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Treepelt Halfpaw: Freedom.

Through her mad, twisted haze, Treepelt luxuriated in the loss of her constricting space. To finally roam the hallways of the dungeon, keeping the prisoners safe from whatever evils lay beyond…this was what she was meant to do. A tiny bit of guilt pricked at her conscience but she reassured herself that they would all be safe when the threat passed. Whatever this…supposed threat was, that the voice in her head warned and whispered to her about. She had to keep them safe.

Treepelt turned a corner of the dungeon, running her hand along the wall, claws scraping, and glanced at a cell that was dark and seemingly empty.

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock had been pacing for most of the day, being as there was not much else to do. He was not one to enjoy solitude this long - at least, not to be alone in his head for so long. He was not a big thinker, did not enjoy pondering life’s questions. Pacing with only his head for company had just led to cycles of thoughts regarding the rebellion, everything about the rebellion, what he could do, how he could escape - he had scoured every inch of the cell three times already, and would probaby do so again out of sheer boredom - and sometimes those thoughts led to determination, other times frustration.

But he was so used to silence by this point, nothing but the clopping of his own boots on the cold dungeon floor, that he nearly jumped the second he heard the sound of scraping coming down the hall.

Someone to check up on me, I would imagine, with the bland meal of the day. He screwed up his lips at the thought. He hated the thought of what would be in it. He’d probably refuse to eat it.

The last thing, the very last thing he expected, was to see a free half-breed walking down the halls.

And someone he knew.

"Tree," he whispered. "Treepelt, would you mind coming over here? Would you by happenstance be able to acquire the key to this Odin blasted door?"

Treepelt Halfpaw: She stopped at the familiar voice. Isn’t that…?

Her head turned and her tail flicked in surprise as she barely recognized her King.

"What…this?" She fished around on her belt, pulling out one a few iron keys jangling on a ring. She curled her fingers around it protectively and held it closer to her chest. "But I need to protect you." 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Yeah, do that once we get out of here, you and me both." 

Treepelt Halfpaw: Tree slowly shook her head. “You don’t know what you’re up against, Your Majesty. I have to keep you safe. In here.” Her green cat’s-eyes bored into his as she secured the keys back on her belt. 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: His eyes widened beneath a furrowed brow. Haddock’s jaw clamped shut, taking in the meaning of her words. In a dangerously deadpan voice, he said, “Excuse me. What?” 

Treepelt Halfpaw: "You need to stay in your cell," she said firmly but in a strangely calm voice. "The prisoners could get hurt if they escape." Her claws drifted over the rusty curve of the keyring, flexing in and out, in and out. "I got out, but…she…helped me…see…” Treepelt seemed to turn inward for a  moment, listening to some quiet thought in her head. 

"I have to keep you safe," she repeated. 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: His frown deepened. “This is inexcusably affronting. As your king I command you to release me!” 

Treepelt Halfpaw: "No."  

The word was simple in its execution but the heavy weight of its meaning hung in the air between the two, and Treepelt almost looked ashamed before a shadow crossed her face and her upper lip began to curl. 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock was thankful the darkness consumed him as he reached down to his sides and undid the clasp of his thick belt. Then suddenly he lunged forward while holding the belt, whipping it around her neck, then with his other hand catching the spinning strap of leather and pulling in Tree. He slammed her face roughly into the bars right in front of him, holding the belt so tightly she was on the brink of choking. 

"What turned you traitor?" he demanded with flame bursting through his penetrating stare. 

Treepelt Halfpaw: A hand suddenly shot out and grabbed him by the throat, while at the same time the other forced the king’s grip towards her neck to release the tension. Her temper went beyond foul in a flash. She leaned back, teeth bared and pupils shrinking into thin slits. A violent hiss escaped her and her fingers constricted around his neck.  

"I’m not a traitor!" she shrieked. "I’m the warden of this dungeon, you’ll listen to ME!!" 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: He would have let out a gasp except that the sudden closing pressure collapsing his tracheal tubes prevented that, prevented any air, left his mouth open and his eyes widened in absolute shock at the sudden turn of events. Struggling to let out words, he hoarsely snarled, “Go… to… Hel.” 

Treepelt Halfpaw: There was silence for a moment, and then Treepelt shoved his chest so that he flew backwards into the wall. A few of the guards came rushing around the corner at the sound of commotion, eyes widening at the sight of Treepelt standing with clenched fists and wild eyes. They flinched as she turned her head sharply to look at them. 

"Lock him up,” she growled, tail thrashing. "Lowest level, second-to-last cell. Remove his outer clothing—cape, belt, vest.” The guards hurried to obey. "And in his cell, make sure to chain him tightly.”

"Yes, warden." 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "You will regret this traitorous tyranny, you foul beast!" Haddock shouted, resisting the guards as they stepped into his cell. He especially threw a fit when they grabbed his cape, nearly unbalancing him in the process. "That’s fine material, you uncultured Thor-forsaken oaf, don’t rip it!" he howled, trying to run out. They pulled him back. 

In the process, he managed to punch one of them halfway between the eye and nose, breaking the nose bridge with a crack, before the others slammed him against the cell wall and successfully cuffed his hands behind his back. Panting from the exertion of fighting several men, Haddock glared at Tree from beneath his disheveled hair and growled, “Ne’er shall I call you your name again, tyrant, for apparently you have forsaken yourself to stand alongside these deplorable people. Think you are safe? They will imprison you next for your half-breed blood! One last chance to stand beside me again, else on you I shall declare a constant conflict until one of us lies dead in her own blood.” 

Treepelt Halfpaw: Treepelt cocked her head at him, expression stony. 

"No food. Three days." 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: He again yanked at the guards holding onto him. He managed to jerk forward, but they held firmly onto him. “Go eat your own dung,” he hissed. 

Treepelt Halfpaw: "Oh, my King." She stepped closer, looking almost sorry for him. "If only you knew. If only you saw the bigger picture." She touched his cheek gently, briefly, before looking up at the guards. 

"Take him away." 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: He tried to bite her hand when she touched him, but her hand moved away before his teeth could touch her. The guards started to pull him down the dark halls. 

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