Thief in the Cellar ((coolcoyote))
The fox closes his eys as they talk. If he was about to be put to the sword he sure didn't want to see it!
Then they talk about letting him live…to put him to work...
That was even worse! "W-wait, wo-o-ork? PAY?! Ah man can't you just...turn me into a hat or something? Y-you know I hear fox stew is tasty!"
Despite his protests the grain filled fox didnt fight back. Like a creature cornered in a hen house he just held his head low and tail between his legs. "Ah maaaaaaan..."
"Weel," Eileen said with a certain smirk in her voice, "Aye could say sommat about actions an' consequences, but Aye'll bet ye ken all 'bout alla that, mmm?" She let herself relax now that he seemed done fighting. Still, her hands were secure around his wrists, lest he get the impulse to bolt.
Conary nodded in agreement, looking for all the world like a disappointed parent. He was about to turn back to the house for the cleaning paraphernalia when out of the dark floated a new cheery voice and the bright spot of another lantern.
"Oooch, Leen. Ye've gone an' made yersel a new friend."
Eileen huffed and peered out from behind the fox, for she was, predictably, too short to see over him. "Hush Fergus. I'm surprised ye actually got oop outa bed a'tal."
"Oh, me wee heart," Fergus shot back, finally materializing, his own lantern adding to the muted light of Conary's. He was grinning and sleep rumpled, and something in the way he stood there, lanky and expectant, gave him a very undisciplined air, so unlike the other two.
Instead of replying to that, Eileen huffed. "Uncle, could ye go an' git this git th' broom? Th' sooner he starts, th' sooner we can all git tae bed." To Fergus, she jerked her head down towards the cellar and said, "Come help me keep our guest comp'ny, aye?"
With out waiting for an answer, Eileen turned Rascal around and marched him down the steps. Over his sister's rod-straight back and stiff shoulders, Fergus asked the fox, "Wha did ye even do, boyo?"
Ducking his head Rascal cringes like a beast being led to the gallows, his mind abuz of all the horrible things the squirrels might do to him after finishing his work. His though sounds much more confident than he was actually feeling. "When I can understand the accent I will let you know."
He pauses at the bottom of the stairs, looking at the mess he made. Admittedly he had gone a bit overboard with his gluttony spree and left quite the mess in his wake. "I did what foxes do best when raiding a pantry lacking a chicken coop…" he glances over his shoulder at the squirrel leading him in, wanting to ask her what his ultimate fate is but daring not to. He sighs, "Bring me a broom..."
"Well, there goes our latest recruit." the fox turns away from his hiding place. Like Rascal the beast is a redfox. He wears a bandana over his neck and a pair of trousers to keep himself decent.
"He lasted longer than the last one." The vixen stretch from where she sits. A cross fox that didnt mind showing off her black underbelly between her vest and trousers. "Well, I suppose we should save him before the savages slaughter him in the cellar."
"No." both foxes turn to their third and last companion. The fox was a little more meaty than his companions but mostly it was muscle. Mostly. He wore an wolf hide cloak over one shoulder and the weasel hide sash across his green trousers.
"Rascal knew the risks, and he failed his test to get into the group. Besides, it's late and we can hit easier targets down the road."
The vixen nods, "Alright, we can come back later, see if he escapes."
"Or if one of them is sporting a new fox hide coat," chuckles the leaner tod. He gives them both a currious glance at their disgusted faces. "Wot...WOT?"
The foxes just shake their head and slowly disperse from the forrest around the homebstead.
Fergus' eyebrows raised and he grinned a bit at the little show of spine from the firmly beaten fox. "Ooch, such sass from ye, laddiebuck. Be careful wi'tha sharp tongue, yee ken?" His voice didn't carry a threat, just a light, gentle teasing, almost as if he was egging the lad on. It wasn't nice to have someone rob your cellars and make just about as much of a mess as possible while doing it, but…well, Fergus had always liked meeting a new face.
In front of him, Eileen just snorted, and finally, finally let the fox's wrist go. They were down in the cellar proper, now, and with both herself and Fergus to block the stairway, she wasn't too worried he'd get loose. If he even felt like risking it, at this point, which, by his body language, didn't look like it. "Donae encourage him, Fergus," she cautioned glaring at her younger brother. She was still hot with anger and annoyance that anyone had attempted --and succeeded, if only just-- rob them, and wasn't nearly as interested in making friends. "Ye either, pup," she added, pointing a stern finger in Rascal's direction as the stairway became brighter once more, and Conary returned, carrying a sturdy broom, and a bucket filled with hot, soapy water and a scrub brush. "Here we are, noo," he announced, handing the broom to Eileen, who stiffly held it out to their 'guest'. "Hop tae, pup."
"I'm not a /pup/." Rascal clarifies most pointedly. "My names Rascal, and before you ask, yes my parrents really were that unimaginative. I loved them anyway." he supposes it doesn't hurt to mention that he has a family, just in case they were planning on slaying him after he finished working for them. The chances of that happening seem to be growing lesser by the minute.
Not that he wasn't thankfull, but the feeling of embarassment was there, having to face his potential victims. It could be worse, there were plenty of beasts, vermin and woodlander alike who would have put the chubby thief to the sword and then steal his hide to make into a coat. The thought chilled him.
Despite the fox's lazy appearence he works hard and quickly. It doesn't mean he works WELL, just quickly and not wanting to give them any mkre reason to hate him.
The floor is scrubbed, the shelves are cleaned, and the mess is slowly taken care of, one grain of seed at a time.
By the end the fox is exahsted. He lays against a crate, head kicked back, tongue hanging out the side of his muzzle, and his portly stomach raising slowly with each labored breath.
"Floors…clean..." he says at last.
The sky would be lightening soon. Dawn was still hours away, but as someone who hadn't slept, Eileen decided that hours away was still too soon. But, the floors were clean. Not spotless, but clean. Rascal had worked hard, she had to give him that. No real fuss once he was going, no real lip. He worked himself to pieces. The annoyance at being robbed was there, still, and would probably linger well into the week. But as she padded over to him, her voice was softer "Oi, boyo."
She perched on a heavy wooden crate next his and held out a tin mug filled with cold, fresh water. "Ye did good. Thankee fer cleanin' oop yer mess."
The fox lifts his head up to look at the squirrel. His paw reaches shakily for the water. He nods his thanks and then gulps it down. Perhaps a bit too quickly. Its already gone and he is still thirsty.
"Thanks…for, well, you know." Not one to bemoan his fate but it has been on his mind a lot in the last few bours so he asks, "I suppose...you are going to keep me here now until the athorities show up?" he rubs his chin, "Come to think of it I don't even know who the athorities are here..." his ears fall flat with worry.
She shrugged and shook her head. "We're in a wee bit o' a…" Eileen paused, searching for the right word to describe this particular part of the region. Finally she settled on something at least close to apt. "A wee bit o' a blind spot here, ye ken?"
She wondered if telling him this would be bad, if he'd run off and act like some sort of wild thing, but the other option was lying, and Eileen didn't have much of a taste for that sort of thing. He'd find out soon enough, anyway, if he kept traveling after they were done with him. "We've got Castle Floret two or tree days tae th' south, an tae th' nort a few days is th' Abbey Redwall. But we're sittin right oot o'reach a' both their territories," she explained. "So there's nae real authorities aboot, aside form th' long patrols tha' come through once'er'twice a season."
Eileen stood, stretched a bit, and flicked her hair back out of her eyes. "We take care o'ourselves oot here, mostly."
"Please don't turn me over to the long patrol." the fox says, ears flat. That was surely a death sentence for just crossing them on a bad day. His ears quickly perk up as he adds, "Well, I am going to assume that since we are here having this conversation that you are not going to inflict woodlander style vigulanty justice upon my hide. To which I am eternally thankfull." Rascal adds quickly.
"I have to admit, in the chaos that just happened I cant remember if I introduced myself. Call me Rascal." the pudgy fox takes a bow that would be far more grand if not for his belly falling halway to his knees.
"Since my debt is fufilled I guess…I will just take my leave then?" the vulpine gestures at the open door.