If you're one of those who doesn't like seeing those "dog" things suffering any sort of harm, then you're fortunate it isn't actually possible to capture in visual language the sort of damage Nobad had just endured, suffice to say that the Dolphin had sort of unnaturally flexed two opposing "edges" of its own conceptual boundaries to "snip off" a couple smaller, younger branches of the tinier interloper's core, which I can assure you is a uniquely nasty thing to do. Nasty, but inflicted as impersonally as one of your kind might bite off a hangnail. A Dolphin's cruelty was of the sort that didn't actually have any idea what it meant to be "cruel," let alone why it should care, but it knew that it derived an awful lot of satisfaction from the different noises things made when you separated them into more peices than they liked to consist of, and that the more something struggled to prevent that from happening, the more entertaining the whole business was.

  Nobad's concept-core recoiled from the ruthlessly casual assault the way cellophane would shrink from a bonfire, well before the abstract experience could improvise an avenue into the little creature's conscious perception. But improvise it did, translating into just a momentary, fleeting jolt of something unlike any sensation you are capable of, but most of all entirely unlike the sensation of all the water content in your body converting to its equivalent weight in thumbtacks and back again. It took a little effort for Nobad's brain to sort out how it was supposed to feel before the animal let out a sort of "HRAULTCH" noise, suddenly convulsing on the library floor, and the timing of this delay was outstandingly comical to the sensibilities of the Dolphin.

  Her teeth rattled with what represented laughter, and she rolled a little where she drifted in the air, decidedly much more amused by this fuzzy object than any mere hangnail. The dog had curled into a tight, quiet circle, which the Dolphin now prodded a bit with the tip of its snout, gauging how much hypothetical comedy may yet remain in the whimpering blob that it mentally categorized the same as it did all other moving, squealing objects of interest: not as a "living thing," but as what sort of translated to "unfinished corpse," or maybe "unripe death."

  This was its perception of itself as well, mind you, but it was of course the natural, logical goal of any up-and-coming cadaver to study carefully the ways of dying; to constantly test and observe the processes of maturing from an incomplete to complete death as a student of the culinary arts might continuously practice, taste, and deconstruct a challenging recipe before, you know, finally climbing into the oven themselves, as a Dolphin would probably assume to be the point of it all.

   And surely, no Dolphin wanted to grow up into some dry, under-seasoned, forgettable obituary. Only the juiciest, most succulent demise would suffice. A death marinated in the full spectrum of agony, terror and entropy that, in a Dolphin's mind, constituted reality on an even more fundamental level than Concept itself. A death worthy of the entire rich spice-rack of mutilation and degradation it had rolled itself in while it was still in its earliest preparatory phases, still taking in nutrients and fighting to prolong its fermentation process just enough.

  This particular Dolphin was a ripe one, dripping with more flavors of violence and malice than most sentiences believed could exist, and still it wasn't enough for the beast's appetite. She had followed the scent of this battered and bleeding conceptual zone to gorge herself on its rot and despair, to fill its seething wounds with her squirming offspring while she feasted on its entrails, and still she craved ever more destruction, wherever she might find it; even from a pre-corpse as insignificant as the hairy morsel of meat that had intruded on her mid-meal.

  Her innards churned and her abdomen swelled, preparing a torrent of searing, stinking ichor that would neatly dissolve the diminutive biovessel without further damaging the wounded core, leaving it exposed to pluck apart like the petals of a flower and sprinkle, still twitching, like a pinch of sugar over her next savory mouthful of decomposing library-concept. It was good to be a Dolphin. Sometimes, she even might have thought it was better to keep being a Dolphin than to ever be a Death, but then her thoughts would conjure the glorious image of her own remains, the permanent stains that her ruptured guts would leave on the tapestry of reality, and her spiteful, clacking Dolphin jaws slobbered with vulgar anticipation. It would be magnificent when it happened, but of course, though she was quite confident it wouldn't happen yet. Not to the likes of her.


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