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39

With his target acquired, the last ounce of Mel’s energy faded away. The screams were a distant echo, rattling away in his mind as he descended into the fluffy dimension. It was fluffier than he dreamed it would be, so plush and huggable. Best part? It didn’t have the dog smell that he had been following for so long. That scent originated elsewhere, but this smelled like the soft grain from the plains, permeated deep into the fur, as if he was out there, running through the wind and grass, rushing off into the horizon.

He was wrenched out of the fluff dimension all too soon, however, and found himself chained to a wall –though he wasn’t going to complain about that; the wall was almost sandstone, smoothed to feel like satin on his back. No, it was the “chains” they used. They were barely more than paperclips strung together with a bit of string around his wrists. The gnoll before him had a warhammer that would make an orc from a video game blush. The head was easily the size of a large dog with the density of a minivan. Its handle seemed to rise from it, all one, solid, black steel piece. The handle alone was almost six feet long and wrapped in leather cord all the way to its smoothed, round pommel... and yet they couldn’t make proper handcuffs?

At least it wasn’t only fortifications that they lacked the capacity to make, but that didn’t make Mel any less anal about it. They seemed unable to make proper clothes or armor, either. The gnoll before him was the most clothed, and that was being incredibly generous. All she wore was (half) an iron breastplate, the left side a solid chunk of metal that spanned from her red-furred shoulder to her white-streaked belly. At least it didn’t conform to her breast, but the fact was the right side was left completely unprotected, the metal seen to have a gap through her white “undershirt”, little more than a rap to (barely) keep her rather tiny bust concealed, meant it was just waiting for the right poke. However, at least when it came to hiding their beauties, not a single other gnoll had the same courtesy, their jubilees free for all to see, but when you had little more than a B-to-C-cup you didn’t have much to really hide to begin with. Meanwhile, not a single damn one wore pants; though that made Mel feel right at home, what made him uncomfortable about it was some of their lady pleasure buds were almost as long, if not longer, than his member On A GOOD DAY.

They all stood about the same height, easily a foot over Mel, but the one before him had easily two feet over the others. He never thought he would have the day, but Mel finally could classify something as dangerously furry. Also, these gnolls were definitely more related to hyenas, with the exception being their voluptuous, enticing, scintillating tails, gifted to them from some deity. Without them, Mel would have probably just left; he wasn’t into bestiality, but how could he turn down those tails? He was a man of culture, after all, and, as long as they showed human intelligence and cognition, it would-should-could be- probably be- doubtfully be fine... Considering how long it was taking them to see he was awake, with all of them staring directly at him, that probably wasn’t the case, though.

The alpha gnoll, at least he was assuming it was the alpha, blinked, and gasped, the hamster in her head finally making its one great turn in her head. She started to talk, in their language. It was rough (no pun there at all), brutish, and he could imagine a cat up in a tree shaking like a leaf even if she was saying, “I love you; here are some flowers.” She stopped, eyes boring into Mel, as if waiting for something... so he tried to communicate. He gave a single, quick bark, and he was met with screaming again. Panic broke through the ranks that had been gathered around him, white and brown and red and black fur flying as they clawed and fought their way to the exits.

However all was silenced as the halls boomed and echoed with the alpha gnoll’s hammer. All she did was raise it about eight inches off the ground and drop it; again, density of a minivan. Though her peers, her underlings had lost their cool, she kept her composure, and there was now fire in her beady, white eyes, still boring into Mel.

“Do any of you know English,” Mel asked. “Sort of the universal language? Anyone? This would go a lot smoother if you did. Also, if you don’t mind, I don’t like my wrists at this angle.”

He simply let his wrists laze forward, and the cuffs snapped. He sighed, rubbing them, all the while chaos broke out through the ranks. And, just like before, all it took was one good, hard bang to settle them down. This time it was accompanied with a shrill ring as the alpha gnoll dragged it behind her, looming over Mel. She pressed him flat against the wall with her hand, and he realized she had six fingers on each one. Once more she tried to communicate in her tongue, and it sounded like she meant it this time, too. However, Mel never took German, so he wouldn’t even know where to begin with deciphering it.

“No wonder the harpies are more popular,” he said, shaking his head as he sighed. “They at least learned to talk with other races- species? We’re still humanoid and are technically from the same world, so I’m always torn on which o-”

The gnoll growled, and let loose a spine-tingling shrill, as if somebody just beat a dog within an inch of their life. However, there was no pain in that utterance. In fact, it was almost pleasure that seemed to erupt from that long maw, and he could feel the anger and loathing in her eyes. The sound seemed to bolster the others, also closing in, growling, their eyes glowing with an eerie light. The alpha started to speak again, but this time Mel was picking up on certain sounds, how they repeated, their inflection, and, also, decided to alter his hearing so that he could understand. Because Magic is Awesome!!!!

“You come down here, assault and defile one of my people, make a mockery of our craftsmanship, proclaim yourself a death god, and can stand there with that goofy smile on your face!” She exclaimed, her voice rather... girly once translated. It was high, almost shrilly, but still had a bit of a gruff bite to it.

“Be careful, alpha,” another gnoll whimpered, holding her tail tight, and he recognized that white tip. “You don’t know what he’s capable o-”

She screamed, as did the rest of the gnolls, as he pounced and hugged her tail once more. The gnoll fell on her back, trying to crawl away, but it was sort of hard with a Mel-shaped weight on her tail, nuzzling and petting it.

“It’s so fluffy!” Mel exclaimed, his words rippling as they left his mouth, becoming the barks and shrills they called a language.

“He’s picked up our tongue?” Another gnoll exclaimed, whimpering as the panic and chaos continued to rise.

“How did he slip through alpha’s grip?” Another said, with another following up with the age-old favorite, “We’re all gonna die!”

All went still again as the halls rang with not one, not two, but fourteen rings from the alpha’s hammer. Mel thought she was trying to hit his back with it, but it’s sort of hard to do through a magic shell. She wasn’t really putting her back into it, either; didn’t even leave a scuff or crack. He let it go, and let her hand grab him by the collar of his get-up... but didn’t let go of the tail. She had to carry the gnoll along with him back to the wall, but he was not letting go of the fluffy again. The alpha did, but she didn’t look exactly enthused by it.

“Why are you targeting Sheila?” The alpha demanded. “Why do the harpies want her?”

“Eh? Harpies? They don’t want her at all.”

“Oh my gods,” a gnoll uttered, panting –still panting? “He was sent as a distraction!”

“They’re going to kill us all!” Another stated, and same old song and hammer time.

The alpha groaned-growled- groawled? She shook her head, letting go of Mel as she pinched her brow.

“What are the harpy’s plans?” The alpha said. “They have been incredibly active as of late. They brought that first upright sickly monkey to our world and promptly killed them, then they brought this one. This one they had treated with hospitality edging on fanaticism-”

“No. Definitely fanatics... rather cultists now,” Mel clarified.

Her eyes snapped opened, looking into his again, and she huffed.

“You can understand us, then... How?”

“Magic. Just like how I’m talking with you.”

They cocked their head. “Magic?”

“Yeah. Like that layer you were banging on with your hammer.”

“You mean my mallet?”

“Eh. Mallet, hammer, maul; same thing.”

“Maul... I like that.” She shook her head, giving another gruff bark, and the fire returned to her eyes, trying to burn him. “Let go of Sheila. She is but a grazer; she means nobody any harm.”

“And I’m not harming her. Her tail is just... so... fluffy!”

The alpha cocked her head the other way, piecing together what Mel was saying. She noticed how he held her tail, how he pet it and nestled into its soft fur, and looked down at the one called Sheila and how she was whimpering and shivering before snapping her focus back to Mel’s hands and how they kneaded the fur and twirled it lightly around their digits... At last, the alpha nodded, and held out her own tail.

“Hold this one if you must, but let Sheila go,” she said.

Mel reached out and touched her tail... It was okay, but...

“It’s not as soft,” he whined, nuzzling Sheila’s more, but sighed as he let her go. The gnoll wasted no time in scurrying towards the back of the room, while Mel wrapped around the alpha’s, stroking and petting it instead. “Fine... but I’m confused. Where did you hear me say that I was a death god?”

“With your first answer.”

“The bark?”

She growled, and let her hammer go, standing on its own, as she put both hands on his shoulders.

“Then you started uttering that nonsense; were you trying to put a curse on us? Is that magic?”

“No. That was me asking if you knew the universal language. Even the harpies knew it-”

“The harpies have the freedom to come and go as they see fit. They have the Storm Charm, stolen from us so many eons ago! Only they can decide what enters and leaves this realm.” Her growls deepened. Her claws tried to bite and tear into his clothes (and skin), but he managed to keep it at bay with a new layer of magic shell. Magic shell: never be conscious without it. “For generations, we have been forced to live like rats, to burrow under the ground just to avoid being assaulted by the harpies. We have to hunt and gather at dusk, when their vision is at its worst.”

“At least living under the ground made you incredibly adept at that.”

“That is not a boon! We used to be a proud race, a strong race. Tales upon tales have been passed down, where my great-great-great-grandmother Bethany stood as Empress of all of Fraalda-”

“Fraalda? Isn’t this dimension called Hrralyx?”

“Most likely now! Of course they would. They rule all now; they can write history as they so desire... What other lies have they fed you? What did they tell you about us to make you hunt us?”

“They didn’t tell me jack-shit. I came to find you because of a... personal problem.”

This made her cock her head again, along with clack her jaws.

“‘Personal problem’? Then you are having troubles with the harpies, as well?”

“In more ways than one.”

“But our scouts have stated that you are content with them, that they listen to your every command and treat you as royalty.”

“I mean I guess? But they brought me here to play baby-daddy. Against my will, by the way. I didn’t want to be here, but I thought why not make the most of the situation.”

“So why did you come find us?”

“You really want to know?”

“I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t.”

“Fine... No one wants to touch me. Well, they maybe do, but it’s some stupid pride thing that keeps them from doing so.” He nuzzled her tail, blowing into it a little. It bristled a little, fluffing up, as the rest had done wherever he touched. “Is a hug too much to ask? Is that really asking too much?”

“‘Baby-daddy’?”

“Oh. Yeah. I basically got the entire harpy population pregnant. You probably saw it as a great white geyser erupting out of the ground awhile back. That was my bad; I was pent up for a long, long... long time... as I am becoming now.”

“You’re the one responsible for the Calamity?” One of the gnolls said. “You brought our extinction?”

“It wasn’t my fault. Not fully, anyways. Someone I used to know wouldn’t exactly take ‘no’ for an answer, and... yeah...”

“The harpies shall soon outnumber us one-million to one!” Another gnoll shrieked. “There’s no way they are going to tolerate our existence now.”

“They shall purge all from this realm,” another said, their voice lost, hollow, echoing in the cries, the howls of despair around. “They won’t rest until it is only them, then they’ll continue their swarm to the other realms.”

“Our ancestors doomed us!” Yet another shrieked. “Why did they try to betray them?”

“Silence!” The alpha boomed, picking up her hammer again. She only gave it one single bounce on the ground before pointing it at the harpy doomsayer, growling. “Our ancestors were honorable. Wise! They knew it was only a matter of time before the harpies turned against us. Their capacity to breed far exceeded our own, and even then it was at the turning point. They had to try to act, to exile them to Terra, but at the end of the day their numbers dwarfed ours. They stole the Storm Charm and forced this life upon us. The harpies are the dishonorable ones! At least our ancestors tried to move them to a new world, a freshly budding one that they could have reigned over. What kindness did they show us in return?”

“I hate to ruin the mood, but how have you survived this long?” Mel blurted. “You’re an all-female race too, right?”

The gnoll sighed... and she couldn’t really look him in the eyes. Was she... was she really embarrassed?

“There’s a fruit in this realm,” she began, clearing her throat. “It... it allows us to mate... just females, but, during heat, it allows one to produce... It has a consequence, as you can see between our legs, but it’s more than that... Every single one of us is basically a perfect replica of our ancestor... However, the fruit has stopped growing. We are the last generation of gnolls.”

Mel hummed, brushing the tail more, ruffling it.

“Well... that’s not necessarily true,” he said. “I mean, I’m a healthy, strapping man right in your lair.”

The alpha gnoll blinked, and pushed down her tail’s fur a little to see his crotch.

“Eh. I’ve seen smaller,” she said.

“That’s actually considered large, thank you!”

She touched it, raised it a little, still in its blue thong, and sighed as she let it flop down.

“Another consequence of relying on the fruit, I guess... but you would do that for us? Give us a chance for a new generation?”

“... Yeah. Totally. Sure. Whatever floats your l- er, big man in their boa- ships.”

“But why would you?” A gnoll spoke up. “You aided the harpies-”

“By accident. I did not mean for it to happen at all.”

“Then would you be willing to grant us another favor?” The alpha said. “I know it’s asking for a lot, but... we want you to retrieve the Storm Charm... We do not seek vengeance against the harpies, I assure you. We are simply... tired. We are tired of living in this realm, in fear all the time. We wish to go elsewhere, start life anew... If you can get it, open a door for us, we shall be eternally grateful.”

“You can’t be serious,” a gnoll spat out. Another added, “There’s no way they’ll agree to that-”

“Okay,” Mel said... which caught the alpha by surprise.

“R-really?” She said, falling over her words. “You would do t- can you do that? For us?”

“Sure. I was going to have to find some way to stop them, anyways. They plan to take over every dimension; taking this Storm Charm doodah sounds like the easiest way to do it... Important question, though: do you want my help repopulating first or after I get it?”

“Prove to us you are a man of your word, and I shall gladly be the first to accept your offering.”

“But he held my tail first-” Sheila began to whine, as did others, all silenced by another strike of the hammer.

“I am the alpha... Be quick, though. My body is reacting to your request with great haste.”

So he was seeing; her lady area had changed to a leather black and was leaking what should only come out of a man. It didn’t even have the other pieces of equipment to make it, but there was no denying what that smell was, so he eased himself off her tail and carefully slid through the crowd, all suffering the same phenomena. Again, if it wasn’t for the tails, he’d be saying NOPE to all of this, but now he knew how to get home and just what to ask for... Really, if Mel had paid attention in Magic is Awesome!!!! he would have known all this, but then he would have missed out on dangerously furry dickgirls.

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