Howlite Howler 3

by JNKing

Chapter 7: The Son of Shiva

If Shiva had known about the pain that came from giving birth, she would never have let Luke anywhere near her. As the first strains of labor wracked her body, she cursed the alicorns, the diamond dog gods, the changeling queens and even the great Faust herself for not telling her to bite at every male who even looked at her in a flirtatious light. For if she had just closed her mind to the more primal side of herself, she wouldn’t have to be going through this agony right now!
Her lightning flickered out of control. Even as bolts of pure white energy smashed into the walls of her den and threatened to cave the place down on them, Fluttershy and Luke did not leave her side. Not even when the lightning condensed into pack links. As every drop of strength was yanked from them to the pregnant Howlite Howler, they were given a very clear indication of what kind of pain she was going through.
“Oh, dear Celestia,” Fluttershy whimpered as a contraction shot right through Shiva’s stomach and through Fluttershy’s as well. “I don’t think I want to have foals for a long time after this.”
“You’re telling me!” Luke whispered, gasping as one of Shiva’s contractions hit him like a truck. “Is this what labor is like?! It feels like she’s passing a bowling ball!”
“How did dogs do this before?!” Shiva wailed.
“It’s okay, Shiva,” Fluttershy tried to comfort through the pain. “Just breathe. Breathe.”
Shiva grit her teeth, biting back every furious, agonized retort that she wanted to hurl at the yellow mare, and breathed. And breathed. And breathed some more.
“Okay,” Fluttershy said. “Now push!”
Shiva shrieked, another lightning bolt smashing a hole clean through her den to the sky. And so, it repeated. After an hour that felt like an eternity, during which she smashed her den to pieces, they finally made progress.
“Okay,” Fluttershy said nervously. “I can see it! I can see the head! Just push.”
Shiva howled, her lightning flashed, trying to destroy more of the den. Yet as thunder threatened to deafen all three of them, blessed relief flooded through all of them as the tiny, high-pitched cry of a newborn emanated.
Gently, Fluttershy moved the pup to Shiva’s arms; black as shadows, with a strange green tint under his closed eyelids. But to Shiva, they were perfect; black like the fur on her mate. The eyes like emeralds buried deep into the earth. As she held him, she took a long, shuddering breath. She had not been told about the agony of birth, but then again, she had not been told about how it would all be worth it.
And as she gazed down at the little bundle of joy, Shiva found herself wanting to take back every curse and regret she had.
For the most part. Despite the relief she had, Shiva could still feel that squirming feeling in her gut. There was another pup. And it was ready to come as well.
“Shiva?” Luke asked.
“Shiva, let me see the pup,” Fluttershy said, reaching for the puppy. “If your pack link goes haywire like it did, it could really hurt him…”
But a new emotion seized Shiva, and she tugged the pup away from Fluttershy’s hooves. Rolling towards Luke, she tugged the pup away from him as well.
Touch him and I’ll rip your tongues out!” Shiva snarled in a voice that wasn’t her own.
Luke and Fluttershy backed up from her. But before they could go too far, the fire faded from Shiva’s eyes, and she clutched at her head.
“Oh, by everything sacred,” she muttered. “I’m…”
But then the pup still inside her squirmed for the exit.
Shiva wanted to say that the second pup’s birth was slightly easier than the first. At the very least, it took less time. Shiva wasn’t sure, but she also felt stronger than before. Maybe Fluttershy had been onto something about the pack link. But, when Shiva hurriedly checked her first born for injuries, he had none. Just a bit of a cranky undertone in his cries, as if the whole thing was a detriment to his sleep schedule.
Soon enough, he was joined by his sister; a wonderful golden beauty whose light fur contrasted nicely with her brother’s dark fur. Her eyes didn’t glimmer like her brother’s, but that didn’t matter.
No, it doesn’t matter at all, Shiva decided.
They were perfect. They were the most perfect pups she could have ever asked for. And as she curled herself around them, licking and cleaning them gently, she felt herself making a silent prayer. Not to any gods or goddesses, but to them.
My little ones, she prayed. My handsome warrior. My sweet princess. Let me be your shield. Your guardian. Your teacher. Let me show you the world and how to survive it. Let me give you the love that I wasn’t shown when I came to this land. Let your lives be happy and carefree. And may danger and discord never darken your homes, as long as I can stop it. I vow to you, my children, with every ounce of strength in my body… I will protect you. I will love you. I will be your mother.
As if fate was testing her, a sudden outburst of noise nearly shot Shiva to her paws in protective rage. However, Luke and Fluttershy were way ahead of her.
“I wanna see the new baby puppies!” Pinkie’s voice sounded from where the two had run. “I wanna see! I wanna see!”
“No!” Luke boomed at her.
“Pinkie, trust me on this,” Fluttershy’s calmer voice replied. “Mother wolves get very-very protective of their puppies. Not even the fathers are safe.”
“But I was just…!”
“Luke, please!” Fluttershy insisted. Luke fumed, but stepped back a touch. Shiva felt a growl bubble up in her throat at his subtle approach, but tried to stamp it down. He wasn’t an enemy. At least, she thought. Despite her history with him, her body conjured up paranoia-stricken thoughts of him turning on her; destroying the pups he had helped bring into the world.
Trying to keep them from overwhelming her, Shiva held her pups close, and listened to Fluttershy’s soothing voice.
“This is just like how normal dogs work,” she was saying to Pinkie. “When mothers just have their babies, they become incredibly protective of them until they're ready to go out into the world. The best thing we can do is just leave her be.”
"For how long?" Pinkie protested.
"A, uh..." Shiva could hear the nervousness in Fluttershy's voice. "A few weeks, at least."
"A few weeks?!" Pinkie exclaimed. "But they were just born today; we need to celebrate!”
Suddenly, Pinkie poked her head right between Luke and Fluttershy, her blue eyes focused on Shiva and her children.
“Come on, Shiva,” Pinkie insisted. “Can’t you…?”
GET OUT!” Shiva boomed, a shockwave of lightning blasting not just Pinkie, but also Luke and Fluttershy out of the den. Briefly, guilt shot through Shiva’s heart, but when her pups whimpered, awoken and scared by the noise, it was replaced with fear for them. Shiva curled tighter around them, shushing them and soothing them with her tongue.
“It’s okay, my little ones,” she insisted, fawning over her dark son. “My handsome warrior…” she nosed her daughter. “My sweet princess.”
Slowly but surely, she felt them relax against her. She was the mother; the one who protected and nurtured. And without even knowing what any of that meant, her children loved her with everything they had.
“Don’t fear them, my little ones,” Shiva whispered softly, nuzzling them with her cold nose, and soothing their whimpering bodies with her tongue. “You’re going to live the best lives I can provide you.” Her gaze turned fierce as she glared back at the entrance to the den. “And all the monsters and evil things out there will never have you.”
“Shiva?” another voice asked. A guttural snarl bubbled from Shiva’s throat, but Fluttershy kept herself at a reasonable distance, and did not try to approach. Eventually, Shiva’s growl petered out and died.
“Sorry,” Shiva mumbled. “But…”
“I know,” Fluttershy assured her. “Don’t go near the pups. But… Twilight wanted to ask… she said she could sense…” she glanced out and had a whispered conversation before poking her head back in, “A second source of magic?” She glanced worriedly at her pups. “Are you sure your puppies are all healthy?”
Nothing’s wrong with them,” Shiva barked, struggling to fight against the protective instinct raging in her core. “They’re fine!”
“Okay-okay,” Fluttershy said, wisely backing out. “I’m sure they’re perfect in every way. Just… be careful with them.”
“Yeah,” Shiva said, her voice leveling out at Fluttershy’s empathy. “Yeah, I will. They are perfect.” She gazed down at her pups, and nosed at the darkest one. “Though… can’t be…”
She smelled them softly, sensing more to them. She sensed power. Power that was… strangely familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.
For a moment, panic entered her head. Is something wrong with them? she wondered. Did my pack link do something to them? Should I ask the ponies…
No!A sudden wave of even greater panic washed over her. Not just of the magic hurting her pups, but of the ponies. Stealing them away from her to study what had been done. Never letting her see them again. Maybe pretending they died so she’d be none the wiser. Or worse… actually killing them due to being a threat to the crown.
Shiva had always held suspicion in her hearts for the ponies. But the idea of them harming even a hair on her new pups filled Shiva with more rage and hatred than she knew what to do with. She shook her head.
“I don’t care what magic you have,” Shiva said, more to herself than her pups. “We’ll figure it out together. And no matter what; I’ll love both of you anyway. And I will always love you, no matter what. I will love you regardless.”
She nudged her dark son. “My brave warrior…” she mumbled, remembering an ancient human word for ‘warrior.’ What was it… Koba? Kodak? Kodo?
She smiled contently. “Kodo,” she referred to her son, before turning to her daughter. “My sweet princess…”
Celestia, she almost wanted to say, before logic stopped her. Why name her after her, of all mares? Why name her after any princess. Cell… how about Celine?
She nodded. “Celine,” she decided. “Kodo and Celine.”
The two twitched, curling tighter into their mother as she decided their names. And as she let herself fall to sleep, lulled by Luke's presence outside and the relief of getting through labor, she failed to notice Kodo’s claws entwine, and a small smile lift the sides of his mouth, as his green eyes glittered with a strange purple magic.


Several weeks later…

Kodo knew he was special. His mother certainly knew it too, so the test just felt like a way to show his greatness to everyone else.
Twenty diamond dog pups were lined up outside the Outer Haven palace, situated in the caverns below the Crystal Empire that morning. Their light and dark fur was unmarred and clean due to having yet to delve into the mines for the magic gems. All of them had turned eight weeks old within the last few days. The crystals above sparkled like the sun, making Kodo feel prickly. Diamond Dogs usually spent most of their time underground, but Kodo felt a strange yearning for the surface above. And the Empire that sat on top of that surface. Kodo didn’t know why a bunch of buildings mattered so much to him, but something about them stirred a deep feeling of entitlement in his gut. Maybe some of the Hungarian Commodore instincts had come with his resemblance to the dog breed; the need to defend any and every part of his territory.
With a clatter of stones, several pebbles pattered across his tail.
Especially if I’ve got to rely on these lunk heads for help, Kodo thought, as he snarled out loud, “Stop it.”
“Who? Me?” the Labrador faced, light-furred pup next to him asked. “What did I do? Nothing, that’s what. You’re being noisy. I’m being a model daughter.” She lifted her chin and put on an angelic expression.
“Then quit talking,” Kodo growled.
“Practice what you preach.” Her voice was light as feathers, stirring the air.
Kodo tried to, but the pup sent another scattering of pebbles bouncing across his paws.
“Celine!” Kodo snapped, but of course, right at that moment, their father Luke materialized in front of them, rising from the ground like a diamond dog undead. Kodo whimpered as the dark diamond dog stalked slowly up towards them, his silver eyes glaring between Kodo and his trouble-making sister.
“Are you two taking this seriously?” he growled.
“Yes, sir,” they both said quickly.
Luke still narrowed his eyes at them, before a voice gave him pause.
“Easy, Luke; they’re still just children.”
Kodo’s breathing eased as his mother dropped from the surface above and joined them.
Kodo had heard it said that some females aged like fine wine; others like milk. In Shiva’s case, time had done marvels for her. Her body was decked in bleached white armor, studded with pearls and rubies to give her the gleam of a goddess having just returned from battle. Yet her brown eyes shined with kindness and love as she gazed with pride at her children. Kodo got the impression that, even if he didn’t have magic, she would’ve still loved him. He got the impression she even loved the other diamond dog pups, ordinary and insignificant as they were. He could see it in her eyes, the way she drank in the appearance of each and every one as she paced before them.
“Some of you may have heard of the magic that has blessed our pack,” she noted. “The power that fuels the crystals that give light, fuel and energy to Outer Haven and the Crystal Empire.”
The pups nodded eagerly.
“Well,” Shiva said. “Such power does not come from thin air. And it certainly does not come from the ponies above.”
For the briefest moment, rage and frustration flickered across Shiva’s snout. Kodo felt a strange, leaping sensation Shiva’s reaction to the mere mention of the equines. Then again, Kodo wasn’t sure why, but even thinking of the equines sent a bit of rage through him as well. Either way, she calmed herself rather quickly, and produced lightning in her claws.
“It comes from me,” Shiva continued. “And today, we’re going to see if it comes from any of you.” She stopped. “Please note,” she said in a gentle voice. “If you do not have this power, it does not make you any less special than those that do. It will simply alter how you will serve the pack when you are strong enough.”
Kodo grinned. He didn’t need to worry about what role he would have in the pack. Though he didn’t fully understand it – what with only being a few weeks old – but he knew he had something in his soul. Something that destined him for greatness. All he had to do was show it off.
Shiva crossed to the end of the line of pups.
“Rise,” she ordered.
The pups rose to their hind legs. For a brief moment, panic flashed across Kodo’s mind.
What if I can’t do it, he suddenly thought. What if I make a mistake? What if…?
Calm yourself,” a stronger voice in his head assured him. “You are going to rise above your siblings. You are going to topple the ponies.
Kodo paused, his ears flicking as he glanced around. Shiva’s words quickly forced him back into focus.
“Focus,” Shiva told them. “Lift your claws.”
They did so. Kodo trembled, but the panic faded as he felt the magic building in him. Ready to serve. Dark wisps of magic mixed with Kodo’s already shadow-black fur. He was ready.
“Good,” Shiva said, almost as if she could see Kodo’s impending victory. “Now… envision a bolt of lightning in your claws. Send it forward to defend your pack! FIRE!”
Kodo barked as a bolt of black lightning shot from his claws, crashing into the crystals above, and sending them crashing down.
Kodo grinned… only for another bolt of lightning to carve out and smash into the crystals next to him. A cascade of gems fell before them, landing in a pile and glowing with the magic they had just sent out.
Kodo turned, his silver eyes wide. Right next to him, Celine looked back. Elation fought against terror in her soft brown eyes. Terror, likely, because she caught the brief flash of anger and envy in Kodo’s eyes.
It truly had been too much to hope that Kodo would be the only one to inherit Shiva’s magic. However, he didn’t get long to ponder this new development. Shiva had practically teleported in front of them, her eyes wide with mixed emotions: Awe, fear, intrigue, anger. But all of it was quickly stamped down with that motherly love. Her eyes quickly darted from side to side, but Celine and Kodo were the only ones that had managed to summon the lightning.
“Both of you,” Shiva said. “With me.”
As they followed their mother, Kodo glanced back at Celine. She tried to give him a hopeful smile, but her smile was forced, and fear still flashed in her eyes.
If she gets in the way of our conquest, that dark voice warned. She will suffer.
No! Kodo snapped back in his mind. Celine is my sister. She’s family. I don’t know what impact this will have in the future. But I refuse to hurt my family. He smiled softly at his sister. I hope you understand that, little sister. No matter what happens, you have nothing to fear from me. I promise.