define('WP_CACHE', true); Crossed Paths – Logs – Page 3 – The Story Thus Far…

Chapter 72: The Tavern-Keeper’s Gifts

Chapter 72: The Tavern-Keeper’s Gifts

In Which Being An Honest Beast Has Its Rewards.


Chris: The owner hare knocks loudly on the cellar door, pausing merely to light a new cig and take a drag.

Catamount: The ferret jerks awake at the hare’s knocking and then quickly rolls over and shakes Soquan.

Arrin: Soquan jerks his head up from the crook of his arm for a moment before flopping it back down again, groaning out a quiet, “Five more minutes please Da…” and then snoring again.

Chris: The hare crooks his mouth a bit annoyed and, with a jangle of keys, opens the door.

Catamount: The ferret staggers out of bed, trying not to get tangled in the blankets. “We’ll be out of your hair in just a bit, sir.”

Arrin: His level of consciousness rising slightly, the otter realizes that infact, that it wasn’t his father trying to wake him, and he needed to be up and ready to hit the road. With another groan he rises to his feet and gropes around for his coin. “You want to pack up while I pay the hare, Joz?”

Chris: He shakes his head and motions with his paw to settle back down. He stoops to pick up a bag of flour and throw it over his shoulder. “Breakfast in ten minutes. Talk to me after.” He walks back upstairs.

Catamount: Jozra nods. “Thanks.” She turns back to their little cellar-campsite and begins folding and packing. “I guess that answers your question.”

Arrin: The otter snickers and helps his friend pack. “Indeed.” He pauses for a moment while muscling a blanket into his pack. “Think the weather’s let up?”

Catamount: Jozra nods again as she ties the drawstrings at the top of a pack. “It was clear last night, I think the storm is long gone.”

Arrin: He pulls a face. “Ugh, that still means lots of mud for us…”

Catamount: The ferret shrugs. “Not if it’s warm enough. I think it dried out quite a bit last night.” She grins. “I predict patchy mud with a chance of puddles.”

Arrin: The otter can’t help but laugh at the comment, giving the ferret a hearty thump on the shoulder before turning his attention to his pack strings. “Good one Joz.”

Catamount: Jozra grins and a few minutes later, the pair are ready with bags all packed and the cellar looking very much like it did before they turned it into a makeshift room.

Arrin: Soquan hefts his bag onto a shoulder and looks towards his companion. “So we snag some food, pay the guy, and we’re outa here?”

Catamount: The ferret nods as she leads the way to the stairs. “Pretty much. He said we should talk to him first before we set off down the road, though.”

Arrin: He nods while following her. “Yeah.”

Catamount: The two appear at the top of the stairs, apparently just in time for breakfast. They begin to make their way towards an empty table.

Chris: A few mice bring steaming plates of hearty food and quickly run back to continue working in what must be a hell of a kitchen.

Arrin: Still slightly dopey from sleep, Soquan is content to stay silent for the moment as he follows the ferret. He yawns softly while trailing behind her, and once plunked into a seat he begins to pick at his breakfast.

Catamount: The ferret, on the other hand, digs into her breakfast and is nearly finished before she looks up. “You sure you’re up to this Soq?”

As loathe as she is to delay their journey even more, she doesn’t want the otter to come down with anything serious.

Arrin: He looks up towards her. “Don’t worry Joz, I’m just still a little tired is all. See?” He takes a large forkful of eggs and eats.

Chris: The tavern is abuzz with creatures, some tripping over others, some scarfing their breakfast, others already pounding down the ale.

Catamount: Jozra soon clears her plate and sits back, idly examining the beasts in the tavern as she waits for Soquan to finish his breakfast.

Arrin: Having picked up his pace, the otter finishes not long afterwards. “Any interesting news floating around Joz?”

Chris: The hare can be seen giving the occasional reprimand and chain smoking as usual near the kitchen and bar.

Catamount: The ferret shrugs. “Not much that I can tell. Mostly about the weather.”

Arrin: He flashes her a smile. “What are they all saying, ‘Thank gods that storm’s gone?’”

Catamount: She chuckles as she stoops to scoop up her backpack. “Pretty much. Let’s go talk to the hare. He might have some juicier gossip that better suits your tastes.”

Arrin: He laughs and mimics her actions. “Lead on then m’dear.”

Chris: The hare is currently helping the barkeep serve drinks, a cig hanging from his lower lip for dear life. He notices them and motions for them to come to the entrance of the kitchen.

Catamount: Jozra leads the way, weaving around a few beasts who have already managed to drink themselves rather tipsy.

Arrin: Soquan trails behind Jozra quietly and after escaping the advances of an obviously drunk female, he decides to stick close to Jozra, placing a paw softly onto her forearm.

Chris: The hare is waiting, leaning against the sink with a small pouch in his paw. “Weather’s cleared.” He takes a drag.

Catamount: The ferret nods. “Hopefully the road won’t be too muddy.”

Chris: He shakes his head. “Earth’s coarse around here, doesn’t hold water too well until a few days south, but by then it should be dry.” He takes another drag and finishes the cig.  He holds the pouch out to Joz. “Take this. Treat the herbs in the smaller pouch like a tea if his sickness persists. The rest is standard balms, bandages and the like. There’s some powder that stops bleeding as well.”

Catamount: Jozra blinks in surprise, having not at all expected anything of this sort. She gratefully accepts the pouch from the hare. “Thank you very much, for everything.”

Arrin: He nods slowly. “Yes, not many would allow a pair of strange beasts to sleep in their cellar.”

Chris: He nods humbly, pausing graciously. “Now, about your pay…”

Catamount: The ferret chuckles a bit. “How much do we owe you again?”

Chris: The hare thinks for a moment. “Hold out your paw.”

Arrin: Blinking, the otter does as asked, lifting his paw off from his companion’s arm.

Catamount: Somewhat confused, the ferret holds out her free paw as well.

Chris: The hare places a pack of cigs into Soq’s paw and all of their gold and silver into Jorza’s paw, closing her paw around it. “Absolutely nothing.”

Arrin: He starts. “What? But why?”

Chris: The hare chuckles. “You hear all that noise? I’m doing well. I don’t need to take a couple of decent beasts’ gold. It was a test at first, then it was collateral, now it’s a gift.  Hard to trust goodbeasts these days, wasn’t sure if you were on the up-an’-up. As for the cigs… They might just turn out to be the most helpful things you’ll carry. Keep them dry.”

Catamount: Jozra practically beams at the hare, still clutching the pouch in one hand and the coins in the other. “Thank you!” Other than that, she’s at a loss for words.

Arrin: Soquan on the other hand, nods, stowing the cigarettes away in his pack. “Can you tell us anything about news further South? My friend and I are heading that way.”

Chris: At Joz’s delight the hare gives, for a brief moment, the rarest thing out of him; a smile. As the glass recedes a bit from his eyes, you could almost see a soul. Almost. He coughs and frowns, nodding to Soq’s question. “I know very little, but I’ll show you what I’ve noticed.”

He walks to the entrance of the kitchen, beckoning them to overlook the tavern floor.

Catamount: The ferret quickly packs the coins back into Soquan’s pack and tucks the pouch into her own before following the hare.

Arrin: Soquan follows the two closely, otherwise choosing to be quiet for the moment.

Chris: The hare motions casually to two stout, raucous hares sitting at the bar. “As you leave, you’ll notice something about those two. Keep that in mind, along with what I said about the road ahead.”

Catamount: The ferret quickly analyzes the two hares pointed out, memorizing much about them with little more than a glance. She nods at their host. “We’ll do as you suggest.”

Arrin: Soquan gives his own nod, his ears flicking towards the direction of the hares in hopes of catching a bit of conversation between the two.

Chris: The hare nods, pulling out a fresh cig and lighting it. He pats both on the shoulder as a goodbye and begins to walk toward his frantically working kitchen staff; yelling and dragging off of his cig as usual.

Catamount: Jozra waves at the hare’s receding form and then turns towards the otter. “Let’s get on our way, then.”

Arrin: He beams and slings an arm around her shoulders as he steps forward. “Lead on then m’dear.”

Chris: As the pair walk out one of the hares spots them and, dropping out of his joyous manner, gives them a cold glare out of the corner of his eye. He nudges his friend, who does the same.

Arrin: Soquan perks his ears towards the pair, and murmurs quietly to his companion. “What’re they doin’ Joz?”

Catamount: Jozra, while not obviously looking at the hares, sees the entire exchange. She keeps her face neutral, however, and guides Soquan out the door, not bothering to answer his question until after the door has closed behind them, putting them well out of earshot. “They didn’t look friendly, Soq. We may not have as much luck in meeting friendly beasts as before.”

Arrin: He allows a low rumble in his throat, “Stupid prejudiced beasts…”

Chris: A couple of cloaked figures carrying small satchels come around the corner of the tavern and head toward the two.

Catamount: The ferret eyes the pair suspiciously: a result of the exchange just moments ago and the fact that it’s a surprisingly nice day after such a deluge. Partly cloudy and a little brisk, but largely pleasant. She mutters a warning to Soquan.

Arrin: Soquan heeds the warning and adjusts his grip on his staff slightly in case in came to having to fight the beasts.

Chris: The two figures approach and stop a bit short, holding out the satchels. One of them speaks. “Food for your journey, courtesy of the owner.”

Catamount: Jozra relaxes a bit and smiles at the two. “He’s too kind.”

Arrin: He nods and gives a slight, uneasy smile. “Yeah.”

Chris: They smile and nod. “He yells at the staff, but he’s got a really good heart.”

Catamount: The ferret accepts the satchels. “Thank him again for us, will you?”

Chris: They nod and scurry off to their kitchen duties.

Arrin: Soquan snags one of the satchels from Jozra and shoulders it. “I wonder why he didn’t just give them to us when we talked with him.”

Catamount: Jozra shrugs. “He probably didn’t want his other customers to see us leaving with bags of food for free. Bad for business and all.”

Arrin: He mulls the over a bit. “True, true.”

Catamount: She settles the satchel with the rest of her pack, choosing to rearrange it more comfortably when they stop for lunch and continues leading the way South.

Arrin: He follows along side her, arranging the satchel similarly while he walks.

Chapter 71: Soquan’s Cold

Chapter 71:  Soquan’s Cold

In Which The Otter Takes Ill.


Chris: The hare opens the door rather loudly. He makes his way down the stairs and begins to move a few boxes.

Catamount: The hare’s movements wake the ferret, who blinks blearily in the filtered light that makes its way towards where she and Soquan bedded down. She yawns and stretches.

Arrin: Beside her, the otter makes a noise of protest against her moving, and tries to huddle more into the warmth of both the makeshift bed, and his bedmate.

Catamount: Soquan’s snuggling is in vain, though, as Jozra sits up and regains her bearings. Now that she thinks about it, it is about breakfast time.

Arrin: Soquan gives up his search for warmth, cracks open an eye sleepily – not that it does any good to him anyway – and makes another soft noise. “Whasamatter?”

Catamount: The ferret stretches again and scratches just between her shoulder blades. “It’s morning.”

Arrin: Soquan grumbles and attempts to huddle back under the blankets. “The sun’s lying.”

Catamount: Jozra chuckles. “I don’t see any sun down here. There’s people eating breakfast upstairs, though.”

Arrin: He grumbles some more, “They’re lying too…”

Catamount: The ferret gives Soquan a light shove and then rubs her belly. “I suppose you’ll say my stomach is lying next?”

Arrin: He gives her a small, wry grin. “Yes.”

Catamount: Jozra rolls her eyes and shoves Soquan a bit harder. “Gettup! Lets see if the rain’s stopped.”

Arrin: Soquan attempts to roll over. “Bugger off Sihayadda.”

Catamount: The ferret smacks the otter upside the head. “Well in that case, stay in bed, sleepy head. I’m getting some breakfast.”

Arrin: Soquan huddles further into the blankets. “Fine by me.”

Catamount: Jozra harrumphs and gets herself up. After making herself a little more presentable, she approaches the stairs.

Arrin: With a glassy eyed look in the ferret’s general direction, Soquan reaches out to grasp the ferret’s tail and drags her back towards the sleeping area. “You should get some more rest, I doubt you want a relapse.”

Catamount: The ferret struggles out of the otter’s grasp. “I’m fine, and it’s definitely time for breakfast, you… hey, are you feeling alright?”

Arrin: Soquan pulls a grimace, attempting to get warm again. “I’m fine Jozra, there’s no need to shout.”

Catamount: Jozra quirks an eyebrow at the otter. “You’re as bad as me. I’m going to get you some tea and maybe see if there’s a healer in the house.”

Arrin: The otter merely gives a soft groan and rolls over without comment, pulling the blankets over his head while he curls in on himself.

Catamount: Jozra glances at Soquan in a concerned manner and then heads for the stairs, finding the tavern already open for business and with a decent amount of clientele for such an early time in the morning. This could probably be explained by the delicious smells coming from the kitchen, though.

Chris: The hare looks up at Jorza from his upturned bucket and waves her over, taking a quick drag from his cig.

Catamount: Jozra notices the hares beckon and makes her way towards him. “Er, good morning.”

Chris: His disillusioned eyes meet her good morning. “Want anything?”

Catamount: The ferret nods. “Right now a cup of tea to take to Soquan, I think he managed to catch a cold. Some breakfast too, of course. Ah, there wouldn’t happen to be a healer around, would there?”

Chris: The hare barks a nearly indistinguishable order to his chefs, getting up and stamping out his cig. He begins walking away toward the back of the tavern.

Catamount: Jozra watches the hare walk off, a little unsure of what to do with herself. The tavern keeper has proved to be quite capable, though he didn’t exactly answer her question… Gah, just our luck if Soq’s sick.

Chris: The hare returns with a small leather bag. He gets a chef’s attention and nods the cup of tea over. He pulls out a few vials, crushes some herbs and drops the mixture into the cup. “If that doesn’t work tell me.  Your breakfast should be ready shortly.”

Catamount: The ferret nods thankfully, still feeling awkward but not quite as much. She takes the cup of tea and warms her paws around it, thanking the hare before she heads back towards the cellar.

Chris: He nods his thanks and sits back down on his bucket, lighting a new cig.

Arrin: Back down in the cellar and curled under a few blankets, Soquan has fallen back asleep, his light snores easily heard to anyone nearby.

Catamount: Jozra carries the tea down the stairs, surreptitiously smelling the steam and putting it together with what she saw the hare put in the cup. Not that she didn’t trust the hare, she just felt that some certain skills could use some dusting off. A tiny taste confirmed what she thought, no trace of poison. And now she had to figure out how to wake the otter without spilling the tea.

Arrin: Blissfully unaware of the ferret’s presence, the otter sleeps on, happy to feel warm, even if it’s just for a little while.

Catamount: The ferret nearly scalds herself and the otter before she decides to set the mug on the floor and shakes the otter awake. “Hey Soq, I brought you some tea.”

Arrin: The otter starts awake and pokes his head out from under the blankets to give her another glassy look. “What? Tea?”

Catamount: Jozra picks the tea back up and tries to give it to Soquan, realizing all the while that she hasn’t a clue as to how the otter managed to take care of her when she was sick. “This will make you feel better.”

Arrin: Propping himself up while keeping the blankets around him, he makes a grab for the cup, missing it completely. “Ugg.”

Catamount: The ferret chuckles a little. “Slow down, river dog.” She moves the cup towards one of his paws, letting him feel the heat radiating from the cup. “It’s right here.”

Arrin: Feeling the warmth from the mug, Soquan grasps it in his paws, taking a long drought of the tea. “Ugg, damn rain.”

Chris: The chefs quietly come down and set the food on a couple of portable tables a little ways from the scene and leave.

Catamount: Jozra calls out a ‘thank you’ to the chefs as they leave. “They even brought us breakfast in bed, Soquan.”

Arrin: “Wonderful.” He grins and chuckles half heartedly, gulping down the rest of his tea before rising onto unsteady paws to move towards the food.

Catamount: Jozra gently pushes the otter back down onto the bed. “Here, I’ll bring it to you.” Carefully she helps him settle a plate on his lap.

Arrin: He gives her another smile. “Thanks Joz.” Settling himself again, he proceeds to pick at his meal.

Catamount: Jozra wolfs down her own breakfast. She was awoken by a rumbly tummy, after all. As she polishes off the last of the meal, she looks over at Soquan. “Feeling any better?”

Arrin: He nods, swallowing his mouthful. “Yeah, a bit, I definitely feel a bit more like myself.”

Catamount: The ferret breaths an almost imperceptible sigh of relief. “That’s good. Maybe you should rest some more, I’ll go find out about the trail ahead.”

Arrin: He pushes aside his half eaten breakfast. “Are you sure you sure?”

Catamount: She nods and scoops up their plates. “Yeah. It’s still drizzling a little outside anyway. You might as well get some more rest.”

Arrin: He gives a quick nod and settles back down again. “Alright then.”

Catamount: “If you need anything, just holler. We’ll hear you.” She balances the plates in her paws and makes her way back up the stairs.

Chris: The hare frowns at her, getting up from his bucket. He takes the plates off of her paws and stalks a bit angrily into the kitchen, giving one of the chefs a few nearly indistinguishable stern words before depositing them into his paws, stalking back to Joz trailing a cloud of smoke. “Good?”

Catamount: Jozra nods. “Yes, thank you.”

Chris: He nods, taking another drag and sitting back creakily back on his bucket. “And your friend?”

Catamount: “Better, thanks to your tea. He’s resting now. Hopefully it’s just a little cold.”

Chris: He nods again and takes a drag, looking out into the tavern.

Catamount: The ferret rubs the back of her neck uncomfortably for a moment, then decides that there’s probably no better person to ask. “So, er, we’re heading South. Anything about the road we should know?”

Chris: He nods pausing thoughtfully for a few seconds. “Don’t stray too far from it. And I’ve been hearing whispers, tales, what have you; either way just take with you that… the farther south you go, the harder it’ll be to keep going.”

Catamount: Jozra nods thoughtfully. The hare’s words indicate she wasn’t just hearing things when she received the orders tapped on trees. There was definitely something South that needed checking out. “Thanks.”

Chris: He nods. “Check with me before you leave.” He waves a paw half dismissively and half goodbye to cut off any potential further discussion.

Catamount: The ferret nods sort of half-heartedly, feeling awkward. She looks around the tavern aimlessly for a few moments, trying to figure out what to do with the day.

Arrin: Sometime later, after managing to pull both himself and their stuff together, Soquan slowly makes his way up the cellar stairs and into main tavern area with both bags slung onto his back. He tries in vain for a few seconds to gauge where his friend is before deciding to call out to her. “Joz?”

Chris: The hare, still stationed on his bucket, turns his disinterested, glassy-eyed gaze toward the otter and watches.

Catamount: The ferret jerks up from where she was sitting, staring into the hearth fire. “Soq! What are you doing up?” She’s out of the chair and at the otter’s side in only a few smooth steps.

Arrin: The otter gives her a small smile. “I felt better and I decided you could use some company.”

Chris: The hare half-cocks a grin and slumps his head back down.

Catamount: Jozra chuckles a little and guides Soquan back towards the fire place. “The sky seems to be clearing up a bit, it’s only sprinkling a little now and then.”

Arrin: He gives a nod. “When do you want to head out then?”

Catamount: The ferret looks the otter over critically and then considers the beasts entering the tavern for an early lunch. “Tomorrow morning sound good? It’s nearly lunch time now and you should make sure you’re over this cold.”

Arrin: He crinkles his nose, hating the idea of staying longer, but Jozra was right. “If you say so…”

Catamount: Jozra chuckles. “I know, I know. But at least it’s only one day and not weeks…”

Arrin: Soquan nods and after placing the bags on the ground, he plunks into one of the chairs by the fire. “So you got any ideas as to how to pass the time?”

Catamount: The ferret shrugs her shoulders and sighs. “Not a clue.”

Chapter 70: The Tavern

Chapter 70: The Tavern

In Which There Is A Convenient Place To Get Out Of The Rain.


Yazeth: The door opens on a cozy tavern with a bar on one wall, a massive fireplace on the other, and a few tables and chairs scattered in between. The wall opposite the door contains a decrepit staircase leading to what looks like an unused second floor. Fortunately the inn doesn’t look too crowded, a few beast skulk in the corners and a chubby bar-rat wipes down the counter.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan basks in the warmth of the room for a few seconds before turning before turning to her. “You wanna talk to the innkeeper, or should I?”

Yazeth: The ferret shrugs. “Plenty of time for that, let’s get dry first.” She makes her way towards the fireplace and takes her cloak off, dripping the entire way. She drags two chairs before the fire and helps Soquan hang his cloak next to hers on the rack near the fire.

Arrin Woodgreen: He thanks the ferret and slips into one of the chairs with a grateful sigh. “You know, if the weather clears up tomorrow, I might just be dry again by the midsummer celebration.”

Yazeth: Jozra laughs, coughs a little, but successfully covers it up by laughing some more. “C’mon Soq, it’s not that dramatic.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan crinkles his nose. “Sure, you’re not worried, you’re smaller, you’ll dry faster. Probably late spring to early summer.”

Yazeth: Jozra laughs again and scoots her chair a little closer to the fire, hoping to dry a little faster that way.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan mimics her. “Sure, you’re laughing now. Don’t come crying to me when you wake up and you’re still wet.”

Yazeth: She chuckles and then notices the approaching bar-rat. “Ready for a late lunch, Soq?”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan looks towards her. “You’re kidding right? Of course I am.”

Yazeth: The rat shuffles up to the pair, a greasy rag dangles out of his apron pocket and a pad of paper is tucked under his arm. “C’n I get’cha anyfin?”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan barely turns towards the rat. “Whatcha got that’s hot?”

Yazeth: Staring at the ceiling, the bar-keep/waiter rattles off a short list of things to eat and drink. “Mead, stew, bre’d, co’fe, msh’room soup.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He can’t help but smile at the list. “Some stew, with bread and a coffee sounds wonderful right now.”

Chris: Holst opens the door to the tavern. He shudders off a few droplets of water before heading to the bar.

Yazeth: The rat heads back towards the kitchen with the order. Jozra’s fur fluffs up as it finally begins to dry in the cozy tavern. “Much better than that pile of sticks.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan snickers softly and shakes some residual water that clings to his whiskers. “Almost anything is better than that pile of sticks.”

Chris: Holst collides with the waiter and Soq and Joz catch his attention. He pauses, narrows his eyes a bit and continues walking to the bar. “Stout and sour, keep ’em coming.”

Yazeth: The collision with the waiter attracted Jozra’s attention. The fox looked… strangely familiar, though she couldn’t place him. Shrugging it off, the ferret reached towards her cloak, squeezing a couple of droplets out of a soggy corner.

Arrin: Soquan yawns loudly, stretching his limbs a bit and reclining into the comfy chair. “So we’re going to stay the night here, and head off in the morning? Or are we going to stay for a few days?”

Chris: Holst nurses his ale, letting the layers of stress slip off from the day. He cased the place on the way in, normal riff raff.  Except for- The bartender cut in. “’Nother one already mate?” *Holst looks at him with icy eyes. The bartender sets down two.

Yazeth: The ferret shakes her head, mainly to aid the drying process as she repeats her response verbally. “No, just the night. Two at most if the rain continues like this otherwise it’ll be winter again before we get Sou… home.”

Arrin: Soquan nods, and closes his eyes for a moment as he scans the room audibly. “If the weather is goin’ to be like this, we better snatch up a room before they’re all gone.”

Chris: Holst leans with his back against the bar. He sees the pair, his paw stroking his chain idly. He’d have to keep an eye on them. His eyes catch someone else sitting in the shadows and a chill runs up his spine.

Yazeth: Jozra idly glances towards the bar and kitchen, noting the fox sitting there but not registering him. “I wonder what’s taking that waiter so long?”

Arrin: He shrugs. “Other orders?”

Chris: The rat comes back, shaking much less than previously setting their orders on the table. “I hope everything’s to taste.”

Yazeth: The ferret quirks her eyebrows at the rat for a second and then looks at what he just delivered. Fortunately, the mugs and dishes are steaming and at the moment, that’s all the ferret really cares about. “Thank you.”

Arrin: Soquan sits up straighter at the smell of food and the proximity of the rat. “Aye, thank you!”

Chris: He gives a fainting smile and walks quickly back toward the kitchen.

Chris: Holst stands up slowly and begins to walk toward a row of booths. Luckily the rest hadn’t come, but him being here still had a reason.

Yazeth: Jozra barely pauses a moment to inhale the aroma of hot food before dividing it up between herself and Soquan and digging in. Surprised at how hungry she is, the ferret barely registers any taste, good or bad.

Arrin: Soquan digs in just as heartily as the ferret, and like her, he barely registers any taste, only the feeling of the warm food entering his stomach.

Chris: Holst stands outside of the booth. The figure doesn’t register his presence. “Not here. Not today.”

The figure elicits a condescending snort and sips his drink. Holst grips his chain tightly, the leather of his gloves creaking. The figure turns. “Have a seat…”

Yazeth: Finally the ferret begins to feel full, warm and dry. As she pushes her plate away, she remembers the need for a room and tries to signal to the bar rat in order to get something set up.

Chris: The bar rat nods and heads over, standing expectantly. “Yes?”

Yazeth: Jozra thinks for a second, wondering what it might ‘look’ like to have both of them in the same room before she discards that notion. Frankly, she really doesn’t care anymore what other people think of them, as long as those nightmares stay away. “We’re going to need a place to stay for the night, and possibly tomorrow night if the weather keeps up.”

Chris: The rat cocks an eyebrow. “Well, we don’t exactly have rooms. There’s a cellar but you’ll have to talk to the owner…”

Arrin: Soquan turns to face the rat slightly. “Can we speak with the owner then please?”

Chris: The rat nods and points to an old rakish looking gray furred hare sitting on an upended bucket in the kitchen.

Arrin: Soquan turns to Jozra. “You wanna go take care of this?”

Yazeth: The ferret shrugs slightly. “Sure.” She scoots back her chair and heads towards the kitchen, slightly disappointed to leave the glow of the fire but her fur is long dry by now, the clothes she’s wearing only the slightest bit damp.

Chris: Holst’s eyes ice over. He pulls his chain with his left paw, takes a half step forward and wraps it around the figures neck, pulling both ends tight to cut off any gurgling noise.  He whispers into the figure’s ear. “Not here, not now, not tonight at all. In fact, not tomorrow either. Got it?” He tugs a bit to emphasize his point.

Yazeth: For a second, the fur on the back of the ferret’s neck stands on end, instinct and training alerting her to something going on in the shadowy recesses of the tavern. Her surreptitious glances don’t reveal anything, although she does notice the fox that was at the bar missing. She doesn’t have anytime to think about this, though, as the hare looks up at her quizzically as she approaches.

Chris: His eyes look as if they are permanently squinted, as if he had one too many days out on the open plains. He nods at her and smoke exits his mouth as he talks. “What?”

Yazeth: The ferret tries to look kind, like she doesn’t want to cause too much trouble for the hare. She doesn’t quite realize that her illness and troubles have left her looking somewhat angular with shadows beyond her ferret’s mask under her eyes. “My friend and I need a place to stay for the night, and possibly tomorrow night if the rain keeps up. One of the waiters told us we should ask you about staying in the cellar.”

Chris: He crooks his mouth sourly and stands with a slouch. He looks around as if to say ‘Looks like a bar to me, not a hotel’. And looks back at her expectantly. He takes another drag. “Coin?”

Yazeth: At this, Jozra looks at the hare shrewdly. Thanks to their visit to the SSMC they have quite a bit, but there’s no need to make that fact public now is there? “We can pay, assuming your price is fair.”

Chris: He rolls his eyes and lets the smoke out in a long exhale. “Three gold a night for the both of you.”

Yazeth: The ferret raises an eyebrow. “A bit steep. If it wasn’t raining, I’d find somewhere else to stay. Remember, we’ll be eating at least breakfast tomorrow, maybe all three meals. And we might want to buy some provisions before we leave…”

Chris: He waves a paw dismissively. “Food’s included, one and a half gold per person too much?”

Yazeth: The ferret calculates quickly in her head. “With food included that seems fair enough. I suppose you would like your payment now?”

She briefly regretted that she had never done very well in Diplomacy, she might have gotten an even lower price if she had, but they could pay and it wasn’t unreasonable, which was enough for her.

Chris: He looks away disinterested as he holds out a paw and drags off of the cig once more.

Chris: Holst waits for the figure to nod before releasing him, drawing a knife to the figures neck as he slips the chain back over his shoulders. He sheaths the knife and walks out of the bar.

Yazeth: Jozra pays the hare and is about to ask for directions to the cellar when she notices the door to it standing slightly ajar. Instead, she thanks the hare and makes her way back towards Soquan.

Chris: The hare sits back down with the same disinterested look.

Yazeth: The ferret settles herself again near the fire and across the table from Soquan. “The manager is letting us stay in the cellar for the night.”

Arrin: Soquan grins at her, momentarily distracted from picking the crumbs off their plates. “That’s great news.”

Chris: Holst leans against a tree a fair distance outside the bar. The rain pelts his head as his cold stare remains on the tavern’s door. He didn’t need sleep anyway…

Yazeth: Jozra gazes rather aimlessly into the fire for a little bit, until the flames remind her of… something else. With a slight start she looks away and busies herself with checking the dampness status of their belongings. “These cloaks are going to take a while to dry.”

Arrin: Soquan cracks an eye open. “Can we keep ’em out here overnight?”

Yazeth: The ferret eyes the cloaks. “Probably. I don’t think they’ll mind too much.”

Arrin: He nods, “We’ll keep ’em there then.”

Chris: The last stragglers are being led out by the bar rat as the night draws to a close.  The owner is sweeping the floor with an old broom and the same expression he held before. New cigarette though.

Yazeth: Jozra stretches out of her slight doze, something catching in her lungs for just long enough for a short coughing fit. “We should probably head on down to the cellar and see about getting some sleep.”

Arrin: Soquan rises sleepily, gathering up his belongings as he rises to his feet. Lead the way, Joz.”

Chris: The hare speaks through his smoke as he sees the two rise. “You’ll find bedding down there. Any time you want to be woken up?”

Catamount: Jozra glances at the otter and thinks for a moment, the dark cellar might throw them off a bit. “Around breakfast time or so, if we’re not already up and it’s no trouble.”

Arrin: Soquan nods his head in agreement. “Yeah, that sounds about right.”

Chris: The hare shrugs with a disinterested face and leaves it at that, turning away to sweep more.

Catamount: Jozra shrugs and leads Soquan down into the cellar. Light streams in from the doorway and there are a few candle holders placed in convenient spots with a couple already lit.

Arrin: No comment comes from the otter, and he yawns loudly as the two of them descend into the basement.

Chapter 69: Spring Storms

Chapter 69: Spring Storms

In Which Water Spontaneously Falls From The Sky.


Yazeth: Midnight comes and goes and with it, heavier clouds arrive and decide to stick around. There are still several hours left before dawn when the clouds break and being to pour down rain.

Arrin Woodgreen: It takes a few minutes of rain and a loud clap of thunder to wake the otter. He jerks upright and, noticing the weather, he scowls. “Oh, goody.” He turns and moves to shake his companion. “Joz, wake up.”

Yazeth: Jozra’s eyes pop open as Soquan shakes her awake. It only takes her another moment to realize why he’s waking her up. “Graaghhh… There’s… Shelter… I saw windfall that might protect us from the weather when I was gathering wood.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods and rises, grabbing their packs and partially wet blankets. “Lead the way.”

Yazeth: The ferret quickly modifies the blanket to cover her head and then grabs Soquan’s paw, leading off into the forest. In the dark the windfall would have been hard to find, but fortunately it wasn’t too far away and Jozra quickly remembered where she had seen it.

Arrin Woodgreen: He follows without complaint, trying to keep hold on Jozra, their packs, and his blanket all at once.

Yazeth: Jozra quickly ducks under the fallen branches, making sure Soquan’s head doesn’t run into any in the process. Thankfully, the interior is much drier than the exterior. “Here we are.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan nods. “We could put up our blankets for more shelter.”

Yazeth: The ferret quickly begins hanging up her blanket to create a better roof. “Good idea, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan helps set up the best he can, and soon, he and the ferret settle down under their shelter.

Yazeth: Jozra ruffles the damp fur on her head, trying to make it dry faster. “I suppose this is what we get for commenting on the weather. Ugh.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan snickers softly at her statement and nods his head in agreement. “Shoulda knocked on wood.”

Yazeth: The ferret chuckles. “No shortage of that now.” She settles herself in the shelter and tries to get some more sleep. “Goodnight again, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Still sitting up, Soquan wraps an arm around the ferret’ shoulders and allows her to settle close. “Night Joz.” Still sitting upright, he leans back slightly and closes his eyes.

Yazeth: Jozra drops of quickly, feeling more secure in the small hide-away. The rain continues on through the night and into the morning.

Arrin Woodgreen: Morning arrives grey, wet and desolate. Beside the ferret, Soquan begins to stir.

Yazeth: The otter’s stirrings rouse the ferret and with a groan she realizes it’s not exactly early morning and that the rain hasn’t stopped.  “…grzzllzzandyrnunnnn…”

Arrin Woodgreen: Haze lifts from the otter’s sleepy mind and he opens his eyes, lofting his head to look towards her. “What was that?”

Yazeth: The ferret shakes her head blearily. “Ugh. Well, we have two choices here. Sit in this shelter until the rain either stops or brings it down around our head or face the damp and make it to an inn with a proper roof and a fire.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan attempts to shake the last of the sleep cobwebs from his mind as he replies. “I think we should head for an inn.”

Yazeth: Jozra nods as she crouches in the shelter, trying to get their belongings together in the gloom. “I agree. Let’s just eat something simple and quick for breakfast.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan nods and grabs some bread and stuffs it with some of the fish and hands it to her. He repeats the gesture and holds it in his mouth as he packs his bag.

Yazeth: The ferret polishes off her breakfast quickly and finishes packing her own bag. She hefts it onto her back and then drapes her cloak over it to keep the contents dry.

Arrin Woodgreen: He duplicates the ferret’s idea without realizing it, and tries to speak around his breakfast. “Reafe?”

Yazeth: Jozra peeks out the entrance for a second, regaining her bearings, before assenting to the otter and slipping outside into the wet.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan follows behind, making a small sound of displeasure as they step into the rain.

Yazeth: The rain, while thankfully not a pounding deluge, is still an unpleasant, slimy sort of persistent downpour.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan continues to mutter darkly about the weather under his breath on and off throughout their trek. Several times the otter slips in the mud and has to grab his companion for support.

Yazeth: Soon both of them are more than damp and pretty muddy. Jozra, though she tried to keep it at bay, has begun coughing again, infrequently but enough to be annoying, and perhaps worrying in Soquan’s case.

Arrin Woodgreen: After some time, Soquan tries to get some of the water off of him, and turns towards the ferret. “Can you see the town yet?”

Yazeth: The ferret shakes her head, sending droplets of water flying. “Not yet but it shouldn’t be too far away.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He attempts to rid himself of excess water again. “Gods, I just want out of this weather, it’s horrible.”

Yazeth: Jozra chuckles as she slicks some water off of her face. “What’s the matter, Soquan? I thought you otters liked it wet?”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan sends a flurry of water droplets her way as he flicks his paw towards her. “In lakes, rivers and whatnot, sure. But this just isn’t the same. Besides, I’m only half otter if you recall.”

Yazeth: The ferret snickers and ducks the spray of water, not that it would do much good in this rain. “Whatever you say, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins at her, and sends another spray of water at her. “I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to a warm meal and a soft, dry bed.”

Yazeth: Jozra nods emphatically. “I can’t wait to relax by a big fire. Speaking of which, I thought I just caught a whiff of wood smoke.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods. “Same here, I was starting to think my nose was playing tricks on me.”

Yazeth: The ferret picks up her pace a little, striding down the path towards the scent. “We should be nearly there, then. I think… Yes, there’s a building up ahead.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan gives a whoop and thumps the ferret on the shoulder. “Up for a run?”

Yazeth: She grins at the otter’s enthusiasm. “We might not have to, looks like we’re here.” Indeed, the trail has become a road, and while it’s not paved like Kodan’s streets, it is maintained well enough. Buildings frame either side of the street, previously hidden by the overall grayness and rain.

Arrin Woodgreen: Having perked up, Soquan practically bounces beside Jozra as they stroll down the empty street. “Wonderful!”

Yazeth: Jozra peers up at the signs over the buildings, hunting for an inn. Finally she finds what she is looking for in a double story building, shutters closed tight against the weather but with warm light spilling out around the edges. “Here we are, Soq. Lets hope the rooms aren’t all full.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins and reaches around her to open the door for her. “After you my dear, soggy companion.”

Chapter 68: On The Road Again

Chapter 68: On The Road Again

In Which Azrun Isn’t Who Soquan Thinks He Is.


Yazeth: The trail rolls by at a decent clip, perhaps not as quickly as the pair had been traveling but they managed to cover a goodly amount of ground. Evenings now saw Jozra adding some stretches to what she did in the morning and as a result she’s stronger now than when the pair left Kodan for the second time.

Spring was well on its way to full swing with only a few chilly nights and rain barely worth mentioning. Trees everywhere are covered in buds or in new leaves and thin, bright green shoots poke out of the ground nearly before the mustelids eyes as they crest a hill in the trail and look down into a shallow valley.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan had been caring for his friend’s health as they traveled, sometimes growing impatient with her stubbornness and having to physically stop her for rest. Even if she was getting much better now, he still watched her like a hawk for any signs of exhaustion or over-exertion. As they reach the crest of the hill, Soquan stops at her side and rests a paw lightly on her shoulder. “What do you see?”

Yazeth: The ferret flicks her tail from side to side for a moment, the feather has finally found its place tied to the end of said tail after being moved around for several days. She settles her pack straps back for a moment, flexing her shoulders as she analyzes the valley for Soquan. “It looks like there’s a town down there, Soq. I’m not sure how big it is, it’s still pretty forested, but I can see some rooftops and smoke through the trees.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan runs this new information through his mind, nodding slowly. “Alright. Do you want to stop somewhere near here for the night then Joz? Or would you rather press for the town?”

Yazeth: Eyeing the sky and then the trail the ferret decides pressing on would mean getting into town at about dawn the next day. “Looks a little too far to make it today. I think we can make that little clearing up ahead before nightfall, though. That’s puts us almost a mile closer to town.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan beams at her and sets off down the dirt path. “What’re you waiting for then? Let’s get a move on.”

Yazeth: Jozra chuckles and resettles her pack straps back on her shoulders, setting off after Soquan.

Arrin Woodgreen: He slows his pace a bit for her to catch up, and walks along with her happily. “Nice and warm today, doncha think Joz?”

Yazeth: The ferret nods as she takes in the scenery, catching flashes of color now and again as early wildflowers begin to bloom. “Much better than the other day. I won’t complain at all if the weather stays like this for a few more weeks. Or months.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan shudders. “Ugg, that rain was horrible, I hope we don’t get anything like that anytime soon.”

Yazeth: Jozra slugs Soquan lightly on the arm. “Oh c’mon now, it wasn’t that bad. Barely anything compared to getting snowed in that one time.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He frowns at her. “I was worried about you, I didn’t want you to get worse again.”

Yazeth: She chuckles softly, batting at a passing branch. “With you around, I didn’t so much as shiver, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He beams at her. “That’s good, but even so, I still worry.”

Yazeth: Jozra smiles a little and speaks softly. “I know, Soq. I know.” A few puffy white clouds float across the sky and the trail continues to swoop gradually down into the valley.

Arrin Woodgreen: The two continue in silence for a while, Soquan enjoying the sounds of spring as they walk. Finally, he asks quietly. “Are we almost there?”

Yazeth: The ferret peers ahead trying to see around the trees as dusk approaches. “I think so. It was harder to see from on the hill but it looked like the trail went right through it.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods absently, adjusting his pack straps a bit. “Alright. Just say when we need to head off course.”

Yazeth: She squints a little, still trying to see further up ahead. “I think that’s it around the bend.” A few moments later, the pair are standing in a small grassy clearing. Off to one side a ring of stones and scorched earth indicate they weren’t the first ones to use this place as a campsite. While it’s a little too open for the Scorpion’s taste, there doesn’t seem to be anyone around for miles.

Arrin Woodgreen: He scans the area quickly for suspicious sounds. “So what do you think of the place, Joz?”

Yazeth: The ferret shrugs. “It’s a nice campsite just not very… secure. I think it’ll do, though. So long as we sleep lightly. Just in case.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods. “Right then. Shall I start preparing dinner then while you get the firewood?”

Yazeth: Jozra dumps her pack on the ground near the fire-ring with a flourish. “Sounds like a plan.” She sets off into the nearby trees with the intention of gathering downed branches and finding it harder than it had been at previous campsites. The nearby wood had likely already been burned by previous campers.

Arrin Woodgreen: He shouts at her as he rummages through the food, “Anything in particular you’re in the mood for tonight?”

Yazeth: The ferret pauses in chopping at a branch in order to make it a more suitable piece of firewood to shout back at Soq, “Can you make some more of that stew we had the other night?” For a moment she marvels at how her long-knife has seemed to have taken up a new career as a tool rather than a weapon before she resumes chopping up firewood.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan sounds back a response while taking the ingredients from their packs. “I’ll see what I can whip up. Bread too?” He starts preparing ingredients.

Yazeth: Jozra lugs the chopped branches back into camp. “Of course. What’s stew without bread?” Without further ado, she begins to build up the fire.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soon the fire is going strongly, and the stew making is at a simmer. Soquan reclines slightly in the soft grass, basking in the warmth of the fire as he closes his eyes slightly.

Yazeth: The ferret sits in the grass and watches the stars begin to appear. After another moment or two, she rolls backwards and starts her new evening routine; limbering up her muscles, improving her flexibility and reflexes, and finally stretching out the road stiffness.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan eyes snap open for a moment and he reaches out to the cooking pot and sirs the stew a bit, and adds a few more things. Once reclined again, he relaxes for a minute longer before looking towards her curiously. “Hey Joz… Who’s Azrun?”

Yazeth: The name makes Jozra falter for a second and she loses the hold on one of her last stretching poses. Spitting grass out of her mouth, Jozra looks at Soquan in surprise. “Wha- what are you talking about?”

Arrin Woodgreen: He shrugs. “You said that name in your sleep a week ago. I was just wondering if it held any significance.”

Yazeth: Jozra stares at Soquan for a second or two, thinking of what to say. “He’s just someone I knew. I had a dream where he was in trouble.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He takes the stew off of the fire to let it cool. “Sorry if the question was a bit personal. I was just curious. I would have understood if you told me it was none of my business.”

Yazeth: The ferret shrugs awkwardly. “I didn’t know I’d said his name. I hadn’t really thought of him for a while.” While the sadistic part of Jozra’s brain might’ve been ready to jump on her consciousness with the ‘Lies! Lies!’, simple logic won out. It was true, she hadn’t really thought about the fox for a while. He just showed up in her nightmares along with the other Scorpions that were there.

Arrin Woodgreen: He spoons out some of the stew into a bowl and sets it aside with a roll he had been warming before repeating the process. “It’s alright Joz, everyone has a past.”

Yazeth: Jozra picks herself up off of the ground and makes her way over to where the food is being served. “Yeah…  Thanks for dinner Soq.” She sets to eating but her good mood has been ruined by thoughts of said past.

Arrin Woodgreen: “Anytime.” Picking up on his companion’s mood, the hybrid falls silent for the time being, off in his own thoughts. After dinner is over and done with, Soquan nudges Jozra gently. “Hey, cheer up Joz. I’ll spar you a bit if you want.”

Yazeth: The ferret chuckles a little for Soquan’s sake but refuses his offer. “It’s getting pretty late, Soq. I was thinking it would be a good idea to get an early start tomorrow. We could be in town by lunchtime or so.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods, “Alright then, why don’t you go settle down and I’ll clean up here.” He moves to gather their plates.

Yazeth: Jozra selects a soft place to bed down between the fire and the trees with a prime view of both directions of the trail. If trouble were to come slinking along that trail tonight the pair could simply disappear into the forest.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan finishes clearing up moments after she had settled down and brings their pack over towards the area Jozra had selected. “I take it you found a place then.”

Yazeth: The ferret nods. “Yep. It’s a little far from the fire but it’s safer than camping closer to the trail.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan nods and pulls out their blankets and hands one to her before settling down near the ferret. “Understandable.”

Yazeth: Jozra wraps herself up in the blanket and snuggles down in the grass, thinking still about Azrun.

Arrin Woodgreen: Feeling oddly protective of his friend at the moment, he curls up behind her and drapes an arm gently over her. “G’night Joz. Sweet dreams.”

Yazeth: The ferret smiles faintly. “Goodnight, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan closes his eyes and listens to the night and the ferret’s breathing. Slowly yet surely, his own breathing evens out into a rhythmic pattern and he falls asleep.

Chapter 67: River Crossing

Chapter 67: River Crossing

In Which A Fallen Tree Will Do.


Yazeth: The ground mist soon begins to dissipate and the sky lightens. Sunrise is imminent and Jozra, perturbed by her dream and what it might indicate, decides it’s time to get it up if they want to get across that river this morning.

Arrin Woodgreen: After a while longer, the otter shifts a bit, going through the motions of slowly waking up.

Yazeth: Jozra slips out from under the cloak-turned-blanket and stands shivering a little in the brisk morning air. After a moment, she moves to a clear spot in their campsite and begins the stretching routine all Opars learn as children.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan stretches out stiff muscles and sleep dissipates from his mind as he moves towards the packs. “Hungry Joz?”

Yazeth: The ferret pauses mid-stretch. “Definitely ready for breakfast, Soq.” She finishes the simple stretching routine and then eyes the ground before her, cautiously testing how she feels physically. After a moment she kicks it up a notch and does the Scorpion’s version of the Dawn Greeting, beginner style. Although she stops short of the backward flip, concluding with a gentle backwards roll instead.

Arrin Woodgreen: It takes him a while to whip up breakfast, but once he’s done, he presents her with a type of breakfast sandwich. “Here.”

Yazeth: Jozra looks at it curiously and takes a tentative bite. She should never distrust Soquan’s cooking as the breakfast sandwich is absolutely delicious. “Mmmm… That’s really good Soq!” And then she proceeds to absolutely demolish it.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan beams in her general direction. “I appreciate the complement.” He begins to pack up their things while munching on his breakfast. “You ready to cross that log?”

Yazeth: The ferret nods as she dusts crumbs off of her whiskers and paws. “Yeah, just as soon as we break camp.”

Arrin Woodgreen: “Shouldn’t be much longer then.” He stuffs his cloak into his pack and hefts it onto his back.

Yazeth: Jozra finishes packing up and clearing the camp, soon hefting her own pack onto her back. “This way, then. Back to the trail.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan nods at her. “Lead on then m’dear.”

Yazeth: The pair travel a little quicker than the previous day as they begin to settle back into their traveling routine. It’s only a little before mid-morning by the time they reach the area where the construction crew indicated the log crossing would be.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan turns to Jozra as they approach the log. “You wanna take the lead or should I?”

Yazeth: Jozra eyes the log critically. While sturdy, it’s a bit slick and she can’t decide who should go first. Whether it’d be better for her to go behind, incase the log proves difficult for Soq to navigate, or in front, incase she herself slips off. Finally, “You go first, Soq. I can talk you up since the footing looks a little tricky.”

Arrin Woodgreen: “Alrighty then.” The otter heaves himself up onto the slick log and turns to Jozra slightly. “You need help getting up?”

Yazeth: The ferret clambers up but finally proffers her paw for help to get over the last ‘step.’ “Just a boost here, Soq.” She may be feeling better, but she knows she’s not well enough to vault that part like she would have otherwise.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan pulls her up, and once he’s sure she’s balanced, he turns back towards the length of the log. “Ready?”

Yazeth: Jozra nods determinedly, already feeling a little apprehensive about the cold waters rushing by beneath the log. She squares her pack on her shoulders. “Let’s go.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan nods and moves forward along the log slowly, feeling it out in front of him before taking a proper step and digging his claws into the grooves in the wood.

Yazeth: Jozra uses Soquan’s approach to tackling the log, concentrating only on crossing safely.

Arrin Woodgreen: Several heart pounding moments later, Soquan reaches the other side and climbs to the ground with a sigh.

Yazeth: Not a moment later, Jozra settles herself on solid ground. The daunting river finally crossed.

Arrin Woodgreen: He gives a shaky laugh. “How’re your nerves doing, Joz?”

Yazeth: The ferret grins at the otter, readjusting the straps on her pack. “Not too bad, Soq, though I’d rather not do that again. Ever.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He beams at her. “I’m sure next time we’re up this way, the bridge will be done.”

Yazeth: Jozra sets out again, picking out the thin track that surely leads back to the main trail. “I sure hope so.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan easily falls into step beside the ferret. “So where to now, Joz?”

Yazeth: The ferret pauses to hold a branch aside for Soquan. “On South, Soq. I thought you knew.” She chuckles a little.

Arrin Woodgreen: He snickers and gives her a little shove. “You know what I mean. Like a nearby town or something we’re shooting for.” He shoots her another smile. “Baby steps m’dear. Baby steps.”

Yazeth: Jozra shrugs as they continue down the narrow footpath. “I’m not quite sure, actually. I wasn’t this far West when I first headed North.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He gives a nod, “Alright, Southerly it is then, until we get directions.”

Chapter 66: Bridge Makers

Chapter 66: Bridge Makers

In Which One Does Not Merely Walk Across The River.


Arrin Woodgreen: The duo make surprisingly good time for the day, and as it begins to grow dark out, they start to hear the noises of work beasts up ahead. Soquan turns to Jozra with a broad smile. “Sounds like we’re almost there.”

Yazeth: The ferret nods, more than ready for a rest but too stubborn to admit it to herself, much less Soquan. “Sure sounds like it. Hopefully they’ve got the important parts of the bridge done.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles and speeds up his pace just a bit. “You want to do the talking with these guys? Or do you want me to?”

Yazeth: Jozra smiles a little and stifles a would-be cough. “How about we figure that out when we get there?”

Arrin Woodgreen: The otter stops suddenly grabbing his companion’s arm gently to stop her as well. He gives her an almost mischievous grin. “If you’re willing to play the pity card, I think I have a plan to get us across…”

Yazeth: The ferret cocks her head, more than curious. “Do tell.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smirks a bit. “Well, if I show up on the site, carrying a poor, exhausted ferret maid, and asking for a way a cross so the poor girl can rest for the night, don’t you think that they’d let us across?”

Yazeth: Jozra stares at Soquan blankly for a second and then begins to laugh. “Hoo! Soquan, you are a genius. Let’s do it.” To the tired ferret, the path of least resistance is more than acceptable, even if she does have to show weakness.

Arrin Woodgreen: He beams at his friend and reaches out a paw. “Pass me your pack so I can double-pack our things, then you can climb on up.”

Yazeth: The ferret shrugs out of her pack straps, taking a moment to untie the feather and carefully push it up her sleeve as she’s not quite sure how the workers would react to that, if they even recognized it.

Arrin Woodgreen: He takes the ferret’s pack and adjusts her straps so the pack fits over his. With that done, he turns his attention back to her. “Ready?” He waits for Jozra’s conformation before stooping slightly and gathering her in his arms and straightening again.

Yazeth: As a finishing touch, the ferret musses up some of her head fur, leans her head on Soquan’s shoulder and lets her eyelids droop. “Let’s go.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He snickers softly as he starts walking again. “Those workers won’t know what hit ’em. Oh wait, just one more finishing touch…” He frees a paw just for a moment to move a piece of cloth that had been tied around his neck to up over his eyes. “As long as we’re playing the sympathy card, we might has well milk it for all it’s worth ‘eh?”

Yazeth: The ferret raises an eyebrow at this but plays along, giving the occasional direction the otter might need.

Arrin Woodgreen: He drops his grin as they grow closer to the group. “Hello up there! Can any of you guys give my friend and I some directions? We were told we could find away across the river down here.”

Yazeth: The ferret blearily looks over the group of workers, observing them a lot more actively than it seems she is. A burly fox wipes his paws on his already dirty pants and looks to his crew. “I’m not sure who would have told you that… The bridge has been out for some time now.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He frowns sadly at the fox. “Really? Do you know a place where we could cross then? My friend here pushed herself pretty hard today, and we wanted to get across before we stopped for the night.”

Yazeth: The ferret smiles weakly at the crew of worker beasts. A rat stands and brushes saw dust off of himself. “Well, there is a fallen tree a few miles downstream. Me an Dross used that to get to the other side and set the…” He waves his paws, dismissing the more technical aspects of bridge building. “It should get you across but I wouldn’t advise it if you’re tired.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He gives the group the beast pleading look he can with a piece of cloth over his eyes. “Is there any way we could cross here if you have the basic structure up?”

Yazeth: Most beasts within hearing range turn to look at the ‘basic structure’ of the bridge. After sizing it up for a moment, Jozra whispers to Soquan. “It’s pretty basic… They’ve got support pilings up and some cross braces on but other than that it’s scrap wood and guy lines. It looks like they’re only just starting on the main beams.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He leans down to whisper to her, making it look like he’s fussing over her. “It’s up to you if we cross here or screw it and go down to that log that rat was just talking about.”

Yazeth: As the ferret turns to take a second critical look, the rat apologetically speaks up again. “I couldn’t let you go across here in good conscience. Elian fell in just this morning trying to cross here to set the guy lines, and he’s a squirrel.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He gives the rat a friendly grin. “And I’m an otter, it’s nothing to me if I fall, I’ve already been acquainted with this river much more than I want to.”

Yazeth: Any other time, Jozra would be more than up to the challenge of crossing here but the memory of her last experience with the river is too fresh in her mind and the actual span of the bridge is little more than planks nailed haphazardly across the pylons sunk into the stream. “Maybe, maybe that’s not such a great idea, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan looks down at the ferret in his arms and nods once before turning back to the construction beasts. “We’ll be going then. Thanks for your help.”

Yazeth: The fox waves and turns back to his work while the rat nods and says. “Sorry we couldn’t be more help. Next time you come this way, the bridge should be complete.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods and starts to head off before stopping and turning back to the group. “Hey, you guys use cement right?”

Yazeth: The rat turns back to the pair. “To secure the beams on the land sides, sure.  On smaller bridges we use it on the pylons to, but that didn’t work here. We just had to make the pylons bigger and drive them in deeper.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods. “If you could somehow get some support pylons in the water and get it secured at the bottom of the river, it would allow more flexibility and support during flooding season.”

Yazeth: The rat nods. “That’s what we were thinking. I suppose it must be said that it’s no surprise we lost the other bridge. It was quite old.”
The fox grins a little. “Rotten too.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles. “If you could suspend it without too much underneath support, that would be a big help most likely. Anyway, we must be on our way. G’night.” He moves to walk away.

Yazeth: At the otter’s parting words, the rat and fox look at each other, the bridge, each other, and back down the path Soquan and Jozra took. Finally, the fox ventures, “Y’know, we never really looked Dross’ sister’s blueprints.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He chuckles softly as he hears theses words, and once out of sight he murmurs quietly to her. “Comfortable sweetheart?”

Yazeth: Jozra flushes at Soquan’s words and veers the topic to the more practical. “What do you think of an early dinner? We can cross that tree in the morning.”

Arrin Woodgreen: “Early dinner sounds wonderful m’dear, just say when you’ve spotted a nice place to bed down for the night.”

Yazeth: The ferret nods, fingering the end of the feather still in her sleeve. Not too much longer later, she notices a small hill off the path, dented on one side and screened by shrubs just starting to leaf out. “That looks like a good place there, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles and veers off in the direction she pointed out and once at the spot he sets her down gently. “There you go Joz.”

Yazeth: Jozra crouches where Soquan set her for a moment. If it were anybody else, she would have snapped at them for handling her like a fragile glass statuette by now. She spots some promising firewood and drags it into the center of the hollow. “Why don’t you get dinner started? I’m pretty hungry.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan nods slowly and sets down their packs to start rummaging through them. “What do you feel like eating tonight, sweetheart?”

Yazeth: The ferret shrugs offhandedly as she piles kindling in her makeshift fire-pit. “Anything we got sounds good.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He decides on heating up some of the soup that Joseph had packed up for them, and once a fire is going, he puts it on to heat.

Yazeth: Soon the soup is warm and then eaten and it’s not too much longer before the sky turns towards shades of black and Jozra is yawning, sitting near the fire wrapped in her cloak. “Hrm, no stories to read tonight, Soq. Guess we’ll just have to call it a day and start again tomorrow.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He looks over at her from where he’s packing up their meal things. “Right then. You want me to dig out a place for us to sleep?”

Yazeth: The ferret stifles a yawn. “If you like, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He snickers softly and expands a bit of a natural curve in the ground. After that’s done he walks back over to her and smirks slightly before gathering her up like earlier and moving her to their ‘bed.’

Yazeth: The ferret mutters sleepily and draws her cloak up around her, snuggling into the ‘bed’. “Goodnight, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan grabs his own cloak and joins the ferret on the ground, lying close to her. “’Night Joz.”

Yazeth: For a while, Jozra’s mind continues to run as she snuggles there, eyes closed. Soquan’s sweet and all but the constant kid-glove handling was beginning to get on her nerves a little. Granted, sniggered a little voice in the back of her mind, you kind of need to be handled that way. Awww, little delicate Jozzy… The ferret angrily dashed those thoughts and concentrated on the road ahead until she drifted off to sleep.

Arrin Woodgreen: Settled snugly behind the ferret, Soquan relaxes, dozing in and out of consciousness for a while before dropping off to sleep.

Yazeth: The night wears on and the stars dance their way across the sky. A few hours before dawn, Jozra’s otherwise dreamless sleep suddenly takes a turn for the worse. As most of her dreams began, this one started with flames. Behind her, Azrun knocked another arrow and let fly. Something was different, though. It took a while for the dream Jozra to realize there wasn’t any snow on the ground. With that realization, the dreamscape shifted wildly.
The town of Ostoria faded away to be replaced with another, unfamiliar town and many well-armed beasts. A squirrel came too close and the fox pegged him in the ear with the end of his bow but that didn’t stop the second and third and fourth. Azrun was soon overwhelmed and dragged off while Jozra could do nothing but watch, her attempts to aid him restrained by some dream physics. AZRUN!

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan is jerked out of sleep by his companion’s distressed cry after a moment of listening for the usual whimpers and crying that usually accompanies the ferret’s nightmares. He settles back down behind her, nuzzling Jozra’s shoulder gently while doing so.

Yazeth: Jozra’s own cry didn’t wake her and she continued to struggle against whatever was keeping her from helping the fox for a while before realizing that she should, and more importantly, that she could wake up. Hazy dimness greeted her eyes as she opened them and the night began to give way to morning.

Arrin Woodgreen: The otter is still fast asleep at this point, still curled around the ferret with his muzzle pressed into the back of her shoulder while he snores softly.

Chapter 65: Leaving Kodan, Redux

Chapter 65: Leaving Kodan, Redux

In Which The Pair Are Happy To Put The Town Behind Them, Again.


Yazeth: Soon the two are rounding the bend that leads to Joseph’s door just as Fiarah and Jinx are exiting the house. Jozra waves at them with her free paw. “I didn’t know you guys were coming over today.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan shouts his own greeting at Jinx and Fiarah stroll towards them. Once the two pairs meet, Fiarah speaks. “I actually came over to give you another checkup Jozra.”

Yazeth: Jozra’s ears perk up at this. “Oh?”

Arrin Woodgreen: Fiarah nods. “Yeah, Alvsia said you two should be able to leave soon.”

Yazeth: Jozra’s surprise is visible as her eyebrows shoot up. “Alvisa said so?”

Arrin Woodgreen: She nods. “Yeah. Apparently, she’s taken quite an interest in you two.”

Yazeth: The ferret glances at Soquan and then back to the vixen. “That’s… really kind of unexpected.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Fiarah shrugs briefly. “It is… I have no idea why she’s taken this interest.”

Yazeth: Jozra frowns a little, somewhat troubled by this news. “Well, did she say how soon?”

Arrin Woodgreen: Fiarah grins slightly. “By the end of the week. Personally, if it were my decision, you’d be here two more weeks. However, Alvisa thinks that Soquan can take care of you just fine if the need arises.”

Yazeth: The ferret grins, very happy at being allowed to leave soon. “Well, I suppose that means we need to finish reading our books pretty soon, huh Soq?”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles happily. “Yeah, we better. I’ll try not to fall asleep while you’re reading tonight.”

Yazeth: Jozra smiles at Fiarah and Jinx. “Thanks for the news.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods at them, “Aye, thank you.”

Jinx smiles and Fiarah grins, “I’m happy for you two.”

Yazeth: The ferret nods at the two as they head out of the yard, “Thanks.” She leads Soquan up the porch, preoccupied by the fact that Alvisa seems to be interested in them.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan bids them a farewell and follows Jozra into the house silently.

Yazeth: Jozra waves a greeting to Joseph who smiles at the pair as they enter. “How-how was your walk?”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles at the elderly mouse. “The walk was wonderful Joseph, thank you.” He deposits their garbage in the waste bin and stretches a bit. “What’s for dinner tonight, Jo?”

Yazeth: The healer mouse shrugs a little. “I’m not, not sure. I hadn’t s-s-started on it yet… I think I have some po-potatoes and onions that might make a nice, nice stew.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan fake whines, “But we had stew last night! Why don’t you let me see if I can scrounge something up.”

Yazeth: Across the room Jozra chuckles as the mouse smiles at the joke. “S-suit yourself.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan beams, “Right then, move aside.” He heads for the kitchen

Yazeth: Jozra merely quirks an eyebrow at Joseph before settling herself in the armchair with the other book the pair had picked up at the library.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan fiddles around in the kitchen with Joseph fretting in the doorway the entire time. Soquan manages to cobble together a meal from the leftovers without burning the kitchen to the ground and soon he announces proudly, “Dinner!”

Yazeth: The ferret marks her place and tucks the book back under the other before making her way to the kitchen for some food. “Smells pretty good, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He beams, “Battered and fried fish and potatoes drizzled in leftover stew.”

Yazeth: Joseph already has a plate of his own and takes a generous taste. “It’s, it’s very good, Soquan. Y-you should cook more often.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He beams happily. “Thank you Joseph, I do try my best. When you only have limited things while traveling, you learn to be creative.”

Yazeth: Jozra doesn’t eat quite as much as usual, still being somewhat full from lunch, but she agrees with Joseph. “Now I remember why you were the one doing all the cooking on the trail.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He places a small platter of cheese bread on the table and finally sits himself to begin the meal. “I’ll cook tomorrow night too if you two want.”

Yazeth: Joseph smiles and pats at his lips with a napkin. “That, that would be wonderful, S-soquan.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins at Joseph with a mouthful of food for a moment before digging back into the meal. “Read anything interesting Joz?”

Yazeth: “Hrmm?” The ferret swallows her mouthful of food before replying. “Just the memoirs of a rat that decided to explore over the Eastern mountains on a whim. So far he’s just talked about things on this side of the ranges.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins. “Sounds interesting. You going to stick with that book for the rest of the night or are we going to keep going with my grandfather’s book?”

Yazeth: Jozra shrugs. “It’s up to you, Soq. I could go either way.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He clears the table as he speaks. “I don’t care either, I just enjoy listening to the stories.” He grins at her, “Having your voice lull me to sleep isn’t half bad either.”

Yazeth: The ferret blushes a little at Soquan’s comment while Joseph gets up to lend the otter a paw at clearing off the table. “You, you two go and read, I’ll take c-care of the dish-dishes.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles, “Thanks Jo.” Walking over to where Jozra was standing in the kitchen, he slings her over his shoulder and carries her towards their “area’.

Yazeth: The ferret squeaks a little in surprise and then berates the otter once he sets her down on the bed. “Now what did I tell you about doing that?!”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles, “I don’t believe you’ve said anything about that.”

Yazeth: Jozra mutters about the situation but doesn’t seem to really take any terrible offence, despite what she’s saying. She grabs the book off the top of the pile and flips it open. “Where were we again?”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan flops down beside Jozra and stretches out, pulling the covers over them both. “We were just about to read about the siege I think.”

Yazeth: The ferret tries to find the page she thought she had marked earlier. “Really?” Finally finding it, she notes the large amount of pages in her left hand compared to the right. “I guess we did get a lot of reading done this morning.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles, “Read on then Jozra m’dear, like before, I’m all ears.”

Yazeth: Jozra clears her throat and begins again. “‘The day arrived that something happened that all Northern Knights from then on hoped would never happen again. Donfin was under siege. We all hugged our family and loved ones goodbye and went to defend our town.’”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan listens intently as the book goes on to describe the siege and his grandfather’s meeting with a beautiful otter maid named Elianza from the South. Finally the siege ends and the book begins to describe Springfest.

Yazeth: Jozra pauses between two paragraphs. “Ah, the whole Springfest thing makes so much more sense now.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods, “Aye, with all that explained it does make it clearer.” While Jozra read on, he grows silent and grim-faced as his grandfather jumps to the time he’s writing the story, mentioning his wife and children, the betrayal, and how the children would never know about his involvement in the Northern Knights.

Yazeth: In the middle of a sentence, Jozra notices her friend’s demeanor. She frowns slightly, knowing it’s probably a hard tale for the otter to hear. “…you alright, Soq?”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan nods and wraps an arm around his friend’s shoulders. “I’ll be fine. It’s just hard, you know?”

Yazeth: The ferret nods, “Do you want me to continue or should we take a break?” She’s more concerned about her friend than about the fact that it has gotten rather late.

Arrin Woodgreen: He shakes his head slowly. “No, it’s okay, the book’s nearly over isn’t it?”

Yazeth: Jozra runs her thumb thought the few remaining pages. “That’s very true.” With that, she continues the tale.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan is amazed as his grandfather begins to write about his father as he grew up, and Soquan began to puzzle about how his father had been said to follow in his footsteps relationship wise. The otter is nearly in tears at the very end, as his grandfather closes off saying that he had to go meet his newborn grandson.

Yazeth: At the end of the last sentence, Jozra snaps the book shut and then turns to look at her friend, somewhat surprised to see tears nearly rolling down his cheeks. She places the book on top of the other and leans over to give to otter a hug. “Oh Soq…”

Arrin Woodgreen: He hugs the ferret back, resting his head on her shoulder as he sighs heavily. “I wish I could remember him better Joz. He died a little after Arrin was born.”

Yazeth: Jozra strokes the top of Soquan’s head. “I never really knew my father’s father either.” She thinks about this for a moment, “Though, from what I hear that’s probably for the best.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He sighs again. “It all makes sense now, but he didn’t deserve it. He was such a nice beast.”

Yazeth: The ferret makes comforting noises, but she really doesn’t know what to say to the otter.

Arrin Woodgreen: He murmurs something inaudibly and for a while, he remains with his face buried in her shoulder, his shoulders giving a bit of a shake once and a while.

Yazeth: Eventually, the ferret drifts off to sleep holding the otter.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan is brought out of his brooding as he notices his friend’s breathing change and he lifts his head from her shoulder. Seeing her asleep he smiles softly and wraps his arms around her, whispering softly. “Thanks Joz.”

Yazeth: The remainder of the week passes pleasantly, marked by walks around town — including back to the library to return the Northern Knights book — and evenings reading of interesting passages from the book about the rat.
The day that Alvisa has said that the two can leave has finally arrived and, despite Fiarah’s disapproval of the early date, Jozra and Soquan are nearly ready to head out.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan is humming happily to himself as he fastens his cloak and adjusts his pack straps. It’d be good to travel again. He looks towards Jozra with a grin. “Nearly ready to go Joz?”

Yazeth: Jozra nods, tightening the straps on her own pack. “Just about. Think Jinx and Fia-“ Before the ferret can finish the sentence, a knock comes at the door, and then the bouncy, young ferret pushes her way indoors without waiting for someone from inside to open it for her and Fiarah.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan beams at the younger ferret. “Hullo Jinx, I see you’re feeling well today.”

Yazeth: Jinx grins rather ruefully at Soquan. “Well, I wish you guys didn’t have to go.” The backdoor can be heard opening as Joseph enters the house. “H-hello Fiarah. Jinx.” There’s a slightly troubled look on his face but he smiles at his former student and her unofficial apprentice.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan grabs Jinx in a noogie type motion and laughs. “I’d love to stay longer m’dear but Jozra’s whining about going South to see her family would drive me nuts.” He chuckles a bit.

Yazeth: Jozra playfully slugs Soquan in the shoulder. “I’m glad you guys stopped by before we left. I won’t say I liked being bedridden for that long, but I did like getting to know you guys.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods, releasing Jinx from his hold. “Yeah, I’ll miss you guys, but don’t you worry, when Joz and I head back up North, we’ll be sure to stop in. Right, Joz?” He turns to give his friend a very pointed look.

Yazeth: The ferret grins sheepishly. “Uh, yeah.” A thought occurs to Jozra and she hands the remaining library book to Jinx. “Before I forget, could you do me one last favor? This needs to be returned and it’s kind of out of our way.”

Jinx looks over the book. “Sure! What’s it about anyway? I might want to read it first.”  Jozra grins. “Just a rat that tried to explore over the Eastern mountains and nearly got sandy in the process… It had its moments.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan moves to embrace Fiarah briefly. “Thank you for all you did, and thank Alvsia for us too when you get the chance.”

Yazeth: Joseph clears his throat a little. “S-speaking of Alvisa, she-she told me to tell you both best, best of luck and to re-remember what she said. Sh-she also gave me these t-to give to you both.”

With that he gives to Soquan a cone shell just big enough for the otter to enclose completely in his paw. Through the top enough twine for the otter to tie the shell comfortably about his neck sprouts and on the shell its self a red rune is painted.

To Jozra, he hands a large-ish feather, also with leather-like strips tied neatly near the end with enough loose to attach it to something else. The feather is strikingly colored – half jet black, half pure white with the colors splitting evenly up the midrib.

The room is silent for a moment before Joseph stutters out, “Sh-she said you would know what it, what it meant.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan holds the shell in his paw for a moment before tying it around his neck. “What’d you get Joz?”

Yazeth: Jozra is, understandably, a little shocked at to what her gift represents. She blinks and takes a moment to respond. “A feather, Soq. A black and white feather.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He blinks as well, stunned for a moment as his mind clicks into place. “Like the one on the wall hanging?”

Yazeth: The ferret nods and replies hoarsely, feeling suddenly uncomfortable with Joseph, Jinx and Fiarah there as well. “Yeah…” She clears her throat a little. “Yours is like one of the shells on there too.”

Arrin Woodgreen: His brow furrows a bit as he fiddles with the shell. “Which one?”

Yazeth: Firarah answers the otter’s question instead in a rather wondering voice. “…the healer’s commitment to the patient…” She shakes herself a little and smiles weakly at Jozra and Soquan. “Well, Alvisa has always been known to do strange things like that.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan shrugs off the off feeling for the moment and puts on another smile. “Well I’m sure the reason’ll make itself clear soon.” He turns to Jozra, “We better get moving, we don’t want to lose too much day.”

Yazeth: The ferret shakes herself into the present as well and nods. “Thanks again everybody.” A couple rounds of hugs are exchanged before the pair even make it to the front porch.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan waves at Joseph happily. “Thanks for putting up with us Jo!” He hugs Jinx again tightly, whispering quietly in her ear, “Good luck with Nolan, kiddo.”

Yazeth: The younger ferret blushes furiously but can’t help grinning. From the porch, Joseph waves back at the pair as they walk out onto the street. “N-no problem, c-come back anytime!”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan smiles happily and releases Jinx to fall in beside Jozra. “Shall we get out of here then?”

Yazeth: Jozra smiles at her companion as she ties the feather to the strap of her pack. “Let’s go.”

Arrin Woodgreen: With one last wave to the group on the doorstep, the two head off towards the exit of the city. With a smirk, Soquan leans over to murmur to Jozra, “Let’s just hope Kirrian doesn’t try to be sneaky again.”

Yazeth: The ferret smiles deviously, “I think she’s learned her lesson.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan smiles happily. “Hopefully we make it across the river this time.”

Yazeth: Jozra nods, “I’d be really surprised if they haven’t fixed the bridge yet, though.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins, “Supposedly, repairs are underway, I asked Jinx and it should be done soon.”

Yazeth: The city is soon put behind them as the pair take the road out of town. “Soon enough for us to cross it?”

Arrin Woodgreen: He shakes his head. “Sadly, no, we need to find another way across.”

Yazeth: The ferret sighs. “I suppose we’ll manage.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan scratches absently behind his ear. “Perhaps we can try to find some shallows to cross, or a fallen tree across the river…wait! Maybe they might let us across the support beams of the new bridge!”

Yazeth: Jozra’s ears perk up at this thought. “That would be very nice.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He beams at her. “Well then. Shall we go ask?”

Yazeth: The ferret nods decidedly, not wanting to take her chances against the river again without a proper crossing. “I think we just follow the road to get to the bridge.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan gives an affirmative nod and strolls casually beside the ferret. A few minutes pass in silence as he listens to their surroundings and very quietly, he pipes up almost hesitantly, “Hey Joz?”

Yazeth: She looks over at her companion. “Yeah?”

Arrin Woodgreen: He looks towards her a bit. “You’ll tell me if you get tired right? I know you’re not up to scratch yet, and I don’t mind if we have to stop early, or take lots of breaks, or even carrying you.”

Yazeth: The ferret smiles faintly. “Yeah, Soq. We’ll take it easy.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins hooks an arm around her shoulder, ruffling her ears slightly. “Atta girl.”

Yazeth: Jozra grins and chuckles, then she smoothes the fur between her ears back into place.

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins and his arm remains draped over her shoulder as they continue on in comfortable silence. Suddenly, he shudders as he gets an odd sense of Deja-vu.

Yazeth: The ferret quirks an eyebrow at Soquan’s sudden change in mood. “What’s wrong?”

Arrin Woodgreen: His brow furrows. “It’s odd, it feels like we’ve already done this before. You and me, like this after we had that conversation. I wonder… “He shakes his head, “Bah, don’t mind me, I’m just being weird over a bit of deja-vu.”

Yazeth: She shrugs. “It is a little familiar. But then again, we did try to leave Kodan once before.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He snickers softly. “Yeah, but then we were fleeing for our lives and being shadowed by Kirrian’s goons.”

Yazeth: The ferret smirks a little. “True, that.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles. “Aye. Plus we had next to no sleep so we were both dead tired on our feet.”

Chapter 64: A Stroll

Chapter 64: A Stroll

In Which Walking Is Good For Your Health.


Yazeth: Intense dreams and jaunts to the library must be tiresome as Joseph is nearly done preparing breakfast before either mustelid begins stirring. Eventually, it’s the delicious smells coming from the kitchen that make Jozra open her eyes and think about getting up.

Arrin Woodgreen: Currently, the otter hasn’t moved much from his position that night and as he feels Jozra begin to stir, he smiles softly. “Morning sleepy head.”

Yazeth: Jozra sits up and stretches, suddenly very eager for breakfast. “Sleepy head yourself.” She grins as Jozeph enters the room with a pair of plates. “Good morning, Joseph.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan wipes sleep from his eyes and sits up as well. “Morning Jo.” He sniffs the air. “Pancakes again for breakfast?”

Yazeth: The mouse nods, “Y-yes… You both seemed to, seemed to like them a lot s-so I decided to make some m-more for you.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He beams delightedly and takes his plate from Joseph. “Thanks, Jo.” Without much more of a word, the otter tucks into his meal.

Yazeth: Eventually, all the pancakes are once again gone and Joseph is washing up in the kitchen. Jozra sits quietly, idly examining the wall hanging.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan sits in silence for a while before grinning in Jozra’s direction. “You going to read more of that book today?”

Yazeth: The ferret takes a second to register that Soquan has spoken, but once she does she smiles. “Of course!” As she picks up the book and starts to open it to where she left off a thought occurs to her. “Hey… do you think maybe later we could take a little walk around?”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan smiles, “Of course. I could ask Fiarah if there’s a park or something nearby.”

Yazeth: Jozra nods as she opens the book. “Sounds like an idea. So let’s see… Where were we?”

Arrin Woodgreen: He chuckles slightly. “Honestly, I don’t remember, I was drifting in and out there the last little bit.”

Yazeth: The ferret flips back a few pages. “Hrm… Do you remember the child Erran getting lost while on a fishing trip with his father? And the dragonflies?”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods slowly, settling back against the pillows. “Vaguely, s’kinda fuzzy though.”

Yazeth: Jozra nods as she settles the book open at that part. “I read from there, then.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan smiles, “I’m all ears, read on Joz.”

Yazeth: The ferret settles herself and begins. “‘My father always told me I should listen to him and to always keep him in sight while we traveled and he was usually right. Just once, though, I was glad I didn’t…’”

Arrin Woodgreen: He listens to his friend read for quite some time before interrupting, “What do you say we call it a day for the reading and go stretch out our legs a bit? Maybe we could snag some lunch too?”

Yazeth: The ferret marks their place in the book and stretches. “That sounds like a wonderful idea.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan smiles and crawls out of the bed with a long stretch. “Where should we head off to?”

Yazeth: Jozra shrugs as she sets the book aside and climbs out of bed, standing stiffly beside it. “I don’t know. I’d rather not wander around in the middle of town, though. It’s too busy.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins, “Should we ask around to see if there’s a park somewhere in this town?”

Yazeth: The ferret nods, “That might be a good idea.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan quickly pokes his head into the backyard where Joseph was puttering around his garden. “Jo, Jozra and I are stepping out for a walk and lunch. Just wanted to let you know.” He’s about to go back inside but pokes his head back out. “Oh! Are there any parks in town?”

Yazeth: The mouse sits back and wipes his face, leaving smudges of dirt across it. “Um, there, er, there’s a park not too, not too far from here. Just follow th-the road to the west. Y-you’ll find it.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Souqan nods and smiles and thanks the mouse before heading back inside. “We take the road west and we’ll find the park Joz.”

Yazeth: The ferret moves towards the door, ready for walking. “Alright.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He offers his arm to the ferret. “You alright on your own Joz?”

Yazeth: The ferret nods, only slightly unsteady on her feet. “Yeah, Soq. Let’s go, I could use some fresh air.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He returns his arm to his side and walks beside Jozra as they both step out of building. “Any thoughts on what you want for lunch?”

Yazeth: Jozra’s ears perk up. “Oooh, I’d forgotten about that. Do you have any coin on you? Maybe we could get something from a shop in town.” She glances wryly at the otter. “It has been a while since we’ve had any sort of fish.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He licks his lips. “Yeah, I have coin on me, and don’t tempt me with fish unless you really mean it Joz.”

Yazeth: The ferret grins. “Oh I mean it. I seem to vaguely recall a little cafe that served fresh fish from the river the last time we were here.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He quirks a brow at her. “Maybe we could pick something up and have a little picnic?”

Yazeth: The ferret nods. “That sounds good too.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles at his friend fondly. “I’m afraid you’ll have to lead the way m’dear, I didn’t notice where it was.”

Yazeth: Jozra grins at the otter’s choice of words as she slips her arm into his own and walks back towards the heart of the city.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan smiles and pats her paw gently as they walk. After a while of silence he talks, his face turned to the sky. “It’s nice today.”

Yazeth: The ferret nods. “It looks like it’s starting to finally be spring. I haven’t seen much in the way of clouds lately.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He snickers, “Now Joz, don’t jinx us now. If you continue with that thought it’ll cloud over and we won’t see sunlight ’till we hit Krad.”

Yazeth: The ferret chuckles, “I suppose you’re right. I think we’re nearly there now, I just can’t see with all of these people crowding the streets.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Resisting the urge to swing the ferret up onto his shoulders, he settles on testing the air. “I smell fish, we must be close.”

Yazeth: Looking around, the ferret finally spots the market stall selling fish. “There it is.” She leads the ferret over and examines the merchant’s wares. “What do you think, Soq?”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan grins, “I trust your judgment Joz, I know you’ll pick just fine.”

Yazeth: Jozra shrugs, “Suit yourself, I just figured what with you being the resident fish expert…”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins, “Well, if I may offer some advice, stick with the salmon or carp.”

Yazeth: The ferret nods and makes the exchange between coin and fish. She hands the package to Soquan and then leads him back up the street. Catching a whiff of fresh baked bread, Jozra turns to the otter. “What do you think of adding a loaf of bread to our meal? There’s a bakery just up ahead.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods, “Sure thing.” He diverts his course to the direction the delicious bread smell was coming from.

Yazeth: Just as the pair are about to enter the bakery, they nearly run into a very familiar looking pair of rats. One of them shrieks and hides behind the other who merely glares at the ferret and otter.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan doesn’t need the use of his eyes to know who the two beasts are, and surprisingly, he doesn’t feel any animosity towards either of the females. “Good afternoon Dawn, Sola. Beautiful afternoon, is it not?”

Yazeth: Dawn huffs at Soquan’s pleasant greeting and then fixes a steely gaze on Jozra. “I don’t know how you managed to fool Alvisa but I guarantee that I will find out and see that you get what you deserve.” And with that she pushes past the both of them with Sola trailing along close behind, clutching the bag full of bread they had purchased.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan frowns slightly as the two rattesses push past them. “Would it kill you two to be pleasant?”

Yazeth: Dawn merely ‘harrumphs’ as the two walk away. Jozra rolls her eyes as she leads Soquan into the bakery. “Well that was pleasant…”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan crinkles his nose slightly. “I hate to say it, but if I never see those two ever again, it’ll be too soon.”

Yazeth: A slow grin spreads across Jozra’s face. “You could say that again.” At the counter she pays for a loaf of bread and then leads the way back out doors.

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles at her and walks beside her, relaxing again. “Off to the park then?”

Yazeth: The ferret nods. “It was just down the street from Joseph’s right?”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods, “Yep. To the west.”

Yazeth: Jozra soon finds their way back to the road that leads to Joseph’s house and heads in a Westerly direction. The road is a quiet one and it soon leaves small cottages behind for more scenic views, eventually ending in an open meadow with a small, still slightly frozen pond in the middle.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan smiles and takes in the scent of the fresh air. “Pick us out a nice spot Joz?”

Yazeth: The ferret obliges the otter and soon selects a spot among some of the freshly budding grass and in a patch of sunlight. “This should do nicely.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods happily and places down the package of fish and seats himself with his back to the tree. Soquan pats the ground beside him with a smile. “Have a seat Joz.”

Yazeth: The ferret settles herself on the ground. She breaks the loaf of bread in half and hand half of the still warm loaf to Soquan. “There’s some little yellow flowers just starting to pop up, Soq.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He stuffs some fish in-between the bread and takes a bite. Replying to the ferret’s comment, he swallows quickly, “Very pretty I’m sure.”

Yazeth: Jozra takes her time fixing her lunch and eating it, enjoying the light almost-spring breeze.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan grins at her happily. “Think Joseph and Fiarah will give you a clean bill of health anytime soon?”

Yazeth: The ferret chews her sandwich and swallows before answering. “I hope so. I’m glad we’re able to take walks now and I like Jinx ‘n Joseph ‘n Fiarah and all but…”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods, “I understand. You’re not used to being in a sickbed, right?”

Yazeth: The ferret nods emphatically as she chews quickly to answer the otter. “Exactly.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He turns to her giving her a grin. “At least you had me there right?”

Yazeth: The ferret smiles at Soquan. “Yeah.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He finishes off his lunch and for a while he sits there, soaking up the spring sunlight while fiddling with one of the yellow flowers he had plucked from the ground.

Yazeth: Jozra eats the rest of her lunch thoughtfully, again trying to figure out what it was that Alvisa meant.

Arrin Woodgreen: His thoughts, unlike Jozra, are on that strange dream he had last night. At some point, some how, he manages to tuck the yellow flower behind her ear, the words, “she needs you” still ringing clear in his mind.

Yazeth: The otter’s actions pull Jozra back to the present. She smiles at the otter, knowing he can’t see it, and begins to gather up their things. “The trees are starting to block out the sunlight here… Think we should go back?”

Arrin Woodgreen: He shakes his head slowly, leaning back against the tree. “Not just yet, Joz.”

Yazeth: The ferret places the crumpled papers that once held their lunch beside her and settles back again. “Okay.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins at her, content for the moment. “So m’dear… anything on your mind?”

Yazeth: “Hrm?” The ferret looks at her paws. “Oh, not much really… Just thinking about being able to head home soon.” She smiles weakly.

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles softly and puts an arm around her shoulders. “Think your family will like me?”

Yazeth: This time the ferret grins genuinely. “Well, I’m not absolutely sure about that… They’re kind of an odd bunch but they’re mostly harmless.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He smiles. “I’m not going to get any death threats from your dad, or possibly a brother am I?”

Yazeth: Jozra shrugs and grins impishly. “Probably not.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He snickers softly. “Why don’t you tell me a bit about them?”

Yazeth: The ferret thinks about it for a bit, remembering her cover story. “Well, I haven’t seen them in a while so at least one thing will be very different; Azira won’t be a baby anymore.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He grins as he listens to his friend. “Do you have a big family Joz?”

Yazeth: She shrugs. “I suppose you could say that. Four of us kids. And Bellanzo probably has a family of his own now.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan smiles. “So you’re not the oldest then?”

Yazeth: She shakes her head. “No, I’m kind of in the middle. Technically I’m the second youngest but Jovanz and I are too close in age to really make that much of a difference.”

Arrin Woodgreen: He nods, “Understandable.” He beams at her, “Anything else you want to share?”

Yazeth: The ferret shrugs, “Can’t really think of anything else.”

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan nods and tunes into his surroundings. “We should get back now.”

Yazeth: Jozra nods, “Yeah, it’s starting to get a little chilly. Still winter I guess, huh?” She gets to her feet, faltering a little but she’s able to manage well enough on her own.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan helps gather their belongings and offers his arm to the ferret again as they start back for Joseph’s house.

Chapter 63: Dreams In Triplet

Chapter 63: Dreams In Triplet

In Which Destiny Begins To Assert Itself.


Arrin: While the ferret falls asleep, Soquan is currently dreaming of walking down some random stretch of road while talking to his ferret companion about lighthearted things. Suddenly, his dreamscape shifts and the otter looks around the area. Being able to see doesn’t faze the dream-otter’s consciousness as he comes to the conclusion that he’s somewhere far North of Donfin. To the East, he spots smoke rising from above the trees of the snowy landscape and a sense of urgency fills the otter as he runs towards the origin of the smoke.

Yazeth: Elsewhere, flames flicker. The ferret rolls over in her sleep and into a depressingly familiar scene. Behind her, Azrun lights another flaming arrow and sends it arching onto a tightly thatched roof. Once again she whirls and pegs a squirrel that crumples to the ground but then stares at her with accusing eyes.

Through the smoky haze the ferret notices something… different, and then she finds herself looking into the eyes of a very familiar otter. Distracted, the Badger’s approach is completely unnoticed. The claws, however, are not.

Arrin: In the otter’s dream, he arrives in the burning village and after a few minutes of searching he spots Jozra in the midst of the chaos. He locks eyes with her for a second before he spots the badger behind her. “Joz! Look out!” He moves to assist his friend, his staff appearing in his paws.

Chris: A fox’s figure in the distance leans casually against the trunk of a tree, his form obscured by a dark haze. He pushes off from the tree, the mist following him as he walks through the destruction. His heart sinks.  Beasts die every day.  It’s not my problem …  He turns to see a quizzical scene.

A badger, an otter with a staff, and a ferret?  He begins to think about it, but he turns away.

Yazeth: Any enraged badger is a terrifying sight but this one takes a turn to macabre. In place of a right eye is the hilt of a slightly curved knife which looks like the twin of the knife Jozra has clenched in her left paw. By all rights, the badger should be very dead but instead she lunges at the ferret who can’t seem to bring herself to even roll out of the way.

Arrin: Soquan arrives just in time to knock the ferret out of the way, gritting his teeth as the badger’s claws graze his right shoulder. He gives her a grin as he rolls them out of the way from a second shot. “Just can’t stay out of trouble without me, can you?” He springs to his feet to try and fight off the Badger.

Chris: The various shrieks and screams of the town slow the fox’s pace.  It’s NOT my problem.  He stops and turns back to view the town. … but some things are just plain wrong.

The dark haze begins to turn white, blackened eyes to golden light. It didn’t matter who was right or whose fault it was.
Someone was hurting.
And it had to be stopped. The sinking had to be stopped. The fox looks down at his paws.  They’re meatier. And so are his arms. Like a boxer’s. He knows what he has to do. He begins to run towards the perplexing trio.

Yazeth: Jozra squeezes her eyes shut tight and grinds her paws into her ears, trying to block it all out as the remaining Scorpions fade away and the dead beasts of Ostoria get up to torment her but she knows from experience now she can’t stop it.

The badger lunges for her again around the otter’s staff and the ferret waits for the part where Soquan looks at her in horror and disgust.

Arrin: However much the scene has changed, the otter dosen’t look at her in horror and disgust. He still ties to defend his friend from the badger with his staff, taking yet another blow meant for the ferret.

Chris: The fox arrives at breakneck speed, a readied fist hits the badger square in the jaw line. A loud crack resounds through the plane of the dream, seemingly moving the air even. The fox’s glowing eyes meet that of the otter’s, never leaving them as a paw grabs the mad badger’s scruff and lands another blow heavy blow to the temple. And your heart just can’t take seeing the world like this anymore.

Yazeth: The ferret’s eyes pop open in surprise. When they happen frequently enough, you become familiar with your nightmares and demons and this was definitely out of the ordinary.
Out of the corner of her eye, Jozra catches a glimpse of looming dark iron gates but the unfamiliar fox and dedicated otter both protecting her from the Badger and thus the other beasts of Ostoria command her attention. She sits, watching in wonder until a small movement sends her leaping towards Soquan to bat a small arachnid away.
The stinger meant for the otter finds its way into her paw but the flood of poison is followed only by newfound strength. There is a reason they are called Scorpions.

Arrin: Soquan doesn’t see Jozra rise, or bat away the scorpion, but he notices that she’s on her feet and at his side. “Well there you are Joz, pulled yourself together have you?” He grins at her and ducks just in time to avoid a swipe from the Badger. He straightens to watch the mysterious fox finally subdue the Badger and he turns towards the ferret to find his friend as white as a sheet. “What’s the matter Joz? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Chris: The fox’s eyes are now locked into Jozra’s. An ethereal voice, almost simply Joz’s own thinking speaks.
“Forgiveness is all you have.”
An emblem begins to glow white hot in his forearm before he breaks the gaze to face the large black gates opening to monstrous things shrouded in haze and only hinting at their ferocity.  Damn them all.

Yazeth: The ferret’s gaze follows the fox’s as the otter slips his paw into hers. The gates seem to encompass the entire dream world now but the three manage to stay just beyond the threshold. Jozra squeezes Soquan’s paw and tries to burn the fox’s features into her memory as she whispers, “There is a chance at redemption…”
The dream world begins to lose its clarity.

Arrin: As the dream word begins to twist and fade, Soquan squeezes back at Jozra’s paw. His gaze however, is not focused on the fox, like Jozra’s is, but alternating between the badger slumped on the ground to the large black gate. Closing his eyes, he murmurs to himself, “She needs me.”

Chris: As the image is about to fade, the fox’s figure can be seen standing at the foot of the gates, his body braced as if against some huge force. And suddenly, before the image snaps away, he rushes forward. But the image is gone.

Yazeth: Sand blasts out of the remnants of the dreamscape and with a jolt, Jozra wakes to find her paw in Soquan’s. For once the sense of overpowering doom that had been hanging over the ferret finds its self coming in a sorry second to the near-overwhelming curiosity as to who the fox was and what the whole dream meant.

Arrin: Soquan wakes from the dream with a start, his heart still racing. The otter stares unseeing at the ceiling for a few moments, not saying anything, although he gives her paw a gentle squeeze. Finally he rolls towards the ferret and draws her close.

Yazeth: Jozra sighs into the otter’s fur, wondering if she’ll ever be rid of her nightmares. Of course, if the owl is right…
The ferret finds herself awake again, realizing she had dozed off in the middle of a thought but for the life of her, she can’t remember what it was. Oh well. She snuggles a little closer to Soquan and falls back to sleep.

Arrin Woodgreen: Soquan murmurs some comforting phrase sleepily and kisses the top of her head softly before completely dropping off into a much less confusing dream.