'This was unforeseen.' I muttered to myself, shaking my front leg forcefully.
A pure white rat was clinging to it, calling out consistently.
"Dad! dad!" A tiny but piercing trill bounced around inside my head, the voice similar to a high strung violin.
"Why are you so big? why do you look different to me? why won't you talk to me dad?! dad? dad! DAAD!"
The flow of questions was never-ending, and my front leg was going numb from how the rat was constricting it with its tail.
'Perhaps this was a mistake,' I thought wistfully, still trying to shake a rat off my leg.
It seemed my recent recruit, Roulette, had developed or always had, a child-like mind and a wilful one at that.
I had wanted a mindless and easily influenced peon not another free-thinking child, I already had one of those.
"Just dandy," I muttered again under my breath, part of my envisioned plan of a squad of mindless and easily controlled mobs crumbling away, children could not fill that role.
Children were like little tsunamis, difficult to control and destructive, it seemed I was stuck with another juvenile mess.
Ruolette looked up at me, round eyes staring even as she straddled my leg "What's dandy?" She said curiously, whiskers twitching, before becoming distracted again, "Oh! dad I'm hungry! can I eat that paw over there?!"
Roulette's tail flicked over to the dismembered and slightly chewed troll hand.
She loosened her hold on my leg and I moved immediately to throw her off but failed when she tightened her grip again, she wasn't going to let go easily without reason.
"Mmmmph" I grumbled, children were difficult, at least Lescar was relatively mature.
I stopped to think, considering how to best manage the chatty rat brat.
Violence seemed redundant and in the long term harmful to myself, if treated poorly any creature will eventually snap and try to kill the master, and Roulette seemed to actually like me for some hitherto unknown reason outside of thinking I was her father.
No... force and fear were not what I should use here, the little rat's disposition was obviously very positive to me, it would make more sense to harness that existing positivity.
Perhaps playing along with the little retard and playing the father figure would be for the best, it was already all set up, after all, I would just have to be the right kind of father to mold this odd piece of clay.
'Encouragement, guilt-tripping and just a pinch of authoritarian reinforcement,' I confirmed to myself, if this little rat girl was anything like a human girl I could manage her taming.
I had already managed that previously, after all, Lescar had been quite resilient at first but after some 'convincing' she became mine.
No one would break my chains, I would make sure of it, whether those chains were the chains of slavery or the chains of family, it mattered not.
All of those under my chains, were mine.
Roulette would be no different, she too would fall in line.
Merely the right act was needed.
I spoke suddenly and gruffly to the drooling Roulette, she staring at the troll hand.
"What! but dad!-" she spluttered before I interrupted her sharply.
"First, you must hop off my leg, secondly, stand in front of me on your back legs, and thirdly, don't move until I say so."
"But-" Ruolette began
"No buts or else, no food," I said forcefully releasing some menace into my voice, which didn't go unfelt.
Roulette shuddered and looked down before saying more quietly "Uhhh uuu... yes father"
Reluctantly Roulette unfurled from my leg moving on all fours to the empty space in front of me standing on her legs like earlier except with way less enthusiasm.
"Like this father?" she said deflatedly standing legs spread in the bear-like posture she took when fighting.
"Yes, now don't move" I responded lifting my bulk of the glade floor and slowly circling her, examining the strength and apparent health of my new daughter.
To Roulette, it surely appeared as if I was sizing her up and in a way I was, but not with my eyes, I was, in fact, checking her stats through my familiar menu.
And it was better than I expected.
Roulette- common sewer rat (Rattus Octaalica (mutant variant))
age 1 years and 5 months
MIND 0025 accurate
BODY 0025 accurate
SOUL 0189 estimated
Current traits/abilities perk points remaining 0
- Bladed vertebrae columns
- Heightened immunity
- Acute scent recognition
- Lesser night vision
Roulettes stats were pretty impressive given she was just a rat, I had already seen the stat pages of other rats and hers was over three times as large in both mind and body.
Her soul was also much stronger, not that I have found a use for the soul stat yet, it probably having something to do with magic or mind hoodoo.
Maybe in the future, I would have a spell flinging rat? that would be good.
Having finished my examination of my rat, I stopped pacing around her, arriving in front of the still Roulette.
I was satisfied with her stats, they would only rise as I leveled her up, and I planned to do that for all my pets.
"Can I move now father?" The still subdued voice of Roulette echoed sadly.
"Yes you may," I said dropping the threat from my voice and saying praisingly "You have been a good girl."
I reached out and pet the little rat on the head with an antenna evicting a surprised, then happy squeak from Roulette, she bashfully turning her head into my proffered feeler.
After a few seconds of Roulette nuzzling my antenna, I said gently, making sure I said it as tenderly as I was able.
"You may eat now my daughter."
With a burst of enthusiastic vigor, all signs of Roulette's prior sullenness evaporated leaving her hopping from foot to foot.
"Thanks, Dad!" She said cheerfully scrabbling off towards the troll hand in jittery bounds.
I felt something twinge inside of me watching her go, her innocent simple joy, refreshing, but I eradicated it, I had more important things to do now that I knew how to handle my new minion.
I still had two more collars to try out after all and hopefully I could net something easier to control.
I looked up to the ceiling where my first den still was, now home to a prime candidate.
'Bats count as rodents right.'
It had been a little while since I had seen the thing strangely, but that couldn't stop me.
For the second time today, an evil grin blazed in my heart.
The old grey Hunter
He was successful he was strong, and yet he was dying, he was old and couldn't resist the pull of time.
He would soon perish like so many others before him.
He remembered his younger days, sadly knowing they wouldn't come again.
In his youth, he had fought hard, won many victories, claimed many mates and vanquished many foes.
He had become a living legend among his kind, a symbol of fear and awe to his fellows, but even so he was still dying.
It filled him with fear and unease.
When he died, so too would his legend, he would be forgotten and he would cease, becoming a nothing, a nonexistence.
He didn't want that, he still wanted to live, for all of his success he had never left the dark underworld, never evolved...
He was so close to achieving it too! he could feel it in his bones but... it was all moot now, it was too late.
His life force was draining away from him, and he could barely move, so weak that he was.
It was taking everything he had not to just fall from the roof and plunge onto the floor below, even the refreshing potency of the air no longer helped.
He had come here in the first place because of the abundance of spiritual energy to help ease his pain, the excess energy of this place restoring his vitality in part.
But eventually, even the potent lingering energies were not enough.
He closed his eyes the fear still present, but he knew that he couldn't do anything, his voice in the song of life was about to go silent.
No predator was more deadly or patient than time.
And he had precious little left.
'I hope my kind sings of my exploits for a long time' he thought regretfully, eyes becoming heavier by the second.
It was not long for it now.
Having accepted his fate the old grey hunter let go, falling flat on the bottom of the floor of his den.
It was time to sleep.
Both eyes were squeezed together now, only a slim murky slit of vision available to the old hunter.
He saw something large rear up before him, its enormous head entering into his den glaring at its surroundings with ravenous spite.
He vaguely recognized the creature, it was the king, the king of the silent forest, the same king who lived directly below the hunter's lair.
'It has come for an easy meal' the hunter thought but didn't move, if the king had come but an hour earlier the old hunter would have fought it, but now... he was much too weak.
He still felt some burning jealousy toward the king though.
The king had been growing at a steady and unthinkable rate, the hunter was jealous, the king would surely taste evolution, and with distinctive ease.
The hunter felt pathetic and simply watched the glaring creature as it forced a limb into his den, the long taloned leg holding something haphazardly, a circle?
It didn't matter the hunter was dying.
His eyes closed fully and he felt his mind becoming more and more distant, the void claiming its prize.
It was then on the precipice of death that he Met it, felt it, saw it in all its splendor.
It was enormous, bigger than anything he had ever seen, vast, maybe even unending, he could not tell.
All he knew was that it was a depiction of pure strength and raw power, and he craved to touch it.
The enormous undulating vastness of surging will was calling to him with a soft song, and it was beautiful.
The melody so different from his people's coarse screeches was alien but entirely soothing, he could not resist, did not want to resist for its whispers promised all that he desired if he but bowed his head and served.
He hesitated not at all and sunk to his claws in a low bow, hearing a twisted and disembodied voice shaking his entire being, the slight tremors of laughter staggering his mind with images of gnashing teeth.
"Good... now rise... ...Dwayne"
The name affixed itself to his center, his core, and he was born anew.
Dwayne felt the entire vastness of the entity pass through him in an instant, and the feeling was truly indescribable.
Only one word came to mind if the exultant hunter were to try to describe it.
The old hunter roared in ecstasy, hair darkening muscles swelling bones splitting and reforming in seconds.
Death had been shunted aside, time kicked back under the table, the grey hunter was old and grey no more.
"FOR THE MASTER!" the hunter screeched blackened wings unfurling brilliantly orange eyes pointed skyward as it howled.
"FOR THE KING!"