Tooth and Claw | Teen Ink

Tooth and Claw

May 24, 2021
By Charlie-Hex, Tooele, Utah
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Charlie-Hex, Tooele, Utah
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Author's note:

This piece is only one chapter of a book that I will work until completion, but I want readers to know that it is here and waiting. As a young boy, I found safety in the Warrior Cat, Seekers, Wolves of the Beyond and Wings of Fire novels and it inspired me to write my own animal fiction.

But I wanted more of minority awareness in my fiction, mostly to include more LGBT representation, which is why the main character Hexate is openly gay and falls in love with a male deer-rabbit, also shedding light on interracial same sex couples, because in lots of media I see a lot of gay white couples and hardly anything else, just like how interracial straight couples were rejected a few decades ago.

I want to be an insparation for young readers to know that there is not just one way of representing a minority and expressing love.

Family History

It was the middle of winter when the brothers were born to Asta, the Bear King and Freila, his Queen. Asta was a bear-tiger that came from a royal lineage, giving him the birth right to be the Bear King, and the choice of his mate, Freila the bear-wolf. 

They gave birth to two sons, Eijin and Hexate, named after their great grandfathers. Though they were brothers born from the same parents, they looked very different, which often led to questions of the Queen committing adultery, but it is only lies from speculators. Eijin had many of his fathers aspects, white fur, body build and face much like a polar bear. His tail and paws were a mix of wolf and bear. Ears, eyes and fur pattern of a wolf, but he inherited his father’s dark brown stripes..

Hexate was the same as his brother, but much darker, taking more of his mother’s fur coloration. Black fur with dark brown stripes, but the big major differences between him and Eijin was his unnaturally large teeth and his massive size, having more bear genes than his brother.

The King and his council spoke of Hexate’s unnatural size and ultimately said it to be from his lineage, for the Aeu bloodline was royal because of the massive size genes it produced, making polar bears 1.5 times larger than normal and much more accustomed to battle and raw power.

But he didn’t inherit this gene. 

“Eijin! Eijin come on! It’s our first hunting day!” A young juvenile tiger cub calls from outside the Prince’s den. 

“Hunting day…?” Eijin yawns and looks at the opening of the cave before his eyes brighten “It’s hunting day!” Running out of the den, he crashes into his friend, Lexus, giggling and jumping around.

“What are we waiting for? Let’s go!” Eijin hollarded and started to sprint down the path, weaving between hot springs and big piles of snow. 

“Hey wait for me!” Lexus bounds down the hill, more agile and elegant than the bear cub.

The boys ran through the village, almost knocking over a smoking rack full of fish. “Watch it fur balls!” an older female wolf-black bear called as she quickly caught the rack.

  “Sorry Opal! It's our first hunt!” The boys called back and ran up to the rock that Asta and Hexate laid upon. 

“You’re late boys.” Asta slipped down in front of the tiger cub and his son, “Next time, we’ll hunt without you.”

Eijin looks down, away from his father’s gaze, “Sorry dad, we won’t be late again.”

Asta nuzzled his son’s forehead, “Head up, a Prince does not grovel to his father, now let's get moving.”

Asta turns and starts to walk in the forest, the snow up to his forearms, Lexus is almost buried so he stays in the back to avoid getting stuck, Eijin being not much bigger is in front of Lexus. Hexate however was already half the size of their dad, Eijin, a third of Asta’s size. 

They track down a lone bull moose by noon, Asta giving the boys a pep talk and an attack plan.

“Listen closely, Hexate, you’ll begin the chase, spook him by coming up behind and roaring as loud as possible, but don’t get kicked. Once he starts moving, snap at his legs to get him going faster.” Hexate nods and starts to creep down behind a thicket that is behind the moose at about 15 feet away.

“There’s a fork further down, Eijin and Lexus, you’ll hide behind the giant boulder, when the bull gets close enough to start turning down the wrong path, you two will jump out and block the way, make yourselves as big as possible.”

The cubs walk with Asta down to the fork he was talking about. “Don’t let the bull go down this path.” He uses a claw to scratch an ‘X’ in the dirt.

“You boys have the most important job, make it count.” Asta runs down the rest of the pathway and climbs up a rock pile that is out of sight to the path, readying himself to jump down. 

He signals Hexate by howling, and getting the moose nervous. The animal looks around in alertness, as Hexate gets right behind the bull and gets about 5 feet away before releasing a roar that echoes in the mountains, the bull panics and starts to run.

“What path did you dad say to keep the moose from running down?” 

“I think… The one that he didn’t mark.”

“That makes sense, why mark it if you want it? That’s more confusing.’

Eijin and Lexus get behind the big boulder, waiting for the prey and getting ready to jump out. The pounding feet of the moose quickly approached, and once close enough the boys jumped out, getting on top of each other, and standing as tall as they could, scaring the bull in the wrong direction. 

They cheer once the moose is running down the path until Hexate comes running up, “What are you doing!? That’s the wrong way!” Hexate books it after the moose, howling and roaring to call Asta for help.

Hearing his son’s calls, Asta jumps from his hiding spot, adrenaline kicking his legs into action, running faster and faster to reach his offspring. 

Eijin and Lexus realize their accident and run behind Hexate, trying their hardest to keep up. Once they hear Asta roar get closer, their hope lifts up again, ready to get their breakfast. 

But it wasn’t Asta that attacked the moose, bringing it down to the ground. Hexate digs his paws deep into the ground to stop himself from crashing into the large predator. Eijin and Lexus running into the bigger cub’s back, ready to argue about the sudden stop but seeing the danger ahead of them made them real quiet. 

The predator lifted it’s head from the now dead moose, giant fangs protruding out of it’s maw. A full grown, adult male saber. 

“Sorry little cubs, but this meal is mine. Get going before you become my appetizers.” He snarls and bares his teeth in warning. 

The three couldn’t move, remembering their mother’s words about encounters with a saber. 

“Sabers are very dangerous animals by themselves, but even more so as a pack. If one is hunting, chances are that more will follow to try and steal the kill. But if there’s smaller predators around, they will eat them. They will not hesitate to kill a cub, so you must be careful.”

The words rang in Hexate’s skull, but he wasn’t going to run away. He had to protect his brother and defend his territory, which the saber was crossing into.

“No. You need to leave now. This is King Asta’s territory and you just stole his prey.”

The saber gives a sickly grin as it sizes up the bear cub, glancing at the smaller cubs behind and licking his jaws. “Clearly you have no idea what or who I am, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt,” the saber walks closer to Hexate, his muscles flexing. “My name is Bulos, and I am the strongest saber of every and any clan. And I will make sure that all of your clan members will know that I will slaughter anyone who gets in my way of power.”

He lifts his massive paw, ready to strike Hexate in the face, aiming to break his jaw, neck or skull. But before Bulos could swing, Asta came from out of the bush, running over the saber, starting a real fight, slashing the cat’s side and making deep wounds. 

“You will die for being here you vile animal!” Asta bellows, getting the boys behind him and making sure the saber doesn’t get around him to the children. 

“Hexate, take them and get out of here!” 

“But dad-” Eijin protests. 

“Move it!” Hexate turns around and uses his head to push his brother in the direction of home, grabbing Lexus byt the scruff and running as fast as he could. 

“You finally showed up, you flea ridden hybrid!” Bulos snarled and pounced on Asta’s shoulders, biting the back of his neck, trying to sever an artery, but Asta’s thick fur was just enough protection.

“Get off you demon!” Rolling over to crush the saber, Asta gets him off his back, immediately going after Bulos throat, pulling and tearing open skin, nearly crushing his windpipe with powerful jaws. 

Using his back legs, Bulos rapidly kicks Asta’s stomach, using his claws to mutilate his underbelly, reaching up with his front paws to claw out eyes.

Hearing the roar of pain from his father, Hexane drops Lexus and whips around, ears and eyes focusing on the sounds of his dad being murdered. He turns back to his brother, looking him in the eyes, “Ei, you and Lexus need to run back home and get help, I’m going to go help dad, run quickly!” Hexane runs to his father’s aid, ignoring his brother’s calls.

Running straight through the forest, his fur getting tangled and matted with bush branches, he bursts through a large hedge, looking for Bulos and his dad. 

But he was too late to save his father. 

His father’s neck lay in the jaws of the beast, his body limp and blood spilling out of his stomach, face and throat. 

The anger boiled in his chest hotter than fire in the desert. “You b*stard!”

Hexate launched himself at the saber, getting on his back and digging his claws deep into the flesh of his father’s killer. 

The roars of pain could be heard from the village, the bear clan warriors rushing to action to save the king and prince when Eijin came in a panic, screaming “Saber! Saber in the territory!” 

The warriors run erratically, not concerning themselves with sticking together, only worried over getting to the king and his heir. Lexus’s father is at the head of the attack, running with such speed that the wind can’t keep up with him. 

Hexate’s shoulder was bleeding heavily, as Bulos pants, chuckling and then it changed to maniacal laughter. “Your pathetic father couldn’t defeat me, what makes you think that a pathetic half breed like you can?” Hexate pushes through his pain and begins to circle Bulos. “My pathetic son dirtied my blood line by mating with your filthy wolf blooded mother!” Bulos roared and struck Hexate to the ground with a powerful blow to the head, his body cracking against a tree.

“I made the perfect predator by mating with a bear-tiger, making us bigger, stronger and faster than Arc himself! Your father was my perfected beast, destined to make a new species of animal, the true apex predator that could fight gods!” Bulos ranted on, foaming from the mouth and stomping on Heaxte’s chest. “But it looks like I’ll have to wipe you and your brother from existence and start over. It’s sad, if you didn’t have dog blood, I would have happily called you my grandson.”

Hexate couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Grandson? Dog blood?

What is he talking about? “My father came from the Aeu bloodline! There’s no way he’s part saber!” Hexate denies and denies, but Bulos only laughs, coughing up blood. 

“Don’t worry, you’ll be with your daddy in paradise and he’ll tell you everything~.” Bulos snarls, roaring and leaping to Hexate, claws and fangs ready to kill.

But before he landed on top of Hexate, a flash of orange and black tore Bulos out of the sky with powerful legs and paws. The rest of the warriors weren’t far behind and started a full assault on the offending saber. Hexate froze in place before looking over to where his father laid dead, the roars of battle fading far away. 

With shakey steps, he goes over to the fallen King. “D-dad? Dad get up. Please, you can’t leave mom. You can’t leave Eijin and me…”

The cub’s head hung low as tears soaked his fur as he put his small paw next to his father’s. 

The hanging heads of the warriors and the burly body of white fur on the back of two of them. Freila didn’t need to be told what had happened once she saw her son’s beaten body and blood shot eyes. Tears fell with the gentle snowfall. 

Before the sunset, the clan’s shaman came down from the mountain, needing no signal to know that someone had fallen. The ways to honor the dead is to take the body back to the creature’s birth place. Asta was born in the Winter Wastelands. 

Where the sabers roamed and owned.

Hexate never seemed the same after that day. A great gloom hung over him constantly, but he refused to confide in anyone, including Eijin. He did everything he was told and did it to a degree of perfection. Which worried his mother to no end. She wondered what happened with his father, the saber and Hexate in the forest, but neither she nor anyone else would come to know what happend.

Eijin was still young when it happened and understood what happened to their father but never understood why Hexate pushed him so far away when Freila and Eijin got even closer after Asta’s death. Hexate was next to take the throne his father left behind as soon as spring came, his mother being his council until he found a mate.

But Hexate wanted nothing to do with it. Every chance he got he got away from it all, taking long walks around the territory but staying far from where the attack happened.

“Hexate! Are you even listening to me?” His mother snapped her jaws in his face to gain his attention.

“Yeah.” He growls and sits up straight like he was taught, puffing out his chest but his expression showed that he was proud of nothing. His mom had been dragging out the lesson of making the right choices for the safety and health of the clan. 

“Hex, please try and make an effort to do this. You are going to be King.” Freila sighed softly and sat next to her son, resting her head on his shoulder. “I know things have been hard since you dad passed-”

“He didn’t pass, he was murdered.” Hexate says so coldly it sounds as if venom dripped from his fangs.

“Since your dad has been gone, but you have to carry on our legacy and family.”

“I never wanted to be this. Eijin is the one who wants to carry on the family, but I have no desire to be a king with a dark blood-soaked secret.”

His voice has significantly dropped since he was a cub, whenever he spoke it was a groveling rumble. He jumps down from the stone ledge that they were sitting on, looking back up to his mom before hanging his head low and walking back to his den on the outskirts of the village.

Crawling into the dark hole between two trees, his body slumps against the cold earth. “I can’t do this anymore... “ Tears threaten to spill from his eyes as he curls into a ball to enter a deep, depressed slumber.

Eijin was receiving combat lessons with Lexus, both fighting with excellent skill. 

“Lexus, cover your damn flank!” His father, Ende barks out. Eijin was about to head butt Lexus’ side, making the tiger stumble and land a final blow to pin down his friend. 

“Lexus!” Ende quickly trotted over, growling and pushing Eijin aside, “Didn’t you hear me boy? You are next in line to lead these warriors! But you can’t even do the basics of covering your weakness!”

Ende was roaring and batting Lexus hard in the head, “Stand up boy!” He snarls and forces Lexus to stand before he starts his brutal abuse on his son. 

The skirmish was short, ending when Ende slashed Lexus’ nose and lips, causing blood to drip into the mud. “Next time you better win.” His father growls and leaves the two. 

Eijin goes over to Lexus and licks his wound before being gently swatted away. “Not now Ei.. Let’s just go see Freila to fix me up.” 

The two young males are walking to Freila as Hexate walks away from where she sat. 

“What’s his problem?” Lexus asks and grumbles, taking a larger dislike for Hexate for the way he treats his mother and Eijin. 

“He’s just… I don’t know.” Freila sighed and hung her head, shaking slowly. “Ende got Lexus on the nose today.” Eijin said as the two got up next to the queen. 

“Oh you poor cub.” She cleans the blood and uses a leaf paste to cover and seal the wound. “It should scab over tonight, but wash it off gently in water.” Lexus nods, looking off to where Hexate fled off to. “Eijin. You need to take the throne. There’s no way we can depend on the likes of him.” Lexus growls as his tail swings back and forth in anger. 

“Lexus you know I could never-”

“He’s right. Your brother has… Well, he’s not willing to lead our clan. I believe that he’s going his own way now. Ei,”

Eijin looks at his mother in concern, “Yes?”

“Promise me that you’ll take care of our home. And don’t blame your brother. He tried, but some just can’t do it. But I believe in you my son.”

She rests her head on top of his, rubbing their faces on each other. 

Hexane came out of his den long after sunset. He creeped through the village, gathering a small amount of supplies, filling up his saddle bags with food, rope, medicine, herbs and some different types of currency. Picking up his armor to cover his forearms and a thick collar to cover his neck, and finally grabbing a thick broadsword.

He passed by his mother’s and brother’s den, leaving a message for them both. But as he was leaving the village he was confronted by the shaman, an old sun bear.

“May your travels bring you prosperity and knowledge my son.”

“Uh, thanks.” Hex tries to walk past but the shaman stops him by using his staff to block the way.


“Hexate. Be safe, and come back to your home. And this is a message your father wanted me to give you when you decided to leave.” The shaman handed over a small roll of paper. Hexate tucked it into his saddle, bowing his head in respect. 

“Thank you, Yakul.” Hexate secured his items and took off running, barreling down the trail that led to the clan.  

In the morning when Freila and Eijin found his messages to them, his mother let one tear shed while Eijin roared out in fury.

“Arc, please watch over my son. Guide him to what he seeks.” She said while looking up to the sky as the sun rose and painted the sky in fantastic colors.

Hexate traveled North East, heading toward Arc’s Tower in the Winter Waste to find answers on his past. But the trip was a week's worth of continuous travel, and that’s in a group of at least five with a caravan. Groaning to himself he walked on, collecting anything useful on the way. He followed the river to avoid confrontation with too many animals and to also cover any noises he makes so sabers won’t know he’s deep in their territory until he has gotten the information he’s searching for. It was still early in the morning, the sun hadn't come up from behind the mountains he pushed far behind, but the weather became colder. 

He could smell a beastly winter storm arising and feel it in his joints, and it was going to be nasty. “I can’t turn back now. I have to keep moving.” He encouraged himself and kept moving along the river side.

But the storm hit a lot sooner and harder than Hexate had thought.

Rain had turned into hail in a matter of seconds and winds started to bend and break small or old trees. The balls of ice had started to smack into his body and cause small cuts and brusings, however he was not going to stop until he was able to see the tower. The farther up river he travelled, the worse it got, to the point of landslides and trees falling over and blocking his path. 

“Great. Now how am I supposed to do this?” He looked up to the sky, semi hoping for answers from a God or Arc himself. Sighing deeply he looked at the giant tree that knocked over several smaller ones and had blocked his side of the river, but on the other side, it was clear. 

Hexate was crawling across the tree bridge with a steady pace, sinking his claws into the bark so the rushing water and bellowing winds couldn't knock him over. The beginning of the bridge wasn’t any problem, but the middle and end were. The middle of the tree is covered in the rapid water, making a thick and powerful cap of water. And the very end of the tree was broken off about 10 feet before reaching the bank. He’ll have to do or die at this point.

He slowly came to the cap of water that was almost his height, this water could wash him all the way down to the Southern Sea if he wasn’t careful. He stood up on his hind legs to try and see if he would be able to jump or even reach to the next part of the tree. As he stood the tree groaned and shifted underneath him suddenly, scaring him back down on all fours.

Whining in a little bit of fear Hexate started to creep forward and push himself through the water, clinging on to the tree for dear life. As he put both of his paws on the first half of the tree a cracking of lightning and grumble of giant rocks caused him to stop and look up river. A mountain was hit with the lightning strike and giant rocks and boulders and mud all came crashing down. The mountain was a mile away but Hexate couldn’t waste any more time.

He bulleted through the water with all the force his back legs could muster and got his head and paws through to the other side, but the rest of his body got pulled into the current, almost dragging him down under the surface. He yells out in panic and sees the landslide barrel to him faster and causes the water to rush faster and rise up. He pulled himself back on top of the tree and started running down to the end of the tree, but hesitates to jump. He shuffles and almost jumps but the top of the tree below him broke.

He fell into the water and was swept away, the land slide coming and burying him under water and mud. 


Eijin looked at the note his brother left before tearing it up and throwing it into the fire in the center of the village. He growled and cried in silence as he laid down on the ground, his head under his paws. Small and slow footsteps came toward him, the Shaman, an older and frail lioness. 

“Why did you let him go?” Eijin growls as he turns his head to Yakul. 

“To leave was his choice.”

“And yet you could have stopped him! He was the successor to our father and now my mother is in shambles because of his choice!”

Yakul thwacked Eijin over the head with her staff in between her jaws. Eijin whimpered and put his paw on top of his head to soothe the pain. 

“What the hell you crazy old-”

“I will hit you again.”

That sufficed the young male for now as the older female sat down beside him. “Your father did not want this life for you boys or the clan. When you and Hexate came of age, it was his plan to start becoming more diplomatic with our neighbors, his sons at his side to help him, and take his place.”

Eijin looked up to the sky, hoping that his father was looking back at him.

“The clans have been divided for far too long, and we have long forgotten that we are all descendants on Arc, and that we came from his body, the earth below our paws.”

“We didn’t choose to be this way, the saber clan caused it all. Thinking like that is what caused the sabers to take control of everyone.”

“That is not what Asta wanted!”

Yakul roars at the young male and growls loudly, gaining other clan members' attention. She sighs and starts to walk up the mountain. 

“Follow me and you will see.”


The rushing water raced past the green bank by the forest, but soon it came to a steady flow. A large lump of black fur was washed up on the river bed, a shallow and slow breath escaping from his mouth. A sudden cough broke the tranquility of the forest, along with the sound of hacking up water and panting, while a soaking wet Hexate frantically stood up and ran out of the water, collapsing on to the tall grass and trying to gather his bearings. 

“What- Where-” The young hybrid let out a mixture of a roar and whimper as he put weight on his back right leg, falling down and looking over himself. His ankle was heavily swollen and fur was missing in some patches where cuts from rocks had gouged into him on his trip down the river. 

“No. Oh no! No.” He looks around, realizing that he’s not closer to Arc’s tower, but much farther away. He smacks his paw against the side of his face and groans. He reaches for the bag on his side, thankful that it was made out of a buffalo bladder, making it waterproof to some degree. 

He pulled out a coarse strip of deer hide and started to wrap it around his ankle as best as he could. 

“Well. I can’t be too far off course if I’m only down in the forests. I’ll just have to keep moving.” He keeps as much weight off of his leg as possible, but being careful not to baby it too much.

His stomach started to growl as midday hit. “I shouldn’t use the jerky I have right now when I can hunt.” smelling the air he picked up on a warren.

His midday hunt turned to be fruitless as the warren was empty, the rabbits being long gone. As Hexate walked on, he remembered back to one of his first lessons with his father.

“Keep yourself low to the ground and down wind whenever you’re hunting, even with small prey. It’s best to kill as fast as you can instead of make the creature suffer.” Asta walks along a forest path with his son on his back.

“But why does it matter? They know that they’re being hunted and that someday they’ll die. And they can’t talk!” Hexate climbed upon his father’s head and bent over to look Asta in the eyes.

“You misunderstand, son, everyone knows that they will die, but they fear dying in pain, that is why you must be swift and smart. That’s the reason why we have banished the sabers. Because they torture other animals before they finally kill them.”

“Oh. But they still can’t talk, right?”

“They can, they’re just fearful and quiet creatures. When I was a young cub like you, I had a conversation with a moose calf and we became friends that afternoon.”

Hexate chewed on this information for a long while, until asking, “So, if we could be friends with them, then could they be in our families? Like you and mom?”

Hexate didn’t know that the question he so innocently asked was the greatest taboo between predator and prey. Asta stopped, and pulled his cub down from his back and sat him in front of himself. 

“Son, what you just asked is something that could never happen and is taboo among all of us. Predators like us and more, can never ever be with prey as mates.”

Hexate was never told why this was taboo, but because of his respect for his father, he never mentioned it again. And he never thought of it again until now. 

“I suppose it makes more sense now that I’m older…”

He thought out loud and walked through tall, dark green grass. The smell of spring was wonderful in the Taiga, but even more so here in the forest. The dense trees didn’t allow for much sunlight to hit the ground, but in one small area off to the left of Hexate, a small, blooming red flower was growing. 

In wonder, the young male walked closer and sniffed the delicate plant. It smelled of sweet rain, and then more smells came to Hexate’s nose, pulling him closer to a meadow. His feet started to move faster and faster without his conscience following. Sprinting out into the meadow and having the bright sun blind him for a moment, making his ears ring. 

He froze in place and blinked away the sensitivity in his eyes, making them water gently. And what he saw in front of him, was a gorgeous sight to behold.

This is a place the world forgot, where love is open and free. A beautiful space full of colors many winter creatures never see in their lifetimes and it’s so overwhelming that Hexate is stunned, standing at the opening of the forest to a great plain of flowers, the wind blowing the grass in ways like a wave of the ocean, hypnotic. 

The great blue sky was ever beautiful, North or South, but these greens, reds, yellows, purples and blues of flowers and plants Hexate has never seen, bring a fondness that many lovers and mothers know, the bond between two beings that bring tears of pure joy in gigantic waves of euphoria. 

And there stood a wonderful being, more beautiful than its surroundings. The graceful curves atop his head, ending in points that would pierce his hide. Powerful legs that spring into action at the hint of something gone awry. Beautiful patterns of the fur, spots, lines and wolven patterns. The colors stood out from the bright colors surrounding him, blue-greys, near blacks and a purest white. This creature, this amazing raw animal, stood and stared right into the eyes of a beast, Hexate, a creature made for destruction, turned soft, calm and pure.

His eyes were different, one a beautiful sea teal that makes you feel alive and inspired, and a bright pale yellow eye that put a spark in Hexate’s heart. The eyes of someone truly magnificent, an angel even. 

For the first time in his life, Hexate let the shadows fall behind him, into the sun where they could not follow, and stepped forward as not just a predator, but a creature will desire, not just need, but wants of a mammal. Comfort, love, trust and companionship. 

But as he approached, the creature bounded away as quickly as it had come to view. He was lost in all thoughts yet he couldn’t form a coherent one. The beauty that was before him was small, but left a great impact on him like a giant wave. 

“What… Who was that?” He asks to himself, not knowing that there were other, much smaller ears around. 

“Who was that? Why that was a rabbit-deer named Fern. Quite a beauty huh? I would love to sink my fangs into that rump!” Hexate looked around himself to find where the voice was coming from. 

“Show yourself!” He growls and stands up on his hind legs.

“Whoa whoa whoa! No need to get hostile boss man!” A brown fox came out of the grass in front of Hexate. 

“The name is Sniter.” The fox bows his head as Hexate comes back down on all fours. “Say you look really strong, tough, and most importantly, tall! You think you could help me get that big hive of bees up in that tree?”

Hexate looked down at this fox with a sneer. “And what do I get out of it if I help you?”

“Well my good- uh, bear thing- you have my word as a fox that I will share some honey and help you with your quests!”

Hexate moved fast and threw Sniter down on his back, clutching the brown fur with his front teeth. “Your word as a fox? Well, where I’m from, foxes get eaten and s***ted out in the snow.”

Hexate growled and glared into the small eyes of Sniter’s, scaring the small canine so bad that he almost had a sudden bladder release.

“Y-you have my word! Period I won’t go behind your back or flake out!”


Hexate moved up and away from Sniter’s throat and looked over to the tree he mentioned earlier, spotting the busy hive about a head above his own if he stood up. He moved over to the tree and stood up slowly, careful not to restrain his ankle. 

Lifting his paws, he grabs the hive on both sides and gently pulls it down from the tree’s branch. Tearing open the husk, he searches for the queen bee, successfully grabbing her and walking 50 feet over to another tree, majority of the bees following their mother. 

“Well that was a nifty trick! Where did you learn that?” Sniter starts digging into a small comb while Hexate came back and rubbed honey on his nose to aid a little sting.

“I read about how bees will follow their queen, making it easier to collect honey from a hive and to reduce being stung.”

“Whoa whoa whoa, you can read? You- you must be royalty!” Sniter exclaimed as he started to kiss Hexate’s paws. The hybrid flicked the fox away from his paw and wiped off the slobber on the grass. 

“I’m not royalty. I came from up north, where we’re taught how to read from very young. They don’t do it here? Even so close to the Dune’s Library?”

“Well no, no one in my generation or even five before have learned how to read. Sand tigers are the only species allowed in the library, not even their close cousins can enter.”

Hearing this sort or news dampened Hexate’s mood even more. Was this being hidden from him? Why didn’t he ever know?

“That’s.. Disturbing.”

Hexate left the subject alone and ate his fill, knowing that he might not be able to eat again for a few days. Once down, he laid down in the grass, enjoying the warmth of the sun but also hating it because it soon became too hot to bear. Reluctantly moving over to the shade and drinking from a small puddle, Sniter bounded over, ready to bother his new friend. 

“By the way, what’s your name, big guy?”


“You sure you’re not royalty? Because a friend's cousin of mine knew a grandfather lion who was a king who had the name Hexate. Or was he a tiger? No no no, I think he was an alpha wolf. Then again he did talk about the guy having a lot of hair… Nope, he was definitely a lion.”

Sniter’s ramblings easily got on Hexate’s nerves, trying his best to block the annoying nasally, congested sound of Sniter’s voice. 

“Sniter- how old are you?” He asked with a grumble.

“Oh I’m about 2 or 3 years old. I think 2 and ½. No definitely 3.”

“Sniter. If one more contradiction comes out of your snout, I’ll make sure bees make a hive around your head.”

“Alright! Take it easy.” The fox laid down in the sun and looked out into the open meadow, tail happily swishing.

Hexate was glad to have some peace and quiet, settling down for a midmorning nap. A brief moment of relaxation was felt by the hybrid, the cool grass settling against his body and a lovely breeze flowing through his fur. 

But on that breeze, came the distinct smell of wolves. Jumping up and searching around, Hexate became uneasy, because it never mattered how big you were if a pack of 20 or more wolves came after you. Number’s always outdo strength and size. Hexate looked back to where Sniter was, and the fox was gone, leaving no trail behind him. 

“That slimy sneaky son of a-”

Pawsteps came within hearing range, and there were a lot of them. He started to rationalize his options of escape. Booking out into the meadow was risky, but it would be a straight shot out of the wolf territory. But if wolves were surrounding him, he could run into a blockade. Charging forward was a no go because the forest got thicker and would be harder to navigate. Hiding might be better if he covers himself well enough, but there would be no time. Standing his ground and improvising soon started to become his only option.

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