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THE BEAST


Where’s the girl?” whispered Yendor to the dog. The beast alternately growled and listened. Yendor kept his sword out, in case the creature reverted to attack mode. In answer to the question, the beast growled, rotated his head and looked over its shoulder. After a glance at Yendor it loped off in the direction it had previously been blocking. It sniffed and growled and drooled, taking turns and changing the pitch of his growl for no reason that Yendor could determine. They came to a door and the beast pawed the door once and growled at Yendor, more menacing than before.
Yendor pushed at the door, but it was locked. Eyeing the creature, Yendor decided to sheath his weapon. The door was of heavy wood. It smelled as if it had mildewed long ago but the spores had dried and become dust. The grain was rough and warped but smooth. There was a metal plate with a keyhole on the right side of the door at about waist level. The keyhole was not quite large enough for Yendor to stick his index finger in it.
“Where’s the key, Beast?” The name wasn’t very creative but Yendor wasn’t planning on getting too attached to the awful creature. Surprisingly, the question stopped the continual growl and the beast stared at Yendor, uncomprehendingly. Yendor got himself eyelevel with the keyhole, wondering when his brain had actually transferred his ability to sense his surroundings with the blue light to his physical eyes. He had spent much of the time up until meeting the beast with his eyes closed, sensing his way along.
The hole allowed some breezeless scent to waft through, but Yendor could see nothing. If he couldn’t fit his finger in the hole, his dagger probably wouldn’t fit either. He pulled it from his boot and tried it just in case. He had learned the hard way that thinking something won’t work shouldn’t prevent you from trying it anyway. This time; however, his prediction had been accurate. He thought that if the beast collar had a buckle that he might be able to pick the lock with its clasp. The trick would be to get the collar off the thing. They weren’t exactly friends. It was a plain, worn leather collar to which the remnants of the chain were attached.
Yendor decided to distract the hound with the dagger to try to get at the collar. Apparently, the glowing red eyes could see just fine in the lightless keep, and his snarling, growling, drooling disposition gave way to a fascination that Yendor had not seen previously in the beast. Yendor realized the beast was becoming hypnotized, and began to talk soothingly to the animal; “You are such a good, ugly damned beast aren’t you? Yes you are. It’s time for the spawn of all demons to go nighty-nite, isn’t it? Yes it is. You are one ugly, stinking, drooling little puppy dog aren’t you? Soo sleepy, yesss. Nighty-nite.” and with that, the beast lay down and began to snore droolingly on the floor.
Yendor had to heft the enormous, lolling head of the beast to get at the clasp, and managed to get a viscous, smear of demonic dog saliva on his arm and forearm and hand and it threatened to consume him completely before he managed to wipe away the stinking, steaming, chunk filled, sticky fluid with a handkerchief that would probably disintegrate from absorbing the thick liquid. When he finally was able to turn his attention to the collar, he saw immediately the clasp was far too small to have any effect on the oversize lock. As Yendor tosses away the useless collar, he saw out of the corner of his eye an irregularity in the shape of the collar that he hadn’t noticed previously. He picked it up off the floor and realized it had a small pocket near the buckle. He opened the simple snap to find a heavy iron key inside. Compared to the chain on the collar, the key was hardly noticeable at all. As he slid the key easily inside the lock, Yendor understood how the dog had known to come straight to this door. He was literally linked to it. As Yendor threw the lock and pushed open the door he hoped it didn’t turn out to be just a store room of demonic dog food.

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