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Housepets: World of Fantasy 
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Post Housepets: World of Fantasy
The Decaying Mule was a moderately popular watering hole considering its location in one of the more… impoverished districts of the Capital. Bino mused this as he nursed the drink in his hand, his slipshod crew that was put together not even a day before bellowing with the bard in the corner. Bored curiosity caused Bino to look behind him at his temporary teammates. Most of them blended together, the same straps of leathers and pockets that often denoted someone of Bino’s profession. The Bard looked out of place due in small part of being a white rabbit in a part of town where most animals were dogs and cats.

The lapin Bard seemed tense surrounded by so many boisterous louts, but he maintained his smile as he continued to sing alongside his new ‘friends’, his lute playing faintly but no less pleasantly among the cacophony of the tavern.

With a huff, Bino returned to his drink. Tomorrow, these men and he would strike out for Duke Such-and-Such’s abode, grab whatever trinket the client was paying them for, and Bino would go home with another meal in his stomach. This intrepid group of thieves, burglars, and scoundrels put together by the Thieves Guild will have forgotten him in a week and Bino will have done the same in half that time.

However, fate decided it had other plans. As Bino was about to head home and turn in for the night, a new patron stepped into the establishment. An animal, going by his short stature, around the same height as Bino. His face was covered by a brown, leather hood that was attached to a half-cape that went down just above the stranger’s waist. His outfit screamed ‘outdoorsman’ to Bino, possibly a Ranger. All forest greens and mud browns, most likely to blend with his surroundings. Bino’s theory that he might be a Ranger was aided by the fact that the stranger had a bow and a quiver of arrows on his back. A Ranger’s weapon if ever there was one.

The stranger took a look around, spotted an empty seat next to Bino, and happily took it without a word, despite the fact that there were clearly many other seats far away from him, Bino thought.

The stranger lifted a finger to grab the Tavern-Keeper’s attention. “A round for everyone on me, I feel like celebrating.” With that, he produced a small sack with a telltale jingle from the folds of his outfit, placing it on the counter. The Tavern-Keeper took one look inside the sack before smiling widely, nodding profusely.

“Good news boys! Our friend here is buying us all a round!” The Tavern-Keeper said. The usual ‘Huzzah’s and “Hooray’s abound as the Tavern-Keeper got busy providing said round, even passing Bino a glass despite him clearly nursing a half-finished one. Not that Bino was complaining.

Perhaps it was the stranger’s generosity or just the close proximity, but Bino felt the need to speak on behalf of the patrons. “So what’s the occasion?” He asked the hooded figure. Bino could just see the slightest traces of a smile under his hood. When you’re in the line of work Bino is in, it helps to be able to read the most errant twitch in a face.

“A business deal that just ended very well for me. And hopefully another that will end just as well.” The stranger said.

Bino nodded, not really caring, just making conversation. He went to take a sip when the stranger spoke again. “You’re Bino, right? The thief?”

One comedic spit-take later, Bino was now staring at the stranger with hard eyes. “Listen, whatever game you’re trying to play…!”

“I want to hire you.” The stranger said. “Well, the person who’s hired me wants to hire you.” That got Bino’s attention. “I realise your guild has already tapped you for a job. What I propose is a little more dangerous, but a lot more lucrative.” The stranger raised his glass to his lips before adding “If that’s the sort of thing your interested in.”

Bino raised an eyebrow before turning back to his crew, they having completely forgotten the Bard (Seemingly to his relief) as they went to partake in the free round offered them. Satisfied that they didn’t even care to listen in, Bino returned his attention to the stranger. “Who’s the client?”

The stranger leaned back. “I’m sure you’ve heard of him: Prince Keene?”

Bino scoffed. “Prince Keene. THE Crown Prince of Babylon?” Bino shaked his head, now certain this must have been some kind of prank. “And why would the illustrious Prince desire a vagabond burglar like myself?”

The stranger ‘Tsk Tsk’d as he shook his head. “Don’t sell yourself so short. Are you the greatest thief Griffonrock or even the Kingdom of Babylon has ever seen? No, of course not. But you are skilled, and more than that, you want something the Prince can provide.”

Bino raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?”

“A proper job.” The stranger said. “You do this one job for Prince Keene, and he will provide you a full pardon for any and all crimes you’ve ever committed AND give you everything you need to become a proper Rogue.”

“A… A Rogue?” Bino said incredulously. “The Prince wants to make me, ME, into a King’s Thief?!”

Rogues were the Golden Ticket of the criminal underworld, A thief who worked for, and thus was cared for by the crown. Essentially a thief who stole secrets from corrupt nobles and lords, restored treasures to their rightful places. Any thief who became a Rogue of the Crown was seen as a Robin Hood of their era.

“What’s the catch?” Bino was many things. Brash, callous, paranoid, curt, even downright unpleasant when he wanted to be. But one thing he wasn’t was stupid. No opportunity this good ever comes from nowhere, especially not to him.

“The catch…” The stranger began. “Is exactly what I said: A dangerous job, perhaps more danger than what your used to.”

Bino thought for a bit. “How dangerous?”

The stranger smiled again. “Most assuredly life-threatening. But is the reward worth it? That is for you to decide.” With that, the stranger reached up and pulled his hood down, allowing Bino to see his face for the first time.

He was a brown dog, a mutt with small, dark-brown ears and a cream colored muzzle. His blue eyes surprised Bino due to how youthful they looked. All in all, he looked much younger than Bino was expecting.

“Peanut Sandwich of the 5th Ranger’s Regiment, at your service. If you decide the risk is worth the reward, come to the castle tomorrow at the crack of dawn. Ask for my name.” Peanut said, twisting his weight to get off the tall stool he had been sitting on.

“W-wait! That’s the same day as my current job!” Bino tried to protest.

Peanut simply shrugged. “Then you’ll just have to decide which job is worth more to you. I’m sure you’ll make the right choice.” With the same chipper smile that never seemed to leave his face, Peanut turned to leave. “If you’ll excuse me, there’s another potential recruit I need to talk to.” With that, he started to walk away from Bino and towards, of all people, the white rabbit Bard.

Left alone with his thoughts, which were racing in his head, Bino tried to rationalize the bizarre circumstances he now found himself in. Rangers, princes, quests, pardons, a chance to be an honest-to-god Rogue. He would never go hungry again… provided he lived.

But among all these thoughts, one question was at the center of his mind:
What kind of stupid name is Peanut Sandwich?


Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:55 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Interesting hook, I'm on board. Let's see where this goes.

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Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:09 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I like this. I'm keeping an eye on it

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Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:12 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Oooo, I'm down for this.

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Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:39 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
It wasn’t until Bino was halfway up the uphill path leading to the castle that he realised that this could be a trap.

In hindsight, it seemed obvious. Put out a lure to attract thieves and brigands like, say, a full pardons and a comfortable court job, then wait with a legion of guards to beat them senseless and drag them to a cell.

Two things kept Bino walking to the castle. One, that would be an awful lot of theatre to capture one single thief. If Bino were a Master Thief of some renown, like the Black Scoundrel or the Black Hawk or the Black…

It only just now dawned on Bino how many famous thieves had the word ‘Black’ in their names.

Anyway, then it would make more sense that this would be trap. As it stands, Bino just didn’t command that level of respect.

The Ranger, Peanut, wasn’t lying when he said Bino was skilled in his craft. But he had only done small time gigs, his biggest targets being minor Lords and Dukes from a massive cornucopia of nobility.

And even then, he was only ever the middle man. The Thieves Guild set up the jobs, dealt with the client, and exchanged the goods. Bino was just one of the many cutpurses in the Guild’s employ.

Which was the second reason Bino was committed to seeing this through. After today, he will have made an enemy of the Guild.

The Guildmaster, a man known only as ‘The Boss’ did not take kindly to members of the Guild walking out on jobs, which is precisely what Bino was doing. He had abandoned the crew he was set up with to pull the job without him, all so he could attempt this vain possibility of becoming a Rogue.

If Bino tried to crawl back to the Guild now, there would be… consequences. This way, if Bino did manage to become a Rogue, he would have the protection of the Crown at his side. The Boss may be feared in Griffonrock’s underworld, but even he wouldn’t risk angering the King for one turncoat flunky.

Bino allowed himself a small slice of optimism. Even if the absolute worst happened and this was a trap, well, at least he’ll get three meals a day in the relative safety of a jail cell.

Bino truly was at the point of no return when he finally found himself at the castle’s gate, where which two guards stood at attention. They clearly regarded Bino as he confidently, or at least he hoped he looked confident, walked up to the guards.

“I’m… here to see the Ranger, Peanut Sandwich?” Bino’s voice cracked. Apparently, the guards were doing the ‘intimidation’ part of the job well. “I understand he’s recruiting for a job.”

One of the guards nodded. “Aye sir. Come with me, I’ll escort you.”

Wisely choosing not to argue, Bino followed the guard inside the castle’s interior.

Bino had to admit, it was strange being in a place of such opulence and actually be welcomed inside. Usually, he would be here at night, sans a guard escort, and shoving everything not nailed down into a sack.

The escort was short as the guard led Bino into some kind of main hall or foyer, Bino honestly wasn’t sure. It seems he wasn’t the only one invited, nor was he the first to arrive.

Three other animals occupied the room. Two sitting on the couches in the center, one off to the side admiring a painting.

One of the animals on the couch Bino vaguely recognized. It took a few seconds of memory searching before realizing that this white rabbit was the same Bard from the tavern last night. Bino actually did recall Peanut going over to talk to him.

This made Bino think, what kind of ‘Job’ set up by a prince would require the talents of, among others, a Ranger, a Bard, and a Thief? Who else was involved in all this?

The other seated animal was a female dog, light tan colored except for her dark brown muzzle and paws. Her pristine, flowing white robes instantly denoted her as some kind of Holy Woman, though of what faith in particular Bino couldn’t guess. There were so many ‘Holy Order of our So-in-So, Exalted Father/Mother of the BlahBlah.’

One thing that Bino did take note of were her eyes, which were a stunning bright pink in color.

The final guest, the one eyeing the painting, was an all black male cat. Already, Bino grimaced at this. He didn’t enjoy working with cats as a general rule, they always found some way to annoy or bug him.

This cat in particular was noteworthy for the large chunks missing from his ear. From Bino’s admittedly small knowledge of wounds, it almost looked like something had bitten off parts of his ear. Whatever caused it, it certainly wasn’t pleasant.

His attire confused Bino somewhat. He was dressed in fine clothing, something one would imagine a nobleman’s son to be wearing, but it was all in terrible condition. The seams frayed, there were numerous dried stains, the colors were faded. It wouldn’t surprise Bino if he found out the cat literally digged his outfit out of the trash.

The guard behind him coughed, causing Bino to turn around. “I’ll have to temporarily confiscate any weapons or dangerous equipment you have. They’ll be returned before you leave.”

Bino’s eyes widened. “Oh. Y-yes of course.” Once again, Bino felt it wise not to challenge the Prince’s hospitality. The guard motioned to a silver plate on a pedestal just off the side of the door. Nodding in understanding, Bino produced the two daggers at his side before placing them down on the plate. He then unhooked his belt and placed that upon the plate as well.

The belt contained all the necessary tools for the common thief: Lockpicks, smoke bombs, caltrops, a small bag of pistachios.

Satisfied, the guard grabbed the plate and made for the door. “Peanut will be here soon to bring you to the Prince. I suggest you wait and mingle in the meantime.”

With that, Bino was left alone with these three strangers. Huffing to himself, Bino figured he may as well take up the guard’s offer.

Walking up to the group, making his presence known, Bino gave a half-hearted wave. “So, I suppose you’re all here for the same thing I am?”

The black cat looked away from the painting, a portrait of some notable person Bino was sure, to give Bino a wide, toothy smile. “Fortune, glory, and prestige? That’s certainly why I’m here.” The black cat walked up to Bino before extending an open hand. “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, I’m Max.”

With some hesitation, Bino took Max’s hand and gave it a firm shake. He was surprised when Max grasped his hand tightly and turned it over to get a look at his palm.

“W-what are you…!?” Bino tried to protest but Max lifted a finger.

“Don’t worry, just doing a little reading.” Max said. He started to trace the lines on Bino’s paw pads. “I see. You haven’t lived the easiest life, have you?”

Max lifted his head to look Bino in the eyes. “I suppose any reward is better than what you have now.” Max said with a smile. Though there was something… wrong with his smile. Something that rubbed Bino the wrong way.

It wasn’t the smile itself, it was his eyes. His eyes had a softness that Bino hadn’t seen before. He…

He felt pity for Bino.

With a sharp tug, Bino wrested his hand from Max’s grasp. “Don’t… don’t pretend you know me charlatan.” Bino could feel his temper rising. He didn’t need this… cat’s pity. There was nothing about Bino to pity!

“Just trying to be friendly.” Max said easily, as if trying to calm a feral beast. It only had the opposite effect.

“Maybe I don’t want a friend. Especially some mangy feline they, apparently, pulled out of the trash.” Bino snapped.

Now, it was Max’s temper that was boiling. “You should be careful about what you say to strangers boy. You know what they say about burning bridges before you make them.”

“Then you should be careful whose business you butt into. I don’t need the pity of some filthy alleycat!”

Max’s eyes snapped wide, an enraged look flashed across his face. “Why you little…!”

Neither were sure when exactly their hands balled up, but both were clearly ready to use them. Bino raised his fists and Max returned the gesture before-

“Stop.”

The command was simple, but both Bino and Max felt the power behind it. It wasn’t even an order or a direction, it was a statement. The voice said Stop, and it was so.

“Step away from each other.”

Bino and Max obeyed. To do so otherwise would be unthinkable. There were no options, no possibilities, except what the voice stated.

“Sit-sit down…”

There. The authority of the voice faltered. Bino was compelled as before, but a voice, his own voice, commanded otherwise. He would not obey… He would not obey… He would…!

With a start, Bino snapped out of whatever trance he was in. He took in a sharp gasp of breath he didn’t know he was holding in. Looking up, he saw that Max was in very much the same state. But the white rabbit…

The rabbit was kneeling on the floor, clutching his head in obvious pain. He whimpered, more to himself than anyone else, “Please… stop.”

Bino recognized the rabbit’s voice. The same voice that held him so completely not seconds ago. “That… that was-”

“That was Charmspeak!” The female dog spoke, for the first time since Bino arrived. “That was incredible!” She said, clearly awestruck at the little rabbit.

“Incredible!? It was horrifying!” Bino screamed. He pointed an accusatory finger at the rabbit. “You tried to turn me into a slave!”

“No! No! Nothing of the sort!” The rabbit said, scooching further away from Bino. “I just… I just wanted you to stop fighting!”

“Heh… heh heh.” Despite himself, Max allowed a small chuckle to escape him. “A true Bard. Not just some singing minstrel, but an actual master of Bardic Magic.”

The rabbit blushed, looking away. “I’m no master…”

Bino, however was thoroughly confused. “Bardic Magic?” He asked, hoping someone would be willing to give an explanation.

The female dog spoke up again. “It’s magic that is channeled through sound that affects both body and mind.”

Max, having regained his composure, continued the robed dog’s explanation. “Bards, that being true Bards, have learned to focus their magic through voice and song. They practically invented the ‘travelling musician’ all in an effort to hone their craft.”

Bino shook his head, trying to chase away the last vestiges of the rabbit’s control. “And that… brainwashing thing?”

“Charmspeak.” The rabbit said, having gotten back on his feet. “Normally I can just… influence certain things. Make an emotion more powerful than others, or make an idea seem like a really good one.”

“But I sort of… overdid it in my haste to get you two to stop fighting. Normally, I shouldn’t exert that much control, it… it hurts.”

Max, seemingly having forgiven the young rabbit for the total invasion of his mind, gave the rabbit a comforting hand on his shoulder.

Bino was feeling much less forgiving. He marched up to the rabbit’s face and said in a low tone. “Stay. Out. Of my head.”

The rabbit said nothing, just gave a short nod.

With a huff, Bino turned around and sat down next to the female dog, while Max decided to urge the rabbit to sit in the couch opposite them with him.

The four sat there in an uncomfortable silence for a minute or two, though it felt like hours. Finally, the female dog coughed to get everyone’s attention and said with a chipper smile. “Well, I’m Sasha! Nice to meet you all.”

The rabbit, having apparently calmed down, gave a nervous “Hi Sasha.”

The female dog, either oblivious to the awkwardness or simply playing along, waved at the rabbit. “Hi… uh?”

“Zachary.”

“Hi Zack!”

Max, to his credit, looked over at Bino. “I don’t believe any of us caught your name?” He said, his sly grin returning as if it never left.

Bino contemplated giving a fake name, the less familiarity he had with these clowns the better, but he realised that might not go over so well with making him a legitimate Rogue, which was the one thing that was keeping Bino here.

“My name is Bino.”


Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:38 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I'm liking the group we have so far. wonder what their mission's gonna be or if they'll stay together after it.

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Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:42 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
“So, Sasha was it?” Max said, turning his attention to her. “Since our boy, Zachary, gave us such a fine showing of his talents, might I ask what it is you bring to the table?”

Bino rolled his eyes as Sasha giggled. Yes, such a fine showing of the the rabbit’s demonic mind-control, Bino thought.

“Well, you all can probably tell from my clothes that I’m from a church.” Sasha said.

Bino gave her clothes another look. “I did, but I couldn’t place what faith your from.”

Sasha blushed a little at that. “We’re a small congregation, but we do a lot of good charity work for Griffonrock. Maybe you’ve heard of us? The Church of the Emerald Dragon?”

Bino and Max exchanged a confused look, the name clearly drawing just as much a blank for Max as it did for Bino. Zach, however, seemed more knowledgeable. “I’ve never heard of the Church, but I do know of the Goddess herself.”

Zach paused as he suddenly felt all eyes on him, but he wouldn’t be a Bard if he didn’t know how to speak to a crowd, even just a crowd of three. “I’ve only heard stories of a great battle out towards the Western lowlands. A canyon there that was, supposedly, created in a titanic brawl between the Emerald Dragon and another god named the Storm Gryphon.”

A look of clarity suddenly crossed Max’s face. “Ah yes, I’ve heard this legend also. Supposedly, the city’s name even comes from this tale. The stone where the first King of Babylon held council with his Knights overlook this very same canyon. Thus the city’s original name translated to ‘Rock of the Gryphon’.” Max shrugged. “Or so the stories say, at least.

Zach nodded solemnly. “Even the most outlandish of legends have some basis in truth. Any Bard will tell you that.”

Bino’s eyebrows furrowed in thought. “Now hang on. I don’t know much about legends or myths, but something seems off there.” Bino said as he turned to face Sasha. “You say your congregation is a small one, yet the goddess you worship is tied to the naming of the city? Wouldn’t your faith be much more popular than you claim?”

Sasha shrugged. “The Storm Gryphon had much more influence on the city’s history than the Dragon. Plus, keep in mind that the Emerald Dragon lost that fight, so some might think she’s not worth worshipping in that regard.” Sasha’s light smile returned, however, as she continued. “But the Church of the Emerald Dragon is far more concerned with power of a different kind, that being kindness and love. Those are the tenets the Dragon passed down us, and those are the virtues we seek to spread.”

Max nodded. “So… you’re a priest then? Here to give us spiritual guidance when needed?”

Sasha shook her head. “Oh no! Nothing so useless!”

That surprised the other three. It’s not every day you hear a woman of faith call spiritual guidance useless.

Sasha, oblivious to her apparent faux pas, continued. “No, I provide a much more practical service through my faith. I’m a Cleric!” She stated proudly.

Bino huffed. “Great, another magic-user.”

“And very useful magic at that, friend!” Max said, narrowing his eyes at Bino. “It means she’s a healer. You’d do best not to slight that, else you’d be on the verge of death with only her mercy to bring you back.”

“Oh no!” Sasha said. “I would never deny my magic to an ally in need.” She said, giving Bino a side-eye. “Even if he deserved it. Besides, it’s not just healing. I can also cure sickness, dispel hexes and curses, exorcise demons. Essentially, if it’s a bad thing, I can get rid of it.” Sasha said, with no small amount of pride.

“Well, we’ll certainly be much safer with you by our side.” Max said, now turning his attention to Bino. “But as for you: You’ve been quite the contrarian since you’ve arrived. I can only assume this means you consider yourself all the talent we need.”

Bino scoffed. “Don’t put words in my mouth, cat. If you must know, I’m a thief. A thief hired for the potential of becoming a Rogue.” Bino didn’t care about stating this. His past would no longer be illegal once he got his hands on that promised pardons.

“A thief?” Sasha asked. “You know, I give great discounts on confessionals.”

Max gave Bino a hard stare, as if analyzing him. “Well, a thief’s skills could certainly prove useful for all sorts of jobs. If you truly have the talent, that is.”

Bino recognized a challenge when he saw one. “Then how about a demonstration then, since you seem so fond of them.”

Sasha turned to Zach. “Be ready to separate them again.”

“You’re on your own. I’d split my head open if I tried that again so soon.” Zach said.

Ignoring the two of them for now, Bino wiggled his fingers, readying them. “What do you have in that pouch on your belt?” He asked Max.

Max looked down at the pouch in question. “A few coins, enough for a spending spree at a market. Why?”

“I want you to get up and walk towards that far wall.” Bino said, pointing at the wall across from them. “Once you are at the wall, feel free to turn around whenever. I bet you half the coins in your pouch that I can lift every single coin in your pouch without you noticing.”

A sly smile stretched across Max’s face. “Challenge accepted. That said, if you fail, you must pay me back double all the coins in my pouch. Deal?”

“Deal” Bino stated.

With that, Max stood up. “Oh, and I will be counting every coin when you inevitably give them back.” He said before turning to walk confidently to the wall. As soon as he was within a foot of distance to the wall, Max immediately turned around, expecting to find a surprised Bino’s hand in his pouch.

Instead, Bino was still sitting on the couch looking quite pleased with himself. Without a word, he raised his hand which held a not too small pile of coins.

Sasha and Zach looked suitably shocked. “He didn’t even get up!” Sasha exclaimed. “He grabbed the coins just as you we’re leaving!”

Max crossed his arms. “Very well, I’m impressed.” His sly smile returned. “But you still failed the challenge.”

Bino raised an eyebrow. “Oh? How so?”

Max reached behind him and unhooked his pouch from his belt. “Lot of thieves on the open road. I like to keep some emergency coin hidden in a secret compartment in my pouch. You did say you were going to pinch EVERY single coin, did you not?”

Despite this claim, Bino didn’t look all that perturbed. “Oh, do you mean these emergency coins?” And with that, Bino raised his other hand revealing a somewhat smaller amount of money.

Eyes widening, Max quickly looked into his pouch and verified that, indeed, the supposedly secret compartment of his pouch was just as empty as the rest of it. Looking back up, Max saw a gigantic grin on Bino’s face as he placed half the coins on the table. “Here’s your share.” Bino said.

Without a word, Max marched back to the couch, scooped them up, and placed them in his pouch before sitting down. “Very well, perhaps you do have some skill.” He finally admitted.

Bino simple smiled as he pocketed his earnings. “Well, what about you Max? You’ve been very interested in all of us so far, but you’ve yet to prove yourself capable for this job as we have”

Zach and Sasha, who previously, and wisely, kept themselves out of the other two’s competition, couldn’t help but to turn their attention to Max, clearly waiting for his own ‘demonstration’.

Bino wasn’t exactly sure what he saw in Max’s face. He looked oddly downtrodden at Bino’s request. Not so much sad as… resigned. As though he knew this was coming and he wasn’t looking forward to it.

“Well… That’s actually a funny story.” Max said sullenly, clearly not seeing the situation as anything ‘funny’.

Any further chat between the four was interrupted when a newcomer approached with clanging, metal steps, not from the main hall as Bino did, but a side entrance just past a spiral stairway the newcomer descended from.

She certainly commanded attention due to both her attire and her hue. A purple cat, of all things, dressed nape to toe in heavy plate armor, which Bino noticed was similar to the Royal Guard’s armor.

Similar, but still altogether different. For one: It wasn’t quite as… Ostentatious? Ornate?

The Royal Guard’s armor made it no secret who they served, with the Royal Family’s crest of a blue gryphon emblazoned in all it’s glory on both the armor’s chest and on every guard’s shield. This cat’s armor was noticeably missing this piece of decoration. In fact, it had virtually nothing in regards to aesthetics for the sake of aesthetics. No gold filigree or trim, nor any colors signifying anything of status like rank or position within the guard. Just a pure, silver sheen on every metal surface.

Bino supposed it was a lot more practical and utilitarian than most armors, though part of him wondered if the absolute lack of any ornamentation meant she was significantly low on the Guard’s hierarchy.

Bino, in his nature, also took noticed of the black-handled short sword sheathed at the cat’s side as well as the solid steel kite shield propped on her back.

Her face, as she walked into the room, was buried in a small stack of papers. Without even looking up, she addressed the four animals in the room.

“Maxwell Byron?” She said simply, apparently waiting for a response.

The group that gathered looked amongst each other, searching for clarity, before Max cleared his throat and spoke up. “Yes?”

The cat didn’t respond, merely nodding as she went down what was clearly a list in her hands. “Sasha Hartford?”

“Present!” Sasha said happily. If she hadn’t been sitting, Bino was sure her tail would start wagging. So eager to please, this one.

“Zachary Arbelt?” The cat continued.

“Um… Yes, I’m here.” Zach said, even raising his hand, as though worried the cat wouldn’t see him.

“Foxworth Lindberg?” The cat said, confusing the recruits. That wasn’t a name they heard since arriving at the castle. The cat certainly took notice of the silence as she looked up at the group for the first time, realizing how many were actually present.

“Only four, huh?” The cat said, shaking her head. “We’ll wait a few more minutes before we begin. If he isn’t here before then, his loss.” The cat returned to her list, marking only one name left.

“Beano… No last name is listed here.” She noted, once again looking up. “Which one of you is Beano?”

Bino, sighing as Max was already chuckling to himself, stood up. “It’s Bino, actually.”

The cat took in Bino before shrugging. “My mistake. Why don’t I have your last name on this list?”

Bino crossed his arms, regretting this decision more and more. “No last name. Never knew it.”

The cat’s face twisted, clearly not expecting that. “I… I see. I suppose that’s not an issue right now.”

Bino was a bit confused by that. Right now? Implying it might be a problem later?

The cat finally rolled up her papers and put them away in a pouch on the backside of her belt. “A pleasure to meet you all. My name is Grape Sandwich, Knight-Squire to his eminence, King Milton.”

Ah, a squire. So not a true Knight then, only one in training. That certainly explained the very plain looking armor, Bino thought. He also took notice that she apparently had the same last name as the Ranger who recruited him last night. Certainly they weren’t related, considering they were entirely separate species. Though the only other explanation, Bino considered, was that she was his wife or otherwise related by marriage. And that thought didn’t sit well for Bino for much the same reason: They were different species.

His musing was cut short as Grape continued. “Peanut and I are to escort you to Prince Keene where he will… erm?” She hesitated as she looked around the room, apparently trying to find something, or someone.

“Where is Peanut?” She asked.

The four recruits shared a glance before Max spoke up. “We haven’t seen him today. We’re we supposed to?”

Upon hearing that, Grape let out a scoff and an eye-roll for good measure. “Seriously?! He’s late again! Doesn’t he know how serious this is?” With that, Grape turned on her heel, her metal greave scraping against the marble floor. “I’ll go retrieve him, I’m pretty sure I know where he is. You four… just… wait here for now.”

Without another word, Grape ascended back up the spiral stairs, leaving the recruits alone once more.

“I like her fur.” Sasha said suddenly, earning a look from the other three. “What? Purple’s a pretty color.”


Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:02 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
You can't just tease us with Fox and then leave him out :lol: :P
I'm enjoying this crew. Looking forward to future installments :D

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Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:34 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Obbl Wrote:
You can't just tease us with Fox and then leave him out :lol: :P
I'm enjoying this crew. Looking forward to future installments :D


Oh, don't worry, Fox will show up later. Let's just say there's a good reason why he's late...


Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:38 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Grape seriously did not need this today. Not only was she pulled from training a week ago because Peanut just could not go on this quest without her holding his hand, she also was put in charge of corralling a bunch of unknown civilians into a proper party of adventurers. All of this despite the fact that Grape has never been outside the city since she was a kitten.

Everything about Grape’s training under Captain Ralph has been focused entirely on defending the castle from invaders. The most she’d be able to contribute to the quest is an extra sword, but Peanut just had to recommend her ‘invaluable’ skills to the Prince.

And now, he couldn’t even be bothered to show up to greet the recruits he and the Prince personally handpicked, completely without consulting Grape despite her sharing leadership with Peanut.

Needless to say, Grape had some pretty choice words for Peanut when she found him.

She was absolutely certain she would find Peanut with the Court Mage, Tarot. Ever since they started their courtship, the two have been inseparable, and Grape had it on good authority Peanut had missed more than one meeting with the Ranger’s Regiment and she couldn’t help but partly blame the tiny pomeranian Archmage for that.

Why Prince Keene constantly fought tooth and nail to keep Peanut on the Regiment, Grape will never understand.

Grape sighed to herself, already wishing the day would be over. She loved Peanut like a brother, there was literally no one else on this earth she was closer to. But sometimes, just sometimes, she wanted to wring his neck and shake some sense into him.

As she walked down the hallway, she spotted a black cat walking toward her: Princess Lana’s Lady-In-Waiting, and more unofficially Tarot’s apprentice, Sabrina D’Angelo. Good, perhaps she’d be able to point Grape in the right direction.

Sabrina was as close as sisters to Tarot, so if there’s anyone who would know where Tarot is during the day…

Grape stopped Sabrina as they approached each other. “Good day to you Sabrina.”

“To you as well, Dame Grape.” Sabrina smiled, offering a casual tilt of the head out of respect.

Grape blushed at this. “I’m not a Knight yet, but hopefully someday. I wanted to ask you if you knew where the Court Mage was?”

Sabrina cocked an eyebrow. “I’m certain she’ll be in her study all day, she’s made it very clear she wants absolute privacy today. Apparently she’s in the middle of some intensive research.”

Oh, that cheeky little witch, Grape thought. “Well, unfortunately, this is urgent business. I’m afraid I’ll have to interrupt her ‘research’. If you’ll excuse me…”

With that, Grape made to pass Sabrina, but the black cat held her hand out to grasp Grape’s arm. “A moment first. Does this have to do with the Prince’s quest? Are the recruits here?”

Grape was certainly surprised at this. The Prince made it clear he didn’t want anyone uninvolved with the quest to learn about it. “How do you…?”

The question went unanswered as Sabrina continued. “Was one of the recruits a brown dog with green eyes?”

Grape wasn’t exactly sure what to say, or indeed what not to say. This quest was supposed to be confidential, to prevent the enemy from learning the Prince’s plans. If word somehow got to Sabrina, who else knows something they shouldn’t.

Not that Grape felt Sabrina was untrustworthy, she knew Sabrina was loyal to the crown. But the age-old adage rings true: The walls have ears.

But Grape saw something in Sabrina’s eyes, a kind of desperation she has never seen from the Apprentice Mage before. Actually, Grape did see it once before. Five years ago when…

Grape mentally shook the images away. Even today, the memories were still painful.

But here Sabrina was, eyes desperate, eager to hear Grape’s answer. Grape was sympathetic and she knew Sabrina could be trusted. However she learned of the quest, Grape would simply inform the Prince and trust everyone involved will keep tight lips.

“Yes.” Grape finally answered. “A plain-looking fellow by the name Bino.”

Sabrina smiled as she breathed a sigh of relief. “So he did come. I was so worried he would reject the Prince’s offer.”

Now Grape was intrigued. “You know this dog, don’t you?”

Sabrina allowed herself a small smirk. “Know him? I recommended him to the Prince.”
---
Bino’s ears were burning. If he were the superstitious type, he might be worried someone was talking about him.

Chatter between him and the other recruits have died down, now they were simply passing the time while waiting for Grape to return.

Zach apparently decided to entertain his new ‘friends’ with a bawdy tune on his lute. Bino had to admit, he was certainly talented with the instrument, though the more paranoid side of him wondered if it was just his Bardic Magic making Bino think the music was good.

Sasha merely laid her head back, eyes closed, content to merely bask in the music. Even Max was tapping his fingers and bouncing his head to the rhythm.

Bino wasn’t sure when it started, but he started feeling good, really good. Like he could run a mile, and Bino rarely ran anywhere if he could help it.

It took a second to realize it, so enthralled by the music he was, but Bino was suddenly very aware that everyone present save the rabbit himself had a very faint glow on their person, more a shimmer than anything else.

The music, Bino thought. The music is doing this!

Running more on instinct than conscious thought, Bino reached out a grabbed Zach’s hand stopping the music dead in its tracks.

Sasha’s head snapped forward, eyes awake. “Aw, what happened to the music?!”

“What were you doing to us?” Bino said plainly, voice low.

“I… I was just…”

“Oh, would you relax!” Max huffed, clearly perturbed. “Honestly, did a Bard kick you as a puppy or something?”

Bino snapped his attention towards Max. “I don’t recall him asking permission to run his magic through me.”
“It… It’s just a simple Inspiration Song. It’s just supposed to make you feel better, calm your nerves, that sort of thing.” Zach tried to explain, still trying to wrest his hand back from Bino’s grip which Bino reluctantly relinquished.

“Well, clearly our sticky-fingered friend is immune.” Max said. “If your going to jump and strike at Zach every time he strums his lute, then maybe we should invest in some wax for your ears?”

Bino said nothing but simply leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms. He looked away from the group, trying to send every possible message that he didn’t want to talk any further.

Clearly, the message went over some heads. “Were you hurt by a Bard?” Sasha asked, looking surprisingly compassionate towards the curt dog. “I know Max meant it as joke, but if there is some kind of… traumatizing experience, maybe we can help…”

“I was brainwashed.” Bino stated. Utter silence followed and Bino knew it would continue until he elaborated. He’s been here before, where people poke and prod and incessantly ask too many questions until Bino had to say something just to shut them up. Best to get it out of the way and then never bring it up again.

“Five years ago, I was once brainwashed by magic.” Without understanding why, Bino looked towards Zach and half-heartedly offered “Not by a Bard. I’m not sure what he was exactly, just some magic bloke.”

“I don’t know who he was or what he wanted or why he decided to use me. Point is, I was brainwashed by magic and made to do some… bad things. Things worse than just stealing. Things I’m still paying for.”

Don’t cry, Bino thought. Not here, not in front of these... strangers.

“So, yeah, I get ‘jumpy’ when I feel magic on me, in my mind. Especially without my say-so.”

The group was clearly having trouble digesting this. Sasha, healer she was, was racking her brain to find the best thing to say or do to make this better. Max was suddenly wishing he could take back some choice comments he made.

Zach took the simplest route. “I’m sorry. I promise I won’t use my magic on you again without your permission.”

Bino supposed he should thank him for the consideration. That’s certainly what he’s supposed to do now. That’s absolutely the socially correct thing for him to do.

“Whatever.”

The group returned to silence, with Zach’s lute laying on the floor against his leg.
---
“Tarot! Open up!” Grape yelled as she pounded against the door to Tarot’s study. She was long past cordiality at this point.

“AH! Uh… J-Just a second, please!” Grape heard Tarot’s voice through the door, followed by a series of rummaging and bumping sounds.

Finally, the door opened and Tarot shot an annoyed look at Grape. “Grape, I hope this is important. I made it very clear I was not to be distu-”

“Where is he, Tarot?” Grape interrupted.

A flash of panic crossed Tarot’s eyes. “I’m certain I have no idea what your talking about.”

“Oh really?” Grape challenged. Without waiting for permission, Grape strode right on into Tarot’s study. “Then you won’t mind if I look around?”

Tarot huffed and crossed her arms. “I don’t know what your expecting to find.”

Grape had enough. On any other day, she and Tarot could be quite pleasant with each other, but Grape was simply not in the mood to play.

“Peanut! I’m telling Mom you were late again!” Grape yelled out.

“NO!” The wardrobe cried.

Tarot shot a dark look at the armor-clad cat. “That was a dirty move, Sandwich.”

Grape merely shrugged. “Urgent business, Tarot. Take it up with the Prince.” With that, Grape pulled open the wardrobe and yanked out a very sheepish looking Peanut by the collar of his cloak.

“Peanut…” Grape said sweetly, in a way she knew very well sounded fake. “Why were you late to appraise the recruits?”

Peanut, to his credit, did look legitimately surprised at hearing this. “Wait, the recruits are already here?”

“Yes Peanut…” Grape said slowly, making sure Peanut got everything. “You told them to come at the crack of Dawn.” She finally let go of Peanut so that she could point outside the window at the shining sun rising from the east. “It’s cracking.”

Peanut rubbed the back of his, embarrassed. “Grape, I am so sorry! I just meant to come by to say Good Morning to Tarot and, well, one thing led to another and-”

“You ended up wrapped up in each other, cuddling for hours?” Grape guessed.

“Please don’t tell Mom.”

“For the record…” Tarot interjected. “I do not apologize.”

Grape let out a deep breath to calm herself. She supposed no harm was done. “We’ll have that conversation later. You…” She said, pointing at Peanut. “Follow me downstairs. I think we’ve kept the recruits waiting long enough.”


Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:32 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Really enjoyed everything that I read so far! What a nice fanfic!

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Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:31 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
After retrieving the recruits, Grape and Peanut started the trek up to Prince Keene’s personal study with the four in tow.

“Sooo… What kind of quest is this anyway?” Sasha asked, trying to fill the time.
“Best to let the Prince himself explain. Easier that way.” Grape stated simply.
“Easier for who?” Bino asked.
Grape and Peanut exchanged a glance with other. “Look, let’s just say this job involves some… sensitive information. Information best not divulged in the open.” Peanut explained.

The recruits were satisfied enough with that, enough that they didn’t pry further at least.

Max, however, had another query. “So, I couldn’t help but notice you two have the same last name.” He said to his escorts. “Yet I don’t see a ring on either of your hands. I can’t help but feel there’s a story there?”

Bino raised an eyebrow. He had been wondering the same, and would hedge bets that Sasha and Zach were equally as curious.
Grape simply shrugged though. “Not much of a story, we’re simply family.”

A silence passed.
“I’m adopted.” Grape said.
“Ah.” The recruits said.

Bino was still rather confused. “What kind of family of dogs adopt a cat?”
Without breaking stride, Grape turned to give Bino a hard glare. “Good people. That’s all you should care about.”
While Bino had several things he could say to argue that claim, he felt it best to be silent. After all, he was expected to work with not one but two cats for the foreseeable future. Bino could certainly judge in silence.

Finally, the party of six found themselves outside the door to the Prince’s study.
“Alright, couple of things before we begin.” Grape said, addressing the recruits. “Don’t worry too much about how to address royalty. The Prince doesn’t care much for that sort of thing.”

Bino scoffed to himself. Sure, the Prince is oh-so humble. He just wants to be treated like everyone else, that’s why he lives in a giant castle elevated above the masses. Bino knew this type of royalty all too well. Humility could be lorded over people just as easily as wealth or status, it just took a bit more creativity.

“That said…” Grape continued, passing a not-to-subtle glance at Bino. “There’s court manners and then there’s basic tact. Just don’t be abrasive or disrespectful, is all I’m asking.”

“M’lady, you wound us by even insinuating we’d be capable of such boorish behaviour.” Max said, making a show of clutching his heart.
“I dunno, Bino might say something jerky to the Prince.” Sasha said.
“Why is everyone singling me out!?” Bino exclaimed. It’s not his fault all royalty are pompous blowhards, regardless of how much they hide it.

Grape was about to open the door when Peanut held an arm out. “Wait a moment, we seem to be one dog short.” He said, making a headcount of the recruits.
“Where’s Fox?” Peanut said, turning to Grape.

Grape simply shrugged. “He didn’t show up. Guess he had better things to do.”
Peanut brought a paw to his chin. “Hmm. That’s not good. We were sort of relying on him for transportation.” Peanut turned to the recruits. “He has a boat, you see.”

Grape sighed. “Information that should have been brought to my attention much sooner. It doesn’t matter at this point, we can rent a boat at the docks.” With that, Grape opened the door, ushering the recruits in.

Bino wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when he heard ‘Prince’s Study’. He supposed it would be too much to expect a throne, but he was definitely expecting more opulence than this.

Not that the study was shoddy or poorly made. The furniture was definitely well-made, but designed more for comfort than beauty. Carved, oak and mahogany chair padded with plush, purple cushions. A sturdy wooden desk with all manner of papers and maps scattered across.

And perusing the papers was Prince Keene himself. A brown and cream colored ferret wearing what Bino could only describe as Casual Royalty. A white cotton shirt and purple, velvet vest that were immaculately cleaned, seamed, and pressed. In many regards, his attire was a direct opposite to Max’s clothes: Very simple and plain, but clearly made and maintained with great care, befitting a Prince. One thing Bino did note was the complete lack of a crown or any sort of headdress.

That, more than anything, made Bino reconsider his doubt at the Prince’s sincere humility. If there was one thing Royal’s loved more than anything, it was putting shiny stuff on their heads. Bino chased those thoughts away. No matter how ‘sincere’ the Prince may be, he was still royal born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Any show of ‘humility’ from him must always be taken with a grain of salt, as far as Bino was concerned.

Keene looked up from his papers as the six entered single file, making a line in front of the desk. Grape stepped forward to address both the Prince and the recruits. “Your highness, these are the individuals you specified for the quest.”

So the Prince really did handpick us? Bino thought, putting that info aside for later. How did he even hear of me? He thought.

Keene nodded, getting down from his chair to stand in front of the recruits. “One’s missing.” He said simply.
Grape, with a neutral face, said “He never arrived, your highness.”
Keene merely nodded again, this time addressing the recruits directly. “Gentlemen…” Keene turned to Sasha. “My lady, what I propose to you now is a quest of utmost importance. I do not exaggerate when I say the fate of the Kingdom itself may very well rest on your hands. It will not be without peril and, if the worst comes to pass, you may be asked to sacrifice your life. But I promise, you will all be greatly rewarded for this endeavor.”

A look of tension crossed Keene’s face and the four recruits, without realizing, held their breaths. “More than that, I cannot say until I am certain you will see this through to the end. If you cannot do this, there’s the door.” He said, gesturing to the door behind them.

Bino remained. He had already put all of his eggs in this basket before even arriving at the castle, though part of him wondered if the Prince already knew that. Besides, it wasn’t as though Bino didn’t already risk his life stealing from various dukes and noblemen. To their credit, the other three seemed just as resolute. Bino wasn’t sure what their reasons were, but they we’re entitled to their secrets just as he was entitled to his own.

Keene nodded, smiling for the first time since they arrived. “Good. Now onto business.” He said as he turned his back to the six, walking to an window overlooking the castle’s garden. “When you are royalty, everything you do is a reflection on your ability to rule. Our personal lives too quickly become the subject of discussion in court. Matters of the heart too quickly become matters of the state.”

He turned back to the recruits. “Let me just get this out of the way here and now. I have a paramour who… some within the kingdom might disagree with concerning our courtship. A commonborn man named Breel.”

Bino could see where this was going.

“As Crown Prince of Babylon, I am expected to continue the Milton name though a successor when I am King.” Keene continued. “Now, make no mistake. My father has given Breel and myself his full blessing. There are, of course, many ways to name a successor than the… usual methods.” A dark look crossed the Prince’s face. “But for some in the kingdom, that simply isn’t good enough.”

“A noble family named the Raineirs have kidnapped Breel, and issued me an ultimatum: Marry one of their daughters and elevate the family to royal status, or they will kill Breel.” Keene said. “Your quest is simple, but of absolute importance. Rescue Breel and bring him back to me.”

This was certainly a lot for the four recruits to take in, but Zach was the first to find his voice. “W-Why come to us? Don’t you have a legion of Knights for this sort of thing?”

Keene shook his head. “My Knights are effective guardians, but subtlety and infiltration are not their strong suit. I don’t want to put Breel in any more danger than he already is. More than that, the Raineirs are a family of some considerable influence in Babylon. I cannot ignore the possibility of them buying off members of the Royal Guard for information. If word of a rescue attempt were to reach them, they might just kill Breel in a panic.”

This time, Peanut stepped forward to speak. “The Prince took me in as his confidant and we worked together to compile dossiers on potential civilians who could be trusted, so as to keep the Raineirs ignorant of our plans.”

Keene spoke again. “Civilians who would be sympathetic to my plight.” He turned his glance to Bino. “Or at least ambivalent one way or the other.”

Bino supposed he could understand that. Still, none of this explained why he, out of every single thief in Griffonrock, was chosen.

“Once Breel is safely out of the Raineirs’ hands, I will send a full battalion of Knights to bring the perpetrators to justice. But not a moment before.” Keene continued. “And don’t bother sending word ahead. I will only believe Breel is safe and sound when he is here standing before me.”

Peanut picked up again. “Discretion will be our goal, not bombastic heroics. We go in, grab Breel, and get out with the Raineirs none the wiser.”

So, a Ranger and a Thief, two specialists in silence and infiltration, a Bard, who could convince a man to part with his trousers with little more than a smile, a Cleric, to keep them alive, and a Knight-Squire, to keep them safe.

The only odd man out here, Bino mused, was Max. Bino still wasn’t sure what, if anything, the black cat contributed.

Keene regarded the recruits once more. “You all had your chance to walk out. You’re committed now, and Breel’s life rests in your hands. I invite you all to rest and prepare here in the castle before you set out tomorrow, but I ask you not to leave nor divulge the nature of your quest to anyone save those who already know of it.” With that, Keene returned to his chair and the papers on his desk. “My apologies for cutting this short, but I have duties I must attend to and I imagine you all do as well. Peanut, Grape, if you could show them to the guest’s quarters.”

“At once, your highness.” Peanut said, giving a quick bow of the head. With that, the six left just as quickly as they entered.

Outside the door, the recruits were still processing everything they had heard. This was certainly much more than any one of them had expected. But as the Prince said, they were committed now. Not much else to do now but rest and prepare, as the Prince suggested.

Grape turned to address the group. “The Prince has assigned the role of leadership to both Peanut and myself. When we set out tomorrow, you will be expected to follow our directions. Understood?”

The recruits all gave their own affirmations to this, but Bino couldn’t help but worry. This girl clearly had no experience in leadership. Rule number one: Never just announce your role as leader, let your actions speak for themselves. More than that, Bino couldn’t help but grimace at the thought of a cat ordering him around. If Bino thought cats were annoying before…

Oh well, at this point, there was no sense worrying about it. Like Peanut said: Get in, grab Breel, get out. If he played his cards right, and Lady Luck feel kind, Bino would have his pardons and Rogue job in no time.

Peanut asked the recruits to follow him to his quarters, but Grape reached out to stop Bino. “Wait, may I speak to you in private?”

Bino was already dreading what this could mean. Some sort of disciplinary act, perhaps? Something to put the recruits in their place and establish dominance? Bino shook away those thoughts. If that were true, she would have the other three watch instead of following Peanut to their rooms.

Did Bino do something to irk her? He couldn’t recall anything in particular that would earn anything more severe than a glare. Unless Grape was just that vindictive and petty.

Then again, she is a cat, so jury’s out on that.

“What is it?” Bino asked, once the rest of the group was out of earshot.
“You know Sabrina, right?” Grape asked. “Sabrina D’Angelo?”

And just like that, the world became silent and still to Bino. Time seemed to stop as he tried to process exactly what Grape had just said.

Sabrina D’Angelo… That wasn’t a name Bino heard in a long time, and for very good reason.

“What…” Bino said carefully, eyes wide in shock. “What do you know about me and Sabrina?”
Grape wasn’t expecting that reaction, taking a step back and holding up her hands to try and calm Bino. “Only that you two know each other, and that she recommended you to the Prince for the quest.”

Sabrina… recommended him? Why? How? What? Bino figured he may as well throw in Who and Where for good measure. Why on earth would Sabrina D’Angelo, the person who by all rights should hate him more than any living soul on the planet, recommend his skills for a royal quest? Was this some kind of joke? Did she hope he would die? Did she forget what happened five years ago?!

Grape, seeing Bino’s face contort and twist as a thousand thoughts raced through his mind, placed a tentative hand on Bino’s shoulder. “Woah there, relax! Now look, obviously you and Sabrina have some sort of history, and what that history is is none of my business. I just wanted to tell you that Sabrina wanted to talk to you before you turned in.”

“Sabrina… wanted to talk to me?” Bino said.
“Yeah, she told me she was worried you wouldn’t accept the quest. I guess she wants to discuss it with you.” Grape grimaced. “Go ahead and talk about it with her since she already knows about it, just be careful who else you talk to.”

Bino nodded numbly, feet rooted to the floor.

“Do you… want me to take you to her?” Grape offered.

Bino nodded numbly, feet rooted to the floor.

“Oooookay?” Grape said, awkwardly grabbing Bino’s arm and pulling him to Sabrina’s room.
---
Sabrina was pacing about in her quarters. Their meeting with the Prince should be just about over now, meaning Bino might be on his way right now. Now doubt he had a million things to say to her just as she had a million things to say to him.

Sabrina wondered if she was making a mistake just confronting Bino all of a sudden without warning. But best they get it out of the way now than run the risk of them just bumping into each other in the hallways after five years of complete silence.

Sabrina sighed. The last time she and Bino spoke to each other… was not a pleasant memory for either of them. More than a few barbed and angered words were exchanged. And more than a few tears on both sides.

They were never friends, Sabrina could admit that to herself, but she didn’t want to be Bino’s enemy. She didn’t want to go into this next chapter of her life without saying she made the effort to patch things up with Bino.

Though part of her felt guilty. She wondered if she would even be bothering to do that much if it weren’t for Fido.

Finally, whatever mental preparations Sabrina could have made was cut short when she heard a knock on her door.
“S-Sabrina? It’s me…” Sabrina knew the voice. Older and more mature sounding, but she recognized it all the same. Sabrina took a deep breath and opened the door.

Moment of truth.

There he stood, looking just as curt and brash as he always had. Sabrina was taken aback a bit at his clothes. Sturdy, well-made leather armor built more for mobility than protection. He certainly looked the part of a Thief, a far cry from the dirty rags she had last saw him in.

She wasn’t sure if the expression on his face was one of sadness or anger, possibly both. He looked as though he were trying to keep his face neutral and failing miserably.

“What?” Bino asked.
“What?” Sabrina asked.

“What… What do you want from me?” Bino tried his best to keep his composure. He could admit, Sabrina had much more cause to be mad at him than he had, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t angry. To her credit, Sabrina didn’t look mad. She almost looked… scared. Scared of me? Bino thought. What could she possibly have to fear from me?

Sabrina merely stepped away from the door, gesturing Bino inside. “Please come in. I… think we have a lot to talk about.”
“You are not wrong.” Bino said under his breath.

Bino walked in, closing the door. Now he stood awkwardly in Sabrina’s quarters as opposed to standing awkwardly outside in the hallway. Progress.
“Please, have a seat.” Sabrina said, gesturing to couch in the middle of the room. Bino did so, never taking his eyes of Sabrina, clearly waiting for her to come clean about this ‘visit’.

“Can I… Can I get you some water or…?”
“Sabrina.” Bino interrupted. “Why am I here?”

Sabrina froze, holding her arms close to her chest. “I made a promise.” She said simply. “A promise to Fido I would look after you. A promise I haven’t been keeping for the last five years.”
Bino nodded. So that was it, then. Guilt. Just… nothing more than trying to atone for some ancient slight. Lord knows, Bino understood that.

“Well… thank you, but I’m just fine on my own.” Bino said, getting up to leave.

“Wait!” Sabrina cried. “Bino, I loved Fido more than anyone in this world, but he was your brother. When I married him, I accepted every aspect of his life into mine. Or at least I should have. Fido wanted us to be like a family, he never stopped wanting that. I mean, I’m technically your sister-in-law, and I never-”

“Stop.” Bino said, his voice growing cold. “Understand this: You are NOT my sister, in-law or otherwise. We are NOT family. I don’t care who Fido married or what he wanted, because it hardly matters now!” He pointed an accusing finger at Sabrina. “And this… What even is this, Sabrina?! A chance at redemption in Fido’s eyes? A way to put your own conscience at ease?! Well, I am not just going to be your source of therapy! Don’t you stand there and pretend you actually care about me!”

“Of course I care about you! I was angry at you for so long, but don’t ever think I never cared about you!” Sabrina screamed, her blood boiling just as much as Bino. “Why do you think I recommended you to the Prince!?”

Bino… had to admit. He had no response to that. “Why did you recommend me?” He asked, his voice more quiet but still just as biting.
Sabrina took a deep breath as she tried to calm herself. “Take a seat with me, Bino.” She said, sitting on the couch and patting the seat next to her.

Bino considered just leaving. He couldn’t imagine anything Sabrina had to say would satisfy him, but he sat down all the same. After what he did, he owed her at least the chance to explain herself.

“When Fido asked me to look after you, I’ll admit I was completely lost on how to do just that. After our… argument, you made it very clear you wanted to be left alone. And I could never find you to tell you how sorry I was.” Sabrina explained.

“You… You were sorry?” Bino asked.

“Every single day since you left.” Sabrina said. “Even Joey had no idea how to find you, you completely cut yourself off from the world.”
“You made it very clear you never wanted to see me again.”
“I’m sorry.”
“You keep saying that.”
“I mean it.”

Bino took a breath. “What does this have to do with the Prince?”
Sabrina nodded. “When the Prince was trying to find people for his quest, I figured if I couldn’t track you down, one of the King’s Rangers could. They’re good at that sort of stuff.”

“How did you even hear about the quest in the first place?” Bino asked.
“I have a friend in the castle named Tarot. She told me after Peanut told her.” Sabrina said.
So much for utmost secrecy, Bino thought.

“I… I figured given your, ahem, skill set that you probably weren’t exactly living a legal life after we parted ways.” Sabrina said. Bino… couldn’t refute that. “And I knew a pardons and a job as a Rogue would be just what was needed to draw you out of hiding.”

“So I’m just a charity case then.” Bino surmised. “Dump me with a job and pat yourself on the back.”
“For god’s sake, Bino. Will you please stop putting words in my mouth?” Sabrina tried to reason. “It’s not charity it’s… an opportunity. A chance for both of us to maybe get back something we both rejected.”

“And what’s that?” Bino asked, though he already knew what Sabrina was going to say.
“A chance to be the family Fido wanted us to be. To support each other and look out for each other.”

“At the end of the day, Bino.” Sabrina said. “I want to be your sister. Not just because I made a promise to Fido, and not just because I want to help you, but also because… I never gave you the chance to be my brother in the first place.” Sabrina placed a hand on Bino’s shoulder. “I never gave us the chance to be a family.”

To Sabrina’s surprise, Bino didn’t remove her hand, he simply sat there, absorbing everything Sabrina was saying. “That’s a two way street, Sabrina. It’s not like I was giving you much of a chance either.”

Despite everything, despite the whole circumstance of their conversation, Bino couldn’t help but chuckle. “Since the moment Fido first met you, I kept telling him again and again that it was going to end poorly. Dogs aren’t meant to be with cats, I said. She’s just toying with you like all cats do. I kept saying that until… until…”

“I miss him too.” Sabrina said, fresh tears on her face.
“I never said I missed him.” Bino said, fighting back his own tears.
“You don’t have to.” Sabrina said.

A moment of complete silence passed. Bino wasn’t sure if it was a few seconds, a few minutes, or if even an hour passed before he finally spoke again. “Okay… Okay… We can… We can give this a shot.”

Bino turned to look at Sabrina, her eyes just as red as his. “But I’m not going to be able to call you ‘sister’ right away. That… That is going to take some time.”
Sabrina giggled. “Fair enough.”

Sabrina got up and offered her hand to Bino, who accepted it with only a little thought. “And I suppose I should thank you for the… opportunity.” Bino said.

“Just… don’t die out there.” Sabrina said. “I don’t want to lose my sweet, little brother so soon.” She said, fluttering her eyes.
Bino scoffed. “Okay, now you’re pushing it.”

The shared a light chuckle before immediately returning to an awkward silence. They had just gotten finished baring their souls to each other, now where do they go from here?

Sabrina shrugged her shoulders. “Well, I suppose now is as good time as any to show you the OTHER reason I asked you here.” With that, Sabrina went to a room of the side of her own sleeping quarters. Bino was confused but waited for Sabrina, more curious than anything as to what else she had in store after that last little revelation.

When Sabrina returned, she was not alone. Holding her hand was a black kitten with brown spots on her ears. She was definitely very young, Bino surmised, and couldn’t be any older than… five… years… old...

And her eyes were a very familiar shade of orange.
She had Fido’s eyes.

“Bino...” Sabrina said through a nervous smile, clearly not knowing how exactly Bino would react to this. “I would like you to meet Salem. She’s… your niece.”


Tue Nov 06, 2018 8:54 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Great job on this next chapter! I wonder how Bino will be able to take uncle duties then? :D

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Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:46 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
So i've been trying to keep to a weekly schedule for updating this fic, but the family is getting busy with cleaning for Thanksgiving, so it might be another week until the next chapter.


Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:39 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
That is OK. We all understand. Take all of the time you need!

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Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:06 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Bino stood there shocked, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Do you want to run that by me again, because I’m sure I heard you wrong.” He said, being sure to give his brother a hard glare.

Fido, decked in the armor of the Royal Knights, sighed and bowed his head in exasperation. He was attempting to have a nice, simple dinner with his brothers and maybe tell them the good news, but as always Bino had some choice words about what Fido considered ‘Good News’.

“As I said, I’ve asked Sabrina to marry me. And she said yes.” Fido said, with a small amount of pride. Part of him still couldn’t believe that the beautiful Lady Sabrina would ever turn her eyes to some street born riffraff, much less accept his hand in marriage.
“I’m moving into the castle within the week, and I want both of you to come with me.”

Joey, in his youth, was certainly excited about the prospects of living in a castle. Especially considering the accomodations the three brothers were used to.

But Bino, ever the skeptic, raised an eyebrow. “Oh? And what brought on this bit of charity?”

Fido gave Bino a surprised look. “Charity? Charity has nothing to do with it. I just want my family to be there with me as move into this new chapter of my life. I want all four of us to be a family, you guys and Sabrina.”

Bino scoffed. “If you really think I am ever going to call that mangy feline ‘family’ than you truly are deluded.” Bino poked at the food in front of him. “Though I suppose believing that a cat would actually fall in love with you is proof enough of that.”

Fido grimaced. “Please Bino, not this again. I can’t control what you feel about cats, but don’t say such things about Sabrina. Not my fiance.” Fido pleaded, hoping to get through to his younger brother.

Bino, of course, paid him no heed. “She’s a cat, Fido. Duplicitous, manipulutive,-”
“Enough.” Fido said. It wasn’t a request.
“She’s stringing you along like a line of yarn. Why can’t you see that you’re just a plaything to her?”
“I said that’s enough, Bino!”
“Of course, what she could possibly want from someone like you, I couldn’t guess. But I guess she’s just that petty and selfish-”
“SHUT UP!!!”

Silence rang throughout the household. The table recieved some new cracks from Fido’s armored gloves. Joey looked back and forth between his two fuming elders.
“Please… Not tonight.” Joey pleaded.

Fido and Bino continued to glare, but said nothing as Fido sat down and the three continued their meal.
Of course, the silence did not last long. Bino couldn’t stand to not have the last word.

“This will fix nothing.” Bino said. Fido was already sighing as he put a hand to his head.
“This… dream of us living in luxury at the castle is just that, a dream.”

Fido took a deep breath, what he said next, he didn’t want to say in anger. “Everything I have done, has all been to better your’s and Joey’s livelihood.”

Bino refused to look his brother in the eye. “I don’t recall ever asking for your help. Gods above, you are so insufferable. You believe that the world revolves around you, that Joey and I would be helpless without your patronizing ‘support’.”

Bino looked up at Fido. “Well here’s the big surprise, brother. We don’t need you. I certainly don’t need you. If you disappeared forever, I doubt I would even notice or care.”

Joey shot a surprised look at Bino. “Please, don’t say that. You don’t mean that.” Joey turned towards Fido. “He doesn’t mean tha-”

“Oh I most certainly do!” Bino interjected. “For all your posturing and grandstanding Fido, It’s amazing how little you actually do for any of us. You could drop DEAD right now and I just… wouldn’t… care.”

Bino returned to his meal. “That’s how little your ‘support’ means to me.”

Fido was silent for a long time. The strange thing, Bino noticed, is that he didn’t look angry anymore. He looked… disturbingly neutral.

For Fido, hearing those words from someone he called brother… He didn’t know how to get across to this proud, arrogant, and deluded pup that everything Fido did, he did because he loved his brothers.

Bino sat there, eating his meal, completely ignorant to how profoundly shaken Fido was by his words. Their lives were hard, unfair, and it left the middle brother more than a little skeptical of any goodness that was shown to them.

But when did that same skepticism, that same nihilism, start to apply to his own family? Fido truly did not know when or how or why, and it broke his heart.

“You should be very careful with what you say, Bino.” Fido finally said. “You might just get your wish…”
---
If Bino could go back in time, to that simple dinner from years ago, he would lay out his younger self and tell Fido that he was right.

Not about everything, Bino still had his pride, for what little good it did for him, but Fido was right about one thing.

He did get his wish. And not a day goes by where he doesn’t wish he could take it all back.

But that was the past, while here and now, Bino was confronted with quite the revelation. That his elder brother apparently decided to leave behind one last piece of himself.

A daughter. Here, in front of him, was a young niece, no older than five, looking at him with wide curious eyes.

Sabrina knelt down to the kitten’s level. “Salem, this is your Uncle Bino. He’s been… gone for long time. This is his first time meeting you, too.” Sabrina shot a pleading look at Bino, urging him to play along.

Bino stood there, gobsmacked. He wasn’t sure what exactly his expression was getting across to the child, but the kitten walked up to Bino, fidgeting at her frilly dress.

“Um… Hello… Uncle Bino…” Salem said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Bino looked at Salem, looked up at Sabrina, then looked back at Salem.

“I…” Bino said. Then he turned around and briskly walked out of the door without a word.

Salem, confused, turned to her mother. “Did… Did I do something wrong, mama?”
Sabrina sighed. It wasn’t the best reaction, but not the worst she was expecting. “He’s just… surprised sweetie. Your Uncle didn’t even knew you existed until just now.”

“Why?” Salem asked, bluntly. “Didn’t you tell him about me?”
Sabrina reached out to grab her daughter and hold her close to her. “It’s complicated. Your Uncle Bino… wanted to be alone… for a long time. Do you know how, whenever your upset, you don’t like talking to people?”

Salem nodded. “Well…” Sabrina continued. “It was the same thing with your Uncle. Just… much, much longer than it should have been. And I’m partly to blame for that, too.”
“Oh.” Salem said, scrunching her nose. “Then… he just doesn’t know how to be an Uncle?”

Sabrina smiled at her innocence. “Among other things, but yes. You just need to give him time to… come to terms with this.”

Salem nodded. “Okay mama! You waited for Uncle Bino, I can wait too.”
Sabrina smiled, gently caressing her daughter’s head. “Hopefully, we won’t have to wait long.”
---
Bino wasn’t what to think, or even what to feel. He had a niece, for as long as five years, that he had never known about. Bino knew that if he stayed in that room, he might have said or done something wrong, something that would have hurt everyone involved. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.

Part of him wanted to blame Sabrina, for never telling him. But he knew she never had the chance to tell him until just now. Part of him wanted to blame Fido, for leaving behind a child and forcing Sabrina to raise her alone. But he knew that was much more his own fault.

Finally, the only person Bino could blame was himself. He was the one who cut all ties and ran away. He was the one who wallowed in solitude, cursing everyone and everything except himself.

And now, out of nowhere, he had a niece.
And he had no idea what to do about that.

So, as was Bino’s fashion, he defaulted to what he always did when things got to be a bit too much for him.
He decided to train with his throwing knives.

Long ago, back when Bino and his brothers lived in a moderately normal household, Bino’s father gave him a set of throwing knives apropos of pretty much nothing, as far as Bino knew.
Of course, that didn’t stop Bino from falling in love with those knives. Fido was always the golden child, the one who always got everything handed to him. Those throwing knives were the one thing Bino could claim as his own from their shared childhood.

It didn’t take Bino too long to find Peanut in the guest rooms, getting the other recruits situated, and convincing him to retrieve his belt containing his knives. Peanut even went so far as to set him up with some practice targets in the Castle’s courtyard.

There was something therapeutic to practicing with his knives. Something about the feeling of his wrist flicking the weighted knife through the air followed by the ‘thunk’ of the knife hitting wood. It all brought Bino back to when he first practiced with them as a child. Of course, Bino was much more skilled now after years of practice. The last time he had challenged himself, he was capable of landing no less than five bullseyes in three seconds from five yards away.

His thoughts were interrupted when he noticed Max walking up to him. “Burning the oil, are we?” He asked.

Bino was about to ask what he meant by that before realizing how dark the night sky above them was. Had he really been out here for so long?
“Just… getting prepared for tomorrow.” Bino said, plunging another knife into another target.

Max nodded. “Just don’t stay up too late. You’ll do no one any favors tomorrow if we have to carry you.”
Bino scoffed. “You let me worry about my affairs, and I won’t pry into yours.”

“Just trying to be friendly.” Max said.
“Because that worked so well the last time.” Bino said.
Max huffed. “You know, we are supposed to be a team now. It would be much more helpful to all involved if you quit being such a pain in everyone’s collective rear ends.”

Another ‘thunk’ in the wooden target. “I’ll do my part, same as everyone else. I’ll help in anyway I can to save the Prince’s boy-toy.” Another ‘thunk’. “But I don’t recall, at any point, that I was required to be nice about it.”

Bino gave Max a hard glare. “We can work together well enough without being friends, I’ve done it plenty of times with the Thieves Guild.”

Max shrugged. “Well, we aren’t all criminals.”
“And neither will I be after this mission.” Bino said.

Bino walked over to the targets to retrieve his knives, setting them down on a table beside him. “Besides…” He began. “I still don’t know what, if anything, you’ll actually contribute to our merry little band. Seems to me like it’s not I who will drag everyone down.”

Max narrowed his eyes. “You want to see what I’ll ‘contribute’ then?”
Bino shrugged. “You’ve tried so hard to build up the mystery. What can I say? I’m curious.”

Without another word, Max’s eyes began to glow with a blinding yellow light. His hand became engulfed in flame before Max thrust it outwards toward one of the wooden targets, releasing a fireball that shattered the target into flaming bits on impact.

Bino was silent and wide-eyed as the fire in Max’s hand died down and his eyes returned to normal. “I hope that sated your ‘curiosity’.” Max said. With that Max turned on his heel and left just as quickly as he came.

When the shock abated, Bino looked at the charred and broken remains of the target before silently cursing to himself. Just how much magic was going to be involved in all of this, Bino thought.

His thoughts were cut short when he heard a clanging noise behind him. Turning around, he was surprised to see Salem, who had apparently grabbed the knives on the table and was now attempting to throw them as Bino was. Of course, Bino realized the clanging noise was the knives hitting the cobblestone floor of the courtyard.

“Stop! Stop! What are you doing!?” Bino said, prying the knives from the little kitten’s hands.
“What are you even doing out here? Shouldn’t you be with your mother?” Bino asked.

Salem, as before, started to fidget with her dress as she looked away from Bino. “I’m sorry, I just… wanted to come see you.”

Bino took a deep breath, trying to remind himself that this was still just a little girl. “It’s… It’s fine. Just… you shouldn’t be playing with knives. It’s a good way to lose your eye.”

Salem looked up at Bino, confused. “You were playing with knives first.”
Bino rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t ‘playing’ with them. I was practicing. These are weapons, you need to know how to use them properly.”

“Then… Can you teach me?” Salem asked.
The question took Bino by surprise. “Can I… what?” He asked. He definitely wasn’t expecting a five year old girl to walk up to him and ask him how to use throwing knives.

“If I know how to use them properly, then it won’t be dangerous anymore. Right?” Salem asked, her logic only understandable from the perspective of a child.

“Absolutely not! If your mother found out I let you hurl around some knives, she’d have my hide!” Bino protested.

“Please!” Salem pleaded. “I won’t do anything you don’t tell me too! And I won’t practice without you, so you can keep me safe!”
“Why are you so dead set on this?” Bino asked.
Salem looked down as she kicked at loose pebbles from the cobblestone. “Because mama won’t teach me magic.”

Bino raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean she won’t teach you magic?”
“Well…” Salem said. “She can’t teach me magic. I can’t do magic like mama can. At least, that’s what mama told me.” She looked back up at Bino. “But you can teach me how to do your thing, right?”

Bino rubbed his temples. “Alright, fine. But you do everything I say, and you stay away from any and all knives unless I’m there too. Understand?”

Salem nodded enthusiastically, a giant smile on her face. Bino had to admit, she looked downright adorable.

“Alright, well, first things first. You were holding it all wrong.” Bino pulled a knife from his belt and held it in front of her. “You were grasping it by the handle, which is normally how you want to handle a knife, but with a throwing knife, you want to hold by the tip of the blade. And don’t grasp it with your full hand, or you’ll cut yourself. Instead, pinch the tip of the blade with your thumb and the knuckle of your finger.” Bino demonstrated as Salem nodded. He passed the knife to her so that she could hold it just as he described. “Remember, just the tip of the blade, or else you’ll slice your hand open.” Salem did just so.

Bino had to admit, he was impressed by how much Salem wasn’t afraid of the sharp instrument in her hand. Way back when, when Bino was hearing this exact same lecture from his father, Bino was scared stiff he might accidentally cut off a finger.

“Second, I know there called ‘throwing’ knives, but your really more flicking them than throwing them. Most of the momentum come from your wrist rather than your arm.”

Taking the knife back, Bino cocked his arm back, making sure to give Salem a clear view of his wrist. “Look at my wrist as I throw this.” Salem, to her credit, was paying close attention.

A throw and a ‘thunk’ later, Bino produced another knife and handed it to Salem. “Now you try. Remember, it’s more flicking than throwing.”

Salem nodded as she held the knife, pinching the tip of the blade, and releasing it with a flick of her wrist.

Once again, the knife clanged across the cobblestone floor.
Salem looked up at Bino, dejection in her eyes. “What did I do wrong?”

Bino shrugged. “Technically nothing. Your form was good, your timing was just off. A good thing to remember: Never make the same mistake twice. Find out what you did wrong and correct yourself.”

Bino gave Salem another knife. “So, if you let go of the knife too late, then…” He offered.
Salem thought, scrunching her nose like before. “Then I should try letting go a little earlier?”
Bino gestured to the target. “Maybe. Let’s find out.”

Once again, Salem readied herself. Pinch the tip of the blade, rooster her arm back, flick her wrist and…

A quiet ‘thunk’ sound was heard as the knife hit the edge of the target.

Salem smiled as she tugged on Bino’s sleeve. “Look! Look Uncle Bino, I did it!” She exclaimed.
Bino had to admit, for only her second attempt, she did pretty good. “Nicely done. Keep practicing and you be hitting bullseyes in no ti-!” Bino words were cut short when he suddenly felt two tiny arms wrapped around his neck. He was taken aback as Salem nuzzled into Bino’s chest.

“Thanks Uncle Bino.” Salem said, holding onto Bino as tightly as she could.

Suddenly, that same rush of emotions from when Bino first discovered he had a niece came back all at once. But he couldn’t run away this time, Salem’s death grip on his neck was making sure of that. He had to confront the truth here and now: Bino had a niece. He still had family, even after all these years.

After much too long, in Bino’s mind, he finally returned the embrace and hugged his niece close to him.

And, unbeknownst to both of them, Sabrina watched the whole thing transpire from her window with a content smile on her face.
---
The Thieves Guild. A wretched hive of scum and villainy if there ever was one. A decrepit and dilapidated storehouse located in the outskirts of Griffonrock, filled to the brim with burglars, highwaymen, and cutthroats all looking for their next big score.

And to certain men like the skunk named Cory, the Guild was Home, Sweet Home.

Of course, Cory enjoyed certain privileges that other members didn’t. He was the Boss’s right hand man, the one every other guild-member knew not to mess with if they valued their lives.

The Boss was a man who valued his anonymity. No one but Cory knew who he really was and what he looked like, so of course he would need someone to act as his liason to the rest of the Guild, and Cory was more than willing to do anything to keep that position.

Sometimes that required Cory doing things that could be considered… naughty. Making someone who could be a problem for the Guild disappear… or worse. It all depended on how good of a mood the Boss was in.

In short, Cory was the Boss’s favorite hatchet man. Which is something Cory kept in mind when the Boss sent word, in his usual covert fashion, that he had new job for the skunk.

And so Cory was here, at the Boss’s usual hideout in the woods adjacent to Griffonrock, waiting to hear who needed to be ‘silenced’ next.

The Boss, a gigantic leopard who towered over Cory, took a drag from his pipe as he spoke in a low tone. “Are you familiar with the name Bino?” He asked.

Cory thought about it. “Can’t say I am. He one of ours?”

“A middle-man within the Guild. From the bottom rung of the bottom-feeders. Normally, he would be an insignificant insect on the grand scheme of things, but he’s apparently got it in his head to dream big.” The Boss took another drag from him pipe. “I don’t know why, and frankly I don’t care, but someone in the royal family has decided to throw this dog a bone with a job as a Rogue.”

Cory whistled to himself. “A Rogue, huh? Lucky jerk.” Cory looked up at the leopard. “So what does this got to do with me?”

“It shouldn’t be so easy to leave the Guild. I want an example made of him, a warning to the rest of the guild what abandonment will cost them.” Another drag. “I want you to kill him, and it must be done before he finishes whatever quest the royals have him doing. Thus it will just be one thief killing another as opposed to an attack against one of the crown’s agents.”

Cory shrugged. “No problem. My usual fee for service still applies though, right Jata?”

The leopard gave Cory a hard glare.

“Sorry, 'Boss'.” Cory corrected himself. “I get the picture though. One dead turncoat, coming up.”


Last edited by JageshemashFTW on Fri Nov 23, 2018 6:57 am, edited 2 times in total.



Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:54 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Fascinating. Delightful plot twists and dialogue. I don't usually get into fan-fics but yours is seriously good, Jages. :D


Last edited by NHWestoN on Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:52 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
This is a really nice chapter that you have written! Great job!

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Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:43 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Yoooo I am WAAAYY too invested in this story!

I love this setting so much and you wrote the characters perfectly! I really hope you continue this!~


Thu Nov 22, 2018 8:39 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
At the first light of morning, Bino was ready to kill someone.
Funny, as that usually takes until at least midday.

But the perpetual smile on legs that was Peanut turned out to be one of those horrible abominations against the gods called a morning person.

“Rise and shine, Bino!” Peanut said, already decked out in full Ranger regalia, bow and arrows included. As well as a kukri hanging off his side, Bino just now noticed. Did he always have that?

Of course, Bino’s thought processes were not exactly at full capacity right, as he winced from the sunlight coming from the now open window of his temporary bedroom.

After making sure Salem got back to her mother, Bino decided to be the responsible one and head to bed early. That was the plan before the other three recruits invited him to a ‘friendly’ game of cards. Seemed Max was still a little perturbed over their bet earlier that day and was determined to get his money back.

The joke was on all of them when Sasha cleaned all three of them out.

Unfortunately for Bino, the game lasted a bit too long and a few too many drinks were imbibed, which resulted in a groggy Bino, nursing a pounding head, getting dressed in his leather outfit and following the much, much too chipper Peanut to… somewhere, Bino was sure.

“Where are we going again?” Bino asked, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
“Back to the Prince’s study. Since we’re keeping quiet about the mission, the Prince has allowed Grape and I to commandeer it as a makeshift war-room. We’ll discuss our plan of action there, get you and the recruits your equipment back from the armory, and then head out to adventure!” Peanut said, pointing outwards dramatically.

“Ugh, no adventure until after at least five cups of coffee.” Bino said.
“Ten steps ahead of you, the staff has already provided us a pot in the study. Plus some crumb cake if you’d like.” Peanut said with a smile.
“Huh, I guess there are some benefits to being in the payroll of a prince.”
---
After everyone had gathered in the study, and were sufficiently energized on caffeine, Grape laid out various maps of Griffonrock and the surrounding areas on the table.

“We’ll start by making our way to the docks where we will rent a boat and some rations for a few days travel. Don’t worry about funds, the Prince is paying for the whole expedition out of pocket.” Grape said, before bringing a metal clad palm up to her face. “We were supposed to have a fifth recruit supply us with a proper ship and crew, but he’s a no-show. So we’re on our own in that regard.”

Sasha looked about the other members of the party. “Do any of us actually know anything about sailing?”
Zach raised a tentative hand. “I traveled between lands for a few years with my brothers. I’m, at the very least, not hopeless.”
Bino laughed. “If ‘not hopeless’ is your benchmark of usefulness, then we are in serious trouble.”
Grape knocked on the table to get everyone’s attention. “Peanut and I know enough to sail a small boat with your help. That by itself won’t be an issue.”

Turning back to the maps, Grape continued detailing the plan. “What will be an issue is when we get to Coraggio Island, that is where the Rainier Estate is. The Rainier’s holdings don’t include any building they could quietly keep Breel in without arousing suspicion. So chances are that they are keeping him in their own home. Worst case scenario, we find something that gives us a clue to where he is if he’s not there.”

“There’s a small Rainier-owned Docktown on the island. We’ll make arrangements for lodging in case this ends up taking more than one day, after that we’ll make our way to the estate. Our knowledge of the layout of the estate and it’s securities are… pretty much non-existent at this point. So our actual plan of rescue will be made after we scout the place for a bit.”

“Any questions?” Grape asked the recruits. Zach raised his hand. “What do we do once we have Breel?”
“Spirit him back to the ship and leave immediately. The less chance the Rainiers have of discovering us the better.” Peanut said.
Bino raised his hand. “Worse case scenario happens and the Rainiers make us in the middle of the rescue attempt. Are we to fight our way out?”

Peanut looked downward sullenly. “Look, if any of the Rainiers or their security staff attempt to harm or capture us, do what you need to do to defend yourself and each other. They’re already criminals for kidnapping and keeping Breel against his will, not to mention threatening to kill him. But until that happens, if it happens at all, we try to avoid bloodshed as much as possible, understood?”

The recruits nodded as Grape gathered the maps. “Good. Now let’s get down to the armory to grab your effects, then we’ll head straight to the docks.”
---
“One whitewood staff with enchanted crystal.” The Arms-Master of the Royal Armory said, returning Sasha’s staff to her.

“This better not have a scratch on it.” Sasha said with an uncharacteristic coldness. “Do you know how expensive it is to buff out magic whitewood?”

The Arms-Master paid her no mind, instead just reading down the list and reaching in the chest of the recruit’s confiscated weapons.
“One rapier and one stiletto dagger.” He said, giving the weapons to Zach.

“You can sword fight?” Bino asked Zach, raising an eyebrow.
“When the need calls for it.” Zach said, sheathing the rapier to his side. As it technically wasn’t a weapon, he already had his lute strapped to his back.

“One amulet and enchanted rune-dagger.” The Arms-Master said, procuring Max’s weapons. Bino took a closer look at these as they were much more ornate than the other’s gear. The amulet was a small polished sphere of ruby kept in a golden band of wings. The rune-dagger, as its name implied, was a small dagger carved from black rock and inscribed with green glowing runes.

“Now what would someone like you need with such a sinister looking knife?” Bino asked Max as he pocketed the rune-dagger.
“Why, collecting herbs for potions. Did I not tell you I was an alchemist?” Max said with his usual toothy grin.
“Among other things, I’m sure. Did anyone else know that this cat was a sorcerer?” Bino asked the gathered party. “He gave me quite the demonstration last night, blasted one the guard’s practice targets to smithereens.”

Max gave Bino a sly smile. “The term you’re looking for is ‘Elementalist’. Fire magic, primarily, but I have dabbled in the other elements as well.”
Peanut sighed. “Yes Bino, I knew Max was an Elementalist. It is one of the reasons he was hired but his primary assets within the team is his knowledge in herbology and alchemy. All of which will be incredibly useful for us.”

“Ahem!” The Arms-Master said, trying to get Bino’s attention so he could give him his equipment. “Two identical daggers and one belt of various compartments including: smoke bombs, stink bombs, cherry bombs, stun bombs, caltrops, lock-picks, set of climbing spikes, chisel, file, glass-cutter, key-forging set, various lengths of leather straps, small block of wax, vial of acid, fixed deck of playing cards, set of loaded dice, and a small bag of pistachios.”

“Oh my word!” Sasha said.
“How do you fit all of that into one belt?” Zach asked.
“Did he say fixed cards and loaded dice?” Max said, folding his arms.

Bino hastily grabbed his gear from the Arms-Master without a word as Peanut shook his head. “Well, I suppose it’s better to be prepared.” Peanut said.

Bino took a quick inventory to make sure everything was in place. “Wait, where are my throwing knives? I brought them out last night to practice…”
Peanut held up a hand. “Sabrina has you covered. Apparently a naughty little kitten tried to make off with them after your training session last night. She gave them to me to give to you.” He said, holding out a small leather bundle.

Bino grabbed it with a growl. “I told that girl not to practice without me. I am going to have words for her when I get back.”
Peanut fought back a chuckle. “Go easy on Salem. She’s been up and down the castle trying to become everyone’s ‘apprentice’ since Sabrina found out she couldn’t do magic. You were just the first person to give her a chance.”

Bino raised an eyebrow. “Huh, I… I didn’t know that.”

Grape rolled her eyes. “I don’t suppose we could put a pin on the domestic drama for now? We should make our way to the docks while it’s still morning.”
Peanut placed a hand on Grape’s shoulder. “I don’t think we have to worry about that. Griffonrock is pretty far from Rainier influence and they shouldn’t know anything about us yet. Our trip should be pretty uneventful up till we actually start sailing.”
---
In the canopy of trees overlooking the city docks, Cory and a group of hatchetmen from the Thieves Guild waited for their target. They had already cleared out the docks of any civilians and dock-workers, ‘politely’ encouraging them to board every single boat and ship at harbor and sail away in great haste. Now, not only will no one interfere with their job, but Cory also made it so Bino won’t have any vessel to make an escape attempt.

One of the guild members, carrying a crossbow identical to ones every other member was carrying, walked up to Cory. “Bino won’t be alone. What about the other goons with him? Won’t the King be mad if we kill any of his men?”

Cory yawned as he fiddled with the trigger of his crossbow. “Only if he finds out. Take them all out and give them an ‘honorable’ burial at sea. We’ll take any royal effects that could identify them and make a quick profit on the black market. Win-Win.”
---
The party, of course, was indeed walking straight towards the docks none the wiser. The docks was situated downhill of a grassy plain opposite the city proper. So there was a good deal of walking to reach the docks after leaving the borders of the city. Once they reached the midpoint of the hill, Cory would give the order to start the first volley.

Had Peanut not have been there, their journey would have ended much sooner. For all of Cory’s planning, it could be argued he played his hand a bit too much.

It was easy to forget with how jovial and even outright childish he behaved sometimes, but Peanut was a true Ranger, with all the training and instinct that such a title implies.

First, Peanut noticed the complete lack of boats at the docks. Then he noticed the complete lack of hustle and bustle of any kind of people. His instincts told him to look to the swathe of trees to the side of the hill, a defensible position that was easy to hide in. That’s when he saw the telltale glint of sunlight off metal.

Peanut wasted no time trying to figure out what caused that glint and instead focused on something sturdy and large between the group and the trees.
There, Peanut thought, an abandoned cart. The fact that it was abandoned validated Peanut’s instinct even more.

“Everyone!” Peanut yelled, getting the party’s attention immediately. “Get behind that cart! NOW!”

A second earlier would have spelled trouble for the group as Cory chose that moment to signal the first volley. As the first wave of crossbow bolts sailed through the air, everyone had just enough warning to heed Peanut’s orders, seeking cover behind the cart as the bolts pierced where they had been standing seconds before.

“What is this!? Who’s attacking us!?” Zach screamed as he covered his head.
Grape readied her sword and shield. “It can’t be the Rainiers! They would have no idea to come after us!”
A second wave of bolts hit the side of the cart, some puncturing the side they were hiding behind.

“It’s the Thieves Guild!” Bino said. “They’re here because I abandoned them!”
“They don’t take rejection well, I take it?” Max replied.

Peanut tried to gauge a good time to peek out and take a shot with his bow, but the seconds between volleys was growing less and less as the crossbowmen started shooting independently now. “We can’t stay behind this cart forever! We have to find new cover!”

“What about a boat!” Sasha said.
“No boat! They must have scuttled the docks before we got here!” Peanut said.
“We can still try to swim for it if we make it to the water!” Bino said.

Grape was cursing herself. Her shield might be able to protect herself if she made for the water, but there was no way she could protect anyone else for that long. “Do you have any plans to do that!?”

Bino looked around, then looked behind them. “Well, we have a cart! Anyone up for a roll down the hill!?”
Another bolt punctured the wood inches from Sasha’s face, eliciting a scream from the Cleric.
“We’ll get skewered just trying to climb in!” Sasha said. “OH! Waitwaitwait, I have an idea!”

Sasha turned towards Grape. “Give me your shield!”
Grape shot a confused glance towards the female dog. “Wha-?”
“No time to argue! Just give it!” Sasha pleaded as another bolt punctured the cart.

Grape reluctantly relinquished her shield to Sasha who quickly got to work. The others watched as Sasha traced glowing runes on the shield with her fingers, whispering an incantation in a language none of them knew.

“Spellscript! Incredible!” Max said with a large smile. “What’s that rune say!?”
Sasha finished her incantation and handed the now rune covered shield back to Grape. “Protection!”

Sasha pointed to the cart above them. “When your ready, hold up your shield and climb up to the cart!”
Grape nodded. “I hope you know what your doing!” With that, Grape held her shield in front of her face, trusting her armor to protect the rest of her. She carefully, but quickly climbed up the cart. “Now what!?” She said, as she already felt more than one bolt strike against her shield.

“Now stand still!” Sasha said, before raising her hand towards Grape. “Defendat!”

In a flash of light, an ethereal wall of energy cascaded from the edges of Grape’s shield, forming a wide magic barrier. “Woah!” Grape said, the shock nearly causing her to drop her now enchanted shield.
“Hurry and climb!” Sasha said. “It won’t last long against that barrage!”

Having heard that, Max poked his head out and saw that the barrage of crossbow bolts was in fact getting faster and more numerous. He grabbed his amulet as he made his choice.
“I’ll draw their fire and buy you some time!” Max said.

Bino shot a look at Max as if he spouted a second head. “Are you nuts! They’ll turn you into a pincushion!”
“Trust me…” Max said with a sad smile that did not go unnoticed by Bino.

With that, Max grasped his amulet and made his own incantation.

“ET SI TRADIDERO CORPUS MEUM!! EFREET!!!”

The voice that came from Max was not his own. It was deeper, courser, to the point where it didn’t sound natural. As in, no living being should be capable of having such a voice. If Bino had to describe it one word it would be… demonic.

And demonic was a good word for what transpired next. His body underwent a metamorphosis right in front of the party’s eyes. His eyes regained the same yellow glow Bino saw last night, but the glow then gave way to streams of fire billowing from his eyes. His naturally pointy cat fangs elongated to something monstrous and primeval, and his claws followed suit. His pitch black fur became courser as it stood upright. Finally, he sprouted crimson horns and wings from fiery pores on his head and back.

“Arrgh!! That never gets easier!” Max said in a guttural growl that was closer to his true voice, but still clearly changed as he was. With not another word, Max pounced from behind the cart and immediately let loose with a volley of fireballs towards the trees, screaming a bestial roar.

The guild members saw the fireballs coming but had little luck escaping the blast from impact. The trees they were hiding within became splinters filling a crater left by the fireball. What assassins remained immediately turned their attention to the seemingly literal hellspawn that was preparing another fireball.

A volley of crossbow bolts flew out but only managed to pierce Max’s wings as he pulled them forwards as a shield, not that that didn’t hurt Max, who let out a pained cry. Still he stood his ground as he launched another fireball.
“MAX!!” Grape yelled as she took in the black cat’s newest form. “You…! You’re a…!”
“Be angry at me later!” Max yelled back. “When we aren’t fighting for our lives!”

After a moment of shock, Max’s distraction proved enough for the entire party to climb aboard the cart. “Max!” Peanut yelled. “Get in! Now!”
“But…!” Grape started to protest, but the words died in her mouth.

Unfortunately, Max had reached his limit. Whatever magic had transformed him was drained and Max along with it. His claws and fangs shrank, his horns and wings faded into non-existence, and his eyes closed from sheer fatigue. He almost collapsed on the bolt struck field were it not for Bino grabbing him as he fell and pulling his unconscious body into the cart.

Just in time too, as the enchantment on Grape’s shield also dissipated from too much punishment from the continuing bolts. Grape dove down with the rest of the party as they kept their heads below cover. “Peanut! We’re all in! Do it now!” Grape yelled.
“Hold tight everybody!” Peanut yelled to the group as he pulled on the wagons breaks, releasing the axle of the wheels and sending them careening down the hill towards the water.
---
Cory still wasn’t entirely sure what had just transpired. There was definitely a lot more magic involved in this simple hit than he was led to believe. But what he did know was that his next payment was currently rolling down the hill to safety. And safety for Bino meant trouble for Cory.

“Come on, you ingrates! After them!” Cory picked up his crossbow, having dropped it after the first fireball. “Don’t let them escape!”
---
The wagon picked up more and more speed, bouncing and crashing against the uneven hill and threatening to topple over with everyone inside. But whether by luck or providence, the cart sailed off the edge of the docks and careened into the waters of Griffonrock’s harbor. The party, not really knowing where it was safe to swim, made for the surface, Bino grabbing and carrying the still unconscious Max with him.

As they popped their heads out and took in a breath they didn’t have a chance to before crashing into the water, they realized their mistake as the assassins readied to shoot them out of the water. Cory raised his hand to give the signal when…

“FIRE!”

A new voice rang out followed by the telltale explosion of gunpowder. Cory watched as half of his men went flying backwards. He leapt to cover behind the wall of a boat rental shack before peeking out. Out in the waters, there somehow stood one boat that Cory knew should not have been there. Not even a boat, but a proper ship. A frigate with silver sails and a white and blue painted hull. More pressing, in Cory’s mind, was the firing line of sailors along the length of the hull, all armed with muskets pointing straight at Cory’s men.

The remaining assassins apparently decided that this was far too much effort to kill one turncoat and so promptly abandoned their crossbows and fled before the ship’s crew could let loose another shot.

The party, still treading water, looked up at their saviour of a ship as one of the crew, a white and silver husky wearing a heavy brown overcoat and black bandana on his head, turned his attention to the soaked adventurers. “Now that was a bit of good luck, wasn’t it?” The husky remarked with a smirk.

“Allow me to introduce you to your hero: The infamous Captain Fox and his intrepid crew, at your service.” The captain said, hanging off the rigging of his ship and giving an exaggerated bow.

A stunned silence passed over the party, as they still came to grips with how they all survived the Thieves Guild’s assassination attempt. Finally, Grape was the first to speak.

“You’re late.” Grape said.

“Ha!” Captain Fox said, motioning towards his crew. “Better late than never. Let’s get you on-board and dried off, shall we?” The ship’s crew dropped a rope ladder off the side of the ship, standing ready to help the party aboard.

One by one, the party climbed up the ladder with Bino staying behind for last so that they could help him drag the still unconscious Max aboard.

Of course, Cory was still hiding behind the rental shack, quietly observing all of this going on. It seemed that no one was aware that one of the assassins stayed behind, and now Bino, the target Cory was actually sent after, was slowly, clumsily, climbing the ladder up the boat while simultaneously carrying Max.

Cory looked down to see one of the crossbows left behind by the retreating assassins was right by his feet. And Bino was currently as stationary of a target as Cory was going to get.

Well, the Boss did just want Bino dead. Good enough for Cory.

With nary a second thought, Cory picked up the crossbow and fired.

Seconds before, Bino had finally managed to shrug Max’s dead weight off him with some help from Zach and Sasha.
“Gah!” Bino huffed. “Does someone want to tell me what exactly happ-”
A thunk was heard as Bino’s shoulder flared in blinding pain. Bino screamed as he clutched at his shoulder, losing his balance on the ladder.

Sasha and Zach yelled out as they saw the crossbow bolt stick out from the back of Bino’s shoulder. Zach tried to reach forward and grab Bino, but the pain and shock was too much as Bino passed out and fell to the waters below.

Bino heard someone yell out his name, but any thought as to who was cut short when the water splashed around him and everything went dark.


Mon Nov 26, 2018 8:44 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Duuuuuuuuuuude Fox’s entrance though.

I also wonder if mungo’s gonna be his first mate.

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Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:57 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Great sequence! :D
Everyone seems to have some very useful sets of skills. This group was well put together. Just the little problem of Bino currently drowning in the ocean... no biggie :P

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Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:58 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Hope that Bino somehow survives this and manages to become a great addition to the team!

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Mon Nov 26, 2018 11:45 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I expect him to survive, I'm looking forward to seeing how he's rescued.

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Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:51 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I need Bino to get his happily ever after. That means NOT with Duchess.

Preferably Natalie.

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Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:16 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
With a start, Bino opened his eyes, expecting to be greeted with a lung full of water.
Instead, Bino was standing on his own two feet on dry land, feeling no worse for wear. Indeed, he was bone-dry, breathing perfectly fine, and there was no pain at all from his shoulder.

More than that, he was inside… the castle? Looking around, Bino recognized the stone walls and marble columns of the Milton Castle. More specifically, Bino was standing just outside a wooden door not unlike most doors in the castle.

How… How did I get back here?, Bino thought. Did the others fish him out and bring him back? Why? Did they leave to rescue Breel without him?

None of that answered why Bino was standing outside some nondescript door and not, say, an infirmary or some sort. It took a few seconds looking around before Bino started to recognize the hallway he was in and, by extension, who’s door this was.

This was Sabrina’s quarters.

Wanting answers, Bino slowly opened the door, hoping Sabrina would be able to explain just what was going on. But what Bino saw as he walked in only gave him more questions than before.

It seemed Sabrina was preparing some sort of celebration. There was a modest feast prepared at the main table in the dining room. All kinds of savory foods that Bino had only ever dreamed of being in the same room as. A rustle came from Sabrina’s sleeping chambers as Sabrina herself walked out, a warm smile on her face.

“Bino! You made it!” Sabrina said, very suddenly wrapping Bino into a hug. “I was so worried your last mission would have kept you too busy. Salem will be so pleased to see you.”

“I… Wha…" Bino said, or at least tried to say. “Sabrina, wait.” Bino grabbed Sabrina by the shoulders, pushing her off of him. “What… What is going on? What happened to the others? What about Breel?”

Sabrina raised an eyebrow in confusion. “The King-Consort? He’s here in the castle, where else would he be?”

“King-Consort?” Bino asked.
“Yes, he earned that title when he married King Keene. You know that.” Sabrina tilted her head as she put her hands on her waist. “Are you feeling okay? Did you hit your head or something?”

Bino looked around in confusion. He felt adrift, as though he was right back in the lake of the city’s dock. “I… I remember taking a bolt to the back and falling into the water.”

Sabrina nodded. “Yes, you gave everyone quite the scare. But then they rescued you and you rescued Breel. You came home, became a Rogue, and have been living here since then, Does… Does any of this ring a bell?”

Bino held his head. Something… Something wasn’t right here. “I… I can’t recall.”
“Is that the food, mom? Smells good!” Bino heard a new voice enter the room from, of all places, the window.

Turning around, Bino was not prepared for the sight in front of him. It was Salem, but much older than Bino remembered. At a glance, she seemed to be sitting comfortably in her teenage years. But much more shocking than her age was her attire. She was decked in brown leather armor very similar to the armor Bino himself was wearing, as well as a bandolier of throwing knives adorned across her chest. And for whatever bizarre reason, she elected to enter the abode by climbing in through the window.

“Salem! What have I told you about using the door?” Sabrina chastised her, apparently, now teenaged daughter.
“Well, where’s the fun in that?” Salem shrugged. “Hi Uncle Bino! Glad you could make it!” She said with a chipper smile.
“Ugh, This is your influence, you know?” Sabrina said, pointing a finger at Bino. “You’re the one who trained her in all this Rogue nonsense.”

Bino blinked. “Wait, Rogue?” He turned to give a surprised look at Salem. “You’re a Rogue?!”
“Been one for the last year now, thanks for noticing.” Salem said, rolling her eyes. “Why are you so surprised? Your the one who trained me.”

Sabrina sighed. “Apparently your Uncle has been feeling somewhat forgetful lately.” She shook her head as her smile returned. “But that’s not a problem.” She turned her attention back to Bino. “What matters is your home now, and we can celebrate. Salem, help me prepare the table.”

With that, Sabrina and Salem left Bino alone with his thoughts which were racing a mile a minute. Was all of this possible? Did things really transpire the way Sabrina claimed? And if so, why couldn’t he remember?

And why did Sabrina seem so calm about this. If everything she was saying was true, then Bino was missing no less than ten years of his life! Why? How?

Bino probably would have devolved into a full on panic attack had he not felt a comforting paw rest itself on his shoulder.

“You don’t have to worry so much anymore. Everything’s okay now.” A calm voice behind him said. It was a voice Bino knew all too well.

Bino didn’t want to turn around. He couldn’t face the truth and see that the person behind him was not who he hoped it would be. That was simply impossible.
But the comforting presence only continued to remain, leaving a gentle hand on Bino’s shoulder until, finally, Bino turned around…

And saw something that, quite frankly, shouldn’t exist.
Fido, alive and well, smiling down at his little brother.

And just like that, Bino’s mind broke.

“NOOO!!!” Bino screamed, shoving Fido away from him. He lost his balance as he fell to the floor, trying in vain to grab the table and only succeeding in pulling a plate of food down with him.

“NO!!! YOU CAN’T BE HERE!!! YOU CAN’T BE REAL!!!” Bino screamed in terror, closing and opening his eyes in a vain attempt to wake up from this nightmare.

“Bino, please, let me explain…” Fido offered, taking a step closer to Bino.

“YOU CAN’T BE REAL!!!” Bino repeated. “YOU’RE DEAD!!!”

“Uncle Bino, please calm down!” Salem pleaded, trying to help Bino to his feet. Instead Bino pushed her away as he stumbled himself off the ground, backing away from his supposed family.

Bino looked around, trying to gain his bearings. He looked at the food on the table, the pristine glorious food that was too good to be true.

He looked at Sabrina, so happy to see him and so eager to welcome him home.
He looked at Salem, who had grown into such a beautiful young woman, and who had apparently became his apprentice as a Rogue.

And he looked at Fido, whose very presence completely shattered the illusion.

Bino looked away from them as tears started to cascade down his face. “This…” He choked out. “This isn’t real. None of this is real.”

Fido looked solemnly at his brother. “Does it matter?”
Bino looked up at this, confusion clear on his face. “What?”

Fido took another tentative step towards Bino. “Does it matter if it’s real? Doesn’t this make you happy?”
He placed a gentle hand on Bino’s shoulder. “Don’t you want to be happy?”

Bino… wasn’t sure what to say, he wasn’t sure what was going on or why. But he looked at the face of his brother, more gentle and kind than Bino ever remembered him to be.

“I…”
---
With a start, Bino opened his eyes, immediately coughing up the last vestiges of water from his lungs.

“Woah there!” Bino heard a female voice behind him say. He took a strange comfort in not being able to recognize the voice as anyone he knew. “You’re alright, let it out.” Bino felt the person behind him gently thumping his back, encouraging him to cough up every drop of water in him.

When Bino had sufficiently hacked up his lung, he took a second to grab his bearings. Immediately, he recognized the interior of a ship. Slanted wooden walls and circular windows, ropes and riggings keeping cargo and equipment in place as the waves bowed and ebbed. The room in particular was clearly some kind of medical facility, as Bino noticed a shelf full of all kinds of medicinal tonics and potions. Bino himself was laying in a not-too-comfortable cot and noticed similar cots arranged throughout the room.

Bino then regarded himself and noticed immediately the patch job done on him. His leather cuirass and shirt was missing, revealing his bare chest. His fur was matted and not exactly pleasant smelling from his dip in the dock’s lake. He saw bandages woven around his chest concentrated at his shoulder where the bolt hit him. Surprisingly, his shoulder didn’t hurt all that much, more stiff than anything else.

Finally, Bino looked behind him to see who his mysterious caretaker was, and had to blink once or twice to make sure he wasn’t still hallucinating.

She was a husky, and Bino took a second to remember that the captain of this ship, if it was indeed the same ship that rescued them, was a husky as well. But this husky apparently had the same fur condition Grape had that gave her such an exotic hue.

This husky was bright, neon pink.

Honestly, she was almost… aggressively pink. It almost got to the point where it was hurting Bino’s eyes just looking at her.

“Uh… Huh?” Bino said, still shaking off the last effects from his… Dream? Hallucination? Near-death experience? Bino wasn’t exactly sure what he had just experienced and he was in no hurry to find out.

The pink husky raised her hands to calm him. “It’s alright, your in a safe place right now. Your friend dived in after you when you fell and brought you back up to the ship, I’ve been treating you since. Although, I do have to share credit with you cleric friend, Sasha was it? I never would have gotten that wound closed so quickly without her magic.”

Bino nodded, taking in the info as he calmed himself down from his… experience. “I… Thank you. I don’t think I caught your name?”
The husky smiled. “My name is Spring, I’m the ship’s doctor.”

“If your feeling up to it…” Spring began, helping Bino to his feet. “Captain Fox did want to speak with you and your team when you recovered.”

Bino nodded numbly. “Okay, just give me a second to catch my brea… Wait.” Bino turned to face Spring. “You said my ‘friend’ dived in after me. Who did you mean?”

Spring tilted her head. “The black cat. I’m sorry, I don’t really know all of your names.”

Bino shot a confused look at Spring. “Max? But… but he was unconscious?”
Spring smiled. “I know! I saw the whole thing on the deck! He woke up just as you fell and immediately dived in after you. You must be so lucky to have such a good friend by your side.”

Bino remained silent.

“Anyway…” Spring said, slowly letting go of Bino to let him stand on his own. “I’ve done the best I can, you’ll just have to take it easy for the time being. I would like to change your bandages when we make our return trip, but other than that, I’m giving you a clean bill of health.” She said, smiling.

Bino nodded before looking around the room. “I-uh… I don’t suppose you have my shirt anywhere. I’m… feeling a little exposed.”
Spring gave a confused look. “But your covered in fur?”
“Will you please just get me a shirt!” Bino snapped.
---
After a few seconds of getting back to decency, Bino made his way to the ladder leading up to the deck. According to Spring, that’s where the rest of team would be with Captain Fox, just waiting for him to recover so they could hold counsel.

So it surprised Bino to see Max down in the hold, apparently engaged in a board game Bino didn’t recognize with an absolutely gargantuan black dog.
Max saw Bino approach and looked away from the board, though he seemed to be in deep concentration before-hand. “Hey! There’s my hero!” Max said, playfully slapping Bino’s arm. “The others told me how you practically carried my dead weight all the way to the boat.” Max said. He made a exaggerated show of clasping his hands and fluttering his eyes at Bino. “How can I ever repay you!”

Bino scoffed. “First off, you can never do that again!” He said, eliciting a chuckle from Max. “Second… I suppose we’re even since you fished me out of the lake.”

Max rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, well… I just didn’t want you to die before I got my money back from you.”
Bino crossed his arms. “Oh, you mean the money I won from our bet, fair and square?”

Max gave Bino a hard glare… before breaking down into more laughing. “Okay, okay, I concede.” Once his laughter died down, Max looked up at Bino and offered his hand. “I think it’s high time we start over. Friends?”

Bino looked at Max’s hand, remembering the last time he accepted, before finally sighing and grasping it. “Sure, friends, whatever. If nothing else, I’m getting a little tired of sparring with you.”
Max shrugged. “Well, if your up for more friendlier types of competition, do you want to take winner?” Max said, gesturing to the board. “This is Mungo, by the way. He’s the ship’s Chief Gunner.”

The giant of a dog gave a big-eyed smile to Bino. “Hi! It’s a pleasure to meet you!” Mungo said. Without even waiting for Bino to reciprocate, Mungo grasped Bino’s hand in his own before a sickening ‘crunch’ sound was heard.

“YEEEOWWW!!!” Bino screamed, ripping his hand from Mungo’s death-grip.

“Danggit Mungo!” Spring yelled, poking her head out of the infirmary. “What have I told you about being gentle with the crew! I just patched up that boy, don’t go breaking him again!”

Mungo gasped, bringing his massive paws to his mouth. “I’m so sorry Spring, I forgot!”

Max started laughing again as Bino gave him a death glare. “It’s… It’s alright, Mungo. Just… stick to waving next time.” Bino said as he massaged his hand.
When he finally got feeling back into his hand, he turned to address Max. “We’ll have to put a raincheck on your game. Spring told me the Captain wants to talk to the whole team, and that includes us.”

A dark look suddenly flashed across Max’s face. He looked down, not wanting to meet Bino’s eyes as he rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, I know. I’m the subject of discussion. I’m… kind of on trial right now.”

Bino shot a confused look at Max. “On trial? On trial for what?”

“Weeeeeeell…” Max began. “They kiiiind of think I’m possessed by a demon.”


Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:24 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Really like where you are going with this now! Can't wait to read more!

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Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:52 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I like the premise of this story a lot; u got another reader =P

I don't think it is so bad if Max is half demon or allows one to posses his body from time to time, what's the worst that could happen?


Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:16 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Since Max is a bit of an oddball, I'm thinking that complete and utter chaos could result. XD

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Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:30 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I liked this story, so here's a sketch up of Ranger Peanut, Cleric Sahsa and Bard Zach
(I'm not sure how to change the orientation of its always on the side)

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Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:10 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Seriously Krytus, these are awesome! I can't wait to see the rest of them! (If you're still doing them, that is)


Sat Dec 01, 2018 7:15 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I am planning to do more just gonna be a while since i need to think through the designs

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Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:01 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Then that is OK. Take all the time you need. No need to rush through trying to draw anything. They really do look nice. We will be waiting to see what else you come up with for the other characters!

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Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:54 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
“Well Peanut? What can you tell me?”

Peanut scrunched his nose. Jillian always had to stifle a laugh whenever Peanut was in deep thought. He always looked so adorable.

But Jillian knew better than to underestimate her little pup. Peanut had only started his Ranger training earlier in the month, and he was already making great strides as a tracker. Soon she’ll be teaching her son the basics of survival, then archery, then the really fun stuff.

“I’m pretty sure the tracks go through that pass there.” Peanut said, holding his tiny cloak close to his tiny body for warmth. It was a cool, crisp autumn afternoon. The auburn leaves cascaded around the mother and son, framing them in the oranges and reds of fall.

“Only pretty sure?” Jillian asked her pup. “Can you be more certain?”

Peanut scrunched his nose again. “Well, that’s what I’m smelling anyway.”

Jillian nodded. “Good that your using more than just your eyes. But the secret to being a good tracker is using all of your senses in tandem with one another. Let your ears see, and let you eyes hear.”

Peanut gave his mother a confused look. “That doesn’t make any sense Mom.”

“Humor me, dear. Look at the tracks around us, then smell the scents around us, then hear the noises around us. Do all of these things, one after another, and try the pick the one sight, scent, and sound that all coincide with one another.”

Peanut still wasn’t sure what exactly his mother was trying to teach him, but he tried to heed her advice all the same. There were numerous tracks around them, of all kinds of animals, both civilized and feral. For whatever reason, Peanut’s nose kept pointing him to the pass. There was a scent that Peanut did not recognize, at it was driving him crazy with curiosity.

That’s when Peanut noticed a set of tracks he didn’t before. A small set of pawprints, only slightly smaller than his own. Peanut placed an experimental foot down on one of the prints, realizing that they were the same general shape.

“Something’s been through this way.” Peanut told his mother.
“Something or someone?”
Peanut whined. “Can’t you just tell me?”

Jillian wagged her finger at her pup. “This is your hunt, sweetie. Look at the space between the prints.”

Peanut knew what his mother meant. She taught him this before. The sequence of steps, whether by two or by four, could tell you whether the tracks were bipedal or quadrupedal. And that could go a long way in figuring out if the tracks were left by a feral or a civilized animal.

Since the tracks were already similar to his own, Peanut simply walked down the tracks, easily keeping pace with the sequence of steps.

“Right, someONE.” Peanut said.

Jillian placed a hand to her chin. “A tiny someone. Possibly a child, and without any larger matching prints.”
“Mom?” Peanut said.
“I think you just stumbled on a lost child, Peanut. If so, we need to find them. This hunt just became a rescue mission.” Jillian said.

Peanut’s eyes lit up. “Does that make this my first real Ranger mission?”
“Focus sweetie. Find the child first.” Jillian reprimanded.

Peanut nodded, his face becoming comically serious. Turning his attention back to the tracks, Peanut remembered the last sense he was to rely on: hearing.

Closing his eyes, Peanut let the sounds of the forest wash over him. Birds chirping, sticks breaking and leaves crumbling by the animals striding across them.

And then, so faint against the ambience, Peanut heard crying.

“Mom…” Peanut began.
“I hear it too.” Jillian said. “It’s not loud. When a child cries, it’s because they want help, so they’re usually as loud as they can be. When a child stifles their tears… it’s because they don’t want to be found.”

Peanut looked up to his mother. “We’re still going to find them, right?”
Jillian smiled down at him. “Of course, pup. But we need to be careful. Whatever this child is hiding from, we should steer clear of it ourselves.”

Jillian reached behind her and pulled out her bow. No Ranger would be caught in the wilderness without one. “Just a precaution. If the worst happens, get behind me and let me take care of anything that might threaten us.”

Peanut nodded before making his way to the pass, following the tracks and the growing fainter sound of tears.

Eventually, Peanut and Jillian followed the tracks to an tree, with a small hollow underneath its partially unearthed roots. Sure enough, the crying seemed to be coming from the hollow under the tree.

Jillian motioned Peanut to get behind her as she advanced towards the tree. She sheathed her bow to her back before kneeling down, and seeing exactly what she was afraid she’d see.

A tiny kitten, only slightly smaller than Peanut, huddled in a fetal position, quietly sobbing to itself. It took Jillian a second to realize with all the dirt and mud caked into her that her fur was a bizarre purple color.

“Hello little one.” Jillian said in the softest voice she could muster.
Of course, the traumatized kitten reacted to this new presence by jumping up in shock, hitting her head against the tree, and backing up as much as she could in the hollow. Her eyes were wide in fear and terror, and her breathing was hurried and ragged. Clearly, something had this kitten scared beyond her senses.

“It’s okay!” Jillian said, holding up her hand. “I’m not going to hurt you, I want to help you. Why don’t you come out of there, and we can talk?”

The kitten shook her head. “N-No! Go away! Leave me alone!”

Jillian huffed. She couldn’t just leave this kid alone in the woods, but she also couldn’t just reach in and drag the poor kitten out. She was clearly traumatized enough.

That’s when Peanut poked his head out from behind his mother’s cloak, his curiosity winning out over his caution. “Mom, who is it?”

Jillian was about to answer when the kitten spoke up again. “Who… Who is that?”
Jillian smiled, a plan forming in her mind, as she pushed Peanut forward so the kitten could see him clearly. “This is my son, Peanut. He’s around the same age as you. Won’t you come out and say hello?”

The kitten remained in the hollow, still glaring at Jillian with distrust.

Peanut scrunched up his nose, and Jillian knew he was about to do something either incredibly smart or incredibly silly.

“Well, if you won’t come out, then I’ll just come in!” He said, already squeezing his way into the hollow. The kitten tried to back away again, but found there was no room. The hollow was much more cramped now with both children inside it.

Once he had managed to find a somewhat comfortable spot to sit, Peanut turned his attention back to the kitten. “I’m Peanut! What’s your name?”

The kitten stared at Peanut for a second or two before finally relenting. “I… I don’t know my name. I never knew my name.”

Peanut tilted his head. “Oh… Can I name you?”
“What?” The kitten asked, shooting an annoyed look at Peanut.
“Well, you gotta have a name! I have to call you something…”

The kitten said nothing, neither a refusal or permission, but Peanut took her silence as permission all the same.

“Let’s see… How about… Grape?” Peanut said.
“Grape? Do I look like a grape to you?” The kitten said, baring her teeth.
“Well, it’s cause you’re purple like a grape. Here, let me show you…” Peanut said, scooching himself until he was sitting right next to the flustered kitten.
“Hey! What are you…!”
“See?” Peanut said, holding his arm against her own. “My name is Peanut cause I’m brown like a peanut. And you got that cool purple fur, like a grape.”

The kitten scoffed. “So I’m named after food?”
Peanut’s ears drooped. “Well… if you don’t like it I can think of another…”
The kitten’s eyes suddenly widened as she raised her hands. “Nono! It’s…” The kitten looked away. “It’s… fine. Grape’s a fine name. You can call me Grape.”

The kitten, now named Grape, kept her eyes away from the pup’s, when she suddenly felt a pair of arms wrap around her. She looked down and realized that the puppy she had just met was giving her a hug.

“Pleased to meet you, Grape!” Peanut said, his tail thumping against the earthy walls of the hollow.

Jillian, smiling at the display, cleared her throat to get the children’s attention. “Well Grape, if you’re feeling better, can you come out now and talk to me?”

Peanut let go of Grape, missing her trying to grab his arms to keep the embrace going longer, and held out a hand. “Come on, Grape! My mom is really nice, and I can protect you. I’m a Ranger, you know.” Peanut said with pride.

Grape scoffed. “You’re a Ranger?”
“Well…” Peanut rubbed his neck. “In training, at least.”

Grape looked at Peanut’s smiling face and then looked down at his outstretched hand, still waiting for her to accept it.

“Okay…” Grape said. “Just… Don’t leave me alone.” With that, Grape grasped onto Peanut’s hand and held on tight, afraid he might still let go.

Instead, Peanut’s grip tightened as well as he helped Grape to her feet.

“Never.”
---
The memories were still just as vivid as they were when she was a kitten. Grape could still remember hiding in that hollow for hours, maybe even days, before Peanut and his mother, their mother, came and found her.

More than that, she still remembered the village she lived in before her adoption, if you can call scrounging for food in the trash and sleeping in alleyways ‘living’.
She remembered the fires that burned the village to the ground.
She remembered the horrified screams of the villagers as they tried to escape the flames.

And she remembered the demons that started the fire.

She didn’t understand it, she couldn’t understand it, she was just a kitten with no knowledge of the world except which alleys had the best cover from rain. It was a day like any other, then panic and chaos as the demons descended, having come from the aether itself.

And they had fun.

That, more than anything, is what Grape remembered in such clear, vivid detail. The laughter, the celebrations of the their destruction. They took Grape’s world, a dismal world though it was, and make it theirs.

Years later, and all Jillian and all the Rangers and Knights of Griffonrock ever found was the black and charred debris where the village once stood, and a frightened, nameless kitten under a tree.

Speaking of demons…

Grape was standing on the deck of Captain Fox’s ship, the ‘Famous and prestigious vessel known far and wide as: The Heaven Bound’ as Fox described it. She, as well as the rest of the party sans Max and Bino, was waiting for the Thief in question to recover and bring Max topside with him so they could hold their ‘trial’.

While Grape wanted nothing more than to throw Max in the ship’s brig for keeping his… condition a secret from the party, Fox established his authority as Captain over her, saying no one would be held captive on his ship unless he had good reason.

And so, Captain Fox offered a trial to be held by the entire party, with himself acting the part of Jury. If they could convince him that Max was a danger to the crew and to the mission, then he would take matters into his own hands.

The rest of the party agreed to Fox’s terms a little too easily for Grape, in Peanut’s words: “His ship, his rules.”, but she knew this was the best chance of convincing the Captain of the potential danger Max possessed.

As the party waited, keeping themselves entertained as best they could, Fox walked up to Grape, who was busying herself watching the waves go by.

“Miss Grape?” Fox said, holding his hands behind his back. “I was hoping we could confer before our rather impromptu trial began.”

Grape turned to face Fox, doing her best to keep her face neutral despite her frustration. “Just Grape is fine, Captain. What did you wish to speak about.”

“I understand his highness, Prince Keene, has established you and Peanut as the de facto leaders of this merry band. As part of my agreement with the Prince, I will certainly do my part to aid in your rescue mission and follow your orders.” Fox’s eyes narrowed as his voice took on a lower tone. “But, I cannot stress enough that that same courtesy does NOT extend to my ship or my crew. As far as they are concerned, the only authority they respond to is me, myself, and I.”

“I say this, because in the event that my judgement to place your friend in my ship’s brig does not match your intention, I will fully expect you to respect that judgement and drop the matter there and then.” As Fox said this, he raised his hands in defense, already sensing how well Grape was taking this. Which was to say, not very well.

“I will still follow your leadership in regards to rescuing the young lad, Breel. But anything having to do with my ship and my crew, I expect you to defer to my judgement as Captain and expect you to trust in me to ferry us safely to Coraggio Island and back home.” Fox offered his hand to Grape. “Do we have an accord?”

Grape glowered at Fox disdainfully. Even if everything Fox said was technically true, she could still recognize a power move when she saw it. Still, it’s not as though Grape was in any position to be arguing. They were relying on the crew of the Heaven Bound to get them safely to Coraggio Island, and chances are they would listen to Fox ten times over before they ever take a single order from her or Peanut.

Finally, Grape grasped Fox’s hand and gave him a firm shake. “Understood. But I hope you will see reason once we commence with this trial.”

Fox nodded. “All I ask is for cool heads to prevail before we do anything drastic.”

Any other words that could have been said were cut short when the trapdoor to the hold flipped open, revealing Bino and Max climbing up to the brig. Of course, Max looked to the group like a man facing the gallows.

Peanut felt that some goodwill was needed to diffuse the tension, so he walked up to Bino before placing a hand on his back. “Good to see you haven’t left us just yet!”

Bino rolled his shoulders, working out the stiffness from his wound. “I’m not dying till I get my payment.” His expression softened upon meeting eyes with Sasha. “I… heard from the ship’s doctor that you helped her heal me.” Bino said, walking up to the cleric. “I suppose I should thank you.”

Sasha waved her hand nonchalantly. “Think nothing of it. I’m just glad we didn’t lose someone so soon.”

Bino grimaced as he looked back at Max. “Well… Jury’s still out on that.”

“If we’re all ready to begin.” Grape said, facing Max straight on. The rest of the party forming a loose circle around the black cat. “Maxwell Byron, you stand accused of being possessed by a demonic influence and thus are currently a danger to both yourself and everyone on this ship.” Grape allowed herself a small breath to calm her nerves. “That said, you are also directly responsible for saving our lives from the assassins from the Thieves Guild. As such, you will be allowed to explain your… condition and convince us that we are in no danger around you.”

Max nodded. “Well, first and foremost, I believe it most prudent to clear up some… misconceptions. First off, Efreet isn’t a demon. He’s a spirit.”

Peanut tilted his head. “Efreet? Is that the de-, the spirit who’s possessing you?”

Max shrugged. “I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a ‘possession’. Perhaps I should start with how I came to have this ‘condition’ in the first place.”

“The truth is, you are all actually talking to a dead man.” Max said.
Needless to say, everyone present was confused.

“Sorry-” Bino began. “But are you saying you… died?”

“...I got better.” Max said. “You see, I’m Telani.”

“Tel-what-y?” Sasha said.

“Telani, the People of the Open Road.” Zach offered. “Well, one of the People. They’re split up into various tribes. Telani are one of those tribes.”

Bino scoffed. “So you’re a gypsy? That… makes way too much sense.”

Max glared at Bino. “Hey, I find that term offensive! But yes, I’m absolutely a gypsy.”

Peanut raised a hand. “Sorry, this is all interesting, but what does this have to do with…” The words dies in his mouth, so he instead pointed his fingers above his head like horns.

“Right right, I was getting to that.” Max said. “Well, Efreet is a spirit that’s been a protector of the Telani for generations. He was the one to teach the tribe’s founders fire magic, which became our bread and butter. When I died… the Telani prayed for Efreet to find my soul and guide me to the afterlife. And he found me alright.”

“I… I can’t really describe what happened or how it happened. As far the the elders of my tribe knew, it had never happened before, but Efreet essentially joined his soul with mine, bringing me back to life.”

Sasha looked around the assembled party. “Max, would you allow me to, this is gonna sound weird, examine your soul?”

Bino stared at Sasha incredulously. “Wait, you can do that?”

Sasha shrugged. “Kind of, sort of, not really. I don’t mean his soul literally, but I can sense… I guess you could say, other presences. Things in Max that might not be Max.”

Max nodded. “If it helps, go ahead.”

As Sasha got to work, waving her staff around Max in a way that only made sense to her, Grape addressed Max again. “You said that this… Efreet was a spirit, not a demon. What’s the difference?”

Zach cleared his throat, grabbing Grape’s attention. “I can answer that. But the answer is maddeningly unhelpful.”

Grape raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“The truth is, there is no difference. Spirits and demons are more or less the same breed of entity. The only real difference in classifying them is morality, and that is such a nebulous, individual concept that we could argue that alone for days and get nowhere.”

“Efreet saved my life. That’s moral enough for me.” Max said, still being manhandled by Sasha’s staff.

“That does beg the question though…” Fox spoke for the first time, having been content up till now to merely absorb information. “Why did Efreet save you? For what purpose? I mean, there must have been Telani who died before you and this spirit didn’t step in to save them. What makes you so special?”

Max looked down. “I… I don’t know. I wish I knew. I can’t exactly communicate with Efreet, he’s not a voice in my head. I just… feel him, keeping me alive, keeping me tethered to this world.”

“None of this explains that very clearly demonic transformation at the docks.” Grape said.

Max nodded. “When I was younger, and still confused as to why I was still alive, I sometimes would have fits of anger or frustration. When that happened, I could somehow tap into Efreet’s power and make it my own.”

Grape scoffed. “So you became a winged, horned monster every time you felt anger? That sounds like a demon to me.”

Max glared at Grape. “MY anger, not Efreet’s. I’m the one who taps into that power, it’s all of my own accord.” Max reached into his shirt collar, pulling out his ruby amulet. “One of the Telani’s elders gave me this stone, said it was made by the founders who first learned from Efreet. Somehow, it gave me more… control, more focus over Efreet’s power. I cobbled together my own incantation to tap into that power at will.”

Grape sighed, this whole debate was going in circles. “Sasha, do you have anything to illuminate the situation?”

Sasha let out a breath she had been holding. “Well, I can definitely say this is NOT a possession. When a demon possesses someone, it’s always parasitic. The host doesn’t WANT the demon inside them and is constantly fighting to take back control.” Sasha looked back towards Grape. “That means there’s usually a… I guess you could call it a handhold, something I can grasp with my magic to separate the demon from its host.”

“There’s no such handhold in Max. He completely accepts this other presence within him. Honestly, it’s less of a possession and more of a fusion. I’m having trouble telling where Max ends and Efreet begins.”

Sasha suddenly looked incredibly uncomfortable, something everyone present picked up on.
“Sasha?” Grape asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Well…” Sasha began. “There is… one other complication. Even if I could separate Max from Efreet, I don’t think I should. I mean… you all remember what state Max was in when Efreet first joined with him, right?”

A look of realization dawned on Max. “I was… dead.”

“Meaning if Efreet was separated from Max...” Bino began. “He could die again?”

Sasha nodded. “If Efreet is indeed the only thing keeping Max alive, then…” Sasha turned to Grape. “I’m sorry, but as a Cleric, I can’t knowingly do anything to Max that might result in his death. I took an oath.”

Max nodded. “Yes, I would also like to put my vote into ‘Not killing me’.”

Fox stepped forward. “I think I’ve heard enough.” He said, addressing Max directly. “Can you promise me that you can keep this Efreet thing under control?”

Max scoffed. “There’s nothing to control, he’s an ally same as me. If you’re asking whether or not Efreet is dangerous, I can assure you Efreet will not do anything I don’t want.”

Fox's eyes hardened. “Then can you promise me YOU won’t be a danger to my ship or my crew?”

Max met Fox’s glare. “Only if you don’t give me reason to be.”

The black and white animals kept their gaze on one another for a few more tense moments, before Fox broke away, smiling and slapping Max on the back. “Then welcome aboard, friend!”

With that Fox walked away.

“Wait! Just like that?!” Grape yelled.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this but, yeah! Just like that?!” Max yelled.
“Just like that.” Fox replied. “We have a long voyage ahead of us and I fear we’ve wasted far too much time with this little distraction.”

“But…!” Grape began to protest.

“Miss Grape, remember our accord.” Fox said. “I’d hate to think a representative of the crown would go back on her word.”

Grape tried to protest further, but the words died in her mouth. Fox took her silence as affirmation before walking straight to his quarters. “We’ll reconvene later to discuss the rescue effort. Right now, I need to consult my maps and charter us a route to Coraggio.”

“Sooooo…” Max said. “Is that it? Are we all good?”

Peanut looked at Grape, still fuming at Fox’s dismissal. “I suppose so. You did save our lives at the docks, so I think we can trust you. Right Grape?” Peanut offered.

Grape glared at Peanut before turning her attention to Max. “It’s out of my hands, in any case. I can see when I’m clearly outvoted.” She turned to leave for the hold before turning back to Max once more. “I will be keeping an eye on you.” With that, Grape descended into the hold, clearly wanting to be left alone.

Peanut sighed before walking up to Max, placing an hand on his shoulder. “Walk with me. There’s something about Grape I feel you should know.” Peanut said, guiding Max away from the group.

In the end, only Bino, Sasha and Zach were alone with their thoughts. Though they all had a variety of worries going through their minds, one shared doubt was at the forefront for all three of them.

How could they be expected to finish this mission, when they were already at each other’s necks?


Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:46 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
UGH, I am not happy with this chapter. Way too much exposition.


Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:47 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I can kinda relate. I'm all for lore chapters sometimes it can be pretty cool when done right; in your case it's handled pretty well. I just don't like writing them sometimes since it can get dialogue heavy without much happening

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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I love world-building, so this kind of stuff rarely bothers me :D
Plus you pretty much gave us only what we needed to know without dwelling too much on anything. There's probably more tightly woven story-telling methods to get us up to speed, but you're also clearly not writing a full novel here :P

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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Deepens the relationships and conflicts with no heavy amount of background info. I'm enjoying what you're writing.


Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:57 pm
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Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:56 pm
Posts: 245
Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I think u handled this really well, I was not sure how the beginning of the chapter linked with the last one until the flashback's end. Using the current situation to show us a little more about some characters is always appreciated on my book.


Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:46 am
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Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:24 pm
Posts: 9404
Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
This chapter has really come out very great! I look forward to reading more of this!

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Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:04 pm
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