Feb 10

Chapter 26: The Clearing

Chapter 26: The Clearing

In Which Arrin Has Further Suspicions.


Yazeth: The trail soon peters out to a small, rarely traveled track as the woods close in around the pair. A few moments later, however, the forest opens up revealing a pleasant grass covered clearing on top of a gently rounded hill.

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins and bounds forward in the longish grass towards the top of the hill.

Yazeth: The ferret follows, enjoying the pleasant scenery. As she nears the hill, she notices Arrin has already arrived and has begun to set out the picnic.

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins and flops down on the ground. “Smells good.”

Yazeth: Arrin grins at the two. “It should. We have some rolls here that are still warm, new salad, some cheeses and crackers and quite a lot of smoked salmon.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins. “Sounds delicious!”

Yazeth: The ferret nods in agreement and helps herself to a roll.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan also grabs a roll and bites into it hungrily.

Yazeth: Arrin stacks a cracker with smoked salmon and cheese and munches away contentedly. After her third cracker, she remembers something and digs into a side pocket of the pack she used to carry all of the food. “Almost forgot. We have a pouch of nuts here too.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins at her from overtop his cracker. “What kind?”

Yazeth:  The otter peers into the pouch to make sure she isn’t forgetting anything. “We have walnuts, almonds, a few acorns, some hazelnuts and beech nuts. All shelled, of course.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He laughs. “You sure did pack a lot.”

Yazeth: Arrin grins as she allows Jozra to take a paw-full of nuts from the pouch.

Arrin Woodgreen: He munches at his lunch some more and grins happily.

Yazeth: Arrin swallows the last of her roll before looking to Jozra. “So, how was the tour?” The ferret smiles back at the otter. “Pretty neat. According to our resident tour guide, this village has quite a history.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Arrin nods. “You bet it does, revolution starters, knights, lots of other things too.”

Yazeth: The ferret nods introspectively, eating a roll that she had stuffed with smoked salmon.

Arrin Woodgreen: With a grin, Soquan reaches over and grabs a hunk of Jozra’s smoked fish and stuffs it into his mouth.

Yazeth: Jozra cocks an eyebrow at Soquan. “Now that wasn’t very nice.”

Arrin merely chuckles and passes the platter of smoked salmon to the ferret.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan grins at her somewhat cheekily and, after swallowing, sticks his tongue out at her.

Yazeth: The ferret makes a little line of mini-sandwiches. Crackers, cheese and lox. Yummy.

Arrin Woodgreen:  After a bit longer, the otter grows full and lays back in the grass.

Yazeth: The ferret lays on her stomach, slowly nibbling on a roll while Arrin settles back into the tall grass to do some cloud watching.

Arrin Woodgreen: The otter closes his eyes, napping lightly.

Yazeth: A little while later, Jozra rouses from her light doze. Warm and full, the ferret lays there for a little longer, letting her mind wander.

Yazeth: She yawns and stretches a little. Then she places her forepaws beneath her and with a slight push with her back feet, she rolls forwards into a standing position.

Arrin Woodgreen: Arrin cracks open an eye at her movement, watching her.

Yazeth: The ferret takes a spread-legged stance and moves slowly yet fluidly.  First reaching towards one toe, feeling each muscle as it moves and then towards the sky. She performs wide, slow sweeps with her arms, ultimately reaching backwards.

With a hop, the ferret is now standing on her forepaws, foot paws up in the air. She holds the handstand for as long as she can, which isn’t as long as it should be, before rolling out of it into a crouched stance.

Arrin Woodgreen: She frowns. “Why did this all look so familiar?”

Yazeth:  Jozra places all four paws firmly on the ground and bends her back, stretching out the muscles in her back and shoulders. She suddenly leaps backwards in a reverse handspring and assumes yet another stance, her eyes closed in concentration, ears flickering.

Arrin Woodgreen: The otter’s mind reels. Where? Where was that from?!

Yazeth:  The ferret begins a series of movements, slowly at first and then quicker ending with the ferret bent at the waist and then reaching for the sun.

Arrin Woodgreen: Something clicks in her mind and the otter sits upright. Her mother had done those stretches when she was alive!

Yazeth: Jozra tucks into half a roll and ends up lying comfortably on her back. She springs back up to her feet, however, when moments later rapping like hammer-blows shatter the stillness.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan is jerked awake at the noise. “Wha?”

Yazeth: The ferret cocks her head, easing out of what was obviously a fighting stance. “Sounds like a woodpecker.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins. “We don’t get many of them up here.”

Yazeth:  Jozra looks at Soquan curiously. “Really? I thought they were pretty widespread birds.” She lies back down and closes her eyes. She snaps them back open, though, when the rhythm of the tapping suddenly sounds very familiar. Immediately she begins the translation in her mind.

“Scorpions. Trouble in Fifer. Move South. Move South.  Scorpions…” The ferret listens intently, hoping for more, but the message is simple and repeated many times. After nearly half an hour, the woodpecker moves on, its message traveling faintly over the treetops.

Arrin Woodgreen: Unaware of the importance of the bird to her, Soquan pounces on her playfully, sending both him and his friend tumbling down the hillside.

Yazeth: The two land in a heap. Jozra laughs but her heart isn’t into it, still too preoccupied with the urgency of the message. She pauses a moment before turning towards the otter. “Hey Soquan. Remember how I wanted to travel South?”

Arrin Woodgreen: He turns towards her, still flopped overtop her. “Yeah, what about it?”

Yazeth: “Well…” She thinks quickly, trying to remember what she had told him before. “Now that we have the gold, do you think we could head that way? You don’t have to come if you don’t want to, but I’d really like to see my family again soon.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins at her. “We’ll head out tomorrow if it’ll make you happy.

Yazeth: The ferret smiles genuinely, relieved. “Thanks. Now if you’ll excuse me…” She grins mischievously before heaving the otter off of her. She tickles him while he’s down and then sprints back up the hill toward Arrin.

Arrin Woodgreen:  “Oh no you don’t!” He grabs her by the tail as she darts off, yanking her back down.

Yazeth: The ferret squeaks in protest and then squirms out of the otter’s grasp, getting in a few more tickles as she wriggles away.

Arrin Woodgreen: He laughs, chasing after her.

Yazeth:  Jozra bounds up the hill, sometimes swerving to escape the otter’s clutches. The pair arrive at the top, out of breath. Arrin laughs as Jozra lightly shoves Soquan and then drops back down into the grass.

Arrin Woodgreen:  Soquan looses footing on a loose piece of turf and tumbles back down the hill.

Yazeth: Arrin and Jozra’s eyes meet and they stifle their laughter. The two scrabble down the hill to the blind otter and help him up, though he doesn’t need the assistance, pretending the whole time that he’s a decrepit old man.

Arrin Woodgreen:  Suddenly, with a grin, the otter shoves the two down the hill again as they near the top.

Yazeth: The two girls hoot with laughter as they roll to a stop. After a moment to catch their breaths, the two start back up the hill.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan sits calmly on top of the hill and picks at their lunch.

Yazeth: The ferret flops back down in the grass while Arrin stomps over to Soquan, playfully shaking her finger at him. “Now that wasn’t very gentlemanly of you, sir!”

Arrin Woodgreen: He laughs. “Well if I recall, you’re not much of a lady, or have you forgotten that you once punched a male that was courting you in the face!”

Yazeth: Jozra perks her ears and watches Arrin’s reaction. The otter puffs up. “As I recall, he had it coming to him!”

Arrin Woodgreen: He laughs. “He just asked if he could buy you dinner! Poor Deke hasn’t been the same since!”

Yazeth: Arrin looks flustered as she tries to make excuses. “Yes, well, you see…”

Jozra comes to her rescue as she turns and gazes at the sky. “Looks like the sun’s starting to set. Think we should pack up here and head back? And if we’re going to leave in the morning, Soquan, we need time to get prepared.”

Arrin looks mildly surprised. “Leave?”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan nods. “Aye, Jozra wants to go south and see her family.”

Yazeth: Arrin nods reluctantly. “Suppose I shouldn’t have expected to keep you wanderers home for long. I’ll rustle up some food for you two to take with you once we get back to the house.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He reaches over and hugs his sister. “I won’t be gone for long, I’ll come visit again.”

Yazeth:  Arrin nods and returns the hug before glancing at Jozra. “Can you give me a hand packing this stuff up again?”
The ferret jumps to her feet and moves to help.

Arrin Woodgreen:  Soquan also ambles over to help.

Yazeth: Soon all remnants of their little picnic are packed up into Arrin’s pack. Jozra gathers her boots from where she deposited them at the beginning of their picnic and pulls them onto her feet.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan gathers his things. “I’ll meet you two back at the house, I have to go do something.” He heads down the hill.

Yazeth: Jozra quirks an eyebrow at Arrin who merely shrugs in response. The otter hefts her pack and the two set off back down the trail towards the house, conversing companionably.

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