Tainted Victory – Chapter 4 Conclusion (Page-a-Day)

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Slowly, as the wine and ale ran out, and the food was picked clean did the group go to their chambers for the evening. The castle had two floors for bed chambers and bathrooms. Raisor, Siguard, Goblet, and Claudia took the middle floor while Colt and Olivier took the third. Evelyn made her claim early to the king’s bed. Olivier was the only one to object. “That is made for the worst of people!”

Evelyn shrugged and said that was what she must have been, then slammed the doors before taking a swan dive onto the softest blanket. No one else saw that moment. It was for her. 

Everyone else staggered their bedtime release. The ale did not affect the muscle bound as much as it did the slim, or magically inclined of the group.

Hounder slept at the foot of Colt’s bed. He had done so since he was a spirited pup who got on by chasing his own tail. That chasing evolved when his master taught him scents and supplied him with the tastiest of rewards for tracking each scent. Soon the rewards became what the scent came from. He would be able to rip, tear, and eat the catch. Sometimes his master would have to kill it first, but he would still get his fill. 

Colt got up throughout the night. That’s what it felt like to Hounder. Colt would get up and leave the room for ever, then would return and go to bed. One time he noticed the scent of fresh water, another was the scent of the older, scary magic guy, another was food. Hounder wagged his tail at that one because he craved some of the meat. The scent that made him get out of bed though was when the stale smell of blood. He was unsure of when it had reached his nose, but it hit him hard for it was not the scent of animal blood, but the blood master had. 

Hounder stood up. He looked to his master. His master just turned over in the bed. Hounder stretched his back out, then stepped onto the floor. His nails made a light clicking and clacking along the stones. He exited the room. The scent was all around, but was strongest from the lower levels. He strode through the hall, down the stairs, and eventually to the throne room. His eyes gave him some sense of the scene he had walked into, but his nose, and paws gave him much more. 

Hounder entered the throne room. The scent of human blood sat heavier on this nose than that of the dead dragon. He also got a scent of dirt, metal, ash, and fear. They overwhelmed him. He took a step forward. His paw stepped into a puddle. It was thicker than normal puddles, and carried the stench from humans. He took another step closer. The storm picked up and let out a percussive crash of thunder. The puddles got thicker the closer he got. The scent got close. He pointed his nose down. It touched the curtled finger of a human. He rubbed his nose against it for a few minutes. It was familiar. He gave a small bark, but it did not wake the person. He traced his nose down the person’s arm, to their torso, and to the sight of a cool metal blade protruding from his body.  He barked and barked and barked. When his voice was covered over by the crashing clouds he howled. He could tell the person on the floor was gone, and that it had not been natural.

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