A Distant Land (Caterpillar)

The sun lay low in the sky, casting long dramatic shadows onto the unassuming rocky outcrop beneath it. Parents were calling their children in for the night, and quiet was slowly beginning to embrace the village. They kept their homes well hidden in rocky holes beneath the shrubs in the flat lands, safe from the sun and most dangers.

There were no stories of it's history or the founding of the village. It was plain and unremarkable. Nobody would be telling tall tales of a couple of measly rodent filled holes in the ground, and they liked it that way, out of sight and out of mind, and while children were being tucked in for the night, some were being roused from their day sleep, washing their paws for their breakfast of worms and weevils.

The mice and jerboas (or jumpers) happily shared their living quarters together for many years. While the mice rose during the day and the jumpers at night, there were always wary eyes on the village, and while the two tribes were together, none of them slept with their backs unguarded or unprotected.

So all was peaceful. Mostly.

"Give it back!"

"What's the fuss Flitz, they're just sticks."

"No they're not!" She protested. "They're perfect sticks!"

"Perfect for what?"

"I told you it's a secret! Now give them back!"

She hopped after her much larger assailants fruitlessly. "GIVE THEM BACK OR I'LL TELL MY GRANMA!"

"Go ahead tell you granma, you lousy tattletale!"

Flits shook her fist furiously, tears welling in her eyes out of frustration. She didn't want to be a tattletale, but she wanted her sticks back! It was so unfair! "Please just give them back." She tried a more diplomatic approach.

"No! Not until you tell us what they're for!"

They were going around in circles.

OOC: Here I come! xD

The sun was setting and it was time gor the children come go home – before mommies would get worried. Although Mrs. Willowgem had already become accustomed to the fact his son wouldn't return from his great adventures until the dusk. Every morning her precious little lad ventured to his explorations, coming back for dinner and then again disappearing  to the wide beach or maze of the stone-boulders that protected the villages entrances from the seas' storm winds.

But she really hoped his son would stay around little longer and help her more in the chores... But his heart was too kind to say no to the boy, who always returned his eyes sparkling, telling enthusiastically what kind of things he had today seen. The world they lived in  compelled the kids grow up so quickly, so how could she forbid Jarret from enjoying the time he had? As she feared - and of course she prayed she'd be wrong - that his little son would be forced grow up even more quicker than the rest of the village's children

Mrs Willowgem signed and swished her apron, turning back to their home-hole which entrance she had stood, waiting his son's return. She hope that at least little Jarret would remember bring the firewood she had asked...

He really liked playing on the beach or between the rocks which surfaced from the wide waterline. It was like a treasure hunt, as waves always carried some interesting things to the shore. But today Jarret had decided he would return early. He had a surprise for his mother and the young half-breed almost couldn't wait to see the look on her face as he would present her what he had found! Mother would be so surprised!

So Jarret was returning from the beach, arms full driftwood he had collected from dry sand. His pitch-black fur was gleaming in the ray's of setting sun as the pelt was still bit wet after a dive the kid had made in the sea.  Then all of sudden he heard the small distressed voice crying out from between big stone boulders

The half-breed stopped and listened carefully, his presence unknown for the others who were arguing behind the big stones. Something uncomfortable shifted in his stomach as he recognized the voice which refused to return the sticks.  For a moment Jarret thought of taking an another route. He didn't wish to meddle in this...

...Now the small voice, instead of shouting, tried to ask back what was hers. Jerret wasn't sure but it sounded like the she was about burst into tears. And it made him upset to hear how her wish was just ignored. Now they were being just plain mean! Those.. those big stupid bullies! The spark of anger leaded to the determination and in hurry Jarret put the wood down and quickly climbed over the boulder. When managing to get atop of it, he wasn't surprised to see  small group ganging up just one she-jumber.

"Hey!", he shouted, trying to shake off that dwelling fear within him. He didn't need to be afraid, he told himself. They might be older than him, but they weren't any bigger! Jarret was suddenly very glad about the grow-spurts he had started to have.
"If she doesn't want to tell you, then she doesn't have to! Give them back to her!"

Jarret struck a fearsome imposing silhouette posing on top of the boulder! Suddenly the two bullies were beginning to lose their nerve. Everyone knew who Jarret was. Parents warned their children to stay away from him, and gossiped among eachother that his presence in the village would attract pirates! Still, as large as he was, he was still seasons younger than them, and they weren't about to suffer the embarrassment of being bossed around by a child.
They changed their approach a bit, banding closer together and grimacing menacingly.  "Are you gonna make us?"
"Yeah! Make us ya bossy brat!"

Flitz rubbed her paws together nervously. She may have been young but she knew that was basically an invitation for violence. Those big mean looking jumpers were going to start a fight over sticks, her sticks! She couldn't have it! All she wanted was to collect her sticks and take them home to her grandmother, not to get picked on and diffuse a potential fight between three boys, but she'd try her best.

"Stop!" She whined. "Doon't! Grandma told me to get sticks she didn't say why okay!?"

Seeing how much the encounter affected  Flitz encouraged them more. Driven by her reaction the smaller of the two jumpers pressed on.

"Ha! Likely story!"

"You know what I think, I think it's just firewood, and she's just sayin it's special."

"Why would I even do that!?" She asked angrily, pounding her feet.

"To make you seem more special DUH."

OOC:sorry for the lame post Im really sleepy

OOC: No worries – we all are sleepy sometimes xD

The surprise on the other boys' faces gave Jarret a boost of self-confidence: it was like straight from the tales where the suddenly appearing hero struck fright on the wrong-doers! And for a moment he really felt like an undefeatable hero as he saw how two jumbers took a step back when seeing him. (of course Jarret, as young as he was, couldn't yet understand it was due other reasons, not because he was radiating some kind of heroish ambiance, which left everyone else in awe)

But the feeling was short-lived as the older boys quickly gathered their wits and challenged his guts. And for a moment Jarret was a lost what to do next. Should he punch them until gave the sticks back? Or maybe bite them? His mother always said that hitting and biting wasn't the way solve things AND it a top of that it wasn't nice - but those two jumber-boys weren't being nice either!

...And it seemed they had no intention of giving back what wasn't heirs in the first place. And they sounded like they would even fight.

While looking at the two jumbers the nervousness settled inside his stomach yet again in tight knot. Yes, Jarret was scared - it was natural a small kid be scared in situations like this. But as he had already meddled, he just couldn't turn on his tail and run. Heroes never gave in their fears.
"Well, at least she ain't the idiot who bullies smaller-ones around", he said back. Don't give in the fear, don't give in the fear, he chanted deep in his mind.
"Go pick on somebody our own size you - you cowards!"

Okay, maybe he couldn't either understand what importance the plain looking sticks held, but that wasn't reason to bully someone around.  Especially when older jumbers were teasing the girl just... well, just for the teasing.  It wasn't right!

It seemed to the two jumpers that all the tales their parents told of the terrifying half rat were just tales. As the shock from his sudden appearance died down, they grew tired of his speeches and threats and saw that he was just one rat standing on a rock and taking the high road. They were becoming annoyed with the act, and the longer they stood at a stand still, the more they got bored with their game.

It started to lose it's appeal and they either wanted to get it over with, or spice things up. Flitz waited anxiously, longing for it to all be over, but knowing that tragically, with boys being what they were, it wasn't going to end peacefully.

"Oh yeah! Like you? Why don't you come down here?" The larger of the two threatened, knuckling his fists.

ooc: sorry it's so short

OOC: Not as short as my post right now…

No turning back now... Jarret climbed little lower until he could jump down without hurting himself. His feet landed on the ground and his toes sunk in the hot, soft sand. He looked at the two other boys, trying his best to appear as confident and commanding as possible.

Meantime he tried fiercely to think what heroes did or said in situations like these. Something bold, he would bet.
"So --  Are you giving them back? Or will I make you?"
Yes, that sounded like the right thing to say...

ONce Jarret was on the ground the two jumpers really got a feel for how big he was, now that he was standing right in front of them. For a moment they seemed hesitant and exchanged a glance between eachother. His confidence seemed forced, and they were well aware of it. Slowly they began to circle him.

"You'll make us."

"Guys stop!" Flitz made a rush for one of the boys but was easily brushed aside. She picked herself up from the sand and leapt away as fast as she could.


"This way Gran!"

When Flitz returned, it was with reinforcements, an older jerboa, she wore her ears back in a bandana, and was just beginning to grey around her face.

OOC: Feel free to decide what kind of condition Flitz and her Gran will find Jarret (and possibly two other jumbers) ^^

Jarret felt that these two jumbers didn't take him seriously. Like they just thought him to be only bark, no bite, and unable to do anything as he was alone and there was two of them. It made him angry and that was what he just needed to get the courage leap forward, trying to take the stick from the nearest jumber. So he could show them how serious he was… He would show them!

But the jerboa, with his long and strong legs,  jumbed aback, out of his reach in the instant, while making a rude face at him.  "Too slow, rat-face!", he taunted, waving the stick mockingly at him. But anymore it wasn't the piece of wood which Jarret was paying attention. Now the half-breed was staring the other kid almost frozen-like manner.
"Take it back", a quiet whisper escaped from young half-breed's lips. Of course his schocked, hurtful experrion only encouraged the bully:
"Rat-face, rat-face!", he mocked loudly.

Jarret felt like his blood was boiling and he was shaking, but no longer because he was scared. He was angry - he was so angry that he was trembling, as if the anger was too swelled up to be contained in young half-breed's body.  Snarling he made an another dash, this time forgetting all about the sticks he was supposed to get back.

The jerboa laughed and jumped again, but was this time caught by his over-long tail. In middle of his jump, the jumber-boy yelped, as Jarret's forceful pull made him fell face flat on the sand. And in instant the half-breed vas over him, pulling his fur fiercely.
"Take it back!" Jarret was shrieking, yanking of an another pawful of hair from jumber's pelt.  "Take it back! I'm not a –"

"Let go of my brother you smelly dim-wit!" The other jumber-boy launched himself right at him and together the two of them went rolling on the sand, trying to beat one another. Jarret wasn't thinking clearly anymore: his vision was blurried by the  hot red fury, and he just kicked and clawed, bit and hit as hard as he could. Steaming out his anger which had been awoken by that only single word. 
He wasn't a rat! He - he wasn't!...

The two against one fight went predictably, when Flitz and her grandmother arrived Jarret would be left battered and bruised. They arrived just as the two brothers were limping away from the scene of the crime, and they were furious to see that Flitz had sought the help of  a grown up.

"Nice going tattletale." One muttered under his breath before his long ear was viciouly yanked by the older jumper.

"Frisker!" A humongous voice bellowed out of her small body. " What is this!?" His brother came to his aid and did his best to placate the older woman,but to no avail. "It's nothing! We were just having a lil fun is all!" Now she had both of them by the ear. "A lil fun my foot! We'll see what your father has to say about this!"

"Mrs Kalitz please!"

Their pleading fell on deaf ears as she dragged them off to face their parents. Once they were out of the way, Flitz rushed to the mouse rat in the sand, leaning over him, gently brushing him off and fussing over him. He'd gotten hurt on her account, and she just couldn't bare the thought.

"Hello? Are you hurt? Can you get up?"

#OOC: sorry you had to wait this post. I was so busy whole week and didn't have much of free time. Luckily all the hassle is no over ^^ #

When the rescue arrived, Jarret was lying on the sand, curled over his aching body and holding back the tears. The jerboa-brothers had really done the number on the half-breed:  he had  scratches and bruises all over him and his noise was dripping blood. But the stinging of small wounds were nothing compared how hurt and bitter the boy felt inside. And the feeling didn't vanish away even though he heard how two jumbers were made responsible for their doings.

No, he really didn't felt any better… He was both sad and angry - sad because all the things the brothers had called him... And angry because he hadn't been strong enough to make them stop.

Jarret flinched when the jumber-girl came next to him. And he curled into even tighter furball, determined to not let the girl see his defeated impression, hiding it under an arm he had folded over his face. He had hurried to the rescue thinking himself as a hero from the old tales and look at him now! He had been beaten, through and through, and had ended up being rescued instead. Jarret felt so miserable that he wanted to weep but of course he couldn't when the girl was right there, looking at him...  So only one soft sniffle escaped under the folded arm before it moved from covering the half-breed's face.

Slowly Jarret sit up, trying so hard not to let it show how humiliated he felt right now.
"I'm right" he said, although not sounding too convincing. He wiped his bloody nose.  Then he remembered.

"Your sticks....", Jarret uttered and his eyes swept over the sand, trying to find the very reason why the fight had started. But the pieces of the wood were nowhere to be found - maybe they had buried in the sand when the boys had brawled on it, or maybe they were broken into splinters.

"Wait!" Flitz cried out to her grandma. She marched right off with the two boys, but forgot all about Flitz and the other boy! Maybe it was on purpose? Maybe grandma was going to take care of the scoundrels and it was Flitz's job to take care of the boy. Yes! It was her alloted task! But what was she supposed to do?

"Um…"  She swallowed hard. He looked pretty beat up and wasn't moving, and she wasn't a doctor. When he responded she sighed a sigh of relief. She didn't know how to conceal a body yet. As for the sticks, they were a lost cause. They were either broken or hidden somewhere in the sand.

"Oh ya the sticks." She cast a glance around her at the damage and fiddled with her hands nervously.  All that trouble, for nothing. "Forget about them. Are you okay? Do your parents or whoever live close?"

Jarret rubbed his head, nursing a big bump, size of small fist, under his pawn.

"Yeah, me and my mother live in tunnels in the East Bank….", Jarret's voice trailed off as the realization crept in his mind. The half-breed almost jumped to his feet, looking down at himself.

"I can't go home looking like this!", Jarret said horrified, almost forgetting he wasn't alone. "I can't let mom to know  got into a fight..."
Battered and bruised, his noise running blood... What would mother say if he saw him now? In shape like this? She always told him that he shouldn't fight, no matter how angry he might be. That nothing good ever came out from violence and so on...  Jarret couldn't yet really understand all the things his mother tried told him but he wanted make her happy and keep away from the fights.

And now he had jumped right into one! What he would say to his self-defense? He really didn't want to see a disappointed look on his mother's face....

"Why not?" She seemed confused, obviously she didn't understand Jarret's family dynamics but to her, it seemed silly. "If I was your mom I'd bake you lots of treats and let you stay up early forever! You were really brave!"  Obviously she didn't understand his family dynamics, but it made sense to her, why should he be in trouble for doing a good deed? She smiled and held out her hand. "You can come to my house, we'll fix you up real good, she won't even know!"

(short post, I was gonna make it longer and have flitz take jarret to her house but I didn;t want to skip ahead without you.)

Jarret's panicking thoughts were cut in short by the jumber's  words. The half-breed turned towards the girl, looking at her baffled expression on his face, progressing what he had just heard.
Had the girl just told him – that he had been brave? Even thought he had lost the fight?
"I -- I was?", he asked unsurely, "But... but I lost -- and I couldn't get back your sticks..."

He was lost in his words... And he could feel a heat rising up on his cheeks and for once Jarret was happy for his bitch-black fur. No-one couldn't see his cheeks were turning red by that praise - especially not the girl! He had expected the girl to be at least a bit angry at him - after all, it was part of his fault her sticks were destroyed. But instead the girl had praised him, calling  him brave!

Looking at the paw jumber held out for him, Jarret thought about her offer. If he could was his face up and wipe the sand of his wet pelt, he would look less battered. He always came home with few bruises from his "adventures", so as long as he didn't look like he was returning from outright fist-fight, his mother wouldn't never know what really happened.
"Th-Thanks", Jarret stammered, taking the hand and helping himself to his feet.

"I'm Jarret, it's...um... nice to meet you", he introduced himself. He felt like he should as the girl had just invited him to her home. So at least he should tell her his name, like good manners instructed. His mother was always telling him that he should be polite....

OOC:  Okay, feel free to skip to Flitz home n.n

"Ya so?" The sticks were a lost cause, but for Flitz it was the principle of the matter, he meant well and did his best, and that was enough. There were going to be other sticks laying around somewhere, besides…" I said you were brave, not a winner hehe!" She giggled and stuck her tongue out as she lead him to her house.

"My name is Flitz!" She declared proudly, pointing at herself with her thumb. They arrived at what appeared to be some shrubs, but when she pushed them aside they revealed a small entrance. Inside the building were the usual trappings, an oven, cupboards and tables, only lots of them. Lots and lots of long tables. Flitz must have had a big family. There were corridors and pathways leading out from the kitchen, to several rooms, but they appeared more freshly dug, as if they were just expanding their living space for some reason.

Flitz pulled up a chair, and motioned for Jarret to sit in it. "Siddown, we'll fix you up!" She said, hoisting herself on her tall hindlegs to reach for a package out from the highest cupboard. Reaching into it, she pulled out a bandage and fumbled as it unraveled to the floor. The plan was perfect, save for the fact she had no idea what she was doing. "Um...where does it hurt?"

'I said you were brave, not a winner'
Well, she-jumber was quite right in that, but what she had said made Jarret look even more puzzled. But didn't the brave ones always win? Mother always told him bedtime-stories about heroes and their adventures. In this little half-breed's mind those heroes were always brave and they always managed to beat the evil-doers with their strength and wit. Didn't being brave meant that you were strong?

He couldn't ask about it since Flitz already turned around, leading the way. Jarret shook slightly his head (after all, other was a girl - what did she know about brave heroes and dangerous adventures? All the girls wanted to play with dolls and collect seashells on the beach) and  followed, as she showed him the road to her home.

As soon as they entered Jarret's eyes widened when he saw how many tables and chairs there were. Back in his home he and mother dined sitting by tiny tablet which was enough for two of them…In fact their home-hole was much smaller than this. Flitz family had to be big...

Feeling a bit nervous - he had never been invited in any villager's home before - Jarret sat on the chair offered to him, looking round. Surely it must be nice to have a big family... Siblings who would want to play with you and didn?t Flitz mention she had a granmother? So maybe he had grandfather to. A big family, with grandparents, sisters, brothers, mother and father...
...Father...
Jarret shook himself mentally, not wanting to ponder things like that. So he returned his attention to the girl, watching how she went over the cupboards, finally pulling out bandages.. . Wait a moment? A Bandage?

Surely he didn't need one? Jarret looked quickly at himself as if checking he really didn't have any cuts that bad. Besides, that liquid which applied before the bandages, always stung in the scratches! Nooo! He didn't want that!
"N-nowhere", he stammered, holding up his paws as if trying to prevent Flitz to come too close.
"These are just small bruises -- Isn't it okay if I just wash the sand off...?" The half-breed gave the girl almost a pleading look.

"Hm?" Didn't he say he needed to be fixed up? Maybe he didn't want to have to deal with the poultice's sting. She chuckled to herself, perhaps he wasn't that brave after all. Clumsily she rolled the bandage back into its package and precariously tucked it into the high shelf.

"Water?" She pondered, as if he was asking too much of her. "Aaaalright." There seemed to be some hesitance as she reached for a nearbuy beaker and poured a small amount into a bowl. There must have been some kind of rule regarding water she didn't want to break. She placed the bowl on the table and froze.  There was another presence behind her.

It was a small mouse, sneaking into the pantry, staring at Flitz and her guest wide eyed. "Are you washing!?" He said aghast. Flitz immediately grabbed the bowl and hid it behind her back. "N-no!"

"You're washing!" He pointed his finger accusingly.

"No I'm not!"

"yes you are, and who's he!?"

Flitz saw no point in trying to lie, since she was caught red handed. She slammed the bowl back down onto the table and took a different approach. "yeah so? What are you doing in the pantry?"

"N-nothing!"

"Then I'm not doin nothin neither, deal?"

"Deal."

The young mouse snatched some cookies and stole off into a different room. Flitz turned bright red with embarrassment and sheepishly tried to explain herself. "I-im sorry. Go ahead and wash up if you want. I er…"

After thanking, Jarret plashed water on his face, washing away the sand. It wasn't too hard to notice thet Flitz was acting a bit oddly but Jarret didn't have a chance ask what was wrong when the small mouse appeared from the pantry. Jarret himself was startled by the mouse-dibbun's sudden and silent appear - as the mouse seemed equally surprised to see them. First he looked at Jarret, then Flitz before his eyes fixed on the bowl jumber was holding.

Jarret really couldn't understand what was this fuss over just bowl of water, and why did the mouse sound like he was blaming Flitz from something.

"What was his problem?" Jarret asked (after the mouse had dashed away), wiping his wet face on the hem of his shirt, as he didn't had anything else in hand. And just for the record, for all the small boys out there, the clothes were just an another option to clean spilled drink, to wipe snot or use other creative ways to stain them.

"All you did was just took some water"

Flitz smiled awkwardly and chuckled to herself. How was she supposed to explain the eccentric habits of her grandma in a way that made sense?

"My grandma….doesn't like washing." Which sounded revolting and unhygienic, but there was a reason for it. "She says water is for drinking and washing is a waste, and only to do it when you absolutely have to. But you had to so we should be okay."

Jarret blinked his eye, absolutely surprised.
"She… doesn't?", he repeated. Wait a minute... If that was true it meant...that Flitz never had to wash his face before the bedtime? Now Jarret looked the jumber like she was the luckiest beast on the face of on the whole land. Could you believe it that there were actually adults who thought washing was unnecessary. Half-mouse couldn't agree more.

"Wow, you're so lucky!", he said with awe. "My mom always makes me wash my face before going to bed - and she scrub behind the ears too! And every time I get soap in my eyes and mouth and it tasted just awful!"
While explaining, Jarret were waving his hand, as if trying that way emphasize how horrible thing the bath and washing was. And for a half-mouse boy, it really was.

Jarret went suddenly silent, as if he had just remembered something.
"...By the way, why did your grandma want those sticks?"

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