Some call them Tin Men for the mark they wear; some call it a dog tag and the men who wear it the Queen's faithful hounds. He joins the hounds because he has long since realized that it is better to be predator than prey – and even the most faithful dog is a predator, deep down.

Most people, however, are rabbits, gregarious and trusting in the safety of a fixed lair. Easily startled and easily caught, should they make a nuisance out of themselves. They rarely do so, though – to break the law purposefully takes another mindset: that of a hare.

Hares offer much better sport. Self-reliant, stronger and faster than the rabbits, they are much more likely to resist capture, too. Rabbits simply squeal when you catch them, they rarely twist and kick, as many hares do. Then – and only then – he is allowed to grab and shake them until they stop fighting.

He finds that he enjoys the hunt, and, most of all, the catch. The first time he corners his prey, and sees it squirming and covering before him, it gives him a rush he'll never forget.

When he gets very lucky, he is sent to catch a fox – another true predator, another… killer. To take down one of those, anything goes and he works hard to become a dedicated fox hunter.

Other than that, he plays no favourites. When he brings in his first female as battered as the rest, it raises some eyebrows. But since she was trying to knife him when he broke her wrist, and it was her who tripped them on the stairs – without taking into account that he is bigger and heavier than her and would not let go even while falling – nobody says much. He is merely reminded of the leash that is the law.

A rather short leash, though, he finds, and some hares and foxes know exactly how far it extends and enjoy playing their games right in front of him, just out of reach. When he is called to a scene that literally looks as if the fox got into the henhouse – death and blood and feathers everywhere – he slips the leash, for the first time. What is left of that particular predator – and those he needs to… encourage to point him into the right direction – isn't worth bringing in, afterwards. He feels better than ever, when the cocksureness of 'you can't touch me, dog' gives way to terror under his fists.

He keeps slipping the leash, occasionally, when the game is worth the risk – should he be caught without the collar, his fellow hounds will treat him as a fox – but within and without the law, those disregarding it quickly learn to keep their heads down when he is around.

Some of his colleagues start to call him 'Tolerance' and think it's hilarious. The nickname catches on in other quarters as well, but there no one is laughing. Of the two, he prefers the latter reaction – power is never quite as visceral as when you see the fear blossoming in people's eyes, the moment they realize your presence.

And power is what marks the difference between predators and prey.

Ooo ooo ooo ooO

When the Crown Princess offers him a longer leash, he jumps to her call. He is not a soldier, but he is good at what he does, and, as he finds out fast, a born leader of the pack. He rises quickly, and the leash gets ever longer.

Only much later he realizes, that in exchange for the longer leash, he has accepted a collar that can't be slipped.