Silas' story is a fragment of Everquest ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EverQuest ) lore tweaked slightly to fit an Aesiran audience.
- Silas and Arlette: Si.
- Everyone else: Stevie.
Kael walked down the wide dirt road, a long branch he'd plucked from the roadside resting on the back of his neck with his hands hooked lazily over it (almost as a milkmaid would carry her buckets). The sand-and-dirt-colored Coyote hummed quietly as he walked, letting his feet scrape up dust, covering his loose black pants with a gray mess. He was an odd one, so lazy in demeanor, but a hard worker when he got into the swing of his job...which seemed to vary, of late. He'd cut down his hours in the fields to spend more time with one of his friends in the main village: Silas.
Si was probably the only Fox that had lived in M'kit for years (as far as Kael could tell, anyway), so the Coyote always expected to walk in one day to find him doing something strange or just plain hilarious he wouldn't expect...and Kael seriously begged for the latter...it was rare he got any entertainment, one of the reasons he'd put so much time aside to see him. Coyotes may be the hardest workers in Tor, but they're not the most learned, and so (even at 21) Kael couldn't read: he never had anyone to teach him. And of course, and soon as he heard that a writer had moved to M'kit...he was quick to try and make friends.
He didn't really need to learn how to read – he was a jock: lean, but with plenty of muscle from all of his hours working his father's fields, but he found more enjoyment in the books he'd had read to him than in most anything else. Learning to read for himself seemed a logical next step.
The blonde Fox was snoring loudly in his bed, a habit he'd had since kithood. One of his arms was over his eyes, revealing the white glove of fur that covered his hand and most of his forearm. His long, straight headfur, the same blonde as most of his body, was now matted slightly with sweat. For all the time he'd spent in the Coyote capital, he'd never fully adjusted his internal clock to match their tendency to rise early. Kael could probably hear his snoring a while before he reached the Fox's front door.
Kael did indeed easily make out his friend's loud, croaking snore all the way from the front step. He figured that Silas wouldn't mind if he was given a more..."creative" wake-up call this morning. With a grin on his face, the Coyote discarded his stick into a nearby bush and quietly opened the door (nobody in M'kit locked them, since there was never anything worth stealing unless you liked farm tools and fruit) and crept his way through the house. And upon reaching the Si's bedroom, he crouched down and approached the bed. And just...one...step...away.... "Come on, Si, up and at 'em! It's a glorious morning!"
"Huh- WAAAAH!" the Fox cried, rolling over and falling out of bed in a tangle of sheets. He quickly scampered to his feet, panting, his ears and tail flicking about. "Ghahh...hahh...what in Karu's name...?" he breathed, relaxing upon seeing it was one of his friends. Si covered his chest with his hand and took a deep breath. "Kael...it's good to see you too..." he said, a bit heavy on the sarcasm and giving the Coyote a droll stare with his bright blue eyes before he turned to cup water in the bowl on the nightstand next to his bed and splash it on his face. The two contrasted a fair bit: the Fox was rather slim by comparison, not puny but clearly not having lived life in the fields.
"Good morning," Kael said brightly, well aware of his friend's sarcastic tones, "and it's great to see you, too! Haven't seen you in, what, two days? Sorry, but dad had to get the potatoes in before the ground dried solid." He grinned as his brown and gold(ish) tail wagged madly from side to side. He was a friendly but dim person, so when somebody got him talking, you'd be paid two baskets of apples to get him to stop. "Anyway, you get ready, okay? I'll wait for you outside; it's another hot one, so don't bother with anything much, okay?" he finished, before skimming out of the door on his lazy, dragging steps and dropping onto the nearest chair he could find.
"Yeah, you do that," Si replied above a mumble after Kael had left, shaking the water from his face before he went about preparing for his day, starting with his morning stretches. Despite this ritual of complaining when it was time to rise bright and early, Silas was grateful that the Coyote had taken such a liking to him and was willing to go at least a little out of his way to spend time with him.
Once Kael had sat down, Si's pet vaaruk Arlette padded up to him, stretching like a cat before sitting on her rump, smiling at the Coyote. Sitting on a chair, the Coyote was almost on even height with the creature.
"Heya, Fuzzbutt," Kael smiled, leaning forward and giving the vaaruk's head a ruffle, "I really wanna now how a sweetie like you can put up with such a grump...hehe, then again! He's only a grump in the mornings!" He laughed and leaned back in the chair again his tongue poking out of his mouth slightly as he pressed his teeth lightly around it. He loved the vaaruk, as he loved all animals: working with livestock all day had given him a liking for almost anything with a pulse. And he thanked Pasca every day he could that he was able to work so close to them...when not being forced into pulling spuds all day.
Arlette murred at her master's friend and lay down with her chin on her forelegs, waiting for Silas to come out.
Soon, the Fox stepped outside, taking another big stretch. He was dressed in a loose, light blue shirt that accented his blonde fur and blue eyes, and pants the same color and apparently material, just a bit thicker. He took a big bite out of an apple in one hand and smiled at his friend. "Well, time to go," he remarked, his vaaruk standing up and walking to Si's side.
"Ah, fast as ever!" Kael whooped, hopping back to his feet and giving Arlette's head another quick pet. "The traders from down south should be coming today, and I'm hoping to get some salted fish this time...but I don't think I have enough, so...anyway, let's just go, less chat, more walk! Bringing Fuzzbutt with us?" he asked brightly, pointing down at the animal between them. Whenever they went out, there was little in the way of planning. They just went, walked, talked and did whatever came to mind. Which was usually Kael blabbing on or Si offering to read him something.
Si nodded, thinking, "'Less chat, more walk,' indeed." "Yup. Now let's get going," he answered out loud, patting his thigh. Arlette walked to the indicated side, keeping pace with the Fox as he walked.
Kael walked out of the house with his friend, squinting in the bright sunlight since his eyes had gotten more used to the dimmer light inside of Silas's house. There was a definite charm to living in M'kit: head far enough north and you'll hit the Angel Desert, and head south you've got ocean...and no matter where you were in that stretch of land, there was almost constant good weather. "I forgot to ask, how's the latest book going?" Kael questioned the Fox. It seemed that this was not going to be a quiet walk.
"Oh it's, it's going okay," Si answered. "Maybe I'll read a passage from it tonight, hm?" He looked over at the Coyote for his most likely excited reaction.
As they entered the small market of the town, Kael darted his attention around the place quickly. They had no long-term traders, but there were always locals trying to sell off some of their excess produce and a few Foxes or Wolves from either across the lake or down south on the coast who sold little extras. M'kit's market never had the same things twice. And this time around, it seemed that a small caravan had come in: several Foxes (most Red with one Arctic and maybe one or two others) had set up a small gathering of collapsible wooden stalls packed with some rather pricey trinkets.
Silas cocked his head and wandered over to the caravan, Arlette staying at his side. "Hmm...whatcha got for sale here, travelers?" he asked, inspecting the wares.
The Fox currently watching the stalls while his companions worked with loading and unloading goods from their carts – a plain Red with some rather expensive looking silk fineries – smiled at Si in a very practiced and plain way. His attire was quite rich and he reeked of some kind of spice (traders always had first call on any goods that came their way, so they always had the best). "We have plenty going, today! Lots of fruits from the islands down south, imported just two day ago! A little soft, but the taste is all there." He gestured over a stand of some brightly colored produce, a very thick mix of smells coming from the collection ("soft" had been an understatement). There was plenty else to look at, too: some wooden and stone carvings that were all identical and going at a very high price. "Crafted by the chieftain of a Dingo village on a far island!" the trader continued, but the carvings all looked rather new. And there were clothes, jewelry, foods and drinks and much more. "So, anything catches your fancy?" the trader asked with his teeth still flashing.
Kael looked a little overloaded as he reached into his pocket and took out some coins. "Uhh...what can I get for two silvers' worth?" he asked with his hand full of coppers. Coyotes weren't taught to read as a requirement, but counting and use of currency was essential.
"Mm, I see..." Si trailed off as he browsed the selection, picking up a carving and examining it. "I don't suppose you'd happen to know much more about these carvings, would you?" he asked. Most merchants who passed through here were trustworthy (even if looking to make a profit), but Si had a tendency to be a bit overprotective of his good-natured but a bit ignorant neighbors.
"Those would be five silvers, good sir! A true deal at twice the price!" the merchant replied brightly, leaning over the stall to close the gap between himself and Si. "A true quality piece and a purchase you shall not regret, I assure you!" he continued, letting his ways in the mercantile tongue work their magic on Si. He didn't seem to be impressing Kael too much, however, and the Coyote had moved down the selection a little way to try and find something more in his price range.
Another merchant from the caravan caught sight of Kael, and was quick to move in, "Hellooo, sir! Looking for anything? We have some cheap silk shirts, going for three silver each." He held up the item in question, surreptitiously removing the small paper that the price was written on and throwing it to the wind, which led it right to Si's feet.
Si began, "Yes, thank you, but I was asking if you can tell me where you got them." He set the carving back, his eyes going to his feet momentarily and raising an eyebrow at seeing the price tag, and went to Kael's side. "We'll have to discuss something, sirs," he said to the Foxes before continuing to the Coyote, "You know, Kael, I just might be in the market for those shirts...remember the women from last night's reading? They said they love silk...maybe we should pool our money and buy them something?" He winked with the eye facing away from the Foxes and motioned with his head for Kael to come with him.
"Merf?" Kael looked at Si questioningly for a moment, then briefly at the Foxes behind the stalls. The one who had tried to peddle a carving to Si seemed to be regretting having lost a sale, and the one offering the shirts to them was grinning so wide that both Si and Kael could make out the three gold teeth among his real ones...it didn't take long for the Coyote to see that his friend was going somewhere with this. Where, he couldn't tell, but he still played along with it. "Uhh, sure, yeah, they said they love silks...all I have is enough for one of those shirts, you'd have to put a lot of coin in yourself..." he said slowly, moving as the Fox indicated.
The blonde Fox led his friend away until they could talk quietly without risking being heard, Arlette more interested in the food than in her master. "They're trying to rip us off, Kael," he said just loud enough that the Coyote could hear him. "Those silks are supposed to go for only one silver each...I think they take you for a clueless yokel." In the back of his mind, he added, "Well...you know what I mean."
"'Yokels'?" Kael blinkblinked and looked back at the trader at his stall briefly, who smiled in his toothy way and waved at them. "...You know, I'm pretty sure he wont last a kick between the legs...thick you can outrun his friends if I do?" the Coyote growled, knowing he wouldn't actually be able to carry through his threat, much as he wanted to. So, after a moment's thought, "One of the Guard is usually around the market this time of day."
Si nodded. "Right, but we gotta humiliate him if we really want to hit 'em hard. If I could get my hands on their records, I'd know for sure, but...they aren't just gonna hand 'em over." He looked over at his vaaruk, who looked to be barely resisting her urge to steal some fruit, and rubbed his chin.
Kael's brow went up and he looked at Si curiously. "I know that look," he said after a brief thought, "that's the look you get when you're writing, when you're planning something creative for one of your characters." The Coyote looked his friend in the eye, "And since there's no paper in front of you, it worries me what's going through that head of yours." Despite what he was saying, Kael appeared to be grinning.
Si looked up at the foxes from the book containing their financial logs, and shook his head. "That's what I thought. I have to tell you, I take personal offense to anyone who would take advantage of my friends like that," he said, patting Arlette's head, who sat at his side.
The merchant sighed and rolled his eyes back, leaning against the edge of his stall. "Listen, it's just business," he said in a flat, un-bothered tone as he took his records back from Si, "and we're businessmen. It's all about buying or making something, then selling it off at the highest price you can, and if these hicks are willing to pay double for something, then it's their own fault." And without another word, he snapped the record book shut and left Si and Kael hanging.
"Jackass..." the Coyote grumbled, watching the merchant walk away.
The blonde fox snorted lightly, and then looked at the merchant's cohorts. "Well? Anyone else have anything to confess?" he asked them.
All of the other collected merchants gave Si a dirty glare before getting back to work, but no real response short of one brown-furred fellow by a pile of fruits and other foods giving him a rude hand gesture. Kael growled to himself and nudged Si's shoulder, trying to get him to turn away from them and just walk away. "Leave 'em, they're not worth the breath it'd take to yell at them," he told him in what he hoped was an unbothered tone. "Come on, I'll get you something from one of the honest traders around here."
Si gave a "Hmph," followed by a few seconds of silence as he and Arlette followed their friend. "Hey, y'know I don't think you guys're stupid, right?" he asked. He was always a little nervous he'd come off haughty to the simpler but more easygoing Coyotes.
Kael laughed – outright laughed – there and then. "Aah, man, you don't need to say it!" he chimed, giving his friend a one-armed hug that more than demonstrated the strong upper-body that Coyotes were known for. "Si, we know we're not the smartest people out there, a'ight? We admit we're stupid, and we know you don't look down on us or anythin'," he smiled and released the Fox from his 'friendly' grip, "and if you did, do you really think we'd all like you so much, Foxxy?"
Si "Oof!"ed at Kael's display of affection, his eyes gawking reflexively. "Eh heh, no, certainly not..." he trailed off, wriggling free and straightening his clothes. "Maybe...we should just start the day's work, y'know? Sooner that gets done, sooner I can read from the book I'm writing."
"And that's all the payment I'm gonna need for today." Kael rubbed his paws together and started walking back out of the market with his friend. He may not have bought anything from any merchants this time around, but in the Coyote's eyes, that just left him with more coins for the next time...and maybe the notion to actually think about how much he was paying.
"So, Dad's got me and my sister working some of the animals this week and then we'll be planting again after that, but then, it's a nice, calm summer before we harvest again...shame it'll be so damned hot...but anyway! Today, me and you are gonna pick the last of the apples so Dad can sell 'em off as soon as possible...and the usual payment, you get a free basket of them. That okay with you?" And it was only then that Kael chose to take another breath...when the Coyote started talking, he could seem to defy nature and live without air. In fact, he hadn't let his friend get a word in edgeways the whole time, and they were outside his home...on the other side of M'kit.
Si had just smiled and nodded until Kael stopped talking, knowing it would be futile to try to interject when his friend was so excited, which was often. "Great. You grow some good apples," he said simply, looking at the Coyote's home. "So, anything new going on around the homestead?"
"Cole's being as big a pain as ever, but that's sisters for you, and we just found out one of the mares is in-foal and...nah, nothing much besides that," Kael replied, leading Si inside. The house wasn't much: the ground floor just looked to be one big room partitioned into a kitchen, sitting area and dining area. The floors and walls were stone, but aside from that, everything else appeared to be wooden...and rather simple, at that. Everything was there for a purpose: farmers couldn't afford the time or money to buy or make anything just decorative.
Si nodded. Not a whole lot tended to change with his friend, or much else around here, from day to day, he noticed soon after arriving. Sometimes he wondered if the people who lived here ever got bored, but if that were true, they wouldn't be so good at what they did. "And where are your folks?" he asked.
"Out doing...most anything that needs doing," Kael shrugged, "though the odd thing, my sister should be here, and she's n-"
"He-ey, Skinny!" a loud, almost annoyingly so, voice rang down Kael and Si's ears as the latter party was jumped from behind and put into an arm lock. "Ahh, weak as ever..." Cole grinned, tightening her grip on the Fox's arms.
"Ack!" the Fox yipped, squirming in her strong grasp.
"Speak of the annoying devil..." Kael sighed, glaring slightly at his sister...his oh-so-obviously sister. To look at the two, you'd think they were twins despite a good two years between them. "You can let him go, now, I'd say you scared the life outta him already..."
"Aww, where's the fun in that?"
"Let go of me, you brute!" Si insisted. His tail fur frizzed out as he whined lightly.
"'Brute'?" Cole giggled, tightening her grip further. "Now, is that any way to speak to a lady, mm?" she teased, obviously enjoying the situation.
"If you don't let 'im go, sis, I might be tempted to tell Ma about what happened last week with the- MMPH!" Kael was cut off swiftly as his sister released Si and locked her hand around his muzzle with little effort. Even a young female Coyote was a born worker and had a decent bit of muscle on her.
"Never mind, all is calm, nobody arm locks Foxxy...and nobody talks about you-know-what, okay?" she hissed. Kael laughed through his nose and nodded.
Si's ears perked at the stifled mention of what he assumed was something very embarrassing...he'd have to drill Kael about it later. He straightened up and rubbed his arms. "It's nice to see you too, Cole," he said as dryly as he could.
"Aww, don't be mad, I was just havin' fun with ya." Cole smiled sickly-sweetly, chuckling and sitting on the edge of the nearby table, "Anyway, what brings you to the great palace of queen Cole today?" she asked, her tone matching her smile. Kael just rolled his eyes and sighed.
"Well, m'lady," Si began, bowing his head in mock politeness, "I come to assist in the great harvesting of apples." He pointed out the door. "And my noble beast of burden will hunt the rats that plague your fields." He had to admit, he liked Cole despite her overly rough greetings.
"I see, I see." Cole's grin widened. "So that is why the royal jester brought you here?" she chuckled, watching Kael glare diamond-sharp daggers at her. She couldn't hold out this routine for long, and soon burst into laughter, "Haha, a'ight! Come on, then, Skinny! And get that featherduster, too!" she sang as he hopped down from the table and began to move her way to the backdoor of the house.
"I love my sister..." Kael sighed, "but I swear to the gods, I want to wring that neck of hers sometimes."
Silas chuckled. "Could be worse. You could have a younger sister and brother," he said, referring to his own family. "Now then...I'm hungry for some apples!" he continued, suddenly in high spirits from the thought of the reward that awaited him after the chore was done.
"A'ight, then!" Kael smiled (any mood other than "scary happy" didn't seem to last very long with him) as he walked with Silas out after his sister, "You know the drill from last time, right? Start with one tree, put all the ripe ones in the basket and all the damaged, brown or just-plain-bad ones in the mulch heap. Got that?"
Si gave Kael a thumbs-up. "Got it!" he said cheerfully, following his friend. Once outside, he whistled for Arlette, who trotted up to him anxiously, knowing she would be wanted to hunt rodents. "Okay, Arlette, you know the drill. Eat every rat and other apple-stealing pest you see. Got it?" She chirped at him and hurried out to the field.
Kael's family's "orchard" wasn't really much compared to some of the fields in M'kit. There were about a dozen apple trees arranged three-by-four in a fenced yard that could just fit them with a few feet between each tree. Under three of the trees were large, woven baskets, one of which Cole was busying herself filling.
"Heh, yanno what's odd?" Kael grinned as he went to one of the baskets, put it under a tree and started picking. "You let Fuzzbutt run around for rats and mice every time you come here, and somehow there are always just as many when next you come." He chuckled. "Damn things, eh?"
Si nodded, smirking. "So what're you saying? That she lets them live to look good next time?" he joked as he begun the task.
"Hmm, maybe?" Kael grinned, "Heh, it still shocks me that you got a vaaruk for a pet. I mean, something smaller is way easier to look after..." he trailed off, quickly managing to clear the first tree on his row before moving on to the second. "I'm thinkin' of getting an otter. Wa-a-ay easier!"
The Fox raised an eyebrow, smiling playfully. "An otter, huh? Well, I hope you like fish and going swimming," he remarked.
"Ma can do wonders with fish when we can catch or afford it, Si! That answer your question?" the Coyote grinned, stopping in his picking and leaning against the tree. "I'd just have to make sure 'the Queen' over there doesn't think we'll be sharin' pets." He chuckled.
Arlette, meanwhile, had hunkered down and was staring at the grass near Cole's feet, then pounced whatever she saw, chasing it and running headfirst into Cole's tree. Cole was busy and oblivious to their conversation, more focused on her day's work than being social for the moment (an admirable but slightly annoying-to-put-up-with Coyote trait). However, the moment Arlette crashed into the tree, an apple shifted her attention...mainly because it hit her on the head. "Ow!" she hissed, rubbing her crown as she looked down at the offending animal. The phrase "hell hath no fury" came to mind whenever Cole made that face.
Arlette shook her head before she looked up at Cole and cowered, trying to make herself appear as small as possible, reaching up and pawing at Cole's leg apologetically.
Si looked over his shoulder at the scene and gulped. Kael could only cover his eyes as Cole picked up the apple that had hit her on the head and glared down at Arlette. She threw the fruit into the air and caught it a few times as she spoke, "You, missy, have until the count of three. One. Two...."
Arlette got down on her belly and covered her head with her feet, not wanting to see Cole be mad at her.
Cole may have had a short fuse, but she wasn't really a mean person, even when provoked...and seeing Arlette cower on the floor like that.... "Bah, would have been a waste of fruit..." she sighed, tossing the apple into the basket and going on with her work.
Kael let loose a sigh of relief, and leaned against his tree. "I will never get women."
The Fox matched Kael's sigh, throwing in a shrug. "Could be worse," he offered, though at the moment he couldn't think of how.
"You're lucky you live on your own, man." Kael laughed slightly. "You get a whole house to yourself, never having to make way for your sister running around or anythin' like that...but eh. I wouldn't give my family up for that." He grinned. "So we're both lucky, right?"
"Well said," Si agreed with a sage nod, picking another apple and inspecting it. "Hm...this one's a little bad," he said; the apple was too small to have much market value. He looked to his vaaruk and called, "Hey, kill three mice and you get a treat!"
Arlette looked up cautiously, and seeing Cole go back to picking apples, stood up and shyly padded over, nuzzling against the Coyote's leg.
Cole looked down at the vaaruk again, this time breaking a smile. "You're too cute for your own good, Fluffball." She rolled her eyes. "Now get back to mousing before I try to pet you."
Arlette chirped and immediately was rooting through the grass again.
"I sometimes think she actually understands you..." Kael muttered, watching Arlette scurry about for mice. "Ooh, the mighty Fox has the power over animals! We must blame our next bad harvest on you, and run you out like a witch!" the Coyote laughed, waving his arms about like a madman. "Burn the Fox, Animal-Speaker!" he continued on, only to get an apple to the back of the head from across the field. "ACK!"
"Don't make fun of Silas, that's MY job!" Cole grinned, polishing off another apple. The one she'd wasted on her brother was browned with pests, so she allowed herself that fun throw.
Silas looked over at Cole, his eyebrows raised. "Wow...that is some arm you've got there, Cole," he complimented. "Guess it'd have to be to hold back this force of nature," he joked, flexing what muscles he had.
"And you make my job WAAAY too easy, Si!" Cole called back, giggling and passing another apple between her hands. Foxes were naturally skinny, true, but Coyotes still enjoyed poking fun at them. Cole's most common 'insult' was, "There's gonna be a stiff wind tonight. Careful you don't get blown across the lake!"
Si waved the mock insult off. "Ahh, whadda you know, you brute?" he countered, his usual jest to his friends.
By noon, the three of them had finished with Kael and Cole's morning chores (which they'd have still been doing were it not for Silas's help) and were resting in the shade beside their home. Even with the extra help, the two Coyote were in a sweat by now. "Thanks again for the help, Foxxy," Cole praised, before taking a long drink out of a skin of water she'd taken from the house, "you'll get your apples when Papa's sorted out which ones he plans to sell." She smiled, passing the water down to him. Kael was too busy scratching Arlette's head to note any words passing between the two of them.
"No problem," the Fox responded before taking a swig and wiping his mouth on his sleeve, "anything for a captive audience later." He was, of course, referring to reading from the book he was writing to anyone who would listen. Arlette nuzzled against Kael's thigh, reaching up and pawing at the air.
"Oh, riiight," Cole smiled. "How far are you with that thing, anyhow? I'd have thought you'd have finished by now," she asked him, standing up and patting the dust from her clothes before leaning back against the building.
"I'm almost done. Just need to come to a satisfactory conclusion...but it's tricky," Si replied. "But you'll see! Now, I have to be off. Round up a few ears in the evening for me?" he continued, his tail flicking excitedly.
Kael, still rather oblivious to the other two, just chuckled and raised his hand just out of Arlette's reach. Arlette sat up on her haunches and tried to grab Kael's hand, smiling happily.
"Eeeasily done!" Cole grinned, tail swaying behind her, scraping the wooden wall. "It may be a fair shot between houses, but just tell one or two people something, and soon everyone in M'kit knows it!" She chuckled and pulled her weight from the wall, turning away from her brother and Si, "You just get your story and head to the usual spot on time, and I'll do the rest," she sang, soon on her way to get some lunch.
"Mm?" Kael looked up after his sister left, his hand now firmly in Arlette's grip. He obviously hadn't been paying attention to a thing, because, "Hey, where'd Cole go to?" Arlette moved his hand to her muzzle and started gnawing on it gently.
"Oh, nothing, just your sister helping me out," the Fox replied with a smirk. "Now, I'll be going. I'll see you later!" he chirped almost as if talking to a small child.
"Whoo, you got it!" the Coyote whooped, getting up with his hand still firmly in Arlette's grasp. "The closest thing I get to a good story without you around is...guh, when Cole sits down at dinner to describe her day from start to finish..." Kael shuddered. Even those without good taste had something that passed for standards.
Arlette licked and kept gnawing on his hand, letting out contented growls.
Si smirked and brushed his hair back with his fingers. "Eh, she's not so bad. Least she gives good feedback," he said. "Now go mousin', Arlette, daylight's wasting."
"Right! Come on, Fuzzbutt!" Kael grinned, picking up the vaaruk and throwing her over a shoulder. "You can gnaw me on the go." he chuckled.
Arlette chirped at the Coyote, flailing a little bit but soon relaxing and purring; it wasn't every day she was given a ride.
Si laughed as he started walking away. "You spoil her, y'know that? How'd you like to keep her?"
"Nah, pass. We already got four horses, some chickens and a whole mess o' other things...and I'm trying to find a pet otter." Kael chuckled, scritching Arlette's neck as he walked, "And besides...Fuzzbutt eats more than all our other animals put together!"
"Well, at least she can catch a lot of her own food," Si countered. "Makes a darn more threatening guard pet than a horse too."
"Yeah, yeah...she'll look any intruder cutely in the eye and make that little pleading noise, and then all enemies shall run in fear!" Kael chanted out with more than a hint of sarcasm in his tone. "Oh, how foolish of me, I never realized Arlette's worth!"
"Of course. I'll see you later," Si said as he stood up and walked off to do his other tasks around town.
A while later, with the sun starting to set, Si walked to the town square with a few pages of manuscript tucked into his arm. He smiled and waved at the Coyotes present. "Nice to see you all again. How's everyone doing?" he asked.
The majority of those gathered there were Si's usual following of illiterate story-lovers: Kael and Cole, a few of their friends and one or two other village residents. Most were sitting on a box or basket they'd brought over themselves, and one of the Coyote had even left a large bowl of fruits out for everyone, though it was probably all unmarketable leftovers from a picking. "Doin' good, Si man," one of the gathering replied for the lot of them. "We's waitin' on that story Cole promised from ya, though, and ye know we don' like t'wait," he added with a grin.
The Fox nodded and reached to take an apple from the bowl, taking a bite out of the fruit as he sat down on a crate. "Well then wait no longer! Tonight's story is from 'The Giant War.'" He cleared his voice and shuffled a little to get comfortable before he held up his manuscript and began. "When we left off last time, war for supremacy had broken out in the First Generation: the dragons and the giant Bentos, both the favored of their gods. Both sides were fighting fiercely in the epic struggle, such heroes as the dragoness Hsagra and such leaders as the giant king Porlos rising and falling.
"After centuries of war, something happened that dwarfed the scale of even this great conflict. Now, it was the dragon goddess who made the rules for her race, and one of the most important rules of all was that dragons of opposing elements were forbidden to mate. Even the most renegade dragons did not disobey this rule. But two young dragons, a fire dragon and an ice dragoness, broke that rule. They were the only dragons to ever do so, before or since. They were punished by being banished to opposite corners of the world, never to see each other again. But that left the question of what to do with the egg that resulted from their coupling, as it was also forbidden for a dragon to kill another dragon."
The small gathering all listened intently, passing around the fruit that had been brought (though a few were smart enough to pass when things were down to the mostly-brown ones). Nobody spoke up to interrupt, but that wasn't too much of surprise given that they rarely had any sort of literary experience short of writing the prices on their market fruit.
"They allowed the dragon to hatch, and the hatchling was unlike anything they had ever seen. He was prismatic, all the colors of the rainbow on his hide, and they were constantly changing. The hatchling quickly demonstrated remarkable growth in both mind and body, and the dragons decided that he was to be their ultimate weapon. He was named Kerafyrm, 'almighty son' in their language, and it was soon that his military life began.
"Kerafyrm quickly rose through their ranks and became their most powerful general. There seemed to be no end to his potential: his strength grew faster than any dragon ever seen before or since. Oddly, unlike most dragons, he had almost no magical aptitude, making up for this shortcoming instead with physical power, as well as ferocity. Before long, the war was shifting in the dragons' favor as victory after victory piled on Kerafyrm's shoulders.
"But there was something wrong with him, something that only became worse. He became increasingly violent not only to his enemies, but to his allies. Eventually he started lashing out at his own soldiers, and every attempt by Kerafyrm's superiors to calm him was rejected. It finally came to a head when, after Kerafyrm's army invaded a giant city and slew each and every Bento, he turned on his soldiers and killed all of them. He was out of control, and as big a threat to the dragons and giants as they were to each other.
"It was clear that he had to be stopped, not just for the dragons' sake but for the world's sake, but again, even if they could marshal enough forces to stop him, it was forbidden for a dragon to kill another dragon, so the dragon leaders devised a trap. While their priests prayed to their goddess for help, the dragon leaders called for a temporary truce with the giant king until Kerafyrm could be contained. The giant king, whose people had suffered greatly from Kerafyrm's rage, was only too eager to have the wild creature stopped.
"The dragon goddess responded to the pleas of the priests by sending down her four elemental warders, one dragon for each of the four elements earth, fire, wind, and water. They would tie their life force to Kerafyrm's to keep him in eternal slumber. All they needed now was an opportunity to spring the trap."
The gathered Coyotes were in something of a stunned silence as Silas went on with his story. They'd heard a few of his works before, but this one...was a lot more detailed, as if it were an actual history, and it had them gripped.
Silas was quiet then, looking above his manuscript and beaming at the silent praise of his fans. "And that's a story for another day," he finished, taking a bite from his apple and setting his manuscript down.
There was a mass whine of disapproval and a few quick requests for the rest of the story, but nobody really put up much of an argument. With their brief entertainment over, the small group of Coyote thanked Si (one of them handing over the rest of the apples...bad as they were) before leaving to return to their work. Only Kael and Cole remained afterwards. "Another goodie!"
Si smiled at his friends as he stood up. "Thanks. It's not much, really, but I'm glad you like it. I'm hoping to write it into actual chapters instead of that big overview...but that'll take years."
"Worth the wait, Foxxie!" Cole beamed. "Enough to make me want to learn to read," she added, though she probably wouldn't. Kael just put Silas in a headlock and grinned in his usual way, like he was short a few screws and didn't know it.
"Gah!" Si yipped as he was headlocked, squirming as usual. "Er, well, I could give you private lessons!"
"Aww, that's sweet of you to offer, but no thanks." Cole smiled and patted Silas's trapped head. "You do enough for us as it is, and besides, the less time you spend teaching me...."
"The more time you spend writing!" Kael finished for her with a grin, letting the Fox go.
As usual, Si straightened his hair after he was released. "Mmf...it'd be worthwhile to teach you to read," he muttered.
"Please, what good would it do me?" Cole asked with a roll of her shoulders. "I don't have time to read, myself, so I don't really have the time to learn to...besides, I know all I need to, already. Unlike someone..." she trailed off.
"Oh? Really? Who?" Kael asked with his usual unending grin. Cole didn't answer, for once glad of her brother's naiveté.
"Ehh...what a waste of a good mind," Si grumbled, making sure it was just loud enough for them to hear, as he went to fetch Arlette from mousing around town.
"We all know that people don't like me for my mind, Foxxy!" Cole called after him with a smirk. Were he facing in her direction, she'd have blown him a kiss to emphasize her point, but then again, maybe that was a bit much......nah.
The Fox rolled his eyes, smiling. "I do," he said quietly.
Once he found Arlette, he walked with the vaaruk to Cole and Kael's home to say goodnight to them and their parents, as usual. "See you tomorrow?" he asked his friend.
Kael nodded briskly. One could almost hear that brain rattling around in its spacious home as he did so. "Eyup! Same time tomorrow! Try to be awake before I'm forced t'wake you, okay?" he chuckled, ruffling Si's hair.
Cole, meanwhile, was a little more tactful, and merely spoke a polite, "Goodnight," before stepping off to bed.
"See you later too, Cole," he called back, then heading off. Looking down at Arlette, he scritched her head. "They're a fun bunch, they are."
Before going home, he decided to take some time while it was still daylight to write some more. Walking to the edge of town, on an overlooking hill, he sat down and started to think and write a few notes.
The problem with such a busy town such as M'kit, was that even though everyone spent most of the day working, there was always someone around enjoying their last two hours of free time, and Silas had chosen one of the busiest places for that: anywhere that's supposed to be empty.
It wasn't crowded...heck, there were only two other people there (both local Coyotes, of course). But how they were enjoying their free time was the issue. Their clothes were piled nearby, around the hill just far enough for Si to see them from where he was seated, and beyond that little heap came hushed kisses, giggles and murrs...oh, what a place he lived in.
Pricking up an ear, Silas blushed as he tried to ignore what was more than likely happening just beside him. These Coyotes...they were never shy with affection. A smile crept across his face as he kept writing, but now he couldn't concentrate, trailing off into amorous non-sequiturs...particularly about some of the women he found comely.
The busy couple's affections continued for the better part of an hour, long past the sunset and into the early night. They tried to be quiet about their affairs, that much was obvious, but they provided Si with more than enough material for his writings. Things were quiet after that, another few long minutes passing, before the two Coyotes grabbed their clothes and decided to head on home, walking past Si as they went. It seemed that neither of them had known the Fox was there, as their trek home was being made in just their pants – both were topless, which was not uncommon in Coyote women and men – but the greater embarrassment came when one of the pair caught sight of their...audience. "...Oh, hi there, Silas!" the female chimed with a bright smile.
"Um...h-hi, Mr. and Mrs. Ysem," Si blabbed, glad he had his paper on his lap. "Nice evening, isn't it? Very...romantic out here," he continued, his tail flicking.
"Oh, yes it is!" the woman responded with a widened smile, her husband remaining silent beside her. "What brings you out here? Few come out this way alone...tsk, haven't been with my Cole, have you?" she chuckled. It was difficult to tell if she was joking.
He blushed brighter. "N-No, ma'am...besides, Kael would murder me if I did, you know," he replied. Oh no...did they know he liked Cole?
"Oh, all right...so you and Cole aren't an item, huh?" she smirked, tail swaying.
Her husband tried not to laugh. "Now, Danya, leave the lad alone...besides, he's closer to Kael than the Cole, so if he'd pair with anyone...."
Ugh...to Silas, keeping his crush hidden so Kael didn't beat him up was only a little less grating than the alternative. "Right...um, it was nice seeing you again. Have a good night."
"You, too, hun!" The pair smiled, giving Si a wave before heading back off on their way home.
Letting out a sigh, the Fox shook his head a little. It was going to be a little awkward hanging out with Kael tomorrow after unintentionally listening to his parents having sex. "Strange people, these Coyotes...."