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Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/campfires/item_id/2284072-The-Paragon-Prince
Rated: 18+ · Campfire Creative · Fiction · Action/Adventure · #2284072
Heavily inspired by Samurai Jack. A Hero seeks to rid the world of Monsters, one by one.
[Introduction]
(Just like the show that inspired it, this story will be episodic in nature. I can't say it will last as long as the original show, but we'll just have to see how long we can keep it going. Anyone who wishes to participate need only contact the author.)

Long ago in a mythic land, Echidna, the Mother of All Monsters unleashed an unspeakable evil. But a Paladin Warrior, wielding a shining silver sword, stepped forth to oppose her. Before the final blow was struck, Echidna tore open a portal in time, and sent the warrior far into the future, where her evil is law! Now the warrior seeks to return to his time, and destroy Echidna once and for all.
Episode I

Deep below the surface of the planet, in a dark pit lay an obsidian orb, almost egglike in shape. For many years, this egg has been here, waiting for it's time to hatch. Now, that time has come. Cracks begin to form on the orb's surface, spreading across it until finally, it's shell shatters! From within the egg itself, an immense and terrifying creature spreads and stretches itself, freed from it's confines at long last.

The creature is covered in scales as dark as night, with glowing green eyes and writhing tentacles for hair. The top half of it's body is humanoid and feminine in shape, but below the waist it has a serpent's tail in place of legs. This creature is Echidna, the Mother of all Monsters. For decades, she has lain dormant, waiting for her chance for revenge. "At last. My children shall spread across this land once again, and we shall reap our vengeance on all humankind."

Meanwhile...

The king of this world's most prosperous nation tucks his son, the Prince into bed. "Will you tell me a story, father?" The young prince asks. The king chuckles "What story do you want to hear?" "The one about how you became king." "But you e heard that one so many times already!"

"Yes. But it's such a good one, that it's worth repeating!"

The king laughed. "That it is! Alright. Decades ago, before you were born, horrible monsters ravaged the people of this land. They would destroy homes, ruin crops, and even devour anyone unlucky enough to cross their path. But the worst of all these monsters, was the one who had spawned them in the first place. The vile Echidna. She kept entire legions of humans as slaves and food, sometimes tormenting them for her own amusement. I was just a young farmboy then, conscripted into the army to battle these wretched beasts. The old king personally lead the charge, but was slain in battle. We were leaderless and outnumbered. I was certain that this was my end!"

The Prince listened intently, hanging on his father's every word.

"That, was when it happened! A bolt of lightning struck the ground notten feet from me, and there, in the very spot it had hit, a sword with a gleaming silver blade stood embedded in the ground. A gift from the gods, some say, in our time of greatest need. I grabbed the sword and slew dozens of beasts with it, they seemed to be greatly harmed by the metal of the blade. I stood alone against the vile Echidna, wielding only this mysterious sword. With each strike I landed, she let out a howl of pain. None of our other weapons seemed to hurt her, but this sword did. Which meant it could finish her for good! But before I could deal the final blow, she and her children retreated back into the darkness from whence they came. The king had no heirs, so I was chosen to lead and rebuild the kingdom in his place for my bravery in battle. Ever since that day, I have been king of this land, just as you will be one day, my son."

"What about Echidna and her children?"

"Over the years, we hunted down her children and destroyed them. But Echidna herself has not been seen since. She either died of her wounds long ago, or is still out there somewhere, waiting. Which is why we must always stay on alert. Now, time for bed."

The king kissed his son goodnight and left the bed chamber, as the Prince began to dream of slaying mighty beasts like his father once did.
However, something awoke the Prince. Outside the castle, he saw the creature he'd been told about.

His father entered the room, fear in his eyes. "Son! Run!"

The Prince ran out of the room, past his father, towards his mother.

"The sword!"

The King ran towards the display, holding the sword.

However, a tentacle crashed through the walls, grabbing him, carrying him away, in spite of his struggles.

"Get our son to safety," the King shouted. "Carry out the Plan."

The queen grabbed the sword, and ran, dragging the prince with her.

They got on a boat, filled with others escaping from the city.

"What's going to happen Mother?" the Prince asked.

"You father feared something like this would happen," the Queen said. "He made a plan, and forged alliances with others that could teach teach the next wielder of the sword on how to use it." She looked at her son. "I must lead our people in your father's place. You must learn how to use the sword."



A few days later, the ship stopped at another city, in another country. There was a large crowd. In the front, was an important looking man, who looked to be a king.

The Prince watched as the man came up to his mother, and started talking to her in another language, in a questioning manner that seemed to express concern. His mother responded in similar words, expressing sadness. The man nodded, and responded again. He then spoke up, and soon, supplies of food were brought on board the ship.

His mother then turned to him. "You must go with him, my son. This man is your uncle. He will take you to your teachers."

"But mother-"

"No buts. You will go with your uncle," the Queen said. "You are the hope for our future."

Uncle placed a hand upon the Prince's shoulder. "It will be alright son. I'll look after you, like you were my own. Speaking of which, let's go see your cousins. I know you haven't seen them before."
And so they traveled over and across the sea.
Taking time to travel by boat, he learned to navigate by looking to the stars, fish, and sail.
(Sorry for the delay, guys. It's been a crazy month for me. What with my family moving to a new home and the holidays. I'm going to try to focus on my writing again, mainly when I'm bored and have nothing better to do.)

Over the course of the next five years, the Prince journied from place to place, kingdom to kingdom, learning anything he could along the way. In addition to navigation and sailing, he had also learned horseback riding, survival skills, archery, among many other things.

Above all, he had learned several different styles of armed and unarmed combat. Now finally, he was nearly ready. He had reached the final test, to prove himself worthy of wielding the sword.

He had received a letter from his mother, saying that she was so proud of the progress he had made. In order to claim his birthright, he had to find her, where she would be waiting to knight him. He would need to use all his aquired skills to do so, but she knew he could do it.

The only clue he received was a piece of parchment with vague descriptions of landmarks. Mounting his horse, the Prince set off on his final test, to claim the weapon he needed to slay the vile echidna once and for all.
The Prince soon came to a temple, where he was offered shelter for the night.
         Using a map and the parchment he had, he figured out that she was in a long abandoned Hindu temple, just a days ride from where he was.
The Prince rode west towards the temple, using the position of the sun to navigate, when he came to a place known as The Thieves Forest. The only way to get to his destination was through the wood, so he urged his horse onwards. After about half an hour, he came across three brutish looking men blocking his path.

"No one passes through our woods unless they pay the tax." Said one of them. "And if I don't?" Said the Prince. That's when he heard the sound of bowstrings being drawn all around him. There were dozens of bandits hiding in the trees, all aiming their weapons at him.

"If you have no gold, we'll also accept your horse as payment." Said one of the brutes. "So, what's it gonna be?"
That was when there was a pair of screams, followed by a pair of archers being thrown onto the road at the brutes, causing them to fall onto their backs.

More screams were heard as more and more archers were thrown onto the road.

"That's them taken care of on this side of the road," said a voice. "How's your side, Swiftpaws?"

"All clear, Snapjaw," said a second.

"Traveler, are you alright?" the one known as Snapjaw asked.

"I'm fine," the Prince said. "I'm heading for a temple. Perhaps you know of it?"

"We know of a temple," said the one known as Swiftpaws. "Why do you seek it?"

"Because I'm trying to find a weapon that can defeat Echidna," said the Prince. "I believe that it's in the temple."

"Don't know if this temple has the weapon you are seeking, but those there will probably let you spend the night there," said the one known as Snapjaw. "Keep a hold of your horse, and stay your hand from any weapon you might otherwise have - we're about to come out into the open."

The Prince tried to keep the surprise from showing as a werewolf wearing armor walked out of the forest, with an executioner's sword. Cautiously, the Prince looked behind himself, and saw a tiger-like Rakshasa, armed with a large longbow.

He looked at the werewolf, who was checking on the bandits.

"Third time we've caught this lot in the act," the werewolf said. "What do you think, Swiftpaws? One more chance, or....?"

"Depends on what their would-be-victim would like us to do," the Rakshasa said. He walked up to the Prince. "Those men would have robbed you, one way or another, maybe even killed you."

"Why did you stop them?" the Prince asked.

"Not all Monster are as evil as you might think," Swiftpaws said. "Most aren't like Echidna in that regards. Most would rather live peacefully. Echidna and her ilk are different."

The Prince looked at the bandits. "What are you going to do with them?"

"Around here, the penalty for theft is forced labor," said Swiftpaws. "Thankfully, they've yet to get any actual blood on their hands, as we tend to stop them before things go too far, so making them work is what we tend to do, but it looks like they were planning on killing you anyways - penalty for murder is death."

"What are you going to do to them?" the Prince asked, looking at Swiftpaws.

"Your choice," Swiftpaws. "If you decide that they get to live, there's a lot of labor that could be done - fields being tended, forests managed, roads fixed, and more. If you decide that they should die, it will be quick, by beheading, which is better than what Echidna would offer."

"And their bodies?" the Prince asked.

"Normally, we'd eat deer, sheep, cattle, and other such things," said Snapjaws. "Human flesh would be a change of pace. They'd get a decent burial after a while though."
         Taking a breathe and looking to the would be killers, he made his decission.

         "I shall spare their lives. But as youvsaid, they must serve their setence fully by partaking in mannual labor. If they try escaping, they are yours to do as you see fit."
"Very well." Said Swiftpaws, as he began to tie the bandits with rope. "Good luck on your quest. Personally, I hope you succeed. Echidna may be the mother of my race, but I can't support they way she treats other beings. What with the smiting and enslaving and all that."

The Prince thanked the two monsters and went on his way. About a day later, he finally reached the temple. It looked like none had set foot here in centuries at least. What was no doubt once a glorious place of worship was now little more than a crumbling ruin. The Prince dismounted his horse and slowly approached the entrance, weary of any possible traps, when suddenly...
"Why you tresspasss on ssacred ground?" a voice asked.

"I'm seeking a weapon that can destroy Echidna," the Prince said. "I seek to free the land from her evil."

"There will be a high pricsse to pay," the voice said. "I've foresseen your future. It cannot be altered."

"What price is that?" the Prince asked. "Is it my life?"

"The livess of your friends," the voice said. "To defeat Echidna, you'll have to ssacsrifice them. Yet, in doing sso, you might ssave them."

"You're a serpent," the Prince said. "How do I know that you're not lying?"

At this, a snakeman slithered in front of him. "Because I can take you to your mother. She is waiting for you."

"Why are you willing to help me?" the Prince asked.

"You ran into ssome kin of mine, not too long ago," the snakeman said. "As I've ssaid, I've sseen your future. The journey will be longer than you think. You will make friends and enemies along the way. A number of my kin oppose Echidna's ways. We'll do what we can to help - some will become your friends. Remember this above all else - love will shine a light into the darkness. Now, get off your horse and follow. We must get out of the open - magic can only shield us for so long out here - the real stuff is inside the temple, along with the Holy Blade you seek."
         Doing as the snakeman says, the prince dismounts and follows him into the temple.
         Within the temple, he is amazed at the beauty of how nature returned to the once stone monastary, only to become saddened at the site of the cemetary of the many who fallen in the past.
The Prince was suddenly snapped out of his train of thought by a familiar voice. "You've come far, my son." He looked to see his mother, holding the sacred sword in her hands.

They embraced each other for a good long while, happy to be in the other's arms after so long. "You are ready." She said, presenting the sword to him. "There is just one thing left for you to do. To fulfill your destiny."

The Prince took the sword and unsheathed it. Even after years of disuse, it was still as sharp and gleaming as ever. He handed the sword back to his mother and kneeled, his mother tapping his shoulders with the flat of the blade.

"As Queen, I dub you Paragon of the Realm. From this moment forth, you are sworn to defend the land and it's people from all evil, at any cost. Do you accept this oath?"

"I do."

"Rise."

The prince stood as his mother handed him the sword once more. He strapped it across his back and mounted his horse. "Before you face echidna, you must free your father and the others." His mother said. "They are enslaved in the quarry to the south."

The Prince nodded, bidding his mother farewell before riding off to complete his mission.
"Will he succeed?" the Queen asked, as she looked at the snakeman.

"Yes, but his journey will be longer to him than it will be to us," the snakeman said. "He will experience things that we will never be able to understand. Even I do not make full sense of his journey. He will experience a lot of failure during his journey, and yet, he'll inspire the hope needed for the Final Confrontation. To win, he'll have to sacrifice his friends and allies, yet, in doing so, he'll give them a second chance."
         Reaching his horse, the young prince... No, the young Paragon took a final look from the temple to the land below.
         "This land shall be free from Echidna. I know it won't be easy, and at times it will be as tough as the choices I shall make to my allies."
         Mounting his horse, he faced to the south, hoping that he can free his people, as well as though those he shall meet as allies.
         "It's time to take back our home."
         With that he set off on the journey he was given.
To the south of the temple, there was a quarry where human slaves were forced to mine minerals day and night. Exactly what these rocks were for, they did not know. All that mattered was doing as commanded, or they were severely punished.

Among these slaves was the former king of the land that had defeated Echidna those many years ago. The once great and beloved ruler was now reduced to a cog in Echidna's machine for world conquest.

The poor man was a shadow of what he once was, wearing nothing but rags as he withered and emaciated body struggled to lift the pickaxe to strike the deposit infront of him.

"Move it!" One of the overseers ordered. "Faster! Don't make me get the lash!" Finally, the king's body coul hold out no longer, and he collapsed into his knees.

"Good for nothing human." The overseer growled as he raised a whip. "But as he brought it back to swing, something stopped him from doing so. The overseer looked to see a young human clad in armor and a sword on his back, clutching the ship in his hand.

"Release these people now. And maybe I will spare your lives."
The overseer blew a whistle, and others joined him.

"Do you think that you can take us on?" the overseer asked. "You're a lone puny human. You won't beat us."

Something zipped through the group, impacting the rock behind them.

The overseers looked at the object, an arrow imbedded into the rock face.

"He won't be fighting you alone," said a familiar voice.

The man looked behind him. There, wearing a wolf-shaped helmet over his head was Snapjaw, carrying his sword. Beside him, wearing a tiger-like mask was Swiftpaws.

"What are you doing?" the Prince asked, as Snapjaw walked up to beside him, as Swiftpaws took to an elevated spot.

"Our brother told us of our role in this conflict," said Snapjaw. "Should you fail to kill Echidna, we start up a resistance movement, to keep hope alive. Your journey will be longer to you than to us."
         Nodding his head, the prince dismounted his horse and drew his blade along side Snapjaw.
         Looking at the army around them, the prince breathed to relax himself before holding his bladr to the enemy.
         Quick as the whip, the battle began.
The minions of echidna charged forward, their claws and fangs bared, ready to tear in the Prince's and his allies flesh. The prince's sword, with it's silver blade and holy power, sliced through the incoming enemies as though they were air. Dismembered limbs and decapitated heads flew in all directions, while Snapjaw fought beside the Prince, likewise slashing away with his blade.

Meanwhile, Swiftpaws was firing arrow after arrow into the horde from above. Never missing his mark, enemies dropped like flies as they were pierced one by one.

After only about seven minutes, all of echidna's children that had been guarding the quarry lie slain. The prince sheathed his sword and approached his father.

"Father."

"Son?"

They embraced each other, tears of joy in the kings eyes.

"Hate to cut the reunion short, but we'd best get away," said Swiftpaws. "It won't be long until Echidna's forces come here. She got magic to see any place she wants."

"You'd best take that path," said Snapjaw, pointing a metal gauntlet towards a narrow pass. "You should be able to slip past most of her patrols without notice."

"So, what's the deal with these rocks she was quarrying?" the Prince asked.

"Sometimes she just has those she wants to torment to just dig their own grave, and just keep digging, until they just break and die," said Swiftpaws.

"Guess your father would qualify for that sort of thing," said Snapjaw. "As for the rocks themselves, maybe gravel for a road, but the idea was to work the people to death."

"I see," the Prince said. "Can you take them to safety?"

Snapjaw nodded. "We'll do that. Hopefully we'll see you around. Otherwise, we'll honor you as a true brother." He gave the Prince a hug.

"Um, thanks," the Prince said, grateful that the disguised werewolf was friendly.

"You be careful," said Swiftpaws.
         Walking to his horse, he brought it to his farther so he may ride instead of walk.
         "Thank you my son. May your travels bring peace to our land."
         With that, he rode off to the monestary to great his wife.
         Just as the last disappeared, a tall shadow obstructed the sun, placing the young man into a shadow.
         "So you are the one who has allowed my prisoners to escape.~
The Prince instantly knew who it was eclipsing him. Drawing his sword once more, he turned to face his enemy. "Foolish human." Said Echidna with a malicious chuckle "No weapon can harm me!"

She reached to grab the prince, but instantly drew her hand back, crying out in pain as the Prince's blade sliced her palm.

"It can't be!"

"It is!" Said the Prince triumphantly "I am the son of he who defeated you before. And now, I will finish what my father began, and slay you once and for all!"

Deep within Echidna's black soul, she felt something she had never felt before...Fear. With resounding battle cry, the Prince charged forward, sword raised, ready to destroy this this scourge of humanity forever.
Still, he was but a human - dangerous, but human.
         Using spells, Echidna did her best to deflect his advances, only to grow weak from his onslought of attack.
         So, withe last bit of strentgh, she used a spell to turn the tide into her favor.
The Prince practically had Echidna at his mercy. With each slash from the holy blade, she cried out in agony, and seemed to shrink in size. Eventually, the mother of monsters was no larger than the average human, as she lay on her back across the ground, panting in exhaustion.

The prince stood over her, sword raised, ready to finish her forever. "You think you have won?" Asked echidna with venom in her voice "This is the end for you, vile beast!" Said the Prince, as he prepared to strike.

"No." Echidna replied with a malicious glint in her eye. "This is only the beginning!"
That was when a strange hole opened up beneath the Prince's feet.

"What is this?" Then, they were sucked up.

"Remind me to figure out When and Where he's going to show up, so that I can have someone kill him," said Echidna, as she stood up. "If nothing else, I've bought myself some time to plan his demise, while I enjoy ruling the world."
         After falling for what felt like hours, they came to the end of the trip.
         Landing on there feet, the prince and his compatriates look around to find that they were back in the same place they were fighting at.
         But as they look around, they find that much has changed.
(Just a note, Wolfkindom, it was actually just the Prince that was sent through time. Slight oversight.)

Episode II

Where once was a stone quarry, the Prince now stood in the center of a bizarre city, as strange creatures of all sizes walked by him, many of which gave him confused or otherwise disgusted looks.

In the sky hundreds of winged creatures flew back and forth, and tall buildings of obsidian and reflective glass littered the landscape.

"Hey!" Said a voice from behind the prince. He turned to see another werewolf, this one dressed in some sort of uniform, approaching "You know humans are forbidden to have weapons." Said the werewolf, indicating the Prince's sword "Where's your owner?"

"Owner?"

"Oh, a stray, huh? Then it's the the pound for you. Put down the weapon, and you won'tbe harmed."
"Hold it," said a familiar sounding voice.

The uniformed werewolf and the Prince both looked.

Standing in what seemed to be a highly expensive outfit, was a werewolf that bore a passing resemblance to Snapjaw. The werewolf seemed to be panting, as if they'd been doing some hard running.

"That human is mine," they said. "My cousin sent him to me, as I'm in need of a good Breeder, one of very high quality stock. That one is worth more than what you'd make in a year."

"Why aren't they on a leash?" the uniformed werewolf asked, as the well-dressed werewolf walked up.

"Humannappers," said the well-dressed werewolf. "You know how it goes - abduct a well-bred human and either hold them for ransom, or use them to sire unregistered humans to be sold in underground markets. I'm surprised that you've never heard of them - multibillion Echidna Dollar industry - over a hundred billion a year!"

"And the long blade?" the officer asked.

"Trained to be a Protector - either to protect the Owner, or the rest of the Stock, Pets, and Slaves, or both," the wealthy werewolf said. "I even have the documentation to prove it."

"Let me see," the officer said. "Identification?"

"Brendon Snapjaw, ID 854-63-9365, owner of Sam W1749," the wealthy werewolf said, as he walked over to the Prince, passing some papers onto the officer. "Sam, kneel, and kiss your Master's hand."

That was when the Prince saw it, a Noble Insignia on a ring worn by the wealthy werewolf, specifically, one used by his clan. The Prince knelt, and kissed the werewolf's hand.

"Good, Sam," Brendon said. "Now, stay." They looked at the officer. "Everything in order to your liking?"

"Um, yes," the officer said, as they hurriedly, if nervously, handed the paperwork back. "I'm sorry - I didn't know who you were. I mean, you come highly recommended for Human Slaves, Pets, and Livestock. I mean, very few low-grade livestock has ever been produced by your family."

"I'm glad you understand," said Brendon. "Now, go bother someone else, or you'll be stuck on Parking Duty, permanently."

The officer ran off at this.

"Who are you?" the Prince asked.

"Sam, I'm your owner, get used to it," said Brendon. "You're lucky that our family employs one that can see into the future, or those humannappers would have run off with you for good. Now, be an obedient human, and hold still."

"What do you mean?" the Prince asked.

"Clearly you must of hit your head when you escaped from those humannapers," Brendon said, as he got out a harness and leash, which had a piece of metal that had some sort of engraving. They quickly placed it on the Prince. "Don't you worry Sam, I'll have a vet look at you, and after that, I got some nice females that you can mate with. Now, Stand."

The Prince stood up, a latched hook on the leash connected to the harness, with Brendon holding the other end.

"Now, Follow."

The Prince followed Brendon for a few blocks, until they got to a strange chariot. Brendon opened the door.

"Get in, Sam," they said, as if speaking to a slave or pet.

Annoyed, the Prince got in, and sat in the seat.

Brendon used some sort of restraint, to hold him to the seat. They then closed the door, walked around, and got in from the other side, closed the door, restrained themselves, and pressed something, and the chariot came to life without the need for a horse, and sped off.

"What's going on?" the Prince asked.

"Well Sam, let's just say that it's been over two thousand years since your defeat to Echidna," said Brendon. "More than long enough to forge the history of Sam W1749."

"What was all that stuff earlier you said, about human Slaves, Pets and Livestock?" the Prince asked.

"That's what most humans are," said Brendon. "Lucky humans are Slaves and Pets. Unlucky ones are Livestock. I'm sure that you can grasp the implications of that."

"Are there any Free humans?" the Prince asked.

"Yes, the Ferals," said Brendon. "They are seen as Game animals for hunting - either to be eaten, or captured to use to maintain genetic diversity."

"And myself?" the Prince asked.

"A well-bred Slave with Special Training to make you a Protector," said Brendon.

"What about you?" the Prince asked.

"A distant descendant of an ally of yours," said Brendon. "I'm a leader in the Resistance Against Echidna. There's others, human and monster alike, among others, that dislike her rule and all that she's done to humans. However, we've been unable to do much, until now. We had to bide our time, pretending to be upstanding citizens and such. Now that you're here, we might have a chance."

"That one mentioned that you sold human livestock," said the Prince. "What did he mean by that?"

"There's a few types of Human Livestock that my family sells," said Brendon. "First up are humans that you'd probably kill anyways - too much trouble to allow to live, as they are murderers and rapists, and such. Next, there's the terminally ill - even with a good vet, you can't always cure every sickness. As for the final group - sometimes a human resistance member must make that sacrifice, so that we can keep track of certain members of Echidna's ruling party. In any case, there's certain tricks that can be employed to boost the meat quality of even those of lesser grades. As you heard, we have a very good track record. Still, we make most of our money in Slaves and Pets."

"So, what now?" the Prince asked.

"Get used to being called Sam, or rather Sam W1749 - that's your name, insofar as this world is concerned," said Brendon. "Respond to it, identify yourself as it, live, breathe, eat, and everything else as Sam W1749. Otherwise, it will be the noose for me, and the monster members of the Resistance, with the humans being put to the Blades."

"Blades?" the Prince asked.

"Blades," said Brendon, as he stopped the vehicle at a light. "Look out the corner of your eye towards your primary side."

The Prince looked. "You mean, I'd end up like that skinned and decapitated deer hanging upside-down in the meat shop?"

"It's not a deer," said Brendon. "That was a human that managed to kill a number of hunters that were after him and his herd."

The Prince's eyes widened at this. "I see."

"Worst part is, they hadn't decapitated him while the human was being skinned," said Brendon. "Kept him alive during organ removal."

The Prince felt ill at this. "I've heard of such punishments. Hopefully it was worth it for him."

"Possible," said Brendon. "I've heard that the herd managed to escape, at least for now." The light changed color, and Brendon sped off. "That's what you're up against - that human is now meat. You'll be meat too, if you're not careful. If you're lucky, you'll die quickly. Otherwise, it can be long and painful."

"So, what now?" the Prince asked.

"Lie low once we get to my place," said Brendon. "Be the Breeder and Protector your file claims you to be. An Inspector is bound to come to my place within a couple of days. You'd best be about your duties by then - everyone is in on it, including the female human Slaves and Pets I got. During the day, get to breeding them. At night, do a patrol or two every few hours. The Resistance will need to set things up before we become active. Might take a while."
         After exiting the city and leaving it miles behind, the prince took in the new sights around him from the world that was once his own.
         It wasn't more then a hour later when they pulled up to a gate and Brendon typed in his security code.
         As the gates open, the prince marveled at the sight before him.
The whole place was open fields with what must have been thousands of humans going about their business, whether it was children playing a game together, or adults doing various chores across the grounds. All things considered, they actually seemed pretty happy.

"These people are your property?"

"Officially, yes. I try to make things as comfortable as possible for them while keeping up appearances."

They came to a large manor in the center of the property. As they exited the vehicle, Brendon lead the Prince inside. "Like I said, lay low for now, and pretend you're a guard dog for now. In the meantime, I have a little something for you."

Brendan called for his head servant, and ordered that his prize females be brought to the Prince's quarters. "As my specialized guard human, you'll have your own lodging separate from the others upstairs and down the hall to the left. They should be there shortly."

The prince entered his room to see it was actually rather nice, including a bathroom and four poster bed. As he took off his armor and sat down on the bed, the door opened and five human women entered, each beautiful in their own way.

"So you're the one who will free us?" One of them asked. "That's my plan, yes." The prince replied "For now, I am your protector."

"Master Brendan wants us to give you a proper welcome." Said another with a hint of flirting in her voice "Shall we get to it then?"
"First things first though, he needs a bath, get cleaned up, and properly dressed," spoke up a third, with a certain amount of authority. "We also need to swap his armor with the one he is to wear here, and make sure to clean the armor too."

"What do you mean?" the Prince asked.

The woman looked at him. "Many monsters have a good sense of smell, and given whom you've last fought, you'll probably smell like Echidna. Don't want an Inspector to wonder why they are smelling her on you. Your armor needs to be changed as well - your old armor won't hold up to our weapons. We have a replacement that will not only shrug off current weapon damage, but it also looks like your old armor. After you've been bathed and dressed, it will be time to eat."

"And after that?" the Prince asked.

"Then it will be time to start mating, and you'd better get used to it," said the woman. "If an Inspector catches a Breeder of your forged, and rather spectacular, lineage not in the process of mating, it better be because we're going some sort of pre-mating thing, you're looking after your prior Mates, your offspring, you're sick with something, or you're doing your Protector Duties, but even then, it better look like you're thinking of your next mating session. Otherwise, it will make the Inspector suspicious, and that could lead to the Blades."

"Do you have a choice in the matter?" the Prince asked.

"We do have a choice on whom we get to pick to be the father, or mother, of our offspring," the woman said. "We can mate with those we like. Master Brendon, and other Resistance monsters with human Slaves and Pets claim that a mating between a willing breeding pair results in a better quality product. I don't know if that's true, but given their track records, it seems to be."

"Is there forced matings at other places?" the Prince asked.

The woman nodded. "It's either mate with the one you're sharing the room with or die. If you're not mating, you'd better be pregnant or producing genetic material for artificial insemination, or caring for your mate and/or offspring. Again, you'd best be thinking about your next breeding session. Some places, they'll just inseminate the females. Here, we get to pick the father at any rate, even if it's through artificial insemination."

"What about when the Inspector isn't due here?" the Prince asked.

"They could show up without notification, so best to keep up the pretense, if possible," the woman said. "Sometimes it becomes force of habit."

"Do the Resistance monsters eat humans?" the Prince asked.

"The human would have to majorly mess up, like be a traitor to the group, or be deathly ill or injured or already dead, or if the death of the human is the only way to save others in the group," said the woman. "The Resistance monsters try to make the deaths quick though."
         At hearing all this information, he had a single question left to ask.
         "Has any other human betrayed other humans to get a better life?"
         Sighing, each of the girls nodded there heads.
         "Unfortunately yes. There have been other humans that have betrayed us to gain better status in life. Some even have there own farms that they use to act as a cover for harems."
         Shaking his head in disappointment from how far some human have went, he sat in a chair by his bed.
         Taking a breathe, the third woman placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Try not to focus on that." Said the maiden "If all goes well, and we can get you sent back to your own time, you can stop any of this from ever happening."

The prince looked at her and gave a small smile. "Well, then I had better succeed in my quest." A little while later, the prince sat in a large tub full of water and soap as the five women washed him.

"How exactly do I get back to my time, anyway?"

"Honestly, we don't have a clue how." Said one of the women "We're still trying to find a way."
A while later, after he'd finished bathing, and eaten a meal, he was met by Bernard.

"Follow me, Sam," the werewolf said.

The Prince followed after him.

The werewolf walked the property. "I expect that you were told that you'd be having sex with those five, correct?"

"Yes," the Prince said. "It's to help disguise me from an Inspector's inspections, correct?"

Bernard nodded. "As you've been told, your forged lineage is rather impressive, as is your Meat Grade - Prime Grade."

"Prime Grade?" the Prince asked.

"Humans are rated by the quality of meat - higher the quality, the more they are worth," said Bernard. "As it is, you are Prime Grade, so that's not a lie."

"How do you know this?" the Prince asked.

Bernard held up his ring. "Built-in genetic material collector. More discrete than me licking your face. The moment you kissed it, your file was completed - Sam W1749. You've been owned by my family your whole life, or rather my cousin has owned you, and they just transferred ownership of you to me."

"So, how does this grade thing work?" The Prince asked.

"You got Garbage Grade, Fertilizer Grade, Dog Food, Common Grade, Better Grade, Awesome Grade, followed by Prime and then Supreme Grade," said Bernard.

"What do you mean by Dog Food?" the Prince asked.

Bernard whistled.

The Prince heard some heavy footsteps running towards them. He turned his head and saw a dog easily the size of a draft horse. The dog stopped in front of them, and licked the Prince in what was thankfully a friendly manner.

"Are all dogs this size?" the Prince asked, as he tried to wipe his face.

"Certain ones are, like Champions, like Toby here," said Bernard. "Useful for both herding and guarding. Needs something the size of a human to eat per month, and they have no problems swallowing adult humans. But, as long as you don't stick your head, hands, or feet into his mouth, you should be fine, unless you're dumb enough to intentionally hit him. Same with the female, Baby. I've trained them to be gentle, and to nudge instead of bite. Others like their big dogs to be aggressive, and trust me when I tell you, you don't want to be a human that they go after. Then there's the Big Cats - feline sorts tend to use them over Dogs, in the same manners. You knew a Swiftpaws, correct?"

"Yes," the Prince said.

"His descendants own Big Cats that are like Toby and Baby - big, strong, and gentle," said Bernard. "Next down is Fertilizer - they simply get eaten and turned into manure. The Least is Garbage - not even worth being turned into fertilizer - they simply get killed and tossed into a recycler. Common Grade and upwards though, food for monsters. Common Grade is easily affordable - no issues getting one a month if you can afford even a cheap human meal. Better Grade, you're looking at a nice restaurant to be sent to, or be purchased by a reasonably high-middle class for home eating. Awesome Grade - that's a high-end restaurant, and you're getting into Wealthy Family dinning. Prime Grade - you'd best be pretty damn wealthy to eat them. Then there's Supreme Grade, and only Echidna gets those."

"So, humans are basically food," said the Prince.

"Pretty much, Sam," said Bernard. "Still, humans that are Pets and Slaves are better off in that instead of being sold to be eaten by some random stranger, they'll possibly get eaten by someone that cared about them. At this moment, only I can eat you, or a member of my family, or someone that we allow. Otherwise, it could be seen as theft - that cop would of had to pay me well over twenty million Echidna dollars if they ate you - as a Slave, you're valued at easily thirty million."

"Echidna must have known that I'd be arriving," said the Prince.

"She knows that you'll be arriving next week, on another continent," said Bernard. "Her far vision seer secretly works for us."

"I heard something about traitors in the group?" said the Prince.

"Sam, I wouldn't worry about them," said Bernard. "We take care of most traitors ourselves. Those we let live - sometimes we can't blame them too harshly. Also, sometimes, the best one to have in place as a spy is a known traitor, as it were."

"I see," the Prince said.
         For the next hour or so, Bernard showed him around the property, introduced him to those he would be gaurding, as well as the best vantage points for both to use as a lookout, and for performing any sneak attacks upon intruders.
         In the end, night has begun to fall as the sky began to fill with stars.
The Prince stood atop a lookout tower, staring at the stars and reflecting on his mission. He had no doubt it would not be easy, but the fate of this world and all humanity depended on him.
"A beautiful scene, is it not," Bernard asked, as the werewolf came up next to him.

"It is," the Prince said. "Still, to know how humans suffer so - the beauty becomes lost."

"I have to agree," said Bernard. "Especially knowing that in some small part, my family continues to cause yours to suffer."

"What do you mean?" the Prince asked.

"After he managed to escape, your father reunited with your mother. She got pregnant. Echidna though, didn't let up in her search for your father, and your mother. Snapjaw, Swiftpaws and others kept them three steps ahead of Echidna's searchers. Your mother died in childbirth, and your father died from a weak heart. Snapjaw and Swiftpaws managed to save the child, or, should I say, children, two of them. They decided to send a message to Echidna - there was a substantial bounty on your parents' heads. Echidna was rather pleased to find them, and offered a boon to Snapjaw and Swiftpaws, as she believed them to be loyal to her - whatever they wanted. Snapjaw and Swiftpaws each picked a child that had been carefully protected by them, stating that they wanted to own the offspring of the one that had caused her such trouble. Echidna agreed to this, with the stipulation that every so often, she'd claim claim one of the best of the line for her own uses. My ancestor and Swiftpaws agreed to this, knowing that this was the only way to save your family's line from being wiped out. Thus, the process continues - every generation, she selects the Supreme Grade ones of your family's line, among others, for her own uses."

"What does she do to them?" the Prince asked.

Bernard frowned. "If they're lucky, she'll just eat them. Otherwise, their fates, I fear, are much worse." The werewolf shuddered. "To be honest, I don't want to know, but I know what others do to their Pets and Slaves, not to mention Livestock, and I know what I do to mine, even if it is to keep up appearances. Still, one hears things, horrible things."

"What do you do with yours?" the Prince asked.

"You're not the only one that has to be caught mating with one of my prized females," said Bernard.
         Hearing this, the Prince started to feel depressed from what happened to his parents, as well as his families bloodline through the year.
         Getting a serious expression, he started to get a idea.
"When I get back to my time, is it possible that after I defeat Echidna to prevent this from happening to my family?"

"Do that, and none of this should ever come to pass. So I would think so, yes."
"Are you okay with this?" the Prince asked. "If I do managed to go back in time and defeat Echidna, you might not be born."

Bernard looked at one of the prized females. "She needs to be bred soon, or else the Inspector will get suspicious. I care about her, too much, for the usual Master with a Slave, if you understand my drift. If I don't breed her, an Inspector will make me breed her, or have me eat her. She's also Prime Grade - if I don't breed them, an Inspector will ask me about whom I'm going to let eat her."

"What will you do?" the Prince asked.

"I have enough clout that I used to say that I haven't found a suitable male to breed her with," said Bernard. "But now, you got to breed her, with me watching, along with the Inspector, or I got to milk you of genetic material and artificially inseminate her with said genetic material, again with the Inspector watching."

"Is she of my family's lineage?" the Prince asked.

"She isn't," said Bernard. "And, even if she was, there's quite the degree of separation between you and her - 80 generations worth. It wouldn't count as incest, and trust me, my family has to keep track of every Slave and Pets' ancestries, if only to prevent those that are indeed too closely related from having children, especially since we prefer a free-style of breeding for most. We make sure to know the parentage of each child born here."

The werewolf sighed. "I would love for there to be a timeline where my counterpart would only artificially inseminate her because they want to have a child together, with the genetic material coming from a willing donor, and the reason he's doing it is because he loves her, or something like that, not because he's breeding the next generation of Meals-to-be."
         Setting a comforting hand on Bernards shoulder, the young Prince gave a comforting smile.
         "If anything, your ancestors would be proud of who you have become today my friend."
Brendan smiled appreciatively. "Thank you. That means a lot. Now, you should probably get some rest. My prize females will keep you company for the night, if you wish."
(The werewolf's name is Bernard)

As the Prince walked towards his room, he was joined by the female human that Bernard had talked about. She was also the one that seemed to be the leader of that particular group.

"In case I forgot, Sasha F6295," she said.

"Bernard mentioned that you were special to him," the Prince said.

"I know," said Sasha. "We grew up together - both born on the same day, in the same room even, within thirty minutes of the other, with me being born after him. Officially, I'm his First Slave."

"First Slave?" the Prince asked.

"Since I was born after him, Master Bernard had what's known as First Dibs on me," said Sasha. "Likewise, he had First Dibs on any Slave, Pet, or Livestock born after him, up until the birth of his next sibling, or at least those born within five years afterwards. If he didn't want me, one of the other siblings, or cousins even, would have got me. My mother was his father's favorite, and my father his mother's. His mother was of a religion that didn't buy humans with the intentions of eating them at a predetermined time, called the Bone Carriers."

"Bone Carriers?" the Prince asked.

"A little tricky to explain, but basically, most folk that can swallow a human whole will simply press a button after using the toilet that grinds up solid matter, like bones, before it's sent into the sewer system. Or, if they can't swallow a human whole and simply ate the meat, or just carved them up, they will toss the bones into the trash, where it's taken to a recycling facility and such, with said human being all but forgotten about," said Sasha. "A Bone Carrier though, they'll collect the bones, or at least them that they can, wrap them up in a cloth bundle, and bury it someplace that the human liked, leaving a marker to remember them by. Many of them are in the Resistance, or at least sympathize with it. My parents were buried in the estate's cemetery after they died - mother of a fever, and father of a bear attack. I visit them often - it's more than what most get."

"Do you know where my family's remains are?" the Prince asked.

"I know the location of where they were placed," said Sasha. She walked over to a window, and pointed.

The Prince looked. There was a magnificent garden of flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

"Sad to say, but after a while, cemeteries do get full, so every ten years, the remains are dug up, ground up, mixed with compost, and then used to dress the garden," said Sasha. "Markers are placed in a vault for safekeeping."

"So, you're saying that many of my family's remains have found their way into this garden?" the Prince asked.

"The ones owned by the Snapjaw family at any rate," said Sasha. "Those owned by the Swiftpaws have been placed in a similar garden. Do understand, the dead of your family cannot be treated like they were special just because they are your family. They must be seen as any other dead Slave or Pet - just another dead human. Even your living family members can't be treated like they are exceptionally special. On the plus side, all of us are treated well, especially compared to other places."

"I see," the Prince said. "So, what about you?"

"Bernard told you what you and I must do," said Sasha.

"Yes, but I won't have sex with a woman that doesn't want to have sex," said the Prince. "It's against my oath."

"Listen Sam W1749 - you're a Prime Grade Breeder, and if you don't have sex with me, I will be killed," said Sasha. "As will you. That means that your mission, and all the suffering we've been through, will be for nothing. This is greater than me, and greater than you. You're also a Protector, and to protect me, you must breed me. You must do so with Master Bernard watching, along with the Inspector."

The Prince frowned. "Could we kill the Inspector?"

"Last monster that killed an Inspector was hung, along with their immediate family, including children," said Sasha. "Echidna presided over it herself - there's something special placed into the noose that kills any monster, and they die horribly. As for the human Slaves, Pets, and Livestock - they were put to the Blades. Said executions were televised - all had to watch them die."

"What was the reason for the killing?" The Prince asked.

"Let's just say that the Inspector didn't get permission to eat a favorite Slave that hadn't been bred for a year after their prior child had been born," said Sasha. "Likewise, it's been a year since I was last bred."

"I see," said the Prince, as he grasped the implications of Sasha's words. "When this Inspector comes, Sam W1749 will breed you."

"Just remember to keep that in mind, Sam," said Sasha. "Still, we can enjoy each other's company between now and then. Makes things less awkward."
         As the Prince and Sasha continued to walk, neither noticed Bernard watching with a smile.
         "It may take time to adjust, but I think he'll be just fine till we find a way to get him home."
That night, the Prince was kept company by Bernard's prize females. His bed was large enough to hold all of them, as they lay huddled together beneath the sheets. But the prince's sleep was anything but restful, as he had a horrible nightmare.
The Prince sprang up out of his sleep, sitting up, gasping for breath.

Sasha got up, and looked at him. No words needed to be said. She brought him close to her.

"It was just a dream," she said. "A bad one, but a dream nonetheless."

"It felt so real," the Prince said. "I felt Echidna cutting m open, skinning me alive, removing my organs, before chopping my head off."

"Sam, that's not your fate," said Sasha. "I can see the future, and your fate shows you reuniting with your family, being happy, raising a younger set of siblings, along with your own children. I see you allowing the monsters that opposed Echidna's ways to live without fear. I see you as an old man, surrounded by loved ones."

"What about your fate?" the Prince asked.

Sasha smiled. "Sam, what you need to know about my fate is this - you will end up killing me, and all the others, when you go back to the past, yet, at the same time, you will give us a second chance, one where we can live happily."

"Are you content with this?" the Prince asked.

"Any future without Echidna is better," said Sasha.

The Prince laid back down. "Doubt I'll be able to get back to sleep though."

"You're not the first one to have nightmares, and I doubt you'll be the last," said Sasha. "That being said Sam, I do know how to help you get back to sleep." With that, she got on top of the Prince, and began to kiss him, until his body instinctively reacted to the presence of her body on top of him, putting him in the mood to mate. The Prince had to admit - it did the job.
         The next few weeks for Sam were spent either patroling the grounds, getting to know Bernard, and at night he slept peacefully after a session with one or more of the girls he is asked to breed.
         Currently it was early morning, he was just finnishing his breakfast when a car pulled up the drive.
The doorbell rang, and Bernard came into the room. "The inspector's here. Are you ready?" The Prince nodded. Though on the inside, he couldn't help but feel nervous. Bernard answered the door, and in slithered a gorgon in a business suit with a clipboard.

She had no legs, only a serpent's tail below her waist, and writhing snakes for hair. She wore a pair of thick, dark glasses to prevent turning anyone she looked at to stone.

"Ah, Mr. Snapjaw. I trust you're prepared for my inspection?"

Bernard nodded, leading the gorgon into the dinning room where the Prince stood at the ready.
"I've not seen this one before," the Inspector said. "Listed as Sam W1749?"

"A recent transfer from my cousin," said Bernard. "I'm certain that you've heard about his peculiarities where his Pets and Slaves are concerned."

"Teaching them to be highly militant, and combative," said the Inspector.

"Some like theirs that way," said Bernard. "Something about being able to beat them in a fight before they eat them."

"I prefer them to be more docile," the Inspector said.

"Some adjustments to his training were made, to make him a Protector," said Bernard.

"What do you mean?" the Inspector asked.

Bernard chuckled. "Sam, is Sasha F6295 in your room?"

"Yes, Master," the Prince said.

"Go there, and defend the room from those that do not have permission to enter it, and keep them out," said Bernard. "Non-Lethal means only."

"And just whom doesn't have permission to enter?" the Inspector asked.

"That would be you, Inspector," said Bernard.

"How long must I keep her out, Master?" the Prince asked.

"Well, given that I'll have to let her in anyways, sixty seconds from the moment she gets to the door," said Bernard. "That should leave you with plenty of energy to mate with Sasha afterwards. I'll give you sixty seconds to get to the room, and set up your defenses."

"Yes, Master," the Prince said. He walked away.

"As for you Inspector, do exercise some care while trying to enter the room I'm about to bring you to," said Bernard. "Not only is he a Protector and a Breeder of Prime Grade, he's also of a very Special line."

"Are you talking about the one that harmed Echidna, so long ago?" the Inspector asked.

"The very line," said Bernard. "He so good, he might be able to be dangerous to her."

"That sounds rather risky," said the Inspector.

"Well, maybe to those who don't know what they are doing," said Bernard. "By the way, speaking of that line, have you heard about the Special One?"

"Not much, other than they avoided capture, somehow," the Inspector said. "Possibly interference from some Resistance cell."

"Shame," said Bernard. "I'd like to collect his genetic material for use for breeding, as would the Swiftpaws. As it is, depending on how well this one does, I might share him with them."

"Has he been breeding?" the Inspector asked.

Bernard asked. "He and Sasha, among others, have indeed been spending time together." He looked up at a clock. "Time to start heading to the room. He's probably shoved a dresser in front of the door."

The Inspector chuckled. "That would indeed delay most."

"Remember - Non-Lethal," said Bernard. "I'd be annoyed if you turned him into a statue, and not all can use that trick anyways."
         Inside the room, Sam set a trap up via rope he barrowed from the shed.
         Tied to a standing shelf he placed infront of the door, he just stood to the side and waited.
         Outside the room, the imspector easily smashed the door into the room, only to set the trap Sam made.
         Watching the rope, the gorgon never saw the log hit her in the gut till after she was sent flying back and through a wall.
         Shaking her head, she cleared the dust of of her eyes as Bernard helped her up.
         "So, you satisfied?"
         With a slight growl, the gorgon relented.
         "Okay, he passed."
When the inspector had been hit by the Prince's trap, her glasses had been knocked off from the impact. As she stood and dusted herself off, out of the corner of her eye, she saw something glinting. She looked the side and had just enough time to let a gasp of realization and terror as her entire body instantly turned to stone. What she had seen was a mirror, and without her glasses, accidentally petrified herself.

"Oh no!" Cried Bernard "This is a disaster! Echidna will be expecting her to report back. When she doesn't show up, Echidna will suspect foul play, and then everyone here will be in danger!" The Prince felt a twinge of guilt, as this was sort of his fault, having set the trap for the inspector in the first place.

"Now what do we do?" He asked, and Bernard sighed in defeat. "The only thing we can do is take as many of my humans as possible with me into hiding. You, however, will need to find some way to return to your time on your own." They began frantically rummaging through the the manor for supplies, anything the Prince could carry that would sustain him on what was sure to be a long journey.

When all was said and done, the Prince had about two weeks worth of food for the trip. He would have to hunt and forage after that. Before leaving, he bid Bernard's prize females goodbye one last time. "For what it's worth, I really enjoyed what time we had together." Sasha said as she kissed him on the cheek. "What will you do now?" The prince asked "Don't worry about us." Sasha replied "Just find a way back and end Echidna once and for all. Only then, will we truly be free." The prince nodded, and set off on his quest.
Bernard brought several horses over to the Prince.

"They're good beasts," he said. "They'll serve you well."

"Where will you go?" the Prince asked.

"The good news is, there's many places that we can hide," said Bernard. "The majority of the humans can be placed among other estates owned by others - I can place your relations among my other relations or the Swiftpaws - and it will look legal. We'll make it look like a gang of Resistance members destroyed the place, among other things."

"Do you think we'll ever see each other again?" the Prince asked.

Bernard chuckled. "We will, some day," the werewolf said. "We're family - maybe not in blood or name, but the Snapjaws and Swiftpaws have guarded yours for so long, we might as well be. Family looks after family. Besides, Sasha tells me that we will indeed meet up again. But, for now, you got to go."

"Has she told you what will happen?" the Prince asked.

"That in returning to the past, you will kill me, but you will also save me," said Bernard. "I look forward to an alternative timeline that doesn't have Echidna ruining it."
         Smiling, Sam and Bernard shook hands, and went thier seperate ways knowing they will meet again one day.
~¤~

         Riding horse-back, the young prince rode west, not know what forces Echidna will send after him, or what he may find along the way.
Episode III: The Prince and the Poltergeist

For three days, the Prince rode west without any hostile encounters, which was a miracle in and of itself. As he did so, his mind couldn't help but drift back to Sasha and the others. He knew that the only way to save them was to complete his quest, but where to even begin?

His thoughts were interrupted however, as a storm suddenly began to brew. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed as it began to downpour. In the distance he could make out what looked to be a village. Perhaps he could get shelter for the night there. Urging his horses forward, as he got closer, he saw no signs of life anywhere. Half the homes looked as though they had been put to the torch long ago, and the rest seemed abandoned.

Coming to the largest house in the village, he stashed his horses in a nearby stable before entering. He was soaking wet from the rain, but thankful to be indoors. Mercifully, there was a fireplace with some dry wood nearby. He got a fire going and sat, drying himself and basking in the warmth that filled the otherwise dark and dingy room.

Suddenly, he jumped to his feet, sword drawn as a loud, ear piercing scream echoed through the house. "Who's there?" He called out, but there was no response.
The Prince walked around the place. They soon found a skeleton wearing armor, sitting in a chair, as if guarding a door next to them. The skeleton moved their head, their eyeless sockets looking at them.

"Who are you?" the skeleton asked.

The Prince blinked. "I dare not reveal my true name, but you may call me Sam."

The skeleton nodded in understanding. "I am called Jack."

"Was that you that screamed?" the Prince asked.

The skeleton shook their head. "Not I."

"Do you know who?" the Prince asked.

"The Princess Irene," the Skeleton said. "I failed her."

"What do you mean?" the Prince asked.

There was the scream again.

"She had a beautiful voice once, a pleasure to listen to," the skeleton said. "A demon got jealous, and stole it, leaving her with that scream you hear. I had tried to stop the demon, but I failed - they tied me to the chair while the door was opened, and when the Princess screamed - I died. The demon laughed at this, and left. I inhabited what was left of my body, the bones and armor. I am stuck here, bound by duty and word to protect my princess, and she unable to rest."

"Is there a way to end your curse?" the Prince asked.

The skeleton nodded. "A living being, of their own free will, must enter the room, sit before her, and listen to her sing."

"That doesn't sound too hard," said the Prince.

"It is," said the skeleton. "Out here, the scream is annoying, frightful, but otherwise harmless. In there, the sound will kill you. You must listen to her whole song. Also, you can't just cover your ears with your hands."

"I see," said the Prince. "I'll find a way."

"Might just be easier for you to leave us," the skeleton said.
         Getting serious, Sam placed a hand over Jack's armored shoulder,
         "Do not worry Jack. I will find a way to listen to her sing, and allow you both to rest peacefully."
         Shaking his head in dismay.
         "It is pointless young Sam, I have witnessed many who have tried in the ceturies that have passed. None has been able to succeed."
         Thinking about the challenge, he had a somewhat of a idea.
         "What if I fill my ears with cotton?"
Jack stroked his chin thoughtfully with one bony finger. "Hmm. That might actually work. Although, I wonder why nobody ever thought of it before." The Prince searched the house until he found some old pillows. He sliced them open and stuffed the cotton inside his ears. Returning to Jack, the skeleton opened the door behind him and the Prince stepped inside.

In the center of the chamber, a translucent figure of a young girl, probably no more than fifteen, hovered inches above the floor. When she spoke, Sam couldn't hear her, but he could read her spectral lips.

"Are you here to set me free?"

The Prince nodded. The ghost only frowned, sorrow in her eyes. "You may try. But none have lived through my song." The prince merely sat and motioned for her to begin.

Hesitating at first, she began to sing. Had not the prince's ears been plugged, the first few notes would have caused him to burst into flames. The spirit continued, increasing the volume of her song with a vile melody that, had the prince been able to hear, his head would have exploded on the spot.

For several minutes this went on, the ghost continued to sing in different tones and harmonies that would bring instant death to anyone living that heard. Yet the prince was still there, unfazed. As her song reached it's crescendo, hope began to fill the spirit's eyes. Could this be the day she'd finally rest in peace?
The song soon finished.

Irene looked at her living guest. He'd managed to sit through it, unharmed.

"A beautiful song," they said. "A pleasure to listen to."

"How?" Irene asked. "All others have died."

"I have learned to listen with my eyes," the guest said. "I shall write your song, so that others may sing it."

"Thank you." There was a bright flash, and then, she was gone.



The Prince walked out of the room, and removed the cotton from his ears.

"I guess the cotton worked," said Jack. "You have my thanks, Sam."

The Prince looked at Jack, the skeleton looking at them, or rather, their spirit.

"Are you about to go?" the Prince asked.

"Just about," said Jack. "Give my remains a nice burial, and take my sword - it is imbued with magic."

"What kind of magic?" the Prince asked.

"My strength shall add to yours, as will all other prior holders of the sword," said Jack. "It's why I thought that I could take the demon on. Almost did, until she had my own Princess kill me with her cursed voice. But now, thanks to you, I can finally rest."

There was a sound, a sound of beauty, a song that was a pleasure to listen to.

A smile came to Jack's lips. "Wonderful, simply wonderful."

"Why do you offer me your sword?" the Prince asked.

"It can only be given willingly," said Jack. "Anyone just taking it regrets doing so, as it becomes too heavy for them to carry. Only those that are worthy may have it."

"Tell me, do you know who did this to you?" the Prince asked.

Jack nodded. "Echidna."

The song's volume increased, as if joined by others. There was a blinding light in the doorway.

"I must go," said Jack. "See you around someday, Sam."

"One moment." The Prince etched his family's insignia on the wall. "If you see people wearing this, tell them that the fight against Echidna has taken a turn for the better. And tell the one that was a king-turned-slave that their son hasn't forgotten them."

"I will, Sam."

With that, Jack stepped into the light, vanishing, along with the light.

The Prince looked at the bones, which were now lifeless. He then looked at the sword, and picked it up, carefully pulling it out. It was a single-edged blade, and was in very good shape. "A useful backup, as well as a valuable gift," he said. "Thank you, Jack."

He looked and saw that the storm was gone. He looked back at the bones. "Let's put you to rest."
         Gathering the bones carefully, the young Prince gathered the bones and found a nice spot to place Jack's remains and burried them.
         Carving Jack's name into stone, He carefully placed it over his grave.
         "Rest in peace Jack, and thank you for your blade. I shall use it to bring honor to both our families."
         Slipping Jack's blade next to his own blade, he mounted his horse, and returned to head west.
         Unbeknowest to him, both his blades began to radiate a arua, as if they spoke to one another.
Episode IV: Rabbits, Rabbits Everywhere! ( And Not a Holy Hand Grenade in Sight)

Not too long after laying the princess and Jack to rest, the prince found himself walking along in a deep forest, leading his horse by the bridle. He had grown tired of riding for days on end, and decided to walk for a while.

Over the tree tops, he could see smoke rising into the sky, which meant there must be civilization close by. (No rhyme intended.) He approached to see a group of five werewolves sitting in a circle. He suddenly grew angry at the sight, because said werewolves were devouring a whole human each!

These must be some of the type of monsters that only saw humans as food, he decided now would be a good opportunity to test his new sword on them.
However, as he moved his hand to his sword, a voice said, "Unless you want to be sent down a gullet needlessly, it might be useful to take a moment and actually observe the situation."

The Prince carefully turned his head, and found himself looking at a female werewolf, looking the horse over.

"Not scared, well fed, good health, and isn't trying to run from me," she said. "Werewolf trained, or grew up with them at any rate."

"Maybe I stole him off of some werewolves," said the Prince. "Ones that I've killed."

The werewolf chuckled. "I can smell out a lie. No, this horse was given to you, or else it would be skittish."

"What makes you think that?" The Prince asked.

"As I said, your horse wouldn't be so calm if it had been stolen by you after you killed their owner near them," the werewolf said. "Besides, we're not the ones you'll want to use that blade on."

"What are you talking about?" the Prince asked.

"Ever raise sheep or other livestock in whatever feral herd you're from?" the werewolf asked.

The Prince nodded. It was a safe enough question to answer as such.

"Ever use dogs to help protect them from wolves and such?" the werewolf asked.

The Prince nodded.

"Similar concept," the werewolf said. "Me and my group are protecting the humans from more dangerous predators."

"More dangerous?" the Prince asked.

Something caused the werewolf to look away from him. "Something must of changed back at their warren." The werewolf looked at him. "If you want to live, follow me," she said. "You might be able to kill one or two, maybe more, but there's a lot of them. Now, follow." She started walking quickly, as if worried.

This caused the Prince to quickly walk his horse.

One of the werewolves noticed them. as the female opened fence gate, which the Prince hadn't noticed. "Salina, change your mind about partaking in the funeral feast?"

"No, I'm still not over David," the one called Salina said. "Found a guest, and it looks like someone at the Warren smelled the cooking. They're coming."

The other werewolves looked and saw the Prince and his horse.

"Get him changed, so that he doesn't stand out," the one said. "Hurry. Roulf, you take his horse to the stables."

"Yes father," said Salina, and the one called Roulf.

Salina beckoned the Prince to follow her. "You need to blend in."

The Prince followed her, being careful, just in case.

They entered a building, where Salina gave him a change of clothes, similar to that worn by the other humans that he'd caught a glimpse of.

"What are the humans here to you?" the Prince asked.

"Friends," said Salina, as she looked at a photo. It showed her and a male human. "Sometimes though, we're more. Do you know what Bone Carriers are?"

"Heard of them," the Prince said.

"Then know that you are safe here, if you behave," said Salina. "Those about to arrive would have eaten you if you were seen as an unclaimed human. Now, I need to get some sex slaves ready, because if they aren't allowed to satisfy one apatite, they'll want to satisfy the other."

"Tell me, what happened to the humans that the others are eating?" the Prince asked.

"They were killed by some would-be rustlers as a way to keep them from identifying said rustlers," said Salina. "We spotted them during the attempt, so the rustlers killed those still inside the fence, hopped it, making off with the ones they'd tossed over. This included my David. They were too fast for me to catch up to him. Now, I got to get going." Salina left the building.

The Prince changed his outfit, and watched carefully out the window.

That was when he saw them. What had caused the excitement was a bunch of humanoid rabbits.

One stepped forward to the gate. "Smells like you got a feast."

The leader of the werewolves made a look of annoyance. "Just about to start the second course, and have beef, pork, venison, and lamb," he said.

"We'd prefer human meat," said another rabbit.

One of the werewolves let out a belch. "Don't got any more done up," they said, in a female voice. "As my husband said, it's another meat, or nothing."

"Very well," the rabbit leader said. "So, what about some that we can have sex with?"

"Already found some that are willing to have sex with you," Salina said, as she stepped out of a building, followed by a bunch of humans, male and female.

The rabbit leader grinned. "That will do."



The Prince watched as the rabbits hopped the fence, ran to the humans, and, well, started acting like rabbits. Others though, ran to the table, ate what food was left on it, and as more came out, served by one of the werewolves, that food vanished. They even fought over the smoked animals, making the Prince glad that the animals were already dead. When the ones having sex were done, they switched with the others.

The Prince looked at his swords. The werewolf had been right - he'd might be able to kill some, but not all of them.
         Looking at the photo Salina was looking at before, he noticed how close she was to a young man.
         'If I can't fight them one by one, maybe I can take them out at the source.'
         Finding a spot to sit, he meditated, waiting inside for what seemed like hours for the rabbits to leave.
         Sensing somebody coming, he stood as he see's Salina walk in, clearly tired from transpired outside.
"Are they gone?" The prince asked, and Salina nodded. "They really like to overstay their welcome. They may seem cute and harmless, but they're nothing like normal rabbits. Even by monster standards, they're take things too far for most."

"But you're wolves, don't you eat rabbits? Why put up with them?"

"They far outnumber us. We can't take on all of them."

Just then, the prince had an idea. "Where do they live? I think I have a plan to deal with this rabbit problem of yours."
"If you're thinking about killing them, think again," said Salina. "Their leader is the Inspector around here. Kill him, and you'll be sending innocent folks to their deaths, especially if it's believed that you're connected to us."

The Prince looked away. "I understand."

"That being said, your horses have markings identifying them as belonging to the Snapjaw family," said Salina. "Did they give them to you?"

The Prince stayed quiet.

That was when Salina placed a ring down on a dresser. There was a certain symbol on it.

The Prince widened his eyes at it, as he looked at Salina with new interest. "I know that symbol. My, um, herd uses it."

"It's the symbol of the Resistance," said Salina. "They say that it belonged to some human family, one jointly owned by the Snapjaw and Softpaws families. Know anything about them?"

The Prince kept quiet.

Salina picked up the ring. "Not speaking means you know plenty. Good. We're kin to the Snapjaw family. You're safe enough with us, if you're who I think you are. If not, you're still safe enough with us."

"Who do you think I am?" the Prince asked.

"The one who will kill Echidna, somehow," said Salina. "There's a high bounty on that human's head, dead or alive."

The Prince blinked at this. "So, what do you think I can do?"

"The good news is, most monsters in the area despise the Inspector and their family, because we know that they are behind a lot of the rustling going on around here, but we can't exactly prove it, as they have a tendency to steal other folks clothes and use herbs like anise and woodruff to alter their scents to prevent identification, among other things to hide their builds," said Salina. "Needless to say, most of the humans taken are of the higher grades, but more importantly, most of the humans folks own around here are Pets and Slaves, and aren't raised to be food. If they didn't care for the Resistance before, folks around here are more in favor of them by now."

"So, what were things like between you and this David?" the Prince asked.

"Officially, he was my Slave, specifically, my Sex Slave," said Salina. "Unofficially though, we were friends that became lovers. Officially, I've been looking for a husband with a female slave or two that David could breed. Unofficially, I've been looking for someone of a similar mind as me."

"What happened?" the Prince asked.

"Three days back, David was taking a walk around the inside of the fence, checking on a few things, when he was snatched. I heard someone let out a scream or whatever. That's when I ran out of here and saw them. A dozen of my friends were on the other side of the fence, being carried by them, including David. The thieves still on this side of the fence killed the ones that they had before making the jump - only rabbits could make that jump, too high and far for most anything else. You might of noticed that our fence is a triple layer - smooth wire inside, barbed outside, and an electric one in the middle - rabbits can clear the whole thing, as you could see, but must climb if dealing with the weight of a struggling human, and toss them over the middle wires."

She walked over to the photo, and caressed the human's face. "I wouldn't feel quite this bad if they'd simply killed David - I'd of been able to milk him of genetic material to produce offspring for him, eat his flesh and organs, and burry his bones in a nice spot. At least I'd have closure. If I could find his remains, I'd at least have a sense of closure. But, like this, I don't know if he's alive or dead."
         Going over the information given, Sam gently placed a hand over her shoulder.

         "If he is alive, I'm glad he, as well as everyone else you have watched over are greatful for both your kindness, as well as the honor of a heavy burden you carry."

         Wiping a tear away, Salina smiled warmly from his kind words.

         "Thank you, but now isn't the time to worry about my problems. Right now, we gotta get you settled in for work."
A confused look crossed the Prince's face. "Work? What do you mean?"
"Perhaps I should explain," said Salina. "It's not unheard of for Feral Humans to spend a few weeks or longer on farm or whatever. As long as they don't interfere with the harvest of human livestock and don't try to cause any escapes, said Ferals are allowed to leave. Cause trouble though, you become livestock."

"Why would a Feral want to spend time on such a place and not free a fellow human?" the Prince asked.

"Access to food and medical attention," said Salina. "If you caught a fever out there, it might kill you unless you know and have access to the needed plants. By seeking shelter with on a farm, the farmer might provide you with medicines needed to cure you. This tends to be reciprocated if a farmer is injured while out hunting for deer or other such animals and is found by Ferals. Problem is, if you have over five Guests, or locate a Feral herd that's larger than five individuals, an Inspector must be informed, so that an accurate count of the human population can be made."

The Prince looked at her. "Go on."

"The prior Inspector was a vampire and could be bribed if he found out that you had over five Guests," said Salina. "A bottle of A-Grade, and he'd look the other way. Same if a Feral herd was on your lands and you knew about it - a good bottle of blood, he'd look the other way. Well, he had his reasons - there was a Feral female he was fond of - they'd saved each other when they were young, and there's rules about such things, namely, if you were to save my life, even if I wasn't a Bone Carrier, I couldn't eat you without your permission, and those of your line would be likewise safe."

"What happened?" the Prince asked.

"That rabbit was named Inspector of another area that had hardly any good quality humans," said Salina. "One day, he was in the area, as a guest of the vampire. He caught our Inspector with that particular female, and followed both of them, rather quietly, to her herd, which was much higher than five. We all knew that he lied about the population, claiming that there was barely fifty Ferals within fifty miles of town. It's more like five thousand, on the low end."

"So, what happened to the vampire?" the Prince asked.

"That rabbit brought in a special team, and they caught that female, along with several other Ferals, and they gave the Inspector a cruel choice, drain all of them of blood, or be executed for crimes against Echidna," said Salina. "He looked her in the eyes as he drained her, her blood going into one of several bottles. After that, he was reassigned to the rabbit's prior posting, and the rabbit got this one. Still, the vampire got in one last laugh - most every farmer has a vial of that female feral's genetic material, and there's some of her line running around."

So, what do you want me to do?" the Prince asked.

"There's more than one way to skin a rabbit," said Salina. "Now, we can't kill them, as stated, but we can kill their reputation."

"What do you mean?" the Prince asked.

"The Inspector is hosting a huge party at the end of the week, and there will be plenty of food, specifically, human meat," said Salina. "The heads of all the families will be there - over a hundred. Each will get two humans - supposedly bought from some fancy farm, but we're certain that it's our own. Problem is, said humans will most likely have been skinned, gutted, and decapitated long before they are served to the dinner guests in order to hide the humans' identities. That's where you come in. All guests can bring in a well-behaved human slave, pet, or livestock. I got the blueprints of the place - there's a series of rooms that the prior inspector used for the humans he owned for a fresh source of drink. More than enough room. Now, there's fifty rabbits - supposedly, they won't harm a claimed human that's clearly owned, but that's a lie, as they will if they can get away with it, and if you're unclaimed, it's down the hatch, unless you know what you're doing. If you could liberate the humans, and expose the rabbits for being rustlers, we can get them for that, and the local monsters might give you a twenty-four hour head start to escape the area."
         Listening to the plan, Sam began to think of ways to go about it.
         "So it's simple to get in, just gotta figure out how to get the proof needed to to have their reputation go down."
         Smiling, Salina gave him a smirk.
         "I got just the thing we can use."
Come the end of the week, the prince found himself dressed in rags as he and Salina entered the rabbit's burrow, with him as Salina's "slave". Of course, he couldn't bring his weapons, as that would be far too suspicious.

As the other guests chatted, he whispered to Salina "If I'm going to rescue the other humans, you'll need to cause a distraction so I can slip away."

Salina smiles "On it."
Her smile then became friendly instead of mischievous. "On the plus side, I know who will be willing to help out with the distraction," the werewolf said.

"Who?" the Prince asked.

"See that kitsune foxman over there, looking sad and dejected?" Salina asked.

The Prince looked at the person indicated. "What of him?"

"Just like me, he loves a human slave," said Salina. "Like me, he was searching for a suitable mate to breed her, one that had an owner he wouldn't mind being with, and like me, said sex-slave was stolen in the night by rustlers."

"What do you plan to do?" the Prince asked.

"While it's no secret that me and Fabian have been making arrangements for marriage, no one is going to expect me to just jump him, and make out with him in Public, among other things," said Salina. "That being said, find the humans back there, and he'll understand the reason for it, especially if you find his sex-slave, Jena."
         Making their way to the fox, Salina gestured Sam to the tunnel that led to the human's they captured.
         "When I start the distraction, make your way. If you get cought, it'll probably make the job half as easy."
         Patting his shoulder, Sam eyed her carefully.
         "But if all else, if things go south, run like fucking hell."
With that, Salina approached the kitsune, and began to make out with him right then and there. The fox man was quite surprised to say the least, but he didn't seem to really mind either, as he didn't make much of an attempt to push her off.

Well, she's certainly forward, the prince thought as he slipped down the passageway as the other guests took notice of the scene Salina had caused.
The older werewolf was busy pouring himself a cup of blood-wine from the previous Inspector's stock when an equally aged female kitsune stepped beside him.

"Your daughter seems to have rather Publicly declared my son to be her mate," the fox-woman said. "While I've been rather favorable of the match, for a number of reasons, his happiness for one, her actions are rather rude and crude."

The werewolf looked up at a vanity mirror, catching his daughter in the process of removing both hers and Fabian's clothes, ripping them off in fact. However, he noticed something else - the human "slave" was gone.

A grin came to the werewolf's face, one that could almost be mistaken for lewd. "Elizabeth, as interesting as my daughter is with her attempts to get your son to knot her, rest assured, the real entertainment will soon arrive."

"You got something up your sleeve, Richard?" Elizabeth asked.

"More like down alongside my spine," said Richard. "A plan to rescue the stolen human slaves and pets. If it works, we'll soon be rid of the Inspector, and reunited with our beloved humans, alive hopefully. If not, hopefully talk of a marriage between our families will make folks happy for a while."

Elizabeth nodded. "Understood. Try to keep your back straight, you don't want that object to be too obvious."

"The one's bad enough," said Richard. "It's like having a headache that won't go away."

"What about the other?" Elizabeth asked.

"Like a really heavy burden," said Richard. "One that can only be carried if you are willing to accept the weight of it."
         Making his way down the passage, he took to the ceiling and into one of the many vents and continued as he found his way to the room where the human prisoners are held.
         Looking around, he soon found David and saw him speaking to a girl he could only guess was Jena in one of the corners.
         It was then he heard the door to the room open as he saw the inspector walk in.
The inspector licked their lips hungrily as the humans cowered in fear. "Hmm. I don't suppose it would hurt if I had a sample of the delicacies before they're served. " They grabbed David, who looked about ready to soil himself out of shear terror.

"I usually prefer humans cooked, but since we're a ways from the kitchen, looks like I'll have to have this one raw."
At this, the Prince maneuvered himself, and kicked out the metal grating separating him from the room, the metal hitting the floor, just as the Prince shoved himself through the duct, with such force, he crashed into the inspector, forcing the rabbit to let go of David.

David looked at him. "Who are you?"

The Prince looked at him. "They call me Sam."

The Inspector stood up, with a grin, as he looked at the Prince. "Well, well, well," they said. "I know who you are. Echidna will reward me for bringing you to her."

The Prince looked at him. "That will be hard, because I'm about to kill you." At this, he grabbed the rabbit, and threw him him through the door. He looked at the humans, who looked at him, hope in their eyes. "If you honestly care for your Masters, regardless of what you actually call them, help me to protect them - the Inspector means to kill them."

At this, most of the humans got into a stance that seemed to be one more suitable for a fight than flight. Salina had informed them that many of the human Slaves and Pets would be willing to fight to protect their Masters, if they believed them to be in danger.

The Prince was both impressed, and ashamed, at how dedicated the humans might be willing to do this. He'd known of plenty like this, but many would at least be willing to protect themselves too.

"Follow me," he said. He stepped into the hallway, where a couple of rabbits awaited, with capture nets. They fired their weapons.

Two humans shoved the Prince behind them, getting entangled in his place.

The Prince gently moved them to the side, and pushed forward, pulling the weapons out of the rabbits' hands.

Fear entered the rabbits' eyes, as the Prince grabbed their throats, and smashed their heads together, knocking them out. "Take them alive," he said. "Keep moving."



Back in the party room, Salina was still busy kissing Fabian.

"I'm surprised that you've yet to let my maleness to enter you," the kitsune said. "After all, you seem to want me so bad."

"That's because you'll be wanting to not be knotted very soon," said Salina. "We're about to rescue Jena and David."

The kitsune's eyes widened. "How?"

At this, the Inspector ran into the party room, his eyes widened in fear, shortly followed by the other rabbits. He was busy catching his breath as Richard stepped forward.

"Is something wrong?" the werewolf asked.

"We're attacked by Ferals," the Inspector said.

"I thought that you could easily handle a couple of feral humans," said Richard.

"This one's no ordinary Feral," the Inspector said. "There's death in his eyes. He'll kill everyone." He turned to look at the hallway, as the Prince came into view. "He's the Royal One that Echidna wants."

The Prince held out his hand. "Sword! To Me!"

Without anyone seeing, Richard tossed the one sword to the Prince.

The Prince caught it. He held out his other hand. "Sword! To Me!"

This time, the sword was trickier for Richard to hold, but toss it he did.

Again, the Prince caught it. To all watching the Prince, especially the Inspector, it was as if he'd summoned them to his hand.

The Prince put the point of his family sword at the Inspector's throat. "This sword kills monsters." He carefully set Jack's sword on the ground, and turned it, so that the handle pointed at the Inspector. "Only those who are strong can wield that blade. If you think that you have the strength to kill me, pick it up to try to take my head. Otherwise, you will let the humans you've stolen return to their rightful Masters."

"And if I tell my family to just kill you?" the Inspector asked.

"Then they will be killed," the Prince said. "David! Jena! Step forward."

The two indicated humans stepped into view.

At this, Richard placed a paw on the Inspector. "Looks like clear evidence that you're a rustler. David, who all is back there?"

David began to name the various humans behind them. With each name, a look of anger came upon a monster, one directed at the Inspector.

"That will do," Richard said, halting David's speech. "Sounds like the missing humans."

"You have enemies behind you that want their property back," said the Prince. "Should your family attempt to stop them, the Pets and Slaves will fight to protect their Masters." The Prince lowered his blade, and stepped back. He pointed at the sword on the ground. "Pick it up, if you think that you can kill me. Otherwise, you and your family are to let these humans pass, and after that, you'll leave town, and tell the other Inspector that he can come back."

He then looked at the monsters gathered. "I'm called Sam Royal," he said. "Any who interfere will die. Those who leave me be, shall be spared. Tell Echidna, I'll take her life with my blades, and take back what's mine." He then looked at the Inspector. "Now, pick up the sword, if you can."

The Inspector went to the sword, only to find out that, despite his strength, he was unable to even budge it. He couldn't lift it from the floor. He looked at the human before him, and looked into those eyes. Death was in them. With one final yank, the Inspector's hand slipped from the sword's handle, and he fell backwards, onto his tail.

The Prince stepped forward, and easily picked up the sword.

The Inspector gulped. He was about to die.

The Prince swung the sword, and there was a scream of pain.

The Inspector placed a hand at a severed ear stump, as the Prince stabbed the fallen ear, lifted it, removed it, and stuffed it into his belt.

"I'm in a merciful mood," the Prince said. "Your ear shall be mine - the rest of your head to follow if you ever eat another human. Same with your family." He looked at the other rabbits. "Anyone else wish to lose an ear?"

They backed away, weapons lowered, in fear.

"Good." He looked back. "Seems that your Masters are safe now."

The humans came forward, and rushed towards their owners, who were more than happy to see them.

Richard stepped forward. "Feral, seems that you've uncovered evidence that the Inspector is a Rustler. However, it's clear that you also broke in, and assaulted a number of the inhabitants of this place, and have threatened Echidna herself. As a Judge, I can't just let you slide on this."

"And what about the Rustlers?" the Prince asked. "Are you going to let them stay?"

"It's clear that they've stolen several million Echidnian dollars worth of humans," said Richard. "Easily a hanging offense, unless they decide to just leave right now."

At this, the rabbits moved quickly, getting their things, and left.

"Well, usually the ink needs to dry a bit first," said Richard. He looked at the Prince. "That still leaves us with you."

"What are your intentions?" the Prince asked.

"The law is quite clear - you are to be sentenced to the Blades - skinned alive, gutted, and decapitated," said Richard.

There was silence. No one dared to say anything.

"Father, must we?" Salina asked. "He saved David and Jena, and many more. Surely that's worth something?"

The Prince looked at the female werewolf. If not for a certain twinkle in her eyes, he'd believed that she was indeed trying to plead with her father to spare his life.

Richard sighed. "Very well. Feral, you have from now until this time tomorrow to leave this territory. Otherwise, you will be hunted on sight, no capture tags needed."

The Prince walked up to him, about to pass by, when the werewolf slashed him with a knife blade, nicking his shoulder.

"Next time we see each other, I'll have to kill you," Richard said. "Understand?"

The Prince nodded, as he placed his hand upon his shoulder. "I understand." He kept walking, passing by Salina, who slipped him some bandages.

It had been for appearances, just in case a spy for Echidna had been there. Richard was a local Judge, and thus had to uphold the law, or make it look like it at any rate. He'd been granted a Mercy Lead - 24 hours, after which, he'd be hunted. Thankfully, the Prince's horses had been stashed nearby, along with supplies. He should be able to get out of the area in time.
         Sitting at a table placing bandages on himself, as well as any other human that was injured, Sam noticed Salina walk up to him.
         "Thank you Pr... I mean Sam. Thanks to you, everyone was saved, and our old inspector will return."
         Smiling a bit, Sam took this as a victory.
         A small one, sure. But a victory none the less.
         "So, where will you go now?"
         Getting up, Sam placed the two sblades in his belt before heading to the exit.
         "Where ever the wind takes me."
         Kaing his way to his horse, he soon mounted him and turned to leave just as Salina stepped out the door.
         Giving her one final wave, he turned his horse to the trail, continuing his journey to find a way back in time.
Episode V: The Prince and the Norseman

It's been several weeks since Sam's previous adventure. In that time, he's encountered and evaded more bounty hunters than he can count. Seems like every monster on the planet was out to bring Echidna his head, and claim the absurdly huge price she's placed on it.

The last time he'd seen a wanted poster of himself, it was up to fifty septillion. He never even imagined that amount of money even existed, let alone that he'd be worth that much.

But, that just goes to show how much of a threat he was. He knew that deep within her black heart, echidna was afraid of him. Afraid that he would find a way to return to the past and end her tyranny before it truly begins.

Presently, the prince finds himself in a fog enshrouded forest, as his horse trots along the path, with neither of them able to see what lies ahead.

For what feels like hours, they wander aimlessly through the mist, not even sure which direction they're going. Suddenly, a low whistle echos through the air. It begins to grow louder, as it's source gets closer, and the prince can make out a vague shape approaching through the fog.

He reaches to draw his sword, knowing it's most likely another hunter out for his skin. It's only when the figure is about five feet away, that he sees that is in fact another man. But not like any he's seen before.

The figure is about six and a half feet tall, with a large red beard in braids, and dressed in animal skins with a cloak of bear fur. Two large, intimidating axes dangle from his hips, and the sound in question came from a wooden flute that he played, only stopping when he finally saw the prince in front of him.

The strange man spoke in a thick sort of accent the prince couldn't place. "Well now, just as I was starting to think I wouldn't see another human is this blasted fog, what do I find? Another warrior by the looks of it, just not a very intimidating one."

The prince wasn't sure if he meant that as a compliment or insult. Ignoring the man's remark, he said "Hello, traveler. Can you tell me if I'm near the edge of the forest?"

"Afraid not. I've been wandering the woods for days, now."

"Well then, I shall not keep you." The prince urged his horse onwards, but it wouldn't budge. It seemed to be petrified in fear at the presence of the the man in furs.
The Prince looked at the man's furs. "What is your cloak made of? Bear?"

"Ha!" the furred man said. "This isn't bear fur, though the monster might of eaten bear meat and lived - it's werewolf. Thought that he could just eat the weaker ones. Didn't reckon on me. Took his head off with one blow, and then I took his hide to keep me warm."

"I see," said the Prince. "Explains why my horse is acting skittish."

"Why is that?" the furred man asked.

"I got him off of a family of werewolves, who don't normally eat human meat, save when they must," said the Prince. "They were Bone Carriers."

The furred man raised an eyebrow. "Tell me that you didn't kill them?"

The Prince shook his head. "I won't harm those that mean me no harm, even if they are monsters."

The furred man let out a sigh of relief. "I'm glad you spared them - I too don't harm those that don't intend to do me harm." He pulled out a pendant, one that looked like a bundle of bones wrapped together.

The Prince blinked. It was like some jewelry that prior Bone Carriers he'd encountered wore. "I take it that you're friends with some?"

The furred man nodded. "When I was a child, my herd was hunted down. My father, he was a strong warrior, and fighter. My father had us flee across a rope bridge. He too tried to make his escape, but they were quick, got to him before he could reach the middle, and mortally wounded him. I loved my father - I rushed back to save him. But, by the time I was on the bridge, father had slashed the ropes, causing the bridge to collapse. He did it to save the herd."

The Prince frowned. "I too have been through similar. What happened?"

"I fell the height of ten men, into a river so wild, it would of killed most grown men, let alone a young boy," the furred man said. "Must of hit my head, because next thing I knew, I was in a bed, my injuries bandaged. I soon got a good look at who had saved me - Ursans - the bearmen. They had also found my father's body - they had, well, preserved it, instead of eating it. They managed to locate my herd, gave them a deer to show peaceful intentions. They then brought me to them, along with my father's cloth-wrapped body. Since then, we've been on good terms with them, with me becoming friends with the daughter." He stroked a lock of fur that was connected to the pendent. "Ah, Bertha, she's one to write songs about. Used to wrestle together when we were cubs, although, as we got older, that changed into, other things."

"I'm glad to know that something good came out of it," the Prince said.

"Good did come, especially when we declared our love for one another," the furred man said. "But then, tragedy occurred."

"What happened?" the Prince asked.

"Her family owed money to another family, one that was exceptionally wealthy," said the furred man. "So, to keep her family out of debtor's prison, Bertha went to Utrude, the elder son of that family, as his mate. Used to be I could sneak onto the estate to visit her, until Utrude decided to move to a more distant estate. I aim to get her back. Problem is, he keeps moving before I can get to the location. Then there's the bounty hunters, and others - I think he found out about me, and plans to keep her from me. I got quite the price on my head - Forty-five septillion Echidna dollars."

The Prince chuckled. "I got fifty septillion on my head."

"How'd you get that?" the furred man asked.

"I plan to kill Echidna."

The furred man blinked. "Must be quite the threat to her then," he said. "I guess you're stronger than you look."

"I must respect one that commands a price nearly as high, just because they want to rescue the one that they love," the Prince said.

"Ah, I do love her," said the furred man. "Bertha knows how to soothe me when I have the rage upon me."

"Tell me, what do they call you?" the Prince asked.

"Erik the Red," the man said, as he removed his helmet, revealing his red hair. "You?"

"They call me Sam Royal," the Prince said.

"Wait, they said that you turned a Gorgan into a statue just by looking at her, and beheaded a rabbitman, both Inspectors," said Erik.

"Slight exaggeration, I assure you," said the Prince. "The Gorgan turned her own self into a statue by accident, and I only removed the ear of the rabbitman."

"Still, even that can be respected," said Erik. "Heard something about you saving some humans that were stolen."

That was when some sounds started coming towards them at high speed.

"Expecting company, Sam?" Erik asked.

"No," said the Prince. "You?"

"No," said Erik. "Best get off the road."

"Agreed."
         As both Sam and Erick removed themselves from the road, they set themselves and Sam's horse into the shadows of the fog and forest.
         As they waited, they heard the sound come closer as time passed.
         As the sound got closer, both men set their hands onto the hilts of their weapons.
That was when they realized that the sound came from right behind them. A low, rumbling growl and a blast of hot breath hit them from behind. They turned to find themselves staring at the snarling face of a Fenrir, a huge, ferocious wolf. The prince stood completely still as he tried to think of a plan, one move and the beast would devour him like a dog treat. But as he glanced to his side, he saw that where once sat Erik the Red was now an equally large bear, that tackled and began to battle the Fenrir.

The prince watched in astonishment as both beasts slashed and bit each other, never having seen such savage ferocity. Until finally, the Fenrir retreated back into the fog to nurse it's wounds, and did not return. The gigantic bear began to shapeshift, reverting back into the man known as Erik the Red. He turned and chuckled at the incredulous look on the prince's face. "Never seen anything quite like that, have you?"

"Certainly not! How did you do that? Are you a shapeshifter?"

"Of a sort, yes. In my culture, great warriors drink a special brew that grants them the ability to change into a ferocious great bear, gaining the beast's strength. We call them berserkers, our most savage and feared warriors."

The prince couldn't help but curiously ask "Do you think I could do the same?"

Erik hesitated. "It's not something that should be taken lightly. Once transformed, it can be hard to control the beast if one lacks a strong will. You could be a danger to yourself as well as your allies."

The prince nodded in understanding. "Now that the wolf is gone, I suggest we find a way out of this forest." "Agreed. If you need a place to spend a night or two, you can come with me to my village. I'm sure the lads would welcome you when they know you're with me."
"Of course, I still need to figure out the right path," said Erik. "We tend to hide our village whenever we need to move - keeps those hunters off of us, and I don't mean Bounty Hunters."

"So, Feral humans, like ourselves, are hunted, as if we were deer," said the Prince.

"Been that way for a long time," said Erik, as the big man knelt down on the ground to look at something. "Good news is, we're on the right path to my village."

"So, you know where they are?" the Prince asked.

Erik held up a stone. There was an etching on it of a bear. "I'd say within a day's travel, north of us."

The Prince looked. "Last I heard, it was swamp that way."

"Makes it a good place to hide," said Erik. "Hunters hate getting their stuff dirty unless they need to. That and hiding high up helps."

"What about this Bertha you're looking for?" the Prince asked.

Erik grinned. "Two days north of us, unless you know how to drive a motor vehicle."
         Chuckling, Sam shook his head.
         "No, afraid not Eric."
         Givingva hearty laugh, Eric began to lead the way down the pat.
         Unbeknowing to the two, the hunter stayed close to them, hearing every word spoken between the two.
         "So the village is hidden in the swamp. Most interesting.~"
When they arrived at the village, Sam saw it was in a clearing at the center of the swamp. It was compromised of longhouses and huts the likes of which the prince had never seen. As Erik had said, the people were a mix of humanoid bears and regular human warriors.

As they came to the center of the village, a crowd was gathered around a man being held down by multiple other men, as another stood nearby sharpening a large knife.

"What's going on?" The prince asked "I recognize that man." Said Erik "That's Lothar, the village troublemaker. Looks like his crimes finally caught up with him."

"What will happen to him?"

"The blood eagle. They're going to cut open his back and pull out his ribs and lungs. Can't say I'm surprised. He must have really done something bad this time."

At hearing this,the prince was mortified! How could human do this to each other? As if what the monsters did to them wasn't bad enough! He couldn't let this go on. He had to step in and put a stop to this.
"Just what did he do to warrant such a fate?" the Prince asked.

"Something that warranted death I guess," said Erik. "Rape and murder tend to be it in such cases. Still, I can find out they did, if you want."

"I would prefer it," the Prince said. "I know what monsters do to humans - hard to believe humans could do something similar."

"Guess you never encountered cannibal humans," said Erik. "Trust me, at least the Blood Eagle is done to criminals. Three weeks back, I encountered a group of humans that would ambush travelers, butcher them alive, and eat them, regardless of species. I caught them in the process of starting to do that, when of course, they saw me. Given that I'm here, I'll let you figure out the rest."

"What about the travelers?" the Prince asked.

"Very grateful to be alive, especially the young female rabbit," said Erik. "You don't want to know what they were going to do to her. Those cannibals got what they deserved."

"So, what happened to the cannibals?" the Prince asked.

"Let's just say that karma caught up to them," said Erik. "They had a nice cauldron, and those travelers were hungry."

"Wait, you fed the cannibals to the travelers?" the Prince asked.

"Said cannibals were dead, which was more mercy than their victims tended to get," said Erik. "Don't get me wrong, try to come after me to kill and eat me, I'll take your head, but if I was already dead, and not killed to be food, and I'd made prior arrangement for a monster to claim my body, I'm not going to be complaining, especially if it was Bertha - wouldn't mind being eaten by her if I was dead."

"So, what about Lothar?" the Prince asked.

"I'll ask, as I do hold some authority in such matters, but if I believe that he's guilty of the crime that warrants the punishment, don't try to save him," said Erik. "Still, there are alternatives if I feel that death isn't warranted, but still deserves to be punished."

"Such as?" the Prince asked.

"Exile or Forced Servitude," said Erik. "Then there's the question of if they also deserve a physical punishment, like the loss of a hand."
         Leaving to go check on Lothar's case, Same looked around smiled as he seen both human and beast living in peace.
         'Hopefully, this may come to pass in the future without Echidna.'
Erik approached Lothar's executioners. "Alright, what did he do this time?" Another Norseman stepped forward "He violated my daughter, that's what he did!"

"Did he force himself on her?"

"Well...no. She says he didn't."

"Well then, I'd say his punishment is a tad excessive, eh, Ivar?"

"Come on, Erik, this man has been nothing but trouble for the whole village. If it were up to me, he'd have been executed long ago!"

"But it's not just up to you, now is it? Does your daughter show any signs of pregnancy?"

"She's been feeling ill in the mornings as of late."

"I'll take that as a yes."

Erik knelt down to Lothar and said "You've really done it this time, eh, Lothar? But maybe this is a chance to redeem yourself."

He stood and addressed the crowd "I suggest we wait until the child is born. Then, we give Lothar a choice. Either stay and raise the child alongside Gerdur, or be banished from the village and never return. In the meantime, he'll have plenty of time to think on it under watch. Agreed?"

At this, the crowd muttered in agreement, and soon the men picked Lothar up, and took him to a hut.

"I swear, you're going to regret not killing them," said Gerdur's father.

"Hemish, I'm surprised that you convinced anyone that it was necessary to inflict the Blood Eagle upon him for bedding your daughter without your permission," said Erik.

"She's promised to Cesar of the Roma herd, and Lothatr knows it," said Hemish.

"And so do I, but Gerdur has been opposed to that deal," said Erik.

"It must be done to maintain the alliance of our herds," said Hemish.

"Only because you claim it is," said Erik. "Besides, last I heard, Cesar has a sister, and I know that your nephew and her have been wanting each other, but you refuse it because they are promised to others of other herds. Might be a good idea to switch things around a bit. Besides, there's nothing wrong with having more than one mate, as you full well know, given that you have three of them. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to visit my mother, and then take my Guest around the place, enjoy a woman or two, have some food, get drunk, and then sleep."
         As Erick returned to Sam's side, Hemish only glared at him for not allowing Lothar's death to come.
         "That Lothar will pay for what he did to my daughter, and the agreement we had with the other village. And I think I know exactly how I'm gonna do it."
Erik approached the prince again. "Thank you." Sam smiled "I can't believe humans would do that to one another. Aren't the Blades bad enough?"

Erik shrugged "It was overboard, I admit. But at least now there's a chance Lothar will change his ways once his child arrives. Nothing changes one's perspective on things like becoming a parent."

"And if he doesn't change?"

"Well, as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. He'll probably be exiled in that case, but at least the baby will have a good chance."
"So, just what is the deal with Lothar and Hemish anyways?" Sam asked, as they began walking.

"Well, to be honest, Lothar isn't exactly one of us, more like adopted," said Erik. "His mother was a Pet."

"A Pet?" Sam asked.

"Yeah, and I'm not talking about someone that's Free-Minded, like what most Bone Carrier and Resistance members and human sympathizers tend to own," said Erik. "Her mind was specially broken - had the intellect of a dog, and she was conditioned to, well, be a pet, one that was used for breeding, and for sex. Her vocal cords were also removed. Her Master, in his infinite wisdom, upon deciding to hunt for Feral Humans, decided to use her as bait."

"What happened?" Sam asked.

"My father found her, observed her, realized what was going on, carefully walked around, and found the would-be-hunter," said Erik. "He once told me that no one should be turned into a pet, especially like that."

"What happened?" Sam asked.

Erik pointed.

Sam looked and saw a middle-aged woman walking around on her hands and knees, naked, save for a harness, with a leash held by one of the bearmen, a female one by the looks.

"Some injuries can't be healed, unfortunately," said Erik. "Still, Lucy's happy with Olan as a, for lack of a better word, master."

"And Lothar?" Sam asked.

"Seems Lucy there was pregnant when my father saved her," said Erik. "He's like a brother to me. A trouble maker, but I will risk my neck for him, if need be."

"Sounds like he's lucky to have you," said Sam. "What about Hemish?"

"He thinks that he's the leader of the herd," said Erik. "But, he's not. My mother is. He tried to court her once, after my father died - mother made it quite clear that she wasn't going to share leadership with him. As it is, I suspect that folks were waiting for mother to come and put Hemish in his place before they actually did anything to Lothar."

"Do you think that Hemish would try to cause trouble?" Sam asked.

"I hope not," said Erik. "Father once broke two of his fingers for trying to act against his leadership, and mother threatened him with castration when he tried to court her. I don't want to know what I'd do if he did something foolish."

They then stepped before a hut, and knock. "Mother, it's me."

A deep voice spoke. "You may enter."

Erik entered, followed by Sam.

Sam looked, and saw two of the bearfolk, both females, sitting beside a seated woman. It looked like she'd once been a formidable warrior, but now, age had done what battle couldn't. She looked weak, and frail, and was rather sickly.

Erik approached her, like a nervous child, his voice soft. "Are you feeling better, mother?"

The woman frowned, and shook her head.

"Cancer spread to her throat, and the vet had to remove her vocal cords in order to save her life," the one bearwoman said.

"But, they got the cancer, right?" Erik asked, his voice becoming hoarse.

She shook her head.

"Vet said that they got it, but then the last visit yesterday revealed that it was now in her brain," the first bearwoman said. "Your mother has six months, if that. Best thing is to make her comfortable for the time she has. Mind you, we went to one that's sympathetic to humans, and knows what they are dealing with. I don't need to tell you what any other vet would suggest."

Tears flowed from Erik's eyes. "Mother..."

The woman held up a hand, as if to halt him. She then waved him forward.

Erik walked up to her. The woman stood up, hugged her son, before letting go, and sitting down.

The bearwoman came up to them. "On the plus side, she can still write, and she did write a message for you, just in case." She pulled out a scroll, and opened it. "My precious Erik. I hope that this find you well. May fates be kind to you in your journeys, both now and in the future. If I've gone to my rest before you read this, know that I'm with your father, feasting, drinking, and and having a good time in general. If I'm still alive if you read this, I would like for you to spend the time with me, but I will understand if you feel the need to leave, to save Bertha. Erik, words cannot express how proud of you I am. You are a man I'm proud to call my son. Your father would also be proud of the warrior you've become. Never disgrace who you are, or where you've come from."
         As tears came to his eyes, Eric knelt to his mother, placing his hand on her.
         "I promise mother, with you either here with us, or with my father, my memories of you shall always remain."
         Hugging her, he stood up before standing beside Sam.
         "Mother, this is Sam Royal. He is on the run from Echidna's forces. Turns out she wants his head more then mine. Would it be alright if he stayed a few nights to rest?"
         With a heavy breathe, she nodded yes from sensing Sam's kind spirit.
         Taking a knee and bowing his head, Sam showed as much respect to the elder.
         "Thank you, I shall try not to cause trouble, and help where I can."
Just then, there was a commotion outside. Looking out the doorway, they saw another crowd gathering, this one focused on a stranger approaching the village. They wore a long black coat and wide brimmed hat, but their pale skin and red eyes made it clear they could only be a vampire.

"Whoever you are, you're not welcome here!" Said one of the villagers as they brandished a large axe. "Leave now, and there won't be any trouble." The vampire grinned, revealing rows of sharp, jagged teeth. "Oh, but trouble has already found you." He held up badge "I am a marshal of Global Human Control. I saw a wanted human headed this way. Two, in fact. I know they're in this village. Hand them over, and I'll pretend I never found this place. Refuse, and my associates will burn this place to the ground by this time tomorrow."

"How about we just kill you and send your head back to your friends at GHC?" A bearman growled, but the vampire only chuckled. "Do that, and it'll be something far worse than the blades for the lot of you. You have until dawn to decide." The vampire turned and disappeared back into the fog, as the rest of the village turned to look at Erik and the prince.
"So, that bloodsucker wants us," said Erik.

"Sounds like it was that, or the whole village will suffer," said the Prince.

Erik looked at the village timepiece. "12 hours until dawn - plenty of time to have some fun."

"What are you thinking?" the Prince asked.

"Have some food, a couple of drinks, start a brawl, enjoy some lovely women, and then go along quietly," said Erik. He looked at the rest. "Start the moving process - get the children to safe places. Once batboy picks me and Sam Royal up, be gone from this place - I don't trust him."

"So, we're just surrendering?" the Prince asked.

"He'll probably want the credit for catching us," said Erik. "I say we use it to our advantage. Doubt he's told anyone else where we are, or where he is. So, once he takes us a certain distance away, we take his vehicle over."

"Vehicle?" The Prince asked.

There was the noise from a while back, as something flew over the village.

Erik spat. "Show off. Still, we take it over, toss him into a river or something, and go rescue Bertha."

"Can you use one of those?" the Prince asked.

Erik nodded. "I don't use them, because humans aren't supposed to use them. I can bluff my way with most by claiming that I was Trained to be a Protector that's been hired out whenever I'm traveling with a Bone Carrier and the like, to explain my weapons - got a nice paper that passes most tests. That marshal though - we'll need to wait until we are well a ways from the village before we kill him."
         Thinking, Sam began to look around at the village itself before noticing a certain wolf they faced in the woods standing behind a tree outside the gate.
         "Sounds like a plan, and maybe we can use a certain pair of eyes watching us over yonder."
         Chuckling, Eric nodded.
         "Good eyes, young fighter. Any idea's?"
         Smirking, Sam began to form a plan.
         "I think I got a couple."
The following morning, as the sun was rising into the sky, the marshal returned to find Erik and Sam on their knees with their hands bound behind them. He chuckled evily. "Looks like your friends are smarter than I thought. They even saved me the trouble of tieing you two up. Echidna will reward me well when I bring the both of you to her. Now, on your feet. We have a long walk ahead of us."
However, as the vampire stepped forward, a voice rang out.

"Don't do it Marshal - they aren't actually tied up, and the others will pass them their weapons!"

Erik and Sam both looked at the speaker - Hemish.

The vampire grinned. "Thank you for telling me." He pulled out his gun, and pointed it at Erik and Sam.

"Change of plans," said Erik. "Hemish is mine!" Erik sprang to his feet, and ran towards the traitor.

The vampire fired at the Northman, hitting him in the shoulder, but this did nothing to stop the angry man, as he kept on running.

This also had the effect of Sam being able to rush the vampire, snatching an ax from a nearby villager. He watched as the vampire's eyes widened in surprise as he swung his borrowed weapon, decapitating the bloodsucker.

He turned to watch as Erik was busy trying to strangle Hemish, with his bare hands, as he held the man into the air.

"You betrayed the village," said Erik. "All for what? Because you weren't satisfied with not being able to punish Lothar the way you wanted! Because my mother refused you! Because you weren't picked to be a leader!"

He then threw the traitor against a wall.

Hemish looked around for a weapon, only to be grabbed and held by several of the bearfolk.

"The penalty for treason is death," said Erik.

"So, are you going to do the Blood Eagle upon me?" Hemish asked, with a snere.

Erik shook his head. "No. Someone might be able to put a weapon into your dead hands, letting your soul to be able to go to the feasting halls. Bind him good and tight, and tell Bruno he's about to have a very special breakfast called Traitor's Reward."

Hemish's face paled at this. "No, not that! Let me die with a weapon in my hands."

"You lost that privilege when you tried to turn the village into livestock and kill our friends for your own selfishness," said Erik. He walked away.

"What's going to happen to him?" Sam asked, following him, catching sight of Hemish being dragged into an empty hut, still pleading.

"The traitor's about to find out if our bear friends actually poop in the woods or not," said Erik.

This got plenty of chuckles. Even the bearfolk joined in.

"So, what's this about him not being allowed to die with a weapon in his hands?" Sam asked.

"If you die honorably, you get to go to the feasting halls," said Erik. "If you die in disgrace, especially without a weapon, let's just say you don't get to go to the feasting halls at all."
         Taking time to seach the vampires body, they removed a set of keys before disposing the body.
         During this, Lothar came up to them, with a look of calm in his eyes.
         "Eric, thank you for sparing me the other day. If there is anything I can do in return, just name it."
         Setting a hand on his shoulder, Eric took Lothars change as a good sign for the future.
         "All I ask is that you care for the girl, and the child she now carries. They are going to need you now more then ever."
"So, what will happen now?" The prince asked "Now, we relocate the village to a place no bounty hunter would think to look. As for me, I'm setting out to find Bertha. I suppose you'll be resuming your quest, then?"

The prince nodded "What about your mother? There's no telling how much longer she'll be around in this life." Erik's expression turned sombre. "I'll be sure to spend one more day with her before I depart. Just in case. It was good meeting you, my friend. Perhaps our paths will cross again ."

"Farewell, my friend."

They both shook hands, and the prince went to retrieve his horse before setting out once more.
Episode VI: A Skunk's Love

A few days later, the prince emerged from the foggy area. However, there was rain. He noticed a building standing on a corner. It was the sort of place where one could spend the night, out of the weather. As he road up, he saw that the place was empty. He saw a door, and realized that he'd be able to bring the horse inside.

"Well friend," he said. "Looks like we both get to get out of the rain."

Getting off the horse, he walked up to the door, opened it, and lead the horse inside. Taking care of the beast, even slashing open an available bale of straw, as well as feeding it, he soon got a fire going, not only for heat, but for cooking - a pot for stew, and a kettle for tea.



The tea kettle was ready soon, and he was in the process of pouring the hot water into a cup to seep a tea leaf in, when he heard voices.

"You stay out here while I take a look," a female voice said, as the door opened, revealing a skunk woman, who was initially speaking to a fellow traveler, before looking at him. "I don't want to take any chances if that centaur is in the area. After all, he's wanted for rustling and humannapping, with a bounty of....." She found herself looking at the Prince. "Fifty septillion Echidna dollars."

"Chiron's not worth that much," said the other female voice. "Five million was what last I heard."

"Wrong bounty," the skunk woman said. "Sam Royal."

The other person poked their head around the doorway. They were a human woman. "Tell me you're not thinking about-"

"No, I know when I'm outmatched," the skunk woman said. She looked at the Prince. "I hope you don't mind the company. The weather isn't very good, and there's a dangerous criminal in the area."

"More dangerous than me?" the Prince asked.

"Given the circumstances - you might be a threat to myself, but you wouldn't be one to Felicia," the skunk woman said. "Chiron is. He and his brother have been abducting pet and slave humans lately, targeting Bone Carriers mostly. Felicia and I caught up with the brother a couple of days back - we got lucky. Chiron though, he's more dangerous."

"How much more dangerous?" the Prince asked.

"Let's just say that while I'm putting my life in your hand, I doubt that you'd just do something to Felicia," said the skunk woman. "Chiron would. He doesn't just abduct humans - I've seen the remains of his victims. Probably wouldn't normally go after him, but some of those robbed are friends of mine, and every other bounty hunter is after you. Besides, I can make it worth your while." She carefully pulled out a small handful of cards. "Each of these is worth five thousand Echidna dollars, and there's ten of them. Food, water, shelter - you can get what supplies you need, no questions asked. Might last you a year, if you're smart." She placed them on the counter. At the same time, she placed a ring next to them.

The Prince looked at the ring, and saw the symbol on it. He looked at the skunk again. "I see. Very well."

"Felicia, you can enter now," the skunk woman said.

The human woman entered, and soon got to work taking care of some things, like putting more pots of food on the fire.

"So, what's your name?" the prince asked.

"My friends call me Gigi," the skunk said, as she entered, and closed the door. "My enemies call me other things, least of which is Stinky Stripe."

"I can imagine," the Prince said. "What's she to you?"

"Officially, a B-Grade sex slave," said Gigi. "Unofficially though, we're friends, and lovers."
         Serving the tea to the new occuppants of the shack, the three relaxed in the warmth of the shack as the storm continued to rage on outside.
         Unknown to them, a certain beast was waiting for his chance to strike.
         And feed.
"So, how long have you been together?" The prince asked, trying to start conversation to pass the time until the storm stopped.
"Since she was born," said Gigi. "I was born a few days prior. I got First Dibs."

"So, you grew up together or something?" the Prince asked.

Gigi nodded. "Same room, for the most part. My family are Bone Carriers. Hopefully you know what that means."

"More, or less," the Prince said. "Something about how you don't raise humans to be eaten."

"Given how long it takes for a human to grow to maturity, how they rarely give birth to multiple offspring, not to mention their overall size - Bone Carriers raise non-sapient livestock, like pigs, sheep, goats, deer, chickens, ducks, cattle, and other such animals for meat," said Gigi. "Takes 17 years for humans to be mature enough to be bred, nine month pregnancy, and one wants to make sure to get at least a few out of them. During that time, attachments form - them to us, us to them - we get to know each other. Happens to many that live in close proximity. Bone Carriers don't force the whole 'Humans are Inferior' ideology upon their children. Most Bone Carriers even try to live in communities of like-minded sorts. The problem is when there's an Inspector that has an inferiority complex, that doesn't like the sight of the children of Masters and Slaves playing games together. They decide to make it mandatory that we are properly educated - I'm a Master, and Felicia a Slave. I tell Felicia what to do, she does it. Our community didn't like that Inspector."

"What happened?" the Prince asked.

"A rather valuable Prime Grade sex slave vanished," said Gigi. "A search was conducted, and their remains were found, in the Inspector's septic tank. It was rather clear as to what happened. Of course, they claimed that they hadn't done it, but all the evidence pointed that they did it - they were executed for it."

"Something tells me that there's more to the story," the Prince said.

"Well, there's a rumor, that the sex slave in question had a terminal illness, and would have soon died, and they and their master came up with a plot to get rid of the Inspector, by framing them for the theft and destruction of said sex slave," said Gigi. "Said master had an affair with the inspector - keys to each other's places, dining together, visiting, that sort of stuff. Then, one night, after slipping the Inspector a memory altering drug, the master returned home, they and the sex slave had one last thrill, put them out of their misery, swallowed the body, went back to the Inspector's home, went into the bathroom, took a rapid digestion pill, and used the toilet."

"Wait, are you saying that the slave decided to have their master kill them, to frame the Inspector for their death?" the Prince asked.

Gigi grinned. "Like I said, it's just a rumor I heard."

"Mistress, food's ready," said Felicia.

"I think you can call me Gigi around him," said Gigi.

"I'm sorry, Gigi," said Felicia. She looked at the Prince as she served first Gigi, the Prince, and then herself. "Force of habit."

"An enforced one, " Gigi said, as she looked at the Prince. "Don't know if you know, but in case you end up pretending to be another monster's Pet or Slave, you must always address them as Master or Mistress, or some other title, or else it's seen as being Disrespectful, and a Disrespectful Human must be punished, either by their master, or by someone with authority. If you don't punish them, or set up a punishment, it could lead to trouble."

"What do you do in such cases?" the Prince asked.

"I have to kiss her butt while she sprays me," said Felicia. "Thankfully, we've worked out a few tricks for that."
         Blushing a bit from the said punishment caused both girls to giggle.
         "Very, uh, interesting."
         It was then a noise was heard by the door, causing Sam and Gigi to ready their weapons.
The sound of hoofbeats could be heard from outside the shack. It might have been more travelers, or it could have been that centaur Gigi mentioned. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.

"Anyone home?"
Gigi made a motion to the Prince and Felicia.

"Please sheath your sword, stand up, and keep your head down," Felicia whispered. "This is the part where you play Obedient Slave."

"Are you sure?" the Prince asked, quietly.

"That isn't Chiron," said Felicia. "We know what he sounds like."

At this, the Prince did as asked, as Gigi made her way to the door, her handgun out, opened a narrow slot, and looked through it.

"Who are you, and what do you want?" she demanded.

"I'm just a merchant, in need of shelter," the other person said. "It's wet out here, and I've heard that there's some raiders in the area. Please, let me in."

"Very well," said Gigi. "I hope you don't mind being searched - can't be too careful."

"No problem."

Gigi opened the door, and in came the other traveler, a male cat.

"Gear on the table," said Gigi.

The cat put their things on the table.

"What else you got?" Gigi asked.

"A riding horse, and three mules loaded with goods," the cat asked.

"Any slaves, pets or livestock?" Gigi asked.

"Just the creatures I mentioned," the cat said.

"Felicia, please check him," said Gigi. "Especially for hidden weapons."

"Yes, Mistress," Felicia said. She came over, and began to pat down the cat, removing a knife from their boot, as well as a gun, all in a manner that was very, suggestive, eliciting a purr or two from the cat. "He's got one more hidden on him, but I'll have to undo his pants to get to it."

"Seems that your sex slave is rather skilled," the cat said. "Maybe you'll allow me to use her - I haven't had any sex for a few weeks."

Gigi chuckled. "I might be willing to allow you to use her," she said. "For the right price, say five thousand Echidna dollars?"

The prince noticed her look at him.

"Sam, go bring in his beasts, and check them over," the skunk said. "Wouldn't want them to get colic or something."

"Yes, Mistress," the prince said, as he walked carefully outside the door, and brought in each of the equines. He checked on each of them, along with the supplies they carried.

"The beasts are in good health, and carry grain, spices, seasonings, and a few other things," he said.

"Good," said Gigi. "See to it that they are cared for."

"Yes, Mistress," the Prince said.

"Tell me, is he available for having sex with?" the cat asked.

At that moment, the Prince was glad that two horses, plus Gigi, were between him and the cat, who was also partially distracted by what Felicia was doing to him, to hide his reaction from clear view.

"Sadly, Sam wasn't trained for pleasure," said Gigi. "A real shame too - I'd love for him to use his hands to relax my shoulders after a hard day of bounty hunting. He's more for practical purposes - tracking, scavenging, foraging, guarding, taking care of the horse, and making sure that no one takes advantage of my generosity."

"Ah, a Protector," the cat said. "Pricy."

"Very much worth it though," said Gigi. "So, your name?"

"Alex," the cat said.

"I'm Gigi." The skunk looked at the table. "Unless you want to eat something specific from your stores, I believe that there's enough stew for one more."

"Ah, yes, that would be nice," said Alex.

"Felicia, get a helping ready for Alex," said Gigi.

"Yes, Mistress." Felicia went to get some food for the catman.

"Eating the same as your slaves?" Alex asked. "Most Masters wouldn't do such a thing."

"If you don't like the company, you can leave," said Gigi, as she indicated the door. "But, be careful, I hear that there's raiders."

Alex chuckled nervously. "You make for an excellent argument to stay," the catman said.

"Very well," said Gigi. "That being said, the price of using Felicia for sex just went up - twenty thousand."

Alex's eyes widened. "That's practically robbery."

"Got to factor in Sam's looking after your beasts," said Gigi. "Making sure that they don't get sick from eating bad grain and such."

A low annoyed growl came from Alex. He pulled out some cards, and tossed them at her. "There."

Gigi took out a device, and checked the cards with it. "Good. Mind your manners, and be careful with my property - use some protection - can't really enjoy her if she's in pain from an overly rough partner."

"Fine," said Alex.

"That being said, when you're done with her, I might be, receptive," said Gigi. "You're not the only one in need of pleasure, and Sam's not much use for what I want that can be done with a male."

Alex chuckled at this. "Alright," he said. "Five thousand."

"Let's lake it ten, that way you feel like you got a deal," said Gigi.

"Alright," said Alex. "But first, some food."

"Good," said Gigi.



Soon, Gigi and Alex were at the table, eating, and talking, while Felicia and the Prince were standing by a counter, eating their meal. The Prince looked at Felicia, noticing the glances Alex threw her way. Felicia placed her hand on top of one of his, giving him a gentle squeeze. From what he'd been informed, way back when he came to this time period, he remembered Sasha telling him it was a way for slaves, pets, and livestock to let one another know that things would be alright, for when they couldn't talk. He carefully flipped his hand, and squeezed hers, letting her know that he understood.

"So, who's the bounty you're after?" Alex asked.

"Chiron, for rustling, petnapping, theft, plus destruction of property," said Gigi. "Five million upon his head."

"I'm surprised that you're not after this human that everyone else is after," said Alex. "Sam Royal. Fifty septillion - I'd love to have that much money."

"If a human has that high of a bounty, he's done something to earn it," said Gigi. "Like killing more than a few folks, folks that normally wouldn't be killed by a human. I've heard that he's exceptionally deadly with blades. I like my head where it is."

"You have a point," said Alex.

"Good," said Gigi. "That being said, Felicia will see to it that you'll be able to purr for quite the while. Just remember - don't damage her."
         After the meal, Alex lead Felicia to one of the spare rooms, leaving Sam and Gigi to themselves.
         Looking at Sam's blades, Gigi became curious.
         "When I heard about you, it was said you carried a single blade. Where did you get the second one?"
         With a heavy sigh, Sam told her of how he met a samurai that stood guard to protect his princess that was cursed with a singing voice of a banshee.
         As he told her how he freed both of their spirits, he told her of how he aquired his second blade.
         But he with held telling her about it's special ability that was enchanted into it.
         After hearing his story, Gigi recalled something she heard from a town she once visited.
         "You know, I heard of a abandoned village that nobody, not even Echidna herself, is brave enough to enter. Some kind of cursed warrior roams the village, protecting something in the center."
         Hearing this, Sam was surprised at hearing this.
         "Do you know whats in the center of the village?"
         Shaking her head, Gigi took a sip of her tea before she continued her tale.
         "No, afraid not. Many have tried, very few were lucky enough to exit the village before collasping as they drew their last breathe."
Just then, something came crashing through nearby window! It was a firebomb, which immediately caused the cabin to burst into flames!
At this, Alex and Felicia ran out of the room, clothes undone.

"What's going on?" the merchant asked.

"The place is on fire," said the Prince.

"Let's get going then!" Alex exclaimed, as the cat ran towards the door.

"Hold it!" Gigi shouted. The skunk took a look out the broken window. "Looks like Chiron and ten others. Anyone out that door will get shot. Sam, see about making a second door - if you can make it big enough for the horses and mules, that would be good as we'll need to ride - everyone gets out of here."

"On it." The prince went to the far wall, drew Jack's sword, and was surprised at how easily the blade went through the wall. Three slices, and he had a way out that was big enough for the horses.

He looked at the merchant.

Alex was blinking. "Whatever you paid for him, you got a bargain or something," the cat said.

"For fifty thousand, I got quite the bargain," said Gigi. "Everyone grab an equine, and let's get out of here."

"You paid fifty thousand Echidna dollars?" Alex asked. "He must have an issue."

"Hey," yelled a werewolf that had been watching the back, and had managed to grab Felicia. "They've made an exit!"

Sam ran, and beheaded the werewolf, before anything could happen to the female human. "Keep running."

"His prior Master was a Bounty I was after," said Gigi. "Thing is, while I was doing some undercover work, Sam fell for Felicia. When their old Master figure out what was up, they took Felicia hostage - Sam killed them. Like I said, Sam took quite the liking to Felicia. Said Bounty would of been worth fifty thousand more Alive. Dead though, well, Sam's abilities more than make up for it. So, should we make it through this, keep that werewolf's head in mind if you even think about harming Felicia."

"Something to keep in mind," said Alex. There was the sound of running. "Um, we should go."

"Good idea."
         Running through the forest while being pursued, Same slowed his speed and drew Jacks sword once more.
         Stepping to the side, he slashed through a tree, causing it to fall, blocking the pursuers chasing them to slow.
         Sam repeated this a few more times before returning the blade to the sheath and returned to the others.
         "That should slow them, but not for long."
It was only at this point that they realized that in their haste to escape, they had no idea where they were, or which way to go. It was still raining, and Felicia and Alex had left their clothes behind at the cabin, and were now cold, wet and naked in the middle of the woods with no clue where to go.
(To be fair, clothes undone doesn't mean naked. More like, not adequately dressed.)

The Prince looked at Felicia and Alex. He then looked at his horse, walked up to it, Gigi following him, opened the saddlebags, and went through them.

"We might have a problem," said Gigi, quietly. "Did you see his necklace?"

The Prince nodded. "A decapitated human," he said, just as quietly. "What does it mean?"

"It means he's one of the Blades," said Gigi. "Only they can wear it. Otherwise, he's risking his neck."

"Can a Blade be a member of the Resistance?" The Prince asked, as he pulled out a set of clothes.

"There's been a few," said Gigi. "Very rare though."

"You and Tabitha went through his stuff," said the Prince. "Nothing connecting him to the Resistance that way. Same with the saddlebags on the mules."

"What about his personal horse?" Gigi asked.

"Didn't check his saddlebags that way," said the Prince. "Still, getting him set of clothes would be an excellent excuse."

"Good," said Gigi. She spoke out loud, as she looked at Alex. "Go find the officer some clothes, Sam."

The cat chuckled nervously "What are you talking about?"

Gigi chuckled. "I had you pegged from the beginning as an officer of the Blades. Must be new though - an undercover operative tends to make sure to hide the necklace, not wear it."

Alex grinned nervously. "Well, I guess I am new. First mission too. Trying to track this Sam Royal. Intel says that he's in the area. There's at least one missing officer. Seems to be their work."

"Well, officer, let me give you some advice from one that makes a living hunting folks down," said Gigi, as Sam managed to pull out a black uniform from the cat's saddlebags on their personal horse. "Learn to read their eyes, and learn how to put the meaning of fear into them, just by looking into them. Thing is, you don't got it."

"What do you mean?" Alex asked.

"I'm up for a little wager," Gigi said, as she brought Alex his uniform. "Get yourself dressed, and sit on that stump over there, while my Sam sits across from you, with both of you staring into the eyes of the other. If you can make him afraid, you can have him for free, a little gift, if you would. Of course, if he makes you afraid, well, I wouldn't mind a reference and a recommendation to join the Blades myself. Think that you can handle that - get a mere slave to submit to you?"

Alex accepted the uniform. "Sure - I've been wanting a slave. Maybe I can get him trained to be a sex slave - nothing against your Tabitha, but I prefer males." He quickly got dressed. "But, what about Chiron?"

"I'll keep an eye out," said Gigi. "Of course, an officer ought to remain calm under all situations, including the possible threat of death." She walked over to the Prince, who had stepped aside with Tabitha, helping her to get dressed properly. "You hear that, Sam?"

The Prince nodded, somewhat annoyed. "Yes, Mistress."

"Just scare him," said Gigi, quietly. "That shouldn't take much. Reads like a nervous rookie, but I could be wrong, so, given the situation, I don't need to tell you to be on your guard, no matter what."
         Looking to Alex, Sam remembered his training from his past when it came to hiding fear, as well as placing fear into others.
         Taking a seat on a couple of nearby tree stumps, Sam and Alex began to stare each other down.
         At first, Alex was acting as if he had the bet in the bag.
         But as the minutes passed, he began to crumble as he realised that fear was begining to build within himself.
Eventually, Alex gave in. "Well, you didn't do too bad." Gigi said "Lasted longer than I expected, actually. So, I guess you'll be recommending me for the Blades, then?" Alex sighed and nodded "A deal's a deal. But what will I tell Echidna if she finds out I had Sam Royal practically in my grasp, and let him go?"

"Tell her he almost killed you, and you just barely got away with your life. Or just improvise, whichever you think is more believable."

Strangely, it seemed that Chiron and his cronies were no longer pursuing them, as they tried to set up an ambush and catch them by surprise, but nobody came.

"Do you think we lost them?" Tabitha asked "Looks that way." Gigi said. "Chiron probably ended up getting lost himself. He was never very bright, and navigation isn't his strong suite. Well, I guess this would be a good time for you to split, Sam. I presume you'll be heading back to that destroyed village to find it's secret?"

Sam nodded, mounting his horse. "Good luck on your hunt." He said by means of farewell. "Likewise." Said Gigi as the prince rode off. She noticed Tabitha watching him longingly as he faded into the distance.

She placed a reassuring hand on Tabitha's shoulder. "Don't worry. I get the feeling this isn't the last we'll see of him." Alex just gathered up his things and went on his way, trying to think of a good excuse in case Echidna or anyone else found out about his little adventure.


Episode VII: The Prince and the Pegasus

En route back to the ruined town, Sam passed through a small village. He kept his hood up and his weapons hidden, lest someone recognize him and bring any unwanted attention. As he lead his horse through the market, he overheard the vendors pitching their various goods.

"Fish! Fresh fish over here!"

"Fine jewels from every corner of the globe!"

"Lovely silks and satins! Only the best for sale!"

As he came close to the local tavern, a lizard man suddenly caught his attention. "Psst! Hey, stranger!" They whispered as he came within earshot. "You're him, aren't you?" The prince slowly reached for his blade. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold it! I want to help you!"

Sam hesitated. "That's one fine steed you've got." The lizard man said "But I bet you'd be interested in an upgrade. Something like, say...a Pegasus?"

"A what?"

"A Pegasus. You know, a winged horse. Flies faster than the wind!"

This caught the prince's interest. Such a mount would most definitely be useful. "Tell you what, let's trade. You give me that fine specimen there, and I'll tell you where to find a Pegasus. I just so happen to have seen one not too far from here a few days ago. With any luck, it's still there."

The offer was certainly tempting, but Sam couldn't help but be suspicious. "How do I know you're not trying to con me?" "How about this? I'll stay right here at this tavern until sundown, and watch your horse for you. If you don't find the Pegasus, just come back and I'll return it, no questions asked."

Sam agreed, and handed the lizard the reigns. "Just head east, until you see a big hill with an apple tree on the top of it. That's where I saw the Pegasus."

Sam did as instructed, and lo and behold, there was the Pegasus! It's coat and wings were a pure white, as was it's mane and tail. It happily muched away on some apples hanging from a low branch, not noticing the prince.

Sam thought back to his training in the past, part of which was how to catch and break in horses should he need to. He cursed under his breath for not having brought a rope. He then realized the Pegasus had a rather engorged belly. Seems it was a female, and a pregnant one at that.
"If you're thinking about going for that winged horse, you'd best forget it, Sam Royal."

Sam looked, and saw laying in the shade of a nearby tree, a rabbit person. Remembering his last encounter with a rabbitman, Sam's hand went to his sword, and he drew it.

The rabbit chuckled. "Relax, I'm not after you. I'm after the one after you."

"What are you talking about?" Sam asked, as he walked over

"You've heard about the bounty upon your head, right?" the rabbit asked.

Sam nodded.

"Price went up to 65," said the rabbit. "Seems that you killed one officer, and assaulted another."

Sam raised his eyebrow. "Really?"

The rabbit pulled out a gem, and above it appeared the vampire Sam had slain, and Alex, who looked like his nose had been fractured, and a bad cut to one of their ears.

"Seems that you gave the cat quite the beating - nose, arm, fingers, a leg, a few toes, were all broken, and the tip of his tail was cut off, with an ear being sliced," said the rabbit. "I guess you were in a merciful mood, and merely wanted to teach him a lesson or two about going after those out of his league."

"I suppose that's one way of putting it," said Sam.

"Still, not a total loss," said the rabbit. He pressed something, and Gigi showed up. "She's been recommended, and has quite the reputation, even if she is a Bone Carrier."

"Let me guess, you're one of the Blades," said Sam.

The rabbit pulled out a necklace, showing a decapitated human. "That's correct. Agent Peter Cottontail, at your service. I'm here to protect you. Echidna would prefer it if you were taken alive, but she'll understand it if you were killed." He then drew something on the ground before ruining it.

Sam had caught a good glimpse. "You're taking quite the risk," he said.

Peter nodded. "Alex had to settle for hiring some thugs to give him a beating, before he made his report, according to my information. Echidna merely rolled her eyes at this, and sent him to a healer. Someone like me though, we're going to do something more extreme, as she'd expect someone of my skills to kill you, if not seriously wound you, as opposed to just watch you leave without giving you some kind of injury - we're going to have to actually fight, and you'll need to take some blows, and give some."

"Why is that?" Sam asked.

"I have quite the reputation for bringing in targets," said Peter. "I think that I can take you, but it will be very near, and I might end up dying in the process. That being said, I know when to settle for silver, instead of gold."

"So, who are you actually after?" Sam asked.

"The lizard that sent you upon a death trap," said Peter. "As I've said, if you're brought in alive, you're worth 65. But, if you're dead, and your remains are brought in, you're worth 50."

"What do you mean by that?" Sam asked.

"Yon winged horse doesn't eat just apples," said Peter. They carefully stood up, and looked at Sam. "That is a Diomedes. Takes on the form of a Pegasus, Unicorn, Nightmare, Hippocamp, or a regular horse - seems friendly at first, and you can feed it apples and such. But, the moment that you turn your back on it, well, you can find the proof over in those road apples."

The rabbit pointed at a pile of horse poop.

"Got a trowel if you want to dig through it," the rabbit said, as the pulled out a small shovel. "Keep your hands clean."

Sam accepted the item, went over, and dug through the mound. One "apple" was harder than expected. Careful scraping revealed the object to be a vertebra. Checking of more "apples" revealed more bones. Then, he found something that all but caused him to choke with grief - a necklace with a Bone Carrier symbol.

He then looked at the Pegasus, and he realized that it wasn't pregnant - there was someone's body in there, or, rather, what was left of one.

"Did you see it happen?" he asked.

"No," said Peter. "Believe me, I would have saved them, if I got here in time. Takes that creature three days to pass out all the bones - those ones are merely the first."
         Averting his gaze from the once though 'pegasus', Sam looked to Peter.
         "Did he sell my horse already?"
         Chuckling, Peter nodded.
         "As soon as he saw ya enter the forest. Got a hefty price for him too. If fact, he sold him to me if you wanna make a deal to earn him back."
         Looking to the rabbit, Sam grew serious from the opportunity.
         "What do I have to do?"
         Grinning, Peter pulled out a rolled up paper and showed the image on the page, and realized it was the same lizard he gave his horse to.
         "Bring this bloke to me alive, and you'll get your horse back."
         Smirking, Sam chuckled from the opportunity.
         "And if I decide otherwise?"
         Laughing, Peter began to think today was gonna be fun.
         "Just don't kill him, that is all I'm asking of you."
"Very well." Said Sam, the two of them shaking hands. "But first..." He drew his sword and took a couple steps towards the Diomedes. "What are you doing?" Asked Peter.

"I cannot walk away and allow this creature to claim more innocents. Care to help?"

Peter nodded, and drew his own weapon. The both of them advanced on the carnivorous horse from behind. Maybe they could take it down easily with a sneak attack...
However, the Diomedes must of had a good sense of smell, hearing, or eyesight, as the creature lifted its head, and looked right at them, before it quickly took flight.

"A bow and arrow would be nice," said Sam.

That was when a loud noise came from beside him, and the creature fell, mortally injured.

He look, and saw that Peter had brought out his other weapon, something called a rifle.

"There's a saying," the rabbit said. "Pays to be prepared." He pointed the gun at the creature again, and fired once more. "Pays to be sure."

"Surprised that you didn't use that on it already," said Sam.

"Can't fault a bear for being hungry," said Peter. "Likewise, that creature had every right to live, until someone decided to use it as part of their scam. By the way, would you like to know why Echidna wants this particular lizard caught? It involves you, in a way."

"How?" Sam asked.

"You've heard that your family is owned by the Snapjaws and Swiftpaws, correct?" Peter asked.

"So I've heard," said Sam.

"I'm sure you've heard about how Echidna likes to take the best one of each generation, especially those that are classified as Supreme Grade."

Sam nodded. "Why are you telling me this?"

"On one of the Swiftpaws' estates was this female - Supreme Grade - of your family line," said Peter. "Echidna, of course, Claimed her. That being said, Maximillian Swiftpaws explained to her that the sex slave in question had been bred, and was due to give birth soon, and asked her to wait a few weeks yet. Echidna was in a good mood, and allowed it, gave them two months. Three weeks later, baby was born, a lovely Prime Grade girl by the way. However, a couple of days later, the sex slave in question was taken, and devoured, by that particular lizard - seems Maximillian had fired him from being too rough with the livestock and such. Lizard didn't like that, and decided to get his revenge by rustling and destroying that sex slave, as she was very valuable. That being said, it's a death sentence for anyone other that Echidna to eat a Supreme Grade human, unless they have her permission, especially one from your family line. That was three years ago. He's been on the run since, and now I've finally caught up to him."

"So, you prefer him over me," said Sam. "Why?"

The rabbit frowned. "Let's just say that my family worked for the Swiftpaws, and I grew up with that female sex slave, and I had a fondness for her. We even had sex on occasion. I was thinking about buying her, until it was revealed that she was a Supreme Grade, and thus Earmarked for Echidna."

"Sounds like you cared about her," said Sam.

"I did," said Peter. "Still do. I still visit the Swiftpaws, check up on the kid she had." He then pulled out their knife. "Well, let's see who is in that flying horse's stomach. My gem will let me know who they are, and if they have a bounty upon their head - I get to claim it - and if they don't have one, I can at least notify the family."

"So, what's the price upon the lizard?" Sam asked.

Peter chuckled. "Much less than your bounty - one hundred billion - but like I said, I can settle for silver."
         After cutting the belly open, they found out the that the poor sap had a bounty of fifty billion.
         Logging it into his crystal, the two burried the beast as well as the remains of the fool it had eaten.
         Making their way back to the forest, the two quickly dodged a barrage of daggers that was aimed at them.
Sam and Peter took cover behind a nearby boulder. A familiar voice called out "I had hoped that horse would save me the trouble of killing you, Sam Royal. But now it looks like we'll have to do it ourselves!"

"What does he mean we?" Sam whispered "He must have brought help." Peter replied "Too much of a coward to try to take us on his own."

The sound of cocking guns echoed from all directions. "We've got you surrounded!" The lizard man said "You're worth more alive, so surrender now and we won't kill you. As for your rodent friend, I bet he'd make a nice cap!"

The two of them were between a rock and a hard place. The only clear options were die fighting, or surrender and face possible torture and execution regardless.

"You have ten seconds to decide! One...two...three..."
That was when Peter shouldered his rifle, popped out from behind the rock, and fired many rounds, before ducking back behind the rock. There was soon the sounds of moaning and groaning, which trailed off.

The rabbit chuckled. "The Dramatic Gun Cock, always sounds scary, but the problem is, your boys weren't ready to shoot," Peter said, as he swapped the magazine. "I was, and still am."

"You know Peter, that's always been you, always doing boring things," the lizardman said. "I mean, back when we worked for Maximillian, you always did as you were told. You never took chances - it's not like the humans would have reported you if you decided to rape them. After all, you could of eaten them."

"I always felt that it was better to get permission from Maximillian, and to go easy on the humans, Slimin," Peter yelled. "They were more receptive that way, and more compliant."

"But there was that Special One, that N4690," Slimin said. "The Supreme Grade that was earmarked for Echidna. Did you ever feel her squirm inside of you like I did? That one was worth it!"

Peter pulled out something from his pocket, and looked at it. "Her name is Trudy!" He jumped up on top of the rock and fired his rifle, only to take a round through the chest, and be thrown off from the force of the gunshot, hitting the ground with a thud.

Sam rushed over to the rabbit, who was bleeding heavily.

"Lucky shot," they said. "I think I got him though."

Sam looked, and saw the lizard, collapsed against a tree. "Let me make sure."

He walked over, looked at the lizardman, only for the lizard to spring up at him.

However, Sam was prepared, and he swung his sword, beheading Slimin.

He then walked back to Peter. "He's dead. I made sure of it."

"I can't move my arms. Look into my left chest pocket," the rabbit said. "Horse is at the stables. In that pocket is a slip that will let you claim the horse, no questions asked."

Carefully, Sam reached into the pocket, and pulled out a plastic card, along with what looked to be a locket, which opened up, revealing an image of a more innocent-looking Peter along with a human woman, whom Sam felt an immediate kinship to.

"You and Trudy?" he asked.

Peter closed his eyes for a moment. "I wanted to buy her. I wanted her to be mine. I'd even found the one that fathered her child. When we found that she was to go to Echidna, we made a Pact - after she'd given birth, but before Echidna claimed her, she'd take a poisoned pill, one that would poison her meat, and then I'd swallow her - we'd be together in death. Slimin stole that chance from us. At least now, we'll be together."

"That's what it looks like," said Sam. "I don't think I can save you."

"Looks like I get gold after all," the rabbit said. He looked past Sam. "Trudy? Is that you?" He then shuddered, and fell still.
         Closing his eyes, Sam placed a hand over Peters before closing his eyes, letting him rest, knowing he was with his true love now in peace.
         Diging a hole, Sam placed Peter in with the locket in his hands and burying him.
         Walking to the buolder, he cut out a tombstone that read: R.I.P. Peter Rabbit. A great shot in a gun fight, and a loving father and husband.
         Placing it on Peter's grave, he returned to the town, reclaimed his horse, and continued on his journey.
~¤~
Ep. VIII: The Town of The Beast


         Guiding his horse through the trail, Sam soon came upon the town that has claimed the lives of many who entered.
As he walked through the barren, deserted streets, he passed by the site where he had buried Jack. He stopped a moment, giving a little bow and moment of silence out of respect for the fallen warrior.

Moving on, he remembered Gigi's words, that there was something in the center of the village that was guarded by some beast.

Whatever it was, it must be worth investigating, he thought. Otherwise, it wouldn't be so protected. He made his way to the old town square, weary of any sign of movement or strange noises.

Reaching his destination, he saw an old well at the center of the square, surrounded by several skeletons. Was this it? Maybe whatever the creature was guarding, it was at the bottom of the well, he figured.

But before he could take another step, he felt a hot, foul breath blast the back of his neck. Then a low, gutteral growl. The beast was right behind him.
Carefully, he turned, and found himself looking at one of the dogs he knew to be a Champion. It was more than large enough to swallow him.

"Easy boy," he said, calmly, hoping that, despite it's size, it was like dogs he'd known, including the friendly Champions he'd encountered so far. "Don't harm me, and I won't harm you."
         Looking to Sam, the beast gave a huff through it's nose, moving one of his hands up to Sam's eye level showing a ring to him that he seen all too many times.
         "Your a friend then. Why guard here?"
         Moving past Sam, the beast moved to the well, making Sam more curious of whats going on.
         But it wasn't till the beast spoke that shook Sam to his core.
         "Seek the treasure, cure my curse."
"What curse?" Sam asked. The dog said no more. Instead gestured towards the well. Sam approached it, looking down into the black water below. It seemed like the well was only half full, which left a rather large amount of empty space between the top and the water's surface.

It also looked like if one were to fall in, there was no way to get back out. "The treasure you guard. It's down there, isn't it?" The dog nodded.

"Do you know what it is?"

The dog said only one word. "Map." "The treasure is a map? To what?"

The dog shrugged. Sam looked down into the well once more, pondering how he would reach the bottom. And what's more, how he'd climb back up, if he even got that far.
Sam checked his supplies, and found a nice length of rope. He then found a large rock, and tied the one end of the rope to it, and the free end to a sturdy post. He then lowered the rock tied end into the well. After all, there was always the possibility that there was a trap of some sort.
         It was then he found that there wasn't a trap, but being on the side of caution, Sam dropped a small pebble into the well.
         Hearing the splash, he watched as nothing else happened.
         Seeing no traps, Sam got ontop of the well, and began his climb into it.
Making his way down, Sam found the well was more narrow than he anticipated. When reached the water, he suddenly realized he had no clue how deep it went. On top of that, what if it was too deep to swim to the bottom and back before he drowned? Even still, he knew he had to try. Taking a deep breath, he dove in, and began swimming down into the cold, dark water.
He also wondered a bit about the skeletons.... What happened to cause them?
         As he continued swimming downward, back up top, the eyes of three skeletons began to glow a menancing dark red as demonic energies surrounded them.
After what seemed like hours, with his lungs screaming for air, the prince finally reached the bottom. He could just make out the shape of a bottle sitting just within reach. Figuring the map must be inside, he grabbed it and began to swim back to the surface with all his might.

He managed to reach the top of the water, taking in huge gasps of air. But as he began to climb the rope back out, he looked up and saw three figures looking down at him with glowing red eyes. One of them raised a sword and cut the rope, sending him plunging back down into the depths, this time with no clear way to escape.

Fighting to stay afloat, he could hear the sound of the champion dog barking ferociously, in addition to blades swishing through the air. He couldn't see what was happening, but it seemed like the dog was battling the skeletons.
Tucking the bottle into his shirt, Sam drew his sword, and stabbed it into the well wall as high as he could. Pulling himself up, he drew Jack's sword, and did the same. He then pulled out his sword, and repeated the process.

It took a little while, and he could hear the sounds of fighting the whole time, but Sam made it to the top. He looked and saw the dog battling the skeletons. There was a lot of skeletons. Each one the dog took down would reform. Some of the skeletons looked at him.

The dog also looked at him. "Run!" they said. "Don't die!"

The skeletons came for him.
         Taking a stance, Sam soon defended himself and easily cut through the skeletons coming at him as he made his way the the beast.
         Seeing this, the beast cleared a area around him as Sam got back to back with him.
         "Why you stay? You must run!"
         Having the two swords at the ready, Sam became serious as he kept his eyes on the army around them.
         "You tried to help me, I wouldn't feel right if I didn't try to help you in return."
The defeated skeletons quickly reassembled themselves shortly after falling. The Prince and the dog held their own, but they both knew sooner or later they would succumb to exhaustion. Then they would be easy picking for their foes. here must be some sort of source for this magic, Sam thought. But where and what could it be?
"What do you know of these things?" Sam asked.

"If someone like you dies, you'll join their ranks," the dog said. "It's why I told you to run."

"What about you?" Sam asked.

"I'll heal, eventually," the dog said. "I cannot die."

"What about the map?" Sam asked. "Does it show the source of this curse?"

"Possible, but no one has been able to figure it out," the dog said. "I do know that I'm part of it, somehow. For all I know, you'll have to kill me to end it."

"I hope not," said Sam.
         Looking to a old temple on the hill, the beast suddenly grabs Sam and starts clawing his way through before taking a mighty leap.
         Reaching the top, he enters a old monistary and closed the door before setting a metal bar across it, blocking the army of undead from entering.
         "Bought time. Lets look at what you have."
         Nodding, Sam set the paper on a nearby table.
Only to discover it was completely blank! Cursing, he held it up to a nearby torch to see if the light revealed anything. Still nothing. I wish this map showed me something useful, he thought angrily as the skeletons began to pound and hack at the doors.

Just then, the map suddenly showed an image of the continent Sam was currently on, with a dotted line leading to the other side of the planet, to a far away land.

Figuring the map must have been enchanted, Sam climbed onto the champion dog's back, and they burst out of the temple together, sending the skeletons flying in every direction as they did so.

"Head toward the forest!" Sam said to the dog as they ran through the abandoned streets. "Well lose them before they can regain themselves!" With his horse catching up to them, the three of them ran to the woods on the town's border, not stopping until the village was far behind.

The prince dismounted the dog, and noticed that the formerly huge canine was shrinking, down to the size of a normal household pet. "Well, I guess your curse is broken since I retirieved the map." The dog barked happily in response.

"Can't you talk anymore?"

"Woof!"

"I'll take that as a no."

He opened the map once more, examining it more closely. "It doesn't say what exactly it leads to. But I think this map is enchanted to show where whatever the user wants most is. If I'm right, it can lead me to a way home."

He mounted his horse before looking down at the dog, who was looking back with big puppy eyes. "I take it you have nowhere to go now?" The dog let out a sad whine. "I could use some company on the journey ahead. You're welcome to join me." The dog barked happily once again as his tail began to wag.
"Well, let's figure out your name while we travel," said Sam. "You sort of forgot to mention it."

The dog gave a slight whine.

"Let's see.... Rex?"

Silence.

"Duke?"

Nothing.

"Champion?"

The dog made a sound that would have been dismissive.

"Perhaps I'm guessing the wrong group of names," said Sam. "Are you a female by any chance?"

The dog gave a pleased bark.

"Okay. Um, Princess?"



Episode IX Human Hunter


A few days later, Sam, his horse, and the dog, Ginger, were sitting beside a campfire. Sam was finishing the skinning of a rabbit when Ginger made a noise. Someone was coming.

Sam checked his swords, as he heard the footsteps approach. He soon saw the figure. He looked at their build, a lizardfolk, armed with, among other things, a rifle. He could sense the lizard watching him, reading his posture, trying to come to a decision of some sort.

They kept walking forward, and they soon became much more revealed. They were still looking at him. Their gaze soon shifted to the rabbit and a pheasant that he'd plucked.

"Those would taste better in a stew, with carrots, potatoes, herbs, spices, and perhaps some chunks of beef, venison, pork, lamb and a few other things," they said, as they got out the mentioned items, along with a cooking pot.

Sam looked at them. "What about human meat?"

The lizard looked at him. "Do you eat human meat?"

"No," said Sam.

"I won't add it if you don't plan on eating it," the lizard said. "Still, if you're curious, I do have some. Got it in exchange for medicine that this group of Ferals needed to help their young ones."

"Why would they do that?" Sam asked. "Did they just give you one of their own to be your food?"

"A little more complicated, but long story short, she killed her mate, child, her parents, her mate's parents, and a few others, as they slept, and it wasn't out of some mercy thing either," the lizard said. "To be honest, the trade was originally supposed to be for deer meat, but I got back there, the morning after the murders. The elders asked me to investigate, as I'd be, more or less impartial. I soon figured out the who, and confronted her, asking her why she did it. The reason chills me."

"What was it?" Sam asked.

"Because she wanted to," the lizard said. "Anger, I get, jealousy, I get, protecting yourself, I get, accidents I get, same with revenge. I could understand if she was sick, for whatever reason, or possessed. But, the way she said it, it was as if she had decided to make a stew with beef, potatoes, and carrots, just because she wanted to."

"I see," said Sam.

"If it makes you feel better, I made sure that her death was quick, with a bullet to the head," the lizard said. "I'm not a fan of the sort of execution that the Blades like to use, the skinning, gutting, and then decapitation."

"So, why are you willing to share your food in exchange for enjoying my fire?" Sam asked.

"Because I could use the help, and I've heard of you, Sam Royal," the lizard said, as they searched for something else.

Sam reach for his sword, only to hear a click coming from the bag that the lizard's hand was in.

"I don't want to kill you, and you don't want to be dead," the lizard said. "I'm willing to make a trade - you for another human."

"Why?" Sam asked.

"Because, unlike you, this particular human I'm after, has no qualms about killing others, just to eat their flesh, including fellow humans," the lizard said. "Besides, if I wanted you dead, I had plenty of chances to take my shot."

Sam removed his hand from his sword.

The lizard removed their hand from the bag. "Let me introduce myself - Elizabeth Greenscales, and among other professions I utilize, I'm what you might call a Human Hunter, and as you can guess from such a name, my job is to hunt humans. I need you to help me to hunt down this particular human. They've killed more than four dozen people, who were just traveling the roads, including fifteen humans, eating them, and it was clearly not done for survival."
         Wanting to hear more, he placed a third bowl out and motioned for Elizabeth to sit.
         Taking a seat, she reached into her bag and showed a discription of the human she was currently hunting.
         "I have been tracking him for a few weeks now, passed by a few folks that discribed you and your abilities. Gotta say, I'm a bit impressed."
"Don't you have a more clear way of identifying this human? A picture, maybe?"

Elizabeth shook her head. "Very few have seen him and lived to tell about it. Those that do, are often so traumatized they can't recall all the details."
"So, what do you know?" Sam asked.

"They're smart, going after small groups - three at the most so far," said Elizabeth. "After their attacks, they relocate, to another route. Based on my own investigations, he uses ambush, as well as a series of weapon caches. Their first attacks are with arrows, and they like to target the limbs. He doesn't go for a quick kill - he likes to make it painful and slow. Sometimes the victims are still alive when he starts the process of butchering them. He's also smart, knows anatomy real well - cuts through joints instead of the bone. He has at least two blades - one is filet type of knife, that he uses to make cuts of meat. The other is a machete, which he uses to hack things, such as wood and bone."

"How do they avoid detection?" Sam asked.

"As I mentioned, they use ambush - bushes, crevices, and other such things, within fifty feet from the road," said Elizabeth. "In the event that travelers pick up the scent, most figure that he's just a lone human out hunting, and might not be worth going after. As for them that do decide to go after him, if it's just a small group, arrows to the knees and hands, although with a larger group, he'll run away. Sometimes he'll go after those that are sleeping. He does take the victims' things, or at least those he can use."

"Why would you want him over me?" Sam asked. "Surely my bounty is higher."

Elizabeth nodded. "But you don't go after the average traveler that means you no harm, unless they get greedy or hungry - a simply beating makes them change their mind. This fella will go after the average traveler, including those that weren't after him."
         taking in all he heard, he suddenly drew one of his swords and deflected a arrow aimed at Elizabeth's arm.
         Amazed at Sam's prowess in using a blade, she suddenly drew a gun and covered his back.
         "Thanks for the save. You see anything?"
         Looking around, Sam saw nothing but the forest around them.
         "Good news, I don't. Bad news, he can see us."
"We know you're out there!" Elizabeth shouted "You can't hide forever!" There was no response, except for another arrow aimed for Elizabeth's head, which Sam deflected once again.

""He's somewhere over there." Sam said, indicating where the arrows had come from.
Elizabeth sniffed the air, flicking out her tongue a time or two. "Clever. He must of set this place up as an ambush site long before you got here. His scent is all over." She looked at Ginger. "How was the dog acting?"

"Ginger was acting normal, until you showed up," said Sam.

"Must of hid his current location by wearing some other animal's hide, like a deer or some such thing," said Elizabeth. "I can't quite pin him down. That being said, put out the fire, and I should be able to get my night vision back."

"How good is that?" Sam asked.

"Like that of a viper," said Elizabeth.
         Taking a breathe, Sam slashed his blade to the fire, causing it to go out immediately.
         With the fire out, Elizabeth's night vission kicked.
         "Time to see how good he is when the hunter becomes the hunted."
Using her species built in thermal/ night vision, Elizabeth was able to see what looked like, from her point of view, a large glowing red mass up in the trees. "I see him." She whispered "He's in a tree to our far left."

"Can you hit him from here?" Sam whispered back "He's hiding behind a cluster of branches. My rifle is low caliber, so I don't know if the bullet can penetrate the thicket enough to hit him."

"So what now?"

" You run towards him, try to draw him out. Then maybe I can get him."

"And if that doesn't work?"

"Then we improvise."

Sam knew it wasn't much of a plan, but it was the only plan they had. He ran to the left through the dense brush, Ginger following close behind him.
As Sam ran, he listened to the dog beside him. He tried to recall his training about night fighting, one of the big things being not to look at any fires, torches, or lights. That was when he heard a sound, that of metal on one of the harder types of cloth, like the types of knife sheaths some of the folks he encountered liked to use.

Thus, he swung his blade, blocking a blow from the other's own weapon.

Sam looked at his opponent. They were wearing some sort of mask over their face, one that looked like a skull.
         Locking his eyes with his opponent, he pushed him back, surprising the feral that he was able to do it.
         It was then the killer sprung himself forward, slashing wildly at Sam as he deflected the wild attacks with his own blade.
As he defended himself from the cannibalistic human, Sam noticed there was something odd about the way he way fighting. To anyone that happened to pass by, it would seem like he was just randomly swinging his weapon in all directions trying to score a hit. But to the Prince, each blow and slash was calculated and precise, and one wrong move could mean a serious injury for him, or worse.
A memory came to him.....



Thoric the Red. Everyone claimed that he had no honor, but at the same time, he never forgot a debt owed to another. The mere mention of his name caused the thugs of the establishment to sit down, quiet their voices, resume drinking and eating, one shakily pointing towards a corner, before hastily finishing their meal, paying far more than what the meal was worth, and ran out of the place, as if a knife was about to be thrown at him.

The hooded figure walked over to the corner. There was the leader of the most dangerous gang of criminals for easily three weeks of travel around...... although he'd calmed down over two decades prior. Used to be he'd rob travelers. These days, it was Echidna's forces. Used to be, he'd keep the goods, now he distributed them.

"You a bounty hunter working for Echidna?" Thoric asked. "The last one's head still ain't dried yet."

The hooded one took off his hood.

Throric's eyes widened, as they recognized their guest. "Well, I'll be - you're the spitting image of your father, only a bit younger."

The Prince sat down. "I was informed that you'd be willing to help me."

"I suppose I owe your father a debt, the kind that only a father could understand," said Thoric.

"I am informed that he saved your daughter, the last time Echidna's forces took over," the Prince said.

"Ah, that he did, and I promised him that I'd do whatever I could to help him if he needed my aid," said Thoric. "Pardon me, but I hope that you're not going to ask me to have my boys to come help you try to take on some suicidal rescue mission to save him? You have to understand, besting the local goons to help the people out is one thing, but trying to break your father out, I'd go if that's what you want me to do, but I won't risk my boys - they're the ones keeping folks alive around here."

"Actually, I need your help, so that I can hopefully outwit those that might use deceit and treachery against me in battle," the Prince said.

Thoric chuckled, his finger tapping the table. "I get you. Set a thief to catch a thief."

"Something like that," the Prince said. "Think you can teach me."

"Sure," said Thoric. "First lesson - setting up a Mark."

"Seriously?" the Prince asked.

"You'll have need to trick those more powerful than you," said Thoric. "After all, what if-" There was a certain look on the man's face. "Um, excuse me - my beer thinks it's time to leave already."

"Oh, I understand," the Prince said.

Throric stood up, and walked away.

It was a couple of minutes later that the Prince noticed that the establishment was too quiet. A quick look revealed that everyone but him and the one running the place had left.

"I hope you got the money to pay the tab," the proprietor, who looked like they took no nonsense, said.

The Prince sighed. "He set me up, right?"

"Yep," the proprietor said. "You can pay, or work off the debt."



Some hours later, the Prince was busy preparing that evening's meal when the local thugs entered the place, all of them laughing. At the head of the group was Thoric.

"Still working?" he asked.

The Prince narrowed his eyes at him. "You tricked me."

"You figured it out, a little too late," said Thoric. "Folks like me will always trick folks like you, unless you get wise." He looked at the proprietor. "How did he do?"

"Better than most," the proprietor said.

Thoric pulled out a couple of pouches that jingled. "For lunch and supper." He tossed them to the proprietor.

The proprietor placed the pouches under the counter.

The Prince looked at them. "Has he paid you the right amount?"

"If anything, he tends to overpay," the proprietor said.

"Speaking of paying," said Thoric. "Catch!" Their hand moved quickly.

The prince held up their hand, and caught the object.

"Good reflexes," said Thoric. "Meet me at my table."

The Prince looked at the object. It was a pouch of coins. He opened it, and was shocked. There was easily a week's pay in the bag. He looked at the Proprietor, who grinned.

"Told you," they said. "Now, get yourself cleaned up a bit - I can do the rest myself."



A little while later, the Prince sat by Thoric, who poured him a glass.

"You're not the first one asking for my sort of help," said Thoric. "I set that sort of thing up to figure out if you're worth my time, or not. A little honest work never hurt many, and since I like eating at my brother's place, I'm often here."

"So, this was a test?" the Prince asked.

"First lesson - don't be the last one here when no one else has paid yet," said Thoric.

"What about the fella earlier?" the Prince asked.

"Oh, Shaky - his hand got messed up a long time ago," said Thoric. "He was also late for something else."

After that, his lessons were all about fighting unfairly.



In the Present, Sam looked at his foe, and kneed them in the crotch.

His foe let out a grunt of pain, almost bending themselves from the blow.
         It was then Sam took Jack's sword out and pinned the assailent down, making sure his hands were blocked at both ends of the blade as the sheer weight of the enchantment caused him to gasp for air.
         Taking a few vines, he tied his feet together and sat on his back.
         "It's safe to come out now."
Elizabeth stepped into view, removing the cannibal's mask to reveal they were actually female. Not that one could tell without looking really close, as they were completely bald and their teeth were filed to resemble more like those of a shark than a human.

The cannibal laughed a deep, malicious laugh. "You think you have won?" They snarled "You may have beaten me, but there's more like me in this forest. Many more. You'll never leave this place alive! We will feast on your flesh and drink your blood as we..."

"Shut up." Said Elizabeth as she knocked the cannibal out cold with the end of her rifle. "Well, looks like I have my work cut out for me." She said as the prince stood up. "If they're telling the truth, I'll bet these cannibals have a nest somewhere in these woods."

"How do you plan to deal with them?" Sam asked, before Elizabeth reached into her satchel and pulled out a large bundle of explosives. "They're probably in a cave somewhere around here. If I can seal the exit off, they'll be trapped."

"Seems like a rather cruel way to kill them."

"You think they deserve better after all the deaths they've caused?"
"What if they have prisoners that are still alive?" Sam asked.

Elizabeth groaned. "Good point," she said. "Save them, and there's bound to be some kind of reward. Of course, if they're already dead, there's usually a reward there too."

"So, what about her?" Sam asked.

Elizabeth pulled out a gem that looked familiar to Sam. "Back up about fifteen paces - I don't want to scan you by accident.

Sam backed away, and watched as Elizabeth placed the gem in front of the woman's face, opening her eyes even.

"All clear," said Elizabeth.

Sam walked up. "Well?"

"She's got a prior bounty, for the murder of ten monster children, and that many human pets of similar age," said Elizabeth. She looked at Sam. "I can understand killing the parents if they'd tried to hunt her down to be a meal, but children are off limits, even by most Ferals. Thing is, she wasn't caught to be food, nor was she trying to save a relative, or even avenge one - she simple entered half a dozen homes, and killed the children - monster and human alike."

"So, what are you going to do?" Sam asked.

Elizabeth put the gem away, and pulled out a strange handgun. "She's to be executed," she said. "Since I've been paid, she's of no further use to me, alive. Dead - well, I've yet to have supper."

"Must we?" Sam asked.

Elizabeth looked at him. "Imagine waking up to find your son or daughter with their head ripped off. That's what she did, to twenty children. Think about it. What would you do if you caught their killer in the act of attempting it on another of your children, only for them to get away?"

"She did all that?" Sam asked.

Elizabeth nodded.

Sam sighed, and turned the other way. "Make it quick."

"I won't prolong her suffering," said Elizabeth. "I'll let you know when it's safe to turn around."

There was a hissing sound, along with a crunch. For the next thirty seconds or so, there was a series of sounds that suggested that Elizabeth was stripping the body, followed by swallowing it.

"It's done," said Elizabeth.

Sam turned to watch as Elizabeth, with a swollen stomach, placed the woman's belongings in a bag.

The lizard then stood up. "Let's see about retracing her steps."

"Are you sure that you can still track?" Sam asked.

Elizabeth patted her gut. "Not my first big meal while on a hunt," she said. "Usually deer or pig, but I'm not complaining."

"I hope I don't have to see a whole lot of that," said Sam.

"Get used to it, especially if you have to pretend to be a Belly Slave," said Elizabeth.

"Belly Slave?" Sam asked.

"They rub their master's bellies, outside and inside," said Elizabeth. "Do a good job, you get let out. Do a terrible one, the next Belly Slave will be rubbing your master's belly as you digest."

"I see," said Sam.

"Of course, if your master's a Bone Carrier, you're generally let out anyways," said Elizabeth. "I have to respect them for being dedicated to their faith's tenants. Some of their Belly Slaves really enjoy the task of rubbing their master's belly."
         Pushing the imformation aside in his mind, Sam began to look around the area for any clues.
         Finding a piece of clothe on a stray bush, walking to it, he found a trail.
         "I think I found a trail Elizabeth."
         Coming over, she saw what he found.
         "So you have, lets see where it leads."
Following the tracks, the pair of them came to a cave in the mountainside, just as Elizabeth suspected. "If we're lucky, most of them will be asleep right now." Said Elizabeth as she checked her weapon. "And if we're not?" Sam asked "Then we'll be outnumbered and surrounded by them within seconds."
"Well, just in case we don't make it, what got you into this line of work?" Sam asked.

"You might laugh, but it was because there was a feral human that I respected," said Elizabeth. "I'd been out deer hunting, only to encounter a highly aggressive bear. I got messed up real good - should of died."

"What happened?" Sam asked.

"There was this human, Hank Rushing Falls - their herd was near a place called, well, Rushing Falls," said Elizabeth. "They and a few others were out on the hunt, heard the commotion, found the bear, which had apparently been a menace to other herd members, and attacked, killing it. Then Hank found me. There was a debate on what to do, but Hank told the others to make a stretcher for me, and one for the initial harvest of the bear's meat and such."

"So, this Hank saved your life?" Sam asked.

The lizard nodded. "Would it surprise you to know that most humans don't kill monsters on sight?" Elizabeth asked.

Sam raised an eyebrow. "Why?"

"Bone Carriers for one," said Elizabeth. "Then there's the fact that certain elements of the Resistance against Echidna are monsters. Also, some humans make use of monsters to help them handle their enemies."

"Why would they want to do that?" Sam asked.

"Let's suppose that you want to kill a rival, but for diplomatic reasons, you can't do it yourself," said Elizabeth. "Send a monster after them, or send them against a monster. Rival gets killed - no one can prove that you set things up, especially if you're smart enough to kill the monster."

"Sounds dishonorable," said Sam.

"Of course, sometimes the monster outsmarts you, either having you as a meal too, or informing the rival of the attempt upon their life, and next thing you know, you're tied up and delivered to the monster instead," said Elizabeth. "Anyways, as you guessed, he saved my life, and I got to know him and his herd. we were on good terms. Sometimes he'd drop off an enemy that had tried to kill him - you could say that it was a power play - that he could use me to dispatch his enemies - walk into my home with an enemy, and walk out unharmed. Overall, he was a good friend - he'd even bring me some Strong Juice - it's pretty good."

"What happened?" Sam asked.

"There was this extremely aggressive herd of humans that roamed the area, and they set their sights upon his territory," said Elizabeth. One day, I visited his herd, only to find most of them dead. I found him, dying. I got enough out of him to know what to look for - identifying marks and such - most herds like to ink or tattoo themselves, some how. I even found a body of the other herd that had been overlooked. I knew some Bone Carriers, who were on good terms with the herd my friend led - they were treated respectfully, in so much as cooking someone up as a meal could be seen as respectful - and the person from the other herd was checked out - they had a prior bounty, as did many members of the other herd. Bone Carriers don't hunt humans, but I'm no Bone Carrier - I wanted vengeance for my friend. So, I became an official Human Hunter - I might pick up the occasional alternative Bounty, but unlike the casual hunter, I make a living out of hunting down aggressive humans."

"Did you ever found the one that killed your friend?" Sam asked.

Elizabeth nodded. "Seasoned them with lemon pepper salt. They were delicious. Of course, the bounty was nice too."
         After hearing her story, Sam saw the feral human's in a new light.
         Pushing that aside though, the two entered the cave while within the shadows.
         As they traversed, they came upon many feral's patroling the cave within, even walking right past them.
         Going deeper they found what they were looking for, human's in cages.
"You wouldn't have a lockpick, would you?" Sam whispered. "Better." Elizabeth replied, pulling a skeleton key from her bag.
"Will it work?" Sam asked.

"Let's just say that I know the type of lock on this cage, and I have many keys for many types of locks," said Elizabeth. She then tugged on a cord that was around her neck, pulling out of her shirt what looked to be a tooth.

"What is that?" Sam asked.

"An amulet that means that I can be trusted to not intentionally harm them, if they don't harm me," said Elizabeth.

Sam looked at it, and saw that the tooth resembled that of the lizard's own teeth. "Did you kill one of your own to get it?"

"No, I pulled it out of my own jaw," she said. "Don't know if you know, but teeth are a sign of power to a feral. Next deer you kill for supper, yank a tooth out and add to a necklace. Next foe you kill, yank a tooth and add it to a necklace. Next monster you best somehow, yank a tooth and add it to a necklace. The belief is that you have your foe's power. Don't know if that's true, but if you take a good look, you'll notice that many seem to think that it is. Besides, if you see someone with the teeth of several dozen others, it is some kind of statement."

"I see," said Sam. "But why pull your own tooth?"

"It means that I am willing to accept pain, to keep a human safe," said Elizabeth.
         Taking the idea to heart, Sam checked for guards before finding none and entered the room so Elizabeth can begin freeing the prisoners.
         As she began unlocking the cages, Sam noticed a couple of guards coming toward them.
"we have company." He said, by means of telling Elizabeth to hurry up.
"In that case, you'll need to delay them, and there's no better way than to challenge them," said Elizabeth. She then fished something out of another pouch. "Remember what I said about teeth?"

"Yes," said Sam.

"Here's yours."

Something was tossed at him, which he caught. He looked at it - it was a bunch of teeth on a necklace - each tooth was different. "Where did you get these?"

"Let's just say that we have some mutual acquaintances, and I have pliers," said Elizabeth. "Several werewolves offered theirs, a couple of rabbitfolk - one was dead by the way, a Medusa, a few bearfolk offered theirs, one dead vampire, a skunk offered theirs up, a couple of lizardfolk - one was dead, one is mine, to say nothing about a cat that lost one in a fight, plus anyone else you've beaten, bested, or befriended. The fresh and bloody one came from my Supper out there - last one I added."

"Sounds like you've been following me for a while," Sam said, as he placed the toothy necklace on himself.

"As a mutual friend told me as I yanked an incisor out of their dead skull - I know when to settle for silver instead of gold," said Elizabeth.

Sam looked at her at this. "Peter spoke to you?"

"More of a physic impression really," said Elizabeth, as she opened the lock. "After all, he got his real gold in the form of Trudy." She looked at the freed captives. "If you don't want to end up in a stew pot, you'll do as me and Sam say. Hopefully we'll all get out alive."
         Just then, the door opened and the gaurds armed themselves.
         Elizabeth tried to pull out her gun, only to stop after she saw Sam jump in and knock them, and maybe a few teeth out with the dull side of his two blades.
         "Good enough?"
         Blinking, Elizabeth blushed slightly from his strength prowess in using blades.
         "That'll do."
With that, they began to lead the captives out while placing a few explosives as they head out.
Thankfully, they didn't encounter anymore cannibals on the way out. Once they were outside, and made sure all the hostages were safe, all that remained was to detonate the explosives.

Elizabeth took one last look at the cave entrance before doing so. "Fire in the hole!" With the push of a button, the cave was sealed off with a tremendous explosion.

"That should take care of them permanently. Any that didn't die in the blast will starve sooner or later." Sam couldn't help but be slightly disheartened. It was a rather cruel end for them. They were still human, after all.

Elizabeth placed a hand on his shoulder reassuringly. "We did the right thing. These humans brought this on themselves. They chose to butcher and eat their own kind. In a sense, they were worse than the monsters you normally fight."
"So, are you serious about the teeth?" Sam asked. "Pull one from those I beat or kill?"

Elizabeth nodded. "Same with any animal you kill. But, remember this - they too had teeth on their necklaces." She looked at the collapsed cave. "None worth collecting though. Those on yours were. Keep that in mind."

Sam nodded. "I will."

Elizabeth looked at the humans. "Best make yourselves scarce, before an Inspector or a Blade shows up."

The humans nodded, thanked them, and took off.

"You'll need this." Elizabeth passed Sam a set of pliers. "Wear the necklace when you're not trying to hide who you are. Whenever some fool tries to take your head for the bounty, or just wants you as a meal, or simply annoys you, do the following - start with the pliers, not the blade. Grip one of the biggest teeth in the jaw, and yank it right out. After that, take some thin, yet strong, metal wire, twist it around the tooth, and then place the tooth onto the necklace, like the rest. Do it right in front of them. Make them afraid of you. Then, sit down, and order whatever it was you were about to get. If nothing else, you won't get trouble from the usual run-of-the-mill sorts. However, them that will trouble you, they'll be pretty good at what they do."

"Thank you for the advice," said Sam.

Elizabeth pulled some cards out. "This should help you out with supplies. Fifty thousand Echidna dollars - call it your cut. Anyone asks, you stole them."

"Someone else gave me some already," said Sam.

Elizabeth chuckled. "I know of Gigi. That Felicia knows how to pleasure those that pay her Mistress well."

Sam blinked at this. "You have been following me."

"You do have one of the highest bounties ever to be seen," said Elizabeth. "Eighty-five septilion alive, seventy if dead."

"I take it that Peter's death was placed at my feet," said Sam.

"A necessary lie, to protect his cover, my friend," said Elizabeth. She traced a symbol in the air.

Sam's eyes widened. "I see. You're in the Resistance."

The lizard nodded. "You'd be surprised at the number of Bounty Hunters are in the Resistance. One of the best ways to protect a human is to convince everyone else that they are dead. Now, this is where we part ways. May we meet up again."

"See you around, my friend." Sam then got his horse, and he and Ginger went their way, as Elizabeth went hers.



Episode X: El Lobo Muerto's Request

(If you've seen Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, you might get the references where a certain character is concerned.)

A few weeks later, Sam sat at the bar, sipping on some ale, as he waited for his food to cool. The first few times, at various bars and establishments, folks either pointed at a sign stating that humans were the food. or had tried to grab him for their meal. Using the pliers to grip their teeth helped change some people's minds, while yanking them changed others, as said tooth became a trophy.

The bar was practically empty, but for him and a cat person serving behind the counter. They seemed young, as if this was their first job, and scared - one patron had been exceptionally rude earlier, and one of their teeth resided on the necklace now. Sam pulled out a money card, and placed it on the counter. "Add twenty percent for yourself, along with the cost for the damages."

The cat nodded, and walked away.

Sam caught a glimpse of his lone self in the mirror, sighed, and took a sip of his ale, looking into the glass.

He then heard an eerie whistle, the sort that sent a chill down his spine. He looked up, and there, in the mirror, sitting beside him was a white-furred werewolf. He glanced over.

The werewolf set down a glass they'd been holding. "Well, well, if it isn't Sam Royal himself." They chuckled. "In the flesh."

"What do you want?" Sam asked.

The werewolf leaned over the counter, reached down, and picked up a bottle. "They like to keep the good stuff out of sight of the patrons." He poured it into a large glass, filling it. He took a swallow. "Mmm, that's some good stuff. Strong Juice actually - want some?"

"Um, a small amount," said Sam, out of politeness. He was trying to get a read on the werewolf.

"I'm El Lobo Muerto," the werewolf said, pouring some of the drink into an empty glass. They set the bottle down. "Been following you around - you've kept me busy." They then pulled out a Wanted Poster, and set it on the counter. "Mind giving me your autograph? You've seriously impressed me."

Sam noticed them tapping the "Dead" section on the "Dead or Alive" segment. "So, you aim to kill me."

"Eventually," the werewolf said. "Your lifeline got placed on hold for quite some time. I've been there for every demise you've caused - the medusa inspector, the vampire, the one werewolf bandit, the lizard, the rabbit, those cannibals - all of them, even the animals you've killed for food, to say nothing about Jack and the Princess Irene."

"So, you're Death?" Sam asked. "The Grim Reaper."

"Give Sammy Boy a prize!" the werewolf said. "I happen to hold that job."

"So, why are you here?" Sam asked.

"Quite frankly, I need for you to do me a favor," said El Lobo. "I need for you to get back to the past, and defeat Echidna then. Ever since she's ruled I've been exceptionally busy, too busy in fact. I mean, don't get me wrong, I never get a holiday, but I could at least enjoy a drink and a hot meal on occasion."

Sam took a sip of the Strong Juice. "Honestly, this is pretty good."

El Lobo chuckled. "I'm glad that you agree. Last batches are always the best - last bottle the distiller ever made, before he was served up with a much inferior product - real rotgut stuff too! I mean, the guy knew his spirits, he deserved better."

"Why do you tell me this?" Sam asked.

"One day, we'll have our battle, and it will be an Epic one," said El Lobo. "But, I could use a break." He held up the bottle. "The distiller had a daughter - she too is to be served up with an inferior product, as part of a feast tomorrow at the Mayor's home. Save her, if you can - she can make not only a better batch of Strong Juice, she can make magic potions too!" They set the bottle down, along with some gold coins. "See you around."

With the whistle Sam heard earlier playing, the wolf faded away.
         When the whistling died down, he ate his food, and gave a bit to Ginger with fresh water.
         As Ginger ate her food, Sam took time to gather on both the Mayors estate, and the girl he is suppose to save.
From what he was able to gather, the Mayor in question was a Minotaur, who planned to have the girl served to his family as part of a feast for some monster holiday. His estate was heavily guarded, so getting in wouldn't be easy. As he scoped out the estate from a nearby hilltop, he spotted a potential way of slipping inside unoticed.
"Well, you got to admit - she's a familiar bitch, and she appreciated your help the last time," said a familiar voice.

Sam turned his head, to see El Lobo next to him. "Why are you here?"

"Someone will die at the party, the question is, who, and how? Actually, that's two questions," said the wolf.

"Of all the humans, why do you want me to save this one?" Sam asked.

"Do you remember your time in Japan, and your romance with Yokana?" Death asked.

Sam chuckled nervously. "I remember. The night before I had to continue my travels, we went to a theater - wonderful food and entertainment."

"There was also a lovely hilltop by the river, and I'm sure that you remember what you did there."

Sam gave a nervous grin. "My first time. Hers as well." He frowned. "What happened to her?"

"Like many, she became a figure in the resistance. She, along with her descendants have been fighting the last two thousand years," said Death. "Last week, I collected the soul of one of them, and I'll collect another tonight, unless she is saved."

"I see," said Sam. "I'm saving Yokana's kin."

"She is not just Yokana's kin," said El Lobo. He then whispered. "She's yours."

"Mine?" Sam asked.

"Granted, Yokana kept mum on the connection to you, and by now, she's just some Feral that got picked up by some hunter a few weeks back, one that didn't see the value of the Strong Juice they made," the wolf said. "After all, a good batch of Strong Juice is worth a pretty five thousand Echidna dollar card to the right buyer. Unfortunately, these fellas are the sort that kill geese that lay golden eggs."

"Do those exist?" Sam asked.

"They're very rare," said Death. "Well, best go say 'Hello' to an old friend."



Salina looked at Fabien, as he drove the vehicle slowly. "Are you sure that David and Jena will be safe at the hotel room? I didn't like the way that the staff were looking at them."

The male kitsune looked at the female werewolf, before looking at the street signs. "We left guns, and gave them the Command to Defend the room against those who'd cause damage to the property within. That includes them."

Salina sighed. "I hate this holiday. I hate being guests at this type of feast. I'd like to save the human that's about to be the meal."

Fabien placed his hand on hers. "You know very well we can't save all of them. We can only save the ones worth saving, if we are able to do so. I mean, it's not like Sam Royal is just going to-"

"Fabien, stop the car!" Salina exclaimed.

The fox stepped on the brakes. They looked out the window. "There's a saying about people that show up when talking about them."

Salina opened the door, and stepped out. "Hello, Sam. How have you been, these last few months?"

"Well enough," said Sam. "You and your husband?"

Salina smiled. "We're expecting."

Sam smiled. "Good to hear." He then frowned. "As it is, I need your help in saving one of mine, more or less."

"Planning to crash the Mayor's feast?" Salina asked.

Sam nodded. "I need a way in, and you're key to it."

"How do you figure?" Fabian asked, as he got out of his door.

"I have a plan," said Sam. "It's not one I like, but it's one that should get me in without notice." He looked at Salina. "I doubt that anyone will complain if your pregnancy cravings caused you to eat a feral that was dumb enough to try to attack your husband when you got a flat tire."

"I see where you're going with this," said Salina. "I even have a pill that will keep you safe from being digested for a few hours - long enough for me to find a bathroom." She reached into her purse, and pulled out a pill bottle, got out a pill, and gave it to Sam.

Sam put the pill into his mouth, and swallowed. "Of course, the part I really hate, it what I must do to you," he said, looking at Fabian. "I got to assault you, as if you had indeed been changing the tire." He looked at Salina. "Likewise, you've got to make it look good, just in case they want to run a scan on me."

Salina nodded. "What about your swords?"

Sam got out Jack's. "Are you willing to accept them, and to not use them needlessly?"

"Yes," said Salina.

"Place your hand on it."

Salina grabbed it.

Sam let go.

Salina felt the weight. "Weight of responsibility."

"Something like that," said Sam. He got out his, and gave it to Fabian. "This one harms monsters."

"I see," said Fabien. "I'll protect it with my life."

"I'm sorry about this next part," said Sam, as he grabbed a thick broken tree branch.

Fabien chuckled as he got to his knees. "I couldn't complain about the last time I assisted with a distraction," he said. "The wedding was wonderful."

"I'm sorry I missed it." Sam swung the tree branch, hitting the fox on the back of the head.

"A little - oof!" Fabien collapsed.

"I hope I didn't hit him too hard," said Sam, as he removed his clothes and items, for the next part.

"He'll be alright," said Salina, as she accepted the clothes, and items. She ducked into the car, put Sam's things in a safe spot, and got out a bag. "Got some beef chunks, just in case." She carefully placed them next to Fabien - the scent all but woke the fox up. "That will help out with the headache."

Fabien smiled. "Thanks hun. Enjoy your snack."

Salina looked at Sam. "I'll be gentle with you."

"Not too gentle," said Sam, as he turned his back to her.

"Understood." She lunged for him, clamping her jaws over his shoulders.

Sam didn't really "pretend" to struggle - he was in fact busy trying not to struggle too much - just enough to make it look like he put up one. Soon enough though, he was in Salina's stomach.

"Do yourself a favor, and do squirm when I tap on my stomach," the werewolf said. "After all, it would be suspicious if you were calm."

"Understood," said Sam.
         It wasn't till a hour later after that Fabien and Salina drove up to the front gate of the mayor's estate.
         As the guard looked it, he see's Salina's severly protruding belly as she rubs it, and as planned, Sam was squirming around within her a bit, causing her to burp a bit.
         After getting there Id's checked, and telling the guard the false story, they where let into the property, and the plan to save a human's life was set into motion.
~¤~

         Off in the woods, Lobo was impressed of how the plan was going so far.
         Rubbing his maw a bit, Lobo only chuckled and smiled a bit as a thought came to him.
         'Sam Royal, your a brave one alright. Maybe I should give you one of my fangs when this is over.
         With that, a gust of wind stirred up the leaves around him, only for him to vannish when the wind died down.
Back inside the estate, Salina and Fabien mingled with the other guests as they waited for the main meal to be served. Of course, the Mayor himself was there, as well as his wife, the both of them going around and talking with their guests about the meal they'd prepared.

After a while, Salina excused herself and found the bathroom, where she proceeded to regurgitate Sam back up. "Everything's going good so far." She said as Sam cleaned himself off "The human you're looking for is probably in the kitchens. Any plans on how you'll save them?"

"I'm sort of improvising." Sam admitted "I'll figure out something." "Will you save the others too?" Salina asked "If I can. You'd better get back to the party, before anyone gets suspicious."
Salina chuckled. "You have no idea how long a pregnant werewolf with a human-sized meal that they are about to quickly digest takes in the bathroom," she said, as she slipped him Jack's sword. She then popped off a cover for the air ventilation. "On the plus side, I'm about to give you some cover to head over to the kitchen. Did I ever tell you about how Fabien is a Food Inspector?"

"Does that include human?" Sam asked.

Salina nodded. She pulled out a gem. Up came what looked to be the floor plans of the place, with a bunch of moving dots. "This is a map. Once you're in a building, it generates a diagram of the structure, and the occupants. Useful if you're a Building Inspector." She tapped on it, specifically, two dots in one room. "Here's you and me - red is a werewolf, and brown is a human. Everyone else of other races has their own color." She zoomed out a bit. "Okay, there's at least fifteen humans that are alive. Orange is a kitsune - my husband. White is a minotaur. This blue dot is the gem." She gave it to Sam. "Anyone asks, you stole it during the confusion, and you weren't the human that I ate. By the way, if you die, can I eat you, if possible?"

"Why?" Sam asked.

Salina chuckled. "You are Prime Grade - almost be a crime to not eat you."

"It's probably a crime anyways," said Sam.

Salina pulled out a cow's leg bone, one of the large ones, along with a few more. "Always useful to have snacks. Damn waste of bone marrow though - cubs need it to develop, but if I don't activate the bone grinder, it will be highly suspicious." She put them into the toilet, and pressed a button labeled "Grinder". There was a loud sound of machinery in motion, as the bottom of the bowl opened, where the bone encountered whirling machinery. It was pulverized.

Sam looked at Salina. "That will be the fate of their remains?"

Salina nodded. "They won't even get a 'Good-Bye' farewell, like someone that's sympathetic might give. After all, do you say 'Good-Bye' to your food when you go to the bathroom?"

"Might end up doing that," said Sam. He looked at the air vent. "A little help."

Salina helped him into the vent. "I'll let Fabien know the next part of the plan, so that he can slip you your sword."
         After Salina placed the vent back in place and left, Sam began making his way to his possition.
         Making sure to not make too much noise, he soon found where the humans were placed.
         Looking to the map, he saw a group of four werewolf guards inside watching over them like a flock of sheep.
Silently dropping into the room, the prince contemplated how to dispatch the guards. He could just silently kill them, but what if they weren't human eaters? He knew it was a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless.

That was when one of them said "Any idea when dinner is? I'm starving and watching these humans is only making me hungrier."

Well, that settles that, thought the prince as he drew his weapon and readied to strike.
That was when there was a knock at the door.

Sam glanced at the map, and saw Fabien's dot, along with one for a minotaur right outside the door.

A guard walked over, looked through a peephole, and opened the door.

In came a minotaur, who looked rather important, along with Fabien.

"I don't get why you insist on inspecting my stock, personally," the cattleman said, signaling the werewolves to leave the room. "They were already inspected."

"By which veterinarian?" Fabien asked. "Also, did you get them from approved sources?" The fox began sniffing the air. "Well, here's one that I really ought to check on."

Sam watched as Fabien walked up to a female, who had a rather defiant look in her eyes.

"Stand," said Fabien.

"No," she said, in a tone that said that Fabien would be dead, if she had the power to do it.

Fabien looked at the minotaur. "So much for you claim about them being of well-bred stock," he said. "Disobeys even the most basic of Stand Commands." He then jerked her to her feet, and licked her face. "Well, at least she's an A+ Grade, if nothing else."

That was when Sam notice Fabian used his claw to carefully trace the sign of the Resistance upon the female's back.

"Still, given that we have an hour or so, I can give them some rather basic behavioral training, so that you won't offend any guests with one making a racket as you lead them to their deaths," said Fabien.

"I thought that Bone Carriers didn't raise humans to be slaughtered," the minotaur said.

"No, but this one is a born troublemaker, much like the one my wife has finished digesting," said Fabien. "I have no problems sending them down a gullet in such situations. Of course, there is the mater of my Inspection Fee."

"What do you mean?" the minotaur asked.

Fabien let go of the female, went to the next, a male, and gave them a lick. "Oh, B- Grade on this one." He went to a few others, and licked them, each time, tracing the symbol on them. "This one's a C- Grade, and very much on the border with a D+ Grade. There's a B+ one, and that one is a D-." He soon finished the rest. "Aside from the first one, none are in the A Grade range. You said that they were to be Prime Grade."

"What do you want?" the minotaur asked.

"Well, I have to take care of my wife, and then the cubs," said Fabien. "Let's say five million, I give them some basic behavioral training to keep them compliant, and we'll blame any off taste on the liquor."

"I got five hundred thousand on me," said the minotaur. "I can get the rest later though."

"We'll call that the Official Inspection Fee," said Fabien. "As for the rest, call it a gift, for the expecting first-time parents."

"Alright," the mayor said. "Um, are you sure that do don't want my guards here to assist?"

Fabien chuckled. "Not my first time taming a feral into becoming a meal," the fox said. "Besides, I haven't had sex in a while, especially since my sex-slave is expecting a child, or two. Perfect for my cubs."

"Ah, understood," the minotaur said, slipping Fabien the cards. "Take your time."

The minotaur left.

"Sorry for the rough treatment," Fabien said, in a low voice. "I bring help."

Sam came out of his hiding spot. "Everyone alright?"

"More, or less," the female said. "That bull ate my father last week."

Sam looked at her. "I'm sorry for your loss." He wondered if she was his descendant. He looked at Fabien. "I heard what was said. We got an hour to get them out."

"That reminds me," Fabien said, as he pulled Sam's sword out from behind his back. "I don't want to know how Salina's father handled carrying both of those. I was worried about it coming out by accident."

That was when the scabbard fell, and Fabian nicked his ear. The fox gritted his teeth to keep from yelling out.

Sam came over, and all but gasped in shock as the ear healed up. "Um, how quickly do you normally heal?"

"Depends," said Fabien. "Why do you ask?"

"There's no sign of injury, but that blade kills monsters," said Sam.

Cautiously, Fabien ran the tip of his left pinky along the blade. The cut quickly healed. "That should of taken me a minute or two to heal up from."

"Maybe, it senses the good in you, and thus will heal your injury afterwards," said Sam.

"Don't try it with a decapitation," said Fabien.

Sam looked at the map, and looked towards the far wall. "On the plus side, there is nothing on the other side of that wall. I can cut an opening."

Fabien passed him his toothy necklace, and pliers, along with a fresh tooth. "Salina 'lost' one during the 'struggle' with you, in case you didn't notice. Of course, if you manage to cut a hole in that wall, I'll let you 'take' two of mine."

Sam chuckled. "Alright."

He walked up to the wall, and cut out a door-sized opening.

Fabien blinked. "Better make it look good - can't just let you break in and free these meals, after all."

"Understood," said Sam. "Everyone else, get going, and I'll buy you all time to escape." He then charged, slamming the fox through the door, causing them to loose consciousness. He yanked two of the kitsune's teeth. "Now, for that minotaur and his forces."
         Seeing the guards from earlier, he swiftly defeated them and took a fang from each of them, as well as took out any and all security camera he came upon.
         When he reached the main room, the guests started to part.
         Out of the corner of his eye, he seen Salina slip away to get Fabian and the human's to safety.
         It was then he heard steps from his main target.
         The minotaur looked to Sam, not with a ounce of fear, but pure seriousness.
         "So, the mighty human, Sam Royal graced my home today. What pray tell brings you to my aboad this night?"
         Unsheathing his blades, he made sure to have his teeth necklace show to intimidate those around him.
         "I have come for you."
The minotaur snorted. "As well you may. But if you think I'm going to make it easy, you're sorely mistaken!" The bull-man took a charging stance, ready to impale Sam on his horns. "After I've dealt with you, I'm going to mount your head in my trophy room!"
"Let him charge," said a familiar voice. "Then, when I tell you, step to the side."

Sam waited.

The minotaur charge.

"Now!"

Sam stepped to the side, as the minotaur rushed past him, crashing into a support beam, his horns impaled upon them. The bull was stuck.

"I see," said Sam. "He can move fast, but he can't turn quick while at that speed."

"And now the bull is pinned," said El Lobo, as he appeared next to the struggling minotaur. "The real problem is, this is a load-baring beam, and if he struggles too much while attached to it, I'll have my work cut out for me, especially since most here aren't due to die yet, like the young calf over there."

Sam looked, to see the young cattle creature, who looked at him, with fear in his eyes. He walked up to the trapped minotaur, his sword drawn. He saw that the minotaur had rammed his horns deep into the beam. "Do you want to live?"

The minotaur glanced at him, fear in their eyes. "Yes."

"Pin your ears back."

Reluctantly, the minotaur did so.

Sam swung his sword, severing the horns from the minotaur's head, but otherwise left them unharmed.

The minotaur looked at him. "Why didn't you take my head?"

"Because I won't kill someone that's helpless." Sam then took out his pliers, grabbed one of the minotaur's teeth, and yanked.

The minotaur cupped a hand to their mouth.

"I'd strongly change my ways, if I were you," Sam said, as he fastened the tooth to the necklace. "Next time, I will take your head." He began walking, until he got to the calf, though their mother, fearfully, tried to hide him behind her body. "How old is he?"

The cow gulped, nervous. "Eight years old."

"I was seven when my father was taken from me, along with my whole world," said Sam. "Tell your child to count himself lucky that he's enjoyed his father for as long as he has, and to see each day he has with him after this, a blessing."

Sam then resumed walking, the remaining guests parting, as he left the estate.



A little while later, he encountered Salina and Fabien. "Everything good?"

Salina nodded. "The humans are seeing about heading back to their respective herds. I guess that this is good-bye, for now."

Sam nodded. "Thank you for helping me."

"Got the female, if you want to talk to her," said Fabien. "She's of your line - Salina's sure of it - or that you're at least related."

Sam looked at the young woman, who looked at him. He could see a bit of Yokana in her, and a bit of himself. Still, there was two thousand years between them. What could he tell her?

"To be honest, I don't know what to say, other than to have a good life," he said. "Good luck with your distillation, and your magic potions."

"How do you know about that stuff?" the woman asked.

There was an eerie whistle as the wind blew, and El Lobo showed up. "Because your father told me, and I passed it on to him."

The woman looked at him, fearfully, as did Salina and Fabien.

El Lobo looked at them. "I won't be after you for a while yet. Get going."

The three nodded, and hurried away.

"Can't blame them really," said Sam. "Not many say that they've seen Death and walked away."

"True," said El Lobo.

"So, who died?" Sam asked.

The wolf held up the head of a regular rat. "He didn't move quick enough."

"Kind of anti-climatic," said Sam.

"You still beat him, and then you showed mercy," said El Lobo. He then took Sam's pliers, gripped on of his own teeth, and yanked. "This is yours."

"Why?" Sam asked.

"Anyone else would have killed him in front of his son, starting a cycle of hatred," said El Lobo. "Such things keep me really busy. Maybe the calf will change his ways, and learn about being a Bone Carrier because a feral spared their father's life. Or, maybe he'll grow up to be another man-eater that sees humans as inferior. Still, at least he has a chance."

"So, what about me?" Sam asked. "When will I die?"

"A question to which I have no answer," said El Lobo. "I do not know. That being said, I do know of someone you know who could use your help - Eric the Red."
Episode X:A Bears War

         After Lobo gave Sam directions of where to go, he quickly mounted his horse with Ginger and headed out as quickly as possible.
         Apparrently, after he got his people to safety, his mother passed after making him the new leader.
         With that, he placed Lothar, as he redeemed himself knowing he'll be a father soon, as temporary command while he went after his wife.
         Only, as he reached the estate, he was ambushed and locked away in the catacombs beneath.
Sam couldn't help but wonder how Erik managed to get himself captured. The man was a fierce warrior who could change into a gigantic bear! Which must have meant he was facing an even more dangerous enemy to have been caught.
Sam sat at his fire, watching as supper cooked.

There was the whistle.

Sam sighed. "Hello, El Lobo."

"I was in the neighborhood," the wolf said. "I'm there for every death."

Sam looked at the fish he was cooking. "Even that of fish?"

"Of course," said Death. "It's my job."

"I apologized to them for it," said Sam. "I didn't find much available fresh fruits, or vegetables, and Ginger isn't a herbivore."

"I'm not faulting you for it," said El Lobo. "Death is necessary for Life to exist. Don't be too harsh on yourself for killing when you must - be it to stay alive, or for when you need food. It's killing just to kill that's the problem. After all, just because a monster might eat human meat, doesn't mean that they are evil. I mean, let's look at Elizabeth Greenscales, and Jinal Thevok."

"Who's Jinal?" Sam asked.

"The murderous cannibal that Elizabeth ate," said Death. "That one, and her friends, kept me busy - too busy in my opinion. Trust me when I tell you, if you had known what she'd done, to children, you wouldn't have shown her any mercy, aside from maybe giving her a quick death."

"I guess I would have killed her," said Sam.

Death nodded. "She'd of died anyways. Elizabeth simply expedited the process. Afterwards, well, the lizardwoman was hungry. Then there's Salina, and her family - you first saw them in a Funeral Feast. Not a good example, as it was rushed, so, let's watch a Proper one."

The scenery changed, and Sam realized that he was at Salina's family's place. There was a table, with Salina and family, as well as the humans that they cared for, sitting at it, eating, drinking, talking, and laughing.

Sam stood up, and walked over. On the table, was the body of an elderly male human. He tried to reach, to touch Salina, only for El Lobo to grab his wrist.

"This happened a year ago," Death said. "These are but shadows - you cannot touch them."

"Remember when you wanted him covered in salsa, and he used that habanero based stuff?" Salina asked, as she looked at her father, Richard.

"Oh, I remember," Richard said. "He was hot going in, coming up, and the salsa was hot coming out!"

"Don't remind me," said Salina's mother, waving her nose. "My nostrils were burning during the night from his farts."

"So, anyone want to say some final words before my family enjoys him?" Richard asked.

David stood up, and came over. "Father, may you meet up with mother, and have a fun time catching up with her. Until we meet again."

Other humans had their own statements, one even got out an instrument, and played what had been the dead human's favorite music.

Richard then looked at the dead human. "Until we meet again, David." He then passed his plate over to his wife, as she had the knife. "Mind serving me his maleness? I always did like the taste of it."

"Of course," the female werewolf said, as she began to move the knife towards the human's reproductive organs.

The scenery changed back to where Sam and Death were back at Sam's campsite.

"My bad," said Death. "Probably more than what you needed."

"Um, yes," said Sam. "I'm guessing that the elder David was Richard's sex slave, right?"

The wolf nodded. "They were also lovers, among other things." El Lobo sat down. "Do you want to know what happened to Erik?"

Sam sat back down, and nodded.

"This is from last week," said Death. "Again, you can affect nothing." The scenery changed. He watched the battle as it unfolded, unable to help his friend.



Erik was desperate. He had to save Bertha. She was his love. For her, he'd die, if that's what it took. More than two dozen of Utrude's goons had attacked him. He used his head, his fists, and feet - his axes taken by one with telekinesis abilities. He was about to change, when something caught his eyes.

There was Utrude, the large bear's arm around Bertha's neck. Bertha was small, easily the size of the average human woman. One that was expecting.

Sam looked at Death. "Why is she like that?"

"Genetics," the wolf said. "Something about her great-grandfather being a human sex slave. Doesn't matter though, other than she's only as strong as the average human. That being said, she's also pregnant."

"Bertha!" Erik exclaimed. "I swear, Utrude, you harm her, and I'll -"

Utrude put a knife to Bertha's neck. "Surrender, or, I'll kill her, and the children."

"Erik! Run!" Bertha shouted. "Save yourself!"

"No! You run, I'll kill her."

"Please, don't harm her," Erik said, scared. "I love her."

"On your knees."

Sam watched as the powerful human got to his knees.

Utrude, still holding a knife to Bertha's neck, came forward.

"Place your forehead on the ground."

Reluctantly, Erik did as he was told.

Utrude placed their foot on the back of the man's head, and scraped their boot on the man's red hair. "Shave his head and face. Save the hair and beard, and if you can, his mustache - I want them as a trophy. Make sure to clean them. After that, take measurements - something tells me that I'll need a bigger oven." He then looked at Bertha. "My mate will need the meat for our cubs."

Sam could see the tears in the smaller bear's eyes, along with Erik's, as the scene faded.

"What a monster!" he exclaimed. "He was going to kill the mother of his own cubs, who aren't even born!"

Death nodded. "Of course, I was there because, among other things, Utrude had eaten a slave that had tried to help Bertha escape. He's another one that keeps me busy. It might surprise you to know that most monsters don't eat humans on a regular basis. Maybe a few over the year. Some, who aren't even Bone Carriers, are actually sympathetic towards them, giving them a final kindness, of some sort. Not perfect, but, when you're raised to be food, you take any kindness you can get, even a tender kiss, or a quick death. Some even say 'Good-Bye' at the flushing part."

"How long do I have?" Sam asked.

"Tomorrow, Erik will be served to Bertha, alive, after he's been roasted," said Death. "If he doesn't cooperate, she's dead, and then him. If she doesn't eat him, she's dead, and then he'll be dead, of a broken heart. Of course, if she does eat him, after he dies, she'll die, of a broken heart. In short, both will die."

"Unless I save them," said Sam.

El Lobo nodded. "As you can see, Utrude doesn't fight fair. Neither should you."
         Due to the information Lobo showed him, Sam was at a stand still of how to go about this.
         It was then Lobo chuckled a bit.
         "If you want, I could possibly be bribed to bring, oh say, a old friend of yours back to, say help you, for a limited time of course."
"How does one bribe death?" Sam asked "By giving me something I want, of course. Don't bother offering your soul, I'll just end of claiming that in the end, anyway." "So what is it you want then?"

"How about a future favor? I'll let you know when I need to cash in on it." "Alright then. Who would you bring back, specifically?"

"How about that cursed spirit you set free? Jack, was it? I bet he'd be very helpful on this sort of mission."

Sam nodded. "Okay, but only if he agrees to it."
"Not a problem there," said El Lobo. "Of course, I might be able to get Peter to help out, if I can extract him from Trudy's arms, or perhaps one of your teachers, or even your father - nothing like a good father-son bonding experience where they save someone in need of help. That being said, regardless of who I bring back, I need Life Energy, to give them a form that they can use."

"Where do we find that?" Sam asked.

"From the living," the wolf said. "It must be offered freely. For instance, if you want Jack to have five hours, you must offer up five hours of your life. On the plus side, should the mission end beforehand, or they are killed, you get back what was left."

Sam looked down at the estate. He then looked back at Death. "How does this work?"

El Lobo chuckled, as he patted his belly. "Look at it as taking a nap, albeit, one inside of me. The longer that you are inside of me, the more time I can take from you, and give to your ally. Of course, if I get more than one, the time is split between them, so I wouldn't hope for more than three - that's Jack, Peter Cottontail, and your father - to assist you. As I said, whatever is left is returned to you. Of course, to make things easier, I'll move you all to an empty room or something inside the place."

"What about Ginger, and my horse?" Sam asked.

The wolf looked at the animals. "They'll be safe enough. Although, I have to give you credit - you saved Ginger from quite the curse."
         "Only possible with her helping me fend off a hoard."
         Chuckling, Lobo only nodded in agreement."Say what you want, but now, it's time to choose. Who is it gonna be?"
         Placing a hand to his chin, he started to contemplate.
         'Peter did make a great partner to fight along side with, and Jack and my farther are both great samurai's. The question is, who is best qualified for the task at hand.'
Sam figured that all three of them would be best. He decided that he'd give them an hour of life each, which should be plenty of time for one rescue mission. Telling Lobo his plan, the reaper nodded. "Alright then. You know what you need to do now." Sam stripped himself of his clothes and weapons, allowing the white wolf to swallow him whole. Once the prince was in his gut, Lobo teleported to the afterlife to find his companions.
El Lobo had no trouble locating whom he was looking for.



Peter sat under a tree, feeling as Trudy squirmed inside of him. For the rabbit, feeling the human squirm inside of him, as well as having sex with her, among other things, was pure bliss. Granted, they'd need to figure out what to do in a bit, but he'd only been dead a few weeks, while she'd been dead a while longer - they needed to catch up first.

Trudy soon stopped squirming. Then, a flash of light happened, and she was beside him once more. Peter chuckled as the female human kissed his cheeks. That was one of the benefits to being dead - he didn't worry about accidentally killing her, as her body would reform, as would his should something happen to him.

The white wolf showed up. "Peter Cottontail. How would you like to be able to help out a friend of yours?"

The rabbit looked at them. "Who are we talking about?"

Part of the wolf's belly became transparent, and Peter found himself looking at Sam, who seemed to be taking a nap inside of them.

"What's going on?" Peter asked, a little concerned.

"Sam needs help in freeing another friend from a fate far worse than encountering myself," said El Lobo, his belly becoming solid again. "After all, I reunited you with the one that you love, didn't I?"

Peter nodded.

"This friend has been separated from theirs for quite some time, and now, their fate, is going to be very horrible," said Death. "That is, unless they are saved."

"How bad?" Trudy asked.

"Your plan to use poison upon one another was made out of love for each other," said El Lobo. "The friend is willing to die to save his love, but she will die of a broken heart afterwards, but if they don't eat him, they will be killed, and the friend will die of a broken heart. I'm sure that you can relate to this."

Peter looked at Trudy, and sighed. "I guess I can - I would have enjoyed being alive with you, if it was possible."

Trudy smiled. "I understand. We can catch up later."

Peter got up. "How do I get back to the land of the living?"

El Lobo patted his belly. "Sam has graciously offered up an hour of his life, so that you'll be able to have an hour to help him. I shall see to it that you have the weaponry that you are familiar with," the wolf said. "Now, to visit a couple more." They vanished.

"Looks like we got a little bit," said Trudy. "Let's make the most of it." She kissed him upon the lips.



Jack was listening to Princess Irene sing. Her voice was truly a pleasure to listen to. He was guarding more out of habit than anything. There wasn't really any enemies, but, it was still something he felt that he had to do - he was a guard after all.

That was when the wolf showed up. They looked at Jack.

"Hello," said Jack. "Here to listen to Princess Irene?"

"No, I'm here for you," said El Lobo.

"What for?" Jack asked.

"A mutual acquaintance would like your help," said Death. Again, part of their belly became transparent, revealing Sam in his nap-like state, before hiding him once more.

Jack looked at the belly, before looking up at the wolf's face. "What does he need me for?"

"To help save the life of another, who is about to experience a fate similar to your own," said El Lobo.

Jack looked at Irene, who had stopped singing, and was now looking at him. The centuries they'd been stuck close together had given them plenty of time to understand each other.

"You need him to help the one that saved us?" Irene asked.

Death nodded. "Sam has asked for his help." He looked at Jack. "He's willing to sacrifice an hour of his life, so that you can have an hour among the land of the living to help him rescue his other friend."

Irene walked over to Jack. "Jack, he helped to save us. Go help him to save these others."

"Yes, Irene," said Jack. A few barriers had dropped during their time as trapped spirits. He looked at Death. "I'll do it."

"Good," said El Lobo. "I'll provide you with any weaponry you need. Now, I must visit one more." The wolf, again, vanished.

"At least we have a little bit," said Irene. "Another song?"

"Yes," said Jack. "I enjoy listening to you sing."

Irene started singing once more, tears coming to Jack's face.

"So beautiful," he said.



The king wandered through the palace. It was a replica of the one he once lived in. He looked out a window, to look at his descendants. Though they'd been slaves, pets, or, on very rare occasions, livestock, he'd been surprised to see a few looking to be like they were from the Far East - even they had been surprised until the ninja Yokana explained things to them. At least they were born Free. Of course, as time went on, one of the biggest surprises was the interactions between his descendants, and those of the werewolf Snapjaw and rakshasa Swiftpaws lines, and those that worked with them.

A shudder came to him as he caught a glance of one of his descendants slip past the lips of of one of the tiger-like Swiftpaws. He didn't understand why some liked being treated as if they were food. Granted, they'd come back in a flash of light, but still.... at least it was better than those that had been taken by Echidna - even now, they'd never showed up, even though they should be dead.

The wolf appeared beside him. The king sighed. "Another of my relatives?"

"Yes, but not in the way you think," said Death. Their belly became transparent.

The king found himself looking at his first-born son, who seemed to be asleep. "Is he under a curse or something?"

"Something, albeit of his own free will," said El Lobo. "He needs your help to save another warrior, whose assistance will be appreciated in the fight against Echidna. Your son is willing to offer up an hour of his life, so that you can have an hour to help him save this warrior."

"Anything else I must know?" the king asked.

"I've aske a couple of others, who are willing to throw in - the guard Jack, protector of Princess Irene, as well as Peter Cottontail, who loves one of your descendants," said the wolf.

"And whom are we trying to save?" the King asked.

An image of Erik and Bertha appeared. "These two."

"Why would my son risk his life for a bear?" the king asked.

"For the same sort of reason that a family of werewolves and a family of rakshasas look after yours," said El Lobo. "Not every monster is evil." The wolf sighed. "I know it's not easy - you more or less lost your life because of Echidna. Save this monster, and your son might gain the strength needed to undo the past two thousand years - most of this won't come to pass, especially the worst aspects. Still, better versions of the good parts might." He glanced out the window, only to look away, closing it. "Might want to give some their privacy."

The king closed his eyes, only to open them soon after. "I'll need weapons and armor."

"I'll provide you with those," said Death. He vanished.



Death reappeared in an empty room in the estate. Well, not exactly empty. A fly in the corner just became a spider's lunch.

"I hope that I've brought spiders and not flies," he said, looking at the web. That was when another fly, only barely caught, managed to free itself. "Still, even flies can outwit a spider on occasion."
         With a snap of his fingers, a flash of light filled the room, only to settle as four more figures stood within.
         Sam Royal: back in his ussual attire and two swords on his side.
         Peter Cottontale: Wearing a long trench coat with a pair of handguns and few explosives over his chest.
         Samurai Jack: Back in his armor and now weilding a new sword.
         Sam's Farther: Also dressed in armore, but carries a bladed staff, sword, and throwing knives.
         Looking to each of them, Lobo nodded at how things may turn up.
         "Remember, you three only have a hour to do what is needed after you leave this room. After that, it's back to the land of the dead. So use the time wisely."
"Right, so should we take the stealthy approach, or go all in?" Peter asked as he cocked his pistols. "We should probably try to keep it quiet." Said Sam "Who knows how many guards this place has? Let's just find Erik and Bertha, kill Utrude if he gets in our way, and get out of here."
Restrained, Erik looked out at the narrow window, the faint light showing. He knew naught if it was night or day. Tears had been trailing down his face. His face, once covered by beard and mustache, was bare, along with his scalp. His head was as smooth as a grape, even looking like one. The rest of him was bare of clothing, not even a loincloth.

He looked in a corner, and saw a fly that was wrapped up in a cocoon, with a spider coming to feast. Soon, he'd be the fly, but in his case, the spider was being forced to dine upon him.

He looked at the chains holding him. He could break them, with some difficulty, but the moment he did get free, Bertha would die. The guard outside the door would contact Utrude, and he'd kill the sow bear. He was losing hope.

That was when he heard the whistle. Few things scared him, but this did. He looked up at the door, but no one did.

"Over here."

He looked into the corner, and saw the white wolf, looking at the spider web.

"You," said Erik. "You were at my herd's old village."

"I'm at a lot of places, where death occurs," said the wolf. "You've given me some business, and one day, you'll be mine."

The spider started its feast.

The wolf took out a very small blade, and slashed it at the cocoon. There was the buzzing of a fly, before it faded.

"May he find a nice pile of scat," the wolf said, putting the blade away.

Erik gulped. "You're Death."

The wolf nodded. "I prefer El Lobo Muerto."

"Are you here for me?" Erik asked.

El Lobo looked at him. "Eventually."

"Bertha, or the cubs?" Erik asked.

El Lobo walked up to him, and placed a paw upon his face. "Eventually."

"What about Utrude?" Erik asked.

Death grinned, in a manner that couldn't be mistake for friendly. "Eventually." He then leaned forward, and whispered. "Help is near. Just hold on. I promise, you and Bertha will be together again, either in this world, or the next. Don't lose hope." There was the whistle, as he vanished.
         With the team of for, they decided on a divide and conquer stratagy.

         Heading to Bertha was Peter and Jack, taking any guards out as quietly as they can along the way.

         While they headed to her, Sam and his farther began making their way to Eric, slashing guard after gaurd from the shadows, so not to alert anyone of their activity.
They eventually found Erik, freeing him from his bonds. "Sam?" He said as he rubbed his wrists where shackles had previously been. "Good to see you, friend." Sam said with a slight smile. "How did you find me? And who is this?" He indicated Sam's father. "It's a long story, now's really not the time for it. Let's go, with any luck, the other two will have rescued your wife."
"So, let me get this straight - Echidna stole your Princess's voice, turning her into a banshee with a wail that would blow a mortal's brain, caused her to kill you, and you were bound by duty to stay by her," said Peter, as he and Jack walked through the place.

"Correct," Jack said, as he stabbed yet another goon. "Sam stuffed his ears with cotton, and managed to sit through her song."

Peter chuckled, as he took out another camera with his silenced gun. "Must of been worth listening too."

"Her singing is beautiful," said Jack. "You?"

"Used to be a farmhand, looking after Sam's relatives, and I fell for one, hard," said Peter. "She was to go to Echidna, so we made a pact, she'd poison herself, and I'd swallow her, the poison killing me - together in death. Didn't work out quite like that. Someone took her from me, and I went after him, becoming a Blade to do so, especially since he was on Echidna's shit list. I finally caught up with him, managed to, more or less, save Sam from becoming road apples. Well, I can't complain too much - I got my Trudy back."

Jack smiled. "The things one does for love."

Peter chuckled. "Yes, now let's save this bear lady, so that she can be reunited with hers."

"We need to meet up more often, after this is done," said Jack, as they sliced down a door.

Laying down on a bed, crying, was the bear woman that they'd been told about.

"Who are you?" she asked.

"Friends of a friend of the human that loves you," said Peter. "Let's get out of here."

"What about Erik?" Bertha asked.

"He fate is in good hands," said Jack. "Now, Peter and I are on a time schedule, and need to get you to Erik and Sam before time runs out for us."

Peter looked at a clock. "I think we got thirty minutes."
         As Sam, his farther and Eric made there way to the meeting point that was agreed upon, he appeared.
         Standing their in the hallway, was Utrude eyed them as he held his weapon in hand.
As the party readied their weapons, Erik stepped forward. "Stand down. He's mine." Shifting into his bear form, Erik let out a roar that shook the very walls of the estate, as he charged his enemy with murder in his eyes.
"Well, this will be fun," said Peter. He then shot at a goon that had tried to sneak around. "Watch out for the small fry!"
         Taking another guard out, Jack made sure to keep a keen eye on Eric's beloved, incase she went into labor from stress.
~¤~

         As Erik and Utrude battled, Sam and his farther battle any guards that started to fill the hallways.
Erik managed to pin Utrude to the ground beneath his massive paw. "Please... don't..." He managed to choke out, pathetically begging for his life. But Erik was far beyond the point of showing mercy. He ripped his enemy's throat out with his bare teeth, leaving the vile monster to bleed out.

Upon seeing this, the guards quickly retreated, realizing there was no point in fighting with their master dead. Erik reverted back to his human form, rushing to his beloved's side. They embraced in a long kiss, as their rescuers gave them their space. There was that strange whistling noise again, and El Lobo appeared once more. "Mission accomplished, I see. And not a moment too soon, because I'm afraid your time is up. Time to return to the afterlife, boys."

Sam bid his allies goodbye, and their physical forms faded before disappearing completely. Erik approached Sam, giving him a big hug. "I can never repay you enough for today, my friend."

"I would worry more about your wife. She's carrying another man's children after all, whose father you just killed. What will you do now?"

"Their father may have been a monster, but the cubs are innocent. We can still raise them together, give them the family they deserve."

"I wish you well, then. Until we meet again, friend." With that, he bid Erik and Ursa farewell, and carried on with his quest to return home.

Episode XI: The Lonely Drider

The Prince found himself in a swamp, his horse struggling to traverse the thick mud and stagnant water. Ginger sat behind him atop his horse, whining softly at their current predicament.

Unbeknownst to them, they were being watched by eight crimson eyes, that followed them with interest. "He's not bad looking." The figure thought "He should do well enough."

After what seemed like hours, Sam managed to find a relatively dry spot to make camp. But as he was preparing a fide, something sticky hit him square in the back, and he was suddenly yanked upwards into the trees, dropping his weapons in the process.

Be fore he could figure out what was happening, he felt a sharp sting in his neck, and almost instantly fell asleep. When he awoke, he was cocooned in a strong, silky web from the neck down and saw a creature that had the upper body of a woman with pale skin and long black hair, and an enormous black widow body where her lower half should be looming over him.

"Oh, good, you're awake!" She said cheerfully. Sam was still rather groggy, and had difficulty trying to speak. "Sorry about the poison, but you were struggling so much that you were making things difficult."

"Who..are you?" Sam managed to say "I'm Arachne, your soon to be wife." This instantly brought Sam to full conciousness. "WHAT!?"

"Yep, you're gonna be my new hubby!" Said Arachne, giving him a kiss on the cheek before scuttling to a corner of the giant web she called home. "Are you hungry?" She asked "I've got some left over rat, if you'd like. I'm sorry I don't have anything fresh, but catches in my web have been rather slim lately."


"Um, what are you talking about?" Sam asked.
         Giggling like a school girl, Arachne scuttled back over to him."Well, you see, in short, my time in this world is growing short, and there isn't many others like me around here."
         Losing her happy attitude, she began to sulk a bit. Something Sam took notice of.
         "Then again, who would even want somebody like me around."
"Why would nobody want you around?" Sam asked, already knowing the answer. "Look at me!" Arachne said "I'm a giant freaking spider!" The prince noticed that her eyes had a look of sadness, and he couldn't help but feel pity for her.

"Come now. I'm sure you're a very sweet woman. I've met some monsters that are actually rather nice, even ones that have helped me when I needed it. Just because one looks scary doesn't mean they're evil."

This seemed to cheer her up somewhat. "Thank you, darling. It's really nice to hear that." She kissed him again "I'm really going to feel bad when I kill you."

"Wait a minute, what do you mean kill me?"

"Surely you know? When spiders mate, the female kills and eats the male. Same thing with driders like me. It's just natural instinct. It's nothing personal."

This did nothing to comfort the prince "But I'm not like you! I'm a human!" "Sorry, but there's no other male driders around these parts, so I had to make due with a substitute. Namely, you. "

"If mating with you is going to lead to their death anyways, perhaps you should pick someone that doesn't have long to live themselves, " suggested Sam. "Someone who would rather die from mating with you instead of whatever is killing them. "
         Taking Sam's idea into mind, Arachne began to ponder on his words.
         'It would make things easier in the long run. But still...'
         Seeing her start thinking, Sam had a idea.
         "Arachne, why not travel with me. That way you can meet others, and who knows, maybe you'll find what your looking for while we traveling."
For several moments, Arachne was lost in thought, trying to decide. Until finally...
"Are you sure that we will encounter someone dying of something so horrible, mating with and being killed by me will be a pleasant alternative?" Arachne asked.

There was the eerie whistle, causing Sam and Arachne to look, and see El Lobo laying on a strand of web, as if it was a tightrope.

"I might have a lead, or two," he said. "But don't expect me to bring out the bow and arrows to make anyone fall in love with you. Not my job."



"So, who is this person you happen to know of?" Sam asked, once they were on solid ground, and he was released from the cocoon.

"I call him Rich, which is better than what his Mistress calls him," said El Lobo. "He's on what you might call an 'Installment Plan' of sorts."

"What do you mean?" Arachne asked.

"I've collected both arms, both legs, his eyes, and his tongue," said the wolf. "He is rather defiant towards his Mistress, refusing to give her what she wants - an obedient sex slave. Even now, despite being, well, a head, a torso, and a penis, with testicles attached, he still puts up as much of a fight as he can."

"So, what's killing him?" Sam asked.

"Bone cancer," said El Lobo. "Of course, once he gets that properly diagnosed, he'll be no good to her. He's got a horrible death ahead of him, regardless of what happens - she won't even have the decency to just put a bullet into his brain."

"What's going to happen to him?" Sam asked.

The wolf poked at the fire that Sam had lit, using some of the dridder's webbing, causing it to flame up, cooking a couple of fish that Sam had spitted over it. "At least you killed the fish first, and plan to eat it."

"So, he's going to be burned to death?" Arachne asked.

"And then to ashes, wasting what meat is left in the process, as he'll be placed in an incinerator," said El Lobo. "He'll be glad when he meets me - he'll at least be able to see, talk, and get his limbs back."

"I see," said Sam. He looked into the fire, and shuddered. "That's just horrible. Dying without any real reason."

"Death happens," said El Lobo. "I've seen every one of them."

Sam looked at the wolf. "What happens to those of my kin selected to meet Echidna?"

At this, the wolf shuddered. "Meeting me would be a pleasant thing for them, if they were given such a release."

"What does she do to them?" Sam asked.

"Her place is one of the few I've never been allowed to enter, because death doesn't happen there, normally," said El Lobo. "It was mere chance that a fly flew in there, and died of starvation, on the day one of your kin was brought in. What I saw horrified me."

Sam wondered what could horrify the wolf, who was there for every death. "What happens to them?"

"Imagine, if you will, that you and I became one - where I knew everything you knew, you see everything I see, smell all that I smell, hear what I hear, taste what I taste, feel what I feel, but you can't control anything - with me being fully away of you and your thoughts. Maybe you could suggest that I do something, but I'd be in full control."

"Sounds, like a punishment, or something," said Sam.

"Now, imagine that you're nothing more than a bump on my ass, or my thigh, or shoulder, or breast, or some other place that has body fat that doesn't get in the way," said El Lobo. "For that's what she does - absorbs them, and turns them into fat, where all that they can do is watch as she does what she does. Death would be a release."

"Is that an unusual ability?" Sam asked.

"Happens here and there, but most die eventually, and I can collect the souls then," said El Lobo. "I'd hate to be in those Predators' feet in the Afterlife though - you meet all those past meals, at once."
         Hearing what Lobo said, Arachne had a idea.
         "Sam, I propose a challenge for you."
         Raising a brow, Sam and Lobo remained quiet for her.
         "If you can get me to this person, I shall allow you to live. After all, either way is a win-win for your friend here."
"Very well." Said Sam. "Where is this poor soul, anyway?"
"Two days travel by horse, is the town of Wolfbane," said El Lobo. "It's there you'll find Madam Stripe's Resort."

He poked the fire, and an image of what looked to be a fancy hotel showed up.

"Looks nice," said Arachne.

"For some, yes, but for others, it's not," said El Lobo. "Monsters go in, get themselves a human slave, and they can do whatever they want to them, save killing them, unless they pay a rather high fee. Sometimes they pay that fee in advance. I get plenty of business there, but no pleasure."

He swirled the fire, and the image changed, revealing an image of a skunkwoman. "Madam Stripe, proprietor of the establishment. Her Profession is catering to the desires of her monstrous clients, but her hobby is breaking humans."

"What do you mean by that?" Sam asked.

"She likes to break their will," said the wolf. "Give her an exceptionally defiant one, and she'll turn them into, well, nothing, if that's what you want them to be. Most that send a human to her merely settle for compliant - as in, 'Do as I say, or I will send you back to her for further training' sort of thing. She gets a perverse pleasure out of it - the professional ones are bad enough, but she.... I've been that fly in the room a few times. I'm counting down the days for her - she has a while to go yet though."

"How long?" Sam asked.

"Sorry, but I can't tell you," said El Lobo. "I can let you know of those who are going to die before their right time, but, for instance, I can't tell you when you're going to die."

"I see," said Sam. "Does Echidna know of you?"

"Yes, but I can't kill her," said El Lobo. "I don't kill anyone - I merely remove the soul from the body."

"I see," said Sam. He looked at his swords. "Can you figure out what enchantments my weapons have? I'm curious about a few things."

"Very well," said El Lobo.

Sam carefully held Jack's sword. "Do you accept the responsibility from handling this one?"

The wolf nodded, holding out his hand.

Sam passed the sword to him.

The wolf unsheathed it. "Well, this is a familiar blade." He chuckled. "The power of this blade comes from your Sense of Duty, basically. The stronger you are in holding to your duty, the stronger it is. That being said, Duty must be accepted, hence why one can't just take the sword from any place, unless you accept your duty. That rabbit Inspector, for instance, abused his authority, and his duty, thus wasn't worthy of the blade. Same with the cannibal female." He sheathed the sword, and handed it back.

Sam accepted the sword, and pass the wolf his.

El Lobo unsheathed it. "Another familiar blade. Those with more Evil than Good are seriously harmed by it. Conversely, those who are more Good than Evil, not as seriously harmed, with the injury healing - don't go for an intentional decapitation though, as that will hurt anyways, even after the healing, unless you need it done."

"What if you're not exactly Good or Evil?" Arachne asked.

"It might not kill, but it will hurt," said El Lobo.

"So, what does this person we're looking for look like?" Arachne asked.

El lobo swirled the fire again. An image of a limbless, and eyeless, and clearly male, human was shown, hanging from a chain. There was plenty of scars, in addition to the ones from where his limbs had been removed. "This is Rich - a B- Grade human, whose only crime was simply being bought by Madame Stripe, whom he decided to rebel against. As I've said, she likes the ones that fight back - the harder the fight in them, the more pleasure she gets."

"Would she be willing to accept a trade?" Sam asked.

El Lobo grinned. "You for him - she would. After all, you're Prime Grade, and even if she doesn't know who you are, she can see the fight in your eyes."

Arachne looked at Sam. "So, just who are you?"

"He's someone who has provided me with plenty of business," said El Lobo. "Your teeth would have been added to his necklace anyways."

The dridder looked at Sam's tooth necklace. "I see - you've killed all of them?"

"A few," said Sam. "Most I simply yanked the tooth out of."
         Giggling, Arachne decided to add onto the deal.
         "In that case, if you return, I'll give you a fang, along with some of my venom to use as you wish."
         Thinking over the information, Sam began to think of how to go about this.
"Alright. I think I have an idea that should work." Sam said.

Sometime later at Madam Stripe's hotel, the proprietor herself was in her private lounge, enjoy some expensive wine as her human slaves fanned her with giant feathers. Suddenly, her intercom rang. "Madame Stripe, you might want to come to the lobby, ASAP. There's someone here with a special gift for you."

Mildly annoyed, she made her way to the elevator and down to the first floor. When she got there, she saw the infamous Sam Royal himself in chains, a drider standing behind him with a proud smile on her face.

"Is that...?"

The drider nodded. "Indeed it is. I was hoping to trade him for one of yours." Too excited by the prospect of giving Sam Royal her special treatment, Madam Stripe didn't even bother questioning the drider's offer, eagerly accepting.

"Of course! Take anyone you want." She turned to her kitsune second in command. "Take him to my chambers. I have so much fun planned for this one."
The one El Lobo called Rich hung from their chain, which was hooked to a special harness. Ever since the removal of his tongue, he'd been fed intravenously and with tubes. Blind and limbless, he still fought every time that Madame Stripe decided to use him. He soon heard her voice.

"I'm surprised that you'd be willing to trade one such as Sam Royal for Maggot," said Madame Stripe. "I mean, the price upon his head is easily 90 septillion. Next highest is 60 on this Erik the Red fella. Seems that they partnered up to kill Lord Utrude a little while back."

"To be fair, I don't need the money," said the other one. "What I need is a sperm donor. Another traveler told me about your particular personal sex slave, I was like, 'That one will do.' All I need is a working penis and testicles. After that, a nice snack."

"Why not use Sam?" Madame Stripe asked.

"Even cocooned, he was still too much trouble," the other said. "I'll admit that much."

Rich could smell the scent of Madame Stripe, and the other one, like that of a swamp. He gritted his teeth, ready to bite.

A voice whispered into his ear. "Easy, Rich," it said, gently. "An end to your suffering comes soon."

For a moment, it was like he had eyes again. He could see the hated image of Madame Stripe, and a dridder. The spiderwoman came towards him.

"Struggle for now, but know that she's a friend, and will help you to ease your pain," the voice said. "You'll soon get the rest of your body back."

Darkness came again.

The eyeless, tongue-less and limbless head, torso, and penis, with testicles, struggled, squirming as much as it could.

"I can see why you call him Maggot," said the dridder. "A wriggler."

"I'd call him Dick, but Maggot fits better," said Madame Stripe. "I guess that makes him perfect for you. Especially when you're done with him."

"Yes," the dridder said.

He was taken off the hook, cocooned, and placed, he guessed, on the dridder's back.

"Business concluded?"

"Business concluded."



He felt motion for a while, until they were in, he guessed, a mass of shade. The dridder soon stopped, took him off her back, unwrapped him, and set him on the ground.

"Sorry about the rough manner of travel," the dridder said. "Still, you're out in the fresh air."

He heard her lay next to him.

"I heard that you're dying," the dridder said. "I'm dying too. I'd like to have children before I died. If you want, the children could be ours."

He turned his head in her direction.

A hand gently stroked his face. "I have to tell you though, if you agree, and we do mate, I'll need to eat you, so that the children can develop properly."
         Back at the hotel, Sam was restrained to a chair within madam's Stripes personal chambers.
         As he sat there, he looked to the young vixen at the door as she trembled from looking at him.
         It was then that the door opened and madam Stripe entered the room with a seductive sway of her hips, causing her tail to sway in time as she walked to him.
         Looking to the vixen, she raised a brow at the look of fear she had upon her face.
"What's the matter? Why do you look so scared?"

"Because restrained or not, this is Sam Royal. Who knows how many of us he's killed already?"

"Well, he won't be doing it anymore. Those bonds are enchanted so they are indestructible, unless I wish them to release."

She sauntered up to Sam and placed a hand beneath his chin. "Reset assured, I'll turn you in to Echidna eventually. In the meantime, I'm going to take great pleasure In dominating and breaking you."

She slid her dress off her body, revealing a dominatrix style outfit underneath. "Now then, how shall we start? So many possibilities..."

Meanwhile, Arachne was preparing to give Rich one hell of a time before easing his suffering for good. "I promise to make this enjoyable as possible for you. No one should leave this world without knowing a little kindness."
Arachne held Rich to her. "A kiss for 'Yes' and a bite for 'No'," she said. "I want for you to be willing, Rich."

Tears feel from the man's eye sockets. It was bizarre, hearing his soon-to-be killer treating him with kindness.

"I do wish that we could of met earlier," said the dridder. "I would liked to have gotten to know you, even if it was to still end the same. I was informed that you have bone cancer, and thus would soon die. I know what your fate would of been - she'd of put you into an incinerator. As for me, my own health hasn't been that good. I have, maybe, six months left myself - long enough to find a mate, lay the eggs, maybe watch over them, and die after they hatch."

Rich rubbed his chin against the dridder's shoulder. It was about the most affectionate gesture his could give, under the circumstances.



Back inside the place, Sam looked at Madam Stripe. "A limbless, eyeless, and tongue-less, sex slave was able to defy you," he said. "I would be very much ashamed if I defied you less than he did."

The skunk grinned. "I do love it when they fight back. You will rue the day you were ever born."

Sam chuckled. "If you're so fearsome, release me, and we'll see who becomes the Master, and who becomes the Slave." He looked at the restraints. "While your restraints might be indestructible, your chair is not." He jerked his arms and legs, along with his back, breaking the supports of the chair. He stood up. "Now, let's see what you can do to one who has arms and legs. I probably won't even need my swords. You like to dominate people mentally. I can do the same, and back it up. So, here's my offer - take these bonds off of me, let me be, and I'll leave you unharmed. Otherwise, I'll be collecting teeth - the real question will be if the skull the teeth came from is still attached to a living body, or will it be a dead corpse? Your choice."
         Stepping back a bit from Sam as he started to step closer, she began to feel adrenaline flow through her as she grabbed a whip from behind her back.
         "I don't think so, you not the master, I AM!!"
         With a flick of her wrist, she sent the whip flying, only to surprise her more as Sam cought it just inches om his face.
         "So, you wish to loose some teeth then, as you wish."
         With a great pull, he launched her into a second chair and quickly tied her up with her own whip.
         Becoming as serious as possible, Sam motioned for the vixen to leave, which she gladly did so with great speed and fear.
         Turning back to madam Stripe, he began to crack his knuckles.
         "Time to teach you how to be obidiant, the hard way."
Back with Arachne and Rich, who planted a kiss on Arachne's cheek, signaling that he was willing to be her temporary mate, for lack of a better term. She responded with a kiss of her own. "Thank you, Rich. After we've finished, I'll see to it that your end is painless. You've already suffered more than enough."
As Arachne positioned Rich, so that they could begin mating, El Lobo, who had been waiting nearby, glanced out the corner of his eye, to see a cat person.

"Bastet," he said.

"El Lobo," the cat said. "New Life is my jurisdiction."

"As death is mine," said El Lobo.

"Why are you here?" Bastet asked.

"Because after she's done mating with him, she's going to eat him," said El Lobo. "Makes him mine."

"That's not what I'm talking about," said the cat-woman. "You've been doing a lot of interfering lately."

"And you haven't?" El Lobo asked. "It's like every human female, the moment that human sperm enters them, there's at least one, maybe two, eggs ready to be fertilize, and nine months later, there's a baby human, sometimes two, or more. The Breeders claim it's because they've enhanced the fertility rate, but you know it's because you're trying to load the dice, to make sure that humans don't go extinct. It's no different for me - I'm not preventing death, I'm just deciding when."

Bastet sighed. "So, why this?" She indicated the pair, who were enjoying the other's company. "She would of come here, and bought some of Rich's sperm."

"Because Rich deserved to have some kindness, before he died," said El Lobo. "As does she. Besides, Sam would of come here anyways. I've merely altered the timing of these events."

Bastet chuckled. "Good points. I've never liked what Echidna has done. I especially do not like what she's done to Sam's relatives. A mockery is what it is."

"On that, I agree," said El Lobo.



Back at the resort, a certain catman named Alex was enjoying the company of a male sex slave named Cody. An amulet indicating his affiliation to the Blades hung from around his neck. Over a month back, he'd had a close call with the one called Sam Royal. Unlike most, he'd managed to walk away. At the moment though, he was kissing the sex slave, as he heard the noise in the room next to him. Clearly, Madame Stripe had a new slave that needed broken in.

Listening in on the training session, a chill when down his spine - the one voice belonged to Sam Royal, and it was clear that he was the one giving the lesson.
         Within madam Stripes room, Sam is seen whipping the owner herself as she is restrained to the bed, naked as the day she was born, a cork up both her rear entrances, and gagged and blinded.
         Setting the whip down, Sam took a pair of pliars out and removed the blind fold from her eyes, looking into her tear stained eyes as if she was begging for mercy or death to come to her.
         "How does it feel to be dominated by a lowly human like myself? Not very fun, is it?"
"It's about to get much worse." He removed the gag, and she immediately began cursing and shouting. "YOU INSOLENT LITTLE BASTARD! WHEN I GET OUT OF HERE, IM GOING TO HUNT YOU DOWN AND...!" But she was cut off as Sam forced her head back and grasped a tooth with the pliers, forcefully yanking it out.

Madam Stripe screamed in pain, as Sam added her tooth to his collection. For a moment, he considered finishing up this session by doing to her what she had done to that poor soul, Rich. Amputate her limbs, gouge out her eyes and cut out her tongue. But he decided not to. If he went that far, how was he any better than her?
That was when the door opened, and Sam found himself looking at Alex, naked but for the amulet around his neck, and the gun in his hand. The cat-man's eyes betrayed his level of fear.

"Sam Royal, in the name of Echidna, I order you to drop the pliers, and surrender," they said.

"You didn't scare me when we first met," said Sam, as he stepped forward. "You don't scare me now." He smacked the gun out of Alex's hand, thrust the pliers forward, gripped onto one tooth, and yanked, the tooth coming out. Of course, in the process of yanking the tooth out, Alex's head came forward - Sam merely slammed his forehead into that of the cat's, knocking them out.

"Looks like you're the first Blade to lay eyes on me twice, and live," he said. He stepped out of the room.

He then showed some of the rougher clients his personal definition of a good time. He didn't kill anyone, but his collection of teeth had grown by at least a dozen by the time he walked out.



He met up with Arachne an hour or so later, the dridder was laying in some shade. Of Rich, there was no sign, save for a slight bulge in the spiderwoman's stomach, which was in her spider half.

"So, you and he mated?" he asked, as he collected his things.

Arachne frowned, and nodded. "He was rather accepting of his fate. I even saw a smile upon his face, as if his suffering was over. I hope that we can meet up in the afterlife, so that we can get to know each other better."

"So, what now?" Sam asked.

"I'll lay the eggs in a week, should be half a dozen of them," the dridder said. "A few more months after that, they'll hatch. Then, I'll die. Rich wasn't the only one with an accelerated time clock - I was born with a rare condition, one that will kill me before I reach twenty-five."

Sam frowned. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"Perhaps you could do me a favor, and look after my eggs for me?" Arachne asked. "The children might be able to grow up better with some guidance."
         Thinking, Sam began to think of his choices about Arachne.
         'If I care for them, it would make it easier for Echidna to find me due to staying in one spot. Maybe I could take her to...
         It was then he had a idea that might work.
         "I might know somebody that can help you, as well as your children, live a life and have a better future."
         Raising a brow, Arachne became curious of who might be brave enough to befriend somebody with a high bounty.
~¤~

         Back at the hotel, madam Stripe was just getting the last person out when she saw him.
         Walking up the path, Sam Royal and the drider.
         She began to shake out of fear as the memories of what he did to her resurfaces.
         "Arachne, meet your new nurse and caretaker of your children."
         As Sam looked to madam Stripe, he grew more serious as he looked into her soul, telling her to accept her fate.
         "Isn't that right, miss Stripe?"
Madam Stripe was literally shaking with fear. She hesitantly nodded. "Good. You had better treat Arachne and her children well. Because if I find out otherwise..."

Arachne hugged Sam and kissed him one last time. "Thank you, Sam. For everything." Knowing he probably wouldn't see Arachne again in this life, he returned the hug. Reuniting with Ginger and his horse, the prince set off to continue his quest.

Episode XII: Succubi Seduction



Deep within Echidna's lair, the mother of all monsters sat up on her obsidian throne, deep in thought. This Sam Royal has been a thorn in my side for long enough, she thought. If my blades and bounty hunters can't deal with him..." Then she got an idea, a hideous grin spreading across her face.

Threat or no threat, the prince was still only a man. And all men, regardless of race, have needs. Specifically, the need to to breed. She would use that instinct against him, and it would lead to his downfall. She called for her favorite daughter. "Lilly!" In a flash of fire, a woman with horns and red skin, wearing very little besides a thong and bra appeared, whip in hand.

"Can't this wait, mother? I'm in the middle of my daily torture session. "

"I have a very important job for you, Lilly. Gather your sisters, and find Sam Royal. Do whatever you wish to him, but bring me his body. Afterwards, you may have his soul to torment as you please." At these words, Lilly grinned evilly. "In that case, I suppose my current victim can wait."

-----------------------

Sam found himself in a seaside village, looking to hire a ship to take him across the sea. The map he retrieved from the well lead to the other side of the ocean. What lay in wait for him there, he had no clue. He just hoped it was a way to return to his time. The docks were closed for the night, so he spent the evening at a local tavern where he'd rented a room for the night. His horse and Ginger slept in the stable outside.

He sat in a corner of the room, so as not to draw attention. Suddenly, someone approached him. It was the most gorgeous woman he'd ever seen! "Hello there, handsome. Could you use some company for the night?" Normally he'd refuse such an offer, but there was something about this woman, something that made him want her more than anything.

Before he even knew what was happening, she was leading him upstairs to a private room. Inside were several other women, all just as voluptuous and beautiful as the first. "My sisters." The first one said. Sam soon found himself with him wrists and ankles shackled to the bedposts, and one lay on top of him and passionately kissed him as the others tore off his clothes.

Maybe subconsciously, he knew something was wrong. But his mind was overrun by desire for these women, he wanted to spend as long as he could with them, have them pleasure him to no end. But when he opened his eyes, he saw not human women, but demonesses dressed in skimpy leather outfits, staring down at him in hunger. "Welcome to the Plane of Lust." The one on top said "You're ass is ours, mortal."
"So, the Sisters of Pain have caught Sam Royal?" a skunkwoman asked, as she sat at a table, her female human sex slave sitting on the floor, beside her.

"That's right," said a succubus. "Lured him to a room, and, well, it was just plain lust, as it were."

"Or, Plane of Lust, rather," said the skunkwoman. She picked up an apple slice, dipped it in melted chocolate, and placed it between her legs, smearing them with the sweet flavor. "Felicia, time for your treat."

Felicia carefully chewed on the apple, and began to lick the melted chocolate that was on her Mistress's legs. The skunkwoman began to rub her head.

"Good girl," the skunkwoman said, as she carefully watched the succubus.

The succubus watched with a bit of lust in her eyes. "That's a well-behaved sex slave."

The skunkwoman scoffed. "You should see her eat a cupcake. That's fun."

The succubus chuckled. "May I? It's been a while since I had some actual pleasure."

"Sure," the skunkwoman said. "Providing that you let me stop by wherever Sam Royal his being held. I want to see the look on his face."

The succubus placed a cupcake between her legs. "Sure thing."

Felicia looked at her Mistress, who nodded. The human placed her head between the succubus's legs, However, there was crumbs, which needed cleaning up, and they were on the succubus's legs.

"Mmm, very well trained indeed," the succubus said. "By the way, what is your name?

The skunk chuckled. "Gigi, Gigi Whitestripes."
         After having a little fun, and getting directions, Gigi and her slave treked to the harbor town and found the tavern Sam was last seen.
         Only, it wasn't a tavern at all, but a brothel house in disguise.
Gigi flashed her Blades badge to the owner of said establishment, demanding to see the room where the women had taken the prince. Having no choice, the owner did just that.

The room itself looked completely pristine, as though nobody had ever occupied it. "So, how do we get to this Plane of Lust place?" Felicia asked.

"Only residents of the Plane can come and go there freely." Gigi said "Namely, demons. Unless they bring someone back with them, like they did to Sam. So, we've got to summon a demon and convince them to get us there and back. Which is, of course, easier said than done."
"But, don't we know a demon, who can be trusted?" Felicia asked.

Gigi chuckled nervously. "Hopefully he's not too upset over the car."

The skunkwoman walked over to the room's mirror, and traced something upon it.

An image of a male demon showed up, with huge curled horns upon their dog-like head. A grin came upon his face. "Hello, my love," they said. "Haven't heard from you in a while. Been busy playing Double-Agent?"

Gigi rolled her eyes. "Nice to see you too, Greg."

"Haven't heard from you since you wrecked my car," Greg said.

Gigi sighed. "I sent you the bounty money on that criminal to pay for the damages."

"That you did," said Greg. "But I haven't heard from you in quite a while - you could of called me."

"I need your help," said Gigi. "The one known as Sam Royal has been captured by the Sisters of Pain. You know what he means for the Resistance."

"There's a price for that," said Greg.

Gigi sighed. "What do you want?"

"Some quality time with my wife would be nice," said Greg. "I mean, when was the last time we had sex? At least eight months!"

"Alright," said Gigi. "I understand."

"Also, a dinner date," said Greg. "Oh, and I found some very good quality genetic material to use to breed Felicia with."

Gigi looked at Felicia, who gave a nod. "Alright, but we save Sam first, and deal with the other stuff later."
         Chuckling, Greg nodded in agreement and tapped his side of the mirror.
         In a burst of light, both Gigi and Felicia were both within Greg's home in the demon realm.
"Let me know when you're ready to return." George said, giving Gigi a small pat on the rear as she turned to leave. Blushing slightly, Gigi gave him a wink in return before she and Felicia went off to continue their rescue mission.

"Now we just need to figure out where they're keeping Sam." Felicia said. There was just one problem. Neither of them had ever been to the demon realm before, so they had absolutely no idea where to even begin.
There was a whistle, causing a chill to go down the spines of Gigi and Felicia. They turned, and found a white wolf laying on a nearby bench.

"Planning to rescue Sam Royal, are you?" they asked.

"Who are you?" Gigi asked.

The wolf chuckled. "El Lobo Muerte," they said. "Others just call me Death."

"What do you want?" Gigi asked.

"Time enough to enjoy a drink and a good meal," said El Lobo. "Never quite get it though."

"Are you going to help us?" Felicia asked.

The wolf looked at the human sex slave. He then looked at the skunkwoman. "Kitty's House of Pain and Pleasure. Five blocks that way. I'll even escort you."

"Why are you willing to help us?" Gigi asked.

"Because humanity shouldn't be in the position it currently is," the white wolf said.
         After a quick run, the girls arrived to their destination and began to survey the area, all the while keeping a eye out for Sam incase he escaped.
Seeing no sign of Sam, it was obvious he was still inside, enduring who knows what kind of torture at the hands of the demons.

Gigi turned to El Lobo and asked "So how do we get inside?"

"Simply walk up to the main entrance and tell them you're customers." Death replied.

Gigi stepped up to the door, Felicia following her. She opened it. There was a hostess.

"ID," they said.

Gigi passed it over.

"Gigi Whitestripe Flamehound," the receptionist said. "You don't look like one of them."

"George 'Greg' Gregory Flamehound is my husband," said Gigi.

The hostess paled at this. "Seriously? You married him?"

"Do you got a problem?" Gigi asked.

"No," the hostess said, nervously.

"I hear that the Sister of Pain got a new addition - Sam Royal," said Gigi. "I want some time with that one, along with some genetic material from him - useful for breeding my sex slave."
         Growing paler at the fact that Gigi not only maried Mr. Flamehound, but also knew of Sam Royal being in her mistresses personal hands, she quickly showed the two in and to the main office of Miss Kitty.
         "Miss Kitty will be with you both momentarrilly."
         As the employee left, Gigi and Felicia started to plan out how they want to get out of here in one piece without falling to temptation.
Shortly afterwards, another demoness entered the room. This one dressed in a formal blouse and skirt, with a pair of glasses on the bridge of her nose.

She sat behind her desk, propping her feet up on it and saying "So, my assistant tells me you wish for a private session with our newest acquisition?"

Gigi nodded "That is correct. So if you'll just take us to him..."

"Hold on." Ms. Kitty interrupted "I'm running a business here, after all. You have to pay the service fee first." Gigi sighed. "How much are we talking?"

"It depends on the subject. Seeing as this is Sam Royal we're talking about, I'd say, oh...a hundred million should suffice."

Gigi nearly fell backwards out of her chair. "A hundred million!? Do I look like I make that much money to you?!"

Ms. Kitty shrugged "Well then, if you can't afford it, I guess our business here is done." She got up to leave.

"Wait!"

Gigi held up her badge "I'm with the blades. Don't you have a discount or something for us?" Ms. Kitty nodded. "Blades get half off. So for you it'll be fifty million."

"Well, fifty does sound more reasonable, but the question is, can you make it more reasonable?" Gigi asked.

"What do you mean?" Miss Kitty asked.

"Felicia, Stand."

The human stood up.

"Felicia, Undress."

The human removed their clothes.

Felicia, Turn around, Slowly."

Felicia did as she was told.

Gigi watched as Miss Kitty watched Felicia, noting the interest in her eyes change from one of mild amusement, to one of high interest.

Miss Kitty stared at Gigi. "How did you afford her? There's only a handful of pleasure palaces that can purchase a sex slave of that quality."

"The long way," said Gigi, as she looked at the tattoos upon Felicia's back, the ones that dictated the various things she could do. "I've owned and trained her since birth. Put her through the schools myself - all the finest ones, for my pleasures. Even my own husband has to pay me to use her."

"Are you thinking about selling her?" Miss Kitty asked.

Gigi scoffed. "Hardly. I might be tempted to rent her out though, for a fee - fifty million a session."

"Oh, please," said Miss Kitty. "She's a B-Grade. Ten million."

Gigi grinned. "Forty-nine million, nine hundred thousand," she said. "She can give some very excellent belly massages, internally."

Miss Kitty raised an eyebrow. "I'd like to judge for myself."

Gigi pulled out a protection pill. "One hundred thousand for a session with Sam Royal, and you can enjoy her - test her with everything you can. That being said, I need her unharmed, intact, alive, and everything else - no maiming or mental domination - only I can do that to her."

"Of course," said Miss Kitty. "I wouldn't want to upset my latest business partner." She passed a key. "Room 666. We've put a gag on him, among other things. He has proved to be rather hard to tame."

"So I've heard," said Gigi. "He had a recent run-in with a cousin of mine. Maybe I can do what she couldn't."



Sam breathed heavily through the gag - it kept him from talking or biting, but it didn't stop the demonesses from shoving their tongues down his throat, or other things. The sessions, as they were called, had been tough, but he'd pulled through. He had to keep fighting, no matter what.

The door opened, and Sam found himself looking at Madam Stripe. Anger filled him, as he recalled Rich. The skunkwoman came in, and he made out her features more clearly - Gigi, the Bounty Hunter/ Resistance member.

Before he could breath a sigh of relief, the skunk's next words put him on notice.

"You'd better give me a good fight," said Gigi. "I love it when they struggle - it's more fun when they break, after I've worn them out." She stepped forward. "I'm going to enjoy having my revenge for what you did to my cousin, as well as escaping me those few months back." She then forced herself upon him, her tongue going down his throat, his ready maleness inside her womanhood, and in the process, she slipped something into his hand.

Sam looked into Gigi's eyes, seeing that there was some pain in them, as if she was sorry for this. He gave a couple of blinks, in understanding. She needed to make it look good.
         Struggling in his restraints, Gigi smirked as she loosened his cuffs around his wrists.
         Headbutting her, she smirked as she returned the favor and sped up her time on him.
While Sam and Gigi did their little act, the other succubi in the room sat back and enjoyed the show.
Gigi chuckled as the looked back at the succubi. "Enjoying yourselves?"

"You seem to be a professional at this," the lead one said.

"Helps to know what you're doing, to make sure that the one you own is in top shape," said Gigi. "For me though, I think that the real money maker is training them to be a Belly Slave. First things first - breath mints - helps to keep them calm." She took a few mints, chewed on them, before swallowing. "Of course, to keep a Belly Slave safe, Protection pills, as you know, are a must. For now though, I'm merely going to have his head inside my mouth, and breath for him - teach him that you control the very air he breaths."

She then opened her mouth very wide, and engulfed Sam's head, her jaws working their way over his face. In the process, she was carefully weakening the harness in a way that looked like Sam was trying to struggle. Soon enough, she slowed down, and acted calmer, as she enjoyed the human's Prime Grade flavor.

She then removed her mouth and jaws from the human's head, and got off of him. "A few more sessions with me, he'll soon become very accepting of whatever you want to do." The skunk then pulled a vial out from between her legs. "His genetic material will net you even more money - I'll call this my bonus - be useful for breeding my Felicia." She walked out of the room, and collected Felicia from Miss Kitty - the demoness looking rather content. "Have fun?"

Miss Kitty nodded. "Someone to keep in mind."

"Alright," said Gigi. "See you later."

The pair left.



As they walked towards Greg's place, Gigi looked Felicia over. "Were you okay?"

Felicia nodded. "Typical Sex Slave stuff, and she liked thge belly massage," the human said. "I doubt she has many as well trained as me."

"Good," said Gigi.

"What about Sam?" Felicia asked.

"A few more sessions, and he'll be someone that the elites will want to enjoy," said Gigi.

Felicia grinned. "I'm sure that they'll find him to be very entertaining indeed."

Gigi gave her a quick kiss. The human slave had given her the right answer, indicating that she was indeed the real one, and not a replacement pretending to be her.
         Arriving at Greg's home, they found him talking with Lobo while wearing a few choice of weapons.
         Noticing them, they knew a plan has been placed into action.
"I take it you two thought of a way to save Sam?" Gigi said with a knowing smirk.
"Yes," said Greg. "Seems Miss Kitty owes me money, say, several hundred billion, if not more."
         Chuckling a bit, Lobo added a bit of info of his own.
         "Not to mention, I'm adding salt to the wound here, her bank account took a massive nose dive recently, and her mother isn't happy. She's sending a squad due to arrive in three days for her head."
Back with Sam, the gang of demons resumed their tormenting. "I think that's enough foreplay." The leader said "Time for the main event!" Two other succubi wheeled in a large roulette wheel, with each section labeled with various tortures, ranging from "Finger Licking Good" to "The Triple Threat." Whatever those were, the prince knew he really didn't want to find out.

The head of the group of demons spun the wheel as hard as she could. It spinned and spinned for several moments before finally landing on...

The answer didn't matter, because that was the moment that Sam freed his hands, removed the gag, and started freeing his feet.

The demons' faces, initially pleased with what the wheel had stopped at, changed into those of shock, just as Sam freed his feet.

The human worked on his jaws a bit, as he tried to keep on his feet. "Took me long enough," he said. "You thought that you were pretty tough when I was restrained. Let's see if you're tough enough, now that I'm free."

"You can barely stand," the one said. "You can't take all of us."

A grin came to Sam's face. "You're right. But I can ruin some of you long enough that things won't be fun for you," he said. "Three of you will have to wait for your bodies to reform."
         Moving surprisingly quick to them, he sent three quick blows to each of of the demons stomach's, sending them to the wall unconcious.
The head of the demons, naturally being the strongest, was able to resist his blows more than her sisters. Getting on her feet, she tried to seduce him into submission again.

"Come now. Don't tell me at least part of you didn't enjoy our fun together?" She sauntered towards him, swaying her hips side to side. "What do you say we have some private fun together? I'll even let you be on top."

Sam knew that she was trying to trick him again, but even so, her magic was working it's way into his mind. Part of him wanted to embrace her, but another part of him was trying desperately to resist.

The demoness had reached him now, snaking her arms around him and pressing her chest against his. "Come on. You know you want to." She pressed her lips to his, her long tongue slithering into his mouth and down his throat.
However, a growl managed to escape Sam's throat. He bit down, clamping her tongue, and punched her jaw, slamming her mouth shut.

A blood filled scream came out of her mouth as Sam swallowed, in order to breath.

"That's a different taste," he said. "Never had tongue before. I hope it doesn't kill me."
         With rage filled eyes, the demonness extended her nails and looked to Sam, the target of her rage.
         'Fuck what mother Echidna wants, HE'S A DEAD MAN!'
         With great rage, she charged towards him, claws ready to slice him to pieces.
         It was then that Sam ducked, and with great force, send a fist to her gut, causing her to cough out blood, and with a clap of thunder, she is sent through the wall and into the outer wall of the bussiness next door.
         Walking out, Sam noticed that Gigi and Felicia was standing just outside the building.
"Nice to see you again." Gigi said with a smirk. "Likewise." Said Sam. ""Hope my little performance earlier wasn't too rough on you." Sam waved a hand "Don't worry about it. You did what you had to, I understand."

"Thank you. Let's go now, we can get you back to the mortal realm."

"But what about the owner of this place? She can't be allowed to just go unpunished."

"Don't worry, she won't. Turns out she's in a lot of financial trouble with Echidna, and she's sent a hit squad for her in a few days. She'll get what's coming to her."

With that, Gigi and Felicia lead Sam back to the safehouse, where George opened a portal back to the living world for Sam.

Upon arrival, Sam immediately canceled his stay at the inn, packed his belongings, retrieved Ginger and his horse, and camped out in an alleyway. He figured it was safer than staying at the inn where he'd been kidnapped. The next morning, he resumed he search for a ship to take him across the sea.

Chapter XIII: Origin of Evil


We now take a detour from our main story, so as to elaborate on the origin of Echidna and how she originally brought chaos and destruction, along with her children into the world.

Far into the reaches of outer space, there was a black hole more immense in size and scope than any other. Suddenly, from within this black hole's center, a glint of light could be seen, slowly becoming brighter and larger until finally, a great flaming obsidian stone burst forth from the depths of the black hole, speeding past stars and galaxies until it finally struck the surface of a distant planet, creating a huge crater as it was buried into the planter's soil.

Where it had impacted was formerly a barren wasteland, but shortly after it struck, black leaveless treas sprung up from the ground all around the crater, spreading for miles in every direction, creating an entire forest of dead, handlike tress.

For many years afterwards, nobody would dare enter the woods, because those who tried immediately got an uncanny sense of dread, as though something very powerful and evil was nearby. They had no idea how right they were.


In the middle of the forest was a dark pond. Sometimes something would emerge. Stories would be told of these creatures. Some of the creatures were highly dangerous, attacking all they saw. Others were only dangerous if one was violent towards them first - some becoming protective even. Myths and legends occurred.
The forest itself had come to border a kingdom, and as the years passed and the stories spread, it's citizens began to grow concerned of the threat the more dangerous creatures that dwelled within might pose, especially to the children who would dare each other to step into the dark wood.

An old king looked at one of the messages. Things had grown disturbing indeed.
The king, despite his age, was never one to stand by while his home and people were threatened. Summoning his top general, he ordered him to prepare five hundred of his best men to gear up and cleanse the dark forest of a y threat they find.

"But your majesty, most of my soldiers are currently engaged in one front or another in the ongoing war!"

"Then let it be known I hereby decree a mandatory conscription. Any man fit and capable enough to wield a weapon is to report to the palace within one week from today."

"As you wish, your highness."
Among those that received the notice, was a farmer. He trembled at what it read. Exploring a dark forest filled with dangerous creatures.
         But knowing that the creatures may come for his family, he equiped himself with all he could before mounting his horse and heading out.
         As he traveled, he met up with many other farthers and sons.
         What was just a single man, soon turned into a army of fifthteen thousand.