managing to sound confidant for once. It makes you smile slightly.
Master Torgart nods, “Very good, but can you tell me what is beyond them?”
This gives the young prince a second of pause, “Erm, to the far north, beyond the Desolation, is the Trinad alliance, and to the far south is the southern tribes of the Lizardmen.” He answers, and again the old master nods, but quirks his brow. “And between them and our own?” He asks. Tyrian thinks, but has no answer, he looks up at Master Torgart helplessly and shakes his head. “I am sorry, sir? But isn’t there nothing but either jungle or desolation?”

“So we’ve been lead to believe,” Torgart says. “But there is much more to the lands just beyond our own than what we are lead to believe.” The old man hobbles over to a bookcase pushed up against the wall. You were in one of the privet chambers of the Collection, repurposed and fitted for tutoring the young prince. Master Torgart always stuffed the cases and shelves that lined the chamber with material pertaining to whatever topic he was to lecture the young prince on that week. He removed a scroll, its handles aged, its parchment yellowed. Returning to the table he sat down with a low groan and spread the scroll out before him. Tyrian leaned forward, curious, the boy had a liking for the old things. Tyrian after all, was quite the eclectic when it came to history. If you ever asked him about anything that even remotely resembled some old facet of knowledge or legacy, he would spiral off into a lengthy tangent that would see you silencing him with a smothering hug, his head pressed firmly between your breasts.

It was a sequential map, falling from the north to the south as the scroll was rolled along its length. It was remarkably old and outdated, even if it were a newer map you could tell that the boundaries and borders were all wrong, and the major settlements within the territories of Xion that you knew of were missing, or were substantially smaller than what you recalled, there were also places you never heard of, or only recounted in passing. Tyrian looked closely, eyes glazed over with that deep focus that you knew meant he was paying absolute attention, he nodded mutely to himself as Torgart went through the scroll section by section. He even passed over Xion in its early days; Tyrian muttered something about the first king before motioning for Master Torgart to continue. It was just passed the section of map that went from coastline to mountain range, this section denoting the Splitepeak pass, where you yourself began to pay attention, your ears perking and leaning in.  “Master Torgart, what is that?” Tyrian abruptly pointed to a part on the Map, “This is not in any of the concurrent maps of today.”

“That’s ruinkeep.”

Torgart and Tyrian look over to you. “I’m sorry, what was that, Lady Moka?”
You know the place well. It was where you were born, and where you spent most of your life. “It’s the ruinkeep.” You shrug, “It’s a human kingdom.”
Torgart nods, as if he wanted you to answer. “That it was, yes.” He shuffles the scroll, going through most of it, until it was near the very end, and much of the landmarks it pointed out were shown in greater detail. The familiar topography of your old home was before you again, this time on old paper. “We knew it as the Indigo Mines, and it predated even the first era of Xion.” He begins. “It was a Xion mining outpost of sorts, deep within the southern cluster of the Urun Mountains. It’s purpose was to mine the great veins of gold ore that were found there, and it did so until the overlords of the mines declared their independence and claimed the gold deposits for themselves.”

Tyrian cocked his head. “Why would they do that?”

“Greed.” Torgart said simply, he was not wrong but you knew that it was more than just that. “The overlords thought that they could claim all the gold for themselves, build their own tiny empires and fend off the retaliation of the fledgling army of Xion. No retaliation came; the king of Xion weighed the cost of marching an army into the mountains against what he may gain. So the Indigo Mines were left to their devices. And so was conceived the Indigo Kingdom, and shortly thereafter, it died and was conceived the indigo ruins.” Torgart glances at you. “So the story goes…”

You sigh and look away, it’s not something you want to tell, it is not a pretty part of history, and you weren’t keen on relaying it to Tyrian. But as your Prince looks up at you, curious and eager, you crumble.
“They didn’t defect, they were abandoned.” You say simply enough, but further goading by the Master leads you on. “I dunno much, just little pieces of history that I came to know and only put together from listening to you two.” You cross your arms and lean over the table, looking at the map of your old home. “First of all, it wasn’t gold they were digging out, it was coal, iron, and some sort of stone- granite, I think it was, and it wasn’t that much. There wasn’t much in the way of wildlife and crops didn’t grow- it was too damned cold all the time. It was also a plateau, wide and flat, hemmed in by those mountains, when the wind kicked up there wasn’t any cover from it, and going into the surrounding forests and mountain passes was a stupid, stupid option.” You shook your head. “Then there was the whole problem of trying to get to the settlement in the first place, the path down the mountains was dangerous, for a lot of reasons.” You remember overhearing the whispered conversations of the inbred populace, talking of red-eyed beasts that guarded the secret exits of the purgatory they were trapped in, for you were one of those red-eyed beasts. “I guess Xion started expanding where it is now, found some new mines and deposits, and decided that having supply caravans feed their people in the mountains in return for some scraps wasn’t a good deal, so they stopped sending them.” You look at Tyrian; he’s not as unsettled as you thought he would be by the concept of his own kingdom masking its crimes.

“Would you mind telling us of what happened thereafter?”

You grunt and growl to yourself, and continue. “Some tried to leave after it became clear that there wasn’t going to be any more supplies coming from Xion. That didn’t work out, and so they tried to scrape together their own little kingdom. It didn’t last long, they all splintered off into their own little kingdoms. I don’t know many details of the particulars after that.”
“I see, but, would you mind elucidating us as to why you called it ‘the ruinkeep?’” The man was relentless.
“Because that’s what we always called it.” You shrug.
“We?”
“Me and several others.” You snap. “We picked it up after…” You glance at Tyrian. “…Listening to the humans that lived there.”
“Humans still live there?”
“Yeah, not that many. They live in the old rundown ruins of their ancestors. Though, I wouldn’t really call them humans that much anymore. They’ve been inbreeding for generations.”
“I see,” Torgart nodded. “You said, ‘Several Others,’ Is that in relation to others of your kind?” he asked. “You say it as if you had formed some sort of relation with other Hellhounds.” You look away, holding your breath for a moment, glancing down at Tyrian before you speak. “Maybe some other time.”
Torgart relents, “Well then, we’ve gotten off topic, haven’t we?” He collapses the scroll-map. “Tyrian, good prince, let us move onto the southern tribes at last. What is it that you can tell me of them off the top of your head?”

Tyrain does as he’s asked, relaying various bits of information and history that you can hardly keep track of. You do not listen, you are lost in your memory, and it is damning. You remember those, ‘Others’ that you had talked about.

You called yourself The Pack, and sometimes The Pact. It was one in the same, the hellhounds that lived in that desolate wilderness, that winter locked hell. You skulked about the mountains, stalking the passages that lead in and out of the settlement, drawn by the scent of man in such a desolate place. Your kind ambushed the caravans relentlessly, and your kind died because of it. So was born the Packt. Hellhounds, grudgingly working together, so as to pick apart the caravans, ten or so hellhounds all attacked at once, independent and working separately, but under the guiding principle of staying out of each others way. The Pack was the reason for why the caravans stopped coming, it was just too dangerous and not worth the rewards. The Pack dissolved after the caravans stopped, and the predations upon the settlers began. The Hellhounds nearly wiped them out, devouring the women, and forcing themselves upon the men and then devouring them once they had served their purpose. The hellhound population skyrocketed, and infighting rose with it. Hellhounds claimed territory, made stakes on the human encampments and guarded them jealously, there weren’t many, so fighting over those claims was commonplace. Even as this happened, the human population dwindled, your race is moronic and the young are borderline retarded, thinking nothing of the wider picture and of the future, for them there is only desire and anger. You could count the few remaining holdouts of humans on one hand. You were unlike your sisters; you had foresight, even at a young age. There were not enough humans, and too many hellhounds. The solution was simple and bloody, you can’t rightly recall how many sisters you and yours had killed, but in the end the ratio between Humans and hellhounds had equalized to a sustainable amount. It lasted for a little more than one hundred years if you can correctly recall, and then… You shake your head and banish the thoughts.

It is nearly supper by the time the lesson is finished for the evening. Master Torgart hands Tyrian a leather-bound book for him to read in preparation for his next lesson, and Your Prince is already engrossed in it as you leave the Collection. You have to steer him around tables and chairs before you are back in the grand hallway that leads to the depths of the kingdoms vault. It is along a lonely hallway that Tyrian speaks to you.
“Moka?” He asks, closing the book. Your ears perk and you look down at him. “Why did you leave your home?” When you stop, Tyrian takes several steps before he notices that you had stopped. “Moka?” He asks, worried, alarmed that he has somehow offended you. That was not the case, you were just thinking of how to word your reply without giving too much away. The sweet boy that you’ve come to adore may resent you for the things you had done. Before Tyrian can begin his stammered apologies you find your answer. “I was made to leave.” You say, reaching down and petting Tyrian, letting him know that all was fine. “I got into a fight with a stronger one of my kind and, well, I lost.”

“But Moka is super strong!” He exclaims, looking up at you with those wide beautiful eyes that held so much control over you. “There’s no way you could lose!” Tyrian hugs you around the waist, staring up at you wide-eyed. You snort a laugh, any lingering dread of the memories you recalled are swept away by the pure innocence of this young boy- your boy. You bend down and pick him up, hugging him back. “Well, I wasn’t strong enough back then, but I don’t mind all that much.” You smile.
“But they made you leave your home, don’t you miss it?” A frozen hell-scape filled with dregling humans, red-eyed blood hungry sisters, and above them all, that fiend that nearly killed you… You shake your head and laugh lightly. “I don’t miss it at all, not when I have a sweet boy to pamper.” You boop him on the nose, he flushes red. You will never grow tired of seeing him embarrassed. You set him back down, though you are tempted to carry him like this all the way to the dining hall. It would seem that Tyrian wasn’t done with his question just yet, however. “Moka?” He pipes up. “You said, that you were there when Mines were first dug, and how they became ah, the ruinkeep.” He stammers slightly. “but, the X mines were first established over seven-hundred years ago.” He hesitates again, and you wait, knowing what question was coming. “Moka, how old exactly are you?”

Now, that was a question. A question you’ve forgotten the answer to. You chuckle, you smile, and you think back through memory, trying to reach past that impenetrable haze that occludes the dawn of your life. “Well, Tyrian. I’m sorry to say, but I don’t really know.” You’ve tried to figure it before, trying to put your memory to dates of important events. You carry several scars along your thigh –self made- in a way of tracking the years. You gave up before long and the five scars remain as a reminder that you are certainly over five years of age at the very least. “I guess I’m over seven hundred, going by how old those mines are… But I don’t really remember anything before that. I think I was born in the far-east, I remember- no, no… Wait…” You sigh, pinching the bridge of your nose. “A cave- I know I was born in a cave. And there was… Fire. Lots of fire, or something like fire but wasn’t.” You shake your head. “That’s all I can really tell. The only clear memories I have only go so far back, I only can really remember the mountains and the ruin keep. It’s where I spent most of my life, anyway.”

“You’re like a Kitsune then, Moka!” Tyrian exclaims. “I thought only Dragons, Vampires and Kitsune lived that long!”

“Gosh, well, now you’re making me feel old,” You snicker. You never thought of it like that, but living a long time isn’t that special when you can’t even remember anything past a few dozen centuries. Maybe that’s why The three that Tyrian just named were so renown for their long lives- they could actually remember it all, especially the Kitsune. “C’mon, days awaiting.”

Upon arrival at the dining hall, you see that the grand table is set, but, as is to be expected, it is mostly vacant. Another day of the Festival is upon the city of Xion, and this one, thankfully, does not require your presence until far later in the evening. The dining hall is different from the banquet hall, which plays host to foreign nobles and dignitaries during grand feasts that the royal family attended, the dining hall, was lesser in size, and only played host to the royal family, and council members of significant status. It was almost always empty, the Queen dined in her own quarters, the King was often out campaigning, and lady Myrian insisted on cooking her own meals and eating in her quarters much like her mother. The only one to regularly make use of the Dining hall was Tyrian, every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was habitual pattern for him to do so, and you suppose that made it easy to predict where he would be at what time. The stench of the griffon hit you first, next, her low murmuring and a familiar voice. You open the doors to the dining room before Tyrian, Myrian and the feathered-whore Colta greet your eyes.

Myrian glance over when you enter, and the conversation stops, she stares witheringly at you, and says her goodbyes to the Griffon Matron who turns to regard you both with that demure façade. You can already feel the heat rise from the corners of your eyes as your hackles raise, your ears flatten, and your claws flex in preparation. You manage to keep yourself under restraint, but you make no attempt at hiding your condescension. “Good evening, Prince Tyrian. I’ve prepared dinner in advance.” Colta curtsies, Tyrian can practically feel the heat radiating off of you,, he looks up at you worriedly. “Moka, please don’t…” He pleads. You huff and grind your teeth. You clench your fists hard enough to break the skin; the pain doesn’t register as anything more than a minor itch. He doesn’t want a repeat of this morning, Your attention shifts to Myrian, the lady knight is the cause of all this, and she had known damn well the friction that such a decision would cause- installing a second servant for Tyrian, more importantly, a servant as belligerent as a Griffon. You have some choice words for her.

“I’ll be back in a moment,” You tell Tyrian, he looks up at you, confused. “Shout if she does anything untoward.” You say this loud enough that the Feathered bitch will hear you. You don’t intend to make this long, you don’t trust her, you walk briskly after Myrian, the Knight captain having left, and you can bet that it is back towards her quarters. You catch up to her easily enough, right as she is entering her chambers. She sees you, eyes widening briefly before moving to close the door. You catch it before it can shut, there is no contest when it comes to strength, you force it open, pushing her in, and slamming it shut behind you- it locks. You are alone with the Princess, and she goes for her sword without a word.

You catch her arm with ease and bend it back and around, nearly breaking it. She doesn’t yell or scream, she winces and grunts with pain, she tries to go for a dagger with her other hand, you curtail any such action with a neat application of further force, you reach up and dislocate one of her fingers. She bites her lip, and she glares her hate. “Lets have a chat.” You begin, your voice is disconcertingly calm, but you have the inkling that it wont be for long, for how long, that all is up to the Princess. “I’ve got some questions, you see.”
Myrian looks to the door, and back to you, sizing up her chances of slipping out of your grip and making a break for it, or going for a weapon again. You begin your interrogation.

“What’s your angle.” You demand, and Myrian tries to pull her arm out of your grip, it’s futile, your hold is like steel and she doesn’t budge, but she doesn’t make the mistake of going for a weapon again, she knows well enough that it would be useless. Compliance is her only option.

“What angle?” She snaps, relaxing in your grip, you don’t let her go, however. “Speak clearly and let us be done with this.”

“The walking bitch of a feather-duster.” You clarify and squeeze a bit more, the metal of her bracers groans as it begins to bend under pressure. “You did this just to piss me off, didn’t you?”

“You mean Colta?” she arches a brow, “You hate her that much, do you?” She has the gall to snort, “What is the matter, do you fear that she’ll intervene in your ‘activities’ with my brother?”

You don’t dignify that with a response, you just reach with your free hand and dislocate another one of her fingers. You wonder for a moment if you’ll have to start breaking them to get a decent response out of her. The Knight Princess stars you down as you pop her index finger out of joint. You can’t help but admit that the bitch is hard. She answers your question, at least in part. “It was only in part my decision.” She grunts. “If I had it my way the only one seeing to my brothers safety and wellbeing would be me or my honor guard. I’d never willingly let a debased creature that only thinks of breeding anywhere near Tyrian.” She rubs her cheek, only now you notice the slight bruising there. “My mother forced my hand- I can’t refuse her, no one can. She gave me the luxury of choice, and I decided that the Matron would be the best option. It would settle several disputes and your own advisement was taken into consideration. As you said, Griffons are fierce, and can be trusted well enough.” Myrian sighs, looking over your shoulder at the royal crest on the wall of her chambers. “It also allows me to elevate their household to the royal status. We’ll have need of their Knights in the future, I am afraid…”

“You think war is coming?” You release her arm; she takes a precautionary step away from you, giving her room if she wanted to draw before you pounced upon her, should you wish to do so. She also pops her fingers back into joint, you can hear the snap of her joints slotting home, and she shakes her gauntleted hand and flexes her wrist.

“It is inevitable.” She shrugs. “The southern warlords are encroaching further north every year. You’ve seen their work first hand. Such raiders have always been a problem, but recently, they’ve been buying Mercenary cohorts from the Scale-folk. Raiders we can handle, even if they come under the guidance of a Warlord. The Lizardmen…” Her shoulders slump and she shakes her head. “They’re regimented and disciplined. You combine that with the ferocity of Orcs, Trolls, and goblin contraptions, and they become more than just raiders, they become an actual threat. If that wasn’t bad enough, negotiations with Teloth have broken down, and the council fears the onset of another damned Crusade.” A crusade, a large-scale mobilization of the Teloth military against the unfortunate kingdom or city-state that had incurred their wrath. The advent of a crusade is an apocalyptic event. The only kingdom to have withstood a crusade had been Xion, and that was through luck rather than anything else.

“My knights have been dispatched to the Splitpeak pass so as to head off any legions where we can use their numbers against them. Our ranks have been gutted because of it. The regular army would have been better suited to that duty, bowmen and cannons along with spears and shields could turn the pass into an impassable chokepoint far better than a mounted knight. ” She spits. “Riders will be needed if the far-south does indeed march with Scale-folk. Hence why Colta is at the service of Tyrian. The elevation of her house to that of nobility will see to their knights being inducted into the royal forces.”
It made sense, the idea of a Griffon armed and armored made for a fearsome prospect.

“It comes at a cost, as do most things.” She huffs. “That cost being rather self evident in forcing yet another beast upon my brother. You, you I could deal with in time, perhaps make father see reason so as to overrule mother and banish you, but how can I argue that point when I myself have elected a beast to care for him?” She spits. “Are we done here? Are your question satisfied, Hound?”
“Why do you hate me so much?” The question leaves your lips before you have the chance to think of anything else, perhaps something more diplomatic, but the damage is already done.
“Because you are a vile Hellion and your presence endangers my brother.” She tells you. “Your kind are spawned from darkness, so all you are ever capable of are dark acts.”

“If I wanted to let Tyrian get hurt, I’d have let it happen already,” Your tone becomes heated. “Who was it that saved him from those Assassins?” You glare. “And whose guards were it that failed?”
“If I had it my way, he’d never be allowed outside the gates I the first place.” She snaps back. “But no, father and mother simply had to parade their new hellion toy around.”
You couldn’t argue with that, “I still saved him, not even a scratch on him.” You growl. “I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him
“Is that so?” She says. “What will you say when you become the one that’s the cause of his harm?”
“I wouldn’t do that,” You snarl. “I’d rather die than hurt him.”

“So pinning him beneath your hips every night isn’t hurting him?” She scoffs. “You have no perspective.” That crosses a line. You surge forward.

“We’ve only done it- once!” Your roar nearly deafens her; you are past the point of decorum. The insinuations, the cutting remarks, the backhanded comments of you abusing the prince have driven you to this point. You grab Myrian by the hair and slam your head against hers with a loud crack. “He is precious to Me!” You rage, “He. Needs. Me!” You slam your head into hers again, harder this time, you let her go and she stumbles backwards, catching herself on the wall as she clears the stars from her eyes. Your chest heaves and your fangs are bared, you shudder as you force your emotions back under control, the fire snuffing out from your eyes. Myrian regards you, wiping a gauntlet over the split skin on her forehead, examining the blood. She regards you with tempered hostility. “I’ll have your hide for that, Hound.”

You snort a laugh and tilt your head. “Go ahead and try it, your bitch of a mother would sooner see you hang.”

“She would,” Myrian spits again, rubbing her head and glaring at you. “She’d never pass up a chance to have her own little pack of hellion spawn at her beck and call.” You had gathered that such was her plan. If she think she can pull it off she is welcome to try. “So, you’ve had your way with my brother then?” She asks, she grabs a rag and holds it against her cut.

Your muscles twitch in ready and apparent anger; you hold yourself still and stand ridged. “I. Did. Not. Force. Him.” You bite the words out, you want to shred this uppity bitch, you want to drive her to the floor with your weight and burry your canines in her throat so she keeps out of you and Tyrian’s business. Having to explain your lovemaking to someone like her is insufferable.

“I don’t believe you,” She almost looks ready to go for her sword when you step towards her, and you are more than ready to answer it with your rage. “Why would Tyrian ever let a filthy creature like you despoil him? He’s of royal blood, he’d not let some beast seduce him without protest, regardless of mothers intentions.”

“Oh. So that’s it?” Tilting your head back, you find yourself looking down at this human. “All he is to you is a status symbol? Some purity thing? You don’t give a shit if he’s happy?” You sneer. “What if I told you that he looks up to you, you know. Keeps telling me about how great his sister is, calls you the ‘queen of the knights’ and shit like that. I wonder how he’d feel if heard you just now.” You grin and shake your head. “Oh, wait, what am I saying. You clearly don’t give a damn how he feels.” You level a glare at Myrian that cuts deeper than any claw could. You can’t stand even being in the same room as this woman anymore. You are quickly becoming sick of this kingdom and its games that would so happily see your dear sweet Tyrian thrown to wolves should it suit the gain of some aristocrat. “Isn’t there some knightly virtue about loving your family? Or did you conveniently forget that one?”

Your words hit her like an arrow punching through her gut. Her eyes go wide her mouth snaps shut and she goes ridged. You grin, and your voice comes low and cruel. “Oh, what’s this? Nothing to say? Don’t tell me that I’m actually right?” You snigger lowly as Myrain spins on her heel and makes herself busy with a scrap of armor on her bedside table.

“You’ve said enough.” She coughs. “You’re absolutely correct, I couldn’t care less. I’m just glad you know where I stand on the matter now. Dismissed.”

You were prepared for some violent outburst, some fiery rebuke of your accusations. Instead you are given this desultory withering.

“That’s it?” You say, perplexed. “Aren’t you gonna say something more?”

“What else is there to say?” She responds. Her hands are running over her armor- resting on its hanger. She’s not dong anything; she’s just making to look busy. You tilt your head.

“You’re lying.” You tell her, blunt and to the point like always. “I can smell it, you’re lying.”

“I said dismissed.”

“No,” You stand your ground. “Not until you tell me what it is.”

“I’ll call for the guards.”

“They can’t help you. Now tell me.”

“I wont.

“You will,” You step forwards. “Because I’ll make you.” She turns, her expression furious, yet sad, stressed and in pain. She reaches for her sword but you are so easily faster. You grab her wrist and twist it behind her in one fluid motion. You let the scent of the room filter into your nose, ignoring her shouts. Your eyes linger on her bed, you sniff again and pull her over with you, you pat down the mattress, leaning in you inhale again, and your paw runs up the side and fishes behind the head bored- Myrian tries to scream, it curtails abruptly into a pained squeak as you bend her arm to the point of breaking. Your paw bumps against something, and you grin as you pull back an object that you can’t help but hold away from your nose, the pungent scent wafting off of it is that of a woman’s lust.

“This is a pretty small thing.” It reeks of her, shaped like a humans phallus and made of polished, smooth metal. You give it a lick, confirming your suspicions. “This wouldn’t happen to be made with a certain… royal individual… in mind, now would it?”

“P-Put it down!” She seethes. “Give it here!”

“Tell me what I want to know.” You tell her, clicking your claws against it. “Or else I show this to every single person in the castle.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“Why not?” You ask. “Isn’t this what you human nobles do? Blackmail and bribe each other?”

“I have… …” She’s on the verge of tears. “I’ve always had….”

“Yes…?”

“Tyrian.” She covers her eyes, gritting her teeth. “Blast it, I can hardly sleep without dreaming of,” Her words taper off. “I…” She deflates, the vigor and energy flowing out of her, shrinking in stature until she falls back onto her bed. “You couldn’t understand how hard it is.”

You know you could, but you can imagine that it is difficult enough for someone like her.

“I just want to be with him, to take him away from this damned castle.” She shakes. “It will never happen.” You take your seat next to her. “I’ll eventually be married off to the merrow, one of their queens to be used as an egg carrier and further the relations between or people. Or, it wouldn’t surprise me, if Mother sells me to an Elf Lord or Baroness’ harem, it’s happened before in our history. I’d be no better a slave.”
“You truly think she’d do this?”
“I know she would do this, she has done this.” Myrian hisses “I had an instructor when I was younger, her name was Tabyan, she was practically an elder sister to me and she was a close ally of my mother- this is all before Tyrian was born mind you- Tabyan was one day brought into the family as a full member, it was the happiest day of my life- I had an older sister, and then, they very next week she was married off to a Merrfolk queen.” A shuddering breath leaves Myrian, the trauma of an old memory returning to her. “…The last I saw of her, her belly was bloated with the eggs of the queen. They like to use human women as surrogates, and incubators for fertilized eggs. They find carrying their own young to term as distasteful.” She tsks. “Tabyan is likely brain-dead by now.” Myrian mutters. “Their eggs secrete a substance that’s toxic for humans in excessive quantities. It ruins the incubators mental faculties, like a drug. The damn merrow think of human women as nothing more than sacks of meat, but being incubated in one of high standing or office is supposedly a good pedigree for them.” Myrian turns and faces you. “That won’t be the fate of Tyrian, thank the gods, but I fear that mother would be willing to marry him to an Arachne brood, a Hornet Hive, or even worse, whore him to some elf-lord. I refuse to let a fate like that become of my little brother.” She scowls, “My mother is a monster. She only views other people as tools.” The princess knight rolls over back onto her bed, burying her face in her pillow. “I’ve tried to shield Tyrian as much as possible from her. I worked hard, making him a public face and beloved by the common folk. They’d be devastated should they ever learn something has become of him. In many ways, he is the soul of Xion. Kind, gentle, innocent.” She sighs. “I was a fool, thinking that I could shield him forever.”
“Look, I’ll say it like this.” You sigh. “We don’t have to like each other, but we both want the same thing. We both care about Tyrian, he wouldn’t want us to be at each other’s throats all the time.”

“You say this, but your in a position to stay with him, me? My value only extends as far as my sword arm. Something you rather handedly defeated in the swamps; my mother took notice of that.”

“You mean…”

“I’ve never lost a fight up until that point,” She shrugs. “It’s what allowed me to stay in her good standing. Now? There are several noble houses that my mother would not be beyond elevating to the status of royalty, and having their heir assume command of my Knights. The houses are not short for want of those skilled at arms, our history is rather bloody, and our proximity to the Splitpeak Mountains promotes a diligent force of arms.”

“Your mother would get rid of you? Just because you lost to me?”

“I also lost sight of Tyrian. When you found him, he had managed to slip out of the city, right from under my nose. That did my position no good favor.”

“I didn’t think of that.” You sigh. But then the faint hint of an idea comes to you. “Wait.” You say. “What if I can help?”

Myrian looks at you, cocking her head. “What do you mean? How could you possibly help me?”

“We could practice, you and me. I could teach you how to fight other hellions and creatures like me, and then you could teach your knights how to do the same. Your mother would have to keep you around if you had experience like that.”

“What’s to stop her from having you train others in the same manner?”

“I’ll just say that you’re the most qualified.”

“Wouldn’t that be lying?”

“How? You are the captain of the mariner knights. That makes you the best swordsman in the kingdom of Xion, save for your father, I suppose.”

“That… Makes sense, I must agree. But why would you do this for me?”

“Didn’t I already say that we wanted the same thing? Tyrian would be crushed if you had to leave. He really does look up to you, more than you know.” You smile, “He never shuts up, and always telling me about how great his sister is. Come on, let’s give it a try.”

She shrugs evenly, “It’s worth an attempt, at the least. I can’t see this actually working, but I suppose that I can try. When should we begin?”

“We can get a feel for each other tomorrow, after the festival, it should end in the morning, and then its just two more days left of it, then we can hammer something more solid out.”

“If you are pregnant, won’t that be a hindrance?”

“Not as much as you would think. We have to keep hunting, even while carrying our young. It isn’t something that the weak hounds can manage; they usually starve and die, even though hellhound pregnancies are quick, only a month or so before we give birth. It’s taxing, even for us, but the sooner it’s done with the better, given the conditions we’re usually living in.”

“Only a few months?” Myrian asks, skeptically. “That seems rather extreme.”

“Don’t ask me why it’s like that, it just is. Hell, it’s probably the only reason why my kind are still alive.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Well, for starters, we don’t have a mate to do all the work for us while we sit fat and happy in bed. We hunt our men remember? We pin them down and fuck them until we’re certain. That isn’t the kind of healthy, loving relationship that makes the man want to stick around. Usually the hound just eats her mate after she’s done with him, too much work to keep one around without them running. What I’m saying is that I’ll be able to teach you what I can before any pups I might have start becoming a hindrance, and even when it does I’ll still be able to move around without much trouble.

“If you didn’t sound so certain I’m not sure I would believe you. Very well, it’s worth a try.”

“Shake on it?”

“Fine.”

There are those who would consider a hellhound to be no more sentient than a low-beast, barley more cognitive than a cow, a turtle, a rabbit or bird. Beastlike by nature, and certainly savage, a hellhound does not dawdle with politics or intrigue, its purpose is decided by base desires and instinct alone. This mayhap is what makes a silvered one such as yourself such a remarkably rare quantity. You do not let your desires control you, and you are capable of rational thought. You gaze at the stone floor as you walk back to Tyrian; you knead your paws and stress your brain, thinking on your current situation. The Queen desires your children- should they come to be spawned, and she desires them to be docile enough to tame. That much is certain, but as to what ends you do not understand. There is certainly power in having control over a hellhound, power that the Queen surely wishes, but her goals must certainly not stop there. The Queen was ambitious and dangerous in equal measure, she is the type of person who hatches schemes that span a length of years, and each scheme in of itself is but part of a larger web that is being constructed.

You sigh and shake your head wearily. You hold a hand over your tummy, wondering if you are indeed pregnant, or if perhaps you must lay with Your little Prince again. The thought trills in the back of your mind, a pleasant idea that you intend to remind yourself of later. Seducing the young Prince should be simple enough, coercing him into your arms for a warm night together under the covers in the darkness of his room. A shake of your hips a teasing glance at your cleavage, a bit of leg and up skirt view, he is a growing lad with naughty thoughts, it won’t hurt to let him indulge in such thoughts, especially since you are so clearly willing to oblige him. You can’t help it when your tail begins to wag incessantly at the idea of what may lay ahead of you tonight. You lick your lips and start to hum, lost in your fantasy as you make your way back to the dining hall. You find yourself still lost in this reverie of yours, your cheeks burning with the hint of a lurid smile as you open the door to the dining hall, which sits barren and empty of any hint of Your Tyrian. It takes you a moment to process this information.

Tyrian isn’t here.

Tyrian. Isn’t. Here.

A menial servant, several rooms over, behind thick stonewalls, jumps in fright of the howl that rips from your throat.

Fireworks light up the evening air, signaling the start of the second to last day of the Festival. A griffon and a prince both look skyward, lost in the moment. It doesn’t last long. Tyrian shuffled, looking back up at his newly appointed caretaker.

“Um, Madam Colta?” Tyrian’s voice is nearly lost to the crowd. A pall of streamers alights through the air above the crowd in the claws of a harpy, the dazzling reflective papers catching the fire-light. “Are… Are you sure this is okay?”

The griffon glances down to Tyrian, the young prince only coming up to just above her hip. She smiles assuredly. “Certainly, my Prince. Why wouldn’t it be?” Colta of course knew to what he was referring to. The hellhound, ‘Moka’ as she was called apparently, the upstart from the swamps that had so handedly won the princes heart. The young prince had been hesitant in leaving against the hound’s wishes, and only repeated assurances from Colta was able to persuade him otherwise. She ran a talon gently through his hair, straightening out some of the curls. They were in the noble quarter grand plaza. The sapphire fountain was in full bloom, the fluted crystal pipes were pumping out great jets of water high into the air, casting a misty multi-hued rainbow about the plaza that drifted in accordance to the whims of the wind. The effect was beautiful, and when set against the countless green, silver, and blue-white streamers that hung from vendor booths, shop windows and houses, each reflecting the glow of the fireworks display, it almost seemed as if the entire plaza was alight with colors- not merely those being sported on the fanciful garb of those gathered. Colta stayed close to Tyrian, a guiding hand on his shoulder. It was with no small amount of pride that Colta wore the garb of a royal servant this festival day. She could remember the days when she was much younger, barley a hatchling, her father carried her through the streets of Xion during the grand festival, she would constantly urge her father to take her to the Noble plaza so that she could see the pretty fountain and the well dressed nobility. Her father, of course would be unable to do just that, for her family was of low class back then.

Not anymore. Now, her family was of royalty her family and her troop were Knights of Xion alongside the Mariner Knights of the Princess. Her chest swelled with pride at the thought. It had taken years to finally garner even the slightest hint of notice from the royal family in any capacity but now that it had finally happened, Colta wasn’t going to let her good fortune rest on its laurels. She had already spoken with her first daughter, the arrangements for posting a troop of Griffons within the inner castle walls were underway- the princess’s approval would be needed, but aside from that, further endorsements were already being made at their doorstep. Several other Noble houses were seeking partnerships and even several propositions of marriage towards several of Colta’s daughters and their own children.

Her attention is brought back to the present again by Tyrian, the young prince has turned away from what was becoming a more usual and common sight as the festival has progressed, that being the rather plainly lurid forms of elven dancers. Ever ones to promote hedonism and excess, the Xion grand festival was the perfect opportunity for them to partake in a debauch, a total of five ‘high-elves’ of the female persuasion had done away with their already skimpy outfits and taken to the sapphire fountains lip. Upon the rim they had begun to dance, the water splashing against their pale bodies, glistening in the late tempestuous light. Tyrian tried hard to not stare, blushing furiously when one of the elven girls caught his attention and with a bounce and a shake, blew kiss in his direction. The poor boy nearly froze in place before Colta leads him away to arrest his discomfort. The crowd delighted in the antics of the lady elves that twist and flaunt their nearly identical bodies that were sculpted in the visage of their goddess, each displaying every bit of the lithe grace and beauty that their kind was known for. While the elves were a certainly arrogant race, in some cases, they were right to be proud.

“Never seen an elf woman before, my prince?” Colta asks.

“N-Not a naked one.” He responds, letting Colta take him into one of the more mercantile districts of the noble quarter, just aside the Grand Plaza.

“That surprises me,” She admits. “I’d have thought that one of their lords or ladies would have long since attempted to entreat with you.”

“Myrian has always kept them away from me.” Tyrian admits. “She says that they would try to influence me.” He pauses for a moment. “I don’t know what she means by that, and Moka refuses to tell me.”

“I can guess why,” Colta sighs. “It would probably be for the best.” There were many human kingdoms out there that expressly banned elves of any sort or sub race; from the high elves- the same ones that were dancing upon the sapphire fountain- to the dark elves, who were notably humble and ‘human’ in their dispositions. The stigma being that elves one and all were callus and hedonistic, using their latent magical abilities to seduce and corrupt human settlement, and reduce kingdoms into dens of depravity where all morals were abandoned and orgies spilled out into the streets come sundown as the ruling houses were swiftly subverted by elves. In truth, it was not at all far-fetched, it has happened before in the past. But it had only ever happened to kingdoms that lacked in any magical aptitude, in a kingdom under the guidance of a queen like Verma, it would be impossible.

The markets were mostly closed for the evening, the shopkeepers and vendors having rolled out small carriages or stands to rig the outskirts of the Grand plaza or the lower quarters for the evening events.

“I’ve never seen the market so empty before.” Tyrian commented. “It’s quite eerie.”

“That it is…” Colta mutters softly, something had spooked her, tipping off her senses towards some unseen danger, but she wasn’t sure what yet.

“Ah,” She clicked her tongue. “Tyrian, stay close to me…” Tyrian looked up at Colta, brow raised. “Is something wrong?” He asked. Colta didn’t answer, instead she asked the shadows that seemed to stalk her.
“That would depend on our guests…”

“N’ah, shit.” The voice growled out. The words were soon given form, as they crept from the shadow, nearly invisible within them, they seemed to be given form only as they willed themselves out of the darkness that held them. Dire Wolves, the hunters of the dark corners of the earth, “Took you long enough to notice us.”

“Why are you here?” Colta demands. “You are Hellions. You are not allowed within the walls.” At this, the wolves laugh. There were ten, maybe twelve or so in total, stepping into the dull, fading light of the evening dusk. Colta kept a steady hand on Tyrian, her talons drummed lightly as her wings spread. The dire wolves, each dressed in well-worn leather and string boots with hooded coats pulled up and over. They each wore an assembly of knives, daggers and short edged blades at their hips. The mix of red-yellow eyes observed the griffon from a comfortable distance, but each wolf was ready to attack at the word of their alpha, larger than the rest, she stepped forwards.

Her face was concealed beneath the shadow of her hood. Her eyes seemed to blaze brighter than all the others. She stopped a distance away from Colta, nearly as tall as the matron griffon. “Gotta say that I wasn’t expecting to see you.” She growls. “Kinda was hoping that the kid was old-fashioned, you know? One fuck-toy and one fuck-toy only.”

Colta covers Tyrians ears. “Crude. Just as I would expect from a mangy swamp-bitch.” Colta sniffs. “What is your purpose here?”

The alpha snickers. “We’re just lookin’ for your opposite, the silvertail.” She says.

“What do you want with Moka?”

“Nothin’ much, just a chat.” The Alpha shrugs.

“Is that so?” Colta cocks her head, “A simple chat does not usually govern the need for such an arsenal.” She points out, eyeing the various blades and daggers on each of the cloaked figures hips. “Nor does a simple conference require the subversion of Castle Xion’s inner walls and sentries.”

The Alpha shrugs again. “It pays to be prepared, and what’s wrong with not wanting a bit of privacy?”

“I find your motives to be lacking.” Colta says. “You’d do well to leave before I alert the guards.”

“Fuck it.” The alpha rolls her eyes, clearly at the end of her patience. “Coulda’ done this the easy way.” The wolves close in, hands going to the hilts of daggers and other bladed instruments. The alpha rip free a long, jagged knife with a curved blade that was streaked in silver flint- the light of the fireworks overhead painting the instrument a dull hazy red glare. “I’ll ask one more time. Where’s the mutt?” She growled. Her words had no shortage of confidence, how much of that was forced and how much of it reinforced by the numbers with her, was uncertain. The alpha, Tyrian perked up, not as afraid as he’d thought he’d be. He remembered this one, from the swamps, the tall, domineering pale skinned Dire wolf with pitched black fur even darker than Moka’s own. Her hair was a ratty mess tied back in a ponytail, her face wore a belt of scars over her cheeks, and her eyes were a luminous mix of red and yellow, muddled together and reflective. Her ears were banged up much like her tail, bits and pieces torn off and chewed up, she cut not so much an imposing figure, but a rugged one. She wore the miles Life had driven over her with plainly for all to see, but let none of it stop her.

Colta glanced behind her; the circle of wolves had begun to close in, cutting her off from every direction. She hissed silently to herself, letting her wings spread a bit more, She looked down at Tyrian, the young prince was surprisingly calm- or perhaps fear was holding him still. One of the wolves seemed to take notice of Tyrian only now, or, perhaps, only now chose to voice their opinion.

“Hey, boss.” One of the Wolves spoke up, impatient. “Why don’t we just take the kid? No way the silver-bitch won’t follow.”

The alpha glared at her underling, but held her tongue, as if musing the possibility of the idea as her amber gold-red eyes shifted over to Colta, “That’s not that bad an idea…” The Alpha mused.

Tyrian winced- not because of the insulation but because of Colta’s talons- slightly pressing into his shoulder. Her eyes were icy cold as her wings flared- dust was swept away from all around her.

“What? Gonna try an fly?” The Alpha grinned, slowly; the wolves began to close in, circling the Griffon and Tyrian, blades drawn fangs salivating. “Don’t push you luck, you’re no little harpy whore. Your fat-ass is all hot air and thermals.” She wasn’t wrong at all. The fact that a Griffon could fly at all spoke volumes about their strength, but strength could only get one so far. The only creatures that could take flight from a standing position were those of the harpy family, owing to their small bodies and light skeletal structure. A Griffon was simply too heavy to do the same.

“That would be remarkably unwise of you to do so.” Colta warns. “You’d do well to leave while I let you leave.”

The Alpha grins, she flicks the blade in her hand around, it spins over her wrist and back into her grip. “Yeah, we’ll be leaving, but only with the kid.”

It is a morbid truth that few acknowledge but it is a truth nonetheless. The truth in question is the fact that when a bone breaks it makes a quite audible sound. This sound can vary, depending on the bone. There is the brittle snap of leg bones, of the meatier muffled break of a femur. Arm bones, forearms in particular, seem to crackle and grate. Ribs are by far the loudest. There are of course more esoteric breaks, like the crunch of a spine, the pop of a neck, the shattering tinkle of a pelvis, fingers and toes, feet and hands, each has its own unique sound that foretells of pain and agony.

“Wrong.”

Underneath the hideous tempered growl that dominates the market square, there is a sickly music, like that of a watermelon or cantaloupe slowly being squeezed- its skin breaking, the whine sucking in air as juices are slowly squeezed out of the cracks.

“You won’t be leaving.”

It is curtailed, a gelatinous squishing, like a fruit being pulped and an egg being dropped onto the ground, shell scattering, yoke splattering.

“Not one of you will be leaving.”

The broken remains of a skull and the brain beneath drip from Moka’s hand. She holds the limp corpse of a Direwolf around their crushed neck. The upper half of their head pulped by the Hellhounds hysterical strength. She lets the body fall to the ground, she flicks her wrist- the remains of cranial fluid, skull fragments, and grey matter slicking the street. Her fangs are backlit by some hellish internal furnace in the pit of her throat, embers and sparks roll from her nostrils and her eyes are pitched, black things- only the barest pinprick of her pupil visible like some distant malignant star. Her breath rolls clouds of smoke. She twitches, she spasms, her head jerking left and right- eyeing each and every cloaked figure before coming to rest entirely on Colta with a sick fanatical fixation of malevolent design. Slowly, the corners of her eyes start to swelter and ignite, and then the hellfire-eyes that hellhounds were so infamous for boil into existence.

“Not. A single. Fucking. One of you.”

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8 thoughts on “The Hound. Ch7

  1. So… Remember when those raiders killed the little kid, and spawned a massive one woman bloodbath? Somehow, I think this is going to be much, much worse.

    Nice to see Moka and Myrian coming to terms, at least. Misjudged the princess a little there, I too thought she brought Colta on board out of misplaced jealousy, but I like her motives better than expected.

    Colta though is more or less what I expected, I imagine the Hound would have figured it out by now if Colta had ACTUAL feelings for Tyrian.

    And damn you for that amazing cliffhanger, I got chills when Moka caught up to them, and now we play the waiting game again.

  2. Live from Xion market plaza! We are going to witness the most anticipated match in the history of this fanfiction! For the safety of the prince of the land! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! All you fans watching from around the world! Lllllllllllllllet’s get rrreeeaddyyyy to rrrrrrruuummbblllllllee!

    Great chapter. Look forward to more.

  3. I don’t know how friendly the formatting is here on TFT, so I say this in a friendly way, but your dialogue stumped me briefly in a few places. Sometimes you have more than one character speaking in the same paragraph, which is not a problem when you use dialogue tags (even though that’s not strictly proper form). But sometimes there are no tags. Similarly, some of your action cues are ambiguous:

    In the paragraph that includes, , hellhound is clearly speaking. But then you describe Colta: which naturally implies that Colta said this, but it sounds like she did not. It seems the whole paragraph (most of it) is supposed to be hellhound speaking, but I think Colta’s action of stepping back could have been its own line to emphasize her response between hellhound’s dialogue. Or a dialogue tag for hellhound included on for clarity.

    And I say most of it because there’s a line by Colta tucked in there too: It’s sensible to assume that Colta said “try it” because of the new quotation marks, but then it’s natural to assume Colta said the shoebox line too. The “try it” should have gotten its own line, goading the hellhound, then hellhound would finish up her threat on a new line. As is, the only thing that clarifies the ambiguity is the next paragraph.

    But the next paragraph is a bit odd too (please bear with me)–the one that starts: . Everything about this paragraph implies that hellhound is speaking because of how you include hellhound’s actions. The followed by implies that hellhound giggled this, but this didn’t make sense (and I know that You is capitalized and starts a new sentence, which indicates that it’s not a dialogue tag, but it could still be an action cue). And having, right before implies again that hellhound said this. In fact, going back and rereading, I am still not 100% sure who is saying . From my perspective, either character could be saying that. However, I am leaning towards Colta since this paragraph seems to be her ‘dialogue paragraph’.

    And look, I think I understand that your mentality was to include the actions of other characters within a speaking character’s paragraph. I agree with this if the actions are ‘background actions.’ But these seem to be more RE-actions than anything–the characters are responding to one another, even if they are not using dialogue, and so I think that and should have been on their own lines (or dialogue tags for Colta included, either method). (Similar things for when Hellhound and Myrian are in the room.)

    Anyway, strong writing since chapter 1. And you have me going to the dictionary a lot, which I don’t mind lolz.

  4. I don’t know how friendly the formatting is here on TFT, so I say this in a friendly way, but your dialogue stumped me briefly in a few places. Sometimes you have more than one character speaking in the same paragraph, which is not a problem when you use dialogue tags (even though that’s not strictly proper form). But sometimes there are no tags. Similarly, some of your action cues are ambiguous:

    In the paragraph that includes, [“More shit-speak?” You laugh, “You gotta death wish?”], Hellhound is clearly speaking. But then you describe Colta: [She (Colta) takes a step back. “I can do it for ya.”] which naturally implies that Colta said this, but it sounds like she did not. It seems the whole paragraph (most of it) is supposed to be hellhound speaking, but I think Colta’s action of stepping back could have been its own line to emphasize her response between hellhound’s dialogue. Or a dialogue tag for hellhound included on [”I can do it for ya.”] for clarity

    And I say most of it because there’s a line by Colta tucked in there too: [“Try it.” She doesn’t sound certain. “They’ll be able to fit what’s left of you in a shoebox by the time I’m finished.”] It’s sensible to assume that Colta said “try it” because of the new quotation marks, but then it’s natural to assume Colta said the shoebox line too. The “try it” should have gotten its own line, goading the hellhound, then hellhound would finish up her threat on a new line. As is, the only thing that clarifies the ambiguity is the next paragraph.

    But the next paragraph is a bit odd too (please bear with me)–the one that starts: [“That’s all?” You giggle…]. Everything about this paragraph implies that hellhound is speaking because of how you include hellhound’s actions. The [“That’s all?”] followed by [You giggle,] implies that hellhound giggled this, but this didn’t make sense (and I know that You is capitalized and starts a new sentence, which indicates that it’s not a dialogue tag, but it could still be an action cue). And having, [You are about to remind yourself of what Griffon blood tastes like] right before [“I’ll just choke you down…] implies again that hellhound said this. In fact, going back and rereading, I am still not 100% sure who is saying [“I’ll just choke you down”]. From my perspective, either character could be saying this. However, I am leaning towards Colta since this paragraph seems to be her ‘dialogue paragraph’.

    And look, I think I understand that your mentality was to include other characters’ actions within a speaking character’s paragraph. I agree with this if the actions are ‘background actions.’ But these seem to be more RE-actions than anything–the characters are responding to one another, even if they are not using dialogue, and so I think that [You giggle] and [You are about to remind yourself of what Griffon blood tastes like] should have been on their own lines (or dialogue tags for Colta included, either method). (Similar things for when Hellhound and Myrian are in the room.)

    Anyway, strong writing since chapter 1.

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