Bad Luck for a Bad Manager

by DarkStarWolf53

Live Bait

When Svengallop comes to, Wisp is standing over him.

"I'm glad you're awake. I'd hate for you to miss this."

"AAH! W-what are you going to do to me?!"

"Oh, I'm not going to do anything," says Wisp. "But they are!"

"Who? What? Why?!"

"You'll find out in due time."

Wips turns to the back of the cave.

"Come on in, boys. I have a new toy for you."

A motley crew of bandits come out of the darkness, likely through a hidden tunnel. There's griffins, equines, and even a wildcat from Felina.

Svengallop lets out a most un-stallionly shriek of terror and bolts.

But he doesn't get far. The wildcat leaps from its perch and pounces, catching the terrified pony with sharp claws and biting down on his neck, though it doesn't aim to kill. It merely waits til its prey stops struggling, then drags him deeper into the tunnels and unceremoniously drops him in a mud pile.

"What do you want with me?!" asks Svengallop.

"Your life," replies Wisp with a smirk.

"What have I ever done to you that makes you want to kill me?"

"Oh, you didn't do anything. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. You would have been better off with that pinto."

"I thought you said she was evil."

"I was lying. While she is dangerous, she's not truly an evil being."

"And you are, I take it."

"Evil is such a strong word."

"You lure travelers in to kill them! I'd say that's pretty evil!"

"No worse than what you do."

"What do you mean?!"

"I've heard tell of you, Svengallop. They say you were behind the disappearance of the rising star Ruby Shine."

"No one can prove it was me! No one!"

"You just admitted your guilt. How is your luring in rising stars and killing them for money any different than my luring in travelers and using them for bait?"

"It is so different- wait, what do you mean by 'bait'?"

"Simple. The masses want to see blood. They love when our prisoners are torn limb from limb by hungry predators."

"That was made illegal centuries ago! You can't do that!"

"So who says what we're doing is legal?"

"What do you mean?"

"Welcome to the Underground, my dear. Where crime and violence reign and we are bound by no laws. Enjoy your life here, while it lasts."

"You're insane!"

"Insanity is relative. Now then, what trap should we bait with you?"

"Is there one for a tiny harmless creature?"

"Oh, of course not. Tiny and harmless has no place down here. No, we need something bloodthirsty and brutal... Perhaps the Shade Hounds."

"W-what are those?"

"According to legend, they are made of the darkness itself. They are, perhaps, the cruelest demons in existence. We haven't been able to catch one yet, but they've been drawing ever closer to our traps. They are drawn to negativity, so you will doubtless summon them. And if we capture one, well, the arenas will be filled completely. Nothing can survive a Shade Hound attack..."

"What if I refuse to let you take me?" asks Svengallop, edging toward the cave entrance.

"Then we'll have to force you. Get him!"

Before he has a chance to run, a griffin trips him and a draft-type hippogriff pins him down.

"I wouldn't try to escape again if I were you," says Wisp. "You won't like what happens."

"You already plan to get me killed, so..."

"Oh, I don't mean kill you. That's too merciful. But breaking all four of your legs and destroying your vocal cords..."


Wisp smirks again, enjoying his captive's fear.

"Bind his legs, boys, and tie his muzzle shut. We need to make sure he can't fight or run. Come midnight, toss him in the trap in the deepest, darkest part of the forest. Maybe we will catch a Shade Hound tonight!"

"Why midnight, boss?" asks one of the equines.

"Because that's when the Shade Hounds are more active, my dear. But enough talk. Prepare this one for the trap."

At this, Svengallop lashes out with his back hooves, catching the hippogriff in the chest and knocking them back. When he tries to get to his feet, though, a lasso expertly thrown by one of the smaller griffins catches him by the neck.

He rears up, startled, and a second rope catches his forelegs and yanks him down. A third rope wraps around his hindlegs, keeping him from standing up again.

"Well done," purrs Wisp, brushing his tail across the griffin's side.

"Thanks, Boss. Now what do we do with him?"

"Gag him. It's nearing midnight, so take some of the tougher boys to the Darkwood, and throw this stupid pony in as bait for the shadow beasts."

"You can't-" begins Svengallop.

One of the griffins ties a cloth around the pony's muzzle, silencing him.

"Now we take him to the Darkwood, right boss?"

"Indeed. Go on, boys. Take only the best fighters with you- the Darkwood is too dangerous to go alone."

"Got it."

The draft-type hippogriff hoists Svengallop onto its back and heads to the forest, flanked by some of the meaner-looking griffins and the wildcat.

"Hey Boss, I just thought of something," says the hippogriff, "Should we blindfold this jerk so he can't find his way to safety if he somehow escapes the Hounds?"

"Yes, that sounds like a good idea," says Wisp.

The unicorn magically grabs a piece of cloth and ties it over the prisoner's eyes.

"Now then, go. And hurry- get him there before the moon reaches its zenith!"

"Yes sir!"

After a relatively short walk, the hippogriff rears up, tossing Svengallop in a cage, then taking off the blindfold. Then it, as well as the other bandits, leave and hide in the shadows.

Svengallop looks around to see he's in the far corner of a steel cage in a forest clearing, and alone.

As he struggles to get his hooves free, eerie howling echoes around the clearing.

What's that?! It doesn't sound like Timberwolves, and most canines live in the kingdom of Canidae anyway- that's all the way across the sea!

The howling grows closer, but nothing appears.

Svengallop blinks, and when he opens his eyes again, a huge black beast is standing over him. It looks a bit like a wolf, but much larger- bigger than the biggest draft horse he's ever seen. And it seems to be made purely of living shadow.

Even if he could speak, Svengallop wouldn't have time to even cry out as the shadow beast's jaws close around him.

There's a thud from the cage falling, then everything goes black.