Doggy Paddling

Commission for Anon! Thank you so much for commissioning me!

	The roar of the waiting crowd made Garmra’s canine ears twitch. Anticipation made her heart pound. She sat in a dark room, only dimly lit by a lantern in the corner that cast an orange glow. The weapons racks, armor stands, benches and tables all cast long shadows across the walls. In the corner of the room, Garmra was putting a leather shirt over her light ashen skin. She next put a chain shirt over that leather. To contrast her black, natural hellhound fur that adorned her forearm, hands, ankles and feet, she draped a white wolf fur cape over herself. 
	Garmra turned to a small, wall mounted mirror and picked up a little wooden bowl, being careful not to spill the light blue paint it held. She used a smoothed wooden stick and applied the paint to her face. Little blue dots under her eyebrows, lines down her cheeks, large streaks across her forehead in a V shape, and lastly a line from one cheek bone to the other across her nose. She took a deep breath as she looked at herself in the mirror. Was she showing enough skin? She wondered as she adjusted her shirt to reveal a little more of her cleavage. Her rear was covered up by the cape as was her anxiously wagging tail.
	“What a glorious showing!” The announcer hollered over the roaring crowd, “Let’s hear it for our victor, Lina!” The crowd of canine monster girls howled in unison and shook the building as they stomped their feet. 
	Garmra panted as her heart pounded. It was almost painful as the pre battle anxiety continued to wrack her. Minutes were passing as the current fighters left the arena. She stood as the roaring of the crowd quieted down, the anticipation was killing her. The thirst for combat was too great to resist as she went to the weapons rack and picked up her demon silver axe. Her tail wagged faster, the fire in her eyes burned brightly, and the chainmail on her helmet clinked as she put it on. Garmra’s ears twitched as she started to stomp to the gate, eagerly waiting for it to be lowered for her. She put her hands on the bars, shaking them as she looked into the sand covered arena. No blood was splattered on it today, a good sign for the battles to come. Blood being spilt in their ‘for fun’ fighting arena was generally considered an ill omen. 
	“IIIIIIIIIIIn this corner!” The white haired queen of the arena shouted, her tail furiously wagging with excitement, she waved one hand in the direction of her opponent as their gate slowly rose, “Hailing from the sandy lands of Egypt! Looking to prove herself to her new peers! Jomanaaaaaaa!” 
	The crowd roared as a dark, tanned anubis in chainmail with light-weight golden plating and a gold helmet strutted out onto the sands, waving one hand at the crowd before drawing her black and gold painted demon silver khopesh. As a show to hype herself and the crowd up she slammed it against her tall shield adorned with scarabs. 
	“AAAAAAAAAnd in this corrrrrner!” The queen shouted again, hardly audible over the rising excitement of the crowd, “A returning fighter, looking to show off to her future hubby!” A few giggles rose from the crowd, “Garmraaaaaaaa!” The queen hollered, the gate quickly lowering and letting the mad hellhound out into the arena. Howls rang out from her fans, boos from her nay sayers, and a general cheering excitement from the others. 
The arena was roughly 300 feet long and 160 wide, the size of a football field and was oval in shape. At one time this had been a football field but had been converted for the bloody games. The ground was covered in sand that was no more than an inch deep with a few stones scattered about. The walls were stone, leading up into the plush seats that the excited crowd sat in. Mainly dog girls, along with their men, and a few ‘honorary canines’ made up the crowd. In the middle of them all, high up the steps on a stone platform was where the queen of the arena, Sarah sat with her husband on a long, velvet couch. He looked tired, just like he always did around this time. The queen was keeping him attentive to the action at least while demanding he feed her grapes as two kobolds fanned them. Even if the new arena had some air conditioning, she loved the feeling of power and regality it gave her, like the Roman emperors they had so much fun aping.
	Garmra raised her axe above her head, howling along with her fans as she took her place, slamming the butt of her axe on the floor. The two fighters approached one another as the queen nodded approvingly, the crowd went pretty quiet as the two warriors stared one another down, sweat pouring down their bodies as they walked, looking to the queen of the arena as she looked the combatants up and down when they stopped next to one another. The queen wore a toga that was as snow white as her hair and tail, and it whipped in the wind of her servant's fans as she stood up on her platform still as a statue. She nodded with satisfaction after looking at her husband at her side, “Warriors! Fighters! Gladiator dogs!” She cried. The two fighters crossed blades, giving Garmra a moment to size up her opponent. The anubis was quite tall, her jackal ears giving her the extra height to match the hellhound’s. The friendly gesture ended before the two started hurrying back to their sides, putting about fifty or so feet between them. Both gripped their weapons, eager to begin as both dropped down into running forms. The queen held one hand in the air as the crowd stared at her. She glanced at the crowds and the fighters, letting their tensions and anticipation rise. Garmra and Jomana shuddered, sweat pouring down their muscles. 
The queen smirked and brought her arm down, horns blared and the crowd started to cheer as Garmra and Jomana rushed one another. The hellhound brought her two handed axe down and swung up as the anubis got close. Her big shield blocked it, spraying sparks as they collided, but made her stumble as she wasn’t prepared for the force behind it. The crowd was already starting to yell and holler. Garmra bellowed a war cry, following up with another horizontal swing, forcing Jomana to go under it. The anubis swiftly swung with her khopesh, striking the hellhound on the side. She grunted in pain as the crowd cheered, retaliating with a punch to Jomana’s stomach, winding her as she pulled back and panted, catching her breath. 
The crowd was howling at Garmra to finish off the anubis. She pressed her advantage, bringing her axe up, and slamming it down on the anubis’s shield. She made a grunt as the axe dented the shield, nearly breaking through it as she reared back for another swing. The anubis brought up her shield but wasn’t prepared for the hellhound to use the butt of her axe like a spear which she drove into the tanned woman’s bosom. Swiftly, she tried to recover, but the hellhound was still on the offensive, dropping her axe and rushing in. 
	Jomana swung her khopesh, getting Garmra in the arm then attempted to bash with her shield. The hellhound shoved the shield aside and grabbed the jackal in a bear hug and lifted her into the air with a grunt as the anubis flailed her shield and sword against the hellhound’s armor. The crowd went wild as Garmra brought the anubis down, slamming her on her back. What little air she had was expelled from her lungs as the sword and shield fell from her hands. 
	Garmra huffed as the crowd howled, screamed, and cheered while the hellhound went for the axe she had dropped. She jabbed the butt of it into the anubis’s chest as she painfully tried to get back up. The hellhound looked to the queen of the arena. A little smile spread across the white haired canine woman’s lips before she held out her hand, a thumb pointed to the side as the crowd quieted down, waiting for the queen to pass judgment. Everyone knew the outcome, but it was tradition at this point. She smiled and raised her thumb up, sparing the defeated combatant. 
	Garmra removed her axe and pulled Jomana to her feet, “You alright?” The hellhound asked as she brushed the sand off the anubis’s helmet.
	“You didn’t have to punch me so hard,” She chuckled, finally catching her breath. 
	“Sorry, I got a little too into it,” She laughed back as the two shook hands then went into a friendly hug to show there were no hard feelings between them.
	Jomana grabbed Garmra’s wrist and held the victor’s hand into the air, “GARMRA! GARMRA! GARMRA!” The crowd chanted the hellhound’s name, her tail was wagging at dangerous speeds now. She lived for the glory and honor of it. 
	“Dedicating this win to anyone?” Jomana wondered as the two picked up their gear.
	“My boyfriend, of course!” She grinned, looking off into the crowd where she had been sitting less than half an hour before. A young man sat alone, a seat open next to him. He smiled at her, his elbows resting on the guard rail of the stands. Garmra kissed her palm and blew it at him, making him jokingly catch it and hold it to his heart, swooning for her in a silly, overblown fashion. 
	“Let’s hear it for our combatants!” The queen hollered over the noise of the crowd. The gladiator dogs in the crowd howled and stomped their feet as the warriors on the field waved to the crowd before the two of them walked out of the arena, “That’s it for tonight! Thanks for coming out, everyone!” The queen shouted and got claps and cheers in response, “Come back next week for our special event! Simulated naval combat where we will fill this arena with water!”
	Garmra felt nothing but dread as she reached the changing room with Jomana, “You okay?” The anubis asked as she started to doff her armor. 
	“Hm? Yeah, yeah,” The visions of boats, hollering warriors, and combat with unsteady footing entered her mind. But beneath that… the churning, black water, roiling under the overhead storm. Waves crashed against the boats, nearly capsizing them as the combatants struggled to maintain their footing. The wind howled, and the rain poured as a warrior got hit with a blunt weapon, sending him careening into the dark waters, flailing for his life before–
“Garmra?” A voice said her name,  a soothing and kind voice full of concern, “You’ve been staring at the wall for five minutes. Daydreaming again?” 
	The hellhound spun around in surprise, “Oh, Kelvin,” She sighed, “Yeah, just thinking.”
	Kelvin ran his fingers through his long blonde hair, “You are always overthinking things,” He chuckled, “What is it this time? Come on, let’s get this armor off while you talk.”
	The hellhound started undoing the straps of her armor as her boyfriend started to wipe her down with a rough, wet cloth, “I’m thinking about that boat battle that the queen wants to do.”	
	“I see,” Kelvin sighed, “That bruise looks pretty gnarly…”
	“It’ll be fine, I’m fine,” Garmra huffed, trying to sound tough. With the slightest bit of pressure on it, she started to whimper quietly. 
	“You don’t need to act tough with me,” Kelvin whispered. Even if they were the only two in the dim locker room, he knew how precious her image was in the face of her peers. 
	The hellhound growled and grabbed him in a big bear hug as he tried to wipe the paint off her face, “I am tough!” She bellowed as she started to rough house with him, flipping him around so she could put him in a headlock. 
	“Okay! Okay, you are!” He laughed as she put him down. She quickly put on a pair of gym shorts and a tight fitting shirt, still revealing her well toned stomach. She looked her boyfriend up and down before ruffling his long, blonde hair. Kelvin pushed her hand off and picked up her bag, “C’mon,” He led her out of the locker room where a group was waiting.
	“Garmra!” The first, a lanky, black furred werewolf greeted, “You did great, girl!”
	“Yeah!” The second was an unusually strong looking kitsune with orange hair and white tails, “It was amazing!”
	“We’re gonna destroy them in the naval battles!” The last, a stout kobold hollered.
	“Yes, my mother is going to be sponsoring us. All we have to do is put her company’s brand on the side,” The kitsune proudly explained.
	“Yup!” The werewolf excitedly nodded, “I’ve been practicing my doggy paddle and everything. What about you, Garmra? Are you prepared?”
	“I… yeah…” The hellhound’s mind was still fixated on the visions of deep, black ocean and the raging storm.
	“Garmra?” The kobold whimpered.
	“I think she’s just tired out,” Kelvin explained as he shook her, “I need to get her home.”
	“Right, well, we should practice soon, Garmra,” The kitsune said with a smile, “Have a wonderful night, you two.”

	“Garmra,” Kelvin tapped the steering wheel of his little car as the hellhound sat staring out the window in the passenger seat. The foggy, cold night was devoid of cars and horse drawn carriages. No pedestrians were out and walking the streets, leaving the couple alone in their own thoughts. Garmra was watching the street lights go by, the yellow glow blinding her as they passed each pole, “Garmra…” Kelvin repeated with a frown on his face, “Hey, come on. What’s wrong?” He reached over, past the middle arm rest and gently shook the hellhound. 
She shook herself and looked over at her boyfriend, “Huh? What is it?”
	“You’ve been unresponsive since your fight. What happened?”
	“I’m fine. I’m telling you I’m fine,” The hellhound grumbled.
	Kelvin grumbled in Danish to himself, the language of their home country, “I have known you since birth. You can’t lie to me about this, Garmra!” He cried, turning and frowning as he stopped at a red light, “You were fine right after the fight, then in the locker room you were spacing out. Even in front of your team you were acting weird.”
	The hellhound folded her arms and sat back in her seat, “I… I’m thinking about that naval combat the queen was talking about.”
	“The Gladiator Dogs don’t do that very often,” Kelvin muttered. He rubbed his chin and looked over to see Garmra sweating and shaking. The fire in her eyes had nearly gone completely out, “You’re thinking about the water.”
	“Garmra, I know how you feel about water.”
	“I-its just water. There’s n-nothing wrong with it. Nothing to w-worry about,” Her lower lip was trembling and she was whining quietly like a scared dog.
Kelvin shook his head, “Come on. I’ve known you forever. I know you’re afraid of the–”	
	“I AM NOT AFRAID!” She shouted, slamming a hand on the dashboard in front of her, “I’m not afraid of anything! I fear nothing in this world! Nothing from the old world!” She panted and sweat, staring out the window of the truck as it barreled down the lonely country road. They had left behind the overhead street lights, sidewalks and businesses. 
	Kelvin put his hand on the hellhound’s wrist, running his fingers gently through the fur as he waited for her to calm down, “It’s that overactive imagination again, isn’t it?”
	“It’s not just my imagination. Those visions of the vikings on the sea, chanting and rowing as they went are real visions from my ancestors!” She insisted, “That feeling I get when I look down into the deep, black sea and when I feel the howling wind on my skin, and smell the salt from the waves spraying me as they crash against the side of my boat… it’s too vivid not to be real.”
	She took a turn putting her hand on his wrist and gently running her claws over the pale skin, “I know your dad has Norse ancestry, but your mom is from the old world. Same as my parents,” Kelvin said as he slowly took a sharp turn, “Maybe it is that latent mamano magic that lets you feel your ancestors, but I don’t know. If you’re afraid–”
	“It is not fear,” She corrected him quickly, “I’m just… anxious.”
	“Anxious? The great and powerful Garmra is anxious about water but not afraid of it?”
	“Shut up!” She groaned and folded her arms, “I just don’t like getting wet. I smoke and I stink when I get drenched in the rain. I’m anxious that you’ll think I’m gross,” She quickly redirected, “I’m not afraid nor anxious of stupid water, I just hate it, dummy.”
	“Uh huh,” He gave her an incredulous look as he blew raspberries, “Whatever you say. We’re almost to your place,” He announced as he took another corner, “You’ve got class tomorrow, right?”
	“Well, yeah, it’s Monday tomorrow,” She groaned, but was very glad to be off the topic of water.
	Kelvin smirked, “Yeah I’ll be there too. Class and swim team practice.”
	“Ugh, you know how much I hate you being on the swim team,” She huffed as Kelvin turned down a gravel road, “You could AT LEAST be on water polo and play for glory, but now you’re just trying to go fast? I don’t see the sport in it at all.”
	“Do you know how big the mamano on the polo team are?!” Kelvin cried, “I’d get slaughtered! Human girls and smaller mamano get their own league, but men and big girls are in the same league! They’re so much stronger than us. You’d be good at it.”
	She froze, a chill running down her spine as she even imagined stepping down into the pool, “I, uh, I don’t think so. I don’t know. I’m not doing that.”
	“It was a joke, Garmra,” Kelvin sighed, “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
	“Text me when you get home,” Garmra leaned over, hugging her boyfriend with one arm and ruffling his hair with the other, “Good night.”
	“Yeah, night,” He gave her a thumbs up as she climbed out of the car and closed it, staring in through the window at her boyfriend as he shifted into drive. He gave another wave and a smile before slowly driving off, leaving Garmra alone in the cool evening air.
	She shoved her hands in her pockets and looked up at the stars then down at her parent’s farm house. She missed the frigid snows of home, only getting really cold air three of four months out of the year. She shook her head as she stared at the porch light that was always left on for her when she went out with Kelvin like this. She kicked a rock in the gravel as she went, wishing she could drive herself and not have to rely on her parents or childhood friend. She pushed the thoughts from her mind and went inside, ready to rest her weary body, turning off the porch light as she went.

	Garmra trudged down the busy halls of community college. The night had been sleepless, the nightmares had continued to wrack her in her sleep. Along with that, she had tossed and turned all night thinking about the potential of her boyfriend and childhood friend drowning. What if he fell off a boat? What if he was under the water for too long? The hellhound found herself shaking and sweating as she thought about it, struggling to keep her mouth closed as her body heated up to an uncomfortable level. She didn’t like to pant in public and the sweating hardly helped. Her flaming eyes had turned to smoke, and her body shuddered. The hellhound looked around as most students entered their classrooms, leaving her nearly alone in the long, off white hallway. She sighed, she was done with classes and desperately wanted to see her boyfriend and she needed to be sure he hadn’t drowned himself. 
	It was a short jaunt to the college’s gym– especially for Garmra with her long, athletic legs. The claws on the end of her paw-like feet clacked against the tiled floor as she walked through the halls. The visions kept playing in her head. Stormy oceans, rocking boats, the cries of combat. She managed to distract herself before the visions of falling into the water would wrack her. She could stop the shuddering for a time, but if she kept thinking about it, she was going to start ruining her clothes with sweat. She started to jog. She needed to see Kelvin soon.

	Garmra walked through the gym after scanning her student ID card, past the workout machines, weight racks, and numerous cardio machines that she was intimately familiar with. The further she went, the less she knew what she was getting into. A gym where a few students played basketball, and an open room where a handful of students participated in yoga led by a tall ogre who contorted her body in strange ways. As she turned a corner by a wall ball court, the scent of chlorine assaulted her senses. She nearly gagged as her nostrils flared and her eyes water. She was tempted to turn around, to leave the building and get some fresh air away from the stench of chemicals, but the splashing she heard in her ears… it sounded frantic and desperate. All she had to do was step through the double doors at the end of the hall and she would be at the pool, and that’s where Kelvin was. Against her better judgment, Garmra started to slowly walk down the hallway, the dread and anxiety she felt was akin to that of an inmate on death row marching toward their death. Or, in a more modern sense, on their way to have their mind ‘changed’ by a mindflayer. Or a human woman who was to be forcibly monsterized. At least it's what the young woman imagined either of those felt like. An inevitable end of who you are. Death– or some kind of ego death. 
	Was she being too dramatic? Probably. She pushed the double door open as she realized how silly she was being. The scent of chlorine made her feel sick, but she managed to walk into the room and look around. All leagues of the swim team were present. Young men, monsters and even human women did laps or sat at the edge of the pool, watching others. It was an olympic sized pool, long with ropes separating each lane. As the last of the swimmers stopped, a few girls from the aquatic mamano team, everyone politely clapped, then started to get out of the pool. The captain of the swim team, a lithe nereid in a one piece swimsuit cleared her throat, “That’s enough for today everyone! Go shower up and head home.”
	Garmra scanned the area, looking for Kelvin which was surprisingly difficult. Numerous men in little more than shorts and maybe a swim cap were all around. Almost every one of them was getting chatted up by a monster girl. The hellhound scowled, even forgetting about the terrifying blue pool for a moment as she looked more, still refusing to stray from the double doors.
	“Isn’t that your girlfriend?” Someone asked, hardly audible over the others. 
	“Huh?” After removing his goggles and swim cap, Garmra could easily recognize him. Her tail started to wag as relief washed over her, “Yeah, that is her. I’ll catch up with you later,” Kelvin walked around the pool to her, “What are you doing here?”
	“I, uh, was just thinking about you. And I wanted to see you,” She quickly explained in an entirely unconvincing fashion. She did like seeing him shirtless, gazing upon his muscular, shirtless form was some wonderful eye candy to her. 
	Kelvin put his hands on his hips and gave an incredulous look, “I see,” The two moved to a bench across from the pool as most people left, “I’m surprised you actually came in here.”
	“Why’s that? I can walk into a room…” She glanced at the deep pool and started to sweat again, “Even if there’s a big, blue, deep… long… wet, pool,” Her voice cracked and she gripped Kelvin’s arm.
	The man leaned towards his hellhound girlfriend before gently putting a hand on her arm, “Garmra. You can tell me if you’re worried about something. What’s on your mind.”
	“I… I… You can swim well, right?”
	“Yeah, I’m not the best in my league but I’m good at it,” He chuckled.
	“C-could you… teach me?” She whimpered.
	“Teach you to swim?”
	Her hand covered his mouth, “Not so loud!” She hissed as a few swimmers walked by, not paying the two any mind, “I don’t want people to know I can’t.”
	“Okay, okay,” Kelvin chuckled at his girlfriend, “Are you sc– nervous?”
	“Yes! I am!” She growled, her face turning dark red.
	“I’ll keep you safe,” He assured her, taking her hand gently, “Hey! Captain!” He called out to the nereid who walked over to the pair, “No one has the pool reserved after us, right?”
	She shook her head, “Nope. Are you two gonna do some swimming together?” 
	“Garmra here needs some practice,” He explained, “It’ll be better if it's just the two of us. She’s a little nervous.”
	“I’ll lock it behind us and put a note that it's reserved for the rest of the evening,” The captain grinned,  “Remember, no skinny dipping!” She joked as the last of the swimmers got ready to leave.
	“Hey, Paula, can Garmra borrow an extra swimsuit?”
	A big oni looked over, looking the hellhound up and down, “Yeah, sure,” She tossed them a key, “Locker 231. I’ll get the key back from ya in chemistry tomorrow, Kelvin. Take the silver one. Just wash the suit before ya return it.”
	“Thanks!” He handed the key over to Garmra, “Go get changed and rinse off. I’ll take care of you when you’re ready.”
	Garmra swallowed nervously, “Okay…” She got up and went to the locker room alone, trembling nervously as she walked by the pool. 

	After a short while, Garmra reappeared from the locker room dressed in a silver one piece swimsuit. It was a little loose, but would cover her body. Kelvin was in the shallow end near her, gesturing for her to come in, “It’s warm, come on!”
	“O-okay…” The hellhound stood at the ladder to get into the pool. Her boyfriend stood in the shallows, hand out to take hers. She reached down, firmly grasping the man’s hand. He could tell she was trembling as her claws started to dig into his hand. The fear was obvious on her face. Her eyes were dilated and there was no fire or smoke in her eyes. Her tail was tucked between her legs. The two stood there, hand in hand for what felt like hours– especially for Garmra.
	“Garmra?” Kelvin squeezed her hand, despite the crushing of his hand, he was more focused on her, giving her a little tug to join him. 
	She let go, scrambling to the wall, “I, uh, I ate recently. My stomach is gonna hurt.”
	Kelvin started getting out of the pool, “Garmra–”
	“I’m gonna stink like a wet dog if I get in!” She shouted.
	He approached her, “Come on–”
	“I’m going to drown if I get in!” She wailed, falling to her knees, “Just like my ancestors!”
	Kelvin knelt down gently running his fingers through her hair, “Garmra. This isn’t the ocean. It’s four feet deep.”
	“But… can I even learn to swim?” She whimpered. 
	“You know I teach people how to swim, right? Like, as my job?”
	The hellhound’s ears flattened against her head, “Well… yeah, but I’m not a kid.”
	“I taught a teen aged oni just a few days ago. I’ll lead you in, this will be a lot less awkward than that situation,” He joked, “I won’t let you drown. You trust me, don’t you?”
	“Well, yeah, but…”
	“Garmra,” His voice got stern as he changed tactics, “I will call Sarah right now and have you barred from fighting this week. I’m not letting you drown there in front of everyone. Get in the pool,” The hellhound whimpered as she was pulled to her feet, “If not for your team, for me.”
	Garmra swallowed nervously. Her mouth was dry and her heart was racing. She looked past her boyfriend at the water then back at him, “Okay. I-I’ll do it.”
	“Good. I’m gonna get in, then you get in after me, alright?”
	The hellhound watched her boyfriend jump into the pool then hold his arms out for her. She found herself frozen with fear once more. She squeezed her eyes tight and began slowly walking toward the pool. Just looking at the water would be enough to throw her into a panic. But was not looking at it any better? She was nearly hyperventilating, but she was carefully and slowly approaching, “Garmra?”
	“I–” She fell face first into the pool, quickly being covered in warm water as she started to thrash, panicking as she desperately tried to get above water. 
A pair of arms grabbed her around the stomach and lifted her up, “Garmra! Stop flailing!”
“Huh?” The drenched hound wiped her face. She was in the pool. Gently, she was put down so her feet were on the bottom of the pool, “I’m… I’m in the water!”
"Yeah, you are!" Kelvin cheered for her and gave her a tight hug.
	The hellhound squeezed him, “Now what!?”
	“Here, let’s have you try floating in the water. Once you learn to do that everything else will be easy."
	“O-okay,” The hellhound looked down at the water, seeing her feet distorted in the semi-reflective liquid. 
	She put up no fight as Kelvin gently gripped her larger form, easing her back into the water. He could feel her pulse rising as she squeezed her eyes shut again, “Just stay still,” He ordered as he helped her lay flat on the water, “You won’t go under if you relax. Don’t tense up.”
	Despite her trembling, the hellhound did as she was told, nodding silently even as she felt the water around her neck and torso. She whimpered, gripping her boyfriend’s upper arm as she tried to relax, “Am I doing it right?”
	“Put your limbs out like a star,” He ordered, both hands on her back to keep her afloat. He wondered for a moment how buoyant her muscles were before gently letting her go. She floated on the water, still squeezing her eyes shut, “You’re doing good! Keep like that for a bit!” He reached over and scratched her belly, making her tail slowly wag as she felt a wave of happiness. 
	Garmra's ears were full of water and the small waves were crashing against her face. Even with her mind wandering, the overimagination was giving her visions of a calm, sunny ocean. She was floating on a pool ring, bathing in the sunshine in a two piece swimsuit. To the left was more ocean and to the right was a sandy beach where Kelvin sat on a lawn chair with a sun umbrella over him. She felt nothing but bliss, “Kelvin?”
	“Hm? What's up?” He helped her stand up in the pool.
	She lurched forward and hugged him around the neck, “I love you.”
	“I– I love you too,” He replied, unable to fight back as the hellhound grabbed his face and brought it to hers, kissing him passionately on the lips for a long moment. 
	The hellhound’s eye flames had returned, “What’s next?”
	“The– the doggy paddle,” Kelvin took a moment, shaking the shock from him, “Uh, after that we can try freestyle.”
	“Alright! Come on, help me do it!”
	He nodded, “I’ll show you first. You won’t swim like Michael Phelps in a week, but you’ll survive your fight!”
	“Row, dammit!” The kobold shouted at the crew.
	The crowd howled as the viking boat rocked and slowly made its way toward the roman styled ship at the opposite side of the arena. The water was eight feet deep and Garmra, the kitsune, the werewolf, and the kobold all rowed their boat straight at them, their fox shaped ram on the bow of the ship aimed right at their opponents. The roman hounds all panicked as the ‘Fox-Mart’ branded long boat rushed toward them. The logo was on the sail that was only raised for looks, on the side of the boat and on all the shields strapped to the sides. It must have been somehow worth it to her kitsune team member’s mother to buy them this vessel and Garmra just hoped she would make her money back from all this, “How are you feeling, Garmra?” The kitsune asked as she adjusted her ‘Fox-Mart’ branded samurai armor.
	“I feel good!” The hellhound laughed, as she helped with a powerful row. Her tail wagged and flames billowed from her eyes as the thrill of combat neared. 
	“I can’t believe you never told us you couldn’t swim!” The werewolf huffed, her tabard was also sponsored by the kitsune’s mother’s store. Underneath that, her light chainmail clinked. 
	The kobold shook her head, wearing her own gambeson with a hood with her canine ears sticking out, “Good think your boyfriend is part fish, huh?”
	“What? His mom is a manticore, not a mermaid or sea bishop,” Garmra gave her an incredulous look and tilted her head.
	“I was– never mind,” The kobold sighed, “We’re getting close.”
	“Incoming!” The kitsune shouted as she dove to the floor, a volley of spears struck the deck of their longship, narrowly missing the kobold who turned pale, glad she wasn’t skewered. 
	“Row faster!” The werewolf barked. The crowd kept yelling and shouting, their excitement increasing exponentially as the boats got closer and closer. The roman vessel was trying to avoid them now, struggling to get their ship to move quickly enough. 
	“Oh, these morons,” The kobold laughed as the enemy exposed the side of their boat, “Brace yourselves!”
	“Get ready to board!” The hellhound shouted. 
	As the boat splintered and groaned, the crowd went nuts. Howling, cheering, stomping, screaming, and clapping all rang out in a deafening uproar. Garmra was on the enemy ship before they could recover. It was her four against their six, but after she cut one down in a single swing of her axe, a smaller kobold, they were down to five. The demon silver put the kobold down as her energy swiftly left her body. Garmra’s allies boarded too, each one engaging in single combat on the rocking ship. Garma went toe to toe with two combatants, a werewolf and a smaller shiba inu looking dog girl. They came at her with demon silver gladiuses and shields. Garmra smirked, she liked a challenge. She kept her footing as the boat lurched again as it collided with the arena wall by digging her claws into the deck of the roman boat. The werewolf stumbled, getting an axe blade to her side and falling to the boat floor. The smaller dog woman yelped loudly as she fell overboard into the water, splashing as she went under. The woman was obviously weighed down too much by her armor from the desperate flailing she was doing. 
Garmra took her helmet off and dropped her axe before cannon balling in after her. The hellhound felt the weightlessness of being underwater for a short time as she recalled Kelvin’s instructions. Due to her armor, she sank like a rock as expected. She exhaled slowly as she began to take long strides across the sandy arena floor. With one of her strong arms, she grabbed the kobold who had just gone under before bending her knees, jumping up and launching herself to the surface of the water where she dug her claws into the side of the roman boat, making it lurch to that side as she kicked her legs to help her stay afloat. Her kitsune ally dropped a rope over the side and fastened it before Garmra carefully climbed out of the water, the coughing dog girl slumped over her shoulder. She dumped the woman on the ground after they reached the deck, totally sopping wet, who started to cough and sputter as the crowd cheered. Garmra’s kobold team mate was laying on the ground, defeated, but the kitsune and werewolf hadn’t taken much damage. One of their enemies was climbing out of the water in shame, having lost. Garmra and her allies raised their hands in the air in victory. 
	The hellhound looked to the crowd to her usual spot. Kelvin was sitting there with a big smile on his face. He made a heart with his hands and winked. Garmra blushed and smiled back. She was looking forward to going to his place tonight for ice cream. If she was feeling adventurous, maybe some cuddles too. It was probably a bit of a stretch to expect it, but a girl could dream, couldn’t she?

2 responses to “Doggy Paddling”

  1. Oh, it’s so sweet. I really like this story, although it’s a little strange that she got rid of her ancestors’ phobia just by going into the pool with her boyfriend, but this is the power of love in the MGE universe, so I can’t really resent this ^_^. I look forward to your new stories, you are doing great


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