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Found 30 results

  1. Rod_3rich

    Chapter 2

    As the conductor was beginning to do his rounds, Cross decided that he could do with a bit of unpacking while he waited for the conductor. The same thought seemed to had crossed over the colonel’s mind as the panther was already opening one of his suitcases and brought out the clothes that he might be needing for the four day journey ahead. “Mind if I close the door for a bit?” he asked Graves. The colonel, who was in the process of removing a set of dinner jacket, nodded. “Sure, go ahead.” With that, Cross slid close the door and proceeded to sort out his clothes, deciding which would he would use throughout the journey and which would stay securely locked and stored. The uniformed Malinois came around Cross’ compartment half an hour later. Simon Dupont was all smiles, and he was holding the same clipboard from before. However, the detective suspected that the board now held an entirely different content. “Good afternoon,” the conductor greeted, tipping his hat while he gave Cross a small nod. “May I have your passport and your boarding pass, please?” The cougar compiled. The conductor stamped the boarding pass after giving it a brief look, before he went to study Cross’ passport; inspecting the silvery coat of arms of Federation of Hesperia emblazoned on the navy blue cover before he looked over the identification on the first page. With a small nod, the conductor stored the passport into the small leather satchel strapped across his shoulder. “Everything in order?” Cross asked casually. “Everything is fine, sir,” replied Dupont with a smile. “Seems like you’re one of the few Hesperians travelling with us on this train today.” The detective quirked an eyebrow. “Really?” “Yes, most travellers seemed to come from Avaloria or Columbia, sir,” said the conductor with a small chuckle. Cross nodded. “I see. Not even a Gallian onboard?” “In the Valmangne coach? Not really, no, but I believe there’s one Gallian passenger on the next car. A doctor, I believe. I have to check,” Dupont replied. “The Pierrograd coaches are filled with Arlemanians and Rosvenians, naturally.” Chuckling in agreement, Cross then let the conductor to relay the standard welcome greeting and an explanation of the train’s various amenities; from the two dining cars in between the four passenger coaches, the lounge car, and the observation car at the end of the train. “If you have any questions or needed any assistance during your journey, feel free to call me or Herschel. We will be more than happy to assist you.” Cross gave the conductor a thankful nod. “Alright. Thank you, Dupont.” “You’re welcome, Mr. Cross,” the canine smiled, before he clicked his tongue. “Ah, right. I just remembered. Herschel has relayed to me to inform you that Mr. Gideon Cross is residing in the other Hieropolis-Valmagne coach, sir, the Émeraude car. Your brother is occupying compartment 2,” he recounted. “The Émeraude sleeping car is right next to this one, sir. Down that way,” he gestured to the direction of where the next passenger carriage was located. “Ah,” the cougar nodded. “Alright. Give Herschel my thanks.” “Will do, sir,” the uniformed canine nodded. “I will take my leave, and welcome onboard, once again,” he gave a final nod before moving on to the next compartment. Cross looked until the conductor had left the premises, listening as he knocked on the door of Colonel Graves’ compartment before he returned to the task of sorting his clothing, which took a better part of the minute. With everything done, the cougar went to slipped out of his thick coat and jacket, washed his face, and changed into a more comfortable, airier clothes, as it was a lot warmer inside the train. He knocked on the communicating door once he couldn’t hear the sounds of Simon Dupont talking next door. Graves slid the door opened and Cross could see that the colonel was just finished with his unpacking. “Well then, I’m going to see my brother. Would you like to come?” “Sure,” the panther smiled. “Just let met get my jacket.” Moving to the next sleeping car, Cross and Graves weaved past passengers who were standing on the hallway, admiring the view of the sprawling, snow covered plains outside Hieropolis. They came face to face with the conductor in charge of the Émeraude coach the moment they stepped into the sleeping car, and found out that it was the ram conductor they had met on the station moments before. The horned conductor directed them to Compartment 2 after Cross asked for his brother’s whereabouts, which was located the far end of the car. Crossing over the sleeping car, the detective and the colonel stopped at the aforementioned door and gave it a couple of knocks. “Yes? Who is it?” came Gideon’s voice. “It’s me, Gideon.” A moment later, the door cracked open and Gideon Cross’ blue eyes—both natural and mechanical ones—peered from the doorway. A moment later, the door was pushed open and the cougar himself was grinning brightly at his twin brother, “I see you brought the colonel with you. Come on in then.” Compartment 2, as it turned out, was a second class compartment. It was virtually similar to the first class compartments, only the difference was that it had a far simpler decor, equipped with a washroom that was shared with the neighboring compartment, and it was a double sleeper room instead of being a single sleeper. Cross was not the least surprised when he saw that his twin brother had a roommate. He couldn’t help but give the canine who also occupied Gideon’s compartment a quick study. His brother’s roommate was a male Akita with rich honey-brown coat with white and black markings. He appeared to be in early to mid 20s, and judging from the tags on his luggage, the canine seemed to be enjoying a vacation on his own. His clothing style suggested he’s from northern Columbia, possibly the Federal States or Laurentian Dominion. “This is Spencer Callius. Callius, meet my twin brother, Leonidas, and this is Colonel Achilles Graves,” Gideon introduced. The Akita blinked as he shook paws with the two felines. “Your twin? Oh, nice to meet you then, Mr. Cross, you too colonel.” “The pleasure is ours,” Graves smiled as he returned the canine’s handshake. “I go by Leon whenever I’m with my brother. Reduces the confusion,” the detective said. Callius chuckled. “Very well then.” “So, what brings you on this train, brother?” Gideon asked as he sat down. “I recall you wrote to me that you’ve solved the colonel’s case. Cross gave a small nod. “Indeed. I’m actually heading back home. The colonel has paid for my ticket on the Mercurius Express as a thank you gesture,” he said. Gideon stared at the panther before he chuckled. “That’s generous of you, colonel.” “Not at all, not at all,” the colonel chuckled. “It’s a small thing compared to what he had done for me.” “Oh, you’re a detective?” Callius went to ask, looking back and forth between the two cougar twins. Cross nodded. “Yes. We both are, actually.” “We’re more like partners, really.” His brother replied. “But we’re off duty at the moment,” he added. Cross’s eyebrow quirked upwards slightly at the remark. “Indeed.” Callius nodded. “Ah, enjoying a small winter break then.” “We were planning on touring the continent, originally,” Gideon answered before Cross could open his mouth. “But my brother here was summoned by the colonel and so I was left minding the office on my own, before I got bored and decided to take a small vacation for myself. It’s far too cold in Hesperia anyway.” That was a blatant lie of course, but Gideon always did have a way with words. Cross couldn’t help but wonder why his brother would hide the real reason he took to travelling the continent. Unless... “And now it seemed that we’re on our way home,” Cross concluded with a grin of his own. “Well, aside from the colonel’s case, my stay in Anatolia wasn’t terribly long. What about you then, Gideon? You never said you’re going this far south.” Gideon made an offhand gesture with his paw. “Well, I didn’t plan to, really, but you know how easily I can get sidetracked.” Another lie of course, but Cross decided to play along. He gave a derisive snort. “Sidetracked by the beautiful young females no doubt, or did you splurge our money to get to Hieropolis? Heavens know how you can burn through our expenses.” The cougar with the ocular prosthetic placed a paw over his heart. “To think my own twin would thought of me so lowly,” he lamented, muzzle twitching. “I’m hurt, dear brother… truly, I’m hurt.” The two cougars simply stood there for a full second, not moving an inch, before they broke into laughter. “In any case, I must say, travelling suits me,” said Gideon as his laughter died down. Cross chuckled. “I’m sure it does. So tell me, where have you gone during your vacation?” Graves cleared his throat, perhaps sensing that he was somewhat intruding in a familial moment. “Well, let’s let these two catch up,” he said. “How about we head to the lounge car, Mr. Callius?” Callius blinked before he shrugged and nodded in agreement. “Sure, I needed a drink anyway. I’ll see you there, Mr. Cross?” “Of course,” the two detectives replied in unison. Evidently, the Akita was only referring to Gideon but he returned the grin either way. He quickly moved out of the compartment with Graves, the panther closing the door behind him. Cross could hear the panther engaging Callius with a few questions as they made their way to the next car, their voices slowly melding with the thrumming and rattling of the train. “So,” Leon Cross began as he sat down on the foldable armchair across the large sofa, “how did your little adventure go so far? You said you almost lost track of Le Chevalier du Noir in your telegram.” “I said almost,” the other cougar grunted as he too, sat down. His ocular implant automatically focused and refocused as he turned his attention to his older twin. “Avaloria is the same as always. Crownsbridge is bustling, grey, and cold. Gallia has been quite, ah, enlightening, I must say.” “Enlightening… I’m sure it was,” Leon Cross grinned with a slight purr. “Enjoying the crème de la crème of Lucierian high society no doubt.” The younger cougar seemed to flush slightly. “Well, you know what they say, people of Luciere are the most welcoming sort in all of Gallia.” Leon chortled openly. “Go on, dear brother. Who is it that managed to entertain your nights in the city of lights hmmm?” The younger cougar let out a soft cough. “A young saxophonist I met a couple of times in the hotel’s nightclub.” “A saxophonist? Hmmm… that’s unusual. Didn’t you usually enthrall someone with a higher caliber, say… the Dauphin of Gallia. Oh, or perhaps the King himself?” Leon grinned impishly. “Pity you and the Marquis de Lavigne du Levammase-Ligneux did not last long. He was very fond of you I remembered.” Gideon playfully punched his brother’s shoulder. “Oh shut it. It’s not like you can keep your paws to yourself. Still have a thing for authority figures eh, dear brother?” He smirked. “You and the colonel shagged just this morning, don’t deny it! Also, I distinctly remembered that you still have a thing going on between you and one Inspecteur Hugo Janvier from Saint-Verseaux. Oh, or did the distance between Hesperia and Gallia proved too much for you that you have a budding relationship with Captain Davios Stormme from our own police force?” Leon harrumphed. “Oh, caught that with that eye of yours, did you?” he gestured to his brother’s ocular implant. “I don’t need my observation prowess to deduce what kind of shenanigans you and the colonel were up to this morning,” Gideon replied with a scoff. “You practically reeked of sex, dear brother.” “Hmph. For the record, the colonel and I both had been without companion for so long.” Leon gave a shrug. “Besides, it’s not like I bedded with him every night. And just you know, Inspecteur Janvier was nothing more than a very reliable friend, and my relationship with Captain Stormme is purely professional. There is absolutely nothing between us that is untoward,” he said with a grunt. “Mhmm. A very professional one indeed, or am I looking things too deeply to your letters, hmm?” Gideon purred suggestively. “‘How I longed to meet you again, my friend… the days seemed grey without your companionship…’” he recited. Leon’s eye twitched and pursed his lips. His neck fur fluffed up slightly. “How many times do I have to tell you not to look at my personal letters?” Gideon gave a shrug. “Not my fault they were sitting openly on your desk unattended.” If they weren’t in a relatively small space at the moment, Leon would have wrestled his brother to the ground. Instead, he decided to return the punch he had received earlier. Gideon did not seemed fazed at all, but he did pout. “Heh, in anyhow... I only stayed in Luciere for a week. Once I caught wind that the Chevalier had moved once again, I followed tracked them down to Arlemania, where they stayed for a couple of days. I tracked the thieves across the country before I followed them to Rosvenia—which, I must say, has been quite the experience so far. And to answer your question, I almost lost track of the thief in Rosvenia.” Leon goggled at his twin brother. “You… wait, you went as far to Rosvenia?” “Mhmm,” Gideon nodded. “I tracked them down from Volgrov, Nevaresk, and then to Pierrograd where they stole a ring of rare blue diamonds from a countess. The ring is pretty expensive and is made of rare stones, yes, but it’s not that famous outside the family. It’s not even a famed family heirloom nor a national treasure…” “You’re saying that it doesn’t seem like his M.O. at all,” Leon summarized. “By the way, this Chevalier du Noir, you keep referring it as “them”. Sounds like you seemed to believe that there might be more than one?” “Indeed,” Gideon nodded with his fingers pressed together under his chin. “It’s what I had suspected. After analyzing the scene and interviewing witnesses, I concluded that there were at least two thieves working together in tandem. The facts suggested as much.” “I see. Hmm… so not only this Chevalier du Noir has the Star of the Orion but also a Rosvenian blue diamond ring.” “Yes. I think they were getting somewhat desperate, or they wanted to throw the police off their scent, who knows.” Gideon gave a shrug. “What I do know though, the thief managed to made their way all across Rosvenia, all the way to the White Sea, and their tracks disappeared right there.” Leon blinked twice, before he frowned. “So, you mean that thief had been running rampant in who knows where for the past few weeks?” “Not quite,” his brother grinned. “I did have a bit of help from Phoenix—” “Phoenix?” Leon hunmed. “As in the independent Rosvenian intelligence agency “Feniks”?” at his brother’s nod, the cougar couldn’t help but chuckle a little. “Funny you should mention them.” Gideon’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Why?” “Well, just so happened that I was involved with a Phoenix agent while protecting Colonel Graves and the secret military plans he had in his possession. The culprit who wanted to steal the plans was in fact a rogue Phoenix agent. The other agent was tasked to bring down the rogue agent by the headquarters, and we worked together to keep the colonel safe,” Leon revealed. “He’s off duty now that his mission is essentially over, and he’s with us on this train.” “Oh, how interesting,” the other cougar nodded. “Perhaps you could introduce him to me. I never really properly thanked Phoenix for their assistance. It was somewhat difficult since no one knows what the Chevalier du Noir actually looked like, but we managed to get wind that they—or one of them, we couldn’t be sure—would board a train at 5 o’clock from Hieropolis Central in Anatolia to Luciere Gare de Saint-Leontius, Gallia.” Leon couldn’t help but frown. “The only 5 o’clock train from Hieropolis Central is the Mercurius Express… now that would mean—” “—that our thief is inside this train with us,” Gideon finished with a nod. The frown persisted on Leon’s forehead. “A jewel thief inside a train full of rich, and certainly bejeweled passengers, Gideon.” “You think they would resort to petty thievery on this train?” Gideon raised an eyebrow. “You did say they had stolen a Rosvenian countess’ diamond ring,” Leon pointed out. His younger twin hummed and nodded. “I see your point. However, I doubt there would be a priceless heirloom or an internationally renowned jewelry onboard this train.” Leon nodded slowly. “I guess you have a point.” “That I always do,” the younger cougar replied smugly. Leon was quick to counter. “That you don’t.” “That I do.” “Not always.” “I beg to differ.” “Prat,” Leon rolled his eyes with a hint of a smirk. Gideon returned the smirk. “Git.” The two brothers shared a laugh and then fell into a comfortable silence. They watched the scenery going past the window for a moment. “You also mentioned in your last letter that you’re close to figuring out the identities of the thieves,” Leon began. “Care to shed some light?” Gideon then launched into a full length explanation on how he managed to narrow down the list of suspects into three possible species. They could be either equine, bovid, or canine. However, he hadn’t manage to narrow the specifics down into individual species just yet, something which he was aiming to do now he’s on the Mercurius Express with the thieves. The Chevalier du Noir, as it would seem, were pretty good at covering their tracks. “Fortunately, we might have an advantage,” Gideon had said. “I believe they are still thinking that they are only pursued by the police. They wouldn’t know a private investigator is also involved.” “Hmm… what made you so sure of that?” “Simple. My involvement wasn’t made public from the start, and I since I had merely been gathering information, I had never been directly engaging with the thieves.” Leon gave a light nod. “Now your discretion made sense. It is a fair point.” He paused as he went to look at his wristwatch. “Well, we better catch up with the colonel and your roommate before they get too antsy.” Gideon stood up just as his brother did. A teasing grin grazed his lips. “Afraid of them getting too cozy with each other are you?” “In your dreams,” Leon rolled his eyes as he smoothed down his jacket. “Say, how’s the office holding up in our absence? Any news from Flint?” he said, referring to the young Peregrine falcon who worked as their secretary. “Last time he wrote, nothing major had happened,” the younger cougar replied as they walked out into the corridor. “Seemed like Lieutenant Valerio had dropped by asking for us a few days ago and left fuming when he realized we’re abroad to sort two different cases.” Leon chortled. “Really now?” He could easily imagine the doberman Inspector stomping out of their office mumbling about their audacity of not informing him before they gallivanting across the continent beforehand. “Really,” his brother affirmed with a chuckle of his own. The then turned towards the uniformed ram sitting by his little chair. “Ah, Faucher, could you lock the door please?” he called out. With the door securely locked, the two brothers headed towards the lounge car, which was immediately next to Gideon’s sleeping car. The lounge car, named as the “Soleil Lounge” as stated by the plaque situated right by the vestibule, was wide and long, filled with large, plush armchairs, sofas, and ottomans in groups of twos, threes, and fours. The entire lounge was paneled with lacquered, rich brown wood inlaid with gold with gleaming brass fixtures. Wide, panoramic windows gave a great view of the Anatolian barren plains, backdropped by the sun setting beyond the snow capped mountain range. Coupled with the snow leopard who was tinkling a popular swing music by the mini grand piano, it was a pretty relaxing atmosphere. There were quite a number of passengers inside the lounge at this hour in the late afternoon, no doubt getting some drinks before dinner was announced. Cross found the colonel and his brother’s roommate occupying a set of four seats in the middle of the car. Making their way past the bar area, the detective could hear the colonel giving Callius one of his experiences during the Great War among the general chatter of the lounge. The Akita seemed to be deeply enthralled by the panther’s tale that he didn’t even notice the two cougars approaching. “Ah, there you are!” the colonel exclaimed with a large grin on his face when he noticed the two felines. Callius made a small, startled jump when he finally noticed the Cross brothers. “We were just wondering where you two have been.” “We’re just catching up. Brotherly stuff and all that jazz,” Gideon answered as he settled down to one of the empty armchairs. “Let’s just say my brother’s little Ivorian Grand Tour was far more exciting than he implied,” Cross explained as he sat next to Graves. The panther rumbled mirthfully. “I’m sure it was.” Gideon gave a mock groan. “Don’t start.” A waiter came and asked the cougar twins for something to drink. Cross went with a martini while his brother opted for a sherry. The waiter left with a bow and Cross turned to Callius. “So, Mr. Callius, where are you from, by the way?” Cross prompted. “Oh, I’m from Templeston, Columbia,” the Akita replied. “I work part time at a clock store downtown.” Gideon became quite interested. “Is that so? Perhaps you can have a look at my pocket watch later? I’ve noticed that it tend to slow down lately no matter how much I tune it.” Callius gave a rather sheepish smile. “Ah, I’m not an expert, but I’ll see what I can do.” “That would be appreciated,” Gideon beamed. “What brings you to Hieropolis, Mr. Callius?” Graves went to ask. “You’re pretty far from home.” “Oh, I was with friends, going around Ivoria since we have the cash,” the canine replied. The corner of his muzzle twitched. “But I decided to continue on my own to the southern regions while my friends went back to the Federal States.” Cross gave a light chuckle. “I’m sure it had been quite the adventure.” Callius grinned. “Oh, it has been an adventure alright. I went to Misarya for a while. There were lots of interesting sights and I met quite a few interesting people too.” The canine proceeded to launch into a spirited retelling of the interesting points he saw in the city of As-Qair, the three day cruise he took down the Nahail River, the ancient Misaryan temples he visited, and also the great tombs and the pyramids. It would seem that the Akita was quite the avid traveller. “There was a number of honeymooners too,” he said as he sipped on his coffee. “Lots of rich people, basically. I didn’t know the Nahail river and the delta area is a popular tourist destination in this time of the year.” “It’s only natural. It’s a lot warmer compared to the countries in northern Ivoria,” Cross said. “And there had been a major discovery in one of the great tombs a few months back I heard,” Gideon supplied. “It had started a craze on everything related to the ancient Misaryan culture.” Callius shook his head in amusement. “I see,” he took another sip of his drink. His ears flicked as a passenger entered the lounge. The canine blinked and his gaze followed the small, slender lioness who had walked past them, picking up a magazine and settled on a seat further down the lounge. The Akita had a look as if he was trying to remembering something but whatever it was it had slipped his mind. “You know that lioness?” Graves went to ask. “Hummm… I’m not sure,” Callius answered as he turned back around. “I think I had seen her somewhere but I forgot.” The colonel hummed. “I see then. It’ll come back to you sooner or later.” “I suppose,” Callius chuckled. “Well, I think I’ll come back to As-Qair someday. It had been an adventure.” Cross grinned. “It sure sounded like it. I wished we could have more spare time for a real vacation for once, don’t we?” he turned to his twin brother, who raised his glass of sherry in agreement. “Maybe someday.” They fell into comfortable silence as the train continued along its way through Anatolia. The sun just had disappeared behind the mountains when the Mercurius Express pulled into a town. It was quite hard to see due to the lack of light, but Cross could just make out that it was a major town judging from the number of high-rise buildings that stood out against the twilight sky. As the train slowed down, Cross could see the long, low lit platform. The town’s train station didn’t seem fairly large, but it sure looked pretty crowded. However, it would seem that the Mercurius Express was merely passing by as they were out of the station fairly quickly. They were soon picking up speed once again as the train cleared away from the station. “I wonder when dinner will be served?” Callius went to ask, checking his wristwatch. “Usually, the first dinner service will be around six thirty,” Graves answered him. The Akita nodded. “Ah, another half an hour then. I’m famished.” Another passenger entered the lounge as the words left the canine’s muzzle. Or rather, two passengers made their presence known. It was a pair of lions, a husband and wife, Cross guessed judging by how close they were standing to each other, and the wedding bands on their fingers. The lioness, clad in a simple, sleeveless deep red evening dress, was practically radiating with happiness. Her platinum blonde hair was done in a pinned back, elegant waves. A necklace made of several chains of rubies ringed with gold adorned her neck, with a matching gold bracelet around her wrist. Her husband, a tall, strapping lion with well trimmed and stylishly slicked back mane, was smartly dressed in a well tailored evening tails. Every passenger’s attention in the lounge was immediately drawn to the pair as they made their way to the seats across where Cross and his companions were sitting. They nodded their heads in acknowledgement to the husband and wife. Callius doesn’t seem to be able to stop staring at the lioness. Gideon nudged the canine’s paw discreetly. “Stare any longer and the husband might get violently jealous,” the cougar whispered with a grin. Callius immediately averted his gaze and seemed to flush from embarrassment. He hadn’t needed to be worried however as the lion didn’t seem to notice his unabashed staring. “I think I’ve seen them somewhere…” he trailed off. Cross crooked an eyebrow. “Oh?” “Yeah… I’m not sure where however,” the Akita hummed thoughtfully. Cross hummed and looked over the lion couple. “I’m glad, Theodore,” he heard the lioness said. Her husband beamed. “Oh yes?” “It has been a nice honeymoon.” Theodore gave a rumbling purr. “I’m happy you enjoyed your time, Eliza.” The smile didn’t seem to quite reach Eliza’s muzzle however. “I did enjoy it, especially our time in Iberonia… but I don’t think I quite enjoy Misarya with… with that… ” she trailed off. “Ah,” Theodore seemed to nod in understanding. “Well, at least we don’t have to worry about them now. I made sure of that.” Eliza smiled a nod. “I guess you’re right. But… I can’t keep but feel that something would be off… like they will appear the least we expect it and…” “Hush. We haven’t seen them for the last few days did we?” “I guess you’re right.” Eliza seemed to sigh. Right at that moment, the lone lioness from before lowered her magazine and rose from her seat. A huge grin was plastered on her face as she swiftly, and silently headed over to where the couple was sitting. “Oh hello Lizzy darling! I didn’t expect to see you here!” she exclaimed, almost leaping as she made herself known. The two lions froze. Eliza turned around on her seat to stare at the other lioness in a mixture of surprise, fear, and anger. Her husband simply looked incensed. “I… but we…” “It’s funny how small this world is, don’t you think, Theo dear?” said the unknown lioness. Theodore stood up. His paws clenched. “Catherine…” he seemed to compose himself after glancing furtively at the attention gathered around them. “Is your fiance with you?” he finally said, teeth clenching. The grin only seemed to grow bigger. “Oh of course Zachary is with me. He’s in his compartment of course,” said Catherine with an unnerving amount of enthusiasm. “Perhaps we could sit together during dinner, hmm?” Eliza took that moment to stand up. Her jaws clenched. “I’m afraid we have reserved our table, just for us, Cathy. Now if you’d excuse us.” “Of course, dearie.” The husband and wife moved past Catherine in a briskly manner, heading to the other end of the lounge car. Cross could hear the door closing none too gently behind them. The moment the two lions disappeared, Catherine’s grin dropped from her face. A rather hard edged expression replaced the intense smile instead. She barely even acknowledged the stares she had been getting as she turned on her heels, heading to the direction of the Hieropolis-Valmagne coaches. “Well… that was one interesting spectacle,” Graves observed as he sipped his drink. Callius clicked his fingers. “Now I remember!” The Cross twins raised their eyebrows together. “You know those lions?” Leon went to ask. “Yeah, they were in the same hotel with me in As-Qair,” Callius replied. “The husband and wife are Elisabeth and Theodore Meyer, and the other lioness is Catherine DeWitt. Ms. DeWitt is engaged to a leopard called Zachary Hale. Though, DeWitt seemed to be quite obsessed with the Meyers.” “Obsessed?” Gideon repeated. “How do you mean?” “Well, apparently DeWitt and her fiance had been popping up wherever the Meyers went. They first appeared in the hotel I was staying in Lusqur, though they didn’t do other than exchange a few words back then. When I’m in As-Qair a few days later, I was in the same hotel as the Meyers. DeWitt and Hale were there too. I heard DeWitt and her fiance were with the Meyers while their are having their second Nahail cruise upstream,” he said. “Oh, I saw them again when I’m in Iskanderion. The Meyers looked visibly agitated by that point.” Cross hummed. “Interesting…” “Indeed,” his brother agreed. “Do you know what caused DeWitt and her fiance to follow the Meyers?” Callius gave a shrug. “I heard DeWitt and Mrs. Meyer were childhood friends. Rumour has it that Mr. Meyer was once DeWitt’s boyfriend.” Gideon whistled while Colonel Graves snorted. “Ah, it’s fairly simple to me,” said the panther. “DeWitt obviously couldn’t move on from Meyer and is extremely jealous and spiteful over her friend whom Meyer had chosen instead of her.” “If that was the case, it’s an extreme one at that,” Cross pointed out, “considering she already has a fiance.” “Point.” “It still points out to a childish love tantrum however.” Gideon remarked. “If you put it that way, I can agree.” Callius chuckled. Cross turned to look at his brother. Gideon’s brow creased in a way that would indicate that he had noticed something noteworthy. He was going to ask when a rythmic, tinkling of a bell drew everyone’s attention. The next moment, the tall, burly form of the polar bear trainmaster made his way across the lounge, swinging a silver bell in one paw while he called out: “Premier service! Premier service! Le dîner est servi sur la voiture-restaurant! Dinner is served in the restaurant car!” The trainmaster then repeated his announcement in Arlemanian and Rosvenian as he headed over to the Hieropolis-Pierrograd coaches further back on the train. Graves went to check his watch. “Huh, I guess it’s the time,” he said. “Well then, we better get ready.” “I guess we should,” Cross nodded as he went to stand up, followed by the others. “We’ll see you guys later tonight,” Gideon said. “We’re going to be in the second dinner service,” he gestured to Callius and himself. Cross nodded as he straightened out his jacket. “Alright. We’ll catch up soon.” “See you later then,” Callius wave a small wave. “Come on,” Graves cocked his head as he and Cross made their way back to their car, weaving past the light passenger traffic in the corridor. A slight grin blossomed on his muzzle. “You help me get into my dinner jacket and I’ll help you?” Cross couldn’t help but smirk back. “Of course. But don’t get your hopes too high, colonel.” “Hah, we’ll see then,” the panther purred as he placed his paw on the cougar’s shoulder, giving it a fond squeeze.
  2. Rod_3rich

    Prologue

    The villa of Colonel Achilles Graves was in an unusual state of uproar. At least a dozen members of the Anatolian police were spread around the villa's front porch with their automobiles parked all over the snow covered yard. The officers, thickly clad in large woolen overcoats, were busy taking statements from the guests, while a small group of officers were leading away three of the guests. Various emotions were displayed on their faces, from miserable to murderous rage. Their paws were cuffed on their backs as they were escorted towards the awaiting automobiles. One of them, a tiger, had to be restrained by three of the officers as he kept struggling against their grip. The feline was heavily bruised, bloodied, and had lots of cuts on his face. He snarled and tried to fight his way out twice and nearly succeeded until a boar officer went in and helped his comrades to shove the offending tiger into the police van. The master of the house, the distinguished Colonel Achilles Graves, looked weary as he answered a few questions from the tall and shrewd labrador. The golden bands on his uniform indicated that the canine was the lead inspector. There was an air of relief in the black panther's features as he answered yet another question. “...yes, exactly. If it wasn't for detective Cross' quick action, that tiger would have succeeded in his attempt to stab me." He answered. “I see." The inspector nodded, hastily scribbling the colonel's words on a notebook. He hummed as he thought his next question. “What can you say for Mr. Nikolai Vasilyev? I understand he's your guest. However, he wasn't on your guest list." “Oh, young Vasilyev. He was standing in for his uncle, Admiral Vadim Vasilyev, who had fallen ill and couldn't come. The admiral and I had gone a long way back." The inspector made a long, drawn out hum. “Ah, that makes sense I suppose." “Vasilyev helped to restrain Rogers when detective Cross was struggling to restrain him." The colonel added. “Furthermore, without his help, that damned tiger and his accomplices would have managed to steal some valuable information." “Did he now?" The labrador's eyebrow rose Colonel Graves gestured to the two felines who were being interviewed by another police member several feet away. “See that they had sustained a number of cuts and bruises?" “Mmm…" The inspector continued to ask several more questions to the colonel, before he nodded in satisfaction, and signaled for his subordinates to move. Breathing a sigh of relief, the black panther turned to the cougar who was making his way towards him. Trotting directly behind the cougar was a male lynx. Both were draped in long, heavy coats and scarves wrapped their necks. “I really cannot thank you enough for your help, Mr. Cross… I am forever in your debt." He said to the cougar. Detective Leonidas Cross, or Leon as he liked to go by, gave a dismissive wave to the panther before he brushed off the snow that had accumulated on the top of his hat. A small smile was etched on his bruised face. Indeed, the feline looked slightly worse for wear after the small brawl earlier that evening. “Anything for an old friend, colonel. The worst is behind us with Rogers gone." He nodded towards the tiger who was glaring balefully at them through the windows of the police car. “I think you can sleep well now without anything burdening your mind." The detective added, pulling the coat closer around himself. “I suppose." Colonel Graves exhaled, watching as the police shoved the bound tiger into the car and slammed the door. “Still, I hadn't thought it was Rogers of all people…" Cross gave a comforting pat on his friend's shoulder. “At least Mr. Vasilyev was kind enough to subdue Rogers and recover the stolen plans." The entourage of police and their cars soon drove off, leaving the villa back in its relative peaceful state once again. With the police gone, so was the excitement. The guests and servants slowly trickled back into the villa. The colonel, Cross, and Vasilyev soon followed the others, walking side by side as they headed into the warmth of the colonel's villa. “All clear with the police?" Cross turned his question to the lynx as he handed his coat and hat to the butler who was standing helpfully by the door. Nikolai Vasilyev looked worse for wear. His face bore a few scratches, some were bleeding openly, and his dinner jacket was in disarray. However, the feline's expression was one of immense satisfaction. “I'm all clear once I showed them my identification and papers. Good thing the good sergeant can read Cyrillic." The lynx voiced with a small grin on his face. His voice bore almost no traces of his Rosvenian heritage. “I must apologize for deceiving you both however. It was imperative that my real identity was to remain hidden for my mission to succeed." Cross nodded. “Yes of course. And we're grateful that you've recovered what had been stolen, aren't we, colonel?" “Hmm? Oh, yes." The colonel nodded, absentmindedly caressing the folder that was pinned under his arm. “The Avalorian army is grateful for your help, Mr. Vasilyev." “I'm just here to help." The Rosvenian agent gave a small chuckle. “Well, I don't think any of us is ready for bed now." The colonel continued. “There was too many excitement for the night." With the expressions of agreement from the two feline companions, he continued, “Why don't we retire to the library for the time being?" The library, which had been used by Cross to confront Rogers of his motives early that evening, had been efficiently tidied. Looking at the room now, one would not expect that a brawl had taken place inside the richly paneled and thickly carpeted room. The servants had tidied the books back to their respective shelves in an orderly manner, the seats and chairs rearranged back into their prior position, and the colonel's writing desk had been returned to its original, upright position by the tall windows. There were several blotches of ink on the carpet from the bottles that had shattered when Rogers slammed Cross to the desk in an attempt to escape, but the ink stains would wash off, hopefully. As the two felines made a beeline to the fireplace, the colonel went over to pour them whiskey from the side table, which had been thankfully untouched during the confrontation. “Thank you, Colonel." Vasilyev nodded at the panther gratefully and drank. Colonel Graves went to take the spot beside the cougar detective. “So, you will be returning to Rosvenia soon, Vasilyev?" Cross inquired, sitting on the nearby velvet settee. “Since you've completed your objective here and whatnot." “In a few days." The lynx nodded as he sat to the adjacent settee. “I'll be taking the train straight to Pierrograd," said Vasilyev. “My services would be needed with how the country is at this moment… What about you, Mr. Cross? You're from the Hesperian Federation, aren't you?" The cougar took a big gulp of his whiskey before replying. “Yes, yes I am. I'll be taking the train home, all the way to Valmagne-sur-Mer in Gallia. From there, I'll take the connection to Kingshaven by ship." “Sounds like you've got a long journey ahead, Mr. Cross." Vasilyev sipped his whiskey. “Which train are you taking? The Continental Express?" Cross shook his head. “I'm not sure yet, but I'll either take that or the Nightliner Limited back. Whichever won't deplete my wallet." He added with a small dry chuckle. “Why not the Mercurius Express?" Colonel Graves chimed in. “It's the fastest, and not to mention the best train in all of Ivoria. Takes just four days to travel from here to Gallia." “That's true, right there." Vasilyev agreed. “I'll be on that train myself. Fine meals, cocktails, and not to mention, charming travelling companions." The lynx chuckled. The colonel gestured in agreement with his glass. “You would be right." “However, it's also the most expensive option for me." Cross sighed. “I simply can't afford spend so much on a trip. I've used quite a huge amount of my savings to get here from Hesperia by airship." He said. “It'll be cheaper if I take the regular express trains." Colonel Graves was quick to protest. “Oh, no, no. I can't allow that. You've helped me a great deal, Cross, and I intend to repay the favor." “Oh, but you shouldn't—“ “I insist." The colonel smiled. “I'll cover for your travel expenses from Anatolia to Gallia. Besides, I'll be taking the train too, but only as far as Ansburg. We could all travel on the same day." Cross blinked. “I didn't know that you're heading back so soon. Why Ansburg, pray tell?" “There will be a joint military drill between Avaloria and Arlemania, requested by the Kaiser Albert himself." The colonel replied. “Part of his plan to smooth out relations between the two countries." Vasilyev hummed. “I heard rumours that the Kaiser is eyeing Princess Alexandrina for marriage. Perhaps this is one of his attempts to soften relationships between his empire and Avaloria." “Judging from the number of times the Kaiser himself has visited Avaloria, I wouldn't be surprised." Cross remarked, sipping his whiskey. “Either way… you will be overseeing the military exercises, am I correct?" He turned to the colonel. The black panther nodded. “Quite right! And what better way to travel back with good company, eh?" He chuckled. Cross fell into a long, ponderous silence, sipping the last drop of his whiskey all the while. “Well then…" he gave a sigh and showed the colonel a small, amused smile. “If you insist, colonel, I would be happy to join you two." The colonel grinned brightly. “It's settled then!" He clasped his paws together. “I say why don't you two enjoy a few days here before going back? Enjoy the rest of the week to recuperate, and then we can head to Hieropolis to catch on the Friday afternoon train next week." He suggested, standing to his feet. “And to be frank, you two don't look like you could travel without gaining a few looks." The other two felines turned and glanced at each other, noting the bruises and scrapes on their faces. Cross chuckled. “Yes… I think you're right, colonel." “I could use a few days of rest." Vasilyev nodded in agreement. “Splendid! I'll have our berths arranged." The colonel spoke again. “You won't need to worry a single thing." Vasilyev poured another helping of whiskey to himself. “Looks like we'll have a pretty enjoyable journey ahead of us." Cross couldn't agree more. “Looks like we will." He smiled at the lynx, and asked to refill his glass. * * * Richard Caine took a large drag of his smoke and blew, looking down to the open air palm court from the balcony of his hotel room several floors above. Tables and chairs had been arranged by the hotel stewards so that the guests could dine under the fine, clear night. He could see a few guests had trickled out from the adjacent dining room, clad in dinner jackets and elegant gowns. Some of the ladies braved to bare their shoulders and arms even though it was quite a chilly night. Nights in Misarya could be very cold, especially in winter, contrasting to its daytime temperatures. It baffled Richard to no end how extreme temperatures could shift in the desert. The wolverine continued this idle activity of observing the servants and guests for a few more minutes before he flicked the butt of his cigarette and headed back into his room. Closing the doors behind him, Richard went to check his reflection on the nearby mirror, straightening his collar and bowtie, before he went to grab the black tailcoat hanging by the open wardrobe. There came a knock on the door just as he was straightening his dinner jacket. “Yes?" “It's me, Rick." Came his uncle's voice from the door. “Just a second." Richard went to the door and turned the lock open. His uncle was standing just outside, sporting the small grin that seemed to be permanently plastered on his face. Like Richard, Simon Caine was dressed in a dinner jacket, which was slightly stretched over the wolverine's large, but sturdily built figure. His salt and pepper hair was neatly combed back, and Richard thought his uncle looked pretty dashing for his age. “Well, well. You look strapping, as always." The older wolverine smiled appreciatively, before he blinked and made a small gesture with his paw. “Your bowtie is slightly off." He told his nephew. His fingers were already reaching for the tie. “Do you mind if…?" Richard had a bemused smile on his face as he shook his head. “Not at all." Simon made a short work to straighten his nephew's bowtie, and took a few more seconds to make sure the younger wolverine was presentable. “There. Perfect." Richard chuckled and beamed. “Thanks, uncle." “You're welcome!" The older wolverine smiled. “Oh right, these just came in." He then pulled out several enveloped from inside of his jacket. “Oh?" Richard quickly flipped through the letters and tore them open. The first two was from his alma mater, the Stainbridge University in Avaloria, inviting him for an alumni spring reunion. The second one was a letter from his archeology professor, asking about his recent expedition to the Misaryan Great Tombs. The third envelope was a telegram, sent from a hotel in Hieropolis, Anatolia, dated today, and it was sent just about an hour ago. The name of the sender was his friend, whose letter Richard had been waiting for a few days now. Opening the envelope, Richard's eyes fell to the neatly printed letters which read, 'FOUND NEW INFO ABOUT THE BOX = OLD BIRD KEPT ASKING ABOUT THE TRINKET = WILL HEAD TO AS-QAIR & MEET YOU AT THE HOTEL IN FIVE DAYS = TRENT W' “Was that from Warren?" Simon inquired when Richard folded the telegram back to its envelope. The younger wolverine nodded. “Yeah. Sounds like Trent had finally found a lead on our nifty little trinket here." He said, turning his head slightly to the corner of the bedroom. “Oh, really?" Simon hummed. He followed his nephew's line of gaze, looking at the large, solid black trunk nestled right next to the end table. It was heavily secured by three locks with a combination number on each lock. Opening them would also require a special key, which the two wolverines always kept on themselves. Getting that little souvenir from the Great Tombs had been quite the grueling task, and not to mention the permits they had to apply to get it shipped across the country. The ancient and valuable trinket they found held a few surprises… if not shocking. Richard didn't want to risk it being lost or stolen after all the trouble he and his uncle had been through. Especially not when their client had promised a large amount of payment for that artifact. “Well any information about that strange box there would be good. What did he say?" Richard shook his head. “Nothing, really…" He handed the envelope to his uncle. “He said he'd meet us here in two days, and that's all." Simon hummed as he read the letter. “Looks like your client is getting more impatient to get his souvenir." Richard let out a soft snort. “Ainsworth is too impatient for his own good. We'll give him the box when he's given us the payment." “Of course, boy." The older wolverine chuckled. “Well, let's head down. They've rang the dinner gong a while ago." Nodding, Richard went to lock every windows and doors before he followed his uncle to the hallway outside. Simon's paw was on Richard's shoulder as they headed for the elevator lobby, pulling the younger wolverine close. The elevator brought the two down to the ground floor and they made a beeline towards the dining hall just off to the side of the lobby. The magnificent hall, two stories high and lined with windows on two sides, was already filled with guests. The orchestra was playing a lively waltz to which several couples were dancing to on the marble lined dance floor. Wall to ceiling glass doors opened to the palm court outside. It would seem most of the guests wanted to enjoy some fresh air tonight, Richard noted as he and his uncle were shown to their table by their waiter. They weren't lead outside, thankfully, but it would seem their table had already been occupied by a single guest. He was a tall, broad shouldered grey wolf with a stern looking face and a predominantly black and white fur, with shades of brown spread evenly along his robust figure that was clad in impeccable set of tails. The wolf's sharp amber eyes flicked between Richard and his uncle for a moment before he gestured to the empty seat with a flicker of a smile. “Good evening." Simon greeted as they sat down. “I'm Simon Caine." “Heinrich Luther." He introduced himself. His tone carried the slight guttural, Arlemanian accent. Richard introduced himself as well before he picked up the menu card and looked through the list of food that was offered that night. For some reason, he felt that Luther was scrutinizing him and his uncle a bit too closely. When he went to glance at the wolf, the canine's gaze was already somewhere else, casually so. It would seem that the wolf was studying a pair of lions who were dancing slowly with the music, Richard thought as he followed the canine's gaze. Honeymooners, judging by their expressions on their faces. Richard thought that the lioness was very beautiful in her simple, but undoubtedly expensive black dress. An impressive necklace was draped over her neck, consisting of huge, intricate golden beads and beautiful sapphires. The lioness' husband was also very handsome, with strong jaw, a dazzling smile, neatly trimmed auburn mane, and brilliant grey eyes. His white dinner jacket fitted his athletic frame perfectly. “Those two made a really good pair." His uncle remarked thoughtfully. “Oh, isn't she Eliza Baxter?" “She's Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer now." Heinrich Luther intoned. Simon Caine regarded the wolf with interest. “Indeed? I didn't know she's married. That Meyer is a lucky bastard." He chuckled. “And she's a very lucky girl." Richard remarked, eyes fixed on the couple. “Undoubtedly." Luther nodded, drinking his wine. “News of her marriage was all over the newspapers in Avaloria for the past week." “Ah, I see. My uncle and I had been busy with the excavation at the Great Tombs for the past month, hence why." Richard chuckled. “She's a big star then?" “I tell you, nephew, Elisabeth Baxter—or Meyer as she is now, is one of Avaloria's richest women." Simon Caine explained. “I was well acquainted with her father. Julius Baxter was a brilliant businessman. He also invested a lot on theatres and cinemas at the Cross End. We've been to one of his theatres a few years ago, actually." He chuckled. “Remember, Rick? It was a performance for Wilhelm V." “Oh, really?" The younger wolverine nodded slowly. “Oh, right, right. That theatre was quite opulent, and I remembered it was quite the brilliant play too. And… did you say Julius Baxter was a brilliant businessman?" He added. “He had passed away two years ago." Luther remarked in his guttural baritone. “Mrs. Meyer now holds his businesses." “As it is expected." Simon nodded, drinking the champagne which had been poured by the waiter. “I heard she's also a shrewd businesswoman." The wolf nodded. “That she is. How well are you acquainted with the Baxter family, Mr. Caine?" He asked, leveling his gaze to Simon. The wolverine blinked. “Just quite, actually. Me and Julius were schoolmates. We shared the same dormitory and classes, but never really talked to him that much outside homework and school projects. I've also made a few business deals with the late Mr. Baxter, with his obsession on ancient artifacts and such." Luther nodded with a hum. “I see." He uttered, before his attention was drawn to the waiter who had come around, bringing another person to their table. It was a male Akita with handsome honey brown coat with black markings and white underbelly. He looked pretty young, perhaps in his early twenties. However, despite a hint of nervousness tugging on his smiling muzzle, the canine had an air of ease about him, like a well-seasoned traveler. “Hullo. Spencer Calius. Pleasure to meet you." Richard blinked, not expecting the fluent Avalorian, if not slightly inflected with a hint of an accent, coming from the Akita's lips. His name itself suggested that the canine wasn't wholly oriental in his origin. “The pleasure is mine, young man." Simon Caine shook his paws with the Akita, giving a very wide, if not a rather too friendly grin. Richard nudged his uncle slightly. Simon Caine quickly cleared his throat and toned down his smile. “Traveling all by yourself, Mr. Callius?" “Yeah, I am. I had friends actually, but we parted ways awhile back," said Spencer. “They wanted to go back to Columbia and I would like to explore the old world a bit more so, we agreed to split up here." He explained with a shrug of his shoulders. “Understandable. However, it's rather taxing, traveling by yourself, isn't it?" Richard went to ask. Spencer hummed. “Hmm, that's true but it's rather refreshing actually. I got to sightsee every interesting part of Misarya with my own, leisure pace. My friends could be rather excitable, really." “Of course." Richard nodded. “So, you've toured the Nahail River then?" “Oh yes, it's quite the adventure!" The Akita said with a wide grin. “I've seen so many interesting ruins and sights. My fellow passengers were quite interesting too. Professors, archeologists, novelists, honeymooners… like those two over there," he nodded to the Meyers couple, “and uh…" He turned to Luther, tilting his head to the side. “Huh… didn't we meet on the boat?" The wolf's response was rather noncommittal. “We might have." “Ah? Er… alright then." Dinner proceeded without many comments. However, Richard did engage Spencer in a small discussion about their excavation work at the Great Tombs and what they found. It certainly drew interest from Akita, who had apparently visited the location during his tour down the Nahail. The Meyers had gone to occupy the small table next to theirs, and Richard couldn't help but admire the couple. They looked truly in love, especially Theodore Meyer. No doubt, his new wife had truly captivated him. However, aside from the cheerful music and the splendid food, dinner progressed rather uneventfully. Heinrich Luther offered a curt “Evening," before he stood up and left, making his way towards the bar that was outside the dining hall. As the waiter brought out the desserts, Richard watched as two guests rose from the table across the room and made their way towards the Meyers, hand in hand. One was a young lioness with her hair curled into fashionable waves, and the other was a rather boyish looking leopard. Both of them were quite good looking, but they didn't quite stand out. Richard guessed that they were another newlywed couple, or perhaps recently engaged. He couldn't be sure. However, the strange, intense expression on the lioness' face was quite startling for him. “Oh, Eliza! I didn't know you're staying here. What a pleasant surprise!" The lioness exclaimed. From the expression on Eliza Meyer's face, it was indeed a surprise, but far from pleasant. Her husband, Theodore Meyer, also looked quite shocked. In fact, the two lions looked rather awkward meeting this Cathy. Eliza quickly stood up after she managed to gather he bearings. “Cathy! I didn't know you're staying here!" She turned her attention to the leopard standing beside Cathy. “Oh, and who is this?" Cathy pulled the leopard by his arm, smiling rather brightly. Too brightly at that. “Zachary Hale. Meet Eliza Bax—I mean, Eliza Meyer. And I'm sure you knew Theodore Meyer?" She nodded her head to the lion. Theodore Meyer nodded wordlessly. He was still staring at Cathy and Zachary Hale, but mostly Zachary Hale, in surprise. “Oh yes. We met a couple of times," said Zachary Hale. The leopard smiled somewhat shyly at the lion in question. Theodore Meyer gave a small, if not nervous smile. “Yes… we studied at Bridgeford together." There was an unreadable expression in the lion's grey eyes, which was reflected by Zachary Hale. However, the leopard turned his attention to Cathy who had continued speaking. “Well, I just wanted to tell you, Lizzy. Me and Zach are engaged!" Cathy practically exclaimed to her friend. “Engaged?" Came the astonished reply from the Meyers. Richard quickly turned away from the conversation, knowing how women liked to gush and gossip, especially when they were going to get married, or during their honeymoon. His attention was completely drawn away the next moment, as one of the waiters came down towards him with a small tray bearing an envelope. “Telegram for Mr. R. Caine." The uniformed bear announced. “Oh, that'd be me. Thank you." Richard went and took the telegram from the waiter. He quickly opened it when he read that it was sent by Trent Warren. 'CHANGE OF PLANS = MEET ME IN TWO WEEKS = DEPART MERCURIUS EXP. HIEROPLS. CENTRAL STATION = OLD BIRD WILL BE THERE WITH THE GOLD = REPLY PROMPTLY = TRENT W' Folding the telegram, Richard made a mental calculation in his mind. Travelling from Misarya to Anatolia will take half a day by air. Two if they were delayed by the weather. It will take three days by train. They would have to manage their time carefully if he and his uncle were to meet with Trent before boarding the train. He turned his head to his uncle when the older wolverine nudged him softly. “Something urgent?" Richard gave a slight shrug. “Well, sounds like it. Looks like we'll have to head up to Anatolia in two weeks instead." He said. “Why? Did Warren changed his plans?" His uncle voiced his confusion. “Looks like it. Sounds like he found some new leads." Richard replied, lowering his tone slightly and handed the telegram to his uncle. “Well, we can catch up with him if we take the airship early next week." “Ah, that's rather sudden, isn't it?" Simon remarked. “I suppose so." Richard sighed and stood up. “I better reply to this telegram, so please excuse me." He added to the guests on his table. “No problem!" Spencer gave the wolverine a nod. “It sounds urgent so I don't mind. Perhaps we might even meet in Anatolia later on." He chuckled. Evidently, he had heard about their part of conversation. Simon smiled rather tightly as he turned to the Akita. “Oh?" “I'll be going back to Columbia after this. A friend of mine was kind enough to book me a passage on a train." Chuckling, Richard straightened his jacket and made his way out of the dining room, intend to find the telegram office in the hotel. He was sure he saw one this afternoon, close to the lobby. * * * Several hundred feet above the vast, arid desert of Eravia, a silvery airship was sailing lazily through golden dunes with several dozen passengers housed within its cigar-shaped hull. While not being the largest airships, the Adhara was one of the fastest with the most comfortable, finely appointed accommodations with affordable price. It was that sole reason that Dr. Hector LeFevre took the Eravian airship on his return trip to Anatolia. From there, he would take a transit flight back to his home in Gallia. The badger, short and robust but also unusually tall for his species, was seated by the airship's small, but cozy lounge. A cup of chilled sweet tea was wrapped around his paw. The doctor's attention wasn't directed to the drink or even the view outside the wide, picture windows of the lounge. Instead, LeFevre was fully engrossed with the newspaper before him. It was the international edition of the local papers that had been printed and translated to Gallian. “Là là." He muttered in annoyance as he read the headline on the third page, which announced that weather conditions in northern Ivoria had worsened. Weather forecast predicted that snow will come down heavily in the next few weeks. All flights to and from Avaloria, Hesperia, Gallia, Arlemania, Rosvenia, and Norvdal would be canceled until further notice. “Looks like I would have to take the train instead." He said to particularly no one. “Perhaps you should, old friend." LeFevre stood, let out a delighted exclamation, and went to give the sabertooth that had been standing right behind him a friendly hug. “Armand, mon vieil ami!" LeFevre beamed. “What brings you here? Come, come, sit with me." Armand Förstner was a sabretooth tiger of middle age with a friendly demeanor. A single silver plated false fang was in place of his original right-side fang. His bright brown eyes were energetic and playful as he gave a good-natured slap on the badger's back (who was a few heads shorter than him) while grinning brightly. “I am here on business, LeFevre. The usual duties of a director: monthly supervision and other nonsense." The sabertooth replied in his usual, slightly synthesized voice as he sat down. LeFevre could see the mechanical collar that wrapped around his old friend's neck partially hidden under the feline's shirt collar. It assisted the sabertooth's speech since Förstner had his vocal cords damaged during an accident a few years ago. “Ah, you're overseeing the grand project to connect your train lines from Southern Ivoria to the East?" LeFevre guessed. “You've been monitoring the progress in Evaria then?" “Quite right my friend." Förstner nodded. “Progress is slow, but the Ispania-Misarya-Anatolia-Eravia railway would be completed by the end of next year if favor is in our side." “And soon your gleaming trains will thunder through the sandy deserts, eh?" LeFevre grinned. “It would be a dream come true for your bosses, no?" The sabertooth nodded with a small smile. “Quite right. Trains bearing the Mercurius Ferroviaire name would soon be rolling through this new route. I'm thinking of naming this route as the Horus-Aerion Express." “The Horus-Aerion Express? After the Horus Mountains?" The mustelid doctor tilted his head slightly. The sabertooth smiled. “Naturally! The new train route will pass through the mountain range." He revealed. “The company had decided to extend the Aerion Express' route from Ispania onwards so I think it's the most fitting name. This new line will be our most profitable one, I'd wager." “That is a pretty fitting name, I agree." LeFevre chuckled. “And I'm sure it will. This rail will link all of your company's train routes, doesn't it?" “Why of course!" The two continued to talk about Förstner's new train project as the day slowly passed, discussing about how the new line would connect all of Förstner's train services throughout the continent. When fully completed, the Horus-Aerion Express could take passengers from Madrino City, Ispania towards Misarya, and then all the way to Asaddia, Eravia where the train will continue towards its terminus in Hieropolis, Anatolia. “I didn't get to ask," said the sabertooth when he and LeFevre were strolling around the glass enclosed promenade deck, “what business have you in Eravia? I've never known you'd like to travel too far away from home." “It was a patient's request, you see," replied the badger. “A Gallian diplomat had fallen seriously ill after a trip to the local excavation site. I won't bore you with the details, but I had to perform an emergency surgery on him. He's in fine condition now, but I had him sent to Gallia for better treatment ahead of me. He'll be arriving approximately tomorrow morning in Luciere." “Ah, that's good news then." Förstner nodded. “Still, it was surprising that you would fly all the way this far south." The doctor chuckled with a nod. “Life can give us some few surprises, yes. Like the news of the cold front brewing in the northern regions for instance. No doubt a telegram informing that my airship to Gallia is cancelled would be waiting for me in Hieropolis." He lamented. Förstner gave a slight hum. “Well, when airships couldn't make it due to bad weather, trains or boats certainly can. At least, I'm confident my trains could go through the cold weather with no problem. No problem at all." He chuckled at that. “You're heading back to Gallia then?" “Yes I am. I must see my patient, after all." “And you haven't booked a berth on a train or a ship?" LeFevre knew where his friend was going, but he humoured him nonetheless. “I haven't, yes." “Well then, as the director of the line, let me provide you with a berth on the Mercurius Express, my friend. No, no, it won't be a problem. It'll be a pleasure, travelling with a friend, yes?" With Förstner's insistence and persuasion, the badger doctor finally agreed, much to the sabertooth's delight. “I owe you, my friend." He said. “Consider this a debt repaid. After all, you did save my life during the Great War." Förstner was practically purring pleasantly. LeFevre responded by giving a warm pat on his friend's shoulder and a small smile. “You flatter me." He added with a slight chuckle. “You will be joining the train then?" “Oh yes, but only until Obersthaven. I'm personally overseeing that some important guests will have a comfortable journey to Arlemania." The sabertooth said. “Like Dirk Thorstein, the famous Columbian violinist who's in this airship with us right now. He and his two friends had just completed their tour, playing for the Eravian sultans. In fact, I think I saw him and his group right there." Following the sabertooth's line of sight, LeFevre saw a tall, broad shouldered arctic wolf standing a few ways away, leaning over the promenade windows. He had a rather sophisticated but approachable and charming air. Standing close to the wolf were his fellow musicians, as it would seem. One was a ram whose curled horns caused him to have the impression that he towered over every everybody else, and the other was an gangly, lean, male leopard. All three were in the company of sophisticated, important looking people, conversing about their latest performance and whatnot. However, Dirk Thorstein was talking with a rather unassuming wolf with a predominant dark grey fur. “You said you're also a violinist, Herr Schroeder?" LeFevre heard the wolf spoke as they walked past the two canines. “Yes I am, but I've fallen out of practice, unfortunately." The grey wolf replied. “I used to have a tutor from the… Ansburg Philharmonic. I am not as good as you, Thornstein, I must admit." “It takes time and practice." The Columbian violinist replied amicably. “And a tutor from the Ansburg Philharmonic? Really? Well, I say that was quite the distinction!" “Hmm, where did you say Dirk Thorstein was from again?" LeFevre finally asked as Herr Schroeder replied in a humble manner, adding that his tutor was talented but quite the slave driver. “I didn't say." Förstner hummed. “Also, I'm not quite sure. I knew he debuted in Centropolis a few years back and gained prominence in Columbia as a brilliant soloist. He had even toured around the world a few times." LeFevre nodded. “I heard of that as well. I do believe he has a bit of an accent… Norvdallian perhaps?" “Still have an eye over the details I see!" The sabertooth chuckled. “Well, Columbia is a big melting pot of a country, my friend. One living there could have any strange accents from all over the world." The doctor pondered his friend's statement. “I guess you're right." He said. “Well then, tell me more about your special guests you have to escort." “Gladly! We have a few celebrities beside Thornstein. There's Diana Adler, the famous Cross End actress; and also, Arturo Lazzari, the world-renowned opera singer. I heard he's going to tour the North Columbian continent for the season… Ah, aside from the celebrities, there's also Count Viktor Konstantinov and Duchess Natasha Nikolaevna of Rosvenia who will be travelling back to their home. No doubt they would be needed in the royal court with the current political turmoil in their country…" The day quickly turns to night and along came a very satisfying dinner in the airship's wide, and cozy dining hall. Even though it was somewhat simple, the meal was extremely delectable, thought LeFevre. The badger soon found himself strolling along the promenade once again, intent to get a little exercise after the hearty meal. He couldn't do to sleep with a full feeling in his stomach. Humming a little tune, the Gallian doctor greeted a couple of passengers who had went to have a nightly stroll just as himself. Most had turned in for the night. The sky outside was calm and cloudless, he noted. Stars shone through brightly in the inky black sky and there's no moon in sight. It was almost poetic, LeFevre mused as he continued his stroll and rounded through the hallway that would lead to the other promenade on the other side of the Adhara. Just as he was approaching the entryway to the staircase, he heard hushed voices, almost like a lament. The doctor slowed down his steps as the noises became slightly clearer. “I wish I'm strong enough to get through this…" A pause, a light, almost inaudible gasp, followed with a sigh. “You are strong. Why did you ever think otherwise?" “If only I could." The first voice said again. It was Herr Schroeder's voice, LeFevre realized. Only, he sounded not like himself. “I just…" “You can, and you will. We'll get through this… together." The second voice, which LeFevre had identified as the firm voice of Dirk Thorstein, intoned. “After that… nothing can touch us…" Schroeder agreed softly, before it abruptly stopped. LeFevre turned his head away from the doorway where he had caught a glimpse of the two wolves standing closely under the staircase. Both men seem to be frozen in place, and the doctor could feel their eyes following him as he walked past. “The stars are very bright tonight," he thought to himself absently as he continued on his stroll, smiling lightly to himself. When he came around to the staircase landing again, the two wolves were nowhere to be seen. Nor the doctor could see the end of their tails in the corridors as LeFevre returned to his cabin on the lower decks of the airship. The sky was clear and blue the next morning, with a blanket of white covered the hilly fields that surrounded the city of Hieropolis. It marveled the badger doctor on how snow could even fall in a country known by its humidity and heat in the summer. During breakfast, LeFevre was reminded of the conversation he overheard last night as he was seated right across Dirk Thorstein. The arctic wolf was alone, while Herr Schroeder was sitting a few tables away, apparently engaged in a conversation with a family of huskies. The Columbian violinist was barely eating his food. Schroeder would occasionally glance to Thornstein's direction, but the musician didn't give him any signs of acknowledgement. Within a blink, the grey wolf's gaze was directed to something else entirely. It would seem that the two wolves were keen not to acknowledge each other today. LeFevre observed that the two men merely gave each other curt, polite greetings as they walked pass by. “This is a funny little drama I'm witnessing." The doctor thought to himself when he saw the two men standing side by side by the lounge windows a few hours later. None of them spoke a thing, appearing to be very lost in thought. Or perhaps they were just amazed by the sight of the snow covered, sprawling city of Hieropolis that loomed underneath them. Thoughts of the two wolves eluded the Gallian doctor's mind as the Adhara finally landed at Hieropolis International Airfield. LeFevre was wholly distracted for the next few hours, as he had to mind his large number of luggage during disembarkation. He barely even noticed when Herr Schroeder bumped past him as he and the other passengers descended down from the airship. The Arlemaninan wolf was apparently in a hurry, as LeFevre quickly lost sight of him in the crowd. After getting through the immigration checkpoint and making sure that he had all of his luggages with him, LeFevre found Förstner by the airfield's entrance. The sabertooth had took it upon himself to escort the doctor to the Continental Court Hotel. Apparently, the hotel was operated by a subsidiary company to Förstner's train company that managed hotels which would provided quality accommodations for passengers of his train, before and after their train journeys. Perhaps it was a coincidence that LeFevre had booked a room in the hotel in advance beforehand, but he found it really convenient that the hotel would provide a shuttle service to Hieropolis Central Station on the day he and Förstner would have to depart. Not a few hours after he had checked into the hotel, a telegram from the airship company came for the doctor. It confirmed LeFevre's prediction that his flight to Gallia was cancelled due to bad weather. The sabertooth was quick to book LeFevre a berth on the Mercurius Express when the doctor told his old friend about the news. “The earliest train would leave this Friday afternoon." The sabertooth had said as he rejoined his exasperated and bemused friend on the hotel's bar. “You will be berthed in the finest first class compartment onboard, and your expenses will be on me. All in good will of course." LeFevre's polite protests fell on deaf ears. “Like I said, you won't need to worry about anything," said Förstner with a broad smile. “I had the nuisance of the ticketing and registration taken care of. You'll only need to sit back, relax, and enjoy your journey back to Gallia." “If you say so, mon ami." LeFevre nodded to his friend with a small smile. “If you say so."
  3. Rod_3rich

    Chapter 1

    Early Friday morning saw Cross and Vasilyev taking a morning run through the expansive terrace behind the colonel's villa, which overlooked the vast bay of which the city of Hieropolis was built upon. Thick grey clouds hung above the sky. However, the air was clear and it was not too chilly. There were also no signs that it would be snowing when Cross looked out through his window, and the weather forecast on this morning's paper indicated a clear but windy day. Deciding that he could take advantage of the good weather for an exercise, the Hesperian detective donned on warm, flexible clothing fit for running and headed downstairs. He came across Vasilyev who seemed to have the same idea as he had, judging from the lynx's attire. They exchanged greetings as they headed out to the backyard, did their stretches together, and proceeded to run laps around the swimming pool and the snow covered gardens on the villa's large back yard. It wasn't until their tenth lap that Vasilyev finally spoke. “You're enjoying yourself." The lynx remarked. Cross puffed out a chuckle. “I am. It's rare to find time for a good exercise among nature… especially if you live in a city like Port Lancerston." “Port Lancerston?" Vasilyev made a confused sound. “I thought you live in Kingshaven city." “We can't afford to live in the capital." Cross replied. “Port Lancerston is more affordable for us. Even then, we still have more expenses rather than income. We live downtown, you see." he panted, slowing down slightly as they made it to their eleventh. “However, me and my brother pulled through." “I see. Why downtown?" “We wouldn't have enough clients to make ends meet if we didn't live close to the center of the city." The detective chuckled, picking up his pace again. “Makes sense." The two men slowed down to a walk after they passed their final lap, panting and huffing from the exertion. Both felines made their way towards the deck chairs and sat down on it. “By the way, you never mentioned about having a brother." Vasilyev went to ask after he had regained his breath. “Oh… I didn't?" Cross breathed. “Well… he's my twin brother, actually." “Ah, really?" The lynx blinked. “Is he a detective like yourself?" Cross nodded with a small smile. “Yes of course. The two of us opened our private investigation agency together. I guess you could say he's both my partner and my assistant." He explained as he took a fresh towel from the wicker table set between the chairs and began to wipe his forehead. “Why isn't he with you then?" “Oh, he's tracking down a phantom thief that had been running amok in Avaloria, stealing famous and highly coveted jewelry. He told me in his last telegram that he's really close on figuring out who's the thief." Vasilyev gave a thoughtful hum. “Oh, is it the same thief who had stolen the Star of Orion from the Capitol Museum in Crownsbridge right under the watchful eyes of ten security guards…" “Yes. Called themself Le Chevalier Noir—The Black Knight." The cougar rolled his eyes at that and gave a light scoff. “It's ridiculously show-offish if you ask me." “Sounds to me your brother is having quite the adventure." Vasilyev chuckled. “Perhaps." Cross grinned before he turned his head to the sky. “Well, let's head back. The day's progressing and I could already smell breakfast from the kitchen." Vasilyev simply nodded. He too could smell the delicious breakfast from the open doorway. “Alright. Let us head in." Walking through the wide, patio doors, the two felines made their way into the marble tiled main hallway. The butler, a tall, thin deer of middle age with a pair of meticulously well trimmed and polished horns was already waiting for them. His usual vacant, but alert gaze immediately was immediately fixed on the two felinles. “Morning Stainer." Cross greeted. The deer tipped his head down. “Good morning, Mr. Cross. Refreshments?" He said, offering the tray filled with glasses of chilled water and juices. “Much appreciated!" Vasilyev went for the water, while Cross took an orange juice. “Is the colonel awake yet?" The cougar went to ask. “He has, sir but he has yet to ring for Travers." The butler said, referring to the colonel's valet. “Also, there was a telephone for you just now, Mr. Vasilyev. It was from the manager of… erm... Ve...niyets Hotel?". “Venets." Vasilyev corrected the butler, emphasizing on the correct Rosvenian pronunciation (which sounded like Vin-yets), “And what did he say?" “The manager has told me that he is expecting your call, sir." Vasilyev blinked. “Oh? Alright. I think I'd better take this." He said, turning to Cross. The detective merely nodded. He had long deduced that Venets Hotel was the cover for the intelligence agency that employed Vasilyev. In fact, Cross was sure that the lynx's real name wasn't Nikolai Vasilyev but the disguise name had stuck. It would be odd to call the Rosvenian agent by his codename or his real name. “Of course. It sounded important." He replied with a small smile. As the grey furred feline went away, Cross finished his drink, returned the empty glass to the the butler and headed up the staircase towards the rooms on the floor above. He could hear the agent's voice echoing through the gallery that overlooked the main hallway, speaking in rapid Rosvenian. “...can I speak to Manager Rosanoff. Yes, yes... what is it Rosanoff? …you've read my telegram... heading back today by train… This soon? You know I don't… alright, alright…" The rest of Vasilyev's voice grew distant as Cross's footsteps echoed through the empty halls. Now that all of the guests except for Vasilyev and himself had gone home, the entire villa was being cleaned thoroughly by the staff. He nodded his head and greeted the few number of maids who were moving to and fro the hallway, dusting the carpets, paintings, and wall fixtures. The detective quickly made his way into his bedroom and closed the door behind him. It was not a very spacious bedroom, being one of the smaller spare bedrooms. The walls were plain white with light beige panels, and there was a single window that overlooked the front yard. Despite being a spare bedroom, it was located directly across the master bedroom so the detective could come to the colonel's aid should an incident occurred. This decision proved to be beneficial during the tense and suspenseful week, where the colonel had feared the safety of his life. However, as he had solved the case and there were no more dangers about, Cross had decided to relax for the past few days. All of his belongings had been packed and his suitcases were stacked neatly on the foot of the bed, except for one suitcase that remained open on top of the dressing table. The cougar's own day clothes and travelling coat had been hung by the door. All that's left to pack was his toiletry and his dirty clothes to be locked into his trunk. The cougar proceeded to remove the tailored, leather glove from his right paw and pulled off his sweatshirt, revealing the fully automated, mechanical construct that had replaced his right arm. The chrome plated apparatus was secured up to the cougar's shoulders, supported by straps that ran across the feline's chest and back. Cross let off a light groan as he stretched his arms, pulling the kinks off his body. Turning to the mirror, he scratched his chin and noted somewhat disgruntledly, that he had became a tad soft. He hummed as he ran his metallic paws through his chest and stomach, feeling the firm muscles underneath the layer of fur and a bit of fat. Perhaps he should lay off the pastries for a few days… Several loud knocks interrupted his musings. “Yes? Who is it?" The detective turned to the door. The colonel's voice came from the door. “It's just me, Cross." Despite in his state of undress, the cougar called for the colonel to come in. Colonel Graves was wrapped in his velvet burgundy dressing gown, which was slightly undone. Cross averted his gaze from the sight of the panther's firm, well muscled chest before his stare could become too awkward. “Good morning, colonel." He greeted warmly. “Morning, Cross. Enjoyed your morning run with Vasilyev?" The panther asked pleasantly “I see you got everything packed up." “I did." The detective nodded. “It is a long way to the city." “True." The colonel nodded, folding his arms in a casual manner. “However, we won't be heading off until after lunch." Cross gave a shrug. “Never hurts to be prepared. I saw two of your trunks just outside your room." He pointed out with a raised eyebrow. “Oh, that's just some of my military equipment. I still haven't packed the rest of my belongings." Cross nodded. “You can never really escape the army, do you, Graves?" He chuckled. “I suppose I can't." The panther smiled wistfully, moving to stand right next to the detective. His attention seem to focus on the cougar's mechanical arm. “May I?" Cross nodded. The colonel's paw digits gently touched the smooth, gunmetal gray chrome plating of his arm, which hid the complex mechanism of gears and wires. He as he studied the impressive craftsmanship of the plates and joints. “'Made by Mason Biomechanics Corp.'" The panther read the thin words stamped into the shoulder plate of the arm. “This is a finely constructed apparatus." “It is." Cross agreed. “Though, I think I should upgrade for the waterproof plating. Can't shower with this hunk of junk attached to my body." Graves chuckled along the detective as he turned Cross' paw plates. “Daedalus & Sons have some very good waterproof models." “Ah. I never really heard of them." “I should figure. They don't advertise much and they almost work exclusively for the military." Cross chuckled. “I should have guessed. And they don't come cheap, do they?" “No, they don't." Graves still had his paw on the detective's metallic paw. “Did it hurt?" He asked softly. “Hmm? Oh." Cross smiled wanly. “I was… completely inert during the whole procedure. Grafting the neural nodes into my flesh and nervous system was not something one would go through completely awake and fully aware." The panther rumbled. His voice was soft. “I know. You never told me how you lost it." “...Shrapnel from aerial bombing." The detective answered. “We were fighting the enemy in the eastern front near the end of the war… and we got ambushed. I was one of the few survivors." Colonel Graves' eyes went wide for a fraction. His grip on the detective's arm tightened slightly. “The eastern front… I'm sorry you had to go through that, Leon." If Cross had noticed that the colonel had used his first name, he didn't show it. “Everyone gets their fair share of wounds." He said, reaching into the folds of the panther's dressing gown and traced his fingers across the lines of lighter patch of fur that trailed down the feline's chest at an angle. Evidently a healed blade wound. The colonel shuddered at the cold touch of Cross' metallic fingers. “I got that from one of their damned war automatons. The one with the spinning blades." “I noticed as much, Graves." The cougar smiled lightly as he dropped his arm. “Well, I better get myself cleaned. I had quite the exercise this morning." He said. Colonel Graves nodded. “Of course." Cross didn't pull himself away as he went to reach the straps and unclasped them. “Mmm… let me." Graves chimed in when he noticed that Cross was struggling slightly with the clasps on his mechanical prosthesis' shoulder. The cougar detective smiled gratefully at the panther as the clasps became undone. There was several clicks and hissing noises, and the arm went limp. Cross gave a small shudder. “You alright?" The panther asked, worry reflected on his warm hazel eyes. “I'm alright." The detective replied. “Just a creeping numbness. Happens everytime when the nodes were disconnected." He said, holding the prosthetic steady with his whole remaining arm. With a loud click, the mechanically powered prosthetic arm detached itself from the socket and neural nodes. Graves helped Cross to place the now inert prosthetic on the bed. The colonel then brushed his paw on the mechanical parts that was constructed around the detective's arm stump. “Hrmmm…" “It made me look misshapen and hideous, I know." Cross chuckled dryly. Hazel eyes turned to meet blue ones. The panther's paw found his way to the cougar's cheek. “You are not." The panther said firmly. “Ah." Cross held his gaze as he leaned closer to the taller, and sturdier built feline. Their lips met. He could feel the colonel's paws on his hips as he held him closer. Cross was barely aware that Grave's large, warm paws were brushing against his backside as they kissed feverently. Their tongues met and danced for domination. None of them seem to be keen of giving in to the other, but very soon, Cross found himself being pushed against the larger feline. He responded by pulling loose the binds that kept Graves' dressing gown together. His paws then trailed upwards to push the fabric away from the panther's muscular shoulders. With a rumbling purr, the colonel let the detective's paws to have a free roam across his body before he tightened his hold on the cougar. Cross stumbled as he found himself being led to a direction by the colonel's strong paws. Letting off a gasp, the cougar's feet caught on the end of the bed and he fell backwards. Graves didn't give him a chance to recover before he was trailing his lips down the centre of the detective's pectorals, while his paws were tugging on the waist of the cougar's jogging pants. He pulled it loose with one strong pull. The detective let off a light moan when he felt Graves nuzzling the plump sheath that was straining against the cougar's underpants. Panting lightly, he grinned as the panther continued to purr while he lovingly nuzzled his crotch, while pulling his own pyjama pants down. Cross couldn't decide whether to be amused or delighted when he found out that Graves wasn't wearing anything underneath. Their stout malehoods were pressed against each other after Graves had removed the remaining article of clothing off the cougar and had practically clambered on top of Cross close, locking their lips once again in another passionate kiss. Breathless from the intense making out, Cross ran his paw through Graves' broad, strong back, feeling the hard musculature underneath the soft fur. “It's been awhile since I'm this close with a client." The tawny furred feline murmured, letting out a soft purr as Graves nuzzled his neck. “If you're worried, then let me do the work." Graves gave him a small smirk. The cougar moaned softly as Graves trailed his tongue over his chest, before he went further down and took a long sniff of Cross' musky privates. He leaned in and carefully lapped at the erect member, now poking out of the soft, furry sheath between the cougar's legs. “G-gods… Graves…" Cross panted as Graves went to suckle his sacks. “Mmm… still pretty much sensitive down there, Leon?" The panther rumbled, dragging his tongue from the base of Cross' length to the barbed tip. “Mmh… haven't been able to… aah… relieve myself… quite a while…" “Well then, we shall have to rectify that, don't we?" The cougar was in bliss as Graves proceeded to engulf his manhood inside his maw. He had forgotten how good the panther was with his tongue. It has been a very, very long time since they had enjoyed each other's company in this manner. His entire body shuddered from the pleasure alone, moaning as Graves lapped and squeezed his shaft almost lovingly with his warm mouth. The detective let out a breath he hadn't known he had held back when the panther released his shaft. Graves chuckled, clasping his paw around Cross' throbbing rod. “Got you all excited, hmm?" “H-heh… just like old times, huh?" Cross gave the panther a breathless smile. “Old times indeed. Now, do you have something I could use to ease us in?" “Yes… in my briefcase. It's there along the rubber." Cross shuffled on the bed, getting himself into a more comfortable position while Graves got himself primed and ready. It didn't take long for the panther to get back on the bed. Leon shuddered again when Graves applied the oils to his backside, his deft fingers working their way inside his tailhole. The way the panther loosened him up was quite sensuous that he couldn't help but moan for the umpteemth time. “Mmm… I think we're good to go." “Y-you think?" Cross asked breathlessly as Graves pulled his paw digits out. The panther flashed the prone detective a toothy grin. “Why don't we find out?" He murmured as he lifted the cougar's legs and held them above his shoulders. Using his other paw, Graves guided his erect member into the base of Cross' slick tail. The second Graves pushed into him, Cross hissed and yowled, mainly in pain, as his rear end stretched to accommodate the colonel's sizeable girth. The cougar was soon moaning once again as the pain gave away to pleasure as the panther slowly gyrated his hips. There was naught but deep moans and sounds of labored breath as the two felines consummated their passions. Graves was effectively pinning Cross on the bed with his powerful arms and legs. His fangs grazed against the soft flesh underneath the fur of Cross' neck as he continued to breed the male underneath him. Cross was utterly lost on the euphoria of the pleasure as Graves drilled deep into him with an almost primal drive. After a few thrusts, the cougar finally adjusted with Graves' size and girth which was familiar to him. He began to move his hips in tandem with the panther, driving the feline's shaft deeper into him, eliciting a long, languid and breathless moan from his throat. A low rumble rolled from Graves' lips as he increased his own pace, pressing his muzzle against the cougar once again, his tongue lashing out aggressively into the cougar's oral cavity. Cross wasn't remotely aware that Graves' paw had snaked between their bodies and had grab hold of his throbbing manhood until the panther started rubbing it up and down, stimulating him further and further into release. For a moment, Cross was reminded of the cold nights they had spent together behind the barracks years ago. Graves was naught but a sergeant back then, an instructor transferred from Avaloria to assist the Hesperian army's daily training, and Cross himself was but a young cougar who was serving his compulsory military service. Spending months on end with fellow army men and strapping officers was maddening with almost little to no time for some relieve. They had to get creative to get some personal de-stressing time, and fraternization between superiors and subordinates was nothing new in the Hesperian army. Graves had taken a shine to him, and the rest was history. Cross was brought back of his reverie when he felt the increased intensity of Graves' thrusting and humping. The cougar panted, feeling as if he was going to be torn as the panther's moans became growls. A loud, whimpering yowl escaped Leon's own lips when Graves clamped his muzzle on his neck with a final thrust. The cougar did not need to see to know that Graves had reached his climax and was pumping his rear end with his seed. The pain of the mating bite and the amount of pleasure drove Cross into his limits as well. With a roar, ropes of his semen were expelled from his erect shaft, soiling both of his and Graves' bodies as they fell into mass of sweaty, musky bodies on top of each other. The detective blinked when he felt Graves pulling him into another kiss. It was slower and less forceful this time, and the cougar relished the moment as he returned the kiss, tongues dancing around between their muzzles as they held each other close. “Oh… I really needed that." Cross smiled tiredly as he caressed Graves' cheeks with his paw. “You said the same thing the last time we meet." “You'd remember that wouldn't you?" Graves chuckled. “You're still the sharp eyed soldier I remember." “Hrmmhm…" Cross moaned softly as Graves went to embrace him and trailed his tongue over the sore, slightly bloody patch on his neck that came from the love bite. He purred as he nuzzled into the panther, feeling a strange sort of satisfaction that he could rekindle a relationship with an old friend, even if it won't be a permanent one. They stayed cuddled against each other in the afterglow for several long minutes, before they got up. Cross couldn't help but chuckle when the colonel suggested that they clean up in his bathroom, which he agreed. Bathing took longer than expected as they had spent the time to appreciate each other's company a little bit more. By the time Cross was clean and dry, had his arm reattached, and properly dressed, Graves was already waiting for him on the bottom of the stairs. The colonel smiled as they headed towards the breakfast room. It would seem that Vasilyev was just about to finish his food. “Ah, I was wondering where you two had gone." The lynx voiced as he bit the last of his eggs. “Good morning, Vasilyev." The colonel greeted as he walked past the Rosvenian agent to get to the buffet table that was set by the great bay window. “Sorry to keep you waiting." Cross said as he took a couple of omelettes from the buffet table. Vasilyev's nose twitched and he blinked. Raising an eyebrow, Vasilyev seemed to be sniffing the air as he looked between the detective and the colonel. A bemused smile grazed his lips a moment later, and he silently drank his coffee. “No harm done. By the way, what time will we be departing?" He went to ask, turning to the colonel. “An hour or two after lunch." Graves answered him. “The train departs at 5, but we'll need to be at the station at least half and hour before departure to check in. There will be traffic of course, so we need to account for that." “Alright." Vasilyev nodded as he wiped his muzzle with a napkin. “By the way, colonel, you won't mind if I use your telephone? I need to make some urgent calls. Something had come up." Graves nodded absentmindedly as he sipped his coffee. “By all means." Cross turned to look at Vasilyev with an inquiring look. The lynx merely gave him a bemused smile and a roll of hie eyes as he left the breakfast room. He paused by the doorway as Stainer walked in, bearing a small silver tray. The butler waited until Vasilyev was out of the room before he went to where Cross was sitting and inclined his head. “Telegram for Mr. Cross." “Oh, thank you." The cougar reached for the tray that was offered to him and took the small thin envelope. Slicing it open, Cross unfurled the telegram and sipped his tea. He blinked in surprise, letting out a thoughtful hum before he folded the letter away. “Who is it from, Cross?" The detective smiled a little. “It's from my brother. Apparently he's going to be on the station later today." Graves blinked. “That's curious. Didn't you tell me he was in Avaloria?" “There's been a huge development it would seem." Cross answered him as he ate his food. “The thief he's been tailing had escaped to the continent and my brother has been tailing him ever since." “Ah. Should we be worried?" The colonel asked. “I don't know, but I don't think we have any reason to be worried. My brother didn't give away much in his telegram other than he will be arriving at Hieropolis today and he'll be looking around the station." Cross answered him. “Perhaps we might meet and see where he's heading next. I might give him a bit of a help." Graves chuckled as he sipped his tea. “I'm sure he'll appreciate your assistance. Anyway, it would be great to see your brother again." Cross gave a nod. “Just don't be too surprised when you see him in person, however." he said, giving the colonel an unreadable smile. “He doesn't like the stares." Graves just stared at him in confusion, but he nodded nonetheless. “I'll try not to." Smiling, the detective returned to finish his breakfast. ****** Hieropolis was abuzz with activity. The streets were full with cars going to and fro and pedestrians crowded the sidewalks, heading to their own destinations. Cross hadn't seen much of the city since the colonel lives in the neighborhood on the outskirts of the city proper. Despite the differences with the local culture and customs, big cities were not so much different than each other, the detective mused as the automobile drove through the afternoon traffic as they headed towards downtown. Colonel Graves was seated beside him, pointing out several important buildings and landmarks, such as the government offices, the Sultan's private residence in the city, the famous temples, etc etc. Vasilyev himself was seated up front with the chauffeur, looking as much as interested as he too, listened to the panther's words attentively. They arrived at Hieropolis Central Station almost an hour later. It was a massive, grand building that resembled more of a palace than a train station. Marble and granite with intricate geometric patterned arches made up the station's facade, while numerous stained glass adorned its many windows. The train station stretched at least three city blocks, towering over the surrounding buildings by at least four stories, and it was capped with a massive, white marble dome. The chauffeur drove them to the canopied entrance along with the other cars. He was kind enough to help the colonel and his guests to unload their luggage. Sharp eyed porters immediately swarmed around them the minute they saw the trunks and suitcases. In no time at all, Cross had his trunk and valises sorted on the provided trolley. “What train, sir?" The porter who handled the Hesperian detective's luggage asked with a slightly accented Avalorian. “The, er… Mercurius Express. 5 o'clock." Cross answered him, before turning to the colonel. “What time are we supposed to check in, by the way?" “By the latest, a quarter past four." The panther answered as he pulled out his pocket watch. “We've got half an hour left. Let's hurry." With that, Graves led Cross and Vasilyev across the foyer and into the grand building. A massive, marble lined hall lay behind the large doors, directly underneath the large dome which Cross had seen from outside. Afternoon sunlight streamed into the hall through the many windows built around the dome. As the hub of international and domestic railway in the country, Hieropolis Central was always bursting with activity. The concourse was filled with hundreds of travellers from various origins and nationalities, while porters pushed carts laden with suitcases among the throng of passengers. Announcements echoed through the hall as the colonel lead them directly for the ticketing booths built to the sides of the concourse. They joined the ever growing queue, which thankfully weren't that long. As Vasilyev had booked his own ticket beforehand, he joined a separate line while Cross fell in line behind the colonel. While they were waiting, Cross went to see if he could spot his twin brother among the crowd. As the telegram had came from the train station itself, the detective hoped that he could at least have a few words with his brother before he had to leave. However, catching a glimpse of another cougar like himself within dozens of other felines from one vantage point proved to be pretty challenging. “Cross?" “Hmm?" The detective turned to the colonel, who had nudged his arm. He then noticed that Graves was already standing by the ticketing counter with a military passport on his paw, and the clerk was giving him an expectant look. “Oh, right. Here you go." He reached into his travel pack and handed his passport to the clerk. “Here are your tickets and your passports, sir." The clerk said a while later as he handed them two strips of boarding passes. “Make sure you show this at the gate and to your conductor. Your train will be on platform 12." “Thank you." “Next please!" Cross pocketed his passport as he inspected the strip of thick paper. He couldn't help but smile. “First class. This should be an interesting trip." Graves chuckled. “It will be. All you have to do is relax until you get to your destination." He said as they cleared the line and made their way to the centre of the hall. “By the way, any sign of your brother?" “No." Cross shook his head. “I didn't even see the tip of his muzzle anywhere." He said. “Perhaps I've missed him or he hasn't—Gideon?" The detective stopped in his tracks as he stared at the other, nearly identical cougar in front of him. The cougar turned around as his name was called, and he quickly broke into a wide grin. “Leon? I didn't expect to see you here!" The other cougar beamed and shared a hug with his brother. As his brother's younger twin, Gideon Cross was practically the splitting image of Leon. He shared some physical similarities like their clear blue eyes, dark golden fur, and also similar markings on their muzzles. The only thing that differentiated the two brothers was their physical stature and the mechanized prosthetics attached to their bodies. While Leon Cross possessed a solid, agile, and athletic build, Gideon Cross had a powerful, robust build, akin to that of a wrestler. He was also a few inches taller than his older twin. Furthermore, instead of a mechanical arm, Gideon had a mechanical ocular prosthesis which replaced his damaged left eye. “You know I've been staying in the city for a few weeks now." Cross replied, looking at his brother closely and snorted in amusement. “No wonder I didn't recognize you. You're wrapped up as if you're going to an expedition to the arctics!" Gideon rolled his one organic eye and adjusted the thick woolen scarf that was wrapped around his neck. “I just had a complete fur trim before coming down here. I didn't expect it will be so damn cold." “More so than Avaloria?" Leon teased with a smirk. A polite cough sounded right behind the detective. “Oh, right. I trust you remember Colonel Graves?" He gestured to the panther. Gideon blinked and his ocular implant took a moment to focus on the tall, handsome, black furred feline who came to stand beside his twin brother. “Ah, of course! It's nice to meet you again, sir." Gideon said enthusiastically as he shook the colonel's paw, grinning widely. Colonel Graves nodded with a smile. “It's good to see you're still in one piece, soldier." He rumbled good naturedly. True to his word earlier that day, he didn't stare as much as other people did. Only once his gaze flicked to the cougar's glowing, blue hued, mechanical eye. “Of course, it has been a while. I didn't remember you were quite this robust back then." The colonel remarked. Gideon smiled and looked quite pleased with himself. “I'm a member of the local Pankration club, sir. One has to constantly keep their physical state in a good condition." “I'm sure." Graves nodded with a grin. An announcement rang just then. “Your attention please. The Mercurius Express departing for Valmagne-sur-Mer with direct connections to Pierrograd and Kingshaven will leave in fifteen minutes. Passengers of the Mercurius Express please proceed to platform twelve." “Ah, that would be our cue." The colonel said. “It's been nice talking to you, Mr. Cross. I wish we could talk more, but we should be going." Gideon stared. “Wait, you're boarding the Mercurius Express to Gallia?" “Why yes, yes we do." Leon nodded slowly, giving his brother a speculating look. “Why do you ask?" “Well then, this is a surprise…" the cougar muttered, before he continued with a more audible voice. “I'll be on that train also, you see." Leon blinked, before he guffawed. “Talk about coincidence!" He shook his head with a wide grin. “I had been expecting you to go to someplace in Anatolia." “Whatever gave you that idea?" Gideon gave his brother an incredulous look. He then shook his head. “Ah, anyway, I better get myself checked in and retrieve my ticket. I'll meet you back on the train, then we'll talk." Leon nodded. “Will do. Make sure to tell me everything." “Of course. I'll see you soon, and you too, Colonel." Gideon gave his twin brother a nod and tipped his fedora at the panther, before he hurried off to where a porter was waiting with a several large and heavy looking suitcases. Apparently, the cougar hadn't been travelling light at all. “So that's your brother, eh? I must say, he's an interesting specimen. He does look more attractive than yourself." “Wha—Vasilyev!" Leon whirled around. Apparently, Vasilyev had been watching the entire exchange in silence and finally decided to speak up at that point, startling Leon who had not noticed the Rosvenian agent's arrival. The detective then frowned. “'Interesting specimen'… Just what are you implying?" He asked sharply. The lynx just gave him a playful smile. “Nothing to be worried about. Come on, let's get to the train before it departs." “Yes, of course." The colonel nodded in agreement before an argument could erupt. “The train would be this way. Come on now." After passing through the gate checks and getting their luggages sorted out, the three felines emerged into the cavernous train shed which was attached to the north side of the station. Twenty platforms sat under two, massive barrel vaulted ceiling made of steel and glass. Steam permeated the air from the sheer amount of trains coming and going, while whistles and horns echoed through the platforms, echoing with the sounds of the crowd that had gathered around the trains. Cross pulled his coat closer around itself as they made their way across platform 12, weaving through the crowd while the porters trailed behind them. It was a lot colder here than the station's concourse as the heating system did not reach the train shed. He hoped their train would be much warmer. Vasilyev let out an appreciative whistle beside him. “No matter how many times I've ridden the train, the Mercurius Express never ceased to amaze me." The lynx was right, Cross thought as he gazed to the massive train that was sitting next to the platform. It was practically the largest train the detective had seen in his life. The steam locomotive towered above everyone, exuding power and strength as the engineers went about the four massive driving wheels and engine components for last minute inspections. The engine, along with its equally large tender, was painted black and silver paint, which gleamed in the afternoon light. A dozen or so porters wheeled their trolleys towards two baggage vans which were located directly behind the engine. Uniformed security guards patrolled around the platform, keeping a vigilant eye over the sizeable crowd that had gathered around the passenger carriages behind the baggage vans. Cross counted there were four sleeper cars, two restaurant-kitchen cars, and two lounge cars—one of which appeared to be an observation car—at the very end of the train. Said carriages were handsomely painted in black with gold and silver accents. The words, 'MERCURIUS EXPRESS' were emblazoned on the above centre of each carriage in large, silver letters. “Would you like all of your luggage into the baggage van, sir?" the porter asked. “Oh, no. Just these suitcases. I'll take the rest with me, thank you." Cross told his porter, pointing out the largest of his luggages to be stored. With a nod, the porter went off to join the rest of his colleagues to one of the baggage vans. It would appear that the colonel and Vasilyev had done the same. “So, which car should we board? I'm not quite sure which cars we are assigned to." The detective asked they walked past two of the train's kitchen staff who were debating heatedly by the restaurant car, gesticulating wildly to the crates of fresh fruit, wines, and meat which were piled neatly near them. “I can't make sense of the ticket." He added as he squinted his eyes at the boarding pass in his paw with a hint of exasperation. The fine print in Gallian was pretty hard to read after all. Vasilyev leaned over to look at the cougar's ticket. “You could always ask one of the conductors if you're unsure." He pointed out, nodding towards the conductor standing closest to them. The conductor was a ram with an impressive set of curled horns that looked well cared off. He was currently addressing a passenger; a tall, robust bull whose powerful frame was clad in a dark grey tweed coat. “Monsieur Karl Bradford, compartment 6," said the conductor to the bull with a clear, polite tone that held a slight Gallian accent. “Thank you." The bull said just as a young wolf, clad in a uniform not unlike the conductor's stepped down from the carriage and began to help the passenger to haul his luggages inside, bumping one them against the floor. “Careful now! I have several highly sensitive camera equipment in there." Bradford called out to the car attendant as he followed the vulpine into the sleeping car. The conductor turned his attention away from the passenger and smiled as he noticed the three felines standing close by. “Bonsoir, messieurs." He greeted with a tip of his hat. “Afternoon, can you tell us which car are we supposed to go?" Graves asked, handing the conductor their tickets. “Certainly, monsieur." The horned conductor nodded and gave them a quick inspection. “Ah, looks like monsieur Cross and Colonel Graves are assigned to the Saphir coach, which is up front, while monsieur Vasilyev would be in sleeping car Rubis, which is just behind this car." The conductor handed their tickets back. “This is the Émeraude coach, as you can see." He gestured to the plaque located right above the window by the doorway, which spelled out the carriage's name. Cross nodded in thanks. “Merci." “Je vous en prie." The ram replied with another tip of his hat. “I'll meet you both later then." The lynx smiled with a tip of his hat as he made to move towards his assigned sleeping car. “We'll see you later." Cross nodded as the colonel made the same remark. With a parting nod, the two felines made their way to their sleeping car which the horned conductor had pointed out. They were greeted with their own coach conductor, a middle aged Malinois dog with a pleasant smile on his face. He was handsome, and practically radiated experience and professionality with his impeccable silvery grey conductor uniform, lined with silver trimmings and buttons. The Malinois tipped his head as he greeted them. “Good afternoon, gentlemen. May I see your tickets?" The conductor made a quick check through the passenger manifest that was pinned to the clipboard he was holding. He turned to the colonel first. “Welcome to the Mercurius Express, Colonel Graves. Your compartment will be the number 9." He said. “Peter will carry your luggage and he'll show you to your compartment." As if right on cue, a young caracal appeared by the entryway and gave a polite nod to Graves. “And Mr. Cross, your compartment is number 8." The conductor continued and tipped the his hat with a smile. “Welcome on board, sir." The detective smiled at the Malinos and nodded his thanks. He followed Graves into the carriage, dropping his suitcases by the entryway and made his way into his assigned compartment. He could hear the conductor greeting another passenger from outside. “Benvenuto a bordo, Signor Cardozo… l tuo compartimento è il numero…" Cross exchanged greetings with his fellow passengers as he and the colonel made their way through the long, carpeted corridor. Their progress was somewhat slowed down by a number of other passengers who were leaning out of the window to say their goodbyes to their friends or families on the platform outside. The cougar detective breathed a sigh of relief when he finally reached his compartment. It was certainly far more spacious than what he had anticipated, he thought as he studied the tastefully made marquetry that decorated the lacquered wall panels. A number of brass fixtures dotted the compartment while a large plush seat took most of the space, where Cross immediately plopped down on. The detective idly gazed out through the large window, watching as the passengers from another express train on the opposite platform were settling themselves in. A knock came from the communication door which was set directly opposite the huge sofa. Cross couldn't help but let a small smirk to appear on his face as he unlatched the lock and slid the door open. Graves was standing right before him with a lopsided grin on his face. “Now if this is your main reason to insist me travelling on first class, you are far more perverse than I originally thought, colonel." The cougar shook his head in amusement, folding his arms. “Well now. You getting the compartment next to mine is nothing but a coincidence." The colonel replied. “But… this does make things much easier." He hummed, stepping closer to the detective, grinning widely. “That is, until I, or even you, gets a roommate." Cross said, quirking an eyebrow with a playful grin. The panther rolled his eyes. “Don't be daft. I paid for single sleepers. We won't get roommates." He poked a finger at the detective's chest. Before Cross could retort however, there was a series of knocks coming from the compartment door. “Your baggage, sir." Came the slightly breathless voice from behind the door. “Ah." The cougar immediately went to open the door and admitted the slightly harried looking attendant into his compartment. “Thank you." He said as the attendant immediately brought in his suitcases from the corridor. The caracal made a quick work to arrange his suitcases neatly on the rack right above the communication door. He paused when he noticed that the communication door was open. The uniformed feline didn't made any comment however, but he did gave Colonel Graves a polite greeting before he turned to the detective with a small smile. “Would you require anything else, sir?" Cross shook his head. “Not really…" He stopped. “Oh, right! Perhaps you could find out in which sleeping car and compartment my twin brother is occupying? His name is Gideon Cross." The attendant gave a small nod. “Of course sir. I'll get to it after I'm finished with the other passengers." “Alright." The detective smiled and fished out a small tip. “Thank you for your help… Peter." He read out the attendant's name tag. “You're welcome sir." Hershel beamed, pocketing the tip, and quickly left the compartment. The cougar went to close the door behind him and turned back to the other feline, who now was standing by the communicating doorway once more. Cross folded his arms and leaned by the doorway, grinning up to the black furred feline. “So, you were saying, colonel?" “Well, I was thinking that perhaps we could keep this door open." He said. Cross rolled his eyes but nodded anyway. He found himself grinning. “Fine by me." “Great." The colonel's smile was blinding. “So, I guess your brother is on a case on this train. This should be pretty interesting." He remarked. “Knowing Gideon, he'll be in the bar first thing once he had all his things sorted out." Cross replied. Graves gave a chuckle. “That's good to know!" A series of whistles and shouting came from the platform outside. The two felines rounded to the corridor to have a look, trying to see what the commotion was about, only to find out that the conductors were signaling that it was time to depart. “All aboard! En voiture!" Cross watched as their conductor gave a signal with his paw to the direction of the locomotive before he climbed up into the carriage and swung the door shut. On the other side of the carriage, the attendant did the same with the other door. A long, loud whistle boomed from the engine up front. The entire carriage gave a slight jerk as it was pulled forward. The cougar detective watched as the long platform and the crowd surrounding the train slowly slid away. The onlookers waved and cheered. Some, especially the younger ones, ran alongside the platform, waving and yelling madly as the train gradually picked up speed. Cross couldn't help but grin and wave back at the crowd until the train cleared away from the station. The Mercurius Express had began on its long journey as it chugged through the streets of Hieropolis, heading northwest across the continent to its destination.
  4. From the album: [CW: VORE] Swooce's land of eating his friends

    Gustav quickly realised how little space he had in his car, so decided to improvise by using... Swooce This superb art was made by @ghgbn! It was his first time drawing object vore, and he did such an incredible job of it
  5. From the album: It's That Boy Swooce

    Made by the immensely talented Ricardo Sánchez on Twitter!
  6. Rini

    Party In Swooce's [by Ghgbn]

    From the album: [CW: VORE] Swooce's land of eating his friends

    Much to Swooce's dismay it seems his stomach has become a popular spot for a large get together! This amazing piece was done by ghgbn, whose work is something you should definitely check out if you like bigger guys.
  7. From the album: [CW: VORE] Swooce's land of eating his friends

    This is part 1 of a commission by the very talented tophatguy, who's artwork you definitely need to check out if you're into inflation, vore and weight gain. bloatylion wanted to be a water balloon, but decided Swooce's stomach would be a nice warm spot to do it!
  8. From the album: [CW: VORE] Swooce's land of eating his friends

    A fantastic piece I got from Bloo.J -- go check their art out, as they've drawn some awesome stuff! Swoocerini ate a dragon bc he's a got damn G R E E D Y B O Y
  9. Rini

    H O N G R Y B O Y [by Nickwolf]

    From the album: [CW: VORE] Swooce's land of eating his friends

    Swooce got HONGRY so he ate his fuckin' friend, mkite mkite and some others! This was made by the wonderful nickwolf; a brilliant artist I had always desired to work with. He captured both Mkite and me perfectly, I think, in his awesome toony style; I just love it!! Go check his stuff out over on Weasly, which he has linked on his profile.
  10. Damien Guarinot

    [SFW] Detailed Half Body - $40

    From the album: Work Completed!

    Hello! I'm offering Detailed, Half Body Images such as this one, for $40.00! If you would like a slot, please do feel free to Comment or Note me! Character © Matthew Sheehan Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me) My Terms of Service apply to ALL of my work!

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  11. Damien Guarinot

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    From the album: Work Completed!

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  12. Damien Guarinot

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    From the album: Work Completed!

    Hello! I'm offering Detailed, Full Body (+Char & BG) Images such as this one, for $75.00! If you would like a slot, please do feel free to Comment or Note me! Character © Carson Ackerman Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me) This is an older image I decided to re-upload. My Terms of Service applies to ALL of my work!

    © Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me)

  13. Damien Guarinot

    [NSFW] Detailed Full body - $50

    From the album: Work Completed!

    Hello! I mainly offer NSFW art, but I will on occasion! I'm offering Detailed Full Body Images such as this one, for $50.00! If you would like a slot, please do feel free to Comment or Note me! Character © IsaacTolf Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me) My Terms of Service apply to ALL of my work!

    © Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me)

  14. Damien Guarinot

    [NSFW] Detailed Half Body - $40!

    From the album: Work Completed!

    Hello! I'm offering Detailed, Half Body Images such as this one, for $40.00! If you would like a slot, please do feel free to Comment or Note me! Character © Liam Jolson Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me) My Terms of Service apply to ALL of my work!

    © Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me)

  15. Damien Guarinot

    [NSFW] Detailed Full Body - $50

    From the album: Work Completed!

    Hello! I mainly offer NSFW art, but I will on occasion! I'm offering Detailed Full Body Images such as this one, for $50.00! If you would like a slot, please do feel free to Comment or Note me! Character © DegenerateWolfe Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me) My Terms of Service apply to ALL of my work!

    © Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me)

  16. Damien Guarinot

    [NSFW] Detailed Half Body - $40!

    From the album: Work Completed!

    Hello! I'm offering Detailed, Half Body Images such as this one, for $40.00! If you would like a slot, please do feel free to Comment or Note me! Character © Nickbrewer4321 Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me) My Terms of Service apply to ALL of my work!

    © Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me)

  17. Damien Guarinot

    [NSFW] Half Body Flat - $30

    From the album: Work Completed!

    Hello! I'm offering Flat, Half Body Images such as this one, for $30.00! If you would like a slot, please do feel free to Comment or Note me! Character © Wolfa_Guarinot Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me) My Terms of Service apply to ALL of my work!

    © Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me)

  18. Damien Guarinot

    [SFW] Detailed Pin Up - $50

    From the album: Work Completed!

    Hello! I mainly offer NSFW art, but I will on occasion! I'm offering Detailed Full Body Images such as this one, for $50.00! If you would like a slot, please do feel free to Comment or Note me! Character © Artica Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me) My Terms of Service apply to ALL of my work!

    © Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me)

  19. Damien Guarinot

    [NSFW] Detailed Half Body - $40!

    From the album: Work Completed!

    Hello! I'm offering Detailed, Half Body Images such as this one, for $40.00! If you would like a slot, please do feel free to Comment or Note me! Character © Damien Guarinot (Me) Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me) My Terms of Service apply to ALL of my work!

    © Artist © Damien&TheArts (Me)

  20. Requiembeatz

    Offer Up

    From the album: Digital Drawings

    Commission for Axanis on Furaffinity ----- Always love to hear your guy's comments! If you want to have say in posted content, check out my tip-funded voting system HERE
  21. Alex Wright

    Murry Christmas

    From the album: Alex Wright's Album

    Yeah yeah, all the puns today! It's finally here, since I'm still on vacation and traveling through North Georgia/the Carolinas (Currently in a cabin near Helen, GA). So here! Have Garreth and Tianti having at it. Art by Shinkei-Shinto.

    © Alex Wright

  22. Alex Wright

    Garreth Evans

    From the album: Alex Wright's Album

    Again, another character for use in an upcoming story, "Outcasts". Garreth is the son of one of the Chieftains of the nomadic war bands. His clan has strict views on sexuality, with the view that males are only there to make offspring. The society is entirely matriarchal, last names come from the Mother's line. Garreth had an experience with a male from one of the other tribes, and his tribe found out about it through one of the trading caravans. Needless to say, Garreth is on the run, with former clan members on the hunt. This cute guy was an adoptable from Alna. (Also, someone shut off my brain, please, before I need more characters...o3o)

    © Alex Wright

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