Monday 1 December 2014

Scent: Part 20

 The uneasiness continued throughout that evening. The kinship that Reven had found with some of the aspirants had disappeared since Fang had despatched Shenk. They were wary of Fang now. Where before they had treated him like a pet they now looked at him with a mixture of reverence and disgust. Even Fang could sense their unease and often gave voice to a low growl of warning to turn aside third judgement filled looks of disdain. Reven would comfort him and if anything being ostracised by the majority of the group had brought them even closer together.

Over the weeks that followed Reven, Fang, Dodger and Essen had formed a tight bond. The training had continued and both Master Hultz and Master Powel had been driving the aspirants hard. Powel had not made Fang fight again in the bouts as the number of aspirants were uneven. This however was the only kindness he had shown, driving the children hard on a daily basis. The aspirants were learning then hard way but they were definitely learning. They underwent challenges involving balance where the training hall had been transformed into what looked like a forest full of tree's with no leaves and no branches; just trunks with flat tops. The aspirants balanced atop these for hours whilst Powel and some of the orderlies whacked the tree's with clubs to make them wobble and unsettled the child who perched at the top.

On the third time of doing one of these tests the odd number of aspirants were made even. A girl named Freya was balancing whilst Powel used his bare hands to shake the trunk she stood on. The girl tried to change her footing but misjudged it and slipped. Her neck snapped with a loud crack when she hit the floor. This happened the day before the bouts and it meant that Fang would be fighting somebody on the morrow. Tension mounted in the dorm that night as the aspirants turned there thoughts to tomorrows battles.
Dinner went by much the same as it had done the past few weeks with Reven sitting at the end of the table with Fang, away from the other aspirants. Dodger and Essen sitting on the other side of the table. A boy called Hannibal sat on a stool he had taken from the washroom at the head of the table. He had a group of cronies that huddled round him casting glances at Reven. Dodger would openly meet their gazes and they would look away, returning to their meals and their whispers. After dinner Reven took Fang downstairs to exercise him in the abandoned hall near Hultz's old classroom. Fang ran around with complete abandon, sprinting and then stopping before pouncing on an imagined enemy. Reven smiled as he watched Fang. The hound was almost twice as big as he had been when they met. The definition of his muscle had increased greatly and some of the longer fur he had around his neck and shoulders was being replaced by shorter, more wiry growth. He still played like a youth but his strength had grown with his size making him more than a match for any of the aspirants. Reven was growing too, in skill and in size. Despite his young age he was learning fast from Master Powel and was enjoying the training more than he ever thought he would.

Reven was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't he the footsteps. He leaned against the door looking into the hall. Fang was racing in circuits around the hall. The first Reven knew of his danger was the whoosh of air behind him as the wooden blade cut through the air, it's edge catching him on the temple with such force that it drove his head into the frame of the door. He swayed then dropped. He felt hands pulling him out of the doorway and then they were closed, his mind fogged by the blow he had received. His vision swam but he could make out figures standing over him. One of them leaned in close and Reven knew immediately who his attacker was.

Hannibal loomed over the prone Reven with his cronies in a rough circle around him. 'Time to uneven the odds again my old chum' said Hannibal. He pulled a carving knife out of his belt that he must have taken from the dinner table and sat on Reven's chest, pinning him in place. He held the blade to Reven's neck and hesitated. 'Go on Han' said a girl's voice, 'Do it. Before someone comes, kill him.' Hannibal's eyes flickered up towards the girl and then down again at Reven. His hesitation proved to be his undoing. 'You're in trouble', Reven gasped with a wry smile on his face. Hannibal sneered at him and pulled the knife back ready to strike and then the wooden doors of the hall exploded in a hail of splinters and fangs.

Fang burst through the doors smashing his head straight into Hannibal's chest sending the boy flying backwards. The other would-be attackers fell back, the closest covered in wooden pins. Reven pulled at Fangs neck to get himself up  and then kicked out at the nearest catching him straight between the legs. He drew his blade and hacked down at the back of the boys head. Fang grabbed at another's leg and tossed him around in his jaws. Reven lashed out at another spotting that Hannibal had recovered himself and rushed at Fang. He jumped on the hounds back and sunk his knife into the thick muscle of his shoulder. Fang yelped letting go of the mangled remains of the leg he had in his mouth and turning to face his assailant. Hannibal clung on, using the blade as a hand hold and spun with Fang. Reven rounded on Hannibal and thrust forward with his practice blade. In his haste he couldn't aim the blow but despite it's dull point Hannibal's eye couldn't resist the force of Reven's lunge. The tip of the wooden blade plunged into the boys head through his eye socket only meeting resistance when it hit the back of his skull. Fang reared and Hannibal's dead form fell to the floor with a wet smack as his life blood gushed from his mortal head wound. Reven gingerly pulled the knife free of Fangs shoulder and then turned to face the Hannibal's associates. Fang snarled at his side as Reven dropped into his fighting stance, sword in one hand and knife in the other. The aspirants shrunk away from him and then turned and fled, only the one legged boy and Hannibal's corpse remained.

With the fight done Reven slumped against Fang as his rage subsided. Fang licked at his face and gave a wag of his tail. 'Thank you Fang' Reven whispered and he probed the hounds shoulder for the wound. Reven pushed a hand against the cut and walked along side Fang down the corridors to find one of his masters. He and Fang left bloody footprints in their wake, spreading Hannibal's crimson failure through the halls of The Deep.


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