You aren’t thinking correctly.
Something in your brain is broken.
Your mind isn’t working- your body isn’t obeying you.
You are screaming in the back of your mind, thrashing at invisible restraints, desperately trying to claw your way to the forefront of your consciousness and arrest the surge of apoplectic, seething, hideous, psychopathic blood-maddened Rage that thunders through your veins, the crushing force of your heart filling your muscles with the strength of the apocalypse. Your body storms forwards, propelled on all fours like a black and red scar across existence that see’s to the destruction of a second hunter. The force of your blow, the raw power behind your paw, does not do something so simple and mundane as carve through their chest- no, you turn the entire upper half of a dire wolfs body into a cascade of red mist that floats over the battlefield. The arms and head of the wolf are sent careening over the tops of houses or into the nighttime sky, the lower half of the body stays standing for a second before crumpling to the street.
You should be roaring, growling, filling the night air with your savage, hateful verbiage that sinks into the souls of those that are truly guilty. You are beyond noise. The hate that fills you is an arctic death-knell that turns your blood into a blade of ice. You are silent, you are like the grave, you do not utter a single sound aside the grunting pants of your exertion, you do not entreat any solicitation of their words because these rancid strays are so far beneath you that they might as well be buried within the mantle of the earth itself, only ever fit to suckle from the shit of the living world. The shock of your sudden and violent reveal fades, the rest begin to react in time to your hellish aggression.
They draw live steel, curved daggers and bands of serrated metal that fit over their claws as custom made things, several carry short axes and half-swords, they gleam with dazzling colors as the eruption of the fireworks rocks the sky overhead. You land before the third to die to you. Drenched in a fresh coat of blood from the red rain of the destroyed body of the second hunter, you are a darkly gleaming ruby. You can smell, you can see and taste the fear in the idiotic hunter before you, their eyes stare wide at you. They do not strike at you as you rise fro m your crouch, unwinding slowly, your back popping in tension from your muscles.
They backpedal, stumbling away from the mad beast given the name of hell that had so suddenly appeared before them. You arrest their motion as you surge forwards and grab ahold of their head with your massive paws- your claws gouge into their eyes, a thumb hooks into their mouth, you plant a foot against their body before they have the full chance to scream or struggle- you push and you pull, the cracking of bone, the tearing of flesh, you rip the front of their face off and crush the remains in one hand, glee ringing up and down your spine as you behold the ripped up remains of their face- gaping holes and mulched bone where a face should be, a tongue waggling uselessly upwards searching for the roof of a mouth that was no longer there, the exposed section of brain behind their nose, you almost start laughing as the corpse that didn’t realize it was already dead tries to feel for what it was missing.
You are pulled out of your blood-mad mirth by the thudding impact of an axe slamming into your side. You turn and look- the hunter grits her teeth, she tries to pull her axe back out and strike you again, you simply tense, your muscles constricting around the embedded head of the blade in your hip and holding it tight. She lets go, staring up at your leering visage, your dagger fangs and red orange orbs of hellfire mock the futility of her existence, the ponderous question of why she had so eagerly rushed towards a death as painful and as brutal as you could possibly make was left unspoken.
You don’t like human weapons; you don’t like using them because they feel awkward and clumsy in your hands. Not this time, this would be a murder simply far too delicious to let slip past. You rip the axe from your side, and your hand lashes out, constricting around the throat of the hunter- you swing back and then bring the stolen axe back forwards, it’s bladed head carves into the guts of the wolf, burying deep. She grabs at the massive black paw crushing her throat as a strangled cry tries to filter past your grip. You grin as she struggles, lifting her off the ground you raise her up and tear the axe free, you are nowhere near done. An impact like thunder straight into her guts once more, buried all the way in you wrench it back out- she seizes up as part of her intestines fall out with it, she’s trying to scream, trying to kick at you, trying to escape from your dominance over her pathetic life.
You snarl, and smash her weapon into her again, and again, and again, you hammer the bloodied axe into this dire wolfs guts six or perhaps seven- no, eight times until her guts, her stomach her liver and kidneys are spilling out from the ruined mess of flesh and torn up muscle- spilling through her chopped up fingers as she desperately tries to block your strikes, begging for you to stop. So you do. You take a moment to appreciate your work- the pulped remains of her intestinal tract spilling through the meat of her once sharp and lean body. You growl your sentiments and your appreciation to her for allowing you trying out her toy. You bury the head of her axe back into what remained of her guts, and you cast her aside- still living, still bleeding, still screaming and bleating like the slaughtered pig she is.
Now, now they come for you properly.
They converge on you, like a proper hunting pack of wolves given the aspect of a shadow, silent and fierce three or more shapes close in on you from multiple directions around your puddle of gore and the glint of their weapons reflects the light of what was supposed to be a joyous occasion with a semblance of malice. You crouch low, claws spread and ready, fangs bared, like whispers they circle you, reversing in on their rotation, trying to throw you off, you lash out, claw cleaving downwards and catching air and a flurry of cuts across your arm with deft precision, that sees the blades carving down to the bone, from behind as well, stitching up your back in a singular vertical slice, you make clear your hate and swing around your claws only meeting retreating shadows as the wolves leap away and split apart, playing the advantage of distance and hit and runs.
You only now notice Colta is fighting as well. Not as many as you, but from three different directions they come at her, the Alpha among them her weapons- two twin bladed sabers that looked far more ornamental and flimsy than what they displayed in practice. Carving through the air like a continuous windmill the streaking copper and silver coloration of the pieces seemed to hiss as they cut, Colta was making a concerted effort not to block directly, instead, with artful diligence her talons pushed aside the various direct strikes of the Alpha, never letting her this land full on- her wings, the massive things that they were, flared out, knocking away or battering the other two wolves while her tail coiled defensively around Tyrian. Her teeth were grit in concentration, her eyes wide and alert, focused in sharp contrast to whatever berserker’s wrath that now served as your expression. Your adversaries surround you once again, a blend of shadows wrapping around you in an interlaced rotating circle, the flashes of red eyes and bared, snarling fangs your only leverage as they swam back and forth with your every movement.
They struck wherever your attention faded they faded where your strikes landed- returning each assault with a measured aggression of their own, this wasn’t fighting this was dancing and it was equally infuriating. You wanted to rampage, you wanted to rip to sunder, to shred your claws through the dark fur of these bitch-dogs until all that was left of them was a displeasing taste in the back of your throat. They wouldn’t let you, they keep evading your attacks and returning with a blitz of their own that tore at your skin and chipped away at your bones. Your fangs ground against each other in increasing frustration, your blood dripped off of you like sweat, clotting in your fur, streaming into your eyes, cascading off your fangs, you couldn’t take it- you needed to hurt these fuckers, and there they were- always just out of reach, always just the exact distance away from you- almost like they were meant to fight against you, as if they had been selected for the singular purpose- to hunt you down. Something clicks in the back of your mind where you have set aside such things like reason and analytics in favor of your more immediate raging urges, you will regret doing so in the time to come after, where you will regret not keeping one of these defilers alive for questioning.
Your burning eyes lock onto the sight of the Alpha with her shining twin daggers of curved metal. And as the blood further hazes red your glare you let loose a rolling howl as you make up your mind and charge- through the cyclone of dancing Dire wolves that leap as one to run their blades across your skin. Three or four land on your back as you try to break through their encirclement, one of them goes for your throat- her blade pushing against your neck. Before she can pull her steel across your throat you dive forwards and into a roll. You crush the dire wolf huntress against the flagstone road and twist the knife out of her hand only to return it to her- the blade punches through her sternum and into the road itself, pinning her there like an insect of some morbid collector. The others are not so bold in their attempt- having satisfied their blades with gouging over your bones as if your skin and muscle was non-existent.
The fanatical edge to their blades do not even cause you pain. Had they truly been expecting to hunt you, they should have gone for something that does not part the skin but tear it open. Already your paper-thin wounds are healing as you smash your way through the pair that seeks to block you, as you charge into the fight between the Whore Colta and the Dire Wolf Alpha. As you leap, claws spread fangs bared, when the Alpha turns you had expected a snarling rebuke, a shocked look of frustration as you barrel down upon her. The cruel grin she gives you is not what you had expected, not in the least. She is lithe where you are corded, she darts back and out of the way of your crushing blow that craters the road. Whirling on her as she dances behind you, she flicks out with one of her curved daggers. You do not need to block- it cannot hurt you. The metal scores across your back before you’ve a chance to face her again. Something starts to burn; a pain spreads across your back muscles like acid slowly eating away at your body. It isn’t painful enough to cause you to heel but you snarl and glare your hate at the Alpha, she flourishes her weapons, spinning them end over end in each hand- Her pack forms around you, Colta, and Tyrian, closing you in and barring any exit.
“Like my toys, Mutt?” She sneers. “Star-silver, from the far east, forged for the sole purpose of killing you an’ me.” That would explain the pain that seeps into you, searching for your heart like poison. You snort in derision. “A couple more cuts and you’ll be begging me to put you down, mutt.” The Alpha shakes her head.
“You shoulda’ never have come to Xion, You made everything worse by coming here.” You roll your shoulder, the pain surges as you do so, but it was nothing more than pain- something you are intimately familiar with. You fight through it and force it back and out of your mind. “You talk too much.” You spit. If she was apt to talk back after your rebuke, your roar silences her as you charge in. She said three or four cuts would do you in.
You’ll end this in two.
The blade scours across your left arm, the starmetal weapon of the far eastern lands over the sea were said to be blessed by heaven and made for killing the creatures of Chaos, they also apt at killing Hellions- maybe not so much as the more mercurial and esoteric creations of the infernal smelters of the Ruulok, but those were things that were often as dangerous to the wielder as they were to the creatures that they were forged to fight against. Your left arm goes numb almost at once, , but you have your target- before she can pull back and away you are upon her, you grab the blade in her left and tear it away, your thick paw pads almost completely ignore the edge of her weapon, leaving her now with one to fight against you with. Behind you the pack attacks- Colta curls around Tyrian, holding him close to her chest and now uses her tail and wings to batter away the lesser Hunter wolves. They had prepared to fight you- a Hellhound; they were clearly not up to snuff against a Griffon. , You watch as one tries to leap in only for the tip of Colta’s wing to come crashing down over their back- the sickening sound of their neck snapping fills the market as they hit the road head first. Without even looking behind her Colta’s tail snaps out like a bullwhip and lashes across the face of another Huntress, the tip of her tail comes away red and glossy with the pulped goo of an eye. The huntress shrieks at her sudden loss of vision, falling to the road.
Another Huntress is brought down when Colta, clearly not suited with just relaxing on the defensive, spreads her wings and with one powerful motion she closes the distance between her and her target- swooping in and delivering her clawed foot into the face of the huntress- driving her to the ground, there is the cracking of bone and squelching of fat and muscle and blood as the dire wolf is offhandedly crushed underfoot. None of this is enough to distract you from your own fight, down to one knife and with you bearing down upon her, the Star silver seemingly to have no effect on you, the Alpha calculates her position as she is forced back yet again. Your claws grind into the brick masonry of a building as the huntress alpha leaps up the wall and back and over to land behind you, an exploratory swipe at your back only serving to leave a shallow nick along your shoulder- you don’t even notice it as you grab for her fading form. Before she can retreat fully you grab a chunk of brick, whipping it after her- you are satisfied as the unprepared Alpha coughs in pain as the chunk of masonry cracks a rib in her chest.
You see your opening- you take it. You grin in blood-hungry glee as your claws score across her chest, from shoulder to hip in one long and savage swipe. She howls in pain, and leaps clear of your follow-up strike, hitting the ground on her side, she scrambles onto her feet as you stalk forwards, you are a creature of vengeance, and there is almost nothing more satisfying than the moments of such magnitude when you are finally about to enact your purpose. The slow gurgling whine of a dire wolf choking on her own blood tells you that Colta has seen to the last of the pack.
The Alpha spits blood and chipped teeth. She looks around the market and calculates her options. “Don’t call this a victory. Cuz’ it aint, Mutt, you jus’ made everything a helluva’ lot worse.” The Alpha turns. And she runs.
Every Hellion beast created from the Abyss between realities was unique. Each one was gifted with strange and inexplicable qualities. The Echidna- the second of The Firstborn Things, was gifted with a womb with which to form true monsters of unspeakable forms. The Ushi-Oni was gifted with absolute strength, putting it beyond the raw power of dragons. There is the Hellhound such as you and the gift of indomitability- a will that can never be tamed, not even by death itself. There is the Dire Wolf, the aspect of the shadowed hunter. The Alpha vanishes- shadow enveloping them even as you pursue- not more than a foot away, nearly within reach- she is simply gone, no puff of smoke, no shroud falling over them, they simply disappear. You stop. There is no more use in pursuing. She has gone to lick her wounds and slink back to her master. There is nothing to be gained with a fruitless search.
Besides. There’s a certain pigeon that needs gutting.
Even before you turn, you know what you are about to do is wrong. What you are about to do is stupid. You’ll be putting Tyrian at risk. You need to go back to the Castle. You need to go and tell Myrian about the Dire Wolves. You need to calm down, and get Tyrian to safety. That analytical part of your mind tells you all of this and all of it is logical, but, as that voice of reason whispers its knowledge into your ear, you only hear one thing, one entirely different thing.
You Need to kill Colta.
Tyrian tries to say something, tries to step between you and Colta, but there is no having it. You push him out of the way, and with a snarl ripping up your throat, it begins. First blood goes to Colta, the griffon turns as you pounce, she sweeps the edge of her wing out and it smashes you across the head, you drop like a stone, hitting the ground with a furious growl you spin about to strike back. The griffon whips around, something cracks you across the face, again, impacting like a whip- her tail- your more incredulous than anything at first but it is swiftly subsumed by anger. You piston up off the ground with a core of hate that pushes you through a sudden raking strike along your flank, the griffon hooking her talons into you, like cleavers crossed with fishhooks they dig in and chew through your meat. You don’t even notice, satisfaction radiating through you as you lock your jaw over her shoulder, and pull her close against you. You bite down- you feel bones crack as you do so- Colta screams aloud as you overbalance her and drive her onto her back. Blood fills your mouth, leaking down your throat as you shake your head, digging your ivory canines as deep as you can until you can at last taste the marrow of her bones, you drag your claws down her back, ripping into her wings, great tufts of feathers come away with each slow, grueling pull.
You have the edge over her in terms of raw strength, your muscles are things of shredded destruction, and you can feel her collarbone start to shatter beneath your ministrations, your jaw closing with the unstoppable inevitability of an avalanche. She bucks, a pained scream ripping free from her lips as you ignore the talons that turn you into ribbons. You are made to let go- the griffon rolls you over and lifts herself up with you still latched onto her shoulder like some fire-eyed leech, she drops herself back down onto you- her knee crushing into the small of your chest- like a reflex you loosen your hold on her shoulder with a sputtering wheeze, and before you’ve the chance to lock back down she’s up and away, putting distance between you- distance that you make to close.
Like a rabid dog, you charge her, steam rolls out of your mouth like gaseous hate. You lunge, she sidesteps you, wincing as you lash out and clip her with your claws. She takes the pain- fighting through it as she pivots with you mid pounce and again drops the edge of her wing onto your back with sledgehammer like force. Something almost breaks, you roll clear of her follow-up kick, scrambling to your feet you snarl, her own screech nearly deafens you. She moves, darting towards you with alacrity you didn’t think she was cable of. She doesn’t bull into you, instead angling off to your injured side and striking out with her claws. You block the first flurry, your own blood spattering against your torn up dress and her own as she carves into your forearms.
Her second attack catches you off guard- she kicks out, planting a foot just behind your heel and pulling back- you are thrown off balance for a second as she lunges over you, the flat of her palm driving into your throat and pressing up against your chin, and thusly slamming the back head against the stone pavement. Stars scream past your vision, you cant draw a breath for, the only thing keeping you conscious is hate, Colta sweeps back before you have the chance to retaliate, before you can grab ahold and pull her in close where you can crush her to death one bone at a time. You can’t breathe, your gagging for air- but you don’t let it stop you from lunging for her again, she tries to sidestep you again- her wing flying out to strike you like it did the last two times, either stupid or arrogant, you punish her for trying the same trick twice and you roll over and catch her wing before it can slap you to the ground- You lock your arms around it and pull her down to the ground with you. You break the bones in her wing like twigs.
With savage delight you watch Colta’s face contort in pain. You throw yourself onto of her, restraining an arm at the wrist you let your weight pin the rest of her beneath you, she grabs at your throat with her other hand- you let her, she can’t hurt you like that, she can barley focus through the pain. You slash her across the face with your claws- letting your obsidian implements work into her features and carve across jawbone. She bites you, jaws snapping shut over your fingers, you don’t even grunt, you just curl them around and into her lower mandible and begin to pull- you can feel her muscles strain and you feel the pop of her jaw dislocating, she tries to pull your hand out of her mouth- gagging past her own teeth. She lets go of your throat and grabs you by the shoulder- as if to push you off. She pinches you- talons digging in where your shoulder meets your neck.
A kind of pain that not even you can ignore. You lock up as your nerves begin to grow thorns and tear up and down the right side of your torso, your hand spasms as your arm locks up and then falls numb, she pulls herself free as your fingers twitch- trying to restore some sense of feeling, she gasps, coughs, pushes you over onto your front. You don’t have the means to resist as she locks her arm around your throat- dropping onto you and pulling back as she jams her knee just above your tail, pinning your waist to the ground and bending your spine to the point where you think your vertebrae are going to explode. Movement reasserts control over your body, as you will yourself to move, you aren’t sure how- pain still rips up and down your right side. Colta seems incredulous as you lurch in her grip, she knuckles down, holding you tight, constricting her arm around your throat and pulling back harder- it isn’t a contest of strength she can win, you wrench yourself forwards, your spine pops and for a moment you cant feel anything below your waist. She loses her grip right as black spots begin to dance across your vision; you slam forwards into the pavement, nearly biting your tongue off. The Griffon doesn’t let you gather yourself, she throws herself onto your back- desperate to keep you pinned, to keep the pressure up, you snarl- it sounds more like a wheeze. A blow against the back of your head sends your face back into the pavement- then another, and another, your vision goes blurry and red, you fight through the darkness that threatens to overtake your consciousness, you reach down into your core and find that eternal fire that makes you a Hellhound and you force it to burn through you. You turn over, throwing Colta off of you. The Griffon lands badly- her broken wing further crushed beneath her own body. You gather yourself again- pulling yourself together, staggering to your feet. Across from you Colta does the same, her right wing hangs limp and in pieces at her side, her jaw is loose and ugly, half her face is cut up and turned red, but her eyes just stare across at you with what can only, could only ever be hate.
You rush at the same time- Colta decks you across the head with her good wing as you catch her in the stomach with your claws- they puncture through but catch in the muscles- you tear them out as you stagger. You whip around and catch her wing with your jaws before she can pull back- she knows what will happen next- she doesn’t let you. She kicks your right leg out from under as she bulls you over to the ground. She lands on top of you and her knee digs into the inside of your right thigh- she pushes and you scream as something seems to pop and break inside of it- it feels like your leg just exploded, it lets you ignore her ripping her talons across your throat and tearing through your jugular- something that should have killed any normal creature fails to even draw your attention as you crush the bones of her wing with your jaws. She clamps a hand over your face- and forcibly wrenches her wing out of your mouth- tearing a chunk of meat and bone along with it before she lets go and the impact of her elbow crushes your nose and sends the back of your head into the pavement, another blow forces you to lay there, and a third and fourth elbow smash to the head almost puts you out. Your body is unmoving as Colta rolls off of you- choked sobs telling of just how much pain she’s in. Through the blood haze you stare up at the sky, your breathing is ragged- your throat is torn open after all; it would be surprising if it weren’t. You don’t have much left in you; you’re running out of strength.
But. Like so many times before. You tell yourself again:
You are a Hellhound.
You don’t lose until you die.
You force your limbs to obey, pins and needles and burning brands still ripping up the right side of your body. You roll over onto your hands and knees, panting, forcing yourself to stay awake. You look up. Colta, sitting up only a couple of feet away from you, stares at your damnably alive form, hatred, and sheer incomprehension mixing together in her glare. She holds her mouth shut with her good hand- there is a cracking sound and she doubles over as she forces her jaw back into socket. A thick drool of blood leaks from the corners of her mouth as she does this; her wings lay broken on either side of her, drooping over her shoulders like a cloak.
You can tell that your grin disturbs her, chilling her more than the knowledge that you should have bled out and died by now. Your ghoulish smile parts even more as you begin to snicker, begin to laugh- not at all sane. The situation is fucked, both of you are fucked up, and you both showed no signs of stopping. You heave, standing, slowly, your right leg is limp, forcing you to stand on your left. Any power you had in your right arm is gone- it hangs limp and dead now. Colta pulls herself up, her legs are shaking, her left shoulder is a ruined mass of meat bleeding freely, her wings are torn to bits- more than what you had thought you had done, but she’s still standing, and she still manages to look down at you. You are still laughing- painful hiccuping coughing laughs that hurt almost as bad as the broken bones and cut up flesh does. You pull yourself forwards, your right leg dragging behind you. Whatever the hell she did to your arm and leg was getting worse. Colta stands there, letting you close the gap between you until your close enough for her to reach out and grab you by an ear, her talons easily rip into it. You have her by her tail; you let your claws sink in.
And that’s all that either of you can do.
You simply just hold each other by ear and tail. Face to face now, breathing heavily, staring at the other, waiting for who will break first, who will break the other first.
You grin again.
Through the broken teeth and torn up lips, Colta grins back.
Tiny hands grab you by your tail- then they pull. If that wasn’t enough, then there is the screaming.
Half hoarse from shouting, his throat pained and raw-red, Tyrian yanks at your tail again. The dumbfounded shock alone is enough to pull you off balance. You stumble back- Colta nearly falling with you before she catches herself- and falls to her knees. You manage to stay standing, but not by much. You look down at Tyrian. Your heart cracks. He’s sobbing, proper bawling, tears and snot streaking down his face, his teeth clenched his cheeks red and puffy, his eyes screwed shut. He’s shaking; his entire body is trembling as he struggles to breathe. “Just- Stop It.” He begs, “No more- Make it stop,” He grabs tufts of your fur and balls his hands into fists, shaking you slightly. “Stop…”
You turn, you try and reach down with your good hand and pull him close to you. He flinches back- stumbling away from you. Your mind comes to a complete halt at the look on his face. He stares up at you, trembling, “No more fighting!” He shouts, words trailing off into a whimper.
You just nod, dumbly acquiescing with a simple, slurred, “Ok.” Your mouth feels numb. You start to shake as well. “Ok.” You say again, slumping over onto your left side, grunting as your ass hits the ground.
You sit there, staring at Tyrian and waiting, waiting for something. He balls his fists up and squeezes the sides of his head, eyes screwed shut, teeth grit- a pitched whining noise in his throat. When he looks at you again, you have to look away- he’s looking at you in fear, like you’re a wild animal, something to be avoided because you can’t be controlled.
The worst thing about that look is that you know he’s not wrong to have it.
You begin to shake, your ears flatten, your body is starting to go numb.
“I…” Tyrian rocks back and forth on his heels. He stares at the ground, he takes a breath, he tries to wipe his face clean, “I will go get Myrian.” He gulps. “I will… I will go get Myrian.” He repeats, mumbling it over and over, he stumbles over one of the bodies of the wolves- the one whose skull you crushed- he doesn’t even look down or back at it.
You lurch, trying to crawl after him with panic stirring in your breast.
“Don’t.” the slurred admonishment of Colta holds you back; she shakes her head, half limp on her neck. Her eyes are closed and in pain.
The fireworks do nothing to stay the silence between you both. You both are thinking the same thing.
You both fucked up.