The Lion and the Lamb
Chapter Four: The Intruder
Smokey's attention had been stolen from the still flustered pegasus when the baby griffin launched herself into his lap. He tilted his head downward and laughed as the white bundle slid down his kneeling leg. "Aw, am I not giving you enough attention, sweetie?"
The baby griffin batted an eagle foot at the dragon's descending hand in a playful manner. A chuckle escaped his throat and he gently rolled the tiny creature onto her back, scaly fingers scratching and prodding at the soft belly. The tickling sensations caused by the dragon sent the griffin into a fit of adorable high-pitched giggles. A glowing warmth pressed against the hearts of the dragon and the pony at the display.
She eventually escaped the clutches of the dragon's fingers and bounced several feet away, the playful glint still danced in her eyes. Throwing his dignity to the winds, Smokey dropped down on all fours with a wide grin, and the griffin sprang back toward him, landing on his face. Fluttershy, as well as the five doves and rabbit--who deserted the table they had been feasting upon and clustered themselves in front of the fireplace--watched as the dragon allowed himself to look utterly ridiculous in play with the baby griffin. The pair circled one another before the griffin jumped over to him and proceeded to climb all over the scaly beast. She pawed at his sensitive ear frills, pounced on his tail and wrestled with it. As for him, he would occasionally nudge her over gently with his nose and nuzzle into her soft fur, evoking another fit of heart-melting giggles.
Fluttershy sniffled up a pair of rivulets of mucus then wiped at the wetness left behind with her good hoof. With her attention almost constantly absorbed that evening, she hadn't really noticed her running nose all that much. She was really enjoying the playful scene before her, thinking to herself how sweet it was that the dragon was already treating the baby griffin like his own child.
The baby griffin grew tired around an hour later, plopping her drained body beside the grouped birds and rabbit, beak wide open and panting. Smokey rose to his hind legs only to precipitate himself over to the animals and settle himself down upon his haunches again. "Time for bed, little ones," he told them in a soft and gentle voice.
He touched his snout to the baby griffin's head for a few moments before pressing a sweet kiss to the forehead. The griffin reacted with an affectionate nip to the spot between his nostrils. His snout then buried itself into the cluster of doves and rabbit. While the doves dragged their beaks over to the snout in attempt to preen the red scales and coo their affection to the dragon, the rabbit retaliated by repeatedly licking the bridge of the muzzle, soft and loving bunny noises following each lick.
In each of their beady black eyes, Fluttershy could see the love the animals held for their dragon caretaker. And in the green orbs of the dragon, she knew the love was returned to them. Just then, another sound, one that came from the throat of the reptilian, was a purr. The purr sounded like a cross between a soft growl and the purr of a kitten. Smokey purred for each of them in response to their displays of love. The sound was so cute to the ears of the pegasus. Right in front of her was a big, strong, carnivorous creature that could easily break the bodies of the little animals between his jaws. The fact that he was so gentle, so tender, so sweet, and so loving to them, Fluttershy felt that she would almost burst from the preciousness of it.
Drawing away from the cluster, he ascended into a standing position again and turned around to Fluttershy. Slowly and carefully, he scooped her up in his strong arms. "I have a much more comfortable place for the lovely lady to sleep than this old couch."
At that, Smokey carried her off gallantly to his left towards a door that was ajar. The door was nudged wide open, revealing a bedroom that was just as lightly furnished as the living room. All the room contained was a king sized bed with sky blue sheets that matched the blanket still wrapped around her, a large chest at the foot of the bed, another fireplace on the far left of the room, and a few boxes stacked on the right.
Upon approaching the bed, Smokey slipped his tail underneath the covers to pull them down and make way for the pony. Taking great care, he set Fluttershy down upon the cool sheets and placed the covers over her. "Warm enough, my dear?" he asked as he tucked her in snuggly.
Fluttershy felt a chill shudder through her body despite the layer of covers. She looked up at the dragon and sniffled another strand of mucus. Smokey felt her shiver while his hands were still busy tucking in the folds of the sheets, and before she could answer, he left her to retrieve a warm wool quilt from the chest located at the end of the bed. He wrapped it around the mare, creating a cocoon of warmth. After that, he snatched the pillow from under her head to fluff it up for her before replacing it again.
All of this pleased Fluttershy, and as she met the dragon's eyes, she smiled at him, even more grateful. "Um, thank you… so very much… Um… goodnight."
Smokey returned the smile, running a hand over her head. "You are quite welcome, Miss Fluttershy. Goodnight." After one final stroke over her head, he was gone, shutting the door behind him.
Fluttershy awoke at the sounds of scraping at the window on the room's right wall. Sniffling and rubbing at her moist nostrils, she sat up with her full attention on the mysterious noises. At first, she tried to convince herself that it was merely tree branches scratching against the pane, but soon her ears caught more noises. Growling joined the scratching, chilling the pegasus' insides. The fear became even more pronounced when her eyes saw the shape of a creature's head through the frost-covered window. The creature outside scratched at the door more fiercely, managing to break off some of the frost. Fluttershy whimpered, her muscles paralyzed with fear. Soon the scratching was replaced with pounding. The resulting blow created cracks in the glass.
Then all the noises ceased…
Fluttershy waited. She hoped what ever was on the other side of the window had left. Seconds went by, then minutes…
Just when she finally thought it was safe again, the creature returned, barreling through the glass, sending shards flying in all directions. The equine leaped back, landing on the edge of the bed. The glowing embers from the fireplace across the room illuminated the beast's frame in a glowing orange and exposing its identity. Hunched over on all fours, tatter-eared, silver-faced, with a battle-scared muzzle, stood a werewolf.
A very, very hungry werewolf.
The beast was desperate. If there had been game for him to hunt down and kill, he would have no need to break in. Mother Nature was at her cruelest during the winter. When there was no game left for his pack, they would turn upon each other, devouring the weakest first. The smart ones, like him, fled the hungry fangs of their pack members before it was their turn. His body had grown weaker and weaker from hunger. His entire skeleton was visible under his once sheen coat, hairs limp against his flesh as if they were struggling to live. His weak muscles were reduced to strings and knots, all fueled on his will to survive.
The werewolf gazed at the mare, gustatorial sensations were excited within him at the sight of her. She was food. His mouth hung wide open, salivating in hungry anticipation. He slowly stalked forward, the mask of carnivorous malignity made Fluttershy spasm with horror. She finally released a blood-curdling scream that made the behemoth pin his one good ear flat against his head. As the werewolf prostrated himself at springing distance, the bedroom's door few open and a red blur was thrown against him, slamming him against the stone wall.
"Miss Fluttershy! Into the living room!" Smokey directed at the mare even though he had his eyes on the werewolf, who shoved him off with his shoulder.
Fluttershy remained where she was, the terror within her defied any mobility. She could only watch as the battle began to unfold. The werewolf slashed at the dragon with his gleaming fangs, failing to cause any damage due to the durability of dragon scales and his body's drained energy. Smokey's balled fist flew back then administered a powerful blow to the side of the canine's head. The werewolf countered with his fangs then leaped back to avoid any counterattacks from the dragon.
The beast curled his lips back, baring his fangs to the roots in a vicious snarl. He charged in, hitting the dragon in the abdomen with his bony shoulder, knocking him off his feet. In an instant, he leaped for the throat where the softest scales were located. The teeth penetrated the scales, but they were not able to dig down into the thick vein which he sought to break apart. Letting go, the furry creature leaped aside at a safe distance. Trickles of blood escaped the bite wound, but it wasn't enough to effect Smokey. He quickly scrambled to his feet to continue the fight.
The instant the dragon got up, the werewolf closed in, clamping his teeth on his right arm as hard as he could muster. Smokey tried to pull away, but the werewolf held on, jaws clenching harder. The canine tasted blood and it encouraged him to hold on. He shook his head, teeth working at the muscle. The dragon cried out in pain and pounded his free fist against the werewolf's muzzle. The werewolf responded with a snarl. The beast's energy was already ebbing away due to his starvation. If the werewolf had been well-fed and fueled, the dragon surely would have lost the battle quickly. Fortune was smiling upon Smokey that night.
The dragon turned his body around until he was side-by-side with the werewolf. His lengthy tail constricted itself around the shaggy and scrawny neck, cutting off his air flow. The werewolf floundered, and in seconds, the set of teeth unlocked from Smokey's arm, mouth wide in desperation for air. The dragon held his bleeding arm as he gazed into the panicking eyes of the werewolf. His body grew weak and he ceased struggling, tongue lolled out the side of his mouth as short wheezes escaped from it.
As Smokey continued to watch the light fade from the werewolf's eyes, sympathy flooded his heart. The werewolf wasn't an enemy out to kill for pleasure, it was starving. Slowly and cautiously, the dragon uncurled his tail from the werewolf's neck, which baffled the beast. Kicking into overdrive, he immediately gathered up Fluttershy and left the bedroom, closing and locking the door behind him with a few movements of his tail. He set the trembling equine back down onto the couch and he clutched his bleeding arm again.
Fluttershy was glad it was all over, but she was still in a state of shock. Her eyes traveled to his bleeding wounds and the need to tend to them swept over her, but the only mobility her body allowed was her fearful shuddering. She watched him closely as he turned his head into the direction of the kitchenette. She realized his eyes were on the pot atop of the stove. He then left her side to inspect it.
The dragon peeked inside of the pot. It was still halfway full. His eyes went back to the bedroom door, then back down at the chowder. He stared for a few moments in thought, then snapped out of it as if he had made a decision. Gripping the pot's handles, he lifted it off the stove. The wounds on his arm stung at this, but he tried to ignore it. Relying on his tail to unlock and open the door, he nudged it open and ventured inside.
The massive canid was breathing normally now, but he still lay limp on the stone floor. His nostrils caught an alien, yet enticing aroma that made him salivate all over again. His glassy eyes peered up at the dragon and the fear of death gripped him, figuring the reptilian had returned to finish him off. It had confused him as to why he hadn't when he had won the earlier battle. In the wild, there was no such thing as mercy. It was a kill or be killed world.
He watched the dragon's every move. After setting the silver pot onto the floor a couple of feet away from his nose, Smokey knelt beside his head. The scaly hand loomed above his and the werewolf concluded this would be when he would receive his ending blow. The hand came down upon his head gently, smoothing over the fur and ears. It was all strange and confusing to the beast.
"You're not a bad fellow. You're just hungry." The words flowed from the dragon's mouth in a tone with such non-hostility. Smokey removed his hand from the werewolf's head and the last thing he did was pull the mattress from its primary position upon the bed and dragged it out of the bedroom, closing and locking the door behind him.