The Loyalty of Dogs
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On four paws they stand, on one heart they thrive. Always by our side, unwavering companions. Such is the nature of dogs.
Summary: On four paws they stand, on one heart they thrive. Always by our side, unwavering companions. Such is the nature of dogs.
Rated M for suggested rape and nudity.
In the darkness of night they came. Long after the sun had set. Lamps had been doused leaving the bandits complete darkness to hide their devious intentions in.
The first feminine scream rang out in the darkness. Villagers awoke to the terrified sound. The guards, who were supposed to protect them were already gone, slaughtered in the darkness at their posts. Their waiting for help was in vain. The screams multiplied, now combined with the outrage shouts of men before they died.
A shock of red and white ran from the shrine on the other edge of town. The crisp blanche color of her haori stained orange in the light of her torch. The miko made a striking image, glowing in the light of the small flame, framed by the fading orange color of the tori gate and long bow held in one hand.
The bandits laughed, as if one woman could stand against them. But despite the disparity of the situation there she stood.
She nestled the torch into the brazier beside the tori gate, freeing her hand, and notched a white-feathered arrow into her bow. A faint whoosh sounded as the arrow cut through the air, trails of iridescent energy engulfed the wooden shaft and the stone tip of the arrow. The blinding light represented the light of hope the villagers had, surely their miko would protect them.
With a finite thud the arrow hit it's target. The light of her spiritual energy imbued in the arrow now snuffed, as was the villagers hope. There was the stoney tip embedded in the leather and wooden armor not far enough to injure it's wearer. The bandits laughed again.
Defiant blue eyes watched the bandits advance upon. She would not go easily. The first two to reach her grabbed wildly at her clothes. Through years of training in hand to hand combat as well as the bow they were easily unseated from their mounts by the young girl, forced to lay at her feet and endure the embarrassment of being bested by a woman in front of their peers.
Face stoic she stared down at them. But in her distraction she didn't see the horse coming from the side. From behind the blunted hilt of a sword came hitting her squarely in the back of the head. There she fell unconscious.
Triumphantly the bandits cheered and prepared to leave. The women taken, the coffers of the small village drained off their gold and rice, their goal was accomplished.
Just as the wall of Ronin filed past the tori gates back to the main road a vicious growl sounded. A blur of glowing white flashed in the moonlight as it descended down the steps. The beast leaped from the steps through the tori, grey fur now stained a frightening red in the light of the torch. Yellow eyes flashed malevolently as the Akita inu collided with one of the mounted warrior, throwing him from his horse before the sickening crack of his neck was heard.
Frightened shouts were heard as the horses reared on their hind legs, afraid of this new foe. Shouts from the bandits carried into the night, “The statue guardians of the shrine!” They called in superstitious, terrified wonder. Surely the animal that now parted their ranks with the ferocity of a pack of lioness could not have been a normal dog, it must be one of the aged spirits that guarded the sacred shrine and now it sought revenge for it's stolen maiden.
Many more bandits fell under flashing white fangs. Horses scattered in many directions making it impossible to keep rank and fell the beast.
His way clear the Akita rushed down the road, hot on the scent trail of the few who got away.
* * *
The small band that managed to get away from the rampaging inu frantically tried to steer the startled horses down the path away from the slaughter. The unconscious miko still draped haphazardly over the saddle bounced and jostled with each manic movement.
The heaving plodding of hooves drowned out the soft pad of paws on the softened dirt road, making his approach silent as a ninja.
Muscles coiled and bunched under thick fur before he pounced again. The rider holding the maiden he was to guard was the first to fall. The bandit didn't have the chance to cry out before his soul was released from his body.
The now riderless horse veered from the road, whites of it's eyes glowing in the night telling of it's fright-crazed mind. The water of the raging river reflected the night sky making it near impossible to see with color blind eyes. Heedless of the perilous churning depths of the water the horse plunged in.
Golden eyes widened in terror before rushing off with new found speed towards the river. The rivers depth easily swallowed the horse's height. The Miko drifted from from the beast of burden's back and into the churning current. The horse bucked and leaped against the crashing waves up the rapids but to no avail as it to was forced downstream.
Ten feet from the waterline the Akita crouched and made his faithful leap into the swirling depths. Soaked white fur glistened against the surface of the dark water, making him stand out like a beacon in the hopeless mire. Determined, he pushed on, swimming and pushing through the intense current. Despite the way the relentless waves crashed his body against stones and gravel, cutting his flesh. He refused to leave.
So loyal was he, his own life came after hers, he wouldn't rest 'til he found the miko. Many hours the river dragged him, over many miles. Then, just as the sky took on the purple hues indicating it was only hours from morn's first light he saw a shock of white in the river of black. Inky, wet, dark hair melded with the dark colors of the water and the red of her hakama floated around her. The mixture of the red and her pale skin made a frightening image.
Quickly, excitedly he used his waning strength to swim against the current to her side. Still unconscious, her head was held just above water. The corner of her haori had caught on a rock, preventing her from being pulled further down stream and allowing him to catch up. Paws braced against the rock for stability, he grabbed onto her top and pushed towards the bank dragging her heavy, waterlogged weight behind him.
The still raging rapids and the sharp gravel on the bottom of the river all sought to impede his progress. His battle to reach shore was long and hard, hours he swam and kicked never releasing his tenuous hold on his charge. It was as the first glowing rays of sunlight kissed the tree tops that his fore paw touched on sand.
With shaking shoulders the Akita finally stood on land. He turned back the waters, her top still clenched in his teeth and gave a few more heaving pulls until the miko's torso rested safely on land. Only allowing himself a few breaths of rest he pulled again, when she rested on the dewy grass he let go of her clothes.
Worried he whimpered into her ear and licked at her face, trying to rouse her. Her skin was so pale and she barely shivered. Her skin as too cold and her heartbeat slowed despite his efforts. His legs shook with exhaustion and his own heart pounded in his chest, desperately pumping life blood through his veins. Though he was surrounded by water all night dehydration was setting in.
Still determined the inu wiggled his body underneath the miko's and stood with her draped over his back. His determination gave him a second wind, and the adrenaline pumped through him, revitalizing him. Head down, panting, he started his run through the forest, following the faint scent of humans to what he hoped would be a village.
An hour later the sun glared down on him, hot on his neck and stealing the last of his energy with it's burning heat. The Akita's paws dragged heavily against the ground, the previous stength of his stride now waning. He needed to go further, wanted to go further. He could not fail. But it was so hot, and despite the miko's small figure she felt so heavy in that moment. The ground, it looked so soft, so welcoming. Just a moment for him to rest.. only a moment he promised himself.
With a heavy thump he collapsed, the miko's weight still on top of him. His legs crumpled under him uncomfortably. He couldn't bring himself to move, it was too hard. Golden eyes drifted closed, closing out that bright light. The tension slowly left knotted muscles, aching limbs no longer hurt so bad, it was bliss. In vain the inu tried to blink away the funny haze, but it was so comfortable, so welcoming. Ears drooped, he whimpered. Slowly the light faded and the darkness took him...
I'm sorry... I failed...
So undying was his loyalty to his maiden. The great inu's soul would not pass. Even in spirit he stood beside her, though his mortal body had long faded. Unseen but seeing he watched her unconscious form.
The power buried within his spirit radiated outward, swirling around him. Comforting and warm it felt to his unliving form, much more so than the hands of death that had wrapped around him. It pulled and stretched his body, making forelegs into human-esque arms. Paws pulled into the shapes of hands and feet. The inu's white furred face flattened and smoothed into pale skin. Like brands on his skin red markings appeared, showing the wounds he so devotedly endured. Blazing in midnight blue a crescent formed on his brow, mimicking the symbol in the night sky at the time of his greatest feat of strength. Down his back lay a mane of silvery locks to match the thick coat that was now completely replaced by pale skin. Then his new form was made corporeal, a gift from the kami for his show of strength done purely out of love and fealty for one creature.
The dead body of his former life faded to dust before his eyes and blew away on the wind, leaving him standing beside his miko alone in the forest. He was no longer beast but youkai, a powerful spirit.
Without second thoughts or hesitation he lifted her into strong arms, holding her close and warming her with his energy. In his care her body found a new foothold on life and her heart beat strong, music to his ears.
Despite future hardships, ups and downs, he stayed by her side always.
Such is the loyalty of dogs.
* * *
MK, Banner, Keyo, and most of all Duke.
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