Something unsettled Alira as she walked behind her king. He moved differently somehow, as if he no longer
cared about his surroundings. Striding forward, Senthius almost seemed to barge through the very air, pushing
it aside to make way for himself.
"Is something on your mind?" the girl asked. Her question was ignored.
Sen seemed to have a darkness hovering over him as he moved towards his chamber, a darkness that was
never there before. He'd crossed a line earlier that day, a line even his father never would have crossed. At that
moment underground, looking into that room, Senthius died and was reborn a cold and uncaring beast. No
thought was given to his actions, no shame or doubt felt towards them, the panther simply moved forward as if
nothing had happened.
"Something is wrong, talk to me." Alira persisted with her attempts to communicate, but to no avail. She hurried
to keep up with her king and followed him obediently through the door into his private chamber. Closing the door
behind her, she soon came to realize things had changed in her king more so than she had first thought.
Senthius wheeled around and pushed his mistress-servant against the large wooden door, his left hand
encompassing her neck completely. For the first time in her life, Alira felt terrified, staring into the black pupils of
her king, empty and dark.
"Silence your mouth girl." The panther spoke in a hushed but harsh tone that would have frightened the bravest
of men. Pinned against the door by one hand alone, the female stared into the eyes that were mere centimeters
away from her own. In a gesture of strength, Alira lifted her chin slightly and continued to stare into Sen's eyes.
His grip loosened and he removed his left hand from her neck while backing away a couple of steps, releasing
her. Both stood adamantly looking at the other before Senthius turned away. Alira made a choice and continued
her previous efforts of communication.
"What has happened to you?" she spoke in a serious but concerned voice. Taking a step forward, the human
girl's terror slipped away, soon to be replaced by anger and pain.
Her persistence was unwelcome and Senthius made that clear with force. Turning to face the dark skinned beauty
once more, he raised his right hand over his left shoulder and brought it down against Alira's lower jaw with
intentional force. His soft fur on the back of his hand rubbed hard against her skin leaving a red burn mark on the
right hand side of the girl's jaw, pain shot through her face as though she had just been hit with a sledgehammer.
"I said be quiet." Senthius yelled at her this time. The impact of his backhand was enough to send Alira
to the floor; with pain now pulsing through her face, she looked up at the panther with a deep anger and finally
decided it best to keep silent.
"This is really beautiful Tessica."
Victoria sat on a small wooden bench with the yellow furred rabbit. Behind them was a vast land of shrubbery
that grew out of a very uneven ground. Before them was a small cliff, barely five meters high; at it's base, a large
white sandy beach with the sapphire blue water of the ocean gently lapping at the shore.
On the horizon, the sun sank low casting a palette of reds, oranges, golds and eventually blues, purples and
pinks into the clear sky. In the fading light of the day, Victoria glanced around the landscape and spotted a house
nestled in the overgrown brush of the area.
"There's a house down there." she pointed to her right. Tessica leaned forward to look around her friend.
"Oh yeah, I forgot about that place. I haven't been here in so long." The bunny's eyes gleamed with nostalgia as
she recalled her days as a child sitting on the bench wondering about that house.
"Does anyone live there?" Victoria inspected the distant domicile in what little light there was.
"I don't know. I don't think so. I always wanted to go and have a look at it when I was a kid though."
"It looks very well taken care of for an empty house. Let's go have a look now." The albino panther stood as the
final beams of light disappeared over the horizon and were replaced by light from the full moon that came out
early during that time of year.
Tessica stood and followed her friend down towards the old house. From the bench, a small animal trail could be
found amongst the vegetation. The two figures followed the path, winding their way closer and closer to their
As they got closer, the empty night clearly carried a sound to Victoria's ears from a small distance further in
land, but still in the general direction of the house.
"Do you hear that?" The panther asked. Tessica stopped suddenly behind her friend, almosr running into her,
and lifted her long ears to better hear her surroundings.
"Barely. It sounds like crying." The bunny started looking a little worried at the thought of someone being out
there and in trouble. The beach front was quite a way from the nearest colony, both human and anthropomorph.
"It's coming from that way." Victoria pointed in the direction of the sound and started pushing through the low
shrubs. Tessica followed and after several minutes, the sound was clear and distinct but still distant and hidden.
The two females decided to split up and parted ways, edging ever closer to the source of the crying. After almost
an hour Tessica was beginning to think they were getting fooled.
"OVER HERE!" Victoria's voice rolled over the shrub riddled ground, a frantic tone in it. The rabbit bounded over
the bushy landscape to quickly cover the thirty or so meters between her and her friend. At one point, she
vanished into the thick foliage with a loud yelp and then re-emerged with a twisted ankle and a limp that set her
to a slower but safer pace.
"It's a grate." Victoria said when Tessica finally arrived. Both looked at the house with much the same thought
going through their minds. The sobbing was soft, but below the grate it was amplified by stone walls and carried
across the land by the clear open air of the night. Both panther and rabbit moved with renewed purpose now,
someone was underground and that someone needed help.
Inside the house, it was pitch black. The females stood just inside the front door waiting for their animal eyes to
adjust to the low light. A table stood in the center of the room with only a couple of utensils near one edge where
a chair sat. On the other side of the table were two doors, one led to a bed room and the other to a wash room.
Left of the front door that sat in the long wall at one end of the rectangular house, was a trap door.
Having found what they were looking for, though they had no idea what exactly it was they sought prior to finding
it, Tessica and Victoria made their way down into the dusty darkness of the dungeon below the house.
"So much for abandoned." Tessica said to her friend in a hushed voice as she followed her down the dark
"I guess there was little need to hide this entrance; out in the middle of nowhere like this, how many people
would stop by for a visit?" Victoria moved slowly. Though she could see through the darkness, her night vision
wasn't perfect. Stepping lightly down the stairs, she trailed her left hand along the stone wall beside her and
suddenly pulled it away with a start when she found an unlit torch unexpectedly. With her right hand over her
pounding heart, she lifted the torch off the wall and held it towards Tessica.
"Would you mind?"
"Not at all." Tessica cupped her right hand over the top of the torch and a moment later removed it, letting a
strong flame burn in it's place. Both rabbit and panther winced at the sudden light and after recovering, continued
their descent into the depths of the ground.
Following the sobbing sound, they found the occupied cell with little effort and though they knew they were
probably going to find someone in there, it was no less shocking when they opened the door.
"Gods! She's just a girl!" Victoria breathed. She rushed to the side of the curled up, sobbing silver tabby. The
young feline made no sign of even noticing that she had visitors, it had been days since she was used and left
to die. Her mind filled with despair and anguish.
"I'll see if I can find a key for that chain." Tessica said as she turned from the cell and ran back to the house.
"Are you alright?" Victoria gently stroked the shoulder of the naked cat, speaking in a soft, friendly and soothing
voice. "Can you talk?" A tear rolled from the panther's eye as she looked around the small cell, realizing the
this young girl must have been left like this for several days by herself.
Several minutes passed before Tessica returned with a pair of bolt cutters in her hand.
"I couldn't find a key, but this should work."
Alira stood and watched the maid fill the bath with water. With Tessica away, the baths had grown less pleasant
now that they were made the old fashioned way, with pipes.
"Thank you Avon'lly."
"You're welcome." The chestnut Clydesdale said.
"I don't suppose you have any clue as to what... his problem has been these last coupld of days do you?"
Alira rubbed her jaw where Sen had struck her.
"I'm sorry no." The mare peeked out of the bathroom. Cries of pleasure slipped under the panther's chamber
door from the hallway, he had found another rabbit to play with in Tessica's absence.
"He's grown... darker." Avon'lly said as she withdrew back into the bathroom. "I have no idea why. Even Dorian
didn't have this dark atmosphere around him. It's like he just doesn't care anymore, about anything."
Victoria and Tessica arrived at the large white building near the edge of the human settlement in the late hours of
the night. The hospital was one of the few advanced buildings that remained from before what many call the
second creation, when the gods gave form to the anthros.
"There it is." Tessica said as she looked ahead at the light flooding out of the building onto the main road. "I
can't believe you carried her all the way here." She turned to her friend who had the tabby in her arms, the metal
collar still around her neck with a short piece of chain jangling from it.
"She's really not that heavy, I doubt she's eaten for a few days. Not to mention she does have a rather light
frame." Victoria wasn't entirely truthful. The young feline was light, but not as light as the panther made out,
though she was stronger than her rabbit friend.
"Poor thing, she's not even conscious anymore." Tessica said as they neared the hospital's entrance.
"DOCTOR! WE NEED A DOCTOR HERE!" A short otter in a white uniform came running at the sound of Victoria's
"What in the world?" The doctor stared in amazement at the three anthorpomorphs.
"We don't know, we just found her," Victoria started "in an underground cell at the house down by the beach east
of here." The panther maintained a calm composure, but Tessica heard a faint hint of concern in her voice.
The otter turned and called out another doctor and two nurses. She barked a few orders and led Victoria to a roller
bed. After placing the young feline down on the thin mattress, the panther and Tessica followed the doctors into
the intensive care unit, intent on making sure the girl would be alright.
Tessica walked into the private recovery room and nudged Victoria who was sleeping in a chair.
"Coffee?" She held out a hot cup of coffee to her friend as she woke up.
"Thanks." Victoria sat up from a slumped position and took the drink from her friend.
"What's the verdict?" Tessica looked at the cat lying in the hospital bed bathed in the early morning light.
"Doc says she got lucky." Vicotira had stayed at the hospital with the young feline while Tessica left in order to
take care of some minor family problems. A day later she, returned to see how things were going.
"She's a tough little thing." The panther continued. "The doctor said she doubts this girl would have lasted
another day and night in that cell."
Tessica walked to the end of the bed as Victoria stood up and moved over to the window.
"Who knows how many days she was down there." Tessica looked down at the tabby with a smile, happy to know
she was now going to be alright. "We saved a life." she said, turning to face Victoria.
"She was raped." Victoria turned and looked at Tessica, sadness in her eyes.
"Doc says it was about two or three days before we found her." Sadness filled the panther's voice.
"And then left for dead? Who..." Tessica was speechless and after a moment's pause went and stood next to her
friend by the window. "You should go, you've been here for over twenty-four hours; your brother might start
wondering where you've gotten to." Though she looked Victoria in the eyes, the hospital bed behind her never left
her the rabbit's focus.
"Senthius can wonder all-" Victoria cut off mid-sentence when Tessica held up her hand.
"She flinched at your brother's name."
Victoria turned around and watched curiously as Tessica moved to the end of the bed and spoke in a clear voice.
"Senthius." The young feline cowered under the woolen bed covers, covering her head with her hands. Victoria
wasted no time moving to the side of the bed suspicion and concern flooding her mind.
"Hey, you're awake huh?" The panther spoke once again in a soft comforting voice. "Do you know who did this to
you?" Her question was answered with soft crying.
"Nobody is going to hurt you while we are here, you're perfectly safe." Tessica spoke in the same tone as she
stood on the other side of the bed.
"Who did this to you? Do you know who it was?" Victoria repeated her question with worry in her voice.
"I thought he was going to take me out of there." A scared and sad voice emerged from the young girl.
"Who? Do you know who?"
Crying, the girl spoke a single name.