The Fox and The Demon | Silver, and Steel, Ears and Tail.

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The Griffon reared back onto its hind legs as a man, tall and broad, plunged his longsword through its ribs; into its heart. The momentum of the force pushed the magical beast over, and onto the large cargo wagon behind it. It landed on the rear right wheel, crushing it along with the rear of the bed.

“EEEEEE!” A squeal emitted from beneath the broken wagon.

The sound, comparable to a pig being hoisted into a vat of boiling water, came from a fat man in a dusty green doublet and pinstriped pants; wet between the crotch. He pulled himself out from beneath the left side of the wagon as he turned to look back at his destroyed wagon.

“My wagon!” He shrieked.

Revell twisted his sword, sure to wiggle it around to destroy the heart and all the surrounding organs. The Griffon had lived for a few seconds longer before it went limp in the heap of broken wood. He ignored the indignant and insufferable merchant as he pulled the sword from the body. Wiped the blade off on one of the merchant’s ruined blankets before he inspected the damage to it.

The blade, silver infused dwarven steel, held its edge without a single nick. Revell sighed with relief in his heart.

The griffon had fought hard against him, hunger and desperation seemed to be the reason why it fought hard against him without trying to escape. He was lucky for such an opportune moment to attack and ended it before it got even more desperate. Revell stood over the body, his ink-black eyes sizing up the body. He would have to figure out what to do with it if the merchant didn’t take it.

At six and a half feet, broad-shouldered and lean, and muscular; he couldn’t exactly carry the corpse away. The beast was four feet tall and just as long as he was tall. While it could fly, with its large wings and bird head. It still had a lions body and weighed close to a ton.

With a gloved leather hand, he combed his long hair back with his fingers. It glistened in the sunlight with sweat, revealing his tanned face. Sharp ink eyes sat upon a large scar that cut across his left cheek and the bridge of his nose, just below the eyelid. A short unkempt beard framed his masculine face as he turned to the merchant who was in the middle of trying to right the iron cage of slaves.

Revell was hot in his faded black leather armor. His undyed cotton shirt and pants were soaked. No ornate designs graced the leather armor, but to a keen eye, it was definitely high end. He laid the sword across the griffon’s body, his back sheath for the sword discarded further away and unbuckled the steel longsword that dangled from his hip. He placed it with the other sword, careful not to damage any of the potions nestled into the two side pouches attached.

He went over to the purple-faced merchant as he tried to right the cage and lifted it with ease. Compared to regular men, Revell was a born killer, his body enhanced by magic to be stronger than the average man. Along with constating training, the cage weighed no more than eight hundred pounds with the malnourished slaves in it. Even the iron bars were thin but sturdy enough to take a beating.

The cage had flopped onto the grass beside the narrow beaten path as the slaves groaned in agony from being banged around. Others cried out in pain as a few of their limps had been unfortunately trapped beneath the bars. The griffon had tried to take off with the cage. Under normal circumstances, it would have too, if it hadn’t been weakened by whatever misfortunes had plagued the beast.

“H-Help…” One of the slaves begged Revell, but he ignored it.

Blood and dirt clung to the outer bones as the wounded slaves clung to their mangled limbs. Revell only turned to the heaving merchant.

“I’ll collect my payment now.” Revell stated.

“B-But my slaves are damaged!” He said.

He couldn’t believe he had to pay when the majority of his product had been damaged.

“That is not my problem.” Revell said coldly. “I intervened on your request. The request to save you. I have killed the griffon, and you’re still alive. Ten Reyenian Roses was the offered amount, and I will collect. Even if I have to kill you.”

While the merchant was unhappy about the loss of the wagon and his slaves still injured. He wasn’t stupid enough to argue with the man who single-handled killed a griffon.

“Y-Yes!” He squeaked and scampered off to the second wagon at the front. Unlike the last one, uncovered and used to haul, the next one was fancier. Covered with a cloth that arched over another five feet, it was longer and appeared to be where the man had slept. However, given the outside, the suggested area inside was painfully smaller. Revell made note of that should the merchant try to short him on the payment.

Not like he could run, all his guards and coachmen had run, and his slaves would have to be transported on the lead wagon.

The merchant fumbled around the lead wagon as he searched for his money, but seemed to be frantic. He turned his attention to the slaves. A closer inspection revealed all of them were female and no older than fourteen by the looks of it. Every girl was bound by their legs, connected to each other by two short chains that would allow them to walk in tight single file lockstep should they be allowed out.

Only four of the ten were hurt, not that he cared enough to do anything.

He went back to the griffon and put his belt back on. Then he retrieved the other disregarded sheath. Once he returned, he found a very nervous merchant waiting by the dead monster.

“H-Honored sir…” His tone suggested that Revell was not going to like the next part. “I seemed to have… Offered over my means… I only have two Reyenian Roses on me..”

He froze as Revell’s eyes narrowed on the man. His hand tightened around hilt by his hip.

“I-I can offer you slaves!” He backed away with his hands up. “You can have all the girls in the cage there!”

He pointed to the cage he had helped right, but Revell was no interested in slaves. Should he require companionship, he was more than willing to drop a few coppers or silvers in a brothel. Slaves would only slow him down on the road and the girls, while attractive for the average man, was dirt in his eyes. He had slept with noblewomen and high-end pleasure women.

Yes, he had slept with young girls around that age before, but they weren’t worth the annoyance. They also weren’t worth the effort to heal them, not to mention, the whole lot would barely fetch a single Reyenian Rose should he have the patience to actually sell them for a good price.

“They’re not worth a single Rose to me.” Revell said after he got his emotions under control.

“Nonsense!” The merchant gasped. “Those girls alone cost me three Reyenian Roses SaltPoint! Not-!”

“Then you’re an idiot as well as as a debtee now.” Revell growled, his patience slowly crumbled. “Those young girls would be worth the coins if they were healthy and prettier, but they’re just the average girls. And they’re injured now.”

The reality of the situation finally hit the merchant as he turned to the cage, the information slowly seeping in.

“But-But-!” He tried to refute, but Revell only cut him off again.

“Not only did you pay too much.” Revell swept the two wagon file with his left hand. “I can tell how new you are by how shitty your guards were. Not to mention you would try and bring such merger slaves this far north. The cities have no lack of slaves. If you have something outstanding, of course, it would have been worth it, but you do not.”

“I do!” The merchant said indignantly, but he regretted it the moment he said it.

Like a wolf who had found a plump sheep ripe for the kill, Revell smiled at him.

“Then if it is, I’ll take it.” He said happily.

« ∇ »

“Name!” The gate officer sun with boredom while he graced them with an upward glance from his desk.

“Revell Swallow.” Revell answered.

“And the… girl?” The officer’s eyes perked up.

The sun slowly sunk behind the horizon as Revell sat on a healthy brown chestnut horse. Seated in front of him so she couldn’t escape, was a cloaked slave. At a quick glance, they were an interesting pair, but nothing that begged a closer look. That was until the officer noticed how the cloak seductively formed over two nice lumps on the cloaked girl’s chest.

“A slave.” Revell answered as his hand rose from the reins and pulled the collar of the cloak a little, revealing a thin steel collar etched with magical runes.

“Ah.” The officer muttered as he stared, almost entranced by the lovely shape. The cloak was made for Revell, and it enveloped the girl like a blanket rather than a cloak.

“Can we go?” Revell asked, annoyed the man was staring at his new property.

“Huh?” The officer snapped his eyes away from the slave’s breasts and looked to the man.

“I asked, honored Sir, if we may go?” Revell repeated his question, more respectfully. “We are tired and wish to find a place to rest.”

The officer’s eyes narrowed and he inspected the horse, hoping to find a reason to keep the two longer so he could see if the girl was pretty. Then he saw the head of the griffon tied to the side of the horse.

“Oi!” He sat up from his desk. “I-Is that a Griffon’s head?!”

Unlike the officer, the soldiers who kept the peace at the entrance and on the wooden draw bridge had already noticed the monster head. Rather, the alluring slave sitting between the warrior’s legs was overlooked because of this by them.

“Yes.” Revell sigh. “I killed it a few miles back when I save the slave merchant.”

He pointed turned slightly on the blanket saddle to the fat pale merchant behind him. The merchant only smiled wearily when he saw, but he said nothing. He was still sore about Revell’s “Compromise.” Though, it worked out in the man’s favor anyways – at least as favorable as it could when you owned a debt to a man who could break you in half.

“A-Ah.” He stared blankly at it. “I-I can pay you for the kill. The city pays for the dispatch.”

“I am aware.” Revell nodded. “I would like to be paid for my efforts.”

« ∇ »

Night had prevailed by the time they left the guard station. Revell kept the reward money with the rest under his armor. The horse trotted happily down the dirt main road as throngs of people filled it. A few wagons slowly rolled through, along with a few carriages, but the pace was slow. Revell did not mind the pace at all but took in the sights and smells. It had been a while since he had visited a lively town. His line of work often took him to troubled places, but this time, it took him to the trade city of Solilla.

Orange light filled the road from open windows and open shop fronts, and everyone was busy. Revell smiled slightly as he watched the top of the hood on the slave twitch. She seemed interested in their surroundings and felt the base of her tail twitch between his legs. He looked down and saw the end of it was swaying much more than the base led him to believe. She was definitely pleased, oddly enough, it made him slightly happy.

He stopped the horse beside a stall that was selling beef sticks, a commoner’s delicacy; one he had come to enjoy himself.

“Sir stall owner.” Revell raised his voice as he came to a stop.

“Ha, what can I do you for?” The man answered without looking up. An empty greased covered plate sat next to the man’s grill as he was preparing another patch of food.

“I wish to purchase some food.” Revell pulled a silver coin from his armor. “And ask where I can find a comfortable inn.”

The man finally looked up with a single raised eyebrow.

“Beef sticks, five coppers each.” He said, “I can recommend ya’ an inn if ya’ want.”

Revell smiled and dropped the silver coin on the greasy plate.

“Preferably once in a nice part of the city.” He said with a pleasant smile.

« ∇ »

Revell began to strip off his armor beside the large table by the door. First, his swords and placed them on one end, then his chest leather. Then the legs. Revell sniffed his shirt and cringed back from the smell. It smelled horrid and he saw the slave sitting at the chair to his left cringe away as well.

They had been recommended a nice cozy tavern closer to the main square, and he got the nicest room there. It came with dinner and breakfast; clothes cleaning; a large room with a bathroom; and a nice view of the main square. He planned to be a while in the town and he could easily earn a Reyenian Rose a day if he put forth the effort. A man of his skill was in demand.

Though, oddly, only picked this tavern because of the girl. He would have been fine in any shit tavern, so long as the rooms weren’t complete messes. But he had to be considerate of the person with him, at least, until he figured out what to do with her.

“What’s your name, girl?” Revell asked.

“Alesana.” She answered with a sweet, but meek voice.

She didn’t hold herself like a common girl, but she also didn’t scream high born. She felt… lost.

“Alesana.” He said. “I’m thinking of what to do with you.”

Her silvery eyes widened for a moment before she looked away.

“The fat human said I would probably…” She paused as she chewed the words. “Be a pleasure girl for a noble…”

The room went quiet for a moment as Revell’s hand froze and the music from below became barely audible before he finished taking off the last piece of leather.

“I see.” Revell said, unsure how to respond to the bluntness of it.

“I.. I’ve never been with anyone before.” She said. ” I doubt I’d be any fun…”

On the contrary, Revell looked at her small and pretty fair face. While she was a beast girl, with two large fox ears with long, unkempt, dull black hair. She was still wearing the cloak, as she was nude beneath and refused to be bare for him to see. She was quite a beautiful woman by even his standard. He had already seen her nude when he found her in that slaver’s special cage. She had flawlessly fair skin, lovely breasts that could fill his hands nicely, and large thighs.

She wasn’t fat at all, in fact, Revell surmised she had even lost a few pounds as her ribs were quite pronounced. She was “Petite”, but also “Well endowed. A pleasant combination that made him itch to try her tonight for his troubles.

“So, how did you become a slave?” Revell asked as he pulled a fresh cotton shirt that he had purchased from one of the stalls in the square.

“I..” She paused. “… Couldn’t pay my debts.”

Revell kept his eyes on her, but he wanted to laugh at how terrible of a lie that was. Her words said the words, but her expression betrayed her lie.

“I see.” Revell nodded.

Slave collars tied the slave’s life to their owner. Should the Owner die, the slaves die. A one-way relationship. It also prevented the slave from harming its owner, because of the life magic, but it couldn’t make a slave obey an order, nor tell the truth. At least, not this low-level slave collar. Such magic was left to the nobility due to their restrictive costs. It mattered little how or where she came from.

“Well, that’s enough for now.” Revell said as he stripped his lower garments.

The girl’s pretty face burned red as she covered her eyes, but she peeked through the gaps in her fingers with burning curiosity. He kept his amusement to himself and put on his new clothes.

“Put on your clothes.” He threw the folded cotton dress to her.

It lacked any ordination and frills, but it was a quality dress. Made for those who wanted to be comfortable, but didn’t want the bells and whistles such clothing often came with.

« ∇ »

The dinner hall was full of life as three bards played the lute, a flute, and a drum; competing over the conversations of the most drunk patrons as barmaids shuffled between the tables with meals and drinks. The room was well lit between the hung lanterns and the large hearth. Revell drank in the room from his corner seat as Alesana sat across from him.

The plaza was visible through the rather large, but not entirely transparent glass pane windows at the front of the tavern. The room was clean, pleasant, and gave a homely feel. After a few weeks on the road, Revell was thoroughly done with sleeping on the ground for a while.

“Are you sure I can sit here…?” Alesana asked timidly, her eyes flickering between the signs on the wall and the warrior.

“Yes.” Revell sighed.

“Are-” She was cut off.

“For the last time, yes.” Revell said and glared at her.

She had asked for the tenth time. Revell knew because he did keep count. While he wasn’t in the habit of keeping slaves, by law they were considered property. Thus, he treated them like he did his gear; well. Rather, how he would treat a pet. Really well. Revell was not under the illusion that most people often found themselves when they had a slave.

The notion that a living being was considered property, in their minds, often forgot that the living beings needed to eat, drink, sleep, and shit. They had beliefs, ideas, and emotions. They were a more complicated pet in essence, but one that could “Legally” pleasure their owner or someone they wish to have pleasured. Cook, clean, and care for others, but still; they had to be cared for like any other being.

What made slaves hard to keep was that they were another mouth to feed and people often viewed slaves beneath them. Even those in the slums. They were not considered people.

“Here’s one seasoned venison soup and one cold Cloud Mountain ale. From a fresh barrel no less.” A barmaid appeared beside their table.

She placed items in front of Revell with a flirtatious smile. She bent low enough to give, by Revell’s own standards, a pitiful view of her pitiful cleavage. The girl was still young, but what he saw was enough to even give her the stink eye. That is if she wasn’t the one that was supposed to bring his food. The barmaid left him with a small wink as she turned away. There was nothing for Alesana, so Revell slid his food and drink to her.

“But you need to eat too.” She stared down at the soup and drink.

“I do, but you need some food in you.” Revell said matter of factly. “I’m not naive to the ways merchants treat their slaves. Don’t worry, I ordered two portions.”

Revell’s left eye raised to the woman’s concern, trying to figure if the worry was feinted, being polite, or actually sincere. She looked down at the soup with furrowed eyes then looked to her owner.

“You fought a griffon today.” She stated and pushed the meal back. “You need to replenish your nutrients.”

Revell smiled. She had unwittingly given away that she was not of low birth, but how high, he didn’t care. Low born persons could not read, but yet she kept staring at the sign that said “slaves were not welcomed in the dining hall” in the dining hall. She also new of nutrients and spoke proper. Revell was almost sold on keeping her just for the help. A smart slave would definitely be worth the Reyenian Roses. Smart slaves could go a high as fifty Reyenian Roses depending on their ability.

“I did.” He said and pushed the meal back, enjoying the banter. “But I want you to eat first.”

“But you need to eat.” She frowned. “My father could eat nearly a quarter of a -”

She covered her mouth, and her eyes went wide. Then they seemed to deflate.

“Do not mind that..” She said quietly. “I’ll eat…”

Revell may have had little in the way of company, but he still had the tact to not push the girl. He could see the sadness on her shoulder. He was slightly happy that she wore her heart on her sleeve as she did. It was… Innocent of the world… An innocence he had not seen in years.

A few songs later, Alesana had only eaten drank the soup and eaten the soft vegetables. She ate with such grace that Revell had been captivated by her. It was not often one saw a lady eat with such manners, and the ones that did, it was often discourteous to stare at them. He had only known how much time had passed because Alesana had brought it up.

“My….” She bit her lower lip as she mused over the words. “… Lord?”

Her eyes were on him, so he knew she was trying to address him.

“Revell is fine.” He smiled. “I’m no lord.”

“Revell…” She savored the word. “Well, Revell. It’s been a while, but you haven’t eaten.”

She pushed the soup over to him. It was mostly full and the ale had only been sipped at.

“It was delicious.” She nodded. ” But you need to eat.”

Revell frowned.

“I told you, I had ordered two portions.” He stared into the soup before he looked around.

“It’s been longer than twenty minutes.” Alesana commented. “I wanted to wait until you had gotten your food. I didn’t want to offend you by eating first.”

Revell felt his patience with the girl running dry, then her words registered in his mind. He waved over the barmaid from earlier, and she was more than happy to come running to the handsome warrior.

“Yes?” She smiled flirtatiously again, putting more curve into her hip.

“Where is the food I ordered for the girl?” Revell gestured with his hand to Alesana.

“Ah…” She stared blankly.

It was only a flash, but both of them saw the flicker of disgust on the corner of her lips before her smile returned.

“I must have forgot.” She said, not addressing the slave.

She disappeared for a few minutes before she returned a bowl and a mug. She haphazardly slapped them on the table with an attitude before she turned to Revell.

“There ya’ go, love.” She grinned.

The broth was obviously the same as his soup, but there was barely any meat in it as well as vegetables. It and the mug were half full and Revell could tell just by the smell the mug was not fresh. It still smelled of food from the patron who had used it maybe not a few minutes ago. Alesana peaked down it and saw there was even visible backwash.

The barmaid was about to leave when Revell gripped her right wrist with his left.

“I do believe her food should look like mine came.” He growled with a chillingly low tone.

“She’ll get sc-” She was cut off by Revell.

“She’ll get what I paid for.” The growl turned into a menacing snarl. “The girl is my property, and I expect her to be treated you would treat any other piece of property I own – With care. Bring me the food I paid for.”

The girl only scrambled away and bumped a few tables. The music stomped for a moment as the bards had seen the altercation. Thus, the rest of the room had seen it as well. A few minutes passed by before a slightly hefty man with a cooks apron appeared. He was bald and rested his hands on his hips.

“I heard you laid your hands of the girls.” He said with a frown.

“I did.” Revell said and stared up at the man. “She failed to deliver the second portion I ordered. When I brought it up, she brought me this soup and mug, very obviously just used by another patron, to me.”

The music in the room had stopped again and the other patrons looked on with interest. A few even threw a few comments.

“Cat brought that?” One man asked.

“Must be lyin’.” Another said.

“My girl would never do that.” He glared at the warrior. “And we don’t allow slaves in the dining area. So how about you apologize to her or I’ll beat your ass and throw you both into the street.”

Alesana kept her head down, but she visibly stiffened.

“I paid ten silver for the night.” Revell commented as he drummed his fingers on the wooden table. “For your best room. I had just killed a griffon earlier today and I’m quite hungry, and tired, but I can still fight if that’s what you want. ” Revell’s fingers stopped and came to a rest before he slid his sword hand under the table.

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