The Hound was in in dog-form, and scratching wildly. Something was crawling about on the back of his head, and he cocked it stupidly to one side as he tried gamefully to scratch it into submission with his hind paw. With a satisfactory plop, or plap even, the perpetrator fell to floor beside him. DarkHound fixed it with a red gaze, and bale-fired the flea, channeling the true power that his link to the Great Mistress granted him. The flea's last thought was probably the same as many other adversaries, all long dead and rotted to dust, while he still remained: Dog's can't channel. The flea realised it's mistake as DH burnt it out of the pattern as if it had never been.
(authors note: At precisely this time, on a different world far removed, a mighty sprawling empire crumbled into the dust in moments, it's ruling family disappearing from the pattern instantly. The Wizards all went mad, and a holocaust of terrible unchecked magic wiped practically all life from the face of the planet too, as the sea's rose, the moon fell, and the sun winked out. The planet wobbled on it's axis, and flew out of orbit into it's neighbouring sister planet, causing a super-nova which wiped out an entire galaxy. So you can see, DarkHound's thought that it must surely be safe to balefire a flea of all things, was flawed. It is never safe to balefire anything. Except the French. That is permitted.)
Darkhound felt the distant galaxy die, and pondered the horrible feeling that swam in his belly. Was it guilt? Terrible, bludgeoning guilt at the consequences of his careless actions?
He let out a belch of satisfying volume, and licked his slobbering maw several times in satisfaction. Not guilt - just wind. Rising to all four paws, each as wide as a plate and barbed with gleaming claws, Darkhound considered that he should probably suck on a mint or six before he went to the party, too. "If you are allowed to go" he thought. He padded sullenly over to his basket and sunk down, chewing on Heehoo, his favourite squeaky chew toy. (so named because it went hee-hoo heeeeee-hoooooo when he chewed it.) He pondered the thick cuendillar chain that ran from his collar to the cuendillar pillar driven into the floor in the center of the cell, tethering him effectively. He knew damn well why. Chewing the Great Mistresses favourite slippers when she had only been back for all of five minutes was possibly a bad move, even for him, but he couldn't help himself, overcome with affection, excitement, and most of all, three crates of "bloody stupid strength" lager. Maybe if he wimpered and whined and begged and promised to drink only milk at the party, maybe she would let him go. After all, by her own admission, a party needed a Darkhound. He could even buy her some new slippers. Granted, leather one's with stiletto heels were difficult to come by in these realms, but he'd manage it. The party would be great, anyway, especially with the return of so many old faces to compliment the fresh blood. Suddenly he was interupted from his musings by the door to the doghouse being opened. The Great Mistress herself walked in and looked at her Hound. Heeee-hooooo went Heehoo the toy.
"I suppose you will tell me you've learnt your lesson and wish to come to my party, Hound?" He sat up, and thumped his tail against the floor and squeezed Heehoo. "heeeeehooooo". Three floors down, several servants found their heads covered in plaster. "And I suppose you will wish me to allow you to attend in man-form?" Again, thump, thump went his tail. "heeeeee-hooooo". Man-form was a must for parties. Drinking beer as a dog was just out of the question. And no-one ever wanted to smooch with a dog the size of a small horse, for some reason. The Great Mistress grinned at him, and he found himself shivering in his basket, trying to make himself small and humble. "In that case, Hound of mine, you are going to need something...." She flicked a glance to the corner of the room, where a steaming bath tub full of soapy water appeared in an instant. Darkhound looked back to find the Great Mistress holding an evil looking loofah in one hand, a long handled brush in the other, and a very nasty smile on her face. Heehoo was quiet.
In the corners of the dark palace, the servants covered their ears at the haunting, chilling, ear-splitting cries of the Hound of the dark, facing his bath-time.
~DarkHound, dirty on the inside, but clean on the outside, for a while.
The futile struggle against the inevitable shook the palace... err, at least the bath tub. Darkhound felt like short for drowning when a four-legged flash entered the scene. A mighty leap ... and Dune landed unerring on the poor dog. Now Darkhound was drowning.
The wave soaked Ariella to the skin, the wet dress clung and water dripped from her disarrayed hair. Dune splashed happy about and wasn't impressed by the the Great Mistress' cold stare. Gurgling and choking Darkhound managed to reach the surface. Seeing the expression on Ariella's face he vanished again under water.
Unnoticed Flame soundless backed out off the room. This time Dune had really put her foot in it. She shivered, expecting the worst. Finally she turned and raced to Ulrike's rooms. Maybe she could help, but how?
Frowning Ulrike watched the growing water stain on the ceiling. Together with the terrible howling only one conclusion was possible - Darkhound bathed, or rather, he was bathed. She had heard some tales, but never before she had seen it happen.
Sighing she tried to concentrate on her book. Abruptly Flame stormed in. Her explaination was very incoherent and confusing, thus Ulrike thought all possible. Had Dune attacked Darkhound or the Great Mistress or both? Together Flame and she hurried upstairs where they found an unexpected scene.
The Great Mistress of the Dark was sitting on the floor of her marble-tled bathroom, dripping wet, and laughing her silk-clad posterior off. Two bedraggled canines were frolicking in the tub; well, to be more precise, one, the she-wolf Dune, was frolicking while the other, a frantic-looking Darkhound, was choking and sputtering, and trying unsuccessfully to scramble out from under Dune. Each time his head would poke above the water for more than a minute or so, Dune would get an undeniably smug look on her face, and attempt to lick his nose, at which point Darkhound would duck back under the bubbles yet again.
Ulrike and Flame burst through the door, looking as though they were expecting armaggedon, or worse. They both stopped dead, mouths hanging open in astonishment, when they saw Ari laughing. The Great Mistress looked up at them. "Dune says..." she broke off into another fit of giggles. "She says... she won't let him out... until he's ALL the way clean... which includes his nose..." She collapsed into hysterical giggles as Darkhound surfaced yet again and Dune swiped at his nose with her long, pink tongue.
"You know, Hound, it'd be easier to just let her lick your nose and get it over with," Ari said, once she'd recovered the ability to speak again. "I'm not going to let you shift back until you do..."
Flame was completely astonished. "Dune *talks* to you, Great Mistress?" Ari looked at her curiously. "Well, of course. This is my house, after all, and wolves are nothing if not polite." Just then, darkhound cautiously poked his nose out of the bubbles, and Dune scored a direct hit with her tongue. "Ah HA! Dune wins! Let him up, Little Sister -- we've gt a party to attend!"
Dune leaped out of the tub and shook vigorously, totally soaking both Flame and Ulrike. Ariella was already completely doused, so it made little difference to her. "Come on, Hound -- let's get dried off! Our guests will be arriving any minute, and you've got some slipper shopping to do!"
"As you command, Great Mistress," a distinctly male voice said from under the bubbles. With a lazy grin, the man-form of Darkhound rose from the tub. "Your pardon, ladies, but Ari seems to have neglected to bring me a towel..." The two women blushed and turned their backs as Darkhound sauntered off.
"Yes, Dune, he does look better in the other form," Ariella said with a smirk. "But this form is more useful to me. See you at the party, ladies?" With that, the Great Mistress turned and followed Darkhound out, leaving two bewildered women and one very wet wolf behind.
Ariella, who can always use a good laugh
And a black cat, just passing by, glanced at the scene and vanished hurriedly.
Back in her own domains, Cat, now in human form, leaned against the walls in helpless laughter. Darkhound taking a bath! Now that was a jest worthy of a cat!
~The Black Cat~