-Blood and Bile-

Clover’s party sprinted through the dense forest as they tried to catch up with the hound. Birds and small creatures scattered in every direction as they stomped and disturbed the undergrowth. Although the hound was fast its large body tore apart all foliage in its direction while its large paws created craters that allowed the party to effortlessly keep up with it.

“I guess your friend’s boasts were in vain, huh Clover?” Francis snickered as he ran alongside him. “He was all bark and no bite! That dog has probably eaten him whole by now!”

Clover smiled grimly. “I’m sure that he will be fine! Karim is a joker! He does this stuff all the time!” Damn it, Karim! I thought you wouldn’t fall to something like this! Of course, Clover didn’t have any room to talk. As he tried the same tactic with Big Gray not too long ago.

“I agree with Clover! Karim seems capable enough!” Daphne shouted.

“We will see…” Francis snorted.

After another minute of running along a path filled with broken branches and destroyed foliage, the party reached a clearing that faced a cliff wall. The hound itself was standing in the middle of the clearing with Karim still lodged in his mouth. The large dog turned to face the party and growled. Behind it was a dark and ominous cave, no doubt it was the beast’s home which it would defend with its life.

“Spit Karim out you mutt!” Clover bellowed. But the dog did not reply back. Instead, it continued to glare at them.

“Mflmm! Mflmm!” Karim’s shouts were muffled and distorted as he screamed within the beast’s maw. His legs kicked to and fro as he flailed around helplessly.

“Just eat him and get it over with!” Francis laughed while he sported a wide, jovial grin. However, this caused Daphne to glare at him and slap him across the back, much to his chagrin.

“Fine! I’ll just have to force him out of your mouth then!” Clover bellowed before charging the beast! He pulled out his spear from his Devyse as he burnt Arcana throughout his body!

Erepirkie!

He shouted out an ancient command which caused the earth around him to tremble as rock and earth clumped together to form three lances. Each one fired at Clover’s command, speeding towards the beast! Unfortunately, the beast was at a safe distance as it had plenty of time to dodge the attack! It effortlessly jumped to side while the lances flew past him and crashed into the cliff behind.

Clover continued his long-range assault as he ran closer to the hound while Francis and Daphne flanked it. Francis had long since unsheathed his sword while Daphne had released a bow from her Devyse.

Wonexobol!

Francis yelled as he fired multiple balls of water at the beast. But again, each strike missed as the hound jumped to the side with ease.

Shink! Shink! Shink!

The hound bellowed in pain as three arrows struck its side! Its eyes reddened as it glared at its aggressor while its hideous jaws filled with a white foam.

“Good job, Daphne!” Francis cheered as he looked over at his lover.

“Thank you for distracting it!”

“Get me out of here!” Karim shouted as he was momentarily released from the dog’s mouth. Unfortunately, the hound quickly scooped him back up, and in a single motion, swallowed him whole!

“Karim!” Clover and Daphne yelled. Francis on the other continued to sport a devilish grin towards Karim’s unfortunate demise.

“Haha! Good Doggy!” Francis cheered.

“Francis! This is a serious matter! Karim is part of our party! We have to work together!” Daphne snarled.

“Why? This is still the Spirit Realm! He can’t die here. And as long as we win, he will win as well!”

“That doesn’t matter! We have to work as a team!”

Clover did not say anything as the duo bickered. Instead, he continued to look at the hound. It had an uncomfortable expression on its face. Its red eyes had begun to water and bulge out of its head while its jaws drooled a flood of putrid salvia!

“Urf….” The hound groaned in pain as it rolled onto its back. Its soft and vulnerable stomach was moving. It was uncanny and it appeared as if there was a snake or a worm wriggling around inside of the beast.

“Karim?” Clover muttered as he continued to gaze at the peculiar sight. The wriggling continued to increase, each movement causing the hound to groan in pain!

“Grah!” The hound roared one last time before it exploded in a mass of blood, guts, and bile! Large arcs of lighting violently whipped back and forth as Karim flew away from the explosion, landing beside Clover with a loud smack!

“Agh! This is gross!” Karim howled as he flailed around while spreading blood and bile all around him.

“Hey, watch where you’re flinging that stuff around!” Clover yelled as he backed away from his friend. “And you stink! So keep your distance!”

“No, Clover! I can’t be the only one who smells! We need to suffer in pain together! That’s what friends are for!” Karim chuckled as he chased Clover around the clearing. In order to keep himself safe from the noxious bile Clover erected four walls of earth around himself, blocking Karim out!

“Francis, why don’t you spray him down with water?” Daphne suggested. “Although we can’t drink it, it should be safe to clean with!”

“Eh…Why should I?” Francis grumbled as he glared at Karim. “You should have just stayed in the dog’s stomach…”

With a mischievous gleam in his eye, Karim sprinted towards the aloof noble! “You bastard! Suffer with me!” Unlike Clover, Francis could not summon walls of earth to protect himself with! In a flash, Karim had jumped onto him and covered him with the stinking liquid!

“You complete fool! How dare a peasant like yourself attack me!” Francis bellowed as he struggled to push the half-elf off!

“I will not let go until you wash me!” Karim bellowed as he covered every square inch of Francis’s body with blood and bile!”

“Fine! Fine! You impudent commoner! Just get off me!” Francis shrieked as he pulled Karim off. “Adlan damn it! Now my clothes are all ruined!”

This did not bother Karim at all as he grinned cheerfully at Francis. His pointy fangs were fully exposed as he chuckled at Francis’s misfortune.

Francis first washed himself off with water conjured from his magic. The stream was gentle and clear similar to that of a spring. But when it came to Karim’s turn the water had intensified! The rough and harsh water flayed Karim’s soft skin, causing it to redden and blister.

“Thanks…I appreciate you…” Karim mumbled as he gently caressed his new wounds before glancing over at Clover who was inspecting the hound’s corpse. “Is something wrong?”

“I don’t think so…” Clover muttered as he walked back to the group. “But shouldn’t we have been sent back to Denari’s Realm by now? Or was this hound not the demon the contract spoke of?”

“I guess not. If it was we would have been teleported away by now. Besides, this puppy seemed a bit too weak…” Daphne mumbled.

“I could have taken it down by myself!” Francis declared while punching his fists together. “If we weren’t trying to save that fool over there we could have easily crushed it!” He said while pointing at Karim who was sniffing his jacket. 
“I didn’t need your help, ‘milord’. In case you already forgot. I was the one would killed it with a single strike!” Karim huffed while shaking his hand at Francis as if he was dismissing him. “You might have been able to beat it. But you probably would have succumbed to your wounds afterward!”

“Listen here you little shit…” Before Francis could finish his sentence a loud rumbling noise began to echo throughout the clearing and large stomps hitting stone could be heard from the cave that was situated within the cliff face.

“Umm…What is that?” Daphne whispered as she stared at the cave entrance.

A second later, her question was answered as two large heads and an enormous body protruded from the dark opening. This was no doubt another hound. Except this one was at least twice as large as the previous one!

As it stepped out from the darkness of the cave one could see that this beast was going to be much more of a problem than the previous one. And to make matters worse, three puppies around half the size of the first hound also exited the cave.

Their eyes trembled with anger and hate as they stared at the disemboweled corpse of their father. Their jaws opened up wide which revealed their sword-like teeth.

“Alright, Francis. Since you are so confident, you should take on the big one!” Karim chuckled as he pulled out his halberd from his Devyse.

“Of course. Maybe now you will shut up and give me the respect I deserve….” Francis sneered as he walked towards the two-headed hound.

The hounds took this as a sign to attack and launched themselves towards the party!

Next Chapter: Coming Soon