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Captain of the Guard: An Offer Made

September 8, 2019

“Pookie?” Vul interjected when the argument between the three-headed dog subsided.

The middle head smiled, which on a canine face was disconcerting, “Let me introduce ourselves. I am Marious, this is Emile,” He nodded toward the head to the right of him. “and of course, Pookie,” he nodded in the direction of the dog head to his left.

“Emile, Marious, and . . . Pookie.” Cedric said. He was beginning to understand why Pookie was so hostile.

The middle and right head nodded, “At your service.” Pookie went back to chewing on the meat, although he kept one baleful eye fixed on the three visitors.

Vul stepped forward, “We are pleased to make your acquaintance. I am Vul Erut,” Cedric glanced at Vul suspiciously, but the rogue didn’t pay any heed, “this is my dear friend Cedric, and Al.” Vul let a hint of distain enter his voice when he said Al’s name.

Emile sniffed the air. “I smell elf, though none of you are.”

“I smell emotions untamed, and a pearl hidden in the swill.” Marious said looking at the three of them.

Pookie licked blood off his lips and stared right at Cedric making him glad the animal was chained. “I smell hero.” He said the last word with disgust.

Emile and Marious seemed delighted, “A hero.” They chorused.

“Jinx” Pookie muttered.

“Perhaps the hero could rescue us.” Emile suggested

“Are you forgetting that a hero got us here? He’s more like to kill us.” Pookie growled.

Marious nodded sagely, “You are right of course, a hero got us into this situation perhaps we should be more cautious than optimistic.”

“That only means a hero will get us out of it. Which one of you is the hero?” Emile sniffed the air eagerly.

Vul bowed before the dog, obviously enjoying himself, “I have been called many things,” he paused, “but I’ve never been called a hero.” Emile stilled looked hopeful. “Al is a companion to heroes.”

Al took off his cap, which was precariously close to falling off and nodded, “That is true.” Emile and Marious both frowned. Pookie didn’t seem to be paying attention, but his ears pricked.

“Which leaves Cedric, whom I believe is a hero. He rescued me, which is the kind of thing a hero does.” He flourished his hands toward the Captain.

“I’m not a hero.” Cedric scowled. “I think you’re smelling the hero we seek.”

Emile looked pitiful, Marious uncertain, both of which on a dog, that was big enough to eat a person in a couple bites, was a considerable feat. “Pookie, you’ve always had the better sense of smell, is that true?” Marious asked.

Pookie turned his head back toward them, glanced at Cedric briefly while licking his lips, “Why should I tell the two of you?”

“We are you.” Emile stated.

Pookie barred his teeth, which was as close as he ever came to a smile, “If that was true, then you wouldn’t need me to tell you, now would you?”

“Don’t be difficult, this could lead to our freedom.” Marious pointed out.

“Could, but no one is ever free, isn’t that what you always say Emile?” Pookie said slyly.

Emile nodded, “True, but some are more restrained than others. Us for instance.”

“Well, I can’t tell.” Pookie growled.

Emile sighed, “You’re lying again, I’m really disappointed in you.”

Pookie’s tongue lolled out of his mouth, “At least I’m not trying to be something I’m not.”

“Which is?” Vul asked.

Pookie gave Vul a predatory smile, “Not a monster.”

Vul laughed. Which seemed to Cedric like a good way to antagonize the beast.

Marious gave Pookie a shrewd look, “You can have my next turn to control the body.”

Pookie froze.

“The next two turns.”

“You never do much with your turn, so I don’t want it, I want Emile’s.”

“Certainly not!” Emile was affronted. “It’s bad enough having to live with what you do a third of the time.”

Pookie tilted his head, “Then no deal.”

“Look, this is all fine and everything, but really, I’m not a hero. That should settle the question, right?” Cedric replied with exasperation.

“So self-effacing, like a true hero.” Emile said proudly.

Cedric got irritated, “Or someone that isn’t a hero. Then its not self-effacing, its just being honest.”

“Another attribute of a hero,” Emile pointed out before looking a little sad, “Unless you’re one of those dark heroes that are all the vogue these days.”

Pookie rolled his eyes, “They’ve always been dark, you dolt. How many times have we been tricked? How many heroes had to get past us to atone for something awful they’ve done?”

“I refuse to believe that.”

“Of course, you do.” Pookie sighed. “Which is why you get duped by the same tricks over and over again.”

Marious hesitated, “We really don’t know Emile, and even if he is a hero, he has no reason to help us.”

Emile looked at Cedric, “Marious, heroes don’t need a reason, heroes do the right thing because it’s what they do. Its their nature.”

Pookie snorted. One leg scratched behind an ear.

“We could help you.” Marious suggest. “We can help you find the one you seek.”

“Speak for yourselves.” Pookie snarled

Marious looked crestfallen, “You would rather languish here than assist our rescuer?”

“Hmmm.” Pookie looked thoughtful. “When you put it that way . . .”

Emile looked smug, “See Marious, Pookie can be reason-“

“. . . I would have to say yes, I would prefer to languish here than be some hero’s lap dog.”

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