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by brom21
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Animal · #2285429
A knight adopts a very special animal.
Endless flames burned across the antechamber of the castle as John was blocked behind a fallen beam. The blazing inferno began to close in.

John’s heart raced as he breathed heavily as a terrible, excruciating, slow death seemed inevitable.

Suddenly, an icy whirlwind appeared. It swept away the fire until the whirlwind became transparent, revealing a man in an azure cloak. “Take my hand!”

John did so and was pulled into the frosty twister. He was carried over the beam and past the gate into a courtyard full of royalty and citizens that gazed at the blazing citadel.

The twister ceased. He fell to his knees, coughing. He stood to address the man who had saved hi but, he was gone. John looked around and people were staring at him.

A man approached him. “Knight, John, are you a sorcerer?”

“No. Someone took me within the whirlwind and brought me out. Where is the king?” asked John.

“He barely escaped,” the man said, pointing to a man in a singed robe.

Joh ran to him. “King Cortan! Are you hurt!”

Cortan clutched his shoulder. “I got burned on my shoulder. What about you! How did you summon that magical whirlwind? It was amazing!”

“The feat was done by a strange man. When he brought me outside, he vanished.”

“It must have been a wizard,” said King Cortan.

“What will we do now? Without a stronghold, we are quite vulnerable,” said John.

“We must seek asylum in Evercrest. I am sending you there to announce our coming so they may prepare for us.” The king sighed as he shed a tear. “I can’t believe there was no time to put out the fire. It just engulfed the castle all at once. I think we have traitors among us. The castle was set ablaze all at once in all corners of the castle. Strategy was involved. Now you must go.”

“Yes, sire.”

John resorted to a citizen’s stable because the royal one was burned and set out at once. When he was halfway to Evercrest, he came to a town full of vibrant, happy people. It would take another way to reach Evercrest so John went to an inn, tethered his horse to a tree then slept.

In the morning he ate a plate of eggs and sausage and exited. Before he untied his horse, saw a sign reading Free animals for adoption

John was curious and neared the sign next to a door and entered. Many animals from horses to small animals like birds and lizards. But in a metal cage, a fearsome canine growled at the animal caretaker as he threw in some raw meat.

John approached the caretake when the oddest thing happened-the animal in the cage stopped growling and wagged its tail with its tongue stuck out.

“My word! He has never done that for anyone! Who are you?” asked the caretaker.

“I come from Wrethmire.” John got closer to the animal and it stood gleefully on its hind legs.

John stuck his hand through the bars and patted the animal.

“He likes you, sir.”

“Would you mind if I took him?”

“Of course!” said the caretaker. He unlocked the cage and the dog hopped onto his chest.

“Here is his leash,” said the caretaker as he gave John a leash. John stopped and snapped his fingers. “How will I take this beast with me!”

After thinking, John realized an obvious solution. “I’ll just hold the leash while I ride. But how fast can the dog go?”

John mounted and rode while holding the leash. John went faster and the dog was keeping up and at a little less than full gallop, he stayed at that rate.

Eventually, he reached a prairie that was close to Evercrest.

Suddenly a man in black on a horse stepped in front of John as three others surrounded him.

“Give us whatever goods you have!” sneered the man in black.

The dog growled, revealing sharp incisors. It leapt upon the man and pinned him to the ground and mauled the assailant’s shoulder. The dog stepped off him and the man fled on foot.

The remaining three villains gasped and followed after the leader.

“You saved my life!” John said, petting the animal.

John went on and found more bandits along the way and was rescued in a similar fashion as before.

John started to admire the dog as a protector and a source of company.

Soon he entered Evercrest and dismounted. He took the leash and walked on a road to the royal castle.

The dog growled but John satiated the animal with a stern shoosh sound. The people respected John as well as the dog. When he arrived at the castle, royalty were in awe at the proud beast and John was taking in the admiration as the master of the dog.

At the end of a long hall, he came to the door to the throne room and two guards recognized him and he was let inside.

“Knight, John, hello!”

“My Lord, let me be blunt. Our castle has been burned to the ground and we need a keep to stay in.”

“Then I will make ready for your people. Who would do such a thing!”

John shook his head. “I do not know. May I retire in a room? I am weary.”

John took the dog to his assigned quarters and it ran circles around the bed before settling into a ball and falling asleep. John did likewise and had a dream of the man who had saved him.

“I am the angel, Throan. Your dog is a hound from heaven. For the rest of your life he will protect you, serve in war and give you prestige. Know the day will come when it returns to heaven.”

John smiled. “I will savor all the days God has given me with it.”

Then John awoke and looked at the sleeping dog. “I will always treasure your company, my friend.”

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