Hunted

by P-Russ


Chapter Two: The Box

Chapter Two:
The Box


Where is It? It couldn't have fallen that far, right? Was Gem even able to get it?... DAMMIT, there is way too much going on right now.

I kept running, sometimes on two legs, occasionally on three, depending on the terrain. As I sped toward my impact site, I couldn’t help but think of all the possible scenarios in which the gift was either in the hands of Firestone, or somehow lost in the wilderness. The latter being far preferable.

There! That is the pile that I landed on now I just have to search around a bit right?

Hurrying over to the mound of gravel, I begin to sift through the countless stones, looking for anything out of the ordinary.

Its probably not in the original case. An ornate gold box would have been easy to spot. No, its probably in something else. It obviously wouldn’t have been large, it needed to be small if… no, when Gem had smuggled it out of the hold.

I spent hours digging through the scree. The passage of time marked by the decidedly brighter sky, and the line of sunlight slowly draping down one side of the ravine. As time ticked away, so did my patience, and with my patience any semblance of calm I had left, either being leached by the panic threatening to overwhelm my already stressed mind, or the mind-numbingly painful waves coursing through my ribs and back.

As the day drug on, I slowly began to lose hope.

He wasn’t able to get it. There is no way that he could have. I was a fool for thinking that he could. I was too selfish to see that all I was doing was risking the life of my own son. I know that he tried, he was always too much like me for his own good. And you don’t just fail at robbing an alpha’s personal vault, even if that alpha is your father.

I collapsed against the wall of the ravine as the exhaustion of the dig began to be felt. Tears began to flow, the weight of Gem’s probable death lay heavily on my shoulders. As I buried my face in my paws, my mind began to shut down, the combination of physical and emotional pain proving too much to handle at once. Falling into a state of almost complete emotional repression.

The time to mourn is not now, I need to get the gift before my bastard of a brother can get his filthy paws on it. I will not let Gemdust die in vain.

I stood up, freed from my emotional prison, and immediately regretted that decision, as a new wave of pain screamed through my body, even worse than before. Holding back a pained whimper, I clutched an foreleg to my chest, and began the long walk back to my hole.

As I started to move, a sound caught my ear. Steps. Paws on gravel. Straining my ears, I began to make out the sounds of conversation. Or, at least the grumbles and complaints that were reverberating around the ravine.

Seeing little in the way of cover, I opted for the only reasonable place to hide, the pile. I quickly dug my way into the back of the loose rock and began to cover myself in. Hearing the voices come ever closer, I recognized the voices as dogs, which was obvious from the sound of their steps, but what wasn’t obvious was the fact that they were not of my den. I did not recognize either of those voices.

“Oi, me think this where he fell,” spoke the first voice.

“Prolly, but there no body here,” that was the second.

“Yeh, but alpha say we don’t come back until we find body. I no want to die, we find him or we run.”

“Speak for yourself, I not running. Only place to go is the Ponylands, and we not make it through the Badlands. I rather get killed quick by alpha then die slow out there.”

“You just a litt-GAH!!”

“What you do now?”

“STUPID ROCK HURTS.”

My ears perked up at this.

“Ha, you step on sharp rock, moron,” said the second voice, “it does look bit off though.”

“Yeah, it look bit like box… LOOK LOOK, IT OPENS!”

“Well, what in it?”

Realizing what was happening, I decided to cut my losses. Bursting forth from the pile or gravel I charged at the two dogs. Whatever happened, however they found it, they could not be allowed to bring that box back to whoever they worked for. At my outburst the two looked up in surprise, and in their surprise dropped the box. As I ran toward them, they scrambled at their belts for what I could only assume were weapons. Realizing just how quickly this could end, and not in my favor, I opted for a hyper aggressive tactic… more commonly known as beating the shit out of them. When I was close enough, I planted one of my paws into the ground, slipping a bit due to the water and the loose rock, but sticking firm enough, I pivoted around, bringing my other leg around and slamming it into the side of the nearest dog’s head.

As the first dog went crashing into the ground, the second succeeded in drawing a long dagger from a sheath on the side of its belt and brandishing it defensively in his right forepaw. With my momentum spent on the first attack, and surprise no longer aiding me, I began to circle the second dog, and he began circling me. His eyes were riveted on my forepaws, I smiled inwardly, this was his mistake. I lunged diagonally towards his left, drawing back as if to punch him in the stomach. He reacted quickly with a stab toward where my throat would have been, if not for stopping myself short, leaving me now behind his right foreleg, and subsequently, behind him in general. His eyes widened as he realized his mistake, and made to pull back, though he was not quick enough. I darted forward and grabbed his wrist while slamming my other forepaw into the back of his elbow. It gave with a resounding crack, and a pained howl from its owner. Grabbing the now shattered joint, I twisted it forward, forcing the dog down onto his knees. Replacing my forepaw with a back, I switched my grip to the neck of the dog, wrapping my forelegs around him and pulling back. The dog gurgled and grasped at the bundles of fur and muscle that now resided around his windpipe, but regardless of his struggles I continued to pull, and with a mighty heave, a loud crack emitted from the bones in his neck. The struggling ceased.

Breathing heavily, I looked back to where I had incapacitated the first dog, only to find nothing but a faint trail of blood drops, which were quickly washed away by the spray from the river.

Well, that could prove to be an issue. Ah-h-h well, it was going to happen anyways, one does not simply survive an executionary banishment and fade into anonymity.

I grunted as the pain resurfaced again, wracking my body, and nearly sending me sprawling on the ground. I fought through the pain, and looked around for the object which had caused the conflict, tears blurring my vision.

“Now where is it… where… hmmm… ah, there it is,” I muttered.

Stooping down, I retrieved the box from the bank of the river, where it had been discarded. I opened the box to check on the contents. Everything was fine. I started to close the box, but something caught my eye. A note was tucked away in the corner. I pulled it out and read the first line. Blinking hard, I stuffed it back into the box.

No time for that, I need to leave before I am found.

I began to stumble down stream. keeping the river to my right.

At least I have the courtesy of knowing I am hunted.

I walked for hours. My surroundings melding from ravine, to mountainside, to foothills forest land. It is in this forest that I decided to settle down for the night.

Alright. First order of business, some form of food, second would be shelter, and maybe something for the pain. I grimaced as a new wave of pain washed through me. There is no way this is a normal branding, it should at least of hurt a bit less by now.

I continued walking, looking for someplace to hide for the night. My nose twitched, there was something in the air. Something… there was fire… and food… Someone had a fire nearby, and was already cooking. Playing it safe, I slowed myself, and lowered into a crouch, quietly moving toward the source of the smell.

I came across a small clearing. I crept along the edge, looking at the scene in the centre. A small wagon stood in the clearing, forming a circle with two small tents, a fire burned in the middle of the circle. Something was wrong though, there was no one in the camp.

But the pot is still over the fire, no one smart would leave something cooking like that, both a fire hazard, and an attraction for predators. Like me I suppose. I am rather hungry, and they won’t miss it much.

Thunder sounded in a cloudless sky. I looked around confused. The thunder sounded again, but this time resonating from somewhere close, my stomach, apparently it agreed with my intentions. Shaking my head, I started forward into the clearing. I had not taken two steps when a deep gravelly voice sounded from right behind me.

“I wouldn’t go much farther there, dog, if you know what’s good fer ya.”

Awwwwwwww damnit.