Chapter XVIII


Ennui relishes the thrill of battle, the surge of adrenaline that courses through her veins with every strike. Each moment is tinged with the possibility of death, making it all the more exhilarating. Yet, there is a lingering unease as she stands in Lady Aleyna’s lavish room with her gladius in hand. She knows little about these mercenaries, and in an ideal world, she would have studied their habits and weaknesses before engaging them. But time was not on their side this time.

Ennui has no doubt that these were Ziad’s men, notorious corsairs from the Golden Isles. She contemplates how many more may be lurking within the estate, and how quickly she and Mamir can dispatch them. But deep down, she knows they are outnumbered and outmatched. A sense of disappointment washes over her.

With a swift flick of her finger along the edge of her blade, a thin ribbon of blood trickles out. Ennui draws a crook and two small stars within the circle of Equine blood on the floor. It is a dark and ancient sigil that she had not used in years, but in this dire situation, it is necessary. She recites lengthy incantations under her breath, the circle begins to pulse with an eerie crimson light.

The air turns acrid, the scent of sulfur and ash flood the room. The crook and stars drawn from Ennui’s blood glow a deep red before shifting to match the color of the outer ring. In a matter of moments, the symbols vanish, leaving behind a glowing crimson hue in their place. The dark room is now illuminated by a pulsating warm light.

From the center of the circle emerges a houndlike creature, its fur as black as obsidian. Its burning eyes are a fierce red, betraying its infernal origins. Ennui feels a sense of relief that of all the beasts he could have summoned, it is a hellhound. Known for their speed and ferocity, hellhounds are also known to be fiercely loyal to their masters. It forces its way through the circle, tearing through the barriers as if they were nothing more than earth.

With a vicious growl, the hellhound shakes itself free of the slimy ichor that coats its jet-black fur.

Aleyna clasps her hand over her mouth, “What is it?” She asks. Startled by the scene, she presses her back against the wall.

“Hellhounds?” Mamir asks, then sighs loudly, “Ennui, you better control this beast, bloody thing is as big as me. I know it sees me as a snack.”

“But you ARE a snack,” Ennui cannot help but chuckle at Mamir’s comment while she scratches behind one of the hound’s large ears.

Seconds later, a second hellhound forces its way through the arcane sigil. It growls rabidly with a quick glance about the room. A fiery heat rises from deep within the beast, smoke and embers spew forth from between its clenched teeth. The tall hounds stand there awaiting orders. With each of their breaths, their ribs show through their thin frame. Ennui is glad for the second hound, though she keeps her eyes on the arcane circle. Her hopes for a third hound are dashed once the arcane circle’s reddish glow fades, the blood on the floor remains scorched on the tiles.

“Curious thing about hellhounds,” Ennui whispers, glancing back at Mamir and Aleyna. “Only those who saw them summoned from the Hells can see them manifested in the material realm.”

Mamir coughs slightly, “I knew I smelled them about you before,” he adds, then taps the lower limb of his bow against the tile. “Shall we be about this, then?”

Aleyna remains with her mouth ajar, a stupefied expression on her face. “Wha-What are you?”

“A servant of a higher power,” Ennui chuckles to herself. She glances down at the dead mercenary. “Well, higher…depending on where you’re looking from, I suppose.”

Stepping forward with her cloth-wrapped boots scuffling quietly against the tile floor, Ennui leads the way, both hellhounds following closely behind her. Mamir presses his ear against the door ahead while holding onto his bow and dagger. After giving a sharp nod to Ennui, he slowly pushes open the metal-hinged door. As they peer into the hallway, they are met with a display of wealth and opulence — towering ceilings, marble columns adorned with golden paint, and a rich crimson carpet running along its length. The Zeybek estate oozes luxury and extravagance, making Ennui keenly aware of their influence across the Desert Cities. In fact, no palace could compete with such garish displays.

Ennui and the two hellhounds enter the hall. Her wrapped feet make little sound in their haste to reach the Grand Hall. The sound of merriment continues in the distance, the noticeable sound of a viol gives Ennui pause. Musicians are always trouble, arguably the oldest and most sacred form of magick on Talmus is that of song. The first people of Talmus had learned that through the power of song and chords, magick could be harnessed. Fucking bards, she thinks, growing closer to the source of the sound. Mamir creeps behind her with his shortbow at the ready, a freshly fletched arrow nocked. A servant scurries across the Grant Hall before them, a silver platter in her hands. Ennui throws herself against the wall to avoid detection. In her haste, the youthful servant trips on the carpet, bringing an uproar of laughter in the distance. The Elven featured brunette trembles on her knees while hastily collecting the pewter mugs from the rug. Ennui exhales heavily, her eyes fixed on the terrified youth. Heaving footsteps startle the girl, causing her hands to shake at their approach. The girl looks up, her eyes wide with terror.

“Need a hand?” A gruff voice asks from behind her.

The source of the voice comes into Ennui’s view, a hulking figure, nearly double the girl’s height. A goliath…at least I think it’s a goliath. A grimace forms across her lips, her previous conflict with a goliath had not quite ended as quickly as she would have liked. Her hand tenses on the hilt of her gladius. The goliath squats behind the girl and places a thick hand in her hair, giving it a forceful tug. The woman squeals in pain, her eyes glance about the room for help. Ennui freezes, their eyes meet, and she motions for the woman to be quiet.

“I-I’m sorry,” she pleads, reaching for the hands wrapped in her hair, “Please, please. Stop!”

The gruff-voiced goliath releases his grip with a cruel laugh, “I thought Ziad would’ve had his wenches better trained.”

“I’ll do better, I swear,” she pleads.

“Break another plate, and I’ll break your hand,” he says with a nod before he turns.

The woman shoots Ennui a pleading glance, “Right sir,” she begins. “I-I was never a house servant of Zi–” her words are interrupted by a swift hand across the cheek.

The goliath stares down at the woman. “Best you learn, then.”

Ennui grits her teeth and looks away from the event before her. After a moment, her eyes rush back to the elven-featured girl with the swollen face, then back to the goliath. Her thoughts are interrupted by the soft twang of Mamir’s bowstring. She turns back, surprise on her face. The dwarf remains focused ahead, his dark cheeks are filled with heat, his brows furrowed in fury. The arrow’s release had been barely audible above the sounds of laughter and merriment. Without hesitation, Ennui returns her focus to the goliath, who reaches for the arrow jutting from his bulbous neck. He turns to Ennui and Mamir, grabbing the blade at his waist.

Kill,” Ennui orders in a whisper to the hellhounds at her heels.

The dogs, invisible to the goliath, growl violently. Within seconds, they are pulling and biting at the goliath, who shouts across the Grand Hall in a roar of panic. Ennui dashes forward with her gladius drawn from its sheath. The blade pushes against the chain shirt, yet is unable to penetrate the small metal rings.

DEVIL!” The goliath shouts, swinging his sword haphazardly, his hand still pressed against his neck, staunching the rapid bleeding.

Ennui catches the longsword against the flat of her gladius, the sheer strength of her opponent sends her blade from her hand. Her hand instinctively moves to the dagger at her waist. She pulls it from its sheath and hurls it with all of her might. The blade sticks into the goliath’s thigh. Shouts in the distance call out to the goliath. The woman with elven features crawls across the floor to the side of the room. The viol’s tune in the distance comes to an abrupt halt.

Inga?” A man calls from a distance.

DEVILKIN!” Inga shouts in response.

A boom of laughter, “What’s that about a devil?” the voice replies.

“Help,” the woman whispers to Mamir, scampering towards them.

Mamir rushes to the woman’s side and places his hand over her shoulder in an effort to guide her into the safety of the hallway. Ennui steps back, the goliath’s swings grow nearer. He continues to press his attack, the hounds shred the flesh around his ankles. He falls to one knee with a loud thud while hey nip and gnaw at the exposed flesh. The goliath’s sword clatters on the sandstone while he falls. She engages with a sharp kick to his hand. He releases his longsword with a loud grunt. Ennui, brings another dagger from a strap across her thigh. In her haste, she swings to drive the dagger into the Goliath’s neck. His hand rises, catching the blade through his palm, his meaty fingers wrap around her thin wrist.

Got’cha,” Inga smiles, his fingers tighten on her wrist, the immense pressure likely to crush the bone.

Ennui pulls against his grip in a panic. She kicks her foot against the sandstone floor, releasing a blade from the tip of her cloth wrapped boot. She delivers a firm kick to his chin, the blade driving through his neck and into his mouth. A bloody gargle arises from his throat, yet he holds his grip. Despite the wounds he has suffered, the goliath tarries on. He pushes Ennui onto the floor, his free hand reaching for her throat. The hounds continue to bite and attack, their ferocity ignored by the solid figure. Ennui smashes her free hand against the goliath’s face. Greater pressure builds in her chest, unable to breath. She kicks with her boot knife, the blade piercing the Goliath’s skin repeatedly. A sudden twang from the hallway brings it all to a halt, the goliath’s hand squeezes uncomfortably tight, only to suddenly release his grip. Ennui pulls herself from underneath the dead man’s form, noting the arrow sunk half shaft deep through his eye.

The second figure begins to run down the stairs, shouting for Inga. Armor clanks together,  more corsairs appear on the stairs of the Grand Hall. Blasted dwarf. Collecting her gladius, she turns to face the oncoming combatants. The hellhounds approach her flank, turning back to face the masses with her.

“Certainly,” Ennui pants, “we can come to some sort of peaceable solution?”

Hells!” One shouts across the Grand Hall.

“She killed Inga!”


Bloody witch!

Ennui sighs, “Not a witch! But listen,” she begins, extending her hand. “This…will go very badly for you. IF. If you don’t march out of here right this instant!”

The man with the viol laughs, “A lone devil?”

“I have the might of the Hells on my side!” She roars with a cackle of delirious laughter. 

“And I’m the bloody Saint of Flames!” One man snarls in mock laughter. “You’re a fuckin’ loon.”

Several others burst out laughing. They unsheathe their weapons in a loud ring of steel. Ennui sighs, looking at the two hellhounds at her sides.

“Scorch ‘em!” She orders.

The hellhounds open their maws, releasing a torrent of red flames across the group of men. The flames roar from their mouths like great balls of fire encompassing the surrounding area. The heat from the flames flashes across her face, her lips tug into a smug smile. Mamir loosens arrows from his quiver in quick succession before ducking back behind a marble column. Ennui waits for the flames to subside. Painful screams fill the great hall, men fall to the floor, their clothing ablaze. A scowl forms across her lips, men emerge from the flames with their weapons still drawn.

“Now then,” the man with the viol says. He brings his chin against the rest of his viol, the bow strums across the strings. “How about a real performance?”

Ennui furrows her brow at the aggressive notes being played, an unbearable low ringing echoes around her. The hellhounds whimper, lowering their heads in pain. Ennui grits her teeth, rushing forward, determined to end the cause of the wretched screech. She swings her blade furiously. The man sidesteps and spins about with ease, his laughter married to the horrific waling. The screeching low ring reverberates about the area, shattering pots and glass lamps lining the stairs. The musician points the bow of his viol at Ennui and shouts an unfamiliar incantation, crackling sparks spew from the end of the wooden viol bow.

The blinding light causes her to close her eyes, “I’ll send you to the hells!” she mutters under her breath. A deep pain resonates in her head. Pressure like a vice squeezing on her.

The hounds disperse about the room, quickly returning to attack the seared corsairs. Ennui continues to focus her efforts on the musician. She swings without course, the blinding light still burning through the skin of her eyelids. She feels her blade find purchase, the familiar feel of steel puncturing flesh. Her eyes flicker open. The man with the viol stands before her, his eyes wide, the bare hand holding the edge of her blade. He drops the viol, his newly freed hand rushes to the rapier at his waist.

Unwise,” Ennui whispers and peers around them through her bloodshot eyes. She runs her thumb under her nose, a stream of blood dripping heavily. “What’d you do to my head?”

He offers a cold smile, “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

Ennui raises her brow, “No.” Her sword rips through the fingers grasping the edge. The digits soar across the room and land on the tiles like sausage links.

The man grasps the handle of his rapier, barely able to unsheathe it halfway. Ennui’s gladius bores into his navel. She gives it a hearty twist, bearing her weight against him. The man slips from the blade, blood spurts through his clenched teeth. Mamir stands in the hallway, his shortbow drawn and ready. The remaining men drop to their knees in an effort to yield, their weapons placed at their feet, their eyes trained on her. Ennui presses her fingers to her forehead, her head pounding with pain.

“Where’s the feline?” Ennui asks the closest man.

The young minos[1] lowers his head, “I don’t know!” He trembles.

Ennui raises her gladius above her head, “Really? You don’t know?” She asks again, her words cutting.

“Wai-Wait!” Another corsair shouts while Ennui prepares to deliver the blow. “Maza?”

Mamir approaches, “Aye, a blonde feline with green eyes.”

“Marcus took a shine to her,” the corsair says quickly. “He keeps her to himself.”

Ennui growls, “Keeps her to himself?” She asks, suddenly seething at the implications behind the words.

“Marcus is lupo…he’s very protective of what he thinks is his,” the minos replies. He grabs his horns in dismay, “He’s our captain.”

Ennui scoffs, “I figured this,” she begins, and gives the corpse of the musician a sudden kick, “was your bloody captain.”

“Seban was just our musician…kept us entertained. That’s all,” the second corsair whispers. “What’re you gonna do with us?”

Ennui squats before them, “I don’t like to leave witnesses…but you might prove useful yet. I’ll leave my dwarven friend here to watch the two of you.”

Mamir gives her a questioning glance, “Are you intending to leave them alive?”

“I’ve got some questions for them,” Ennui whispers to Mamir.

The elven woman appears from the hallway, a sharpened paring knife in hand. “Y-You can’t let them live. These men, they’re all monsters!”

Ennui glances at the four men on their knees. She contemplates the woman’s words. At some point she had been called a monster herself, she knew what it was like to live with that brand. Perhaps she could offer these men a fresh start. The elven woman’s eyes brim with tears while she looks over the four. Fresh cuts and bruises cover her form, her knees, and elbows are covered in rashes. Ennui knows the cause of such wounds all too well. She had seen this sort of handiwork before, left behind on concubines by cruel clients.

“Was it any of these?” Ennui asks the trembling woman. The woman’s hands shake. “If it was, I’ll let you slit their throat now if it’ll bring you a sense of closure.”

    The four men look warily onward, unable to meet the gaze of the woman. She extends her shaking hand forward before dropping it slowly to her side. She drops the paring knife onto the tiles.

“N-No,” she confesses softly. “Though they bore witness.” 

Ennui shrugs, “This is no time to be shy. If you want to feel free of your captor…of those that raised their hands against you, now would be the time,” she urges. “After tonight, you may never get another chance. “So I ask you again…which of these men laid a hand upon you?” She asks, her crimson eyes boring through the men. She takes a dagger from her belt and extends it to her, offering the hilt. “Now is your time,” she encourages.

The woman remains silent. “I th-think you killed them already…but they’re all burned up now.”

Mamir crosses his arms, “Well then, how about we go pick out the man…then we’ll string ’em up for you?”

Ennui scoffs and thrusts the dagger back into her belt, “Alright, Mamir. Take care of this. If any of them move, kill them.”

Mamir offers a nod in reply, preparing an arrow.

“You! Minos! Where is the wolf’s chamber?” She asks of the young corsair.

“Up the hall and across the courtyard,” he instructs, pointing a finger in the direction.

Ennui rubs her eyes, “And…how many more of you should I be expecting?” She asks with a flicker of annoyance, her tail slapping through the air behind her. She adjusts the cowl over her horns, waiting for a reply.

“Not many more. Some of us don’t even stay on the estate.”

Ennui sheaths the gladius, “So, we’re to expect more of you lot on the morrow? A change in shift is it?”

“We’ll manage, Ennui,” Mamir whispers. “Just go help the girl,” he grumbles, his arrow steady on the bow. “I’ll get to the bottom of this.”

Ennui clicks her tongue, beckoning the hellhounds to follow. She uses the minos’ instructions and takes the passage down another grandiose hallway lined with potted ferns and opulent mosaics. She walks along the crimson Rhazian rug. Her head continues to pound, her ears ring in pain, causing her to become disoriented while she struggles down the passage. A sudden unbearable pain halts her in her tracks, pain unlike anything she has experienced in the past brings her to her knees. Her stomach churns, bringing up her last meal: kelp wrapped goose and carrots. What did he do to me?, she thinks to herself. She places her head against the marble column. The hellhounds nudge against her, encouraging her onward. Samael, what the fuck did that bard do?

A low ache forms in her thigh. Haunted by the pain, she reaches down, her vision blurred. Sticky wetness. Impossible. She looks down where the arrow had pierced her, a growing red blotch leaks through the thin linen fabric. She pushes her hand against it, the blood presses through onto her palm. The Hellhounds next to her push against her.

“Alright, fine,” she mutters before she wipes her lips over her sleeves. “Let’s get this over with.”

Ennui is certain the pain in her leg, along with the blood that she had felt, is part of a delusion caused by the musician. Uncertain of the truth, she rips her sleeve in haste, wrapping the linen cloth about her thigh. The path continues for some distance before turning sharply towards an inner courtyard. She follows the directions from the minos. A large bronze censer sits on either side of the massive Dolman elderwood doors. A heavy perfumed scent wafts through the hall along with the thick gray smoke rising from the ashes. The two doors stand nearly twice her height, each hand carved with expertise. Murals depicting scenes of hunting are scored into the wood, giving it a feeling of splendor. Ennui places her hand on each of the doors, pushing them open with a mighty shove.

Maza!” Ennui calls. The doors squeal at her entry. “Here kitty, kitty!” She growls through her teeth.

The hellhounds nip at her heel once she steps into the dark room, the massive elderwood doors progressively peel open. The room sits in absolute darkness, Ennui’s eyes adjust to the dark, picking up her surroundings in shades of gray. A collection of cushions litter the center of the room in various shapes and sizes. Another bronze censer sits in the center of the room, a pungent earthy scent drifts from its smoky tendrils. Ennui unsheathes her gladius. The hellhounds at her heels release a low and throaty growl, their bodies pointed to a wooden privacy panel in the corner. Her eyes look below the panel, revealing a pair of wobbling legs.

“Maza, if it’s you…we’re here to help,” Ennui says calmly. “Just tell me where the lupo is.”

A short silence follows before a meek voice replies in a ragged whisper, “He only just left.”

“Then he’s gone?” Ennui asks, sheathing her gladius again and limping towards the wooden panel. “You can come out now,” she instructs, rubbing her hands over her closed eyes, “We haven’t time to dally about.”

The young feline slowly emerges from behind the privacy panel, her cheeks heavily swollen. Ennui’s eyes grow wide, unable to look away from the abuse the girl has suffered. Maza’s wrists and nails are blackened with bruises, the flesh around her ankles raw from restraints, large swathes of her hair are missing, the tips of her pointed ears are scabbed from cuts. Anger wells within her. What kind of monster?

“Where’d he run off to?!” Ennui demands.

Maza points a finger towards billowing curtains, sand, and dust fall upon the sandstone tile from the open window. “He just left moments ago,” she croaks.

Ennui pushes the pain out of her mind, convinced it is naught but an illusion of the musician’s trickery, she forces herself to the window. She clicks her tongue, motioning for the hellhounds to follow.

“Maza,” Ennui says, turning in the window frame to face the weakened feline. “Go back to the main hall,” she orders before dropping from the sill.

Seek,” Ennui whispers to the hounds, “Tear him to shreds, then you can return to the hells…with his soul if it pleases Samael,” she whispers to herself.

The hellhounds look at her with a moment of recognition. Their noses rush to the grass before they set off through the courtyard. The dust storm blows heavily, obfuscating her vision, but the beasts continue their course through the arches of the estate. Once the hounds reach the external gardens, they seem to lose their scent, the tall walls of the estate no longer block the interrupting dust storm. Ennui rubs at her thigh, reminding herself that her pain is nothing more than illusory, a mirage.

Seek!” Ennui orders again.

The hellhounds whimper in response, their noses pressing back against the cobbles. They circle a small area until one finds traces of the lupo’s scent. She follows hastily behind them, slowed only by her slight limp. The hounds push through the external garden doors and down a set of stone stairs into an alley. Losing herself in the thrill of the hunt, she stumbles on sand piled on the stairs. Grabbing hold of the wall, she holds herself up from falling further. The hounds press on just ahead of her without looking back. A sudden shout and yelp force Ennui to dash towards the sound.

A daunting figure stands at the end of the alleyway, rapier in hand. One of the hounds lays over the cobbles, shifting to ash before her eyes. She turns back to the lupo standing before her. The lupo pulls his tawny scarf over his nose and mouth and slowly moves towards Ennui, his yellow eyes glow with malice upon his approach.

“Think I ‘an’t smell the hells from a mile away, devil?” He asks in a gravelly voice. “Salt an sulfur is it?”

Ennui does not offer a response. She lifts her gladius in her hand, twirling it to match his  menacing demeanor. She looks to the hound beside her. I’ll need your help. The lupo moves first, rushing across the distance with great force, his bushy gray tail sweeps behind him. Ennui rolls across the sandy cobbles, gladius ready to counter.

The lupo stops and turns back to face Ennui, “Wait, wait!” He says suddenly. “I bloody well know youse. Y’re that devilkin woman. On’ou or some shit, right?”

Ennui’s face screws up, “W-What?” Her hand tightens on the hilt of her blade. This must be some trick. “What the bloody hells did you even just call me?”

“Nah, nah. ‘Ear me out,” he begins, “I mean, you’ve got the Desert Cities, and I’ve got the Lorian Sea…I’m a fish outta water ere’, ya’understand?”

And?” Ennui asks, raising a brow curiously.

The lupo sheaths his rapier, “‘ow bout this? I’ll give ya some gold and ya let me go on my way, ‘an when ya need passage across the Lorian Sea, I’ll give youse a pass, ‘ow bout it?” He asks, thrusting his hand into a leather pouch at his waist.

Ennui pauses, shaking her head in dismay, “I don’t tend to cross that way all that often, but I gather…you’re Ziad’s man?”

Bold,” the lupo says, nodding in affirmation. “Goin’ after Emir Ziad Zeybek’s property. I appreciate the boldness of it, really do. But, love…ya understand. Business is business, so ‘ows bout it?”

Ennui takes a moment to consider, her eyes fixed on the bumbling man. “The girl. Maza. She’s a bit banged up. How’d it happen?”

“She’s a clumsy girl,” he replies all too swiftly. “We were just following Ziad’s orders. Protecting ‘is property an’ the like.”

“Right, right,” Ennui whispers. Her gladius slides back into its sheath, her eyes flicker to the hellhound inching closer to the lupo. “Perhaps it’d be best if you just went on your merry way.”

The lupo clasps his hands together, “That right? The great On’ou is gonna let me go?”

Ennui nods lazily in response, her eyes meet the hellhound’s, a sense of knowing forms between the two of them. The hellhound opens its gaping maw, releasing a stream of red hellfire across the cobbles. Ennui dashes forward, withdrawing her gladius in a flash. She bursts through the flames, slashing across the lupo’s chest, he covers himself from the heat. The hellhound follows behind Ennui, with a howl. The lupo stumbles backwards in shock.

“Youse thought it’d be that easy, did ya?” He grumbles angrily, ripping the rapier from its leather sheath. “I thought I smelled more than one shite,” he growls.

The lupo grabs the hilt of a second knife tucked in the back of his trousers. He stands before Ennui, rapier and swordbreaker at the ready. Ennui’s vision falters briefly, her eyes narrow to focus on the man before her. She rolls the hilt of the gladius in her palm. The sweat from her efforts and the heat drips down her brow. The lupo moves fast, his steps agile and without pause, dashing murderous lunges. Ennui parries them to the best of her ability in her fading state, she catches several lengthy gashes across her side. The pain in her head continues to ring like a tolling bell. I need to end this before– her thoughts are suddenly cut off, the lupo pushes forward again, his swordbreaker catches the gladius. The gladius bounds across the cobbles. Her eyes close, a biting cool steel punctures her abdomen.

Fuck,” Ennui groans between grit teeth.

The lupo smirks, the hilt of his rapier thrusts flush against her skin, “‘ows it feel, On’ou?”

She sucks her teeth, managing a smile, “It’s been a while…since I’ve been penetrated,” she chokes with a laugh. She coughs, blood spraying onto the lupo’s cotton shirt.

“D-Don’t make light,” the lupo demands, bringing his dagger to her stomach. “I’ll put you outta yer m’sery.”

“No, please!” Ennui pleads mockingly. She grabs his wrist with the dagger. “Leave it in,” she insists with a bloody smile.

The lupo looks at Ennui in dismay, “Jus’ die, woman!”

Ennui pushes against the lupo’s strength, pushing him against a wall in the alley. The hellhound bites and chews at his legs, while Ennui holds him firm. She pushes against the dagger pressed against her stomach with her left hand, while she reaches into the belt at her waist with her right. She lowers her head, slowly pushing her horns against the lupo’s face. He calls out in pain, the chitinous horns rip and tear against the tender flesh of his cheek. She finds the hilt of a dagger in her belt, in panic she begins to jab quickly. The lupo, unable to free himself of Ennui’s grasp, yelps in pain, warm crimson blood splatters across Ennui’s pale white hand.

“Jus’ die, wolf,” Ennui mocks. “Hey,” she pants, “Did you pick such…long sword to compensate?” She asks, thrusting the dagger upward with a vicious twist.

    The lupo grits his teeth, blood drips from between his lips. He lets out a roaring laugh and with a last exasperated breath, the resistance against Ennui’s hand ceases. He crashes against the wall and onto the cobblestones of the alley. Ennui falls to her knees beside him, digging through his leather pouch.

“Fucker better have some salve or something,” she groans loudly and turns to the hellhound, “You can go back to S-Samael,” she whispers. “You can see your damn mate again.”

Ennui’s breathing is labored, the pain in her abdomen flares every time she touches the steel. She sighs, closing her eyes. The hellhound trot towards her. It licks her cheek, the heavy scent of sulfur and ash fills her nostrils with each lengthy lap from its heated tongue. Ennui raises a hand and leans against the dead lupo. The hellhound nudges its head against her hand. The sandy wind blows over her battered body.

[1] Minos are beastkin with bovine traits.