By: Aaron B.
Art by: Kimberly Mattia
PLOT: A young human embarks on an unforgettable journey after his family is killed by a group of anthropomorphic lizards. Along the way, he meets many more of these strange animals and finds a best friend in a kind dragon named Vincent…
Running through grass and piles of leaves, Jon Baker would have shouted words of panic and fear if he had the ability to do so. However, due to birth complications, he was only able to speak a few words at a time and he knew no one would be around to hear him, no one living anyway. Screaming would waste energy, and right now that was not an option if he wanted to keep his life.
His bare feet were beginning to get muddy, his breathing rapid as the sun was shining but a chill was in the air.
Before running at full speed once again, he cocked his head back to see the carnage done to his once beloved small town.
Black smoke rose from where it once was, and strange lizard-like creatures had taken over and had been burning homes and killing humans. Down below, screams were heard, and Jon’s parents were being tied up by the reptilian soldiers, crying and praying that their son escape the clutches of evil that befell the town.
Jon didn’t know why they were there, where they came from or who they were. Everything happened fast, everything was terrifying and hope dwindled away more and more.
He had heard tales of a city not too far off from his, a place he had been warned about.
A city of ‘anthros’ was what his parents called it, a mystical place where animals walked on two legs, wore clothing and spoke in human languages.
Jon continued his dash through the woods, jumping over roots and falling into a wet and muddy puddle. The coldness now seeped into his white pajamas as the winds blew colder, he’d have to come up with a plan and quick.
The teenager sat himself on a large rock, surrounding him were tall, colorful trees, the sun glistened through various branches and onto his pale skin.
During the commotion, he acquired his knife, a knife with a smooth edge, the handle decorated in gold and formed the image of a dragon. He cleaned the object in a nearby lake, then placed it in his pants pocket. He splashed some water onto his face and into his hair to clean up a bit. Nervousness had been the only emotion he experienced, and it seemed to grow as he knew night was approaching.
He trekked on, walking briskly through dirty leaves and roots, hours and hours it seemed to go on. He was following a path-he knew where it led. Not because he had been there before, but because he had a knack for memorizing maps and directions, his father had shown him maps every so often so he could always find home.
This was the way to the city called Animalia. It was the closest to civilization, where he felt he may have a chance of survival.
Jon looked at his feet as he stepped among grass that was unkempt and tall, flies buzzed around his head. The sun beat down on him, but it didn’t stop the cold air, it seemed now he had stepped out of the woods and found himself in a field, the path had disappeared, but he knew he was heading in the right direction.
A few feet in front of him, stood a large metal fence, with pointed tops. Covered in sweat from walking so quickly, trying not to get caught by any unfriendly folk who may catch him, he gazed upon the large structure. He pondered a bit-should I do this? The next thought was that he could do nothing for his old town, he promised his parents to keep running and not look back. Being alive was something he didn’t think would happen on this very day, so he took a deep breath and jumped, holding onto the fence as best as he could.
He fell once, but hopped up again, this time hoisting himself up over the top of the pointed edges and dropping to the other side and falling hard onto the mud below him. He stood up slowly and realized he had made it to the other side, just getting a bruise on his elbow. Jon trekked on again, down a smoother road, covered in smooth sand and tiny rocks which pricked the bottoms of his feet. He stared at the sign he hoped to see- ANIMALIA.
The afternoon bustled with activity, buildings of all shapes and sizes stood, the cobblestone roads kept clean by sweepers and the sky a light blue color, not a cloud in sight. The day was warm, but a nippy breeze kept everyone who had little or no fur under jackets.
Anthros decided to take walks and mingle among friends. In the center of town, stood a church, the bell rang and a white-tailed deer with a reddish-brown coat and wearing priestly garb, stood at the doorway waiting for those who practiced faith to walk in. His antlers finely trimmed, his ears and muzzle held distinct white spots, his fur combed and clean, he nodded to the last few entering the house of whatever God or Gods the creatures worshipped, he gently shut the double doors.
After church, Vincent Van Leeuwen stepped out and began his work immediately, his shop within walking distance like all the other shops.
Opening the creaky door, he entered a large wooden shack full of swords, knives and anything regarding forged metal. A large desk sat in one corner for payment purposes or lunch break, the sword making materials hung in just about every inch of wall space. The place smelt of metal and a bit of must, the ceiling had to be custom made to fit the dragon’s size.
Vince stood at an impressive seven feet, had clean, shiny red scales, and a thin tail which sometimes dragged behind his slender body. The most notable trait of Vince however, was that he had no wings like most of his species.
Rolling up the sleeves to his white button up shirt, he began by heating up a large bucket of water, using just a tiny bit of flame which methodically poured out of his mouth. He had learned and practiced how to control his fire breathing, he was on point for the most part. Vince spent a lot of his day listening to the chatter among the townspeople, he could tell by their tone something was going on, but he wasn’t interested enough to ask what it was, never was he nosey. Never did he partake in gossip, landing in trouble was something he hadn’t done yet and he intended to keep it that way.
That is until an acquaintance of his entered his shop as he was hanging up his latest sword on the wall. He attempts to get the grime off by rubbing his hands on his black slacks and turned around to meet the mouse’s gaze, with his identifiable deep and calming voice, he spoke. “Greetings, Martin. Pleasure to see you again.” His little ears flicked a bit, his pink eyes looking up at the dragon to attempt to look at the tall creature’s face.
Martin walked about the store, admiring the craftsmanship of the weaponry, his thin pink tail sways contently. “Vincent, have you heard the news?” The dragon was busy cleaning a dagger with a soft cloth behind the desk, he shook his head gently, eying the knife closely. Martin’s voice picked up tone, his heart full of curiosity. “It is rumored that a human has made itself across the fence and to our town!” Vince placed the knife on the table and looked at the rodent, he too now was piqued with inquiry as he placed his clawed hands on the desk calmly. “Our ruler has quite the temper when it comes to that species. I wish him the best if it is indeed not a rumor. I wonder why a human would come here in the first place? Lost perhaps?” With an uncertain air to his mannerisms, Martin shrugged slowly. “I do not know, but I too wish him the best. I do not think our town will give him a warm welcome, that is for sure. If they think anything like the king does.” Martin left with a polite nod. Pondering this news, Vince continued his work, he would try not to worry himself with things that were not of his control.
Clouds were overhead, his last customer had just exited the shop. Buttoning his black vest, he headed off to home, carrying his day’s payment in a brown pouch which he kept in his pocket. The journey home was a few short minutes away. Up a large hill, overlooking the small town.
The dragon enters his living room, his floors made of marble, chandeliers hung from the ceilings, in the middle of the living room a red couch and fireplace. Vince makes his way to his writing desk, located a few feet from the couch, complete with papers, a quill pen and his daily journal to get his deeper thoughts out instead of venting to friends. He lets slight background noises calm him, leaving a window open so birds could be heard. Picking up his favorite instrument, the Celtic guitar he began strumming softly, letting the sound of slight rain put him in a calm state.
The rain continued to fall, most of the anthros had either gone to bed, or were closing shops after a long day. Lanterns illuminated the night, lighting the shops and houses.
The townsfolk liked to gaze up, passed the church and notice the castle a few miles away which seemed to loom over all of them, where their ruler sat and controlled the populace.
Among the many shadows the night cast, Jon made his first attempt at really talking to these creatures. His pajamas now soaking wet and covered in mud, his skin chilled to the bone and a barely functional walking cycle proved to anyone seeing him he was far from healthy. The human’s journey had been rather short, but terrifying, but this town looked like it could suffice for the evening.
Jon approached a group of white mice who were just locking up their bookstore, standing at five feet-Jon’s height, the three were speaking of what tomorrow would bring and chuckling. All of them wore cloaks and did not look like they had a lot of money, but seemed content on this dreary night. The human limped over to the three mice and spoke in a frail and overly weary tone, he stuttered but spoke as best as he possibly could. “Help. I am tired. Please.” One of the mice did indeed turn and look to him in a concerned manner. “I’m sorry lad, I have no place for you to stay. I have nothing to give, best of luck.” With a pat on the shoulder, they all walked away from him at that moment, the teenager sighed in anger. He knew he shouldn’t be angry, the mouse seemed good hearted, but he was probably telling the truth.
With his feet nearly tripping over the slick road, he came upon another fellow-a grey goat in a suit of armor, obviously, a knight. He stood, poised and leaning up against a large metal building, possibly where someone important lived. Moving his brown hair from his eyes, he tapped the knight’s hoof. “Sir? help. Do you have food?” The goat cocked his head, facing the human, he sounded old and had spots of grey around his short horns which were on top of his head. “Go away, filthy human or I will tell the king of your presence. Move along.” His eyeballs slanted, his angry stare was enough to make Jon runoff.
The teenager tried knocking on doors to houses which seemed to have a lit candle on the inside, but no one stepped out. Most likely due to fear because they had never seen someone with no tail, fur or scales and were leery of something they had never seen, or they were prejudice against the species in the first place. He thought he might have to find some sort of shack to stay in or hide among some trees, but another structure caught his eye.
A white colored church, the steeple held a large golden bell. The building was quite beautiful. This was finally something he recognized, he had gone to church every Sunday with his human friends or his mom and dad.
He made his way towards the place he knew, went up the slippery staircase and nearly fell, but caught himself. He knocked on the large wooden double doors with no answer, with a single tug, the door lurched open.
The first thing noticeable, was the incredible echo. The rainwater dripped off Jon and made a pattering sound against the flat floor. Closing the door gently, he made his way passed rows of pews, the smell of old dust was prominent.
Hanging from the ceiling, large chandeliers, the windows stained glass, making the rain drops look like silhouettes against the images of the religious figures worshipped by anthros.
With his legs throbbing, he did not want to investigate the entire place, so instead he sat down on the bench closest to him, he shivered a few times as water dripped from his head and on his face. He took a deep breath.
Finally, he was out of the elements, he just hoped no one would be here to spoil it and kick him out. So far, he had no luck with these anthros-the thoughts crossed his mind that maybe he should have stayed behind with his family and die. Jon lied down, resting on his side, the seat hard to the touch. His eyes were just about to drop when he heard a deep and poised voice, causing him to stand. “Who’s there?”
A deer held a lit lantern, illuminating his face. A strong and handsome looking buck, the air about him so poised and so thoughtful, his tone assertive, but gentle. His priestly robes only added to his extremely majestic walk. Even though his eyes were pure black, his gentle white eye brows read confusion. His facial expression read something to be respected, he looked like he could be anyone’s father figure, his stare demanded attention and honest answers. The priest stood a few feet from Jon and put his hooves up in a non-threatening position. He spoke again. “I am Samuel Merek, I wish to know why you are here.” Jon sighed in slight fear, but then again, he never met an evil priest in his life and he certainly had never met a priest who was a deer before. “I need sleep…f-father. I am sick.” Merek was impressed that this new creature called him ‘father’ apparently, his species had religion as well. The anthro nodded, Jon spoke again, this time a bit louder. “You…accept me?” Father Merek smiled slightly. “The goal of accepting one another is the glory of God.” The teen seemed to let his guard down as he sat up. “Jon is my n-name.”
Father Merek waited until the human was asleep to lock the front doors and quietly blow out a few candles, Samuel was going to go home, but he decided to stay and make sure Jon would be out by early the next morning. He felt awful doing so, but in these times of human hate, he would not risk Jon being found, even though Merek spoke of acceptance and loving one another in sermons, it didn’t seem to do much good for the folk who attended. The deer fell asleep on a pew in the back of the church, the two of them listening to the sound of rain as the evening drew on, but not before a whisper of an evening prayer from Merek.
The six foot tall Komodo dragon made his way through his lavish castle. His spiked boots clanked against the marble floor, his long black leather trench coat swayed as he walked in a tense and egotistical manner.
Pillars of gold stood, supporting the massive ceiling, decorated with glistening light fixtures, the soldiers who stood in various corners and in front of many doors dressed in metal armor, the guards and servants all reptiles. King Crixus takes a seat upon his throne, a few feet from the entrance to the building.
His scales, dark green and leathery, his eyes yellow underneath his black round pupils, Crixus’ snout sticks out a tad bit, the inside of it slimy and made of sharp tiny teeth, complete with a forked tongue that sometimes could be seen. His nostrils, small and round and his body naturally large and bulky-but he could be quick as a rattlesnake when he wanted to taste the flesh of a victim.
Since he had just awoken, he was given a cup of hot tea with sugar, he drummed his black sharp claws against the metal armrest of his seat, when suddenly a knight with a similar look to Crixus entered and briskly walked to the king and slightly bowed. “Sire? I have some distressing news, we believe that our plan to eradicate the human species has backfired. Rumor has traveled that there may be a lone human loose in our town. We have not been able to locate him. Of course, you know having humans here could greatly damage your reputation.” As Crixus stood, the soldier felt a looming and dark presence sweep over him, something larger than life, something truly full of menace. His voice unmistakable for anyone else in town. “A human, you say? If this is true, then surely an anthro must have seen him?” The knight gives a quick nod. “Perhaps my lovely people need a reminder of what that species is capable of.”
Everyone was asked to gather at the castle which was within walking distance of the main town, all anthros poured out of their shops in excitement. The majority loved the ruler, because he was so kind to them. He was not forgiving, but in their minds he was strong willed and was not afraid to discipline. Crixus would make a grand speech on a large wooden stage in front of the gated castle behind a podium. Happy chatter could be heard among the peasants and wealthy a like, Vincent was the tallest in the town, but he chose to stand in back and watch from a distance. The day was beautiful after the night of rainfall and the ruler had not come out to speak in a few months, the air tight in anticipation. The audience of anthros of all different species, genders and ages clapped and cheered and Crixus made his way to the podium.
With large waves and a kind smirk, the king spoke in a booming and optimistic voice. “Thank you! Thank you! Yes, I love you all as well.” The cheering died down and the king cleared his throat. “We run an amazing and productive city, and we always continue to make it better. That’s all because of you guys. We have made Animalia a dream community!”
More yells and claps erupted. “There is a darkness overhead my people, something that is to be feared. As you are well aware, me and my wonderful soldiers have kept you safe from the clutches of the strange, tailless beings called ‘humans’. I don’t need to tell you that they carry disease, they’re violent, they preach speciesism and have destroyed so much of the world to get by.”
He eyed a few of the younger anthros who stood right in front, to perhaps make them feel important. “A week ago, we raided a small human village-humans were either killed or brought to my dungeon for interrogation-a very important tactic as I’ve discussed with you all over my time as king.” Crixus had drilled ideas into their heads about the species, almost all of his talks consisted of something to do with humans. “One slipped by us. One measly little scum sucking tailless freak, rest assured we will do all we can to bring it to justice. We can’t have that one human ruing what is so fantastic, and we KNOW he or she will try to ruin us.”
Fear struck the audience all at once. “Humans breed-and the one who is running about our town is no different. If you see him or her or know anyone who is hiding it, tell one of my guards. Tell a friend. I can’t keep humans away without your help, because we all want to live in ANTHRO city, that is what works. Thank you for listening and I love you and may the human species learn that we will NOT tolerate them!” The mighty lizard walked off as even louder cheers came from the captive audience.
Vincent had long ago left this speech, his heart sank to the pit of his stomach, he sighed deeply as he returned back to his work forging a few swords. He blew fire like he always did into the forming metal, but his movements were more irritated and less gently paced. The ambience of the town returned to normal, chatter, laughter, but the dragon’s heart was far from normal. He placed everything down and took a deep breath, he would never tell anyone his true, deep feelings, such thoughts could get him killed-but remaining silent, he thought might just be as bad as joining in with the ideals of a king he loathed.
Father Merk had helped Jon gather extra supplies, food and fresh clothing, after getting washed up in a warm bath-the deer reluctantly sent him to the back of the church and through the woods, away from civilization. He knew the human would not stand a chance in the city, but he still feared for his life. The deer knelt down before him and spoke. “Jon, come back here in the evening should you not find another human or someone to help you. I do not want you to die, but I promise if you stay in this town during daylight hours-you will be found. Peace be with you.”
His journey was less discombobulated, he felt a bit less fear now that he knew he had a friend he could trust. Father Merek was someone he would never forget, but the fear slowly crept back to him. The woods put timid thoughts back into him. Grabbing an apple from his new brown bag, he snacked and walked and drank from a jug of fresh water, leaving plenty for a few days’ worth of travel.
Weather did not cooperate with him, the wind began to blow cold, putting on his green buff coat, the teen felt a bit warmer.
A sharp pain entered the bottom of Jon’s left foot, he yelped and tumbled into the leaves and dirt, rolling harshly down a hill. His head nearly hit a large rock when his body finally stopped. For a moment, he lies still. Grass and leaves covered his body. He groaned as slowly looked at his foot, which was bleeding quite a bit. He knew he sliced it on something in the ground, but he wasn’t curious enough to go back to see what it was.
The pain at first was not bad, but soon the sting started and blood oozed out more. The seventeen year old stood up and attempted to walk again, but it was no use at the moment, the pain became sharper. Whimpering in distress, he tears his pants and ties the long cloth to the bottom of his foot tightly, taking deep and rapid breathes. Going back to the church was out of the question, mass certainly would have started by now. He looked up into the sky, he glanced at his foot, then back up again. If he didn’t get help, the wound would get infected and then who knew how long he would have?
He then heard a sound that would either mean good things were to come, or more darkness and torment than he could handle, his head felt heavy and his stomach began to churn, his heart thudded hard against his ribcage. He thought he would vomit, but instead he flopped into the leaves and brambles and passed out, the sound of his heart rang in his ears.
* * *
Something was off, he felt warmer. No more leaves surrounded him, no sun beat upon him and no cold wind nipped at him. Feeling droopy, Jon tried to open his eyes to see his surroundings, but tiredness flooded him, he closed his eyes for a few more moments before sitting up in a large, red bed.
For a moment, he thought maybe all of this was some terrible dream, that his mom and dad would come to his room to help him to breakfast, but he knew he had never been here. His foot ached terribly and was propped up with two pillows and had a fresh cloth wrapped around it, he cocked his head left and right and saw white walls and a mirror at the foot of his bed.
Through the open doorway to Jon’s right side, a slender figure emerged with shiny red flakes, a long tail, bright yellow eyes with black slits for eyeballs going down the middle and stood at an incredible height. Jon’s first instinct was to run, but the dragon was quick and gently tried to lie him back down, not without a fight.
The human was taught about dragons and their awful ways. What luck, a fire breathing, gold obsessed monster was the next step in Jon’s torturous week. Vincent spoke as Jon squirmed, pinched and hit his arms which did no damage to his armor like scales. After squirming he grabbed one of Vince’s brown suspenders and tugged, then he went for his white shirt. “NO! OFF!” Jon yelled. Vince shushed him gently. He didn’t sound like a usual dragon, his tone not intimidating at all, to Jon’s shock, his inflection was strangely calming, the dragon stepped back. “Please do not yell. I’d hate someone to come and find out you’re here.” He walked to an open window and shut it, looking into his backyard which consisted of trees and a large empty field.
This statement lowered the human’s guard, from the sounds of it this dragon was maybe good if he intended on keeping him safe. An odd revelation, but it isn’t like he could run even if he wanted to.
Vince pulled up a chair, sitting across from Jon who now was sat up and looking straight into his long snout. “My name is Vincent, you were outside, close to my home. I did not want to leave you out to the elements, so following my heart I took you here. If you have somewhere to be, or someone I can bring you to, please tell me.” Jon shook his head, truthfully this was the most comfortable he had been since his town burned. Jon said not a word. Vincent had hoped the human had found someone to live with or even a place that would accept him, he didn’t think he might be his ultimate savior. “Young man, where are your parents?” His parents. Even someone asking about them made his heart sink to the pit of his stomach. While they were constantly running through his mind, Jon didn’t really feel up to speaking of them unless he had too. He took a deep breath. Jon kept quiet, not taking his eyes off the creature who sat before him. Vince waited for a bit longer, then stood up. He rubbed the back of his neck and sighed, putting his hands on his hips and sighing in contemplation. Not only is this human mysterious, but he won’t speak. Too terrified? Perhaps. Vince understood that prejudice against dragons traveled across the lands, so he assumed this teen knew of only the ‘bad ones.’
The dragon felt it best to leave him be for a while. “Do not get up, your foot still has a lot of healing to do. I need to go out and get supplies.” Jon felt it best to lie in bed and rest his foot, even if it was a boring endeavor. Vince soon realized he didn’t have much in the way of food, he had applied some healing lotion to the young man’s foot as he slept, but he’d need more medical supplies. Thoughts raced as he threw on his brown frock coat and briskly left the house to do errands for a human, something he thought he’d never do.
The bar bustled with activity, creatures from all walks of life talked among themselves, most happy, but some sad and drinking to take a certain pain away. The building smelt of beer and wine, and tending to this bar a white mare, her black mane perfectly flat and a muscular figure that would rival even that of the strongest in the area.
As she passed out mugs to patrons, she spoke of her various adventures, being a bounty hunter she had many tales of fighting evil and protecting the innocent. Silently sneaking into the bar, the seven-foot-tall dragon, with a brown satchel slung over his shoulder, unbuttoned his coat and walked to the bar.
The horse’s gaze suddenly met his. With a smile, she hugged him tightly. “Vincent! It’s been forever! How are you, scaly?” This was a loving nickname she gave him, Vince hugged back but without as much of a tight grip. “Looking lovely as always Miss. Goldentrot, I need to speak with you privately later, if that is alright.” She nodded, as he waited he ordered a glass of red wine.
* * *
“After finding him lost in the woods and bringing him to my home, I bought necessary supplies that I thought a human might need.” The horse looked him in the face and sipped some beer. “Vince, I am happy to help you, but it seems like you have everything under control.” With a shrug, the dragon scoffed. “It certainly does not feel that way, I know nothing of his species. I feel quite lost, but I came to you because I know you were once a mother and perhaps you can give him some advice. Perhaps you could also train him in combat? I hope I’m not asking too much, I am willing to give you money for your time.” Reaching into his pocket, the horse stopped him quickly. “You don’t need to give me money, I’d be happy to help the boy out.”
She gazed at him as he placed the money back in his coin purse, no creature was quite like the mighty dragon in her eyes. So poised, so honest, wise and tall. His eyes read so much experience and teaching, it seemed Vince was an endless mystery to her even though they were friends. Sure, she knew of his past endeavors, but every time she saw him, she lit up and felt speaking to him was a great honor. That a dragon would have interest in a boring horse, especially one as wild and talkative as she was.
Placing her bag in the closet, she looked around Vincent’s lavish home. She had never set foot in it, she knew his father had been wealthy, Vince had more money than he knew what to do with. As the fireplace cracked, she removed her armor off and placed it on the floor, to reveal a grey peasant shirt and brown slacks and sat on the couch, Jon was still in the upstairs bedroom. Vince came downstairs softly and sat by her, the silence of the room engulfed them along with crickets and the cracks from the fireplace. He spoke, not looking at her, but into the fireplace. “I do not know if I can do this.” She looked him in the eye. “Just because he’s a human?” He leaned back, crossing his legs. “It is not just that, I’ve never had to take care of anyone but myself. I don’t know if I’m suitable to be looking after a kid who probably needs more than I can even wrap my brain around.” Ira put a hand on his shoulder. “Vincent, you are a kind, generous and thoughtful soul. Just be yourself, don’t over think it. When I had to take care of my foal, I thought the same thing, especially once my husband left me. I soon learned you just take one day at a time and be honest. I have confidence in you. Plus, I’ll be around so you have an extra pair of hands to help out.”
After a moment of thought, Vince stood up and got into his evening wear, a black robe. Before sitting back down, he went into the guest bedroom to check on Jon, who was sleeping soundly. Sleeping was a good sign that maybe he was getting used to his surroundings and no longer felt as much fear from the dragon. He spent the rest of his time putting items in cabinets and getting healing potions made up for the morning.
Ira meanwhile stayed in the room right next to Jon’s, a very similar bedroom to his, but with a grey color scheme. She was shocked to hear footsteps entering her room, but not Vince’s. She cocked her head to the doorway and saw a sleepy human in the frame. She smirked and calmly approached him, he didn’t back away. She spoke in a soothing tone, the one she used for her foal. “Hey, what are you doing?” Jon sensed something about her, she seemed motherly, but tough. He loved her cute muzzle and her muscular body, it made him feel protected. He didn’t speak, but didn’t seem tense either. She spoke again, hanging her armor up in the closet. “I know you’re scared, but I promise you, Vince and I will do everything to help you. Name’s Ira.” They both shake hands. “You need anything, I’m right next door to your room, or you can get Vince down the hall.”
The king looked over his town, in the tallest part of the castle, which was his bedroom. A bed with golden sheets sits in one corner, the wall is adorned with drawings that various artists composed of the king is various positions.
Crossing his arms, he turned to Vlad, a soldier he was quite proud of, taller in stature than most who worked in the castle and a fine warrior.
He too was a Komodo Dragon, who wore black armor and held quite a large sword by his side. Clearing his throat, Vlad spoke. “Sire, are we going to do a widespread search of the supposed human?” Crixus sighed tiredly. “Indeed, and like with the others, bring it to me.” Vlad was one of the only anthros to know the secret of what happened to the humans in the towns which were raided. “Death would be too good for a little snot who thinks he can tarnish my reputation of keeping humans out.” His voice rose a tad bit. “HOW could we have killed so many, and yet one slip by? Our victories had been consistently good.” Vlad shrugged and followed the stressed king through the various halls and to the front double doors. “Vlad, you bang on every door, you interrogate anyone you can. If he’s being hidden, FIND him, if he does not come, kill his keeper and break his legs and drag him here! Understood?” Vlad smirked, he loved going off on violent errands for his hero. “As you wish.” The entrance doors swung open and the brawny lizard began his search.
One of the soldiers spoke as he walked behind Crixus’ back. “King? Do you wish to feed to calm your nerves?” He nods, by the front of the castle, is a trap door, opened only by a key Crixus holds. With a creek, it opened and he descended a flight of wooden, rickety stairs. It was cold and damp, just right for what he was doing. His eyes adjusted quickly to the dark, once he hit the bottom of the stairs, he gazes upon his foul secret.
Humans, of all ages and of all sizes, handcuffed and chained, barely fed, some barely could walk. The cobble stone floor dirty, the clothing the humans wore, ratty and filthy. They whimpered and whispered, pleading for their lives. Crixus chuckled, for deep in his heart he knew something no one else in the town knew, something that would change the course of anthro history. Humans of course were not poison, but made fine snacks for a Komodo. That was the king’s heart-lie to the masses and make out better for himself. This tradition started when he was younger, Komodos were always good at catching victims, so humans seemed like a fine target. All food in the city were either vegetables or fake meats, Crixus wouldn’t stand for fake dead flesh, so he felt turning to humans was the next best option. He was proud of his work. Proud of his thoughts and ideas.
After dining, he felt full and quite good. Not even thinking that the species he just ate was someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, someone’s true love. Devoured by pure evil, humans were used as mere sustenance and nothing more, to be abused, neglected and hated.
The table long, the other soldiers also were served, Crixus sighed, propping his feet up on the edge of the table. “Tis good to have the upper hand, if it weren’t for the escaped human, I would say things are going very smoothly.” They all seemed to nod in unison. One soldier piped up as he sipped on some wine. “Imagine though, if it were found out we use humans as sustenance? What shock and awe that would create? Perhaps others would join us!”
Crixus stood up, breathing heavily, his leather coat squeaking a bit. “Is that so?” His tone went dead cold, no longer casual. Everyone stopped eating, all eyes turned on the Komodo who made the comment, he started to sweat nervously. “Oh, of course I wouldn’t tell anyone. Not an outdoor soldier, not a peasant, not anyone. I just like to see what they’d think of being tricked, the fools they are.” Crixus briskly walked to his side, his boots making a rhythmic and intimidating step. Crixus with the speed of lightning, grabbed a fork and stuck it in the soldier’s eye, with a scream of pain, he ran off, still screaming. The sound echoed off the grand walls, once it stopped Crixus looked at all the stunned faces that surrounded him. He cleared his throat and crossed his arms. “Who’s ready for dessert?”
Vlad roamed the dark streets, city lights were provided by lanterns, he sniffed the air. His metal armor clanked, his sword by his side and humming a content tune. His nostrils flared, his eyes darting left and right-he certainly smelt the extremely faint remnants of a human. He licked his lips, he thought maybe if he were lucky, he’d get a taste of the human as well. He did get some taste for it at Crixus’ castle, but to see a human that helpless, would be an interesting sight. These thoughts made him press forward. He took a giant sniff, his snout aimed at the starry night sky, the smell that seemed to come from the local church. The smell of faint human blood, sweat and flesh. He was there not too long ago Vlad inquired.
He made his way up the staircase and knocked on the double doors. With a creek, the door opened and revealed Father Merek, his tone soft to not wake anyone up. He coughed a bit. “May I help you?” Vlad smirked and held the door open with his large metal boot. “I think you can.”