Aug 12, 2005

HR, 41

Billows of steam swept over the field, enveloping Harlequin, the General and the creatures hiding from him.

Though sure of his own death, Harlequin found strange comfort in the steam. It had the light, pleasant scent of rice, and it warmed his aching limbs.

The General was apparently hypnotized by it; he stopped his dreaded approach and remained still.

A footstep sounded from the alley; it was a heavy step, certainly much heavier than a dogs. It sounded again rhythmically. These were sure, steady footsteps.

Harlequin, momentarily relieved of his fears, cracked an eye open and strained to perceive a shadowy figure of a man moving forward through the steam. He saw the form reach with it's arm and bring up an object in it's grasp. Light caught the object and reflected back sharply, rays cutting paths through the steam; it was a blade, a butcher's knife.

Harlequin turned, dazed to see the shadow of the General. He was crouched defensively. A growl rumbled from his belly; it was a fearful growl, Harlequin noted with astonishment. The man approached the General, moving forward in great steps as the General slowly backed away. Silently, the man raised the butcher's knife above his head. It's deadly edge glinted in the sun.

The General did not wait for it to come down; he sprang backwards and bounded off the field, his image vanishing in the steam.

Harlequin saw the man come closer. His face was still obscured, but Harlequin saw that we was robed in black, with bright red stitching visible through the cloudiness.

"Ahhhh, the good dog," an accented voice sounded from the direction of the man. It suddenly struck Harlequin that this had been the same voice he'd heard just before Attila had disappeared.

The man bent down and coddled Hubert's limp form into his arms and lifted him quietly. Turning away from Harlequin, he walked off into the steam. Harlequin heard the creak of the door and a thud as it closed.

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