“Not very good at beats then? Would explain why he wanted to toss you out so bad.” Alma laughed, glancing back at the sack critter before looking at another likely location. She called for the sarane to stop, pulling on the reins. Once the cart was no longer in motion, she hopped down to get a better look at the stony beach, calling back to the sack critter as she did so. “Not to worry though, any magic’s neat. Even the cheaper stuff is a bit beyond my pay, so I ain’t one to mind if you can’t keep on tempo. Just don’t try to steal mah song” Alma laughed as she crouched on the rocks. This part of the river had seemed rockier than the sand and mud they had walked by, and this part deserved the description, littered with stones no smaller than her fist to a rare few that looked like she could nap on them. 14
“No time to nap for me though, right Cork?” Alma stood up, brushing away some of the cracked and dry mud from her pants and shirt as she did. The water here ran quieter than some of the rapids they had passed, running quick and clear to wherever this branch ended up. Alma could not even guess where that was, the water disappearing behind a patch of trees at a nearby bend. “Might even be at the new building I paid for with my last month’s paycheck. Could just toss you and the cart into the water and float our way down then, hah!” Alma slapped the sarane’s shoulder, then began unhooking its traces.
It took a little while for her to get the sarane settled, letting it drink from the clean-looking water and dumping out a sack of meat slabs into the grass for it to eat. She hoped the sack critter or device did not mind waiting a little longer. 15
Once the hen was curled up in the sun, eyes closed as it took a well deserved nap, Alma turned her attention to the rest of the cart’s contents. She had moved the sack when she had taken out one of the sarane’s bags of meat, leaving it resting against the side of the cart and out of the sunlight. Whatever was in the bag, critter or device or monstrous moon-thing, she doubted a long period in the sunlight would be good for it. Now it was almost time to see what horrible beast she had been told to drown.
When a poke to the sack caused the thing in it to twist and swipe at her, Alma laughed and reached for the folded stack of aluminum she had brought with her. The rest of the supplies, fishing and general, were removed to rest by the cart in the grass, then she started to unfold the metal. 16
“See,” she told the sack critter, then laughed and amended her words, “well, you will see this in a bit. This thing here is meant to help transport the bigger fish for those of us without super fancy water-tight carts.” Alma snapped a support into position, twisting it to lock it in place. “Supposed to be able to stand up to even a halberd shark, assuming the thing is a bit too tired to fight hard, and I’m pretty damn sure you ain’t going to be that strong. Maybe ramfish, but not a shark.” The metal slats fitted together easily, sliding into grooves, and Alma locked the last joint. “So I’ll have a look see at you in’ere, and you can ‘ave a look at me.” She placed the sack into the newly formed container. Alma hopped down to where the supplies lay, fishing out a pair of dented tin cups. 17
In the first of these she scooped up some mostly clear water from the river, and the second she took a scoop of jerky from the second meat bag, stealing a piece for herself. She popped the piece into her mouth before hopping into the metal tank, placing both of the cups on the ground near the bag. The creature inside, for now she was pretty such no device would start flailing as it was doing the moment she put the food down, continued its struggles in the same silence she had grown to expect from it. “Surprised you ain’t out already, seeing that wiggling,” Alma laughed, “That hoof-handed ass sure knew how to tie a knot.”
Alma dropped down into a crouch next to the sack, looking at the mud-crusted mouth. “I’ll see about helping yah out, alright? Just don’t try to eat me or sumthin’” With that, Alma reached for the bag. 18
She paused for a second as she reached for the sack, half-expecting the beast to claw its way out now that she was finally going to open it. Her hand remained attached to the rest of her body however, the gods sparing her some horror moment she would find in a book. She grabbed the mouth, running the fabric between her gloved hands to rub off the mostly dried mud as the thing inside paused from its flailings. She spoke as she did, most of it little more than a running commentary of what she was doing. “Right, so, can’t see the string too well, got almost as much mud here as was on me. Least it’s dry now, but still can’t seem to find the string end.” Which was odd, because she should have found some sign of the knot holding the sack closed by now, even with her gloves being as thick as they were. 19
She held up the sack's mouth, the motion prompting the critter to renew its struggling as she turned it one way and then the other, trying to see the string. “Calm down, you little bugger. I’m looking for it. Can’t let you out without opening the sack up, right?” She muttered it in a friendly way, half-hoping to find some adorable houluh pup inside and shaped her tone accordingly. “Once we get you out, yah can’ave all the jerky you want. Good quality stuff too, human grade. They were all out of normal dried bits, so I figured I’d just get them instead. Cork liked them, you will too.” Alma’s brow furrowed as she continued to fail in finding the loose ends of the drawstring, leaning in closer to get a better look.
“Unless you're a milk-drinker. Or plants, but we’ve got plenty of green out here. Just about summertime, ya’know? Going to be plenty of plants for you to chow on.” 20
The little critter settled down as Alma looked closer at the mouth, picking at it with a gloved fingertip. “That ass really didn’t wantcha getting out, did ‘e?” Alma moved the mouth of the bag slightly away from her to look at the bulge at the bottom, the small critter seeming to be pressing itself against the bottom of the bag. “Bastard sewed it shut. The hells are you to deserve that kinda hate, when he wouldn’t even toss ya into the water himself?” Suddenly, it did not feel like such a great idea to free the beast inside the bag, and Alma thought over the ungulate’s original demand. Had he just been insane, some newcomer to the city possibly who had a bad experience with one of the lab-crafted critters? Or had he somehow captured something truly terrible in the sack? And did she really want to risk finding out which one of the two options was true? 21
Alma squatted there for a few seconds longer, then leaned out of the tank to pull a sharp little gutting knife from the supplies. It was not a particularly intimidating thing, with a blade length that made her think it could be the world’s smallest dagger, and she had not even planned to use it on the trip. The majority of fish one could catch in the river were only valuable if they were still breathing, and cleaning them out was something only a starving fool might do. Or a curious one, hoping to use the fish as bait for even bigger catches.
But it was no fish that she held it for now, watching the small lump on the bottom of the sack for any sign of a threat. She had not seen any of the usual mumbo jumbo mages liked to scribble on their items, but there had been plenty of mud to hide them. 22
“If you kill me, a drone will get yah.” Alma looked hard at the sack, trying to resolve the blobby shape into something recognizable. “But I’m gonna let you out anyhow. Probably just some grubble or sumthin that don’t deserve to die. Not this way at least.” Alma smiled weakly at the sack as she reached for the sewn mouth again. “Besides, gotta admit, I’m a bit curious. What you are to ‘ave scared one of those horned goats.”
Alma stretched the neck of the sack out over the metal tank floor, careful not to pull so hard that the little lump was pulled any closer to her. She pressed the knife to the fabric, eyes darting from the knife to the lump, then back to the knife as she cut through the fabric. It was a surprisingly easy cut, the knife scraping painfully against the metal floor as she slit the sack. 23
Then the mouth of the sack was nearly cut free, hanging onto the rest by a single strip of fabric as Alma did not so much stand as hop upright, jumping over the metal walls a heartbeat after that. She did not flee far, for who would leave all their fishing supplies behind, stopping to turn right back around and stare at the sack. The creature inside made no move to emerge at first, no sound she could detect as her ears slowly stopped throbbing after the metal screech. “Yew’ve got a chance now, whatever you are. Just come on out, not gonna hurt you,” Alma’s hand gripped the short-bladed knife tighter as she spoke, trying to keep her tension from her voice, “unless you’re gonna hurt me. But I put out some food ‘n water, good food too, so we can be friends now, right?”
The creature did not respond to her words with so much as a huff. 24
It was not the jolt of action she feared, some whirlwind of claws and teeth that only grew in size each second it was exposed to the open air before it fell upon her and her sarane. Instead, the sack critter was slow, almost as slow as she had been, inching its way towards the newly cut mouth. “Yep, that’s it. C’mon, my little horror, lets have a look at yew ‘fore you try to kill me, aight? Just come on out, nice and slow.” Alma kept up her commentary as the lump moved along the sack, the beast pausing every few steps. “We’re all friends here, that’s right, step right on up.”
It stopped one last time near the cut, the sliced fabric lifted slightly. Try as she might, Alma could only make out shadow, the small beast keeping it’s identity hidden as the very air around her seemed to grow heavier. ((Fritz-5.0 Alma-249.0)) 25
The moment felt like an eternity, silence stretching on. The thing in the sack, never having vocalized a single sound that she could make out, was not stomping on the metal, and she had ceased her chatter as she waited with a held breath to see if she should use it to scream or run.
But nothing happened. Alma blinked, and looked at the small form in the sack, watching it shift slightly with every breath. Was it scared of her? The thought seemed as ridiculous as a drake deciding to be a pacifist, but she could see it trembling with each breath, not daring to take the final step into the light.
Or it was waiting for her to come closer.
Alma broke the silence, clearing her throat and sending the small thing back a few steps into the bag. She spoke now as she would to a scared pup, hoping it would prove to be no more dangerous than one. 26
It took several minutes of chatter, with Alma repeating variants of, “It will be okay,” and “I’m not gonna eat yah,” before the small critter resumed its journey to the light. Once again it stopped just before it would have been visible, and Alma barely kept her impatience in check as she continued trying to lure it out. She had dealt with one critter as shy as this one somewhat recently, but he had been a bit larger. That, and she was sure no one would throw out a not-deer covered in rare gemstone scales.
It took another solid minute of encouraging tones, her word choice edging away from it as she alternatively told the critter such amazing facts as, “The sky is really blue today, think you’d like it,” and minor threats like, “Have a sewing needle and thread somewhere probably. Could sew that bit right back up.” The creature inside waited for her to tell it of the tree with an odd-looking branch before moving. 27
Well, to be honest, it was not so much the shape of the branch as its position, lower on the tree than most and sporting what appeared to be a pair of nests, but she was not about to tell the critter that. Not when said critter was taking its first steps into the light, and she could see a speck of white against the shadowy interior, a leg following the rest of the paw as the thing stepped again. And then a chest, white as the paw and leg, then a little, floppy eared head as the critter stumbled into the light of day with slitted eyes.
“Bleedin’ hells, yar just a pup?”
It was her first thought, the words escaping through her mouth in a rush of air that was nowhere near as calm and kind as before. The creature cringed, shaking its head, and slunk back into the depths of the sack. 28
Zenjesi: Hey Silv - how do you pronounce Kodakai?
Nov 17, 2023 18:23:56 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Not to mention the baby mosca with wolf skin from Elvye and the sparkling owl of Xentus. <3
Nov 14, 2023 10:27:52 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I like the Donnor one not just with looks FF, but the description, funny as heck.
Nov 14, 2023 10:26:27 GMT -6
Zenjesi: yours both made me laugh, FF! They're very expressive
Nov 13, 2023 21:57:46 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Woooow Twilight, I love that witch drawing!!! :0 It's so pretty! And Zenjesi I think Spectral is my favorite out of yours lol. Just looks happy to be included. and silver now i wanna know which pets youd pick for the other legendary beasts. XD
Nov 13, 2023 21:37:45 GMT -6
Silver: Ah I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it! I love everyone's drawings they're all so cute. ;o;
Nov 13, 2023 17:31:37 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I like that one as well yeah, loved the old nootnoot image from quest prizes, so that one went perfectly with that particular costume being based around it. X3
Nov 13, 2023 15:23:13 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: The jewelry on tail or at the head definitely tends to be their most recognizable feature for a Mosca, and sadly their pharaoh chin piece as well. XD
Nov 13, 2023 15:21:07 GMT -6
Zenjesi: Your peanut costume is hilarious and adorable too!
Nov 13, 2023 15:14:29 GMT -6
Zenjesi: Yes you're correct! I guess I did a decent enough job with the drawing!
Nov 13, 2023 15:05:27 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: It still looks good on Synkka. She is a shaman Mosca I'm guessing? Its mostly the tail that makes me think of it.
Nov 13, 2023 15:00:42 GMT -6
Zenjesi: I definitely like Spectral's the most too! I sort of cheated by drawing Synkka with a cloak because I do not know how to draw feathered wings, haha ^^'
Nov 13, 2023 13:45:15 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Which one do you like the most out of the three you made?
Nov 13, 2023 12:09:48 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Thanks for that compliment! Though I know with the water it doesn't look entirely great, I love the latter one I made the most.
Nov 13, 2023 12:09:30 GMT -6