Live by the Sword

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Krytus The Dreamer
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 9:43 am It's back! Woohoo! I'm so glad you managed to push through your writer's block.
So the invisible beast was a scorpion of some kind? Interesting. Wonder what prompted it to go after Pueblo and the rest. Interesting how Ryujuro recognizes Draig as Dragon, though it sounds like he definitely has some explaining to do to the others (unless that happened offscreen.)

Overall, this chapter was genuinely fantastic and I'm so glad your story is back.
Thanks! It's great to write again!

Even though they're in mortal bodies they still have celestial souls inside them. My head cannon is that the demons can tell because their souls shine "brighter" than most mortals
Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Thu Oct 13, 2022 9:43 am Ouch. Poor Joey. I mean, he kinda deserves it for posting the picture of Askal, but still. I really hope that he and Fido can mend their relationship without too much bitterness. Also, Fido hearing danger and immediately leaving Joey crying to go take care of Askal might negatively impact Joey's conscious more.
The time line goes:

Askal runs away in the dead of night > Fido's search time searches until 1 AM > Pueblo and co notice that Askal's still missing > Go looking for him > catch the attention of demon scorpion > then get rescued by Askal/Ryujuro.

Fido made no mention of the kids going missing and knowing King, he'd definitely notice if his kids were gone. Plus the kids would've been asleep at 1am so I'm just gonna confirm they left early in the morning. The kids were trapped for like 30 mins tops and chased for maybe 10 minutes

Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Fri Oct 14, 2022 11:04 am Also, congrats on 200 posts!
AYO 200 posts Baby! Thanks dude!
Harry Johnathan wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 4:36 pm Yay this story is back.
Good to be back!
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 12:56 pm This chapter has come out really nicely Krytus! Really great job on putting it together!
Thanks!
D-Rock wrote: Wed Oct 12, 2022 11:28 am Great section. It’s interesting how Askal and Ryujuro did some mental back and forth when he was deciding if it was wise to use his powers to save Draig, even if it was still technically Askal the whole time.

That moment of Fido and Joey hit pretty hard, but I guess sometimes you have to let the cracks break before you can really get to fixing it, otherwise it’s only a patch job.

And hey, confirmation that Pueblo inherited avatar powers!
Actually, this inspired me to rewrite the chapter name to Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. These Kintsugi pieces can result in interesting art works.

Episode 06: Kintsugi
Chapter 02

Askal couldn't breathe.
The vice-like grip on his lungs made it hard even to get a gasp. Askal's vision began to blur as he kicked and struggled under the immense weight. He hallucinated memories he hadn't seen before—hours upon hours of just raising his sword with both hands and bringing it back down. At first, it was tedious work, but as the day grew older and the sun began to set, everything in his body cried out in pain for relief.

"Alright, alright, guys, break it up." Pueblo's voice broke through the monotony of the memory. "You're going to kill him."

Askal felt relief when one by one, the trio that assaulted him was pried off his body. While Askal had experience being at the bottom of a dog pile before, his fresh bruises didn't make things any easier. He would definitely need some ice when he got back to the house when this was all over.

"But I have so many questions! Not just for Askal but for you too, Pueblo!" Olive flailed her arms around in excitement.

"Do you have magic powers!?" Rook pushed aside his sister to gawk at Askal.

"Who's that larger striped dog that you turn into?" Ace asked with the only calm voice among the three.

"Can I touch those thingies on your stomach when you turn into him again? What were they called again? Uncle Fox and our mom's got them too." Olive said with an innocent smile.

Somewhat overwhelmed, Askal then resolved to answer each question in order. "Yeah, I guess so. I'm called Ryujuro in that form, and I used to be a swordsman in a faraway place called Japan. And... uh... sure?"

Once Askal made sure everyone was a safe enough distance, he stared at the palms of his hands. Askal's breathing was steady and continued to keep its pace even when embers began to consume him, starting from his fingertips. Ignoring the collective gasp of everyone nearby, Askal felt no pain as the fire traveled along his fur. He didn't feel particularly odd when his body stretched and grew in size until he returned as Ryujuro.

"Whoa," Olive gasped, being the first to dare go closer to Ryujuro in his state. "He's muscly, kinda like Uncle Fox and Uncle Mungo."

Ryujuro couldn't help himself, his tail wagged, and his leg twitched as Olive poked and prodded at his body, sometimes hitting somewhere that was particularly ticklish. Soon even Rook and Ace joined in, and soon Ryujuro was chuckling uncontrollably. Underneath the well-trained exterior of a warrior was still a young pup, after all. His chuckling came to a sudden halt when he noticed Olive's eyes getting incredibly close to his.

Once close enough, Ryujuro felt strange. His heart beat somewhat faster, and his face suddenly felt warm. He recognized these symptoms when he was with Pueblo but with Olive too? Was Ryujuro coming down with something?

Ryujuro's inner thoughts were interrupted when he heard something. Instantly his ears shot up, thinking another demon was coming to attack them, but it sounded different. He scanned the surrounding area for the source, but nothing was coming at them aside from the two fox kits that talked amongst themselves and his Kuya.

"Alright, everyone." Fido said with a clap of his hands, "We're heading back this time; let's try not to get lost. I've already asked Sabrina to get in contact with your guardians. We shouldn't keep them waiting."

Ryujuro eyed his Kuya curiously. In the time he had known the dog, Fido has always worn his emotions on his sleeve unless he was on duty. It was just the kind of dog Fido was. Now, Fido acted differently. He was so formal and didn't even wait for everyone before he was already walking off on his own.

Before Ryujuro could even rush to his side, he felt something tackle him from behind. "Carry me, boyfriend number 2!" She yelled enthusiastically.

"Aw, what no fair!" Rook argued as he kept pace with Ryujuro, "I want a piggyback ride too!"

"Too bad, so sad, but he's my boyfriend." Olive teased as she stuck out her tongue, causing Rook to pout, "Besides, I wanna be comfortable when I ask Pueblo his share of questions."

"Me?" Pueblo pointed to himself in shock,

"Oh, don't think you're getting off the hook so easily, buster brow." Olive chuckled, causing everyone but Fido to walk together in a pack just to hear the juicy details. "Okay, let's start with the obvious. What was that?"

"Honestly, I'm not so sure myself." Pueblo held out his hands as if to replicate the incident, "I just saw Askal and Officer Fido about to get crushed, and my body moved on its own. Before I knew it, the rock was just floating."

"The Earth Mover." Ryujuro craned his neck to see it was the girl Fox cub from before who answered, "It's a bit hazy, but I think I remember something about it. Uhh, how did it go again? Ranked highly among the avatar classes, this class offers great battlefield control and defensive capabilities in exchange for average mobility options. These abilities are most commonly found within those whose conviction is so great that not even mountains can stand in their way."

"Aw, c'mon, seriously? An earth mover Draig? You prepared an Earth Mover against me?" the second male Fox cub spoke up with his arms crossed, "That's easily one of the most overused classes in the game."

"More overused than the White Avenger, Craig?" Draig responded with equal disdain.

Before everyone knew it, the two had begun bickering, trying to talk over one another, "Uhh... are they always like this?" Ryujuro tried to keep his eyes focused on the trail he was following, but it was like witnessing a car crash. It was hard to look away.

"Oh definitely, we usually ignore them when they get like this. They're really enthusiastic gamers." Olive added casually, "But forget that! If what Draig said is true, you can move rocks with your mind! Can you move anything right now, Pueblo?"

"Uh... I can try." Pueblo shrugged.

As if to retrace his steps, Pueblo held up his hands. The young cougar gritted his teeth and sharpened his focus. Ryujuro studied any of the numerous pebbles scattered about, but none of them moved unless all the walking kicked them up. Eventually, Pueblo lowered his arms with a shrug.

"Hmm, have you tried squeezing your butt cheeks and yelling from the depths of your heart?" Rook mimicked a punching motion

"I don't think that's how I triggered it last time." Pueblo sighed, "It all happened so fast, and now I can't remember how it happened at all."

Olive shrugged before giving off a yawn "Eh; maybe we can ask Uncle Kitsune. But, until then, you should probably keep those powers a secret. Uncle Kitsune was very clear not to reveal magic to the adults unless we really need to."

"You guys know Kitsune?" Ryujuro almost stopped in his tracks.

"Well, aside from being their dad," Ace pointed to the two, still bickering fox cubs, "He visits us, sometimes in our dreams, sometimes just invisible to everyone but us. He likes to ask us about his kids: how they're doing, if they're getting along, that sorta stuff. But we can't tell dad or mom cause it's a secret."

Ryujuro couldn't help but stare at the two as they bickered. So they were Kitsune's kids? It made sense in hindsight, considering how desperately he pleaded for Ryujuro to take action. Still, maybe that connection was the familiarity he felt from Draig. The striped dog shook his head. No, it had to be something else.

He searched through his memories, trying to see where the connection lay—neither he nor the original Ryujuro ever came into contact with such a feeling before. But, so perplexed by the problem he faced, Ryujuro couldn't stop thinking about it. Ryujuro spent the entire walk back thinking back to what caused the familiarity. He only snapped out of his stupor when an orange flash surprised even his reflexes.

"MY BABIES!" An adult fox tackled the two kits to the ground maintaining a death grip on them, "I had a dream that your father was telling me you were in trouble! So when I went to check on the wolf house and didn't find you there, I was so worried!"

"Aw, but mom!" the two kits yelled as she picked them up and dragged them back into the forest but headed in a different direction.

Ryujuro chuckled but was surprised when he felt Olive being hefted from his shoulders, "Do you realize how worried sick you made your father?" Bailey scolded in a stern tone, "I mean, going off on your own isn't too much of a big deal but doing it without telling us and getting lost in the forest is too much! Your father fainted so many times he couldn't get out of the house!"

Rook held onto his mom's hand and Ace's hand "but Askal-!"

"Will be fine," Bailey reassured, "We're about to start our search in a few hours. We just need a little more time to rest before we brave the forest. If the adults need to be careful going in, the three of you should all the more."

"Okay, mom," Ace sighed while subtly elbowing Rook, probably to remind him to keep the magic a secret.

"Thank you so much for finding our kids," She smiled warmly toward Fido and Ryujuro, "I'm so sorry it distracted you from finding Askal. I'm sure he'll turn up eventually. Once I bring these three home and ground them, I'll come running right back to help you look."

"Wait, what!?" Rook and Olive whined in unison.

"I appreciate it, Bailey." Fido returned the smile, but Ryujuro could tell it was forced.

As much as Ryujuro wanted to confront Fido about how distant he was, there was still Pueblo. Luckily since they were in an area with relatively fewer trees, Ryujuro made short work of finding the cougar who was talking to what looked like a larger, more muscular version of himself. Unfortunately, Ryujuro made the mistake of assuming it was his father, but when she turned around, her full figure came into view even if her blazer covered it.

"I'm not mad that you ran off on your own," She started somewhat coldly, "You're getting older, and you should have more freedom. I am mad that you went along with this half-baked idea to find your friend on your own. Sure, you might be able to survive out here, but your friends could've been seriously hurt. Think about how badly that reflects on us as wild animals given citizenship. Most already think we're going to eat them; we don't need them thinking we're going to lead them into danger. Okay?"

"Yes, mom." Pueblo sighed, looking into the dirt before being wrapped in a hug,

"But I'm so glad you came back to me safe." her voice sounded warm, "Oh, and you're also grounded."

"I kinda deserved that one." Pueblo chuckled as they walked back to town hand in hand.

Once the last two left, Ryujuro turned to face his Kuya, who gave him a pat on the shoulder before walking off toward Babylon Gardens. Once again, Fido was silent the entire hike. Anything Ryujuro did ask, Fido would respond in one word or simple answers.

"Where's Sabrina?"

"Back home."

"Is everything alright?"

"Yeah."

"Can we talk?"

"We're talking now."

Ryujuro could only sigh at Fido's most recent reply. Something wasn't right, and he could tell. After everything Fido did for him, Ryujuro wanted to do the same for his Kuya. They were brothers; after all, it was only natural to come to his aid when something didn't feel right. While it may be a breach of privacy, Ryujuro desperately wanted to help. He didn't feel right to leave Fido in such a state.

When Ryujuro tried to cast his ability onto Fido, the swordsman could only hear faint sounds. Compared to the emotions stored away in his sword Ryujuro didn't buckle under the intensity of the emotion. It was intense, but it didn't reach the extremes the original Ryujuro had gone through. These emotions feel more like seeds than the actual thing, a memory just about to cross the threshold for Ryujuro's ability to activate. Which only left Ryujuro the option of going at it normally.

"We're brothers, right?" Ryujuro suddenly broke the silence

"What makes you say that?" Fido responded, "Of course we are."

Ryujuro quickly hopped in front of Fido and stopped him in his tracks, "Then tell me what's wrong."

"Nothing's wrong, I promise," Fido responded, sounding more annoyed at the persistence.

"Well, I can feel something's wrong."

"Then it's unfounded. So just drop the issue, alright? Let's just go home."

"Not until you tell me what's eating at you. Don't lie to me. I can turn into this" Ryujuro gestured to himself, "because my powers let me hear and see strong emotions. It's faint, but I can feel something coming off of you."

"If it's faint, then no worries. I'll be fine."

"No, Kuya. If you ignore this, the pain will only increase until it consumes you. Please."

A moment of silence took place between the two brothers. Fido stared at Ryujuro, trying to put on a mask. However, it was a mask with several cracks in it. Stiff shoulders, impatient tapping of his feet, his body language gave it away.

"I- Fido took a deep breath. "I destroyed my relationship with my brother."

"What?" Ryujuro tilted his head in confusion,

"When I was searching for you, Joey and I argued. Then, I chose you instead of comforting him when the chips were down. I saw the look on his face Askal. How could I have done that to him? My brother?"

"Kuya, you can still fi-

"No. After what I did, Joey wouldn't ever want to talk to me again. I wouldn't."

Ryujuro gritted his teeth. He had never seen Fido so defeated before, but worst of all, he had never seen Fido give up on somebody he loved before. Seeing somebody deem their relationship with their brother as unsalvagable sparked something within Ryujuro, something that caused him to clench his fist.

"So that's it then?" The autumn air turned lost its chill as the surrounding temperature rose, "You're just giving up? What happened to the Kuya, who told me he wished he had a better relationship with his brothers?"

Whisps of flame flickered to life around Ryujuro's body before spreading out to surround both dogs.

"Askal," Fido stumbled back in a panic. "Calm down!"

"No, you calm down! I won't sit by and watch you deem something as crucial as family as irredeemable. Don't you understand you're both still alive! Kuya, One of my brothers, hasn't returned from his coma yet, and the other one has been dead for centuries. Do you realize how lucky you are that your brothers are still alive and well? You can't give up on family because you'll regret not having stretched out your hand when they're finally gone. What I wouldn't give for a chance to hold either of my Kuyas in my arms one more time."

Once Ryujuro finished his rant, only then did he notice how out of control his flames had gotten. Before his flames could spread to consume the forest, Ryujuro flicked his left hand like Kitsune had shown him to summon his sword. In one quick motion, Ryujuro unsheathed his blade and performed a full circular slash that summoned a ring of water that spread wide and extinguished his flames.

Ryujuro sheathed his sword before falling to one knee and reverting back to Askal, "Askal!" In mere moments, Fido was by his side, "Are you alright?"

"Don't... Give up... on family." Askal panted as unconsciousness gripped him.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Mungo didn't have a hunch.
He knew something was wrong. There were too many odd details about that night. Sargeant Ralph had never acted that way before. Not ever. Why now? What could've caused such a drastic behavior change? While his appearance would say otherwise, Mungo still had a sharp enough intellect. He could tell when things didn't add up, and this was undoubtedly one of them. Mungo had to get to the bottom of it, and his first and most logical step was to try Sargeant Ralph one more time. Maybe after a good night's rest, he'd be more willing to talk.

Usually, Fox would be the one to handle knocking on the door, but since Fox was still in recovery, Mungo had to do it. So, as slowly as he possibly could, Mungo gave the door a tap. Unfortunately, it resulted in a louder noise than he had anticipated, but thankfully the door was still intact. A few moments later, a man dressed in full police attire answered the door with a cup of coffee in his other hand. He was young for a high-ranking officer and didn't show a sliver of silver in his hair, but he still had bags under his eyes.

"Lieutenant Henderson." Mungo saluted.

"Officer Mungo?" he chuckled, "How is my door still standing if you knocked on it? You're improving on that."

Mungo didn't return the chuckle, "Thank you, sir, but I'd like to ask the Sarge a few more questions. It's about last night."

"Oh, that?" the man's face somewhat deflated at the news, "I'll admit I never imagined Ralph would do such a thing. That dog's incredibly duty-bound. I've read the report, and he's correct. He's done nothing wrong, so maybe we just chalk it up to him being on edge with the Suicune case ongoing."

"With all due respect, I'd still like to talk to him. Something feels off." Mungo sighed as he rubbed his chin,

The lieutenant shrugged, "If you feel that strongly about it, then alright. I'll get him for you. He should be awake by now. Come in; I know your breed doesn't do particularly well with the cold." he then opened the door wide for Mungo to invite him in.

"Much obliged," Mungo gave a tired smile as he entered the house.

It was a lovely enough home. There were tons of pictures, not just of Sargeant and the Lieutenant together but with the lieutenant's wife and their daughter as well. Many framed pictures depicted several important events, everything from birthdays to Christmas. The smiles were contagious as Mungo found himself smiling alongside the family despite everything he's been through lately.

Mungo's casual browsing of the lieutenant's home life abruptly ended when he noticed the hunting rifle set on display for all to see. Its metal gleamed in the sunlight, almost beckoning Mungo to come closer. However, the large dog didn't dare set one-foot closer; he could practically hear each mechanism slide into place as it fired its round. Again the feeling of nausea rose from his stomach; he was going to puke.

Thankfully the lieutenant's approaching footsteps snapped him out of it, "He's not here!" he remarked, panicked, "Ralph's room is a mess, and he's nowhere to be found! Quick, Mungo, search for clues. I'll alert dispatch!"

His training immediately kicked in once issued a command. Mungo shot up the stairs and barged right in because the door was already open without destroying anything. As the lieutenant said, Sargeant Ralph's room looked like a hurricane had gone through it, with several papers scattered about.

Since his desk looked like it was the most manageable, Mungo started there. Aside from the notes scattered about, Mungo noticed that all the books on Ralph's desk related to one of two topics. Half were dedicated to astronomy and star mappings, and the other half was of greek mythological figures. While it may lead to a clue eventually, Mungo shifted gears and tried to see what was in the trash bin; at the very top was a crumpled-up paper. When it unfolded, Mungo's eyes widened when he found out it was a resignation letter and the reason for the resignation was: Shot an innocent dog.

End of Chapter 02
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Enjoyed reading through all of this chapter! It was really great and had a lot of wonderful moments! Awesome work!
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Wrenisprobablyb0red
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Loving this!
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Family matters are complicated, but if there’s a chance of restoring it, take it.

And wow, now we know what’s been up with Ralph. That kind of thing will destroy your soul if you don’t get help.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Episode 06: Kintsugi
Chapter 03

For the first time in a long while, Fido breathed a sigh of relief.
Askal had only passed out from overexertion. Rowan, who was already waiting for them at Sabrina's house, was quickly able to fix the injuries to the young dog's hand and the bruises. A week of uncertainty was finally gone from Fido's psyche, and now that Askal was out of danger Fido should have been able to relax a little. Should have, being the operative words.

Everything was perfect. A light rain had set the mood with its light pitter-patter playing an oddly hypnotic melody. The magically lit fireplace crackled as it released a faint but calming flowery scent. Sabrina rested her head against Fido's chest and occasionally let out purrs as she continued to sleep. The atmosphere was just right to slip into a nap to catch up on his lost sleep, but Fido just couldn't.

Fido still replayed the moment in his mind over and over again. How could he have done that? To his younger brother, no less? What could he have done differently? How would he even begin to mend his relationship with Joey? Was it right to leave behind Joey, who was only in emotional distress, in favor of Askal, who could've been in physical danger?

As Fido pondered the possibilities, he slowly became more distressed. Deep down, he knew what Askal had said was right. He couldn't give up on his family, but Fido struggled to decide the best course of action. What if he only ended up making things worse instead of better? All his efforts to get closer to Joey had been rebuffed, so Fido knew very little of his younger brother other than surface-level stereotypes. Maybe if he had tried harder, he wouldn't be in such a mess.

Unable to clear his head, Fido squeezed himself out of Sabrina's grasp as gently as he could. Luckily she must've been more tired than Fido had realized because she barely even noticed Fido's move. Of course, Fido already knew what Askal would say, but it didn't hurt to check up on the pup, especially after all he's been through lately. Maybe talking it out with Askal would help him get a better perspective.

"You know you don't have to push yourself." Fido stopped his trek up to Askal's room when he heard Zeke's voice.

"Well, you know how it is," Rowan gave a halfhearted chuckle, "being the only one gifted with the ability to heal can be a bit demanding, but it sure is rewarding."

Fido couldn't help but peek through the railings to observe the two brothers. "Rowan, I think you need time to get used to the link. You almost choked on breakfast earlier." Zeke pouted as he hefted a medium-sized stew pot in his oven-mitted hands.

"I'll be fine, Kuya, I promise. I just need something to keep myself distracted."

"You're still bummed about it, huh?"

"No- I mean- Kinda-? Look, it's complicated. Kitsune's just had a long week; Ms. Tarot's been shouting at him practically half the time she's there, and Kuya Fox really pushed his buttons. I don't blame him for-

"You've got to stop making excuses for him. I don't care if he is a celestial; that tone isn't something you use on your friends. Especially when all they've done is ask a reasonable question."

"I respect your perspective on this, but I don't want to talk about it now."

"But Rowan-

"Please."

Zeke sighed with a shrug, "But we will talk about it some other time, okay?"

"Thank you." Rowan sighed in return, "I have to go see the little guy now; you comin'?"

"I think I'll stay out here for a bit. I've spent so much time in the treehouse that I think I'm starting to develop claustrophobia. Give the little guy my regards, and I hope he enjoys the lugao. It's homemade and piping hot." Zeke held up the pot for Rowan to take.

With a flick of his wrist, a blue string came from Rowan's fingertips to grab onto the pot's handles. Then as gently as he could, Rowan opened the door and closed it behind him so as not to wake anybody up. Once his brother disappeared through the door, Zeke reached into his collar to produce a pencil, pad, and a small silvery box. He took a few seconds to scribble something onto it before pressing it against the door. Zeke then flicked the box to bring out a red crystal to touch the paper he had been scribbling on. Once the paper and crystal touched, a reddish glow showered the hallway.

"You can come up now," Zeke called out as he leaned back against the wall adjacent to Askal's door. "I know you've been watching us."

Fido could only chuckle as he walked up the remaining steps, "Was I that obvious?" He then leaned against the same wall Zeke was before the two sank to the floor to sit. "Guess I'm not as stealthy as I thought. Did Rowan notice too?"

"Nah, luckily for you, he's still too bummed about Kitsune. The silence glyph I put on Askal's door should keep him from snooping."

"I didn't know you used glyphs too. I figured you as more of a puncher."

"Oh, I am, but hang around Rowan long enough, and you pick up some things. Luckily Rowan makes me carry a bunch of his crystals just in case of an emergency. They're usually reserved for just in case Rowan and I get separated, and he always blows a gasket when I use it for anything else."

"You guys sure do care a lot about each other."

"That's an odd thing to say. We're brothers; of course, we do."

"You’d be surprised. If you don't mind me asking, but what's your secret?"

"Pardon?"

"How are you too so closely bonded to each other? I don't think I've ever seen you two apart in your entire stint here in Babylon. I'd have thought you'd drive each other nuts by now."


"Don't go putting us on a pedestal just yet, my dude. Rowan and I have had our fair share of arguments too." Zeke laughed. "Traveling halfway across the world, you realize how different cultures are. Everything my brother and I did, from what we ate to how we talked or gestured, was met with strange looks. We were practically aliens. I was content to leave it that way. We were here for a job, after all. Learn what we need and come back home stronger. Rowan, on the other hand, decided he wanted to make friends. Any girl he met he asked out on a date, any guy he met, Rowan immediately established something in common and chatted like best friends in less than ten minutes. As a result, I got dragged along for the ride. I keep telling him to schedule fewer dates or hangouts, but the dog keeps forgetting and agreeing to everyone’s invitation."

Fido raised a brow, "How is that an argument? You could've stayed at home if you weren't keen on socializing."

"Well- I don't like talking about it, so I won't mince words and cut straight to the point." Zeke held up his hand and put it to his chest, "I was born with a deficiency. I don't make enough mana to sustain my body, and Rowan was born with too much. So if we get too far apart and there's nothing for me to draw mana from... well... to put it simply, my heart stops."

"I'm so sorry to hear that. So I guess I know why you were dragged around. But, still... couldn't you say no?" Fido offered up condolences without knowing what else to say.

"Don't be. I'm used to it already. As for why I can't say no, isn't it the same for you? Can you say no to your little brother? Especially when they look so excited, they look like they're about to explode?"

The mention of his brothers got Fido to pause. Memories flooded back into his mind of happier times, memories Fido had forgotten he had.

"I guess you're right," Fido chuckled as tears welled in his eyes, "One time, I asked Joey what he wanted to do since I had a day off. I could see the stars in his eyes when he told me there was an all-night movie marathon of a series he liked. Then Bino, when we were puppies, once asked no begged me on his hands and knees for my allowance so he could buy roses-

A sharp pain shot through Fido's forehead.

"Roses... for... for..."

"You alright?" Zeke asked when he noticed Fido rubbing his temples to alleviate the pain.

Then as quickly as it arrived, the pain was gone, and all Fido could feel was sadness; tears he had been holding back flowed freely, "I messed up, Zeke. I said some things I shouldn't have, especially to Joey. So now, he'll hate me, and I don't know if I can salvage our relationship."

Zeke looked like he was about to place a hand on Fido's shoulder but pulled away at the last second. Instead, he reached for the silver box in his collar, pulled out another crystal, and twiddled it between his fingers.

"We're not so different. I said somethings that I regret too." Zeke sighed, holding back tears, "A long time ago, back at our home, Rowan and I weren’t always treated the same. This was before we found out about my condition, so I didn’t understand why people loved hanging around Rowan. They invited him; personally, they always talked to him but me? The best-case scenario was that I was ignored. Nobody did anything in front of Rowan because they didn’t want to chase him off, but behind his back I was always shunned, and people always looked so annoyed when Rowan would show up dragging me along."

The soft glow of the crystal in Zeke's hand faded as cracks formed on the crystalline surface. "I was a pup back then, so I wrongly blamed Rowan for how I was treated. I said things like, "Go away! I never want to see you again." and "If everyone likes you more than me, then they can be your Kuya instead of me.". As you can imagine, Rowan ran off after that, and that's when something strange happened to me. For the first time since I was born, I was alone. Up until that point, Rowan had always been there by my side. It scared me. Before I knew it, all the plants around me started to turn black and withered away. If Rowan hadn't come back for me after seeing the damage done to the environment, I don't know what would've happened." The crystal in Zeke's hand suddenly crumbled as if it was made of dust instead of a crystal-like material.

"Bless his heart; even after I said all those things, Rowan never stopped treating me like an older brother. Although, of course, I did say how sorry I was and that I never meant a word I said but still. You're brothers Fido, you bicker, argue, quarrel, and sometimes you say things you don't really mean. It's part of the job description. If you truly value your relationship with Joey, then the next step should be obvious. You lay your heart out to each other and come back stronger."

Fido chuckled as he wiped away a tear, "That's actually pretty sound advice. Thanks."

"Hey, we Kuyas have got to look out for one another. We already have our hands full looking after the Bunso." Zeke returned the chuckle and added a wink. "Now, what do you say about joining 'em in there, huh?"

"That sounds great," Fido got up and was about to extend a hand to Zeke, but the black dog waved it off and got up on his own.

Even though he agreed to join Askal and Rowan, Fido could only stare at the door. Zeke's story and Askal's words struck home with Fido. Despite everything that happened, Joey was still precious to Fido. His relationship with Sabrina demanded effort and sacrifice, and his relationship with Joey should be no different. So once he made sure Askal was alright, Fido was going to search Babylon Gardens once again; this time, he was looking for Joey.

"Guess who finally decided to wake up from their beauty sleep, and that's coming from me." Zeke said with a yawn, "Now, where's the Lugao? I'm hankering for a bowl."

Zeke's only response came in the form of a loud burp. Even after the initial shock had worn off, Fido couldn't believe his eyes. Caught red-handed, Askal, with what Fido was assuming was this Lugao dish dripping from his muzzle, was staring back at the two dogs with a sheepish smile on his face.

"D-Did you just finish a thirty-two-liter soup pot of Lugao?" Zeke stuttered out a response

Askal looked like he was about to respond, but his stomach cut him off with a growl, "Uh- is there more?"

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Mungo had no choice.
Mungo had to rely on his powers if he wanted to catch up to Ralph. Furthermore, since he had to keep out of sight of humans while he used his magical abilities, Mungo had to fly through the dense forest of Babylon Gardens. Sadly due to all the branches in his way, Mungo had to compromise speed for safety, not just for himself but for the woodland animals as well.

Since he was going slow enough already, Mungo double-checked what little evidence he had of where Ralph might be headed. The scene was a mess with crumpled-up pieces of paper scattered about with stacks of books about stars and greek mythological figures. When further digging into the background, Mungo found reports as well. Not just from the Suicune case but of odd goings on in Babylon. Noise complaints from a house with no residents, a car crash from seeing something that wasn't there.

Most, if not all, of the reports on Ralph's desk, were barely considered reports. They were only filed as a courtesy and to keep a record just in case it became a pattern. However, Mungo knew that these kinds of reports were hoaxes or ghost stories within the precinct. Desperate to see a pattern, Mungo dug deeper, and two worrying trends began to crop up. The first trend was that each report gathered was reasonably recent within the period of a year, give or take. The second trend was that the reports began to go further and further away from Babylon Gardens, eventually reaching other states. In addition, the ghost story incidents reported outside of Babylon were more in-depth, even with some notes scribbled on the side speculating if it was a hoax or not.

That was the lynchpin Mungo needed to narrow down his search. If Ralph were hunting down these oddities, he would need to travel out of state. Babylon Gardens was a relatively quiet town; transportation going in and out of Babylon Gardens and a reasonably close city wasn't as varied as places like New York. There were at least ten, and of those ten, only four offered interstate travel options. Mungo further narrowed it down to one when considering Ralph was most likely traveling alone, and the other three options didn't allow pets to travel independently due to legal issues. Despite having thought it through multiple times, Mungo was still working off of a guess. The most he could do was hope he guessed correctly.

After some time flying at his fastest pace without destroying the canopy of trees in front of him, Mungo eventually spotted the bus station that Ralph should be in by now. However, when Mungo landed, he heard the familiar click of a gun's safety coming undone behind his head before he could even take another step toward the building.

Mungo froze. His mind raced at the memory of a gunshot ringing in his ears and tearing through Askal's body. Mungo couldn't even lift his arms to signify he had given up. He was so consumed by the memory of that tragic night Mungo was only spurred out of it by the sound of a familiar voice.

"Officer Mungo." In his usual commanding manner, Ralph said, "I knew the others would come looking for me, but I didn't expect you'd be this quick."

"S-Sarge!?" Mungo finally found his voice.

"I'm not your Sarge, not anymore."

"But Sir-!

"This is my fault. I was too sloppy in covering up my tracks; I left behind too many things that pointed to where I was going and what I planned on doing. I-I couldn't stay in that house anymore. I needed to leave."

"What about your family, sir? Won't they miss you or wonder where you are? Aren't you the least bit worried about them?"

"I have nothing to worry about; Cassie's got great parents, and she no longer has a murderer living under the same roof as her."

"Sir! Askal, the dog you shot survived!"

"It doesn't matter that he survived. I still pulled the trigger with the intent to kill. What makes it worse is that I discovered he's still a pup who couldn't control his powers. So I lost any right to a family when I pulled that trigger. I was resolved to shoot a criminal, not an innocent dog. What kind of officer would I be if I went about my daily life as if nothing ever happened."

"Sir, how could you have known?"

"Again, irrelevant. I appreciate that you saw me off, but there's nothing you can do that would change my mind."

Once more, Mungo heard a click of a gun's safety, but it was being put away this time. A moment later, Mungo saw Ralph walk ahead of him wearing a jacket with a torn right sleeve and a backpack slung over his shoulder. For the first few steps, Mungo did nothing but stare at the back of his former superior. As he got further and further away, Mungo yelled at himself to move, but the thought of the gun in Ralph's possession still made Mungo freeze.

Only when Ralph reached the tree line did Mungo finally get his act together. Conjuring up two sets of chained manacles in his hand Mungo gave both of them a twirl before tossing them at Ralph. Immediately with blindingly fast reflexes, Ralph spun around and held up his hand, which was cloaked in a dark green glow.

Suddenly, the manacles Mungo had thrown dove instantly straight into the ground, leaving behind a crater because of how fast it dropped. Then Mungo felt a strange weight place itself on his shoulders. Usually, Mungo would've been able to handle such weight, but the unknown force got heavier and heavier until Mungo was brought to one knee and finally collapsed on the forest floor. Being crushed under such an immense weight was such a foreign feeling to Mungo, and no matter how hard he tried, Mungo could push himself off the ground.

The force pressing on him also made breathing hard, and soon Mungo found the edges of his vision blurring significantly. As his vision ebbed, Mungo caught sight of two things. One was the golden glint of a police badge landing in front of his muzzle; the last thing was a glowing emblem of a balance scale on Ralph's exposed shoulder.

“I’m sorry.”

End of Chapter 03

ITS THE RETURN OF THE OBLIGATORY TRIVIA SECTION!

Bunso - Is a term we use to describe the youngest sibling.

Lugao - If Americans give chicken soup to people who are sick or recovering from illness, here we give Lugao which is a Filipino glutinous rice dish or porridge. It comes with several different toppings from crunchy garlic, green onion leaves, chicken, soft-boiled eggs, bread... for some reason(Bicho Bicho).

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The color of the magic Ralph gives off is supposed to be this specific shade of dark green #114b48 Or is it dark light blue? Anyway I want to give you guys a pic but its a bit to tedius right now so if you're curious you can just look up its hex color combination.
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D-Rock
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Wow, seems Fido was on the verge of accessing that locked memory.

Wow, Ralph has been completely losing it, but guilt is a devastating emotion. But to be able to keep Mungo down, that’s scary.

And once again, neat little food trivia.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Awwwww. I think Ralph needs a big hug. Hope this won't be the last we see of Ralph. That would be sad.

Nice chapter by the way!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Amazee Dayzee wrote: Wed Oct 26, 2022 1:45 pm Awwwww. I think Ralph needs a big hug. Hope this won't be the last we see of Ralph. That would be sad.

Nice chapter by the way!
Thanks! It won't be the last you see of Ralph but for now he'll be more of a background presence.

D-Rock wrote: Wed Oct 26, 2022 1:42 pm Wow, seems Fido was on the verge of accessing that locked memory.

Wow, Ralph has been completely losing it, but guilt is a devastating emotion. But to be able to keep Mungo down, that’s scary.

And once again, neat little food trivia.
Kitsune did say the memory would come back but slowly and at a pace Bino could handle.

I've been holding onto that food trivia for a while now. I find it funny how even across the world we have some kind of equivalent to something in America.



Hey guys no new chapter but I did want to keep you posted. I'm still working on the chapter but its been delayed cause well life is being life right now and I've had to make a tough decision. I'm not in any health risk, nor is anyone close to me I mean that I've just had to make a career choice and its always been on my mind. So much so that I've been too distracted to write, but maybe I'm seeing the tail end of it so maybe there's gonna be a new chapter in the coming week. Maybe...

Anyway Sorry for the delay and thanks again for reading
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I'm happy that Ralph will be out there but can you please stop getting rid of all of the hunks? this disheartening. XD

I suppose there is still Vidar.
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Alright, man. Sometimes things need to be properly prioritized. Good luck!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Hey everyone! I'm alive...... Again.....

Yeah sorry its been a while, a lot of stuff happened and I couldn't set myself in the creative mood. Thankfully things are better for now and I really wanted to continue writing so I broke past it. Here's to hoping this is another streak and not a one off thing. Enjoy!

Episode 06: Kintsugi
Chapter 04

"Hi... uh... is Joey there..? He isn't? Oh, it's nothing too important. I just wanted to talk."

Fido paced Sabrina’s porch wracking his brain for a solution.
When Askal went missing, Fido called up anyone willing to go out and search for the pup. Amazingly he had a good number out past midnight searching, and the same people were even willing to try again in the morning. Thankfully the search was successful, and Askal made it home safe and sound. The problem came from Joey's refusal to answer his phone.

Fido tried everyone and everywhere he could think of. He called the houses of Dallas and Lester, and neither was housing Joey. Joey wasn't home either, only his dad. Fido would've tried reaching Squeak, but ever since Spo left on that backpacking trip through Europe, Fido hasn't had much contact with the mouse population of Babylon Gardens.

A streak of lightning bolted across the sky, followed by a thunderous boom, causing Fido to look out toward the street. The rainstorm was picking up, and the last time he saw Joey, he had run into the forest with tears running down his eyes. As much as he'd like to remain optimistic, Fido couldn't dismiss the facts; Babylon Gardens was becoming increasingly dangerous lately. First, it was Kara, then just recently, a giant scorpion monster randomly attacked Askal and a few cubs. Fido could only guess what else was out there and if Joey had been attacked yet. Given Babylon’s current situation, it wasn’t too absurd an assumption to make.

"Kuya?" Askal's voice broke through the monotony of the rain battering the window and Fido's growing anxiety, "Is there anything I can help with?"

Fido saw the look of worry written on Askal's face, and he could quickly tell it mirrored his own. As if by reflex, Fido smiled to try and reassure the young dog. After everything he had already been through, Fido didn't want to put any more stress on the young dog's shoulders. It was between him and Joey, after all. He couldn't unload his mistakes onto Askal.

"Oh, it's nothing," Fido chuckled as he leaned on a nearby wall. "Just trying to take care of business, that's all. How about you?" Fido leaned forward to meet Askal at eye level. "Are you feeling better?"

He gave a subtle nod, "I'm feeling better. The Lugao definitely helped, but I could still go for seconds even after all I've eaten." Fido couldn't help but notice Askal was rubbing the scarred area of his neck injury, "But there's something else."

"You know you can tell me anything." Fido lowered himself to the floor and patted the spot next to him.

"I'm not sure how to explain it," Askal sat down and sighed, still rubbing his neck, "but... You're lying."

Fido was taken aback, too stunned to speak.

"It's something I can do. Kitsune said I could sense strong emotions in people and objects. I can feel your growing worry over something, but you won't tell me." Askal sighed before looking Fido in the eyes, "I want to help."

Fido wasn't sure why he was still surprised. His girlfriend used to be able to shoot fire from her palms, but now his adoptive brother had some way of reading his emotions. The older dog remembered when Sabrina first demonstrated her magical prowess and how long it took to stop him from screaming. Rather than fight it at this point, Fido leaned his head back to stare at the ceiling as he sank to the floor.

"Alright, fine, you caught me." Fido chuckled, somewhat defeated, "I'm worried about Joey."

"Your brother?" Askal clarified,

Fido folded his legs and crossed his arms to keep them in place. "Yeah... him. When I went looking for you, I said harsh words to him that I regret. I want to talk to him, but I don't know where he is, and given how dangerous Babylon's been getting, I'm also worried if he's hurt or not."

"So he's angry?" Askal tilted his head.

"I imagine he'd be livid. Bino sure was when I tried to stop him from bullying you."

Askal rubbed his chin. Then the young dog crossed his legs in the same way he'd seen Sabrina do to meditate. Given his prior experience with Sabrina, Fido knew better than to disturb someone while they concentrated, especially if they were in the middle of casting a spell or something similar. Moments of silence passed between the two dogs. The only unique sound was the continuing rain.

Anti-climactically, Askal opened his eyes and stood up slowly, "I think I've got him."

"Just like that?" Fido looked puzzled as he followed the young dog's lead.

"Sorta," Askal scratched his head, trying to explain better, but couldn't. "I'm just as new to this as you are."

"Then how do you know for sure?" Fido folded his arms,

"Instinct?" Askal shrugged, "The important part is, I know where Joey is, and if you're ready, I can take you to him."

Fido paused. Doubt began to creep up again. There would always be the chance that Fido could make things worse by trying to reach out so soon. Their relationship was strained enough. Pushing things now could be detrimental in the long run. Yet, despite all the anxieties that plagued his mind, Fido remembered his chat with Zeke. Joey was important to him. As his older brother, Fido couldn't sit idly by and let his younger brother suffer. He couldn't do it when it was Askal; Joey should be no different.

"I'm ready." Fido breathed out with a heavy sigh as he reached out for a nearby umbrella.

"Then follow me." Askal took the umbrella and stepped into the rain,

As the young dog did so, embers gathered around his feet before growing to envelop his body. Rather than burn anything away, the fire built up Askal's body, making the young dog slightly taller than Fido with somewhat more defined muscles. Then, when the flames receded completely, Fido could take in the new fur coat with the striking and unmistakable striped pattern he'd come to know of Ryujuro.

"Was that really necessary?" Fido asked as he joined Ryujuro underneath the umbrella, still not getting over Askal inhabiting a total stranger.

Ryujuro casually walked alongside Fido, leading the way, "His- er- My fur coat is thicker in this form. It helps deal with the cold."

Once again, the two dogs were wrapped in silence as they trekked along Babylon Garden's streets. Due to the rain, barely any pets or humans were out and about. Any the duo came across rushed to get back indoors and out of the rain. It left little subject to talk about to fill in the awkward air, which is weird considering, despite everything, Askal was still in Ryujuro. If the only difference was the appearance, why did Fido find it hard to even talk to the striped dog?

"Can I ask Ryujuro something?" Fido finally spoke up to break the silence.

"That's not how it works, Kuya." Ryujuro said, still looking ahead of them, "There's no talking to Askal or Ryujuro; you're just talking to me. I am both now, and if I wanna stay sane, I've got to act like both now."

"That's... a little confusing..."

"Tell me about it, now; what did you want to ask?"

"Zenichi, was he your older brother?"

"Y-Yeah."

"Did he- er- you ever get into an argument with him?"

"Loads of times, but at the end of the day, we're brothers, you know? All we had in the world was each other... which is how I felt about Datu before I met all of you."

"Guess no matter the time period or where on earth you are, if you're siblings, you're going to get into fights with each other."

"I like to see it a little bit differently. Even though siblings are meant to clash sometimes, throughout the years, more often than not, we always come back stronger. If a thousand-year-old geezer like me can do it, then there's hope for you yet, right?"

Fido couldn't hold back a chuckle, "Do I have to call you Kuya now?"

"Well... no? Look, can we not complicate things? I want to keep calling you my Kuya." Ryujuro folded his arms somewhat defensively. "It just feels weird the other way around."

"I guess that's true." Fido let out one more chuckle before he noticed Ryujuro coming to a stop.

Now that he wasn't so focused on the conversation anymore, Fido finally noticed that he and Ryujuro had arrived at the entrance to the park. Understandably the park was empty, except for a lone figure sitting on the swings. When he saw Joey safe and sound, Fido couldn't help but sigh of relief. At least he wasn't in any physical danger.

"Of course, it had to be here." Ryujuro sighed, rubbing his temples, "What is it with you three and this place?"

"Pardon?" Fido raised his brow at Ryujuro's cryptic speak.

Ryujuro grew a sour look on his face, "You can't remember it right now, but all three of your lives were inexplicably ruined here by Dr-" The stripped dog staggered for a bit as he rubbed his temples, "No, that can't be right. She could never do something so... so...

"Ryujuro?" Fido tried to comfort the dog by holding onto his shoulders,

However, when Fido's hands made contact with Ryujuro, Fido instantly pulled his hand back due to an intense static shock. Fido even saw the electrical arc between them and began worrying.

"Are you alright?" Fido took the umbrella from Ryujuro's hand, "Maybe we should go back."

"No, this is too important," Ryujuro grunted,

"But I...

"No, I'll be fine. Just go to Joey; he needs you more than I do right now."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, just go."

Before Fido could continue to argue, Ryujuro broke out into a sprint in the direction of Sabrina's house. Fido wanted to chase after him, but it took nearly all of his willpower to root himself to the spot. The situation was different now. Askal... or Ryujuro was in a safe position, and whatever was ailing him looked like it could wait. There was no immediate reason why Fido would have to delay talking to Joey. One way or another, Fido was determined to resolve their argument before the day's end.

As Fido walked into the park, he felt his feet get heavier and heavier the closer he got to Joey. Yet, the older dog still kept his pace. Since the younger dog had his head held low, Fido had difficulty determining his overall mood, but that didn't stop him from taking a seat on the empty swing, still holding onto the umbrella to keep himself dry.

"Hey," Fido began awkwardly.

If Joey heard him, he didn't respond.

Fido took a deep breath. "Look. About what I said in the forest- Fido tried to find the right words, "It was rude, mean, and uncalled for." Fido waited for a response, but Joey sadly stared at the ground silently, "I know I can't take back what I said, nor can I deny what I said, but I want to make things better between us." Fido then gave himself a weak push, "What I'm trying to say is, I'm sorr-

"But you're not wrong." Joey finally spoke up with a raspy, shaking voice, interrupting Fido,

"Joey?"

"You aren't wrong to feel the way you did. I pushed you away; I kept you at arm's distance. You're right. I was a terrible brother to you, and you deserve someone far better than someone like me."

"Don't say that, Joey,"

"Why? It's the truth. I hurt you, then got jealous, and hurt him too. So just make things simple and hate me already."

"It's not that simple. I can't hate you, Joey; I want you in my life. Despite it all, you're still my brother. Why are you so hellbent on keeping me away?"

Fido noticed Joey subtly pull away. "Y-You wouldn't understand."

"Then help me understand, Joey." Fido cooed gently, "I'm your older brother. Nothing short of a murder could ever get me to see you any differently."

There was a moment of silence between the two dogs. While the initial tension in the air had dispersed a bit, Fido could still feel it lingering. Nevertheless, it made preparing himself for Joey's response easier since he had a clearer head to think with.

"At first, I was afraid." Joey finally spoke up after minutes of silence. "Afraid you'd see me differently, afraid you think less of me because... of my preference."

Fido was careful not to downplay Joey's dilemma. He didn't snicker, nor did he burst out into laughter. For Joey, Fido kept his face calm and his voice rational. "Joey, you know that stuff doesn't matter to me. I don't care who you love; I'd be a downright hypocrite if I judged you for who you loved."

"That's why I said at first," Joey continued, "I couldn't risk letting you find out because what if you were like Bino? I was afraid you'd be as extreme as he is against cat lovers. So when you and Sabrina came out, I was initially overjoyed. I thought there'd be someone who finally understood me, but then I saw how you were treated."

The shaking in Joey's voice continued to worsen, "I was already the town weirdo. Barely anybody understood my interests, and they'd talk behind my back, calling me names and starting weird rumors. I was afraid that if I stuck around with you, they'd look into me and lower everyone's already low opinion of me. I only have three friends Fido. I was afraid they'd leave me too if my reputation got any worse."

Joey finally dropped his facade and began fully sobbing, "Then, when I saw you hanging around that young pup, something snapped in me. I was jealous that I couldn't spend time with you in the open, but he did. I resented that I lost so much time with you because of my insecurities and took it out on him. I... I... missed being able to hang out with you and Bino just like before..." Joey began rubbing his temples. "Before that stupid talent show... Ever since then, it feels like we drifted apart."

Sensing Joey had finally gotten everything he needed to say out of his system, Fido got off his swing and dropped his umbrella, not caring if he was soaked down to his skin. He placed both hands on Joey's shoulders and looked him directly in the eyes for the first time since they arrived at the park. As expected, they were red and irritated from all the crying he had been doing. However, Fido looked at Joey regardless, trying to convey something Joey had needed for a long time. Compassion. Any and all misgivings he had about Joey's actions instantly melted away now that he knew the context behind his choices.

Despite claiming to have three friends, Fido could tell Joey was still incredibly lonely from having to keep all his emotions bottled up over the years. First-hand experience told him it was definitely a heavy secret to keep. But, now that Joey was honest with him, Fido knew he had to treat the heart-to-heart seriously.

"Like I said," Fido pulled Joey in for a hug, who seemed genuinely surprised at the gesture, "No matter who you love, I still see you as my brother. Nothing will change that."

"Just like that? Years of me treating you like something I had to hide, just gone? How can you forgive me so easily?"

Fido pulled back; now, he had tears in his eyes. "Because I just wanted to be with my family all this time. Now that I know you don't actually hate me, I don't care. We can work out a way to handle Bino and the club later, but for now, I'm just happy." Fido chuckled a bit as he tried to wipe the tears that kept coming, "Don't get me wrong, I still expect you to apologize to Askal because of what you did, but I'm happy to finally know you want to spend time with me."

"I basically pointed Bino's hatred towards him. Will Askal forgive me as easily as you did?"

"I know that dog better than anyone here. I know he'll forgive you if you apologize. If you play your cards right, he might be calling you Kuya by the end of the year."

"Kuya?" Joey repeated confused,

"Its just something from his culture." Fido responded with a chuckle, "It's what they call their older brothers where he's from."


Joey chuckled before he pulled Fido in for one more hug, "I always wanted to be an older brother."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Fox wasn't tired. He was exhausted.
Not just physically but mentally as well. Not only did he just wake up from a two-week-long coma brought about by nearly having his soul fuse with Rowan's, but he also went to a different decrepit universe brought about by the folly of beings who were practically gods—who was he kidding? They were gods, complete with the arrogance and hubris of the many he had read about in his books.

Fox turned to lay on his side; not even the familiarity of his dog bed could soothe his mind. All he could do was toss and turn every so often when the cushions beneath him grew too warm. His belly was stuffed, and the rain had set the perfect temperature and ambiance to fall asleep to, yet Fox couldn't bring himself to relax.

Was it the looming questions brought about by the information he just learned or was it the threat Kitsune mentioned would go after him if he knew too much? Fox didn't know, but he knew that his bed felt empty without Mungo by his side.

Trying desperately to calm his nerves, Fox grabbed his phone and flipped to a picture in his gallery. It was a picture of him and Mungo off-duty sharing a sundae together. The photo brought a smile to Fox's muzzle but, at the same time, a slice of anxiety. If anyone saw— what would they think? What would they do?

It wasn't bad enough that his mind was buzzing with unanswered questions and anxieties, but his body was also in an awkward spot. Despite lying in bed, Fox felt sensations that didn't make sense from an outside perspective. He felt his hands soak down to his skin as if he was washing them. He felt his paw pads squish and deform as if he was walking. Even his nose brightened up at several exotic spices wafting through the air. These were Rowan's sensations, and now that Fox was paying attention to them, he felt even more of them.

Fox shook his head and closed his phone. His reflection greeted him with the timepiece still hanging around his neck, giving off a soft alien glow.

'Fair warning, don't take that thing off for a day at least unless you want to age twenty years or so in a single second. It's still trying to resync you to your timeline.' Nuk's warning echoed in Fox's mind.

Instantly Fox pulled away from the strange device and got up. He needed company, and while he would normally run to Mungo, Fox knew his schedule well enough to know he'd be on duty at the moment. So instead, Fox quickly threw on his bomber jacket and grabbed an umbrella to head to the wolf house. While King and Bailey had already messaged him over the phone, Fox felt the need for a physical reunion. It wasn't too far a walk anyway.

A cold rush of air greeted Fox as he opened the door. Fox took it all in with a deep breath before ensuring his front door was locked. Once secured, Fox opened his umbrella and began his short trek. Naturally, because it had been raining for some time now, most Babylon denizens were already at their homes enjoying their time with their families. This allowed Fox to enjoy his walk in relative peace, save for the pitter-patter of rain hitting the fabric of his umbrella. It was just what the doctor had ordered.

Fox had lived a large portion of his life in Babylon Gardens. He saw most pets as they moved in and others as they moved away. The connection grew even more profound when he became an officer because of the rounds he did to protect his home. He was so familiar with his home that Fox had been walking the past few blocks on autopilot. Sure, Fox noted which street he was in and where to turn, but it was all background noise. As a result, he let his mind drift from one topic of importance to the other.

However, Fox caught sight of something that derailed his train of thought and forced him to pay even more attention to his surroundings. It was Nuk causally walking around Babylon Gardens like he owned the place. The celestial tanuki stood out like a sore thumb because he was far taller and more muscular than a regular tanuki. Another glaring detail was that he wore pants and a sleeveless tank top he'd seen some humans wear at the gym. However, what stood out most to Fox was that Nuk was carrying something— someone with an all too familiar dark fur coat.

"Mungo," Fox gasped, all sense of reason or logic flying out the window as Fox dropped his umbrella and came running.

It was dire. In his time with the large dog, Fox had only ever seen Mungo knocked unconscious once during the fight with the forgotten. The sight brought up unpleasant memories and nightmares he had shortly after the fight. Fox didn't care if he was getting soaked. All Fox cared about was Mungo's safety.

"NUK!" Fox yelled as he caught up to the tanuki, "Is he okay?"

Nuk took a moment before he realized Fox was talking to him, "Oh, this guy? Oh yeah, he's fine, just unconscious."

"What!? Why!? How!?" Fox asked his flurry of questions, desperate to know what he could do to help,

"Your boyfriend is unconscious; I'm not sure why, and judging by the mana signature used on him, I'm guessing gravity magic," Nuk responded casually.

"huh? how did—" Fox took a deep breath as he kept pace with the tanuki, "Nevermind, is he going to be alright?"

"He'll be fine. I'm just taking him to Rowan to get patched up."

"Can't you do something?"

"I could, but it's been a while since I've been to a mortal realm. So I'm a little rusty casting magic here. When I first got here and tried to port to his location, I accidentally overshot it and sent myself to the bottom of the ocean."

Fox paused for a moment to process the information but stopped when he realized that Nuk had made a turn. They had arrived at Sabrina's house. Anxiously Fox stood next to Nuk as he effortlessly held up Mungo with one arm and used the other to ring the doorbell. Almost immediately, the door opened to reveal Rowan who was defensive at first when he noticed Mungo’s limp body but immediately dropped his guard when he finally saw who was carrying him.

"Tanuki-San!?" Rowan cried out, "Is that Sir Mungo?"

"Heyo!" Nuk greeted with a broad smile, "I come bearing presents!" The large canid let himself in and plopped Mungo's unconscious form on the couch, startling Sabrina.

She looked at Nuk, Mungo, Fox, Rowan, and Nuk, "Oh no, it is too early for this." She grumbled as she got up and went upstairs,

"But it's three in the afternoon," Rowan responded, confused.

"Too. Early. For. This." Sabrina hissed back before disappearing up the stairs, followed shortly by a door slam.

"Forget her," Fox rushed to Mungo's side, "Rowan can you do anything?"

Rowan scratched his chin before opening his vest and pulling out a familiar notebook. Soon enough, after tearing out a few pages, Rowan had a similar setup to what he had used on Fox the night he was stabbed. It almost looked like a hospital bed had been set up in a flash.

"Oh, I see," Rowan snapped his fingers, "He's fine. Something just managed to squeeze all the air out of his lungs."

"WHAT!?" Fox yelped,

"Don't worry; he wasn't without oxygen for too long. Just long enough to knock him unconscious... for several hours." Rowan coughed awkwardly, "He just needs a jump start to snap him out of it."

Yet again, Rowan reached into his vest and pulled out a slightly larger notebook. After scribbling on it for a few moments, Rowan tore it out and placed a strange-looking glyph in the center of Mungo's chest.

The white dog took a deep breath before placing his palm on it. "Three... two... one." Rowan pressed down on the glyph in one swift motion, causing a bright light to come from it, similar to the sound a defibrillator would make.

Mungo shot up with a gasp before patting the spot where he had been shocked. He looked around the room before his eyes locked with Fox's.

"Fox?" Mungo's lip quivered, almost as if he didn't believe what he saw.

Fox began to tear up a little. "Yeah, it's me. I'm—

He didn't get a chance to utter another word. Instead, Fox was immediately yanked into an embrace. Yet it was different than Mungo's infamous spine crushers. Fox felt no pain from the hug, but it did feel tender, almost as if Mungo was afraid he'd break Fox.

"I have so many questions." Mungo broke the hug and studied Fox's body, "How are you feeling? Do you have any lingering pains? Are there any adverse effects from the treatment?" Mungo's words suddenly died in his mouth when his eyes finally reached Fox's new scars.

Fox could see the look in his eyes; it was pure fear. He knew this would've been a topic he'd need to discuss sooner or later, but Fox didn't think it'd be this bad. He saw Mungo's chest rise and fall rapidly, his pupils dilate, and his hands shake as he reached out to touch the scars.

"Hey, it's gonna be alright." Fox tenderly wrapped his hand around Mungo's wrist. "I'm fine, see? I'll admit, a few weeks of bed rest may have ruined my tone, but I've still got some size left, right?" To put Mungo's mind at ease, Fox broke out into a flex just like he'd seen some models in fitness magazines

A faint smile grew on Mungo's face before he started chuckling. Fox breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Mungo calming down. Sadly it didn't last. Fox's ears perked at the sound of the door opening, and when he turned around Fox was faced with Ryujuro. The dog was drenched to the skin, but his fur pattern was unmistakable. It was him. Fox took a quick second to process before he suddenly turned to Mungo, who was beginning to have another panic attack.

"I-I'm sorry, I gotta go." Mungo suddenly stood up and bolted for the kitchen, accidentally ripping out the doorknob when he tried to go out the back door,

"I'll fix that later!" Mungo yelled before he cloaked himself in his golden armor and took to the skies.

It was so fast that Fox was left gawking at a broken back door for a few seconds before he finally realized what had happened. He then turned to look back at Ryujuro but in his place was sweet Askal, who could only look at the room in confusion.

"Was it something I did?" He asked with his head tilted to the side.

End of Chapter 04
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Glad that you are back to writing this story! It was definitely worth the wait!
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D-Rock
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Great to see that Fido and Joey finally had that heart-to-heart.

Mungo has a lot to process himself, but the trauma of seeing the one he almost killed in a rage definitely had an impact.

And what was Ryujuro talking about? And the fact that he went to Sabrina’s place, did her dad do something? He was always an enigmatic one.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Harry Johnathan
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Harry Johnathan »

He's Back
He's Back
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Pray for those who have fallen away, to be brought back to God. To their loss they are crucifying the Son all over again and mocking him.
Hebrews 6:6-7 (Paraphrase)
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Wrenisprobablyb0red
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Only gonna type a bit because I burnt my hand this morning and typing hurts, but I'm really glad to see this chapter and wish you the best of luck with continuing to break through your creative block!
Askal knowing how Fido is lying about being alright is neat. I wonder if, even without the magic, he'd be kind enough and know Fido well enough to still be able to tell that his Kuya wasn't doing so hot. I think so, and that's good, because at least to me it means that Askal still retains a lot of the same characterisation and the empathy magic was properly built up and feels like a functional part of Askal.
Fido and Joey figuring things out quickly was cool. At first I was surprised by how quickly they patched it up, but really it makes sense. A lack of communication can turn even a small or irrational worry into a big issue, and strains in a relationship generate more strains. I do wonder if Joey will still have his troubles with Fido over his fear of losing what little reputation he has, but something tells me that Joey's pals aren't too judgemental (except for that one, haha.
Loved seeing Fox and Mungo reunite, even if just briefly! I'm also super interested in finding out what the chief did and if he has connections to Fail (that's autocorrected from Gail but I kept it in because it amused me a little.)
I'm a little conflicted on the ending line. Askal seems unsure as to whether or not his presence, either as himself of Ryujuro, who I guess is... Also himself now, caused Mungo to panic. But I feel like Askal being able to feel emotions and remembering the fight with Mungo would lead him to the conclusion that his presence was causing Mungo to panic. Unless he doesn't remember fighting Mungo, and I am misinterpreting some stuff.
Overall, fantastic chapter!
Also reminded me that I still want to try lugao.. this fic always makes me so hungry!
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I think that he is making people hungry on purpose with this fanfic. He wants us to go and sample all the delicious foods he tried and wrote in! :D
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Wrenisprobablyb0red
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Amazee Dayzee wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 11:17 pm I think that he is making people hungry on purpose with this fanfic. He wants us to go and sample all the delicious foods he tried and wrote in! :D
KRYTUS HOW COULD YOU
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

That s right! I discovered his nefarious plot! Then I exposed it!

XD
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