Tibbold Sightings

Tibbold is a recurring character in many of my stories and books. I will not post much information about him here, as discovering the character through the stories, I feel, is a lot more fun than reading an info dump on a web page. What I will say, is that he is a natural born werewolf, born with the blood curse already in his veins, and travels throughout the realities of my worlds, usually with the primary goal of simply staying alive. As tales about him or containing him are published, I will post them here so you do not constantly have to wonder “Does this work have Tibbold in it?” I will also do my best to place them in a chronological order, though I will not write the stories in such a way.

 

  • You can find his origin right here in this section!

 

  • A tale of his exploits in the icy wastes of a nuclear winter can be found in The Dark Dozen, an Anthology written by twelve excellent authors in the hopes of helping to save the life of the beloved Altoine Scarborough.

 

  • He is lurking in the memories of a main character in The Last Chronicle of Azureden series.

 

If you are not fond of werewolves either due to the sheer volume of stories about them or their more recent portrayals in the media, I understand. All I can ask of you is, if you can, to give Tibbold a chance. He’s as much a poet and a philosopher as he is a wild and savage beast.

And now for those who are curious about the origins of Tibbold, I give you The Princess and the Wolf. Feel free to leave comments below if you liked the story.

 

The Princess and the Wolf

by Allan B. Anderson

Darkness covered the worn wooden planks of the corner where a young boy, Samuel, sat. He folded his arms around his legs and began to rock back and forth slightly as the full moon began to rise through the filthy panes of a nearby window. The other, older individuals in the room were not so fearful. In fact, they relished the moment. As they drank stolen wine from filthy glasses, their conversations dripped with anticipation. One of them raised a toast, the others followed, each promising that tonight no poor fool would get in the way of their feral fun and freedom.

“What are you doing hiding over here?” came the familiar voice of Brian, Samuel’s brother, as he stepped out from the crowd with a half empty glass and a mischievous smile. “You should be celebrating with the others. Tonight’s going to be great!”

“No it’s not,” replied Samuel, meekly. “I still remember the screams from last time.”

“That’s always been your problem you little twerp,” said Brian before taking a drink from his glass. “You’ve always been so weak hearted! When mom and dad beat us, you always went into your little corner and cried. Not me. In the end, I took care of it.”

Samuel dug his head deeper into his lap and tried to hide the tears that began to trickle down his face.

“Crying already? Damn it Sam, stop being so pathetic! The others will cull you soon if you don’t start showing some backbone. After all, the strength of the pack comes from the strength of each individual member.”

“I never wanted this.”

“No. What you wanted was to be dad’s little whipping boy and mom’s little house slave. You should be grateful I had the consideration to bring you into the pack. What would you have done if I hadn’t? Starve? Wonder off and become a slave to someone else? Damn it Sam! You’re my brother! We shared the same tortured life. It was only fair I share my gift of freedom with you as well.” He began to stagger on his feet, the drink apparently taking its toll. “I’d hoped it would strengthen you, like it did me! I’d hoped it would man you up! Ah, but hell, you still cringe here like a little puppy. Makes me feel I wasted the effort.”

“We don’t need to kill people to be free,” sobbed Sam. “We could hunt animals in the woods, and-”

“Hunting animals is boring!” shouted Brian, throwing the glass at Samuel’s feet where it shattered. “Freedom is taking what you want, when you want it! How are we free if we continue following human laws and putting up with human boundaries? Don’t you feel it? The noose around your neck tightening as forests disappear and farms take their place? If there’s a beautiful succulent heifer in front of you and some stringy human runs up and says not to kill it, why should we listen? What gives them the right to tell us what to do! How to behave! Where to live! What to eat!” The others cried out a rousing “Here! Here!” having been listening to the rowdy lecture. Emboldened, Brian turned to his now captivated audience. “Of course, I’m not talking about cattle!” The others laughed as Brian turned back towards Samuel and reached down to sympathetically rub the chestnut brown hair of his brother’s head. As he did, his voice grew soft and quiet so that only Samuel could hear. “You have to learn, Sam, that to get what you want in this world, you have to take it. You have to fight for it. If you don’t, there will always be someone out there more than happy to have an intelligent pet, and they’ll make sure that is all you will ever be.”

As moonlight began to pour in through the nearby window, Brian’s fingers began to grow black claws while Samuel’s hair began to change from brown to dark gray.

“It’s starting,” said Brian. “Don’t fight it. Embrace it.”

As more tears began to trickle through the fur sprouting across Samuel’s face, the sickening sounds of cracking bone and shifting flesh filled the room. Some cheered as they began to pull off their clothes, others allowed their garments to shred. Samuel tried to keep his head buried between his legs, but as his own tail emerged above the thin line of his pants, his changing feet and legs made it impossible. Soon, he sat like a dog, staring at the moldy floor boards as his nose pushed out and his now pointed ears began to twitch to the sounds of barking and howling from the others.

“You see?” said Brian, his voice deeper and more menacing. “As wolves we are not bound by the foolish laws of man. Only our strength as a pack matters.”

Samuel looked up at the intimidating form of his brother, now that of a big black wolf that towered over the juvenile puppy he had become.

“Come on,” said Brian, turning to follow the rest of the pack as they began to head out. “This night only comes once a month, twice if we’re lucky.” Noticing Samuel wasn’t following him, he stopped in the entrance and turned. His bright golden eyes hinted a dire warning as his cackles rose and his form went ridged against the dark purple of the night sky. “What are you waiting for? You aren’t sitting in that corner all night!”

“I told you,” said Samuel between whimpers. “I don’t want to.”

“You’ll come,” said his brother, “or so help me I’ll bite you by the scruff of the neck and drag you out. Don’t think I’ll be gentle about it either.”

“You’re just as bad as father,” remarked Sam, quietly.

The rest of the pack began howling a short distance away, and as Brian looked back in their direction he knew they wouldn’t wait for them. He growled at his brother, and made to lunge, but Samuel quickly got the hint and rose to his paws to scamper past the black wolf and out into the snow covered wood. As he watched his brother flee into the trees, Brian shook his head. “Tonight Sammy, you’re killing something. I’m making sure of it. The taste of blood might finally banish the fear from you.”

 

* * *

 

The cold chill of the winter air could still be felt beneath his fur as Samuel struggled through the forest to keep up with the others. His reluctance was apparent, and all around reflective eyes kept looking in his direction, many filled with apathy and impatience, while behind him the occasional wet nose or cold paw would push him along. Even the shadows cast by the sharp branches of the leafless trees seemed to be reaching out to claim him, to trap him, and make him a part of that world forever.

Ahead, the lead wolf stopped, causing the others to halt and look around with confusion. For a moment, there was nothing but silence, but as noses began to sniff the air and ears perked up in alarm, from somewhere in the surrounding blackness a woman shouted, “Fire!”

Streaks of light sliced through the surprised pack as the tips of numerous crossbow bolts caught the moon’s reflection. Whines of pain and agony filled the air as wolves collapsed. Those that could tried to flee.

Fear grabbed Samuel and pulled him to the ground, forcing him to watch as the pack continued to thin and pools of blood crept ever closer to his shaking paws.

“Second rank, fire!” shouted the mysterious woman.

Another volley of bolts soared through the air. More whines and more howls followed, though fewer than before, and as a shadow leapt over Samuel pain shot through the young wolf’s back leg. He knew what it was, and wanted so badly to leap up and run away, but still fear held him to the ground and whispered its promises of salvation through motionlessness.

“Lights!” said the voice.

One by one the glow of lanterns lit the trees as the forms of several heavily armored figures stepped out from the darkness. Some carried large crossbows, others held halberds with humongous blades. All wore crimson capes, regaled with the heraldry and embroidered flames of the Solar Sentinels, the military arm of the Church of Solunstad.

“Alright,” said the woman as she too stepped out into the light, “that should take care of the raids on the farmers around here.” The additional decorations on her armor and the golden borders of her cape made her stand out as someone important, but knowing nothing of the church save for what his brother once mentioned in passing, Samuel had no idea what she was or why she had ordered the death of his pack. “You lot,” she continued, pointing on a few of the closer soldiers, “go through here and make sure they’re all dead. Even with silver bolts, the moon’s power will keep them alive if the job’s not finished. The rest of you, fan out and find those that ran off. We don’t need any getting the idea of starting another pack.”

“Would be nice if the king stepped up and did something,” came a gruff voice from one of the enclosed helmets.

“If the king wishes to stand idle while the church does his work for him, then it is the church the people will follow,” replied the woman. “Now, get going.”

After a few grunts of acknowledgement, the armored figures began to split up. Some headed back into the trees, others began to poke and prod the fallen wolves closest to them. Seeing his hunters preoccupied, fear finally loosened its grip on the juvenile wolf, and among the sounds of hacking and the whines of pain, Samuel tearfully crawled off into the darkness.

 

* * *

 

The sun rose over a wide open field, bringing with it the chirping of birds and the crowing of a nearby rooster. With the power of the full moon leaving him, Samuel could feel his life slowly draining from the wound on his leg. He didn’t dare try to pull out the bolt. He didn’t even know what good it would do. His hope was that with the rising sun, he could again be human and perhaps get help from someone in the farms his pack usually victimized. But what normally was a release of energy and the grateful return to a familiar form, instead became of wave of nausea and discomfort. His skin crawled, his muscles spasmed, but he didn’t change. As panic overtook him, he vaguely recalled his brother once explaining to him why. ‘The body can’t shift if it’s injured, and if you try to force it you’ll likely make things worse.’ Having spent all night crawling through the fields in the hope that the sun might save him, he collapsed into the grasses and whined. He could think of nothing to do now and knew of nothing that could save him. The only thing he was certain of was that when the Solar Sentinels tracked him down his age would not prove a shield.

A dog barked in the distance, and though he wanted to react, Samuel’s sore legs refused to respond. As he lay there in the grass, fear again whispered into his ear, claiming that motionlessness remained his only hope. Again the dog barked, closer this time, and Samuel lifted his head just enough to watch as a yellow Labrador approached him. It sniffed him for a few moments, looked around, then turned and barked to garner the attention of someone nearby

“Whatcha got there boy?” came the voice of an older gentleman as he walked up to the pair. “A fox? A badger?” He wore a nice tunic, green cape, and carried a long bow with a quiver of arrows. “Oh dear,” he said upon noticing Samuel. “What’s this? A wolf pup? All the way down here? Thought the buggers were wiped out some years ago.”

The dog whined in sympathy as the man gave a quick inspection of the area.

“Doesn’t look like its mother’s around,” he continued. “I wonder who shot it? If they’re shooting puppies tis a good chance its family is dead.” He reached down, grabbed Samuel by the scruff of the neck, and lifted him into the air. “Seems like a pretty strong little fella though, wouldn’t you say Eddie?” The dog barked in response. “Doesn’t look like he’s too old yet to be set in his ways. I bet if we cleaned him up, gave him a chance to recover, and started feeding him, he’d make a great addition to the kennels.” The dog barked again, and started panting as if to agree. “There ya go,” said the man to the wolf, “even Eddie likes ya.” Though Samuel wanted to struggle he knew there was nothing he could do as the stranger cradled him in his arms and began heading back through the fields. “Well, it’s not the venison we were supposed to get, but a prize like this will probably more than make up for one lost deer.”

 

* * *

 

“I want that one Daddy!”

Samuel looked up from his bowl of scraps and leftover mutton to see a young girl in a stiff green dress standing at the entrance to his cage.

A large bearded man, wearing a bright red robe and a golden crown walked up next to her. “Are you sure my dear? That one looks a little… scruffy.”

“Oh I don’t know about that one,” said the kennel master as he stepped into view. “Found him in the wilds some time ago. He’s a little older than what you should take puppy wise, and I’ve started him on a strict hunting regime. Shows a lot of promise he does, has a good prey drive, but I don’t think he’d make a good royal pet.”

“But he’s cute,” said the girl. “And look at those eyes, they’re so pretty. I bet he’s a lot smarter than the other dogs.”

The kennel master gave a short, friendly laugh. “Well, I don’t know about that. His eyes are pretty because he’s wild. It’ll take a lot of work to break him in to life around the castle. Besides, he’s got a nasty scar on his leg, not exactly the image one wants for a royal hound. ”

“Has he given you any trouble?” asked the large, bearded man.

“No,” replied the kennel master, “but he’s still fairly young. An adult wolf can get pretty possessive, ‘specially the males, which means he’ll get harder to work with when he’s older.”

“Did you ever find out what happened to him?” asked the man.

“No your majesty. I asked around, talked to several lords and some hunter’s guilds, but no one’s hunted wolves on these lands in years. In fact, they were quite surprised I’d found him at all. Most thought I was joking.”

“Oooooooh, then that means he’s special!” cried the girl. “Now I definitely want him!”

“Princess,” said the kennel master. “Please understand. That one is a wild animal. I can turn him into a decent hunting dog, but he’ll never do well in a castle surrounded by lords and servants. It’s not fair to him, or you. Look, I have some wonderful champion beagle pups on the other side over there. They tend to bark quite a bit but they are well accepted in noble circles and make great companions.”

The princess turned towards the kennel master and frowned. “You’re just trying to keep him for yourself! You know how special he is and you just don’t want me to have him!”

The king looked flustered and the kennel master took a step back in worry.

“Uh well…” said the king, “I suppose we could always bring him back if things don’t work out. He nodded towards the kennel master. “Get this one ready and meet me with it at the door. If the diamond collar doesn’t fit, use one of the fine leather ones.”

The kennel master sighed and looked knowingly at the confused wolf. “As you wish my lord.”

 

* * *

 

Princess Emily’s hair seemed to glow in the candlelight as she sat in front of the mirror while preparing for bed. Samuel had already lay down upon his, a large blue pillow interwoven with all kinds of canine themed decorations. He sighed, happy as he settled into the comfort of the cushioning. The last several years had been wonderful. He’d received the best treatment, the best food, and had full reign of the castle’s grounds. He didn’t mind being a dog, far from it in fact, as it had been better than he ever had it as a human.

“Getting comfortable Fang?” asked Emily. Her voice had become smooth and melodious over the years, and Samuel had no trouble recognizing it, even in a conversing crowd. “I told Henry I could tame you.” She set down her comb and stood up, turning to look down at her loyal pet watching her from the other corner. “Look at you, strong, full grown, and the most obedient dog a girl could ever ask for.” She giggled. “One might even say you’re almost human.” She walked over to him and bent down, reaching out a hand to pet him. “I wish I had more time to spend with you, like I did when I was younger. Attending the royal court, all the properness training, history lessons, politics, and now the suitors. Sometimes… sometimes I wish you and I could just run off together. You’re the only friend I would ever need.” She reached down and parted the fur where his scar from the crossbow bolt used to be. “Strange. Hector said that scar would be permanent, but it seems to be disappearing more and more every few weeks. Maybe the man doesn’t know as much about dogs as he thinks.” She turned and looked up out her window. “Look at it Fang, isn’t the moon beautiful when it’s full? I bet if you could you’d be out there howling at it all night. Maybe one day, just to upset father, I’ll encourage you to do it.”

Samuel continued to watch as Emily got up and blew out the candles around the room. As darkness covered the pair, he listened as she crawled into bed and rolled up into the covers.

“Good , Fang. See you in the morning.”

As Samuel set his head down between his paws he again thought back on the state of his existence. Emily was so wonderful, and his time at the castle proved a blessing in disguise. Still, as he began to fall asleep, some part of him longed to be more than merely Emily’s dog.

A loud shriek tore him from his slumber and Samuel looked up to see Emily staring at him in terror. The early morning sun shined through the window and the confused dog looked around to see what his master was screaming about. He quickly noticed that his nose no longer stuck out in his field of view and that his head didn’t turn quite as far as he was used to. Panicking, he looked down at himself to see his fur gone, his paws now ugly pink feet, and his four once powerful legs replaced by the gangly things he used to have when he was human. He shot up, terrified as the door slammed open and two of the royal guards, men he knew well and would occasionally sneak him table scraps from the mess, pointed their spears and looked on in astonishment.

Desperate, he turned towards Emily, his eyes pleading with her as he tried to remember how to speak. “Pl… please! I… I didn’t th… think this would happen. I am your dog! I swear! J… just give me a minute and I’ll change back. Please… don’t-” Everything went black as a blow to the back of the head silenced him.

 

* * *

 

The cold iron shackle around his neck was made even colder by the chilling air of the harsh winter night as he stared, dejected, at the muddy ground beneath his paws. For years he had been free of the burden of keeping his form in check, but as the scar finally disappeared under the healing power of the full moon, his ability to transform had returned. Even then, he might have been fine if he had not let his emotions get the best of him, as desire could trigger the change after the full moons influence was gone. Now, the form he had hated in his youth was his only comfort, keeping alive the memory of his existence before that fateful morning. As he shifted a little on his paws, the chain connected to his collar rattled slightly, being attached to a signpost which read, Warning! Werewolf! Do not fall for his tricks! Anyone found helping, feeding, or aiding him in any way without consent will be put to death.

It was only at the behest of the princess he was still alive. Many wanted him killed, but she begged he be spared, if only for the bond they used to share. Dragged before the king, he had been given a choice. He could either be locked in the dungeons as a human or serve the king as a dog. He chose the latter, and had been placed at the entrance to the king’s salt mines to ward off intruders. The dust kicked up by the work stung his eyes and nose, and workers would throw rocks at him as they passed. His water bowl, usually filthy anyway, lie frozen on the ground nearby, forcing him to lick the dirt filled snow if he wished to slake his thirst. As for food, he was fortunate if he got the leftovers from the kennels, a place he missed and much preferred to be.

The crunch of snow alerted him as a figure approached through the cold night air. At first he thought it might be the foreman, come to administer another round of torment before turning in. But as the figure drew closer, he could see in the faint moonlight that it wore a luxurious red cloak and didn’t have the build or stature he was used to seeing among the miners. A glint from a long strand of blond hair told him who it was as a familiar smell began to fill his senses and a warm gentle hand rubbed the top of his muzzle.

“Emily?” said Samuel, his voice having maintained his human tone through practice and the constant desire not to be considered threatening.

A tear trickled down Emily’s cheek upon hearing him. “Yes Fang, it’s me.”

“What are you doing here? If the foreman catches you your father will make sure you’re punished, and that would be nothing compared to what he’d do to me.”

“I wanted to say I was sorry.”

“Why? It’s not your fault. After all, everyone thinks I was just trying to trick you so I could murder you one day.” He turned away and lay down in the cold mud. “You have nothing to be sorry for.”

“And were you trying to trick me?”

“Let’s just say, if I could have remained your dog for the rest of my life, I would have.”

He felt her hand caress his back as Emily leaned down next to him. “Fang. Do you remember what I told you? The night before that… event? How I was unhappy at the castle and dreamed what it would be like if it were just you and me?”

“That was before you knew what I really was. I can’t just be your dog anymore. And even if I could, the whole kingdom knows what I am as well. We would never know a moment’s peace.”

“Then let’s leave the kingdom.”

Samuel’s ear twitched as he heard a muffled click and the shackle around his neck loosened. Surprised, he turned to see Emily toss a small iron key into the snow. “What are you doing? You can’t do this! You and I… we’ll be persecuted, hunted down like… well, like dogs.”

“I don’t care anymore,” said Emily, fighting back more tears. “I can’t stand living in the castle. I feel as chained up as you. Since my father hasn’t had a son, the suitors are relentless, each only wanting to use me to become the next king. I can’t do anything without supervision anymore. I can’t even breathe without someone telling me it’s permitted. I longed for the days we spent running through the courtyards together, how you were always the best dog at fetch, and how… no matter what… in your presence I always felt safe. I never really knew why till after… well… I just can’t stand it there anymore Fang. I’m running away, and I want you to come with me.”

“But princess-”

“Please,” Emily interrupted. “Don’t call me that. I’m tired of it. I have a name, and that’s what I want to be called from now on.”

Samuel cocked his head. “Alright, Emily, but what about money? Where would we go?”

“I brought a pouch of gold from the castle,” replied Emily. “We’ll think of something.”

As Emily turned and began walking away, Samuel felt a knot in his stomach. “Emily, what about us? It will never be what it was at the castle. You know what I am now. You know I can understand what you say. No matter how complacent I am, I know you’ll never be able to see me as just a pet.”

Emily paused. “I know. But maybe you don’t need to be my pet. Maybe you can be something else; something I’ll never find back at the castle.” She took a few more steps. “You don’t need to come with me Fang. I certainly don’t want to force you. But I always felt I had somehow betrayed you that morning. After everything you did for me, after all the happiness you brought, I couldn’t leave it like this. If you want to leave me, I understand.”

Samuel took a quick look around and after a few moments of consideration, he ran towards the fading figure of the princess. “Since you wish to be called Emily, then you should know that my actual name is Samuel, not Fang.”

Emily giggled at the wolf’s statement as the pair disappeared into the darkness.

 

* * *

 

The sun rose over an open field surrounding a small cottage far from civilization. Muffled shouting could be heard from within, followed by the clatter of pans and the sound of something crashing to the floor. The front door burst open and three wolf pups stormed out, eager to start their day of playing, tussling, and chasing each other through the grass. A slightly older Emily, wearing a common brown dress and white apron, ran out after them.

“Tibbold! Annalice! Raven! Slow down! You just finished breakfast and there’s still a mess to clean up!”

“Aw mom,” said Tibbold, the only male pup. He had inherited his father’s grey coat, but unlike his sisters, he didn’t possess the usual white underbelly of most wolves, which only made his icy blue eyes far more noticeable. “We want to pounce dad before he goes off hunting again. We almost got him last time.”

“No, I almost got him,” said Raven, named for the deep coat of dark purplish fur that covered her top and sides. “You could barely keep up!”

Annalice, her pelt a jacket of dusty brown, simply looked back and forth between her siblings.

“Uh-uh!” barked Tibbold. “I slowed him down. The only reason you almost caught him was because he was trying to avoid me!”

“Why would he have to avoid you?” said Raven, narrowing her eyes. “You’re as slow as tree sap in winter!”

“Am not!” shouted Tibbold.

“Are so!” replied Raven.

“Enough! Both of you!” came a stern voice from the doorway. Samuel padded out in his wolf form. “You two need to stop arguing. The three of you are all you have. It doesn’t matter who can outrun who, whose bite is stronger, whose fur is cleaner, or who can wag their tale the fastest. We are all family, and no matter what, family looks out for each other.”

“Are you going to take me hunting with you today Dad?” asked Tibbold, his tail wagging in anticipation.

“No, not yet,” replied Samuel. “You’re not old enough.”

“He means you’re too slow,” remarked Raven, smiling.

“I am not!” Tibbold shouted back.

“Are so!” shouted Raven.

As the two pups continued squabbling, Emily bent down and petted Samuel across the back. “Don’t worry Sam, I’ll sort them out. You get going so you can be back before sun down.”

“I hate leaving you here alone,” said Samuel, still watching his bickering pups, “even if it’s only once or twice a week.”

“I’m not alone. The puppies are here with me. Though I do wish they would turn into children more often. I guess they just have too much of you in them.”

“I choose to stay like this,” replied Samuel, “usually. Perhaps it’s different for them. You’re the only other human they’ve ever really known. Maybe they just don’t know what it means.”

“In a way I hope they never have to,” said Emily.

With a sigh, Samuel looked up into Emily’s eyes. “That would be nice, but you and I both know that one day they’ll have to learn, whether we want them to or not.”

“Then prove it!” Raven shouted to Tibbold as she took off into the grasses. “Catch me if you can!”

Tibbold took off after her. “You’ll see! I’m just as fast as you are!”

“That’s still too slow!” Raven shouted back.

“Don’t go too far!” shouted Emily, causing Samuel to wince at the volume. “Stay where I can call you! You know what your father will do if he has to go find you again!”

Annalise took a quick look at her parents before heading off after her siblings. “Wait for me! I want to play too!”

“Oh, Sam,” said Emily, “to think I could be at the castle listening to the droning of lords right now while being married to an absolute farce of a man.”

“Something you’d rather have?” joked Samuel.

Emily giggled. “Of course not. With you I may not have a castle or servants, my royal title might not even be recognized anymore, but I have you and the kids, and I’m happier with that than I could ever be otherwise.” She looked down to see Samuel staring at something on the horizon. “Sam? Samuel? Is something wrong?” Getting no response from the wolf, she looked over to see what might be troubling him. As she watched, a figure appeared over the crest of a distant hill. Though small and hard to see, it appeared to be a man on horseback.

“Emily,” asked Sam, “you didn’t invite someone from the town did you?”

“No,” replied Emily, confused. “Why would…” Several other figures began to appear behind the first with one carrying a familiar looking flag. “Oh no. No. They can’t be… How could…? Oh god please don’t let it be them!”

Raven flew through the grass, keeping just in front of Tibbold who was already panting in his struggle to keep up. “Tired already?” she asked, turning her head to get a good look at her frustrated brother. “Want me to slow down?” She slammed into something hard, tall, and solid. “Ouch,” she yelped, falling back into the grass.

Tibbold came up next to her, staring up at the large creature standing in front of them. “What’s that?”

The beast had four long powerful legs, each tipped with a single hard toe. It also had a fairly long neck, with hair hanging down one side, and a nose that extended out far from its face. Both pups noticed something attached to its back that looked like a small and ugly metal oven wearing an apron.

“My god,” said the oven. “What has she done?”

The grasses behind them erupted with activity. There were shouts and cries, followed by whines of pain and fear.

“Anna!” shouted Raven.

She and Tibbold both turned to run, but they were quickly tripped up as a large net fell over top of them. “Not so fast,” came a voice from behind. “You two little freaks aren’t going anywhere.”

“By God,” continued the oven. “I hope you aren’t what I think you are.”

As both pups struggled to free themselves, the large creature walked past them towards their home. Other figures began to follow, some looking similar to the oven on the beast, others looking more akin to their father when he was angry on special nights. The ground beneath them fell away as they felt themselves lifted and thrown onto the back of another beast, similar to the first. Next to them was their sister, her paws and muzzle tied with rope, looking as if she had fallen asleep.

“Tibbold? What’s going on?” asked Raven. “What’s happening?”

“I don’t know,” said Tibbold in a frightened whine.

There were shouts in the distance, followed by frantic barking. Their mother screamed.

“Mother!” cried Raven.

“Father!” cried Tibbold.

Something that smelled bad plopped down in front of them and began to speak to the strange beast they were on. Suddenly, they began to move, and a frightened and confused pair of pups looked back helplessly as their home began to shrink into the distance.