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Long Roads Ahead (Back to Square One)

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On 6/22/2019 at 12:40 AM, Vetanoob said:

"I hope you're feeling better, Torie. That stunt you pulled was marvelous!"

Torie glanced over at the young man and offered him a beaming smile, all whiskers and teeth. "Thanks! And I do," she said. "But don't expect me to do that again in a hurry. It hurt!"

On 6/22/2019 at 2:48 AM, Jotnotes said:

"If the kobolds survive through the ordeal, we can just explain to the mine owners that they're looking for work?" Priscilla suggested. "Torie can just tell them to dig in the mine, and prepare her a place to keep her dragon's horde. Maybe if we leave them alone long enough, they'll make a little home in there or something."

"Or, we can probably convince them to take off when we're done." The runesmith shrugged.

“They are fragile little things, all being said,” Torie said, her voice a little distant. She then waddled her way over to the one with the injured hand. “You,” she said, pointing with one curved white claw. Of course all the kobolds stopped to look, though the fear was most present in the injured one. “Come. Kneel before your master.”

The injured kobold – a green one – walked over to Torie on shaky legs. It kneeled down and cast its gaze at the ground, still cradling its injured hand against its stomach.

“What’s your name?” Torie asked.

“K’st,” it said at the ground. Torie cocked her head.

“Look at me when you speak to me,” she said. The kobold obliged, but only so far as Torie’s feet. “Now, what is your name?”

“Kissit,” it said again.

Kissit? Like, Kiss-it? Maybe Trashkill wasn’t half so bad, Torie thought. She looked to her human companions with amusement, then cleared her throat.

“Kissit. You were very brave, to attack a creature so much larger than yourself. Show me your hand.”

Kissit reached out, and Torie winced in sympathy. The hand was badly mangled, swollen, and weeping puncture wounds between the bones in the hand glistened redly in the daylight.

“Shank!” she barked, and the blue kobold came and kneeled before her.

“Yes, oh Mighty Trashkill?” he said.

“Find something to tend to your wounded. Bind Kissit’s hand. You should take care of your siblings.”

“Siblings?” he said, raising his head, orange eyes gleaming with curiosity.

“All my servants are brothers and sisters. After your loyalty to me, you must be loyal to each other. You, the leader, must look after those beneath you. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mighty Trashkill,” he said, then fell prone.

“Good. Go, find something to bind Kissit’s hand,” she said. As Shank scuttled off, she said to Kissit, “From now on you will be called Kissit the Brave. Once we have finished our mission, we will find you healing.”

“Thank you, mighty Trashkill,” Kissit said, kneeling lower, a puzzled expression on her green muzzle.

“Go then,” Torie said, and as Kissit ran off, Torie announced in a loud voice, “We are going to kill some salamanders, and punish them for their tricky ways. To do this you must behave yourselves, and harm no-one unless I expressly tell you to do so. Do you understand?”

The kobolds all looked at each other. The brown one asked, “What is, ‘expressly’?”

"It means 'fast,'" said another.

Torie grinned with the corner of her mouth, raising her whiskers on one side.

“It means, don’t hurt anyone, don’t attack anyone unless I say, ‘attack them!’ Remember we are trying to blend in with humans. I am a hidden dragon… for the moment. But when I reveal myself ALL OF HUMAN KIND WILL COWER BEFORE ME!!! Those of you who remain obedient will share in my glory. Those who do not will feel my wrath. Do you understand?”

“Yes, mighty Trashkill,” they said in unison, falling prostrate where they were.

“Good. Now, repair the cart, for we will ride into battle. And bring the birds that have died, for I, Trashkill, am hungry!”

The kobolds leapt back into action, and Torie turned to her companions, a glint of merriment in her green eyes.

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Aaric listened to the different suggestions. Both Torie and Priscilla had good ideas, but the wayfarer himself had none. In all honesty, he would have said the same things either of them had suggested. Having nothing else to contribute, he simply nodded. "I, too, would like to resolve this peaceably. Let's see what happens when we reach the mines yeah?"

Torie turned to the kobolds and started giving out instructions. Aaric was impressed, the changeling could really hold her own in keeping up the act! If it wasn't for her, they would have to be forced to spill blood. Nothing Aaric hadn't done before, but he didn't feel comfortable letting his new companions have even a glimpse of how good he was at causing harm to others. 

When the tigress sent the kobold back to continue the repairs, the wayfarer decided it was time to let them know about what he gleaned from the fence. Beckoning the two closer to him, Aaric's expresion turned stern and he looked straight at Priscilla. "Now, before they finish repairing the cart, I got some news for you. Remember that fence contract we didn't take in favour of this one? Well, let's just say I did a little snooping around and followed the guy who took the request back to the fence. I didn't get in, that would be impossible without alerting them. But I did manage to eavesdrop on the conversation inside."

"Get this." He exclaimed. "The client who sought the fence to outsource the quest is some wife of a nameless noble inside Vdara city. But that's not the interesting part. This lady offered to reward the person who completed the request a rune-enchanted buckler, and that this person is a runesmith herself. I don't know any other runesmith other than you and you don't look the type that can afford to send out a fence contract request either. Something fishy is going on... and I'd hazard a guess that whoever this other runesmith is, you'd want to know who she is too."

Aaric bit his lip. "So... what do you think? Once this salamander quest is over and done with, shall we pursue the trail?"

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On 6/22/2019 at 7:23 PM, Venus Sprite said:

“They are fragile little things, all being said,” Torie said, her voice a little distant. She then waddled her way over to the one with the injured hand.

Priscilla crossed her arms and watched, amused, as the might Trashkill went from hand-biting, fire spewing demon of the skies, to an overprotective mum in a few seconds. Torie quickly demanded help for the injured kobold, and not long after declared all kobolds to be her children. It was a little much, for Priscilla's tastes, not that it wasn't a pleasant thought, but because Priscilla didn't actually know if that was a thought most dragons entertained. Priscilla wasn't a dragon, however, so she couldn't speak to it. She let Torie have her fun. Once she was through whisking the kobolds away on their tasks, she returned to the runesmith and Aaric.

 

Aaric, speaking of which, appeared to have something on his mind. 

On 6/23/2019 at 10:55 AM, Vetanoob said:

"Now, before they finish repairing the cart, I got some news for you. Remember that fence contract we didn't take in favour of this one? Well, let's just say I did a little snooping around and followed the guy who took the request back to the fence. I didn't get in, that would be impossible without alerting them. But I did manage to eavesdrop on the conversation inside."

Mentioning the fence made Priscilla a little tense. Ultimately, she thought they'd chosen to ignore the fence, on the grounds of the work being too dirty. To hear that Aaric had investigated it anyway was a point of contention. She remained silent, and let Aaric speak up.

On 6/23/2019 at 10:55 AM, Vetanoob said:

"Get this." He exclaimed. "The client who sought the fence to outsource the quest is some wife of a nameless noble inside Vdara city. But that's not the interesting part. This lady offered to reward the person who completed the request a rune-enchanted buckler, and that this person is a runesmith herself. I don't know any other runesmith other than you and you don't look the type that can afford to send out a fence contract request either. Something fishy is going on... and I'd hazard a guess that whoever this other runesmith is, you'd want to know who she is too."

That was information worth having. Priscilla didn't know there were any runesmiths working out of Vdara, or at the very least, none working under the Merchant's Guild. He mentioned the merchant was a noblewoman, however; maybe she was a hobbyist. Or, perhaps, she was a recent creator. 

It definitely warranted exploration of some kind. But Torie wasn't a fence, nor was she a burglar, murderess or anything of that sort. Neither was Priscilla. The only one here that could reliably investigate such a lead guilt-free was Aaric, and she wouldn't feel right asking him to follow up on it.

On 6/23/2019 at 10:55 AM, Vetanoob said:

Aaric bit his lip. "So... what do you think? Once this salamander quest is over and done with, shall we pursue the trail?"

Priscilla shook her head quickly.

"It's a nice thought, but it's too dangerous." She said, before adding. "We have no idea what this contract entailed, much less who the employer is. What if it's a hit? Or grand theft? If this goes too deep, we'd get in a lot of trouble for trying to butt in."

She looked at the kobolds nearby, and added, "I don't think it's my right to tug you guys along on any contract that could get you guys hurt. Let's just play it safe, for now."

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The kobolds were rather ambitious in their craft, and as they worked over the wagon it became apparent that Shank was a bit of a savant when it came to leading. Through short, guttural commands, he had the other kobolds working in no time, fetching the broken pieces, scouring the nearby woods for replacements and improvised parts. Shank himself quickly, and without much tact, found leaves and bits of springy moss quickly, and returned to the mangled kobold, and bound their wounds up tightly. It was crude, but effective. Then, with a sharp bark, he ordered the injured kobold to begin prepping the downed carriage birds.

That said, the overall progress was a bit slow. The kobolds were eager to work, certainly, but they lacked proper tools and a lot of know-how. So even though they managed to skin and butcher the birds with a sharp piece of flint, and even though the broken axel wheels were reinforced with braided grass ropes and long strips of oak bark, even though the splint around the kobold's arm kept it from bleeding all over the place, progress crawled along. By the time the kobolds had stoked a fire, and begun roasting the birds---stuffed with some local wild mushrooms and herbs and seasoned with ground tree nuts and some nearby berries---the sun hung only a mere few hours above the horizon. It'd get dark, sooner or later.

Not that the kobolds seemed to mind. Shank had taken over turning the two birds over on the spit. The branch they used to roast the birds on wasn't terribly thick--it sagged under the weight of both animals, even though they'd been gutted, skinned and largely deboned. Still, the fat on the animals popped and sizzled as they cooked, the warm orange glow of the fire illuminating the hungry looks on the kobold's faces. The rest had finished their work, so now they were all sitting around, waiting to eat.

Priscilla's stomach was growling too, reminding her of her own hunger. She settled down around the fire as well, and opened up her pack. Inside, among her meager contents, she still had some provisions, bread and dried fruit mostly. She gnawed on apple slices idly, while they all waited around.

She had to admit, it was taking longer than she would have liked to get this contract done. They still couldn't move the cart around, either, unless they planned on dragging it around, or having the kobolds work together to haul it around, and using kobold labor to move it around wouldn't exactly be efficient. It seemed like they were probably going to have to spend a bit more time tracking down something to haul the cart, too.

Priscilla looked around, at Torie and Aaric and Shank's boys, gnawing her bread slowly.

"We're going to need something to drag the cart, you know." She said loudly. Aaric was still energetic as ever, and the woods nearby appeared to be deep and dark, and maybe full of game. She nudged him gently.

"This might not be a perfect solution, but why don't you check the woods nearby?" She suggested. "We can hitch something to the cart for a while to get us to where we have to go, and then we can get moving again."

"Food is done!" Shank hissed. He produced his shank and quickly sliced off a leg, which he promptly handed over to the 'dragon', and then another one. 

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“Thank you, Shank. You are proving to be a most valuable servant,” Torie said, doing her best to sound dramatic and self-important. She’d never actually heard a dragon speak. Only roar in the distance. But this was how she imagined they sounded. Her tigress’ voice was impressive enough as it is.

As she quickly tore into her meal, it took Torie a few moments that the kobolds were all watching her. Five pairs of hungry eyes glistened with reflected fire. She cleared her throat.

“Eat, all of you. Fill yourselves for the battle ahead.” When it was clear a squabble was about to start, she said, “Wait! Smallest first. They need to catch up with the rest of you.”

They looked at each other, puzzled, then quibbled in their own tongue. Eventually Shank had them all lining up in a row, kicking those that slouched, to find that Kissit was the smallest among them. The small blue kobold crept towards the spit and tore off a strip of meat before retreating some distance from the fire to eat it.

On ‎6‎/‎29‎/‎2019 at 2:40 AM, Jotnotes said:

"We're going to need something to drag the cart, you know." She said loudly. Aaric was still energetic as ever, and the woods nearby appeared to be deep and dark, and maybe full of game. She nudged him gently.

"This might not be a perfect solution, but why don't you check the woods nearby?" She suggested. "We can hitch something to the cart for a while to get us to where we have to go, and then we can get moving again."

Upon hearing Priscilla’s plan, Torie settled her paws on the ground and felt for life. There was plenty nearby, but perhaps not what they wanted.

“There’s trolls in those woods,” Torie said to Aaric. “If you go down there at night I don’t think they’ll be happy to see you. Why don’t you head back to town and buy a horse or two? We’re not that far away, and it’ll take you less than half the time to ride it back.”

She looked down, then fished around in the leather satchel secured around her neck, sitting among the fuzzy folds of her many second chins. From this she produced two silver coins. “This will cover it, no?”

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On 6/27/2019 at 2:48 AM, Jotnotes said:

"It's a nice thought, but it's too dangerous." She said, before adding. "We have no idea what this contract entailed, much less who the employer is. What if it's a hit? Or grand theft? If this goes too deep, we'd get in a lot of trouble for trying to butt in."

She looked at the kobolds nearby, and added, "I don't think it's my right to tug you guys along on any contract that could get you guys hurt. Let's just play it safe, for now."

Aaric gave a scrunched-up expression. "Wellll... technically, taking on quests like this one has an element of risk to it. I mean, aren't all quests having some inherent danger of some sort? We could try to pick up the trail and see where it leads. Nobody said we need to butt in... we could just observe from the side and scurry off if things get too dicey! But since you're the chief so I'll respect your decision."

Letting the issue go, for now, he turned to watch over the busy kobolds.


Sometime later...

Once the cart was finally repaired, the kobolds got to work making camp and starting dinner preparations. As the fire burned and the poultry were being cooked, the party of three continued to discuss their current situation. 

On 6/29/2019 at 12:40 AM, Jotnotes said:

"We're going to need something to drag the cart, you know." She said loudly. Aaric was still energetic as ever, and the woods nearby appeared to be deep and dark, and maybe full of game. She nudged him gently.

"This might not be a perfect solution, but why don't you check the woods nearby?" She suggested. "We can hitch something to the cart for a while to get us to where we have to go, and then we can get moving again."

"Food is done!" Shank hissed. He produced his shank and quickly sliced off a leg, which he promptly handed over to the 'dragon', and then another one. 

As everyone started to dig into their meals, the tigress and the wayfarer listened to Priscilla's plan. But Torie had her own concerns. 

On 6/30/2019 at 6:13 PM, Venus Sprite said:

“There’s trolls in those woods,” Torie said to Aaric. “If you go down there at night I don’t think they’ll be happy to see you. Why don’t you head back to town and buy a horse or two? We’re not that far away, and it’ll take you less than half the time to ride it back.”

She looked down, then fished around in the leather satchel secured around her neck, sitting among the fuzzy folds of her many second chins. From this she produced two silver coins. “This will cover it, no?”

Aaric took the coins from the tigress' outstretched paw and nodded. "Sure thing. I'll be back in no time!" 

Quickly finishing his meal and washing it down with a swig from his canteen, the wayfarer grabbed his black cloak from inside his backpack and wore it over his shoulders with a hood that covered his head. Stepping close to the shadow of a nearby tree he flashed a foxy grin towards his female compatriots. 

"Now you see me," Aaric stepped into the tree's shadow and melded into it without a trace; his voice now echoing all around them.

"Now you don't!"

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"I can still see you!" Torie said, teasing. "Also don't forget the tack!"

She turned to Priscilla.

"That was actually pretty clever, wasn't it? I wish I could disappear like that. Although I bet having no tummy makes it a whole lot easier!" Torie took another bite out of her bird leg.

Edited by Venus Sprite

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On 7/1/2019 at 12:57 PM, Vetanoob said:

Aaric took the coins from the tigress' outstretched paw and nodded. "Sure thing. I'll be back in no time!" 

Quickly finishing his meal and washing it down with a swig from his canteen, the wayfarer grabbed his black cloak from inside his backpack and wore it over his shoulders with a hood that covered his head. Stepping close to the shadow of a nearby tree he flashed a foxy grin towards his female compatriots. 

"Now you see me," Aaric stepped into the tree's shadow and melded into it without a trace; his voice now echoing all around them.

"Now you don't!"

 

On 7/1/2019 at 10:03 PM, Venus Sprite said:

"I can still see you!" Torie said, teasing. "Also don't forget the tack!"

Priscilla smiled, and laughed a little. Their little group was feeling more and more like a group of close friends with each little encounter! Among the smokey scent of the fire close by, the sizzling meat, and the pleasant chatter of the little kobolds milling around the fire, things were getting a bit cozy on the side of the road. She sat back down, next to Torie.

On 7/1/2019 at 10:03 PM, Venus Sprite said:

"That was actually pretty clever, wasn't it? I wish I could disappear like that. Although I bet having no tummy makes it a whole lot easier!" Torie took another bite out of her bird leg.

She nodded.

"He's a talented kid." She acknowledged. "I sort of wish I could do half of the stuff he could. Climbing up and off of stuff, disappearing in a puff of smoke."

Being willing to walk into danger at a moment's notice, pursuing what he pleased. She added privately.

There was enough meat for everyone, really, so of course Priscilla found herself with a plate. She sat quietly, eating quickly, listening to the chatter of the kobolds nearby.

They were pretty animate, once the work was done. They all talked among themselves quickly, in a rapid, snapping language she couldn't really understand. They appeared to be in good spirits, however. Shank, however, was rather silent about the whole ordeal. He sat and ate his own food, once everyone else had a plate, and even then made sure he had less than the rest of them, saving a gracious amount, lest Torie demand more.

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Shadow walking was a rare skill. It was the only magical skill that Strutter ever taught him, yet it was the most useful and versatile one Aaric used in his arsenal. It wasn't morally dark or evil by nature, it was simply a combination of the absence of light and a state of mind; by being one with everything else but yourself. To be everyone and everything that was and would not register your presence. It was something the wayfarer took to fish like water. A little too much... apparently. 

He didn't get far from his party's campsite until there were no more trees sprawling along the path back to Vdara kingdom and there was nought but clear plains of grass. Fortunately, the sun was already setting so the long shadows that were cast allowed him to leap out easily without scaring the beans out of anyone nearby. He had to reach the kingdom before dusk and the shops closed, otherwise he would have to wait till the next morning. He sped back as quickly as his feet could take him, weaving and dodging through the increasing number of traffic to and from the city without anyone's notice. Eventually he reached the gates and bypassed the guards. 

Speeding through to the market place, Aaric found the horse trader. Using his bargaining skills he had learned from his teacher, he managed to procure two horses for the price of one horse: exactly two silver coins. Smiling and mentally patting his own back for a job well done, he rode out of the city on the back of one horse and the other trailing behind him via rope. The wayfarer whistled as he rode a light gallop back to their campsite; the trees slowly starting to become more numerous. 

Just as the horses passed one, a shadow jumped out from behind the trunk and slammed into Aaric from the side. The wayfarer fell onto the ground while the horses neighed and trotted backwards in terror. He tried to stand up and fight, but multiple figures arose from his field of vision and held him down. 

"Say goodbye to yourself and your friends, little eavesdropper." A voice hissed as a glowing red hand enveloped his vision.

The everything went dark. 


"Hey guys! I'm back!" Aaric called out excitedly. "And I got two horses for us!" 

"More meat!" One of the kobolds jumped. 

"HEY! Back off! They're to pull the cart you fool!" The wayfarer exclaimed as he comically tried to beat off the creature with a stick. 

Nobody would notice a small distinct mark on the back of his neck.

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“Yay, horses,” Torie said, not in the least bit interested. By the time Aaric got back she had laid down by the fire and was currently being groomed by three of the five kobolds. They had taken off her harness and removed the brushes and combs, and were using them to brush out her thick fur. One of them simply used his claws and, to Torie’s surprise, it felt even better than her combs. “You guys are the best,” she said, purring deep in her throat (tigers naturally couldn’t purr, but Torie wasn’t exactly all tiger). “Fur is SO annoying. I can’t wait to have scales again. And wings. Oh, how I miss wings…”

“We would love to polish your scales and wax your wings,” the kobold with claws said.

Wax my wings? Do dragons get their wings waxed? That was new. But polishing her scales sounded nice. “Kissit, bring me more meat, will you?” she said, and the kobold went over to the cauldron and stripped off some breast. “This time, don’t put it in the dirt. Hold it for me. I’m a fast eater.”

Kissit did, just over Torie’s nose, and she leaned up and grabbed it with her teeth, swallowing it in two gulps.

“Mmm. Very good. It’s been so long since I’ve had servants such as you. So, so long.” She gave Priscilla a knowing look, and smiled, but then turned back to the kobolds around her. “What a shame we hadn’t met earlier!”

Edited by Venus Sprite

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On 7/8/2019 at 4:55 PM, Vetanoob said:

"Hey guys! I'm back!" Aaric called out excitedly. "And I got two horses for us!" 

"That was quick." Priscilla stood up, setting the scraps of her supper aside. The horses were lovely things, tall and strong. She didn't doubt they'd be capable of hauling the cart to their destination in no time at all. 

In the time it took him to get back, Torie had set the kobolds to another task--grooming. While they waited, three of the creatures waited on her hand and foot--er, paw--and...paw, brushing and stroking through her bristly furs, scratching at the skin beneath, and altogether just grooming the changeling. She looked--and sounded--incredibly elated by this.

On 7/10/2019 at 4:13 AM, Venus Sprite said:

Kissit, bring me more meat, will you?” she said, and the kobold went over to the cauldron and stripped off some breast. “This time, don’t put it in the dirt. Hold it for me. I’m a fast eater.”

Kissit did, just over Torie’s nose, and she leaned up and grabbed it with her teeth, swallowing it in two gulps.

“Mmm. Very good. It’s been so long since I’ve had servants such as you. So, so long.” She gave Priscilla a knowing look, and smiled, but then turned back to the kobolds around her. “What a shame we hadn’t met earlier!”

Priscilla left her to be groomed, and set about helping Aaric latch the horses to to wagon. They were fine beasts; sturdy, and probably a bit too heavy to be fast, but strong regardless.

"Good pick," She remarked. She stepped back, and reexamined the hitch they'd recovered. They seemed to be holding, for now at least. "This should speed up our travel time nicely." 

She reached out and gave Aaric an appreciative pat on the back. "Great work, by the way. You're doing awesome today!" She referred to the horses, and defending himself, of course, but there was also how easily he'd managed to check out the fence without looking too obvious. He was a resourceful kid, for sure. Priscilla appreciated that a lot.

"There's probably a bit of food left over for you, if you're still hungry," She offered. "Then, we're probably going to get moving, I think."

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After chasing away the downtrodden kobold from eating their only source of transport, Priscilla joined him in leading the two horses towards the cart and attaching the cart to their harnesses. Aaric sniggered at the sight of Torie being taken care of by her newfound minions. He only hoped that her ruse would last long enough for them until they finished their quest. 

19 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

"Good pick," She remarked. She stepped back, and reexamined the hitch they'd recovered. They seemed to be holding, for now at least. "This should speed up our travel time nicely."

"Yeah. These two were a total steal!" Aaric glowed. "Luckily the seller was just about to close shop and I managed to haggle down the price for them beauties." 

19 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

She reached out and gave Aaric an appreciative pat on the back. "Great work, by the way. You're doing awesome today!"

19 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

"There's probably a bit of food left over for you, if you're still hungry," She offered. "Then, we're probably going to get moving, I think."

The young wayfarer beamed proudly and blushed a little at the praise. "Aw, its nothin!" He scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "I'm just doing what I can to help. Beats travelling around alone, y'know?" 

"Anyway," He continued. "Do you mean for us to travel in the night? Won't that be dangerous at this point of time? We've got a nice camp set up, so why don't we rest for the night and continue the journey tomorrow?"

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On 7/12/2019 at 8:12 AM, Vetanoob said:

The young wayfarer beamed proudly and blushed a little at the praise. "Aw, its nothin!" He scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "I'm just doing what I can to help. Beats travelling around alone, y'know?" 

"Anyway," He continued. "Do you mean for us to travel in the night? Won't that be dangerous at this point of time? We've got a nice camp set up, so why don't we rest for the night and continue the journey tomorrow?"

She shook her head.

"If you need to sleep off that walk, you're free to do so, but the crew is all well-fed." She pointed out. Behind her, a few of the kobolds lounged about lazily. Not Shank, of course. He continued walking around, adding twigs to the fire, and checking the food. For a crotchety old kobold, he was rather studious and hard-working. One of them yawned, and gave their belly a rub.

"If we get sleep now, we'll have to prepare supper, too." She continued. "I'd rather put all this energy to use, while we can. Besides, we can get some sleep later on," She gave him a reassuring smile. "But, like I said, feel free to sleep off that walk if you have to."

She turned away, and spoke to the party. 

"Okay, let's get this fire put out, and finish carving up those birds." She called. "We're gonna get moving as soon as we can. Oh, mighty Trashkill, feel free to finish up your grooming first." She did some minor mental gymnastics, and figured that they might be able to fit all of them into the cart, if Torie walked. She probably wouldn't, of course. Still they could probably fit all the kobolds in there, and at least one of them in there too.

Would one horse be strong enough to pull a whole cart? If so, she could probably get away with riding solo. She tapped her chin thoughtfully, musing it over.

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"Aw, I really liked the idea of staying tonight," she said, but then looked at her kobold companions. "But... you are a wise counsellor. Kobolds, do as my human servant directs you," she said.

The kobolds all snapped to attention. Or at least let their eyes roll lazily to the small human female.

Torie herself wandered over to the side of the coach, gingerly putting pressure on the first step. The coach groaned in response, the lengths of makeshift rope and strips of bark flexing like tendons, but Torie persisted, tongue gripped between her teeth nervously. Eventually, the various repairs flexed to their full extent, and Torie breathed a sigh of relief. She placed her other paw beside the first and stepped into the coach.

Until the doorframe caught her middle. Torie stopped walking, instead wiggling this way and that to work her roly-poly body through the doorframe, but only a few inches passed her shoulders the wood splintered, and the doorframe split off the wall.

“Gunn tunth,” she said, swearing in her native tongue, and heaved herself into the carriage. Inside two cushioned benches of blue faced each other, but otherwise, the rest of the space was taken up entirely by the giant tigress. Torie twisted her head to look back at her companions, only to find them all staring slack-jawed at her as if she was climbing out the rear end of a hippo. She blushed beneath her fur.

Then she looked up. The kobolds hadn’t bothered repairing the hole in the roof! Reorganising her paws, Torie reared up on her hind legs, reaching head and paws out the hole in the top of the coach.

“Ah, that’s better!” she said cheerfully from a good three feet above the top of the coach. She added seriously, “Good work, my servants. Now, gather our belongings. Don't forget the cauldron. We'll need it to cook the salamanders. Kobolds, take the driver’s bench. Humans, in here with me.”

There wasn’t much more space, for when rearing up, Torie’s striped belly had a tendency to sag downwards and outwards, leaving little room for a human to sit beside her. Still, if they didn’t mind squashing in between her and the damaged coach wall there would be just enough space.

Probably.

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Aaric stared wide-eyed and mouth agape at the fact that Torie had somehow managed to wiggle her way into the carriage, even if she did damage the door on one side. He shook his head and decided to clamber in while he chuckled. "C'mon chief." The wayfarer motioned Priscilla to follow. "I'm sure we can squeeze inside somewhere."

He decided to place himself nearer to the Tigress' side so that the crossbow girl could have the opposite and more spacious seat. As the carriage started to move, Aaric decided to throw in some small talk. "Y'know Torie... perhaps it would be much easier for you to get in if you changed into your human form." An idea flashed across his mind. "Could you show us your human form, if you wanted to?" 

 

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