Meetings on the Path
(This is a little experiment, an introduction of sorts. Everyone is welcome (though there is a limit to how many people may join in at the start).)
A warm, aging sun of the season shone through the treetops of Mossflower, and somewhere above, a breeze played with clouds made of the purest white, while down below, the battle of ages took place.
"You'll open eventually. And when you do…" A small ferret, his dark brown fur shining in the sunlight, wrestled with a metal flask, trying to open its stopper. So absorbed was he in this task that he ignored the path opening before him as he walked, until he hit the curb, and crashed unto the hard, paw-pressed ground, raising a cloud of bitter, sandy dust.
"Well, figures. You'll open! Take that!" the ferret, whose name happened to be Prestor, bit the cork of the bottle, and promptly became stuck. His sharp teeth trapped in the tough wood, he tried to pull the flask open and rip the cork out of his mouth, but only succeeded in falling into the road dust again.
"Wellth. Thnowth thwhath?" Prestor looked around, annoyed, only to rapidly realize that in his efforts to uncork the water flask, he'd stumbled upon a place in Mossflower he has never seen before. Almost by instinct, he covered his shoulder bag with his cloak and scooted away from the path on his bottom, but by then, the damage was done... (feel free to put your character on the path, or close enough to be seen by a ferret with a bottle stuck to his mouth...)
Widestripe hummed to himself as he walked along, just inside the treeline on the Eastern side of the Mossflower road. It was most certainly an exceptionally fine day for trekking, even though he never let weather, be it fine or inclement get in the way of his travels. His progress had been good so far today, and he was in an excellent mood. Widestripe didn’t exactly know where he was headed, but what did it matter? The reward of distance covered at the end of the day was good enough. The massive badger relished the feel of a playful forest breeze on his heavy fur, and the feel of the large claymore in the harness spanning his broad back.
As he padded over the loam, his huge paws leaving dints in the earth, Widestripe became conscious of another beast in his vicinity. One who was apparently not too worried about advertising his presence to others… A distressed grunting noise made itself heard from the path, and the badger came in to view of a small ferret, his mouth attached to a flask with which he was arguing rather heatedly. Wallace stepped into the open, knowing that his presence would change the little animal’s perspective on States of Affairs. But who knew? Widestripe was always eager to make an acquaintance, and not at all afraid to fraternize with the rare decent vermin. However, if the tiny ferret was evil, then Mother Nature would have one less place to set for dinner tonight.
Prestor's gaze traveled up and up and up…He saw something huge, dark, and possibly hungry. And it had a weapon. The only thing that stopped the ferret from passing out then and there was sheer terror.
"Shtay backth!" He mumbled from the ground on which he was sitting. He tried to pull his dagger from his belt, but only succeeded in tangling himself in the straps of his shoulder bag and the fabric of the cloak. Now that he was helpless to do much but wiggle his feet and look frightened, he found the cork released his teeth, and the flask fell into the dirt of the road. Not that Prestor cared.
"You're going to eat me? I'm not tasty, I swear, see?" he wiggled around again, and fell on his side. As if it weren't enough to confuse and surprise the giant badger before him, Prestor also made a little circle in the dust trying to rip open the cloak, all the while pleading for his life. Finally exhausted, he whimpered:
"If you don't mind, please tell me what you are, and sit me upright, before I die. I don't want to be eaten while lying down, without knowing what ate me. I'm sure this will make a wonderful story in the Dark Forest."
(Out of Character--yes, Prestor is a little strange, as well as having no idea what a badger is. Wouldn't you expect something huge and dangerous looking to eat you?)
Widestripe knelt down and disentangled the Prestor from the cloak before setting the little ferret on his feet. “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t dream of eating you. There is not enough of you to constitute as a meal… Otherwise, perhaps I would consider you food.” Wallace laughed. “I happen to be a badger. You would appear to be a rather diminutive ferret. However, don’t worry yourself to death, I wouldn’t hurt you except in the event that you were to show hostility towards me, and probably not even then.”
The badger stood up and shifted his claymore to a different position on his back. “Where would you be headed on this fine day? Surely you are not just loitering in this part of Mossflower with little aim towards anything done by eventide… You seemed to be intent on a menially complicated task when I observed you several minutes back, and gave little notice to any of your surroundings, which I would warn against in the future.” He started to stroll slowly along the path. "The name would be Wallace de Burg, but you may call me Widestripe. It is my commoner title, and one which brings acknowledgement when mentioned to the Woodlanders." The big animal smiled grimly. "Or to the bands of petty vermin around these parts."
OOC: My sincerest apologies that this is so short and so late... Certain independent factors got themselves mixed up in the process... This is just to keep the thread alive. I'll have a meatier post hopefully on the morrow.
"Oh. You're a badger. Are all of you this…large? It's nice to meet you! I'm Prestor, and of course I'm headed places! I've not paid attention, and ended up turned around--never been this far out of Mossflower woods before! Too many mouses and otters and such around. Somebeast might think I'm out to be a bandit, and I certainly don't hang around the vermin hordes. Not that I'd judge anybeast, or anything, Widestripe." The ferret picked up the bottle from the roadside and went about his attempts to destroy the cork again.
"I'm going down to see somebeasts about a roof....a little south of here, I think. Heard from a travelling rat that they had a bit of trouble, this morning with a tree, and wanted to help. For a price, mind you, but I figure a meal and a roof over one's head isn't much." Prestor's fear seemed to evaporate as quickly as it appeared, perhaps because of his weasely heritage, and he was skipping around Widestripe, looking at him this way and that.
In his skull, the Toymaker was furiously trying to understand how a beast like that, huge and threatening, could be so gentle. And, if bands of vermin knew him, he surely must be quite the warrior. Probably scared other beasts, so he was friendly to a strange, "diminiutive" ferret. Prestor twitched his whiskers in irritation at the thought but the thoughts went so fast that it was barely a pause for him.
"You certainly are a big one. Want to come with, help fix the roof? You seem to know the place, and I'd not want to get lost again. One 'badger' is enough for me, thanks. Maybe get you a meal out of it, if whoever owns the home is willing! You in, Widestripe? Say, what's it like, being a badger? You all got tribes or something, up from here? I’ve been to the South much, and to the East of Mossflower, but never did go up north. Heard there were all sorts of nightmares up there, from killer mice with swords the size of, well, you, to some great big fortress filled with treasure and madbeasts! "
The badger wondered if the small ferret ever stopped his constant and erratic movement. Or his talking. He was rather like a fly that subsisted off of sugary necters… Was that why the active creature was so intent on getting the cork out of his flask...? Whether or not, Widestripe supposed that the point was immaterial. He started to walk at a faster pace than he had been holding before, so as to cause Prestor to run in order to keep cadence. Perhaps the activity would do the ferret good...
“Well, we are all very large, but some of us are bigger than others. My apologies for terrifying you. As far as traveling with you for awhile and helping you fix somebeast’s roof, certainly. I would find the company quite welcome after traveling alone for these several weeks, not to mention the possibility of a meal cooked by someone other than myself, and a roof over the head for a night or two.” Widestripe gave the active ferret a quick glance. “Would you happen to have any idea who the animals with the inclement roof might be? Or where they live? Those are important points of information, you know… You can’t help anybody with any mending or handiwork if you are lost in Mossflower. Did the traveling rat give any hints or landmarks to look for that might tell us when we are near our destination?”
While the ferret paused, thinking, Widestripe continued answering questions. “Badgers are not clannish animals. I left my parents at a very young age, and have not seen them since. Most grown male badgers avoid each other, due to the fact that we do not get along well together. I am able to tolerate some fellow badger lords, as long as they are reasonable. However, aggressiveness in other beasts unfortunately brings out the aggressive in me.” The badger laughed. “You can count yourself warned."
(OOC: Who's joining us? Or, shall I just make up some characters?)
OOC: Well, it doesn't look like anybody besides Yours Truly is interested in taking part, so we should probably just create some open characters.
"I see. Sound almost like some of the other big beasts out there." the ferret seemed to actually spend a little while thinking about the location he was headed, skipping along after the badger, before sniffing the air, looking around, and rapidly changing direction.
"It's by an old ruin of a toad camp, just South from here. Still got a wooden statue up, of some frog king or another. Suppose I went way too far, trying to open this darn flask. Mind helping?" the ferret offers the bottle up to his badger friend. "A vole couple lives on a hill next to the statue. Old Deathfang mentioned that the two may be a tad…cautious. So, nothing threatening, and try to look smaller and less carniverous."
The ferret chuckled at his "joke".
"Of course, they got a right to be a little cautious in this land. I mostly stick to the forests, myself. Keeps me away from any unwanted attention, be it vermin or woodlander kind. Besides, what with that fortress I mentioned out there...well, I hear they'd not be friendly to a hordebeast, even if I'm the sort that left his horde behind, see?" Prestor had never seen Redwall. He purposefully avoided the place, and knew next to nothing of the land just north, any beast would realize, as he led Widestripe through the forest, ignoring common paths and sticking to a strange, circuitous path.
"How about you? How does a beast like you live so close to a great big, scary fortress?"
~A little ways up the path~
You twitched his paws as he lye asleep in the middle of the path. He snarled in his sleep and lashed out viciously. After a moment of thrashing, he curled into a ball and started to purr like a babe.
Hearing noise up the path, he flicked his snow white ears and opened one eye. He was facing down the path, so he couldn't see what was making the sound. He sat up, stretched, and worked the stiffness from his jaw. He closed one eye and scratched the side of his head with a footpaw. After that, he sat on all fours like a cat and looked around down the path, blinking.
Suddenly, he remembered the sound he'd been woken by and turned around, still on all fours. Behind him was a massive shadow, blotting out all light from the sun. He tilted his head to the side and examined it, blinking owlishly.
OOC: This looks fun, can I join?
OOC: Should I use my squirrel, or my otter?
OOC: Whichever you deem to freak out less. I mean, you have a mad craftsman, a dangerously pacifistic badger, and a….um....white otter named You.
OOC: OK I'm using Shaun. You know, there seem to be on awful lot of shadows loose around these woods!
BIC: Shaun Strongrudder strolled along the path in the direction of You. Not that he knew this of course, but he would soon. The path was not straight, so he was almost upon You before he knew it. He rounded a bend and saw a white otter lying on the path, apparently asleep with his back to Shaun. "Strange time to be napping" Thought Shaun as he came closer, he glanced over his shoulder at the sun, which was on it's own path to the western horizon. His footpaw crunched on the gravel and he saw a white ear flick and the otter sat up stretching. He apparently didn't see Shaun because he got up on all fours and looked down the path the way Shaun was headed. Then he turned and saw Shaun, or at least his shadow, because the sun elongated it so that it was three times Shaun's real height.
He looked down at the white otter curiously and asked, "Who are you?"
OOC: Sorry it's been so long. I would have arrived and posted sooner but my native bearer M'bungo lost the way. Edit "Dangerously pacifistic"? He's not a pacifist, I assure you, but neither is he a warmonger.
The badger took the flask and pried at the stubborn cork with his large claws. “Cautious voles, you say… We may or may not have trouble with them; you never know. As you said, they have a right to be cautious. The southern bogland is not a friendly place. I have traveled through it several times, and have had trouble with the inhabitants on more than one occasion. However, it was never anything that I couldn’t handle. We should be able to take care of ourselves.”
With an energetic wrench, Widestripe yanked the meddlesome plug of wood from its parent flask, and handed the vessel to Prestor. “Your flask. If you feel hungry, just say so and we can stop for a rest and something to eat.” He drew a canvas bottle from his sack and drank a few mouthfuls water before continuing with his conversation. “I think that when you reference a ‘big, scary fortress’ you are referring to the Abbey of Redwall. I have been there a few times, but never for very long. Believe it or not, I have very much enjoyed my stays there. The creatures are very friendly and accepting of almost anybeast, even vermin, who doesn’t offer them harm. I know a weasel who spends a good deal of his time at the Abbey, and he is much beloved by all the inhabitants. I am quite sure that they would accept you, Prestor. As for me, I really don’t live near Redwall at all. I left my parents when I was very young, and have been roaming where I wish, offering defense to the weak and unprotected ever since… I will occasionally sell my service and my sword to those who need it (though I prefer to lend my services freely), and have been across the seas and back. Mine has been a fulfilling life so far. What’s this…!?”
The badger and the ferret had been so engrossed in their conversation that they had not noticed the two otters who were now directly in front of them on the path. The badger paused abruptly, wondering when the two creatures would notice the presence of him and his companion.
You recognized the voice and accent of an otter. He loped forward and started to slither around the otter, sniffing and poking. He sniffed the handle of a blade. He recoiled at the all too familiar scent of blood letting steel. He poked his nose into the otter's shirt, tickling him with his whiskers. He withdrew his nose and started talking to himself with great speed, while sitting on the otter's shoulders, "Hmmm, I am an otter, You are certain. I am a warrior, bleh. I take life, You don't like that. You only ever take life to feed yourself. I take life with no reason. You have seen it before. Some of us do it to protect our families, yet some of us do it for fun,"
You slithered down off the otter's back and sat once more on all fours in front of the startled otter. He twisted his head almost completely upside down, still watching him curiously, "But which am I, You want to know?"
"Redwall, eh? I seem to remember one of the horde elders calling it Bloodwall. Guess stories grow in the telling. Seeing as I have nothing to worry about, I think, I may visit someday."
Just then, Prestor saw what stopped the badger.
"It's an otter and a ghost of an otter, Widestripe. " said Prestor matter-of-factly. He sipped at the water in his flask, before taking a small step forward.
"Hello! I am Prestor Whitegrin, and this is Widestripe. We come in peace!"
Looking back at the badger, the small ferret smiled.
"Now, to see if they come in peace, or if we are going in pieces. Today might get stranger if we run across Vulpuz. Figure I'm just in shock at this point. Must be dreaming. So, just roll with things, and hope it's not that turnip and oatmeal dream." he giggled, and flopped over in a faint.
"Hmmm, I am an otter, You are certain. I am a warrior, bleh. I take life, You don't like that. You only ever take life to feed yourself. I take life with no reason. You have seen it before. Some of us do it to protect our families, yet some of us do it for fun, but which am I, You want to know?"
Shaun just stood there, not trying to be rude or anything, just trying to figure out what the other otter had said! Finally he saw the pattern. The strange otter had replaced 'I' with 'You' and vise versa! So what he had asked was "Do you kill for pleasure or need?" "Well," Shaun replied. "I kill out of necessity, not need or fun. I kill to defend myself, or others in need, I kill to defend what I think is right and just. I take no pleasure in killing, it is just a thing that needs to be done." As he finished, his voice got lower, as if he were talking to himself at the end. "That is why I kill, not out of any blood lust, just necessity. Anyway, who are you? I'm Shaun Strongrudder.
"Hello! I am Prestor Whitegrin, and this is Widestripe. We come in peace!"
Shaun spun, not quite whipping his sword out, but almost… There, standing not 20 paces away were a ferret and a... Shaun's eyes had to travel up even at that distance! A huge badger! "Welcome! I am already here in peace!" He called back with a grin. "I am Shaun Strongrudder."
You took one look at the ferret and the fur on the back of his neck stood on end. He hid behind Sparhawk, arched his back, and hissed like a cat. When the ferret just fell over, he waited a moment, then crept forward and sniffed the unconscious ferret. He recoiled at the strong scent of sweat. He cautiously crept back up to the ferret and started rumaging through his possessions, arranging them neatly on the path beside Prestor.
After a moment, he finished with the ferret and turned to the badger. After watching him for a moment, he loped forward and started to scale the massive creature. Coming to sit on his shoulder, he examined the side of the badger's head intently, making it slightly nervous.
Widestripe looked down at Prestor’s still form, and stirred him gently with a large foot. He looked down at the two otters. “My little friend seems to have taken shock to something. He is a very active character, and the sudden sight of a white otter on the path must have overwhelmed him with thoughts of ghosts… As Prestor stated before he temporarily left us, my most common name is Widestripe.” Wallace pointed to the dark otter. “You I know are called Shaun Strongrudder, but what is your fellow otter’s name? I haven’t heard him speak…”
He watched in fascination as the silent mustelid sniffed warily at his unconscious friend, and then proceeded to remove the ferret’s belongings from his knapsack, rearranging them neatly on the path, in painstaking order from largest to smallest. Widestripe laughed heartily, and then unconsciously tensed as the white otter shifted attentions and started to scale his huge frame, finishing its journey on his shoulder and peering intently at his head. The badger restrained himself from removing the strange creature bodily from his shoulder, instead choosing to speak gently. “What name do you go by, white one? I mean you no harm, and neither does the ferret, as you can now see.”