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.