“Hey, you’re essentially doing physical therapy with that thing of yours, aren’t you?” he said.
If the creature were within earshot, he might have protested the use of the word ‘thing’. He wasn’t, however. Aster and the creature rarely came even within visible range of one another, and by this point the arrangement seemed to be to their mutual wishes. And Aster seemed to take a slight irreverent pleasure in deliberately calling it less than pleasant things. But what Rabbit understood of him and his amusements, and of the concept of amusements in general, was not very much, and all of it purely intellectual.
She said nothing, and so he went on: “Why not take him to the gym? I have a membership there. You can use my equipment. Maybe buy some of your own, if that’s not enough.” He had fished around in his pockets until he produced a slightly weathered card, and pressed it into her hands. “It’s supposed to be for toning and conditioning, but you can just go easier when you go. There should be easier stuff mixed in with the stuff he can’t do yet. Just lighten the load, and then your options will open up for physical therapy.”
It had seemed easy enough, viable enough. And the creature was reaching a point where it seldom snapped at anyone, excepting Aster in particular. Rabbit had asked after this on occasion, but the creature never bothered to answer.
She doubted whatever answer he could have given would have satisfied the other party anyway.
Nevertheless, the advice seemed sound, and they were finally reaching a point where it seemed viable. Besides that, swimming was perhaps no longer enough to challenge the creature anymore, and he needed something new to capture his interest once more. A change of location, and a change of pace, might do him some good, in light of that. Thus, Rabbit had accepted the card, with plan to bring the creature out to the city, and to the gym.
Aster’s apprehension about the prospect of leading the creature through the city made Rabbit wonder whether things would turn out well, but in fact they turned out to be unfounded. Aster had suspected that the creature’s animosity was for humanoids in general, and that Rabbit was an exception merely because she had been at the ground zero of his recovery, and had proven herself to be harmless. But as they made their way through the city proper, and into the more populated areas where there were people out and about on the streets regardless of the early hour, it seemed that Aster had been wrong about this. The creature had no great love of other humanoids, and she could sense the tension in his bearing, but he did not lash out at them the way he would have done with Aster.
She wondered what the man had done to offend the creature. Perhaps it had happened during the gap in her memory, on the day they had brought the creature back to Aster’s property. She would inform him of the development when she returned.
The gym was not a place that she had been to before. Regimens for creatures that involved the gym tended, by their nature, to be… intensive, and Aster had only done the service once for a creature that was not his own, before he had acquired Rabbit. If he was working with a creature that closely, he preferred to do all the work with them himself. Sometimes, as was the case with his drakes, this was because he was the only one able to do it.
Thus, she stood for a moment at the exterior to take in the whole of it for the first time. The creature did so too, though she wondered if he had any idea as to what to expect. She had explained to him, a little, what they were to do once they came here; and the fact that he had come with her meant that he was in agreement with her proposal. But surely he had never been here either.
It occurred to her that she could ask. He had displayed at least a rudimentary, if not greater, understanding of her words as of late. “Have you come here before?” she said.
The creature inclined his head, then gave a single flip of his wings. It was not a nod or a shake of the head, but Rabbit surmised that this was a negative. “So we are both new then,” she mused.
The creature looked at her, and while his expression was not what she would have called one of surprise, she had the sense that what she said was a little unexpected to him. Perhaps he had assumed, from her description of the place, that she was familiar with it. She had mentioned the membership, after all. But that had all been things she received from Aster… But the less she mentioned him, the better. It would not do for them to have come so far only for the creature to refuse the treatment on the grounds of a capricious grudge, if it came to that.
There was some initial debate as to whether they ought to go in through the front or the back--- the creature was at least no taller than a human of reasonable height when he did not wish to stretch his neck to its full length, and the hallway was wide enough to accommodate him. Rabbit was informed that if he damaged the equipment, they would have to relocate to the outdoor areas, but for the moment, they were allowed through. It all turned out for naught, however, when she specified the nature of their training, at which point the woman at the desk pointed out that the stamina area was outdoors only. So they came in only to exit again, and found their way around the building until they reached the designated area.
Rabbit did not know what the creature expected, but judging by his bearing, what he found was not it.
For her own part, Rabbit did not think there was much to displease about the arrangement. It was all a bit plain, but the equipment looked serviceable, and though some of it looked as though it had seen a good deal of use, there was nothing in a state of bad repair. It was just that there was not a great deal of equipment so much as there was a great deal of space set up for… well, for stamina training. Which by nature involved a great deal of exercise, until one became tired, and then more exercise besides.
“This is meant to facilitate you regaining your strength,” said Rabbit. “Presently it appears that endurance is your greatest challenge, so we have chosen this. Once you are able to persist for longer periods of time, we may do other things.”
Indeed, she would not have acquiesced to do much of anything else until he had completed at least some training here.
There would be very little point to taking him elsewhere only for him to be impeded in his progress by a need for frequent breaks. It was not that she doubted his work ethic, but rather that she thought he would try to push past his reasonable limits, and cause further injury to himself that way.
It had already happened once. One could argue that he may have learned his lesson then, but it was best to err on the side of caution, especially considering how impatient the creature himself clearly was.
“If you are concerned about boredom,” she added, “I can read to you while you walk. Will this suffice?”
The creature’s nose wrinkled at that particular suggestion, and he huffed; that was a dismissal of it, as far as Rabbit could tell. “Very well. Please take to the track then. But please limit yourself to a walk for now.”
There was an air of general protest at this, and a little posturing, as if to show her that he was well and fit now, but Rabbit knew full well just how much he could tolerate.
She had been the one watching over his recovery thus far, after all. “No,” she said. “Once you are sufficiently warmed up, perhaps we will do something more strenuous, but there are steps to this.”
The logic in that statement seemed to hold well enough for the creature to respect it after all. He breathed a long sigh, as though he were disappointed, but he made his way to the track after all, and began walking.
In truth, the creature was not a very bad patient, excepting a few quirks. He did seem as though he wanted to get better, and his intelligence and understanding of her words allowed him a certain pliability that another creature might not have had. Aster had many stories about creatures that fought their own cures, mostly because they lacked the ability to understand or appreciate what was being done for their own sakes. Indeed, human cures were often beyond the comprehension of many animals.
And then, Aster had stories too, of creatures who found this specific type of training very unpleasant. The trouble with it was, so Aster said, that one had to do a great deal of it to see any effect, and no matter what type you were doing, it was always boring after a while.
It remained to be seen whether the creature with her now would reach the same levels of boredom. But his initial reaction, at least, seemed to promise that he would be little different in that regard.
The initial warm up really wasn't very interesting though. She understood some of the creature's concerns. It was a necessary step, but she didn't think it would ever be particularly mentally stimulating. Perhaps she could find a way to make it so, but she would have to think on it a while, and at present she had very little in the way of ideas.
The best she could do was to talk to him while he was walking. "Please try to pay attention to the sensations within your body," she said. "We will be training to expand the limits of your current strength, but it is important to respect the signals of strain and fatigue."
She could see the creature give her another one of his wing shrugs, so he must not have thought much of this particular piece of advice. She thought a moment and tried again. "I can advise you and provide a limiter, to prevent true injury to yourself, but I am not privy to all the details. By paying attention to your own body, you can best judge what works for it and adjust your therapy regimen accordingly."
The creature had no response to those words, so perhaps he was thinking it over. Or perhaps he was already tuning her out. At any rate, he was still walking, which was all that she really required of him at this point, so she did not press the point. If it came up at a later point, the could address it then. If it didn't come up, then it didn't come up.
The creature walked the track with what was for him a relatively brisk pace. It was a large track, but he wasn't a small creature either, and it didn't take him very long to do a single lap. At the end of it, he looked to her, but Rabbit shook her head. If he thought he was sufficiently warmed up with only one lap, he was wrong on that. "You must keep going," she said. "Proceed at a walking pace."
This time he went as far as to roll his eyes, which struck her as a surprisingly human gesture. She wondered where he had picked it up. It certainly couldn't have been from her; given what her visual receptors looked like, it wasn't actually possible for her to make that kind of gesture. Even if she might otherwise have wanted to, for whatever reason.
Did he have closer associations with a human before? Or was it merely a universal gesture, and she was the one lacking in understanding? The latter was possible; after all, her internal databases only covered what her creators felt was necessary for her to know.
And if it was the former… She didn't think he would have told her something like that even if she did ask. And the answer might have been sufficiently complex that their current mode of communication wouldn't have been enough for him to convey it.
The creature made another lap around the track, but for good measure Rabbit sent him around for a third. This was already the extent of what he had been capable of without tiring just a scant few weeks ago. In that sense he had already come a long way, and the time he had taken to do it was impressive when compared to the magnitude of the change.
But looking at it a different way, it wasn't as if he was gaining any new strength that he had never had. He was only working towards the level that he must have had when he was still in good health. In that sense, it would have been more unfortunate if he didn't make quick progress, as if his body was dragging out the period of convalescence.
She was sure that it was a great source of frustration for him. His conduct hinted at as much, even now. But that kind of determination could only carry him so far.
Perhaps by the end of this, he could begin training here as the gym was intended to be used, to push past his original limitations. But for now, he walked.
Only when she was satisfied did she allow him to begin running. "Please keep to a light trot for now," she reminded him. "We have just begun the process, and I do not wish for you to take any unnecessary risks." He didn't look quite as though he would accept this, so she said, "The point of this is not to demonstrate your strength, but to work on your endurance over time. At present, this is our main concern. Low intensity sustained over longer periods is more conducive to this than short periods of intense exercise."
With something like a sigh, the creature began moving off again, at the slow trot that she had specified. There was a certain showiness to his step, as if he was saying to her, 'See? See how perfectly capable I am of this? And by the way, you do realize you're being ridiculous, right?'
But if anything, all this proved to Rabbit was that the work that they had done before had done the good that it was supposed to do. She noted that he didn't seem out of breath; she had been concerned that he would wind himself, but swimming had done very well for him in that regard. Not only did it alleviate some of the issues posed by his carrying his full weight on his legs at the beginning, it also provided resistance against his movements and a greater pressure on his lungs, so that he was forced to exercise his breathing as well as his muscles. In fact, she could have him swim laps here--- and maybe she would, at a later point, but that couldn't be the bulk of their training here.
If nothing else, the extent to which it lowered the body's temperature precluded it from being used as the primary method of training in a regimen that focused on endurance.
She let him have his proud moment, however. There was no harm in his antics, and she believed that he would be a little more humble once he managed to reach a point where he was tired. Besides this, the point of the exercise had never been to break his spirit, so if he was feeling particularly energetic, then so be it. All the better if he could find some measure of enjoyment from the training, especially considering how much of an issue boredom was when it came to creatures spending time at the gym.
One lap of trotting passed, then two, then three. At first the creature had been setting a showy, high stepping pace, a little faster than Rabbit had really asked him to go, and his feet picked up high as if he were prancing.
If he meant to mock her with this, Rabbit was unperturbed by it. But as the laps wore on, his energy flagged, and with it went the embellishments that he had put on what was, after all, just running.
He wasn't precisely tired to the point of exhaustion, but he was definitely beginning to feel the drain only his energy levels now. Rabbit watched him carefully. Once he showed signs of flagging, it would be important for her to observe and direct his pace. There was a delicate balance involved to make this the kind of work that would help him. Push too hard and they would undo some of the work that had come before, but if they didn't push him enough, then it defeated the purpose in coming here, and would similarly prolong his recovery.
Eventually, after several laps, Rabbit reached a verdict that the creature had tired enough. But she didn't ask him to stop. Instead, she said, "Please slow down to a walk again."
Silver: Man I loooooove the aesthetic of the January mansion stuff ;o;
Jan 24, 2021 20:47:42 GMT -6
Silver: I ammended the skills announcement to include Draconics language things! :3
Jan 24, 2021 4:20:44 GMT -6
Silver: I'm so glad! I really want people to feel like they can 'do stuff' with their sentient pets, and Draconics especially! I'm excited to see what you guys come up with. :3
Jan 17, 2021 17:59:39 GMT -6
Morgan: I like the update overall.
Jan 17, 2021 17:51:56 GMT -6
Morgan: I'm legit so happy now that draconics will basically be able to communicate in draconic instead of being completely unable to communicate from birth unless classically trained or 7+ intelligence. It was so weird to try to do story breedings like that.
Jan 17, 2021 17:51:21 GMT -6
Riku: I hope things work smoothly for you, Jack. <3 // The new update looks awesome.
Jan 17, 2021 10:58:47 GMT -6
Jack: Thanks for sticking with us!
Jan 16, 2021 20:33:33 GMT -6
Jack: So for those of you not on the Discord, I would like to say I'm still around, just not as much. Had to quit my job to watch the kids, opened an Etsy shop, and I'm trying to just keep things rolling through my current bad depression.
Jan 16, 2021 20:33:29 GMT -6
Riku: I am doing well. I also hope everyone else is doing well! <3
Jan 10, 2021 13:32:14 GMT -6
Morgan: I hope everyone is doing well. c:
Jan 9, 2021 15:20:41 GMT -6