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          A chill wind blew across an otherwise quiet forest; Judy awoke to the sound of dry leaves rustling across the ground. A few flew across her bare fur as the cold autumn breeze cooled her skin, making her shiver.

          Her arms and legs felt partially numb, she was stood on her knees on the dry forest floor. She tried to move her arms but realized they were tied behind her by an itchy vine wrapped around her wrists, restricting her movement. She started to panic; opened her eyes but could see nothing. A dark brown cloth obstructed her vision, her eyes only making out dull points of light through the weave.

          She could not see, could not pick up any scent in the air, but her ears caught the softest rustling. She listened closely to the sound. From a short distance away came the strange, soft thumps of footfall coming ever closer.

          “Who’s there? Where am I? What’s going on?” she shouted in desperation.

          Suddenly, a burlap sack was removed from over her head. As the light flooded her eyes she noticed she was in a dense forest in autumn, with a strange creature standing before her. If the cold season gale had not already given her the chills, then the appearance of this menacing apparition made her wish she had never opened her eyes.

          It looked like the corpse of a brown wolf, the flesh stripped away from the top of its skull, exposing bleached white bone and dark, empty eye sockets. It’s ribs and spine were also visible. Even its tail was a decomposed mess. It wore a dark shredded robe about its body and a talisman of bird skulls around its neck. If its visage alone wasn’t intimidating enough, it’s voice sounded eerily unnatural. It was, for lack of a better word, a demon.

          “Well, our little prey is finally awake. Good, good,” the demon uttered, fixing Judy with its abyssal gaze.

          Judy breathed deeply as she pulled herself back, but quickly remembered she was tied down as the vines dug further into her flesh, hurting her wrists. She looked back and noticed she was bound to the remnants of a broken tree. Her heart ached and her voice stuttered as she looked back to the demon in terror.

          “Ah who, wha- what are you?” asked the bunny, unable to comprehend the terrible nightmare she had landed in.

          “I go by many names, little prey. You may call me The Huntmaster. However, it matters not. Your life will be ending very soon,” the malign creature spoke while waving its bony paws at her.

          Judy could not believe her predicament. This thing could only have come from the darkest corner of her psyche. Was this really happening? It felt so painfully real. The creature came closer, reaching up to rub its cold fingers against her face.

          She cringed away from the rotting appendage in revulsion. “No! No, please leave me alone,” Judy shrieked, utterly failing to contain her fear.

          “Oh ho! Not to worry, little prey. Your pain will be brief, and then only silence.“A brief chuckle punctuated his speech, “Behold, the fox,” spoke the Huntmaster as he stepped to the side, waving a paw at the space behind him. 

          Judy’s eyes grew wide; Nick was resting on the ground in front of her. As she watched, his eyes fluttered open. Slowly rising from the leafy ground, he sat up and began rubbing his face. His fur looked ragged, with splotches of mud here and there. Then he lowered his paws and fully opened his eyes to look around.

          He noticed her almost immediately, then just as quickly realized that she was wearing nothing but her fur. Looking down revealed that he, too, was naked. Glancing back up at her, he was astonished to see her cowering face. Following her gaze, he became just as scared, probably more so, when he noticed the terrifying entity standing between them.

          “Judy, what is this? What’s going on?” he shouted in panic as he jerked away, nearly falling on his back.

          Before Judy could open her mouth, the Demon spoke. “I am glad you are awake, my young apprentice. It is time you are taught an important lesson. One that all predators seemed to have forgotten, all too easily.”

          Nick gave Judy a worried look, understanding her fear as he took stock of their situation. They were stuck in an impenetrable forest with a creature spawned out of their darkest imagination. “Who are you? What do you want?” he demanded to know. He was scared alright, but more for Judy than himself, and he would not allow this monster to see his fear.

          “I am The Huntmaster, the spirit in all predators, great and small. And I have brought you here to remind you of your role, my wayward son. A role set for you by nature.” The demon spoke as if preaching a gospel.

          “What? Uh, I don’t care what you want with me; you let her go this minute!” Nick demanded, pointing at Judy while glaring at the creature.

          The demon regarded him like a disobedient child “Oh, but I will not. You will set her free. Free from the pain of her feeble life. You will taste of her flesh, and in turn make yourself stronger,” the Huntmaster told him sternly.

          This thing wanted him to eat Judy? Nick’s jaw dropped at the realization. He didn’t need a second glance at the poor bunny to understand her misery. This would not do, he told himself. He gave the evil spirit an angry, determined look. “What, you want me kill and eat her? I will never do such a thing!” he shouted in protest.

          “Hmpf. I see you have allowed this foolish notion of tolerance to infect your mind. You have nothing to gain from this union: predators need not be friends with their prey. But I see mammalian predators have become absurd and complacent. You have allowed the prey to flourish while you have become weak and fearful. Why? Do you wish to wait for the prey to hang collars around your necks and force you into slavery? When it is you who, by right, should be masters of the world?” the Huntmaster boldly proclaimed as he went on to explain how traditional predation was necessary.

          Nick simply snarled at him, he didn’t care for his so called wisdom. “I don’t care what you have to say, I will not hurt her.”

          “Hmmm, but you want her. You crave to devour your traditional prey. To rip the fur from her skin and taste her tender meat,” the monster accused as it came close to Judy. It approached the rabbit slowly digging its claws into her cheek drawing blood.

          Judy tried to shake herself loose; she thrashed her legs, kicking dirt and leaves out in all directions. The biting pain felt unmistakably real to her as she screamed in torment.

          Nick stood up to stop the monster’s abuse, but fell to the ground. It was as if some hidden force prevented him from standing on his back legs. Pushing himself up, he balanced on all fours and shouted his animosity at the vile specter. “Stop it! Stop hurting her!”

          The demon pulled away from Judy to crouch by Nick. It pressed its bloodied fingertips on his lips and into his mouth. “Here, taste of her warm blood. Isn’t it marvelous?” It spoke with a sadistic reverence.

          Nick spat it out in disgust; he shook his head and bit back at him. “I will not allow you to tempt me into this madness. I care for her, I will not hurt her. Nor will I let you do it!”

          The demon continued to berate him for his false emotions, when it saw its persuasion was falling on deaf ears however it began to resort to torture.


          “Your traditional prey is here, my young hunter. All you need to do is use your claws and your sharp teeth. But, if my words cannot motivate you, then perhaps, hunger will!” The demon said, flailing its hands in a ritualistic fashion.

          A dark kind of magic washed over the poor fox. Judy gasped in panic as Nick literally began to wither away right before her eyes. She wept at her companion’s distress, a tear forming in her soul as he became noticeably thinner, and his ribs visible under his lean muscle.

          Nick struggled to hold his balance while he gripped his rumbling guts with one paw. The hunger pained him; he looked back to Judy with a longing stare. Still, he held strong and pushed the sinister thoughts away from his mind. He would not dare ingest her like a common meal. She had given him too much, all the joy and sorrow they had shared; he could not cast it aside and have her become just a stain on his teeth.

          He knelt down, gripping his stomach. “No. No, whatever you do, I will never submit! I will not eat her,” Nick uttered, voice filled with pained determination. He breathed deeply, doing his very best to guard his soul from the demon’s temptations.

          The Huntmaster became furious at this refusal. “WHAT?! I have offered you a warm meal on a platter and you refuse? You disobedient child!” He shouted as he raised his fist and brought it down across Nick’s face. The fox collapsed and the spirit stood over him, raining blows down upon him.

          Judy could not tolerate this “Stop it! Stop it! You have no right to do this. We were meant for more than this selfish bickering,” she shouted at the devil, demanding him to cease and desist.

          The demon turned and eyed her menacingly. How dare she command him!, he thought. “Silence, meek prey. We are masters of your fate and we will decide your death. Accept it!” he shouted in annoyance as he slapped her.

          Nick shakily steadied himself on his legs, as he stood up to oppose the spirit. “You… You will not hurt her again!” he screamed in defiance. 

          The Huntmaster looked at him in disgust and with terrible anger. Surely there was but one option left for him to pursue. “Fine then. If you will not be persuaded to feast on her by words, or from hunger, you will do so by your own savage mind. Discard your worthless pity and emotions; they serve no purpose for a true predator. A beast who hunts should show no remorse for its actions. Now, arise!”

          The demon howled as it again began casting its curses on the fox. Nick fell on his side, gripping his head as the mental pain racked his mind. He desperately tried to keep his faculties free of the demon’s toxic influence, but it was no use.

          Judy looked back in horror as Nick stood up on all fours; his eyes had changed and radiated pure hate. He had a look resembling the animals struck down by the Night Howler serum: a vicious savagery that knew only to destroy. He had faked it once before in the museum when they had tricked Bellewether, but this time it was very real. He growled as he slowly approached, baring his fangs at her.

          “No. No. Nick, please don’t!” she sniffled fearfully, desperately appealing to whatever reason still lingered in his mind. 

          He still came forward hungry and bloodthirsty. The demon rubbed its paws in anticipation, laughing maniacally.

          Judy resumed her struggle against her bondage. She would not become a victim to a fox she had only respect for. “No! Nicholas Wilde, you made me a promise!” she shouted at him again as he put his jaws around her neck. She screamed in terror and sorrow as she felt the fox’s canines touch her neck. She closed her eyes, resigning herself to death.

          But nothing happened. The reynard did not clamp his jaws down on her throat. Judy’s words entered his brain and refused to leave. Nick pulled back slowly as he took in her scent. The very wild fox looked at her rather confused: her scent was that of a rabbit, but there was something else. It was his scent. He had marked her with his musk! As the savage fox contemplated this, his reason and emotions slowly, but surely pushed their way back into his mind, past the animalistic malice that had gripped him.

          He was still in some ways feral, but his heart pained him to see her fear. A moment later he no longer saw her as prey, he saw her as his mate. He stared at her like a sad puppy before he slowly began to give her a few licks across her uninjured cheek. After this sincere kiss, he smiled and yelped something in a kind of ancient fox language. In a way it sounded like he was saying, to a canine, loyalty was everything.

          A few tears fell across Judy’s cheeks as she sniffled. “Thank you Nick,” she said softly, staring back at him in loving appreciation.

          “GAAAHH!” The demon shouted, pulling itself back as the terrible realization of the aberration struck him. The concept was completely offensive to him and he could not avoid voicing his displeasure. “Impossible! The instinct of survival is far more important than this worthless, fleeting emotion! Gaaahh!”

          Judy looked at him full of spite; she didn’t care anymore if they would both die. She would not allow this malignant fiend to destroy their relationship. “You’re wrong! Love can overcome all obstacles, especially your evil hate!” she cried at him.

          The demon balled its fists thinking to strike at them both, Nick turned and his demeanor changed back to savage fury. But this time it was directed at him his true enemy, the avatar of the depraved barbarism he had longed to escape from his whole life.

          The Huntmaster was not amused; all his attempts at manipulation, and even torture had failed. The fox denied his true nature and refused his teachings. “So you would cast away your life for her sake?” he asked, appalled at Nick’s decision.

          Nick tilted his head as he approached determined to end him. The demon barked at him “Fine then! If a predator is unable, or refuses to eat the prey then he must die. This is the law of nature and it will be so, I cast you out my unworthy son.” The demon snapped.

          A wave of crackling energy burst forth from the demon’s hands and struck Nick. The unfortunate fox struggled as the energy fried his nerves. He fell to the ground convulsing in agony. Eventually however his paws went limp and his vision darkened.

          Judy stood there eyes wide and slack jawed in denial at the sight. “No, no. Nick” she cried absolutely forlorn. A few more tears fell about her cheeks, her scratched cheek burned her but that pain was infinitely smaller than grief she now felt. 

          She soon turned her face to the demon; her mask of sorrow was instantly covered by one of intense loathing. “You monster!” Judy shouted at him.

          The devil came to her side and held her face in his hand, then snarled at her. “Do not be ungrateful meek prey. Your unlikely partner sacrificed himself for your life. Now you’re only curse will be your loneliness.” It spoke with a hiss.

          In a way the devil appeared satisfied. If his mission had been to claim a life, regardless of who’s it was, then that he had certainly achieved. He picked up Nick’s lifeless body and then covered Judy’s head with the burlap sack again.

          “No, Noooo!” Judy shouted as she saw the terrible deed accomplished.

          She struggled and thrashed about, her cries of pain and suffering resounding throughout the forest and across all time.

          Suddenly she opened her eyes again and was back in her bed. She gripped her neck as she breathed a sigh of relief; Nick was next to her and was safe. But as she tried to wake him her relief quickly turned back to desperation.

          “Nick please wake up. Nick wake up, wake up!” She said first softly then with a shout. She turned him on his side to face her. He didn’t respond “No! No! Please Nick, wake up! Please don’t leave me alone.” She said feebly after several frantic attempts to rouse him.

          She began to weep, he was cold and his pulse was absent. The worst had indeed come to pass; her dear fox had given up the ghost. She fell on his chest squeezing him tightly as her woeful tears fell on his fur.

          But this was not the ending, without warning the reynard’s chest expanded outward as he drew a deep tortured breath. Then several more followed as he struggled back from the reaper’s grasp. Judy swiftly raised herself in stunned joy she caressed his face while he opened his eyes and smiled.

          “Nick, thank goodness!” she mouthed with a kind of golden hope.

          “Judy…” Nick replied softly as he slowly, tenderly touched her face.

          The doe regarded her mate with the most praiseworthy smile she could display. “Ah Nick, I had the most awful nightmare. It was -” she began to tell him, the fox however placed a finger on her mouth.

          “Was there a, uh, demon hound in it?” He asked her softly unsure whether his hunch was true.

          Judy looked at him in astonishment, could it possibly be true “You, you had the same dream?” she asked curiously.

          Nick slowly nodded and gave her an emotional smile, “And I said, no.” he whispered to her.

          The doe was speechless, she put her hands over her mouth, but her eyes spoke volumes louder than any words ever could. Nick didn’t stop there however “I promised to be loyal, brave and trustworthy. And I will not betray that.” He politely spoke to her masking none of his emotion.

          Judy lowered her hands to delicately rub his chest. Again her eyes were filled with tears, but these were tears of joy. “I love you Nick. I don’t know if there ever will be a moment that I am more proud of you.” She said passionately as she rested her head on his chest and again wrapped her arms around him.

          “I was so afraid; I thought my mind would literally break. Judy, I-I need to tell you something.” Nick mentioned full of longing sorrow.

          Judy raised her eyes to meet his and nodded courteously “Anything Nick, I’m listening.”

          Nick also had tears in his eyes and was mumbling, but he gathered his thoughts and spoke. He knew he would do anything for her love, but what if a true moment of desperation came. Would he really be able to deny his demons? “I think it would be better if we were separated, I couldn’t bear the thought that I might hurt you.”

          Judy felt at odds, but she could not allow the irrational fear to tear them apart. “No Nick, you listen here. I love you, flaws and all you’re MY fox, and I won’t let you go. If there is anyone who is unworthy in this relationship, it’s me.” Judy cried full of heartfelt worry.

          The fox wiped a tear as it sniffled “No, Judy don’t say that. You’re everything I would ever want in life.” He replied lovingly.

          “Then don’t leave me, I want to grow old with you. And I don’t give a damn what anyone else says.” Miss Hopps spoke full of devoted pride.

          Nick gave her a humble nod; she had dispelled his mad fears. His mind was now at ease; he slowly wiped her tears and reached out to kiss her, as his thumb ran over the faint scar on her cheek. They then snuggled against one another like tomorrow would never come.


 This text is a fanfiction story based on Zootopia cartoon.