Cheers arose from the maidens again, but without the jubilance of moments before. I saw the shadows of their personal nightmares cross their eyes. There was rage in their voices. These women would protect anyone who needed protection. They would destroy what could not be reasoned with.
We laughed and swam until the moon made an appearance, brightening the night sky. I walked out of the little pool, followed by a soaked mass of white and black fur. She stopped, and I braced myself as she shook her entire body, water droplets raining down on me. I jumped back, avoiding most of the spray.
Annoyed further by my own tantrum, I kicked half of the useless thing to the side. Azita did not flinch. It reminded me of how well I’d trained her. The strength and respect she displayed calmed me. I concentrated on my breathing, calming myself further. “You were volunteered to come in and handle me?” I asked.
As soon as the child hit the ground, arrows flew, each hitting its target. As the maidens surrounding it got ready to ose another volley, the monster ran. I started to pursue, but lost concentration quickly, stumbling in the thick cloud of putrid perfume.
It was good to feel the minds of these animals again. They were old friends, and this was home even if I didn’t come back often. After the long night, all I wanted to do was wander through the park, check in on all the animals there, and relax past the waterfall. But, alas, I had work to do.
The bar was darker than the woods and filled with beards. Mostly they are long and grey with one lonely goatee. Clearly, it belongs to a hiker from the south, judging from the rolled-up skinny jeans and tech pad things scattered on the table. He does seem a bit on guard around the grizzled old men. Honestly, it is cute. I will make sure they do not play with him like cats with their prey.