Ares a Knight of the Paw: The Fiendish Feline

Chapter 2

Since written word and before, evil has stalked the earth. All manners of ghouls, demons, spirits and supernatural predators have threatened mankind. Of course, if mankind is threatened, dogkind is as well, mostly due to the fact that we don't have opposable thumbs. Over the years, we knights have protected humanity from these evils, sometimes with help, but mostly by ourselves, in the shadows, unappreciated, yet loyally defending our territory.

Of all the fiends and devils I have encountered, of all the nasty things that go bump in the night, the ones that cause the most trouble are those who take the appearance of cats. Naturally cats and dogs do not get along; therefore common people do not think twice of seeing a dog and a cat fight. Also, due to the very nature of cats, people are not surprised to see them act peculiar, run around at nothing, and generally act irrational. Many spirits take the form of a cat to easily perpetuate the population and hatch their evil plans. Also, due to the inborn animosity between dogs and cats, it is the perfect camouflage to hide from us knights. Are we reacting to an evil threat? Or merely reacting to a cat.

The morning began like any other, near my 6th month of duty. I awoke early, inspected the house, meditated, and checked both physically and metaphysically for any new threats. I watched my people leave to do whatever it is they do that provides me food. Oh, and I guess they work for more then just my needs, but I try not to think about that. Laying in my favorite spot in the floor, feeling the cool morning air on my tummy, I began to smell a stench. A breeze blew into the room, and Aeristolite began to whisper in my ear. Now Aeristolite is a wind spirit, a messenger of sorts. They speak all the time, but only a few know how to understand them.

Cocking my head slightly, I listened to the implied warning. Something crossed over this morning during the time between times. Something evil. Something with a desire for destruction. Something in the form of a grey cat. Sighing I raised up, trotted over to my wall compartment, waved a paw and the illusion disappeared, revealing my sword and armor. Glancing around I looked for my secret stash that I always used when dealing with this type of entity. I noticed I only had a pawful left, so I carefully gathered it, packed it into a bag, then slipped it under my shield. When dealing with cat spirits, one could never have enough tricks or be prepared enough. That whole 9 lives thing? Yeah, its because of the spirit. Mortal cats only have one life.

Waving my paw again, I completed the illusion of the wall, effectively hiding my, well, hiding spot. Yes I know, confusing, but its magic. Don't ask questions. I laid out my sword and armor, checked for scratches, cracks, blood, cheese, and any imperfection, no matter how slight. Bowing my head in concentration, I ensured the magical protection was still there, still valid, and still strong. When dealing with spirits, one must make sure one is protected. When dealing with spirits that take the form of cats, with claws that can shred even titanium, it's even more necessary.

Arming myself, I went to my exit, and let myself out. I despise moving about in daylight, for some reason mortals could not understand seeing me in my armor with a sword. A brief whisper of power and a slight illusion covered me, looking like wind, and grass. I am not powerful enough yet to make myself invisible, but I can blend rather well. Or considering what I am stalking, I could end up looking like I was in a blender. Heh.

Sniffing the air delicately, extending my senses I got a whiff of spoiled milk and rotten fish. Following the stench, I began to unravel the trail which would lead me to the spirit cat. Trotting through the weeds, the stench became over-powering, indicating I was getting near. I slowed down, re-enforced my illusion, tightened my sword and crept forward with the stealth of a natural born hunter. Peering from under a brush, I found my prey. Sitting in the middle of a circle was the cat. It was on its back paws, swaying back and forth, surrounded by....mice? That's, just not right. A cat using mice as its thralls? Well, its not unheard of. Several hundred years ago a scourge of cat spirits controlled the rat population of Europe, spreading a disease in an attempt to destroy mankind. It appeared to be the same situation again. However who knows what germ, or disease it was attempting to create and spread this time. I inspected the mice visually, keeping my power tight against me. The mice had a vacant look on their face, their eyes blood red, small marks on their body, with a black swarm surrounding them. Fleas. Why did it have to be fleas? Unconsciously I began to scratch, phantom flea syndrome I believe its called.

The cat spirit summoned the mice through magic, and contaminated them with a disease. The disease then produced a scent that fleas found impossible to resist. Voila, instant army. The mice attract the fleas, the fleas bite the mice, receive the disease. The fleas bite people, animals, and it spreads. The black plague all over again.

I sat back and pondered my options. I can take out the cat if I am fast enough, but the mice would be broken free of the spell, run rampant, attracting fleas and spreading the disease. If I attempt to take out the mice then I leave myself open to attack from the cat. Either way, bad things are going to happen. I slowed my breathing, attempting to search my inherited memories for any idea. Well, this is a magic disease, so it should respond to magic. A plan began to form, one that was full of risk, but one that could work if I could pull it off. I would have a minuscule amount of time to pull this off, but, its my job. Drawing my sword, I pulled my illusion tighter around me, and began to trace a circle around the grove, ensuring I was encircling all the mice, and the cat. Walking in a sun-wise circle, I drew the circle in the ground, focusing on stealth, but keeping my magic as quiet as possible. I paused before closing the circle, knowing as soon as I did the cat would know what had happened. I would have to be quick, I would have to be perfect. Unleashing the small pouch I had carefully packed, I prepared to toss it at the cat. Reaching deep inside, to my store of power, I pulled it to the surface, empowering me with the might of pekingese gone before me. The cats head snapped around at me, and every mouse turned as well. It was creepy. I tossed the bag at the cat, a bag full of catnip. Yes, catnip. It drives mortal cats crazy with lust. With spirit cats its even worse. The part of them that is cat is drawn towards it. the part that is spirit tries to rebel, causing a split second pause as the two sides battle for supremacy.

As the bag flew towards the cat, I closed the circle, barking a simple word of power. "HUO!" I woofed, and the circle exploded into blue purifying fire, immolating the mice and fleas. At the last second the cat spirit realized what was happening and hissed a word in ancient Egyptian. Clear force surrounded the cat protecting it from the fire. I went to one knee, momentarily drained, having poured more power out then I have ever done before. I looked up and the cat was in mid air, twisting and spinning with claws extended. I dropped back and took the brunt of the attack on my shield, strapped across my back. The cat was quick, barely landing it hissed again and pure power hit me, throwing me back into the brush. I pulled in my focus and brought up my illusion, momentarily giving the cat pause as I vanished from sight. I scampered to the right, my sword in my mouth, dropping my illusion I charged the cat, my blade nicking his skin, opening him up slightly. The cat screamed in pain and rage, and waved a paw at me, unleashing more energy at me.

I was ready this time, holding my sword upright to split the energy, and darting forward again, my enchanted blade cutting the cat again. I turned when landing and observed the cat crouched, eyes wary as it observed me. I was panting, my energy and power was failing quick. I had to finish this and fast. I had wounded it twice, but it appeared to not notice the wounds. I needed a plan, and fast. The cat, sensing my desperation, or my weariness, smiled, showing its teeth. Vanishing from sight, it charged me, invisible death hurling towards me on 20 pointy claws.

Dropping my sword, I grabbed my shield strap, angling the shield in front of me, just in time for the cat to impact it. The collision threw the cat back, and I followed, shield low and used as a battering ram. I nailed the cat between the eyes with the edge, and with a sickening crunch, penetrated its skull. A loud hiss and sigh, and the spirit was wrenched out of the fake body, screaming as it was pulled back to where it came from.

Sitting, gasping, I realized how lucky I had been. Collecting my sword, re-adjusting my shield I went back to the grove, to make sure all mice and fleas were dead. Casting about my magic senses like a net, I determined it was all clear, and humanity was spared 1000 fleas infesting their groins. Slowly I limped back to the house, ready for a good afternoons rest, and hopefully, a cookie when the humans got home.

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