Chapter Seven: The Snoggle
A gust of wind and a flash of colors had them all turning to watch Tenyar set Kimberly on her feet in the living room with Angeleiya in her arms. She swayed for a moment, and Tenyar caught her before he turned and left in another flash of colors.
“Hi Kimberly,” Gresha said, greeting her friend.
“Hey Gretta, I mean Gresha,” Kimberly said, hugging her friend with one arm.
“This is my father, High King Gio,” Gresha said as she introduced her friend to her father.
“Your Majesty,” Kimberly said, bowing slightly to Gio.
“Please call me Gio,” Gio said, walking over to her and kissing her on the cheek. “Thank you for saving my daughter.”
“It was our pleasure,” Kimberly said with a smile.
A gust of wind and a flash of collars appeared in the room again. Scott jumped off Tenyar’s back and smiled at the others in the room. Gresha introduced Scott to her father as Tenyar set up the foldable crib he had brought with him.
Tenyar looked at his friends and smiled. “So, where are we going?” he asked.
“You don’t have to go,” Gio said, watching the man. “I know what it’s like…”
Tenyar put up a hand to stop his king. “I am the Kryer Bodyguard. Where the Kryer goes, I go. So, what are we up to?”
“To the hospital,” Pilar said, then led them out of the suite.
“Thanks for watching the kids,” Gresha said to her friends as she passed them.
“You’re welcome,” Kimberly said with a smile.
“The remote is probably on the table or in the couch. We receive every Earth channel and some Sobriehton,” she told them as she left the suite.
“I am so happy to have you back,” Leih said as he pulled Gresha to his side.
“I’m glad to be back,” she said with a sigh as she leaned against him.
“I meant Gresha,” he said as he kissed the top of her head.
“I know so did I,” she said, smiling up at him.
“I mean, I loved Gretta. She was the best thing that ever happened to me. But now I know she was only second best to the real you,” he said, then kissed her.
“Hmm. You do know I’m still her,” she said with a laugh.
“I know. But Gretta never would have given me the power to fry those men as I sent them across the room,” he said with a laugh remembering the electrified men flying across the room.
She laughed and bumped her hip into his. “Gretta didn’t have any powers.”
“Exactly,” he said, grinning down at her.
“You are horrible,” she said with a laugh.
“Don’t look at me like that. It’s not my fault Gresha got me addicted to electricity.”
She burst into laughter loud enough the others ahead of them heard and turned to look at her. She was still laughing when they got to the Hospital Wing.
“I hid her in here,” Pilar said as he opened the door to the small morgue.
They followed him to the far wall. He pressed a button that opened a secret door, then entered the small room, expecting to find his stepmother still lying on the table just as he had left her. He stopped in the entrance and sucked in a shocked breath.
“What is it, Son?” Gio asked, walking around him. He took a deep breath and prepared himself to see his wife’s body again after twenty years. He stopped and stared at the table. It was empty.
“Are you sure you left her in here, Nephew?” Masorien asked as he entered the room.
“I am positive,” Pilar said, staring at the empty table.
“Do you think Claireisa followed you here and took her to Neesah?” Masorien asked, looking at his nephew.
“I don’t want to believe that.” Gresha said when she walked into the small room.
“None of us do,” Gio said with a shake of his head.
“But it’s looking more and more like she was the traitor,” Pilar said, placing his hand on the table where he had left his stepmother.
“Why isn’t it cold in here?” Gresha asked as she looked around.
“This is a special room. The table would have kept Mom frozen and preserved. But the rest of the room would stay above freezing.”
“Makes it easier for whatever the doctor has to do, so they don’t get frostbite,” Masorien said, looking at the table.
“Or for family members who want to see their loved one years later,” Gio said, slapping the table. “Even being locked away, Neesah still has one up on us!” he said with an angry growl.
“We’ll find her, Daddy,” Gresha said, watching her father.
He forced a smile for her, then nodded and pushed his way out of the room. Everyone followed him out, and Pilar set the lock on the room, then turned to his family.
“Looks like we have a search for the High Queen,” he said with a shake of his head.
“I’ll call in a Snoggle trainer,” Gio said, then left the room.
“Snoggle?” Gresha asked, looking at her brother.
“A Snoggle is a Sobriehton search dog,” Pilar said, watching her.
“Oh,” Gresha said with a laugh, “sounds cute.”
“You’ll be disappointed,” Leih said with a laugh as he walked up behind her.
Leih hadn’t been kidding, and she was a little disappointed.
A Sobriehton dog is nothing like an Earth dog. Instead of being cute and cuddly, they’re big and mean.
They’re almost as tall as the tallest full-grown Sobriehton male. Their heads are huge, as well as their paws. Their hair is coarse and the color of rust. Their chest is large and broad with white and rust-colored hair their legs thick and long, and their tails have a sharp spine at the end. Their large noses made them perfect for searching for anything you need found.
From what she has been told, they are mean, and only their trainers can touch them. She was told by several to stay clear of it, but she couldn’t help her curiosity.
Gresha studied the Snoggle, who sat in the training room, waiting for his trainer. She can see where Earthlings have gotten the look for some of the Hell Hounds she has seen on TV and read about in books. A Snoggle must have been on Earth at some point.
She watched the Snoggle’s large ears perk up as he looked over at her. She felt a pull to the animal and started moving towards him.
No one was watching, so there was no one to stop her.
She stopped just in front of the Snoggle and stared into his large brown eyes.
“Gresha!” Leih called out when he saw her near the Snoggle.
“Don’t, Leih,” Pilar said as he grabbed hold of his cousin’s arm. “You will anger the Snoggle, and he will attack her.”
“Slowly back away from the Snoggle, Gresha,” Gio said, watching his daughter.
“He won’t hurt me,” Gresha said as she looked into the Snoggle’s eyes.
“He has her hypnotized,” Pilar said in a panic.
“Gresha love. Let’s go see your sister,” Leih whispered.
“What do we do?” Pilar asked, watching his father.
“Only his trainer can stop him,” Masorien said as he moved to the other side of the Snoggle.
“He’ll have her devoured before the trainer ever gets here,” Pilar said, watching his sister and the Snoggle.
“This is why I told you to take Gresha and Nahla to the park,” Gio said, annoyed.
“Your daughter is stubborn. Just like you and Gwyneth,” Leih said, looking at his uncle. “She wouldn’t go; she wanted to see what a Snoggle looks like.”
“At least Kimberly got Nahla to the park with the baby,” Pilar said.
“Why did she walk up to the dang thing?” Tenyar asked as he moved around to stand behind the Snoggle.
“My guess is she felt the pull of the hyptoid,” Masorien said, watching his niece.
Gresha moved her hand towards the Snoggle.
“Gresha, no!” Leih shouted.
The Snoggle snipped out at her fingers, and she curled her fingers into her palm, then uncurled them and reached out towards the Snoggle again. She continued to look into the Snoggle’s eyes as her hand moved to touch the side of his head.
She rubbed his rust-colored hair and smiled. Everyone watched in shock as she moved her hand up and scratched behind the Snoggle’s ear. The Snoggle shook his foot and closed his eyes.
Gresha’s eyes blinked as she came out of the trance. She paused when she realized what she was doing.
“Back away,” Pilar whispered when he saw the Snoggle close his eyes.
Gresha turned her head to her brother, then looked back at the Snoggle, who hadn’t opened his eyes again. He stood there as though he was waiting for more attention. She smiled and scratched behind his ear again.
The Snoggle’s tail swayed back and forth. Masorien and Tenyar jumped out of the way of the barbed tail.
Gresha smiled as she scratched behind the Snoggle’s ear. “You just wanted some attention, didn’t you?” she said with a laugh when his largemouth opened, and his tongue lolled out.
“Well I’ll be,” Gio said as he stood up straight.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Pilar said as he moved to stand next to his father.
“What is going on?” Leih asked as he moved to stand next to his cousin.
“They’re bonding,” Gio said with a laugh. “I should have known my Gresha would bond with the most dangerous animal on Sobrieh.”
“I’ve always wondered why we use the most dangerous animal,” Leih said, looking at his uncle.
“Because they’re also the smartest,” Gio said with a laugh. “The trainer should be here soon, then we can get on with our search.”
“Gresha,” Leih whispered as he moved closer to his wife.
The Snoggle opened his eyes and looked at Leih with a growl. Leih stopped moving and stared at the large teeth in the Snoggle’s mouth.
“It’s okay, boy,” Gresha said as she scratched the Snoggle’s nose. “He’s my husband; he won’t harm me. He’s the father of my babies,” she said, then turned her head to smile at her husband.
Leih smiled at her, then backed away when the Snoggle growled again. “I guess you two would like some alone time,” he said as he walked over to where the others stood watching.
“Do you have a name?” Gresha asked as she scratched the Snoggle’s chin.
The Snoggle’s back foot thumped on the ground. She leaned into him and placed her head on his chest. The dog’s large head laid on her shoulder, and he blew out a puff of air.
“I have never seen a Snoggle act like that before,” Masorien said, watching his niece with the beast.
“We have always known that Gresha is special,” Leih said with a smile.
“That’s my word,” Pilar said, looking at his cousin.
“As Earthlings would say, Cousin, bite me,” Leih said with a smirk.
“Okay, here’s the trainer,” Gio said as he watched the man approach them.
“What is she doing with my Snoggle?” the trainer demanded, joining them.
“Bonding,” Leih said with a laugh.
“A human bonding with my Snoggle?” the trainer said with a snarl.
“She happens to be my daughter,” Gio informed the trainer.
The man looked at the High King and bowed. “My apologies, my king. I did not know. That explains it then,” he said with a shake of his head.
“What explains what?” Gio asked, watching the trainer.
“Snoggles can be trained to follow orders and sniff things out. But you can never get loyalty from them. Only a true Highborn can,” he said with a shake of his head.
“A true Highborn?” Leih asked, puzzled.
“A Royal Highborn. She is a Highborn as well as a royal, isn’t she?” he asked, looking at them.
“She is,” Gio said with a nod.
“So, any of us could go up to him?” Leih asked as he watched his wife with the large Snoggle.
“They choose one True Highborn to bond with, but they won’t attack you unless you hurt their Highborn. Then I couldn’t even get him off you,” the trainer said with a laugh. “Dingo!” the trainer shouted at the Snoggle.
The Snoggle pulled away from Gresha, gave her a look of longing, then ran to his trainer. Gresha watched him, a smile on her face. The trainer called him Dingo, but that’s not his name.
“You scared the hell out of us,” Leih said as he rushed to Gresha and pulled her into his arms.
“I’m sorry,” she said as she wrapped her arms around him. “Why does he call that Snoggle, Dingo?”
“I guess that’s his name,” Leih said as he turned to look at the Snoggle and his trainer.
“But it’s not,” Gresha said with a shake of her head.
“Oh?” Leih asked, looking down at his wife. “What is his name?”
“I don’t know yet, but I know it’s not Dingo,” she said with a shake of her head. She smiled when she looked up at him. “Oh well. It’s his Snoggle.”
“Actually, no one owns a Snoggle. You can train them, but no one owns one. Unless you know his real name,” Masorien said, walking up behind them.
“Oh,” Gresha said, turning to her uncle.
“Maybe you will be the first to own a Snoggle,” Masorien said with a smile.
“Maybe,” she said as she turned to look at the Snoggle again.
“He’s a bit big for a pet,” Leih said with a laugh.
“I’m sure we could build him his own area,” Gresha said with a bright smile.
“For you, my princess,” Leih said, then pulled her into his arms and kissed her. “Anything.”