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Prose Equus 16: Helpful Hermit.

By Mandroid
Created: 19th December 2020 02:15:03 PM
AIE Safe Anon OC Adventure Action Drama

  1. Prose Equus 16
  3. >You step out of the Bifrost tunnel onto the steadily charring grass and wipe your boot on a root.
  4. “You know, eventually, someone like Zecora who lives out here is going to get upset that we’re making so much noise and burning her land.”
  5. >”If she choose to live out here, that her fault.”
  6. >Your…traveling companion steps out of the tunnel wrapped in a heavy cloak. You’re tall, but he’s taller still on his hind legs as he adjusts a wrapped boardsword on his back.
  7. “Your compassion is inspiring.”
  8. >”This the Everfree. No compassion here.” Rover says.
  9. >”You’re both too dour!”
  10. >Baldur gallops out as the Bifrost closes and prances around you. “All this talk about who we’ll offend or what we’ll break! We’re on a quest, my friends! Enjoy it a little!”
  11. >Silence passes between the three of you and Baldur is eager to fill it. “Or is this because of the history you told me about?”
  12. >You glance over.
  14. “I don’t get along with Diamond Dogs.”
  15. >”Rover get along worse with guards.”
  16. >You meet his green eyes and feel the weight of years of animosity between you both.
  17. >In life, you’d mopped up and chased out more Diamond Dogs hiding in caves forests and rivers than you could ever hope to count, and the animosity is shared with the Diamond Dogs. For as long as you can remember your time in Equestria, the Diamond Dogs have been outlaws, rebels and general pains in the ass.
  18. >Which made Rover volunteering for this directive from the Queen extremely strange. You decide to keep an eye on him.
  19. “Baldur, tell me about this axe we’re after.”
  20. >The prince hops enthusiastically as the three of you head towards the edge of the forest.
  21. >”Most gladly! We seek the Freikugel! An axe crafted after the first great dragon hunt out of one of the bones of their mightiest chiefs! Stolen by thieves during the war with Svarthalheim, it fell to Midgard where we now have its traces again! Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to track down the Freikugel in this area and return it to-YAH!”
  23. >Your hand is over your sword in a flash when you turn around to see what the noise was. Rover had his he was about to lose on Baldur’s shoulder and was holding him back, the surprise causing the Prince to yelp. Just as you begin to draw steel, Rover speaks.
  24. >”Careful.” He says, casting his head to a field of blue flowers on the forest floor. “Poison joke.”
  25. >”Huh?” Baldur looks down to the flowers and pulls his hoof back from touching them. “Eep. Wait, I’m invincible, they can’t hurt me.”
  26. >”Won’t hurt.” Rover says. “Will play a joke on you, make quest harder.”
  27. >”No-name?” Baldur asks.
  28. >You slowly slide your sword back into its sheathe and stand up again.
  29. “…Poison Joke is no joker, Baldur. He’s right.”
  30. >The prince accepts your input and smiles. “Right! Thank you Rover! It’s a good thing he’s here, right No-name?”
  31. “Fantastic, Baldur.”
  32. >Rover keeps his snout shut as the three of you hike to the edge of the forest, but you hear him bark right as town comes into view.
  33. >”Wait.”
  34. >You and Baldur turn to see Rover kneeling down near a pile of…what looks like animal droppings, he fetches a crystal vial from inside his cloak and scoops some of the pile of goo up into it, corking it shut.
  35. >You and Baldur both exclaim your disgust.
  36. “You did NOT just do that.”
  37. >”What?” Rover asks standing.
  38. “Picked up…whatever-poop!”
  39. >A low chuckle escapes the wraps around Rover’s head as he laughs at you. “What wrong, human? No like get dirty? Don’t worry, not poop.”
  40. >”What is it then?” Baldur inquires.
  41. >Rover pockets the brown liquid. “Rock sludge. Rare, useful. Think it will help.”
  42. >Baldur’s eye sparkle at the goo and you rub your face.
  43. “Come on, let’s get to the castle…”
  44. >The sooner the better.
  46. >At castle in the center of town, Twilight floats several texts of ancient lore around her head trying to help you.
  47. >”Uhhh…what did you say this was called again?”
  48. >”Freikugel!”
  49. >”…Gesundheit.” Twilight says, checking another tome. Baldur stands by her, eager to help however he can.
  50. >You and Rover, a bit more aware that there’s no way you could help being as out of your elements as you were, sit back against the wall.
  51. >As you have for two hours.
  52. “Twilight, have you got ANY good news for me?”
  53. >”Well “good” is really subjective, Anon. I think I might have news, but if it’s good? Weeellllll…”
  54. “I’ll take anything at this point, Twilight. I’ve counted the books on the walls seven times now.”
  55. >Twilight giggles. “Only seven?”
  56. >You groan.
  57. >Twilight floats a scroll over to you. “The axe shares its name with the dragon chief who its apparently made of. Based on my research, Chief Freikugel’s anger and aggression were notorious, and according to magical theory, that may increase the aggression of whomever is holding it as well, if they’re unprepared for it.”
  58. >”That sounds dangerous…” Baldur chimes.
  59. “Where could it be, then?”
  60. >Rover wastes no time pulling the twig he was chewing from his mouth. “Diamond Dogs, more than likely.”
  61. >All eyes quickly turn to him
  62. “The Dogs? Why?”
  63. >Rover pulls his cloak down and rubs his snout. “Diamond Dogs not stupid, smarter than ponies believe. Dogs are split into lots of different packs wherever they live, always fighting, as dogs do.”
  64. >That was for sure.
  66. >”If one dog had magic axe, he would be Top Dog. He could get lots of other dogs in his den and they would follow him. If he aggressive, dogs would be too.”
  67. >The other three of you in attendance think.
  68. >Twilight rubs her chin. “An aggressive leader of the Diamond Dogs…WOULD explain how often Applejack’s had to chase them off her orchard.”
  69. >”If Dogs that close, they going to get closer. Packs didn’t go near ponies when Rover was around, too much magic.”
  70. >You, Twi, and Baldur exchange glances.
  71. >”The Diamond Dogs are close here, in the rocklands to the south…”
  72. “And if he’s right, they’ll keep coming.”
  73. >”What do we do?” asks Baldur.
  74. >You chew your teeth and stand up.
  75. “It’s a hunch, but it’s also all we have. If Fido here is right and whoever has this axe comes knocking, the Guard won’t be able to get here fast enough.”
  76. >Rover stands after you. “Know how to get in, we can get axe.”
  77. >The thought of siding with the Diamond Dog isn’t one you really enjoy, but…
  78. >”Thank you, Rover!”
  79. >Baldur zips over and takes Rover’s paw in both hooves, shaking it with gusto. “I know we can count on you to help us retrieve the axe!” He turns to you. “We cannot leave the village unprotected. If I remain to ward off any attack with the princess, can you and Rover infiltrate the Dogs den and retrieve the Friekugel?”
  80. >Baldur flexes his wings and glows slightly. “I fear I’m not equipped for a stealth mission.”
  81. >You look to Rover again. The dog snorts at you, but doesn’t seem to have any anger in his eyes as he tugs his cloak up over his face
  82. >You were severely lacking in options here, so you guess it’s time to take the dog for a walk.
  84. >The Everfree Forest stretched around Ponyville to the west and the south, with the rocklands and quarries just past it. You and Rover leave the castle and pick up an accelerated pace towards it, crossing through the forest.
  85. >You were you worried about some Everfree monster derailing your excursion along the way? Mildly, but watching Mjolna flatten to Ursa’s the last time you were here made you braver.
  86. >The toppled stone column of an old ruin is no obstacle for your trained body with the power of the golden apple flowing through it, letting you leap over it in a single bound.
  87. >You’re off on a tear, intent to find these mutts, get the axe back, and keep Ponyville safe from whatever they have hatching. That makes Rover saying “Stop” hard.
  88. >You skid a bit on the vines covering the floor of the ruin and have to grab ahold of the ground.
  89. “What?”
  90. >Rover pulls his cloak down a bit and sniffs at the air. His emerald eyes sharpen as he gets closer to one wall in particular and keeps sniffing.
  91. “We don’t have time for this, Rover!”
  92. >”Yes we do, wait.”
  93. “Any longer and we’re going to be up to our eyeballs in dogs ready to burn Ponyville down, we can’t let that HAPPEN!”
  94. >Rover stops sniffing and looks to you over his shoulder. “Bright-pony there, he protects them.”
  95. “Baldur is…”
  96. >Baldur.
  98. “He can’t keep them all safe from a colossal pack of dogs.
  99. >Rover sighs while seeming to needlessly paw at the wall he was at. “You have soft spot for ponies. Rover understands. Rover had soft spot for dogs once.”
  100. “It isn’t a “soft spot”, we’re supposed to prote-“
  101. >”Soft spot lasted until Rover got bit in the neck by Mandragora plant and left by the dogs he was with then ended up in Pony sky-palace.” Rover says before tearing down a blanket of vines hanging off the wall, revealing a clawed out hole behind it that descends down into the shadows below the ground.
  102. >Rover glares at you from behind his cloak with the silent bubbling anger one reserves for a hypocrite. You swallow your shame and walk over to him.
  103. “…What is this?”
  104. >”Hidden tunnel. Dog dens use for fresh air and secret exit. Ponies know where front cave is, but not all the exits.”
  105. >For all your years of serving as a guard, you’d never even heard of tunnel systems like this being employed by the dogs. You glance up to look at Rover as he stares silently down the shaft and have to accept that you may not be the expert here. You fought dogs, but he lived with them.
  106. “Can we use it to get in?”
  107. >”If quiet.”
  108. >You squat down and feel out the width of the tunnel. Just big enough for you to crawl in.
  109. “Keep close behind me, then.”
  112. >The reason you told Rover to stay behind you was because he was bulkier than you, meaning it’d slow you both down if he got stuck.
  113. >That’s what you told him.
  114. >The real reason is you didn’t want to crawl on your hands and knees with a Diamond Dog’s rear-end in your face.
  115. “Watch out, more crystals up ahead.”
  116. >You gently place your gauntleted hand around some of the crystalline growths protruding from the floor of the tunnel as you proceed.
  117. >You hear Rover grunt in acknowledgement as he comes across the same ones.
  118. “Why do Dogs even want gems anyway?”
  119. >”Shiny.” He says.
  120. “Do you eat them? Like dragons?”
  121. >Rover grunts as the passage tightens a bit. “No. Just want the shine.”
  122. “That’s stupid.”
  123. >Rover’s growl echoes through the tunnel. “Dumb ponies want their shiny coins. Even sky palace ponies have silver bits they hoard.”
  124. >You open your mouth to respond but find nothing comes to mind.
  125. “You got me.”
  126. >Rover continues. “Gems mean good den, good den means smart or lucky dog, smart or lucky dogs have better packs.”
  127. “Which kind of dog were you? Smart? Or lucky?”
  128. >Rover simmers a bit. “Rover just wanted a quiet life away from other packs. Small pack, no headaches.”
  129. “So a smart one then.”
  130. >You crawl along a bit further until Rover grabs your ankle and stops you.
  131. “Wh-“
  132. >You look back to see what’s wrong and find him with his finger to his mouth, then pointing further down the tunnel.
  133. >Straining your ears, you hear the barking conversation of other Diamond Dogs.
  135. >Rover and you sneak further down the tunnel to a small area where it opens up a bit into a hole in the floor. You put your hand in old spiders-web once you get there and are forced to rub it off on your shield.
  136. “Euch…”
  137. >Rover wordlessly silences you with a paw on your shoulder, directing his attention to the three Dogs around a fire beneath you.
  138. >”Shouldn’t we move cart to the bottom of the mine by now?” one asks.
  139. >”Taking a break, nothing wrong with that.” Another responds.
  140. >”Boss not like that at all…”
  141. >”Boss can go sniff poop.”
  142. >”You wish Boss would sniff your poop.”
  143. >The bigger one snarls. “You be careful or I make you sniff my poop.”
  144. >Rover narrows his eyes.
  145. “What?” you whisper.
  146. >”Dogs from two different packs…brought together.” He whispers back. “And look.”
  147. >Rover points just past the relaxing dogs to a mine cart loaded full of gems by the edge of a cliff, a bit further down is a makeshift pulley elevator, something significantly more advanced than you’d seen Dogs produce before.
  148. “So this is what happens when lots of you get together.”
  149. >”Mm. Trouble. Why I didn’t do it.”
  150. >You look the dogs over and your eyes settle on the fire, sparking an idea in you.
  151. “Cover your nose…maybe your mouth too.”
  152. >Rover smells what you reach into your pouch and grab and complies quickly.
  154. >The plant inside the little bombs you dropped into the fire the dogs were kindling had some scientific name, you’re sure. Perhaps you’d ask Twilight when you got back to town.
  155. >Rainbow Dash called them “liquid ass” in the past, which will do for the time being.
  156. >The fire bursts the seals on the bombs and releases the stunningly noxious fume into the air. The sensitive snouts of the Diamond Dogs inhale the particles and send them howling backwards in shock.
  157. “Now!”
  158. >You and Rover drop from the ceiling and descend on the dogs, kicking or pushing them to the ground and getting their weapons away from them.
  159. >The dogs yelp and whine as you push them into the ground.
  160. >”Intruders! Intru-gak!” the one underneath your fist cries, choking on the stink in the air.
  161. “That’s it Fido, breathe deep.”
  162. >”This one not Fido.” Rover says, forcing his two down with his large arms.
  163. >You shoot Rover a look of displeasure before turning back to the Dog.
  164. “I’ve got more where that came from. Tell me which of you has the magic axe and I won’t make you eat them.”
  165. >The dog gasps. “How you know about Precious and magic axe?!”
  166. >Rover snorts at the name. You look back.
  167. “Friend of yours?”
  168. >”Know her. She’s a bitch.”
  169. >Great. Female Diamond Dogs were hassles.
  170. >The one under you squirms. “Stop talking about boss like that!”
  171. >You push him down again.
  172. “Let’s make a deal. Tell me where Precious is and you won’t hear another word out of me.”
  174. >The dog glares up at you, so you waft a bit of the gas towards him. He whines in protest as his resolve melts away.
  175. >”Bottom of the mine! Stop stink-gas now, its digging into my nose!”
  176. >His comrades growl and bark at the snitch.
  177. “Thank you for your service…”
  178. >You ponder what to do with him and already feel your hand going towards your sword. The Dog here is at the perfect angle for a stab through the back of the neck, like you’d done many times before. But…
  179. >The thought of the reluctant ally at your back who lead you through the secret entrance just the last hour stays your hand.
  180. >You sigh.
  181. “Dammit…”
  182. >You press down on the dogs neck with your knee and fight him as he flails around. Quickly his eyes roll back and he passes out, letting you let up.
  183. >You stand up and look back to Rover who’s already done the same to his dogs. The two of you nonverbally communicate with your gaze.
  184. “We’ll need to bind them.”
  185. >”Mm.”
  186. “Got anything?”
  187. >”No.”
  188. “Well we’re gonna need some-“
  189. >Strands of white silk from the ceiling descend onto the dogs and stick to them. “Hey you’se need a hand there soldja guy? We got a couple.” You hear from above.
  191. >Familiar fear bubbles up from your gut as the tarantula terrors lower themselves from further up the hole you and Rover had come out of. They wrap the unconscious Diamond Dogs in their webs and pin them to the walls while their leader, too big to drop down, eyes the two of you.
  192. >”You guys got any ideear how late it is? Whataya doin’ way down here at this ouwwah?”
  193. >You see his mustache curl into a smile. “Don’ tell me, sometin with dem mutts, eh?”
  194. >Rover looks back at you, hoping for perhaps some clarification as to what accent that spider has. He must see your face because he asks “What wrong?”
  195. >You swallow the stress lump in your throat.
  196. “Spiders were how I ended up in Asgard, alright? So these ones are bringing back some…unpleasant memories.”
  197. >The spider hears that. “Ohhhhh you must mean Packie! That louse is the only udda nest ‘round these pahts. He’s a bum, I tell ya! Gahbage!”
  198. >That’s…comforting, you guess.
  200. >You take a breath and look up to him.
  201. “Yeah, we’re here to do something about the dogs.”
  202. >”Top dog has magic axe. We need it.”
  203. >The spider laughs and swats some of his underlings down the hole who skitter past you. “Ha! Mutts clearin’ out mutts. Will wundas neva end? Lemme tell you somethin’ pupp-o. These caves was mine before that bitch moved in and pushed me and my boys up to the attic with that STUPID magical axe’a hers! You wanna clear her outa here? Then you an’ me?” He points his legs at the two of you then himself. “Solid.”
  204. “…Thank you?”
  205. >”Hey don’t sweat it! Hahaha!”
  206. >The underlings begin spinning strands of web and letting them drop over the edge of the cliff this makeshift camp was near. Their boss keeps talking.
  207. >”This mine is one big empty space and Big Bitch is down at the bottom! My boys’n I will lend a leg since yer doin’ us a service…but don’t go countin’ on it in the future!”
  208. >Rover walks over to one of the spiders and looks down into the bottom of the mine. “We won’t.”
  209. >Without another word, Rover grabs the line of webbing and lets himself start being lowed. You go grab the web produced by the second one and silently push down your revulsion.
  210. “It’s fine…it’s just a bit of fabric, don’t think of it as a secretion…”
  211. >The spider servicing you makes an almost offended face while his boss skitters up the hole out. “Good luck boys! Give’re a pop for me, eh? Hahaha!”
  213. >The sounds of spiders fade into the ambience of the mineshaft as you and Rover get lowered down. The strands of silk in your hands were a bit tough to grab, but they hadn’t given out yet.
  214. >Rover remains silent next to you as he kicks off a wall to slide down more.
  215. “How old were those dogs?”
  216. >”Mm?” Rover looks over. “Pony years? Maybe two.”
  217. “Mm…”
  218. >You felt a bit better letting young pups go, even if they might just end up back in your way eventually. They’d at least get the chance to live better.
  219. “How old is Rover in pony years?”
  220. >”Eleven.” He says before hopping further down.
  221. “Wow, you might even be older than me.”
  222. >”Mm.”
  223. >Silence falls again, but you try to push it way.
  224. “Why’d you come down to do this mission, Rover? You avoid everyone in Asgard, they tell me.”
  226. >Rover sucks his teeth behind his cowl. “Pony guards pick fights. Rover just wants to be left alone, that all Rover ever wanted.”
  227. >Rover continues to hop down, the floor getting ever closer. “But can’t live a life without doing stuff for others, need gems for food and silver bits even after Rover’s dead. Have to learn to use a sword, learn to fight, just to keep living after Rover already died.”
  228. >Rover spits. “All crock. Rover never prayed to ponies, don’t know why he’s stuck with them after he died.”
  229. >You slide down after him.
  230. “If you’re called, there’s got to be a reason. Maybe you just haven’t met it yet.”
  231. >Rover heaves a long sigh. “Better tell it to hurry. Rover is too old for this poop anymore-“
  232. >A twirling missile from below arcs up and strikes the wall, momentarily radiating red lightning before the wall explodes outward and severs the lines you and Rover have.
  233. >You twist in freefall to try and land in a way that won’t break your legs, settling for impacting on your shield which you’re sure only just dislocated your shoulder. Rover lands in a heap next to you as rubble peppers your heads.
  234. “What in-“
  235. “Hey now! What we got here, pair of blighters come for a thrashin’?”
  237. >”Precious” is anything but. Standing on the top of a protruding stone at the floor of the mine and holding her arm out. Like you’d seen with Mjolna, the weapon that struck you off the side of the wall flings back to her and lands in her paw.
  238. >Unlick Mjolna, this sickly weapon of bone and wood thrums with an ethereal presence, radiating crimson lines of energy through itself just waiting to get out that go all the way down the hilt up the Diamond Dog’s arm. You look and see her heavy panting in time with the power, telling you they’re probably too close for comfort already.
  239. >”Come on then, get up, ya bastards!”
  240. >You both push yourself to your feet. Precious hops down from her rock, resting the Friekugel on her shoulder. “Come for me treasure? That’s a right mistake there, innit? You see what I did to that wall?”
  241. >Rover coughs and stands to his full height, letting his hood drop off him. “Don’t care why you’re doing this. Give Rover the axe, or he’s going to hurt you.”
  242. >You draw your sword from its sheath, the ice blade Loki gave you.
  244. “If she’s anything like the other mine maniacs, she’s trying to “unify the dogs” or something.”
  245. >Precious hears that, then laughs heartily. “You thinkin’ I wanna LEAD this lot! I could find a better crew in the rocks ‘round here, least they listen! I scored this wicked axe off an old tomb or another and look how strong it made me! Now these idiots just follow me around, tryin’ ta put puppies in me or get walloped by me. They can hang around so long as they bring mummy her gemmies!”
  246. >You glance over to Rover.
  247. “I stand corrected.”
  248. >”Mm.”
  249. >”You know?” Precious says “I think they might be a bit puckish. Dinner’s on, boys!”
  250. >Precious throws her head back and howls up into the mineshaft, a howl that’s quickly joined by every other voice it can find until it becomes nearly deafening, followed by the rapid advance of a stampede of Diamond Dog paws racing towards the passageway to your rear.
  252. >Rover turns to the noise coming from the passage and hisses. “Buy me a minute!”
  253. “That’s all you get!”
  254. >You draw your blade along with the rime of winter and charge low at Precious while Rover digs his paw under his cloak.
  255. >Ice trails through the air as your weapon clashes with Precious’ and you gasp when you see it up close.
  256. >Energy wasn’t the only thing flowing from Freikugel into Precious, growths of bone from the weapons hilt were extruding from it and piercing into her skin as anchorage.
  257. “What in the Hel are you doing?!”
  258. >”Heh, like it?” she asks. Precious pushes against the head of the axe and sends sparks of power up into your face, forcing you back. “I think it fits me!”
  259. >Clearly this dog was a few bones short of a pile.
  260. >”Maybe I’ll show you how I do it when me boys’re tearing you apart.”
  261. >”Boys can watch.” You hear Rover say behind you.
  262. >The friendly Diamond Dog produces a small vial of brown goop from his cloak and throws it behind him. It shatters against the top of the passageway and emits a sizzling sound with accompanying smoke as the gunk chews away at the foundational stone, bringing the ceiling of the only way into the arena down. The dogs almost through screech to a halt to avoid getting crushed.
  263. >With his other hand, Rover reaches for the greatsword on his back, more a slab of metal than a weapon now that you see it shed its wrappings, and lets it slam into the ground. Orange runes thrum to life on the blades body and you feel the temperature rise.
  264. >Precious laughs a howling laugh and takes a proper grip of the axe.
  265. “I don’t think she’s willing to surrender.”
  266. >”They never are.”
  267. >You and Rover charge Precious.
  269. >Within seconds you learn something you wish you’d known earlier.
  270. >Rover is MUCH faster on his feet than his size would suggest.
  271. >Despite you being ahead of him, Rover is able to charge past you and meet Precious’s axe with his own blade. He follows with a flurry of strikes so wide you nearly need to duck his follow-through to avoid a beheading.
  272. >Sparks and licks of flame break off the surface of Rover’s sword as it meets the Freikugel and singes its weilder. She pushes back and grins up at Rover. ”Get why ya wear a cape now.”
  273. >”Mm.”
  274. >Another set of sparks from the weapon drives Rover back, but having seen it before prepares you. You charge in behind your shield to avoid the worst of the damage and slice at Precious’s chest, leaving chilling gashes at the edge of your blade.
  275. >”Grah! Smarts!”
  276. “Mind if I cut i-ah crap.”
  277. >Precious grins a sadistic grin as she raises the Friekugel above her head with both arms. Sparks fly from the weapon when she brings it down in a strike that shakes the entire mine. The force of the attack disrupts your footing and pushes you back, leaving you open for an uppercut that cuts a line clean through your breastplate.
  279. >You suck in as much air as you can in momentary panic before hopping back and hazarding a glance down, seeing the clean cut and singed chainmail beneath letting you know how many centimeters your life was saved by.
  280. >One of the slabs of stone kicked up by Precious’s attack has a flaming line cut through it as Rover pushes towards the top dog’s back. Her eyes wide with anticipation of the strike, she raises her axe. What she does not anticipate is Rover grabbing one of the large stones and slamming it into her head to send her flying into the wall.
  281. >Rover snorts in your direction. “Still alive?”
  282. “Same to you, Fido.”
  283. >The Diamond Dog growls as sparks erupt from the dust where Precious landed.
  284. >Banter would have to wait; you needed a plan now and a Diamond Dog isn’t exactly an articulate ally.
  285. >You think run through everything you know as the dust starts to clear and settle on something.
  286. “Get her attention!”
  288. >Rover finds that request not difficult in the slightest. Precious dashes out of the cloud of dust, empowered by the Freikugel and foaming at the mouth mad, towards Rover. The dog you’re not here to kill barely brings his blade up in time to deflect the oncoming attack, raining a shower of sparks and power raining down over the arena.
  289. >The lights and flashes illuminate the eyes of the Dogs watching from the levels above like rabbits in the torchlight after dusk. Precious’ underlings watch enraptured by their leader in her mindless fury swinging a glowing axe like a thing very probably possessed. Their nature to follow the strongest overpowering their desire to win, watching and waiting to see which dog would come out on top, their insane leader or the mysterious newcomer with the flaming sword.
  290. >Rover has experience over Precious, but the bitch has youth on her side. Her axe swings in fast and deadly arcs that only barely get deflected by an edge of Rover’s sword.
  291. >Your ally grits his teeth as he’s pushed further back by the relentless assault of Precious until a single massive strike from above forces him back a good eight feet.
  292. >Rover pants as a trickle of blood runs down his head and Precious lets her jaw hang.
  293. >”GOTCHA!”
  294. >She rushes towards Rover just as you make your move that you pray works.
  295. >With a small leap, you angle your arctic blade downward and drive the tip into the stone at your feet. Ice explodes from your sword in a radius around you and rapidly expands far enough to get under Precious’s feet.
  296. >Paws not designed for traversing ice scrape and claw for purchase while her momentum continues her towards Rover.
  297. >The Diamond Dog, catching on quickly, rotates his blade and thrusts it forward.
  298. >A startled yelp covers up the sound of a blade piercing through Precious’s body
  300. >Precious mouth hangs agape as tears well up near the corner of her eyes that look to the top of the mine. She futility paws at the blade sticking through her chest as the blood drains from both ends of her body onto the floor, its warmth rapidly melting the ice.
  301. >With her final breath, the former top dog sneers at the sky she can’t see.
  302. >”D-dammit…it was supposed to be…easy…” she says with a final cough.
  303. >As the light leaves Precious’s eyes, her grip on the Freikugel laxes until the axe clatters to the ground, the red jewel in its head dimming until it sits inert.
  304. >Rovers breath comes in rapid pants as he relaxes his blade arm, finally sure that the enemy is dead. With a deep, calming breath, he looks up to the pack that watches.
  305. >Rover barks once, loud and sharp and echoing through the mine. The dogs each in turn drop their weapons or tools, get on all fours, and run for the exits.
  306. >You chuckle and pull your blade from the ground.
  307. “So…does that make you top dog now?”
  308. >Rover lets out the breath he’s holding and begins to try and pull his blade from Precious’s corpse. “No.”
  309. “I see. You’re welcome for the assist.”
  310. >”Didn’t thank you.” Rover says, finally freeing his blade from Precious’s torso and looking down at her. “…How she like this? Stronger, faster, more vicious.”
  312. >You follow Rover’s eyes to the dead dog, now looking more pathetic than her jacket and attitude would suggest in the embrace of death.
  313. “Power requires sacrifice…so they say. I suppose she couldn’t give enough for the axe.”
  314. >Rover nods grimly and re-sheathes his sword. The two of you examine the axe in closer detail, you see the gashes in Precious’s arm where the axe ripped its bone protrusions out as well.
  315. “Euch…let’s not touch that. Give me your cloak.”
  316. >Rover poker-faces, but obliges and removes his shroud, beneath which he was wearing a simple tunic and armor rig.
  317. >Carefully, gently, you wrap the Freikugel in the cloak of Rover and heft it up upon your shoulder.
  318. “I’ve had my fill of this place, you?”
  319. >Rover looks to his dead kin one final time and nods. “Too much. Let’s leave.”
  320. “If we can find the entrance.” You say, walking in any direction.
  321. >”We call for spiders, they show us the way.”
  322. “Wonderful, lead by spiders…we’ll be lucky to have this back to Twilight by sunrise.”
  323. >Rover gets grimmer. “You know she will be talking once she looks at it.”
  324. “I’d rather that than have to deal with that bitch again, wouldn’t you?”
  325. >Rover is silent for a bit before responding. “Eeeeeehh…barely.”
  326. >Your laughter echoes through the mine system as the two of you search for a way home.

Prose Equus 26: Bleeding Gods.

by MAndroid

Prose Equus 25: Windows to the Past.

by Mandroid

Prose Equus 24: Death Sentence.

by Mandroid

Prose Equus 23: Spooky Scary Symbiote.

by Mandroid

Prose Equus 22: Dust and Crypts.

by Mandroid