That was the reason it had stuck around instead of running off again when the lizard called out to it after all. The chase through the property had been almost fun, and the lizard had shown no interest in touching it again once it had freed itself from the claustrophobic thing that had swallowed it whole. It was not sure how it had managed to rip free of that thing, it’s mind at the time full of panic and misery as the light pressure of the fabric on one side and the unyielding other side that sometimes smacked into it. Once it had gotten free, the only thing that had mattered to it was getting away from the sack so it would not be trapped again.
It’s journey back through memory was uninterrupted by any new developments, the lizard staring at the two skeletons but refusing to touch them. The mining familiar halfbreed hoped that the lizard would hurry it up, or else give out more of the meat they had thrown it back by the bad water. The lizard was so big that it had to be carrying more than the few bits it had gobbled up back there. 67
The lizard had chased it, and as it felt playful, it had felt like getting over the weird looking tree that it had found behind the big wooden thing. It would have gone into the wooden thing when the chase had begun, but it had felt wrong somehow. Not wrong like how the open sky felt as if zigzagged across the hard street with the lizard chasing it. Not wrong like the bag had felt, like a vice slowly crushing it’s delicate wings and the breath from it’s body. It had just been wrong, a wrong place, and the sides of the place were less wrong so it had gone there. Back to the tree though, the feeling of wrongness was quickly replaced with mindless panic as it felt claws catch and tear at it, somehow missing it’s wings with those tearing claws as it tucked the wings close to its body and fought. Then the lizard had grabbed it, something had happened, and then it fell out of the tree, then out of the world.
It had been a very long day, a fact not lost on it as it glared at the still rattling and chattering skeletal things near it. 68
It would need to do something about the noise they were making. It could have just left, and it indeed wanted to, but it did not want to leave the lizard. The lizard had food, and while the lizard was not sharing the food at the moment, nor was it trying to chase it again. A good thing too, as the halfbreed was in no mood to play that again, not after the painful fall from the tree when something held its wings down and certainly not while its stomach growled and its tongue felt as dry as the dead leaves that had been scattered through the yard. It had nothing to do with the odd fondness it had started developing for the lizard, the feeling that colored its memories so that the chase was more of a game than it trying to escape.
Despite its reluctance to leave, it knew nothing was going to change any time soon if it did not do something. The skeletons would do their noisy dance, the lizard was showing no signs of doing anything other than looking over the newer skeleton and the old one, not that it could tell them apart, and yawning clearly was not getting the point across. 69
It stood up slowly, hoping that something would happen and it could lie bad down and rest. One leg at a time was stretched out from its body before being pulled underneath it, as if it had been successful in its name and only now was waking from a long and restful sleep. It did not feel rested, and a pang from its hollow-feeling gut reminded it that rest was not the only thing it was lacking in. Once all four legs were under its body once more, it began to stand. The front legs pushed up first, it’s back a gentle slope as its hindlegs started to follow suit. Then, fully standing and completely ignored, it took a few exaggeratedly stiff steps, stretching each limb in turn. Even the wings were held out, the moonlight glinting on them and showing off their colors. Finally, it let out a click, then another, as much to announce to the lizard and the skeletons that it was time to pay attention to it as it was to scout out what it could of the immediate area.
That was when the halfbreed, still ignored by those walking on two legs, noticed that there was a food source near by. 70
It was not something the halfbreed immediately recognized as food. The echolocation picked up several shapes that had not been there the first time it had fired off a few clicks in the area, the ones that followed revealing that whatever the shapes were, they were unmoving. But they had not been there earlier, which meant that they had somehow moved into the shadows, out of sight of its normal eyes but not the echoes that traced their forms for the mining halfbreed. Perhaps it did not need to remain near the lizard for food after all, but the items were luckily fairly close. Another click, and it was sure they lay just in the shadows, roughly where the second skeleton had popped out of.
With a glance and a click at the two legged trio to confirm that they had not noticed anything, the halfbreed began to slink it’s way over to the shadows of the fountain,keeping its body low to the ground to hide its visual presence. That the clicks it made gave away its position as surely as if it had simple rushed at the things in the shadows never occurred to it. Nor would it have cared if it had. 71
There were different shapes in the shadow, shapes that its eyes were just beginning to make out on their own. Something larger than the rest, but angled and flat and full of smaller shapes that the echolocation had picked up, that its eyes could now make out little yellow lights glinting in the shadows. The similarity between that shape and the larger one beside it, the structure that had felt wrong to enter, went as unnoticed by it as its yawns had been by the others. There were also more rounded shapes, these having a brittle echo, something hard and likely as bad for eating as the larger shape was, a disappointment for the halfbreed. It had so hoped that the larger thing would have been something it could eat.
But there was movement. Not the rattling movement that came from behind and had quieted down as it stalked, not the hoppy walk of the lizard who was forgotten from the moment. No, something large flapped gently in the shadows, two lumps moving along it as the halfbreed clicked one final time and fell silent. It was not as large as the stiff, not food things it had picked out of the shadows, but it would be enough to start quieting its stomach. 72
With one wiggle of its butt, and then another, the silence behind it completely unnoticed, the halfbreed leapt.
Haix could not have been sure when the halfbreed had spotted something in the shadows any more than she had been able to make out their shapes at first. It was as if the items had somehow materialized out of the shadows instead of hiding in them, though the former would not have surprised her after having seen the ability the halfbreed possessed. She had been busy looking over the two dead hatchlings, failing to find any easy way to tell them apart in anything other than mannerisms. Juggler was a bit more excitable, moving and rattling and mimicking some of her own motions, though it’s flapping jaw could only click shut rather than produce any of the sounds she could. The new one was more subdued, willing to stare and lean on her as if it was used to her already, though she never allowed it to touch her for long. She would not be drained that way.
And then she had caught on that the halfbreed had moved, heard the rapid clicks. Had it found more discarded and bizarre things moving around the ground? 73
The leap was surprisingly ungraceful. It was nothing like the pounce of a mosca or another one of the crafted felines that the halfbreed resembled. Instead, it was like a bird attempting to pounce on prey like one of those creatures would, wings outstretched and completely throwing off its jump, paws flailing in the air as it swiped inches away from its target, and promptly crashed into the stone behind it. She chuckled at that, stopping an instant later as the dead hatchling Juggler rattled in response and the other one merely stared with its head cocked to one side.
She walked over to the dazed yet kicking halfbreed, now able to make out the small trove it had found. Where had these bottles and jars been hiding when they had first passed this way, and how could anyone have snuck them so close to them? The items were hidden in a dark shadow, true, but they were not large enough to even temporarily hide whatever had dragged all of them out there, much less provide it with an escape route to keep away prying eyes. There was a model of the soft-skin building there, a large thing that looked in better shape than the actual building itself, with lights flicking at the windows that made it conspicuous even in the shadow. 74
As she looked, the more the items hidden there seemed to emerge from the shadows, making her question her own sanity, whether of seeing things or in hoping to challenge whatever priest or magic user was responsible for tormenting the dead hatchlings. The moonlight glinted off of a jar of eyes, soft-skin like with rounded pupils. A bottle, appearing as empty as the jar of eyes were full at first, then something within it moving and splitting like it was not solid, the smaller parts recombining with the main as a pair of eyes stared out at her. More of the waxy leaves, their strange grin taunting her, the icy wind rustling them not enough to carry them away, but to make them almost appear to be laughing at her. And something black and flat, with things moving underneath and a thrumming that was all too familiar beginning to build once more.
The halfbreed stumbled away, more sore than it had been, before coming to a stop in front of the two now completely silent bone familiars. It found itself wishing they would make noise now.
She grabbed the fabric, roughly tearing it from the pocket pets that had been sheltering beneath it. Another one of the tiny beastkin clung to a corner of it with its tiny hands, a mushroom with a red cap grinning up at her with a mouth full of whit and sharp teeth. What was this place? 75
She stared at it, eyes drifting side to side as she tried to make sense of the Common words, gaze slipping to the massive soft-skin home that crouched on the property. Then she was looking it over again, taking in the words written in a neat hand, and scrawled warnings of those who had added to it. Again she looked at the house, her memory overlaying the ruined and abandoned house she had last seen on top of the new form it wore. She raised one clawed hand up to the notice, giving the mansion one last look before gently tapping the words that warned of what to expect this month. And the warning that spoke of minds snared, sent stumbling after things only they could hear.
The sarane tied to her had no such interest in the paper, being much more interested in a grubble he had seen disappearing into a bush on the opposite side of the street. Feb Start 1
The overwhelming perfume was enough on its own to send him to the end of his leash. The rope snapped taut again and again as he moved about the curve the leash allowed him. There were a few times he dug his claws into the stone beneath them, pushing away from the green lizard that anchored him to that area, but the lizard never so much as glanced in his direction. He wheezed and pushed until he finally gave up, taking a step closer to the lizard so that the pressure would lessen. He returned back to his study of the surrounding area, pacing back and forth in the semicircle the rope allowed him to roam in, trying to catch sight of the tasty grubble once again. That the rope would again stop him from catching it as easily as it had resisted his earlier pull never even crossed the sarane’s mind. 2
He was not hungry, his stomach still bulging with the cold but still bloody meat that had been thrown in his cage. But the grubble had been small, randomly going from complete stillness to an incredible bust of speed, then freezing just as still as it had been before. He wanted to catch it, but he could no longer see it after the smaller creature had scurried into some bushes across the way, its leaves small and few and just enough to completely hide the grubble from his sight.
Biting at the rope did nothing. He tried it a few times when he had tried to free, grinding his teeth against the rough, bad-tasting rope that held him prisoner. The rope never let him go as it should have after the assault, and he would spit it out as he grew bored of gnawing on it. His previous failures did not stop him from launching yet another assault on the rope, alternatively squeaking and hissing as he hopped side to side with the rope once again in his mouth. 3
The lizard ignored his actions as it always did. The arm the held the other end of the rope did tense and twitch as he tried to break free, keeping the distance he was allowed to move in roughly the same as he threw himself side to side. The head never turned away from the paper and the bad-smelling house even when he let out a defeated squeak and released the rope for what felt like the final time. His wings sagged as he looked up at the lizard one last time, then looked back to where the grubble had vanished.
Though the creature was nowhere in sight, something new caught his attention as he stared at the bush, a few flying yellow things that hovered around the bush’s more brightly colored leaves. Their motions were not the same stop-run-stop that the grubble had shown, but he was no less intrigued. 4
Haix had been doing her best to ignore the flailing of Barrel’s offspring, an act made easier by the mix of horror, relief, and curiosity that boiled within her. Horror, for this was a place of magic that could steal minds and hearts without a breath of warning, and as that she had taken things made of it into her kennel with her other beasts. Juggler was no hatchling, but some monstrosity formed in parody of one! But it had done nothing to arouse her suspicions, walking into its cage meekly enough and having made no visible acts against her. She had not noticed any changes in herself or her pets either since taking it out of the mansion.
Then was the relief, formed of being fairly certain that Juggler would not suddenly act now while she visited its birthplace, mingled with that of having escaped the place alive and intact the first time. 5 ((Haix-180.6 Iago-1.0))
Riku: I got three pet levels and 15c out of it. <3 And all the necessary posts for my job salary form.
May 31, 2020 18:49:26 GMT -6
Riku: In mine my crossbreed used foxfire to burn it - but then it used incendiary illusion, which was extra scary because my cross is a plant pet with thick fur. It used the distraction to escape. I’m proud of it, and it’s okay that I won’t finish this month.
May 31, 2020 18:48:42 GMT -6
Renathan: *But of course, the RNG was not having that. / In Morgan's story, the Nyssa was a real thing, so I wanted to have two different situations for the variety.
May 31, 2020 18:15:27 GMT -6
Renathan: Yeah, the 'finished the story but the RNGods are being a butt' thing is a rather unfortunate situation to be in. I had already decided that in Ren's story, the elderly woman had lied about the nyssa and just wanted someone to talk to*
May 31, 2020 18:14:49 GMT -6
Riku: That makes sense. I've considered that before. -nod- I hope your non-hxr life is going smoothly.
May 31, 2020 16:38:08 GMT -6
Haix: Just quitting the job. Don't believe I'll be making the ten posts required per month any time soon. XD
May 31, 2020 16:34:01 GMT -6
Riku: Note to haix, I believe you can post the new application form at the same time as the quitting form. Unless you are simply taking an overall break from the job system.
May 31, 2020 16:30:58 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: even AT the gardens yet. XD It sucks when you've finished writing your story and haven't gotten a success, because then its like "well... now what?" XD
May 31, 2020 15:51:47 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: ive found that when there's a quest that might take longer like this, its a good idea to try and space out the story beats to try and roll a success before i get to the meat of the story. XD Like, by the time i was 5 posts in my character wasn't
May 31, 2020 15:51:21 GMT -6
Riku: It’d definitely put me a month closer to my goals, literally, at least. 🤔
May 31, 2020 15:50:19 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: You can always try! :3 At the very least its more levels for your character and more TP for your pet
May 31, 2020 15:50:14 GMT -6
Riku: I love that you can mention that and know what it is. Muahahaha! Everyone has their secrets. 😈 (Iz not secret, just oOooOoooh mysterious effect. 😉)
May 31, 2020 15:49:41 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I hope you do decide and are capable of finishing it Riku! Will definitely be worth it in getting more points for your master plan.
May 31, 2020 15:48:23 GMT -6
Riku: I know...that was why I wanted to do it. Hm. Maybe I can plow through it. O.O (plow as in tumbling down a steep slope, not in the fast powerful way.)
May 31, 2020 15:48:18 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: This quest got 3+ quest points.
May 31, 2020 15:46:39 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I have no idea about that one for sure, but there does seem to be a few that are nearly in the rainbow spectrum with how many different colors they have on their hide.
May 31, 2020 15:46:12 GMT -6
Riku: Note that I got panic buttons this month, so in the future if the quest is only a 1QP-er, I can go do a 3QP. Or if I simply don’t want to do a new one on both accounts, I can do an old one on the second. // I type faster than my phone screen can keep up.HA
May 31, 2020 15:45:15 GMT -6
Riku: Is there a rainbow sarane offspring yet? Descended from every T1? Lol That’s be cool. // I know I’m only a few posts away from completing the quests, but I’m SO tired that I’m in and out of coherence. Lol
May 31, 2020 15:43:40 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: This month's quest got some very sweet pocketpets as prizes. <3
May 31, 2020 15:41:20 GMT -6