Scene Challenge (finished)

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70

Postby TheSongOfTheStars » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:12 am

“Hey! I was gonna drink that!"
971 words
Sputtering candles entrapped in a lantern's glass cage let out a uneven light across the ceilings and spread awkward shadows throughout the room, doing nothing to erase the disreputableness of the majority of the patrons.
Myres, the second mate of the Storm Guild, seemed more than comfortable amongst the rough language spilling off uncouth tongues as easily as the foam from their chins. In fact he was more than willing to participate in the less than civilized behavior, despite the uniform he still wore.

While he was attempting to down a heavy pint in a single pull three ill-clad hares pulled out the vacant chairs at Myres table.
"Well, sailor boy can you afford that?"

Myres set the mug down, a scowl curling across his face "What's it to you, riff-raff?"

They exchanged grins of unpleasant intent before the first replied.
"Doncha know you've got the worse job in the country? Worse than a miner's nowadays."
"Sides," Chimed in the second, a ragged fellow with several large chunks missing from his large ears "The Navy's naught but a fleet of traitors. They turned on the king the second that little usurper took a quick turn on the sword. What's it like being a traitor?"

Myres set his jaw against the anger that bubbled up like the foam on his cup "You want to fight. I'm not interested."

"Really?" Ragged ear turned to the first speaker "He's not interested."
"Well, I suppose he's not got very high standards, weakest captain on the waters. She was born a land lubber, raised a land lubber. She's got no business on the water."

"You can think what you like about Captain Pipstrelle, it's none of my business." Myres planted his heavy boots onto the table, causing it to shake, then tipped his hat down signaling the end of the conversation.

"Oh, dear not much loyalty then," spoke the third one for the first time. His voice was remarkably low with a dozen rough edges cutting in from the depths of his throat "That's a fault. Maybe they put you on the leakiest ship for it."

Slowly Myres tipped his hat back up, two raging fires lighting behind his eyes.
"What did you say about my ship?"

"Oh," with a feignedly innocent tone Ragged ear held his paws up "Only that it's the scurviest scow ever to scrape keel at Churam's dock."
"I suppose the Navy needed some sort of garbage hauler, for the ones that just couldn't quite make it," added the first.

His whole face contorted with rage, Myres shot to his feet, fists already swinging towards the hare's nose.
Before his knuckles could make contact he was suddenly doused with the remaining contents of his mug, bringing him to a sputtering halt.
Wiping away the stinging liquid Myers found himself staring up into the disapproving scowl of his superior.

"Mr. Myres," Bowden growled "Not the prettiest establishment to find a member of the Queen's Navy."
Squinting Myres pushed Bowden back "M, off duty, so it's none of your business where I go."
"While you where that uniform it's all of my business. Now either you change right now or you leave," Bowden's tone left no room for argument.

The squirrel gave a long sigh and glanced down at his now empty mug "The least you could've done was let me finish it."
Then, tail dragging along through the loose dirt, he turned and stormed out into the deepening gloom of night.

Bowden nodded slowly to the three hares who stared up at him with no desire to engage in any sort of squabble.
The badger tipped his hat, then proceeded to the counter.

Digging deep into the pockets of his coat, he withdrew three coins and sent them spilling onto the wooden top.
"For the squirrel's tab."

The weak-eyed hedgehog held the coins up close to his face, the first two seeming to suit him fine, but when he drew up the third, his already crumpled face creased further.
"They'll be seeing you in the back, sir."
Bowden smiled and his heavy paw swept the deficit coin from the tiny hedgehog's fingers "Thank you."

Bulling his way through the inebriated patrons he pulled open a small door that led deeper into the building, clean yellow light spilling out to greet him.

"There's been an unexpected change since we last met," he said, closing the door behind him and fastening it "We can go on with the original plan.

Hours late when the slivering moon had risen high above the tall masts of the docked ships Bowden came slinking through the crates and barrels, avoiding the inattentive eyes of the slacking watchmen with ease.
He came to the moorings of the Storm Guild, expecting the area around her to be vacant, but found a silhouette standing on the wet boards of the dock looking up past the dark hull of the ship towards the sky.

Bowden froze for a second, his mind void of excuse for his late night return.
As if sensing the badger's presence, the figure turned, letting the moonlight slant down through his orange fur and be absorbed by the black patch held across his face.
A snarl passing over his snout Bowden stormed out of the shadows.
"What are you doing Jacques?"

Startled the fox retreated a step backwards before attempting to mutter out an excuse.
"No. You're not allowed off the ship without the Captain accompanying you," Bowden's heavy paw clamped around Jacques arm, intentionally squeezing the bandaged area.
"Hey, I was just-" Jacques attempted to break free of the badger's grip, but only earned himself a tighter grip over his injuries.
"Just causing more trouble. Save your excuses for tomorrow when you talk to the Captain. For now, I hope you sleep nice and well in the brig."
Last edited by TheSongOfTheStars on Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:27 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Postby TheSongOfTheStars » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:13 am

“BAHAHAHA- ahem.”//
764 words
Papa slowly reached for the huge jewel and plucked it up into his palm, his eyes fixed on the dancing surface that held a churning world of color beneath.
"Papa?" Mama asked "Papa what is that?"

He blinked rapidly several times and quickly closed his fingers over the pearl, hiding the entrancing surface from sight.
"Maria, this I is why you were late, isn't it?"

Guiltily Maria bobbed her head.
He nodded seriously "Where did you get this Maris?"
"Well, I had just gotten over the hill and I took a break because the water was so heavy. I closed my eyes because the sun hurt my eyes so. Then it hit me, right here between my eyes-" she rubbed the sore spot "then landed in the water bucket. I looked for whoever threw it but it wasn't anybody there. So I picked it up and... I was just... Looking at it... For a few seconds... Then the sun was going down."
Her voice faded in utter confusion.
"Maria!"Mama chided sharply "Now don't you dare start telling tales to me and your Papa!"
Papa shook his head "Our girl isn't telling tales, Mama. I looked at this thing just for a second and I swear I forgot about everything around me."

Fearfully Mama looked down at the light emanating from between Papa's fingers.
"We have to get rid of that thing."

Papa nodded in serious agreement "First thing tomorrow I'll take it to the Station in town."
"Can I come, Papa? I hardly ever get to go to town anymore," Truthfully Maria was eager to go to town with her father, but she also hoped to just maybe catch a final passing glance of the entrancing pearl.

Papa looked as though he was going to tell her she couldn't come when Mama spoke up.
"Good idea Maria, it's been a long time since either of us have been to town and it may happen that I can't trust either of you to peek at this pretty rock."

"Fine, Mama," Papa sighed "I'm going to go get something safe to put this in."
"And we'll set dinner."

Silently mother and daughter laid out the plates, each wondering if they should say something to the other.
Mama spoke after a moment "Papa believes you, Maria, but if you're fibbing you'll get the spanking of your life!"

Maria didn't feel inclined to answer.

Papa returned and together they sat down to a streaming hot meal of pasta. While it was delicious no one commented on the fact.

After clearing away the plates Maria slipped off to bed, not breaking the bond of silence that reigned throughout the house.
Breakfast was a cheerier affair, a light repast with toast slathered with strawberry jelly accompanied by easygoing conversation that directly avoided the topic of the pearl.

The sun was blazing just as hotly as the day before, forcing each of the raccoons to walk slowly with heads bowed deeply against the heat.
"So, Mama is there anything special you need to get in town?" Papa asked, fiddling with the drawstring of the small sack that held the mysterious shining pearl.

Mama shrugged "Nothing that can't wait until after we get rid of that thing."
"Alright. Maria is there anything you need?"

Maria shook her head "No, Papa."
"Alright, so we'll all just go down to the docks and report this."
"Is that where the Statiin is? I've never been there."
"Yes, Maria, the Station is right next to the docks."

The town was bustling with the lively folk who lived there. Politely the baker beaver tipped his flour covered white hat to Mama who curtsied back briefly.
Children of every species played marbles in the shadows of the buildings while their parents trudged about their work beneath the sun.

As they neared the docks the smell of fish and seaweed was carried up to them on a relievingly sweet breeze.
"Well here we are," Pap turned towards a small official looking shack on the edge of a bustling crowd of sailors. But Maria had seen something that had suddenly become much more interesting than the pearl.
"Mama, look, it's Maurice! May I go speak to him? I hardly ever see him any more."

Mama turned to see the raccoon boy busy as the rest of his fellow sailors with several large coils of rope.
"If he has time to stop to talk, but leave him be if he doesn't and for heaven's sake don't mention the pearl!"
"I won't," Maria promised before dashing after her old friend.
Last edited by TheSongOfTheStars on Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:10 am, edited 8 times in total.
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72

Postby TheSongOfTheStars » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:22 am

“This ain’t that kind of movie.”
808 words
"Is that Lionel?" Jasmine asked above the murmur of conversation filling the room.

Jade turned her head towards the counter, were a familiar frame could be seen with a long stick leaned against his chair.
"Looks like it. Wonder why he's here."
"It's his day off, isn't it? Probably didn't want to have to cook for himself."

"That makes sense," Jade nodded "Though he's not going to get any better food here. He's the best."

Jasmine laughed a little "There's no doubt in that."

As they returned to their fish, the door to the tavern blew open, as if the wind had gotten the handle away from the enterer.

It banged against the wall several times, drawing in everyone's attention, before the tall hound managed to snatch the knob and pull it shut.

The attention faded from him as he walked towards the counter, save for the twins. They watched intently as he seated himself next to the otter cook.
They noted the official trim to his robes that marked him as a lower training master of the Imperial Army.

"I'll have what he's having," the hound barked to the server, jabbing his thumb in the otter's direction.

The server, a thin weasel, shook her head "I'm sorry, but he has the last squid. Is there something else you would like?"

The hound shook his head slowly "I'll just have his."

And he slid the plate away from the otter.

Jade wasn't sure if it was her or her sister who growled aloud in shock.

The weasel's mouth hung open and she made no move to close it.

The only one who didn't seem surprised, was Lionel himself.

For a second, his chopsticks hovered over where his plate had been.
The he set them down on the counter and reached for something out of sight.

Jade found herself reaching for her katanas.

Lionel dropped the coins on the counter, creating a tiny clink of metal on wood.

Even from their position, the twins could seem the pleasant genuine smile on the otter's face. He nodded to the server and nudged the coins closer to her.

With shaking paws, she collected the coins as she stared with disbelief at him.

He turned, picking up his stick and began limping towards the door, ignoring the looks he garnered.

He passed by the twins and paused to greet them.

"Glad to see you're back, Jade, Jasmine, how did the mission go?"

They just stared at him, jaws slack.

He leaned on his stick as smile creeping across his face. "Is something wrong, girls?"

The sparkle in his eyes told them that he knew full well the issue, but wanted them to say it aloud.

"But- you- he just!" Jasmine tried to speak

"Oh?"

"I should chop him into-"
Jade began to stand, her paws wrapped around the hilts of her katanas.

Lionel held his paw against her shoulder "No, Jade."

"He just-!!!!"

"Yes, Jade, I know," There was no trace of anger in his voice "I know it upsets you. But fighting him will only cause trouble. Besides, giving food to others is somewhat my thing. If you catch my drift."

Jasmine shook her head, mouth still open and eyes still wide. "No."
He sighed a little "It's an odd thing to accept, I give you that. But kindness never killed someone on the inside."

The confusion on their faces only mounted.

"Well, anyways, how have you two been?"

"....Good...." Jasmine managed, finally pulling herself back together "How... How about you?"

"Very well," He nodded "I'll let you get back to your dinner, then. Goodnight."

Jade looked down at her bowl of fish and rice, then up at the otter. "Did you eat anything, Lionel?"

He paused "It isn't important, Jade."

"Well it is to me."

"No, I haven't. I'll get something to eat back at the school."

"You can have some of mine," she transferred several of the largest chunks of fish onto a small side plate, along with a healthy portion of rice.

"No, Jade, really, I'm fine."

Jasmine added some of her share to the plate her sister had fixed "No, Lionel, come on. You've always got food for us. We didn't make it, but we can share it."

He smiled broadly. "Well, alright."

They were quiet as they finished the food, the twins still struggling to throw off the shock, and Lionel was simply enjoying the fish.

Jade's eyes kept straying to the hound seated at the counter, enjoying Lionel's squid.
How dare he?

Lionel noticed her constant staring "Jade. Stop, please."

"Why did you pay for him? It's bad enough you didn't even say anything," Jade ignored his plea.

"Because, I wanted him to enjoy it."

Jade shook her head "I don't think I'll ever understand you, Lionel."
"That's alright, you can still be my friend."
Last edited by TheSongOfTheStars on Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:38 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Postby TheSongOfTheStars » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:23 am

“You wound me.”
825 words
The door opened with an apologetic creak that should've been preceded by a knock. Daylight flooded the otherwise dim room, cut through by the badger's burly shadow.

"Captain?" His voice held the same apology as the creaky hinges on the door "There's another fight in the lower mess..."

A long sigh escaped through Pipstrelle's whiskers as she shook her head in disbelief.
"Again?"
"Aye ma'am, again."

Cups of bitter ale had been spilled and mixed with dry bread, turning it soggy, but no one took notice of the midday repast as the merciless thud of fists colliding with bodies was nearly drowned out by the hoarse shouts from the sailors urging the struggle onwards.

The yelling rose to a feverish pitch as coarse fingers pressed against a throbbing throat, pinning the struggling body to the floor as the other arm wound back for the decisive blow.

Before it descended into the weasel's face, the fist was caught in a larger paw and the whole body was wrenched backwards off the losing sailor.
For the third time in a very long disruptive day, Captain Pipstrelle found herself looking down at the eye-patched face of Cody Jacques.

The fox looked up at his captain through grime and blood with a total lack of remorse.
She scowled down at him for a moment, but turned on her heel to face the rest of the crew.

In unison, their snouts tipped towards their boots which scraped and scuffled against the ground in shame.

The Captain locked and unlocked her jaw several times, gauging her words carefully before letting them go.

"I am... shocked... at your behavior. This is completely unacceptable. Encouraging fights and ignoring your duties? This is not how a crew of the Navorine Navy behaves. You are all acting like undisciplined, undignified pirates!"

She let the last word dangle purposely, letting each of them take it in.
"Have I made my point?"

Everyone of them nodded without meeting her eye.

"Good. Bowden?"

The badger stood up, dragging the offending fox with him.
"Aye, Captain?"

"See to it that this mess is cleaned and suitable retribution is meted."

A less than pleasant smile crept across Bowden's face as he glanced down at the fox dangling in his clutches.
"Mr. Jacques? My cabin. Now."

With considerable disappointment written across his features, the badger let the fox go.

Silently he hobbled after the Captain, ears limp and blood dribbling from his lip.

All around them, the sailors still on duty stared and whispered as the less than respectable fox trailed sulkily after the straight-backed pine martin.

The stares continued right up until the Captain shut the door against them.

Cody held his ears back, tensing in preparation for the tirade that was sure to come.

"Get that dirty thing off," Pipstrelle order, gesturing to his shirt with a clean rag while she popped the lid on a vial of clear liquid used for cleansing cuts.

His one eye squinting in surprise, he obliged and tossed the torn shirt to the floor.

She half-raised the soaked rag to the newest cut, then frowned as she saw the multiple other abrasions through his fur, crusted over several hours with black blood.
"I told you to report to sickbay to have those taken care of, did I not?"

"I was going to.... But I kept getting in another fight," He twitched one ear "So I figured I'd just wait until I went off duty."

"Well, congratulations, you're off duty now," she set to scrubbing away the scabs.
"It was unintentional."

"Really?" Even from her bent over condition he could see the eyebrows go up "Care to explain that to me?"

He was quiet for a moment and she looked up.
His face was contracted in a deep scowl, all of it seeming to press against the eye patch.

For a second, she contemplated breaking his silence. But thought better of it and returned to bandaging his arm.

"They want to fight, Captain. I don't know why. But its them. Not me."

"If its not you, then why are you fighting them?"
"I've got a reputation to establish, Captain, I can't just let them think I'm a weakling."

Pipstrelle squeezed her eyes shut. Maybe a day would come when she understood the obstinate desire to prove oneself through physical domination. But today? That wasn't that day.
"What am I to do with you, Mr. Jacques? Tell me, what am I to do?"

"Throw me in the brig?"
"Well," She said, opening her eyes and beginning to wrap the bandage around his tightly muscled arm "That would certainly clear things up for a little while. But the Queen didn't put you on my ship simply so I could toss you in the brig on your second day."

He growled deep in his chest "The Queen didn't put me here. I chose to come."
"It was six months on a ship or a year in prison."
Last edited by TheSongOfTheStars on Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:32 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Postby TheSongOfTheStars » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:24 am

“Well, are you coming?”
767 words
Anders stared with mixed disgust and boredom at the hares.

Uncomfortably the larger one shifted from one foot to the other, his thick limbs packed with muscles that bulged with even that slight movement. "Well, will ye help us?"

The otter folded his paws together and gave them the look of a school teacher who has gone over a particular subject too many times.

"My good gypsies, I ever so much do wish to be of service. But I cannot find look for something that I do not know the look of nor the place where you lost it. Unless and until you can dredge up those most important facts, I can do nothing."

He turned and waved to indicate the end of their meeting.

Alarmed at the prospect of loosing their opportunity the two hares began to whisper fiercely in the hoarse nomad language.

Anders paused, wondering if they where finally going to disclose the needed information.

"Ee's a squirrel, a black un. We lost im around Kara Un."
The smaller female hare blurted.

"Does this black squirrel have a name?"

More uncomfortable glances.

"This squirrel is part of your travelling band is he not?" Anders asked sarcastically.

"No. He is not."

Anders glared at the pair, not bothering to hide his suspicion "Well then what is he and why do you want to find him?"

"He is a thief, he stole a sword and our money."

The only sound was a sand fly buzzing against the dusty windows.

Then a rustle from the inner doorway. Even Anders turned to track the noise.

Standing with the sun shining over her sandy shoulders and peeking around her head shawl, the jackal looked like a true piece of the desert and the keen glitter in her dark eyes proved the intelligence vital to survive in such a place.

The gaze swept with measured interest across the two hares, causing them to simultaneously flinch.

She took several minced steps into the room and cocked her head to one side
"How old is this thief, do you know?"

It took the hares several long seconds to realize the vulpine creature had addressed them and several seconds longer to formulate an answer.

"He is in his younger season. No more than fifteen summers." The female hare murmured.

"Squirrel. Black. Very young." The eyes, suddenly cold in contrast to the warmth of the room, locked onto the pair with unrelenting frost.

The gypsies squirmed like worms trapped beneath a sparrow's claws, seeming to give their all to resist an urge to bolt through the door and down the street as fast as their lanky legs could take them.

"Any idea what such an out of place animal would be doing stealing in the desert? Did he seem prepared to attempt the theft? Had you seen him around before-"

"Tanjee," Anders cut her off "Come here and shall we discuss this before you start a full blown investigation?"

The jackal shrugged her slight shoulders and complied with the otter; stepping over into the corner with him.

"They're lying, Anders."

"Oh, Tanjee... That was obvious," the otter said with a soft sigh.

"Just making sure. Sometimes-"

"Yes, yes, I know Tanjee, but even an old outdweller like me can tell when someone's lying."

"So we aren't-"

"What makes you think we wouldn't? Service to one and all y'know my dear."

"Your just dying of curiosity to know what's going on."

"Well of course my dear. So are you!"

"No I'm-"

"Sufficiently interested. Fair enough," Anders nodded and turned on his heel to face the uneasy gypsies.
"We will help you find this thief. There is of course a fee that must be paid up front and an additional after fee the cover the cost of any injuries or other such things."

The two bobbed their heads and the male head out a ragcloth sack to the otter.

Ander opened it and peered in, nodded shortly, then tucked it into his pocket. "We shall set out on the dawn of tomorrow. You will be accompanying us I presume?"

"She will." The male nodded down at his companion. "You must find him by the full of moon and bring him back before its blackness fills in the night."

Anders gave him a stern look "I attempt to be prompt with every job I do. But you know the desert is an unpredictable place to travel in and delays are part of life here."

"It is in all our best interests that he is back before the moon goes," the hare said in a near growl.
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Postby TheSongOfTheStars » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:26 am

“Help me push it.”
750 words
Wildly the pony's hooves thrashed the ground, churning up clods of thick mud. Behind her the caravan rattled and creaked in fragile protest.

All around disembodied shouts filled the night, piquing her terror and urging her to strain harder.

A hill rose up before her, dark against the moon. If she could gather herself to reach the rise, then maybe they'd all make it out.

Slick with sweat and foam forming around her shoulders, Conmerelle threw the last of her reserves into charging the slope.
She reached the top, barely able to keep her head up, then let herself and the caravan be pulled down the other side.

The cries had died off suddenly, too suddenly and the only sound was the pathetic squeaking of the nearly broken wooden wheels.

Connie's ears were the only part of her body that seemed alert, the rest of her sagged nearly to the ground.

There were the whisper of faint words on the breeze and the sinister shuffle of paws through the undergrowth, but she couldn't run, could hardly breath.

Fabric rustled behind her and a breathy voice from inside the caravan called out softly.

"Conmerelle, are they gone?"

"No."

The tiny white bat fluttered up to the pony's neck, her whole little head straining outward. Connie kept quiet, knowing that Lunestra's senses were many times over more acute than hers ever could be.

"They're everywhere," Lunestra whispered "Absolutely everywhere."

"What do I do?"

The gypsy squeaked a little "Can you keep walking?"

Connie snorted "For a bit, but not long enough to get ahead of them."

"Just go for a little longer. If we can reach that wooded stretch ahead then we can leave the caravan behind and disappear in the trees."
"I'll try, Lune."

The bat fluttered back into the caravan to prepare the others for an escape.

Just as Conmerelle managed to drag herself just to the edge of the forest's shadow a host of torches sprang from the underbrush and blocked her path with a fiery yellow wall.

Before she could wheel around a uniformed raven shot forwards, his ragged wings carving dark shadows against the torches.

Wheezing, the pony dropped her snout down to his level "Sir?! What's going on??"

The bird puffed his feathers out as he tipped his beak up "Ma'am, are you aware you were evading the Imperial Guard?"

She shook her mane wearily.
"This road... dangerous at night.... bandits... What do you want?"

He scratched at the dirt while answering her "There is a mandatory search of every travelling caravans because of the plague."

"There is?" she blinked in confusion "We've been travelling for several days and this is the first I've heard."

"The mandate was issued just this morning."

"Oh."

"So, if you will stand aside, we must search the caravan for possible carriers of the plague."

Conemerelle did as she was told, but there was an sinister vibration in the air from the clink and clatter of the soldiers' shields as they began to forcibly pull the gypsies from the caravan, with no regards to age or species.

The raccoon twins, the young squirrel and weasel, the fox with her tiny sister, all orphans were forced to line up in the mud against the wheels while the family of bats was roughly extracted from the lining of the covering.

When the soldiers where convinced there were no more animals in the caravan they pulled back and waited.

Conmerelle shifted uneasily, wishing she could unhitch herself from the caravan, simply to allow for more freedom of movement if the situation should call for it.

To the gypsies' surprise a male human stepped forwards and knelt down while smiling at them.

"I'm the doctor and if you'll all just submit willingly to being examined then everything will be perfectly alright."

Despite her extremely diminished size in comparison, Lunestra walked forwards on her wing-thumbs.
"Pardon me sir, but if one of us is a possible carrier of this 'plague' what happens?"
"Then you all must be taken in for quarantine."

The vixen, Guinevere growled softly and took a half-step forwards "If you-"
Before she could finish a half dozen spears were tilted towards her throat.
"Sorry, miss. Just a precaution."
Beneath the deadly silver tips they were forced to submit to the doctor's examination.

Shuffing out loud breaths through her flared nostrils, Conmerelle caught a new scent on the wind, a faint one past the metal of the Imperial soldiers and human.

Blood. Anger.

Pain.
Last edited by TheSongOfTheStars on Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:49 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Postby TheSongOfTheStars » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:27 am

“Positively smashing.”
764
A scream ricocheted off the bricks and around the street. Immediately it drew a response from the trio walking the street over.

They abandoned the thought of a noon stroll and went tearing towards the cry of distress.

Turning a corner revealed the cause of the commotion; two large cats struggling to subdue a young raccoon.

"Stop!"

The shout did not have the desired effect. The girl raccoon distracted by the call ceased to struggle for a moment, giving the cats an opportunity to stuff a sack over her head.

As the would-be rescuers rushed forwards, the pair of kidnappers scooped the raccoon up and dashed away.

A frantic chase ensued throughout the empty alleys. A few brief minutes later the kidnappers had disappeared, leaving the pursuers breathless and bewildered.

"Any idea... where they went?" panted out the she-cat as her head and ears turned, trying to pick up on any noises.

"Not.. a.. clue," replied the burly male raccoon, who was nearly doubled over from wheezing.

The other cat straightened his top hat and searched through the options of route with weary eyes. "Perhaps if we divide up we can apprehend-"

Before his suggestion was fully aired, two shouts of surprise and anger echoed down the alley to the trio's right.

"That came from the castle!" exclaimed the older cat. And immediately they where running again.

When they reached the walls of the castle grounds, they found the unusual sight of the two kidnappers tied by their own clothes, squirming on the ground. The raccoon girl was nowhere to be seen. Nor was there any sign of who had bested the two crooks.

The male cat hung his cane on his elbow and was about to bend down to study the kidnappers' faces when a loud voice hailed them from atop the wall.

"Just what, what I ask, do you three think you are doing?"

Their eyes turned up and widened when they saw the crown hanging haphazardly from the cat's head as he leaned over the wall.

"It's the mad king!" breathed the raccoon with an equal mixture of surprise and discomfort.

Ignoring the raccoon, the well dressed cat stepped forwards and tipped his hat respectfully. "Your Highness, we where pursuing those two," he gestured with his cane "After they took a young girl raccoon seemingly against her will."

"Ahh, how uncommonly decent of you," the king's voice held a slight note of surprise "Come in, won't you? That door over there's unlocked."

Exchanging wary glances, the trio all recalled the multitude of rumors about hidden passages and puzzles.

Pulling in a brave breath, the male cat called back "We'll be right in, Your Highness!"

"Marcel! Have you gone off your gears?" Hissed the raccoon.

"Its the king," Marcel gritted out through tight teeth "I can hardly refuse!"
"Well, he's not my king! I'm not going in there!"

Marcel raised an eyebrow towards the girl cat "Aria?"
"I'm coming. He's my king as well."

The well dressed cat shrugged towards the raccoon "We will meet you back at your workshop. If I may remind you, there is still the promise of dinner between us."

The two cats turned and began to pick their way towards the small door in the stone wall.

For a second the raccoon watched them, then glanced over his shoulder back down the alleys. Sighing loudly he pulled his goggles down and stomped after the cats.

Marcel only flicked a whisker as his temperamental friend joined them down by the door.
"Well?" the raccoon huffed "Are you going to open the thing and see where this gets us?"

An amused, but anxious smile hovering on the edges of his face, Marcel turned the knob and turned the handle.

There was a scrape and scream of rusty gears being ground in torturous revolutions; slowly the door opened to reveal darkness with the consistency of pitch.

"Puzzles without answers, dangerous jumps, and passageways littered with skeletons of those who attempts failed before," The raccoon muttered "All to amuse a mad monarch. Its a wonder you cats haven't thrown him out yet."

"Don't be silly, Del Clancey, you of all creatures should know not to believe everything you're told."
"When it comes to cats I don't have a clue what to believe."
"I doubt there's anything but puzzles. The rumors came from those who where humiliated in trying to solve them."

Marcel glanced sideways at Aria "If you think so, my dear, then let us brave this dark. And pray that its simply an issue of a few torches gone out."
Last edited by TheSongOfTheStars on Wed May 25, 2016 1:07 pm, edited 11 times in total.
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Postby TheSongOfTheStars » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:28 am

“You can’t leave me like this.”
760 words
"Mama, I'm hungry!"

"Hush," Mei-li smoothed down her son's fur "Go to sleep sweetheart."
"But I'm hungry!"
"I don't have any food for you, Jon-tai, you're just going to have to go to sleep." She had to swallow down her tears as looked down at the little boy. He was so thin, she could feel every bone in his body beneath his skin. His fur was thick with dirt and mats that she could do nothing to fix.
She couldn't do this anymore. She couldn't take care of her baby.

"Mama? Why you crying?"

She quickly rubbed the tears away "I just got... something in my eye. Go to sleep."
He grumbled a little, then curled up in her lap with a heavy sigh.

She rubbed his back gently, trying to work out a few of the tangles in his fur.

Tears ran freely down her face now.
She could never have imagined it would come to this. Starving in an alleyway, her son begging her for food.

She couldn't take care of him anymore.

In her mind, she wandered back to the high-walled orphanage and a shudder ran down her spine.
But at least he would have food and place to sleep.

Maybe.... Maybe she could leave him there, just for a little while until she found work. Then she could come back for him.

And if she couldn't find work.....
At least he'd have a better chance.
____

"Mama, where are we going?"

Mei-li searched for the words to explain what was happening.
"Well.... Jon-tai, we're going to go to this place...."
"What place?"
"Its a place for children.... Children who don't have enough to eat.... They go there for food."

"Food?"
Jon-tai perked up at the word.

She smiled sadly at him "Yes, love. Food. There will be food here."

"Food for both of us?"

She swallowed hard and didn't answer.
"Food for both of us, Mama?"

"We're here," She said reaching out for his paw.

He took her paw with his free one, the other paw clutching his favorite stick. "Mama?"

"Sit down on the steps, alright?"

He sat down, still holding her paw "Mama?"

She gently pulled her fingers away from his "Stay here sweetheart. Someone is going to come to give you food. You'll go with them, alright?"

"What about you?"
She brushed away the tears beginning to trickle down her fur "I can't come, sweetheart. I'm sorry."
"Will you come back? Mama?"
"Of course I will," she ran her paw alongside his head "You just need to stay here, alright?"

"Ok," tears where pooling in his own eyes.

"Good boy."
She pressed a kiss onto his forehead then straightened up.

Steeling herself she knocked three times, hard on the door. Then turned and ran as fast as her feet could take her.

----

Started by his mother's abrupt exit Jon-tai tumbled backwards off the step.

Somewhere above him the door creaked open.

He froze. Scared to breathe. Scared to be found.

He closed his eyes and began shaking. He held his breath and tried not to cry.

For several endless seconds he could sense someone above him, hear several muffled meaningless words.
Then they left and the door closed with a click.

Shaking hard and clutching his stick he slowly stood back up.

He looked down the street where his mother had disappeared, then back at the steps where she had told him to wait.

With a sigh that was too big for his small body he settled himself down on the step to wait.

For a long time.

He tried to amuse himself by tapping the end of his stick against the stones on the ground. But his young muscles grew weary quickly and the gnawing pain in his stomach began to take over his small thoughts.
He curled up, hugging his chest, trying somehow to ignore the pain. But it was useless.
He chewed on his nails, trying to distract himself. But it only made him think of the fish he'd eaten the morning before. That had been the best fish he'd ever eaten.

As the sun soared overhead, the little boy couldn't wait any longer.
He stood up and began to walk down the street in the direction he'd seen his mother go.

He wandered aimlessly for a while. Until his nose caught a faint whiff of something from an alleyway.

Unconsciously running his tongue over his lips, Jon-tai bounded down the alley and pounced on the discarded roll.

With no thought to where it might have been, he tore into it.
Last edited by TheSongOfTheStars on Mon Aug 15, 2016 1:25 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Postby TheSongOfTheStars » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:28 am

“Say that to my mother.”
805 words
Mei-li dropped the scraps, startled by the sound of pottery hitting the ground. Turning around, she stared in surprise at the small figure struggling with a pot over his head.
"Hey. Hey. Hold still, I'll help." She wrapped her paws around the top and strained against it.

They growled something she couldn't understand and pulled away from her.
After a second, the pot came loose and she stumbled backwards as it came away in her paws.

She set it down and looked over at the creature who'd gotten their head stuck.

Her mouth went dry as familiar features came to light on the young face.

He blinked up at her from on his back, disoriented.

Shaking a little, she held out her paw. He took it and let her pull him up.

For several awkwardly long seconds they held each other's gazes.

It couldn't be anybody but him. His age, his face.
But could it really?
No. She was just going crazy now.

He opened his mouth "Thanks."

She shook herself and nodded without breaking her stare "Y-yes."

She watched as his paw went down his waist. "Oh no."
"What is it?" Mei-li asked with more concern than she had any right to be.

"My stick," he turned full circle "Where is it?"

For a second her eyes unfocused as she recalled a tiny child who refused to part with his stick.
No. It was coincidence.

Her eyes darted around until they came to rest on a dark thing resting against the alley way. Her fingers closed around the smooth grains and she pulled it into the light.

It was black. With a few bits of string attached to the top.
Her breath caught.
No.

He pulled it away from her quickly, possessively holding it against his body.
Then he seemed to realized he had been rude and nodded "Thank you...?"

"Oh, Mei-li."
"Miz Mei-li. Thank you."

He stared at her, vaguely uneased.

She had to ask his name.

"And... what is.... your name?"
He hesitated for a second returning her wide-eyed stare "Jon-tai."

It was very hard to breath now.
It was too much to be coincidence. His face, his age, the stick, even his name.

"I wouldn't have happened to have... run into you somewhere before... would I? It's really weird, but for some reason, your really familiar."

He kept his eyes fixed on her face as if trying to bridge the gap of seven years of a young child's memory.

Did she dare?
"I.... I...." she glanced around seeking an escape "Aren't your parents going to be worried?"

He shrugged "Don't got any."
"What?"

Shock and worry rose in her stomach. How could he not have been adopted? How was he here, so far away from where she'd left him?
"I don't have any parents," he repeated with a bit of a laugh "I lived on the streets for nearly as long as I can remember."

"Oh... How sad."
She could barely choke the words out and the boy noticed the emotion in her voice.
"Are you alright, Miz Mei-li?"

Her tongue darted out over her lips "I- Well, wherever you live, you should probably be getting back now. Shouldn't you?"
"You didn't answer my question," he persisted "Have I ever met you before?"

She couldn't do it. She couldn't lie.
"Maybe."

He crossed his arms "That's not an answer, Miz."

He certainly wasn't going to give up.

"I'm sorry," tears were beginning to form in the corners of her eyes "I don't know."

"Then why are you crying?" He squinted at her accusingly "Why is it so upsetting to you?"

She could only bite her lip and shake her head.

Jon-tai came closer until he was staring directly up into her face.

"I think I'm going crazy," he said "I really think I am."

He waited for a response, but continued when he didn't receive one "You remind me of... Someone?"

She swallowed hard and forced herself to meet his gaze "I'm so sorry."
"About what?" He nearly shouted "What is wrong with you? Why are you crying? Why do I think of my mother when I look at this random stranger dressed in rags in an alleyway? You seem to know!"

She pulled in a deep breath, trying to steady herself. "Jon-tai. I... Don't think... I should go..."

She tried to step around him, but he caught at her sleeve with a grip much stronger than she'd expected.
It wasn't enough to stop her, but the cracking in his voice was.
"Who are you?"

She looked down into his wide confused eyes and remembered the little boy, barely old enough to talk, who stared at her as she told him to stay while she ran.

"Are you... my mom? Or did I really get hit that hard with the pot?"
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Postby TheSongOfTheStars » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:29 am

“I won’t let you do this.”
846 words
"And you chose the ship. After nearly twenty years. Why?"

"Well, I thought it sounded better than rotting in a cell."
"And?"

How did she know there was an 'and'?

"I wanted to see if I could make aboard a ship again," he glanced down to check the progress she had made on his arm "But maybe that wasn't such a good ide-"

The door to the cabin flew open with a crash and a squirrel with a torn officer's coat and blood slicked against the side of his head burst in , yelling.
"Captain! That fox has got to-!!"

His voice cut off as if a noose had been thrown around his neck and stared at his Captain, who was midway through wrapping a bandage around the fox's arm.

Cody glanced between the pine martin and squirrel, then scowled at the second mate.
"So, you're awake, Mr. Myres. Up for round two?"

Pipstrelle's mouth hung open slightly
"Four?"

"Aye Cap, even the second mate wanted a swing at me."

"Myres...."

"I'm sorry Captain. The fox was asking for a bit of-"

"If Mr. Jacques was acting out of turn, it is your job to correct it officially. Not to incite a fight."
"Cap-"

"I will discuss this later, Myres, right now, I am dealing with Jacques. Please report to sickbay."

"Yes, Captain."
His brush of a tail nearly dragging on the floor, the squirrel shot one last angry look at Cody before leaving.

"Well. You had to hit an officer didn't you? How long ago was that?"

"Ahh...nearly two hours."

"Oh..." she grit her teeth and tied the last bandage a little tighter than the others, just to see him flinch. He didn't.
"Bother."

"So... The brig?"

"Three days, on bread and water. I have a feeling your attitude won't be changed, but I can't let this behavior continue."

The fox stepped away and looked down at his arms, scrubbed free of blood and bandaged.
"Why'd you do that?"
"I did it because you were causing fights, why else would I do that?"

He shook his head "Not about the brig. The bandages.
"Oh," she laughed a bit as if she was surprised as he was
"Well, I didn't trust you not to pick a fight with the Doctor."

"Ah," he nodded, but still kept a crease in his brow "Alright."
"Alright," she smiled "Lets get you down to the brig then."

He returned a rumpled version of her smile and without another word followed her.


Even with the fox behind bars, Pipstrelle could still feel him trifling with her thoughts.
There were corrections to their course that needed to be made, a duty roster to check, and an evening meal to be eaten, but she decided to forego it all in favor of a stroll along the deck.
Most of her crew was below, eating, therefore affording her privacy enough to quietly examine her impressions and wonder at the slight oily taste of guilt in her mouth.

Perhaps it was his reputation. It was almost unbelievable that she had, on her ship, the last surviving member of The Lady's Vengeance, under her command no less.
Just didn't feel right bossing around someone who'd been on the same ship with Lorange, who was so much more experienced, so much more... qualified... to put it simply.

Honestly. Why had the Queen put him under her command? There where so many other ship some many other-

She winced at the next thought. Maybe it was because of her insignificance. Maybe it was to humiliate him.

"Captain?"

Startled by the sudden intrusion of her first mate, Pipstrelle nearly lost her hat over the railing.

Hastily righting it, she turned, forcing a smile "Ah, Mr. Bowden, I didn't hear you."

The badger nodded a bit "My apologies, I didn't mean to startle you."
"No, no, I'm fine," she seemed to struggle with putting her hat back on properly "Did you need something?"

"I just wanted to ask you about the fox."
"Mr. Jacques," she corrected him quickly and went on to explain when he frowned at her "He is still due respect."
"But he has an absolute lack of respect for others."
"I know. But as you know, he was specifically assigned to us by the Queen."

Bowden blew out a loud sigh "Permission to speak openly?"

"Granted. Fully," She knew she would most likely regret those words the moment she spoke them.

"Whatever Mr. Jacques past... associations were, they should not allow him to get off lightly."
"He's in the brig, Bowden, what more do you want?"

"Well, confining him to quarters for the rest of the six months would be-"
Pipstrelle shook her head "Don't be ridiculous Bowden."
"But Captain-"
"What are you afraid of Bowden? That he's going to take over the ship?"

The badger averted his eyes and stared down at the choppy waves "That is precisely what I am afraid of."

"Bowden, I highly doubt that one unruly fox constitutes fear of mutiny. He's only been here one day."
"Maybe so. But I don't trust him."
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