Gristle: Lycaon's chief interrogator
Azula woke up to the sound of rain. She opened her eyes blearily, not quite processing what she was seeing. When she did, she sat up. She was in some kind of earthen structure with a metal roof. There was a low entrance, which she could see was slightly above ground level. She shifted uncomfortably as something poked her. Then she realized she was naked with a small shriek of indignation.
How dare they undress her in her sleep?! A horrible thought crossed her mind and she quickly checked herself before breathing a sigh of relief, she was untouched at least. Suddenly a brown wolf poked its head in through the entrance and Azula shrieked as the events of the previous night rushed back to her. The head was hurriedly withdrawn and Azula quickly began to dress. Suddenly she heard a voice from the door, "Lord Lycaon, she's awake."
Azula quickly pulled her shirt over her head and was halfway into her pants when a growling voice replied, "At this hour? Ah. Stinking day walkers. Alright hang on. I'll be out in a minute." Azula pulled her pants the rest of the way on just in time because the wolf poked its head back in, "Lord Lycaon will be with you in a moment." Azula didn't quite register what she had just seen. A wolf talking?
Then something else walked in and Azula leapt up with terror, bouncing her head off the low ceiling as she did so. She collapsed back onto the ground and groaned in pain. She raised her head and saw the armored wolf from the night before sitting looking at her with its head cocked to the side. Her eyes widened and she attempted to scramble away while raising a hand and bending a plume of flame to launch at the slightest provocation, "Stay back!"
The wolf laughed at her, "If you think that'll work, you're still half asleep! But, I suppose if this form distresses you so much..." Suddenly it crossed its hind legs and changed into a man covered in gray fur, and then into a winged man wearing light bone armor and wolf fur pants. The man had gray hair and the same blood red eyes as the wolf, but a very young and handsome face. Azula blushed a little as she realized he might not have actually been wearing pants, then she pulled her composure back together and snuffed out the flame.
This was just a man she told herself, a man who could change shape. Probably a nobleman of some sort given that the brown wolf had called him "Lord." She could handle him just like any member of the nobility. "Who are you?" she demanded, just as she would any member of the nobility, "I demand an explanation for this abduction!"
The man started laughing and Azula's face colored with anger. After a moment the man finished laughing, "I am Lycaon Stone-Heart, called the Destroyer, Knight Lord of the Wolf Clan of the Kimarehto Empire. I am the son of Iath the Invincible, most trusted general and advisor of his majesty King Kyvon III, master armorer and architect, Supreme Commander of the Ninth Legion, victor of a hundred duels and a dozen wars, the most feared warrior since my ancestor Gol the Strong," he paused for a moment, "and I'm a pretty damn good painter too. You have been brought here to be interrogated."
Azula raised an eyebrow of worry but otherwise managed to keep her face neutral, "Interrogated? For what?" The man, Lycaon, shrugged, "The Invasion. We like having a little inside information before we move on any barbarian nation. I'm sorry is there a problem?" Azula had squeaked with outrage, "We are not barbarians! We are the most civilized country in the world!"
Lycaon raised an eyebrow, "Do tell. Xex!" He reached outside and dragged the brown wolf inside, where it turned into a small brown haired man, also in wolf fur pants, "Take notes." The brown haired man saluted, "Yes sir!" He grew a claw from the tip of one finger and poised it over the dirt floor. Azula couldn't contain her shock at the wolfman's audacity, "You will fail! Nobody can invade the Fire Nation!"
Lycaon and Xex both snorted with laughter and Lycaon lifted a hand to the side. Azula cringed a little as an immense bone spike sprouted from the base of his palm. Lycaon smiled at her and cheerfully stabbed himself. He pulled out the bone spike and Azula saw that not even a drop of his blood had been spilled. He stabbed himself a few more times and proceeded to inflict upon himself numerous wounds which should have killed him.
Then he tossed the bone spike to Xex, "Have a go Xex!" Xex hauled back and plunged the bone spike as far into Lycaon's heart as he could before striking a blow that should have disemboweled him and cutting his throat. Every wound closed instantly behind the bone knife. Lycaon took the bone knife back from Xex, and offered it to Azula, "Would you like to try?"
Azula responded by hurling a terrified fireball into Lycaon's face. Lycaon looked at her, half his head scorched away to bare bone. Then he smiled and the flesh began to grow back at an impossible rate, flowing across his charred skull like water. In less than a minute, it was if he hadn't even been touched, let alone burned to a degree that would've killed most people, "Any questions?"
"What are you going to do?" Azula asked wide-eyed with fear. Lycaon smiled, "If your nation doesn't put up sufficient fight to be deemed worthy of sparing, then my people and I will conquer it. We're just the advance party. The swarm is yet to come." "Swarm?" Azula asked quietly. Lycaon nodded, "Yes the largest army in the world, so great it can only be dubbed a swarm. We will sweep across these lands, burning everything in our path, killing the soldiers and enslaving those civilians who survive our onslaught." "What about the leaders?" Azula asked, her sense of dread growing.
"I will personally devour them," Lycaon told her cheerfully. Then he thought for a moment, "We might consult you about the cooking," he added pleasantly. Azula couldn't take it anymore, tears of horror burst uncalled for from her eyes and her chest began to heave with terrified sobs. Lycaon and Xex sat back with surprise. Lycaon looked at Xex, "What, what is she doing?" "I think she's crying. She must be really devoted to their king." Lycaon shook his head, "That's silly. That can't be it. Nobody's that loyal to any king. You're better with people than me. Find out why she's crying. I'll wait outside." He returned to his wolf form and padded out.
Xex looked at the girl helplessly. He poked her with an unclawed finger, "Um, there there?" He said uncertainly. Her sobs only intensified. Xex frowned, and then became rather miffed, "See here now, what's wrong with you? Why are you crying?" She choked out that Lycaon was going eat her. Xex frowned, "No he's not. He's going to eat your king. Not you." The girl choked out something incomprehensible. Xex leaned closer tilting an ear towards her, "What? Didn't quite catch that."
"I'm the princess." She said with a horror struck whisper before continuing to sob quietly.
Lycaon resumed human form as he stepped out of the girl's shelter with a frustrated sigh. He hadn't intended to upset her. He growled as he realized he cared that she was upset. Then he growled for another reason as a massive mangy black bat wrapped in chains covered with instruments of torture landed. The bat became a weedy hunched man with slightly crazed eyes. He bowed and then clapped his hands with delight, "Did I hear the sobs of an interrogation?"
Lycaon's expression twisted with distaste, "Yes Gristle. We have taken a prisoner." Gristle spread his arms cheerfully, "Then what are we waiting for? Let's get started! I came up with some really good stuff on the voyage over and I've just been dying to test it!" Lycaon gave him a death glare which made Gristle shrink a little in fear, "Um, but the old ways are good too." Lycaon raised an eyebrow, "Gristle, not this one." Gristle blinked, not comprehending, "Not this one what?"
Lycaon leaned over him, subtly swelling in size, "You are not interrogating this one. I am." Gristle's expression changed from frightened to horrified and slightly hurt, "But, but, are my services no longer good enough for his greatness? I can do better! I promise I can do better!" Lycaon straightened up, "You are still my chief interrogator Gristle. You never fail to get results and you know I value results over my distaste for the obvious pleasure you take in wrenching screams of agony from your subjects. This prisoner however is a special case. I will be conducting her interrogation personally."
Gristle blinked, it wasn't wise he knew to question Lord Lycaon, but his curiosity was insatiable in this matter. Special cases were usually sent straight to him, "Special my lord?" Lycaon picked him up by the throat, and drew him very close, "She is a fire sorceress. I will interrogate her personally because I want her kept in one piece. You will keep your mouth shut. Do I make myself clear?" Gristle nodded vigorously, Lycaon's grip preventing speech.
"Good," Lycaon said before slinging Gristle a thousand feet into the air. Gristle reverted to his bat form in time to save himself a nasty landing and flapped away across camp. Lycaon watched him flap away then looked down, "What did you find out Xex?" Xex sat up a little straighter, having just padded out of the shelter, "I found out why she was so distraught." Lycaon looked at him, "Well?"
Xex cleared his throat, "She is their princess. She thinks you mean to devour her." Lycaon's eyes widened momentarily in surprise, then he patted Xex on the head, "Good man Xex. Take a break; get something to eat. I'll watch her for a while." Xex flicked his ears in salute, "Yes sir. Thank you sir."