The Changes Rain Can Bring ((unknowsolider))

It was just past dawn when it started to rain. Mei had been wandering around the cottage sleepily, waiting for the water to boil for their morning tea. She had always been an early riser, especially so when rising early wasn't a requirement. She scrubbed at her face and pushed her hair back, watching the small lump of blankets on the other side of the one-room cottage rise and fall. Her son had never had any trouble sleeping well past daybreak.

The kettle had just started to huff and whistle when she heard it. A pattern of noise over the rising wind and rain. A sharp creak, and then a harsh, flat thump. It didn't register, the first few times it happened. And then the wind seemed to pick up even more, and the noise increased. Finally, it dawned on her what the noise was, and she swore and bolted for the front door.

Mei didn't even stop to throw a coat on before running out the door and down off the front porch. Icy, early spring rain soaked her to the bone, plastering her hair and the sleeping gown she wore to her back. She knew she should have had Farmer Kelley look at the door before he left. It had taken nearly a full season to get the old wood shed repaired and refurbished for it's new porpose: a place to grow her rapidly growing collection of herbs, medicinal and otherwise. She had even traded and barganed and scraped together enough for a simple glass window, enough to bring in the light during winter. And it was working so well. But the door latch wasn't what it should have been, and would, on windy days, pop open, inviting all that frost and coldness in. Mei hated the idea of her plants withering in the cold.

The grass was slippery and made her feet hurt it was so chilly, but she rushed anyway. Once there, she snatched the door mid-swing, and heaved it back closed. The latch engaged with a satisfying CLANK! and she stood there for a moment, shivering and waiting for it to spring open again. When nothing happened, she turned, and started to hurry back to the cottage. It would be a nice day for hot oatmeal and jam for breakfast.

She only got halfway there, though, before spotting a dark lump propped up on the stone wall of the little house. She paused, and then slowly started to approach, ignoring the cold and tossing her head to get water out of her eyes. It was slowly becoming more clear, that shape. Brown, green, and still. A beast, unconcious, blending in with the walls of her river rock home. Beaten, she decided, as she got closer and saw the stains on the rough cloth of his shirt, the swelling and cuts and blood on his fur. It only occured to her as she was kneeling in the soaking grass and mud that he might not even be alive anymore. After a small hesitation, she touched her hand to his chest and said gently, "Hello?"

Cold….wet....pain, all these feelings at once. How did it come to this, this moment of time of weakness and regret? What series of events lead up to this conclusion....of possibly dying in the rain? Unconscious still from....what had happened exactly, the images of the memories were muddy and blurred, as if trying to remember a far off event from long ago. Then a sound dull thuds pierced the veil of his unconsciousness, years of experience trying to get his body to move and identify the sound. But to no avail as a agonizing, but dulled jolt was sent to his head, telling him no.

Next came a numb feeling of something on his chest and the faint words,  "Hello?" . A beast, coming to see if he was either dead or alive, most likely the former from the tone of voice. He wasn't dead yet, he was sure of that, but to get his old body of his to move is the challenge. He shook slightly a few seconds after the beasts question, and attempted to move, but a agonizing lance of pain jolted through him and quickly fell unconscious from the pain it brang.

((NOTE: Anything bracketed like this <> is Easterner, not the common woodlander language.))

He trembled under her fingertips for a moment or two, and then fell still. Still, but not dead. Mei could detect the steady, weak thump of a heart under her hand, and he was, miraculously, somehow, still a little warm. If she didn't get him in soon, though, he'd die of exposure before any of his wounds did him in. "<not that="" i'd="" let="" happen,="">" she promised, speaking softly in her own language.

Carefully, Mei lifted his arm and wrapped it over her shoulders. She pulled him forward, wrapped her own arm around his lower back, and groaned as she slowly shifted from kneeling to squatting, and then finally, unsteadily, standing upright, holding the ferret up with her. She was small, and strong, but he was heavy and as awkward as a bag of sand, and he drooped over her shoulder.

As she was about to start steering him towards the steps and into the cottage, a door squeaked open and a sleepy voice called out "<mama?>"

"<derry,>" Mei huffed, starting to half drag, half carry the unconscious ferret. "<leave the="" door="" open="" and="" go="" unroll="" one="" of="" extra="" matresses,="" right="" by="" fire.="" our="" new="" guest="" is="" very="" cold.="">"

From the porch, Derry watched his mother hobble into view and start to slowly heft a soggy, beaten-looking male of some sort up the porch steps. His eyes got huge and he shrunk back from the door a bit, before peeking out again. " <is he="" dead,="" mama?"="" asked,="" curiousity="" getting="" the="" better="" of="" him.="" they="" often="" saw="" travelers,="" even="" in="" colder="" seasons,="" but="" never="" one="" so="" badly="" injured.="" <br="">"<no,>" his mother strained, her breath coming in little puffs as she made her way up the steps, one at a time. "<but it="" would="" be="" nice="" to="" keep="" him="" that="" way.="" hurry!="">"

Derry scooted in, and by the time Mei was in the door way of their cottage, he had rolled up their mattresses and blankets, and had put one of the extra ones they kept for travellers to rest upon as close to the hearth as he dared. There were a few thick blankets staked along side it, too, and he was feeding the sleepy embers kindling, bringing it back to small flames. He had even thought to bring the lantern over, a fat beeswax candle inside already. Even with her heavy load, she smiled. He was a good boy, her little Derry.

Mei staggered in with the ferret, dripping water and huffing with exertion, and made their way to the bed. Gently, slowly, she kneeled and supported him in a sit with one arm while the other hand worked to get his soaked, muddied cloak off him. Once it was flung away, she lay him down and for a long moment, just sat there, letting her body rest as she looked him over. It was a small relief to see that a little of his color was returning. But that wouldn't be enough, so she stood with a groan and went to the kitchen, where a massive cabinet sat against one wall. She opened it, sighed softly, and gathered an armful of dried herbs and bandages and little clay pots of salve. Almost as an afterthought, she reached in passing and caught the kettle and a small cup in her other hand. "<derry,>" she called, her voice brisk but trembling from the cold water she hadn't shaken off yet, "<light the="" candle="" in="" lantern,="" please.="">"

He jumped, from his position near the ferret's feet, watching him wide-eyed. He was unsure, she knew. She was unsure. Never had anyone come to them like this, almost dead from cold beaten to a pulp. But she could help him, fix him, and she would.

–-
The better part of an hour later, she fastened the last bandage and sat back, surveying her work. In the end, she had to cut his tunic off, and it and his other belongings sat in a neat pile by her side. He smelled of herbs, and she had to wrap his chest tightly, for fear that the bruises there were accompanied by cracked ribs. She had cleaned the blood and dirt from him, and now he smelled of herbs and salve, things to promote healing and kill the pain and ward off infection. With a deeply exhausted sigh, she ran an hand though her still-soaking hair. Now all that was left to do was wait.

She stood, went to her wardrobe, and pulled out clean clothes for the day. As much as he'd disrupted her morning, she needed to get it back on track. She still had a child to feed and chores to do.</light></derry,></but></no,></is></leave></derry,></mama?></not>

((OOC: Got it, might use that trick next time when I get the chance.))

Before and after the carrying of his unconscious self, he had been dreaming, right from the beginning. It did not happen on purpose, but he was reliving his past life, all of it in full detail. It started back from where he was born, the farm in the north-lands, a small green oasis in a barren desert of cold. He remembered it so vividly, even though it had been a very long time ago he had last seen it….before it was destroyed that is.

But he let the memory continue as it should, and enjoyed it. From helping his father work in the small field that had manage to survive with their care, to returning to the small abode he called home with his mother cooking dinner. It was a simple life, but enjoyable, especially hearing his little bro-wait. He didn't have a little brother...did he? It couldn't be....he remembers this all the time, but he never remembered having a little brother.


Piercing through the fog of unconsciousness were voices, but he couldn't understand them. One was a female beast, relatively young maybe? The other sounded very young, probably a dibbun, otters maybe, or....no, most likely otters. Though he couldn't understand them, he knew otters when he heard them, considering what he was doing here before....which he can't seem to recall. What was he doing....why can't he remember? Why does he smell herbs and salve all around him....never mind.

He tried to open his eyes first, to at least get a start at something, then work his way down. He slowly, but surely slowly opened them and could tell, even though blurry, he was in a beasts home, cottage most likely, and on a mattress near a hearth. He could be wrong in his guessing, but what could he do with blurry eyes and not knowing what happened previously before?

He slowly looked over to the side and saw the very young otter dibbun. Well, he was certainly right, he knew otters when he heard them talk. He also noticed the older ottermaid going over to a wardrobe and getting out clean clothes. "W.....where....am I?" He managed to say weakly. He was slightly shocked at how weak it sounded, was he that close to death itself?

"At home," Derry piped up, almost immediately. He scooted closer, finally perching by the ferret's shoulder, and peered down at him. "Wit' me an' Mama." His tone was bright and chipper, but also matter-of-fact. As if home was exactly where things were meant to be. To him, they were.

He was about to announce to the ferret that he had almost died, but his Mama scooted him out of the way and settled to fuss over her guest for a moment. A quilt was drawn up to his chest and his hair smoothed down gently. "Hush, please," she said, her tone somewhere between maternal and relieved, and her accent thick. She didn't speak woodlander as fluently as her young son did. It was worse, too, when she was tired or upset. "Rest," she went on, patting his chest lightly, almost not touching. "Rest, no moving. I back in moment, let you drink and talk." She smiled then, reassuringly, and stood, the bundle of clothes under one arm. The tea kettle was scooped up once more, and Mei turned to go, only to turn around and fix Derry with a cautionary look. "<don't tire="" him="" out.="" get="" dressed.="">"

"<yes, mama,="">" came the huff, slightly disappointed, from the dibbun. He watched his mother nod once, and then step into the kitchen. A light screen was moved across the floor, something she had made for when travelers stayed over night and everyone required a little more privacy. Derry hopped up from his place next to the bed, only to return a moment later with his own bundle of clothes. It was set on the ground, and then promptly ignored. Once more, he scooted to sit at the ferret's shoulder, and leaned in close, to whisper to him. His curly, unruly hair got in his eyes, and he swiped at it impatiently. "Ye almost died, mister. Mama saved ye, though. What's yer name? I'm Derry. Are ye a adventurer or sommat?"</yes,></don't>

"At home," he heard the dibbun otter say. That part was kinda obvious to him, but this is a dibbun talking of course, not a older beast. He felt the dibbun shift position onto his shoulder and peered down at him. "Wit' me an' Mama." He said in a bright and chipper tone. Well, he is most certainly a cheerful dibbun at that.

It looked as if he was about to say something else, but another otter, most likely his mother he spoke of before, scooted him away. He felt and saw her clean him up slightly, then pull up the quilt to his chest. "Hush, please. He heard her say next, hearing the maternal and slightly relived tone in her voice. He also detected she had a thick accent, marking her as a foreigner. In a way, he was almost the same like her to, being a foreigner himself of sorts. He then saw her smile after she finished saying something he didn't catch and left, before she did she said something to the otter dibbun in a language he didn't understand.

The dibbun replied back in the same language and left, looking a bit disappointed. His mother most likely told him to get dressed maybe, and not bug. This was him guessing of course, and he then noticed a light screen was moved across the floor. So….she must have visitors come over sometimes, and this was in case they wanted a bit of privacy. He then heard the otter dibbun returning, and heard him drop his clothes to the ground, ignoring them. Again, he felt the dibbun toke his spot near his shoulder and this time, leaned close and whispered, "Ye almost died, mister. Mama saved ye, though. What's yer name? I'm Derry. Are ye a adventurer or sommat?", the rapidfire questioning resumes, well, he wants answers, so he'll get some. "I could tell." he said a bit stronger, but his voice sounded hoarse. "Second, my name is Lance, and third, you could I am somewhat." He added the last bit.

"Now…", coughs slightly,"how about I ask a few questions then? Where am I in general, I know I'm in your home. Second...are you and your mother foreigners?" He asked as politely as he could in his state, and as simply as he could say it.

Now Derry had to think. It was easy, for such a young one, to forget that anything existed outside of their small plot of land, especially after the quiet, slushy winter they had had. But it did exist, and they even had a nice map that was brought out for lost travelers sometimes. "On th' Southern Road, Mister Lance," he told him, nodding once in confidence. He started to paw halfheartedly at the pile of clothes he was supposed to be wearing.

The second question was answered just as easily, seemingly unbothered by the straightforward question. "We get asked that all the time," Derry said, pulling out a pair of breeches and unfolding them. "Mama's all the way from way in the East. Further even than Ko." His tone had taken on an admiring, wistful tone. His mother was from a far off land, a land that would take so long to get to, and it had always captured his imagination. He wanted to see it someday. "I'm not though," he added, leaning in a little, as if dispensing a secret. "I got borned on th' Western Shore."

Behind the screen, Mei smiled as she listened to her son chatter away to their guest. Poor man didn't realize that Derry would happily chew his ear off before he got well enough to leave. As she tied the obi tight on her simple, modest yukata, she called out, "<derry, i="" want="" you="" to="" be="" dressed="" before="" i'm="" done.="">" She had been generous, taking her time, and hadn't started to get dressed until after she had put the kettle on the stove and selected some herbs to steep for the Ferret's tea.

In the other room, Derry twitched at his mother's voice and called back "<yes mama,="">" in a dutiful, only slightly sheepish tone. Then he scooted back and started to squirm into to his clothes. The warm breeches and the long-sleeved tunic were obviously Western in design, but the little green noragi vest he fastened on after it was absolutely from his mother's homeland.

By the time he had settled again next to Lance's shoulder –and this time it was an obviously comfortable settle, ready to talk the Ferret into a stupor-- the noise of clay cups could be heard scraping in the kitchen area. "Where are you from, Mister Lance," asked Derry, playing with the corner of his quilt.

"" Mei said, pulling back the screen and coming into the room. Three cups and a squat little teapot sat on the tray she was carrying. She looked much more alert and refreshed now, her hair pulled back into a shiny bun and a small smile on her face. As she made her way over to the pair, she said to Lance, "Am sorry for pester. Very curious."</yes></derry,>

He waited a moment to let the otterbabe answer his questions. The ferret thought it polite to give him a moment to get his ready, even though he was a young one. "On th' Southern Road, Mister Lance," the young otterbabe told him in confidence. Lance relatively knew where that was….sort of, not really much.

"We get asked that all the time," Derry had said next to answer his second question. He could tell the otterbabe was starting to put his clothes on. "Mama's all the way from way in the East. Further even than Ko." The otterbabe said in a clearly different tone from before. So the young one is proud of his mother from being from a far away place that he most likely doesn't know much about… Lance thought to himself. "I'm not though," he added, leaning in a little, as if dispensing a secret. "I got borned on th' Western Shore."

Well….he certainly answered his questions alright. Though....it seemed to have the effect of creating more questions then answers now. He then heard his mother tell him something in her foreign language he still couldn't understand, but could tell from when the young one called back in reply, he could tell his mood changed instantly. Then he noticed Derry started to get dressed and noticed the vest looked very different from the breaches and tunic. He compared it to the old brown woven tunic he always wore from day to day.

"Where are you from, Mister Lance,"[i/] The now dressed otterbabe asked him, playing with the quilt edge. He was just about to answer the inquisitive young one when his mother came in carrying a tray with tea and three cups. He could tell instantly she seemed refreshed and better, quite….beautiful. "Am sorry for pester. Very curious."[i/] She said to him. "Its fine, its not bad to be curious." Maybe to curious that is.[i/] He thought to himself.

"No, maybe not," she agreed, glancing fondly at the pup. He was a bright shape in her darker days, her little curious Derry. "But is okay tell him hush," Mei continued, tone teasing. Derry pouted a tiny bit, but knew better than to protest. Instead, he stood from his comfortable seat by Lance's shoulder, because that was where Mama was going to want to sit, and reached out for the tea tray.

Mei handed it to him with a grateful smile. He stood stock- still, his face an expression of grave seriousness, while his mother settled herself on her knees. She took the tray back and set it down, the cups clinking a bit and the pungent-sweet smell of herbs wafted from the teapot. The set was simple, unglazed and deep red from the clay it had been made from. Each cup was almost bowl-shaped, with no handle on the side, but fit quite nicely in the palm of the drinker's hand.

She poured into all three cups, and handed one to Derry first. With two hands, he took it, and sniffed tentatively at the brew. The other two cups set undisturbed as Mei turned and folded the quilt back and checked the bandages again. It had been a long time since she had to bind someones ribs. Deeming them still correct and tight, she fussed gently at the pillow under Lance's head and then placed one hand at his forehead. He was warm, but not hot. Good. Nodding in obvious approval, she reached for a cup of tea and started to blow on it, to cool it.

After a moment of quiet, with only the sound of Derry slurping his tea and the flames crackling in the fire, Mei's face turned serious and she asked quietly, "What happen?"

He could tell from facial expression alone Derry meant a lot to her and he respected that….considering where they live. Then the otter dibbun moved from his seat near his shoulder and could hear clinking of cups, then the aroma from the teapot.

How rare indeed....he only smelled it once before but that was a long time ago, another remainder that hes getting older. A prospect he did not particularly relish, but inevitable for one like him.

His thoughts were then interrupted when she checked on his bandages again and checked his forehead, nodding in approval to his condition. Then came the question, "What happen?"

Lance wasn't surprised when she asked him that question….he had been asking himself that ever since. He didn't hesitate to answer her back, "I don't know. I really don't remember much of what happened, its just.....a blur." The weary ferret said honestly, nothing to hide as it stood for everything was indeed a blur, he was attacked and he defended himself....but after that...nothing.

Her guest sounded so tired, and so honestly at a loss that Mei knew he was being honest. She tsk'd softly and shook her head. "Am sorry this happen," she told him earnestly, her brow folded in concern. And in the back of her head, she wondered if she shouldn't be worried for herself and Derry, too. Not from Lance, obviously, but from whoever out there that had done this to him.

There was more time for worrying later, she decided. Right now she had other things to get on with. She made sure he was propped up enough, and then reached for a cup of tea. It had cooled from scalding to piping warm, and it let off fragrant steam from it's surface. "You drink this," Mei told him gently, handing it over to him, adding in her careful, clumsy commoner, "Good for pain."

"We'll help ya get better, Mister Lance," Derry piped up from his spot on the other side of the tea tray, leaning around his mother's form so he could smile at the ferret. "It tastes nice, too."

He wished he had a better answer then that, but it was all a blur to him at the moment. Then, "Am sorry this happen," she said with concern on her face. Lance knew she was worried over not from him, but whoever attacked him and left him for dead. Most would be dead in his situation if they didn't get medical attention.

When she propped him up, he figured out why there were three of cups of tea and confirmed from her next words. "You drink this," as she handed him the cup, "Good for pain." Not all of it. A stray thought he ignored as he accepted the cup and drank a bit of the tea.

It did indeed help ease some of the pain he felt and didn't taste that bad either to which Derry piped up the same thing with a smile. "Its….good, I guess?" He said, half compliment and question since hes never drank tea before. "And......thank you." Then he realized her never asked what her name was and chastised himself mentally for that.

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