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  #76  
Old Jan 7th, 2021, 04:59 PM
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Brie
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Brie wasn’t the religious type despite his mother’s many attempts to convince him otherwise. He had never believed that a rat could rise from the dead after being squashed by a mousetrap or devoured by a cat and he could not imagine a place where rats would be rewarded after a life full of derision and suffering by getting everything they ever wanted – especially while cats, dogs, humans and their other bitter enemies were being punished for their wicked ways by being boiled in huge cauldrons full of hot cheese, very much like fondue. It all seemed very convenient and -to be honest- rat-made. And yet the goblins‘ hideout made him reconsider. He had never, ever been in a more perfect place: warm, shadowy, full of deliciously tasty foodstuffs. He still wasn’t sure if an afterlife paradise was possible, but he now knew that one could exist in this life. And he had just discovered it!

Forgetting all misconceptions he might have had about the goblins, Brie looked around him ecstatic. Was this a Cajun sausage next to a dozen of Bratwursts? Did he really smell Parmigiano Reggiano and oh-so-tasty Gruyere? And -Ah! Could he really trust his eyes?!- did the goblins actually have Jamón? Next to it were jars full of Lemon Curd, Confiture de Framboises and Seville Orange Marmelade. It was a dream come true! Had he not been committed body and soul to the resurrection of Mother, Brie would have been more than happy to stay at the goblins‘ hideout until all provisions were depleted or he burst from eating – the happiest death possible. As it was, he was not going to leave this place without first giving the goblins the chance to prove their gratitude. It was after all the gentleratlike thing to do.

"Ah, Collete, this place is… I have never… just… manifique" With huge eyes that were full of tears of joy -had the rat been able to actually cry- Brie smiled at their mouse host. How to politely ask her to share this cornucopia of délicatesse with poor, famished him? In the end, he didn’t have to say all that much, because his rumbling stomach made his plight known to everyone in a ten-mile-radius. Who would have thought that a rat’s intestines could be as loud as they were demanding? "You know, I feel somewhat dizzy. I think my blood sugar levels are pretty low after the whole exertion at the campfire. Do you think we could discuss this after having a bite or two…" hundred "…to eat?"

*****

At this point a certain period of time elapsed where Brie remembered very little of what was actually being said or done, because he either fainted due to hunger or was lost in a nirvana of the most delightful sensations he could ever imagine. Please, forgive this gap in the narration. Some time later…

*****

"So, what’s this about a human festival? What do they celebrate? The annihilation of all intelligent, non-human life? – if beings like Ulrich von Furchtbar can be called intelligent in the first place. Do tell about it." Brie looked around at the other Familiars. "Perhaps we could take advantage of the festival to sneak into Whitebridge?"


 
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  #77  
Old Jan 8th, 2021, 07:55 PM
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Ernest the Cat
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While the rodents developed a plan, Ernest seemed to freeze at the sight of the hidey-hole. Like Brie, he was delighted at the onslaught of smells of delicious snacks and treats to be had. It had been quite some time since he had sampled the fineries of human food. The last time he had attempted it, shortly before her untimely exit from this life, Ernest had been swatted away by mistress. She had laid out a most decadent board, filled with cheeses and smoked meats and dried fruits...paired with perhaps the most enticing food of all, fish!

It was a little-known fact that the mistress had a certain taste for salted and cured fish, which Ernest had been known to sample on occasion. That ill-fated attempt at charcuterie theft had been the last time human food had graced his pink tongue.

Frozen like a statue at the entrance, his eyes scanned the room blanketed in a soft orange glow. There were cheeses, sausages, breads, and dried fruits, but wait! Just as he was planning which of the hard cheeses to gnaw on first, Ernest spotted the thing he desired most - soft, plush linens. Ernest's bones creaked and his muscles screamed from the long journey thus far. To have a nap was needed, but to nap on a true bed would be a most pleasant thing. And besides...the rodents were speaking in tones he could not understand. Why not have a brief snooze?

Like a moth to the flame the black cat slipped along the edge of the room silently, towards one of the stack of linens topped with a knitted blanket. He jumped to its peak, and circled three times, finally nestling in its center. His body curved to the shape of a croissant, his tail wrapping around his face. As the elderly cat drifted off for a quick rest, the last murmurings he heard were from the male rat, speaking of leaving for town. He could have woken up, but might as well make the most of the brief opportunity for sleep while it's present...and so, he did.




 
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  #78  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 04:12 PM
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Village of Whitebridge - 10 DAYS since last dragon sighting. WELCOME!

Colette, a mouse
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Emboldened by the memory of her Witch's cruel fate, Beau speaks up. "What business brings us here? Justice," she says, feeling a little more confident now that she has spoken the word aloud. "Setting things right. The men who hurt your friends, they work for someone who... who did the same to our mistress."

"Oh," Colette whimpers, her dark eyes welling with sympathy. "Oh, belle. I am so sorry for the loss." Rocco, taking a place at her side, moan-click-whistles his condolences. "Justice," Colette repeats, giving her ears a quick scrub with both paws. "Vengeance." She casts Rocco a solemn glance; the goblin closes his eyes and gives a single, grave nod in reply. "This is a noble cause, sweet one," Colette declares. "Whatever you--"

GRRGLLLLRGG!

The mouse trails off, scanning the hideout for the source of the growling noise that's been growing louder and burblier since the Familiars arrived. The room has gone quiet, so she begins again, "Whatev--"

GRRGGRRRLLLRRGG!

She whirls around to face the rumbling rat, Brie. "You know," Brie says, tentatively, "I feel somewhat dizzy. I think my blood sugar levels are pretty low after the whole exertion at the campfire. Do you think we could discuss this after having a bite or two to eat?" Colette forces a smile. "But of course, chéri; help yourself." Before she can even finish the sentence, Brie sets upon the stores of food like a predator on a fresh kill. The rat's enthusiasm is infectious, and soon the other Familiars and their goblin hosts are feasting alongside him. For a time, all that can be heard in the hidey-hole is a quiet chorus of smacking lips and lapping tongues.

Once he's eaten enough to regain higher-order brain function, Brie speaks up again, asking, "So, what’s this about a human festival? What do they celebrate? The annihilation of all intelligent, non-human life? – if beings like Ulrich von Furchtbar can be called intelligent in the first place. Do tell about it." Brie looks around at the other Familiars. "Perhaps we could take advantage of the festival to sneak into Whitebridge?" Colette shakes her tiny head violently. Around a mouthful of jammy bread she warns, "No-no-no, dear Brie. Hundreds upon hundreds of men descend on Pont Blanc. It is all but impassible for animals during the festival."

Rocco gives the little mouse a gentle nudge and mutters something in her ear, "Oh, oui, Rocco is right! And do not forget the Witch-Hunter! Furchtbar and his men have been prowling the countryside for weeks, hunting magical creatures - any beast or monster that might threaten attendance, I suspect." She points to a far corner of the den. "Rocco, the posters!" The goblin brushes the crumbs from his chest, then heaves himself to his feet. He crosses the room to fetch a pair of crumpled papers - notices written in the human language and decorated with colorful illustrations. Colette helps translate the bills:

Welcome to Whitebridge - If you like our DIAMONDS, you'll love our CHEESE!

Village of Whitebridge - Now 100% WITCH-FREE! A FAMILY-FRIENDLY destination!

Colette gives the Familiars an apologetic look. "It seems your mistress was among those deemed a nuisance to the festival organizers." Rocco stoops low to confer with Colette again. As he speaks, he pats the soft, clean patches of new skin on his legs. Colette bobs her head in vigorous agreement. "Oh, indeed," she concurs. To the Familiars she explains, "Rocco says that you have already proven yourselves very capable creatures." She flashes a reproachful glance at the snoozing Ernest before pressing on. "If you cannot be persuaded to abandon your most dangerous quest, we are duty-bound to help in whatever way we can."

All of a sudden, Rocco steps forward, then drops to his knees. He snaps forward at the waist, flattening his broad face against the cool packed dirt floor - Whump! Prostrated before the Familiars, Rocco gibbers an oath in his native tongue. Colette interprets, saying, "Rocco owes you his life. He will serve at your pleasure until the end of his days, or until you forgive him this debt." Niles, who is lounging near Ernest, gives the cat a swift jab in the ribs with his elbow, waking the old tom with a start. He points a knobby forefinger toward Colette, as if to say, You're gonna want to pay attention now.

Colette turns to Beau. "As you say, belle, your bloody vengeance will require planning and preparation." To the group at large she asks, "How will you see your justice done?"
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Last edited by Mallothi; Feb 11th, 2022 at 11:47 PM.
  #79  
Old Jan 11th, 2021, 04:13 PM
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CHAPTER 2 IS NOW CLOSED.

Please proceed to Interlude: Plotting & Planning
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