Chase scrambled easily to his feet as
Dietrich positioned himself in front of
Benedict and Lilian. He smiled as he said,
“Well, wolf boy, I see you made it.
I wondered if perhaps you’d gotten lost.”
Dietrich spread his front legs and lowered his head,
His eyes never leaving his adversary;
A rumbling growl filling the air between them.
Benedict quickly regained his wits and
Stumbled to the cross from which Lilian drooped
And began slicing her bonds with the knife.
She slumped to the ground, too weak to stand.
With some effort he managed to get her
To her feet and, with her arms around his neck,
Supported her well enough that they could lurch
Slowly down the hill. At the bottom
They stood a few feet behind Dietrich to watch.
Chase laughed, a harsh grating sound
That chilled their weary bodies.
It was enough to drive them to the ground.
“Do you think you’ve won?” he taunted Dietrich.
“Do you think this paltry effort has saved them?
I rule this domain – I control its weather,
Such as it is; I shape its terrain
To suit my whims; I set its borders
And bar its gates. I am the god here!
You have no more than I suffer you to have,
And my rules can change at any moment.
This is your cage, my unruly pet!
You are mine, as surely as if I held your leash
In the palm of my hand… LIKE THIS!”
And with that, a fiery rope appeared in his hand,
Stretching out to a thick black collar
Around the hound’s neck. “KNEEL!” Chase yelled
As he clenched his fist around the rope.
Lightning leapt from the rope and collar;
Dietrich’s eyes widened as his forelegs buckled
And he dropped to his knees, unable even to howl.
Involuntarily Benedict shrieked with rage
And tried to rise to his friend’s defense…
But Chase’s other arm snapped out,
The fingers of his hand spread wide, and
Neither the priest nor the girl could move.
Slowly their tormentor closed his fingers and
Twisted his forearm, lifting them off the ground.
He smiled at them. “I am the god of this hell,”
He gloated brightly, “and the angel of death
Incarnate. None find mercy at my hands!”
His lips slowly drew tight across his teeth
Like the snarling wolf he had feared so long
As he dropped his gaze back to Dietrich.
The hellhound returned his gaze without fear.
Infuriated, Chase clenched the rope again
And more lightning danced along its length.
He locked his gaze once again on the hound…
Dietrich didn’t even tremble. Instead,
He slowly, deliberately, stood up as though
Rising from a pleasant nap, baring his own fangs
In a canine mockery of Chase’s smile.