Live by the Sword

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Krytus The Dreamer
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Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Hey guys been a while since I've posted here. Years in fact... yikes time sure flies. Anyway, the year's been rough and I kinda felt burnt out. But lately, I've been thinking I want to go back to doing this stuff because it's fun and it takes my mind off of things. So first off. This isn't what I was working on before mostly cause I kinda felt stuck and wasn't sure how to continue. Maybe I will someday or maybe I won't. For now, I just want to try and get back into the swing of things.

This was going to be something to familiarize myself with how I write again but I had two potential stories and didn't know which one to pursue. So I decided why not do like a pilot of sorts to see which one I was more excited about writing. And by the pilot, I meant the beginning arc cause it's hard to tell which one gets me more excited with just one chapter. I based the story structure around Valerio's posts back in the day cause to get some inspiration back I reread a good portion of his fic. (if you haven't read/didn't know about his fic I highly recommend it)

Anyway, this is one of the two potential fics I wanted to try writing. I'll finish this one first before moving on to the second one.

Pilot Episode: Askal
Chapter 01

Askal was not having the best day.
And that’s saying something for a street dog trying to survive in a bustling city. The usual spots he would check for food had either been already raided or had nothing safe to eat. Today’s weather called for clear skies, but that meant blistering heat in a tropical country like his. Thankfully his patchwork brown and white fur were on the shorter end for dogs, but it did very little to relieve him from the heat.

Exhausted, all the little Askal could do was drop to his tail in the shade of the city’s numerous skyscrapers to catch his breath. Sometimes he wished his nose wasn't so sensitive. Many streets in the city reeked of garbage and smog but it's not like he could do anything about it.

His stomach growled once again, begging for what wasn’t there, to begin with. “I know, I know.” Askal grumbled to himself, “I’m doing the best that I can.”

“Rough day, huh?” came a voice from just above him

A Second dog was leaning casually on the fire escape. This was one with a mix of brown and black fur. The newcomer’s ears were pointed straight up, and he had the slyest grin.

“Kuya Datu?” Askal mumbled in his hunger-induced haze as the dog above jumped down from the fire escape and landed like a professional

“The one and only.” he chuckled as he looked down on the younger dog, “Looks like you could use a pick me up.”

He tossed a brown paper bag onto Askal’s lap without another word. The moment his nose cleared out the smell of garbage, Askal instantly knew what was inside the bag. No hesitation. The bag was torn to shreds in mere seconds to reveal a burger, still wrapped too. Not a second later, the wrapper was gone, and it was halfway through his mouth, and poor Askal was gagging on his meal.

“Slow down!” Datu laughed as he took a seat next to the gagging dog and slapped his back. “You’ve got to enjoy it.” Datu even handed him a drink, wet from being too cold in a hot environment

“Hang on,” Askal said through a full mouth of burger meat. “This is still warm!” he sipped through the drink’s straw. “And this still has ice in it! How did you get these?”

“Oh, you know.” Datu oozed false innocence. “There was this new hire taking food out to a car. One well-placed distraction and presto.”

“I thought you told me not to steal because I could get sent to the shelter.”

“Correction! I told you not to steal AND get caught because it would get you sent to the shelter. Big difference!”

“Okay, and how is that any better?”

“Because! We are a dime a dozen. If you’ve seen one Askal, you’ve seen them all! Hard to catch a specific stray when you can’t tell them apart.”

“I hope you know what you’re doing.”

“Of course, I’m sure! I’ve been at this way longer than you have, pup. Resorting to… those methods are still too advanced for a stray of your caliber.”

Askal managed to finish his meal despite being unsure of Datu’s methods. It wasn’t much, but it was a full course meal to a street dog. If only… The meal at best held him until dinner before he would feel hungry again. Askal didn’t feel like going to bed hungry for the third time this week, but he didn’t have a lot of options. He wasn’t particularly graceful when it came to… acquiring food.

“So, any dinner plans?” Datu poked jokingly as he strolled alongside Askal

With a roll of his eyes, Askal responded while still walking, “Maybe I’ll stalk the nearest Mc’Do for anything they throw away. If I can just get to it before the other strays do, maybe I finally won’t go hungry tonight.”

“Aw, don’t be like that,” Datu said in a tone that hid something he couldn’t wait to share. “I’ve got an idea.”

Askal paused. He knew that Datu’s plans were less than desirable to the humans. Pretty much the only reason why he hasn’t been caught yet was that the only things taken were food. The local law enforcement had more critical tasks than catching hungry strays. Doing nothing, for example. Nobody could do nothing like the local police.

Datu’s ideas required a certain subtlety to them. Askal was almost always left in the dark about what they entailed. But, he had always been told, “the less you know, the better.”. Datu enlisting Askal’s help made him raise a brow. Usually, Datu showed up with food and something safe to drink and told him not to ask questions. Then he’d be missing for most of the day, leaving Askal to wander the streets begging for food from passerby’s.

“Okay, okay.” Datu started with his hands up. “I know this is suspicious, but it’s not hard. I just want you to watch a building for me.”

“A building?” Askal repeated with a head tilt

“You know, somewhere nearby on top of an old church bell tower. To ring if you see anybody approach said building,” he said, trying to hook Askal onto his plan.

“Are you sure about this?” Askal asked again

“Trust me.”

There was a pause. Askal felt a little uneasy about the whole thing, mainly because he knew so little going into it. The instructions he was given, while simple enough were vague when it came to the specifics. However, Askal felt that if he was going to be a part of the plan, he should know a little more than a faint outline.

Shaken by the weight of his decision Askal opened his mouth to speak, “I’m not so….” His words died in his mouth

His stomach rumbled once again. Even though he was sure he had his fill on the burger Askal didn’t realize how hungry he was. Still, Askal tried to remain stalwart. Either he knows more, or he doesn’t participate. Then he heard his stomach rumble again.

“Alright, fine,” Askal said faster than he could think. “All I have to do is ring the bell when anybody gets close, right?”

Datu smiled. “Exactly! Now come on. It’s a little ways off of where we are now, and we should get you situated long before I start so nobody gets suspicious.”

Askal threw up his hands and followed the slightly older dog with an exasperated sigh. It was still a little bit after noon, and Askal didn’t want to trek through the city in such harsh conditions, but there was very little he could do when Datu had that look in his eyes.

Askal didn’t know the city’s name he lived his entire life in. He just knew it was packed. There was no shortage of people and pets from poor to rich. One would think that the number of people in such a condensed area would cause severe friction and dispute, but somehow these people made it work. There were beggars, yes, but there were a good amount of humans who had set up stalls selling everything from phone cases to freshly roasted nuts.

A cascade of jeeps and cars made the streets dangerous for pets and humans, yet there was a routine buried deep underneath the chaos. It didn’t matter if the lights were red or green. People continued to cross the road uninhibited by the fear of getting hit. Years of experience, no doubt. Askal wished it wasn’t so hard to breathe through the smog sometimes.

It had taken a little over an hour, but after numerous intersections, road crossings, and angry car horns, the two strays had finally reached their destination. A run-down church with clear warning tapes on the door marked it as condemned. It was a little sad to look at. Askal had seen his fair share of services from places much like these. It was always filled with people who celebrated their faith but seeing such a place abandoned and alone struck at Askal’s heartstrings.

“Tabi Tabi Po.” Datu said casually as he brushed aside the condemned tape

Askal had done the same. He wasn’t sure why but humans did this every time they had to pass through anywhere old.

“Are you sure this place is safe?” Askal asked as he poked at the door, wondering if it would collapse by his touch alone

Datu gestured for Askal to follow in his unique, carefree way, “Nah, you worry too much. I looked the place over when I planned this. Now come on before anybody notices.” The stray did, albeit reluctantly

Inside, all the pews that typically waited for people to occupy them were missing. All the paintings of religious imagery, among other things, were also gone. The church was truly and utterly abandoned, and it felt hollow. Askal doubted if returning the pews would do anything to fix the hollowness.

Askal was led through stairs that went up two levels, passing through the sides. Each time he took a step, he had kicked up a cloud of dust that irritated his sensitive nose nonstop. Once at the top, Datu pointed at the door at the end of the hall. When opened, Askal was greeted by the balcony he had seen from outside.

Askal saw his city’s skyline for the umpteenth time, but he had never really gotten tired of it. When Askal was hungry and couldn’t sleep, he would stare at the skyline, thinking of what lied beyond the high bars that held him in. Askal had a general area he liked to call his territory and wouldn’t stray too far from it so Datu could always find him. This was actually the farthest he had gone from that small area, and Askal’s heart raced at the excitement. It was almost enough to distract him from how hungry he was. Almost…

Askal’s stomach growled again. “Wow, you sure are hungry, huh?” Datu laughed, breaking Askal’s train of thought

“I can’t help it, okay!” Askal whined, “Lately, I’ve just been getting hungrier and hungrier. Like more so than usual. I used to be able to go for much longer before you come back, but it feels like it’s never enough.”

Datu chuckled and spun Askal around. “Do me a favor and stand up straight.”

The older dog rested his hand on Askal’s head. Once he was done, Datu stepped away and chuckled a second time. Much to Askal’s annoyance.

“You’re this tall now,” Datu said with his hand reaching up to his chest. “You used to be this tall.” He lowered his hand by a margin

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Askal growled annoyed

Datu smiled and bent down to Askal’s eye level. “It means that your Kuya has to work overtime to feed his black hole of an Askal.”

Askal tackled Datu without warning. Except it was more of a headbutt than a tackle. The older dog was even unfazed by the meager assault.

“Was that supposed to do something? Cause this is what it’s supposed to look like!”

Datu had done the same thing Askal had done, and the two were on the floor in seconds. Soon the two were wrestling each other with a few play bites here and there. It clearly wasn’t that much of a match-up. Datu had kept most of Askal’s play bites at bay with his long arm length and returned them in kind. The two had continued to fight until Askal had lost his breath and let go of Datu rolling a short distance away before standing up.

“Get some rest.” Datu commanded as he leaned over the railing, “You’re gonna need it.”

Askal wanted to protest, but a yawn drowned out his words. He had gone through an hour’s worth of walking followed by a tussle with Datu. A nap did sound appealing.

“Alright, but our fight isn’t over yet.” Askal yawned “after this food situation is fixed, we’re going to go at it for real.”

“Whatever you say, pup,” Datu said, giving Askal’s face a tender lick.

Chapter 01 End
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I love the work you have put into this! Great job!
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Very cute :D
Glad to have you back and looking forward to more
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

An interesting start, I’d say. The relationship between the two is rather adorable, and the descriptiveness of the locations help in establishing things.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Amazee Dayzee wrote: Fri Dec 24, 2021 12:25 am I love the work you have put into this! Great job!
Obbl wrote: Fri Dec 24, 2021 12:51 am Very cute :D
Glad to have you back and looking forward to more
Thanks, you two I'll give it my all.
D-Rock wrote: Fri Dec 24, 2021 3:01 am An interesting start, I’d say. The relationship between the two is rather adorable, and the descriptiveness of the locations help in establishing things.
Easy to make those descriptions since I used to walk through this setting on a weekly basis before the you know what.

Pilot Episode: Askal
Chapter 02

It was rare for Askal to have such a happy dream.
While there was no fanfare, it was far from a quiet dream. A storm was raging outside; something fierce; winds were howling, the rain was pouring, thunder was cracking. Yet, what would’ve been a nightmare to most pups was a sweet dream to Askal.

Datu was there looking much shorter than he was. The young street dog was stoking the flames born from the driest pile of trash he could find underneath an overpass that was currently empty. Datu’s attempts to keep a fire going were in vain as eventually, the wind and rain doused what little warmth it had to offer out.

Of course, he was frustrated, but a brown-ish gold dog reached out to him and pulled Datu close. Carried by the brown-ish gold dog Askal was swaddled in blankets while Datu huffed and puffed about the fire. She laughed, which only made Datu more upset.

The brown-ish gold dog pulled them both into the driest corner of the underpass and wrapped all three of them in a blanket that was damp but somehow warm. Suddenly, the storming rain had become the calmest music Askal had heard. The three of them together bracing through the storm was perfect.

***

“Rise and shine.” Datu hummed as he shook Askal awake

Askal wiped the drool from his muzzle. “Morning already?”

“Not quite yet, pup,” Datu said, looking over the railing. “We’ve got a job to do.”

Bouncing up from his napping position Askal reached as high as possible to give his back that satisfying symphony of pops. Almost immediately after, a stray breeze drifted by, making him shiver. The nighttime was about the only time he could get chills like that, and even then, it was a coin flip.

“Alright, that’s enough of that.” Datu grabbed Askal by the shoulder and pointed him to an equally abandoned building. “See that? I’m going to go inside, and I want you to ring this bell if you see anybody, human or animal, go inside that building. Clear?”

“As day.” Askal said excitedly, “How do I ring it exactly?”

“There’s a rope inside just before the door we used to get out here,” Datu said calmly. “Now, keep your eyes peeled, and I’ll be back as soon as possible. Hopefully with enough food to last us a good while.”

As Datu turned to leave, Askal caught him just in time. “Be careful, okay?”

“Pup, look who you’re talking to,” Datu bent down to meet Askal’s eyes. “I’m always careful.”

“That’s what I’m worried about.” Askal pulled Datu in for a hug

“Hey,” laughed Datu as he ruffled Askal’s head, “don’t worry. When I come back, we’re eating like kings.”

“I’ll hold you to that.” Askal let Datu go, and with a glance, the older dog dashed into the chapel

It wasn’t long before Askal saw Datu leave through the front door and bolt into the building just as planned. While Askal was no street cat, he still had a good enough view of the building to see if anybody was going inside. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the city’s lights illuminated a good portion of the building.

In an ever-expanding city like his, an abandoned building was a common sight if one knew where to look. It’s unfortunate that rather than improve what’s already standing, the people running the city would instead expand outwards and leave older parts of the city in disrepair. The area saturated with the rich had buildings equipped with automatic doors, air conditioners, clean windows, while this building looked like it hadn’t even the slightest shred of attention in years. Plants had broken through the concrete and began overtaking one side of the building, windows were boarded up, and the only light source was a nearby lamp that flicked every so often.

It definitely didn’t look safe, and yet Datu just strolled inside like it was a public building. Askal had to shake his head to remain focused. If the building looked dangerous, then all the more, Askal should focus on his task and keep watch.

All he had to do now was wait.

A minute passed by

Five minutes

Ten

Determined to do his job as a makeshift guard dog, Askal never took his eyes off the building except to blink and maybe mark his territory nearby. In the now approaching twenty minutes, Askal had yet to notice anybody even come close to the building, let alone go inside it.

To pass the time, Askal had begun to wonder what was inside that building. Datu said if all went well, they wouldn’t have to worry about food for a good while, so maybe food. But, of course, it could also mean money, but Datu said he’d never steal any money because of how much trouble it would cause him.

The seconds continued to melt away as Askal did as instructed and watched the building. Finally, however, as his eyes began to droop, Askal’s ears stood on end as he heard something. Askal scanned the area, trying to spot where the sound came from, but he couldn’t. Another sound, this time slightly louder. It was glass shattering, and it was from behind the chapel.

Askal ran around the church’s balcony to the closest he could get to the mysterious sound. He was desperate to hear what was happening.

Once he was close enough, he could finally make it out a bit more. “Hey! How did you…!?

“Hand over the keys!”

Askal didn’t know what had come over him. The moment it turned hostile, Askal had bolted down the stairs he came from and was out the front door in record time. Relying on his ears, Askal followed the sound of a loud crash and more glass breaking.

“I don’t have all night!”

With Askal’s pace, he rounded the corner to see a lot filled with cars neatly parked in rows. Once close enough, Askal slowed his pace and surveyed the fence. Finally, with enough effort, Askal found a small opening and crawled his way through. Sticking to the shadows, Askal made his way through the lot, passing through various cars. Eventually, he saw what his ears had been leading him to.

On the other end of the lot was a small booth. It looked small enough to house two people. However, the booth also had a desk and a cabinet so standing inside it was very limiting. Standing right outside the booth was a guard who held his hands up while a man pointed something at him. Then, as slowly as he was allowed, the guard went back inside the booth and came outside with a small box in his hands.

Askal stealthily inched closer to get a better view of the situation. Once he got, closer Askal’s heart raced. The robber held up a gun. Sometimes humans would leave their TVs on, and Askal would take advantage and watch. From these cheesy cartoon shows to crime dramas, Askal eventually learned what a gun was. It was mindless fun, but when he told Datu about it, the dog was as stern as he had ever seen.

‘Listen to me.’ Datu’s voice echoed in his head. ‘If you see someone pull out a gun, do whatever you can to get away. It’s not worth your life.’

“Didn’t you hear me? I said I don’t have all night!” The crook yelled, urging the man to speed up

The guard fumbled with the combination, “Alright, alright, I’ll pick up the pace! Take it easy!”

Not one second later, everyone could hear a click. It wasn’t the loudest sound in the lot, but everyone present heard it only because the tension in the air elevated what would’ve been a modest sound. Askal should’ve breathed a sigh of relief, but instead, his eyes narrowed as the robber reached into his bag and pulled out a knife.

Before he realized what was happening, Askal’s body had moved the fastest it had ever gone. Askal was already in the air in practically no time, with his fangs bared at the attacker. A millisecond later, Askal had latched onto the robber’s knife arm with his arms and teeth and tightened his grip as hard as possible.

“Where did you come from!?” the robbed yelled in surprise at Askal’s attack and swung his arm wildly.

Due to Askal’s lighter weight, the robber quickly picked him off the ground, but that wasn’t enough for him to let go; the excessive shaking, on the other hand, was just too much. Soon Askal was on the gravel floor. Nevertheless, it was a bold effort. Unfortunately, Askal’s only reward was a gun staring straight at him in the face.

Before Askal’s life could flash before his eyes, the guard rushed in and delivered a blow straight across the robber’s face. The force of the impact was enough to stagger the robber long enough for Askal to regain his composure and rush to sink his teeth into the robber’s gun hand. This time Askal squeezed his jaw as hard as possible to force him to let the gun go. But, despite his best efforts, the robber still didn’t let go.

Then a click sound forced the two of them to stop struggling.

“Let the gun go,” the guard said, brandishing his gun. “And raise your hands.”

When the robber did as commanded, Askal let go of him and hid behind the guard “drop the knife too and come quietly.” the guard said as he reached for his phone.

Askal was about to let his guard down but noticed something. Rather than simply letting go, the robber’s arm wound up. He didn’t know how he knew, but Askal saw the knife throw coming. Time began to slow down as Askal braced himself. Then, just like Datu had shown him, Askal flung his entire weight at the guard and successfully managed to tackle him out of the way.

The opening was just what the robber needed. With both potential pursuers on the ground, the robber turned tail and ran as fast as possible. The guard and Askal quickly picked themselves up and gave chase. However, when they reached the streets where the robber had turned, he wasn’t there anymore.

Askal knew this trick since Datu had told him about it. The city was dense. So dense that there were thousands of paths he could use to get away. There was no doubt that the robber had already found a busy street and taken his mask off to blend in with the crowd. So there was no point in giving chase.

“That took a lot of guts, pup.” The guard said before extending his hand, “I respect that. Name’s Raphael.”

Now that the immediate danger had passed, Askal finally got a good look at the guard as they both walked back to the lot. Raphael was a relatively young man, fit on the lean side, which explained the force behind that punch. He also had no hair but a well-kept beard. Raphael wore a uniform he had seen on other security guards before. The sleeves were tight, though, and drew attention to his well-defined arms.

“Nice to meet you,” Askal said, leaning in to sniff Raphael’s hand

“No,” Raphael laughed, “give me your hand.”

Askal reached out his hand, and the two shook. “So why did that human attack you?”

“Probably wanted the cash in the main building. I didn’t quite expect a surprise on my last week here before I go back to the academy, let alone two.” Raphael yawned and headed back to his post

“Two?” Askal echoed in confusion

Raphael laughed. “Yeah, two, and one of those surprises looks very promising. Rushing down a mugger, keeping him occupied to give me a window without a single day of training. But, I mean, your form and timing could still use work. Other than that you sure are something, pup.”

“I don’t know about that,” Askal said through a feverish blush.

“No, I’m serious.” Raphael reiterated, “will you consider joining me at the academy?”

“You want me?” Askal echoed, a bit stunned at the proposal

Askal had rarely seen dogs working with security. However, Askal could tell that they were well fed and cared for from their looks alone. That meant not going to bed hungry ever again and no more sleeping in the rain during typhoon season. It was almost too good to be true.

“Wait,” Askal shook his head, “I didn’t learn this stuff on my own. I have a Kuya; he taught me everything.”

“I don’t see why he can’t join in as well,” Raphael said, patting Askal’s head.

Askal’s tail had gone into overdrive. Finally, an end to all their troubles as strays; a definitive end. This solution wouldn’t run out eventually or have any risks attached. He and Datu could finally have a place to call home.

“Askal!” Came Datu’s voice in the direction of the chapel “Askal!”

Askal’s tail continued to wag. “Datu! Over here!”

In seconds, Datu had climbed over the fence and collided with the younger dog. Aside from a few minor scuffs and bruises, Datu was okay with an addition of two bags slung over his back. Then, all of a sudden, Askal was reminded of his task. He had just left Datu to whatever threat Askal was supposed to warn him about.

“Datu!” Askal cried, “I am so sorry. I left you. I heard these cries and….”

Datu hugged Askal to get him to calm down. “Hey, hey. It is okay. I’m fine, and I’m not mad. I promise.”

“If it’s any consolation, he was off saving my life,” Raphael interjected, and suddenly Datu had put himself between Raphael and Askal.

“Wait, Datu!” Askal rushed to stop any misconceptions. “It’s okay. Let him speak.”

When Datu lowered his guard, Raphael took it as his sign to talk. “You should’ve seen him. He’s quite the fighter. I owe him my life. So I suggested he come with me to the academy. But, of course, I extended that offer to you too.” Raphael offered his hand once more

There was a pause between the three.

“What’s the catch?” Datu finally said, breaking the silence

“Datu, what are you…?” Askal couldn’t even finish his sentence

Datu raised his guard again. “You wanted him to work with you, didn’t you?” when Raphael didn’t answer, Datu continued, “what were you going to offer him in exchange then? Some leftover rice that you couldn’t finish?”

“Raphael wouldn’t do that.” Askal tried to move forward, but Datu forced him back. “Right?”

Raphael paused once more. “Money’s a little tight. So it wouldn’t be much, but if I talked it out with the Aca….”

“I KNEW IT! YOU’RE ALL THE SAME!” Datu Seethed

“Datu, please!” Askal cried, but suddenly, he felt the world spin.

Raphael tried to interject as well. “If you would just let me explain…

Askal wanted to stand. He wanted to be a voice in the argument, but whatever strength he tried to put into his right leg fizzled out. Datu was too preoccupied with Raphael to notice that Askal had fallen. Only when Askal’s body made a thud did Datu finally see.

“Askal!” Datu cried as he dropped to his knees. “What’s wrong?”

“My leg…” Askal said through grit teeth, “somethings wrong.”

Datu didn’t know how it escaped him, but now that his focus was entirely on Askal, he could smell it. The scent of blood. On his right thigh was a deep gash perpendicular to the muscle fibers on Askal’s leg.

It was a side of Datu Askal had only ever seen once. The older dog was breathing rapidly, unsure of what to do. Panic was oozing from his face instead of his sly charm that Askal knew and loved.

“YOU!” Datu turned to Raphael, who looked like he was unsure if he should approach or not. “You said you wanted to take him in, right? Well, here’s your chance to prove it. Take him to the vet. Treat him. HELP MY BROTHER!”

Even after being yelled at, Raphael took a good second before the situation finally hit him. The first thing he did was take off the polo portion of his uniform and tear it into a more workable cloth. Then he went for the bottle on his table and knelt to Askal’s level.

“I promise this will only hurt a little,” Raphael said before pouring the cold water from the opening.

True to his word, it did sting, and Askal had to breathe deeply through his grit teeth not to yell as loud. It was bad enough that it stung as bad as it did, but Raphael began to wipe on the injured area, and the pain only intensified. After what seemed like hours, Raphael finally finished by tightly wrapping the remains of his shirt onto the wound and binding it tightly.

“How does that feel?” Raphael said, whipping his brow

Askal tried to put more strength into his leg, but it refused to respond. “It still hurts. I’m not sure I can stand. What’s wrong with my leg?”

“Is that it?” Datu said, anger pouring through his mouth, “I could’ve done that, and he still can’t stand!”

“That wound needs time to heal.” Raphael said in his defense, “Besides its all I can afford to…

“Of course!” Datu cut him off once again. “It’s all you humans care about.”

Exasperated, Raphael tried again, “If you would just listen to me. Your brother’s hurt and the academy might….”

“Save it!” Datu growled as he picked up Askal onto his back, “I don’t trust you or this Academy.”

Raphael wanted to interject, but Datu stared him down, and Raphael immediately held his tongue. “Come on, Askal. He’s done enough damage for one night.”

Even though Askal could tell the weight was almost too much for Datu to handle, the older dog carried him and the two new bags. Askal looked back to Raphael and could tell he was near as devastated as he was.

“I’m sorry, Raphael.”

“Me too, pup.” He said, not even bothering to look, “If you ever change your mind, you know where to find me.”

As Datu continued to walk away at a steady pace, Askal felt the first drops of water. Before long, a storm had arrived to drench the city.

End of Chapter 02
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Sounds like Datu has been burned too much by humans to trust anyone.
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Trust is a frail thing ....
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Harry Johnathan »

NHWestoN wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 8:05 pm Trust is a frail thing ....
It really is.
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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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by NHWestoN »

Reminds me of something my mother used to say: "that's a pie-crust promise ... easy to make, easy to break."

Dad, on the other hand, would observe "There's always a razor blade in the candy dish." World War II does that to you, I guess.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I really enjoyed reading this next part while I was away on my trip to visit my grandparents in Vermont! It is really good!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

NHWestoN wrote: Tue Dec 28, 2021 9:37 am Reminds me of something my mother used to say: "that's a pie-crust promise ... easy to make, easy to break."

Dad, on the other hand, would observe "There's always a razor blade in the candy dish." World War II does that to you, I guess.
Huh, I've never heard that saying, really appropriate though.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Funny story about chapters 3-5 they were already written when I posted chapter 1 and I was planning on dropping them here a few days apart. But when everyone dropped their comments about 1-2 I realized something that happened in 3 wouldn't work or flow right.

SO I CHUCKED CHAPTERS 3-5 IN THE TRASH THEN STARTED OVER.
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If I'm being honest maybe it was a little abrupt but I tried something else and hopefully, this is a little better. I also want to say thanks for reading and welcoming me back warmly. Here's to a new year of stuff! (hopefully the good variety)

Pilot Episode: Askal
Chapter 03

Askal enjoyed the rain.
Even though it made his fur sticky, the rain usually meant a break from the tropical heat. He loved splashing in the puddles that would form. He even enjoyed taking a short swim in the floods that came about due to the city’s poor drainage system. So whenever it rained, Askal knew his mood was going to improve. But tonight? Tonight was a different story.

Datu’s pace had slowed considerably. The combined weight of Askal and two bags were finally taking its toll on him, and there were very few candidates for a place to sleep tonight. It was hard to tell which area could suffice. The clear tell-tale sign was the scent of the site. A good spot always smelled dusty. Not rotten, not good, just dusty. It usually meant it was clean enough without being too dirty to get sick by being exposed to such an environment. However, trusting one’s nose was particularly hard because there was heavy rain that night.

Eventually, Datu found a small two-story building lost amidst the tall skyscrapers. No lights or sounds were coming from the building and the surrounding area. Acting fast, Datu raced to the door ignoring the faded “for sale” sign. Miraculously the door wasn’t locked, and Datu was free to walk in. The first thing Datu did was set Askal down and make sure he was comfortable. Once Askal was taken care of, Datu surveyed the area just in case.

Askal could tell that it wasn’t anything like he’d seen before from an outsider’s perspective. In addition to the dust scent wafting about the place, things just didn’t add up. There were no lights; each window was covered in an intricately designed grate; while the floor was cracked, he could tell there used to be an intricate pattern laid on the floor. It was almost like this building didn’t belong. That being said, the structure was stable, and it wasn’t like Asakal had much choice. It was safe.

Even though Askal knew he had a safe place to stay tonight and two bags’ worth of food ready to be eaten, Askal couldn’t relax. His mind still raced at what happened not too long ago between Datu and Raphael. The “What ifs.” flooded his thoughts and demanded answers.

“What if Raphael was our chance at a better life?”

“What if we could’ve made it work?”

“What if he wasn’t like what Datu had described?”

Yet, no matter how hard Askal put his mind to work, the young dog couldn’t come up with answers that satisfied him. It frustrated him.

“You’re pretty quiet,” Datu took a seat in front of Askal, back to his usual self as if nothing had ever happened that night. “I think I know what you need~.”

Datu took one of the bags he pilfered and opened it up with an eager grin. A few moments later, Datu pulled out a jar of peanut butter and shook it in front of Askal’s face. Askal glanced at it with sunken, hollow eyes before sinking his head.

Datu frowned and shook the jar again. “Come on, Peanut butter! You love this stuff.”

“I’m not hungry.” Askal kept his head buried between his arms

Datu frowned, and Askal knew that look but couldn’t muster the will to care. He was conflicted about the previous ordeal and just couldn’t process it.

“Askal,” Datu brushed aside Askal’s hands so that the two could lock eyes, “tell me what’s wrong.”

If he’d deny it, Askal knew Datu would insist. Datu always knew when something was wrong. “Okay,” Askal sighed, “promise you won’t be mad?”

“You don’t even have to ask.” Datu’s grip tightened on Askal’s hands but not in an oppressive way, a kind way

Askal drew in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Why did you turn him down?”

“We can never trust humans,” Datu’s expression never turned to anger; his eyes just softened as he spoke.

“Why?”

“Because I’ve seen what they’re capable of—their greed, their pride. It’s done nothing but hurt us.”

“The only contact I’ve had with humans was begging, and they weren’t that bad. Raphael helped me too. Maybe he’s the exception?”

“You can never tell them apart, Askal. It’s not worth risking your life and freedom for.”

“Why not? I’m tired of begging every day; I’m tired of waiting for you to come back every night. I wish I could spend more time with you rather than waiting for you.”

As Askal pleaded with Datu, the older dog finally broke eye contact. He let his grip on Askal loosen, and he readjusted how he sat. Askal could tell Datu was having a hard time coming up with an answer; his older brother was an open book for once. His usually pointed ears flattened onto his skull, his tail hid between his legs, the way Datu hid his eyes said it all.

“Mom…” Datu sighed heavily, “It… hurt… our mom.”

Askal froze. Datu had never brought up their mother. Ever. Whenever Askal tried, Datu would always deflect or change the topic immediately.

“What they did to her. It was awful, unforgivable. It makes me sick.” Datu sighed with a faint sob

“What did they do?” It was Askal’s turn to hold Datu’s hands. “Where is she?”

“I can’t tell you.” Datu finally looked Askal in the eyes again, and there was no hint of sly or uncertainty. “If I told you. It would hurt you, and I can’t bear to do something like that. Not to you. Not ever.”

Askal needed to know more answers. “But….”

“Please.” Datu interrupted, “I can’t. Don’t make me answer. It already hurts too much to talk about. I tried everything. I couldn’t do anything. All I can say is: she wanted to be here. She desperately wanted to see you grow up, and I failed her... I failed you.”

As Datu continued to talk, more tears began to well up from his eyes. Datu was hurting; has been hurting for who knows how long. Unsure of how to help, all Askal could do was pull Datu closer to himself. There was a flare-up of pain in Askal’s leg, but he grit his teeth and pushed through it to get his brother to lean on the wall with him.

There the two sat with thunder and rain lulling both dogs to sleep. However, Askal couldn’t rest; his mind was still alight with questions. How long had it been since he’s seen his mom? How long had it been since they’d all been together? Will he ever see her again?

The numerous thoughts continued to pile on the young dog’s mind, and his eyes began to feel heavy. He tried to stay awake, but it was a losing battle.

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

The rain continued to fall, making unpredictable hypnotic patterns on the windows. Askal had lost the battle to stay awake and was soundly passing the time. However, a clap of thunder had momentarily broken the pattern and stirred Askal from his sleep. Wanting to return to his land of pleasant dreams, Askal tried to lean his weight on Datu but couldn’t find it. Instead, the young dog fell over and broke free from his sleep.

“Datu?” Askal called out sleepily, curious that he couldn’t find his brother

Tilting his head into the air, Askal took a whiff. Datu was nearby; his scent still lingered in the air. Unfortunately, however, the smell came from a nearby set of stairs.

With grit teeth, Askal pulled himself to a standing position using the wall as support. His leg continued to disagree with him the entire time, but for Datu, Askal pushed through it. Then, the young dog made for the stairs hugging the wall the whole way, careful not to put any weight on his bad leg. Once he got to the stairs, Askal had to hop on his one good leg for each step.

As soon as he got to the second floor, Askal immediately could tell something was wrong. It was cold. There were rare occasions that the tropics would have a cold night, but it was never this harsh. He could see his breath. Askal immediately knew he and Datu had to leave. So he scanned for where his brother could’ve gone. Thankfully a window provided enough light for Askal to see, except the narrow hallway presented five doors to him, and Datu was in one of them.

“D-Datu?” Askal shivered like never before in his life. “A-Are you there?”

He was still using the walls to get around Askal, trying to pick up the pace. His nose was leading him to the furthest door on his right. The closer Askal got, the more he wanted to run away. Everything about the situation told him he was in danger and should be headed in the opposite direction—everything from his leg injury to the unnatural chill in the room. However, the thought of Datu being at the center of this odd phenomenon gave Askal the drive he needed to continue.

“D-Datu, you’re s-scaring me,” Askal said through chattering teeth.

When no reply came from the door, Askal gathered what courage he had and grabbed the knob opening the door. Instantly Askal’s nose was put in a state of juxtaposition; the scent of a hot summer day and a bright light burst through the door as light swallowed Askal whole.

“Mom,” came a soft young voice, “don’t go. I’m scared.”

“Mom was never the most intelligent dog, nor was she the most focused. She was clumsy and forgetful, but she kept trying. I love her for that.”

“Datu?” Askal blinked a few times to get the flash out of his eyes

Sure enough, when his eyesight returned to him, Askal was standing outside in the streets of his city. The sun beat down hard as ever, making the concrete uncomfortable on his paw pads. In fact, in front of him was Datu, except a much younger version of him. The other dog in front of him, Askal, had never seen before. She had short brownish gold fur with patches of white on her stomach and legs. Her ears pointed straight up, but her black eyes were soft. Askal knew from smell alone who it was.

“Mom.” Askal sighed

It wasn’t any part of the city Askal had seen before, but there were fewer skyscrapers in the area. Datu and his mom were in the back-alleys of a busy street with blaring horns from trains, cars, and jeeps. It sounded absolutely chaotic.

“I know,” She cooed and rubbed Datu’s head, “but your little brother is sick. I need to go out and look for medicine for him, okay?”

“What will I do? What if somebody comes for us?”

“I need you to be strong. Your brother doesn’t have anybody but you. So he’s relying on you, okay?”

The young Datu nodded his head slowly.

Their mom leaned down to kiss Datu’s forehead. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. I promise.”

“Please don’t take long.” Datu sobbed, “we need you.”

“I promise.” She smiled reluctantly before she crawled underneath the fence and rounded the corner

“But she never came back. She left both of us alone.”

Askal recognized the voice. It was Datu. The real one.

“Datu!” Askal called out, still leaning on a wall, “Where are you!?”

“I had to take care of my brother. I did what I could to feed both of us; sometimes, I wouldn’t be able to eat. However, there was nothing I could do about Askal’s fever. It was a miracle that it even broke at all. Hours became days; days became weeks; weeks turned into five months. We still hadn’t seen her. Sometimes I would go farther from Askal just to look for her. Until one day.”

The city alleyway melted and was soon replaced by a gathering of small buildings. It took a while, but Askal knew that this place was an enclosed village within the city. Datu had told Askal to avoid sites like these because the inhabitants were more likely to call animal control on strays. The wind was blowing hard the sun couldn’t be seen because of how heavy the clouds were. These were clear signs of peak typhoon season.

“I caught her scent, but there was something odd about her. She smelled different, but that didn’t matter. All I knew was that I had to see her again. To bring her back to us again.”

A slightly older Datu ran past Askal and rounded the corner. The scene melted and reformed around a dirty-looking house. Obviously, it wasn’t abandoned because of the loud tv noises and water coming from inside. However, the sounds were the only tell that the house wasn’t abandoned. The grass was overgrown, and the pavement leading up to the door was cracked. Askal almost failed to notice a cage placed next to the cars out of all the details.

There she was. Askal and Datu’s mother caged outside the house in the middle of typhoon season. Except something was different. She was weak. Her eyes looked tired, and her ribs were more pronounced than usual.

“Mom!” Datu cried as he ran up to the cage. “I found you!”

“Datu,” she weakly cried, “please keep your voice down, or they’ll hear you.”

“Mom, what are you doing? Have you been here the whole time?” Datu was frantic, trying to see if he could get the cage open but couldn’t because of the lock

“I tried asking the humans for medicine, but these people took me here instead.”

“Then let’s go, mom. My brother’s waiting for you.”

“I can’t. The humans locked the door and I don’t know where the key is.”

“Then I’ll go get it.”

“No, they might take you too.”

“Don’t give up! There must be something!”

“Datu, please keep your-

There was a stir behind their mother and suddenly sobbing. Very soon, the sobbing erupted into six voices crying at once. Askal’s mother turned around and made a hushing noise, but it was to no avail. The crying continued to grow louder. Then, as if to challenge the outcry, a commotion came from the house followed by footsteps.

“He’s coming.” their mom said frantically “go hide.”

Datu did as he was told and crawled underneath the car. He was holding his breath, hoping not to be found. A skinny, balding man came out of the house and slammed his hand on the cage door, utterly ineffective at trying to get the crying to stop.

“Shut them up!” he yelled when they didn’t stop.

“I’m sorry, sir, I can’t.” Askal’s mom cried, clutching at the box; terror prominently displayed in her eyes “they… they were startled by the thunder.”

“You dumb dog!” he opened the top of the cage, reached for her ears, and tugged, “I didn’t hear thunder! Now get them to settle down or I will separate you all for the night!”

“NO, please!” she begged as her ears were pulled “they won’t survive the night without me! I’ll do what I can! I swear!”

“You better,” he grunted as he let go.

The man slammed the top of the cage before locking it again and marched back into the house, leaving the coast clear for Datu to peek back out. The look on Datu’s face said it all. He wished he could’ve done something. Attack, bite at the man’s legs, bark as loud as his voice would’ve let him, but Datu did nothing.

“M-Mom,” Datu stuttered in utter horror, “who was that? What’s in there?”

“One of the many humans I tried to ask for medicine,” she sighed as she rocked the box, trying to get the crying to settle down, “and these are your siblings.”

She tilted the box to reveal six crying pups. They all had golden-brown fur like their mother, but Datu’s eyes widened when he noticed all the puppies’ ears were taped down to make them floppy.

Askal realized that they almost looked like pets with their ears like that from where he was. He’s seen numerous dogs with similar fur and floppy ears walking with owners before.

“Mom, we need to go.” Datu tried once more

“You’ll get caught.” She pleaded, “It’s not worth it, Datu.”

Datu began to openly sob, “But I need you, mom. I can’t take care of my brother by myself.”

“You’re strong, Datu. I know it. Your brother’s in good hands.”

Datu’s eyes were shut. As he pressed his head against the cage, trying to get as close to his mom as possible. It was clear he didn’t want to leave, but there was nothing he could do.

“Look at me.” Datu’s mom commanded “Datu.” when he still couldn’t do it, his mom reached through the bars and caressed her son. Only then did he look up

“Take care of your brother. Promise me, okay?” she looked Datu dead in the eyes “you’re the only one he can rely on. So be strong.”

Datu continued to sob weakly. “Oh… and I finally came up with a name. It took a while, but your clumsy forgetful mother finally came up with a name she didn’t forget, something that sounded right, something I’m happy with.” Datu’s mom gave a weak warm smile

She leaned in closer. “Tell your brother, his name is…

“HEY! What are you doing!?” both dogs whipped their heads to the house door where the bald man stood.

A flash of lightning and thunder cracked before bringing forth the typhoon. Aware of a new dog, the man brought out his belt and darted towards Datu. Datu’s eyes shrank at the sight of the man approaching him and immediately turned heel and ran. Even though the man only chased Datu up to the edge of his property Datu kept running. The younger Datu kept running and running, tears mixing with the rain as they hit his eyes.

Askal tried to grab onto the small Datu as it passed him, but the scene faded away. Once again, Askal was in the dark, his only companion being the disembodied voice of his brother.

“I ran. I kept on running. I left her behind. I left them behind. My brothers and sisters. My own mom. I tried. I honestly tired.”

In moments the scene rebuilt itself with one significant difference. There was an unbelievable amount of leaves strewn about the floor. Powerlines were hanging from their poles; sewer covers burst from the amount of water it tried to contain. The whole village was a mess. Yet out of all the devastation, one stood out among the rest. A nearby tree had fallen on the house where Askal and Datu’s mother was being held captive.

“One month.” Datu’s voice sighed. “That’s how long the typhoon has stayed. After that, it made going outside practically impossible. I couldn’t leave my brother alone, so I tried to come back the first chance I got. And found this.”

A young Datu fell to his knees at the sight of the broken-down house. Askal saw his eyes, and he had never seen Datu so devastated before.

“I didn’t go in. I was afraid of what I’d find. I’m still scared. I left my family in the hands of that monster and look at what happened to them. I did this—worst of all. I don’t remember the name my mother gave my brother. It was too loud to hear. I was too terrified to remember any of the pieces of what she said to me that night.”

“I’m a failure.”

Once more, the scene shifted back into the inky darkness; this time, however, there was a soft glow of light right in front of him. It took a while before Askal’s senses readjusted. Still, eventually, he saw the silhouette of his brother floating before him, surrounded by three glowing lights that orbited him at a steady pace. Each of them contained flashing images of the scenes Askal had witnessed.

“Datu?” Askal reached out for his brother

This had to all be a dream. Not only had Askal witnessed the past, but Datu was floating right before him. Askal knew human technology was advanced but not this advanced. Yet when Askal made contact with his brother, he felt his fur. The texture, the scent, it was real. Even as he limped to touch his brother Askal could feel his leg rise in pain if he ever put too much weight on it.

That just brought more questions to Askal’s mind. Was what he saw real? Was his mother gone?

“What’s happening?” Askal gasped in confusion before shaking his head

Whatever the situation, the crucial task was getting his brother to safety. His instincts still told him how dangerous his situation was. So the sooner he and Datu left the building, the better.

“Datu, wake up,” Askal said in a hushed but still urgent voice “we gotta go!”

When Datu didn’t wake up, Askal grit his teeth and pulled the older dog towards him, expecting Datu’s weight to collapse; Askal braced his one good leg but lost his breath to an ice-cold sensation welling up in his chest. Askal saw his breath leave, but he couldn’t muster the strength to inhale more air despite his pain. Shakily his eyes wandered down, and he saw a soft transparent white hand reaching into his chest.

The transparent hand pulled out an orb similar to the ones orbiting Datu before a raspy voice echoed through the room.

“Show me what emotions you’ve buried and kept away.”

End of chapter 03
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Great job on putting this chapter together! I really like it a lot!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Definitely a lot of trauma to hide. Let’s see what this strange entity wants with these two.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I look forward to seeing what the plan is! :mrgreen:
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

D-Rock wrote: Mon Jan 03, 2022 7:34 pm Definitely a lot of trauma to hide. Let’s see what this strange entity wants with these two.
I remember commenting this somewhere on youtube but I think it applies here so I'll say it again.
Sometimes I'm glad my characters aren't real because then they'd absolutely destroy me for putting them through all this trauma.

Pilot Episode: Askal
Chapter 04

“Kuya Datu?”

“Yeah?”

“Is my name Askal? Whenever I ask the humans for food, that’s what they call me.”

“Y-Yeah, you could say that.”

After what felt like an eternity, Askal finally managed to gasp, refilling his lungs with air. It only took a moment for him to regret his decision. Askal felt like ice was forming inside his body with how much cold radiated from his center. Every breath, deep or shallow, only perpetuated how much pain he felt.

“Aw,” the raspy voice cooed, “this one used to glow with pride and happiness. The day one is told about their name should be held in high regard, but given what we’ve witnessed, this memory is nothing but a facade.”

Askal tried to locate where the voice owner was, but it echoed too much for his ears to pinpoint accurately. The pain radiating from his chest certainly didn’t help. Even if he could run, Datu still floated above the floor as if suspended by invisible strings Askal couldn’t hope to break. In all the commotion of the shifting scenes, Askal had also lost track of where the door was. The only light in the room came from the orbs that orbited around Datu and the new one that trailed behind him.

“W-Who are you?” Askal shivered “what do you want from~

Askal didn’t get to continue. Another orb came from his chest alongside the pale see-through hand. Now, the chill grew, reaching up to his shoulders and stomach. It was a miracle he hadn’t fallen to his knees.

“Mom…” The orb spoke using Datu’s voice, “It… hurt… our mom.”

“What they did to her. It was awful, unforgivable. It makes me sick.”

What Datu had told him, what Askal bore witness to; Datu was right; it did hurt him. Askal began to well up tears both from physical pain and the emotional pain that plagued him. While Askal cannot say that he knew he would reunite with his mother, there was always a part of Askal that dared to hope that they would one day. Now the visions had crushed that hope in a mere instant.

“Young askal,” the raspy voice whispered almost as if it were right next to Askal, “you asked me what I wanted, so here’s my reply. I want company.”

Askal wanted to press further to distract himself from his thoughts, but another cold wave burst forth as the pale see-through hand pulled the third orb from his chest. The impact was strong enough to push him against one of the walls in the darkroom.

“Eternity gets so lonely in this house when nobody stays behind to keep you company.” the voice coughed, pushing the orb closer to Askal for him to see. “Something I’m sure you’re well aware of.”

This time instead of replaying a voice Askal had heard before the misty orb cleared to reveal a familiar sight. Askal remembered that night. It was a hot, humid night and yet another failed attempt at securing food before he needed to turn in for the night. Askal remembered longing for his older brother to return, holding him close, and lull him to sleep.

“Datu,” A younger Askal cried himself to sleep, “Where are you?”

There were now three orbs that circled Askal, and the chill within his body finally managed to spread to the tips of his fingers. Finally, despite his best efforts to remain stalwart, Askal couldn’t take it anymore. The young dog fell to his knees due to the voices echoing his past. Whatever remained of Askal’s instincts yelling at him to run had suddenly gone silent. His body had given up, and it appears so had his spirit. Askal’s eyes began to feel heavy, and the cold became comforting.

“I used to take the lives of those foolish enough to enter here, but whatever the case, they never stick around long enough.” the raspy voice sighed. “The trauma isn’t enough, and though it may take years, they move on. In addition to that, the accords are in effect. So I’ve been forced to watch as foolish mortals come and go for years. But no more! I refuse to be alone for a moment longer. Join me. Your brother is on his way.”

The mention of his brother brought a tiny spark back to Askal’s eyes.

“Datu.” Askal breathed slowly; his shaking hand reached out to the floating dog, his last act before finally letting go.

“You must breathe.” a new foreign voice came out of nowhere.

It was certainly not anything Askal had heard before. However, the voice spoke with a tenderness that rivaled his mother’s. It radiated kindness and warmth with each syllable uttered. It felt familiar and foreign at the same time. Askal may be hearing this person for the first time, and he didn’t know why but Askal trusted him with every fiber of his being.

“With each breath comes strength, and with strength comes the power to protect those you hold dear. As long as you draw breath, you can protect those you care about despite your shortcomings. So breathe deep and light your heart ablaze.”

Askal did as instructed and took a deep breath, ignoring his chest’s icy pain. Of course, the more air he took in, the more it hurt, but that wasn’t important to Askal. Datu always put him first; it’s high time Askal followed his older brother’s example. When Askal exhaled, the chill began to defrost, and the pain slowly began to subside enough that he could take his next deep breath with minor issues.

After his next cycle of breaths, Askal continued to regain more control over his body. He could finally feel his body respond to his demands. Rather than simply allowing his hand to fall over, Askal slammed it down against the ground and began crawling towards his brother.

“What?” the raspy voice gasped as Askal slowly crawled to his brother’s side.

Breath after breath, Askal crawled, and when he eventually reached his brother, Askal shakily placed his good leg up first. One more breath cycle and Askal pushed himself onto his two feet. It hurt more than Askal had ever felt, but he maintained his breathing, and he could finally put strength into his leg.

A good tug and Askal managed to get his brother onto solid ground. Slinging one arm over his shoulder Askal made his way towards the wall. Luckily there should only be four walls in this room. If he started searching, he’d eventually reach the door.

“How are you doing this?” the voice asked in a stunned tone.

Askal ignored it. That wasn’t his priority right now.

“I won’t let you.” the voice took a turn to the violent.

Askal felt the same sensation of the voice’s hand reaching into his chest, but Askal didn’t back down and braced for impact. Instantly, Askal heard heat clashing against ice as the voice screamed in agony accompanied by sizzling. The young dog wasn’t about to question what had happened and kept going despite the pain radiating from his leg and chest.

Once the young dog got to the wall, he chose a direction and kept pacing. The door should be around here somewhere, and Askal would find it to protect his brother. Luckily it wasn’t long before Askal found a handle. Askal found the hallway lit up by a lamppost nearby when the door opened, and relief began to wash over him. His breathing began to ease.

Unfortunately, that lapse in his breathing caused many problems to surface. First, Askal had gone from cold to feverish in seconds. The quick transition left his head spinning faster and faster by the second. Secondly, a sharp pain had erupted from his lungs. Askal wasn’t very athletic, and his lungs were rarely ever taxed. The sudden shift in breathing must’ve been too much.

“Datu.” Askal begged with his failing voice, “Wake up, please. You need to run!”

“Not so fast young askal.” Askal’s eyes widened when he felt the hand grip his leg

Thinking as fast, Askal threw his brother to safety before being dragged back into the room. Once the door slammed, Askal felt his limbs pinned far away from each other, trapping him in an x shape. Bit by bit, the voice owner came into view a sickly woman with a white flowing gown with eyes completely black.

“I will not allow either of you to escape.” her voice dripped with anger as she readied her hands. “I will rip you apart until you are nothing more than an empty husk of a mutt.”

Askal tried to re-establish his breathing pattern, but it was no good. It felt like knives were in his lungs, and the pain only made his breathing irregular. Unfortunately, the woman was quicker and reached both hands in. With no discomfort, she continued to pull out orb after orb showering Askal in all of his regrets, loneliness, and pains.

Bit by bit, she got closer and closer to memories Askal didn’t even know he still had from when he was an even smaller pup. Finally, every time he felt lonely, jealousy, and hungry, Askal experienced it all one more time, eventually even reaching the last memory he had of his mother. After passing through that, Askal didn’t know what was left.

Before she could dig deeper, she stopped. It looked like she was struggling to pull something when not even seconds ago, she was effortlessly pulling horrible memory after horrible memory. A few seconds later and Askal could tell she was stuck. The woman struggled and tugged but whatever was stuck inside him seemed to refuse to move. Despite knowing this was his last opportunity to try anything, he couldn’t find the strength to overpower his limbs’ grip. His lungs were too taxed to even try, and his fever made his vision blurry.

“Wh-what is this!?” the woman yelled.

Eventually, after much struggling, the woman managed to dislodge the memory stuck within Askal. However, this one was different; rather than freeze Askal with feelings of pain, loneliness, and sadness, Askal felt an overwhelming rage. The heat within his body waned from the woman’s previous assault, but with the new memory orb, Askal’s body reignited and continued to climb.

Askal didn’t know where this rage came from or who it was directed at specifically. But, he knew that it was intense burning hatred for something someone had done. The orb glowed a brilliant white as red flames spewed from the very memory contained within. Askal heard no voices, nor did he see anything from within. Askal began to lose track of his senses due to the fever he began building up.

Out of his eyes, Askal noticed that the flames had spread to the woman’s white clothing and were slowly consuming her. From what he could see, it did nothing to the building around them even though a good amount of wood was present. So Askal gave in and fed the flames of his anger. It initially had no target, but Askal refocused his breathing, ignoring the pain that came with it, and aimed his anger towards the woman.

She had hurt him, forced him to relive painful memories he had long forgotten. She had crushed his hopes of reuniting with his mother. But, worst of all, she had harmed his brother—the one who had cared for him his entire life.

“YOU WON’T HARM MY BROTHER!” Askal roared at the top of his lungs, causing the flames to resonate

As the flames continued to rage, Askal failed to notice approaching footsteps. Only when a woman had knocked the door down did Askal realize he wasn’t alone. Standing at the door was a woman with a long black coat wielding a curvy dagger. Despite the situation, she didn’t seem startled or even phased. Instead, she kept a stern look on her face that spoke of confidence under intense conditions.

“Trese!” the pale woman yelled from behind a curtain of Askal’s fires. “Help me! I can’t stop these fires!”

Trese relaxed her stance and leaned against the wall upon seeing the situation. “The accords say I should let you off with a warning, but it looks like you’re already getting your punishment.”

“No, Trese, please, I’m begging you. I’ll follow the rules from now on! PLEASE! TRESE!” she gave one final cry before the fires consumed her

Askal watched as the fires from his memory burned away at the pale lady. Once she was gone entirely, Askal felt the force tugging at his limbs ease, dropping him to the floor. The memory orbs the lady had taken from him began to disappear as well. Unfortunately, without the spheres counterbalancing against Askal’s heat, the poor dog was now facing the full force of his fever.

His vision blurred immensely to the point where he could barely see the woman who had knocked down the door. He could only make out her silhouette alongside two others standing at the doorway.

“Looks like we were late to the party, eh bossing?” one of the new silhouettes asked using a male voice.

“Looks like it,” Trese sighed “did you find anybody else?”

“Other than these two dogs, nobody.” the second voice answered—also a male voice.

Askal gathered what remained of his hoarse voice and reached out in their direction “Datu?”

“How about this one bossing?” the first silhouette approached Askal, who had no strength left to fight. “He looks tired but fine.” the man attempted to pick up Askal but flinched. “Scratch that; he’s running a fever. A pretty high one too.”

Trese approached and put the back of her palm on Askal’s head. “Basilio, get the car. Crispin and I will meet you outside after I apply first aid. We’re taking them with us.”

Askal fought to maintain consciousness as Trese knelt beside him. She took off her coat and wrapped Askal in it but not before taking a water bottle and trying to offer it to Askal.

“Here, drink.” she offered “it’ll make you feel better.”

Askal didn’t even get the chance to take a sip as his fatigue finally got the best of him. His vision went black, and all sounds around him went silent.

End of Chapter 04
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Re: Live by the Sword

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So a haunted house with a malicious spirit. At least some benevolent ones came in. Quite the interesting turn of events.
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Re: Live by the Sword

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I can't wait to see where this leads! Wonderful work!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Amazee Dayzee wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 4:51 pm I can't wait to see where this leads! Wonderful work!
D-Rock wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 1:40 pm Quite the interesting turn of events.
I'm very happy to hear that! I'll keep at it cause I'm having a lot of fun doing this again

So remember when I said that I'd make a pilot episode and then move on to a second one to see which I liked more? I think I'm gonna scrap that idea. I think I should focus on this one so I'll shelve that other idea for now. Also, I'm really excited for the next few chapters after writing this one so I guess I have my answer already anyway.

Also just for context I'm gonna explain a few things from previous chapters

Askal - is a slang term comprised of two words "Asong + kalye" meaning street dog.

Kuya - means older brother

Tabi Tabi Po (from chapter 1) - Saying tabi tabi po is an old superstitious belief here in the same vein as tossing salt over your shoulder to avoid bad luck. it basically means "pardon the intrusion" or "I'm just passing through" and you say it in front of old buildings, suspicious mounds of dirt, or certain trees so you don't get attacked by any supernatural beings who happen to call those places home.


Pilot Episode: Askal
Chapter 05

Askal didn’t know how to describe what he was feeling.
The simplest way to put it was that he was in pure bliss. The temperature was perfect. It wasn’t too cold to make him shiver but cold enough that he wouldn’t have to pant just to cool himself down. The ground he was lying on felt like a giant marshmallow that let him quickly sink into the material. Askal was also enveloped in a cloth almost as soft as the ground and only enhanced Askal’s experience with the temperature.

Whatever fatigue and pain he kept had melted away in the pure comfort of wherever Askal currently was. His lungs quickly cycled through his breaths as usual; his leg felt good as new; Askal’s fever also dissipated without a trace. This was the best Askal’s felt in… forever.

“Good evening, little askal.” One of the men’s voices from last night came with the sound of an opening door. “I’m here to swap out your fluids for the day. Then, we can get you some real food when you wake up. Sounds good, huh?”

“I knew it.” came the second of the men’s voice from last night; due to them sounding alike, Askal couldn’t tell which one was which

“B-BASILIO,” the one closest to Askal stammered, “weren’t you supposed to be getting the car ready?”

“Accidentally left the keys in our room, and good thing too. I knew you missed Zeke Crispin; you’re just pretending like you don’t care.” Basilio laughed as Askal heard him approach. “And guess what I’ve got on video.”

“DON’T SEND IT TO OUR GROUP CHAT!” Crispin yelled; Askal heard a loud thud

It was then followed by Basilio laughing even more. “Oops, pressed send, sorry, Kuya.”

“WHY, YOU LITTLE…!”

“BOYS!” Askal recognized that voice; it was Trese “shouldn’t you two be getting ready for tonight’s patrol?”

“Y-Yes bossing!” both replied instantly.

Hearing Trese’s voice made images flash through Askal’s head. The cut on his leg, the abandoned house, the weird memories, his fever. All of a sudden, Askal had remembered last night’s events and could only guess at the aftermath.

‘Datu’

Once Askal’s mind connected the dots, it was like flicking a power switch to an old machine. Gears began to grind; pistons shifted into the appropriate gear; slowly but surely, Askal was coming back to the world of the living.

His eyes though stiff and heavy, began a slow journey to fully opening. As soon as the ordeal was over, the light coming from the ceiling was the first thing Askal was assaulted by. The next of his senses to go online once more was his nose, and the first thing Askal caught a whiff of was the scent of oranges.

It took some effort, but Askal could tilt his head to the side and finally get a clear look at his rescuers and the room he was in. It was a modest room with several odd pieces of furniture that held the most books Askal had ever seen. The strangest thing about the room was two of its walls were painted blue and red; the rest had a brown color.

Crispin and Basilio were on the receiving end of what appeared to be a lecture from Trese. Both men wore all-black suits, but the only thing to stand out in their attire was the white neckties both wore neatly. Another thing to stand out from the two was that their eyes were all black. While unable to tell the two apart because of their voices, Askal did note that one of them had short hair styled with wax while the other had shoulder-length hair.

Trese had the same attire as the night Askal first met her, but without his blurry vision, Askal made out the finer details of her look. Her coat reached down to the back of her knees with white cuffs on her sleeves, with four buttons to make sure her coat was correctly closed. She looked ready to fight just by looking her in the eyes.

“...you’re making me second guess leaving tonight’s patrol up to you two with your behavior, but I have a guest to attend to, so I better not find you two slacking. Got that?”

“Loud and clear Bossing.” both replied again.

Trese’s eyes shifted from the two men to Askal, and the two locked eyes for a moment. “You’re awake,” she said with relief, causing both men to startle. “That’s good. You two start patrol now; I’ll take care of him and our guest.”

“Understood Bossing.” Both men stood at attention before calmly walking out the door

Askal tried to sit himself up but found his limbs heavier than usual. No matter how badly he willed it, Askal found his movements sluggish at best. It felt as though his entire body was filled with sand.

“Easy now,” Trese rushed to Askal’s side and helped the dog sit up “you were asleep for three days.”

“Three d-?” was all Askal managed to get out before a coughing fit overcame him.

His throat was dry. If there was any doubt in Askal’s mind, it left him. Which only made Askal more worried than he was initially. If he had been asleep for three days, what happened to Datu?

“Here,” Trese filled a cup of water and handed it to Askal, “drink; you must be thirsty after all this time.”

Askal tried to reach for it but found something attached to his left arm. It was a clear tubbing that connected to a plastic bag that hung upside down from a metal pole next to where he was lying. Askal attempted to tug at it, but Trese managed to stop him.

“Don’t; it’ll hurt a lot if you pull it out that way. Just let me help you.” Trese moved the cup closer to Askal’s mouth so that he could drink easily

As soon as the first drop of water hit Askal’s mouth, the young dog couldn’t help but guzzle the entire cup down. Askal didn’t know water could taste so good. He didn’t mind downing it even if some of it fell onto his chest fur. Trese noted how thirsty the dog was and even let Askal drink straight from the water container.

His thirst satisfied, an awkward silence managed to settle between the two. There was the occasional sound of a car passing but other than that the room was silent. Askal's mind however, was a different story. It rioted with questions but only one stood out among the crowd.

“Ms. Trese?” Askal said, finally breaking the silence, “Can I see my Kuya?”

The woman sighed and looked him in the eye. “Are you sure? You might not like the state he’s in.”

“I’m sure,” Askal said sternly; he didn’t need a moment.

“Then we need to welcome our second guest.” Trese stood up and carefully tugged at the strange tube attached to his arm. “She’s more of an expert at this than I am.”

Due to how careful she was, Askal only felt a slight twinge of pain, and then Trese carried Askal in her arms. “It’s much too soon for you to be walking around,” she explained before Askal could ask.

If Askal’s weight bothered Trese, she didn’t show it. Instead, she effortlessly balanced Askal’s weight in her one arm with one free hand to open the door. Askal had only ever seen homes from the outside looking in; it felt odd to actually be inside one that still sheltered people under its roof. It was nice enough with its wooden walls and fluffy floor, but what really stole Askal’s breath away was the view from the barred windows. Sparkling like jewels in the night was the city Askal had lived in. Wherever he was, it was good enough distance that he had finally breached the wall of skyscrapers that had kept him, prisoner, all his life.

Unfortunately, Akal didn’t get a chance to take it all in as Trese made her way down the stairs and rounded a corner. Eventually, she found her way outside to what looked like her own personal park. Askal had seen public parks before, and this was nowhere as big, but it was tidier and healthier than the ones out in public. With no smog from the city, Askal could get a good breath in without coughing out the smoke from people’s vehicles.

“She should be here any minute now,” Trese responded while looking at her cellphone.

Askal had seen humans with cellphones before; how could he not? However, this one looked ancient. Today phones had only screens on them, but this one still had buttons.

Trese approached a small table with chairs before setting Askal down to rest. Then, with both hands free, Trese reached into her coat and pulled out a brown collar before taking her curvy dagger and drawing on it. Askal remembered every time he’d seen a pet with a collar and how jealous he had been of their situation. Though after the ordeal he had been through a few nights ago, Askal quickly shook off the painful memory to focus on the present.

“Here,” Trese said as she put away her dagger, “put this on.”

“Why are you giving this to me?” Askal asked hesitantly; he didn’t want to get his hopes up

“Our guest doesn’t speak our language.” Trese walked behind Askal and began fastening the collar. “So I put an enchantment that translates everything into a language you can understand and whatever you say gets translated into a language they understand. I have to warn you the enchantment can cause headaches, but that’s only after the first few times using it.”

Askal suddenly felt terrified of the collar; he had just woken up from a three-day-long sleep. He didn’t need an excuse to stay in bed more. “Uhh, if you say so?”

At first, it itched, and Askal felt like gagging. Then Askal felt as if it was too tight and began tugging at it. He had no idea how uncomfortable these things were, and pets wore them around constantly.

A loud thunderous noise shook the sky as Askal fidgeted with the collar. Bright light spewed from a hole created out of thin air in the middle of the grass. Sparks of tiny lightning bolts shot from it, singeing nearby blades of grass. It didn’t cause any fires, and Trese showed no facial change. So Askal took it that this was their guest Trese had been talking about.

Askal felt his ears stand on end. He could hear something approaching from the other end. A small golden furred dog came from the purple hole in the sky, faceplanting unceremoniously into the ground before them. The dog dusted themselves off before approaching the table Askal and Trese were waiting by.

She was shorter than he was, but Askal could tell she was older. Her fur was well-groomed and long enough to conceal she had her own collar with a card hanging from it. She had calm yellow eyes that stared straight through Askal and to Trese, who stood behind him.

“Sixth child of the sixth child,” she said courteously. “It is a pleasure to meet you in person again. Though I’d admit the method of travel was less than pleasing.”

The moment she spoke, Askal could feel his head throb with pain. This language was not his own, yet he understood it perfectly. He remembered learning a few words from the T.V., but this was an entire language and grammar all being pressed into his head in less than a second.

“I share the same sentiment, former Avatar of the spirit dragon.” Trese returned the courtesy. “Though may I ask we dropped the titles, I am not particularly fond of mine.”

“Neither am I, Trese.” she laughed slightly. “Is this the dog I’m supposed to look at? He seems perfectly fine.”

Trese’s mood seemed to have turned sour. “No Tarot, this is his brother. Your patient's inside.”

Once again, Trese carried Askal and led Tarot into the house. The first door opened up to a room on the right, and Askal’s heart skipped a beat. Sitting on the bed staring out the window and into the city was Askal’s brother. The way Trese had worded it earlier, Askal was worried that something permanent was done to Datu, but he looked completely fine. There wasn’t a single scratch on him.

“Datu.” Askal pushed himself off of Trese’s arm

When he landed, Askal felt his leg erupt in pain, but the young dog pushed past it and threw his arms around his older brother, loudly sobbing.

“I was so worried!” he pressed his nose into his brother’s chest, taking in his familiar soothing scent, “but you’re okay!”

As Askal held his brother close, he realized Datu wasn’t doing the same. Askal looked at his brother and found him still staring off into the city. When he faced Datu to stare into his eyes, Askal found Datu’s once sly brown eyes now pale and distant.

“Datu?” Askal shook the older dog and got no response. “Please don’t do this. It isn’t funny.”

When Datu lifelessly looked at him, Askal shook his head. He was too late; his brother was gone. He failed him.

“Please,” he begged again.

Askal continued to cry into his brother’s nonresponsive shoulder but flinched when he felt Tarot’s hand grab onto his shoulder. The small dog looked to Trese, who understood and picked up Askal. At first, he refused to let his precious older brother go, but when he saw the look in Trese’s eyes, Askal slowly undid his grasp. She tenderly picked him up and gave Tarot the space she needed to do her work. Tarot climbed onto the bed and sat across Datu. Gently she put her hand on his forehead and closed her eyes.

“Ms. Trese?” Askal choked out, still in tears over the state of Datu. “What happened to him?”

Trese sighed. “I don’t know. That’s why I asked Tarot to come in person. He just woke up like this. He refused to eat or drink water. He would only sleep if he was too exhausted to stay awake. Then, all he does is stare out the window all day.”

“She can help him, right?” Askal looked into Trese’s eyes with desperation.

“I’m not sure all we can do is hope for the best.” Trese tried not to meet Askal’s eyes

After a few minutes of Tarot working in silence, she finally removed her hand from Datu’s forehead and began panting in exhaustion. Askal was unsure of what had transpired. Tarot had just been sitting in front of Datu, holding his forehead.

“Can he be helped?” Askal pleaded with Tarot, “Please tell me what’s wrong with him.”

Tarot took a moment to catch her breath. “His mind has been shattered. Whatever did this to him intended to kill, and it looks like it’s working.”

“Can you do something?” Trese pipped up

“Yes,” Tarot said to Askal’s relief. “However, the process is long and arduous. There are just so many pieces to put together. It isn’t just his memories; it’s his personality, will, and spirit. You’re brothers, right?”

Askal took a moment to realize Tarot was talking to him. “Yeah, we’ve been together all our lives.”

“If you called out to him and he didn’t respond. He’s more broken than I realized.” Tarot put her hands to her chin and began pondering

“Please,” Askal begged, “I’ll do anything.”

Tarot tried not to make eye contact. “I wish I could help, but I have my hands full with-

“I have a proposition.” Trese blurted out suddenly, surprising both dogs. “In exchange for treating his brother. This little one joins your cause.”

Tarot’s eyes narrowed. “Trese, does he even have the talent for it? I’m not looking for just any random stranger. I need someone I can work with, and I doubt any of dragon’s avatars’ lineage has spread this far.”

“Not just talent Tarot,” Trese’s tone portrayed the slightest hint of a smirk, “but power too. This little one created a flame that burned away the spirit responsible for putting his brother in that state. I’ve visited that house on my nightly patrols, and she hasn’t returned.”

Askal noticed the shift in Tarot’s face, and Trese kept going, “Not only that, but unlike the two candidates we already provided, I won’t be asking for him to return unless absolutely necessary.”

Tarot took a moment to ponder then turned to Askal. “Would you be willing?” she looked him straight in the eyes. “What I’m asking is potentially very dangerous. I may not be able to see far into the future anymore, but I can still sense something coming. Would you still be willing?”

Askal looked to his brother, still blankly staring at the wall in front of him. “Yes. If it means you’ll help my brother then yes.”

“It’s a deal then?” Tarot approached the young dog and stretched out her hand

Trese set Askal down so they could meet on even ground. “We have a deal.” Askal grabbed Tarot’s hand and shook it.

END OF EPISODE 01: ASKAL

also, sneak peek for the next chapter
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Last edited by Krytus The Dreamer on Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Tarot still has quite a reputation among magic-users. Askal is about to get introduced to a much weirder world.

And thanks for the translations at the start. I did look up kuya, but haven’t looked into the others. Interesting to learn.
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Re: Live by the Sword

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It's so sad :cry:
I hope Tarot can help Datu. And I wish all good things for Askal, though it looks like he's about to deal with a big mess
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Re: Live by the Sword

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I hope that Tarot can be the hero this time honestly since its well-deserved. I don't think she will be the hero of the current arc.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Obbl wrote: Mon Jan 10, 2022 9:43 pm looks like he's about to deal with a big mess
D-Rock wrote: Mon Jan 10, 2022 9:35 pm Askal is about to get introduced to a much weirder world.
Oh you have no idea. INTO THE RABBIT HOLE WE GO!
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Mon Jan 10, 2022 11:17 pm I hope that Tarot can be the hero this time honestly since its well-deserved. I don't think she will be the hero of the current arc.
Yeah, I get that vibe too. Like she's gone from a major plot mover to being moved by the plot. Though I guess that's the point of her character now so I've just been rolling with it cause it is a little funny.


You know when I sat down to work on this, I was thinking "oh I'm ahead of schedule. I can just leisurely take my time to write this down.". But I guess I got carried away cause I finished way faster than I expected. So anyway enjoy!

Episode 02: Echoes
Chapter 01

Amazingly, Askal wished he could’ve fallen asleep.
When he was asleep, Askal could forget what troubled him, albeit for a short while. Given that he had just spent the last three days asleep, Askal was unfortunately not in the mood. It broke his heart to no end to see Datu, his caring, sly, funny Kuya so… lifeless. Askal missed hearing him speak in his usual way; the last time he heard Datu say anything was when he was downtrodden by his horrible memories.

His bed, as Trese called it, while soft and comfortable, was lonely. Though he didn’t get to spend his day with Datu, Askal took comfort he’d see him first thing in the morning. Now that routine had been shattered, and the coming sunrise felt empty.

“Are you holding up alright?” Askal’s ears perked at the sound of Tarot entering through the door, his head throbbing with pain as more words entered his head

“How can I even answer that?” Askal sighed, not even attempting to turn to face her. “I just saw my Kuya’s lifeless eyes look at me without a single reaction.”

Tarot sat at the edge of Askal’s bed and sighed. “I wanted to explain myself. I couldn’t help your brother out of the goodness of my heart because I’m busy looking for allies.”

“Ms. Trese said you already have two. Why not rely on them to help?” Askal sat up and placed himself next to Tarot

Tarot laughed. “They’re nowhere near ready to look for allies; they’ve only just begun their training.” When Askal didn’t laugh, Tarot took a deep breath

“A few months ago, I made a huge mistake.” Tarot looked at the fluffy floor, her eyes sullen. “I ran into a dangerous situation with whoever I could scrounge up thinking I could take the glory for solving a problem, but I fear I’ve only made things worse.” Wanting to show her that he was listening Askal sat up next to Tarot

“A few months later, I had a vision. But, since my ties to the Spirit Dra- er… my powers weakened, I’ve only been getting hazy glimpses instead of the clear ones I used to have. Still, regardless of how cloudy that vision was, I still foresaw danger loud and clear.”

“What I saw; what I experienced in that temple was terrifying. It could’ve doomed us all, and it would’ve been because of my arrogance. So now I want to make a change.”

Tarot grabbed Askal’s shoulder and looked at him sternly. “This isn’t about getting the glory or being the hero everyone praises. This is about being ready to face what dangers await us. To protect the lives we’ve built and enjoyed. So even though the circumstances aren’t ideal, I welcome you warmly into the fold.” she wrapped her arms around Askal, who the gesture had caught off guard.

“Aww, isn’t that nice?” a new voice came from right beside Askal.

Startled by the intrusion Askal fell off the bed screaming his lungs out at the sight of a golden furred creature with nine tails who was almost as tall as Trese. On the other hand, Tarot couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the beast.

“What do you want, Fox?” Tarot facepalmed, her voice dripping with annoyance. “Have you come to mock me some more?”

Askal’s head pounded again, “F-Fox? You know this thing?”

The Fox rolled his eyes. “Primitive enchantment,” then snapped his fingers. “It’s Kitsune.”

Askal’s head pounded again. He’s heard that word before; at least, that’s what Askal remembers. But, his head was overflowing with languages he’s never heard before. Keeping track of it all seemed impossible.

“Tarot, I’m hurt!” Kitsune said with false sorrow, “There I was minding my own business in King’s closet when I noticed you taking a trip to the tropics! Without me!”

“Are you gonna get to the point, or should I ask what passes for tea around here,” Tarot said in deadpan.

“Fine, fine, you’re no fun.” Kitsune stuck his tongue out. “You’ve grown Tarot. I’d say how proud I am of you, but we both know I’m not the sappy type, so here.”

Kitsune opened his polo shirt and tossed a piece of paper at the small dog. Once in her hands, the small dog undid the string that kept it closed and began looking at it intensely.


Tarot’s eyes widened as she stared at the paper. “Is this..?”

“The names of all of Dragon’s previous avatars and where they’re from. A good GM always takes notes.” Kitsune snapped his fingers, and a bright sign appeared behind him. “Please don’t hold your applause.”

“I can’t even… Sabrina and I have been….” Tarot’s eyes narrowed as she took a closer look at the paper. “Wait, there’s nothing in here about their lineages.”

The sign behind Kitsune disappeared as he laughed. “What? Do you think I’m just going to give you that? Of course, as a GM, I can’t just give you the answer. So you’re going to have to figure that out on your own. Besides, you already have one close by, so you’ve been given enough leeway. Especially considering he’s from dragon’s second-oldest lineage.” Kitsune tapped the tip of Tarot’s nose despite how furious Tarot looked “Boop.”

While the two had gone back and forth talking, Askal was forced to be the audience to their banter. He had no idea what they were even talking about. Lineage? Spirit Dragon? GM? Askal didn’t know what to expect from his new life with Tarot, but this was a bit much on not even his first day.

“Uh, I’m a bit lost; what is happening?” Askal asked, breaking the silence between the two

“Ah, don’t worry about it too much, Street Dog.” Kitsune put his arm around the confused dog. “Halo-Halo?” Kitsune reached behind his ears, and suddenly there was a bowl of ice cream with several toppings on it

Askal had only ever seen humans eat this dessert and had always wondered what it tasted like. However, to have it served to him by this otherworldly being wasn’t how he pictured getting his first taste. Somewhat intimidated by Kitsune, Askal took a second before he gingerly accepted the cold dessert.

Tentatively Askal took the spoon and mixed the concoction. It was called Halo-Halo for a reason. Once Askal was satisfied with how mixed it was, he shoveled the first bit of ice cream, beans, and ice into his mouth. The fur on his back stood on end due to how sweet it was.

“Ooh, this is so good.” With a portion of the dessert in his mouth, Kitsune chuckled at the sight of an angry Tarot. “Aw, why the long face Tarot?” he swallowed and then pointed his spoon at Askal and Tarot. “Shouldn’t you two get going back to the good ol’ USA?” Kitsune snapped his fingers, and the sound of blaring horns filled the room, followed by the screeching of a bird

Tarot drew a deep breath. “You know why.”

“Oh?” Askal knew Datu long enough to know when someone feigned innocence. “Do I?”

“YOU JUST WANT TO HEAR ME SAY IT SO YOU CAN GLOAT HOW PRIMITIVE IT IS, DON’T YOU!?” Tarot screamed at the top of her lungs

“Maybe~” Kitsune sang with a spoon of ice cream hanging from his mouth.

“FINE!” Tarot grunted, “I can’t because to use dragon blood gates, those who want to travel through must also ingest some of it. Dragon blood is dangerous in high amounts, so I have to wait until it’s completely out of my system before I can go through them again. HAPPY!?”

“Extremely,” Kitsune said despite the daggers Tarot was throwing using her eyes. “Yeesh, you could kill a Celestial with that kinda look. Alright, I’ll play nice and help. Consider it payment for the dessert.” he winked at Askal.

Askal tilted his head in confusion, “But I didn’t do anything?”

“Eh, I read your mind looking for what was the best dessert on this side of the globe. I wasn’t disappointed.” Kitsune shrugged

“What’s a globe?” Askal asked, leaning towards Tarot

Kitsune made short work of his Halo-Halo and tossed it over his shoulder. Then, it vanished into a cloud of smoke before it could break. Then, giving his hands a good dusting, Kitsune snapped, and a smooth circular rock appeared in Askal’s hand. Half of it white, the other half black, the two sides were swirling around each other as if it was alive.

“When you’re ready to go crush it. It will open a portal to wherever you need to go, no blood consumption required. Oh, and uh, when you’re done with that, toss it aside, and it leaves no mess.” Kitsune then licked his lips. “Welp, I’m off to try more of whatever this place has to offer. See you back at home!”

Once the door closed, Tarot appeared to have lost it. The small dog began grumbling to herself in a way that Askal didn’t understand, not even with the collar’s help. He had not expected Tarot to have such a side. At first, she seemed so regal, so refined. Now she appeared, relatable more approachable. So all Askal could do was finish his confection and toss it aside. Like Kitsune said, the moment it hit the floor, the glass bowl vanished into a puff of smoke.

“So uh, we gonna go now?” Askal said hesitantly as he handed her the stone

Tarot took a deep breath and exhaled “Yes, the sooner, the better. We’d better inform Trese of our new travel plans.”

Almost as if on cure, Trese had kicked down the door with her knife at the ready. Both Crispin and Basilio were at her side, wielding guns and wearing masks; one was a happy face, and another was a sad face. The only reason Askal could tell it was them was that they smelled like Crispin and Basilio.

“We felt something powerful in here!” the one wearing the sad mask yelled. “Where is it?”

“Long gone.” Tarot sighed. “Kitsune tends to not show himself around humans. Something about his policy and whatnot.”

When all three had realized there was no danger, they lowered their guard. Crispin and Basilio made their masks and weapons vanish into a short flash of light while Trese just put away her knife.

“Trese change of plans. We’re ready to leave now.” Tarot presented Kitsune’s stone

“What!?” one of the men pipped up. “You’re leaving already? Basilio, get the tags!”

Finally, Askal could tell them apart. Basilio was the one with the long hair, and Crispin was the one with short hair.

“Where did you put it again?” came Basilio’s voice from the hall

Crispin took off after his brother. “Ay, let me do it.”

Askal couldn’t help but laugh. In some way, they reminded Askal of himself and Datu. It made him feel like there was still hope for him to have a relationship like that again.

Trese knelt before Askal and hugged him. “I want to apologize. In my line of work, you see… collateral daily. But you never get used to it. I wasn’t fast enough to save your brother, and now the responsibility to bring him back falls onto you. I’m sorry I couldn’t get there fast enough.”

“I understand, Ms. Trese.” Askal hugged her back. “I should thank you for taking care of my brother and me. Datu told me humans are greedy and prideful, but I finally found the ones to prove him wrong.”

“Don’t thank me yet.” Trese chuckled as she undid the hug. “I want to help you a little more just before you leave.” She reached into her coat, produced a piece of paper, and showed it to Askal.

Askal laughed and rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment. “I can’t read or write.”

“It's an adoption paper.” Trese laughed with him. “You can’t be a stray on the other side of the world. Besides, it would be too much trouble if you got thrown into a shelter. At least this way, you’ll be safe from that.”

“Uy, Bossing, you can try to hide it, but we all know you’re a big softie on the inside.” came one of the twin’s voices from the hall.

Again Askal was thrown for a loop. He had always dreamed of being adopted and taken into a family. Askal didn’t quite picture his adoption like this. However, it brought a tear to his eye. Whenever he imagined being adopted, he always imagined it with Datu by his side.

“Are you okay?” Trese wiped a tear away from Askal’s face

He brought his own arm to wipe away his tears. “Yeah, I just wish Datu could’ve been with me for this.”

“So what’s your name?” Trese smiled. “I can’t believe I’m only now asking for your name after all this time.”

Askal thought about it for a brief second, but there was only one thing he could be called “My name is Askal.”

A snort came from Basilio, who stood at the door but was cut short as Crispin elbowed him while carrying Datu. Trese glared daggers at the man but immediately turned towards Askal.

“That’s a little bit on the nose, don’t you think?”

Askal shook his head. “Yeah, well, I was Askal before Datu fell into that state. And I’m going to be Askal when he wakes up.”

“That’s fair enough,” Trese said, filling the papers. “Tarot?”

Once she was done, she gave the papers to the small dog. “I’ll make it so that they think you adopted Askal over there. It should be a simple trick.”

With everything sorted out, Askal limped his way over to Crispin, who had been carrying his Kuya. It still pained the street dog to see his brother in such a state, but Askal had hope, and he was going to fight for a future where he and his brother could be reunited. Gently Crispin put Datu’s arm around Askal’s shoulder before letting go. Askal took deep breathes to sustain Datu’s weight, even on his bad leg.

“Uh… before you go, Askal.” Basilio rubbed the back of his neck. “Could you give this to our dogs? They’re already waiting for you in Tarot’s town” Basilio revealed two tags that were colored red and blue, both featuring a star on the white portion.

“This one belongs to Zeke.” Crispin presented the red one and stuffed it into Askal’s collar

“This one belongs to Rowan.” Basilio presented the blue one and stuffed it into Askal’s collar

“Give them our regards, would you?” they said in unison.

“You can count on me,” Askal said as he dragged the weight of Datu towards Tarot ignoring the flare of pain in his leg.

“Oy Bossing!” Crispin yelled, tossing her something, “He’s your dog now. Shouldn’t you do the honors?”

With a roll of her eyes, Trese approached Askal and presented a tag with the image of the sun and a star. On the bottom part, it had both red and blue accents. Judging from the two pieces he’d seen before, his tag was meant to slide into the middle of both pieces. When Trese finally attached the tag onto Askal’s collar, the young dog felt his tail whip into a frenzy.

“If ever you’re in danger, gather the pieces and present the flag of war.” Basilio started,

“Those who hide under its light shall be protected by the home they hold dear.” Crispin finished

Askal tilted his head at the cryptic wording but accepted it nonetheless.

“They mean to put the tags together and make sure the red side is on top of the blue side to activate the protection enchantment we put on it.” Trese laughed when it was clear Askal didn’t get the message

“Aw, come on, Bossing!” Crispin yelled

“We sounded so cool!” Basilio continued

Trese ignored them and hugged Askal and Datu one more time. “Good luck,” she whispered.

Askal could only nod as he approached Tarot, who had been waiting patiently. She presented the stone to Askal before dropping it onto the floor.

“Are you ready?” Tarot asked as she motioned to support Datu from the other side

“As I’ll ever be,” Askal answered.

Tarot crushed the stone with her foot. Then, suddenly, the scent of flowers exploded into the room. Somehow a tree had grown in the middle of the room without damaging the floor. It grew in two stems forming a circle before meeting again near the ceiling sprouting leaves as it did. Once the tree had reached the top, the leaves it sprouted quickly turned pink and began falling off. It wasn’t long before the gap in the tree started to depict a town surrounded by lush trees.

“Whoa, okay,” Askal backed up a bit, the smell of flowers overwhelming his canine nose. “that’s a bit much.”

Tarot rolled her eyes. “Knowing Kitsune, this is right up his alley.”

With one final look at Trese, Askal waved goodbye as the three stepped through the portal.

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

“OW!”

Askal rubbed his head.
As soon as he stepped through the portal, Askal felt something hit his head, and all of a sudden, he was on his tail. Askal had to double-check if he was alright because his vision still hadn’t come back a few seconds after making contact with something. All he could see was pitch black. His nose only told him that wherever he was, it was dusty.

“Tarot?” Askal called out, but no response except his echo

Askal began to feel his heartbeat climb. He had no idea where he was or even how to go outside. He couldn’t hear or smell Datu and Tarot. He couldn’t even see.

‘Show me what emotions you’ve buried and kept away.’

Askal clutched his head. “NO! I’m just hearing things. She’s gone now. It’s not real.”

All of a sudden, lights from the ceiling flared to life. Bit by bit, the light revealed the surrounding area to be boxes stacked on top of packages. Some were small enough that Askal could hold it in his hand. Some looked like Askal would’ve spent the night in it if there was no suitable shelter for the night. However, what caught Askal’s eye was a display covered in a tarp. He didn’t know why it stood out; looking at it, the display was relatively plain and blended into the surroundings flawlessly.

Compelled to see it whole, Askal felt his arm reach out for the tarp and pull. Then, the tarp fell off to reveal a sheathed sword on a delicate display in one motion. Askal’s heart raced. He had to see it; he had to see the blade in all its glory.

He picked up the sword and pulled out the blade slowly and carefully. Once Askal unleashed the blade in full, Askal set the sheath back on the stand to admire the sword with both his hands. It was light, and Askal felt he could swing it for hours and hours. However, Askal squinted something was different with the sword, and he wasn’t quite sure.

Shifting his grip to have one hand on the handle and the other on the blade, Askal leaned in closer to inspect the sword. Once he did, the sword’s steel began to change color. The blade shifted from the silvery color of metal to a vibrant sky blue. Askal could almost feel the sun’s warmth just by looking at the sword.

“Kuusai,” Askal whispered absentmindedly.

Askal didn’t know how long he had been staring, but Askal didn’t care. The blade was beautiful, and he was lost in the purity of its color. He was so enamored with the sword that not even a stern grip from a black-furred hand on his wrist was enough for Askal to return to reality. Only when he felt a sharp pain in his left palm and right wrist did Askal realize his surroundings. Standing above him was a large muscular black dog with pointed ears whose shadow entirely eclipsed Askal, making his ears press firmly on his skull. The only other notable detail about this dog was a blue-collar with a thunderbolt tag.

Askal was at a loss for words. How could he have let his guard down? He was massive; surely, he would’ve made a sound. When the beast opened his mouth, Askal could see the teeth, and a fear-fueled image of the monster biting down on him flashed in his mind, and Askal shut his eyes.

“Hi,” the monster of a dog greeted, with not a trace of malice in his voice, “I’m Mungo!”

End of Chapter 01


FINALLY! A sword! and it only took until the end of 5 chapters!
all joking aside I have a bit more trivia to share, though most of it was because I forgot to include it last chapter

Bossing - is just the female version of Boss

Datu - Means Chief of the tribe

Halo-Halo - literally translates to mix-mix which is just a mix of Ube flavored ice cream, beans, condensed milk, among other things and it looks like this:
Image

Flag of War - Funny enough how the flag is displayed has a significant meaning. If the red side is displayed over the blue the country is in a state of war. if the blue side is displayed over the red the country is in times of peace... relatively anyway.
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Oooh! Those desserts look really nice! Anyway great job on this recent chapter Krytus!
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D-Rock
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Pretty neat how the translation enchantment did it’s job a little too well with Kitsune’s name at first.

Things are moving super fast for the pup, and of course his first introduction to Mungo would be a fun one.

I kinda get the feel that we’ll all be getting crash courses on the culture of your home as we go along.

Honestly, I’ve been curious about trying halo-halo, though I imagine it’ll be hard to find around Texas. First learned of it when I read random trivia on the game, Dead or Alive 4, which had a Spartan super soldier from the Halo franchise as a guest character. To hammer in the reference, she’s listed as being of Filipino descent and her favorite food being halo-halo.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Amazee Dayzee wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 10:18 pm Oooh! Those desserts look really nice! Anyway great job on this recent chapter Krytus!
Yeah they are though like most dishes they can be done well and... not so well
D-Rock wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 11:31 pm Pretty neat how the translation enchantment did it’s job a little too well with Kitsune’s name at first.

Things are moving super fast for the pup, and of course his first introduction to Mungo would be a fun one.

I kinda get the feel that we’ll all be getting crash courses on the culture of your home as we go along.

Honestly, I’ve been curious about trying halo-halo, though I imagine it’ll be hard to find around Texas. First learned of it when I read random trivia on the game, Dead or Alive 4, which had a Spartan super soldier from the Halo franchise as a guest character. To hammer in the reference, she’s listed as being of Filipino descent and her favorite food being halo-halo.
heh a character from Halo liking Halo-Halo

and yeah maybe a few things probably not gonna factor too much into the story it's just gonna be there in the background.



So yeah another chapter! To whoever's reading enjoy this while this lasts cause my school's about to pick up next week so my pace might slow down a little. Who knows the stress from school might actually make me work faster. For now, though enjoy

Episode 02: Echoes
Chapter 02

Askal wasn’t sure if he heard right.

“It’s dangerous to play with those you know. The museum doesn’t really like it when people touch their displays, even if it's in storage.”

Slowly Askal opened his eyes to see the large dog smiling at him with his tail wagging back and forth. It was a surreal sight. He had seen his fair share of police dogs before, but none of them were quite as built as Mungo. Some even sported a belly. The pain in his wrist certainly reinforced how strong the dog was.

“Oh, am I hurting you?” Mungo undid his grip and pulled away. “I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

A wave of headaches hit Askal suddenly. He dropped the sword and clutched his head. The way he spoke was so familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Did he meet Mungo before? Is that why his words felt so familiar?

As both sides clashed, Mungo’s expression grew more concerned. “You’re definitely not okay. I’ll call the emergency line, and they’ll have a good look at you.”

Another pulse of headaches came the more Mungo spoke. “Please.” Askal begged on the verge of tears, “Just stop talking. I need a minute.”

Askal’s vision had become hazy, and it was getting harder to spot definition on Mungo’s face. Had it always been this bright in this room? Where was Mungo’s collar? Giving himself a good shake, Askal closed his eyes and focused on breathing. He took slow, concentrated breathes and concentrated on his two black-furred hands. As he cycled through breathes, they eventually returned to their normal brown fur, and Askal’s vision became clear. He was back.

Askal hadn’t noticed he was sitting on the ground across from Mungo in his attempt to return. It wasn’t clear how much time passed, but it felt like a good few minutes. The much larger dog looked down on him with concern written on his face.

“Are you okay?” Mungo repeated

A twinge of pain echoed in Askal’s head, but it was manageable. “I-I can manage.”

“Oh good,” Mungo sighed, his smile slowly returning. “You really scared me, but I’m glad you’re alright. So what are you doing here? This part of the museum isn’t open to the public.”

Askal rubbed his temples, trying to get his story straight “I was with someone.” Askal’s ears suddenly perked up. “TAROT, MY BROTHER!” Askal turned to Mungo. “I was with them, and suddenly I wound up here. You have to help me find them!”

“Oh, that’s a simple fix!” Mungo smiled happily as he fished out a phone from his collar

He began tapping away at it until he eventually presented it to Askal with a picture of Tarot. It rang a few times, which startled Askal, but he calmed down a little when nothing happened.

“Mungo?” Came Tarot’s voice from the phone. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time. I’m dealing with an emergency. I’ve already dispatched Zeke and Rowan-

“You wouldn’t happen to be looking for a dog, would you?” Mungo interrupted

“His name is Askal, yes, why?” Tarot responded quickly

“Cause he’s right here in the museum.” Mungo motioned for Askal to speak “safe and sound.”

Askal hesitated at first, unsure how it would work. “Tarot?”

“Askal?” Tarot sighed relief. “Thank goodness I was worried something happened to you.”

“Is Datu with you?” Askal pressed, hoping nothing had happened to his brother

“He’s fine.” Askal felt the tension ease in his shoulders when Tarot said that “I’ve already got him situated. Mungo, can you bring Askal to Sabrina’s house? There’s not enough room in mine.”

“Roger, ma’am. We’re on our way!” Mungo saluted before hanging up.

Once the conversation was over, Mungo put away his phone and hopped off the ground. He then extended his hand to Askal. Given the last time Mungo held onto his hand, he nearly crushed it, Askal was hesitant to grab it. However, the large dog didn’t mean any harm, so Askal fought against his instincts and accepted it.

When he tried to stand, a sharp pain erupted from his leg. Except he didn’t fall. Mungo caught him and hoisted him onto his arms.

“Whoops, guess that wound is still a bit fresh.” Mungo gestured to Askal’s leg. “Don’t worry, I can carry you the whole way. How’s your hand?”

Askal tilted his head. “My what?”

He looked at both his hands and saw that his left hand had some red stains. There was a small cut on it, but the cut had already stopped bleeding from Thankfully, it was shallow and nothing compared to the one on his thigh.

“It's fine,” Askal responded as Mungo used his shoulder to open the door carefully, only for it to fly open and crash to the adjacent wall.

“Whoops. My bad.” Mungo laughed

Askal shot a puzzled look to Mungo. “How did even you get in there without making a sound?”

“Well, the museum workers I was helping held the door open for me. They must’ve thought I went to work and closed it. We were in there for a bit.” Mungo smiled, “the good news is that Museum’s got an automated door.”

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

Askal was in awe as he glanced out the moving vehicle.
Gone were the tall skyscrapers; gone was the constant hum of cars running in the background, and in their place were modest buildings. None of which required Askal to crane his neck back to see the top. One whiff of the air through an open window was enough for Askal to assess its cleanliness. There was no smog or excessive car exhaust. People and pets roamed the streets, and even some pets had no owners nearby. He was no longer in his city.

Though what puzzled Askal most was the sky and his surroundings. The sun had yet to rise, and most people looked like they were leaving their buildings. Usually, humans would rush to get their day started by this hour, but it looked like their day was winding down.

“Mungo?” Askal asked, unable to take his eyes off the window

“Yeah, Askal,” he answered, his view shifting from the window to Askal “what’s up?”

Askal continued to look around, still getting used to his surroundings. “Where are these people headed? Shouldn’t they be getting ready to start their day?”

“Why it’s getting late? People need to sleep, don’t they?” Mungo responded

“But It’s been nighttime for a few hours now,” Askal said, which earned Mungo a strange look. “Hasn’t it?”

“Maybe you should lie down as soon as we get to Sabrina’s.” Mungo chuckled a little

Askal didn’t know how to explain it further. He just knew that it should be morning already, but somehow it wasn’t. The strange timing mixed with the odd landscape made Askal question if he was from the same world. It was just too different from where he came from.

Speaking of different, the landscape continued to change. Soon buildings started featuring patches of grass in front of them with these strange structures standing by each driveway. No two patches of grass were the same. Some were barren, some were just grass, and some went overboard and had several flowers planted in them. He just had a hard time processing how different everything was here.

Eventually, the car came to a stop. if Askal hadn’t been strapped in, he would’ve hit the seat in front of him. “This is your stop, boys.” Came the woman in front. “Have a nice evening.”

“Thanks, Janet!” Mungo responded by handing her a green piece of paper. “Keep the change!”

“Aw, you’re too kind.” she laughed as she accepted the bill.

Mungo was the first to dismount and quickly ran around to Askal’s side to open his door and pick him up in his arms. Once both were clear from the vehicle, it drove off promptly.

“She was nice.” Mungo pipped up as he crossed the driveway towards the door

“How do you know her?” Askal asked, still curious about the world around him

“I don’t.” chuckled Mungo. “I just read her Uber profile.”

Askal tilted his head again as Mungo carefully pressed a button on the side of the door. “What’s an Uber?”

Unfortunately, it broke, and before anybody could say anything else, Askal noticed a thin blue string headed straight for Mungo’s head. Without warning, Mungo had thrown Askal skyward in less than a second. From his vantage point, Askal could see a white dog in a black vest dashing towards Mungo from behind as the larger dog raised his forearm to block the string. Then, unbeknownst to Mungo, a black dog with silver gauntlets jumped from the bushes and reared up to deliver a blow to Mungo’s back with his fist.

Suddenly, Mungo tugged at the string entangling him, pulling the white dog towards him. Then in one flawless motion, Mungo sidestepped the black dog’s assault letting the two dogs crash into each other. Finally, Mungo grabbed their faces and pushed them into the dirt. After giving his hands a good dusting, Mungo held out his arms and caught Askal just as he came down.

“We’re okay.” groaned the white one

“Speak for yourself. I’m not.” groaned the black one.

“Good effort, boys,” Mungo laughed, “but not enough. Better luck next time.”

The white one peeled himself off the ground. “One day, Sir Mungo, one day.” He shook off all the dust. “Who’s the kid?”

“He said he was with Tarot.” Mungo set Askal down but kept one arm on his so he could stand easier

“Oh, you’re the new guy!” he laughed. “Basilio told me all about you! I’m Rowan!”

Now that he was closer Askal got a good look at the dog. Rowan was a white dog with pointed ears and blue eyes. If Askal had to guess, these dogs might be slightly older than Datu. He had a solid build, but it was nowhere near Mungo’s. He had a blue collar above his black vest that housed several pockets.

Rowan bent down and picked up an almost identical dog. “And this is my brother Zeke.”

Zeke was a black dog with a similar build and height as his brother. And that’s where their similarities ended. Contrary to his brother Zeke had black fur and red eyes, and instead of a vest, he wore two silver gauntlets on his wrists with a red collar around his neck.

“Hey,” Zeke yawned as he leaned heavily on his brother.

“Are you three done roughhousing?” sighed the black cat from the doorway “you owe me a new doorbell, by the way.” she pointed at Mungo.

Mungo’s ears folded behind his head “Yeah, that's the sixth time this month. Bright side, I got a discount named after me.”

“Aw c’mon, Ms. Sabrina. We were just having a bit of fun.” Rowan argued

Zeke stopped leaning against his brother and looked at him. “You call that fun?”

“I had fun.” Rowan smiled. “Besides, I wanted to see the new guy too. It’s not often we get visitors from home.”

“Well, fun’s over. Bed now.” she grabbed Askal’s hand and pulled him inside. “You need to rest now or you’ll never get over the jetlag.”

Zeke shrugged. “If you say so.” he then began walking.

“What's a jetlag?” Askal asked, lost on the situation

“But Ms. Sabrina~” Rowan tried to argue but paused when Sabrina held up a rolled wad of paper.

Before any of them could say anything else, Sabrina slammed her door on them. Askal didn’t even get to introduce himself or say goodbye to Mungo. Once the black cat had locked the front door, she turned to Askal with a smile.

“Sorry about that. Those guys can be a handful sometimes.” Sabrina chuckled. “C’mon, let me help you to your room.”

She put her arm around Askal to help him through the house. It was a simple enough house. It bore similarities to Trese’s in a way. They had fluffy floors a good view of the nearby town though it did have more strange paintings of various symbols. The exact details extended even to the second floor.

After passing through a few doors, Sabrina opened one not too far from the stairs to reveal a bare room with only a bed, table, and a strange light device. It was cozy, but it lacked personality.

“This is your room.” Sabrina gestured before letting Askal rest on the bed. “For the time being, we’ll be living together. So if you need anything, just ring this bell, and I’ll come running.” she placed a silver object next to the light device

“Ms. Sabrina?” Askal stopped her before she walked out the door. “Where’s my brother?”

Sabrina approached him and knelt down. “He’s in Tarot’s house. I know you’ll ask to see him, but It's getting late for you, and if you don’t sleep now, you’ll have a hard time tomorrow. We’re starting your training right away.”

Askal felt his heart sank but understood. He wanted to ask so much more. Questions like where was he? What kind of training was he going to undertake? Could he not be alone tonight? But Askal could tell Sabrina was in a hurry. The way she talked and helped him up the stairs, the black cat poorly hid that she was trying to get somewhere fast, and Askal didn’t want to keep her from doing whatever she wanted. So he relented.

“Okay, goodnight.” Askal smiled weakly

Sabrina waved as she exited the room and shut the door. “Good night.”

Now on his own, Askal lay down. He wasn’t sure if his head was still spinning from the barrage of events happening or the translator collar still doing its job. He was practically in a new world devoid of his stray life comforts. He had never really thought about it, but things just didn’t sit right now that things were finally beginning to slow down.

The ambient air felt too quiet without the cars constantly going in the background. The bed felt like it would swallow Askal whole with its softness. While pleasant, the scent in the room had a terrible aftereffect on his nose that just screamed artificial. Even the light in his room made him uncomfortable, and he couldn’t turn it off because he didn’t know how.

“I miss Datu,” Askal whispered to himself as his eyes grew heavy.

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

Fox tapped his foot impatiently.
Mungo had been distracted throughout the briefing and assignment distribution. As a result, the large dog was still out of focus when he and Mungo hit the streets. Mungo was never the type to be distracted, and it was seriously getting on his nerves. He remembered when. Mungo chastised him for being distracted on the job, yet he was spacing out like he worked at NASA.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when it was time for their scheduled break. Fox was about to suggest they try out the new bakery down the street but immediately, the dog had his snout buried in his phone.

Fox cleared his throat, and Mungo overlooked the husky standing next to him. And when that didn’t work, Fox resorted to kicking Mungo in the shin, which arguably hurt Fox more than it bothered Mungo. A single tear rolled down Fox’s cheeks before enough was enough, and Fox just put his hand on the screen of Mungo’s phone.

“Oh, Fox?” Mungo said, pulling the phone back and trying to type, “Uh, you wouldn’t know where to find a few baggies of pork blood, would you?”

Fox breathed in and then exhaled, “Who starts a conversation like that?”

“I’m sorry, what?” Mungo finally put his phone down but immediately brought it back up when he got a notification

“Okay, that tears it.” Fox sighed deadpan as he quickly reached for Mungo’s phone and plucked it from his large hands “Yoink.”

“Fox!” Mungo growled as he tried to get it back

Fox was good at this game. Even though Mungo sprang for the harder to crush phone, it still had its limits. He also knew that most of Mungo’s pocket change went to replacing people’s doors or doorbells, so he couldn’t afford to crush his phone constantly.

“Okay, Romeo, let’s see how Juliet’s doing, huh?” Fox laughed as he ran while looking through Mungo’s chat history

“That’s not funny!” Mungo cried, gaining on Fox

A quick scroll through his contacts and Fox found out who Mungo had been messaging for the past few minutes.

M: Do u guys know any good dishes from your home that you can't get here?

R: ooh gonna make the dog you're always with something more exotic? ;)

Z: Y? :?:

M: I think I spooked Askal, and I want to make him feel more welcome.

R: Image
Wait, his name's Askal? Like Legit? Lol really?

M: yes, why is that funny?

R: Image

Z: Name’s aside; first, you're gonna need about a large baggies worth of pork blood

R: Don’t forget the rice! ;)

The message then devolved into a list of ingredients for the dish, which were surprisingly common except for the pork blood. Finally, Mungo managed to grab Fox by the harness of his uniform, but that hardly mattered. Fox had found his prey, and it was time to pounce.

“Mungo!” Fox cried, “Chatting with your ‘star pupils.’ should I be worried about something?” Fox air quoted

“Fox, it’s not nice to look at other people’s messages without their permission.” Mungo frowned, but Fox continued to press his advantage

“I knew it! You are hiding something!” Fox leaned in closer to Mungo. “Besides, what are you gonna do, Officer? Take me away in handcuffs?”

“Fine, you win,” sighed Mungo as he let Fox go and sat down on the sidewalk. “I ran into one of Tarot’s new recruits.”

“Oh, another one? Looks like I got more competition.” Fox chuckled as he jabbed Mungo in the shoulder, but Mungo wasn’t as playful

“Sabrina and I just got the rundown from Tarot.” Mungo sighed looking into the sky. “The pup’s been through a lot. A non-responsive brother, a near-death experience, not to mention he came from halfway across the world. Fox, he’s practically got nothing. But that’s not all; there’s something else I can’t place.”

“That is a lot to go through for a pup, but why is it bringing you down?” Fox leaned his back onto Mungo’s shoulder. “It’s not like you're responsible for any of it.”

Mungo gave a deep sigh.

“When we met, he gave me this….” Mungo struggled to put it into words. “look. He was mortified, confused, and panicking. When he looked at me, it felt like he was begging me to help him, but he didn’t know how to ask. He looked at me like I was the only one he could turn to, and for once, I didn’t know how to help. All I could do was watch. And that scared me.”

Fox turned to Mungo and made the large dog look at him. “Mungo. You’re one of the most caring and compassionate dogs I’ve known. What you’re doing; giving him a piece of home. I think it’s the right direction to go. So please stop beating yourself up. You’re the only one who can beat you. Unless you’re holding out on me about your ‘star pupils.’”

Mungo chuckled and returned Fox’s jab from a while ago. “You jerk. You were doing so well.” Unbeknownst to Mungo, a second tear ran down Fox’s cheek. “They may be my star pupils, but they don't shine as brightly as you, my legionnaire.”

It wasn’t long before the two burst out in laughter. Fox knew that a smile suited Mungo better than a pout, and he was glad he was able to bring it back.

Unfortunately, their revelry was cut short by their radios coming to life from their collars “K9 Unit 12, we’ve got a 10-35 in the bakery on your patrol route.”

“10-4, we’re on our way,” Mungo responded, his face shifted to business.

Both dogs broke out into a sprint, eager to get to the site before things got violent or the criminal could escape. They may be fit, but the bakery was located on the far side of their patrol route; it would take a hot minute before they got to it.

Suddenly the unthinkable happened. The sound of glass shattering filled the night, followed by two gunshots. Upon hearing a woman’s scream, the two K9 officers doubled their pace, hoping no one had gotten hurt.

“Shots fired!” Fox yelled into his radio, “I repeat shots fired! We’re looking at a possible 10-52!”

There were a few more gunshots, but when the two finally rounded the corner and found the bakery, things seemed to have settled down. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get a good look into the bakery; it was obstructed by a shelf shunted to the side.

“We’re going in.” Mungo radioed before carefully approaching with Fox trailing not too far behind

He had done this with Mungo enough times before. It was always a dice roll between an average mugging, a hostage situation, or a flat-out murder. If tonight was Fox’s night, it would be the first of those options.

For once, someone had beaten Mungo to the punch. As the glass door that led into the bakery was already in pieces. Carefully maneuvering through the glass, Fox and Mungo crouched their way inside the building, only to find their armed robber slumped onto the very back of the store with the cashier behind the counter still covering her eyes. The robber’s weapon was smashed into pieces next to him.

“Ma’am?” Mungo started, which only made her scream

“Ma’am! We’re with the K9 unit!” Fox yelled to get her to calm down.

“Oh, sorry,” she sighed, “I-I’m a little worked up.”

Mungo walked up to her and hugged her. “It’s okay now, ma’am. Fox cuff the culprit. I’ll calm her down and radio headquarters.”

“Roger that,” Fox said as he took out his cuffs

Now that the coast was clear, Fox had a good look at the aftermath. Several displays had been knocked over, with bread scattered all over the floor. He even noted the few gun holes he could find as he walked over to the perpetrator. As he cuffed the man, Fox noted something odd about the decor. The shop was called “All Rise” and had a strong Michelangelo theme going, but there was an abnormal amount of paw prints on the walls and ceiling.

When Fox cuffed the man, he noticed how painfully he groaned. Out of curiosity, he rolled up the man’s sleeves and pant legs and found bruises. Fox was no medic, but he was sure this perp had several broken bones.

“Fox,” called Mungo. “You may want to look at this.”

After making sure the robber was secured, Fox jogged to the counter where mungo was looking at the computer. The CCTV was pulled up, and it showed the moment where the robber had entered the store. He made the usual demand for money and valuables, but someone else arrived. It was clear enough that it was a pet; he had a snout and pointed ears, but the odd detail about him was he wore clothes as in the whole get-up of upper clothing and pants of some sort. Even his face was covered up with a makeshift mask.

When the gunman pointed his gun at the pet, he suddenly ducked to the side to deliver a swift blow with what looked like a metal bat. Then the gunman decided to fire, leading to the pet jumping around the shop and knocking over the displays. He even jumped off the glass door, which is how it broke in the first place. After that, he expertly weaved around the shots, almost like he was dancing. Once the gunman ran out of bullets, the pet dove in and gave a series of blows. The strikes were strong enough to knock the gunman away and towards the shop’s back.

Once he was down, the pet approached and looked like he was about to end it but then smashed the gun before calmly leaving through the broken glass door.

“Looks like we’ve got a vigilante on our hands.” Fox sighed

“No, not a vigilante!” cried the gunman “A magician!”

“Sir, are you under the influence of something?” Mungo responded

“No officers! I’m not high, I swear!” he cried again. “You’ve got to believe me. Whenever he swung that bat, I saw water coming from it.”

Fox looked to the ground; it was dry as a bone. “Are you sure, sir?”

“I swear on my life!” he cried.

“Alright, Fox canvas the place.” Mungo sighed. “Maybe we can pick up a scent.”

“Roger that,” Fox saluted and went to work

Fox smelled everything you could from a bakery. Eggs, milk, sugar, flour, nothing that would stand out. However, when his nose hovered over one of the paw prints left behind by the pet, Fox caught the scent of an intense aroma of flowers.

End of Chapter 02

Moar trivia and believe it or not not all of it is from here this time

since I couldn't find a standardized police code to work with I just picked one and used that for everything.
10-35 - Silent Alarm
10-4 - Understood
10-52 - Request for Ambulance Assistance

The dish referenced in this chapter is called Dinuguan which is pork cuts simmered in pork blood. It is stirred often while cooking to prevent clotting.
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D-Rock
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Good luck with school, man.

Seems everyone is getting an eventful few days. Though let’s face it, there are definitely worse names to go by, and at least Askal has the benefit of currently being in a place where the word is foreign, so he has cool points from that. Great way of showing off those text messages, by the way.

Interesting how Tarot has her own place, though admittedly the one time we heard a recording from Mr. D’Angelo, he didn’t mention Tarot at all.

Not gonna lie, that description for the vigilante dog and what they did made me think that maybe it was either Wolf or Fenrir.

I’ve heard of a couple blood-based dishes in my time, and honestly, don’t think I’m brave enough to try those. My mom once told me she felt the same when we saw a video on a recipe that used pigs blood.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

You have a very good chapter here Krytus as usual! I can't eait to see what else that you got!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Amazee Dayzee wrote: Sat Jan 15, 2022 4:21 am You have a very good chapter here Krytus as usual! I can't eait to see what else that you got!
And I can't wait to write it all down!
D-Rock wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:42 pm Good luck with school, man.

Seems everyone is getting an eventful few days. Though let’s face it, there are definitely worse names to go by, and at least Askal has the benefit of currently being in a place where the word is foreign, so he has cool points from that. Great way of showing off those text messages, by the way.

Interesting how Tarot has her own place, though admittedly the one time we heard a recording from Mr. D’Angelo, he didn’t mention Tarot at all.

Not gonna lie, that description for the vigilante dog and what they did made me think that maybe it was either Wolf or Fenrir.

I’ve heard of a couple blood-based dishes in my time, and honestly, don’t think I’m brave enough to try those. My mom once told me she felt the same when we saw a video on a recipe that used pigs blood.
Yeah, no kidding it's kinda weird to think your name has multiple reactions to it depending on where you are in the world.

I double-checked the wiki and it states that Tarot's owner has never been seen in the comic before. I always assumed Spirit Dragon got the house and posed as Tarot's owner and now that she's currently in the body of a fox kit Tarot's the one who runs the house now. I also assumed there's a generous amount of money Tarot can use somewhere to keep paying the utilities and groceries.

Ahh, memories I'm both terrified and excited at the thought of reading it again. Terrified because ooof my writing probably wasn't the best. Excited because I can remember a time when the 3DS was the newest Nintendo gadget both Peanut and I owned.

I can understand why people aren't into dinuguan it's not for everyone, at least it's not Ballut.


so remember when I said the school was gonna pick up... well... my first week got pushed back cause enough people got sick that the school decided hey let's give the students a chance to focus on their health for a bit. so my first week is next week apparently but hey new chapter.


Episode 02: Echoes
Chapter 03

“Absolutely not.” Ralph straightened out a set of papers and put them away in a filing cabinet, not even looking Fox in the eye

Fox’s heart sank when he heard the sergeant’s verdict.
This was his chance. A chance to prove he had learned from his past mistakes and grown as an officer and the sergeant was just willing to let it go.

The station’s nightlife sounds seemed so distant to Fox’s ears. The usual chatter of on-call agents, the sound of a hot pot of water getting ready, the slamming of file cabinets, even the drunk ravings of a DUI offender being taken to his cell seemed like a dull roar compared to Fox’s disappointment.

“Sir,” Fox pleaded, as he stood at attention, “Please reconsider. I can handle the case this time.”

Ralph sat back down on his office chair, rubbing his temples as he did. “I understand your plight, Officer Lindberg, but it’s too soon since your reinstatement. You’ve proven you can handle routine, but I’m not convinced you can work a case.”

“Sir, I want to show you I can.” Fox stated again

Ralph sighed and stood up. The dog made a few paces in his generous office. For a dog on the force having his own office was a big statement. It even overshadowed the offices of some of the newer human recruits. It spoke volumes of Sergeant Ralph's skills, judgment, and commitment to the force. If the office alone wasn’t enough, there were pictures of his first day on the force with his handler, one when he was promoted, and a group picture of every K-9 officer currently on the force. This room didn’t need to speak to tell stories. Just being in it was enough.

Fox knew what it looked like, and he was sure that it wasn’t the case. He wasn’t after Ralph’s approval or to rub it in the Sergeant’s face. Instead, Fox was after his self-approval. He wanted to show himself he had changed and for the better, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

After a few rounds of pacing, he approached the young officer and glared at him. Fox didn’t back down under Ralph’s icy stare and returned it with one of assurance. The two remained locked in that state for a few minutes. One was trying to sense weakness in the other, and one was trying to show unwavering conviction.

“Fine,” Ralph turned around and sat back on his chair, “I’ll let you handle the vigilante case, but step one paw pad out of line, and I’m giving the case to someone else.”

Inside Fox’s head, he had popped the confetti poppers and began cutting the cake. “Thank you, sir. You won’t regret this.” on the outside, Fox only wagged his tail and smiled as he saluted.

When Ralph had given Fox the order to ease, the husky calmly walked out of the office into the pristine white hallway of the precinct. He continued the charade until he was sure he was out of Ralph’s range. Once he was sure Ralph wouldn’t hear him, Fox broke out into a sprint and cheered.

Fox passed the breakroom and cubicles and immediately made a beeline for the lockers. Once inside, he was greeted by the usual chatter of K-9 officers mid-shift change, but they were easy enough to tune out, especially with the news he was carrying.

As soon as Fox spotted Mungo, his tail kicked into turbo, “Mungo!” Fox cheered. “Sarge agreed. We’ve got the case.” he immediately opened his locker and took off his vest as he spoke.

“That’s great, Fox. I’m stoked.” Mungo yawned

Fox got his phone out of one of the pockets and already started making a list of prep work. “Okay, first I’m gonna need to interview the robber and the cashier from earlier; next, I’ll need a copy of the CCTV from the bakery, then I’ll need to pick up the results from evidence about the paw prints we found~.

“Hey, Fox!” Mungo said, breaking the husky’s momentum, “You forgot something, mind if I add it?”

Confused, Fox handed his phone gently to Mungo, who only spent a few seconds on it before giving it back. Fox took his phone back and looked at what Mungo had added out of curiosity.

“Go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.”

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

“How’s this, Ms. Tarot?” an echoey voice broke through the silence of dreamless sleep.

“Excellent. Remember, you are guiding the energy along the veins, encouraging the damaged areas to heal. You cannot force it to heal.” came another voice through dreamless sleep

Askal’s eyes slowly fluttered to life and were met with a white ceiling. Turning his head to the side, Askal found the sight of Tarot and Rowan looking closely at his legs and hands. A warm blue glow had outlined their figures as they focused.

As they continued to work, Askal felt his body fill with energy. Any traces of weariness leftover after a good night’s rest was suddenly gone due to the blue glow that encapsulated him.

Slowly as Rowan worked, he began to grow a frown. “Hmm, my energy isn’t moving into this area. Maybe if I~

“ROWAN, NO!” Tarot yelled

Before Askal could flinch, Askal felt a flood of energy crash into his body. He had never felt such raw power course through his veins before. Before he knew it, Askal sprang from the bed and bolted out the front door. He didn’t know where he was going, only that he needed to get moving and fast. Except when Askal burst through the front door, the young dog was met face first with a solid rocky wall. Askal fell flat on his back, facing the sky with double vision.

“Walking with a limp, huh?” came a voice nearby

“He… He wasn’t like that last night.” Mungo stammered as he picked up the young dog. “Askal? Are you alright?”

Still seeing double, Askal shook his head and found Mungo accompanied by a two-toned gray furred dog wearing a yellow cloth around his neck. The dog had pointed ears, a scar over his right eye, and sported a curled tail Askal had never seen before. His markings distinctly separated his chest and stomach area, highlighting his musculature. If Askal had to ballpark it, this dog would be more fit than Zeke and Rowan but still not entirely on Mungo’s level.

“I’m, alright.” was Askal’s shaky response. But as Mungo let go, Askal found it took no effort to stand. “Hey! My leg’s better!”

The new dog squinted his eyes at Mungo which made the black dog frown. “Don’t give me that look, Fox. We’ll talk about this later.”

“Good morning Sir Mungo, Sir Fox!” Rowan greeted from the doorway. “Come on in; my brother almost finished making breakfast.”

Surprising the white dog was Sabrina with a rolled-up wad of paper as she smacked the back of his head. “You don’t live here, you know. But, he is right; the food is almost ready. So get in before it gets cold.”

“Sounds good let’s dig in!” Mungo entered, licking his lips with Fox not too far behind

Askal’s first few steps on his own were shaky. It had been a long time since he’d been able to stand on his own; it felt liberating. Though he didn’t dwell on it too long since the moment he stepped back into the house, the fragrant scent of meat assaulted his nose.

Askal recognized this smell. Many street vendors in his territory made this often, and humans eager to start their mornings would always stop by for a bite. Of course, there had been times when humans took pity on him and gave him a taste, but it didn’t happen often. Now the scent teased him, and his stomach came to life.

Rounding the corner, Askal found a table fully occupied by pets sitting around it, Rounding the corner. It went from Mungo, Fox, Rowan, Tarot, and then to Sabrina with two empty seats. They didn’t stay in silence, though; everyone chatted about anything that suited their fancy. Askal had never seen a meal so lively up close before.

“Mungo beat the two of us last night. It was brutal.”

“Welp, that’s my partner for ya.”

“How’s the research coming along?”

“I’m having a hard time reading old English, but it’s coming along nicely.”

“On my end, I have a hard time finding any more sources.”

“Are you just gonna stand there or what?” Rowan asked, finally breaking Askal out of his trance

“Me?” Askal pointed to himself. “I thought you’d all start barking and yell at me to get my own food.”

Rowan rolled his eyes with a smile. “Really living up to your name, huh?” when Askal tilted his head in confusion, Rowan stifled a giggle. “Nevermind, here, take my seat. I should go help my brother bring all of it in.”

The white dog grabbed Askal by the arm and situated him next to Fox, who instantly noticed changing seating arrangements. It felt odd to be sitting next to two people holding a conversation. However, he only felt out of place the more he continued to sit.

“So you’re the new dog, huh?” Fox faced Askal, which was almost as awkward but better than nothing. “I’m Fox. I hope you enjoy your stay here.”

“Yeah, my name’s Askal.” he reached his hand out, making Fox chuckle.

“That’s a human thing.” Fox accepted it. “We usually do something else, but that’s inappropriate at the table.”

Askal shook firmly. “My brother told me to avoid other dogs unless I wanted to get hurt.”

“Maybe out on the streets, but here in Babylon Ga~” Fox brought his hand up to prop his head on the table, but his ears instantly stood on end.

He gave his hand one more sniff before Fox turned to Askal, his smile somewhat diminished. “Anyway, so tell me, how was your first night in Babylon Gardens?”

“It was fine, I guess.” Even though Fox tried to be subtle about it, Askal felt something different with the gray dog “A little lonely if I’m being honest.”

“Lonely enough that you’d take a stroll?” Fox asked with a raised brow

“Fox,” Mungo growled “I said I’ll explain later.”

“He didn’t have a limp, Mungo,” Fox growled back.

“Oh, that’s my handiwork.” Rowan said as he reentered the room with a plate full of red meat, “I just healed him up this morning. Good as new! Pretty neat, huh?”

“Oh, is that so?” Fox leaned into his chair, his brows still raised

Even though Fox had let it go, Askal could feel Fox’s eyes study him closely. Askal had his fair share of dog-dog interactions before, and most of them weren’t very pleasant, to say the least. At best, they’d just tell him to look for food elsewhere; at worst, they’d chase him off. This was quickly making its way onto Askal’s unpleasant list.

It looked like Askal wasn’t the only one to pick up on the tension in the air. Sabrina and Tarot paused their conversation and looked at the four of them like they were about to start a brawl.

“Alright, settle down, ya filthy animals.” Zeke entered quickly, defusing the situation and carrying two plates. One with eggs and one with rice in it. “Breakfast is served.”

The two brothers served the plates they had been carrying, and the scents exploded into Askal’s nose. Sunny-side-up eggs, a pile of red meat, and rice. Not only did the smells make Askal’s mouth water, but it also made his stomach bellow like a savage beast unchained for the first time in eons.

“Whoa,” Mungo laughed as he pushed a meat plate forward. “Maybe you should go first.”

Askal grabbed a handful of meat and rice and shoveled it onto his plate with nothing to hold him back. He then moved two eggs onto his plate before digging in with real gusto. The taste and saltiness were just as it was back then, except now he didn’t have to savor each bite. He could always shovel in more to satisfy his hunger. Now that he thought about it, the last time he remembered eating anything was when Datu gave him the burger. It seemed like it was longer than that, but Askal didn’t have time to care. There was more food to eat.

“Whoa,” Zeke chuckled, “Someone’s going native.”

“Eh, even humans did this back home sometimes. Oh well.” Rowan shrugged before tossing aside his utensils

Mungo shrugged and did the same “When in Rome.”

Immediately the table had devolved from a civil gathering of pets for breakfast to an animalistic grudge match for who got to eat more food. Hands were flying all over the table, trying to get more scraps. To an outsider, someone might as well have put a fresh kill on the table with how messy the dogs were eating. However, Fox, Tarot, and Sabrina were the only ones to opt-out of eating in that manner and had instead moved their plates to the kitchen so they could eat in some form of civility.

The moment there was no more food left for the dogs to fight over, all the dogs slumped back onto their chairs, each patting their belly due to the amount they had just eaten. Askal couldn’t remember the last time he had been this full. His life as a stray had always made him make do with just enough. However, it felt odd to have something fill his belly completely, but Askal didn’t see a problem getting used to it anytime soon.

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

Askal took a deep breath.
He was still getting used to how clean the air was in this town. After years of inhaling smog, this was precisely what he needed.

The young dog also had to get used to the town’s landscape. He had never seen this many trees in one place before. Since he was born, trees only sparsely decorated the streets he walked through. Now they were everywhere; he wondered how humans or pets didn’t get lost when they tried to leave.

Wherever Mungo and Sabrina gathered, Zeke, Rowan, and himself was the most beautiful place he had seen. Vast patches of soft grass, splashes of color from various flowers, human children and pets playing about under the clear blue sun. Askal would’ve jumped in after the children had it not been for the stern looks Zeke and Rowan had as they stood up straight.

Mungo and a new brown dog stood side by side, leaving Askal to wonder what they were doing out here. Then, finally, Sabrina walked up to the five wearing a strange get-up.

Sabrina had a strange hat with patches of green and brown, a pair of dark circular sunglasses, and carried a thin black stick. “Ladies!” Sabrina announced as she hit her other hand with the stick, “What you see before you are two U.S. Certified police dogs. Our goal is to mold your thin, weak, pathetic bodies into strong, dependable ones like these two! Notice the generous helping of meat on their arms, the trunks they call legs~

“Uh, what is she doing?” Zeke whispered while Sabrina continued to ramble

“I’m not entirely sure,” Rowan whispered back.

Askal’s ears twisted when he heard someone step through the grass to approach them.

“Humor her,” Fox’s voice sounded as he approached the three from behind. “Sabrina doesn’t get a lot of chances to show off her boyfriend, so of course, she’s gonna milk this.”

“She’s dating Sir Mungo?” Askal asked

“N-NO!” Fox stammered, “The other dog.”

Rowan laughed. “In case you didn’t know new pup, Sir Mungo only has eyes for~

“SILENCE!” Sabrina yelled, “Red, Blue! You will be assigned with Mungo. The last session was to assess your combat capabilities. Today we assess your physical aptitude. You! Fresh meat!” Sabrina pointed her stick at Askal. “My… I mean. Fido will coach you to see where you rank. You have your assignments make me proud.”

Zeke, Rowan, and Mungo dispersed and left Fox, Askal, and Fido. Askal found it weird Sabrina had taken on such a strict personality. Despite how quickly she interacted with him last night, Askal thought Sabrina was more amicable than she appeared.

“That was fun.” Sabrina took off the glasses and handed them to Fido. “Gotta run, sweetie. I’ve got more scrolls to look through.” she sighed before kissing Fido on the cheek and walking off.

“Geeze, Fido,” Fox chuckled as the brown dog approached. “Don’t you and your girlfriend do anything fun?”

“Fox, not in front of the pup,” Fido scolded through grit teeth, only for Askal to tilt his head in confusion.

Fido was about the same fitness level as Fox and had a simple fur pattern except for the circle on his right eye and tail. In addition, Askal noticed Fido had folded ears, which Askal had only seen on Tarot so far. Like all pets Askal had encountered thus far, he sported a collar with a green tag, but the circular glasses were a unique accessory he had yet to see on another pet.

“Anyway,” Fido reached into his collar and took out his phone and another strange device, “Since I’m here to look at your fitness level, wear this on your wrist so I can track everything you do.”

“Okay, so what are we going to do?” Askal asked as Fido strapped the device to his wrist

Fox began undoing the cloth around his neck. “If I had to guess, you're gonna make him do the entrance exam to the K9 academy.”

“But with some modifications. But what does it matter? Why are you here, Fox?” Fido finished attaching the device and tapped away on his phone

“Oh, just trying to get my daily exercise in.” Fox chuckled. “Don’t mind me.”

Fido squinted in suspicion but turned his attention to Askal. “Okay, so what I’m going to do is run. I want you to follow me as best as you can for as long as possible. If you can’t keep up, tell me. Alright?”

“I understand.” Askal chimed

Fido nodded. “Good, then let’s begin, shall we? But, first, follow my stretches.”

Fido started doing weird poses, and Askal did his best to mimic them. But, unfortunately, many of the forms Fido tried to do Askal only made a poor imitation of. On the other hand, Fox replicated pose after pose like it was nothing. When Askal saw the curly-tailed dog do better than him, he couldn’t help but pout.

“Now, Now Askal.” Fido chastised gently, “You’re only beginning. Don’t be like that.”

Askal exhaled, “Okay.”

“Alright, let’s jog.” Fido clapped and began running

At first, Askal handled running like he always did. He didn’t need to make it complicated since all he had to do was keep up with the two dogs. However, as the run stretched longer, Askal noticed a few things. First, Fox and Fido were slipping farther and farther away. The two dogs even had to stop so Askal could catch up. Fido tried to ask if he should slow down, but Askal wasn’t about to give up yet and said to continue his pace.

The second thing Askal noticed was his form. As Askal ran, he saw how minute details about his running affected how fast he was going or how much energy it consumed from him. Little by little, Askal began to tweak his running. First, he created a rhythm with his arms and legs and didn’t deviate from it. Second, Askal made sure he stepped with his toes first, allowing his legs to spring forward each time they cycled. Lastly, Askal incorporated his breathing; he made sure to take slow, deep breaths and fully exhale to maximize the air in his lungs.

Suddenly with all the changes, Askal made to his running, he began to catch up to the two dogs. When they noticed Askal slowly catching, they increased their pace only to have Askal meet theirs in kind. Soon all three dogs broke out into a sprint across town, passing several homes and rounding streets.

“You’re… doing… good Askal….” Panted Fido from in front of Askal, “Can you… keep… this up?

“Yeah.” Askal panted back as he continued to run

Now that he was closer, Askal noticed that Fox would often look back at him. It was the same look Fox had given him for breakfast, and it irritated Askal. He had done nothing to Fox, yet the dog had been wary of him since they first met. So, unknowingly, Askal began channeling his anger into his breathing and increased his running speed.

When Askal began to pass Fox and Fido, the brown dog started to panic and pulled out his phone “ASKAL… WAIT… SLOW DOWN!” he cried as Askal and Fox pulled away.

“I think… the dog… can still… push himself.” Fox still gave that same look to Askal, only egging him on

With a spark in his eyes, Askal focused on the road and pushed himself farther. “Got that right! I ain’t losing to you curly tail!”

Askal and Fox continued to race down the street at their top speed both trying to outdo the other. However just as Askal began to pull ahead of Fox, it happened. A sharp feeling erupted in his chest, which caused his carefully crafted running rhythm to collapse. Before he knew it, Askal found himself rolling on the cement floor, picking nicks and bruises along the way. When he finally came to a stop, Askal was facing the sky.

He tried to get air into his lungs, but his body refused to work correctly and only let Askal gasp a tiny bit at a time. Not even his limbs moved the way he wanted them to. Instead, the young dog could hear his heart quickly beating in his ears as his vision blurred.

“Askal!” Fido knelt over the dog

Fox finally appeared in Askal’s vision. “Is he alright?”

“His heart rate nearly reached 200 BPM, and it’s not going down.” Fido responded as he looked at his phone, “He’s also not breathing properly.”

“I’ll call for help. You watch over him” Fox reached into his collar and produced his own Phone and began tapping away.

Askal began to lose feeling in his arms and legs, and soon his vision was going out as well. As hard as he tried, not enough air could get through to Askal’s lungs. Fido’s form slowly but surely grew darker with each passing second.

“No, no, no!” Fido cried, “Stay with me, Askal!”

Askal's vision went entirely black and the young dog was adrift in a sea of darkness. As he drifted Askal's ears picked up the faintest voice speaking to him. It didn't belong to Fox nor did it belong to Fido, but Askal knew this voice from somewhere.

"If you're ever in danger don't be afraid, because I will always come running. Why? Because It's my duty as your older brother to protect you, no matter what."

Then Askal felt air enter his lungs again. After a few minutes of having air forcefully enter his lungs, Askal opened his eyes again, and the first thing he saw brought tears to his eyes. A dog with pointed ears leaned over him, holding him close.

“KUYA DATU!” Askal cried as he threw his arms around his savior. “I KNEW IT! I KNEW YOU’D COME BACK! I MISSED YOU!”

Askal continued to cry as he rubbed his nose into Datu’s fur. However, when his sense of smell returned to him, it wasn’t the scent of Datu. Slowly, Askal pulled away and found Fido looking at him, concerned.

End of Chapter 03

Obligatory Trivia Section
People here traditionally ate with their hands until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century (cue Avatar TLA joke)
The food Zeke cooks up is referred to as Tocino but also is referred to as Filipino bacon. (this one's new for me too.)
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D-Rock
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Of course Fox would question the new guy who suddenly appeared in town. Not the best of first impressions, though.

Huh, same word for bacon in Spanish. I would be more surprised, but I as you said, the Spaniards had a LOT of influence over the Philippines for a long time.
I can understand why people aren't into dinuguan it's not for everyone, at least it's not Ballut.
Oy, definitely didn’t need to remember that one.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I love how this chapter has come out here! Great job as always!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Amazee Dayzee wrote: Tue Jan 18, 2022 12:40 pm I love how this chapter has come out here! Great job as always!
Thanks!
D-Rock wrote: Tue Jan 18, 2022 11:46 am Of course, Fox would question the new guy who suddenly appeared in town. Not the best of first impressions, though.

Huh, same word for bacon in Spanish. I would be more surprised, but as you said, the Spaniards had a LOT of influence over the Philippines for a long time.
I can understand why people aren't into dinuguan it's not for everyone, at least it's not Ballut.
Oy, definitely didn’t need to remember that one.
this is making me nostalgic for the Ace attorney Fox edit someone made a few years back.

I have an addendum to my Halo-Halo trivia from a few chapters ago now that you've mentioned that. A lot of people hold it in regard as symbolic to our culture because of how mixed it is. First, we got under china, then Spain, followed by America and Japan. so yeah it's basically a hodgepodge of random cultures who collectively decided "Hey this collection of 7K+ islands is suddenly important. Imma take it."


Episode 02: Echoes
Chapter 04

Askal took in the scent of his brother.
Usually, that would’ve calmed him down, but Askal only invited more misery because of how weak the scent was. Datu’s scent usually carried the smell of smog mixed with calamansi. Datu adored that tiny fruit, especially when made into juice. Unfortunately, it was always too sweet or sour for Askal’s taste, which only made Datu happier cause he got to have more.

Now Datu’s scent was more fake. His fur began to take on the smells of his bed and sheets, making Datu feel more distant to Askal and making Askal feel farther away from home.

Granted, it was a nice place to stay in. Tarot had given Datu a simple yellow-painted room with a desk, bed, and a good view of Babylon Gardens. On the table to Datu’s side, a vase filled with white flowers brought life to the room. They had come a long way from the streets and alleyways of their home city. Askal wished Datu could see it, to see how much their lives had improved, but all he could see was Datu’s lifeless pale eyes.

“So, Kuya,” Askal tried again, “how’s your room? Mine’s almost as nice, and I’m also living with a cat. She’s kinda scary, but she’s nice; if a dog can like her enough to call her his girlfriend, maybe she’s not so bad.”

Askal placed his head on his brother’s lap and stared at the ceiling. “I also met this huge black dog, even bigger than you. You should’ve seen him and how cool he was. Do you think I could be that big someday?”

No response, which only made Askal’s ears fold. “Maybe not; I mean, I can’t even run without getting hurt. Some warrior I turned out to be, huh?”

Askal sat back up, and Datu still sported no change. “I’ll keep going. For you, Datu. I just… I just miss you. I missed it when you’d give me food, call me pup and wrestle with me. Can’t you just smile, or grin at me, something to show me you’re there.” Again, no change. Datu’s head only slumped lower.

Askal could only wrap his arms around his brother's body. “I love you.”

Askal didn’t know how long he held Datu close, but he didn’t care. It was only when knocking came from Datu’s door did Askal straighten himself up and moved to the stool provided for him.

“Y-Yeah?” Askal said weakly as he whipped away his tears

“May I come in?” Asakl recognized the voice belonging to Fido. “It’s okay if you don’t want~

Askal steadied his voice. “No, it’s okay. You can come in.”

The young dog turned around to see Fido making his way through the door with flowers in hand. He seemed uneasy standing at the door and was unsure if he should enter. The brown dog was like that as he carried Askal to Tarot’s house to meet the dispatched Vet. The air between them was filled with uncertainty, and Askal knew why. He had just called Fido his brother by accident, and he didn’t know how to take it back.

“How are you feeling?” Fido said, breaking the silence as he approached

Askal made room for Fido to share the stool. “I’m alright. The vet lady who came by said I just pushed too hard. She then said I was supposed to see her in the vet to get a more thorough check-up a few days from now, but I’m fine.”

“That’s good,” Fido said as he placed the flowers on Datu’s side table.

Once again, silence had settled between the two, and neither dog knew what to say to break the ice.

“I-I’m sorry.” Askal stuttered out

Fido turned to look at Askal, who just kept his eyes focused on Datu. “What for?”

Askal lowered his head. “I accidentally called you by my brother’s name. It made things awkward on the way here, and it’s hard to talk to you now.”

“Hey pup, no,” Fido got out of the chair and knelt to eye level with Askal. “I understand. Sabrina told me what happened, and I’m sure it’s hard, but you did nothing wrong.”

“But you didn’t know how to talk to me on the way back here. So I thought I made things bad.”

“That’s my fault. I just thought I overstepped my boundaries and tried to pull away to give you space.”

Fido sighed and looked away before returning his gaze to Askal with a soft smile. “The truth is, it made me happy when you thought I was your brother.”

“I don’t understand.” Askal tilted his head.

“I’m the oldest of three,” Fido began fiddling with his tag, “and we never really clicked. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to death, but Bino’s wanted nothing to do with me. Joey… We hung out, but I always felt that I was always interrupting something. Besides, we’re all from the same litter. It’s not like I’m much older than them anyhow. We don’t even live under the same roof anymore, so interactions are sparse.”

Askal was overcome with a look of concern. “Why did you three separate?”

“Uh well… That’s complicated.” Fido stammered, “They’re close, just not as close as I would’ve liked. Anyway, my point is, it can’t be easy seeing him like this, so I want to help. If it’s okay with you, I want to be here for you. Not to replace your brother, I could never do that, but to take a shift if that makes sense.”

Askal’s head pounded once more, causing him to flinch. His vision blurred as he looked at Fido for a quick second but disappeared almost as quickly as it came. Fido did look concerned, but Askal quickly responded.

“I think I understand,” Askal said, quickly recovering.

Askal tried to wrap his arms around Fido, but it didn’t feel right just yet. So instead, Askal patted the spot next to him for Fido to sit on. Once they were both seated, Askal leaned his head onto Fido’s shoulder. It was a quiet moment that Askal needed since he first arrived. A moment to process and sort himself out to not get lost on the waves of changes in his life. It was nice.

Askal no longer needed to worry about food, water, or where to sleep. The number of pets he had met in just a day was staggering. Datu would never believe his eyes if he could actually see it, and the thought only made Askal excited to introduce everyone to his Kuya.

A good chunk of time passed with Askal and Fido watching over Datu. They had hardly moved from their spot on the stool until another knock came from the door.

“Good morning, student!” another brown dog yelled as he barged into the room.

This one had had two shades to his fur brown and a cream color for his midsection. He had folded ears much like Tarot and Fido but had a red collar, a light blue bag, and a bone tag to make him more distinct. This dog was the first dog Askal had personally encountered in Babylon Gardens without a muscular physique. It was pretty refreshing.

“Peanut, what are you doing here?” Fido asked while making the hush gesture

Peanut smiled and then pulled out a book from his bag. It had what looked like a cat wielding a spear on it. “I’m here for the little guy’s lessons. Before he can start learning about curses, magic, mana, and hexes, he’s got to be able to read at least right?”

“Didn’t you get the memo? He’s got the day off because of what happened earlier.” Fido folded his arms

“What memo?” Peanut reached into his collar and produced a phone. “Oh, this memo. Darn. I had a whole curriculum planned and everything! We were supposed to cover basics today!”

Fido reached over the took the book from Peanut’s hands. “I don’t think Pridelands count as basic reading material; also, isn’t this a bit much for him?”

“You shut your mouth!” Peanut gasped as he snatched his book away from Fido. “Everyone can read Pridelands!”

“You’re missing the point, Peanut. He’s got physical training, magic studies, and now actual studies.” Fido counted on his hand. “He’s still a pup; he’s got to have a life outside of… this.” Fido threw his arms to the whole room

Peanut put his hand to his chin. “I guess you make a good point. But Tarot said the faster he learns how to read, the better.”

“Fido,” Askal said, gaining the police dog’s attention, “I’m okay, honestly. Ms. Tarot’s treating my brother in exchange for me joining her. So I’ve got to do my best. For Datu.”

“Even so, you’re still a pup. You’ve got to have some friends outside of us.” Fido argued back

Peanut looked lost in contemplation until he snapped his fingers with a wide smile. “I’ve got it. Fido let him join the play.”

“What play?” Fido asked with a raised brow

“Okay, so, the museum just opened a Japanese exhibit, and one of the pieces is a sword with a peculiar backstory. That story inspired the author of Pride Lands to write an arc with similar events, which became a fan favorite among the readers. So because of the museum’s exhibit, many local fans wanted to get together to do a fan play reimagining that arc for the autumn festival coming in a few weeks.” Peanut looked eager to explain what was happening

“Okay, and what’s that got to do with Askal?” Fido asked, trying to process Peanut’s thought process

Peanut chuckled. “It's two birds with one stone Fido. I teach him how to read for the play, and he gets to socialize with the other actors.”

“Are you even sure he’s gonna get the part?”

“Of course, one of the main characters for the play are two hyena brothers, and we know for sure there’s a shortage of dogs willing to take a role in a pride lands play. Besides, check this out.”

With an eager grin, Peanut squared up to Askal and pulled various objects from his bag. Soon Askal’s vision was obscured by peanut rubbing a liquid substance onto his fur and then fastening something to the top of his head. After a few minutes, Peanut pulled away and pointed to Askal with both hands.

“Tah-dah,” Peanut announced before digging into his bag. “Looks almost like the picture.”

Askal fiddled with the strange object on his head because of how itchy it was. “What did you do?”

“See for yourself.” Peanut pulled out his phone and positioned it next to the poster with his finger pointing at a wild-looking dog “this is the character you’ll be playing as, and here’s what you look like.”

Askal had seen his reflection before though not as clearly as he did now. His brown and white patchwork fur had been colored differently to have a mix of darker brown shades. Peanut had attached fake fur to his head to make him look similar to the character Peanut pointed to. The only thing Askal recognized about his face was his silver eyes.

“I’ve got it all figured out now.” Peanut took his phone back and began tapping “Since Tarot told him to hold off on physical training until the vet gives the okay, we can plan a few sessions with me to memorize the script before the first session in a few days. When that happens his sessions with me do double duty as socializing sessions and reading lessons.”

“Hmm,” Fido nodded in approval, “this could work. But, wait, why do you have all this stuff?”

Peanut chuckled. “Because I’ll be playing the other hyena brother. This is my costume. I would’ve gone with my usual paper bags, but the cats insisted on better costumes… So I lost that vote.”

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

“Thank you for your time, Sir.”

Fox exited the hospital room frustrated and made a beeline for the elevator.
He wasn’t going to get anything from that man other than mad ravings of magic water coming from a metallic baseball bat. It’s not that Fox didn’t believe the man. His best friend used to be a human and now has three pups with his cousin; there was little that could cause Fox to doubt at this point. The problem would be the evidence did nothing to point him in the direction of the vigilante.

Fox had surveyed that scene at least a dozen times over. He found no traces of water on the floor. It could’ve been a concoction that dried up moments after exposure to air, but those kinds of concoctions leave a chemical smell his nose could’ve easily picked up. There was also a matter of purpose. What use would the pet have of a bat that spews water as he swings it?

Be that as it may, Fox knew that the case was still far from cold. The forensics lab analyzed the paw prints left on the scene and concluded they didn’t match any dog registered to Babylon Gardens. Which only meant it had to be a dog from out of town. Unfortunately, Fox could only think of three that matched that description. Usually, that would be a good thing. However, Mungo was emotionally attached to the entire suspect list in this instance.

When the elevator doors opened to the lobby, Fox found Mungo waiting by the entrance, still frowning at the events earlier today. Fox took a deep breath and tried to remain civil. He was on duty, after all.

“He’s of no help. The robber is still sticking to his story about magic water.” Fox sighed only for Mungo to exit out the automated doors.

Fox knew he had to fix it now or significantly stall progress, so he followed the bigger dog. “Are you still mad, Mungo?” Fox cried as he caught up to Mungo, who was already revving up the scooter

“Mad?” Mungo barely hid his frustrations. “Why would I be mad when my own partner doesn’t trust me.”

“Look, Mungo, I know what I smelled, and that scent was the same as the one at the crime scene.” Fox grabbed onto Mungo’s hand

Mungo barely held back a growl. “I have a nose, too, Fox! I know those scents are the same, but I also have eyes. That pup couldn’t walk, much less do all those crazy stunts. And then I learn you egg him into going past his limits and collapsing.”

“I had to know for sure! He could’ve been playing you! I didn’t know he couldn’t handle the strain.” Fox reasoned, but all that did was make Mungo even angrier

Fox had never seen Mungo so upset before. Yet, no matter what happened, Mungo always maintained a happy and cheery attitude. To see him without his smile made Fox question if he really did the right thing. Fox saw what the pup was going through. There was no way to fake that kind of condition, especially when Fido’s tracker was working correctly. This goes beyond the vigilante, beyond the case. What Fox had done hurt Mungo on an intimate level, and it broke Fox’s heart to see that he was the cause of pain in Mungo.

Both dogs remained silent for a few minutes before Fox finally reached out to Mungo. “Alright, I’ll admit it. I went too far. I shouldn’t have endangered that pup’s life all for the sake of a case. I just wanted to do a good job. To prove I’m better than I was all those months ago.”

Mungo’s frown relented with a deep sigh. “Fox, we’re a team. We need to trust each other, alright. I also admit I can’t rule him out, but we need to do this properly. We can’t just go behind each other’s backs.”

“Yeah, I know that now.” Fox gingerly wrapped Mungo in a hug. “Besides, if he’s as innocent as you say, a simple paw print check should clear it right up.”

Mungo pulled away hesitantly. “Actually, no.”

“No?” Fox raised a brow.

“Tarot says her trick is superficial at best.” Mungo explained, “It only works cause he’s only one dog in a sea of several hundred other records. No one can be bothered to check all profiles. But, if we draw attention to Askal’s profile, it could spell trouble for the pup. So we check only as a last resort.”

“Alright, sounds like a plan.” Fox sighed at the compromise

“Good now, let's get back to the station.” Mungo patted the back seat of the scooter. “While I was at SWAT, I made friends with a dog in the FBI. He agreed to bring over a sample of flower scents. Maybe if we knew what flower we were looking for it could give us a lead. It should be there by now.”

“I keep forgetting you were traded all over the place.” Fox rubbed his back at the memory of their first encounter as Mungo drove off.

With the wind flapping in his ears, Fox enjoyed the air turning cold due to the beginning of autumn’s arrival. From the looks of things, he wasn’t the only one to enjoy the cold air. Several restaurants that offered outdoor seating were packed with people enjoying the seasonal change; from well-respected restaurants to friendly bars, the young evening looked to be out in full force. It almost made Fox wonder if Mungo would like to grab dinner once their shift was over.

As Fox’s mind began to wonder about his shared dinner, Mungo suddenly jerked the scooter to a stop. The husky was about to reprimand Mungo until a familiar silhouette dashed pasted them. Only to be followed by three burly junkyard dogs barking obscenities at the pet as he pulled further away. Unfortunately, the commotion made two cars crash into each other, causing a scene. Immediately Mungo parked the scooter allowing both dogs to dismount.

“Fox!” Mungo shouted as he tossed a nightstick towards the husky “Go ahead, I’ll settle things here.”

Expertly, he caught the wooden rod and quickly gave chase following the barking sounds. But, thanks to Babylon’s winding streets, it didn’t take long before the three junkyard dogs cornered the dog. Soon even Fox rounded the corner to find the vigilante in a dead-end alleyway with the junkyard dogs closing in on him.

Now that he had a good look at the vigilante, Fox noticed how short he was. The cameras at the bakery were all at angles that made it hard to approximate his height but how he looked to be about tall enough to reach Fox’s chest. He wore what looked to be a long-sleeved black hoodie and jeans, and his mask looked to be a standard bandanna like Fox’s except white.

“Well, well, nowhere to go now.” the leader growled, “we’ve been trying to catch that one for a couple of days. So tell ya What. Leave the kitten to us, and we’ll let bygones be bygones.”

Fox's eyes widened when he saw that behind the vigilante was a young kitten only reaching up to the vigilante’s chest in height. The young cat’s fur looked to be soaked in oil and soot, probably to throw off a dog’s nose. Unfortunately, that made it hard to make out any fur markings from his distance, and the kitten had a scarf wrapped around its neck to hide its face.

The vigilante said nothing and raised his bat to face the three dogs. The lack of response only made the leader even angrier.

“So that’s how it is, huh?” he snapped his fingers, and the two dogs approached, causing the kitten to recoil and the vigilante to ready his bat.

Fox decided now was the time to intervene. “That’s far enough.” all dogs present flinched at the sound of his voice “care to tell me what’s going on?”

“Officer,” the leader chuckled somewhat menacingly, “perfect timing. We junkyard dogs were just doin our thing protecting what our pops told us to protect when we noticed that little cat digging around in our pile. So we corner the scavenger to take back what’s ours when this wannabe human scoops up our scavenger and takes off with the junk in tow. So I trust the law is on our side, officer?”

Fox interposed himself between the two parties. “I need to get the whole story straight. Care to tell me your side.” he turned to the dog and cat duo behind him.

The vigilante remained silent, but a young male voice spoke up from behind him, “I had to.” The young cat cried, “If I didn’t. Daddy would hit me. Please just let me go.”

Fox’s heart sank. He had heard reports of pets trained to commit crimes for their owners, but seeing it up close was something else. The cat was pretty young, too, probably not too far in age from his dog companion. His usage of words was pretty interesting too. It implied that the dog, whoever he is, is an outside party.

“If you return the items, my partner and I will take you to the station. No one can hurt you there.” Fox knelt and extended his hand only for the dog to ready his bat

“See, officer, that’s not quite enough.” one of the junkyard dogs snarled.

The leader cracked his knuckles. “Pops got real mad at us for slackin on the job. So we’d like to blow off some steam if you catch my drift. Turn the other way, and we’ll have both criminals in your custody in a few.”

“That’s not how this works, sir,” Fox glared at the leader, which only made him chuckle.

“That’s too bad, officer,” the leader growled. “Cause you see, there’s only one of you and three of us.”

The husk’s grip on his nightstick tightened. He knew what was coming, and he knew he couldn’t take all three junkyard dogs at once. Fox could delay until Mungo arrived for backup if he played his cards right. But he had very little in his hand, to begin with. His vest offered some protection, but it mostly covered his torso and did little for his limbs and face. Not to mention it offered little protection against blunt force.

The leader dog lashed out first with a right hook, followed by a left uppercut. His motions were telegraphed and easy enough to read, but that was Fox’s mistake. While Fox focused on the leader, his remaining two subordinates rushed in from both sides, their arms pulled back, ready to deliver a blow. Because he ducked and pulled away, Fox was in a poor position to dodge. However, Fox had taken a punch before; he knew what to expect and how to recover. What Fox wasn’t expecting was the sound of rushing water.

Like the robber described, water came off the bat as the dog ran into place. Then, with impeccable precision, the dog landed consecutive blows on both junkyard dog’s limbs. The water he dragged with him created the image of flowing rapids that followed his path, curving around his two helpless targets. Then just as quickly as he struck, the water disappeared, and the two lackey dogs were on the ground, unable to move their arms and legs.

“Wh-What was that?” the leader growled as the vigilante slowly stood from his crouching position.

Again the dog gave no response and only glared at his aggressor. Then, calmly, the vigilante walked over to the last remaining junkyard dog, who only shook at his approach. Even with his training at the academy, Fox couldn’t help but tremble at the sight of the dog’s eyes. His burning red eyes somehow cut through the darkness of the alleyway and conveyed his fury.

As the vigilante approached, eventually, the leader gave in to his fears and charged at the dog his total weight behind a tackle maneuver. Then calmly as ever, the vigilante jumped up to avoid the attack. He held the bat above his head on his way down, and once more, water began to spring from it. Finally, using the full force of gravity, the vigilante brought his bat down on the junkyard leader’s shoulder, creating the image of a waterfall. The leader couldn’t take the full force of the blow and crumpled to the ground almost instantly.

With no more threats left, the vigilante began to walk away calmly. It took Fox a quick minute to regain control over his body and rush towards the Vigilante, hoping he could reason with the dog.

“Hey!” Fox called only to be ignored, “I still need to bring you in for quest~

Fox didn’t even get a chance to finish his sentence as he felt a gush of wind rush at him from the side. When Fox’s senses caught up to him, he found the vigilante’s bat resting just a hair away from his neck and his heart beating in his throat.

Still staying silent, the vigilante tapped Fox’s shoulder with the bat then pointed to the kitten still sniffling in the corner of the alleyway. The fury in the dog’s eyes had passed and instead became soft and filled with compassion. He didn’t need to speak. Fox understood.

‘Make sure that one is safe.’ at least that’s what Fox thinks he meant.

Once again, the Vigilante turned to leave; he crouched down and dashed, leaving behind a splash of imaginary water. For each step, his paws made contact with the ground; it looked like a splash of water erupted, leaving behind a trail of splashes. Eventually, he leaped onto the side of a building before using the momentum to spring off of it and onto another building continuing the chain until he reached the top. The vigilante gave one more look at Fox before he ran off into the night.

End of Chapter 04

obligatory Trivia section
Calamansi - is our equivalent to lemons.
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Re: Live by the Sword

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I am loving how this is going along once more! Keep up the good work on it!
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Quite a bit of opening up going on with Fido. Figured he’d feel like that regarding his brothers. And of course Peanut is enthusiastic about his new student, this should prove interesting.

I see that despite his growth, Fox is still rather impulsive here. Old habits die hard and all that. So it’s looking like the vigilante’s powers are purely water-based, I would imagine if one had access to more, they’d be using it. A bat definitely makes for a unique wand, though.
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Amazee Dayzee wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:48 am I am loving how this is going along once more! Keep up the good work on it!
Thanks!
D-Rock wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 12:12 pm Quite a bit of opening up going on with Fido. Figured he’d feel like that regarding his brothers.
When it comes to the cannon comics I feel like there's story potential between the three of them but it never gets explored all that much aside from the usual gag. I can't complain all that much it's not my comics but hey that's why fanfictions exist right?


Episode 02: Echoes
Chapter 05

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

Askal could only stare at the building in front of him.
What stood before Askal was the Babylon Gardens community center. As one of the most prominent structures in town, it was only outdone by the large home near the end of the town. Askal knew he had to go inside eventually, but his legs refused to move.

Since his first day in Babylon Gardens, Askal had to make several adjustments to his lifestyle to accommodate his new surroundings. The first of which was the concept of bathing. There was never a clean source of water to use to bathe in his city, and Askal usually resorted to using the rain to clean himself off. The next one was utterly terrifying vet visits. They kept poking and prodding at him, promising it wouldn’t hurt, but it did. Even now days later, Askal could still feel the pain in his rear coming back now and again.

Even his routine had changed, though Askal eventually found his rhythm. At first, it was primarily lessons with Peanut. Askal learned to read and write basic English to help with his part in the play. During this time, Askal fit in sessions where he’d watch Tarot work on Datu. While it mainly consisted of Tarot holding onto his forehead, Askal felt it was important to watch just in case he could help.

After this vet visit, Askal found himself spending more and more time with Fido. The vet gave him explicit instructions on what to eat and how to keep his health up. For example, he couldn’t eat rice or bread. While he could eat meat, Askal had to pair it with dry dog food, which didn’t taste as good as human-cooked food but was supposed to be good for him. His exercises with Fido were nowhere near as intense as his first day, but it was enough to “feel the burn,” as Fido put it. He couldn’t watch Tarot help Datu as much as he’d like, but Fido always ended his sessions a little bit earlier than scheduled to let Askal sit with Datu before Peanut arrived.

Once Askal settled into his new routine, he noticed changes in himself and his surroundings. The air began to cool; the days grew shorter while the nights came earlier and lasted longer. When Askal was drying himself off from a shower, he noticed he couldn’t see his ribs as clearly as a few days ago. The headaches from the collar only began when he encountered a new word or phrase, and taking it off for bed made Askal feel overexposed.

Now, Askal was about to disrupt that routine completely. His interaction with other pets has been sparse. The most he had done was wave to a few on the street as he walked between Tarot’s and Sabrina’s houses. He knew it was coming at one point, but now that it was here, Askal didn’t know if he had it in him to push through. The pets seemed nice enough, so Askal had no idea where the fear and anxiousness came from.

A stray breeze caused Askal to shiver and clutch onto his white scarf, courtesy of Fido, for warmth. His short fur usually helped him survive in a tropical environment, but it did him no favors in slightly colder ones. If he stayed outside, Askal knew he’d get sick, but he just couldn’t bring himself to enter. His ears already picked up on the commotion and excitement inside. From the sound alone, there had to be a lot of pets inside already. Maybe if he quietly just walked back to Sabrina’s house, nobody would notice if he went missing.

Askal was about to execute his plan but was immediately stopped by a tugging on his collar. “Where do you think you’re going, Askal?”

Standing over Askal was the familiar silhouette of Fido. “I… Uh… think I left my script at home.” Askal stammered out

“You mean this thing?” Fido pointed to the wad of papers in Askal’s hands

“Darn it.” Askal cursed to himself before looking at Fido. “I don’t think I’m ready. I’ll just wait in my room.”

Fido could only frown. “Askal, you’re not worming out of this one. You need to interact with normal pets. Otherwise, all this magic and mana stuff is gonna drive you insane one day. Trust me.” he held out his hand.

Askal took a deep breath. After all the time Askal had spent with Fido, the young dog knew that he could trust him. Fido would never intentionally make Aska do something terrible for him, so why would he start now?

“Alright,” Askal sighed as he grabbed Fido’s hand, “I trust you.”

With his fears alleviated, the brown dog led the way as he pushed through the community center doors. Askal found a high ceiling structure with the cement floor painted with basketball lines. There were chairs set up, but most of it was stacked towards the far end of the door. To his left was an elevated platform with thick red curtains on either side.

Peanut had told Askal that due to the cat-leaning nature of the play, there was bound to be more cats in the production. Be that as it may, there were a handful of dogs around, but they mostly stuck to themselves in a corner, barely intermingling with the cats who dominated the venue. As the duo looked around, Askal’s ears picked up on the bits of ambient conversation happening around him.

“I’m only here cause my mom’s bribing me to spend some time with him.”

“Have you heard about the vigilante? I hear he’s running circles around the cops.”

“They say it's a pet dog underneath that disguise.”

“You don’t know it could be a cat.”

“For a Pridelands play, there are a lot more dogs than I anticipated.”

“Never seen him around before, must be new to the neighborhood.”

Just when Askal thought the venue couldn’t get louder, a loud horn blared, grabbing every pet’s attention. Everyone’s heads craned towards an elevated platform where two cats stood. One cat was primarily black but had a whiter underbelly with a bell for a tag. The other was purple with a lighter shade for her belly and a fish for a tag.

“Alright,” the black cat cleared his throat before he started, “first thank you for volunteering to make this project a reality blah blah blah. We appreciate the effort~

The purple cat kicked him out of the way. “What he meant to say is Pridelands fans, we can’t thank you enough for helping with the project. I’m sure we’ll have loads of fun trying to bring it to life. So let’s do our best. But, first, those who volunteered for costume and set come with me, and those who got the roles go with Max.” she gestured to the black cat who was picking himself up from the floor.

With that, most of the pets broke off to follow the purple cat as she strolled towards a whiteboard. The remaining few cats moved towards the stage, each equipped with their own collection of papers.

“Looks like you’re up.” Fido gave a pat on Askal’s back. “Break a leg, pup.”

“I would, but it looks like my legs have stopped working.” Askal chuckled nervously

Fido rolled his eyes as he helped Askal towards the stage. “Alright, let’s go. I’ll be here all the way.”

As the two dogs approached the stage, he could feel all the eyes look in his direction, and the nervousness returned. It only strengthened when Askal noticed Max coming at them with his arms folded.

“Well, well,” Askal could almost hear the tension oozing from his voice, “if it isn’t Babylon’s top dog. Or what used to be its top dog.”

To Askal’s surprise, Fido didn’t seem disturbed and responded casually, “Well, it’s not like I even wanted that title to begin with.”

“What’s with the runt?” Max’s eyes shifted to Askal, who only froze up at his gaze. “Did you and Sabrina finally tie the knot and adopt a pup?”

“Nothing like that. Askal’s from out of town, and I’m just helping him get used to pets from here.” Fido laughed

“Really? You’re helping this “dog” get used to neighborhood pets by bringing him to a mostly cat production of a cat-leaning play. Bino’s going to have a field day with this one.”

“I’ll give you a can of tuna if you keep it under wraps from my brother.”

“You officer are speaking my language. But I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask for a little more compensation.”

“What do you want?”

Max tossed Fido another copy of the script. “You’re gonna understudy for Peanut today. He just called me this morning to say he can’t make it. Something about letting his student fly on his own or whatever.”

Askal froze up. Peanut usually walked Askal through his lines. He had never attempted to read his script on his own, much less in front of other actors. A panicked Asakl suddenly met eyes with Fido, and at that moment, the police dog understood.

“Fine.” Fido sighed as he looked through the pages, “but remember not a word to Bino.”

“Understood, officer,” Max stuck his tongue out as he saluted Fido before turning to address the cats behind him. “Alright, everyone, for now, we’re just going to do a read-through of the script. Nothing fancy, just say your lines as best as you can. We don’t need to focus on memorizing anything just yet; just focus on the emotions.”

After the actors agreed, Max began by narrating and setting the scene. For the moment, Askal didn’t have to say anything. His character appears a few more pages into the script. Now and again, Max would sometimes stop the reading and try to get a few more takes from the actor saying their lines. But after each line, Askal’s heart only raced faster due to how close they were getting to his part.

Some cats spoke clearly and concisely, but some were quiet and hard to understand. However, it was still clear each cat put work into learning the script in their way, and Askal couldn’t help but respect it.

Eventually, everyone had reached the part in the play where Askal and Fido’s characters were introduced. The context was supposed to be both of them were locked up for a crime they didn’t commit, but Askal found it hard to concentrate on his role when there was a countdown to his failure.

“But sir,” Fido read aloud, “how could you do this to us?”

Then silence. Askal felt everyone eye him causing him to realize it was his turn. “Oh uhh… We’ve been… loyal to you… my lord… uh….”

“Stop.” Max waved his hands “what happened? That was your character’s debut. It’s got to have more oomph than that.”

“I’m sorry, I’m just a little nervous,” Askal said as he rubbed the back of his neck.

Fido patted Askal’s shoulder. “Hey, it’s alright we’ll just skip over your part and~

“No.” Askal interrupted. “I practiced this. I want to try again.”

When both dogs looked at Max, all he could do was roll his eyes. “Alright, from the top of the scene.”

When the first actor said their lines, each line became a count down to Askal’s lines once more. He tried to keep himself calm and reminded himself there was no danger here. Fido was next to him, so nothing could go wrong, right?

Rather than clouding his mind with irrational fears, Askal focused on what Peanut had taught him. Acting meant bearing your emotions to the crowd in front of you, taking the build-up from your fellow actors, and adding your flair to it. It’s about embodying your character and understanding what makes them angry, sad, or happy. That is what you must display when acting.

Askal closed his eyes and focused. Not only on his breathing but on what his fellow actors were saying at that moment. He imagined what the scenery around him would’ve looked like. What the characters would look like. What he looked like.

In the dark world of Askal’s shut eyes, a single drop of water rippled, and slowly the dark world faded, and in its place was a damp room. The walls were made of rocky bricks with no windows in sight straws of hay made the ground somewhat softer to sleep on. Metal bars blocked the entrance to his room with the light of a flickering torch dancing on the stone walls. Askal realized he wasn’t alone; Fido sat next to him, wearing a strange get-up.

“Show me.” said a deep, ominous voice from the end of the corridor

Soon a cat wearing intricate armor came into view of Askal and Fido. “So they’re the ones who committed the crime,”

“My lord,” Fido got onto his knees and lowered his head till it touched the floor. “What happened is solely my responsibility. My brother had no part in it.”

“Are you trying to lie to your lord? The records are clear. You were assigned nowhere near the incident. Your brother’s failings are his own.” The cat spoke calmly, almost as if scolding a child.

Fido raised his head, his eyes stern and clear. “Then let me take his punishment. I failed to prepare him better, to make sure the mission was successful.”

“If that is what you desire.” the cat lord said with a raised brow. “Then I shall grant it to you. You shall be executed tomorrow, while your brother shall be exiled with no way of returning.”

Askal’s ears began to ring. He couldn’t believe this was happening to both of them. The young dog felt a fire begin to burn in his chest as his breathing spiked. His heart rang in his ears, screaming for justice.

“HOW COULD YOU DO THIS!?” Askal ran and gripped the bars of his cell. “AFTER ALL WE’VE DONE FOR THE PEOPLE! WE’VE TAKEN INJURIES FOR THEM, BROKEN OUR BONES FOR THEM! WE’VE DONE NOTHING BUT SERVE THEM! MY LORD, HOW COULD YOU ORDER THIS TO HAPPEN!?”

“Especially to my brother!? He’s been serving this land for years; how could so casually order him to die!?”

“I was the one who failed! I’m the one who has to die!”

“Askal, stop!” Fido’s voice rang loud and clear.

Askal took a sharp gasp of air, and he had returned. The stuffy cell he and Fido were locked in had disappeared, and the Babylon Gardens community center had returned. Cats surrounded him with their mouths agape staring intensely at him. Askal looked back to where he was sitting and found the scattered pages of his script. When he followed the cats’ gaze Askal, found he was gripping Max’s collar tightly with Fido standing between both of them.

Now entirely in control of himself, Askal slowly let go of Max’s collar. Then, slowly but surely, he backed away from Max, not quite sure of what had happened. However, as he did, one cat began to clap, and when it picked up in speed, more cats continued to join in until the entire actor’s group was in applause. As they clapped, Askal felt something wet on his face. Had he been crying?

Max took a moment to compose himself. “Alright, uh… it looks like this is a good spot to take a break. Take fifteen, everyone. I’m gonna… I’m gonna go sit down.”

As the cats began to disperse for their break, Askal felt frozen on the spot. It was hard to put into words, but Askal felt everything. He felt the roughness of the hay, the coldness of the cell, the rust on the bars of his cell. Askal was there but at the same time not. His head pounded, trying to understand what he had just experienced.

“That was amazing,” Fido patted Askal’s back. “I knew you had it in you! You almost had me going there for a second.”

Askal massaged his head and rubbed his eyes. “Uh yeah… I guess.”

“Is everything alright?” Fido’s eyes immediately shifted to concerned

“When I was saying my lines, it all felt real somehow.” Askal fiddled with his fingers as he tried to explain, “Like I was there.”

“Are you sleeping alright? What time did you sleep last night?” Fido pressed his hands on Askal’s forehead and neck

“There isn’t a clock in the room Sabrina gave me, so I’m not sure. I guess I have been practicing reading the Pridelands books before I went to sleep, so maybe I lost track of time? Why?” Askal shrugged at Fido

Fido leaned in closer to Askal’s face. “Your eyes were looking a bit red back there. It’s gone now, but I’ll see what I can do to get you a clock so you’ll rest on time.”

While he conversed with Fido, Askal could feel the cats looking at him as they talked to each other. He was too far away to hear what they were saying, but Askal could tell they were talking about him.

“Fido?” Askal asked while fiddling with his tag, “Do you think I’m weird? I mean, after what I did, am I weird?”

Fido could only chuckle. “No, you’re just really invested in your role. I don’t think these cats are going to treat you differently.”

Askal found his eyes glued to the floor. “But I~

“Hey, new dog!” A cat from farther away waved, “Get over here! We want to ask how you cried on command!”

Surprised by the invitation, Askal looked to Fido, who only nodded and gestured to join the cats who called him over. Then, uncertain but excited, Askal threw his arms around Fido.

“Thanks, Kuya,” Askal whispered into Fido’s ears before dashing off to join the cats.

He wasn’t sure why he called Fido his Kuya; it just felt right.

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

Fox went over his notes one more time.
It’s been almost a week since Fox was assigned to the case. Since then, a few more incidents involving the vigilante, in addition to the two incidents already on record, came to light. Which only meant more information to gather and review to compile into a possible approximation of who the dog is. Fox’s eyes began to blur at the amount of information he had to look through. Eventually, the dog had to stand up from his work computer and stare at something that wasn’t so bright.

“You’re still here, Fox?” Mungo’s voice came from the door to their shared cubicle

Fox rubbed his eye and yawned. “Yeah, weren’t you just leaving?”

“Fox,” Mungo pouted, “that was almost forty minutes ago. I only came back because I left my charger.”

“Really?” Fox’s ears stood up as he looked at the clock “well, that’s not important. I’ve still got a lot to look through.” he said as he sat back down to look at his screen

When Fox got back to his desk, the first thing he did was to save his progress. But unfortunately, his screen turned black once the computer completed the saving process. Stunned, the husky shot up from his seat only to find the plug to his computer missing its wire.

“Oops,” Mungo said deadpan as he casually swung the wire around, “silly me. I have got to get better at controlling my strength.”

Fox could only frown at the larger dog. “You know I.T.’s gonna have a fit, right?”

“They’re always mad at me. Now, are you gonna clock out like a good dog, or do I have to carry you out the door kicking and screaming?” Mungo shrugged before getting uncomfortably close

“Alright, Alright! I’m going I’m going.” Fox said, flustered at the thought of Mungo carrying him

Fox immediately began his clock-out routine. First, he made sure his workspace was neat and tidy. Next, any copies he requested from the evidence department went back into their respective places. Then finally, Fox went into the locker room to store his K-9 uniform vest and radio. After double-checking his desk to see if he had forgotten anything, Fox gave the on-duty K-9 officers he worked near a wave then left.

When Fox left the cubicle space allotted for the K-9 unit Fox immediately found Mungo waiting for him in the hallway.

“Just had to be sure you weren’t going to go back to work.” Mungo shrugged at Fox’s frown

Fox could only roll his eyes as the two dogs made for the exit. “Right… I was close to finding something, you know.”

“Oh, I know. Wanna know how? You’ve been telling me that since we clocked in this evening.” Mungo chuckled, which only made Fox more annoyed. “You’re starting to turn into those obsessive cops. Relax, Fox, Suicune isn’t going anywhere. We’ll get him.”

“Are they really calling him that? I don’t know if I’m more annoyed at the dead ends we keep running into or the fact that social media just becomes more unbearable with each passing year.”

“Their reasoning is sound. I don’t play the game, but a fast dog that manipulates water to attack does fit the description.”

“Ugh, don’t get me started on that. I’m starting to think we should call in Tarot. All of ‘Suicune’s’ victims’ hospital records say blunt force trauma is what broke those bones but what’s the water for? Nothing is soaked when he uses it, not even his targets.”

“That’s a no-go. I’ve tried, but Tarot said if we relied on her to get answers, it would only draw suspicion on where we got those answers. Besides, he’s only helping people. So right now, that isn’t a risk Tarot’s willing to take. She also says it's a good thing it doesn’t show up on camera. Less attention drawn into the magical world, the better.”

“So we’re back to square one. No. Even less than square one since his scent grew out of the Sakura blossoms we deduced from your friend’s sample. His new scent, I feel I should point out, matches Tarot’s new student.”

“And I also feel like I should point out that Suicune’s new scent is the most popular dog shampoo in Babylon Gardens. Oh, and Askal’s medical records also state that the vets recommend that we ease him into exercise due to his poor diet as a stray. Plus, Suicune’s eyes are red, according to your own report. Last I checked, Askal’s were silver.”

Fox rubbed his temples as he scanned his ID to clock out officially. “Yeah, yeah. I know low-hanging fruit.” When the screen flashed, green Fox yawned as he exited the station. “Guess I do need to lie down.”

“Glad you’re seeing it my way.” Mungo taunted with his tongue out

A refreshing autumn air greeted both dogs when the automated doors swung open. After spending the last two hours in his cubicle, Fox welcomed the fresh air brushing past him. Being a husky, Fox was made for the cold and autumn nights were the best. All he needed for warmth was his bomber jacket, but that was only in the wintertime. On the other hand, Mungo wasn’t so suited to the cold. His breed came from South Africa, so it was no surprise that he was one of only a few dogs Fox knew needed gloves, especially this early into autumn.

Before Fox could comment on Mungo’s missing apparel, he noticed Fido walking up the steps for his shift. Ever since he had pushed Askal a week ago, he and Fido still had unresolved tensions. Fox could even see it in his face when he paused at the sight of him and Mungo. Unfortunately, due to how busy their work schedules were, Fox never found the time to sit down and talk.

“Fido~ Fox began but was cut off almost instantly.

“I should clock in. I’m almost late.” Fido stated bluntly,

Before he could rush past the two dogs, Fox was able to latch onto Fido’s wrist. “Wait, I wanted to apologize.” Fido stopped pulling. “I shouldn’t have pushed the pup so hard, and the reason why I did it was that I suspected he was the vigilante.”

“Askal?” Fido pulled his hand away from Fox. “Fox, have you seen him? Askal isn’t capable of the same things as the vigilante. He’s a normal pup, and sometimes I wish he could stay that way, but all of you are trying to force changes onto him.”

“I know. I know, and I’m sorry.” Fox repeated, “I made a mistake.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not the one you should be apologizing to,” Fido said coldly as he walked into the precinct.

Before Fox could try to talk more, Fido had already gone inside, and the automatic doors closed.

“I-I kn-know you’re trying,” Mungo sighed, shivering from the cold.

“Yeah,” Fox shrugged, “but he’s right. I did apologize to everyone except the one I hurt.”

Mungo chuckled as much as he could in the cold climate. “K-Knowing you, I’m p-pretty sure he was next on your list, right?”

“Yeah,” Fox didn’t want to correct Mungo, “but enough about me, what’s up, big guy? Where's your gloves?”

“I left them at h-home. I-I d-didn’t think I’d-d be out t-this late.” he shivered; now it was Fox’s turn to chuckle.

“Here,” Fox gently held onto Mungo’s shaking hand, “This should help you warm up.”

“T-Thanks.” Mungo smiled warmly as the two walked home.

End of Chapter 05

Trivia Addendum
Kuya - isn't only used for older brothers sometimes it can be used as a respectful way of addressing a male who is older than you.
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Really sweet of Askal to refer to Fido as Kuya. Sure the both of them needed that.

Askal is quite the method actor. From what I understand, it’s a state that’s normally hard to reach. Becoming your character is no simple task.

Prediction time, Suicune is some form of entity born from what was taken from Askal before he burned away the spirit in the house.
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Re: Live by the Sword

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I am really enjoying the ride I am taking with this story! Keep up with writing it!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Harry Johnathan »

I read this for the first time and enjoyed myself. You really managed to capture the spirit of Valero's work, and not just in how you split up the chapters. The ghost was pretty creepy, Datu and Askal's relationship is cute, that moment with Fido was a nice breather. I also like how you mix in Filipino culture, and foreshadow that Mungo and Askal are probably related. Minor gripes: that "ghost catching" team was fascinating and I wish we saw more of them. On an unrelated note, what the kidnapper did to Askal's mom was really too grim and disgusting to read through, but I understand why it had to be included.
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.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I hope that we will be able to see the follow up to this chapter in the future really soon! I almost can't wait for it!
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Amazee Dayzee wrote: Mon Jan 31, 2022 4:33 pm I hope that we will be able to see the follow up to this chapter in the future really soon! I almost can't wait for it!
I appreciate that you're excited to read my work. It means a lot.
Harry Johnathan wrote: Mon Jan 31, 2022 2:23 am I read this for the first time and enjoyed myself. You really managed to capture the spirit of Valero's work, and not just in how you split up the chapters. The ghost was pretty creepy, Datu and Askal's relationship is cute, that moment with Fido was a nice breather. I also like how you mix in Filipino culture, and foreshadow that Mungo and Askal are probably related. Minor gripes: that "ghost catching" team was fascinating and I wish we saw more of them. On an unrelated note, what the kidnapper did to Askal's mom was really too grim and disgusting to read through, but I understand why it had to be included.
That's high praise! Thanks for taking the time to read!
Yeah, I was wondering if I was skirting the line between what I could and couldn't post but I figured if I didn't explicitly state it I'd be fine.
D-Rock wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 12:20 pm Really sweet of Askal to refer to Fido as Kuya. Sure both of them needed that.

Askal is quite the method actor. From what I understand, it’s a state that’s normally hard to reach. Becoming your character is no simple task.
I'm an older brother myself and I can confirm it is nice to be called that.
I tried acting once in a school play. It's definitely not as easy as it looks, especially when people are staring.


So this was a bit later than I would've liked because Pokemon Legends Arceus came out a few days ago and I was like. So yeah great game I'd definitely recommend it if you like pokemon.

Episode 02: Echoes
Chapter 06

“Officers,” Sergeant Ralph cleared his throat to make sure the entire K-9 unit could hear his voice, “I’m sure you are well aware of the existence of the vigilante the public has come to call Suicune. The meeting today will cover his actions and our response to them. I now hand over the podium to Officer Lindberg, who I have tasked with leading the investigation until this point.”

Fox did a quick look over at the papers in his folder before rushing to the stand.
He felt like he was back at the academy trying to achieve a good grade before a panel of instructors. Today, however, was the real deal; almost a week and a half’s worth of investigating sit ready to be used in his hands. Fox took a deep breath and exhaled.

“I’ve compiled a presentation to showcase everything Officer Mungo and I have gathered on the case. Please begin.” he nodded to the large dog nearby.

Mungo gave his knuckles a good crack and was about to push a button on the laptop but was halted by Sergeant Ralph. “Uh, you better let me handle this.”

“Aww, but I helped make the presentation.” Mungo pouted as he joined the rest of the K-9 force audience.

The first slide to pop up was the earliest case. “What you’re all looking at are pictures from the crime scene at a bakery known as “All Rise.” A gunner attempted an armed robbery but was stopped by Suicune. While it is commendable that he was able to prevent a tragedy from happening under our watch, I would like to direct your attention to the victims of his first two incidents.”

The following slide showed four different X-rays one was of a human, and three were of dogs. It didn’t take a trained professional to see that the damage to the victim’s bones was extensive, likely earning them months in the hospital. Some didn’t stop at fractures; some were in literal pieces due to the impact of the blows. Then, a newer batch of cadets suddenly left the room.

“They are alive, but I can guarantee you that it isn’t pleasant. This is a gross misuse of force. Suicune may have some ground in the case of the gunner, but for the three junkyard dogs, it’s a different story. Had he not interfered, Officer Mungo and I would have detained them with minimal damage. Next slide, please.”

The following slide to pop up was various news clippings of common muggers being confined to a hospital stay. It, too, had x-rays of Suicune’s victims, and it was the same story. Extensive broken bones and an extended stay at the hospital.

“Now and then, Suicune would find a new criminal to exact his justice upon none of them had anything connecting them, only that they were common thugs. Again another misuse of force. This next case is the most concerning.”

The room tensed up at Fox’s warning. The other cases Fox had mentioned were bad enough what could be more concerning? Has Suicune finally taken a life? Had he beaten a victim so bad it was worse than broken bones? Given the pattern of Suicune’s victims, everyone braced themselves for the most gruesome victim yet. Contrary to that, instead, what had popped up was a file of a missing child.

“Yesterday at exactly eighteen-hundred hours, the station received a report from the mother of a missing child.”

“The dispatched K-9 officers noticed the scent of a dog mixed in from the open window of the child. So officer Mungo and I were called to the scene thinking it might be related to our case.”

“The scent eventually went into the forest where it crossed a river and became untrackable. Nine hours later, at O’three hundred hours, the child was found at his father’s home. The couple had divorced, and the mother had won child custody. Further investigation uncovered rumors of the mother being abusive, but that is not for us to decide. When interviewed, the child gave a description that matched Suicune’s known profile. It’s essential to note that Suicune had abducted a child without anyone noticing and then went for more than nine hours without anyone being able to track him down.”

“While there have been numerous sightings and incidents. Suicune has barely left any evidence at the crime scenes aside from paw prints that currently have no matching profiles in our pet database. Therefore, his identity is unknown. His adolescent height, pointed ears, saber-style tail, and red eyes are our only profile on him. He wears a long-sleeved hoodie and jeans and is also known to be wielding a metal bat.”

“Other notable details are incredible physical aptitude, reflexes, and combat capabilities. When interviewed, his victims and witnesses claim that when Suicune swings his bat, they can see water trailing along wherever he swings. It is unknown what this water does, only that his swings are strong enough to shatter bones on impact. Therefore, extreme caution is advised when approaching this dog. Unfortunately, that is all that Officer Mungo and I have on the case.”

Fox dutifully saluted Sergeant Ralph and stepped down when there were no more slides to present. Instantly all present K-9 officers began chatting amongst themselves—some behind Suicune’s actions, some against, and some unsure.

All it took to quiet the dogs was for Ralph to clear his throat. “I’m sure I don’t need to say it, but I will anyway. While this Suicune’s actions are done in the name of good, the methods he utilizes to accomplish this good are unacceptable. Not only does it tarnish the integrity of the law, but it also casts dirt on us as K-9 officers. The higher-ups have approved the arrest warrant for this Suicune. If you can arrest Suicune by all means, but do not put yourself in unnecessary danger. Am I understood?”

“Sir, yes, Sir!” a majority of dogs saluted with firm resolve. Still, Fox could tell some of them were uneasy at the task of arresting a vigilante.

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

Fox idly watched the steam rise from his take-out hot pet-friendly chocolate.
It was his favorite. Chocolate with almond milk and a dash of mint usually made Fox’s walks home perfect, but right now, it wasn’t helping at all. Even the scent wasn’t doing his nerves any good. He just couldn’t stop thinking.

At least it was warm in his hands. Autumn was on schedule as the winds had a familiar chill to them. The leaves turned yellow but weren’t quite their iconic orange and red colors just yet. Instead, the young night shone brightly with the help of the autumn moon and streetlamps. Many pets were still out and about, and Fox had a rare moment where he had nothing to do.

“Hey, Fox,” Mungo’s voice cut through the cloud of Fox’s thoughts, “are you alright? You barely touched your burger earlier, and now you’re not even taking a sip from your favorite drink.”

Fox sighed as he continued to walk. “I don’t know. I guess I just feel a little disappointed.”

“What, why?” Mungo coughed out his warm drink. “We did good work. We found the clues to Suicune’s identity and were able to arm our fellow K-9 officers with useful knowledge.”

“I know but, I feel like I could’ve done more.” Fox took a short sip of his hot drink. “All I did was organize data, interview a few people and gather evidence.”

Mungo grew a pout “Fox~.

“Yeah, yeah, we’re not in an action blockbuster. What I mean is, did I prove anything? What I did was something any K-9 officer could’ve done. Did I make up for my past mistake?”

“You’re a great K-9 officer Fox. If you want a chance to prove yourself, it will come. You just need to be patient. Besides, I think it takes a great K-9 officer to admit to their faults and try to improve on them. You tackled that retraining course like a pro; you’ve even apologized to Fido and Askal.”

Fox paused when Mungo mentioned the new dog. It took a moment before Mungo realized that Fox had stopped following him and was rooted to the spot.

“Don’t tell me.” Mungo sighed

Fox’s ears folded to the back of his head. “I’ve been busy with the case, and that pup is busier than I would’ve expected. One second he’s busy with Fido, and the next, he’s busy with Peanut’s play or something.”

“Well, you’re free now. What’s stopping you from going over to Sabrina’s and talking to him?” Mungo insisted

“He’s probably been through a long day already. Besides, given that pup’s freakish schedule, it's not like the universe is gonna plop him onto my lap or something.” Fox argued back

“Gotta go.” both Fox and Mungo’s ears perked at the sound of Askal’s voice from a nearby house.

The young dog stood in front of a house with a messenger bag slung over his shoulder, wrapping a white scarf around his neck before one of four cats called out to him from inside, “too bad you can’t stay; we were just about to marathon the movies to get into character.”

“Sorry, guys, I’ve got something really important tomorrow.” Askal apologized with a slight chuckle. “I can’t sleep in or be late, but I will be there for practice. I’ll make it up to you guys; maybe I can get my friend to make more Turon for tomorrow.”

Another cat purred excitedly “Free snacks? I’ll take it.”

"ah that's a shame," a third cat spoke up "Oh well. Everybody?"

“For the glory of the Final Pride!” cheered the cats from inside.

“For the glory of the Final Pride.” Askal cheered back slightly weaker before he began walking towards Sabrina’s house

Fox and Mungo were too far away for the young dog to notice, even less so since he was going the other way.

“So…” Mungo gestured for Fox to approach.

Fox looked to Mungo then to Askal and responded in a hushed yell, “what now!? It's too soon. I didn’t prepare what I wanted to say.”

“Alright, I respect your need to prepare.” Mungo sighed before holding his hot drink out to Fox. “Can you hold this for me first? I left my phone on vibrate in my collar, and it's really tickling me right now.”

Thankful that Mungo allowed him time to prepare what he wanted to say, Fox didn’t think twice about holding onto Mungo’s cup. Unfortunately, the moment he did, Mungo’s voice could be heard loud and clear.

“Askal!” Mungo’s yell got the attention of the dog, “Get over here!”

Fox’s tail curved downward, as did his ears when he realized Mungo had put him in checkmate. He didn’t want to waste the drinks in his hands by tossing them aside to close Mungo’s mouth, nor was he fast enough to put them down and grab Mungo. However, the damage had already been done, and Askal was on his way to meet the two police dogs.

“Sir Mungo, Sir Fox.” Askal cheerfully greeted. “I haven’t seen you around in a while.”

“How’re ya doin bud?” Mungo held out his hand, and Askal high fived it

“I’m doing real great. I’m already starting book two of the Pridelands series, and I think it's my favorite so far.” Askal’s tail wagged furiously.

There was a twinkle in Mungo’s eyes. “Oh wait till you get to book five that one’s a real page-turner, cause of Saso’s~

“Ah, Sir Mungo, no spoilers!” Askal pulled his ears down to cover them

“Right right, sorry.” Mungo chuckled. “So, how’s your training with Fido going?”

“I’m giving it my all; Kuya’s been pushing me hard but not so much that he’d hurt me.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“That’s not all look at this.”

Askal reached into his bag and pulled out two slips of paper with strange markings on them. A few seconds passed, and nothing happened; the only thing fox noticed was different was Askal’s face contorting into one of concentration. Then, after a good minute, Fox saw a tiny flicker of fire on one of the papers that immediately dissipated in the autumn wind, and the other paper suddenly got only slightly soggy.

“That’s amazing,” Mungo gave a small applause “when did you learn how to do that?”

“This… morning…” Askal overcame his short panting fit. “Ms. Tarot came by saying it would be helpful to my lessons in the future if I knew what affinities I had. She then gave me these papers to practice channeling magic into them. This is the best I can do.”

“May I see that?” Fox finally spoke up, gesturing to the soggy paper

Oblivious to the frown Mungo was sporting, Askal handed it over as Fox handed Mungo his drink back, “uh sure.”

“Well, keep at it. You’ll be joining Zeke and Rowan in no time.” Mungo changed the subject quick as he patted Askal’s back

“I sure will. It was nice chatting with you, Sir Mungo, Sir Fox. I’ve got to go home now.” Askal was about to turn around to walk, but Mungo spoke up

“We’ll walk you there. Right Fox?” Mungo elbowed Fox, who was still studying the paper

“Uh, sure,” Fox replied halfheartedly.

As the trio of dogs walked home, Fox took a moment to feel the paper. Sure enough, it was really wet. Judging by Askal’s face, it took a lot of effort to conjure what looks like a drop of water, and it hasn’t even dried up yet. On the other hand, Suicune’s water disappeared almost instantly. In fact it was arguable if it was even there to begin with and he could conjure gallons at a time without even breaking a sweat.

“Fox,” Mungo chastised quietly as Askal walked slightly ahead of them, “I don’t like that look.”

“They’re not the same Mungo. Maybe he isn’t Suicune,” he whispered back.

Mungo gave a sigh. “That’s good and all, but shouldn’t you say something?”

“Well, I… uh….” Fox stammered as he looked at the pup. “Is that even the same pup? He’s so… different. What happened to him?”

A week and a half ago, Fox met a young street dog. His ribs were showing, his mannerisms were always closed off, that pup was unsure of his very surroundings. When they spoke before Askal looked like he was trying to get out of the situation. Now the pup looked and acted differently. He openly intermingled not just with Mungo but a group of cats Fox had never personally met before. Askal even promised to meet them tomorrow.

“Well, turns out the Askal really took to acting, which was just the ice breaker he needed to begin a social life with his fellow actors.” Mungo huffed a hint of pride coming from his voice

Being told about it was one thing but seeing it was another. Yet there, Askal was just casually strolling out of a cat’s house, promising to see them tomorrow.

“Go on,” Mungo nudged Fox towards the pup, “say something.”

Fox sighed. “You’re not gonna let this go are you.”

“Rip the bandaid off, Fox.” Mungo insisted

“Alright, fine.” Fox sighed before reaching out to the dog “Askal. I need to talk to~

A sharp scream echoed through the night. In less than a second, Fox and Mungo knew which direction the cry came from. Both dogs knew they had to act fast, but Fox saw Askal about to run with them.

“No!” Fox warned, keeping Askal at bay. “It's too dangerous. Even if you could cast stronger magic this is police business. Please promise me you won’t interfere.”

Askal looked like he was ready to argue but growled in defeat. “Fine. I won’t.”

That was about as good as Fox was going to get. Now that Askal was secure, Fox bolted after Mungo. Judging by the sound, it wasn’t too far away. It was, at best, two blocks. Fox’s mind went into overdrive, trying to match a voice to a face to anybody living in the vicinity. Unfortunately, Fox had no such luck and could only resolve to catch up to Mungo, who had a head start.

After rounding a curve, Fox found the wolf house, and his eyes could only widen in horror. Fox didn’t have all the facts, yet his mind raced to the worst conclusion possible. Mungo was already at work on the porch with his phone to his ear with a corgi in his arms. The fact that he was kicking and screaming didn’t help alleviate Fox’s fears.

“King!” Fox called out, “What’s wrong? Are the pups safe?”

Once Fox was on the scene, King calmed down enough for Mungo to let him down. “They’re fine; it's Sasha.”

“Sasha? What’s she doing here!?” Fox cried in a panic.

“She was staying here until the ECP could get her a place to stay,” King explained frantically, “but that’s not important. There was a doorbell, and when Sasha went to get it, that’s when she screamed. By the time I got to the door, a truck drove off, and Sasha was gone.”

Fox’s academy training began to take over. “Where’s the entire wolf pack? One of them should’ve been able to catch up.”

“That’s the thing every one of them is off doing something,” King explained, which made the gears turn in Fox’s head. “Some of them are doing their jobs while others are on errands. Right now, it's only me, Bailey, and the pups.”

This was planned. Thanks to King living with the wolves, Fox had a glimpse into life in the wolf house. Everyone’s schedule was spread out, and it was rare for nobody to be in the wolf house. So, whoever took Sasha must have observed the wolf house very carefully.

“Can you tell me anything about the truck?" Fox inquired with his hands on his chin.

"It drove off too fast for me to get a good look." King responded, "I didn't even see whoever did it."

Mungo finally hung up his phone with a determined look. "Sarge's getting ready to set up a checkpoint for large suspicious trucks. Unfortunately, other than the tire tracks from the truck, they didn't leave anything else behind."

"Actually," King pipped up, "Even if the wolves didn't think it was necessary, the Milton Ferrets still installed CCTVs around the house. Unfortunately, it's only in a data storage drive right now. I have a laptop, but I just don't know how to access it."

"That's good enough. Just bring me to the computer and get the Ferrets on the line." Mungo commanded as he ran into the wolf house with King.

As the two dogs ran inside, Fox wracked his brain for something he could've missed. There had to be something the kidnapper left behind: a clue, a scent, maybe a motive. Fox had his nose to the ground, trying desperately to catch a smell but whoever kidnapped Sasha took little to no time doing so. But unfortunately, their scent didn't get the time it needed to stick to the surroundings.

No matter how hard he tried, Fox couldn't find anything helpful to the situation. Regretfully Fox had turned to enter the wolf house to help with the CCTVs but only stopped when he heard the sound of grass rustling ever so slightly.

When Fox turned around, he was face to face with a familiar set of angry red eyes. Suicune had arrived bat in hand and began to survey the scene with his nose to the ground. While it really shouldn’t have; Fox was surprised by how little sound Suicune made. It made the husky question if it really was a cat underneath that disguise.

Fox shook his head to remain on task. While there was an official warrant for Suicune’s arrest, Fox knew there were more pressing matters at hand. "If you're trying to get a scent, don't bother. They weren't here long enough."

Suicune didn't even flinch when Fox spoke. He only kept sniffing around until his ears perked up.

"Did you find something?" Fox's eyes widened in surprise

Silent as ever, Suicune bolted off in the direction the tires were pointing to. When Fox went to inspect the spot, Suicune had found something the husky couldn't catch anything. It smelled just like any patch of grass near the wolf house to him. Right now, the only one with a lead to the kidnapper was Suicune, and Fox knew he had to catch up before he lost the vigilante.

"Wait up!" Fox yelled as he immediately gave chase.

End of Chapter 06

Obligatory Trivia Section

Turon - It's a snack that involves wrapping bananas and other fruits in a wrapper made out of flour water and oil, then frying it. Apparently it was made by mixing the idea behind Chinese spring rolls and our fondness for bananas. There's a special variation made with Tikoy (a kind of rice cake) in preparation for Chinese New Year. oh hey, would you look at that?

Personal Trivia - I was born in the year of the tiger and it's about to be the year of the tiger again so good luck to me.
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D-Rock
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Seems Suicune is probably akin to a much more violent Batman. I can agree that the bakery thief probably warranted more force, but more common thieves probably don’t, and essentially kidnapping a kid based on rumor is very dangerous, unless they actually found evidence of such. Definitely a tricky one to figure out if you agree with them or not.

It’s nice to see that Askal is opening up more with the neighborhood. He just needed that outlet. Neat that he’s discovering elemental powers, too.

Almost guessed that it was Sasha’s previous owner that abducted her, but things seem way too planned out. PETA? A new force? The anticipation is real.

Also, turon sounds really good! I’ve been curious about fried fruits for a while, with bananas being the most commonly heard, just never had a chance to try them.

Definitely need to get the new Pokémon game, too.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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