(OOC: Any dialogue with <> around it is Eastern, and not the regular common Woodland language. )

It was the type of afternoon that seemed like it would go on forever. The air was still and warm, the light was the color of honey and nearly as thick. They hadn't seen any of their few neighbors in days, and no travelers on the road either, and Mei felt like they could be the only two creatures left on the land. It was nice in a way, to pretend to keep the whole of the land to herself and her son. Still, she decided with a sigh, whether that was true or not, there was still work to do, and she needed to do it.

With a huff and a stretch, she decided that the repairs to the cellar that had been made last spring were still holding up, and headed for the stairs. She paused halfway there, though, and lifted a clay pot off the shelf. She carefully wiped the little cob web off the top, and then considered it more thoroughly. It had been bartered to her only a fortnight ago for some wintergreen tea. The otter who traded it said that it was plum jam, and now Mei thought that such a nice day perhaps deserved a sweet ending. And she could coax Derry to actually eat the bread this way. She tucked the pot under her arm and headed once more for the stairs. It was clear now, but more than likely rain would fall in the night, so clean laundry needed to be taken in. And dinner would need to be started soon, and she was positive that she and Derry both needed baths this evening.

The cellar door shut firmly behind her, Mei turned and surveyed her little home. It was not a traditional Easterner's home, but a traditional Westerner's home, but she had made due and was happy. It certainly looked much nicer than it had when she and Derry had come across it four seasons ago. Then, it had been cold and dusty and smelled of being closed up for many, many seasons. It had been stripped bare of anything of value; the roof leaked and the cellar flooded, the gardens around it had been fallow for some time. But the little stone cottage was sturdy, and it was in a nice little clearing, with a little freshwater pond fed by the stream close by.

It was tough work, getting her home to rights, especially with Derry only just weaned, but it happened. She had a neighbor half a day's walk from here, and he was pleasant in a rough sort of way. He had come from the far Northlands and settled here some time ago for the rich soil and mild winters. He was a bit gruff, and had a Northland accent so thick she could barely understand it, but he could only half understand her broken, Eastern-accented commoner. In the end, they helped each other out. She needed some repairs on the house done, and soon enough, seed crops to get her garden started. And he needed mending on his clothes, and had arthritis and stomach troubles that she had treated quite often when she belonged to the Herbalist, far and back across the ocean.

And what she couldn't trade for with Farmer Kelley or the Abbey, she could usually trade for with the travelers that passed by on the wide and dusty road that could be sighted from her front porch.

And now, she was preparing for her second Autumn in this home, which was now clean and bright, with a fire in the kitchen hearth and herbs growing in the front garden. Crisp tami mats graced the stone floor, soft futons and thick blankets sat stacked in the corner, waiting for use in the evening. It was home, and right then Mei couldn't even frown at the small toys that Derry had neglected to put away.

As if her thoughts had summoned him, Derry burst through the front door, grinning from ear to ear, holding the large bowl of peas she had tasked him with shelling. "<hi mama!="">" He cried, obviously untroubled by the way he seemed caked with dirt. His hands, his face, even his unruly hair was plastered down to his head and his little green noragi vest was caked in places with fresh, damp dirt.

"<derry!>" she sighed, not knowing whether to scold him or to laugh. "<what on="" earth="" were="" you="" doing?="" look="" like="" an="" unwashed="" potato!="">"

There was a pause as Derry wandered over and placed the bowl on the table. Small pats of dirt flaked off his vest, and he poked at one. He glanced down at himself, seemingly surprised to find himself so covered in dirt. "<oh. wow.="" i'm="" dirty,="" huh?="">"

Mei just sighed again, and hands on hips, asked, "And what were you doing, to get so dirty?>"

He ducked his head again, thinking he was going to be in for a scolding. "_" he told her, quietly. "<after the="" peas="" were="" done,="">" he added, hoping to help his case. His mama didn't like when he got too dirty, especially on days when the laundry was fresh. It made extra work for them, she said, and he didn't like to have to do extra chores.

"<and where="" were="" you="" being="" a="" mole?="">" came his mother's voice, as she began to move around. He glanced up to see her pad into the kitchen where the wash tub sat. On a shelf above, there was a scrubbing brush, a fine-toothed comb, and a bar of good lavender soap.  "<under th'="" porch,="">" he sighed, with resignation. He had known, in some vague way, that a bath would follow if he got filthy, but it hadn't seemed like such a problem before. Now he knew he was in for it. Not only a bath, but a good scrubbing and getting his hair combed. Ugh. He ducked his head back down and pouted, waiting for Mama to tell him off, though she hardly ever raised her voice to him, ever. Instead, her fingers sifted through his hair. A few clods of dirt fell out. "<no wonder="" there's="" cobwebs="" in="" your="" hair,="">" she sighed, the disappointed tone in her voice somehow worse than any telling off.

"<sorry, mama,="">" he muttered, glancing up at her. She smiled down at him, and wiped her fingers off on her Kimono.

"<don't worry,="" derry,"="" she="" told="" him,="" grabbing="" his="" hand="" and="" leading="" him="" to="" the="" door.="" "<it's="" nothing="" a="" good="" thorough="" bath="" can't="" fix.="">"

He grimaced, but went along without a struggle. He was going to get a bath, and fighting just made it worse.

"<and,>" she added, looking down at her son's pouting little face, "<it's nice="" and="" warm="" enough="" to="" bathe="" in="" the="" stream="" today.="">"

Derry thought this over and was slightly mollified. Having a bath in the stream was less like bathing and more like swimming and playing, just with soap.  His pace picked up, and he hurried around to the end of their pond, where the water spilled out and went to meet the larger rivers, his mother following behind him.

Neither mother nor child noticed the small plume of dust rising from the road, scarcely a mile from where the house sat, and getting closer.</it's></and,></don't></sorry,></no></under></and></after>_</oh.></what></derry!></hi>

(Hope the new arrival location works)

It had been a trying day for the sea-rat, but he kept reminding himself that he was somehow alive. The Sea had surely taken pity on him after being cast out from his crew and family and directed his small form clinging on for dear life toward land…But as for what land this was he hadn't the faintest clue. He had been carried every which way by the currents untill he was thrown to shore by a particularly violent wave - and collapsed asleep soon after that. When he awoke and after thanking the Sea for allowing him to live, the Rat had staggered down the beach toward the stream he could see to try and have a drink. Thankfully it was pure water so he wasn't about to drop dead - but as he sat on the streams edge he did his best to think back on all of his maps to try and place where he may have washed up. But it was all a blur without any landmarks to try and gauge location. So instead the Rat had scrounged around the foliage to find some food and then had a proper sleep, awakening again in the evening and just starting to walk upstream to see if he could find any beast that might have proper food besides berries and hopefully some information.

He was very pleased when he saw what looked like a home in the distance as a tributary shot off from the river up toward it. As good a place to start asking around as any as he diverted his course a bit and headed up the tributary's bank. He soon heard splishing and noises that sounded like some kind of language and so slowed down a little and moved a bit closer to the foliage to conceal himself in case it was something bad. For all he knew this could be some pirate island and a drowning could be happening right over these bushes. But after a few peaks he saw a Otter marm and a smaller ott babe in the small stream. Still could be bad but at least it wasn't some murder happening. So with a little cough and clear of his throat the sea-rat stepped out from the bush and did his best to smile and wave at the two otters.

"Ga'day Ot'rs. Saw'ry ta bath'r ya but I is last...whar is th's plac'?" He asked, a bit quietly as he stood there, still in his semi piraty clothing, mostly empty belt pouches, and empty dagger sheath.

Derry was knee-deep in the water of the slow-moving, narrow, and deep brook when the bushes parted and a skinny rat appeared on their bank. He grinned and waved energetically enough that he ended up slipping and falling on his tail in the cool water. "Hi," he chirruped, before turning in the water and calling to his mother, "<mama! there's="" a="" pirate="" in="" th'="" blueberries!="">"  He was thrilled by this development, and it showed in his graceless floundering to get up, out, and scramble over to the visitor. "Yer a pirate! In Mossflower! Where's yer boat! An yer sword! An' yer hook hand!" He gibbered this excitedly as he circled the rat, almost vibrating with excitement.

"<derry,>" his mother called out, as Mei stood and smoothed down her yukata. She had bathed quickly and re-dressed herself while Derry had played in the water. "Please do not bother new visitor." She had a thick accent to her Common Tongue,  and each word was picked and pronounced with obvious care. She smiled at the rat, though she was a bit more cautious about strangers suddenly arriving via her blueberry bushes.  But he had the air of a shy child and was a little too thin to seem fully healthy to Mei. And his clothing had a salt-crusted look to them that seemed all too familiar to her.

Her hair hung down her back in a wet, ropy braid, and she swatted a few loose strands as she stepped closer. Her brow was creased gently with worry, and there was a tiny, knowing smile on her mouth. "You are from ocean? Lost?"</derry,></mama!>

Tulian was at first very concerned when the ott babe slipped in the water, as he had seen and been forced to fight along side his old crew against otters before and knew that they were often deadly fighters - gender not mattering. If the babe got injured then he would just have to hope that he could run away faster than the marm could run, but unlikely. But it soon revealed that the babe was unharmed, and approached him all smiles and such, which left Tul pretty flabbergasted. He could barely keep up with the babes questions as he tried to turn to keep looking at the small ott as he did his best to respond when he had a moment.

"Errr…Massfl'wer? Thanki lil 'un. An' ma' sh'p out 'ta sea - 'ta crew tass'd me ovar b'ard." He frowned at the memory, but was then brought to smiles as it was hard not to smile at the little circling otter as he started to try and answer the other questions before the mother called out the babe in a language Tul had heard before...but from his remembered it wasn't the language of Mossflower...but the Babe had spoken it? Very confusing. He made sure his hand paws were visible as the otters grouped up again and she seemed to be examining him before speaking up herself. Ah, so it was a second language for her then. Then she must have come from across the seas as well...hopefully not from one of the settlements his old crew would raid. That would certainly be awkward.

"Aye - bor'n an' r'is'd tha'. Ba' as I t'ald ta' lil 'un ta' crew ta'ss'd ma' ov'rbar'd...Sa' na' 'ere." He said, doing his best to smile and be friendly to these otts as he would really like some proper food and rest after those days adrift at sea.

(Gah, been so long since RPed with Tul gota re-learn his accent P: )

Oh. His accent was something else altogether, Mei decided, and wondered if that was what she sounded like to other people.  But with a bit of concentration, and some thought, she managed to understand him well enough. Her brow creased in sympathy and concern for him, once she realized what had happened to him.

Derry seemed to feel the same way, because he gasped and ran to him, reaching up and grasping his hand in both of his much smaller ones. "Oh no," he breathed, looking up into the rat's face. His eyes were filled with worry for this new friend. "That wasn' very nice of them! Did you almost drown? Were there sharks?" Before Tulian could possibly reply, Derry looked to his mother.

"Moma, can he have some dinner wif us? Please? We'll help cook it!"

Even if Mei wasn't going to ask the stranger to share a meal with them, Derry's earnest look hope would have broken her resolve. She smiled gently at her son clinging to the rat and nodded. "You stay? Share meal with us?" After a moment of contemplation, she added, "Maybe want to sleep tonight inside?"

Nearly falling over from the amount of cutness from the small Otter Tul smiled a lot despite the bad memories and physical states as how earnest the small one was to try and see if he was alright. Even bringing the rat to reach out and softly pat the ott on the head as he nodded, still all smiles. "A' ne'rl' did ye' - na' sha'ks ta', th'nk ta' Sea. H'ng onta' bar'el ta' fl'at ta' sho'e." Like the otter when the question was raised if he could eat with them Tul was also hopeful looking as he would love both of those things. Proper food and rest would be a welcome change, very welcome indeed.

"Ai' wo'ld luv' ta - t'ank ye' m'ch. Ai' tr' ta' rep'ay an' wa' ai' ca'."

(Sorry for short 😞 )

"Good," Mei smiled, over the happy cheers of her young son. He still had both of his chubby little hands wrapped around the rat's wrist, and was dragging him closer to the house and his mother. With a happy sigh, Mei scooped up the bag that carried the soap and scrubbing brushes. It seemed it was time to start dinner.

"We're gonna hav fish an' veggies tanight," Derry announced to his new friend. He was in the process of thinking about weather or not his new friend liked fish and veggies when Mei reached out and handed him the bath utensils.

"Go put away soap, okay?" she asked, running a hand over his wet hair when he sighed and reluctantly let go of the rat's hand. "Bring back my basket." She always found using Commoner to be a bit difficult and uncomfortable, and her accent was thicker than normal because of the lack of travelers in the past few days.

"Hai, Moma," he huffed, and slowly wandered in the direction of the house.

Once she was sure he wouldn't dawdle, she smoothed a few stray locks of hair back from her face and turned to her new guest. "My name Mei," she said, smiling a little. In the fanfare of his arrivial, they hadn't even been introduced properly. "Who is your name?"

Still all smiles as the little ott was all ecstatic and jumping around he couldn't help from licking his lips at the mention of the food that would be offered tonight. The fish was common eats for him from his time on the ship but greens would be a rare and happily eaten treat for him. As the little one wriggled away with the soap Tul ahed a bit as he looked down at his clothes and fur. A bath may be helpful for himself as well as a lot of saltwater had seeped deep into his fur and clothes - he probably smelt terrible to this nice Otters. Rubbing the back of his neck as he considered this he looked up when the Marm moved over to him and seem to be introducing herself. Going back to a smile Tul bowed his head a bit before replying.

"Nic' ta' Me't ta' Mii. I T'lian Sa'lm. T'was ta ma'p mak'r n' navig't'r on ta' old ship. Saw'y 'bout ma' state. If'n ya' dun't mind I'l wash in ta' rivar befo'e Dinnar. T'ankie ag'in fer ta' fud n' not ch'asin mi' off."

Her brow wrinkled as she first deciphered what he was saying, and then it deepened into a furrow of concern. He thought he'd be chased off? Mei almost asked why she'd do such a thing, but she remembered. Some of the other creatures, the local forest-people and those in the great walled Abbey. They did not like certain creatures, Vermin. She supposed they had every right to not trust them, but to act like each one was the same as the last was… wrong to her.

She almost tried to express this to him, but struggled for the words, unsure even how to articulate something so complex in her clumsy Commoner. But before she could try, the distant slap of the door to her house rang in the air, startling her. Instead, she smiled and shook her head.  "Yes, Tul-en," she said. Her smile was warm and easy, and she fished for a cake of soap for him to wash with. Holding it out, she nodded towards the river. "Wash for dinner, hai?"

(((OOC: Goodgosh I am sorry for not being here for a while. Work sucks, All hail the God Capitalism))

(Hail! \o_ ( http://ladovg.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Bloodborne™_20150331200752.jpg ))

It was a shame Tul couldn't read minds or he would have whole heartildy agreed with the ott marm about not thinking all creatures were the same. It would be doubly hard for the rat because he was not only a rat, but also a sea rat, and a 'pirate' - despite the fact that he had been the map maker and not ever one to take a active role in the pillaging and looting. But he was sure most creatures wouldn't give him time enough to explain that, so he was lucky to have found these otters first.

Smiling at her some more he carefully took the offered soap, probably one of the few times a 'Vermin' would but he was raised right on the ship despite the murderous nature of the crew, and started to back up toward the water. "Yez ma'rm - wil' tri' ta' be qu'ck, tha'ke' ag'n fer' let'n me sta'." And with that he turned and hopped into the stream. Unable to contain a squeak at the temperature difference before he started to scrub and clear his fur as best he could so he wouldn't be in such a state. Also taking off his clothes and doing his best to at least clean them a little as well but they were pretty well soaked through with salt water.

Mei was smiling as she turned away, to head back to the house. It turned to a grin when she heard his little yelp. The water cooled quickly once the sun dropped behind the trees.

Inside the house, Mei dug through a sturdy cedar trunk she kept. It was filled with odd clothing left by travelers that had enjoyed her hospitality, old garments that she bought or traded for reasons that seemed good enough at the time, and a few bolts of whole fabric that were tucked away for trading or clothing her Derry's rapidly growing frame.  From this trunk she pulled a simple red tunic and a pair of bark-colored breeches and eyed them carefully. They should fit, she decided, and folded them up.

Derry was sent out with the clothing and a towel under one arm and a sturdy wooden bucket swung over his shoulder. He tromped down the slope and announced to Tul, "Moma's lettin' me catch fishies fer dinner."

Even taking the time to scrub behind his ears in the river Tul was soon smelling pretty much entirely of whatever scent the soap was - it was nice whatever it was but the rat couldn't place a definite scent for it. But he had thoroughly worked over his entire body and his tail as best he could and had nearly worn the soap entirely away - a good sign. Dunking himself entirely back under the water again to get some of the soap out of his face fur he surfaced and wiped off some of the water to hear the young otter speak up. Turning to face him Tul was surprised to see that he had clothing with him too…These otts were just too kind. He would need to find something to make it up to them as he nodded a little and clambered out of the water and started to dry himself off before stepping into the pants and slipping the shirt on. It was a bit loose but it would do as Tul smiled as best he could at the little Ott.

"An' Im' sha' ya'l da' gr'at - ne'd ne' ha'p?"

"Hai please!" he sang out, taking the towel from Tul's hands. He folded the damp cloth carefully, and then dropped it on the ground. Derry swung the bucket idly and held out a pudgy hand. "Veggies first, okay?"

He was eager to get started, to show his new friend the garden and the pond and the chickens, too. If Moma let him. The hens might not want to be bothered, but it was still light out, and if he listened carefully, he could hear a few of them clucking around the side of the house. He liked the chickens. They were kind of like pets, and they gave them eggs.

"D'you like zucchinis?" He asked, hopping a little and starting to lead them towards the immaculate and large garden. "I gots ta plant'em this year!"

((OOC: Sorry this is a short post, it's just to get things back in gear.))

(Its fine 🙂 )

It was hard for ones heart not to melt at the young otter as Tul happily took the offered hand and let himself be led along back towards the otters little home. They seemed to have a really good set up here and Tul really hoped that it would remain free of bandits and other baddies as these two seemed perfectly harmless. And helped himself, a former Pirate - even if he rarely did any raiding - without much hesitation. Too nice to be under attack.

While he was pondering this he was still being led along and blinked out of his ruminations when the little Ott jumped up as Tul got a look at their garden. It was very impressive and being shipbound most of his life more fruit and vegetable plants than he had ever seen in one spot. The rat smiling wide at it all before erring and turning to the little ott.

"Gud je'b on ta pla'tin…Bu' 'tis Z...Zcchni? Nev'r He'rd o' da' b'fore. Su'e wo'ld be fi'e ta."

"Zucchini are my favorite," Derry chirped. "But tomatoes are good too, an' beans," he added, leading the rat through the rows of vegetation towards the far corner. The garden was a large rectangle with paths for walking separating each kind of plant, and the vegetables were so lush that in spots Derry nearly disappeared from view.

The group of three Zucchini plants he stopped at were viney and expansive, with large, yellow orange flowers and bright green leaves.  "These are my Zucchinis," Derry announced, obviously bursting with pride for his veggies. He set the bucket down and pointed to a leaf. "Lookit," he told his new friend. "Th' leaves hav' liddle spiny hairs on'em. An that's a Zucchini!" He pointed out one of many deep green, pendulous, oblong fruits attached to the vine with thick stems. He set the bucket down and pulled out a small knife. With an efficient movement and a grin full of pride, he held up a particularly large specimen. "You can hold th' veggies, okay?"

With that, Derry began to harvest in earnest, going first to a tomato plant bursting with large, pink fruits and then to a pepper bush, picking three large, brightly orange bell peppers.

When he deemed there was enough, he nodded to himself and turned to grin again at Tulian, thrilled to have a new friend to show off too, as well as someone to help carry the vegetable haul. "Now we can gets the fishies."

Tul was just happy to patter along behind the young otter and listen to him as he enjoyed the garden. It was…almost bringing a tear to his eye really. Seeing all this joy and energy devoted to something so simple that had nothing to do with the pursuit of wealth or trying to kill people. It wasn't enough for him to want to repent to the life he was previously apart of. But it sure made him happy that he had washed up here. To learn that some beasts were happy to just have a simple life like this and take such pleasure in just watching something grow. And then eat it. That surely helped with the enjoyment as Tul just nodded at Derrys words and carefully held the vegetables when prompted to.

He kept following until Derry was happy with the amount gathered and then ooohed happily at the motion of fishing as he shook out his handpaws some. "F'sh'n? Ah' C'n fer' sh'r ha'p wi't tha' - whar' we' f'sh'n?"

((OOC: so the hubby's preparing to go back to school and I've been working two jobs. Sorry this has been so long in the making.))

"Fishin' some Dace fish," he grinned, trotting over to the stream.  It was, for the most part, as narrow and slow moving as where he and his mother habitually bathed.  But on one end of their land, close to the woods, it widened out in a very careful egg shape, narrow end towards the woods and the wide end towards the house and the road.  The little pool was smooth as glass on the surface, save for where water skimmers traversed the surface. On the far bank there were a smattering of cattails and lily pads, but where Derry now stood, the water was shallow, with a thin ribbon of silty, mica-flecked sand separating the water and the grass. "They like ta come close ta here an' eat all th' bugs, " the child informed Tul in a tone of revealing a well-guarded secret.

Derry was about to drop the bucket and shed his clothes so he could fish, when he looked up at Tul questioningly. It hadn't occurred to ask before, in all the excitement of meeting his guest, but… Tul was a rat. He knew how to swim, of course, but.."D'you fish like otters fish, Mister Tul?"

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