Live by the Sword

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Wrenisprobablyb0red
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

That would be rather epic, don't you think?
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Krytus The Dreamer
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

D-Rock wrote: Mon Apr 25, 2022 1:14 am Askal seems to be acclimating to things really well. At least maybe now Pueblo can feel safe from Olive. :lol:

Have to agree with Fox, the situation with Zeke and Rowan sounds like a nightmare. Both are always only a few wrong steps from the worst.
Sleepovers are the best, I used to go after all my final exams in high school. We'd play MTG until we got tired enough to pass out.

I've had Zeke and Rowan sitting around for a while now I'm really excited to finally put them to use somewhere.
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Tue May 17, 2022 10:52 pm Here is hoping that you will get to read the next chapter and comment on that also! ^_^
ASK AND YE SHALL RECIEVE!
Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Tue May 17, 2022 10:06 pm Oh my goodness! I've been trying to create an account in this forum for like 5 months now. Finally managed to get it to work, and this is pretty much right where I went! I absolutely live for this story. It's brilliant. I especially like how Fox and Fido are portrayed. Really glad I could finally comment on it.
That's great to hear! Thanks for the feedback and I hope I can keep up my pace.


Hey guys, so crazy stuff happened over here and well I can't get into it cause IRL stuff but I'm over it now. Another reason why this was a bit delayed was that I tunnel-visioned into my drawing studies again. Whoops but hey I finally have an image for the boy himself.

ITS ASKAL
Image
hopes this answers your question Dayzee

Episode 03: Sword of the Traitor
Chapter 05

Askal pushed back with all his might.
Alas, try as he might, the howling winds amidst the dark void never yielded in their attempt to blow him away. But despite the opposition, Askal didn’t falter. With his arms raised to guard his face against the harsh gale, Askal put one foot in front of another in a desperate attempt to keep going. There were no footholds or anything to hold onto except the snow crunching underneath his feet, and only Askal's sheer determination kept him going.

"You cannot lose hope." A voice called out, breaking through the relentless wind. "You still have so much to live for."

Through the combination of inky darkness and whiteout blizzard conditions, Askal finally began to make out a silhouette reaching its hand towards him. It was hard to determine who it was since the details would shift and change every time Askal blinked or focused somewhere else. One moment it looked like Datu, but when Askal staggered and fell to his knees, the silhouette changed to Fido. Both dogs wore an expression of compassion as they patiently waited for him to join them.

"Your brother." The voice continued. "He still draws breath and was willing to risk it all to ensure you were safe even after all that you two had lost. A connection like that should not be taken for granted. It must be treasured because you two still live."

Spurred on by the words the voice spoke, Askal picked himself up. His brothers were waiting for him. It didn't matter what stood in his way; he would reach them.

Even as Askal crawled his way forward, the voice continued to speak as if encouraging him. "If it is justice or closure you seek, I am willing to aid both of you in your quest, but you cannot sway. Your will must be unbreakable. You must be willing to fight for it."

When Askal finally grasped the hand of the silhouette, the dog instead found the hilt of a sword pinned to the ground. Despite its somewhat thin blade, the sword had no trouble supporting his weight. With grit teeth, Askal used the sword to prop himself up. Every inch of his body screamed in pain, but it did not stop him. Once Askal was on his two feet, the young dog pulled the sword out and raised it above his head before bringing the total weight of the blade downward.

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

Fox felt his heartbeat rapidly after narrowly dodging Suicune's downward strike.
However, it looked like it was a feint since the striped dog wasn't paying the slightest attention to him. Instead, the dog just wanted Fox out of the way so he could break for the exit right behind him. Instead, a wall of golden light rose from the floor and blocked Suicune's exit with not a moment to spare.

"Cover me!" Mungo yelled as he dove in from above, brandishing a sword and a dagger with tiny ridges on one side of the blade.

Fox gave a quick nod before loading in a new cartridge: his last one. Then, to make it count, Fox made a split-second decision and fired one shot on either side of Suicune. Now the striped dog was cornered; if he stayed in place, he risked clashing with Mungo, Fox's shots cut off his escape to the right and left, and if he went straight for Fox, the husky would have a clear shot to incapacitate him.

Much to his surprise, Suicune dashed right towards Fox. However, despite the reputation Suicune earned for himself, Fox didn't back down. Instead, he steadied his breath; Fox lined up his gun with Suicune's stomach and pulled the trigger. The world moved in slow-motion as Fox felt the gun's mechanism recoil against his arm. Suicune made no effort to dodge but instead stamped his foot down.

Using the momentum he had built up from running combined with twisting his body, Suicune began to spin himself like a top. Like all his other sword slashes, imaginary water erupted from the blade as he swung. Eventually, Suicune was obscured by the image of a whirlpool that deflected the blow as it approached him.

Determined not to move, Fox stood his ground with his gun aimed directly at the water. Fox studied the whirlpool closely, looking for any signs of Suicune emerging, but as the water dissipated, all Fox could see was Mungo running toward him. Out of the corner of his eyes, Fox saw Suicune sliding across the ground and underneath his legs taking advantage of the somewhat slippery floors the museum had to offer.

Reacting as fast as he could, Fox about-faced and unloaded two shots. However, because he had turned too quickly and didn't take the time to aim, Fox instead hit the corners of the archway, missing Suicune entirely.

"Darn it," Fox cursed to himself as he gave chase.

"Don't waste your breath, partner." Mungo swooped Fox off his feet and gave him a platform to stand on as the two gave chase to Suicune this time. "He's blindingly fast. There's no way we can catch up to him on foot."

"But we can't take him on in close combat either," Fox yelled over the billowing winds in his ears.

"We have to separate him from that sword." Mungo dove under a pair of mana swords hurled their way. "He was much easier to handle when he didn't have any weapons."

"Won't he just make more? He can do that now." Fox took aim and shot down the third sword before it could get in the way.

"His constructs are getting weaker. Without his real sword, I can take him."

"How can you tell?"

"It's subtle, but it isn't shining as bright as mine. My powers rely on exposure to sunlight. I absorb the sunlight into my body and use that to make constructs and fly. No sunlight, no constructs. He must be running low on light reserves."

"Whatever the plan is, we can't do squat until we catch him, and we're getting pretty close to the exit."

Fox racked his mind for something, anything to give them an advantage. But, by his estimates, he only had a few remaining shots in his gun before he'd run out completely. Zeke and Rowan were too far away to contribute, and Mungo had good aim with his constructs, but throwing them at Suicune would only deflect them. So the only thing they had going for them was that Suicune only wanted to injure them to get them out of the way.

Fox's eyes widened upon his realization. "That's it! Suicune only wants us out of the way."

"How's that going to help?" Mungo conjured a shield that blocked another sword hurled their way.

"Throw me," Fox said with pure determination in his eyes.

"what!? No, that's crazy!" Mungo argued back.

"You said it yourself. Your constructs are stronger now, and I'll be fine if you encase me in armor. Suicune doesn't kill anyone; he can't put enough force in his swing to break through the armor without killing me."

"Won't he absorb my light and use it for himself?"

"He has to touch me first, right? Then remind me who won the champion rookie tackler?"

Fox saw the doubt begin to form in Mungo's mind. It didn't take a psychology degree to figure out what was going through his mind, and Fox couldn't deny it. His plan was crazy dangerous, and Fox would react the same if given similar circumstances. However, this wasn't the time to be boyfriends; this was the time to be partners.

"I'll be fine." Fox placed his hand on Mungo's shoulder. "Trust me."

Mungo briefly glanced at Fox before wordlessly waving his hands to the platform beneath Fox. It quickly melted and assembled itself onto a thick layer of armor over Fox's entire body. In terms of design, it matched the one Mungo wore except more innate and thicker in areas where anything vital would be. At the same time, Mungo managed to create a large bow that reached from one end of the hall to the other while a shield protected them from harm.

The large dog quickly went to work, pulling Fox back as far as the golden bow would allow before breaking. "Be careful, okay," Mungo whispered into Fox's ear.

Before Fox could respond, a window in the shield opened up, and Mungo let Fox loose. Thankfully, Fox's armor prevented the wind from getting to his eyes, allowing Fox to concentrate on anything important. Due to the lack of sound from the bow, Fox had the element of surprise. It wasn't until Fox was already within range did Suicune finally notice the husky barreling towards him at full speed.

As a last-ditch effort to deter Fox, Suicune manifested smaller daggers and hurled them in quick succession. Thankfully Fox had called it; The blades were aimed at his arms and legs, and due to the difference in the quality of light, the small daggers bounced harmlessly off. To stop Suicune from throwing more projectiles at him, Fox brought out his gun and unloaded the entirety of the cartridge at the striped dog, forcing him to play defense.

When Fox eventually ran out of ammunition, it was already too late: Fox was too close. Spreading his arms wide, Fox tackled Suicune off the first-floor balcony and back into the lobby where the encounter had started. Thanks to the momentum, Fox was the one who came out on top but was too slow to secure the pin leading to Suicune kicking him off.

Before Fox could recover, he saw Suicune raise the sword high above himself and thrust downward, aiming for Fox's left thigh. Then, time began to slow down once more. Fox knew Mungo intentionally made the armor thicker around the vital areas, but those good intentions may have been a blunder. Fox tried to catch the blade as quickly as possible before it could hit, but it didn't look like it would make it in time. In an attempt to brace himself for the impact, Fox shut his eyes and waited for the intense pain that would overflow from his leg.

A second.

Two seconds.

Fox slowly opened his eyes to see the blade nestled firmly in his grasp. The sword partially made its way into Mungo's armor and was a hair's width away from making contact with skin, but it stopped. The husky was astonished, but he wouldn't waste his chance and kept his grip firm. Thankfully, Mungo's armor protected Fox's hands from injury, but it didn't explain how he managed to make it in time until he saw a glimmer of faint blue light wrapped around his wrists.

"Sorry to sleep on the job, boss." Fox and Suicune turned their attention to the second floor to see Rowan with his hands outstretched, the same blue line coming from his fingers. "Better late than never, I suppose. Kuya care to do the honors?"

Zeke stepped forward into view, sliding two crystals into his bracelets. "with pleasure."

The black dog then brought his two fists together, resulting in a bright flash of light. When the light died down, Zeke looked to be wearing a strange armor set comprised of glowing red pieces that seemed to shift and move as if it was melting off of him.

"Foundry!" Rowan cheered excitedly.

Zeke rolled his eyes. "Would you~ ugh not the time."

Holding his hands together, pieces of the red armor came off and formed a ball in his hands. Zeke then pressed the ball together as it spun into the shape of a saw blade. Finally, Zeke hurled it through the air once it had achieved a fast enough spin. Suicune's attempts to pull out his sword doubled, but it was too late. Zeke's saw blade mercilessly tore through Suicune's sword before pinning itself into the floor next to them, still giving off residual heat.

Fox was about to follow up on the two brothers' window of opportunity but stopped when he saw Suicune's face. The striped dog was devastated when he saw the state of the sword; he was even in tears as he cradled it like a child. Fox was so taken in by the raw display of emotion that he almost failed to notice a spark of blue lightning dance across Suicune's frame.

However, by the time Fox noticed, Suicune had already built up a decent charge and was about to blow just like he did in the cave. Fox tried to look around for anything to hide behind, but unfortunately, nothing was within reach. All he could do was hope Mungo's armor could protect him from the brunt of the damage.

For a second time, Fox shut his eyes as thunder rang out in his ears. Fortunately, just like last time, Fox felt no pain wash over him. When Fox found it safe to open his eyes, he found himself in Mungo's arms as he crouched over him. A quick survey of the scene revealed the lobby to be a charred mess and, once again, no Suicune, but at the very least, they damaged his sword, so it wasn't a total loss.

"Hey, there, big guy." Fox sighed with relief. "Thanks for the save."

"No problem. Partner." Mungo gave Fox one of his famous spine crushers before easing up like he always did.

"JUST KISS ALR~ OUCH!" Fox and Mungo looked to the second-floor balcony to see Rowan nursing a head injury courtesy of Zeke.

"YOU'RE RUINING THE MOMENT!" Zeke yelled out in equal volume.

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

Fido's morning routine was practically set in stone.
Like always, he diligently woke up five seconds before his alarm sounded. He ran his body through his usual warm-up to get himself limber for the day and his morning shower took precisely five minutes. Fido was incredibly efficient since he had done his routine every day since he got out of the academy. There was no wasted moment or pause to remember what to do next. He could even do it blindfolded if he wanted to.

Even the new additions of applying the vet-prescribed ointment to his arm had become mundane. It no longer stung as bad as it did when he started using the lotion, but it still hurt. After carefully applying the ointment, Fido carefully fastened his collar before heading over to the wolf house to check in on Askal.

Since the two had spent a lot of time together, Fido knew how much of an early bird Askal was. The thought that Askal picked up the habit from him made Fido chuckle and smile to himself, but today might be the exception, realistically speaking. Of course, four pups and one cub in a sleepover were bound to stay up a little past their bedtime, so Askal might still be out cold right now. Still, Fido saw no harm in checking.

As the police dog made his way to his front door, Fido noticed muffled voices coming from the other side. Cautiously, Fido took the opportunity to grab a nearby stool and glance through the door's peephole. A cursory glance showed three figures: Bailey and two wolves, the large one with the glasses Fido recognized as Miles, and the shorter one with a green t-shirt looked to be Deevee Sanchez. However, while Fido took the time to identify them all, he also noticed that they seemed to be arguing amongst themselves.

"Son," Miles rubbed his temples. "please go over your statement again. You're the last one who saw him last night. It could be important, and please don't omit anything."

"Like I said, I noticed the little guy wandering around while I went on a break during my streams. He said he was thirsty, so I gave him something to drink." Deevee folded his arms and sighed out of frustration.

"And what did you give him to drink?" asked King, probably too short to be seen by the peephole.

Deevee paused, "Oh, you know, something. I was kinda busy last night, so I didn't keep track."

"Son," Miles growled a little.

"Do we have to bring up the evidence?" Bailey furrowed her eyes at the young wolf.

"Okay, okay," Deevee cracked as he held up his hands and his ears folded down to the back of his head. "I gave Askal a few cans of soda."

"WHAT!?" the wolves and dogs present suddenly looked at the door as Fido kicked aside the stool and flung the door wide open.

Now that he no longer had the limited vision of the peephole, Fido noticed that King, Olive, and Pueblo, were also present, but that wasn't important. However, what was important was that Askal had been given soda. That fact alone was enough for Fido to tunnel vision on Deevee, who took a noticeable step back.

"How is he?" Fido reigned in his anger and did his best to compose himself.

"That's the thing." King pressed his fingers together, unsure of what to do with them. "we... uh...

"We don't know," Olive answered. "When we woke up, Askal was missing."

"I went with some of the other wolves to see if we could track him down, but it was especially windy last night, so his scent is all over the place." Pueblo continued.

Fido took a deep breath. The air tensed. Everyone present looked at Deevee and took one step away from him, afraid of any collateral that might come his way. However, that big outburst of emotion everyone was bracing themselves for never came. Instead, Fido exhaled deeply and pulled out his phone.

"When was the last time you saw him?" Fido had to do this by the book; if he was going to find Askal, he needed to take the proper steps.

"You're not mad?" Deevee winced, still bracing for the impact

Fido already began pulling up the proper numbers getting ready to call it in. "Oh, I'm livid. I just have my priorities on straight. When this is all over, I will have some words with you."

"It was about ten PM," Deevee reported with a defeated sigh.

"H-Hello?" Fido's ears perked up at the sound of Askal's voice.

Suddenly, the dog bolted in the direction his ears pointed him toward. In a mix of rush and relief, Fido barely noticed that he had run into his backyard. Since his dad lived by himself, the backyard didn't have a lot going for it. There was a lone tree, a picnic table to eat outside on if the weather was decent enough, and a few poles for drying out the laundry; there wasn't anywhere that Askal could hide.

"There!" Pueblo yelled, pointing to the tree.

Craning his head to where Pueblo had pointed, Fido eventually noticed Askal clutching the tree's trunk hard with his eyes shut and his body trembling. If Fido had to guess, Askal must've spent the night there but try as he might, the police dog couldn't piece together how the young pup even got up there.

"Askal, how did you get up there?" Fido tried to find a way to help the pup down but struggled.

"I-I don't r-remember." Askal called down, "But, f-For some reason, m-my h-head hurts, and everything's s-so bright."

Everyone present looked to Deevee again. "I said I'm sorry, okay!" the wolf teen threw his hands up in defeat.

"I don't think I can get up there; I might be too heavy and break some of the branches," Miles said, looking up the tree.

"My dad's got a ladder in the garage." Fido sighed as he led the way.

Soon Fido returned with the ladder he needed and a blanket for Askal. The police dog was very much aware of how poorly Askal handled the cold and, based on the sound of his chattering teeth, desperately needed something to keep him warm. With Miles' helping to keep the ladder steady, Fido quickly climbed up to Askal and eased him down gently.

The moment the young dog set foot on the ground, before Fido could look him over, Olive ran up to him with worry in her eyes, dragging Pueblo along. At first, Fido wanted to get the young dog to settle down but couldn't bring himself to do it She seemed to have Askal's well-being in mind, and he couldn't deny how precious it was to see Askal's face redden when the two young ones approached.

"How did you even manage to sleep outside? It's so cold." Olive nagged like a concerned mother despite knowing Askal for a short amount of time.

"I'm not sure." Askal chuckled, his shivering slowly going away thanks to the blanket he had wrapped around himself. "So uh... what did I miss?"

"You missed the entire wolf house going nuts over you. That's what, dude. So how did soda taste? I'll be honest I'm a little jealous." Pueblo jabbed Askal in the arm gently.

Askal took a moment to sneeze before responding. "I don't even know what you're talking about."

"ugh, we should get you inside." Olive rolled her eyes as she grabbed Askal's and Pueblo's hands. "You too, Pueblo. I can't have both my boyfriends sitting out in the cold."

"I’m still not sure. I thought having more than one was a bad thing. The humans on T.V. get into some serious fights when something like this happens." Askal mumbled in confusion as he got pulled along with Pueblo

"I also thought you moved on from me?" Pueblo groaned

"Well, auntie Grape can have two; why can't I?" Olive said as she disappeared into the house, somehow managing to drag the two boys with her into the house.

Fido could only chuckle at the sight; Askal was in good hands, which was more than he could say for Deevee. Now that he no longer had to worry about Askal, Fido's facade of calm and rationality began to fade away. The teen wolf couldn't even run away because Miles held him in place to ensure he got the lecture he deserved.

However, before Fido could unload his frustrations, he felt something tug at his good arm. "Uh, you might want to put that on hold." It was King who handed over his phone to Fido. "Sasha added me to the dog's club group chat and would cry if I refused, but that's not important. Check what everyone's raving about currently."

Fido did as he was told and scrolled up. The police dog's eyes widened when he saw a picture of himself helping Askal down the tree. Then, scrolling down, he saw all the jokes made at Askal's expense. Some of them were tame enough, and some weren't the nicest to read. However, what drew Fido's attention was the small notification in the corner that had indicated Bino had seen the picture.

End of Chapter 05

There aren't any trivias this time around cause not much happened.
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Wrenisprobablyb0red
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Didn't expect a chapter today! Very pleasantly surprised. I'm very curious what will happen next for Askal. Bino could be a pain, but I think there's a chance that whatever he plans will backfire hilariously. Actually, that seems pretty likely. Olive and Deevee are hilarious and I pretty much enjoy whenever they're on the screen. And at this point I think Fido sees himself as Askal's father, or something close to it. It's a cool dynamic.
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 10:30 am Didn't expect a chapter today! Very pleasantly surprised.
Take more credit, Wren! The arrival of a new fan lured Krytus out!
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I really enjoyed the way that this chapter has come out! Can't wait for more!
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Wrenisprobablyb0red
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Welsh Halfwit wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 10:56 am Take more credit, Wren! The arrival of a new fan lured Krytus out!
Perhaps you're correct, but also perhaps it was luck. Anyway i have been reading for 5 months, so my recent joining is perhaps a tad deceptive.
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Not gonna lie, didn’t expect Suicune’s sword to be destroyed so quickly. Though whether or not this makes him less dangerous remains to be seen. There’s no telling how he’ll compose himself now that his end goal is gone.

Did Deevee not pay attention to how quickly soda works on pets, much less a pup? That’ll be quite a talking to for him, though funny to think about that it essentially gave Askal a mini vision quest.

Sorry, Pueblo, but Askal won’t be able to save you from Olive.

And that picture is definitely going to cause some problems. All of it from Bino.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I honestly did not know that Askal/Suicune was a young pup. I truly believed he was the same age as Fido, Mungo, Ralph. Zeke and Rowan. Wow I really got THAT wrong.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 11:45 am
Welsh Halfwit wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 10:56 am Take more credit, Wren! The arrival of a new fan lured Krytus out!
Perhaps you're correct, but also perhaps it was luck. Anyway i have been reading for 5 months, so my recent joining is perhaps a tad deceptive.
I won't lie its kinda true. I was about done with that chapter and I just needed one last push to get it done.
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 12:30 am I honestly did not know that Askal/Suicune was a young pup. I truly believed he was the same age as Fido, Mungo, Ralph. Zeke and Rowan. Wow I really got THAT wrong.
While not canon I've basically pegged their ages using human standards. I know its a bit hard to translate into pet years but since time is a bit weird in the comics canon I have no benchmark and thus used the powers of fanfiction to just set their ages arbitrarily. While not everyone here's everyone I thought to give a speculative age to.

King's pups are 10 (we already know who's older)
Pueblo and Askal are 12 (Pueblo is older)
Mile's cubs and Datu are 18 (Datu is younger.)
Peanut, Grape, and Max are 22 (Max then Grape then Peanut.)
Fido (and by extension Joey and Bino) are 24 (Fido, Bino, and then Joey)
D-Rock wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 11:58 am Did Deevee not pay attention to how quickly soda works on pets, much less a pup? That’ll be quite a talking to for him, though funny to think about that it essentially gave Askal a mini vision quest.

Sorry, Pueblo, but Askal won’t be able to save you from Olive.
Too busy partying I suppose. Darn high school brats!

King's human brain must now struggle with the concept of polyamory.

Episode 03: Sword of the Traitor
Chapter 06

Fox couldn't hold in another yawn as he pinned up another photo.
He would laugh, but the day's weariness was starting to get to him—an entire day of groundwork interviewing people and pets all over Babylon Gardens and nothing. Nobody has ever seen a dog with a tiger-like fur pattern. Nobody even knew they existed aside from foreigners with Japanese backgrounds. Not even CCTV footage was of help. Suicune was practically a phantom. Fox chuckled at Mungo's words from not too long ago as he took a step back from his evidence board. He really was becoming the stereotypical obsessive cop.

Yet despite Suicune's elusiveness, Fox still hoped to catch him. The difference now was that they had a face to look for. After selectively removing any evidence of the supernatural and magic, Fox's body cam yielded one clear photo of Suicune's face. Now it didn't matter what methods Suicune used to elude the authorities; now that they knew what they were looking for, it was only a matter of time before Suicune made a mistake and outed himself in public. Or at least that's what Fox thought at first.

Four days. It had been four days since the police released an image of Suicune's face to the public and nothing. Fox knew something was up on the third day of no sightings. A dog can't just vanish into thin air like that, especially in the modern age with the ever-present social media, cameras, and eyes everywhere. Fox got the distinct feeling he was licking his wounds somewhere. The question is, where? At the very least, Suicune has yet to make a move of his own, so Fox's team managed to buy some time at least.

"Burning the midnight oil, I see." Fox flinched at the sound of Ralph's voice.

Fox turned to see his superior studying his evidence board intently. "Sir, I uh..."

It suddenly hit Fox how much of a mess his cubicle was. There were stacks of reports waiting to be turned in; there was a half-finished cup of pet-safe coco, and his table was marred by stray graphite dust from all of his shavings. If this were the academy, his supervisor would've chewed him out for letting his workspace become a pigsty by now.

"Pardon the mess, Sir," Fox said as he rushed to at least tidy up.

"At ease, Officer." Ralph chuckled as he straightened a loose red string in Fox's evidence board. "In fact, you shouldn't be at attention at all. Your shift ended two hours ago."

"Two Hours ago?" Fox felt his ear twitch as he pulled out his phone.

Fox could only groan in exhaustion when the screen revealed itself to say 23:45. Mungo also sent multiple messages saying how he got home, how his dinner went with his family and wishing Fox a goodnight before it finally stopped altogether. Fox wished he could've sent a reply, but it would be rude to text in front of his superior, and he might wake up Mungo in the process. Not to mention the lecture Mungo would give him if the dog ever found out Fox accidentally went into overtime again.

"Yes." Ralph stood over Fox, exerting authoritative pressure. "Hours ago. While I commend your dedication to your work, you're also a regular dog. Even Officer Mungo needs to sleep. The jury's still out on how much he needs to sleep, but he needs his rest nonetheless."

"Right... I'll uh... Clock out now." Fox said with a salute waiting for the ease order.

"At ease. I know what you're doing." Ralph traced all of the evidence lines absentmindedly, going over the case in his own mind.

"Sir?"

"It's so obvious, Officer Lindberg. You want to prove yourself after that fiasco with the Hartfords."

"Well... I..."

"Am I wrong, Officer Lindberg?"

Fox breathed a deep sigh as he met Ralph's eyes head-on. "No, Sir."

Ralph took a seat on Fox's cubicle chair and crossed his legs despite not being as comfortable as his office chair. "I commend and recognize your efforts, Officer Lindberg. You have shown me that you have learned from your mistakes by doing things by the book~ er... as close to the book as possible."

Fox paused. Maybe it was the stress of the job or the sleep deprivation, but hearing Ralph say those words to him was a massive weight off of his shoulders. Fox knew it was unprofessional, but he couldn't help but wag his tail at the recognition he was getting. While Fox did work on the case to prove his worth to himself, getting his hard work and effort recognized by his superior wasn’t something the husky would turn down. He didn’t even care if nobody was around to witness it. Just hearing Ralph say it was enough.

"However," he added, putting a slight damper on Fox's mental parade. "You're pendulum swinging in the opposite direction."

"Sir?" Fox tilted his head.

"When was the last time you took a day off?" Ralph asked, point-blank, as he stood up to the husky, and when Fox couldn't answer, Ralph continued. "Burn out is a dangerous thing in any profession Officer Lindberg. It leads to sloppy-halfbaked results. Normally mistakes can be overlooked, but mistakes can be costly in our line of work. You don't want to do something that you might regret for the rest of your life."

Fox took the time to think, and Ralph was right. It has been some time since he took a break. The Suicune case ate up a good chunk of his last month, and if Fox tried to picture doing something else, he only drew up blanks.

"Your unofficial report states that your team broke Suicune's sword. It might be some time before the dog makes his next move. So I'm giving you and Officer Mungo time off to enjoy the autumn festival. You've more than earned it. Make a day of it and take him on a date or something. I hear they're putting on a play of Officer Mungo's favorite book."

Fox could only stare at the shepherd slackjawed as he casually walked out of the cubicle. The husky's mind raced with multiple questions that all fought for dominance. How did he find out? How long had he known? Is he alright with their relationship? Did anybody else know?

It took his cubicle's digital clock ringing the stroke of midnight to snap Fox out of his paranoia-induced stupor. But, regardless of Fox's anxieties, Sergeant Ralph didn't care that much and even suggested a dating activity. Fox could only take it as a nonverbal cue that he knew and didn't care as long as it didn't interfere with their work.

Another yawn signaled to Fox that it was time to call it a night. So the husky set to work tidying up his workspace before he could clock out. The sooner he got his space cleaned up, the sooner he could begin his mini vacation. After all, he had been working on the case for almost a month now. However, as he tidied up the papers and ensured his evidence board was secure, a nagging thought kept burrowing through Fox's mind.

Almost a month.

Unable to resist one last push, Fox looked over the reports to confirm his suspicions one final time. Suicune has been around for almost a month, and as Fox combed over any incident reports, he found nothing except for one that stood out. A minor report was filled out around the time Suicune started becoming active: a report of missing jeans and hoodie, both child-sized, and a metal bat meant for a junior league. The mother who reported it stated that she feared someone might be stalking her child, but the station wrote it off as common theft since nothing else came of it.

Fox furrowed his brows as he looked through the report. Initially, he was looking for news on stolen food or hygiene supplies. However, because Suicune began acting as a deterrent, most reports were of parking tickets and minor misdemeanors. The rest became incident reports for the Suicune case. Fox wasn't expecting to find the last stolen items to be something so crucial. However, it was also a lack of theft reports that concerned Fox.

It slowly approaching a month since Suicune arrived in Babylon Gardens. Any amount of supplies the dog would've brought with him should've been long dry by now. Yet there was no incident of essential products going missing. Not even any painkillers to alleviate the pain from his cracked rib. There should've been a sighting if the dog brought currency with him to buy what he needed but instead, nothing. His distinct fur pattern should've been hard to miss. All the facts Fox managed to dig up brought up one question in Fox's mind. How is he surviving?

"Someone took Suicune in." Fox gasped as he reeled from his discovery. "The question is, Who?"

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

"that's good, good, good, pass, ew no, pass, good, wait... on second thought, this one's about to go bad."

Fido was at a loss for words.
It had taken him months of practice to get his sense of smell up to code with the academy's standards. While it's true that dogs possess a sense of smell many times greater than that of a human, many dogs still had to hone that ability to make practical use of it. There was more to it than simply taking a whiff. K-9 units had to isolate and hone in on smells and track the scent over various terrain that could interfere with the smell.

Unlike their wolf cousins, dogs never needed to rely on their noses for survival. Instead, it was more for socializing and reading a fellow dog's mood and physical condition. It took strict training and practice to even approach the level required to be a police dog, yet Askal was demonstrating talent that should've taken months to hone and perfect. What made the circumstances even more hilarious to Fido was that the young pup was using his gift to casually distinguish which bananas were fresh or about to go bad.

Despite all the time he had spent with Askal, Fido had never known about his talent until the young dog asked to visit the Farmer's market first thing after their morning exercise routine. Fido had never been to Babylon Garden's Farmer's market. It was always out of the way and opened too early for his schedule to allow visiting.

Fido was about to decline the young pup in light of recent events. The fact that Askal went the four previous days without incident was a miracle in and of itself. The Farmer's Market was too open. Too full of people and their pets to risk running into one of Bino's cronies. The police dog had seen what his brother had done to Peanut and even took the brunt of it when his relationship with Sabrina was exposed. He wasn't about to let Askal experience what he had.

However, Fido's resolve melted instantly when Askal asked Fido to bring him to the market. He couldn't find it in himself to say no. So, against his better judgment, the two dogs found themselves in the Farmer's market with Zeke, Rowan, and strangely enough, Great Kitsune. At first, Fido didn't know what to make of the nine-tailed fox intermingling amongst the mortals, but so far, the Fox wasn't causing a disturbance, so he would play along for now.

"oh dog," Askal gagged as he shoved back a pair of bananas. "there's something in here, and I don't think I want to know what it is."

"Alright, I guess we went through the entire stock. Think this is enough, Kuya?" Rowan chuckled as he gestured to a basket full of fruit.

The drowsy black dog shook his head when he heard his name. "Whoa. Rowan, remember we're only doing a test run. I'd say we only need about half of the bananas."

"Whoops, my bad. It's just so fun to watch this little guy go. I can barely tell them apart aside from the banana smell." Rowan ruffled Askal's hair playfully.

Askal playfully pushed away Rowan's hand, chuckling. "I'm just glad I could help, but you're going to give me a taste, right?"

"Of course!" Rowan gave a hearty laugh. "after all your help today; it's the least we could do. Besides, we're probably going to need your help on the day of the festival too. Fresh ingredients are a must for cooking. I think we could even let you eat for free when we get our booth set up."

"Let's not get too hasty, bro. Remember, this little guy can really pack it away. Wouldn't want to come out of the festival with negative money, would we?" Zeke jabbed his brother in the shoulder.

"Nah, don't worry about it. I'll allow a little extra in your budget just for him." Kitsune chuckled.

"You seem a bit too eager, Kitsune-Kun." Zeke squinted in the fox's direction. "I still think this is some elaborate plan of yours to taste more of my cooking."

Kitsune folded his arms and leaned on a nearby post. "pfft, my plans are beyond your mortal understanding. Besides, if I wanted to taste more of your cooking, I'd just ask. Ever heard of Occam's Razor?"

"So, if you don't mind me asking, what's all this for?" Fido asked as he gawked at the sheer amount of fruit Askal sifted through.

"Well, a few days ago, while Kuya and I were killing time in Sabrina's with Askal, a ferret came over asking to borrow some sugar. Since Sabrina also ran out, I offered some pastillas Zeke made. He loved it so much that he demanded we open up a booth for the fair. He came back a few minutes later with a spot picked out for us and asked us what we needed to get set up on short notice. Kuya and I already had the place built, and the equipment picked out, so we’re doing a test run tonight so that Kuya can modify the tastes to be more accommodating to foreigners." Rowan patted Zeke's shoulder with pride.

"oh, that's right, I need some fresh milk for the Pastillas." Zeke straightened up as he pulled out a phone from his collar. "Among other things... We might not have enough time."

Kitsune reached behind his back and somehow pulled out a market map and handed it to the two brothers. "Of course we do, but we're going to have to optimize here. You two scout out possible stands to buy food from while Street Dog, Fido, and I finish here. It should save us some time instead of going from stand to stand."

"Sounds like a plan." Askal chirped up.

"And we're off." Rowan grabbed Zeke by the collar and began pulling him.

"wait," Zeke tried to fight back to give more instructions to Askal. "Askal, remember we've got too many bananas. Take the best half of these and return the rest!"

"I'll do my best!" Askal waved as the two dogs disappeared into the crowd.

With nothing but an eager smile on his face, Askal went to work sifting through the bananas he had already picked out, taking a few whiffs out of each bunch to find the best of the best. Fido couldn't help but feel a hint of pride in the young dog as he set to work like a detective at a crime scene. Then the thought of Askal joining the police force entered Fido's thoughts. Just thinking about it made him giddy.

That giddiness was short-lived as the realization that he and Askal were alone in a farmer's market finally began to sink in. The surprise at Askal's talent faded to make room for Fido's fears and doubts before the two dogs entered the market. They could strike from anywhere, and judging from how dogs treated Peanut; it wouldn't be pretty.

Fido scanned the crowd. While most of the market was occupied by humans, there were also a decent number of dogs in the mix. Unfortunately, between his time away from the club and his duties as an officer, Fido was no longer familiar with most of the dogs in Babylon Gardens any more. It at least brought some comfort to know some of the club's senior members weren't around to stir up trouble. Until Fido caught a glimpse of a bulldog wearing a red collar, he recognized to be Rex.

Instantly Fido's fur stood on end. Unfortunately, they were close by, and Fido had to act fast to hide Askal. Luckily the Farmer's market was in the open air, which meant there were no walls to funnel their escape. Combined with the abundance of humans and dogs, that should be enough to cover his and Askal's escape.

In his haste to develop an escape plan, Fido failed to realize his body hadn't even moved. At first, the police dog paid it no mind, but when he actively tried to move, he found his body refusing his commands. Time was of the essence, yet he stood still like an idiot who didn't know what he was doing.

"Yeah," Kitsune whispered into Fido's ear, "we're gonna have a little chat. Yo street dog!" the fox transitioned into a friendlier tone of voice. "Fido and I are gonna buy some refreshments. Will you be alright on your own?"

"can do!" Askal waved them off, not even taking his eyes off the task he had.

Suddenly Fido felt his body move on its own. Typically walking was second nature, and Fido was used to doing it without a second thought; however, this instance was a twisted play on that concept. He didn't want to walk, but somehow his body began moving on its own, keeping pace with the nine-tailed fox he walked next to.

"How are you doing this? I thought Sabrina said you're against overwriting our free wills." Fido growled, somehow managing to retain control over his mouth.

"Intrinsic benevolence," Kitsune said casually as he inspected his claws.

"huh?" Fido gawked, lost in the cosmic jargon.

"Basically, if it's for your own good, I make exceptions to that rule." Kitsune said as they approached a lemonade stand. "five large lemonades, please."

Fido was baffled at Kitsune's casual tone as the fox took his autonomy. "My own good? How does taking away my ability to move my own body count as my own good? Askal's about to be berated in public by a dog who hates anything and everything tangentially related to cats."

"You see this right here, this whole over protective big brother schtick, is the problem."

"How is that a bad thing?"

"I'm trying to nip this in the bud before it gets out of hand. Like it or not, that pup will be one of many to face the evils of this world. Sure it's noble that you shield him from the local bully now, but what happens when he's inevitably called on to fight demons? What will you do then? You can't be dense enough to forget the original reason why he's here."

"But he's just a pup. He can't be expected to do all that. For crying out loud, he just made new friends. If Bino's cronies get to him and verbally beat him down, imagine the damage they'd cause. I don't want him to go back to that scared dog he was when he got here. It's just not fair."

"The world isn't fair, Fido, but you can't protect him forever. I know you love him, and it's respectable that you're being the brother he needs. But you need to realize what his destiny has laid out for him. I'm trying to save you from the heartache, so it doesn't blindside you in the future. When the time comes, your attachment to him will cloud your judgement and you need to learn to let go."

Fido paused upon hearing Kitsune's words. It was hard to forget why he and Askal met in the first place. At first, he thought it would be a simple task to get a trainee in physical shape as a favor to his girlfriend, but Fido didn't expect to form a bond with Askal. Nor did he expect it to deepen the more he spent time with the young pup. Sure he was getting a bit protective lately, but why shouldn't he. Askal looked up to him as the brother he lost. So it was only natural that Fido reciprocated Askal's feelings by doing his best.

The more Fido thought about it, the more he doubted Kitsune's words. He may be an all-powerful celestial, but that didn't mean Kitsune had a hope of understanding Fido's relationship with the young dog. Moreover, Askal has practically nobody left after the incident; what right did Kitsune have to deprive the young pup of connection?

"Look, I'm not saying you can't love him or care for him the way you are now. By all means, keep doing what you're doing." Kitsune reached behind his back and pulled out a wad of cash to pay for the lemonade. "I'm saying that being too attached to him is dangerous, and it will lead to... difficulties in the future if you don't reign it in."

Since Fido couldn't move his own body, all the police dog could do was scowl at the nine-tailed fox as he took a cursory sip of his lemonade. Fido had heard enough about the celestials from King, and given his experience so far, he was inclined to believe the corgi's previous ravings.

"I know it's rich coming from me, but you mortals can be really stubborn sometimes." Kitsune sighed when Fido's scowl didn't waver in the slightest. "Just keep what I said in mind, alright?"

With a snap of Kitsune's fingers, Fido felt his body loosen up like he had been holding his breath. Then, rather than thank the nine-tailed fox for letting him go, the police dog broke into a sprint through the crowd. Thankfully while he and Kitsune were walking away, Fido took note of the stands they passed through, so it was no trouble finding his way back to where they had left Askal.

The real trouble was when he noticed a crowd gathering around the area. At first, it was easy enough to maneuver through, but the closer he got, the denser the crowd became. Eventually, it reached the point where Fido couldn't make any headway without bumping into someone. Moreover, due to the murmurs and whispers, Fido had difficulty trying to pick up what had gathered the crowd in the first place.

"IF THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR, THEN YES! MY LIFE DID IMPROVE WHEN I LEFT THE CLUB! IMMENSELY SO!" Fox's voice cut through the whispers and murmurs.

"All these rules about hating cats and cat-lovers are exhausting. Aside from being annoying, what exactly have they done to you? I don't understand what drives you to hate them so much, nor do I want to. When I left, I felt like I could finally hear my voice. I could choose who I made friends with on my basis and not have your rules shoved down my throat. Of course, I can't dictate how you act and who you direct your anger at, but this is pathetic even for you."

Fox's voice made Fido redouble his efforts to get through the crowd. After a few "excuse me "s and "sorry" s, the police dog eventually made his way to the stand and nearly blew a blood vessel in his head at the sight he saw. From head to toe, Askal was absolutely drenched. His short fur matted to his skin as the poor pup shivered at the cool morning air. Not even his scarf was spared from the splash and hung limply around his body, clinging to it like his fur did. The ground in front of the stand was drenched in water and ice, with fish scattered around the floor from a nearby tipped-over cooler. Together with Fox, a brown dog with folded ears and a green collar just like him was at the center of the crowd. The two locked eyes, too agitated by the other to notice Fido had finally arrived at the scene.

"So that's it then; You've chosen their side? After all the years we've spent together, I can't believe this. You're throwing our friendship away for a stupid cat-lover?" Bino fought back the tears in his eyes.

"What side?" Fox groaned, his voice marred with annoyance. "You're making enemies when there are none, and what? he's the target you choose?" Fox pointed to a shivering Askal, who looked unsure about what to do. "Bino, he's a pup; he's not even old enough to have a can of soda. What could you possibly have to gain from pushing him around?"

Bino looked like he was about to retort, but then his eyes locked with Fido's, and there was a brief pause. For a split second, Fido saw a quick hint of sadness in Bino's eyes before his face contorted back into one of anger. He then glanced around at the crowd he had gathered from his stunt and stepped back.

"Boris, Yeltsin, let's get out of here," Bino growled as he walked away but paused when he got close to Fido. "I hope you enjoy having a new brother."

Bino's words stung. Fido could feel it in his chest as it echoed in his mind. There had always been some hope, some foolish, naive part of Fido that believed that Bino would turn around and accept him for who he was one day. However, after those words were uttered mercilessly at him with such malicious intent Fido couldn't help but feel like the day he had dreamed about was now further away than ever before.

Fido turned around to try and say something to the brown dog as he left, but the words didn't leave his mouth. He couldn't even decide what he was feeling. Was Fido angry that Bino had the nerve to say that to him after he had practically ostracized him from the dog population? Was he sorry that he couldn't be better for the dog in the first place? His emotions conflicted, and Fido couldn't find the words to say to his littermate. Even as the crowd dissipated, Fido felt rooted to the spot.

Fido felt a tug on his good arm. "I'm s-s-sorry I b-b-brought this onto you." Askal, despite shivering like no tomorrow, had gone over to console him.

"He's always been like that. So I'm used to it." Fido tried to be brave and put on a smile for Askal as he knelt. "Never mind me. Are you alright?"

"A-A-Are you?" Askal reached over and wiped Fido's eyes, causing the police dog to realize there were tears in his eyes.

Fido brought Askal in for a hug in the spur of the moment. He didn't even care that the dog was dripping wet and shivering. The physical display was enough to ease the pain in Fido's chest, albeit slightly, but enough to calm the police dog down.

As the hug continued, Fido noticed Fox calmly walking away. His first thought was how he had interacted with the Husky the last time they met, and it left a sour taste in Fido's mouth. Not wanting to ruin two relationships in one day, Fido ran to Fox, grabbing his hand before he could get any further away.

"Hey." Fido started somewhat awkwardly.

"Hey yourself." Fox smiled awkwardly back.

"Thanks for sticking up for him when I wasn't there." Fido let go and patted Askal's shoulder, who had caught up to him. "It means a lot."

"I just didn't want another "King" incident. No biggie."

"No, Fox. It is a big deal, thanks. And I'm sorry about how harsh I was before."

"All water under the bridge Fido. I really needed the reality che~

"HEY, FOX!" all three dogs present turned at the sound of Mungo's voice.

Mungo held a baggie of red liquid proudly as he casually walked toward the trio. However, Zeke and Rowan really stood out as they limped behind him. Zeke cradled his arm, which looked slightly too long, with a bruised eye. On the other hand, Rowan seemed perfectly fine besides the limping except for the fact that his tail was on fire, and he didn't pay it any mind. Somehow Mungo was unscathed and perfectly chipper.

"We finally got a supply of Pork blood. Isn't that great!?" Mungo announced proudly as Rowan fell on his face.

Fido, Fox, and Askal looked at Zeke and Rowan, horrified, wondering what the three had gone through.

END OF CHAPTER 6

Obligatory Trivia Section.

1. Pastillas Full name Pastillias De Leche are sweet milk candies traditionally made from Carabao Milk and coated in sugar. They come in various flavors but the most common is milk and covered in sugar.
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2. Carabao are water buffalos introduced here by Spain in the 17th century and used to be employed tilling the fields before machines came into the picture.
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Two things that I took away from this chapter.

1) Bino is RAPIDLY on the road to not being able to be redeemed which I know he will regret in the wrong run.

2) Kitsune has ANOTHER dog he can annoy when he is bored with Fido even though Kitsune DOES have a point.

Good job on the chapter!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

It can be frustrating dealing with an entity that knows better. Even more so when we have a difficult time trusting that they know better.

The schism between Fido and Bino is growing, but a hint that even Bino wants to close it. If only he could see that he’s the one pushing his brother and best friend away.

Geez, Rowan, Zeke, and Mungo are a great source of Noodle Incidents, aren’t they?

As for the deeper plot, at least now Fox has a lead that they’re not looking for a stray.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Fantastic chapter! I'm glad I could spur you on to continue writing some, haha.
So, Suicune's been taken in by someone? Hmm. I'm not a great theory-crafter, so my brain instantly went, 'maybe Suicune is Askal!' But that doesn't make any sense. There's definitely some connection between Suicine and Askal, but Suicune has a distinct fur pattern, comes from an entirely different Asian archipelago, and there's plenty of other issues going on. I don't have much idea what's going on, but a for who's sheltering Suicine, I've thought of a few candidates. Kitsune might be doing it for some reason. It might be someone we don't know. I think it would be really funny, though unlikely, if it was Mungo. But honestly all these theories will probably look silly later on, because I'm typing this up at 3 AM.
Pastillias De Leche look extremely tasty! I'm not a huge fan of the way dairy tastes, but they look mouth-watering, so I'd definitely try them if I ever got a chance. Sadly, there aren't many places to try Phillipine cuisine in my area.
I'm genuinely concerned as to what happened in order to secure a hold on that pork blood. At least Mungo's looking chipper?
Bino's probably starting to reach the end of his rope on this. His antics weren't looked upon fondly before, and now, the other pets really don't have time for them. I have the feeling that he might end up burning just about every bridge he has at this point.
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

You aren't the only one that thought that Suicune and Askal were the same. I keep on going back and forth on that.
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Harry Johnathan
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Harry Johnathan »

I remember thinking that Datu was Suicune and Tarot was possessing or using magic on his unconscious body to make herself feel like a hero.
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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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I am sure that we will get the answer at some point. We just need to be patient.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Harry Johnathan »

I think it would be absolutely hilarious if we never got an answer and Suicune just quit or died off-screen, and the story never mentioned him again
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 Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Who needs answers when you have cute characters and fun antics? I'd probably be happy with this story even if it just focused on like, the daily life of Askal. :P
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I personally am interested in Zeke and Rowan but that is only because they are buff and handsome police dogs. :D
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

D-Rock wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 11:01 pm It can be frustrating dealing with an entity that knows better. Even more so when we have a difficult time trusting that they know better.

Geez, Rowan, Zeke, and Mungo are a great source of Noodle Incidents, aren’t they?
It's almost like when my parents scolded me for something, but my stupid kid brain thinks "what do they know?"

After reading up on what Noodle Incidents are I can happily say "Yes, Yes they are."
Harry Johnathan wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 3:51 am I remember thinking that Datu was Suicune and Tarot was possessing or using magic on his unconscious body to make herself feel like a hero.
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wow, what a plot twist can't believe I never considered that somewhere.
Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Wed May 25, 2022 2:26 am Fantastic chapter! I'm glad I could spur you on to continue writing some, haha.
So, Suicune's been taken in by someone? Hmm. I'm not a great theory-crafter, so my brain instantly went, 'maybe Suicune is Askal!' But that doesn't make any sense. There's definitely some connection between Suicine and Askal, but Suicune has a distinct fur pattern, comes from an entirely different Asian archipelago, and there's plenty of other issues going on. I don't have much idea what's going on, but a for who's sheltering Suicine, I've thought of a few candidates. Kitsune might be doing it for some reason. It might be someone we don't know. I think it would be really funny, though unlikely, if it was Mungo. But honestly all these theories will probably look silly later on, because I'm typing this up at 3 AM.
It doesn't really matter if they're silly or not. Half the fun of theory crafting is seeing if you got it right or not. Who knows I could surprise you... ;) or not I dunno.
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Tue May 24, 2022 11:33 am Two things that I took away from this chapter.

1) Bino is RAPIDLY on the road to not being able to be redeemed which I know he will regret in the wrong run.

2) Kitsune has ANOTHER dog he can annoy when he is bored with Fido even though Kitsune DOES have a point.

Good job on the chapter!
King be over in the corner yelling "FINALLY SOMEBODY GETS IT!"

Episode 03: Sword of the Traitor
Chapter 07

Askal was in top form today.
He remembered his lines to the letter, perfected his blocking, and even figured out how to hold his prop sword without it slipping from his grip using electrical tape. The young pup did anything and everything to ensure he did his part in the play to the best of his abilities since today was the big day. Despite the pressure being high excitement was in the air.

Even though he had been practicing for almost a month already, Askal did feel a twinge of nervousness. The young pup had been told it was natural; it was his debut, after all. However, the young dog was determined to ensure that there would be no mistakes. Babylon Gardens would be watching, and Askal didn't want to make himself look bad. All the more reason for the young dog to take the last rehearsal of the play onsite seriously.

Compared to the sports center where they practiced, the stage the festival had set aside for them was completely different. The most significant difference was that it was open-air, allowing the cold autumn to flow through the stage and audience freely. The stage was also positioned a bit further back in the fair's layout, giving the play venue a clear forest view. Rather than perform on the flat ground, the fair had given them an elevated platform with curtains to separate the main stage and backstage, complete with a lighting system to make the actors stand out. Rows of chairs had already been set up with a space down the middle, which made it hard for Askal to not think about the number of pets and people that would soon fill it.

As the stagehands prepped the stage, the acting crew was in the midst of a high drama scene. Like most of the other pet actors, his outfit consisted of a cloth wrapped around his waist and a pair of gauntlets for his forearms. However, unlike the other pets, Askal wore a sort of wig to simulate the poofier hair hyenas had since the fur on his head was too short to pass himself off as a hyena. Askal had been wearing his collar for so long that the young dog felt a bit overexposed when he had to ditch it to make the costume more authentic. The finishing touch was his full body fur dye that changed his usually light brown fur with patches of white into a darker brown coat with some spots of a lighter shade of brown.

The only thing the young pup recognized about himself with his costume on was his silver eyes. That and his body. While nowhere near the likes of Mungo, Fox, or even Zeke and Rowan, Askal could tell he had come a long way from the near stick-thin street dog who came to Babylon Gardens a month ago. He was still slim but not in a malnourished way, and it was a decent foundation considering everything he had been through, according to Fido.

"Had no choice?" Askal growled with seething rage. "OF COURSE, YOU HAD A CHOICE!"

The young dog lunged forward to engage in faux swordplay with Max, who had a similar get-up to Askal but instead was made to look like a lion. Max was on the defensive and parried blows while Askal focused on nothing but offense with caution thrown to the wind.

"No! I! DIDN'T!" Max grunted as he blocked blow after blow.

Finally, Askal managed to strike at Max's sword hard enough for the cat to 'let go' "Then enlighten me, Lord Parnok." Askal pointed his blade at Max's neck. "Who made the decree to execute my brother? Who decided it was better that way than to investigate the issue further? WHO TOOK AWAY THE ONLY FAMILY I HAD LEFT!?"

"I did," Max sighed.

"LOUDER!" Askal demanded

"I did!" Max responded as instructed.

Askal pulled his blade back. "That's what I thought you said." Then without warning, Askal raised his sword and brought it down on Max, causing the cat to let out a gut-wrenching scream of pain.

"END SCENE!" Peanut yelled from the front row of chairs already set up. "Great work, you two. Blocking? Perfect. Swordplay? Excellently done. Emotions? On point, especially you, Askal. Keep up the good work. Acting crew; we're taking fifteen! Stagehands, I want to see snappier transitions."

Askal chuckled at Peanut's comments as he pulled his prop sword out from between Max's arm and chest before extending a hand out to the black cat. Ever since he first met the black cat, Askal didn't know if he would get along with him because of how intimidating he was at first. However, after countless practice sessions, Askal grew to like the cat's antics. It reminded the dog of Datu in some strange way.

"Way to go, bud," Max took Askal's hand and then trapped the pup in a headlock to ruffle his head fur when he got up. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you actually wanted me dead back there."

"Who says I don't already want you dead?" Askal fired back with a smirk.

Max was slack-jawed for a second before he burst out laughing and caught Askal in a headlock. "Oh no, my sass is rubbing off on you."

"I learn from the best," Askal said as he escaped Max's headlock.

"Now, there's a scary thought." Grape chuckled as she approached with three bottles. "Two Maxs running around. That’s just mass hysteria waiting to happen." the purple cat laughed as she handed out the bottles to Max and Askal.

"You know you'd like that, Princess Illaya." Max took Grape's free hand and kissed it, causing Askal to fake gagging.

"Save it for the stage, ya goof. As for you, Askal, nervous?" Grape moved to the front-most part of the stage to sit with her legs hanging off the ledge.

"Oh very," Askal responded with a shaking smile as he joined Grape at the front of the stage, "I don't know all the humans and pets in Babylon, but somehow that doesn't help."

Max let out a satisfied sigh as he downed his entire bottle in one go. "Don't be. You've memorized your lines to the point where you've been ad-libbing some of it without missing a beat. That "louder" part back there was genius."

"Honestly, you've put more work into this than some of the other actors I've been working with. Some of them don't even remember their one line." Grape growled after she took a gulp of water.

"Thanks." Askal chuckled before taking a sip of water.

When faced with the compliments, Askal could only blush. Nevertheless, it felt good to have his hard work validated by somebody. It made Askal want to do his best despite the nagging thoughts in the back of his mind trying to distract him.

Three days had passed since the incident at the Farmers Market, and despite his best effort to hide it, Fido always looked so sad whenever Askal snuck a glance in his direction. The young pup knew that the two brothers had a history together, but he didn't know it was that extreme. While he didn't know the whole story, Askal still found it mind-boggling that the two brothers were at constant odds with each other.

Perhaps it comes from only seeing brothers with good relationships, namely himself and Datu, Crispin and Basilio, and Zeke and Rowan. But, be that as it may, they were still family. So it didn't matter if they had different owners Askal wanted the two to at least try to get along. He knew that Fido wanted that too, but Bino was a different story.

"Hey, you two! be careful with that; that's a genuine replica!" Grape yelled as she ran after a couple of stagehands who haphazardly dropped a crate on the floor.

As Askal tried to remember anything important relating to Bino, a lightbulb lit up in the young dog's mind. If he remembered correctly, Max and Bino had the same owner. It's why Fido had to bribe Max to be quiet on their first day together. The young pup pondered further and decided if he wanted to do something about Bino Max was his best bet.

Now that he and Max were alone, Askal worked up the courage to speak up. "So... uh... about Bino?"

"Ugh, What about him?" Max scoffed loudly.

“I said be careful!” Grape yelled in the background.

"I met him a few days ago. Is he always like that?" Askal proceeded carefully, unsure of the two's relationship despite it being obvious.

Max gave his body a stretch and lay flat on his back. "What's to know, pup? He hates cats, so you can imagine what it's like living with him. He pretty much thinks he’s right one hundred percent of the time and anyone who disagrees gets the “King” treatment. I'm pretty sure Fido's told you all about what Bino's done after he and Sabrina got outed."

"Actually, no." Askal sighed. "I've tried once, but he told me it was too painful to talk about. The one thing he did tell me was that if he got to be with Sabrina, it was worth it. But I could tell that whatever happened still hurt."

"Then let me regale you, little one."

"Did you really have to add ‘little one’ in there?"

"yes, now shush."

"Fido used to be top dog, and I'm talkin top-top dog. There wasn't a dog who lived in Babylon Gardens and didn't know the name, Fido Byron. Guys wanted to be him. Girls wanted to have his puppies."

"How does that work?" Askal tilted his head.

"Huh?" Max responded with a derailed train of thought.

"The whole "wanted his puppies" thing? How does that work?" Askal clarified, still confused.

Max's face somehow turned a slight shade of red. "Maybe when you're older anyway, we're getting off-topic. The point is Fido was the most loved and popular dog in Babylon Gardens, but long story short, Fido got outed for dating Sabrina, which gave Bino the ammunition he needed. He began telling anyone and everyone how unnatural it was, and because of the dog's pack mentality, they all hopped aboard, aside from a select few who didn't care. Now, most of the dogs in town avoid interacting with him whenever they can."

"That sounds horrible." Askal sighed "Why would he do that to his own brother?"

"Beats me; I can never guess what that dog's thinking. Well, I mean, I can, but I can never understand it." Max shrugged.

"Max, can you give us a hand over here?" Grape called out, catching the black cat's attention. "These goobers don't know how to set up the throne for the "audience with the princess scene." I'm pretty sure they'd break it if they forced the pieces together."

"I'm coming. I'm coming." Max ruffled the hairs on Askal's head. "Looks like story time's over, bud. Tell ya more next time, but please don't hold me accountable for that."

As Max went to assist Grape with the stagehands, Askal was once again left alone to his thoughts. Bino was such an oddity to Askal; he couldn't comprehend what on earth would compel that dog to be so horrible to his brother, anyone who spent a lot of their time with cats or cats in general. In his previous life as a stray, making enemies was a luxury. Stray cats and dogs more or less coexisted in some semblance of peace if nobody did anything to aggravate the other side. If there were tensions, it would blow over in about a week because survival came first. They had no time to fight over everything especially when there was little food to go around.

"That's weird. It says there should be at least fifteen screws of this type, but I'm counting fourteen." Max sighed as he looked over the parts for the throne.

Suddenly a crash as another box toppled over. "I thought I told you to be careful with this stuff!" Grape yelled as she ran over to check the fallen crate.

Askal was lost in thought. He desperately wanted to help Fido and Bino reconcile with each other, but how could he even begin to undo years of conflict? Whenever he and Datu found themselves arguing, the first thing Datu would do was try to talk to him; see and find out what the issue was and even if he remembered the issue. Askal scratched his head in frustration. How could he reunite the two when one of them refused to speak to the other?

"Ouch, my foot!" Max yelled out.

Askal took a deep breath to refocus. However, when he did so, a strange scent entered his nose. It was no pet, nor was it any human Askal had ever caught a whiff of. Nevertheless, there was something about this scent, something that made Askal's fur stand on end. Spurred by curiosity, Askal followed the scent his nose had picked up, his prop sword tightly gripped in his right hand.

Following his nose, Askal eventually found himself backstage. Stacks of crates containing props, set pieces, and costume changes created a mazelike pattern, and Askal was thankful that it too was open-air so he could at least see where he was going. Every so often, Askal would take a sniff out of the air, trying to track wherever the scent was taking him. However, the longer he kept following, the more he realized the scent led him in a circle.

Then a breeze picked up. With his time spent in Babylon Gardens Askal had slowly started to build up a tolerance for cold weather. The number of times he had been splashed with cold water alone had been staggering but something felt different with this breeze. It caused a shiver to work its way up Askal’s spine starting from the tip of his tail.

Askal felt a tap on his shoulder.

Taken by surprise Askal held out his wooden prop in front of him as he turned around, only to find nobody backstage with him. Then he felt another tap, only for the same thing to happen once more. Still unable to find whoever was responsible Askal pressed his back against a crate hoping to catch the trickster. A few seconds passed by only for a light chuckle to glide past Askal’s ears sending another wave of shivers up his spine.

Unnerved by what it could mean, Askal slowly backtracked to wherever everyone was just to be safe. The scent sent him all kinds of danger signs, and Askal felt the need to warn everyone. However, the moment he turned around, Askal was faced with a brown-furred dog with green eyes. Like a deer caught in headlights, the dog quickly straightened up with his arms behind his back in a feeble attempt to hide his bolt cutters.

"Bino?" Askal eased up slightly when he saw the older dog.

"uh," he paused, cleared his throat, and squinted his eyes. "no?"

Askal rolled his eyes. "I may have only met you once, but I remember your scent. What are you doing back here?"

"None of your business, cat-lover." he snarled back as he took a few steps towards the main stage.

"Okay, for one, I'm not even dating a cat. Technically I'm the boyfriend to this dog from the wolf house, but mostly cause she keeps insisting."

"Well, take a look at what you're doing. You hang out with cats; you're taking up a role in this play based on a book aimed at cats; how does none of that make you a filthy cat-lover?"

"Okay, I guess that makes me a cat-lover?"

"HA! So you admit it then?"

"Why does me being a cat-lover matter? I hang out with whoever cause they're fun. I like the Pridelands Series cause its fun. So why do you hate cat-lovers so much?"

The sudden onslaught of questions from Askal caused Bino to reel back. Emotions flickered in and out of his muzzle, first going to shock, then to sorrow, before finally settling on anger. Eventually, Bino's muzzle folded into that of a snarl as he bared his teeth.

"Because that's the natural order of things. Dogs and cats can never and should never get along." Bino approached Askal taking advantage of his height to intimidate Askal.

Rather than fall for his tricks, Askal met Bino's eyes with a soft gaze. Now that the older dog had gotten closer, Askal felt something stir within him. It started as a warm feeling in his chest that gradually worked its way up to his ears. Soon Askal could make out the sound of slow violins mixed with a downpour of rain.

"Bino," Askal started gently as he looked over the dog's body, "you're hurt."

"What?" Bino reeled back at his failed intimidation tactic.

Askal slowly held out his hand, reaching out for Bino, "I don't know how I know, but you're hurt. Let me~

As Askal reached out his hand, the violins picked up speed, only for the world to suddenly spin as a burning pain in his cheek erupted into his mind, causing him to let go of his prop sword. Bino had punched him. Blindsided by the blow, Askal stumbled back and hit the crate behind him, falling to his tail.

"DON'T! TOUCH! ME!" Bino snarled.

Suddenly the steady breeze picked up around them, causing stacks of spare scripts and costumes to scatter to the winds. It had gotten so strong that the wind even toppled over a few boxes. Askal's nose then picked up the strange sent from before all around them getting closer and closer.

"There's nothing wrong with me! If anything, you're the outliers here!" Bino continued yelling, oblivious to the chaos around them.

Askal tried to stand but was held down by Bino, who had both his hands on the young dog's shoulders as he pressed him into the box behind him. "Bino, calm down! Something's wrong."

Somehow that only made the older dog even angrier. "NO NOTHING'S WRONG WITH ME! AND DON'T YOU DARE INSINUATE OTHERWISE!"

Bino raised his fist, clenched and shaking with anger burning in his eyes. Not even a hint of hesitation appeared on Bino's body as he brought his fist down on Askal. Unable to do anything to fight back, Askal closed his eyes and clenched his eyes, waiting for the impact.

A second passed.

Askal opened his eyes carefully to see the astonished face of Bino, his fist hovering a few inches away from hitting him. The two dogs remained stationary as the winds continued to rage, almost as if Bino was trying to process what had happened.

"What is this?" Bino jerked his body, but his hand wouldn't move.

Suddenly and without warning, Bino's arm bent at an unnatural angle, so much so in fact that without question, Askal heard something crack. The older dog collapsed to the floor in pain as he clutched his left arm. Recovering from the shock, Askal quickly rose to his feet to check on the older dog. However, the moment he took a step, Bino slid across the floor. The older dog's oddly bent hand slowly rose from the ground, almost like an invisible force was picking it up. Then Askal watched in horror as Bino was dragged by the arm across the floor and towards the forest, kicking and screaming as he did so.

The farther away Bino had gotten, the more the winds had died down to what it was a few moments ago. Rather than go towards the main stage and yell for help, Askal instead picked up his prop sword and gave chase acting on instinct.

"BINO!" the young pup yelled out as he ran into the forest.

End of Episode 03

THIS IS POST NUMBER 98 FOLKS! we're just short 2 more before this thread hits a 100!
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Well it looks like Bino is really gonna be taught a lesson. I honestly hope the is beaten into a coma because there is no excuse for going after a pup and being that horrible. He's even worse than normal.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Definitely feeling like something else was guiding Bino right there, as he’s never been this violent before. Askal seemed to sense this. Wonder if this will be a similar entity that the PETA lady earlier encountered?
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I hope that he was being possessed because this is definitely out of character for Bino. Bino may be a huge egotistical moron but he was never violent. Not even when Fox beat the crap out of him those two times.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Askal is too innocent. I like his interactions with Max in this chapter- it's always really great to see Askal fitting in with the world, and by this point I'd say he feels like a full part of the Housepets universe. I'm super curious about the subplot with Bino. He seems to really be at his wit's end- I imagine he misses his brother greatly, and I also feel like perhaps he's in a really tough spot, maybe because of Duchess or some other reason. I definitely want to see more of him, though- he's only spoken in one comic since 2016, and I feel like his character is at a spot which is prime for some intense development. His lashing out at Askal, who he basically doesn't know, is definitely telling.
"Okay, for one, I'm not even dating a cat. Technically I'm the boyfriend to this dog from the wolf house, but mostly cause she keeps insisting."
Considering the way Askal acts around Pueblo, I get the sense this may not be for long...
Oh, and also, I reread one of the earlier chapters, and somehow I hadn't noticed this earlier...
But when Askal claims he has a stitch in his side after running around a bunch, things seem fine, but he coughs a little bit and there's blood in his mouth? As in, it appears he coughed up blood? That's... uh... foreboding?
But yeah. Really looking forward to future chapters!!!
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Maybe it was from overexertion?
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

That honestly was what I was going with also.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Question: Have either of you ever coughed up blood due to overexertion? Because that's not exactly normal...
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

No I haven't but then again I have never coughed up blood at all. So I honestly wouldn't know.
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Same. Just throwing an idea out there.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

Amazee Dayzee wrote: Mon May 30, 2022 2:30 am Well it looks like Bino is really gonna be taught a lesson. I honestly hope the is beaten into a coma because there is no excuse for going after a pup and being that horrible. He's even worse than normal.
That's pretty violent, but then again, he's been put into much worse by Grape.
D-Rock wrote: Mon May 30, 2022 10:48 am Definitely feeling like something else was guiding Bino right there, as he’s never been this violent before. Askal seemed to sense this. Wonder if this will be a similar entity that the PETA lady earlier encountered?
ooooooh I don't knoooooow.
Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Mon May 30, 2022 1:06 pm Askal is too innocent. I like his interactions with Max in this chapter- it's always really great to see Askal fitting in with the world, and by this point I'd say he feels like a full part of the Housepets universe. I'm super curious about the subplot with Bino. He seems to really be at his wit's end- I imagine he misses his brother greatly, and I also feel like perhaps he's in a really tough spot, maybe because of Duchess or some other reason. I definitely want to see more of him, though- he's only spoken in one comic since 2016, and I feel like his character is at a spot which is prime for some intense development. His lashing out at Askal, who he basically doesn't know, is definitely telling.
"Okay, for one, I'm not even dating a cat. Technically I'm the boyfriend to this dog from the wolf house, but mostly cause she keeps insisting."
Considering the way Askal acts around Pueblo, I get the sense this may not be for long...
Oh, and also, I reread one of the earlier chapters, and somehow I hadn't noticed this earlier...
But when Askal claims he has a stitch in his side after running around a bunch, things seem fine, but he coughs a little bit and there's blood in his mouth? As in, it appears he coughed up blood? That's... uh... foreboding?
But yeah. Really looking forward to future chapters!!!
Believe it or not, I've been trying to sneak a "Askal hasn't had the talk yet." joke somewhere for a few chapters now but couldn't organically squeeze it in without having it sound a bit forced.

Thanks its nice to know this character isn't feeling shoehorned in.

I'm hoping this bit is a good set up for things to come with Askal and Bino. I've got plans, what that is, I have no idea yet.
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Episode 04: Those Who Have Forgotten The Past
Chapter 01


Askal was frustrated.
Every morning for the past month, except for Sundays, Askal had been training. Little by little, he had been improving his physical aptitude with Fido's help, all to help facilitate his transition into Tarot's team of supernatural defenders. Yet, when faced with the very reason why he had come to Babylon in the first place, Askal was faltering.

It didn't matter how hard his lungs burned or how hard he pushed his legs. Bino's screams were getting fainter by the second as Askal ran through the forest. He just couldn't keep up. The forest floor was riddled with a web of tree roots, and Askal wasn't used to how dense the forest was. Trees were a rarity in his old city, he had only seen a large concentration of them when he arrived in Babylon Gardens, and it was only now that Askal was seeing them up close.

They were rugged terrain causing Askal to weave and strafe through them, and they obscured his vision. In addition, whenever Askal and Fido went out on a run, they always did it within Babylon Garden's and focused mainly on endurance, followed closely by speed. As a result, Askal wasn't used to moving and maneuvering through tight turns without seeing where he was headed.

Askal was forced to rely on his keen senses to guide him to Bino's position. But unfortunately, even that was unreliable. The harsh winds dragging Bino away had scattered his scent all over the place, and because of their headstart, Bino's screams were getting weaker and weaker. The young dog wasn’t even sure if he was on the right track anymore.

Eventually, the physical toll of giving chase for far longer than Askal was used to was too much. Due to the exhaustion, his form had gotten sloppy, and he began to pay less attention to where he was going. It wasn't long before the young dog tripped on a stray tree root and collapsed to the forest floor.

As Askal lay on the floor gasping for air, a coughing fit overwrote his regular breathing. "Get up…" he barked at himself between coughs. "Get up… you sorry excuse… for a warrior. Bino needs you."

Askal tried to stand. However, because he taxed his legs earlier, the young dog couldn't put much strength into them and relied a little more on his arms to push himself back up. Unfortunately, Askal's grip was placed on a mossy tree root, and when the young dog put more of his weight onto his arms, his hand lost stability, causing Askal to land on his right side.

A familiar metal taste flooded Askal's mouth as another wave of coughing fits erupted from his lungs. Tears began streaming down Askal's face, not because of the pain he endured but because of his frustration. Nobody else knew Bino was in trouble, and even if Askal did turn around now, it would be too late.

If, by some miracle, Askal managed to make it to Bino, what was he going to do? Swat at it with his wooden sword? Use the nonexistent magic he's capable of wielding? Askal bit his lip in frustration, cursing at himself for not getting help instead of chasing after Bino. He was useless.

"Get up." Askal's ears perked; it was a voice, walking the tightrope between familiar and foreign. "I can't always be around to save you."

Askal strained his ears, trying desperately to figure out where the voice was coming from. "Hello?" Askal called out, trying to get the voice to speak more, "Who's there?"

"I've seen what you're capable of, the raw potential you hold within yourself. You don't need me." the voice continued. "I believe in you. Now draw your sword and stand up."

The young dog noticed his prop sword lying on the ground a few steps away from him. Strengthening his will, Askal crawled towards the wooden blade, giving everything he's got to bring himself closer to it. Tears streamed down his face, and coughs with a metallic taste escaped his mouth, but Askal kept going.

"If you even find your will waning, think of those you have lost." the image of his mother and lost siblings flashed into his mind. "Think of those you wish to protect." Bino's face flashed into his mind. "Think of those you love." The image of Fido and Datu flashed in his mind. "Hold them close to your heart and summon the strength you need to protect them."

Askal finally managed to grip his wooden sword and used it to prop himself up. Once back on his two feet, Askal closed his eyes and sniffed at the air. Unfortunately, the situation hadn't changed; due to the wild winds surrounding Bino, his scent was scattered all over the forest. The older dog was also too far away for Askal to hear his screams.

The young pup wracked his brain for a solution. There had to be something he could use; he just needed to put his mind to it. Suddenly a light bulb lit up in Askal's mind. When Bino had gotten closer to threaten him, Askal heard a strange mix of Violins and rain. Askal could tell it wasn't natural because it stood out too much. That and the strange feeling in his chest told the young dog it was something he could do, and if he did it once, he could do it again.

So Askal closed his eyes to concentrate. He focused on recreating that feeling he had when Bino came at him. It wasn't fear. Despite being older than him, Askal wasn't afraid of Bino. It wasn't rage either. Bino may have hit him, and Askal expected an apology when this was all over, but he wasn't mad at Bino. It was a bit of Pity, but not entirely. The sounds Askal heard somehow made him know that deep down, Bino was hurt, and it made Askal feel sorry for him. Instead, it was empathy.

Askal knew what it was like to hurt deep down. Maybe not the same way, but it wasn't about who had the greater pain. It wasn't a trauma competition. What truly mattered was that Bino carried wounds within his heart, and that's all Askal needed to know to act.

The young dog closed his eyes and concentrated. He focused on pouring his heart into that single moment of empathy towards Bino. Nothing else mattered, not the gentle rustling of the leaves nor the distant sound of the festival picking up steam. So Askal blocked out all distractions in his mind and focused. Soon the young dog felt a familiar warmth in his chest before it spread to his ears.

Then, he heard it—the gentle notes of a lone violin.

Askal's eyes snapped open as he rushed toward the source in as straight a line as possible. From the looks of the trail, Bino wasn't just dragged through the forest floor; the mysterious entity had thrashed him. It took several unnecessary turns, only to come back around to inflict more injury on the brown dog. The savage marks left on the forest floor were more reason for Askal to double his pace. He didn't care about the soreness slowly consuming his legs nor the burning of his lungs as he coughed out more red. Askal was determined to get to Bino before anything else could happen.

"That's it," The same voice as before called out, "keep going. You're almost there."

As Askal continued to follow his ears to the violins, Bino's screams came back, but another more concerning sound accompanied it—the sound of raging water rapids. Eventually, Askal finally breached through the treeline, and at first, Askal had to squint his eyes at the sudden exposure to more light. However, when Askal's eyes adjusted to the light levels, he found himself overlooking a raging river.

Further downstream, Askal saw the invisible force slowly dragging Bino by his bad arm, still kicking and screaming, trying to get out of the hold. Despite Bino's thrashing, the invisible force didn't relax its grip. The young dog's heart nearly stopped when he saw the older dog held above the rapids.

"No!" Bino yelled, trying to grip whatever was holding him up. "No, no, no, no, no, please! Don't!"

The river was nearly all-white from the amount of foam the rocks had created. Askal knew that being tossed into the water was a death sentence, so he broke out into another run. He was desperate to grab onto Bino before he was dropped. Yet no matter how hard he pushed himself, Askal didn't make it in time.

The young dog was forced to watch as Bino screamed for his life. Askal and Bino locked eyes as the older dog fell; he saw terror in Bino's eyes. Images began to flood his mind of a destroyed Fido, crying, mourning the loss of his brother before he could fully reconcile. The hypothetical scenario was too much for Askal to bear. It was a future he couldn’t accept nor would he allow to happen. With this in mind, Askal’s body had acted before he knew it, and the young dog leaped off the cliff face and into the river after Bino.

Winds howled in his ears as he and Bino headed for the water. Thankfully, the older dog was first to land in an area with no rocks, and Askal landed after him. The cold water was a shock to his system that nearly got rid of any air in his lungs. However, Askal remained steadfast and kept his wits about him, careful to keep his head above water.

"Grab my hand!" Askal called out to Bino, who struggled to keep himself afloat with one arm.

It was a difficult task. The water kept pushing the two dogs apart and the rocks they collided against kept disorienting them. It was a miracle neither had been knocked out by the collisions. The amount of pain Askal felt in his entire body was intense, but the young dog powered through it all, desperate to save Bino.

Eventually, Askal managed to grab onto Bino's hand, but something strange began to happen when Askal made contact. A peculiar golden symbol drew itself onto Bino's chest, taking the form of a single eye. Askal was about to ignore it since more pressing matters were at hand. Unfortunately, the young dog didn't see a rock coming his way because he had been distracted by the strange mark on Bino's chest.

A searing pain erupted in his head before the world went dark.

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

Askal knew this place.
There was no mistaking it. After weeks of using it as a practice venue, Askal could recognize Babylon Gardens' Sports Center by scent alone. Except it looked a bit odd. However, the walls that were supposed to have a white paint job had a mint green one instead. The lines that dictated the basketball court were slightly faded and completely gone in some areas. Like their setup for the play, there were rows of chairs and a stage with a banner that said: Talent Show. The minute differences in a familiar place were enough to make Askal uncomfortable, but it didn't end there.

The rows of chairs were occupied with silhouettes of people and pets. But, aside from a general outline that could identify if Askal was looking at a human, dog, or cat, they were just shadows. It was unsettling, to say the least. It certainly didn't help that when Askal reached out to touch one of the shadows, his hand phased right through.

"I'm so nervous." Askal's ears perked up when he heard Bino's voice, but it was somehow different. "She's just so perfect. Like you know... I mean, have you seen her? Have you heard her play? She's beautiful."

It lacked the bitterness and snark Askal had attributed to Bino's voice. He even sounded nice, like he wouldn't immediately go into a rant about how cats and dogs hating each other is the natural order of things. Askal could see himself becoming friends with this version of Bino's voice.

Spurred by curiosity, Askal followed Bino's voice until it led him to the front row. Once there, Askal couldn't help but drop his jaw at the sight he saw. Only three dogs managed to keep any detail to them within the sea of silhouettes. The one on Askal's left had the same fur coloring and features as Fido. The same could be said for the dog in the middle; it was Bino, who carried a full bouquet of red roses. Askal didn't recognize the one on his right, but by elimination, he had to guess that it was Joey. The youngest of the three brothers was nearly identical to Fido, except the spot was on his left side, and he wore a blue collar with a diamond tag with a J on it.

"Yes, Bino," Fido spoke but in a higher register than he was used to. "we've heard her play. Jeez, you sure are smitten with her, huh?"

"Bino's got a crush," Joey sang aloud, trying to mock his older brother.

Bino gave an exasperated sigh. "Would you give it a rest Joey? You're just jealous of our love."

"Uh, news flash, bro can't call it your love if she doesn't even know it yet." Joey fired back.

"Pfft, details." Bino waved Joey off with a chuckle.

While he couldn't do the same for Joey, Askal noted several differences between Fido and Bino. They still had the features that marked them as Fido and Bino, but they were slightly different. The two dogs were much shorter, about Askal's height, when they were about a head taller normally. Fido's usually defined physique was no better than Askal's own body; in fact, based on looks alone, Askal was more physically fit than this version of Fido. Nothing made sense.

Askal gave the venue one more look. Then, slowly but surely, the pieces came together. Fido and Bino's slightly different appearances and voices, the minute differences in the Sports Center, the fact that anybody else was a silhouette; Askal's fur stood on end when the realization hit him. He was in a memory.

A cold chill crept up Askal's spine. How did he end up in a memory? Was the ghost lady from before back? What did that mean for him and Bino? Askal was sure he saw the ghost lady burn in the fires he had created. Did some part of her manage to survive somehow?

"ugh, these technical difficulties are killing me," Bino grunted, snapping Askal out of his spiral, "plus these flowers will wilt before she finishes performing."

"Easy there, Cassanova; I'm pretty sure they'll get it fixed, so keep your cool in the meantime." Fido patted Bino's shoulder reassuringly,

Joey did the same, "yeah, can't be too ~" suddenly, the lights went dim, "oh, there we go."

Like the three brothers, Askal's attention had been turned to the stage, where a cat with fur as white as snow walked-no glided onto the stage. Each step she took made he body look like a work of art in motion, as one step fluidly carried on to the next. The way she carried herself was the definition of elegance—even her sky-blue eyes had an air of grace. If Askal had to guess, she looked to be about the same age as Sabrina in present day. Askal was so lost in her beauty and elegance that he had forgotten his previous trauma and focused solely on the cat. She was so enchanting that Askal didn't even notice a human woman followed closely carrying a case.

Once the two had reached the center stage, the woman opened the case and allowed the cat to retrieve an equally beautiful and polished Violin. The cat immediately got into position without missing a beat and began playing. Each note and each pluck of the string was not only beautiful but displayed the level of skill and time she devoted to practice. Not a single note was sour, and to add to the marvel of her performance; the cat began to dance around the stage.

She performed twirls and even flips without messing up the rhythm of her performance. While the audience was silent, Askal could tell because they, too, had been enthralled by her performance. How could they not? The cat was perfection incarnate.

"Bino," Fido scolded in a whisper, snapping Askal out of the trance he was under. "What are you doing? Not yet; come back here!"

Askal then watched as Bino stumbled onto the stage shocking everyone in the crowd. The cat’s perfect performance was stained by the appearance of an imperfection: Bino. At first, the cat tried to ignore the approaching dog, but that soon became impossible when he got down to one knee and held out the red bouquet.

“Ms. Liliana,” Bino announced loudly and proudly, “will you do me the honor of going out with me?”

The crowd gasped, and Askal gasped. Bino. Babylon Garden's most notorious cat-hater had asked Liliana out in front of a large group of people. Askal was beginning to rethink his initial theory of being in a memory. This was nothing like the Bino he knew, and even if it was, why did nobody remember this? There were too many witnesses, many of them being human. Askal doubted Bino would've been able to use his influence to make even the humans forget his display of affection. It had to be false; otherwise, what would explain such a public display being overlooked by the people.

Liliana, her performance now ruined, set aside her violin. Her facial expression may not have changed, but her body language gave it away. She was furious. Liliana slowly approached Bino, accepted his bouquet, and gave it a whiff. A smile appeared on Bino's muzzle and a glimmer of hope, only for it to vanish in less than a second when Liliana dropped her bouquet. When Bino motioned to pick it up for her, Liliana gave it a swift kick that sent it into the crowd and elicited a quick gasp from everyone present.

"Me?" she laughed, her tone masking her spewed venom. "Go out with you? In case you haven't noticed, I'm a cat. You're a dog. What were you so incapable of finding a lover amongst dogs that you had to turn to me? Honestly, I'd laugh if it wasn't so pathetic."

"but... I..." Bino stuttered, a look of despair written on his face as the tears continued to flow.

She held up her hand to stop him, "but nothing, pup. You've already ruined my performance; I don't need you ruining my love life as well. Now run along and play with the others, preferably other dogs; I have more important things to do." Liliana sighed as she approached her violin, leaving Bino devastated.

Askal saw the look in Bino's eyes. It was pure and utter heartbreak. As a performer himself, Askal understood Liliana's frustrations, weeks of practice and study ruined in a single moment. Askal would've been lying if he said he wouldn't be upset. However, Liliana's display had crossed a line. Yes, what Bino did was wrong, but he was still a pup who didn't know any better and acted on impulse. It was no excuse to shatter his heart the way she did in front of so many people.

"Bino..." Fido approached slowly, "I...

The young dog didn't even give Fido a chance to finish and instantly bolted towards the door. Bino didn't even care that it was pouring outside; he just ran out into the rain, leaving behind Fido and Joey, who could only look at Liliana with disgust.

Suddenly a raindrop hit Askal in the nose. Before he knew it, the scene shifted around him to the park. Like the sports center, it was similar enough that Askal could recognize it at a glance, but it was missing a few key features. The colorful jungle gym was missing, and the teeter-totter was a bit discolored, but the swing set and miniature merry-go-round were still present.

Bino sat alone on the swing set despite the downpour, his tears blending into the rain with his heart in pieces. He was inconsolable as he clutched his chest. It must've been painful to experience something like that and be all alone in the aftermath. It wasn't an excuse for Bino's past behavior, but it was undoubtedly an explanation.

"May I join you?" Askal turned around to see the woman that had walked onto the stage with the cat.

She got no answer other than a few sobs, so she took the initiative and joined Bino on the swing set. As she did, Askal noticed a few features come into being. First, her skin turned a bright shade of green as two horns sprouted from her head. Her face elongated into a snout as a tail appeared behind her pants. She still had on the same light blue blouse and white pants she wore when she was a human, but now she had dragon features.

"I'm sorry for how Liliana acted." the dragon sighed. "I knew she had an ego and a mean streak, but I never could've predicted it would get this bad."

Bino sobbed before turning to the dragon, too heartbroken to realize what he was looking at. "Why does it hurt so much?"

"Love is a double-edged sword, young one. It can make you feel the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and I'm sorry my avatar had to make you feel the worst of those two options." She sighed, downtrodden.

"Can you make it go away?" Bino sobbed. "It hurts too much. I can't do it. Please make it go away."

The dragon got off the swing and knelt before Bino. "That is precisely why I'm here." She put her hand gently on Bino's chest as the air began to fill with a strange energy. "I do this not for the reputation of my avatar but for the well-being of the pup before me. Take away the memory of hurt inflicted upon this poor innocent soul and those of everyone who bore witness to the event. No one shall remind you of the events that had transpired today, and I free you from the burden of heartbreak. I envoke the law of intrinsic benevolence to grant you this kindness."

When the dragon had uttered her final words, a pillar of light erupted from the ground enveloping Bino. As the light-bathed Bino, lifting him into the air, the same strange mark, Askal had seen before drew itself onto Bino's chest. Once the symbol was complete, Bino was slowly brought back to the swings while the light and rain slowly disappated.

While Askal was happy to have an explanation as to where he was and what he was seeing, Askal still needed to process what he had witnessed. This dragon sealed the memory of Bino's heartbreak away but was this the same dragon Tarot had been talking about? Was she like Kitsune? Did he know of what transpired that day as well?

"I'm going to have to talk to that kit when I get home." Askal cringed when he heard Kitsune's voice.

The young dog looked all around the park, hoping to find the nine-tailed fox hanging around. Instead, he got nothing only hearing the distant echo of his previous words.

"Kitsune?" Askal called out. "Is that you?"

"The one and only, what's up, Street Dog? Quite the juicy bit of info you stumbled onto, huh? Even I didn't know this one; Dragon went the extra mile and spent a little more mana to ensure I didn't." Kitsune's voice echoed.

"uh, do you know how I got here?"

"Of course I do."

"Can you tell me how to get out of here?"

"Sure, but you're gonna have to do something for me first."

"What's that?"

"Wake up."

End of Chapter 01

Obligatory Trivia Section
Not much in the way of culture today but more of a fun story nod. The reason why Kitsune refers to Askal as "Street Dog" only is because when they first met Askal called him by the literal translation of his name and decided to do the same to him as a fun jab.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Well that explains so much about why Bino is such an ******. I hope Askal saving him will change him somewhat!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Certainly explains a lot, though this seems to imply that there was a rather short time between Dragon having Liliana and Tarot as avatars. Still, hate is usually learned, and now we have the source of it.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Re: Live by the Sword

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The source being that Dragon decided to replace the love Bino had for one cat with the hatred for all cat and cat lovers. Dragon you really screwed this one up. Hard.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

Dang! Although the Bino presented in this flashback clearly isn't exactly kind or sensitive, it still hurts to know what Dragon did to him, seemingly out of some sense of empathy. Knowing how Dragon later fell in love with Peanut, and had a similar breakdown, and I think here it's sort of alluded to that Dragon has done so before, I think there's probably some likelihood Dragon wishes she could do this to herself- bring herself to hate mortal beings, that is. Not, like, cats in specific.
It's also quite interesting to see this avatar of Dragon. Seeing as Bino is alive, this presumably isn't all that long before the events of the comic, and yet Tarot doesn't appear to be in the picture yet. I wonder what could have happened to Lileana between this and the start of the comic.
I'm definitely quite concerned for Askal's physical and mental health. He's clearly pushing himself too far, and he's too precious. I don't wanna see him suffer.
Great chapter as always! I'll be looking forward to the next one with bated breath.
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

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Amazee Dayzee wrote: Sun Jun 05, 2022 12:00 pm The source being that Dragon decided to replace the love Bino had for one cat with the hatred for all cat and cat lovers. Dragon you really screwed this one up. Hard.
That is not at all what I got from this. The source of this hate was from the words of Liliana. From what I’m guessing, the mistake from Dragon was removing the memories without removing the impact those words had on him. I guess like disinfecting a wound without doing the same to the surrounding area.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

I was under the same impression as Amazee Dayzee on this one, to be honest.
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I guess it could go either way but I went with the first one. I'm pretty sure that we will end up finding out what happened in the next chapter.
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Krytus The Dreamer »

D-Rock wrote: Sat Jun 04, 2022 11:46 pm Certainly explains a lot, though this seems to imply that there was a rather short time between Dragon having Liliana and Tarot as avatars. Still, hate is usually learned, and now we have the source of it.
Anger leads to hate and all that.
Wrenisprobablyb0red wrote: Sun Jun 05, 2022 12:13 pm Dang! Although the Bino presented in this flashback clearly isn't exactly kind or sensitive, it still hurts to know what Dragon did to him, seemingly out of some sense of empathy. Knowing how Dragon later fell in love with Peanut, and had a similar breakdown, and I think here it's sort of alluded to that Dragon has done so before, I think there's probably some likelihood Dragon wishes she could do this to herself- bring herself to hate mortal beings, that is. Not, like, cats in specific.
It's one of the facets of Dragon's character I found interesting. I thought she'd be this extremely wise, kind, and caring deity, standard stuff, only to have the rug pulled from underneath me to find out she's more akin to a teenager who can have her heart broken just as easily.
Amazee Dayzee wrote: Sat Jun 04, 2022 10:57 pm Well that explains so much about why Bino is such an ******. I hope Askal saving him will change him somewhat!
You know me, I like to build up on plot points so this is just the beginning.


So you guys might be wondering why I have this chapter up so soon. Funny story, my internet went into a limited capacity for a whole day so I didn't have access to a whole lot of distractions (i.e. video games and random youtube videos) and I couldn't study cause I accidentally left my materials in my g-drive in a zipped folder too large to download like a goober and I couldn't find any decent references for my drawings so this was kinda the only option I had. I could only play Enter the Gungeon so many times before the sound of gunfire made me bored out of my mind. Plus I noticed how when I wrote my first story on this site my chapters would be easier to write if they focused more on action but now it's kind of the reverse. I have an easier time with dialogue. So hey early chapter. Don't get used to it though this is kind of a one-time thing or not I don't know.


Episode 04: Those Who Have Forgotten The Past
Chapter 02

"Hey, I think it's working!"

"Bro, keep quiet. I need to concentrate."

Askal recognized those voices.
It was Zeke and Rowan. Slowly, the young dog's eyes fluttered open to see the edge of a tree line and a clear blue sky above him. Aside from the two brothers' voices, Askal also picked up on the sound of rushing water. Like he had suspected, the two brothers were close by, hunched over him as purple light bathed his entire body. Rowan had his hands on Zeke's shoulders, channeling energy into the black dog's body. Zeke had his hands outstretched, maintaining an intricate pattern of green light.

The longer Askal was conscious, the more he realized how much everywhere hurt; no part of his body was spared from the pain. If Askal didn't know any better, he would've thought he had died but was cruelly forced back into his body to feel what he had missed when he jumped into the rapids.

When Askal remembered the rapids, the young dog immediately shot up, but because his entire body felt pain, he didn't get too far before he was overwhelmed and back to his lying down position.

"Easy," Rowan cooed, "You took a beating when we found you. you're hurt really bad."

"How... bad..." Askal groaned

"More than half of the bones in your body are broken," Zeke stated nonchalantly.

Rowan looked at his older brother slack-jawed. "KUYA!"

"Not... me..." Askal spoke through grit teeth, "Bino?"

"You really should be more worried about yourself." Zeke sighed as he moved to another area.

While still maintaining his energy output Rowan looked at Askal with pity, "He's fine; Kitsune demonstrated how to use conjoined casting on him, and he left you to us while he brought Bino home. Said something about needing time to study the spell."

"Bingo." Kitsune came into view, looking over Zeke and Rowan's handiwork. "Good work, boys; he should be fully recovered in a week at your pace."

"A week!?" Askal yelped before a surge of pain erupted from his chest

"whoa, I said to take it easy!" Rowan scolded

"ah, don't worry about it. I'll finish up so you can go to your performance later. I'm just letting these two practice conjoined casting." Kitsune chided before looking at the two brothers. "Now, what did we discuss earlier?"

The two brothers rolled their eyes before speaking in unison. "The tenets of conjoined casting are as follows: one both casters must be in complete sync with one another. Two both casters must have and know the material, verbal and somatic components of casting a spell. Finally, three both casters must be in physical contact with each other. When all these conditions are met, a spell greater than one caster can manage alone can be brought into being."

"Excellent," Kitsune applauded, "Now keep working on Askal's body while I have a little chat with him." Kitsune then reached for Askal's head. "yoink."

Kitsune made a pulling motion with his arm, bringing Askal along with him, and when he did so, the young dog felt all his pain melt away instantly. However, the pain wasn't the only thing to melt away. Suddenly the forest, along with the sound of running water, had disappeared. In its place was a messy room with papers scattered all over the floor. A quick glance out the window revealed he was still in Babylon Gardens, but where exactly was a different story.

Askal motioned to approach the window to get his bearings, but the young dog didn't hear his footsteps when he did so. When he glanced down, Askal didn't say either of his legs but instead a whispy ghost-white tail. Horrified, Askal looked to his arms and chest to see it too was a shade of white.

"Oh, I guess I'm dead." Askal shook to the core of his being, which was now his entire being.

"No, but you gave it your best shot." Kitsune chuckled as he approached the bed in the corner of the room.

Gently, Kitsune moved the blanket to reveal Bino peacefully sleeping the day away. The sight was enough to calm Askal's nerves, but the golden mark on his chest still hadn't disappeared. Now knowing what that mark represented, Askal had to suppress a growl.

"Easy boy," Kitsune chided. "That's still essential."

Askal was taken aback, "Essential? Kitsune, you saw what I did, right? So that mark is nothing but trouble."

"Ordinarily, I would agree. In the long term, this thing, this spell, has done more harm than good."

"So why is it still here?"

"Because when this mark was created, it held back the trauma of that day. It was something he could've and should've moved past back then. But over the years, that trauma has continued to build and grow. If I remove the mark, all that trauma floods back into Bino, and I think you know what happens when someone's exposed to too much mental trauma in one go."

Askal paused before a look of horror spread on his face. "Kuya Datu,"

"Exactly." Kitsune applauded, "I need to be careful about this, so instead, I limited the spell's capabilities. As a result, it doesn't block out the memory completely but slowly reintroduces it to Bino, at a speed he can handle."

Askal sighed as he floated over to study Bino. "Okay, let's switch gears and start from the top. What did I see? How did I see it?"

"You, my friend," Kitsune flicked his wrist, and a black book appeared in his hand with the title "book of fate" and flipped through its pages. "are an Echoing Resonator."

"What?" Askal, despite not having a physical form, still had his habits and tilted his head in confusion.

"Basically, it allows you to sense and see strong emotions and the memories tied to people and/or objects. Coincidentally your powers circumvented Dragon's spell. She couldn't take away the memory because memories make up who we are and tampering with that can get a celestial in serious trouble. Rather she sealed it away so that it would never hurt Bino, but no matter what she did Dragon could never take away the hurt, the sadness, the emotions he felt that day."

"I don't understand; if this Dragon sealed Bino's memory of what happened, how did the emotions stay? Wouldn't he forget it ever happened then?"

"Celestials are known for their godlike feats." Kitsune brought his hands together, and when he separated them, a tiny star had formed between his palms. "We bend the laws of reality to our whim, time means nothing to us, but the one thing we could never manipulate directly was the emotions of a mortal. We can bribe, pamper, and scheme all we want, but the emotions of a mortal are too stubborn, too wild to be controlled directly." Kitsune clapped his hands, and the star was gone.

"I will admit, her intentions were well-meaning, but had Dragon allowed Bino to grieve, to feel his sadness, sure it would've hurt, but it would've made him stronger." Kitsune waved his hands, and a cloud appeared.

Askal leaned in to see Bino back at the park, drenched in the rain. But, this time, instead of Dragon coming to console Bino, Fido and Joey were there to take a seat on both sides of Bino. The scene then shifted. Fido, Bino, and Joey were in uniform, saluting proudly as a german shepherd pinned badges to their vests. Then, once again, the scene shifted to the three brothers toasting soda cans together in celebration.

"In sealing away his memory of the event, Dragon not only robbed Bino of the chance to grow and become a better version of who he was but also robbed him of connection to his brothers. They didn't know something was wrong, so they couldn't come to his aid when he needed them the most. Instead, what should've been the best K-9 trio Babylon Gardens had seen in years turned into a one-dog show."

Askal looked at the tossed aside papers and saw comically exaggerated depictions of cats being evil. "And the cat hate?"

"Like I said. Bino was denied the chance to work out his issues organically. Instead, he was forced to believe nothing was wrong, and as most psychiatrists say, the first step to recovery is admitting there's a problem in the first place. So the emotions stayed and festered like an infection, eventually growing into the hate you see today."

Askal sat or, more accurately, hovered over the bed glancing at Bino's calmly sleeping face. The young pup thought about what should've been a great display of brotherhood, only for it to be ruined by an outside force. Askal felt that pain, and despite not having a body, Askal couldn't help but sob.

"What's wrong, Askal?" Kitsune cooed as he sat down next to the ghost dog and patted his shoulders.

"I'm just so... angry. Dragon forced Bino to endure years of pain and all under the guise of kindness. He should've been with Kuya Fido and Joey, but she took those years away from him. It's frustrating," Askal growled between sobs.

When the young dog voiced his emotions, Kitsune could only laugh. "oh nice, it's not as if my powers were useless enough."

"Okay, I'm not laughing to demean you." Kitsune chuckled. "It's just, the hallmark of a natural-born Echoing Resonator is their unfathomable empathy. Here you are practically dead but not quite, and you're more worried about someone else."

"Still doesn't change how useless my powers are, though. I mean, really? I can only see emotions of traumas long past; how the heck am I supposed to work with this?"

"You don't only see traumas; it's just the most common type of intense emotion. Also, your powers are more useful than you realize; for one, you just helped Bino didn't you? You aren't even using them to their full potential yet."

"Can you show me?"

"When you're ready."

"When will that be?"

"When you~" Kitsune paused, then rolled his eyes. "You know what? This bit is overplayed; just go. You'll be late."

"late?" Askal tiled his head

Suddenly the world went dark.

"Askal," Peanut called out from the darkness, "we'll be late for the final round of practice!"

Askal snapped out of his slumber and found himself backstage once more. He had a body once more, and it no longer hurt this time. Props and costumes were still scattered all over the place, but stagehands were rushing to put everything back in order. Almost everything was as he had left it.

"Late?" Askal repeated groggily

Peanut helped Askal to his feet. "Yeah, that freak windstorm set us back. the festival planners gave us just enough time to do one more run-through; now, let's go!"

Before he was ready, Askal was pulled towards the main stage where Grape and Max were already mid-scene.

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

Fox couldn't remember the last time he was so relaxed.
In all honesty, the past three days were practically heaven on earth. He had no shifts to commit to, so Fox pretty much spent his days like he was an ordinary citizen again. Of course, the husky still woke up bright and early to get his daily exercises in because some habits were hard to get rid of, but he had the entire day to himself once that was done.

With his newfound open schedule, Fox spent time catching up on his reading, binging TV shows on the couch with a tub of ice cream, and playing with his nieces and nephew; Fox even made some time to hang out with King again. The best part was that Mungo could tag along for the ride since he had also been given time off.

For the sake of fairness, Mungo also had his pick of activities the pair would do together as well. They went fishing, learned how to make Dinuguan together, had a Pride Lands movie marathon, and their latest venture, went to a spa for a full body massage. Fox didn't exactly peg Mungo as the pampered type when they first met, but here they were now, leaving the local spa with the scent of eucalyptus radiating off their fur.

"Come again, officers!" a female cat and dog waved the duo goodbye as they exited the establishment.

Mungo waved back with a wide smile. "Thanks, ladies, that was very relaxing."

"It was our pleasure." the dog blew Mungo a kiss, "If you ever need to blow off some steam, you know where to find me."

"I'll keep that in mind," Mungo chuckled. "but if I come back, it'll be strictly business; I'm in a relationship after all."

"Well, can't blame me for trying; you're quite the catch, big guy. But, whoever she is, she sure is a lucky dog. Have a good day now." the dog laughed earnestly as she went back into the shop.

Once the two dogs were alone, Mungo gave Fox a soft elbow and winked, "Yeah, he sure is."

"Mungo," Fox softly scolded as he turned a shade of red.

All of a sudden, the walk back to the residential area of Babylon Gardens went silent save for the rustling of autumn leaves. It shouldn't have been more than five minutes of walking, but, somehow, the silence made five minutes into thirty.

For once, it was Mungo's turn to poke fun at Fox. Usually, the husky was a bit sturdier and didn't have as many weak spots to prod at. However, their status as a couple was one of, if not the only thing Mungo could playfully tease. Of course, Fox knew that it was all in good fun; he did it to Mungo on multiple occasions, so it was only fair Mungo got some shots in. Still, it was an awkward topic about their relationship Fox hadn't considered yet.

The only ones who knew about their relationship were Sergeant Ralph, Zeke, and Rowan. While he wasn't sure how Ralph came to know about their little secret, Zeke and Rowan found out while he and Mungo were being... intimate while waiting for the two to show up for training one day. Fortunately, the biggest reaction they got from the two was an "I KNEW IT!" from Rowan. It was a miracle that the two knew how to keep a secret and were supportive at the same time.

Even Sergeant Ralph didn't seem to care about their status as a couple. While many would be jealous of the situation Fox found himself in; the husky still felt that it was too big a risk casually spreading his status around. Fox had seen his fair share of domestic violence reports come from parents because of who their children considered their partner. The thought of it happening to him still scared the husky.

"Hey Fox," Mungo spoke slowly, "I was just kidding, you know that, right?"

Upon hearing Mungo's words, Fox snapped back to reality and chuckled. "Oh, uh... I'm hurt, Mungo; I would think you'd know that I cherish our relationship."

"You know what I mean, Fox." the larger dog frowned.

"Yeah..." Fox sighed, casting off the brave face he tried to put up. Mungo always saw through it. "I know... it's just...

"You're scared." Mungo finished for Fox when he noticed him struggling.

"Yeah." Fox sighed.

"well, you don't have to be...

"Yeah, you've seen how my dad handled those D.V. cases and that he always tries to make those poor kids feel accepted, so I have nothing to worry about. I know it's... just...

"Everyone else?"

"Yeah. Dad's been covered; I know King and Bailey would have my back when it came down to it, and even Sarge didn't seem to mind. Of course, it'd be downright hypocritical if Fido and Sabrina weren't on board, but..."

"but?"

"You've seen how much of a pack mentality everyone had when Fido and Sabrina came out. I just... don't want that to happen to us, to everyone we know and love. I know it's petty to be concerned about what total strangers think of me, of us, but it still scares me."

Mungo stopped their trek just to wrap his arms around Fox. The gesture was something the black dog could get away with since he had a reputation of being a hugger; nobody would see anything out of the ordinary. Still, Fox knew better and appreciated what Mungo was trying to do for him.

"Fox," Mungo cooed softly, "I can't force you to be ready, nor will I demand you out us, or we're done. Your fears are understandable, and when you lay it out like that, even I'm a little bit scared."

Fox raised a brow as he broke the hug to continue their trek home. "Oh, The great and powerful Mungo, scared of something?"

"Hush," Mungo chuckled, "I'm not as afraid because I know you'll be there by my side. We've got great friends, Fox; they'll be here too when you're ready. And quite frankly, that's all I'll need."

"Aw, Mungo," Fox smiled widely at the larger dog's wise words.

"Besides, if anybody makes you cry, I'll crush their bones into dust!" Mungo said nonchalantly with a smile.

"Aaand the moment's gone." Fox sighed, "talk about spoiling the moment, big guy."

Mungo chuckled before leaning down to poke Fox’s stomach, “Speaking of spoiled, I think I see where last night’s tub of ice cream went.” Mungo sighed and pretended to wipe away a tear, “I’m gonna miss those abs.”

“Hey, my body-fat percentage is still below fifteen percent!” Fox fired back.

Mungo shrugged, “It used to be below twelve percent. What a tragedy.”

"Well, sorry," Fox rolled his eyes, "we can't all have industrial furnaces for a metabolism."

"Exactly why I've devised an exercise plan to bring you back into top form and bring back those sweet abs!" Mungo stated excitedly.

Fox locked eyes with Mungo for two seconds straight before bursting out into laughter. After the serious talk they just had, it was a welcomed one. Still, Fox could see Mungo had a point. He had friends and family to support him, something not everyone like him had. He was blessed. However, that didn't mean he would climb onto the nearest rooftop to proclaim his love for Mungo. He wasn't ready, and until then, he was going to enjoy the little moments of laughter he had with Mungo.

"I am serious, though," Mungo said in between gasps of air "you've been eating a concerning amount of ice cream."

"Excuse me." Fox and Mungo, like the trained dogs they were, straightened up and turned around to respond to the gruff-sounding voice that had called their attention.

In his time as an officer, Fox had seen to the needs of dogs, cats, humans even wolves at one point. However, this was the first time in his career that a Puma had called his attention. At first, the husky was about to reach for his phone to call animal control but was able to keep his hand when he noticed she was wearing a red and black blazer that barely hid her musculature. It was a good thing, too, she even towered over Mungo, and there's no telling what she would've done when angered. But, despite being introduced into civilization for more than a year at this point, Fox still hadn't gotten used to Gale.

"How may we help you?" Fox coughed out after clearing his throat.

"You two are law enforcement, right?" she queried with folded arms.

"That is correct, ma'am." Mungo smiled as he fished out his badge from his collar while Fox did the same. "While we are off duty, we can still see to whatever you may need of us."

she rolled her eyes and looked around. "Oh, it's nothing too complex; I just needed to clarify something."

"Oh, and what can we clarify for you, ma'am?" Fox stood up straight but barely came up to her chest.

"How much can I harm someone and still have it be called self-defense?" she responded with a straight face.

"May we ask what brought this question on?" Fox's service smile faltered slightly.

Gale leaned in closer, causing the two police dogs to do the same. "This past week, I've been feeling like someone's been watching me. I don't have proof, but it's something I feel in my gut."

"Ah, I see," Mungo responded formally, "while I recommend you don't resort to violence and report this to the authorities, I would say light bruising if it ever comes down to it. Self-defense should be proportional to the crime; if all they've done is stalk you, then that's as far as you’re allowed to go."

Gale scratched the back of her head with a deep sigh, "I see, thank you, officers. I'll call the appropriate numbers if it ever escalates."

"Pleasure to be of service." Fox saluted as the cougar turned and walked away.

Once the cougar was far away, the two police dogs finally broke their stances. Despite not being on duty, Fox still made a note on his phone about a potential stalker in Babylon Gardens. He needed to make sure the precinct knew about it in case it ever went beyond Gale. It could be another possible kidnapping attempt by someone like Kara.

"You thinking what I'm thinking?" Fox sighed.

"Kara?" Mungo responded gravely,

"Exactamundo." Fox growled, "I should let Sarge know; if this is another Kara case, we'll be~

Before the husky could finish, he was cut off by the sound of a sharp inhale, followed by Sabrina appearing right in front of them. Fox let out a restrained but surprised gasp, but Mungo, on the other hand, yelped out as he leaped back.

"Sabrina?" Fox asked with his mouth agape.

"Don't bother," she said in between gasps, "I was the one stalking her."

"Please tell me you've got an explanation for this." Mungo sighed.

Sabrina held out a piece of paper with strange drawings on it. "Tarot and I have found records stating that Gale might be dragon's hundred and thirtieth avatar, but to prove it, we needed to tag her with a power glyph to see if it responds. The brighter it glows, the more potential she has as a magic-user and thus proving she's a descendant of avatar one-hundred and thirty. The problem is she's more perceptive than we realize. Every time I get close she notices me coming. It's like she's got eyes in the back of her head. Honestly, the only reason why I'm alive is because of this invisibility enchantment."

"Have you tried being upfront with her?" Fox suggested only to earn a deadpan stare from the black cat.

"Hi, Ms. Gale, would it be alright if I stick you with this magic sticker to see whether or not an all-powerful magic dragon has blessed your family with magic powers so we can fight evil and bring peace to this world?" Sabrina mock explained with great exaggeration. "yeah, no. I like my entrails where they are, thank you very much."

"Fair enough." Fox sighed

"Anything we can do to help?" Mungo offered, ever the helpful one.

"Nah, I'm about to call it a day," Sabrina stretched her back, "Festival's about to start soon. I wouldn't want to miss that."

Mungo lit up with excitement. "Oh, Fox and I are on our way there. Wanna join us?"

"I've got to make a stop at Fido's. The goofball got so excited for Askal's performance today that he accidentally left his new rashguard for his burnt arm at home." Sabrina shrugged with a chuckle.

"Shouldn't be too much of a detour; we'll come with you. Besides, I know where Fido hides his spare key." Fox gave himself a stretch to prepare for the trek he would undertake.

"No need; he said he left it out to dry because he got it soaked with juice the other night." Sabrina took the lead but stopped to poke at Fox's stomach, "What a shame, the one thing you had over Fido was your abs. oh well."

"SERIOUSLY!?" Fox growled, eliciting a laugh from Mungo.

So the three pets were on their merry way towards Fido's house. Due to the festival's presence, Babylon Garden's streets were more or less deserted. There was the odd pet or two who were late to the celebration, but other than a few stragglers; it was relatively quiet. Relatively because Mungo was too excited for the festivities he would partake in. There was Zeke and Rowan's food stand that they named "Manong Aso" for whatever reason, rides, games, and the crowning jewel of the day, Askal's play. After all, it was his favorite book, so Fox wasn't surprised when Mungo kept listing what he was expecting from it. Of course, Fox had to remind him it was a local production, but that didn't stop the big dog from expecting great things.

Eventually, the trio of pets made their way to Fido's home. Due to their various training, it was short work to hop Fido's fence into his backyard and even faster work to find the aforementioned rashguard pinned to the clothe's line.

"I'll get it!" Mungo yelled in excitement.

At first, Fox didn't see anything wrong with Mungo handling such a simple task, but it took him to notice Mungo's excited tail swinging to realize what a bad idea it was.

"WAIT, MUNGO!" Fox yelled out, but it was too late.

In his excitement, Mungo didn't just grab the rashguard; he also grabbed the line it was pinned to. Before Sabrina and Fox could react, the large police dog had ripped one of the poles holding up the clothe's line clean off the ground. The two could only wince as the metal pole hit the ground with a metallic clang.

"Darn it. Not again." Mungo sighed with frustration. "Fox?"

"Yeah yeah," Fox waved at the dog to show it was no trouble, "take your time. Festival's not going anywhere."

As Mungo got to work, putting everything back the way it was, Fox decided to take a load off and sit at the picnic table Fido had outside. However, the moment he sat down, a glare hit his eyes. What struck the husky as odd was the angle he was hit. The glare had come from below him.

Driven by curiosity, Fox noticed the glare was coming from underneath the picnic table, between the wooden planks that made up the table portion of the outdoor furniture. Yet again, it struck Fox as odd; most of this table was made out of wood with very few metallic pieces that could be used to reflect the light into his eyes. So what could be responsible for the glare then?

Fox got onto his knees and crawled underneath the picnic table. Once he had squeezed his way underneath, Fox's heart nearly stopped when he flipped himself over to see the table's underside.

"Fido," Fox gasped, "please don't tell me…

Underneath the table, secured to the table's underside with the use of duct tape, was Suicune's sword.

End of Chapter 02

Obligatory Trivia Section.

The name of Zeke and Rowan's food booth Mang Aso literally translates to Mr. Dog and is a reference to a popular condiment named Mang Tomas, which is usually used on pork-based dishes.
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D-Rock
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by D-Rock »

Well, some of the worst mistakes are made with good intentions. Painful to see what could have been with Bino, Fido, and Joey.

Dang, there’s quite a bit to Askal now that we know he can see things that bring out intense emotions. Could be useful in the future, once it’s properly honed.

A lot to take in with Fox’s part of the chapter; wondering when the right time would be to announce his relationship to Mungo, learning that Gale could have powers of an avatar (Dragon got around, didn’t she? Maybe we’ll see a powered-up Pueblo, too), and now Suicune’s sword being kept at Fido’s place.
Faith doesn't change circumstances. Faith changes me.
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Wrenisprobablyb0red
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Wrenisprobablyb0red »

I think this is probably the best chapter yet. I absolutely adored Kitsune's talk with Askal, and it definitely makes sense that you can remove the memory and not the emotions. Reminds me of something I heard about where some person was not properly put under during a surgery, and the hospital was like "we do not want to be sued" so they drugged the man so he would forget it. However, he still had the trauma from the intense pain and being awake during the surgery, and had nightmares of being cut open and intense paranoia. It's not a happy story at all... On a lighter note, the focus on Fox and Mungo's relationship was an absolute joy to read. Fox being nervous about the way everyone responds makes a lot of sense, as he would have witnessed something similar with Fido, and he probably still feels guilty for how he acted during that time. Also- why does Fido have the sword!? Why is it taped to the bottom of his table!? Why is that so funny to me?
I feel a bit rude saying this but I'm glad your internet went out because whenever this story updates I get really happy :P
I came here looking for (noun), but this is so much better!
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Live by the Sword

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I really enjoyed reading this chapter! Even if it made me hate Dragon even more.

I now need someone to write an alternate reality fanfic where Bino gets over his pain and trauma.
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