A shocking development.
Everyone was listening to Ming voice his taunts as he strutted around the messy woodpile. While that act was played out Chu always had his eyes on the large dog at the front.
The Trainer and the Hound had followed Ming closely and were ahead of the others. When the boy stopped near the large firewood heap, they remained at its side waiting for the others to group up.
On the command from Tochus, Ming headed out to get his companions. He left them and strolled among the shacks in a haughty manner, confident in his newfound backers. His actions provoked some of the snickering among the young masters’ servants.
“Look how great that little prick is acting, now that he has a backer!”
“That is what happens when an uneducated scum gets a little power!”
These servants had consigned to oblivion the memories of they being in the same boat once upon a time. They failed to realize that they were still mere slaves of their owners. Presently they were expressing their disdain over this commoner trying to show off.
Chu snorted to himself as he glanced at them. In any human society there was always places designated for people like them. In gangs there were kiss-a$$es, in companies the brownies and in families the suck-ups. His focus was on the Hound at the moment.
The men accompanying them from the Military were trained soldiers. As such they were above this type of behavior. They quickly formed and held a crude formation waiting on the arrival from the young squad leaders.
The animal was standing motionless at the side just like its owner. They were simply following the instructions of their superiors. Like an oversize canine, it was obedient to its master.
A little while later the animal began to sniff and fidget on the side of its trainer. This action caused a frown to start developing on its owners face.
Each Hound was raised by a single Master. These trainers were responsible for feeding and imparting commands to the animals. These Masters slowly became the most trusted companion to the animal. Each Hound thus only had one true Owner.
The Military had a division solely responsible for rearing of these animals and it had a heritage spanning centuries. From the time the Hound was born, these two were paired and inseparable. The bonds that emerged between the two were tens of times better than those of the K9 Units on earth.
Just as those animals on earth were raised and trained for certain actions, so too were these massive dogs. Their sole purpose was to track Demon beast by scent. They were raised on being able to recognize that type of smell.
How could the Owner not understand even the minute actions of his companion?
The man was following centuries of strict guidelines in raising the animal. Their bond was more akin to a man and child than master and slave.
The Trainer motioned to Gofart and signaled him using his hand. With one hand on the leash he used the free hand to pass a wordless message. In the Military there was no noble ranking on the surface, everyone followed a chain of command. His superior had to know about his intended actions.
This group was supposed to meet up with the Military team in the west of the forest. The team had left earlier and they were ‘reinforcements’ for them. In truth this was the Military’s way of allowing the young masters of those prominent clans to gain some experience.
Even the Military was not so bold as to send these scions at the forefront to risk incurring their clans’ enmity. This Hound and its Trainer was heading out to replace its tired compatriot in the field.
With Military patrols, adventurers and mercenaries criss crossing all around the forest near the village what could possibly go wrong?
Young Master Gofart nearly pissed his pants when he saw the Trainer remove the leash on the Hound’s neck. The hand signal confirmed his worse fears.
Young Master Tochus who was surveying the area with his nose in the clouds did not see the previous hand signal. His eyes only fell on the man when he unconsciously detected the movement of the hand.
‘What the Hell?’
Tochus eyes bulged out and his jaw dropped. As young masters not only were they afforded a good rank in the Military, but they also had the backing of their clans information networks. A sharp intuition was needed to swim in the dangerous waters of a large clan.
How could both of them not know the gravity of the situation they suddenly found themselves in. If the Trainer had reason to release a Hound then it didn’t take an idiot to figure out what was happening. A Hound existence was focused on achieving one goal.
“F%$#! What the hell man!”
The young master Tochus scrambled backwards, stumbling onto his buttocks in the brown and yellow colored snow. In the slums, dogs were not the ones who left excretion lying around.
At this moment that was the least of Tochus’s worries. The Hound was released and in its element. The Trainer wrapped the leash to store it at his side and drew his sword. Both were performing the actions they were born to carry out.
As for the dangers they might face, that was the responsibility for the escorting members. Hounds were good attackers but they each required a massive capital injection to nurture.
That is why the real subjugation works were done by other divisions. At the first sign of a life threatening situation the Hound and its Master would be allowed to flee first. Even a person of Captain ranking could not force them to stay.
The soldiers drew their weapons. Each were armed with a heavy-looking crossbows. One stood in front with a two-handed sword. The signal from the Trainer was not lost to them. As members of the Military they were trained for these types of situations. They had faced demon beast before but none near as strong as the one suspected to be roaming in these parts.
The Hound raised its head and sniffed, then looked around in confusion. It slowly walked towards the heap of firewood.
Master Gofart found himself in a pickle. A quandary as one might say.
Last night he had successfully gotten a brilliant plan from the drunken Prickus. Today started out wonderfully. He had sent his family escorts as the vanguard to secure a place in the forest for the trap. For bait he had an unlimited supply provided by the local slum lord he beguiled.
Unfortunately things didn’t pan out as he had hoped.
This damn dog did not find any other place to get excited but in the freaking slums. Only a demon’s blood could cause this animal to become curious. The only demon around was the wolf demon and according to his clan’s information it was a foe not to be trifled with.
In a feat of strength or intelligence it was an adversary beyond comprehension. His family was following the same steps as all the other large clans. Find it and wear it down using those expendable, then swoop in for the prize.
Now he was in the slums with a small low-level contingent of soldiers for protection. No matter how strong his accompanying servants were with a sword, the end result was the same. In the face of overwhelming power, all present was like dust in the wind.
They could only wait to be scattered and blown away.
On the battlefield, a wolf demon was not going to be impressed by his large family backing. It was not going to be scared by his Clan. This was a fight that a young master of a prestigious house had no leverage to use.
The first plan that came into his head after the initial fright was the best idea he had ever gotten. After the fear had constricted him like a python, a release like no other descended upon him. That release was the source of his epiphany.
On a side note it was also the cause of his unexpected bowel movement.
Increase the soldiers moral by some words, while he hightailed it out under the guise of seeking reinforcements.
A brilliant idea.
“Stand firm, soldiers of the Empire. You are led by the great commander Gofart. Only victory awaits us. Servants stay here while I seek reinforcements. The glory will always belong to the brave!”
Young master Tochus saluted and literally ran away after giving his speech.
“Damn you Tochus! Get back hereeee you coward!”
Gofart could only shout in frustration and anger as Tochus literally stole and ran away with his idea.
Chu backed away behind an empty shack. He contemplated rushing up to young master Gofart and acting like he was willing to defend him. Having witnessed the display of unreserved, boldface betrayal between these masters, he decided not to do so.
If and when these masters leave here, their first act would be to try to silence in some way or the other the people who witnessed their shameless conduct. With his status and standing, the first choice would be to kill him. No use wasting money bribing a blubbering kid from the slums.
A loud growl followed by sharp barks quieted down everyone but exploded the panic and dread in their hearts.
The Hound scampered towards the pile and started to swipe away the wood with its paws. It bellowed as it continued raining the broken wooden debris all around.
The Trainer and the soldiers fanned out away from the danger of the falling pieces. Dread and anxiety were seen on their grim faces. Only Military order and strict discipline kept them from following in the smoldering footsteps of master Tochus.
Only the deep footsteps embedded in the snow along with irregular drops of yellow liquid that stained it could be seen. The only indication that they had another companion.
Young Master Tochus had long disappeared into the horizon. His servants were armed with swords and bunched up together with the others. Their fate was sealed from the moment Tochus ran away. On the cost of their lives he had to escape, otherwise their families supported by the clan would only face a brutal extermination.
Gofart had covered a distance away from the group in his initial chase with Tochus. When the Hound exploded in excitement his body froze as he watched it demolish the wood pile. Fear had visibly manifested on his face.
Sooner or later the inevitable was going to happen. The wolf demon would emerge from its hiding place and slaughter them all. His skill with a sword was as good as Rufang but his body condition allowed only for small burst of strength. If he had to burn stamina to run like Tochus he would already have toppled over from exhaustion.
Military training for young masters was not geared for long battles but quick and decisive ones that involved fighting bandits and the likes. Otherwise why would the clans risk sending their promising individuals for experience against some animals?
Clans after all, fought against people not demons.
He was torn between running away in a futile manner and being mowed down by the creature, or trying to act courageous and dying like a hero. If he had the choice to run away and live a cowards life, he would have already accepted it with joy.
Before he had the time to decide on his choices, the Hound stopped and ran around excitedly. It was barking and howling as it moved in circles around the now flattened heap…
If young master Gofart didn’t pick up on this strange situation, then he was not worthy of being a high ranked member of a noble clan. He was taught from young to read the change in moods of people, so he could certainly read the mood of a dog. The animal had switched from being aggressive one moment to full-blown happy excitement.
Whatever it found was the source of its behavior. AND there was certainly no sign of any wolf demon.
“Ahem, cough, cough…soldiers make way, get ready for battle. This demon is a ruthless type.”
Gofart strutted bravely towards the front of the group as the Trainer called the Hound to his side. Both of them had a puzzled look as they stared where the firewood heap once was piled high.
With his chest pushed exaggerated outwards he had the bearing of a commanding general. A far cry from what he displayed earlier.
“What the hell?”
On the ground partially hidden by the wood pieces was a common canvas sack. It was that which the Hound was focused on with excitement. If it was not for the training it received it would have already attacked the bag and ripped it to shreds. The wood pile was all but leveled, there was no place for any demon to hide.
“Hey Daffodil. Come here and get this bag open.”
Gofart slowly retreated while talking to the servant. Right now he was using his authority as the highest ranked in command. He was still seething with rage at Tochus who outsmarted him.
Daffodil had no choice to comply. He was under the watchful eyes of those heavily armed soldiers. He slowly moved forward with his sword and dragged the sack out in plain view. With an expert skill he cut open the bag and allowed the contents to tumble out.
The Hound gave a mournful howl as it viewed the contents.
Daffodil gasped and jumped back on reflex.
The soldiers exclaimed in shock.
Gofart twisted his face in a frown and dropped onto his buttocks as the shock finally registered in his mind.
It was like one of those slow reactions that took time to sink in. When a person’s mind was simply overwhelmed into chaos.
Chu didn’t show any reaction to the scene currently being played out.
It was because he was gone long before Daffodil even emptied the contents.