Chapter 4 - A new friend (Grimm)
Great. Just great. I hate the woods. I always have. I don’t even know why. They’re dark, and creepy, and I know they’re wide open but they just feel cramped because of all the trees. In fact, they kind of remind me of the Catacombs.
Jeez. You’d think that would be a reassuring fact but nooooo. I’m just a big fat wuss! And now I’m lost too. GREAT
I start looking around, trying to spot any familiar landmarks.
Not that there would be any since I avoid the woods but WHATEVER
Another reason I hate the woods; I always feel watched. Like I’m being creeped on. Doesn’t matter that no one’s there, that I’m all alone. I still feel observed.
I shudder at the thought, getting paranoid wondering about all the things that could be watching me.
Dammit! Why do I have to be so freaking scared! I’m the son of the bloody Grim Reaper but I can’t even make it out of the woods?! God, I’m such a freaking cowa-
What was that?
I listen closely... there it is again!
A whisper, barely audible.
I start spinning in circles, trying to find the source of the voice.
That’s weird. It sounds... familiar? But what is it... no, she... saying?
I’m spinning around but I don’t see anyone. I probably look crazy spinning alone in the middle of the forest.
What? Help who?
“Help us... Aleck... help us out...”
Aleck? Who the frick is Aleck? Help with what?
I was about to give in to my fear and just bolt in a random direction in the hopes of getting out of here, when I saw something in the darkness between the trees.
I freeze. Every bone on my body on edge.
Looking at the ghostly girl approaching me, I think I’ve seen her before.
She looks so familiar... but who is she?
As she reaches a hand out to me, I realize she isn’t moving her legs. She isn’t walking, she’s gliding.
Watching her, a name floats to mind.
“E-Emily? ” I just barely croak out.
Her eyes grow wide as she keeps coming closer.
“Aleck! Help me...”
I don’t know what to do, what to think. How do I know her name? Who’s Aleck? Help with what?
I open my mouth to ask, but before I can utter a sound, she disappears and I get knocked to the ground.
I groan as I feel a heavy weight on my chest. I open my eyes to see a... Hellhound?
I’m about to panic when it starts licking my skull, tail wagging.
It’s happy? What’s it doing here?
The Hellhounds guard the gates to the afterlife, the ones past the Ferryman. They’re vicious and cruel, letting only those who have paid their toll through. They never leave their post, not unless expressly summoned or sent to hunt down rogue souls in debt.
So how did this one get here? And why’s it so... nice?
I push him off me and look around, but see no sign of the ghost girl. Emily...
I almost immediately fall back to the ground because of the hound jumping up at me.
It’s black all over with orange streaks the same color as magma throughout its thick fur. His eyes are a pale shade of... blue? Usually they would be red or orange. He has large canines (larger than the average hound) and sharp claws protruding from three toes. The claws don’t cause me much worry. It’s not like I have any flesh to tear.
Hesitantly, I reach out and pet him, and immediately he rolls over for a belly rub.
I can’t help it. After arguing with my dad, getting lost in the woods, seeing a ghost girl, and severely questioning my sanity, I giggle.
Yeah that’s right, I, son of the Grim Reaper, giggled.
I comply and give the hound a belly rub while he wags his tail happily.
Awe, you’re not so bad. You’re pretty sweet even.
"Hmmmm, maybe I should name you..."
He jumps up licking my skull, bouncing around as he does so.
I give him a once over, and decide on a name.
“How about Diip? Do you like that?”
He barks and continues jumping around.
A Dip is a vampiric breed of Hellhound that originates from Catalonian mythology. Seeing as Diip has all the physical features of a Dip, from the fangs, to the dark fur, to the three toes, I thought it to be a fitting name. It’s slightly ironic too considering his happy-go-lucky nature.
Not expecting any kind of answer, I begin to think out loud to Diip.
“So I guess we’re lost together now. Pa is gonna kill me when he sees you, so I guess we’ll have to make sure that doesn’t happen. But first, I gotta find a way back. You wouldn’t happen to know the way out of here would you?”
He barks and runs off out of view. A few seconds later, seeing I wasn’t following, he comes back. Diip barks one more time, then grabs a corner of my cloak, tugging me forward.
“Okay okay! I’m coming. Just stop pulling before I faceplant!”
Damn. He actually understood me. Or maybe he just smells something and wants me to come along. Either way I’m lost, so I might as well follow. What do I have to lose?
After what felt like ages of running after Diip, I finally stumble into a small dirt road. I turn just in time to see Diip run into the town the dirt road leads to. I follow after him until he finally stops in front of a quaint Inn’s window, where a meat pie is cooling.
Huh, I guess he did just smell something. Well, he may not have gotten me back, but from here I can find my way to one of the catacombs many, MANY, entrances.
Pulling Diip away from the window before he can cause any trouble, I begin to wander, looking for any mention of the towns name. I don’t have to worry about anyone seeing me or Diip, since Hellhounds are only visible to the undead, and Reapers are only visible to those they are reaping. I would never admit this to Pa, or anybody else really, but sometimes I wish that weren’t the case. I’m not stupid. I know that if a human were to see a walking, talking skeleton and his Hellhound, it would cause major panic, but I can’t help but wish I could interact with them.
I’ve always found humans fascinating. Their lifespans are so short that to an immortal like me, it just seems pointless. And yet, despite their lack of time on this plain of existence, they thrive and build and invent! It’s almost as if their short lives forces them to want to create something they can leave behind to be remembered by. And even when they don’t, or can’t, they just seem so happy and alive. I know that should disgust me considering I’m the offspring of Death himself, but I just find it beautiful and fascinating. They have a passion in their eyes, a fire in their soul, that no immortal being could ever match.
Humans almost remind me of fireflies. They never shine for long, but when they do, they’re so bright and wonderful you can’t help but see their beauty, and stand there amazed once they’ve gone, at how something seemingly so fragile and weak could create something so incredible and everlasting.
After having learnt the towns name, and wandered a little bit more, I bring Diip back to the catacombs and lead him to my crypt, hoping to hell that Pa won’t catch us. To my rare luck, we make it to my quarters undisturbed.
By now its almost nightfall. Exhausted, and with far too much on my mind, I lock myself and the hound in my room, give Diip a bone to chew, remove my cloak onto my single hook, and flop onto my ledge. I fall asleep to the lulling sound of the support chains clinking, and Diips happy chewing.