He carefully observed his surroundings from high above. He was a predator and everyone knew it. Just like a cat he easily stalked his prey and waited patiently for the right opportunity to strike...and he never missed. A flawless killer, a proud hunter, a deliverer of death...he was all of these things. Nothing could take him down. He had absolutely no weaknesses.
Or so it was thought.
"What the hell is that? Where did it come from?"
Carnelian calmly looked from Berthie who was perched on a tree branch to what ever it was that was bothering him on the ground.
The dog barely came up to Carnelian's shins. He walked over to it and lightly tapped it on the head. The dog cheerfully barked and wagged it's tail furiously, giving the man in front of him pleading eyes.
"It seems he wants to play," Carnelian said.
"I'm not playing with that...that beast!"
Beast? Carnelian looked intently at the dog wondering where Berthie saw a beast in the animal. It was just a cute and harmless puppy. There was no reason for Berthie to be so...afraid?
"Are you...scared of dogs?" Carnelian looked at Berthie above him, ignoring the dog who was playfully pulling at his dress. Carnelian found it funny to think that Berthie feared anything, let alone dogs. It was an almost too perfect coincidence. He giggled a bit as he looked back at the tiny dog and reached down to touch it again; however, he had barely bent down when felt something heavy hit him in the small of his back. He cried out loudly and fell face forward, the dog quickly running to him and licking his face. Carnelian gave another cry as he felt another heavy something fall onto his back. It didn't take him long to realize it was Berthie's foot.
"I'd watch what I say if I were you, Bat." Berthie warned in a menacing voice. "To accuse me of fearing anything would be like saying you're actually worth something."
Carnelian cringed as Berthie dug his foot deeper into his back. His intention hadn't been to tease Berthie or make fun of him or accuse him of anything. However, he knew Berthie's personality and he should have known better than to say anything that could be taken as offensive.
"I'm...I'm sorry." Carnelian managed to get out. His apology wasn't really for offending Berthie; he was apologizing mostly as a plea for his life to be spared. Panic rose inside of him since he knew his companion wasn't afraid to take another person's life with that monstrous sword of his. He was about to beg some more when he heard a yelp next to him. The small dog was barking at Berthie, doing it's best to scare him so he would leave Carnelian alone. Carnelian heard the chuckle of the other man and felt the weight lift off of him. He knew what was going to happen next.
"No, don't kill him!" Carnelian screamed. He moved as quickly as he could and covered the dog with his body. He released a loud shriek as he felt even more pain in his back. He knew he had been cut; he could feel the blood pouring down his back, but at the moment he didn't care. He gathered the dog in his arms and did his best to stand.
"Is that dog really worth sacrificing your life for?" Berthie asked, holding his sword out to Carnelian's neck once he had stood. The two men looked at each other, one smirking and the other cowering in fear, before Carnelian finally took off in the opposite direction.
He didn't know how long he had been running, but he didn't stop until he was sure he hadn't been followed. He eventually collapsed, though he did everything in his power to stay at least sitting on his knees. The dog jumped out of his arms as he fell, whimpering and gently licking Carnelian's hands.
"You have to go," Carnelian struggled to get out. He already knew his wound wasn't fatal. If it was he wouldn't have made it as far as he did. He almost wished the blow had killed him. He knew he had no choice but to go back to that man. He shivered and hugged himself as he thought of Berthie's shrill laugh and ghostly face. Carnelian thought he had seen all of the evil he could ever see, but he never imagined he would ever come face to face, let alone work with, the devil himself. Berthie was...terrifying.
"Go. Please, go," Carnelian pleaded with the dog. If Berthie found him with the dog he wouldn't hesitate to attempt to kill it again and probably succeed.
"Go!" Carnelian yelled. The dog backed up and stared at Carnelian, unsure of what to do. However, the dog didn't have to make a decision. It was made for him and he wouldn't be going anywhere. Carnelian jumped and gave a small cry as the dog was suddenly impaled with a blade. The death was instantaneous, but shocking nevertheless. Carnelian sat there, his hand to his heart and mouth agape, a moan accompanying each breath he took.
His eyes slowly moved from the now lifeless dog, still staked on the sword, to a pair of feet that stood next to it. He moved his eyes upward to see long legs, a torso, and then finally a most familiar and horrific face.
"You're bleeding so much, Bat. Let's get you fixed up, shall we?" Berthie said with as much concern as he could muster. Carnelian could tell he was feigning it, but he didn't dare move a muscle. Frozen to the spot he watched as Berthie stepped on the carcass of the dog to remove it from his sword. As Berthie walked passed Carnelian he ran his fingers through his hair, sending shivers up the other man's spine.
"You know, Carnelian," Berthie said, calling his companion by his name for the first time, though Carnelian personally hoped he never had to hear his name come from those lips again. "I firmly believe that if you fear something it's in your best interest to destroy it so it never haunts you again."
Carnelian slowly and carefully stood so as not to aggravate his wound. He glared daggers into the back of Berthie's head, very much aware that the man hiding behind the cat mask knew exactly was it was that he feared the most.
"I will take your advice someday..." Carnelian said, just loud enough for Berthie to hear him and with just a hint of venom. "...though not today."
Hah! I bet this chapter took you by surprise huh? Wasn't expecting our favorite cat and bat, were you? Well, Berthie being scared of dogs was more of a joke than anything else...we all know who the focus was in this chapter. Carnelian is gonna make me proud, I know it! Stay strong!