Disclaimer: Joxer is the property of Renpics. Deneus however is mine, and actually I'm growing quite fond of that boy.

Violence: Lots and lots of it.

Size: No worries, it's a shortie.

Summary: In order to help a fair maiden Joxer the Mighty has to battle a dreadful enemy.

Joxer is a true hero. Or, from another point of view, he isn't. In the end, it's all about your definition of the "True Hero"-concept. Have a nice reading!

The Beast!

As I approached, my opponent slowly took a step backwards. He didn't take his gaze of me for a single moment. The yellow eyes were narrowed and burned with hatred. Oh, they were not eyes at all. Those were pits of dread and fire, gaps to all horrors of Tartarus. I knew this devil wouldn't be satisfied with simply defeating me. He wanted me dead.

I could feel her eyes on me as well. Big and faithful, filled with tears. She was a young lady from the village. I was only visiting when she - after that she learned of my reputation as a true hero - eagerly begged for my assistance. The beast that I now was fighting had been a burden for her for too long. She needed me. She trusted in me. Isn't that all a hero could ever ask for? Before you is your dreadful enemy, behind you is the fair maiden for whom you are fighting. Death before dishonour, right?

If only the dreadful enemy had chosen another place to meat me. I tried not to look down as I slowly took at step forward and let go of the hold of the tree trunk. The town square was somewhere deep below me, too deep below if you ask me. I was vaguely aware of the people down there, anxiously watching me.

"Joxer, look out" Deneus yelled from below, but I didn't need the warning. I saw my enemy's muscles flex and I was ready when the jump came. Swinging my arm, I abruptly forced him back. He hissed at me, slowly walking backwards on the narrowing branch. I took a deep breath. Finally I had him trapped. Here, on this branch, things were going to be settled. Once and for all.

His teeth were sharp as spears. In his face I could see my own death drawing closer. For a moment I wished I had brought my sword, but rejected that thought. A sword would do me no good here. This battle had to be fought with my bare hands. I crawled a bit further on the branch and then suddenly bursted forward, reaching for him. For a moment I could feel his stubby fur in my hand, but then he jerked himself lose and took a leap backwards, leaving me outstretched on the branch with a good view at the ground. It was very far away. I heard a scream. The fair maiden for whom I was fighting covered her chins with her hands. Her eyes were wide opened in fear. I tried to catch her gaze. Have faith, fair maiden and fear not. Joxer the Mighty is here, and yet no furry devils have defeated him.

Yet, that is. I hardly had time to get up before the beast leapt against me. I quickly raised my hand to protect my face but I felt a burning pain spreading through my body when his claws dug into my skin. When I tried to push him out of balance he slipt away, fast as a shadow, hissing bloodthirsty. Desperately I clang on to the branch with my knees, and somehow managed to stay up. I looked at my hands. Blood. That creature had drawn blood from me.

My knuckles whitened as I grasped the branch. The slightiest slip would send me down to the ground, and I knew that if the impact didn't kill me, my enemy wouldn't hesitate to follow me to finish the job. He was standing in front of me, just without reach. Of course. His lips formed a nasty smile, but he didn't move. He was waiting for me to give him an opportunity. We both knew he had the advantage up here. It was only a matter of time before I would make the wrong move and give him the opening he was waiting for. I didn't plan to wait that long. I decided to make a single, desperate move. Death before dishonour. Screaming I hurled myself forward. Was it fear I saw in his eyes? Was it bloodthirst? Maybe they were just mirroring my own anger and fright.

I crawled towards him as fast as I could. The branch was cracking considerable, but I didn't care. With a roar the little monster leapt forward, aiming for my face again. I was prepared this time and my hands caught him in the air, hold him firm as in a twig. Spitting, hissing, biting, clawing he tried to get free, but I kept my hold of him, laughing in triumph. The victory was mine. Joxer the mighty, defeater of beasts! Defender of fair maidens! It was right then the branch choose to break. Of course. Together we hurled towards the distant ground. I remember hearing a scream, and I think I was the source of it.

I fell on my back, so the monster I hold didn't suffer any harm. Of course not. The impact made my brain twist and the air rush out of my lungs. It was a great surprise to me that nothing was broken. While I tried to get my breath back, my enemy however took the opportunity to tear himself free. I tried to grasp him again, but he was to fast. In terror I watched how he leaped straight towards the young lady, claws outstretched... Happily she hold out her arms and caught the wicked beast, tenderly patting and stroking it. The sharp-toothed devil calmly curled together to a fury little ball and started to purr. She looked at me with eyes filled of gratitude.

"Thank you so very much for saving Cutie from the tree, mister. I am ever so grateful. He is grateful too, aren't you Cutie?" The bloodthirsty creature, apparently named Cutie opened a yellow eye and looked at me with an expression that clearly told me exactly how grateful he was. I let my head sink back to the ground again, silently moaning. I felt Deneus hand on my forehead.

"Gee, Joxer how are you? That was a pretty high fall, wasn't it?" I tried to answer but started to cough instead. "Anyway" the boy went on "thanks for getting my sister's cat for her. She was so upset of him being stuck in that tree."

Painfully I lifted my head from the ground and gave him a faint smile.

"No worries Deneus... That's just what we heroes do."

The End!