To say he loved dogs would be inaccurate. He loved runts. He sought ownership of the sickest dogs, the dogs that had grown mean to compensate for their weakness, and especially those that had been abused repeatedly in their short lives. Under his hand, they would learn to trust again. You are alone no longer, he told them sickeningly, for I am as mean and as bruised as you are. They made us this way.
He lived with his dogs in a crumbling mansion on the outskirts of town, where the grass grew black and trees withered. The villagers avoided his hulking, trenchcoated mass the best they could. In their presence, he was outnumbered, reduced to an awkward reticence, but he snarled when their backs were turned. They did not care for who he was, but they damn well should.
His throne was fashioned out of scrap wood, and the blood-red carpeting of his home was worn, littered with crushed dog biscuits. He coddled his dogs as they did to him, reminding each other that though a minority, they were growing in number.
When the whispers began to filter through the window, whispers from the village, he was forced from his imagined kingliness. It started with the village princess, she with the clean face framed by curls. She had called him small, and the village had tittered in agreement, their mocking laughter racing across the hills and into his dark palace.
He roared savagely and released the dogs. From his splintery throne, he delighted in the sound of her ruin. The dogs did well; in vengeance of their abused histories, they had gone for the throat, reducing the princess’ cries to a gurgle. Their baying forced the villagers indoors; the torn flesh that decorated the streets was a reminder that no one should dare cross their master again.
When he was sure that the princess had been ravaged enough, he called his dogs home. He had only meant to scare her, to remind her who reigned in his own kingdom.