Read the full story: https://equusproductions.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/havenport-farm-a-furry-story/
Chapter 2- Now
Jacob did not show up the day after, which was odd. Perhaps he was sick or had a family emergency. It wasn’t until the day after, darkness would begin to set in.
CJ bailed hay by lifting the thin ropes that bonded it all together and hoisting it into its proper spot. The sun wasn’t out on this day. Clouds were overhead, but the weather was warm, his usual short sleeve flannel, jeans and brown hiking boots did just fine today. A soft breeze blew through the area. looking out at the workers a few feet in front of him, he smiled calmly. He stood across from the work place, where all his friends mingled. The barn stood handsomely against the sun, still early in the day. The place where CJ stood was a shed full of hay to be delivered to a large company for various materials. As he turned to face his work, lifting the hay into the bed of his truck parked close by, his pointed ears twitch to the sound of footsteps behind him. Being that he was a horse, the police dog didn’t want to frighten him. The grey wolf spoke in a serious and calm tone.
“Excuse me sir, are you CJ?” He turned with a soft smile, his tail swished momentarily, he used his hand to wipe a tiny bit of sweat from his forehead. He removed his work gloves and approached the canine.
“Yes officer, may I help you?” He nodded and took out a pen and paper, a tingle of nervousness when through the horse. Of course, he was always nervous, that was how horses were for the most part. Skittish and always awaiting a bad fate that typically never came.
“One of your co-workers, Jacob Brown has been missing since last night. We contacted his family, they’re shook up. We’ve tried calling a few of his friends as well. No sign of him for a full day.” Thoughts swirled through the horse’s brain. Where he last saw his favorite co-worker and friend?
CJ wiped his hands on his pants, then crossed his arms slowly. “Henry dropped Jacob off at around noon yesterday. Maybe he knows something?”
Sitting in the house away from the crowd, CJ sat with his elbows on his knees and eyeing his feet. Jacob seemed so naïve and innocent, why was he suddenly gone? Perhaps someone took him, knowing full well he wasn’t strong? Someone who lived close by? One of his own family members? Perhaps someone at school was holding a party and he didn’t come home? All these options were brought up and spoken of. He imagined the worst. Henry approached the horse, the dog shrugged slowly.
“He seemed fine when I dropped him off yesterday.” Everyone’s tone around the home was full of worry and deep sadness. CJ glanced at Henry and stood up.
“I’m scared, Henry. I just get these awful images of him needing help and us clueless as to where he is.”
The dog placed a hand on the stallion’s shoulder. “If he’s not found soon, police are going to set up a search team.” With a nod, CJ went to listen to the various police dogs and his co-workers. Feeling sick and dizzy while doing so. Where was Jacob Brown? CJ grabbed a bottled water and sighed, leaning against a wall. His ears flat, this felt like some horrible nightmare.
Closing his eyes, CJ soaked in a warm bathtub, his eyes would never remain closed for long. His nostrils would flare at every noise coming from outside, however this was usual. Sudden noises were not something CJ enjoyed. Moving about the water, he sat up straight, always expecting someone to break in at a peaceful moment. Or Jacob. What a miracle it would be if Jacob stumbled in and the whole story was given. Odd, yes. But even if Jacob was afraid or even terrified, he’d know his human companion was okay. He could picture Jacob’s voice, picture his mannerisms. It hurt. More than any of his co-workers could know.
Two days pass, cops and the various anthros from town searched the farm. Looking through obvious places at first, contacting the high school he attended, talking to Jacob’s parents non-stop. The news of a missing human was big news, sadly it wouldn’t had been a generation before the human rights movements kicked in.
The town of Havenport was home to hundreds of anthros, all species and all sizes, but not one human as they were viewed as odd, pale skinned and hateful. Hateful because the towns with the most humans also had a good amount of hate towards anthros. Even in the modern era of Havenport, racism existed, but now humans were welcome and held jobs and had families. Sometimes they’d get an odd look or two, but for CJ, prejudice thinking was something that never crossed his mind. Jacob was a great worker on his farm and a kind hearted young man and that’s all that mattered. Maybe two or three co-workers were at first leery of Jacob, but time healed the false thinking and he was treated like anyone else. CJ was the one who gave Jacob his job, the one he liked to talk to the most, and the stallion wasn’t going to let his friend down. However hopeless the search got.
Some called his name, some looked in trees. A row of cops and townspeople, all looking for the missing. Behind the farm seemed an endless area of dense trees and tall grass, CJ rarely ventured here as the place was so wide, getting lost was very easy. Sometimes he’d go a few feet deep to get fire wood, but other than that, especially at night-the Havenport woods were a big ‘no way’ for the skittish horse. Going up and down little hills, officers spoke on there walkie talkies if any evidence was found, but always led to a false promise or something which looked like something else.
The looking continued as heavy clouds began to role in and the search party was wrapping up, CJ’s mind started to go to Jacob’s home life and school life. It was true while at work he seemed content, but he didn’t know a lot about what his evening activities were. His parents were sweet as far as he could tell, as Jacob and his mom and dad would often take walks to the farm and say hi even on days he didn’t have to work. Did anything go on behind the scenes? Maybe someone was troubling him? Maybe something at school? That seemed a bit more likely, teenage years were rough, maybe a bully scared him or, worse yet maybe school began to weigh on Jacob and he was self-harming? Just the mere thought of that made CJ nearly cry, was the secret that deep and depraved? Whatever the reason, everyone knew that it couldn’t have been something small. Something was going on with Jacob, and the answer may remain unknown if Jacob is never found.
The wolf officer from before eyed CJ before climbing into his cruiser, the sky pink with an orange hue overlooking the barn close by. The wind is warm, flies began to come out of hiding.
“Get some sleep, CJ. I know this is hard. We’ll find your friend.” Sighing, the horse eyed the woods absently, imagining how terrified Jacob must be. Sometimes imagining his corpse. Without a word, he left as the patrol car drove off, kicking up dust in its wake. Before stepping inside, he slowly moved his head from left to right, looking at the side with Havenport woods, then looking to the other side towards the farm and eventually to the dirt road which went on for miles.
Lying on the couch and looking at the celling, CJ not only felt the house was empty, but had an aura of sadness. He was always alone, but his heart felt alone. Even in pajamas and with most of the lights out, sleep didn’t come easy. It had been like this for a few nights, work had gotten depressing without Jacob’s optimism and cute shyness.
He could almost hear Jacob’s voice banging in his brain. Help! Please! I’m lost! CJ tried to force the sound out by closing his eyes and taking deep breaths. It felt so real. A cry for help he couldn’t answer. He needed sleep. The farm had to go on. Help! Please! I’m lost! He tried to convince himself to let the police handle it. I’m lost! What were they doing now? Sleeping? Working on other cases? The horse whispered to himself.
“Don’t worry. Let the cops handle it. They’ll find him tomorrow.” Tomorrow? What if they find his body tomorrow? What if the officer called CJ in the middle of the night. We tried our best, but I’m afraid Jacob’s body was found in a lake. Rubbing his eyes, CJ stood up and went to the kitchen and grabbed a glass of water.
The sound of crickets surrounds the place, the hum of the refrigerator provided a smooth ambience. Staring out a window in the kitchen, CJ’s ears flicked. Looking at his half-faded reflection in the glass, seeing his shirtless body. How he stood there. Doing nothing. It disgusted him. Doing nothing but staring at himself or trying to sleep. His friend was almost surly in trouble. CJ wouldn’t stand for it anymore. Briskly walking through his house, he took a quick shower, dressed in a white t-shirt, jeans and his hiking boots, packed a brown leather backpack with food, water, some extra clothes and pocketed his cellphone.
The fear was there, even stepping outside to his all too familiar territory this late at night provided a sense of eeriness. He tossed his bag in his backseat, made sure he had extra gas and in a blur, he was driving away from Havenport Farm. Away from the place he knew. Into an unknown world.
By: Aaron B.
PLOT: With Jon kidnapped by Ella, Ira and Vince trek to go find there human who maybe in peril, Hector goes to “The Hollow” for assistance from a mighty wolf pack who might be the key to helping Jon and his two anthro friends.
Jon groggily opened his eyes, his heart leapt into his throat once he looked upon an area he had never been in. He squirmed more, but the chains that bonded him began to cut his circulation off the more he moved.
Ella came out of one side of the human, grasping his neck harshly. She spoke in a soft, eerie tone. “Jon, I’ve been eying you for some time now, humans are rare and possess attributes that could prove helpful to my potions. All I need is-your blood.” Jon’s eyes widen, he begins to thrash about, screaming and yelling for help, praying that Vince, Ira or Hector were nearby. His ankles were bound as well, the chair he sat in unmovable, it was as if it was glued to the floor. This was it. He was going to die here. He felt it in his soul. In this strange cabin with a witch.
Ella gripped his palm with one hand and pulled out a small knife with the other and began slicing the top of his hand, his yell echoed through the house. As he sits, bleeding onto the floor, he begs Ella to stop. “Bring me back! NOW!” Tears stream down his face, the witch began collecting his blood in a clear, glass jar. Jon attempts to bite her and headbutt her, but she simply chuckles at his efforts. His body began to feel worn out already, he tries not to let out cries of pure fear, he was taught by Ira to conserve energy in stressful situations, so that maybe he could fight his way out.
He took deep breaths, closing his eyes, slowing his heart rate down. Death would be the only option if he panicked the entire time. No longer did he try to break what bonded him, now he would wait and if he were lucky, get out of here.
Ella makes her way outside, her shoes getting a bit dirty from the path outside her home and collects a few herbs from a weedy garden. humming as she places them into the jar of human blood. Her soul and heart fluttering with a happiness she hadn’t felt in a while. A warm breeze filled the air, the sun began to disappear behind heavy clouds.
* * *
The dragon leaned against the trunk of a large tree, he breathed heavily as he had just climbed up a large hill. His shirt beginning to reveal sweat. He unbuttoned a few top buttons, revealing a bit more of his scaly red chest. Ira caught herself looking at his movements and glowing yellow eyes, her eyes trailed down his chest. She coughed tiredly and crossed her arms. “Hector should be meeting us soon. If something happens to Jon, I’ll never forgive myself.” Vince looked to the mare. “Ira, we cannot lose hope.”
Soon enough, Hector began to direct them, landing on various tree branches nervously. The field the two travel is quite massive, trees are close by. Tall grass blows slightly in the wind, mountains are in the distance. Hector knew where this cabin lay-and he didn’t care about the dangers he could end up in. Vince and Ira hardly spoke, all their senses were up and working, hoping maybe a sign of him would come to light, something to give them that hope that he’s not too badly hurt.
Jon looked around the cabin, no longer struggling. Ella was out and about, this could be his only chance out. He looked to the floor, the sun shimmered onto an item he didn’t notice, a small pin.
He sighed with agitation as he had to stretch his hands far to reach it. Contorting his body, he knew he couldn’t get it. Holding his breath, he began to move his thumb, until a crack was heard, the pain shot through his hand like a knife being stabbed into his flesh. Tears rolled down his face, but this dislocation gave him the room to slip out of the handcuffs. Right when he did so, he began to hear footsteps-DON’T panic he thought. It could all be over in an instant if he ran around and tried to attack.
He needed a spot to hide, that’s when his eyes darted to a closet. He tiptoed in and shut the door, holding his breath. He hid quickly, huddling himself into the dark space. Time moved in slow motion for the young man, she would come in and kill him. He knew it. Right then and here. The door creaked open, a dragon and horse poked their heads in.
Ella slowly made her way back to the cabin after collecting the items she needed, heading back-she noticed the front door was open. She gasped and a hawk flew and began to tug at her long hair, she fell hard to the ground. She yelped. Hector viciously pecked her skin, squawking a bit.
Vince and Ira hugged him briefly, the dragon declared, “Go bring Jon back to the cabin!”
He briskly walked through the forest, sniffing the ground, trying to detect her scent. With a short puff of smoke, she appeared to one side and shoved him, her strength upheld by magic. She softly chuckled. “Vincent-you fool. You really think you can protect this human? He wouldn’t make it out of a human run war, let alone anthros coming at him!” Vincent got up from the grassy ground and took a deep breath, sending fire from his mouth and directly onto her. The heat quite intense, the fire hits a few neighboring trees. They go up in orange flame, leaves and dust swirl in the air, black smoke rises. The grass around the dragon also lights up a bit. Specks of yellow embers surrounded him, crackling as it burns through the grass beneath him.
Through the debris and burning wood, Vincent triumphantly walks through. To his dismay, Ella was nowhere to be seen. He cussed loudly, he clenched his fists, wanting to break down every tree until she was found. His white shirt covered in dirt and ash. She was gone. The one who hurt Jon. This was not the fate he wanted for her, but he couldn’t dwell on it however defeated he felt. He heads back to the cabin, leaving specs of dying blaze in his wake.
Jon washed his face with warm water, a gentle breeze hits his back. He stared into the bucket of water, taking a few deep breaths. Rethinking every detail ever since he first stepped into this anthro world. Looking at his weak body, feeling worried.
Ira softly approached him and sat next to him on the ground. “Jon? You okay?” He nodded as she put an arm around him. “I have to tell you the truth. Things won’t get easier.” Jon gives off a deep breath. “Because humans are hated.” The mare’s ears went back, never had she heard him speak so clearly. “Some do, yes.” Jon sat in silence for a moment, he began to think he wasn’t ready for this. He wanted to go home quite badly. He loved Vince and Ira, but maybe it wasn’t worth it. Maybe all of this is a waste.
Ira gave him a quick hug and began to chop wood for the fire, awaiting Vince’s return. The human still sat-thinking of what should be done.
The familiar sound of flapping wings zoomed by Jon’s ear, Hector lands at his feet. Looking up to him, his voice always a bit intimidating even if he didn’t mean it to be. “Jon! I wasn’t sure if you’d make it. I was worried for you.” “Thank you.” The bird sighed. “Jon, dark times are coming and I don’t know if you’re ready.” Jon crossed his arms in deep contemplation. “Jon, you can’t mope. You cannot sit here and give up. Life has handed you a very difficult hand, if you do not fight. If you surrender, Crixus will surly kill you. I promise.”
The streets of Animalia quiet, lights were off and most of the anthros were either asleep or doing evening chores inside. Among the usual activity was a newcomer. A shadowy cloaked figure makes her way towards the king’s castle. A menacing sight indeed, she knocked on the large door.
After a moment, a soldier with green scales answered, he was a bit taller than her. He spoke in a low, but slightly intimidating tone. “What do you want?” She looked to him and smiled a tiny bit. “I think the king would very much like my services.” He glared. “I can’t just let you in here. A human has gone missing, and you look suspiciously like that species. Times are of high tension.” Reaching slowly into the pocket of her cloak, she handed him a golden bar. “May I see him?”
He leads her down the large main hall, keeping an eye on her and holding a hidden dagger should she present issues. The shirtless Komodo was sitting on the edge of his bed, a female lizard massaging his shoulders. His eyes closed and taking deep breaths. His scales so smooth and sensual. She enjoyed her time with the mighty Crixus as she rubbed a warm lotion on his muscular back. The same soldier who answered Ella’s call poked his head in. “Sir? Someone wishes to see you.” He sighed, slightly annoyed his relaxing time was interrupted. However, being king sometimes meant you had to put down pleasures and work.
Wearing a black cloak, Crixus entered his dining room where Ella stood, for a human she looked mighty pretty he thought to himself. The Komodo stood much taller than she. “King Crixus?” She bowed slightly. “I am Ella. I wish to help you.”
Pondering, he went over to the table and snapped his fingers, a servant quickly went to get a bottle of wine and two glasses. “What could you possibly help me with and why don’t I just throw you into the dungeon where I keep the rest of the slimy humans?” To show off her true self, Ella waved her hand slowly and sends a chair flying into a wall. Stunned, the Komodo dragon smiled. “You wish to help me?” She nodded. “I can do a lot with humans and potions, and I’m sure with your brains and my power we would make a nice duo.” Crixus poured her a glass of wine. “I think we should discuss this further.” His tone content, eyeing her. Ella had the same feeling of happiness from before, only this time she hoped it was mutual.
One Month Later
Placing logs wood down with ease he began chopping behind the home. His arms swung down, cracking each log with perfect accuracy. His scrawny arms were no more, now he had biceps that had enough muscle on them to be very noticeable. He took deep breaths with every swing, the ax he held a copper color with a blade he sharpened himself.
With a tired sigh, Jon slicked his long hair back before washing his face with chilly water from a bucket he had just filled. Hearing footsteps behind him, he turned his toned body to face Vincent. “Do you need any assistance?” Jon shook his head politely. “No Vincent. Thank you.”
Jon had even begun to sound more confident, his tone still kind and his speech issues did not go away, but he certainly was not as anxious. His training with Ira along with doing outside chores had made this young man into a hard worker, he also had hit a bit of a growth spurt. However, Vince and Ira still had a foot or two on him.
The morning sun made Vince’s red scales shine, from inside the house, Ira watches them converse. Mostly looking at Vince’s eyes and impressive stature. Visually, he was pleasing to look at. His voice so calm and sophisticated.
Vincent went off to clean some clothes, the mare smirked and took this opportunity to spring on Jon. Her movements silent, he watched the shirtless human sit on a tree stump, sweating a bit and looking off into the trees, listening to birds talk among themselves. Jon didn’t have the advantage of super hearing like the horse did, she also did beat him in height and strength. Jon had certainly changed over time, she was proud of him. It was a simple fact that she had more brawn than he did. He had the body of an athlete, she had the buff arms and chest of a barbarian.
She wrapped one arm around his neck, Jon smiled a bit. He didn’t fear the mare. He loved her like a sister, he swiftly elbowed her stomach, with a flinch, she let go. Ira ran for him as he tried to jog in an opposite direction, but instead of using her arms, she did a leg sweep, sending him down to the ground on his back with a grunt. As she went to pin him down, he gave her a nice slap across the face, with a giggle she pressed both his hands down, leaning her body weight towards Jon. He winced in pain and merely looked to her as her tail flicked happily, her white peasant shirt now a bit dirty. “Nice slap.”
Between breaths, Jon smiled. “Thank you. You’re lucky I trust you.” She helped him up with a nod. “I wish we could stay here” Jon said, shifting his tone. Ira put an arm around him. “As do I friend. Fact of the matter is we have no idea where Crixus is and he’ll always pose a great threat to any human, I can only assume the witch is not dead yet and could hurt us again. As powerful as Vince’s fire is, it might not be a match for her sorcery if she came back stronger.”
Vince suddenly walked to Jon’s opposite side, his grey button up shirt untucked with specks of dirt across the fabric and sleeves rolled up, he looked rather rugged as he walked since he had just finished putting logs of wood into the fireplace. His stride so big and tall, as a seven-foot dragon’s walk would be expected to be perhaps.
Ira stole a glance, looking up and down his scales, then to his face. “We also do not have enough soldiers. Crixus has all of Animalia on his side and we have four including Hector. Ira and I can only do so much.” A moment of silence passed, light wind could be heard. “I’ll get lunch ready.” Vince said.
* * *
The Hollow is a fantastic place, only if you can stand the Arctic temperatures and a winter that lasts twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Hector landed inside the main hall. He had flown here many times before and knew everyone who lived within these walls. Statues of wolves stood, wolves that had led great armies into battle and made “The Hollow: Land of The Wolves” what it is today.
The room smelt a bit like a dog who had been on furniture. The walls covered in large maps. Silver and bronze candelabras shaped like dog bones stood. The tall falcon made his way onto a wooden desk, careful not to knock over any of the neatly placed papers or ink and quill. He shuddered at the thought that some bird had a large feather plucked from him to make that possible.
From one side, a silver wolf approached, he knew who Hector was and recognized him instantly. He sat across from him, tail wagging slightly as it hung out of his freshly cleaned armor. “William, it’s been a long time” the bird spoke. Will did not have Hector’s stern approach, with a smile he pets him, only for him to step back in slight irritation. “Hector! It has been a month perhaps? What brings you to the land of wolves?” Hector pruned his feathers after being in the biting wind and freezing cold. “I have three friends. Jon Baker, Ira Goldentrot and Vincent Van Leeuwen. All of who need help. Jon is a human, and as you know the dictator in Animalia is a ruthless tyrant. Right now, the three are at Vince’s home, but as I surveyed the land I saw armies of Komodo dragons, heading out of the town. Right now, Jon is in grave danger. I would very much like to let them stay here. You have soldiers, you have resources.” Will nodded as he lit a pipe, feeling awful that so much stress was happening. Hector told him everything he knew. From Jon’s past, to the house, to the witch.
Theon stood on a large balcony, looking down at the many different colored wolves he ruled over and watching a black wolf named Barry get into yet another drunken scrabble and debating on whether to go down and deal with it himself. Flakes of snow land on his combed white fur, his nose black and wet, his eyes yellow. Without hesitation, William approached his side, his breath could be seen, his ears perked in concentration. “Sir? Hector has summoned me to tell you that a human needs help.” Theon rests his arms on the railing of the balcony as Will goes on to pass the story of Jon along. “William, I will no doubt help this trio in their time of need. Who are we if we are to shun those who need help? I shall order the pack to be ready for them.” He walked swiftly inside the castle, William followed.
Hector listened intently as Theon approached. “Hector, tell them to pack and leave as soon as possible. Now.” William paused. “Sir, this is quite a substantial change. Are you sure we are ready?” Theon stood, looking at Will. “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” A gust of wind was all Hector left behind. Theon removed his armor as he was done training for the day. William began to alert guards outside. Life wouldn’t be the same for quite some time.
Dawn came. The sun barely peeked over the clouds. Vince and Ira groggily get dressed, not speaking much. A wooden carriage awaited outside, a hulking Clydesdale sits in front of it, prepared to pull the cart when the three set off.
Ira went to Vince, her mane a bit frizzy. “How long is the trip to The Hollow?” The dragon finished buttoning his shirt. “A day and a half. I know how much trouble you have sitting still.” Ira smiled to him a tad bit, as tired as she was talking to Vince made her feel a bit less so. “Yes, but I’ll be among friends. You truly brighten my days, Vincent.” He smiled slowly. “That’s very kind of you.” He gazed to her a bit. Perhaps his feelings were like Ira? If so, he was very good at hiding it. Her tail swayed happily. Ira briefly held his hand.
Jon came downstairs wearing a leather vest and brown slacks, his arms bare and would remain so until the weather got colder. The mare ruffled his hair. “Ready to go, lad?” Vince looked to Jon as Ira exited. “You okay, Vince?” He nodded. “Yes. I am. I just cannot help but think of all the monumental changes that have gone on. One moment I’m a blacksmith and a dragon who some anthros probably feared, the next I’m looking after a species I know nothing of. Then, I’m whisked away to a land I’ve never been to.” Jon walked passed Vince, brushing by him. “Ira might like you.” Jon inquired. “Among everything else. If that is the case, I am flattered. However, now I do have a lot of things on my mind.”
Jon grabbed one of the large sacks for travel with ease. Vincent took one last look around his home before locking the front door, knowing he wouldn’t sleep in his cozy room for a long time. Once Jon had stepped into his home, he had vowed to watch the human. He wouldn’t break it-not now, not ever.
The carriage is a bit cramped, the rocking movements would prove to be a bit annoying, but easy to get used to. The stallion pulling them didn’t say much. Ira pondered about having a job like this instead of risking her life as she sometimes did. Jon sat in the middle, he tiredly looked out into the passing trees, smelling the morning air.
As he did so often, he wished his parents were around. He had been told he was going to the “Land of The Wolves” and both his parents had a fascination with them. However, the feeling of doubt crept to him.
What if the wolves are vicious? Maybe not the king, but his soldiers? A canine could rip any human apart, didn’t matter his size. Vince would be there to blow fire, but that would leave them with no other place to go to. What if it all ended in disaster? Seeing his house and family burned to the ground prompted these tragic thoughts to swirl through his brain. With a yawn, Jon rests his head on Vince’s shoulder. His arm smooth and made a nice pillow. The dragon merely glanced to the human who looked so short to him, then looked out the same window Jon was occupying. Vince looked to the sleeping human yet again a few moments later, he sighed sadly. Ira was busy sharpening a knife to notice the look of sadness cross his face.
Sadness for Jon’s lost parents, sadness for everything that had happened. He hoped he was good enough. He hoped he would be the good caretaker Ira said he could be. A new feeling crept into Vince had hardly had ever felt. Warmth. Jon slept so soundly against him, it was a clear fact that Jon did trust him. Maybe that was all Vince needed. Maybe Jon’s trust was the key. Through all the events the two had been through, this moment in the carriage sitting silently made Vince feel the happiest. This was the eye of the storm, this was where he could let his feelings sit with him. Feelings of not only care, but fatherliness.
Making his eye to Ira, busily working on her blade, he began to see how tough and attractive she was. Nothing would be laid out yet. Vince had barely had a girlfriend ever. He had a few flings with female dragons when he was a teen, he was handsome and he didn’t know it. Not at all. His thoughts went from Ira, back to Jon and the traveling ahead.
William entered the castle, Theon’s back to him. He coughed gently. “Hector gave word that your human will be here in a day or so. Is everything prepared?” Theon simply nodded as he sat at the large desk. He placed his hand on his cheek. Preparing for the best, the worst and everything in-between.
PLOT: Stetson is a deer who may look like a towering, toned behemoth who could easily rival Rambo, but his personality is not that of a macho guy. In reality, he is typically laid back he spends his days moving from town to town, meeting new people and getting odd jobs, never causing trouble for anyone. By night, his priority is to get hunters and abusers to turn the other cheek and get rid of their life of crime and evil. The reason? He never really gets into it, but his past is also covered in violence and a lot of heartbreak.
In steps a human named James, a guy in his twenties who is the owner of a hotel. He has an adopted sister, a yellow lab named Scarlet who is the sunshine of his life. Sadly, darkness will strike James-and with Stetson in town, scores have a good chance of being settled, the buck will soon learn that life doesn’t seem to give him much of a break.
NOTE: This story is a supplement to my feature length animated screenplay entitled “Buck”. Stetson’s sorted past is the feature film script-however I will drop little hints here and there in this short so I hope the reader isn’t too left in the dark.
Thanks and enjoy!
Snow whipped violently through the air, the sound of heavy wind could easily be heard. The blizzard would not come and go quickly, the frigid weather was here to stay. The sky is a pinkish color, the sun just about to set to end another day.
A silver Ford truck pulls into a one-story home, located in the back woods. The headlights dimmed, a frumpy male with a beard and wearing an orange hunting vest and camouflage pants, stepped out of the driver’s side. He finished the bottle of beer he was drinking on the drive home and tossed it to the ground with a light belch.
The snowflakes so heavy, he couldn’t look straight ahead, his head faces the ground, the snow seeped into his boots as he walked closer to his house. He didn’t bother to take the carcass of a freshly shot anthro off the top of his truck, a five-foot-tall squirrel wearing a sweater and slacks, dripping with blood and a permanent gaze of terror.
Wind kicked up even harder, causing the human to shiver as his skin began to turn pink, he hurried into his warm home, the lock to his cabin door was oddly broken, but had been since this morning and he’d find time tomorrow to get it fixed.
His house completely dark, he flicks on the light to the living room, which held a fireplace, a small TV and a couch. Scattered on the floor were illegal hunting magazines for hunting furries he had purchased from various websites.
The hunter removed his jacket and vest, pulling out his wallet which had his name, Samuel imprinted upon the leather. Sam unlaces his boots and makes his way to the couch.
Before sitting down, he removed the pistol from his holster and put it in the locked safe by the front door. He sat in front of the TV with a macho grunt. The glass on his windows creaked a bit as the blizzard now was in full force, he turned the television on to a news station.
Sam suddenly felt two pairs of hands grip his shoulders, he yelped and attempted to stand and swing at the attacker, but the pressure only got harder as he moved, he knew any more pressure would surly cause some damage if indeed the unknown threat was stronger, Sam’s breathing got heavy and his heart pounded in his chest as a voice spoke in his ear. “Stop moving and I’ll let go. I only want to talk. You don’t attack me, I won’t attack you. That’s a promise.” Sam yelled in frustration, as he cocked his head to one side, he saw who the muscular behemoth was, his shoulders broad, his arms the size of a bodybuilder, his height exactly 6’5, Sam sighed deeply, terror struck his brain and heart, never had he seen an anthro so tall, neither did he ever feel threatened by one either. His presence was a commanding one, the human could do nothing but nod.
The buck made his way around the couch, the sound of his hiking boots stomping on the ground a bit intimidating. He sat on the ottoman in front of the couch, even as he sat, Sam felt like he was being looked down upon by someone much bigger than he. From his unzipped green fishing vest, the mysterious deer pulled out his cellphone and showed Sam a photo of his own truck, with the carcass of the squirrel tied to the roof, a lump formed in the hunter’s throat as Stetson spoke again in his deep Southern accent. “Hunting anthros is illegal, but you knew that, correct?” Sam nods, looking him over. His muscles and six pack could be seen through his black t-shirt, around his faded jeans, a holster with a pistol which Stetson had his hand around, Sam swallowed hard. “Tell you what Sam, your hunting days are over, that’s a fact. The families you’ve ruined, the poor anthros, there kids and families torn apart by your actions. The fact you’ve done what you have for so long without a moment’s thought that maybe it’s wrong. It ends here. It ends now.”
He made his voice sound so evil that he himself could be passed as a deranged serial killer-maybe he was for all Sam knew. The hunter’s voice shivered. “Please, don’t kill me. I can change. Really!” Not moving his hand from the gun, he leaned forward, Stetson smirked. “I’m counting on that. Get a real job, clean up your act, become a productive member of society. No one will forgive you for what you’ve done, especially not me. You get one chance. You mess up? I’m coming back and won’t be so nice. Got it?”
He stood up and narrowed his eyes. “Yes sir! Yes! Don’t hurt me!” No matter who the perpetrator, Stetson almost always let them go if they indeed promised to never hurt anyone again. This was not the first time a wrongdoer had seen the likes of Stetson, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.
The buff anthro exited the home throwing on his black leather jacket and brown winter gloves, the wind biting cold as it seemed to seep into his face. He walked to the left side of the house, where his green hummer was secretly parked. He had waited hours for Sam to come home, he hoped it had paid off and that maybe the hunting would be over.
The sound of crunching snow caused Stetson’s ear to twitch, turning around completely, he was met with Sam, wielding a small ax raised above his head and running full force into him. Stetson lost his footing on a sheet of ice as the enraged human smashed into him, he landed hard on his back with a grunt. It seemed the hunter had the upper hand. Sam swung the ax downward nearly missing his head, pinning the deer to the cold surface. Stetson gave a swift knee hit to Sam’s gut, slowing him down for a moment. Sam still could get a slice in and took the swing, the ax slices through the anthro’s arm, a bit of blood splatters onto the white snow below them. Luckily no bone showed, it seemed to be just a nasty cut. Stetson used his arms to wiggle out from Sam’s grasp and kick him straight in the face, shattering his nose and causing it to break.
He howled in pain as the ax flew from hand, Stetson slowly stood up, his arm began to sting in horrible pain. He looked down at the bearded, overweight man whose face was smothered in red fluid and smashed teeth, groaning loudly. “Fuck you. You’re meant to be hunted! HUNTED! Hear me?! LEAVE ME or DIE!” With a swift movement, the deer yanked his pistol out and shot Sam in the head once, a mist of blood was the last thing he ever saw. The gunshot echoed through the night, the buck holstered it and took deep, tired breaths. Bending down slightly, he realized his jacket was partly ripped and spurts of blood continued to show themselves, he sniffled, his nose feeling stiff from the frigid weather and hopped into his hummer, turning it on and letting he heat envelop the inside.
The hospital was too far from where he was, he didn’t feel like traveling an hour as the pain grew and grew, driving in the miserable weather with a bleeding wound on his arm just put Stetson is an edgy mood. As the snow whipped through the air and the windshield wipers went back and forth making a squeaky sound against the windshield, his mind wondered a bit to his past, as it often did. No cars were on the road, so really, he could be with his own thoughts.
Two years ago, he had committed acts of violence due to an event in his life, and swore he would only do so once, but now he seemed to have branched off. In his eyes, why leave anyone else hurt or killed? Stetson suffered such a terrible fate, it’s sad to think others could suffer something similar, that fact alone is what made the deer push forward. To at least confront evil doers and see if he could set them on the right path to a new job, or at the very least make them stop what they were doing for good. It was dangerous, but worth it. That was his logic and it probably wouldn’t change.
Now, he wanted to relax and maybe get his arm fixed and perhaps find a place to stay being that he had slept in his vehicle for two days, he turned on the radio to get his mind off the pain a bit, the woman on the station communicated in a monotone. “As a human, I do wish the best for anthros, but I do think we should be separated. We’re just too different to be co-existing.” A male then responded. “I think you’re wrong, humans and anthros co-existing is the best thing to ever happen. Think about it, we help each other. Unwanted anthros live with human families, friendships are made. I can’t help but think it’s a racial thing with you.” Stetson turned the radio off, he had found his destination.
Sam’s body lied in front of his house, gathering snow. The carcass on his truck beginning to freeze over. A pair of headlights shined over the bloody mess, a silver jeep rolled its way to the scene of the crime.
Out steps a beagle, in his mid-thirties wearing overalls, slender but in good health. He gasped slightly as he saw his friend Sam, with half of his face blown off. He had heard tales of hunters turning up dead, and he would take no chances. With a sigh, the beagle reached into his back pocket, pulled out his cellphone and angrily dialed a number. “Hey, it’s Lance. You won’t believe it. Sam’s dead, shot in the face. I talked to him was yesterday and I knew he was going hunting on his own.” He paused, letting the person on the other end speak. “Don’t put this shit on me!” Lance briskly walked to his jeep and slammed the door. “I don’t know who did it, but whoever it is, is gonna get an ass whooping. I’m coming over there, you got the gang over?” With a huff he tossed his phone to the ground, reached into the back seat and pulled out a bottle scotch and chugged it, alcohol calmed him, it was his antidote for any given situation. In-between sips, all he did was look at Sam’s half frozen body, the spots of blood being slowly covered by snow. He leaned back in his chair, collecting his thoughts. He knew seeing his hunting friends would help. Lance had relied on them for all his life, even as a teenager. A plan would be formed and executed. Vengeance would be initiated.
Soft music played at Stetson made his way to the hotel, anthros and humans of all shapes and sizes sat at various tables, calmly talking, laughing or making out in the bathroom.
After checking in at the front desk, the first thing Stetson did was approach the young man who seemed to run the restaurant in the lobby. He wore a white dress shirt, vest and slacks. Not bad looking for a human as far Stetson was concerned-and he had met a lot of them. The deer looked down to make eye contact with him, the human spoke with a smile, his brown hair quite short and his blue eyes very kind. “Just you tonight? Table for one?” Stetson nodded as the 21 year old waiter grabbed a menu and led him to a booth in the corner. “You gotta bathroom near by?” Stetson asked with kindness, but a sense of urgency. The waiter nodded.
The bathroom was empty, the deer removed his jacket and gloves and dusted any excess snow off. He looked at himself in the mirror, from his vest pocket he grabbed a sewing kit and turned on the sink. The water stung his wound as he cupped warm water in his palm and began dousing the wound, he took deep breaths and became quite tense as the blood flowed down the drain, making the fresh wound more visible. Stetson held his breath as he began work on sewing. He was good at keeping his wounds fixed, he had read enough medical books and had a steady hand.
With a REDD’s Apple Ale placed in front of him and a fresh bandage wrapped around his arm, Stetson watched the other patrons chat among themselves. He hadn’t touched a drink in a while, and rarely did consume alcohol, he liked all his mental facilities at 100% but he needed something to help him with his nerves and slightly rough night. REDD’s and Mike’s Hard Lemonade were the only kind of alcohol, he liked every flavor, from apple, to strawberry, but orange was his favorite. He’d try new things, but stuck to his favorites when he wasn’t feeling adventurous.
A female yellow lab approached him, dressed in a black tank top and grey jeans, a slender body and an energetic presence. “Can I get you anything to eat?” she spoke in a genuinely happy tone, to be fair-Stetson had never met a lab who didn’t have something happy or nice to say. Her name tag read Scarlet. With a smirk, he ordered veggie soup to try and warm up from the blizzard he had just gotten out of. James and Scarlet seemed to interact a lot, like they knew each other very well.
This hotel looked like it made good business for the simple fact it was not a popular name and it certainly was not a five-star fancy place, James and Scarlet were the only two running the place this night, it was a small building where anyone could go and get a good night’s rest, enjoy the bar / restaurant on the first floor and maybe go swimming in the decent sized pool outback.
Stetson tipped both James and Scarlett and got himself a room for a week, he fell asleep, not even looking at the room for a second, not even bothering to remove his clothing, he flopped on top of the covers and took a deep breath.
Lance the beagle entered his apartment building, once he opened the front door and gazed at the messy couch and unmade bed, three other figures spoke. These three were Lance’s friends, a pink pig named Hoss who was about 100 pounds overweight and mean as an abusive drunk if something struck him wrong. The other two pals were male humans, a little over five feet tall, with bushy beards and bad manners. When Lance was not around, Hoss was the boss-and no one dared argue that fact. Those who went up against Hoss ended up in a month-long coma-and those were the lucky ones.
* * *
Lance said not a word as he sat on the hole filled recliner across from the trio. Sam was a member of their hunting gang, he talked the most, he had the most knowledge on anthros. He would be missed.
Hoss lit a cigar and puffed at it a few times, then crossed his arms. “Lance, you can’t just sit there and say nothing. We need a direction.” Hoss’ only friends were the hunting buddies, Sam’s death would never be forgotten by the pig. Lance glanced at his friends with saddened eyes and soft tone. “We wait until cops go over everything, surly whoever did this must have left some evidence.” Hoss coughed. “We wait? Sounds like you have no plan.” His blunt observations never ceased to have a crude tone, but he was respected and the most amazing fighter and the craziest (but best) driver. The beagle crossed his legs. “You guys ever hear of Stetson?” He glanced to the three.
All of them nodded, Hoss smiled a bit and spoke out of the side of his mouth, letting the cigar kill his lungs. “Yeah, that deer who slaughtered hunters a year or two ago? Think he’s behind this?” One of the humans, Jerry spoke-he always wore a camo baseball cap. “Could be, we’d have to figure out where he was-but I wouldn’t be shocked. I bet if he did it, he’ll come after us too.” Lance’s ears perked. “Maybe he’ll come to us? I mean, whether he killed Sam or not wouldn’t really matter, would it? If we could kill that buck-we’d be heroes. Hunters, human and anthro fear that son of a bitch.” The pig took a long puff, then tossed his cigar out. “I never feared that jackass. I could break his neck and shove those antlers up his ass.” Mike, the other bushy bearded hunter chuckled. “Hoss, I think you could kill anyone-he’d be a goner if you got a hold of him.”
He looked down at the two humans, at a little under 7 feet and arms the size of sledgehammers and a gravely deep voice that would make the most diehard horror fan crap their pants, not much could intimidate him. Even though they sort of knew Hoss wouldn’t kill them, just the mere size and scale of him was enough to send each of them into a slight shiver frenzy. The pig’s ears perked as he grabbed the keys to his white van parked right by Lance’s truck, he gestured Mike and Jerry over, they obeyed like two frightened kids who just got into trouble. “Tell you what Lance, I’ll do some digging and you get some rest. This little piggie is pissed off.”
* * *
James and Scarlett slept in separate rooms in a single-story home right next to the hotel they worked at, the two had quite a busy night-but James did not sleep so easily, even after he was in his pajamas and lying in the covers of his large bed. The time was 5AM. He often had trouble sleeping, his brain never really stopped.
Stetson hung his clothing up in the closet-he only brought one outfit with him, the clothes he wore on his back. He washed them nightly. If the outfit got ripped or tattered (that had happened once to him when a fight got way out of hand) he’d buy identical clothing (or as close as he could get) Never changing anything for something different. He found that this outfit was the most comfortable and durable, he had his hiking boots for years as well. His jacket was very heavy and worked well when the winter storms kicked up.
Of course, he would rent a suit if he needed to, but he probably only wore a suit twice in his life, if that. The deer liked to keep things as simple as possible, and bringing loads of stuff with him while traveling was just inconvenient. Everything from his outfit, to his guns all fit in one huge suit case. He left the suit case in the back of his hummer, less to carry, plus a shotgun was not easy to hide in a place full of security cameras. He carried a gun license, but even if he could bring his shotgun in-he wouldn’t. Someone could get a hold of it and go on a killing spree. The only weapon he carried with him in any public area, was his hunting knife, concealed in his boot. He put a fresh bandage on his arm, admiring the stich work he had done.
The hotel room was a bit bigger than he needed it to be, complete with a large TV, an outdoor patio, looking over the balcony and into the city below. A small fridge in one corner as well. He usually stayed in cabins or slept in his own vehicle, so this was an awesome change. He placed his knife in the drawer by his bed and decided to watch TV for a bit-his favorite sport was on. Golf. As he stared at the screen, his mind went to the fact that maybe his life was going to settle down.
A year ago, he was on death’s door a few times, and while he still dished out his words to various people who needed them, maybe his life would settle. No. It wouldn’t. He just killed a man, granted in self-defense, but any cop who looked over Sam’s death would know the deer had broken into his house. Did he regret doing what he was doing? Maybe after the incident which left his heart broken, he should have left things alone instead of going after the hunters who ruined his life? Did going after hunters really make him feel better? Perhaps not, but in his head, in the long run it did a lot of good. It’s no secret that furries are suppressed by humans and even members of their own species going after them for money or just pure enjoyment. He began to doze off, not knowing of the dark times ahead.
* * *
Still in his boxers after sleeping, Hoss did some searching on his old laptop and made a few phone calls to various locations, asking about a white-tailed deer, there weren’t many in the town.
The large warehouse where he sat was home base, where weapons for his hunting hobby were kept neatly in wooden boxes. Bright lights hang from the ceiling, a separate bedroom is in one corner, in the bedroom are snacks and other life needs. The floor is a smooth concrete and on some of the walls, the bodies of those he had shot. The pig had a lot of human carcasses chained up proudly, he wiped them down weekly so the stench did not get too overbearing, plus it stroked his evil ego a bit to look into the pale faces of those he had out witted.
After hours of searching Stetson’s name in news articles and social media all night, he did come up with some interesting facts.
He phoned Lance. “I called a hotel not too far from here, they’re open. Front desk guy, James was reluctant to say much, so that made everything hard. Cops said whoever committed the murder of Sam fled the scene not too long ago after finding fresh tire marks in the snow. Looking on a few maps, Stetson’s house is miles and miles back in another direction, and I looked through phone books, his name is not anywhere. Newspapers said he travels from town-to-town, but I’d say we should look at the hotel, would make sense for him to make a pitstop there-the next town over is a long drive as well. He’s probably planning on moving again, maybe he checked in under a fake name? We don’t want to leave anything up to chance. I also want to get him before the K9 units do. I’ll get the van and gather Jerry and Mike. We can be there in an hour if we hurry. If he’s not there, I’m sure James would make a fun victim-I need to hunt again anyway.”
Getting his clothes out of the dryer, Stetson contently went down to the breakfast bar, which was in the front lobby. This time, James and Scarlet were not working. Sitting at tables covered in white cloth, were the same groups from the bar last night. the large tables in corners were set up-they had cereal, orange juice, oatmeal and just about every type of coffee, donut and muffin imaginable.
With his breakfast, the deer sat at a lone table, his coffee steaming as he put some cream and a sugar supplement inside. Females looked at Stetson’s large arms, antlers and incredible height, they thought they were being sneaky-the deer knew what they thought and was flattered, but ultimately relationships were extremely low on his list.
James sat across from the new guest. “Mind if I sit here?” “Go ahead, kid.” James had a bowl of cereal and orange juice by him, he still wore his pajamas and looked like he had just crawled out of bed, he sniffled and his voice a bit low and soft since he had just woken up. “I felt bad you were by yourself, sir.” Sipping his coffee and looking at the small crowds, Stetson spoke. “No need to call me ‘sir’. Stetson is just fine. I guess I can be a bit shy.” The human took a bite of his food. “Shy? You don’t seem, well like the type. Hope I don’t offend.” As Stetson spoke, he began eating a few fruits from his assorted bowl he had made up. “Nah, I know what you mean. Big muscular guy, shy? It does seem odd. I guess my past caught up with me and I sometimes have trouble fitting in. Can’t ever judge a book by its cover. You and Scarlet working tonight?” “Yeah, we get mornings off typically.” Stetson smirked. He liked that someone his age was so engaged with face-to-face conversation and his face wasn’t plastered into his cellphone.
Scarlet snuck up behind James and scared him with a slight ‘boo!’ The lab sat next to James. “Why do you scare me, sis?” “Awe! I’m sorry!” she said in a sarcastic tone, of course the love beneath this teasing was undeniable. She licked the human’s cheek, then turned to Stetson. “Morning Stetson!” He waved and sipped his coffee. Stetson was good at making small talk, and he did. Making little jokes and such, he seemed to be extremely laid back.
Quiet chatter filled the lobby, the deer’s ears perked as he paid attention to every little sound. Scarlet is dressed in a black tank top, ripped black jeans and black punk rock boots-a typical outfit she felt comfortable in, but also felt matched her calm and cool personality.
Stetson noticed that James’ sister was quite protective of him, the two obviously had quite a history. Just the way she would look at him and her tone of voice read that she had a very nurturing attitude. Once she was done speaking, she left to go sit a few feet from the breakfast area and put in some headphones. “So, Stetson, why do you have that scar? When you came in last night, I wanted to ask about it, but wasn’t sure how you’d react.” Stetson poured another cup of coffee as he spoke. “Met someone who didn’t appreciate what I was telling him. I run into jerks now and again.” The young man eyed the buck. “Was it that bad? A simple disagreement?” “You could say that-but I guess simple isn’t the word I’d use. Look, uh-if you wanna have lunch later or something, we totally can. If you’re not busy. I got nothing going on really.” The human nodded happily. Scarlet was listening to the deer from afar, she loved his deep southern accent, it sounded sexy and stuck out like a sore thumb compared to everyone else. As a dog, she could narrow in one sound and concentrate on it, and she was glad to have him calm voice in her ear as she turned her loud rock music down.
Parked next to Stetson’s hummer-a white Ford truck. Two bearded humans stepped out, wearing black bullet proof vests under flannel shirts. Hoss and his men had done their research, and by talking to another desk person on the phone, Stetson was surly there. Revenge was not far, it was right on the tips of their fingers and they were proud of it. Each of them held machine guns in large guitar cases. Hunting for a deer would be easy and a nice thrill for the two. Maybe they could even kill more anthros in the lobby and get some extra ego points.
The sun shined over the hotel, the sky blue and very little snow was on the ground. The large parking lot filled with cars of all shapes and sizes. Neither of the two humans, Jerry or Mike said a word as they approached the doors to the hotel, looked over the crowd and both entered the bathroom to prepare.
Urinals and stalls surrounded them, the floor tiled, the two were as quiet, but quick as possible. Not a single person was in there. They quickly took their weapons out, their hearts thudding in their chests. Never had they done something so big. The men loaded their weapons-after they busted down the door, time seemed to move in slow motion, bullets flew.
The screams deafening, the gun shots even louder. The deer swiftly stands and shoved James to the ground, bullets nearly missing him. The entire breakfast bar and windows behind the set up broke and crashed. James hid under a table, dead anthros covered the lobby, covered in dark red blood and mangled fur. The walls were covered in red fluid and bullet holes, crying could be heard throughout the room.
Stetson slowed his breathing down, James cowered. From his boot, Stetson grabbed his hunting knife and threw it in the air, it spun swiftly, hitting Mike in the chest unexpectedly, he gasped for air and flops backwards. Jerry meanwhile hid behind a desk loading his machine gun, which stood to the left side of the lobby. He knew Stetson wasn’t far from him.
Peeking his upper body over the desk, he began to fire rounds, like a soldier in war, Stetson went down on his stomach and crawled towards Mike’s weapon, the bullets whizzed by his head, like short bursts of wind. Staying low, he pulled the shotgun from Mike’s dead hand and shot near Jerry. He ducked under the desk. The deer stood up and loaded the weapon, aiming it precisely at the front desk. He held his breath and peeked over the desk, no human.
A shiver went through his body as he walked around the destroyed lobby. He looked to James who was shaking under the table. “Don’t move. I’m not leaving you.” The young man blocked his ears and nodded. The room went eerily silent, Stetson stepped over shattered glass and broken plates. His ear twitched, he felt Jerry behind him, he swiftly turned and shot once into his face, causing a stream of blood to fly as he fell to the side. The deer knelt by the body and picked up his driver’s license to get some information. On the back of the license, an address was handwritten-where was this address and what did it have to do with the shooting? James ran to Scarlet, who was not moving.
THREE DAYS LATER
She was dead. The dog who entered his family and had been with him for years as his sister, now gone by two random gun men. It seemed like a terrible nightmare, so very sudden. Stetson was now his life line. Not that he didn’t have friends, but there was something about the deer that pulled him like a magnet. Was it his personality? Maybe, he was never rude and wasn’t as noisy as most of the hotel guests, but also was great in conversation when the appropriate time came.
James’ home seemed so quiet, the sound of a ticking clock was the only ambience, besides maybe a passing car or two. Usually his sister would be talking his ear off, or they’d be going to the mall. The emptiness in his soul, was nearly deafening.
A knock on the door interrupted his depressed silence, James let Stetson in, he was a bit surprised to the buck standing in the door frame, his ears down and his overall mood seemed quite affected by Scarlet’s death. “Holding up okay, James?” The young man nodded and gestured him in. His house was one floor, two bed rooms, all the usual items and rooms were there to make a modest home.
Stetson crossed his huge arms and looked to James sorrowfully. “If you need anything, please let me know.” “I want the people responsible dead, Stetson.” With a perk of his ears, Stetson leaned against the nearest wall. He knew this type of anger all too well. He had gone through it a few years ago. “James, this is bigger than I thought. I did some research and, it looks like a guy named Hoss set it up. I’ve heard of him, he’s a mean, nasty anthro who tortures humans for food and pleasure. I can’t rightfully let you go through with digging deeper.”
The two went into the kitchen, James and Stetson each held cups of coffee after a few moments of silence. “I want to see him die. You don’t know how much my sister meant to me, you know how sweet she was. Please. Stetson. If I don’t do this, I’ll never sleep, I’ll never feel satisfied.” Stetson sipped his drink and cleared his throat, James looked at him with pleading eyes.
If Stetson was being truthful, he felt bad. He felt maybe this human should get some closure. Typically, he never let anyone on his dark escapades killing those who he felt deserved it, but losing a family member was something he knew all too well about. If he took James with him, what if something were to happen? Talk about guilt-this human was innocent and probably his first violent scene was the shootout, which left him petrified for hours. Interrupting his train of thought, James approached the deer. “Please Stetson. Let me come with you. I know you’ll look into this deeper. I saw that scar on your arm, you don’t let things slide, do you?” The deer was a lot of things, but not a liar. “No. I don’t let things go easily. Which is why I can’t have you with me. I do things, things that only I should know about.” James took a deep breath. “I’m coming with you. This is destroying me, Stetson. Please. I’m begging you.” Unblinking, James turns his head up to look the buck directly in the face. Stetson nodded. This was the point of no return. He reacted to his gut instinct. Maybe James was right.
Hoss and Lance walk about a large warehouse. The large door locked behind them. Some humans are caged, some are out and used as slaves, carrying heavy cardboard boxes to huge rooms. Some cry and shake in terror and some simply do their work without complaining, they range from ages 20 to 40. As well as weak humans, anthros in camo and holding weapons, since these operations with harvesting humans was of course illegal and any police who entered needed to be dealt with. Select humans were also used as soldiers if they were deemed strong enough.
The beagle crossed his arms, looking at Hoss with a proud glare. “Hoss, you never told me you had this. This is amazing.” The pig smirks and leads him around the various rooms within this dark establishment. “What’s with the boxes?” “Weapons and crap, I’ll let you have a good amount of it. Good stuff for if Stetson decides to come marching in.”
Lance paused for a bit, leading Hoss to a corner. “Stetson? Isn’t he dead?” Hoss shrugged. “If my men succeeded, yes-but I’m not taking any chances. Would you? This guy is a killer, and he needs a taste of his own medicine. You’re with me, huh?” The beagle nodded slowly and adjusted his black t-shirt. “Always man. Just wait until we get a bigger place and start taking over more? Humans will be our workers and maybe we can take over.” The pig chuckled. “Now you’re talking. I should give my men a call, they should be heading back by now-damn it’s like watching toddlers.”
The early morning sun rose, Stetson showered and hopped into the hummer once James was ready. The human wore a brown t-shirt and black faded jeans, he held a small suitcase. Taking a note from Stetson, he wore one single outfit and brought no more clothes. He yawned and rubbed his eyes a few times, but in reality his brain was going at full speed. Of course, the well of emptiness he felt for his sister wasn’t going to ever end. Scarlet was everything, she was the badass sister that kept James’ energy up and going, she’s the reason why he was probably able to gain the confidence to ask for a job at the hotel.
The vehicle rocked back and forth as the sound of the engine took up part of the ride, the roads became more abandoned as a few hours passed, Stetson did talk to James a bit, what to do if certain dangerous situations arise. The deer had a lot to think of as well, James was a good kid-but this was going to be new and dangerous territory.
As he approached the destination, a bit of sand kicked up as he walked towards the RV. Why was there an address to a random address to a random RV in this guy’s wallet? Showing no fear, the deer approached the front door and tugged, but it was locked. Maybe something was in there, some evidence as to why that huge, but random shooting took place? A gun cocked behind him, the deer slowly turned. Thank goodness James was in the hummer if the owner of the RV decided to shoot him up. The hummer was parked about a half hour from the destination.
A female human stood a few feet from him, aiming a black shotgun at him. Her hair curly blonde, she looked about 40 and a tad bit out of shape, but she knew how to handle the gun. The wind blew, nothing was around but a few empty dirt roads and lots of sand. She spoke in a slightly gruff tone, not letting her guard down. “Who are you?” He put his hands up. “Stetson. I need to ask you some questions.” The air blew a bit, she lowered her shotgun. He didn’t seem to want to attack her, but still found his size a bit intimidating. She slowly nodded and invited him into her home.
The living space was quite small, a single bed, a few chairs, a dirty floor and a few windows with dead bugs stuck to the glass. Stetson sat down, he told her everything from what he did, to how he found her place. She sat silently and listened open mindedly. The deer looked into her eyes and spoke in the politest way he could. “Please Gloria, I just need to know why they were attacking us. If you’re friends with who you say you are, then I do need to know. We’re talking about lives here.” She nodded. “You ever hear of Hoss?” Stetson’s ears perked a bit as he sat up straighter and crossed his legs comfortably “Yeah. I mean, I’ve heard the name when I go to bars. Does he have something to do with the attack? I assumed he did, being that I did some research. Do you have specifics?” She nodded as she offered him a water. “Probably, he was my ex-husband. I know how his mind works. I knew some of his men very well, Lance was a beagle I knew quite well. Just as much of an asshole as Hoss was. I pretended to be friends with all his hunting buddies, only so that Hoss didn’t beat me for not treating his comrades with respect.” Stetson sipped his as his ears dropped. “I’m so sorry. Did he talk about killing humans or anything like that?” “All the time” she said sadly. “Really I was just a toy to him. Constant threatening and stuff.” He nods. She continued. “I also know something about a warehouse he had. Nothing more than that though.” He slipped her his cell number. “Call me anytime. Okay?” With a feeling of sorrow for her, he briskly walked off…
“What did you find out in there?” James asked as Stetson started the hummer and drove into the pink sky, the headlights on, the road long. “I’m going to get some info. You wait in the car. If I make a stop.” The human glanced to the deer a bit. “I want to come with you.” Stetson cleared his throat and looked ahead. “I don’t know kid.” James stared at him. “Stetson, please. You don’t know how much it pains me. I think about what happened every single day. It’s painful. I want to help you.” Stetson nodded. “I know. I can’t let you go to dangerous places yet. Do you even know how to shoot a gun?”
The human shook his head. The two were silent for a little while as the music from the radio filled the car. A certain comfort washed over the human as he looked at Stetson behind the wheel. He had the look of fearlessness, but also comfort. Almost fatherly. The deer jolted forward as a giant vehicle tailgated them. Stetson’s heart sank, he knew someone was after him.
A rush of adrenaline hits him as he reached over a very confused James and grabbed his pistol, driving with one hand. “Stay down James!” He cocked his head out the driver’s side window and saw the military vehicle, ramming into the hummer again. With a grunt, Stetson leaned out and fired a few bullets into the vehicle. Driving behind the wheel was a frumpy male with a bushy brown beard and hunting clothes.
He jerks the hummer to the right with a loud screech and drives on the sand beside the main road. The human kept his head low, his heart pounded in his chest as he heard the incredibly threatening noises right beside him. The ride soon became bumpy, the military jeep still followed. Sand kicked up everywhere. Stetson slowed his breathing, making sure his brain didn’t go into full panic mode, panicking would mean death for James. James was who he needed to keep safe. Stetson slammed on the gas, the engine became loud. His voice became a bit loud, he reached in the back and grabbed his double barrel shotgun. “James! Take the wheel and keep the hummer steady!” He removed his green vest and tossed it in the back of the hummer.
Without a second thought, he slipped into the driver’s side as Stetson hoists himself up on top of the roof of the speeding vehicle-thankfully James wasn’t a bad driver. James had Stetson’s life in his hands. He took rabid deep breaths.
Balancing on top of the hummer, the wind pushing his shirt up slightly, the deer aimed his shotgun at one of the tires of the jeep and fired. He missed. Sweat pours down his neck as he tries to steady his firing, a few bullets wiz right by him from the pistol the driver held. Stetson held his breath and fired the gun, with a loud blast and a giant pop sound followed, the jeep swerved out of control, going left and right in a zigzag pattern. James stopped the vehicle and the buck jumped off the roof, landing on his feet. He sighed heavily and wiped the dust off his clothing.
Stetson aimed the gun at the distressed driver. “Get out. Now.” His tone ice cold. The driver fired a few shots out his window, Stetson ducked swiftly and fired towards him, shattering the windshield. “Come on out!” Stetson angrily shouted.
The driver managed to sneak out of the driver’s side door and hide behind the broken jeep, Stetson went on his stomach and fired a hole through his foot. With a scream, the human fell to the ground, blood spewed from his foot, he knew death was upon him. Stetson turned to face him once he faced the angry driver. “What’s your name?” Through tears of pain, he uttered. “Ramsey! I’m gonna kill you!” Stetson knelt in front of him, he smiled a tiny bit. “I think the shoe is on the other foot.” His antlers also covered in specks of blood and dirt from the past few days of excitement. “Tell me everything you know about Lance and Hoss. You know them?” Ramsey nodded. “Yeah. All hunters know them, AND everyone knows you! You’re BIG money!” Stetson took Ramsey’s gun and tossed it to the side. The wind caused the sand to kick up, cars could be heard in the distance.
James watched from a distance as he hopped out of the hummer, but didn’t say a word. Stetson got directions to an old warehouse, where Hoss and Lance hang out. Ramsey shook with fear. Stetson looked to him in the face, holding his cheeks roughly. “You gonna hunt again?” The human shakes his head. “You gonna get a respectable job and quit hurting others?” He nods. “Good. Hope I don’t have to see you again Ramsey. Good luck.” Ramsey cried in terror as Stetson walked off.
The sun began to set as the two drove off yet again.
Cuddling into a blanket in the back seat, James yawned and fell into a light sleep. The happiness he got from being with Stetson was odd. Someone he had only met a few days ago brought him so much comfort. He would guess that he always liked someone in control, someone with a good head on their shoulders. He liked the tough guys, the fighters.
The deer sat in the driver’s seat, he chewed on a toothpick as he leaned his chair back, he listened to James’ calm breathing. It was so weird to watch over someone again. Not just someone he rescued, but someone who connected with him. James woke up and went to the passenger side. “Hey Stetson. You okay?” Rarely did anyone ask this, the deer nodded. “Yup. You?” He nods as he gets a snack to munch on. “You have any family waiting for you?” Stetson sighed. “No. My wife divorced me and my daughter is no longer around.” Stetson sighed and rubbed his neck. James looked to him. “It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me, if it makes you uncomfortable.” Stetson looked forward. He moved his position slightly. “My daughter was killed by a hunter when she was eight.” A long pause filled the hummer. Stetson never told anyone the entirety of events that took place a year ago and changed his life. “Hunter shot her. Long story short, I went into a deep fit of rage. I did some illegal things, rescued a human ironically enough and rest is history.”
James’ heart went into his throat. Turned out there was more to Stetson than he once thought. The deer continued. “I was going to stop after I did all the illegal stuff, but in this cruel world a lot of humans and anthros need help. I got the skills, so I figured why not help others? I know I’m not the only one who’s family has been ruined. It’s either find a purpose, or curl up in a ball and be depressed about everything.” The human placed a hand on Stetson’s shoulder. “I bet your daughter is proud of you.” The deer sighed and smiled a bit. “Maybe. Get some sleep.” James sighed and hugged Stetson tightly. The two fell asleep as the sun rises and the grass turned wet with dew.
With a groggy stretch, Stetson looked to his side to the sleeping human, wrapped like a cocoon in his blanket. As he drove towards the warehouse, he got to thinking what James’ life would be like. Would he have a wife and kids? Would he be single and lament the days without his sister? If only he could predict the future, but sadly he could only help him so much. Being a friend was okay, but he knew deep down that darkness would follow on this day.
The warehouse wasn’t far away. He wasn’t doing this for himself, he did it for James and the love he had for his sister. Revenge was Stetson’s first thought when he lost his daughter, but knowing what he did may have saved others’ lives made him feel a bit warm. All Stetson wanted to do was to show James that the evil would be over, that he wouldn’t have to think about the nasty pig who killed his sister. Perhaps his efforts wouldn’t go unpunished.
The warehouse loomed over the hummer. James looked up at it almost in a dark awe. Winter air was beginning to form. The sand beneath them a dull grey color, like snow had fallen there the night before.
Stetson put on his leather jacket, brown gloves and loaded his shotgun. James sighed, clearly scared for his friend’s safety. “Stetson? Please let me go with you.” “No James. You stay here, I’ll leave the hummer running. If I’m not back in thirty minutes, you drive. You drive outta here and don’t look back for a second.” Upon saying those last words, the driver’s side window crashes with a loud bang. The chilly wind from outside pushed through the hummer, Stetson leapt onto the young man. He hands James a pistol and orders him to get out. The two ran at full speed, getting away from the hummer. The bullets from a sniper could be heard. The deer aims his shot gun forward as he shoots down a few guards outside, blood flies from their legs and they shout in pain. The human nearly becomes sick looking at the gunman lying in pools of their own blood and bone.
The back door to the warehouse is large and metal. Stetson sighs as he loads his shotgun. He pulls James back to the hummer, he starts the vehicle earnestly. “Stetson! What are you doing?” The deer drives a complete circle, ignoring James’ comment. At full speed, he slams into the backdoor of the huge building, the metal door splits in two as debris and smoke cover the inside of the building, the windshield cracked and the engine begins to sputter.
Before anyone has time to react, Stetson yanks James off his seat and runs him to a safe area.
Wooden crates cover the building, a tall ceiling with florescent lights hang. The sound of Stetson’s boots on the ground echo. Crouching behind one of the large crates, Stetson hears sounds of henchmen. James sweats with terror, his hands shake and his breathing becoming irregular. He kneels with his hero, goosebumps form on his skin. The thought of Hoss being here however, makes him want to stay and fight, Stetson’s breath is seen the weather only turns more bitter, the broken back door makes winter cold much more intense. “Stetson? Will we survive?” Footsteps become closer. “I think so kid. Stay down and only shoot if you have too.”
Coming out completely from cover, he eyes a lot of henchmen, all anthros and tall. Bullets fly and the loud bangs echo from across the walls.
A circle of about thirteen of them form around the deer as he fires bullets and aims his gun precisely, getting nicked a few times in the process, but shrugging off the pain. The shotgun fires, hitting some in the chest, causing them to fly backwards into the large crates with cringe worthy thuds. Another one shot in the face, which renders an unrecognizable bloody and muscle filled mess as Stetson’s shot gun bullet hits it. One wolf attempts to come up behind the deer with a knife, but he is hit in the stomach with the butt of the gun, a second later the barrel is aimed at his forehead and with a shot, his head explodes, splitting in two, causing blood to hit Stetson’s face. The deer removed his leather jacket, tossing it to the ground, beginning to sweat.
A few others are shot as they run out of hiding firing back and forth. With a deep breath, Stetson loads his gun, a puff of smoke covers the room, his arms ache, bodies litter the floor of the warehouse. Most are dead, some groan and vomit blood as they try to stand.
James runs to the deer, pale and shaking. “Are you okay?” He nods as he walks about the place, getting a better feel for it. His ears twitch as he hears sounds of crying and screaming, not from the gunman but from somewhere else. What other secrets was this place harboring? Past the crates, stands a red metal door, Stetson heads right for it, maneuvering his large body so he can cut through the narrow spaces between the crates
. Hoss comes out of the mysterious room at the end of the large building. Larger than life and smiling a bit. He smokes a cigar and crosses his arms. His height nearly matched Stetson, but much more overweight. The pig spoke as Stetson raised his shotgun, the red door directly behind him, piles of crates surround them. James stands behind the deer, Stetson glances to him. “Go. Now.” Hoss laughed a bit. “Stetson! You son of a bitch. It’s weird to even be talking to you. Your name has been plastered on newspapers and posters. Gosh, when I planned that whole hotel bit, I had no idea I’d land myself HERE. With you!”
He walked in a circle, James immediately hops behind a crate. Stetson turns, his barrel on him always. “You’re quite the killer-hunters fear you, all because your precious daughter got shot and you went on a little tirade. Well, I’m not scared.” Stetson placed the barrel of the gun to his chest, stopping him in his tracks. “You scared now?”
With lightning quick reflexes, the pig snatched the shotgun from his hands and snapped it with both arms, tearing at opposite ends. James gasped a bit as the pig lunged at the deer, knocking him to the ground. Stetson grunted as he felt a giant fist smash into his face and felt warm blood which seeped into his mouth. The buck jammed both of his thumbs into each eye socket of the pig, he yelled in pain. Another punch landed on Stetson’s face, nearly making him black out. Stetson slammed his foot into the pig’s crotch, he then threw a few right and left hooks. Hoss’ blood flew, his nose bubbled with snot and dark blood. Hoss slams Stetson’s head into the concrete ground, he yelped. Stetson has his hands around the pig’s throat like a vice. Squeezing. Hoss slams his head into Stetson’s, causing the deer’s ears to ring and stinging pain enter his cranium. Equally as fast as the pig, the deer gribs the hunting knife from his boot and slashes the pig once in the arm, a stream of blood flows and Stetson stands up, holding the knife in a fighting position. The pig yells.
Suddenly, a pistol is pressed against Hoss’ head. Stetson gasps a bit. He looks James in the eye.
“James. Don’t do this.” The human trembled, his eyes watered, his body sweat. The pig let go of his stinging arm which gushed loads of blood, not looking like he was going to hit the human, but glared. “YOU. You’re the reason my sister is dead. You sicko!” Hoss smiled. “You humans. So frail and emotional. Big tough Stetson helping you out? This isn’t the first revenge path he’s taken. You’re well on your way to becoming worse than he is human.” The deer wiped blood from his face and slapped the pig upside the head. “You touch him. You’re dead.” Hoss shoved Stetson, nearly making him fall backwards.
In a fit of panic, James shot Hoss’ kneecap, he screams in agony and falls to the ground, his knee spurts blood. James’ heart raced as he watched the pig writhe in pain. Stetson reached his arm around the human, standing to his side. “James. You go to the hummer. You’ve seen him. Your job is done.”
The teen aimed the gun at the deer in a fit of terror. “Stetson! I came here to FINISH this.” The buck raised his voice. “Don’t you fucking point that at me!” A long pause filled the warehouse. What happened to James? Was he going crazy? With those words and the deer looking at him with pleading eyes, James sighed deeply. He stood still for a moment. This was a dark path not going down. Stetson momentarily saw a darkness cover James’ face-a darkness he hoped to never see again.
James tossed the pistol outside with a large throw, his body tenses. Stetson looked to Hoss. “What else do you have going on here?” Hoss speaks between tears. “You’d love to know, wouldn’t you?” Stetson sighed deeply and flipped his knife once to show off. He pressed the blade against Hoss’ throat. “You tell me now and I’ll make your death painless. You don’t tell me, I’ll make your time here torturous. Who else are you hurting?” Now faced with death, Hoss became less confident and more weak and frail.
The large pig sniffled. “Humans. Tied up and used as our slaves. Go in. Look at the beautiful work Lance and I have done. Maybe you’ll wanna join us? Maybe you’ll realize what a majestic world it would be, if humans were merely our servants. No more racism. No more hate. Everyone had their place. When I get out of the hospital, YOU and JAMES are so dead. SO fucking dead.” He chuckled.
The deer sighed, kneeling to match Hoss’ position. “For Gloria.” He jams the blade into Hoss’ neck, slowly dragging it across his throat from left to right. The metal completely inserted into the smooth pink skin. He falls to the ground, gurgling heaps of vital fluid. Stetson watched him for a few moments, struggle to breathe, he held the open wound down with his hands. Perhaps trying to close it in a state of shock. His entire upper body a puddle of red fluid, nearly drowning him, with a wheeze, he lies motionless staring up at a deer who didn’t quite fit the profile of the hunted or the prey as most did.
Humans of all ages and sizes, now were free to roam to find their homes. The locks and chains broken, hundreds of innocents now were outside the warehouse.
Stetson held his nearly broken nose with a damp paper towel as it had begun to bleed moments after freeing the humans, he looked to James and sat, leaning against his now broken hummer, still sticking out of the large door, the rear end clearly visible from the outside. He tossed James a water bottle and drank one himself. He took a deep and tired breath. He let go of the cloth, the bleeding had stopped. James sat right by his side. The two did nothing but look into the distance for a long while. The deer looked to his friend. “You okay?” James nods. “I’ll get you home, okay? Don’t worry.” He pet James’ back and gave him a quick hug. His ears perked at the sound of a motorcycle approaching.
The black cruiser motorcycle came to halt, the sand settled behind the back wheel and a beagle hopped off. Removing his helmet, he wore biker clothes and his jaw was a bit down.
Stetson stood to greet him, his jeans and t-shirt covered in dry blood, smudged dirt and little holes, Lance had never seen a deer this huge. The canine took deep rapid breaths. His work undone. His dream of humans becoming nothing but play things, done.
From his back pocket, Stetson aimed his pistol at Lance, who slowly put his hands up. “What the hell have you done? TRASHED all our work?” Stetson approached, chilly wind began to cover the area, the only sound that could be heard other than the murmurs of safe humans and Stetson’s large footsteps as he moved closer to the beagle. “Your keys. Give them to me.”
As the talking stopped, the sound of winds became more prominent. The dog looked to his feet, then looked up at the towering anthro. James ran to Stetson, but stayed behind him. The deer cocked the gun. “My idea is to take this human home, if you’re going to be in my way I’ll hurt you, as you can tell I made a mess of your guards and one dog won’t be an issue for me. Frankly, I don’t want to. Enough bloodshed has happened. I’d like to just relax. If you please. Make a choice. Either promise me you won’t hurt anyone ever again and you’ll never see me again, and leave all this shit behind, or fight me. Quick. Make up your mind.” Lance coughed and tossed him the keys without a second thought. Death was something Lance wasn’t ready for. The buck yawned and grabbed a holster from the back of his destroyed hummer and placed the gun by his side. Lance watched in anger as Stetson straddled the bike and helped James onto the motorcycle, revved the engine once and zoomed off. Leaving carnage in his wake.
The smell of gas hit James’ nose quickly, the motorcycle was a bit loud for his taste, but he felt so comfortable with the deer that it hardly mattered. The ride is bumpy, but Stetson controlled the bike with ease. James wrapped his arms around the deer’s waist and rests his head on his back. Tiredly watching scenery pass as they made it to the main roads. Finally. He felt fully relaxed. The images of blood and gore wouldn’t ever go away, but right now-he was able to just be in the moment with his hero. Being with a badass riding a motorcycle is in the end not what he thought would ever happen, but he accepted it with glee.
With a frail human wrapped around him, Stetson smiled a tad bit. It was odd at first, but perhaps it was good. Perhaps it gave the deer a sense of fatherliness that he never thought he’d get again. Maybe he’d never get it again. With a relaxed breath, he accelerated up a few hills, the wind blowing fast, the air cold as the sun tried to make its way through the looming clouds overhead, which it did. The deer got the break he was waiting for, but James being there made his time even better than he ever could have hoped for.
By: Aaron B.
Art by: Emily Ormsby
PLOT: We learn how well Jon fits into the lives of an anthropomorphic horse and dragon, Ira opens up about her somewhat dark past and Vlad and a deadly accomplice grow closer to killing Jon once and for all…
He sighed a bit, he didn’t really want to let Vlad into the church. Father Merek however ignored his slight fear and held the door open for him. The evening was a bit chilly, the town of Animalia was fast asleep, crickets chirped and the only sounds that could be heard was the ambience of the creaky church and the footsteps of the two anthros stepping inside.
Towards the alter was where the buck kept his black bag for storing various books he wanted to take home with him and study.
Once the Komodo dragon entered, he began sniffing the place, tilting his head up and down. His black armor clanking as he moved about the area, the deer coughed gently. “What can I help you with?” Vlad smirked, he knew a human had been there not too long ago. Placing his clawed hands on his hips, the soldier spoke. “I smell a human. I need to know if you knew of his presence.”
The priest felt his heart sink a tad bit. Merek’s throat became dry a few seconds afterwards, he knew lying would be the only possible way of getting out of this. His good deed of keeping Jon safe might had just backfired. “Human? No sir, I would have alerted a guard. I know how the king feels about the species. If you’ll excuse me, I must leave.” The deer briskly walked to his bag, buttoned it and slung it over his shoulder.
As he turned to go, Vlad was mere inches from the buck’s snout, he was clearly startled and leaped back a step.
The Komodo smelt the scent even more than ever, Jon had taken refuge there, he knew it. Vlad also knew that below the church was a washing area, where Jon had cleaned up before going on his journey. Vlad knew just about every inch of every building, being the right hand man to the king, he was given exclusive information. “The cretin used your wash room without you knowing it? That seems odd. Father, you better come out with the truth.” With a sigh, Merek spoke, becoming agitated. “Sir, I do not know what you mean-please do not use that tone with me.”
Merek only blinked once before feeling the sharp end of a knife enter his abdomen, the buck fell backwards, his bag flopped to the ground, echoing loudly. Vlad knelt beside him. “To bad you will not get to save your precious parasite before I’m done with him. I hope you’ve prepared a final prayer.” He felt the sting three more times in the same area, if it had gone in a fourth he would not have known. Samuel Merek’s eyes became cloudy, the buck’s world became a black void.
Stepping out to the woods, Vlad took one last glance at the white church. The scent of Jon picking up, the lizard licked his lips and continued onward. Leaves crunched beneath his boots, he cleaned the edge of his blade and sheathed it to one side. As he drank some water from a canteen he had gotten from the church, his circular eyes widened as he found something incredible by his feet. He knew now why the scent had been so strong, but no human had been in sight. Laying in front of him, was a sharp rock, with some blood upon it. He took a large whiff, pressing his nose against the hard surface and continued his path, hoping to perform acts of violence and dread.
The sound of a large grandfather clock did not stir the eighteen-year-old human from sleep, in fact the repetitious noise calmed him. He happened to had fallen asleep on the very comfortable couch in Vincent’s living room.
The dragon was in the kitchen, preparing some ham and potatoes for a morning meal. He was lucky he had such an inheritance from his parents to be able to cook fine foods and live in such a gorgeous home, without these luxuries, taking care of Jon would have been a much more difficult procedure.
Ira Goldentrot soon walked in on the fine smell of breakfast, wearing a white peasant shirt and green slacks with boots, her tail swayed contently as she gripped the shoulders of the seven-foot-tall creature who was humming as he cooked, he wasn’t startled by her. He sensed her presence before she set foot into the room. “Good day, scaly!” With a smirk, he placed the food onto plates and set his table up. Jon woke groggily, after being given the correct potions, his foot barely hurt anymore.
Jon sat by Ira and across from Vince when the eating had commenced, Jon’s soft and kind voice was heard. “Mr. Vince? Thank you.” He paused, collecting his thoughts, plus speaking was a chore in itself for him. “Really, I would be dead without you.” He smiled kindly to the human, he never thought a dragon could give a kind smile, but if anyone could it would be him.
Vince spoke to Jon after the eating was done, Ira could help him quite a bit with cleaning his area. “Jon? Are you stable enough to perhaps do some chores?” The teen nodded. “Yes Mr. Vince.” He was extremely content here, going from terrified for his life to the feeling of safety was odd. He knew in his heart that no one could replace his parents, even if Ira and Vince’s personalities were a bit similar, his family would forever be missed. The teen knew he would always feel a dark cloud of depression over his head, no matter what.
Ira’s wooden sword came down, knocking him to the ground. Vince’s large backyard was perfect for activities, and being that his house was high up and away from the town, the chances of a soldier discovering them were rather slim if the human did not wonder. Vince’s mansion overlooked most of Animalia, so he also got a good look at Crixus’ gated castle, the woods across from his home also marked the spot where Jon had hurt his foot.
The sky was very clear, a nice breeze made the tall grass in Vince’s backyard sway, the sun beat down on the mare and human. Ira chuckled as Jon shot back up, grasping a similar sword, following her spurts of instruction. He was becoming quite skilled in a short amount of time, but the mare knew not to rush him. She helped him up swiftly, the dragon kept an eye on the two while sitting on the back porch and sipping some tea.
After a few words about sword defense from Ira, the two clashed again, the wooden weapons making contact made a distinct sound which echoed slightly. Ira hit Jon, Jon hit Ira-it seemed to be going on for quite a while. As the two practiced and probably got new bruises and sweat dripped, Vince decided to wash the dishes in a wooden bucket of warm water.
The war between the mare and human ended, Jon and Ira now sit with cups of water in each hand and heavily breathing after a day of swordsmanship.
* * *
The woods never seemed to end and he had lost the trail of the human a bit, his body becoming more tense as he realized this fact. The Komodo dragon leaned against a large tree, his armor was beginning to hurt his scales, he wanted to go back to the castle and report the teen as still on the loose. However, that would be a lie since he knew for a fact his scent would soon turn up again. Vlad would not give up, this was an honorable duty-going after such dangerous creatures as humans. He plucks some grapes from the tree and tosses a few in his mouth. He began to absent mindedly scanning the woods and the hundreds of trees to each side of him.
He turns his head to one side and finds a path in among some thorns, something he had not found in a while. No scent of Jon could be detected, but what really intrigued him was the wooden cabin at the end of the mysterious trail. With his pointed tail swaying, his yellow eyes looking quite inquisitive, he made his way to the house and knocked on the front door-which swiftly swung open, nearly knocking him to the ground. No mere mortal would have had that power-the owner of this place must be something more.
Drawing his sword, the lizard entered with no fear in his heart, he could take whatever this thing was down if he needed to. Once stepping inside, Vlad was met by a huge area, much bigger than it should have been judging from the outside proportions. The place seemed empty, he needed a place to rest, if he were going to have to battle whoever was keeping Jon away from the anthro city. Rest would not come however, he felt the cold metal of a blade on his throat and breathing inches from one side.
A voice of menace was the next thing to hit his ear, a female voice. “Move and I kill you. State your business.” The front door slammed shut, candles on the floor began to light on their own, perhaps Vlad had landed himself into more than he could handle.
The Komodo dragon placed the sword back in its sheath, the knife pressed harder against his throat, he began to cough a bit, the female spoke harsher. “State. Your. Business.” Vlad didn’t sound fearful, but his words were a bit cut off by this stranger’s brute strength. “I am Vladimir of Animalia, I am a knight. I have come from the city of my people on official business. To kidnap a human. Let me go, wench!”
She let go with a huff, he rubbed his throat and his breathing returned to normal.
How was she strong enough to keep him still? No one had ever done such a thing, for whoever attacked Vlad rarely lived to tell the tale. He dared not strike her-she truly possessed powers beyond most living creatures. Magical abilities were one of the only things that could thwart him.
The lizard turned to face the woman, she was tall, about 6 feet, wearing a silk black dress and had long blonde hair which went down to her hips. Her face smooth, her eyes striking and quite sensual. Her hands a bit clammy with long silver fingernails. She spoke again, her voice piqued interest instead of hostility. “A human? You must be mistaken; no human would dare set foot in in the city of anthros.” The reptile looked around the cabin walls, seeing all different sorts of potion books and glass jars. “The human will no longer be an issue once I’m through with him. I smelt the scent and he is around these woods”
The woman paused and approached the muscular knight. “I am Ella-and I would like to make a bargain with you if the words you speak are true.” She held Vlad’s scaly hand, he did not pull away. He couldn’t. There was something enchanting about the 50-year-old, it was odd that she was somewhat taller than he was, but not by much. He began to feel a bit relaxed, none of this made sense. Her hand grasping his should have been reason to cut it off, but his guard kept going down lower and lower. She went to his ear again, her voice sultry. “I need a human for a rare potion, and if you help me I will grant you any wish your heart desires. You could help your king, banish anyone you dislike, you could have riches beyond your wildest dreams-you could even BE a king. Just bring me the little rat.” Vlad would be going strictly against Crixus’ wishes by not just automatically brining Jon to the castle, but the temptation was strong. The outcome could actually benefit the land in the long run-a wish? Any wish? Vlad nodded, once she released his hand, the two shook on their deal.
The mare plucked an apple from a tree, tossing it to Jon as they walked over leafy path ways and looking up at tall trees. Another beautiful day would arise, Ira walked by his side detailing how to get back to Vince’s place should he ever get lost. She would walk a bit ahead of him to make sure no one was watching their movements or no one would come out of the bushes with an attack.
Ira’s nonstop talking and energy kept Jon happy, he liked her more and more each day. She had done quite a bit for him, he never thought he’d start to learn how to use a sword, his nerves would often get in the way every time he picked one up in front of his mother or father. Neither of his parents were knights, so they also were unable to teach him properly, but Ira had both a happiness and confidence that left Jon at ease.
Deep down however, Vince was Jon’s hero and that would most likely remain a fact for the remainder of his life. He liked both equally, but the dragon had come to him at a time when hope and happiness was sucked out of him. He knew though with Ira’s help, he’d be capable of so much more than before.
Jon attempted to climb a tree, but was no yet strong enough to do so as the mare chuckled while watching him, she would point out various items and things on the ground and show him footprints made by woodland creatures-much different than anthros and much smaller, but still could speak to humans if they so wished.
Ira began to ponder about the future of Jon, she didn’t say anything to him specifically, but it was in the back of her mind. This was a unique situation, but she had vowed her entire life to protect anyone he needed it, regardless of how different they looked from her. She knew complications would arise from protecting him, but in all honesty her mind and heart were flooded with optimism for him, rather than fear.
Jon asked her a few questions regarding her past which she answered.
The flapping of determined wings distracted her train of thought as she was watching Jon explore, she turned her head upwards as a Peregrine falcon landed on a branch of a large tree. His breast white with brown speckles, his thick brown feathered backside completely slicked back like he used a comb to style it. His orange beak hooked at the tip and his yellow eyes huge and rounded, covered with a circular dark pupil that darted to Ira, then to Jon.
He stood at an impressive 20 inches, his talons shined in the sunlight and presented a sort of threatening look. The bird spoke with honesty and slight irritation, he sounded perhaps sixty in human years. “What are you both doing here? You’re about to trespass near my tree and I can’t say I appreciate that. If you have an issue, take it up with the other woodland critters and tell them Hector sent you!” Jon went to Ira’s side, a bit nervous to the bird’s harsh tone. “I’m walking with my friend-we mean you no harm.” The bird scoffed, as Ira too was getting irritated. Jon spoke. “My name is Jon-sorry to bother you, sir Hector.” The falcon could tell he had trouble speaking due to the long separation between words and the slight stutter, but did not hold that against him. “At least Jon has manners” the bird spat out softly. Ira scoffed a bit and crossed her arms. “He is polite for sure, please treat him with respect as he is doing you the same.”
Something about the teen struck the falcon, it wasn’t his tone, but that did help. It wasn’t his age, as age meant nothing to him, it was something deeper. A unique kindness, it was something in his soul. Something about his manner. Why couldn’t he pick it out? Hector knew this kid was safe-he didn’t trust Ira as much however. She had the strength to chop down his mighty tree if she so wished, Jon seemed a lot kinder and soft spoken, which Hector also liked. “Well you two keep out of trouble and I suppose I will let you both go with a warning. I’m much too old to be fighting and arguing.” He flew up higher so he could rest, he secretly watched the two interact as they made their way down to the calm lake.
The sun caused a golden aura to bounce off the leaves and anything on the ground. The air was getting a bit colder being that evening would soon fall. Vincent strummed his guitar as he sat on the couch, but little did he know, someone lurked outsidTwo figures hiding in among thorns and tall trees and looking directly at Vincent’s home. A Komodo dragon and a witch. Vlad sniffs the air with a smirk, it was refreshing to finally know that the human would soon not be an issue, and that he wasn’t even the one doing all the work. Ella stared into the window and saw the scaly figure contently sitting, when suddenly he stood up to answer the front door and Ira and Jon walked in. After a quick hug from Jon, the three went to the kitchen to prepare making some food.
Vlad was just about to stand up, when Ella pulled him back. “The scent is SO strong.” The lizard hissed, Ella spoke softly. “No. We wait until nightfall. I have a sure plan that you’ll love. Trust me. With my plan, we’ll get rid of the dragon, the horse and the human in one day.” Vlad went back to his hiding position.
* * *
As the sky became pitch black and crickets began to chirp, Vincent’s house became a bit brighter as he blew fire onto various candles. The house fully clean and everything was put in their proper spots. Ira and Jon both wore similar looking nightgowns Vince had bought as they conversed casually by the cracking fireplace. Jon was looking through the seemingly endless book collection Vince had. The dragon entered the living room wearing a brown evening cloak, smirking to the two. The mare looked back at him, and the same feeling crept into her heart. Something about Vince captured her, even when the two first met, she found him striking. His voice, his mannerisms, his kind soul. Never did she let these feelings out into his ear, whether she would or not one day would depend on circumstances within herself, confidence was not the issue. Rather his reaction, would he want a horse for a wife, or did he envision himself with another glorious dragon? Did he imagine marrying no one at all? He never spoke of love, other than the love he had for his mother.
She assumed not to speak of it now, right now he had a lot on his shoulders and tensions could raise at any moment, she would have to wait for a quiet moment when a poor human wasn’t being hunted. She knew Vince considered her an amazing friend, and for now that thought would have to do as Jon gave him a quick hug and the creature headed to his bedroom.
The young teen and mare sat, listening to the silence of the night and the ticking of the now familiar grandfather clock. “I had a great time with you, Jon. You really brighten my day.” She smirked and Jon blushed. “Really? Well, thank you.” The horse looked off and sighed a bit, she coughed gently as if lifting a bit of a weight off her shoulders. “You would have loved my foal, Nova.” The teen turned to her, not saying a word, he could sense she was going to reveal something. “She died due to medical complications no doctor could fix. I always felt she was stolen from me by whatever God or Gods might be lurking in the skies. The stallion I had her with left, so I could never confront him about it. He was a coward.” Jon frowned and held her hand gently, she spoke again. “I think maybe this is fate’s way of telling me I might have a second chance. That’s one of the reasons why I jumped at the opportunity to help you.” The human smiled a tad bit. “I love hanging out with you, Miss. Ira.” Her ear flicked a bit, so did her tail.
Jon wanted to do something, something to make her feel that motherly love she longed for. Life was not fair to her, it was almost frustrating that he couldn’t let these big and deep thoughts out. He could spend hours thinking of others and thinking of kind things to say, or mean things to say if someone bullied him, but was not able to let it out in a full-fledged paragraph. That fact felt a bit of an entrapment. As he sat in thought, images of his own mother came flooding into his brain.
In the evening, the two would talk together about anything, from mythology to real life politics going on. The love and help she gave him was incredible, it seemed in these times people were left to fend for themselves as the teenage years came, but Jon was extremely lucky to have loving parents who wanted him to do good, but realized he had tougher limitations to overcome.
Jon looked to the floor. “My mom loved me…” The horse and human both leaned back on the couch, tiredness over powered the two of them. “Of course, she did, you’re good and kind. She’ll always love you.” Ira was just about to put her arm around Jon, when he spoke. “Tuck me in? Please?” The mare’s eye lit up with a bit of excitement, she had not had to do this for anyone in years, and secretly she yearned to help someone feel protected. Not in a ‘knight in shining armor’ way like she always did, but in a more maternal way. She nodded and led the human to his bedroom.
After a swift moving of blankets and a tiny kiss on the forehead, Jon was in a deep sleep. “Good night Jon, see you in the morning.” She blew out the lit candle which sat by his bedside. Soon she drifted off into a deep sleep, the house remained quiet apart from the two who stalked and waited.
The sounds of screams echoed in his brain, his small town being burned. He smelt the smoke, he saw the Komodo dragons dressed in armor as they slashed at his friends and his parents. He felt his heart thud in his chest, he was back here. How? When? Why? Neither Ira nor Vince was around to explain anything to him, he was reliving the worst day of his life and nothing could stop it.
Jon sat up swiftly with a yelp, quickly feeling the blankets which covered him and looking around in a bit of a dazed confusion. The sound of wind could be heard from outside, he didn’t want to get up, but he realized rest would not come at this moment. He gently tossed to one side after trying and trying to fall asleep.
He stepped out of his room, being careful not to wake the two who slept close by. Jon crept his way downstairs hardly making a sound. The home was nearly covered in a sheet of darkness, Jon recognized the shadowy living room. He saw the formation of the couch and the last dying embers of the fireplace.
Footsteps descending the stairs behind him interrupted the silence of the night, Vincent was going downstairs to meet the teen who stood still, he adjusted his cloak. His calm voice so close by, it brought reassuring thoughts back to him. “Jon? Are you alright?” Jon nodded as Vince reached for a glass lantern by the couch and blew a bit of fire onto the small candle inside. “Just a nightmare.” The dragon sighed. “I am sorry to hear that. Do you want to talk about it?” The human shook his head, even if he wanted to forming the correct words and sentences would probably take too long, of course Vince would have waited patiently as he wasn’t going to dismiss him for this slight handicap. “Well, let me get you back to bed.” He was just about to do just that when a sound from outside interrupted his train of thought.
Who would be outside so late into the evening? The dragon told Jon to stay put, for he knew if anyone was sneaking around they were most likely after the human.
Vince briskly walked out the back door, the cold wind startled him a bit, his bare, clawed feet hit the dirt. He stared into the distance and saw the lining of trees which made up the woods, his eyes adjusted swiftly to the night. The crisp air hit his nose, which felt quite nice. He spoke in not a yell, but in a tone which was louder than usual. “Hello? Is anyone there?” Holding the lantern with one hand and holding his cloak closed with the other, he stepped a bit further away from the house, he wasn’t nervous but more curious.
From one side, only a few feet away from the home and in among tall eerie trees, a shadowy figure approached, her steps not making a sound, no face or facial features could be seen. She swiftly moved one of her hands, speaking in some native tongue-the dragon collapsed to one side before he had time to comprehend what happened. His head hit the earth with quite a thud. It wasn’t like he was pushed, it was more like a spell had been cast over him. A spell which was extremely strong and caused Vince’s brain to shut down for a little while.
Becoming afraid and starting to panic, Jon rushed outside, once he saw Vince lying on the ground only a few feet in front of him, he was about to run upstairs to wake Ira, but he failed to notice that the witch was now behind him-using the same spell, she caused him to collapse forward. She smirked and lifted the human was ease, walking into the now silent night.
Vlad spent his time trying to pick the lock to Vincent’s home with a small knife, which he succeeded in doing. Stepping into the large home, he drew his sword. Disposing of one mare would be quite simple, the dragon-not as much. The Komodo’s boots thumped against the hard floor. He smiled a bit, he knew everything would be taken care of. Perhaps Ella could deal with the dragon with some magical spell, but he wanted Ira. He had never met a strong man who could take him, so this would be a fun side project, an extra kill to maybe get some praise from the king upon his return.
The large lizard poked his head into every room, bracing himself for a short battle. Once he came upon Ira’s room and saw the horse sleeping among thick blankets soundly, he made his walk a bit softer. The sound of her breathing echoed through his ears as he approached closer and closer. The silence was nearly deafening, Ira slept so peacefully as Vlad was only a few inches from her, she is a beautiful white horse for sure. Her ear flicked and her nostrils flared-surly she was dreaming. He almost felt sorry he had to dispose of such a pretty creature.
The Komodo took a deep breath and raised his long sword above her bed, once his arms came down-Ira twisted her body out of the bed and onto the floor, directly opposite of where Vlad stood. He grunted in frustration, the horse’s heart seemed to thump a mile a minute. Under her bed, her silver sword lied. She reached for it with success, again Vlad’s sword came down as he was directly above her now. Using her upper body strength, the horse flipped herself onto her feet. Using all her skills, she blocked and dodged his attacks, her breathing controlled, her body relaxed and her eyes on the soldier. As Vlad’s sword swung, various items were broken and crashed loudly to the floor, Ira went in for a stab, but the lizard ducked and she instead smashed her bedroom mirror. He punched her in the gut, with a wince she stumbled back. Vlad flipped his sword theatrically, left and right, right to left his sword swung, Ira was nicked in the shoulder, but it did not hurt much even as it started to bleed onto the floor.
The sounds of loud thuds of the weapons hitting the walls and clashing against each other could be heard along with heavy breathing from both attackers. The mare swiftly went for the top of Vlad’s foot, he screamed in pain as she dug the blade passed through his boot and into his scaly flesh. She pressed deeper and deeper, he let go of his sword to try and yank the weapon out, before it even hit the floor, Ira grabbed it in mid-air and slashed his throat. The white horse now covered in his blood watched him as he slowly stopped breathing.
Without wasting time, Ira rushed into Jon’s room to check on him, she shouted his name over and over. Had her fear come true? Was he been kidnapped? Or worse, was he lying in a pool of blood? Cantering down the stairs, she realized the teen was gone.
Sunlight began to form upon the house and woods, Ira knelt beside Vince-she felt tears form on the edge of her eyes, her thoughts went to him being dead. For Ira, life without this dragon would be a life with forever fading happiness. She shook him. “Vince! Wake up!” She cussed at him a few times and after a few short coughs and sitting up groggily, the tall creature was at full attention. The two stood up, Vince rubbed his muzzle. “What on earth happened? Where’s Jon?” She sighed deeply. “He’s not around here!”
Vince and Ira call his name over and over, the sun rising more and more, the sky becoming clearer, the dragon shivered as the morning wind blew. The two were at a loss for words and looked at each other with dark and depressing thoughts enveloping their brains, when suddenly-hope came flying from the sky.
Hector landed on a low branch, making eye contact with two distraught anthros. His feathers not very neat, he clearly had just woken. His voice as stern as ever, he yawned a bit. “Looking for that human fellow?” He would never admit it, but the falcon was a bit worried, only for the fact that Jon seemed innocent and the innocent getting hurt was an unfair burden. With her ears perked, Ira nodded in a panic. “Some lady was off carrying him, I didn’t see where-but I have seen a cabin a few miles from here. It’s the only other living place I’ve seen other than Vince’s. Jon was breathing from what I can tell.”
She got the last of her armor on and a clean sword by her side, she straightened her gloves and splashed water onto her face. Vince got dressed in a white dress shirt and black slacks along with his frock coat, he too had a sword by his side. The horse and dragon exit the home and make their way into the woods, the air freezing even though the sun shined brightly. The two had no second thoughts of saving the human they both considered family.