Having chewed at Uncle Hellhound’s fur for what felt like half a day, Cinderel must have been thinking to herself right at that moment: ‘This old dog’s fur is truly hard.’
“Little puppy, I’m your Uncle, don’t cha know. To think you actually dare to bite me, what if I decide to gobble you up in one bite?” Uncle Hellhound mischievously opened his jaws and made an ‘ahhhh’ sound as if he really intended to swallow her whole. As he did so, his pearly white teeth glittered with saliva and seemed to reek of cruelty itself.
Because Uncle Hellhound spoke in the tongue of the devil, I heard everything he said loud and clear. Naturally so did the little puppy who paused in shock for a moment before immediately loosening her bite and scampering back to her mother’s side.
Seeing that, I couldn’t help but express my admiration for that little whiz puppy. While she might be young, that didn’t mean she was clueless either. She clearly knew that her papa couldn’t stand up to Uncle Hellhound so she ran off to mama instead.
‘Backers are only called backers when they can provide backup.’ For little Cinderel to know that at such a young age, she had a bright future ahead of her!
Faced with Sinmosa, Uncle Hellhound didn’t show any intention of hitting her right off the bat. In fact, he treated her tenderly, choosing not to blame her at all.
“If it hadn’t been for Neanderke’s report, I might have really missed this opportunity entirely. Sasani that b*st*rd, he actually…my child, have you been well? I bet you aren’t…ever since you two went missing, I’ve been searching for you two every day…but to think you guys actually covered up your tracks instead…” Uncle Hellhound gently expressed his concerns before suddenly pulling a Jackal and Hyde on Sasani.
“Sasani! You wretched thing, you actually did that to your baby sister…I truly didn’t think you had it in you to commit such an act…” A barrage of scoldings ensued, all with the intent of shaming the irresponsible Sasani. As he stood there head lowered and lips sealed tight, the only way he could feel any worse was if he were to strangle himself.
“Uncle…please don’t speak of Sasani in that manner…all of that was of our own will…” Whether as a sister or as a wife, Sinmosa couldn’t bear to see Sasani berated like that. She stepped forth hoping to alleviate some of the fire on the beleaguered Cerberus but all that elicited was a brief look from Uncle Hellhound before he went back to chiding Sasani.
“If I only knew that you would commit such an act from the very start, I would have disposed of you long ago…” The scoldings continued, interrupted by intermittent slaps that almost brought him to tears.
“Uncle~” She tried to placate her uncle once more before throwing a furious glare at the side where a certain Cerberus was currently beside himself with joy at Sasani’s misfortune. Feeling that withering gaze upon him, Neanderke promptly wiped that smile off his faces and pretended as if nothing happened.
“We were merely passing by this time, we had no intention of…”
“I know, even if you guys wanted to return, they wouldn’t allow you to.” Uncle Hellhound interrupted her mid-sentence, eyes still gentle as before. However, amidst all that was an undisguisable sense of solemnity and weight in his eyes: “The clan already knows of this matter, the clan leader is really angry…had it not been for me stopping him, you two would have been removed from clan registry a few days ago already…after all, such an act…even I can’t accept it…do you two understand this?”
“We know…” Sinmosa lowered her head at that. “Honestly, both of us knew that from the very start, it’s just we still held some hope in our hearts that…that…”
Sasani was just as crestfallen as his sister. Only Cinderel had on a puzzled look at the moment, clearly oblivious to what was going on.
Being young, she couldn’t comprehend the gravity of having one’s name removed from their clan’s registry. That was tantamount to having the times they spent there rejected by others, and not everyone could accept such treatment.
“The clan leader has promised that your matter wouldn’t be made public but he made sure to emphasize that you two are barred from returning. For all intents and purposes, we will treat you two as missing hellhounds.”
“We never expected to be able to return…”
Having said that, both parties fell silent for a moment.
“Sinmosa, how about introducing your new friend over there.” Uncle Hellhound was the first to break the silence after which he nodded at me. “It has been 80 000 years since remnants of Sable Radiance last saw a devil appear. Let me guess where you guys came from…in my inherited memories, there are records of a certain region being linked to the Prison of the Dead via a teleportation gate. Don’t tell me you all came in from that gate?”
‘As expected of a high ranking member of a clan, he figured out our origin with just a glance. Well, it’s not like we were planning to hide that fact since that would be pointless.”
“That’s right, we came in from the Prison.” The Cerberus threw us a quizzical look at that point.
“My name is Mo Ke, even though my appearance is that of a Lust Demon’s, I’m actually a male. What about you, esteemed Cereberus, may I have the honor of knowing your name?”
“Not bad, I like a well mannered youngster.” Uncle Hellhound gave me a thin smile while praising me. “I am one of the elders of the hellhound clan, you may address me as Sidarth. As you’ve seen, I’m Sinmosa’s and Sasani’s uncle. They grew up under my watchful eyes and yet they ended up like this…”
As we chatted, Uncle Hellhound became more and more sentimental, at times talking about how adorable little Sasani was and how despicable the older Sasani was. Having said that, he then went on to gush about how cute Sinmosa was and how smart she was now…how pretty she was, how popular she was…
Out of respect for my elders, I diligently stood there listening, without ever interrupting him.
“Ah, I’m sorry, I seem to have gone off tangent. Thankfully, you’re a good natured one, to be able to listen for so long without getting impatient.” Realizing his error, Sidarth gave us an embarrassed smile.
Truth be told, it wasn’t that I was patient. Rather, it was because I didn’t dare to show my impatience on my face, he was a powerful Cerberus after all. While he might seem amiable now, that didn’t mean that respect wasn’t needed, especially in this lawless hellhole where the strong was king.
On Earth, there used to be a saying that went: ‘treat others the way you want to be treated yourself.’ If I act in a disrespectful, haphazard manner in front of Sidarth, what I would get in return would most likely be more of the same. While Sidarth might have been Sinmosa and Sasani’s uncle and I was their savior, that bit of connection wasn’t strong enough to be relied upon.
Thus, manners had to be kept up lest I wanted to remain here permanently. After all, here was an expert that could swat me to death with one paw strike if so he fancied it.
“You are conscientious, very much so. This attitude of yours will help you avoid a lot of troubles in the future and perhaps even save your life someday, that I’m sure of. However, such a cautious and reserved approach will dull your youthful vigor.” As he said that, his lips curled upwards in a manner that seemed like a smile yet didn’t seem like one as well.
‘Was he praising me or giving me advice? From those words alone, he almost seemed to be warning me.”
“The young tend to be the ones who die early.”
“It is as you say, hahaha” Sidarth gave a jovial chuckle. “Truly an interesting youngster, definitely a lot better than these two over here.”
As he said that, he threw a look at Neanderke and Sasani, instantly garnering a sullen look from both.
“From the looks of things, your goal must be the territory of the Purgatory Shadowcats.” Sidarth abruptly steered the conversation back to business.
“Well, I won’t ask why you’re heading there but since we’ve met each other like this, I’ll just give you a little help. While the Shadowcats tend to be solitary creatures, they do congregate under certain circumstances. If you proceed down this path, you will definitely meet that fellow, Anmi. He’s the closest Shadowcat to us, location wise. I helped him before so if you require help of any kind, just tell him I sent you.”
“Anmi, huh, I’ll remember it. My gratitude for the help, I’ll remember your kindness.”
“There’s no need for that, I’ll be happy as long as you don’t hold this against me. Besides, for my worthless nephew and Sinmosa to willingly help you, you must have done them a great favor or even saved them.” As he said that, Sidarth trotted over to Sinmosa’s side, head shaking with every step, and gently pulled apart the fur on the side of her nape. Out came a little black puppy who gave her mom a scared little sniff.
“Even though this little child might seem healthy on the surface, I can sense a giant mass of energy residing in her that she doesn’t naturally own. That energy is what’s maintaining her life right now, moreover, judging from Sinmosa’s injured posture, I can tell that she must have suffered some sort of fatal wound not too long ago. If I’m not mistaken, you are the one who saved them, right?”
While he might have ended that with a questioning remark, there was certainty in his tone.
‘I have to admit, this old dog is a sharp one. With just a bit of information, he actually managed to guess most of what happened.’