Listen to this
The diamond dog limped out of the cave, attempting to sprint to outrun the creature chasing him. The tables had been turned, and the creature had finally broken free of its shackles. Thunder clapped, and the screams from the cave only served to further motivate him to run as far as he could. The diamond dog collapsed at the sight of flickering lights. Seeing this as his only hope for survival, the diamond dog tried yelling, howling, and yelping for help. When he found that the only noise that emanated from his throat was a dry rasp, he began crawling towards the light.
He crawled for hours, never stopping to rest. The adrenaline that coursed through his veins prevented him from fainting. , he finally reached the entrance of the cave and threw himself in with the last of his strength. The last thing he saw before slipping into unconsciousness was the blurred figures of the pack making their way towards him.
The diamond dog awoke to the sound of snoring—loud snores, heavy breathing and even nose whistling. He looked around to get a bearing on his location and saw with relief that he was surrounded by familiar expansive caverns that reached tremendous heights; where one ended, another took its place, the entrances stacked on top of one another. To his right, a crackling campfire illuminated the caverns, giving them an eerie glow and casting distorted shadows across the stone floor and walls. As he began moving, he caught the attention of the diamond dog assigned to guard duty.
“Wake up, brothers!” the guard exclaimed, slamming his spearbutt on the ground to rouse his sleeping comrades. The deep baritone of his voice, accompanied by the slamming of the spear, reverberated through the cave, and the diamond dogs slowly woke from their slumber.
“What is it you wish, Alpha Rex?” one of the other pack members groggily asked.
“Our wounded brother has finally come to,” the alpha stated.
The wounded diamond dog tried to speak and vocalize a warning, to make the party aware of the looming threat; the creature was coming. The shackled beast that had wiped out his entire colony was coming. It thirsted for blood, the blood of diamond dogs. Again, as he tried to vocalize his concerns, little more than a wheeze came from his throat.
“Fetch our brother some water!” the alpha exclaimed.
The wounded diamond dog was brought a dog bowl of water. It was placed near his chin and he slowly began lapping it up. Once his throat had been wetted, he tried to speak again.
“H-help,” he rasped. “It comes. We captured it, made it dig, dig like the ponies! But it escaped! Broke free of its shackles! We never should have moved to the new caves, but Alpha Fido made us! The ponies stopped coming near our fields! He told us to move! I told him it was a bad idea but he pulled out his sharp stick!” The diamond dog began looking around feverishly; a flash of lightning splayed a tall shadow across the inner wall of the cave, the dancing campfire altering and distorting it. The diamond dog screeched and tried to push himself further back into the cave. “It is outside!” he yelled, pointing towards the entrance of the cave.The pack turned their heads in unison towards the opening, seeing nothing, they dismissed it as a hallucination created by a stressed and addled mind.
“Any idea what he’s talking about?” one of the pack asked another.
“No clue,” came the response, “but he said his colony switched caves. He looks seriously wounded, so I doubt he came from too far away. But the only colony stationed near here was those Ponyville failures.”
“Oh, gods you don’t mean one of those inbred morons do you?” asked another pack member who had overheard their conversation.
“I heard they couldn’t even control one unicorn!” yet another pack member chimed in.
“This is why a packbrother and packsister should never breed— the pups will be complete retards. Anyways, we should move to the back of the cave. I don’t want Alpha Rex to start yelling at us for making idle talk.” The conversationalists moved to the rear of the cave.
“It is there!” the wounded diamond dog cried. “I saw it! I saw it!” he insisted.
“Brother, calm down. If it will put your mind at ease, then I will go,” Alpha Rex reassured. “Let’s slow down and start with introductions. My I am Alpha Rex, and this is my pack,” he gestured with an open paw towards the space that the small group of dogs had previously inhabited. “Well, it looks like they aren’t here, but they are in the cave.”
“I-I am Wishbone. Please, you must leave this place. It is outside. We must flee.”
Alpha rex took a moment to observe Wishbone. He raised an eyebrow at his guest’s haggard appearance. Everything from his marred brown coat, to widened, bloodshot eyes, and tattered blue coat gave him a frenzied appearance. Rex could have even swore he saw fleckles of foam rushing out of Wishbone’s mouth.
The alpha narrowed his eyes before smiling. “Alright,” he said. “If it’ll make you feel any better
The alpha stepped outside and looked around. He saw nothing out of the ordinary save for the rain that was pattering down onto the wasteland and the occasional flash of lightning. Smiling, he walked back inside and sat down next to the campfire. He leaned in closer to his guest so that his face was directly parallel to the others’. “See, my brother? I have stepped outside and looked around. I am fine, and I saw nothing. Calm down, brother. You are safe here, amongst us.”
“No! We are not safe! No one is safe from it! It will hunt us! It will kill us! My colony was killed! Destroyed! Fire! Boom powder! It left no one alive! Pups, bitches, all are it’s enemies! None shall survive! Repent! Beg for forgiveness! The end is near!” the wounded dog preached.
The alpha covered his ears with his paws, wincing at the volume of the dog screaming. “Brother, you are delirious. You must rest,” he reassured. “Gemfinder!” he called, “Fetch our guest some of the sleeping powder we found in our last raid!”
When no response came, he called again, louder. “Gemfinder!?” He quickly moved back as an object was thrown into the campfire from above, extinguishing it. “Gemfinder! I am the alpha! You will follow my orders and cease this foolishness!” he exclaimed as he moved the object off the fire. “This is heavy, and wet.” he muttered. His attempts to relight the campfire were in vain as the wet object had dampened the wood. He turned as he heard screams coming from one of the caverns. “Brothers! You will be punished for this mischief!” he shouted. He heard running, getting closer and closer, a scurrying and a fall followed by a scream and a splatter. Silence. He reached into his bag, and grabbed some igniting powder and a flint. He sprinkled the powder over the dampened logs and struck the flint against his speartip. The resulting spark landed on the powder, and soon, a fire had crackled to life, re-illuminating the cave.
The alpha looked down to find that the wet object he had thrown, was in fact Gemfinder. His eyes widened at the sight of the bloodied corpse; his attention was drawn in particular to a large hole where Gemfinder’s neck would normally meet his skull.“What in Canis’ name?” Rex whispered to himself. He entered his alert mode. There was someone or something else with them in this cave, and it was hunting them. The fire that had previously silently been burning roared into life as
“IT IS HERE!” the wounded diamond dog exclaimed. “IT HAS COME FOR US! WE MUST REPENT! THERE IS NO ESCAPE!”
“No,” Rex said. “It has killed one of my packbrothers. I will kill it.” He turned to move further into the caves when he was interrupted by his annoying guest.
“You cannot fight it. My colony tried, and all of them are dead. We never should have put it in shackles.” The wounded diamond dog now began crying. “There is no escape from what we’ve done. We must repent, and hope it is merciful.”
“I’ll not stand by while my brothers are killed,” Rex stated, his anger rising as a result of his guest’s audacity. He turned to further berate the wounded diamond dog. “My brothers are dying. Perhaps things were different in your colony, but in my pack we—” He was interrupted yet again, this time, by a spear being driven through the back of his neck, severing his spinal column.
A figure dropped from one of the higher caverns and looked at the wounded diamond dog. He moved to Rex’s corpse and pulled the spear out from his neck. The figure then advanced towards the wounded diamond dog, remaining silent.
“I’m sorry,” the diamond dog whimpered, a smile of acceptance stretching across his face.
“I accept. May you find peace, or damnation in the afterlife,” the figure stated. He drew his arm back and drove the spear through the wounded one’s face.
The figure looked around the cave for any supplies he might find. After gathering what he deemed useful from the cavern, he extinguished the fire and moved back into the rainstorm.
Listen to this
The figure walked through the barren wasteland for hours, the rain never stopping, keeping pace with his footsteps. As he walked, he realized that his throat had become rather dry. He removed the assortment of cloths that covered his head, trophies from each diamond dog he had killed. He opened his mouth and stuck his tongue out, facing directly towards the sky. He simply stood there and let rain fall into his gaping mouth. When he was satisfied, he redid the cloth and continued walking towards his destination; the camp where he had been enslaved for the past year.
As he entered the caverns he took note of the lack of corpses. His hand slowly drifted to his side, and he reached for the sharpened piece of metal he had made into an impromptu knife. ‘Maybe they were just eaten.’ He thought, trying to reassure himself. He drew the small weapon just in case, and hid it in his long, tattered sleeve. He proceeded through the caves, slowly running his hand against the wall, recalling the memories of the accursed structure. The creature winced at the thoughts: whippings, rape, starvation, slavery, executions... ‘No, he thought, it’s all over, time to go back home.’ He moved further into the caves, where he could hear cries of despair and sadness, creatures who had lost hope like he had at one point.
As he passed the cages he was met with varying responses or lack thereof. He walked up to the rearmost wall and removed a key ring that could hardly be considered a key ring due to the scarcity of keys on it: three in total. “First things first” he said to himself. He walked to a cage with a broken chain, and a small group of small equine figures trying to undo their bindings.
He stepped into a cage and selected a key, he reached down and stuck the key into a hole in one of the metal rings bound around his legs. He tried turning the key, but found that it would not. He switched to another and was rewarded with a click. Taking note of the key, he pried open the metal ring, and lifted his pant leg, he smiled at the sight of his now bare ankle. “Good to see you, buddy.” He smiled. He took the same key and moved it to his other leg. After repeating the procedure for both his arms, he turned to the small group and made his way towards them. He unlocked the shackles that were attached to their chests and then walked out of the cage. The small equine creatures backed away, looking at the creature curiously. The creature moved from cage to cage, unlocking the doors and shackles of the inmates. He turned to leave the room as the caged stared in disbelief. Many were elated, smiles gracing their impoverished an overworked faces. Others simply stood or sat in their places, minds broken by the cruelties of life.
The creature stood at the entrance to the room, watching its occupants. Some stepped out of their cages while others stared dumbly at the opened door, the idea of freedom lost upon them. Slowly but surely, the residents who were aware of what they were now presented with they immediately began rousing all the inmates. “Everyone, wake up!” Hoarse voices called. “We’re finally free! The gates have been opened!” They slowly brought even the catatonic inmates out of their trance-like state. As they all filed out of the cave, one of them, an equine walked up to the creature and thanked him.
“My name is Inky Quill.” She said, “If you’re ever in Canterlot, try to look me up.” The creature grunted in response and watched her leave.
As the inmates left their prison, the creature decided to go to the mess hall. “All they ever gave us was that inedible slop, let’s see what the slavers ate.” He said to himself all while scratching his stomach. He paused to consider his actions. ‘The bodies I left disappeared. That doesn't make sense. This must be some sort of trap.’ He mused. His stomach’s growling tempting him to follow his base desires.
As he took a tentative step towards the kitchen, he stopped to the sound of whimpering. “What the hell?” he whispered to himself. He walked towards the noise. He reached a cell in a dark corner of the room. He walked up to it and peered inside. The sight he was met with was that of three small equines. They were all cuddled up against another equine, this one clearly dead. ‘Oh god no, I hate kids.’ the creature thought to himself. “Still, if their mom is dead” the creature paused “not my problem.” He stood at the door and watched the infants. He watched and waited... until one of them took notice of him and began crawling towards him. “What?! No, get away from me!” the creature yelled. This did nothing to stop the infant, as it finally crawled up to his leg and grabbed on to it. It whimpered and looked towards the creature. “Get off of me,” the creature said, and began shaking his leg. The infant was thrown off, back into the cage, and began crying. The other two infants followed suit and soon, the caverns were filled with the cacophonous noise of crying.
“What!? No! No! Don’t cry! Don’t cry!” the creature reassured. He walked towards the infants and picked them up in his arms. Nearly instantly, the infants stopped crying.
“Clever bastards,” the creature muttered.
The creature’s stomach grumbled and he decided to go to the kitchens. He was greeted with what was to be expected of a kitchen meant for serving many; multiple stoves, pantries and of course, an access to running water. He opened one of the pantries to find darkened corked bottles. The infants in his arms looked up at him expectantly.
The creature paused. He looked around the pantries for milk for the expectant infants. He searched until he finally found a door labeled in a strange alphabet.
He opened the door to find stairs leading into a poorly lit basement. Torches placed at regular intervals dimly illuminated the scene and gave it an eerie glow. He grabbed a torch from the sconce nearest to the wall and proceeded down the stairs.
As he finished walking down the flight of stairs, he noticed a warmth on his left shoulder. He turned his head to see that one of the infants had an expression of sheer bliss on its face. The other two, noticing the warmth, were giggling.
The creature growled and continued, deeper into the basement. He suddenly stopped, a metallic shine drawing his attention. As he turned to face it, he dropped his torch, freeing a hand in the process.
The torch, illuminating the area around the creature, revealed his surroundings. The light fell upon a zebra who had his back turned, draining the contents of a cask.The creature set the infants down and slowly advanced. As he reached the zebra he drew the knife he had concealed in his sleeve and raised it.
“Been so long since I’ve drank.” The zebra muttered to himself as he gulped down the contents of the metallic barrel. “These dogs might be slavers, but they make some good rum.”
The creature threw his arms around the zebra and raised the blade to his throat.”I-I can explain.” The now terrified zebra began. The creature pressed the blade against his neck. It stood in place, awaiting the zebra’s explanation.
“Okay, well most zebras rhyme when they talk, but you see, I’m actually-”
“Not that. Why are you here?” The creature interrupted.
“Well, I was being starved for not filling my gem quota, so when you set all of us free, the first place I came was here, the cellar! They’ve got some really good cheese and booze down here! You should totally try some! Now, if you don’t mind, could you please let me go now?”
The creature released the zebra and walked away. He walked up to the infants who were looking at him expectantly, and picked them up. He then picked up his torch and walked around the room and scoured it for a tin of milk.
The infants, after a few minutes of searching, had gotten restless. They began fidgeting in the creature’s arms; in response, he simply growled and increased his pace.
After another fifteen minutes of searching, the creature came upon glass bottles filled with a white fluid. He slowly walked up to them and picked one up. He undid the assortment of rags that made up his mask and poured a few drops of one of the bottles into his mouth. After confirming that the bottles contained milk, the creature exited the cellar and re-entered the kitchen, bottles in one arm, trio of infants in the other.
The first thing he saw was cheese. Cheese as far as his eyes could see. And in the center of it all, a zebra, the same zebra from the basement. The zebra turned and greeted him.
“Oh, hey, its you! That thing from the basement! Sup! I’m just making some sandwiches. Grilled cheese! Want one?”
The creature growled in response. He pushed aside a small mountain of cheese wheels and walked towards a stove. He set the bottles down and threw some logs into the stove. He placed three bottles over the stove
He waited until he decided that the bottles were warm enough and set the infants down. He took a bottle from the stove and lifted the bottle to the lips of one of the infants. It began crying the instant the milk made contact with its lips. The creature growled. “What’s wrong now?” It whispered. “You wanted milk, I’M GIVING YOU MILK!” The other infants soon joined the first in response to the creature’s shouting.
The zebra, piqued by the crying coming from beyond his wall of cheese, decided to investigate.
“Can I see that?” He asked, gesturing towards the bottle with his hoof. The creature grunted and handed him aforementioned bottle. The zebra took the bottle and, like the creature, poured some on his hoof. “Dude! This is obviously too hot!” The zebra stated. “You’ve got to cool it a little, like this!” He said as he took all the bottles and moved them to a river that was running through the kitchen. “You know” The zebra began “These diamond dogs might have been sadistic, cruel, rapists and slavers, but they sure did have a good sense of architecture!”
The creature growled in response. “Is the milk ready yet? Don’t want to waste time reheating it if it gets too cold.”
“Give it a minute!” The zebra chirped.
The zebra removed the bottles from the river and handed them to the creature. “They should be cool enough now.” The zebra said.
The creature grunted as he took the bottles. “Thank you.” He then poured some into one of the infant’s mouths, only now finally paying attention to the finer details of its body. It was gray, like iron, with a snow white mane and wings. It spread its legs as it gulped down the milk. The creature noticed another warmth on his body, this time on his torso. He looked down to see a yellow stream connecting him to what he assumed was the infants reproductive area. The creature, disgusted at first, raised an eyebrow. ‘You’re a girl, then,’ he thought. He moved to the next one, who appeared to be growing impatient.
The creature took another bottle and moved it to the second infant’s lips. This infant, after drinking, had a strange look on his face. “The hell’s the matter with you?” The creature asked.
“Try burping it.” The zebra whispered.
The creature took the second infant and raised it to his shoulder. A few quick pats on the back and the creature heard a light burp from behind him. The creature felt more warmth on his body, this time over his shoulder. He held the second infant at arm’s length from himself. “What are you anyways?” the creature asked, as he took his thumbs and separated the infant’s rear legs. He soon came to regret his decision as a wet, yellow blast of warmth hit the makeshift mask covering his face. The creature dropped to his knees and dropped the infant as he clutched his eyes. The zebra, acting quickly, moved under the infant before it could hit the ground and caught it. The infant on the other hand, was laughing. “Boy,” the creature growled, taking note of its sky blue coat and bright yellow mane.
The creature moved to the final infant, wondering whether or not he would come to regret his decision.
Unrefrigerated, possibly ancient milk from Celestia knows what animal, found at the bottom of a cave? I wouldn't dare to go near it, let alone drink it.
Move to earlier, unless its wings are also snow white.
If this happened only once or twice this would be fine, but by this point it feels like you're (no pun intended) taking the piss.
After feeding and burping the infants, the creature grabbed a cheese wheel and began scavenging the contents of the kitchen. He took one of the many bottles from the cabinets and read it’s label. ‘Looks surprisingly like english’ the creature thought. After thirty or so seconds, he deciphered the word to be ‘GROG’. He uncorked the bottle and sniffed the contents. ‘Smells like grog’. He undid his mask of rags and took a swig, he winced as the drink hit his throat. ‘Definitely grog. Alcohol could come in useful, disinfectant, firestarter, potential weapon...stress reliever.’ The creature noticed an odor coming from his mask. ‘Urine.’ He looked towards the babies, then looked back towards his mask. He pinched the bridge of his nose with his forefinger and thumb. He recalled the warmth on his shoulder. He took off the brown rags that comprised his attire.
He looked at the brown rags, caked in dirt, blood, urine, and vomit. The union of filth and bodily fluids combined to create a miasma. The creature moved towards the river and promptly threw his apparel into it. The clothes caught in a drain at the end of the river and the riverbank slowly began rising.
The zebra took a moment to study the naked form of the creature. Scars lined his skin and fit each other like a jigsaw puzzle. The lack of fur on his body only further accentuated their presence. A mat of black fur rested at the top of his head. As his gaze moved towards the face, he was met with a scowl. “Dude, you might want to move your...clothes. You might end up flooding this place.” The zebra said. The creature walked away.
The creature walked down multiple caverns, marking their walls with his knife as he went. He wandered the halls, for hours, the passing of time forgotten, until he finally reached what looked like an administrative room. He paused and stood in the doorway, eyes glazed over, recollecting memories of a darker time, a time when he was little more than a caged animal.
Eleven months ago, digging room
The man dug. The guards weren’t watching him, so he could work at a slower pace. He turned as he heard the sound of flesh hitting flesh.
A white unicorn filly cried as a clawed appendage struck her face.
“Why you no dig faster pony?!” A brown diamond dog exclaimed as he brought his paw back for another blow.
“I-I’m sorry” The filly cried “I can’t work that hard. I-I’m so hungry, I haven’t eaten in days.” She fell to the ground as another slap echoed throughout the cave.
“Are you saying this is our fault pony?”
“I-I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to-” She began, caressing a cut that had now formed along her cheek.
“Leave her alone!” Cried another voice, this one belonging to a stallion “She’s sick and you haven’t been feeding us for the past few days! Of course she wouldn’t be able to fill the gem quota!” The stallion snorted and stamped his hooves to accentuate his point.
The diamond dog laughed as he began stepping closer to the stallion. “What is this filly to you pony?”
“She’s my daughter.”
The dog laughed and gestured towards some guards that were standing behind him. They nodded and rushed the stallion, effectively restraining him.
“Let go of me you bastards!”
The dog laughed again. “We will feed your daughter pony” The dog slowly advanced towards the cowering filly.
“Get away from her! She’s only a filly! Stop! If you lay one paw on her, I swear to the gods that-” The stallion was interrupted by a spear being run into his throat. He choked, the last thing he heard as his vision began blacking out were his daughter’s screams, and the diamond dog’s laughter.
“Daddy!” The filly screamed as she saw her father being stabbed.
The man, seeing enough of the spectacle, decided to intervene, however; before he could do anything, a rock was thrown by another slave at the taskmaster.
“Who threw that!?” The dog indignantly screamed, the filly below him crying profusely, a red trail snaking out from between her rear legs. One of the guards pointed at the man.
“Taskmaster Fido, the monkey threw rock.”
The man ran, trying to escape the horde of armored guards that were now rapidly approaching him. Time slowed as the creature saw a paw pop out of the ground. It grabbed his ankle, dirty, untrimmed claws digging into his skin. He cursed as he fell, kicking up a cloud of dirt as he did so. He was dragged by his ankle to the taskmaster.
“So monkey, you think you can attack a diamond dog and not be punished?”
“I didn’t do it.” The man said.
“That guard saw you monkey. Are you calling him a liar?” He brought his face close to the man.
“All I’m saying is that I didn’t throw the rock.”
“Lying to a taskmaster,” The dog snarled “That’s fifty lashings! And then it’s off to see Alpha Lupine. Take him to the punishment room!” He yelled at the nearest guard.
“I didn’t do anything!” He cried as he was dragged off to the punishment room. He heard a metallic clang, pain exploded in the back of his skull, and he slowly drifted into unconsciousness. The guard replaced his club at his waist and continued down the dark corridors.
The man awoke to searing pain in his shoulders, and the sounds of grunting, snarling, and crying. He opened his eyes to the sight of a dark room, faintly illuminated by torchlight. He turned his head to see the source of his pain, and found that his arms were facing the ceiling, his hand locked in shackles that were connected to stalactites. He looked down and found that he was suspended in the air, his toes barely making contact with the floor. He tried moving his arms to a more comfortable position; an explosion of agony burst in his shoulders and he grunted from the pain, the chains rattles reverberated off the walls of the cavern. He heard a grunt and the sound of footsteps nearing him. He waited, hearing the footsteps slowly getting closer, the sound of claws scratching along the floor amplified by the cavern’s spacious interior. Eventually he was met with the smiling visage of the taskmaster.
“Good morning monkey” He snarled.
“I’m not a monkey.” The man spat back.
“Lying to a taskmaster again? That’s fifty lashes you’re getting monkey, and another fifty for making me work so much!”
The man closed his eyes, he knew what was coming. He clenched his teeth as he heard the whip being unraveled from around the diamond dog’s waist.
The first lash was always the most painful. A single line burned across the man’s back and he hissed and it withdrew, only to come back seconds later.
“You are annoying monkey! Taskmaster Fido has to do so much work because of you! Fido was “feeding” the filly that collapsed earlier today. Taskmaster didn’t get to finish feeding her because you threw rock! You cause so much trouble! Fifty more lashes!”
After Taskmaster Fido finished whipping the man, he left the room and shortly thereafter, canine grunts and crying could be heard yet again. A guard came up to the man and undid his bindings. The newly found freedom in the man’s wrists came with the reintroduction of gravity, he collapsed as soon as his shackles came loose. He laid on the ground for a moment, catching his breath, only to have it forcibly expelled by a forcible kick. The man groaned in agony as the guard above him barked orders.
“Back on feet monkey! You still have to see Alpha Lupine!”
The man slowly rose to his knees, trembling from not only the effort, but from the searing pain in his back, he paused for a moment-only to be kicked down again.
“Faster!” The dog barked.
The man tried to rise again, more effort being placed into this attempt. The man did not want to be kicked again, he did not have the energy to fight. He stood and waited for the diamond dog’s orders.
“March!” The dog yelled, pointing a spear at the man as he did so. The man walked, down corridors, stalagmite and stalactite formations punctuating the otherwise bleak caverns. The torches casting eerie shadows along the walls only made the situation even more unnerving for the man.
A bright light could be seen from the side of the hall. The creature paused, unsure of whether to enter the room or continue down the hall; a sharp pain in his side and the guard repositioning himself so that the man stood between him and the room confirmed that it was the former. The creature entered the room and the dog followed, spear brandished.
A much larger diamond dog sat behind a desk, poring over a map. He raised his head at the sound of footsteps.
“Alpha Lupine” The guard bowed as his eyes rested upon the gray, wolf-esque creature. “Kneel monkey!” He yelled, ramming the man with the butt of his spear. The creature fell to his knees, and the wolf grunted. The guard stood and left.
“You attacked one of my dogs.” The wolf stated plainly.
“You’re not like the other dogs.” The man began “You look different.”
“Yes” The wolf stated. “I am Alpha Lupine. After the former Alpha, now taskmaster, Fido, failed to meet the gem quota, Emperor Canis sent me to supervise operations here. I was transferred here from Nal Mutta. Production has skyrocketed after my arrival, as is to be expected from a Fenrir such as myself, the Familiaris here such as the taskmaster you’ve grown so fond of are naturally inferior to us, and thus are only deserving of lower positions.” The wolf stood and began pacing around the room.
“Now as to why you are here...” He began. “You’ve been charged with assaulting a diamond dog, normally this is punishable by execution; however, I question the competence of these Familiaris more and more with each passing day. Thus, I’ve decided that rather than having you executed like most other Alphas, I will instead have you broken.”
“Broken?” The man asked
“Yes, broken. We will break every bone in your body, and then tie you to a wooden pole in the grotto for a week. Barbaric, yes, but you will make a good example to the others that resistance will not be accepted. Should you somehow miraculously survive, you will be placed in our infirmary and after recuperating, will be put back to work.”
“Isn’t there anything-”
“I’m afraid not” The Alpha interrupted “Assault is a serious enough crime. If that rock injured Fido, you would face a much slower and by far more excruciatingly painful punishment.”
The man stood, his mind blanking at the idea of what was about to befall him. “Guards!” The Alpha yelled. “Break this creature!”
As the creature was being dragged down the halls towards the grotto, he heard the fleeting voice of the Alpha “Steven! Get me some bitches!”
The creature shook his head, clearing it of his thoughts and moved to the desk that stood in the center of the room. A map with a small bloodstain on the corner greeted him, a bloodied knife along with the head of a wolf kept it in it’s place. The creature took the knife and folded the map, he placed them both under one arm and picked up the head with his other.
“Which one of us is broken now?” He asked. He dropped the head and left the room.
He followed the wall markings until he returned to the kitchen. He walked to the river to pick retrieve his clothes but found that they were missing. He looked around and found that they were sitting on top of a stove. He went to grab them.
“They were clogging the river.” The Zebra said as he walked in, the three infants perched on his back. I put them on the stove to dry them off. The creature removed his clothes from the stove and began dressing himself. The smell and stains on them were gone. He grabbed a cheese wheel and grog, he ripped a large rag from his mask and wrapped them both in it. He took his spear and placed it on his back, he took his shank and hid it in his sleeve. He began walking towards the exit of the cave when the zebra called out.
“Wait! What do I do with these kids!?”
“Your problem now.” The creature responded.
CLICKY THE LINKY!
The creature walked into the horizon, ignoring the calls of the zebra. The orange rays of light cast by the sun making him sweat under his mask. He took out a map, attempting to find the next diamond dog camp. The featureless wasteland he was he was greeted with made navigation nearly impossible. He paused, suddenly struck with the notion of using camp names to navigate the treacherous wasteland. He placed his finger on the map. Pointing out a small dot. He traced a line to the next dot nearest to his finger. Noting the direction he would have to move in, he turned, faced the direction of the sunrise and took the first steps of his journey, his purpose.
Night fell and the creature had come upon a rocky outcrop not on the map. In the distance, a campfire, drunken howls and woofs coming from it. He slowly lowered himself from his perch. He took a moment to gather his bearings. He waited for the noise to die down. Remaining in the shadows, he vigilantly watched the group. Once he was certain that the diamond dogs were asleep the creature advanced, making as little noise as possible.
A diamond dog that was unfortunate enough to be assigned guard duty for the night took note of the movement of the creature. He stood and took a deep breath. The yell never left his throat. Its path became blocked by a spear that had lodged itself into the dog’s adam’s apple.
The creature quietly sprinted to the freshly made corpse and retrieved his spear. One of the resting dogs was a light sleeper. He noisily rose from his slumber, groaning and clutching his head as he did so. “Limp Biscuit, stop making noises! Some of us are trying to sleep!” he whispered. The creature stood still, his blood running cold at the prospect of being caught. The diamond dog watched the creature for a moment. “Well Limp? Go away! Get back to work! Some of us are trying to sleep!”
The creature winced. The high pitch of the dog’s voice hurting his ears. The creature stepped forward, brandishing his spear. “Limp Biscuit, go away!” the diamond dog growled, he began rubbing his eyes, his post-sleep grogginess now dissolved. The diamond dog’s eyes widened to the sight of the creature rather than that of Limp Biscuit. He screamed. The creature was not fast enough to silence this one and the entire camp slowly began sparking with activity.
The diamond dogs who were previously sleeping growled as they awoke to their companions scream. They all turned to the general direction of the creature. Fueled by adrenaline, they all howled and stood. They brandished their claws and spears and charged.
In that instant, it is worth noting what the creature did not remember, given what he did remember. He did not remember his first lover, Sherry, or what he had most madly loved about her, before it came to irritate him – her unembarrassed carnality. The creature did not remember his wife, whom he had also loved before she died. He did not remember Professor Stevens telling his class how Athenian prisoners in Sicily had been released if they could recite Aeschylus. He did not remember the surprise of seeing a college classmate’s name on the jacket of a novel not long after they graduated, or the respect he had felt after reading the book. Nor did the creature remember seeing a woman leap to her death from the building opposite his own just days after his college graduation. He did not remember getting three of his ribs kicked in by diamond dogs during a prisoner revolt.
This is what he remembered. His rags and a bottle of grog concealed within their folds. The gentle sloshing sounds it made, muffled by his clothes. He remembered the fire sitting in the center of the camp that stood between him and certain doom. Not only his body, but to his dream as well.
The creature reached down to his waist and pulled out a bottle. He threw it as forcefully as he could. The bottle exploded and sprayed all of the nearby diamond dogs with fire. He stood still as yet another memory burned itself into his mind. The agonized screams of the diamond dogs. Their cries as the fire burned away their flesh. Their frantic running about in the futile hopes that it would put out their flames. One ran right past him, its blazing arm extended in a hollow attempt to find water.
As the fires roared, yet another memory burned itself into the creature. The memory of laughter. He laughed for the first time in years. What started as a short chuckle soon grew into full blown laughter. He wiped a tear out of the corner of his eye. “A baptism by fire, that’s rich.” The creature chuckled. “This is the first time I’ve seen it taken literally.” Soon his laughter died down and was replaced by the pained groans of the diamond dogs.
No longer able to scream, the diamond dogs lied on the ground and simply burned, whimpering and grunting occasionally. A whistling noise was emitted from their charred throats. The whistling was sporadic at first, but soon became a melody and gave the camp an uplifting mood. The air, filled with music, seemed lighter and the creature slowly moved next to a corpse. The noise died down as he entered the camp and kicked over a charred body. He paused for a moment to observe it. He reached down and ripped off the burnt rags that used to be its shirt. He gave it a quick test and forcefully pulled at it with both hands. The burnt fabric tore apart nearly instantly. He looked down disdainfully and dropped the fabric. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed movement. A diamond dog. It was crawling away, feebly attempting to escape the creature. The creature walked over to it and flipped it over with his foot. It whimpered. The creature looked down and noticed that the dog was bound in shackles.
The creature brandished his spear and held it to the dog’s throat. “Were you slavers?” he asked in a neutral tone.
“Get away from me monster.” the dog whispered.
The creature drove the tip of his spear into the dog’s abdomen. “Were you slavers?”
“N-no.” the dog hissed. Blood slowly trickled out of his new wound.
“What are you doing out here?”
“T-they were slavers. I used to be a healer for them. I felt bad about enslaving others and tried to leave.” the dog raised its hands to show its shackles. “You can see where that got me.”
“Where is your closest camp?”
“About five feet away from here.”
The creature drove his spear further into the dog’s abdomen. “Where is your closest camp?”
“Three miles to the south, the entrance is concealed by a forked tree, if you move the roots aside you’ll find the camp.”
“How many of your kind reside inside?”
“Not many, I can’t remember.”
The creature twisted his spear. “How many of your kind reside inside?”
The dog grunted in pain. “There are two colonies.”
The creature removed his spear from the dog and walked back to the center of the camp, hoping to scavenge some supplies.
“If you’re planning on fighting them you’ll lose. One creature itself can not overthrow an entire colony.” the dog gasped as it’s blood pooled around it. The dog felt a sense of euphoria. The world slowly grew cold and dark, and it closed it’s eyes.
Warmth, warmth was the first thing the dog felt as consciousness slowly returned to it. Pain, excruciating pain was the second thing the dog felt. Its abdomen felt as though it were burning. The dog whined as a spike of pain shot through his body. He opened his eyes and saw fire.
“Hrm, so this is Hel? I kind of expected it to look different. Not much, just a little more fire, a few screams of the damned here and there, perhaps even some ironic torture devices and some more demonic imagery. Where’s Teufel? Where are all the other sinners?”
“You’re not dead yet.” A second voice stated.
The dog felt himself being rolled to his other side as the voice silenced itself. The dog’s eyes widened. The dog saw a bipedal figure clad in rags.
“You’re that creature.” The dog whispered.
“Why are you here.”
“I had questions.” the creature unwound the rags that covered his face.
The dog pulled its head back in shock. “That’s what you look like? You know, I actually expected something more demonic or monstrous.”
The man raised a black eyebrow in response.
“Well I mean you did kind of laugh while living beings were being burned alive. That’s not something most normal creatures would do.”
“I’m not normal, and apparently neither are you. And those ‘living beings’ as you called them enslaved and tortured others for a living. They went as far as to enslave one of their own kind. They are little more than feral animals. Back where I was from, we killed feral animals.”
“Why did you save me?”
“You were a slave like me. You too were oppressed. You regretted your actions and didn’t try to benefit from the institution your kind places on the land. You were innocent, at least in my eyes, of the sin of slavery. You did not deserve to die by my hand because of that. You’re different.”
The dog snorted. “Different, different how?”
“The other dogs looked like the standard grunts of your force. You looked like one of the wolves, fenises? Ferns? I haven’t heard the name of your breed in years. Slaves usually didn’t get to see a wolf unless they were going to be executed.”
“Fenrir, We’re called Fenrir.”
“Well, as you said earlier I’d have trouble overthrowing the slavers in those caves. Two colonies, one was hard enough. If it’s two there’s probably going to be double the security as well. You are a wolf. You’re treated better than those grunts. I originally intended to seek my revenge myself, but I suppose that you would be justified in joining me on my quest if you wanted.”
“Wait, one!? You singlehandedly overthrew an entire colony!?”
“It wasn’t satisfyingly easy, but it was easily satisfying. I’m on a quest to eliminate the institution of slavery from this wretched land. To do that I’m going to kill every slaver I see or hear of.”
“You said you killed an entire colony. Did that include the pups and bitches?”
“They were being raised to become animals like the rest of these dogs.” the man panned his arms out, marking the remains of the diamond dog camp. “They were thriving off of the pain and suffering of others. I was a slave for longer than I care to remember. I lost count of the days long ago, but I’ve seen many things that a man should never be exposed too. Have you ever seen a child getting raped? How about a father having his throat slit for trying to defend his daughter? Or a pregnant mother being starved to death because she was unable to fill a gem quota? The bitches were all guilty. They saw all these injustices, yet they did nothing about it. Rather, they would raise their offspring to not only perform it, but to propagate it as well. Many beings lost their lives in those caves, slaves and slavers alike. Countless creatures had their lives ruined by those dogs. They were animals and deserved to die. Perhaps I too am an animal, but I was made into an animal by those dogs. So I will ask you. Will you join me on my quest?”
The dog looked away. I-I’m sorry, but I just can’t ally myself with one who would harm innocent pups.”
“You wouldn’t have to harm anyone. You said you were a healer. I’m probably going to get hurt quite frequently so you’ll be of use.”
“I-I’m still not sure.”
“I’m leaving this camp at sunrise. You have until then to make your decision.” The man rewrapped the rags across his face and walked out of the dog’s line of sight.
Dawn came and the creature walked up to the dog again. The creature remained silent.
“I-I’m sorry, but I can’t, I can’t join you. I just can’t bring myself to help something that seeks to destroy my kind.” the dog turned away from the creature as he said so.
“There is a camp five miles west from here. I cauterized and disinfected your wounds.”
The dog reached down to feel his wrists. “My shackles! They’re gone!”
The creature revealed a metallic object in his grasp. It clinked with the slightest of movement. The rust that had formed on it generated a scratching sound. The creature turned and walked into the sunrise.
The creature walked well into the day, stopping only to relieve himself every so often. The creature stopped near a hole. He dropped his leggings and proceeded to relieve himself. As he began redoing his pants, he heard a small rumbling. The creature quickly redid his trousers and drew his spear. The rumbling stopped. The creature slowly began walking away.
The sun beat down on the creature’s covered head. The creature pressed down on the cloth covering his forehead in an attempt to wipe off the sweat that coated it. Thirst, thirst was the most overbearing sensation he felt. His parched throat only grew more aggravated by the second. The meager provisions of his saliva were no longer sated his want. The heat from the sunlight caused the air to appear distorted and the creature felt as though his entire body weighed tons.
The creature collapsed onto his knees, the fatigue and dehydration catching up to him. He was not resigned to his fate. In the distance, he saw green. His eyes widened and he rose to his feet. Fueled by adrenaline alone, the creature began sprinting into the distance. The creature was greeted with the sight of a small pond surrounded by palm trees. The creature sprinted to the pond and dived head first into it. He was met with only darkness. The creature pulled his head out of the sand and fell back onto his rear.
The creature, drained from his rush, collapsed
Thanksgiving chapter. A happy Thanksgiving to all. No wait, Happy Holidays, yeah, that's vague and politically correct. HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Sorry about long wait times, I've got a lot of stuff on my plate, but I'll have you know I waited until I was at least a little into the writing of the next chapter before I published this. So yes, there will eventually be another update. Expect it around December to late November.
Warmth, warmth was the first thing the man woke to. His eyes shot open and he promptly sat up. Noticing a distinct lack of fabric on his face and torso, he felt them with his hands.
The man began panicking. His face, he couldn’t feel his mask. In his panic he knocked over a spear that had been set up next to him. The clattering it made as it fell to the floor reverberated through the cave.
“Ah, you’re awake,” said the fenrir. “You saved my life, now I’ve saved yours. It’s not everyday someone frees you from captivity.”
“Where is my mask?” The man hissed.
“You want those rags I took off your face?”
“I placed them next to the campfire along with your other belongings.”
The man stood and retrieved his mask, placing it upon its mantle, sighing in relief before finally turning to face the fenrir to resume his questioning.
“Why are you here?”
“You freed me from captivity.”
The man raised an eyebrow, prompting the diamond dog to continue.
The wolfman paused for a moment. “Well, there is a diamond dog law, it’s part of our code of honor—”
The man snorted in disgust. “You enslave others and force them into lifetimes of labor. You beat, whip, and torture them should they not comply. You humiliate, starve, and rape them for amusement. Yet you have the audacity to suggest that you have a code of honor?”
“I denounced my actions! I tried to leave! We weren’t always like this. We weren’t always slavers you know.”
“Save your stories for someone who gives a shit, dog. Now get out of my way.”
“I can’t, I now belong to you. I am now your property.”
“As I said before, you freed me from captivity. By diamond dog law, I am forever bound to you until you release me. I am now and forevermore your slave, master,” the diamond dog said with a bow.
“I’m leaving, don’t follow.” The creature walked back to the fireplace to retrieve his belongings.
The fenrir blinked in surprise. “What?”
“I’m not taking slaves, you’re free.”
“I-I can’t just leave!” The diamond dog stuttered in response.
“You said you’re a slave until I release you. I’m releasing you.”
“It doesn’t work like that! You don’t just release a slave right off the bat! Do you even know how serious this is?” The dog stomped in frustration.
“Don’t care,” the creature said as he began exiting the cave.
“No! That’s not how this kind of thing happens!” The diamond dog ran up to the creature. He reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him. “You don’t understand. I need to do this. What’s left of my honor is forfeit otherwise. If I was a familiaris I’d just go with it. But I’m a fenrir, I’ve got a reputation to keep.”
“There were no witnesses to your escape, nothing to bind you to me. Get away from me.”
“It’s not a matter of whether people saw or not! It’s a matter of honor! If you want to leave me behind, I’ll have no choice but to kill myself. I won’t let you leave unless you take me as your slave. If you want to go, you’ll have to kill me first.”
Do it a voice in the creature’s head hissed.
“No,” the creature whispered.
He was a slaver, like the rest of them. He’s no better. He’s probably a spy. This is all just part of a trap
Or so he says. What proof do you have? Were the slavers above lying? Were they above giving you false hope?
“He was in chains!”
What will keep him from stabbing you in the back? What will stop him from turning on you?
“He saved me, brought me here.”
You are WEAK! He’s saving you to turn you in! He’s doing it for a reward!
“I’m not going to kill him.”
I’m trying to save you, you damn fool!
“I’ve saved myself before, I’ll save myself again should I have to.”
“Well?” The fenrir interrupted. “What’s it going to be?” He took a tentative step back when the creature slowly began advancing towards him, and closed his eyes, prepared for death, as the creature finally stood directly in front of him.
“Out of my way” He growled.
“No,” the diamond dog responded, resolutely standing before the creature. The fenrir’s eyes wavered under his master’s resolve.
The creature drew his hand to his forehead and closed his eyes. “No” he whispered. He opened his eyes and appraised the fenrir. “Fine, just stay out of my way.” He grabbed the fenrir by his tunic and lifted him off the ground. “But know that if you do anything to compromise my mission, I will not hesitate to kill you.” He dropped the fenrir and proceeded out of the cave.
The fenrir took a few hesitant steps forward, noting no objection from his new master, soon proceeded into a brisk stride. “So, where are we going?” He asked.
The creature stopped, paused and turned to the diamond dog, “Which way to the nearest diamond dog camp?”
“It’s East from here.” The human’s vassal paused and ran back into the shelter. “Sorry master! I forgot the supplies in the cave!” He cried over his shoulder.
The now slaveowner paused and looked into the sky, noting the direction the sun was moving in, and began trudging towards his destination.
The fenrir exited his temporary home. Expecting to see the creature upon exit of the cave, he let out a shout of frustration when he saw little more than barren wasteland and mountains. Rocky, arid land as far as the eye could see, vision of the distance distorted by the ever present heat and sunlight. His master’s words played through his head ‘Which way to the nearest diamond dog camp?’
“East...” The fenrir whispered to himself. He set down his materials and crouched, sticking his nose near the ground, he began sniffing for his master’s scent. Upon finding the scent, he resumed carrying the materials and picked up a trail.
He caught up to his owner after little more than a few minutes of walking, “Master, I’ve returned with the supplies!” He called.
The creature continued walking, indifferent to his charge, he paused as the ground began rumbling. The diamond dog stopped, eyes shifting in every direction. “Master!” He cried out, “Stop! We’re in grave danger!”
The creature continued walking, indifferent to the warnings of the diamond dog.
“Master!” the slave called, “Please! Stop! Both of our lives are at risk!” He stuck his hand out, beckoning to his lord, hoping that his counsel would be followed.
The creature stopped and turned. “Don’t try to stop me. If you’re not going to help, stay out of the way.”
“Master! Please! Listen! There are creatures under us right now! They’re going to attack us!”
The creature prepared for combat, and pointed towards the diamond dog. “Continue,” he commanded.
“We’re in grave danger. Do you notice the rumbling? That’s a tell-tale sign that we’re above a galatoph pack. They sense vibrations in the ground and come up to attack their prey. If they drag us underground we’ll be torn to pieces.”
The creature paused and took a moment to consider his options. Seeing no better option, he brandished his spear and began frantically looking around for a target or threat.
“Master, that’s a bad idea. At present, all we can do is remain absolutely still, and pray they don’t attack. I’ve never seen one, but I’ve heard stories of them invading and eating entire colonies.”
Both parties stood still until the rumbling slowly subsided. A loud silence hung in the air, and the creature took a tentative step forward. Noting an absence of attackers, he turned around and continued towards his original destination.
Master and slave continued their trek through the arid landscape well into the day. Evening came, and they discovered an oasis. A small jungle paradise in the midst of a harsh and unforgiving, dry wasteland. A fertile, lush, haven nestled within a sterile, desolate, desert. “Diamond dog,” the creature began. “Are you seeing this as well?”
“The oasis, master?”
The creature strolled to the oasis and supped his rough and calloused hands. Dipping them into the oasis, he raised them to his lips. The diamond dog stood at attention behind his alien savior, carefully watching over him, and dutifully carrying their supplies. The creature shifted uncomfortably, the positioning of the diamond dog sending warnings and alerts to his brain. The creature held his concealed knife in his sleeve and turned to face his lackey. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“Awaiting orders,” came the response. The diamond dog was visibly shaking under the burden of the collective weight of the supplies, his forehead parched in sweat from the heat of the sun.
“Drink,” the creature commanded.
The diamond dog gently set down the supplies and took a seat next to the creature. He lowered his muzzle to the pool and began lapping up the water, his tongue dipping and slurping up the water at punctuated intervals.
The creature’s face contorted to show disgust, and he scooched away from the dog. The diamond dog, taking notice of his master’s shifting, raised his head and asked, “Is something wrong, master?”
“The way you drink is disgusting,” the creature stated.
“I-I apologize master, but this is simply how we diamond dogs drink.”
The creature raised an eyebrow, but proceeded to the opposite end of the oasis to drink. “We will spend the night here.”
“But master, we cannot sleep in the open,” the dog responded. “We are at risk of running into predators.”
“We’ll take turns on watch. You sleep first.”
“But master, I—”
“Obey or die.”
The diamond dog swallowed and pulled a blanket out of the supply pile. The creature stood, stoically watching him until the sound of loud snores could be heard. He stood in silence for a few moments before lifting the dog’s blanket, and began patting him down. The diamond dog snored louder and rolled to the side. Discovering no sharp objects, the creature moved to the pile of supplies and began searching through it for anything that could constitute a threat. Finding nothing that matched his criteria, he began climbing up a nearby tree.
Good, now that he’s asleep, we can talk.
“I’m not killing him.” The creature said, continuing his climb.
He’s a liability, the voice responded.
“He hasn’t given me a reason to distrust him.”
He wanted to take first watch, he would’ve killed you in your sleep.
“I’m aware of that danger, that’s why I searched him and the supplies. He’s unarmed.”
You’ve killed with your bare hands before.
“He was a healer, he’d have no reason to be proficient in any form of combat.”
Neither were you, but now...
“Why are you doing this?”
I’m your paranoia, I’m supposed to do this.
The creature’s grip on the tree slipped as a piece of bark gave out under his hold. “You’re paranoia; why should I listen to you?”
I’ve saved your life more times than you can count. That little niggling feeling in your head? Those dark musings? The conspiracies, the plots? They were all me. Without me, you wouldn’t exist, you need me to survive, and I am an extension of your will. I’d have no reason to steer you wrong.
“I’m not killing him.” The creature said as he reached the top of the tree and perched himself atop it. He inhaled sharply as he took in the surrounding area. The moonlight gave the region an almost ethereal look. The sand itself glowed white under the dark sky. The lack of clouds nearby allotted the region a supple amount of light, blocking none of the moon’s beams. The man crouched atop his perch and, for a brief moment, felt at peace. His crouch soon devolved into a sit, and the man decided to close his eyes, his weariness overtaking him.
The desert sun cast its rays down upon the man, yet the man felt no warmth. Everything felt ethereal and surreal. Rather than the burning of the sand through the worn rags of his shoes, the feeling under his feet could be described as soft and plush-like, not unlike shag carpeting. The sand itself gave off a radiant glow. He was walking through the desert, trudging along slowly, and was interrupted by a voice calling him. “Master, I’ve returned with the supplies!” his charge called.
The man continued walking, indifferent. He paused as the ground began rumbling yet again. The diamond dog stopped, eyes shifting in every direction, “Master!” he cried out, “Stop! We’re in grave danger!”
The man continued walking, indifferent to the warnings of the diamond dog.
“Master!” The slave called, “Please! Stop! Both of our lives are at risk!”
The diamond dog took a panicked step forward, only for a, charcoal colored lizard, the size of his abdomen, to burst out of the ground and pounce on him, its long, needle-like claws raking at his face. He cried out as it pierced his left arm with its serrated, knife-like teeth. Three more erupted from behind him, noticing their comrade’s catch, and pounced on the lackey’s back. He stuck his paw out to his savior, beckoning for help, only to have it torn off by a lizard. He cried out as blood spurted out of his forearm and fell to his knees, writhing and crying out as the reptiles dragged him underground.
The man frantically looked around for an escape, noticing nothing behind him, he took a panicked step back, and ran. The rumbling followed him. The black reptiles burst out of the desert floor around him, then dived into the sand and began pursuing him. A long, elongated, fin-like protrusion on their backs giving them the appearance of sharks. Black fins coasted around him, disturbing the sand and dunes in their wake. The man’s adrenaline began failing him; and he felt as though his lungs were on fire. A bitter, metallic like taste pooled in the back of his throat and the man swallowed. A black fin burst out of the ground, and a lizard jumped on him. The man panicked and desperately began trying to pry it off. It wrapped its pointed tail around his neck and pulled him along. The man was able to glance briefly upon his hunter.
There was no face, only, sharp, serrated, white teeth on a scaly, black head. What looked like small fibers protruded from the scales and moved down and along the tail that was currently strangling it’s prey. The lizard began burrowing underground. The man stuck his hand out, futilely trying to save himself. He was underground in seconds, and the light of the tunnel that led to the surface slowly, and teasingly disappeared.
The man awoke with a start, clutching his heart, and looked down. He had been sleeping on a branch. His throat was dry, and his mouth tasted of morning breath. He looked down again and grasped the branch, disoriented by the height, his brain finally kicking in after waking up. He looked out to the took a moment to gather his thoughts and began his descent down the bough of the tree. Walking to the pond, he cupped his hands and washed his face, wrapping it in his hood immediately afterwards. The splashes from the water woke up the fenrir.
The fenrir rubbed his eyes with a grey paw, yawned and sat up. “Master? Is it my turn to watch now?” he asked.
The fenrir looked into the horizon. “The night passed? Master, you didn’t wake me.”
“You were snoring loudly. It was hard trying to wake you up. Get ready, we’re moving again.”
“Of-of course, Master, but won’t we eat?”
“We’ll eat while walking. Give me the map.”
The fenrir handed the creature the map. He inspected the map, then looked into the distance and beckoned over his shoulder. “We’ve got three miles.”
“Master, wait! I have canteens! With your permission of course, I would like to refill them from this oasis."
"I have no qualms."
With this, the diamond dog went to the supply pile and extracted multiple canteens. He went to the oasis and hastily filled them.
“Master, before we continue, are you sure you want to do this?” the slave asked.
“Are you going to try and stop me, dog?”
“Do you have a name? I’m getting tired of saying dog.”
“It’s Nobis, Master.”
“Nobis, let’s move.”
Nobis groaned as he trekked with his master to the next diamond dog camp. He rubbed his forehead with a paw.
“Dog, silence yourself before you give away our position,” the creature hissed.
“But Master, there is nothing around us but desert!”
He’s trying to give our position away! a voice only heard by the creature cried out.
“He has a point,” the man retorted.
You’ll regret this!
“I’ll cross the bridge when I get to it.”
Nobis froze in place as his master continued to speak to himself. ‘It’s the voices again,’ he thought. ‘They’re speaking to him again. This is my chance to run away!’ He took a series of quick breaths to calm himself. ‘No, no, I can’t. I’m a fenrir godsdamn it! I’ve got a code of honor to uphold!’ He looked away, disconcerted, for a moment. ‘Honor is what’s going to kill me.’ He groaned before he began running to catch up to his lord.
“He hasn’t done anything yet!” the man whispered.
Nobis, noticing his master’s derailment, decided to intervene. “Master?” he called.
The creature jumped slightly in surprise, his hand straying near his shank. “What is it?” he growled.
“May I see the map?” the fenrir questioned.
The creature released his hold on his shank and grabbed at a piece of paper instead. He removed it from his pocket and handed it to his drudge, standing in place as his thrall looked it over.
“Master,” Nobis began, “some bad news: the colony that we’re headed for at present is probably...different from what you’re accustomed to.”
“Different how?” the creature questioned.
“Different in the sense that it’s partially above ground and is actually fortified. I’d assume that with the relative ease you’ve had annihilating colonies, that you’ve been going after the low security ones. None of them have been fortified up until this point, correct?”
“Aside from a few guards, no.” The creature nodded.
“Well, that’s because those prisons were intended to hold Equestrians. We were near the Equestrian border; where did you think all those ponies came from? I’m sure you’ve seen or heard them lamenting over how long they haven’t seen their families for or how much they miss them. Well, Master, ask yourself this, if those ponies were in diamond dog territory, then don’t you think their families would have been captured with them?”
“They could have escaped.” the creature responded.
Nobis simply shook his head. “The ponies in those camps are from Equestria. Raiding parties over the border are frequent and are actually overlooked by Celestia. Hrm, I suppose overlooked is too harsh a term; I think it would be better to say that she’s not aware. You see, security of the borders falls under the jurisdiction of some Prince or another... Blueballs was his name I think. Anyways, he does a really bad job of it. Security is practically nonexistent at some points save certain checkpoints, and with the lack of any sort of barriers, it’s rather easy for our slavers to sneak in and out of Equestria. The camps inside Equestria are infamous for having some of the most inadequate security. As you head close to the coast, like we are at present, security should steadily improve. The Diamond Empire is extensive; it runs under Equestria at certain points, but for the sake of politics and diplomacy, we only surface there occasionally. Camps inside Equestria tend to be isolated, so the emperor can always claim that it was a splinter faction of diamond dog should they ever be caught. There was actually an incident some time ago. Something about a white unicorn or what have you. The alpha of the party was a familiaris—”
“You’re drifting off topic.”
“Right, sorry, Master, as I was saying, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed yet, but Equestrians tend to be more docile and submissive than other races. Additionally, aside from the unicorns, who have magic, most aren’t very good at magic, what with having hooves and all. They tend to never escape. We’re nearing the coastal colonies, Master, the diamond dog ships transport prisoners from here, with a higher risk of escape, it only made sense to have better fortifications. From now on, essentially every colony we come across is going to be walled-off.”
“You tell me this now?” The creature barked.
“Would it have made a difference, Master?”
“No! Absolutely not! Is there anything else you aren’t telling me?”
“Yes. The coastal colonies also tend to be the most well-staffed, save those in the diamond dog mainland. The Emperor never goes inland whenever he sails from Nal Mutta. So the diamond dogs never put forth the effort to actually fortifying and improving the inland camps. Odds are, we’ll probably run into some griffons while near the coast as well.”
The creature rubbed his temples with his hands. “Why?” he asked.
“Well, Master, it’s a coast for one. It’s going to be a hub of trade and commerce.”
“Do the other nations know about diamond dog slavery?”
“Well, yes. Celestia is aware of diamond dog slavery, however; to avoid an international conflict, she chooses to ignore it so long as we leave her subjects alone. As far as she’s concerned, we do. Griffons, on the other hand, are slavers as well. They’re just like us, only, they work kind of differently. See, with Griffons, you can actually earn your freedom—”
“Stop,” commanded the creature. “You mean to tell me that there are not one, but two races on this Earth that enslave others?”
“Griffon slavery isn’t that bad, Master!”
The creature snorted. “Not bad? Not bad?! How can slavery possibly not be bad?!”
“It’s not as bad as diamond dog slavery. You were a diamond dog slave, Master, you know what it’s like. We aren’t known to treat our slaves very nicely.” Nobis slowly began slipping into a more scholarly tone, closing his eyes as he raised a paw to emphasize his speech. “Diamond dog slaves can never be set free, unless they are honorbound slaves, like I am. Diamond dog slaves are the property of the collective. It’s very different for griffons. Griffon slaves are individual property and may win their freedom. Additionally, griffon slavery is rooted in the culture. Griffon culture is—”
“We’re wasting time. Move. Now.”
Man and beast hid behind a dune as they observed the diamond dog camp, wooden barricades shielding it from the elements. A cluster of diamond dogs passed by, unaware of their watchers. “Nobis,” the creature began “Time to make yourself useful. Go join them,” he said, gesturing towards the convoy. “You will stay with them for one day. Then, tomorrow night, you will unlock the door and give me entry as well as a map of the caves. I will sneak in and free the slaves, you will leave the camp and return here.”
“Is that it, Master?”
“You said you wouldn’t kill your own kind; I’m respecting that wish.”
“It just seems a bit simplistic is all, Master.” Nobis hesitantly replied.
“Are you questioning me?”
You fool! Why would you leave him with the slavers?! the voice berated.
“If I go with him, odds are, we’ll both be killed,” the creature responded
He’s going to set up a trap! He’s going to open the door, but an army of oppressors is going to greet you rather than your so-called ally! Kill him now and be done with it!
“I’m aware of that risk. I’ve thought of a contingency should that be the case.”
You’re taking unnecessary risks!
“He can be a useful asset.”
It’s far too risky! Leaving him unsupervised, what’s to stop him from revealing you?
“He did say that he had a code of honor.”
Honor!? What honor?! What is honor to a slaver? It was just a lie to lull you into a sense of security!
“If he wanted to kill me, he could have done it while I was asleep.”
He too was asleep! Kill him now while you still have the chance! Stop him before he can ruin everything!
“I’ve been over this before; he’s too valuable an asset to simply do away with.”
‘He’s talking to the voice again.’ Nobis thought. ‘It’s only a matter of time before he kills me.’
Nobis paused and raised a paw to his chin in consideration.
“He can be a useful asset,” the creature said, apparently to himself.
‘Well it’s good to know I’m not in any immediate danger. So he’ll keep me around until I stop being useful? Then what? Will he kill me too?’ Nobis took a deep breath and steadied himself. ‘No, no, I’ve got to calm down. He could have killed me before, but he didn’t. I’m sure he trusts me.’ Nobis paused to resume eavesdropping on his master’s conversation.
“He’s too valuable an asset to simply do away with.”
‘Let’s just wait this out for now. I’m too valuable to kill yet. Gods know that if he’s going to kill me there isn’t much I could do anyways.’
The creature turned to face Nobis. “Why are you still here? You’re missing your chance! Go, now while they’re still past the walls.”
He’s hesitating! He had his orders. You gave him orders. He’s conflicted, he’s a traitor! He’ll stab us in the back! Kill him now while you still can!
“Sorry, Master, I was just thinking is all. I’ll get right on it,” Nobis said, before he began walking away.
Nobis left the safety of the dune and slowly walked towards the envoy of diamond dogs. Nobis cried out as he approached them, wildly flailing his arms above his head while doing so. “Hey! Hey! Excuse me!”
One of the rear guards noticed the disturbance and immediately called for a stop. “Halt! Halt!” The wolfen guard yelled. “Best behavior, you familiari,” he barked to the rest of the convoy. “Another of the higher race has come to honor you with their presence. Remember your places!”
“Hello,” Nobis said upon reaching the slaver party.
“Greetings, brother,” the guard said, “I am Sir Lupa.” The other guards, more doglike in their appearance, immediately bowed before Nobis.
“I am Nobis.”
“Brother Nobis, where do you come from?”
“I was stationed at a camp near the Equestrian border.”
“We’re a long way from Equestria, brother. What brings you all the way out here?”
“I bring catastrophic news from the Equestrian front. The camp near here was the closest.”
“Well, you can tell me. I’d be more than happy to pass it on to our Alpha, brother.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
“Well, whyever not?” Lupa said, donning an indignant look on his face.
“This news is for your Alpha’s ears exclusively. This was a direct command from my Alpha. Speaking of which, how is Alpha Basura doing?”
“Alpha Basura?” Lupa laughed. “My brother, you’re sadly mistaken. Alpha Basura was transferred out of here and back to Nal Mutta Nearly a month ago; the current Alpha is Rey.”
Nobis raised an eyebrow. “Rey? I’ve never heard of an Alpha Rey.”
“He’s a new one, actually. Used to be like you and me; the Council decided he was worthy of promotion due to excellent performance.”
“He was actually stationed at this camp; he was singlehandedly accountable for at least a third of this camp’s national slave quota. Lucky son of a bitch.”
“Yeah, well, maybe we’ll be like that someday too?” Nobis offered, nervously laughing.
“Yeah whatever. Anyways, you said you wanted to see the Alpha, right? I’ll take you.”
The creature watched Nobis and the raiding party disappear into the wooden fortress.
He’s going to betray us.
“Did you really think that I wouldn’t prepare for that scenario? You’re my paranoia, you already know about my contingency,” the creature said while heading towards the cache of supplies. “Regardless, I think you’re being a bit too wary.” The creature reached into the pile, pulled out an assortment of roots and began sorting through them. “Now, let’s see what the dog left us.”
Nobis and his escort made their way to the castle gates, under the scrutinizing gaze of the creature. As the party stood before the wooden fortress, a voice hailed them from above. “Brother Nobis! What have you brought with you?”
“Just one of our brothers.”
“What does he want?”
“He’s got news for the Alpha.”
The doors to the camp quickly opened in response to that statement, and Nobis’ party stepped into the diamond dog haven. Lupa and his party headed off to the barracks, while Nobis was escorted by a pair of rather burly familiari to the Alpha’s quarters. One of the guards knocked on the door.
“Enter,” commanded a voice from inside the room.
Nobis waited outside the doorway while the guard entered the room. The familiaris immediately bowed upon entering the chamber. “Speak,” Alpha Rey ordered.
“My Lord!” the guard began. “A fenrir from the Equestrian border comes bearing news from the front!”
“Send him in!”
“As you wish, my lord.” The guard stood and promptly walked out of the room and ushered Nobis in, who bowed upon passing through the doorway.
Alpha Rey’s features brightened immediately upon seeing a fellow fenrir. “Greetings Brother, and welcome to my domain. I am Alpha Rey,” he said expanding his arms, a smile gracing his lupine face.
“Lord Rey, I come bearing news from the Equestrian front!” Nobis said, remaining prostrated.
“Ahh, Brother, you come bearing news but you’ve yet to tell me your name!” the baron said while pulling out a bottle of wine and two glasses from a nearby cabinet.
“I am Sir Nobis, your lordship.”
“Rise, Nobis,” Rey said while pouring a glass of wine for them both. “There is no need for such formalities between us of the higher race!”
Nobis rose slowly and reached for the chalice that was offered to him.
The leader held up a paw to halt the conversation. “Just Rey, Nobis, again, there is no need for such formalities between us. Now you said that you bore news from the Equestrian front.”
‘This could be my chance at a new start!’ Nobis thought. ‘Master doesn’t trust me, he’s just using me to further his own goals! All I’d have to do is rat him out! No, no I can’t! Honor, remember why you’re doing this in the first place! Honor! You’ve got to uphold diamond dog code! Even in the face of someone who kills children! He’s a monster! He kills kids! He’s practically evil incarnate! Is it really his fault though? The caves must have really messed him up. That still doesn’t excuse what he’s doing. He’s going to kill everyone in that camp. This will be my only chance to stop him. I-I can’t! He offered me a way out before, I didn’t have to join him, but It did. I chose to join him. He even freed me and pointed me in the way of a haven. I chose him. I wanted to do this. Do I even want to stop him? We diamond dogs enslave others, I’ve whipped and beaten a few slaves myself, am I really better than any of them?’ Nobis’ eyes took a resolute look.
“Yes, there have been attacks on the diamond dog camps near the Equestrian border,” he said.
I'm sure that you've all noticed the godawful waiting times this story has. As a result, I've decided to place this story on hiatus until I've finished completely writing it. After I finish writing the story, I will update it regularly. Don't expect an update for a while.