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Jun 16

Chapter 80: Ghetto Life

Chapter 80: Ghetto Life

In Which Things Don’t Always Happen Immediately.

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Yazeth: As the week grows older, Soquan and Jozra learn their way around the slums. Zander’s unvoiced concern that three mouths would be too hard to feed proves to be unfounded, as three eyes searching turn up more than he had before.

…and there’s the added bonus that Jozra soon decides not to play by the rules of the city and under the cover of darkness she begins leaving the confines of the slums to forage in the more prosperous parts of the city.

She always has an excuse for what she’s found, she isn’t about to let Soquan know that she has the skills to do what she does. She avoids the center of the city for the first part of the week, but eventually curiosity wins and she begins scoping out the palace and the movement of the city guards. She’s only able to catch glimpses inside the camps, guarded as they are, but what she sees she does not like.

The three settle into a routine, though Jozra avoids Zander as much as possible under the circumstances. Soquan notices the distance, but doesn’t push the ferret for an explanation. On their eighth morning there, Jozra can’t take the strain between herself and the woodrat any longer. As Soquan cooks breakfast, she climbs up to the roof to join Zander as she hadn’t done since the first morning there.

Arrin Woodgreen: The otter takes note of the ferret’s disappearance and says nothing, returning to his cooking. He pauses for a moment as his vision fuzzes and unfocuses a bit, shaking his head sadly while he reaches a free paw to rub irritably at his eyes. His vision had been coming and going this way since their second day in the city. He hadn’t told either of his companions of his problems, whatever was going on between the two was enough; he didn’t want to add to it by worrying them. Besides,  serves him right for getting his hopes up, it had been too good to be true.

Yazeth: Zander twitches his ears as Jozra approaches but he doesn’t spare her a glance until he rolls out of his handstand. The ferret doesn’t want to talk right away, though, and she joins in the series of stretches where Zander left off. After a moment, he continues.   Several minutes later, the series of stretches is over and Zander sits quietly for a moment as Jozra gazes over the landscape. “I’m sorry, Joz. I seem to have offended you but it’s true. You’re the only one I know and trust enough to do this.”

Yazeth: The ferret puts her face in her paws for a long moment. Sighing, she finally answers the woodrat. “Zander, I don’t know if I can. Ostoria… it did something to me.”

She looks away for a long while but Zander waits patiently. Finally she resumes. “When we were attacked by the hares I hesitated. I don’t know if it would have made a difference then but for this…” She shakes her head in shame and frustration.

Zander shifts awkwardly, wanting to put a hand on the ferret’s shoulder as a friend but feeling unsure now that he’s fairly certain that the ferret and otter are an ‘item’, even if Jozra won’t admit it. “I think Ostoria changed all of us.”

It could have been a snide comment about his leg, but Zander said it gently. “I had nightmares about it. And then I came here where it’s a nightmare just to try to live. It needs to be done, Jozra. We’re here to back you up.”

He tries to catch her eye but fails as she keeps her gaze focused on the surface of the roof. “All you need to do is get in and get out. Once everything’s in disarray, Soquan and I can organize everyone. There’s still your other friend you told me about, and Azrun, on the inside. They can help us once they’re free.”

The ferret shakes her head and gets to her feet. Zander frowns and casts an almost pleading look in her direction. “At least think about it. There are families here with children that are wasting away from the lack of food. They can’t hold out much longer.”

She glares at the woodrat, frowning on his tactics of trying to guilt-trip her into the ‘job’.  He raises his paws in an apologetic manner. “Sorry.” He watches her head towards the edge of the roof, check the street below and begin climbing down back to the window.  “Jozra…”

She pauses a second with her head just above the roof ledge. “…did you find where they keep everything they’ve confiscated?”

She looks away for a moment and then looks back. She may not be happy with Zander at the moment, but she’s more unhappy with her entire situation than with any one beast. No point in lying to him. She nods her head definitively and then continues the rest of the way down before he can say anything else.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan looks up from his preparations as the ferret hops into the room. He pauses as he catches the look on her face and quietly asks her. “Are you okay Joz?”

Yazeth: The ferret pauses just inside the window. She wants to tell him that everything is fine, but he’d know it was a lie and she’d told him too many of those already. She shakes her head and then smiles wanly. “I’ll be a lot better once we’re out of this stink-hole.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods and finishes setting out the plates and pats the spot beside him gently. “C’mere.”

Yazeth: She nods and approaches, sitting in the spot the otter indicated.

Arrin Woodgreen:  Once seated, Soquan carefully wraps an arm around the ferret’s shoulders, hugging her gently. “Things’ll be alright soon enough.” The otter doesn’t say anything more, but his arm remains around her.

Yazeth: The corners of Jozra’s mouth turn down a little but she rests her head on Soquan’s shoulders, wanting to believe his words. From what she’s seen so far, just ‘getting in’ as Zander put it could be a huge problem. If she fails…  Jozra squeezes her eyes shut for a second and wonders when she became so pessimistic.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan keeps his silence for the moment, allowing the ferret to have her thoughts while he remains as he is, more than happy to provide some form of comfort for Jozra, however long she may need it.

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