Nadia was back at the mansion for the new month, and with a plan in hand.
The next part ought to be more entertaining. Nadia had found two little carts, perfectly puppy-sized, in a discount section at a store, and a lightbulb had flashed above her head. It was a neat idea, she thought! Having houluh around that could help her pull smaller loads would be great, especially when the larger beasts of burden were perhaps overkill. Moving feed around in the stables! Or grooming supplies, or books, or things she would buy at the store, considering she was always calling taxi services--
All that had to be done was hooking them up to the contraptions. Now that they had become used to the harnesses, it was an easy job. It was as simple as attaching the arms of the carts to each harness. The way they stood awkwardly made her laugh; Indie sniffed at the air, and Inky pawed at the ground, waiting for something more interesting to happen.
"Oh my, you look adorable," She cooed, clapping her hands together. The pups stared at her with collective disdain. "Now, now. I promise it will not be that bad, okay? You will become used to it in a heartbeat, dear things."
The first hurdle to get over was getting them to pull the buggies without anything in them. Simply growing accustomed to hearing the clattering and noise behind them would be a great foundation, Nadia thought - they needed to be familiar with it so they wouldn't startle. So, she took out some of her trusty treats, and decided to get to work.
"Come along, you two!" She held out the treats in front of her as she began to walk backwards. Neither pup looked overly keen on making the first move; Inky whined and shrunk back, while Indie blinked at her with a dejected face. "It'll be okay, I promise! You shan't even notice. Come now, aren't you hungry?"
The smell of the treats got to Inky first. His nose wiggled - he planted one paw forwards, and then the next, and was soon walking cautiously towards Nadia while she cheered and cooed praise. The hullabaloo was enough to spur Indie into action. She was jealous of the fuss her playmate was getting, and was just as deserving of treats as he was! The two houluh and their carts made it over to the woman, and she happily handed out the snacks.
It was as adorable as Nadia had imagined it would be. She had to make a conscious effort not to pet them and coo at them constantly; was this how new parents felt when they saw their child taking their first steps? Shoving that thought to the back of her mind, she tried to return her focus to the pups, and continuing on their little walk.
They weren't going to go far - just around the little fenced-off area they'd already visited so many times. The turning of the seasons had brought with it some differences, including jack o'lanterns leering at them as they went, but that was just fine. The buggies rolled over the grass, and the puppies kept in step with the treats Nadia held for them.
Where their steps had before been hesitant, they were becoming confident. The buggies made noise, that was obvious, but they found themselves far less bothered by it when there were other distractions. Inky did turn around to bite at the straps a couple of times, but she gently dissuaded him with treats and soft words. Once they'd done a lap around the little garden, she would move on to the next step.
It was time to start adding weight into the mix. Being able to pull a buggy with nothing in it was one thing - being able to pull one with a load in it was another. Nadia wasn't going to overwhelm them with goods, considering they were only young, but she wanted to balance it out decently with their own body mass. Strength was a solid attribute to have for a working creature.
Thus, a bushel of apples was unloaded into each buggy. The pups looked at her as if she had taken leave of her senses. That was perfectly okay - she was used to that kind of response.
"That will be good for now," She said with a nod, and then patted her thigh, this time not equipped with treats. "Come along!"
The pups had both found encouragement from their previous walk, and started forwards straight away, only to find it a little harder than before. Indie was confused by it, and turned to look at the apples, while Inky barely seemed to notice and charged ahead. The female required a little more encouragement. Nadia was willing to flash a treat for long enough to get Indie walking around with her playmate, in their familiar laps of the garden.
And so it went. Bit by bit, Nadia began to increase the weight in the buggies - the final total would be fairly hefty for a juvenile houluh, but not a stitch on what they could tolerate as adults. It would be a constant process to manage their strength as they grew, but she looked forwards to the challenge, because it was something she had never tried before.
By the time they were taking their last turn around the garden, the buggies were barely affecting them. Indie was less enthusiastic than Inky, but she still walked along, sticking her nose insistently into Nadia's calf as if it might award her some more treats. Inky liked treats, but didn't need them to be fast, and he bundled along at frankly risky speeds.
It was going marvellously. The loads trundled along behind them as they went, and other than a few minor upsets of the apples from Inky's buggy, all was stable. She had no doubt that the pups would be tired after their repeated hauling around the little space, and when she unhitched them from the buggies, she was sure to give them a good amount of time to rest. It wouldn't do to overwork them.
On their break, Nadia decided that they would venture inside the mansion.
It was a big ask. The place itself looked grim at this time of year - it was something straight out of a horror novel, with its foreboding structure and grey exterior. If she was honest, she didn't want to step foot near it. However, she was trying her best to face up to irrational fears, and since the mansion had never actually hurt either her or her pets in the past, she was duty bound to give it a chance. October just sounded like an awfully risky month.
Inky and Indie frolicked around her legs as they approached the front door - she had to make a conscious effort not to step on them. There was no scolding, though. It wasn't their fault that there wasn't a lot to entertain them on the grounds. As she always did, she raised a hand to knock on the door. If she showed the mansion respect, she hoped it would return it in kind.
When there was no response from within, she felt confident enough to open the door herself, and usher the two houluh inside. The hall was much warmer than the gardens.
Nadia was uncomfortably aware that this decision about which door to open was more important than it had been on her previous excursions. None of the other months in the calendar felt quite as threatening as October; Vai Min Mur could mean harmless fun, or it could mean full-on terror and nightmares. Exposing her companions to different scenarios to strengthen their resolve was good and responsible. Scaring them out of their wits was not.
Her palms itched. Which was the right choice? Was there a right choice? The doors, four of them, were white and innocuous. There wasn't a way to tell one from the other. Inky and Indie paced ahead of her, sniffing at the bottoms of the doors - perhaps she should let them choose? It had been said that animals had a sixth sense, after all. Leaving their collective fate in the hands of some puppies sounded less ridiculous when viewed through that lense.
Second on the right. That was the one they had stopped at - Inky turned to look at her, quizzical as to why she wasn't already following them. Well, she had to move eventually. Nadia sighed as she stepped up and took a hold of the handle... and pressed down.
When the door opened, Nadia saw... a graveyard. Excellent. Her heart sank in her chest - it was not the kind of atmosphere she had been hoping for, and the cold breeze was evident again, as if they had stepped outdoors. For all intents and purposes, they had. The moon shone bright above them from a jet black sky, and the ground beneath their feet was dirt, without mistake.
Inky was thrilled by the presence of that many upright, low structures. The pup bounded up to the first row of graves and got right to sniffing; Nadia could practically see his back leg twitching in preparation to cock. Surely that was offensive. If she allowed her puppy to pee on whoever (or whatever) was buried there, she'd get comeuppance, wouldn't she?
Thankfully, Indie was less swayed by the charms of the cemetary. She was happy to stick around the woman, and they walked side by side along the dirt path, keeping a close eye on the boisterous male. What exactly did Nadia propose to do if he did get the urge to relieve himself, though? Stick a cork in it? The vulgar thought would have made her giggle if she hadn't been so concerned.
There was something soothing about the surroundings, though. No noise, no people - just Nadia, her houluh, and the resting dead. Cemetaries had never been her favourite places to visit, but she could respect the dignified peace of them, and how calm they could make her feel. For the benefit of the souls slumbering there, they were spaces of infinite decorum and grace.
Who could say how old this cemetary was? If it even truly existed at all, that was; she had no way of knowing if it was a conjured image, or if they'd stepped into a real place. The gravestones had begun to show signs of age, but were not cracking and crumbling, as was standard after hundreds of years had passed. Faded lettering and creeping plants were all that suggested they weren't newer.
Inky, thankfully, was losing interest in stone. Instead, he wanted to know more about the dirt they were treading on, and began digging his own hole with all the vigour he could muster. Nadia didn't know whether to be thankful or appalled. What if the mansion believed they were digging their own graves, or something equally as terrible?! Indie nudged her hand in a display of worry.
No. No, there was no need for such a ludicrous fear - Nadia had no reason to think they would bring the wrath of the mansion down upon them, even if they had slightly soiled the fountain in the previous month. It was not a crime punishable by serious injury or (god forbid) death. Pacified by that thought, she continued on through the graveyard, coaxing Inky to come along and abandon his digging work.
Another door stood in the centre of the path. It was like the one she'd seen in the corn maze; it was entirely out of place, but recognisable as belonging to the mansion, and thus relatively safe. She was content to walk towards it and open it. With a bit of luck, they'd get something a tad less sombre.
Lucky they must have been, because the next room they crossed into appeared to be a Vai Min Mur party of some description. There weren't other guests to speak of, but in the ambient light of candles, she could make out banners and streamers decorated in black and orange. Inky darted between the legs of chairs set up around a long table - the table itself was laden with candy and treats of all descriptors. Indie tipped her head back as she caught the scent of food.
The next move, now that they were comfortable with pulling loads, was to teach them how to carry loads. With harness training already completed, Nadia was confident that the little saddlebags she'd gotten for them wouldn't prove to be too much of an issue, but it wouldn't hurt to make sure they were familiarised. The two pups stared at her as she held out the sets for them to investigate.
"Here, take a look," She said, lifting up the straps to let their sniffing noses get beneath. "Nothing nasty, I promise. It is all above board. How do you feel?"
No verbal response, but she could ascertain an opinion from the looks on their faces. Inky's tail wagged, while Indie simply blinked; there was no distress, which was good. Nadia moved forwards to drape the sets over their respective backs. If they shook them off, that was okay - she would pop them back up to encourage them to let them rest there. Inky was always the most persistent with his shaking, doing his best to rid himself of the bags for good, but the human was ever diligent. It was amusing to see his defeated expression when he finally gave in and stood still.
Good. Nadia felt ready to buckle them up, now - the houluh were dressed in their little saddlebags and were ready to go on the loads. They'd start out small and work up. That always worked out as the best way to go about it. Nadia had a few weights for the task. They didn't add up to an astounding weight, so not as to hurt the pups' backs, but they would be a trial for them with little prior experience.
"Alright, first one," She showed them one weight each, allowing them to get a good sniff before she placed them into each bag. "Here we go."
They looked uncomfortable. Inky whined, sitting down to scratch at the harness; a gentle hand dissuaded him from the idea. Indie repeated her stance from the cart training and stood stock still instead. Amused by their reactions, Nadia couldn't help but laugh, and got herself her packet of treats to begin with their motivation.
"Come along, babies," She cooed, showing them a snack to tempt them. Inky's troubles were forgotten in a split second as he pursued it. Indie took half a second longer, but was soon trotting forwards, spirits back in tact and all.
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