Lark darted into Mossflower. The young ferret looked back at the direction where she had come from, panting heavily. Lark was a strange-looking ferret. Her eyes and a bit of her face had black fur around them that was mask-like. Her forepaws and footpaws also had black fur on them, making it seem like Lark were wearing black gloves. But perhaps the strangest feature about her was her eyes. They were silver and glimmering. She wore a hooded cloak and carried a bow and arrows on her back.
She was running from a town, where nearly everyone wanted her dead. Lark was sure she was far away enough, and she slowed to a slow jog, then to a quiet walk. She draped the hood over her head and face, still alert for any danger.
Fergus Ian Kelley rocked back on his heels and grinned down at his older sister. It wasn't hard, she was almost childishly small (and that he was also twenty feet up a tree helped, too). But the bow she was handling was a full-sized adults' (his bow, in fact), and though her specialty was close quarter fighting, once she hit her stride, she was painfully good with a bow, as well. He rubbed the sore spot on his thigh where she had gotten him eariler with a frown. Despite using blunted arrows padded with fluff and fabric scraps getting caught at close range with one of those wasn't exactly the best feeling in the world. He would have to put a salve on that later, he decided. He almost got distracted, but Eileen twitched to attention in the clearing below and Fergus grinned gleefully as she slowly, quietly knocked her blunted arrow and drew back. She thought she had him, and she was going to be utterly pissed with herself when she found out she was hunting shadows. Only…he cocked his head and listened. There was someone walking towards them, he realized. It dawned on him how close that person was, and that Eileen was tracking them. He shouted just as Eileen let her arrow fly.
In the quiet warmth of the afternoon, Eileen was hunting. Her brother had proposed to play this form of tag earlier in the day. They were ranging back home from a trip north, and were antsy to get back to their uncle and the homestead and the warmth of spring in the south. They were only a day away, and decided to waste an afternoon with this child's game from home. Uncle Conary would be fine, especially with Mei hanging about close by. And so Eileen had taken her brother's bow and a blunt, padded arrow, and waited. He had gotten her good, and now it was time to return the favor.
It was so still in the clearing. She had no idea where he had gone, and while it was tempting to cheat a bit and goad him out into the open, she stayed quiet. And it paid off. She noticed that the birdsong had stopped. And then, faint but close, came the sound of someone moving. He's trying to circle around behind me, she thought with a grin, slowly knocking and drawing back. She waited a moment longer, just to be sure of the source of the noise, and fired into the brush in front of her.
As she did, Fergus shouted, the arrow zipped into the bushes and struck a dead sapling hard enough to break it, and Fergus scrambled-tumbled-fell from the tree to her left.
Oh, but good sweet heavens, that hurt. Fergus groaned from where he landed flat on his back, in front of their cloaked almost victim. He gasped like a landed trout, leaves in his hair tail. "Hi," he gasped, trying to hide his embarrassment as his sister came swearing and barging through the brush to them. "Fergus! Ye damn plonker, what in th' seven hells wa' so important tha' ye had tae fall oot th' tree tae get tae…" she trailed off as she finally found Fergus at the feet of a traveler in a cloak. Military training kicked in and Eileen very gently set one hand on the hilt of her dagger. "Fergus, ye okay, brother?" the squirrel maid asked, stepping closer.
"Aye," he gasped, flailing into a sitting postion. "Aye jes' wanted tae make sure we didnae accidentally include our travelin' friend in our wee game..." he paused, picking a leaf from his hair. "Aye didnae fall on ye, friend?" he asked, turning bright blue eyes to the cloaked traveler.
Lark was already letting her guard down when she had heard shouting, and the next thing she knew there was a squirrel, flat on his back, in front of her. The sudden appearance of the squirrel caught Lark completely off-guard. A noise similar to that of a startled hawk escaped from her throat as the backed away swiftly, tripped on a tree root, and fell flat on her back as well. The fall had thrown off the hood on her head, but Lark was too stunned to notice. So much for a quick, stealthy escape.
The squirrel's voice brought Lark back to her senses. She immediately jumped up to her feet and, realizing her hood had fallen off, slipped it back over her head and face. It took a few seconds for her to make out what the squirrel had just said.
"Uh… No, no you didn't fall on me, uhm, it-it's fine," Lark stammered, still a bit stunned. Hopefully they hadn't seen her face. What would these squirrels say if they knew she was a ferret, an enemy vermin to them?
Eileen was stepping over to help the skittish girl up when she scrambled to her feet on her own, and very firmly pulled up her hood. Eileen's brows creased, a little confused at the care she was putting in hiding her face, but it wasn't her place to say, she knew that. And her mum would box her around the ears for even thinking of prying into someone else's business. She did see that their new acquaintance was a ferret, but that only meant that she was a ferret to her. She didn't seem like she was an unsavory person, nor like any type of threat to them. Still, Eileen kept half an eye on her while she turned and helped Fergus up. But it might be the locals attitude that had this ferret traveling so carefully, she thought, hiding a small, bitter grimace.
"Well, we're glad tae hear tha' aren' we, sister?" Fergus sighed, letting Eileen help lever him up. He winced, rotating the shoulder he wrenched in the fall, and deciding it was okay, if a little sore, he turned fully to look at their cloaked compainion. One hand raked through his black hair, and he smiled winningly, flirting almost without thought. "T'would be a true an' solemn shame if Aye had hurt such a pretty lass as yeself, ye ken?"
Beside him, Eileen heard his tone and made a soft, disapproving noise as she blew a frizzy red curl out of her face. Fergus happily ignored her, and stepped closer to the ferret. "Well, Aye believe our dear Mum would hate fer us tae nearly hit a lass wi' an arrow an' almost fall on her in one swoop wi'out at least providin' introductions." Fully showing off, now, he bowed low to the ground. "Fergus Ian Kelley at yer service, miss." He straightened up, and clapped a hand on his much shorter sister's shoulder. "An' this foine lass here is, aside from bein' th' one tae almos' hit ye, is me sister, Eileen."
Lark was a bit taken aback by the male squirrel's words. Was he flirting with her? If he was, he either didn't know Lark was a ferret or he didn't care. Either way, he seemed friendly. His younger sister seemed cautious around her, though. She probably knew she was a ferret, and Lark didn't blame her.
Lark cleared her throat a bit. "A pleasure to meet your acquaintance, Fergus, and Eileen. My name is Lark. Lark Windrunner." They already knew she was a ferret, so she slowly pulled off her hood from her head and let it fall back behind her head on her cloak. Her silver eyes shined in the moonlight like twin stars. She adjusted her bow in its sling behind her back and bowed a little in greeting. "Is your shoulder alright? Or is it dislocated?"
Fergus shook his head absently, not quite managing to make his mouth work. Eileen gave a little, private smirk. She hadn't seen her baby brother silenced in such a way in quite a while. She understood why, though. Not ever had they seen a beast with silver eyes. Not just grey, but actual silver, like the tea service her mum had at home.
"Nae, he's not too hurt, miss," she sighed, patting Fergus on the shoulder and preening a bit. She managed to speak just before he did, and that pleasure of beating a sibling to a task always made her feel a bit warm inside, even when she was more than a little above it. She relaxed, her hand leaving her dagger hilt and moving to brush a tendril of hair from her eyes.
"Why nae come an' have a sit wi' us?" she asked, nodding back at the clearing. "As an apology. We've got cider tae share an' some bread tae offer."
Shaken out of his stupor, Fergus nodded, grinning hopefully. "Please?"
Lark nodded. "Thank you for your offer, though I hope I'm not much of a disturbance." Lark remembered how tired and hungry she was. The only thing she had managed to take while escaping was a small biscuit, and that had not lasted long.
Lark carried a small satchel in which she had stored the biscuit in, and a few small valuables. She had been tense, ready to dart off or even get her bow in case Eileen or even Fergus would not trust her and try to slay her. Now that Lark saw they trusted her more, however, she decided to let her guard down a little.
"It's getting kinda late," Lark pointed out, looking up at starlit sky, "And it was late enough before. And it's starting to drizzle a bit, too." Lark had put up a forepaw to feel the light rain while she talked.
"Nae disturbance at all," Fergus promised, pawing at his face as a drop of rain hit his nose. "We've got cover a'plenty tae share, as well," he added, looking briefly to Eileen, to gauge just how much she'd like a bit of company. She raised her eyebrows at him in return, and puffed a suddenly fuzzier lock of hair out of her eyes.
"Aye, it's late, Lassie," she agreed, her tone rounded with the tones that spoke of being the oldest sibling. "Ye can sit a spell an rest, an' if ye wan', ye can bed down wi' us taenigh', ye ken?"
Fergus nodded, adding, "Ye c'n share our fire an' th' best company in all a'Mossflower." He puffed up a little and grinned as he offered her his arm. "Allow me tae escort ye tae our humble campsite?"
"Yes, thank you," Lark replied gratefully. There was no other place she could go to, anyway, being new to these woods. And her paws were begining to burn from running so much.
"So, these woods are called Mossflower? Alright then. I really appreciate your offer, it's more than I could ask for." Lark smiled. The young ferretmaid was grateful for Fergus and Eileen's offer to give her food and shelter, and even a bed to rest in.
"Which way to your home, then?" Asked Lark, a slight hint of eagerness in her voice. She wrapped her light gray cloak around her and draped her hood over her head to keep the rain out, though it did not bother her very much. It was so she would not accidentally track mud and water in the Kelleys' home and to not catch a cold.