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  #61  
Old Aug 19th, 2021, 06:21 PM
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Brie and the deus ex machina
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Death, it seemed, couldn’t decide on how Brie was supposed to perish. That was always the trouble with being presented with too many options. What end would be more appropriate in the eyes of whatever power decided over the life and death of rodents and other poor creatures like them? Should Brie be finally taught humility as the humans crushed him underneath the heels of their boots like the vermin he was? Would being torn to pieces by malodorous and malformed Petunia serve as a more tragic and memorable conclusion to his ill-fated adventure? Or would it be more poetic for his frozen little heart to simply stop beating?

Brie didn’t really care. It was not that he hoped that he would be reunited with Mother and Beau in some paradisiacal afterlife. This world was too dark and cruel to have anything like that and even if the heavens were to make an exception, they certainly wouldn’t make one for him. He was too much a part of this filthy world for anyone „up there“ to care. No, he wasn’t after salvation, merely oblivion. He just wanted the numbness to go away. He wanted to forget all the friends he had lost and the pain he had had to suffer. He wanted to be nothing.

For a moment Brie thought that he had been wrong. Someone „up there“ did seem to care! A creature suddenly appeared high above his head, bathed in the brilliant morning light, a being with the purity of snow and the soft touch of an angel. At least that is the way a romantic soul like „Drops“ would have described it. Brie knew better than that, for he was a realist. It was merely an owl, a bird of prey swooping down on him, sharp talons ready to put an end to his numbness.

Good, thought Brie, Death has finally made a decision. A more „exotic“ end than I had expected, but dead is dead. Goodbye world. I spit on you and curse you and am glad that I will never have to walk this earth again.

Saying goodbye to the earth was certainly the right thing to do, for Brie was carried high in the sky, higher than the „impossibly high wall“ and the humans that built it, even higher than their mountain-like houses. So high in fact that Brie thought that they would soon reach the sun if they kept on flying towards it. A deeply rooted fear, mixed with the exhilaration that only a creature with the ability to fly could ever feel, penetrated the icy shell surrounding him and made his heart beat faster and faster until his paws finally found purchase on something solid - not the ground, but the tiles of a roof.

It took several moments for the dizziness to subside and even longer for the rat to realize that the owl was actually talking to him - in the language of the Familiars!

"You are too late, ahm… Zo… randil… eh… randicus. The one you seek, the one who could work such miracles is… gone."

Brie remembered Beau‘s rather unsuccessful attempts at animating vines, branches and in the end some kind of cucumber abomination and despite the pain and the freshness of the memory he had to laugh. It was a short and painful laugh and even though he felt his heart might tear itself in two, he found that in a way it was also sweet and soothed the pain. Such are the mysterious ways of the rodent heart...

"Not that the plants ever did as she asked them to do. They always seemed to have a mind of their own! But Beau didn’t mind and she didn’t give up. She tried again and again, patient and gentle, until in the end she… she…"

His voice seemed to fail him and he stopped.

"She… nothing. She is gone now, hopefully in a better world. And I am here all alone with… you. What do you want from Brie the rat, owl with the unpronounceable name? Why would a „lord of the sky“ take an interest in someone like me? Why do you seek magicks? I would think you would have had your fill, having lived at the academy along with the mages and the murdering brutes that call it home."


 
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  #62  
Old Aug 21st, 2021, 09:02 AM
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Ernest the Cat
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Not once, but twice now this restaurant and its canine guardian had nearly cost Ernest his life. This time, something felt different. He could feel his ribs loose in his belly. Breathing had become difficult. His insides ached and he cried a low, constant yowl in response.

Surely, this was the end. The end of Ernest, the mission to avenge mother, the familiars in total. Beau was gone forever. Brie had surely been consumed by Petunia or stomped by a boot. Who knew where Brigida was off to. If her luck was anything like the rest, she would fall victim to adventure as well.

The old cat shuts his eyes and as he jostles about, exhaling very slowly. It was time, he thought. To give in and let old age take him. An eye he could live without.. but not an intact belly. His breathing begin to slow even more... each breath becoming more and more shallow. He lets the warmth of Wensley and Dale surround him, and allows himself to drift off to one, final, grief-filled slumb- THUMP.

The bag stops moving and meets the ground abruptly. Ernest opened his good eye as the bag's sinch was released. Rocco stands above him, gesturing wildly towards the sky. The cat peeks out his head just in time to see a white owl scoop up Brie in his talons and fly away, screeching violently. Ernest's eye follows their path and he sees them stop on a rooftop. His ache from injury grows into concern deep in his belly, as the rat would make a fine meal for any bird of prey. But the owl wasn't eating him...merely... screeching at him.

Rocco reaches down and scratches Ernest behind the ear. The cat purrs loudly in response, grateful for the comfort.

Rocco grabs the raccoon paw, remembering how it had helped him before, and uses a raccoon paw chargerubs it along Ernest's wounds. The ear scratches and belly rubs prove to be too much for the wounded cat, and he drifts off into a healing slumber as he feels the bag reclose, and Rocco takes off running, hopefully towards Brie.


 


 
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  #63  
Old Aug 21st, 2021, 10:03 AM
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Zorandicus
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Zorandicus leans slightly backwards, his bravado lessened ever so slightly by the rat's confession. 'I... Am sorry, for your loss,' he says. 'Your tone of voice implies this "Beau" meant a lot to you. Based on what you say, she seems a gentle, kind creature, undeserving of such a cruel fate.'

Shaking his head, flapping his wings once, the owl straightens himself again. 'My name, regrettably, was bestowed upon me by a buffoon with more flair for the dramatic than common sense- a simpleton who I was forced to call "master",' he says, retching at the memory. 'If you prefer, you may call me Andy- it is what the magpies, crows and pigeons of this city have come to call me. I have rather taken a liking to it.'

'As for what I want, well...' he chuckles, a throaty sound which does not at all suit an owl, 'Althavorel- the "master" I spoke of earlier, was a wizard of the academy. I say was, for the buffoon did not deign to treat me with the respect one such as I deserves. Treating me as a mindless slave when performing his experiments, while my grasp of his concoctions and formulae far outclassed his own! Keeping me in a cage too small to spread my wings! Feeding me fruit and vegetables, instead of the flesh I crave! It was demeaning, and for his crimes I... Well,' the owl said, chuckling again. 'Suffice to say, if you are going to drink your own potions, don't let your mistreated assistant hand you the ingredients... At least not without reading the label.'

Sighing, looking out over the city, Zorandicus- or Andy- continued his story. 'Sadly, the simple, closed minds of the humans infesting this mudhole of a town can only manage to reserve two categories under which they file all things magic. One,' he said, lifting up a paw and extending one talon, 'is academy-approved magic, crafted and employed by approved mages. The other,' he said, lifting the second claw, 'is considered vile, and must be burned. With Althavorel dead, and my status as academy-approved thereby terminated, I was quickly reassigned to the latter category. Now, I could flee this town, but I honestly feel like I am not at fault in the face of such bigotry, and will be damned to leave behind the place of my birth, such as it is.'

'Therefore, I have resolved to remove from the board the one who enforces the academy's xenophobic tendencies. Tendencies which cause mobs such as these to form,' he added, flapping one wing casually towards the alley. 'The populace of this city has been convinced to hate the outsider, and I intend to cut out what causes this corrupt mindset. In pursuit of that goal seek to ally myself with practitioners of the arcane arts who, like myself, are not academy-approved.'

Zorandicus turned back to Brie, lowering his face until his beak nearly touched the rat's snout. 'So, Brie the Rat,' he said conspiratorially. 'Will you aid me in my quest to cleanse this town of those who would see you, me, and your Beau dead... By helping me kill witch hunter captain Ulrich von Furchtbar?'



 
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  #64  
Old Aug 23rd, 2021, 08:48 PM
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GMWHUMP!

Before Brie can answer his oratorical conservator the pair are interrupted by the sudden appearance of a yowling burlap sack at their feet, lobbed onto the roof from somewhere below. A moment later, a set of probing, gray-green fingers curl over the edge of the roof, questing for purchase. Rocco hauls himself up, slithering over the slates on his belly. Once upright, the goblin slaps the dust from his gingham tunic and blows a stray mop-string out of his eyes. He plants his hands on his hips, clears his throat loudly, and gives Zorandicus a long, suspicious glare. He glances at Brie, gauging the rat’s reaction to the newcomer. Satisfied that the owl is not an immediate threat, Rocco pads over to the sack and tugs free its drawstring with a flourish. The Not-So-Goodfellas tumble out, squeaking with righteous indignation. Something about the wiserats’ mood and bearing has shifted. Besides sweet Beau, three of their own were lost in the Massacre at Chez Gygax. Now the mission is personal, and their enmity is plain to see in the toothy sneers that twist their rodent faces.

Rocco’s makeshift knapsack yowls again. Slowly, Ernest emerges from the bag, mewling pitifully. He moves unsteadily to join the others, stopping every few paces to worry at his side.
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  #65  
Old Aug 24th, 2021, 10:36 AM
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Zorandicus
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'Ah,' Zorandicus started, his initially defensive reaction to the sudden appearance of the goblin subsiding as it proved to be harmless. 'Your... Is that a goblin?' he asked, chuckling with delighted surprise at Rocco's appearance. 'We don't see too many of them, here in the city. How quaint!'

Then, Rocco opened his bag, and out rolled the rats, spread out onto the rooftop. 'And he brought snacks! How delightfully thoughtful,' the owl said, a predatory tone creeping into his voice, until finally Ernest emerged from the bag. 'Oh,' the owl said, dejectedly. 'I see they are spoken for. Well, nevermind- one's own catches are more succulent, anyway.'

Turning to Ernest while completely ignoring Rocco and the wiserats, the owl raised himself up to his full height. 'I assume you are the associate of Brie the Rat? My name is Zorandicus Winterwing- but you may call me Andy. Charmed, I'm sure. Your friend and I were just discussing the events down in the alley and, perhaps, a partnership of sorts?' The owl's neck craned back to Brie when he asked his question, positioned at an angle which would be uncomfortable, if not downright lethal, for anything other than an owl. Zorandicus, thought, seemed hardly affected by the ghastly twist of his neck, and simply stared at the black rat, awaiting a reply.


 
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  #66  
Old Aug 24th, 2021, 01:45 PM
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Brijida
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A flash of brightest orange danced between trees moving at an alarming speed across the forest floor. The vibrant autumn leaves, littered generously about, were tossed about by the breeze left behind in the wake of the Crimson Blur zipping towards the awaiting town ahead. Run, dodge, duck, run some more. Along the hidden path, around brambles, under fallen trunks towards the Impossibly High Wall the Brave Brijida ran. Huffing and puffing the faithful vixen made her way to the human settlement all the while delicately holding the precious doll in her jaws. Her friends were waiting within the confines of that place. They were counting on her to bring the precious ingredient for their spell. They just had to bring back Mistress.. Yes, Yes! They just had too!

She couldn't remember how much time was left, but she knew that the sun had moved along it's daily path more than she wanted it to have. Soon, much to her delight,, the the Impossibly High Wall was within sight. With wide lolling grin Brijida headed straight for the barrier, that she had passed so often,without slowing down even a bit. With barely any effort she leapt high and over the wall easily.

"Not so Impossible. Nope! Never impossible for me." Feeling herself a bit, she turned to glance over her shoulder, not bothering to pause at all. As a result she missed a step and went nose over tea kettle several times. By the time she could right herself, twigs and dirt and bits of crushed leaves covered the poor vixen from tip to tail. With a quick shake of her body Brijida continued on her way again.

Soon enough her sharp ears picked up the sound of human screams to her left. A hairpin turn had her righted very quickly and headed right into the kind of chaos humans liked to make around other animal-kin. Grinning widely, she yip yippee joyfully. Her friends had to close!

"Friends! I'm here friends! Where are you?" At least that's what the vixen tried to say those words. Truthfully, the words came out more like a mumbled garbled mess around the doll.
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Old Aug 25th, 2021, 12:46 PM
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Miracles
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Brie didn’t believe in angels, just like he didn’t believe in the good of this world. Ever since he had been a tiny ratling, he was being constantly bullied, first by his older siblings, then by animals larger and more dangerous than him and finally humans, who thought that they were the masters of all around them. Where was the kindness in this, where was the tolerance? There was none.

But he did believe in one thing. He believed in Beau and the light she carried within her. Such light did not simply vanish, not even after death. Beau was still there, somewhere, still looking after her friends. How else could the rat explain these… miracles?

The first miracle was his unexpected rescue by Andy, a late wizard‘s owl, who seemed to share Brie‘s hatred for Ulrich von Furchtbar and his thugs.

The second miracle was the appearance of Rocco, Ernest, his cousins and the surviving Wiserats, the fires of vengeance burning hot in their eyes -or eye, in the cat‘s case.

One could doubt one miracle, possibly even two, claim that it was merely coincidence, luck or fate. But how could one ignore the familiar „yip, yip, yip“ that could only have come from one being in this whole wide world? It seemed impossible, inconceivable, but… yes, it was she. She!

"Briji!", cried out Brie and his voice trembled from the sorrow that had replaced the numbness. How would he explain to his fox friend that Beau… That she was…

The rat ran towards the edge of the roof and looked down. A living flame sped from corner to corner looking for something, wagging her bushy tail of bright red and snowy white. There was no doubt about it. None at all. It was Brijida!

"Briji, Briji! Up here. On the roof!", called out the rat, his voice now stronger and more confident.

Turning to Ernest, Rocco and the Ratfather‘s minions Brie gave them a wide, toothy grin, the first since they had entered the „Chez Gygax“.

"It‘s Brijida! She‘s down there. She has come!"

Feeling alive once more, Brie approached the great owl and offered it his paw.

"You have a deal, Andy. What do the humans say? An eye for an eye? Well, I know just the one. We‘ll pluck it out and leave Whitebridge blind. It‘s all that these humans and the traitors in their service deserve and it‘s all that they will get. If we all work together, we will succeed. For her!"

Thank you, Beau. Thank you for bringing us all together. Thank you for giving me hope once more.

With a final look at the heavens he bade his friend farewell. And kept his eyes open just in case Beau decided to bring back „Drops“ to them as well. The last thing he needed was for the dreamy hare to suddenly drop out of the sky and land on top of him. One never knew with miracles…


 
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Old Aug 29th, 2021, 09:56 PM
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Meanwhile, somewhere in Whitebridge Village...

Raindrops on Roses
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The dreamy hare suddenly drops out of the sky and lands hard atop some hapless creature loitering below.

Raindrops on Roses leaps to his feet, squeaking his apologies. He casts about frantically in the darkness with his forepaws, groping for the other animal. He touches fur, whiskers. A rat! His paws continue their blind questing, feeling out the shapes of a pointed nose and soft, round ears. The hare gasps, delighting in the thrill of felicitous happenstance, the likes of which he has only ever experienced vicariously, though great works of prose. “Behold, my noble comrade Brie! As I live and breathe! What serendipitous twist of fate gives rise to such a happy reunion, brother rat?” The rodent makes no reply. “Surely you recognize your faithful friend, Drops?” Nothing. The rabbit nudges the rat, squinting against the inky blackness. “Raindrops on Roses? Dedicated servant of Lady Abigail, Second Master and Witch of the Woods?” Still the shadowy creature keeps its silence.

WHOOMP! An oil lamp blazes to life, bathing Raindrops and the surrounding area in a warm glow. The hare can see his unsociable companion clearly now - not his old friend Brie, after all, but a stoat in a dashing purple morning coat. Curious, he wonders. The environs, now illuminated by the flickering lantern, prove curiouser still: Raindrops sits atop a wooden table—a workbench of sorts—surrounded by all manner of gleaming, silvery cutting implements. Knives, scalpels, saws, picks, hooks, and needles, neatly arranged on and around the table, all wink with amber light. Beyond, in those gloomy recesses of the chamber just touched by the lamplight, float countless animal trophies, both magical and mundane. Raindrops wheels in a quick circle, surveying the macabre vignette. He spies the head of an orc, vicious tusks bared, mounted on a plank. He sees sprites, strung from the rafters on twine like grisly bunting. Near the workbench, nailed fast to a perch, is a stuffed crow, its beak held shut with twisted wire. Raindrops on Roses grows more frightened with each grim discovery. He turns to the dapper stoat and shouts, “Come, you rakish weasel, move smartly! We must not tarry overlong or we risk the same gruesome fate as these poor wretches!” The stoat does not budge. Raindrops prods the taciturn ermine with a paw. It teeters stiffly, but does not speak. “Stuffed!” the hare gasps.

Just then, a face bobs out of the gloom - not an animal face, but a human one. It is, Raindrops thinks, the most heinous and loathsome face that he has ever seen. Hovering there, close enough that Raindrops can count the long, bristling nose hairs, is the face of his most hated enemy, the Witch-Hunter Ulrich von Furchtbar. The man’s face twists into a hideous sneer and he speaks in the blended language of Familiars: “I made Bart promise to leave you for me.” Furchtbar approaches the table, sweeps his fingers over the array of glinting tools, then selects a particularly cruel-looking knife. “At the rate my men are going, you may be the last magical creature in all of Sweetbriar Forest.”

...
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Old Aug 29th, 2021, 10:03 PM
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CHAPTER 3 IS NOW CLOSED.

Please proceed to Interlude: Further Plotting & Planning
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Last edited by Mallothi; Aug 29th, 2021 at 10:04 PM.
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