Warrior of the Damned

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3

A wet nose nudged the right side of my face. One. Two. Three times. Then all was still and quiet.

I felt a quick, light breeze fall over me, the bed indicating whatever had occupied that space had now jumped over to my left side. Another wet nudge to my face. One. Two. Three. I rolled onto my right side and squinted at the crack through the drapes of my window. The sun was barely up. I groaned, "I thought we were friends."

Apparently he didnt notice the annoyance in my tone, as I felt him spin around and around in circles with excitement. I sighed. I'd gone and done it now, there was no turning back. I stretched, "Friends dont wake each other at the bloody ass crack of dawn," I mumbled.

My eyes now open, staring at the canopy directly above me, covering my bed. I could feel him staring at me, still as a statue. My eyes fell closed once more, hoping to get a few more minutes before--nope. I felt my blanket slowly and awkwardly being pulled away from my body. I shot straight up and caught him tugging at it with his teeth, the little boy putting all his might into denying me the warmth that kept me content to sleep.

He froze when he noticed his plan had worked. His blue eyes met mine and I glared at him. He let the blanket he was teething drop to the floor, never breaking our stare. Slowly, his tail started to wag. As his uncertainty dissipated, that tail moved faster and faster until his little body couldn't contain the excitement anymore and he burst onto my bed, hopping and jumping and spinning. I threw my hands up in the air, "Fine! I give!"

I swung my legs off the bed, trying to locate my slippers with my feet. He was at the door now pawing at it, "Coming, coming, coming," I grumbled.

I turned to grab my robe, but something didnt sound right. I listened. Stillness underneath what sounded like water running down the walls of the Castle during a heavy rain. I listened harder. What is that?

I looked to the dog just to make sure I wasnt crazy, surely he heard it to? Fear gripped me as I had found the source of the noise.

There the little demon was, leg hiked high on the post at the foot of my bed. Urine pooling by the one paw that steadied his balance so he could mark my bed.

I shrieked, "Oh come on!" Which must not have phased him because he didnt stop. I ran to the side of my room, by the fireplace, grabbing an unused rag. As I stomped back over to him, now empty of the urge to go, he finally sensed my pissivity, as he tucked his tail and bowed his head in shame.

I was angry at him. But I felt my heart break a little looking at him so distraught at disappointing me. I sighed as I soaked up his mess and then crawled over to him. We were now face to face. My eyes to his. I took a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves, "Look, I realize that was my fault. You tried to tell me what you needed and I didnt understand. That's on me. We just need to learn how to communicate with each other, okay?" He leaned his head to one side as if he was really listening to my words, taking them in and trying to decipher what I was saying. I smiled at him, reassuringly. He came closer and nuzzled into the crevasse between my neck and shoulder. I would eventually learn this was his attempt to voice an apology. I pulled him close, hugging him. He didnt resist.

"Now," I stated, "Let's get some breakfast and find a way to sneak you outside."

I closed the door behind me, gently and quietly as not to draw any attention by whoever might be stirring this early. Stopping to listen, I heard the faint banging of pots and plates in a far off corner of the Castle. The kitchen staff was busy with our morning meal. I was hopeful I could sneak some food to my friend without much notice.

I tiptoed down the stairs, careful not to hit the center of the wooden steps that I knew would creak under my weight. Running lightly down the hallway, I peered around the corner into the kitchen.

A swarm of staff frantically running around, trying to ready our food in a timely manner. I cursed under my breath. There were too many here today, I would surely get caught.

My thoughts were interrupted with a blood curdling scream. I cursed again. It was coming from upstairs.

Panic filled my body and fueled me into a mad dash back to my room. I took the steps two at a time, worried my new friends fate was to be sealed swiftly and without mercy.

Rounding the corner of the hallway, the maid was backed against the wall, attempting to be sucked into the cold stone rather than face the terror infront of her. I ran past her and into my room. "Princess no!" I ignored her. I had to protect my friend.

The commotion echoed throughout the building as more servants ran to her aid. I quickly found him, cowering, peering out from around the corner of the bed. He saw me and jumped into my arms, knocking me down to the floor. I wrapped my arms around him and held him close. If they were going to kill him, they would have to kill me first.

My father stormed past the servants, into my room, worry and confusion on his face. He must have been woken by the scream as he looked like he just jumped out of bed, not bothering to take the time to slide his slippers on.

I stared at him, defiantly, awaiting our fate.

"Adaleen!" He roared. My friend flinched within my arms, I clutched him tighter, "My chambers. NOW!"

I slowly got up, still holding my trembling bundle. I would not let him out of my sight now as I was certain it would mean death for him.

I followed my father into his room, as he slammed the door behind me. I glanced at my mother noticing how her expression changed from frightened to amused fairly quickly.

"Explain yourself Addy," my King demanded, hands on his hips, scowl on his face. My mother was smiling, almost lovingly at me. It was odd.

"I found him he was sick hes my friend," I jumbled some mess together, as my brain couldn't piece proper sentences at the moment. My father was an intimidating man but my fear came more from the attention I was currently receiving from parents who gave me very little otherwise. It was a strange feeling.

My father looked to my mother for guidance. She waved him off carelessly, "Oh George, it's a dog for Christ's sake, let her keep him."

"In my Castle?" My father asked angrily. The thought of an uncleanly beast in his midst surely made his stomach churn.

My mother made her way over to him, putting one hand on his shoulder, speaking softly, "She needs a friend, my dear. Maids and servants years older are not enough for a young girl. She should have a companion."

My heart was warmed by my mother's words. I never thought she had noticed me, let alone cared for me. Though I questioned her intent. Did she mean what she said or was this a way to further keep me busy and out of her hair? Whichever angle she was coming from mattered very little to me, I was focused on saving my friend.

My father sighed, defeated, "There will be rules in place if you're determined to keep that nasty thing..."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing! He actually caved to my mother. What kind of power did she have over him?

I nodded, agreeing to do whatever need be to keep the pup by my side.

"You will bath him, immediately. And from there on out, weekly. He will need to be brushed, fed and walked. I will not tolerate accidents, so train him quickly. Also, I cannot have him terrorizing staff. He is to stay with you at all times, he cannot have free reign in this Castle. Are we understood?"

"Yes, majesty," I replied... maybe a bit too earnestly. My mother chuckled at my excitement.

"Run along now, Addy," he motioned me off.

Gladly, father!

I ran back to my room, shutting the door and locking it, the pup could feel my enthusiasm. It seemed to envelop him as he danced around happily with me.

I grinned at him, "You can stay here with me forever if you want!" He kissed my face.

I paused, finger to my lips, thinking, "You need a name. What should we call you?" He sat down infront of me, ears perked, head tilted quizzically.

"Bran?" He sighed. I took that as a no.

"What about... Arthur?" He responded to that suggestion with a snort. So, definite no there.

"Marek?" His head shot up, jumped on me and then off, spinning in circles on the floor. I laughed. It had been determined.

"Marek, what trouble shall we get into today?" I grinned.

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