7.7 Das Eisenhund

by Matt P.

What came out of the curling darkness was a dog…technically. Walter would have said it was canine-ish, and that was a good description. It stood the height of his waist on powerfully muscled haunches, and it strode forward with a steady gait. It was a dark brown with reddish spots sprinkled liberally across it, like rusting iron. Which was appropriate enough given its front shoulders and skull seemed to be coated in a plate-like armor, which explained the impact in the door. And as it stepped forward in to the torch light and snarled, Walter also saw that within its mouth were rows of razor sharp and rust flecked iron teeth.

“Super double balls!” Morgan cursed and immediately took three steps back. She brought her hands up in front of her and the air shimmered, warping like a black hole in a movie. When it passed she was holding a long and slender blade made of a gleaming black…metal? That looked like obsidian, but with an edge that seemed like it could cut light itself in half. Tania, in her own moment of shock and fear, moved back to stand next to Morgan and made the same gesture—but the blade in her hand looked like fire caught mid motion and made solid.

“What…the significant…fu-” Walter began, but then cursed as Siobhan reached down and grabbed a rock. Before he could react, before any of them could react, she threw the rock at the beast and pelted it right in the head. The clang of iron filled with corridor, and the beast staggered as if stunned.

“In to the vault!” Morgan called out, as everyone who wasn’t a Faerie or a teenager pulled out their guns.

“What if there’s something in there?” Walter asked as he sighted on the hound and fired, more pro forma than out of a hope that it would actually do anything. It hit the monster in the head but at an angle, and the metal plating sent it ricocheting with a harsh screech of rending metal.

“We need room, and it’s better than in here!” Morgan responded. She and Tania charged forward with their swords, but the hound had recovered. With a cagey move like a boxer it pulled back and away, snarling with its saliva covered fangs. It lunged forward but Tania slashed at the skin of its face with the blade and it withdrew with a hiss, watching them warily as the policemen shuffled away behind the two Faerie women.

They moved in to a vault that was as large as an auditorium, with a number of pillars scattered through it at irregular intervals. There was no symmetry, no clean lines, and the whole room smelled like old air and abandoned dirt—but also sharply of the rain, and the jangly sharp copper smell of too much blood and other things. It was poorly lit, glowing a sickly green-white with the light of some kind of luminescent lichen and a few of the same ancient torches that guttered in their own hands.

“What the shit is that thing?” Antigone asked, deploying a rare curse. “It’s got a mouth like a frigging knife block!”

Morgan and Tania immediately moved to their sides of the door and held their blades up, waiting for the beast to charge through. “It’s called an Eisenhund.” Morgan explained. “It’s German, it means ‘Iron hound’. They’re very rare, and one of the only creatures from our world that I know of that’s partially immune to iron.”

“Partially? It’s freaking made of it.” Andre said as he sighted his pistol at the entrance.

“It is, and that iron will kill it. The few I’ve ever seen were kept in sleep in the darkest, lowest parts of faerie until they were needed. When awake the iron slowly poisons them.” Morgan continued. “But while awake they have enough iron, cunning, and viciousness to take down even one of our most powerful leaders in the right circumstances. I saw a pack…” Morgan began, before her pale skin went even more white as the blood left it in horror. She exchanged one terrified look with her sister.

“What?” Antigone asked, her voice quaking with fear. She hadn’t caught it, hadn’t seen what set the other sisters eyes wide as dinner plates—but Walter had.

“Pack?” He asked, as two more grating growls, like the hiss of a rusted blade in a rusted scabbard, filled the dim chamber behind them.