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Housepets: World of Fantasy 
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
That's the price I pay for trying to multitask... :roll:


Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:59 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
well finals projects are eating me alive but while I have a free moment take a quick look at what I found

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4BuL886bJA

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Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:23 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Wow that is just awesome! Great job on finding it!


Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:57 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I liked the background story for the crew a lot, the pacing feels pretty good with this kind of chapters in the middle.
But land adventures do have a lot more variables, let's see how the party handle themselves.


Wed Feb 20, 2019 12:09 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Krytus The Dreamer Wrote:
well finals projects are eating me alive but while I have a free moment take a quick look at what I found

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4BuL886bJA


I LOVE Critical Role! Not gonna lie, it's one of the biggest inspirations for this whole fanfic.

There's another, more serious toned, intro too!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dz2o_bVkgPA


Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:44 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
With Captain Fox and his new friends from Griffonrock keeping themselves busy with their rescue mission, Spring decided now was as good a time as any to get going with her usual… errand.

With her satchel hanging off her side, Spring went up to the ship’s first-mate, Bailey.
“Bailey?” Spring said, grabbing her attention from organizing the other crew-members. “I’m going to be taking off. Usual rules apply?”

Bailey nodded. “Usual rules. Three hours, then you head back. If you find anything substantial, we’ll put together a proper investigation. If you’re not back in three hours, we’ll send a search party for you.”

Spring nodded, having done this nearly every time their ship made port. “Well then… I suppose I should get going.”

Spring turned and walked off before Bailey called out.

“You think you’re gonna find something this time?” Bailey said.

Spring was silent for a few seconds before calling back over her shoulder. “I can’t have any worse luck than the last few times.”

Bailey nodded, having long ago abandoned trying to talk the doctor out of this. “Stay safe.”

Spring returned the nod before stepping off the gangplank and onto Coraggio’s docks. With no real destination in mind, Spring flagged down the nearest dock-worker she saw.

“Excuse me…” She began, grabbing the dock-worker’s attention. “I’m looking for someone. A green husky, looks a lot like me.”

The dock-worker raised an eyebrow. “A green husky, y’say? Can’t say I’ve ever seen such a sight. Would certainly remember if I did.” The dock-worker passed a glance towards Spring. “Why you ask, lass?”

Spring looked down, crestfallen. “She’s my sister. Her name is Summer.”

The dock-worker shrugged. “Sorry lass, can’t help ya. But I suggest speaking to our trading station. If anyone on this island saw your sister, they probably would have seen her there.”

Spring nodded. “Thank you.”

With that, Spring turned towards the docktown proper, doing her best to keep her hope.
Something that was becoming harder to do with each passing year.
---
The two guards stationed at the front door of the Rainier Estate were suddenly treated to an odd sight. A tiny white rabbit wearing colorful and exotic fabrics was confidently making his way down the path to the estate, happily strumming along his lute as the music permeated the still air of the sunset-cast clearing.

“Ho, there!” The rabbit said, making his stand before the two, imposing brutes in front of him. “Allow me to introduce myself: Zachary Arbelt of the travelling Arbelt Brothers.” Zach said, giving a low bow to the guards who shared an apprehensive look.

“Your master, Lord Rainier, has hired my services as entertainment for this lavish do.” Zach said, trying to keep his fake smile from faltering. “If it’s all the same to you gentlemen, I would like to get situated right away. There is some preparatory work I must do before I perform, as it were, and I would hate to keep the festivities waiting.”

One of the guards kept a steady gaze on Zach. “Wait here.” He said simply before turning to enter the estate, leaving Zach alone with the other guard.

A moment of silence passed.

“Lovely evening, isn’t it?”
---
“Are we sure the lad can pull this off?” Fox said, inspecting his flintlock. “I don’t much care for sending him into the lion’s den alone.”

Fox, as well as the rest of the party sans Zach, were all in position atop the tallest hill overlooking the estate, a straight shot from the precipice of the hill to the window of the estate’s second floor.

Bino laid across the grassy crest, keeping an eye on Zach through a spyglass.
“Worst comes to worse, he can use that ‘charm-talking’ thing to at least get through the door.” Bino said.

“Charmspeak.” Max corrected. “And remember, he can only influence, not command. At least, not for more than a few seconds before giving away the whole charade.”

“He knows what he’s doing, right?” Grape asked. “He’s done this before?”

Bino shrugged. “Ask Peanut. I laid out the plan, but Peanut seemed to think Zach was up to the task.”

Peanut nodded. “There’s a reason I picked him for this job. Any of you hear of the Arbelt Brothers?”
“Can’t say I have, though I’m not exactly the most cultured cutpurse out there.” Bino admitted.

“I’ve heard of them.” Max said, a look of realization crossing his face. “Tiger and Marvin Arbelt. Those two are legendary among tales of Bards. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve heard of them charming and finagling their way to wealth and riches from Griffonrock to Solomon Cove.”

Max turned to Peanut. “I should have recognized the name as soon as I heard it. Are you saying our own Zachary is…?”

Peanut nodded. “None other than the third Arbelt Brother.”

Max shot a impressed look towards Zach, before his face twisted in confusion. “Now hang on, I’ve heard tell of only two Arbelt Brothers. This is the first I’m hearing of a third.”

Grape cast a sidelong glare to her adoptive brother. “Peanut…”

Peanut held up his hands defensively. “Admittedly, he may not have the same experience as his elders, but he was trained by them in everything Bardic. He may not have the experience, but he definitely has the skill.”

Peanut looked down at Zach, still trying to engage the other guard in conversation.

“Give him a chance.” Peanut said. “I’m sure we’ll soon be hearing tales of Zach’s feats as well. Who knows? This might just be the first.”
---
“So the way I’m hearing it…” Zach began, placing a comforting hand on the weeping guard’s shoulder. “Is that you simply want your father to recognize your contributions rather than just expecting it out of you.”

The guard wiped his nose on the sleeve of his shirt. “Is that so hard? One little ‘Good job, son’?”

Zach nodded, placing a hand on his heart. “My friend, you have my condolences and my support. I’m afraid the only guidance I can offer is to speak with your father and let these feelings be known. He’ll never know how your hurting otherwise.”

The guard broke down, sobbing as he scooped the diminutive rabbit into a bear hug, picking Zach up off his feet.

“Oof!” Zach exclaimed, feeling the wind rush out of his lungs. “There… There…” He strained. “Let it all out…”

The other guard chose that moment to return, a rather confused look on his face as he stepped through the door. “Uh… Lady Rainier wants to… speak with… What in blazes is going on here?”

The sobbing guard dropped Zach in a panic as he quickly tried to compose himself. Zach quickly scrambled back to his feet, making sure he wasn’t too dirty from the fall. “An emotional breakthrough, nothing major.” Zach said.

Clearing his throat, Zach turned to face the returning guard. “Ah, you said Lord Rainier’s wife wanted a word with me?”

The guard shook his head, still clearly confused at the display he had just witnessed. “No, his daughter: Lady Kay Rainier.”
---
As Zach was escorted into the estate by the guard, he was quickly approached by a young ocelot woman wearing an absolutely stunning red evening gown. The ocelot regarded Zach with a rather neutral gaze, one where Zach could sense neither hostility nor friendliness.

That said, Zach recognized the air of a noblewoman in the way the ocelot carried herself. He gave a dramatic bow, being sure to lower his head below his waist as was ‘proper’.

“Might I be bold to assume that I speak to the fair Lady Kay herself?” Zach said, rising as the ocelot lifted her hand in permission.

“You are indeed, Mister Arbelt.” Lady Kay said, keeping her voice level and refined. Zach noticed her ‘noble’ voice seemed a little strained, as though she hadn’t practiced it much. No noble ever speaks to commoners in their actual tone, Zach knew, but there was something in Lady Kay’s voice that made it seemed as though she was trying a little harder than other noblewomen to put on airs.

Chasing away those errant thoughts for now, Zach presented his lute to Lady Kay. “As I have told your staff, I have been hired by your father to provide entertainment for your guests here in your lovely home.”

Lady Kay raised an eyebrow. “That’s rather funny, Mister Arbelt, as my father has been away at sea for some time now. How would you have gained word of my soiree?”

Zach nodded, remembering the tips Marvin gave him.

They will always try to trip you up, Marvin would say. Try to test your knowledge against theirs. Do the same in kind, build off what they say to make a narrative they can’t disagree with. A lie is never too big, so long as you remember all the details.

“Indeed, it was the sea where I ran into your father. Or rather a port town he made business in.” Zach said. “Happenstance, one might say though I would say providence. A chance encounter between the two of us led to him hearing of my relation to the famous Arbelt Brothers. Upon hearing this, he simply had to hire my services for one of your regular parties.”

That was a gamble on Zach’s part. He had no way of knowing Lady Kay made a habit of such arrangements, banking partly on the fact that, simply put, she was a noblewoman, and partly on that she didn’t seemed surprised that her father knew about said party, implying they were a regular occurrence.

That said, Zach did enchant his words with just the smallest amounts of charmspeak. Just to be safe.

Whether by the charmspeak or Zach merely satisfying her caution, Lady Kay’s posture relaxed as her mouth turned up to the slightest smile.

“Well, I suppose this evening has become something of a dry affair. And who am I to snuff my father’s thoughtfulness. You came just as Lord Herrigan was about to start another rousing soliloquy about his flourishing textile business.” Lady Kay said, stifling a light giggle.

Zach offered a smile in turn. “Providence indeed, my Lady. But before I can perform, might I beseech you for a room with which to tune my instrument.” He said, playing an off-tone chord as an example. “If I am to play for you and your guests, It must be the best I can give. A fair Lady such as you deserves no less.”

Little bit more charmspeak.

Lady Kay’s smile widened ever so little. “I’m sure my father won’t mind if you use his lounge to make whatever preparations you need. Though I insist one of my guards stays with you at all times. Can’t be too careful these days.”

“Completely understandable, my Lady. A maiden so fair must certainly exercise all caution.” Zach said, starting to feel a twinge of a headache from using his charmspeak so much.

Lady Kay was about to turn back to the dining hall to rejoin her guests, before turning back towards Zach. She stood there for a moment, seemingly sizing Zach up.

Zach suddenly became very worried. Did he play his hand too fast? Too far? Did he say or do something to tip Lady Kay off?

Zach was suddenly very aware the group didn’t make much of a contingency plan if Zach became just as much of a prisoner as Breel. If Lady Kay even bothered to take him prisoner at all.

Instead, Lady Kay’s smile returned, only this time showing off just a little bit of her sharp, predatory teeth.

And predatory was a perfect description of the glint Zach saw in Lady Kay’s eyes.

“Perhaps, after the guests have all retired for the evening…” Lady Kay began. “I can give you a proper tour of the estate. Maybe have the lounge… all to ourselves.”

With that, Lady Kay gave a wink to Zach and walked back into the dining hall, leaving Zach standing stock-still.

Uh-Oh, Zach thought. Maybe a little too much charmspeak.


Last edited by JageshemashFTW on Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:08 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Looks like Zach may end up getting some more unwanted attention now. he better be careful about what he does next. LOL


Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:48 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Fixed the ‘A lie is never too little’ line to ‘A lie is never too big’ if anyone was confused by that.


Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:50 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
This story is getting better and better, and the artwork is great. Keep up the good work both of you.

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Fri Mar 22, 2019 4:36 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Yeah I saw that you fixed that line. Doing that makes MUCH more sense.


Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:03 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
“Okay, so you all gather together at the tavern to discuss your next quest.” Joey said, still in the process of getting all his notes and papers squared away as his players situated themselves.

“Wait, did I level up? I think I’m supposed to get another spell?” Bino asked, staring quizzically at his character sheet.

Max rolled his eyes. “Let me guess. You’re gonna give me another fire spell?”

Bino glared at Max. “Look, when I can no longer solve all of my problems by setting them on fire, then I’ll get another spell.”

“You know, your character is also an alchemist. You don’t really take advantage of that skill all that often.” Joey said.

Bino shrugged. “Why would I need to when we got a walking hospital with us.” He said, gesturing towards Max.

“Hey, Sasha needs to recharge every time she uses her spells.” Max argued. “You could at least make us a few potions to fall back on.”

Sasha raised an eyebrow. “Wait, I thought I was playing a bow-and-arrow guy?”
“Ranger.” Joey offered.
“Right, what did I say?” Sasha asked.

“Not you-you Sasha.” Max said. “The character Sasha, my character.”

Grape groaned, putting her face in her hands. “Whose bright idea was it to have us all play as each other? Zach, no offense, but your Bard is freaking worthless in a fight.”

“He’s a Bard, he’s not supposed to be a fighter.” Zach said defensively.

“Easy for you to say. You got the dual-wielding pirate out of the trade.” Grape said.

“Pirate-Hunter.” Zach reminded.

Joey grimaced. This was not the first time they have had this argument. “Look, this is supposed to be a role-playing game. There wouldn’t be a lot of role-playing if you all just played yourselves.”

“Hey, I’m not complaining!” Peanut offered. “I’m actually having a lot of fun playing as Bino.”
“You mean your having fun slandering me!” Bino snapped. “Seriously, what’s all this garbage about me wanting to be a ‘family’ with Fido’s cat-friend? You’re making me want to heave over here.”
Peanut shrugged. “You needed a character arc. What am I supposed to do? Make you hate everyone and everything?”
Bino nodded. “Yes, that would be preferable.”

Joey was about to mediate when Fox chose then and there to walk through the door, as he hurriedly but down his bags next to his chair.
“Sorry I’m late, guys.” He said, rummaging through his bag for his character sheet.

“Heh, life imitates art.” Max said.

“Hey, Joey?” Fox began. “When are we hitting a store? Grape’s been using the same sword and shield since we started this campaign.”

Joey sighed, today’s session already off to a grueling start.

“Let’s just… pick up where we left off.” Joey pleaded. “I’ll make sure to give you guys time to shop after the intro.”

With that, everyone more or less gave Joey their attention, differing levels of eagerness to continue their adventure.

“Right then. You are all gathered at a tavern to discuss your next quest…” Joey began.

“Wait!” Bino interrupted. “I never got my new spell!”

Everyone at the table groaned.

---

This is so non-canon, it hurts...
Happy April Fools Day, everyone!


Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:20 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Now we know why Joey doesn't like RPing with the other pets on Babylon Gardens. LOL


Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:42 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Trailing behind his guard escort, Zach breathed a sigh of relief that, not only was Lord Rainier’s lounge on the upper floor, but on the side of the manor the team was waiting for their opening.

Course, he still had to take care of this guard. He probably wouldn’t buy Zach wanting to open the window for ‘air’.

Thankfully, Zach did have something prepared.

As they entered the lounge, the guard took position by the door, blocking Zach’s exit. The guard regarded Zach with a curt nod. “Hurry with whatever you have to do. Don’t keep Lady Kay waiting.”

“Perish the thought.” Zach said, twisting the tuners to his lute as he gave a few experimental strums.

Zach risked a look out the window. He saw the ledge where the team was supposedly waiting for him to open the window, but he could not spot the team themselves under the dark of the night. Though Zach supposed that was a good thing. If he couldn’t see them, then it was probable that none of the guards could see them either.

Without wanting to waste any more time, Zach turned towards the guard. “Does this sound good to you?” He said, before playing a few somber chords.

The guard looked as though he was about to reply, but the words died in his mouth as the music entered his ears. The guards faced drooped as his eyes became glassy and blind to the world. His posture slouched and it would appear to all the world that the man fell asleep whilst standing.

Zach smiled. A simple Trance Song. Nothing too complicated, but it got the job done. The only problem now was that Zach couldn’t stop playing else the spell would be broken.

With his fingers still strumming the lute, Zach scrambled up a couch that had been thankfully situated next to the window. With a little luck, Zack managed to finagle the latch to the window open with his foot. A simple nudge later, and Zach’s job was done.
---
“We got our opening.” Bino said, peering through his spyglass. “There’s a guard in there with him, but he’s got him entranced.”

Bino turned away from the manor and reached into his belt, pulling out a small block of wax. “Zach said you’re hearing needs to be unimpeded for the spell to affect you, so we’ll have to plug up our ears while we’re in there. We should still be able to hear each other, just muffled.”

As Bino said this, he got to work pulling and shaping some of the wax into three sets of crude earplugs.

“Who’s going in?” Grape asked.

“Myself and Peanut, for starters.” Bino said. “We have the best skill set to move through the manor unnoticed.” Bino stood up, an uncomfortable look on his face. “That said, we will need Sasha to go with us.”

Sasha looked surprised at this. “Me? Why me? I’m not exactly a master of stealth.”

Bino nodded. “I know, but the truth is we don’t know what kind of condition Breel will be in when we find him. This rescue will be ten times easier if he were able to walk on his own feet as opposed to one of us having to carry him. We need you to make that happen if you can.”

Sasha looked apprehensive, but nodded all the same. “Okay… Just… I’m worried about alerting the guards.”

“Stay behind me and Peanut and let us clear the way. If we have to, we’ll leave you hidden somewhere in the manor and bring Breel to you.” Bino said.

Sasha nodded. “Okay, I’m ready.”

“And what will the rest of us be doing during your gallant rescue?” Fox said.

“You, Grape and Max are our best frontline fighters. You’re the contingency in case this goes up in flames and we have to fight our way out. If the guards are alerted to us, you’ll attack the manor and distract the guards while we make our way out. You’ll just have to fight them long enough to buy us time, then you’ll make your to the ship and we’ll haul out as fast as we can. If we’re lucky, the three of you won’t need to do anything at all. But I don’t plan for luck.” Bino explained.

Grape sighed. “I wish we had time to come up with a tighter plan. But time really isn’t a luxury we have.” Grape looked around the group, regarding them with a nod. “You all have your jobs, let’s get this done.”
---
Peanut launched the barbed arrow through the window, and it struck true to the wall of the lounge. As Peanut tied the other end of the rope attached to the arrow to a tree behind them, he turned to Sasha.

“Bino will slide down first. He’ll scope the situation and give us the signal to follow him. I’ll piggyback you down.” Peanut said, earning a nod from Sasha who was busy trying to fit the earplugs in place.

Peanut gave the rope an experimental tug before turning to Bino. “You’re good to go.”

Bino nodded and swung a length of leather over the rope, grasping the other end and tossing himself off the edge of the hill. A few tense moments passed as Bino flew silently through the air before vaulting passed the window and landing in the lounge with a roll.

Bino quickly stood up, regarding Zach with a nod. “Is he still out?” Bino asked, pointing at the guard with his thumb.

“Yeah…” Zach said, still concentrating on keeping his music playing. “But you guys need to make yourselves scarce before I take him back downstairs.”

“Just keep it up for a few more moments.” Bino said, walking over to the window and waving to the hill the team was waiting. Seconds later, Peanut and Sasha slid down together on Peanut’s bow. Sasha tensed up seeing the guard but gradually relaxed as she realized he was not taking in anything around him.

“Weird…” Sasha mused, waving her hand in front of the guard’s face before Bino pulled her back.

“Let’s not push our luck.” Bino warned her. “We’ll hide out in that closet while you take our friend downstairs.” Bino told Zach. “We’ll wait a few seconds before following you down. Did you happen to see anything that might look like a way to a basement?”

Zach’s fingers were starting to ache. “Best I can think of is a kitchen to the left of the stairs down by the entrance hall. Maybe they have an underground pantry? That’s about all I got.”

Peanut nodded. “It’s better than nothing.”

“Wait.” Zach said “There is a bit of a… wrinkle.”

Bino groaned. “We really don’t have time for wrinkles.”

Zach winced. “It’s just… Lady Kay, Lord Rainier’s daughter. She’s, well, taken a bit of a liking to me…”

Bino blinked. “You’re kidding, right?”

Zach shook his head. “I wish I was…”

Bino crossed his arms. “And… This is a problem? Zach, do you have any idea how many times I wished I had a honeypot during heists?”

Zach shot Bino a look. “A honey-what now?”

Bino sighed. “I can’t believe I have to explain to you how much of a good thing it is that a woman has a crush on you. If you’re charming the Rainier woman, you’re keeping her attention on you and off of us.

Bino placed his hands on Zach’s shoulders, careful not to disturb his playing. “Zach, for the good of the mission, you must flirt with the pretty lady.

Zach gulped.
---
The guard regarded Zach as he fiddled and tweaked with the tuners of his lute. “Does this sound good to you?” Zach said, before playing a few somber chords.

The guard was about to respond when a wave of nausea overcame him. But it passed just as quickly as it came. The guard glanced around to see what could have caused the sudden wave of disorientation, but he only saw the young rabbit waiting for a response.

The guard shrugged, assuming it was just something he ate. “It’s fine. Are you ready to go?”

Zach nodded, an excited smile stretched across his face. “Yes, let us not keep the Lady waiting, shall we?”

With that, Zach followed the guard outside into the hallway, closing the door to the lounge behind him… and seconds later, the closet within the lounge opened and the three hopeful rescuers came clambering out.

“Thank the gods…” Bino said, taking a deep breath. “The crook of your bow somehow got jammed up my nose.” He said to Peanut.

“What? Aw, come on…” Peanut mumbled, wiping the top crook of his bow off with a doily from one of the lounge’s end tables.

“So… Do we make our way to the kitchen now?” Sasha asked.

“Give Zach a few moments to get everyone’s attention downstairs. Hopefully, if he can keep the Lady of the manor’s eyes on him, everyone else will too. Nobles love to gossip.”
---
A few moments later, Zach was escorted to the main hall of the manor. Given the size of the manor as a whole, Zach wouldn’t be surprised if the main hall made up the majority of the manor. Who ever built the manor probably started with the main hall and built the rest of the manor around it.

Zach could tell that there would usually be a long banquet table in the center of the hall, but apparently Lady Kay had it moved someplace else to open up the floor for her guests to walk about and mingle.

As a few of the guests paused in their conversing to regard Zach, no doubt taken aback by his brightly colored, exoctic attire, Lady Kay chose just then to approach Zach and regard him in front of her guests.

“Ah, Mister Arbelt!” Lady Kay said, the same predatory glint Zach saw still in her eyes. “I hope your preparations went smoothly?”

Zach bowed again, trying to maintain cover. Though he was surprised Lady Kay would just come up to him and speak to him so casually, especially in front of so many of her peers. “Yes my Lady, I am ready to provide wonderful music to you and your assembled guests.”

Lady Kay gestured with her hand for Zach to rise. “Oh, enough of that, please Mister Arbelt. We are indebted to you for saving us from mundanity. Entertainment is truly the most rarest of commodities in today’s dreary world, wouldn’t you agree?”

“I would have to my Lady, else I would not be a bard.” Zach said. He had to mentally will himself for his next words, Bino urging for a ‘honeypot’ still fresh in his mind.

Ahem. Concerning your… earlier invitation…” Zach began, earning a raised eyebrow and a look of interest from Lady Kay. “I would certainly be a great fool to… spurn such a lovely woman’s… attention. What say after my performance, you and I can meet up for a proper tour.” Zach gave what he hoped was a charming smile and not a nervous one.

Whether Zach succeeded or if Lady Kay’s predatory glare meant she preferred the later, Lady Kay gave a smirk and held out her hand. “I’ll be waiting… with baited breath my dear.”

Zach took the invitation, taking Lady Kay’s hand in his own and giving it a chaste kiss, more aware now then ever how many eyes were on them.

Withdrawing her hand, Lady Kay gestured to an elevated alcove at the corner of the hall. “I took the liberty of having my staff clear an impromptu stage for you to work your magic, as it were.”

Yes, as it were, Zach thought to himself.

“I will, of course, leave you to your craft Mister Arbelt. If you’ll excuse me, I have to continue hiding from Lord Herrigan.” With that, Lady Kay turned on her heel and disappeared back into the crowd. With Lady Kay’s display over, many of the gathered nobles returned to their own accords.

Not wanting to draw any attention, or rather the wrong kind of attention, Zach quickly made his way to the alcove, gently pushing his way passed the assemblage.

“Pardon me, excuse me, oh, terribly sorry…”

“Zach?”

Hearing his name said by a familiar voice he couldn’t quite place, Zach turned and was face to face with someone he had not seen in a long time.

A female opossum glared at him, fire in her amber eyes. Her hard but no less beautiful face was twisted into a scowl. What really took Zach by surprised was what she was wearing. Her midnight-blue gown was a far cry from the clothes Zach was used to seeing her wear.

“What in the seven hells are you doing here?” She demanded.

Zach almost didn’t register her words, still shocked at seeing her again after so many years.

“Jessica?”
---
It was thankless work, guarding a bunch of snobby nobles as they hobnobbed and generally flaunted their wealth. But at least it was easy work of standing about and doing nothing. After all, who would want to attack some out of the way minor Lord’s manor on some podunk island in the middle of the ocean?

That was the last thought running through one of Lady Kay’s guards standing at the foot of the stairs before something whizzed past him, grazing his arm ever so slightly.
The guard gave a pained wince as he grasped his arm before the room started to spin around him. Before he could register another thought, he closed his eyes and passed away into dreamland.

Moving as quickly as he could while still remaining silent, Bino grabbed the falling guard and dragged him to a cupboard underneath the stairs, graciously opened for him by Peanut.

“Nice shot.” Bino remarked, stuffing the guard into the cupboard. “What is that stuff anyway?”

Peanut shrugged, grabbing his arrow from the floor. “Just a simple sleep poison. Perfectly harmless aside from the headache he’ll have when he wakes up.”

“That’s the fastest acting sleep poison I’ve ever seen.” Bino said, giving a signal to Sasha at the top of the stairs to come down.

“I’ll introduce you to my apothecarist when we’re done.” Peanut said. “Now, shall we head into the kitchen?” He said, pointing at the innocuous double doors where Zach described.

“Now hold on…” Bino said, raising his hands. “We can’t just go barging in looking like this. Don’t worry, I have a plan for that too.”
---
Only a few minutes passed before the double doors opened again, when one of the manor’s chef’s passed through holding a plate of entrees. He kept his head high and his back straight, just as the head chef screamed at him to do every day of his miserable life, when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Excusez-moi?” The chef heard behind him. “Oui?” He said, turning around.

Bino punched the chef in the face, knocking him out cold. Peanut barely had time to grab the plate of entrees from crashing to the ground while Bino gripped the unconscious chef by the collar.

That was your plan?!” Peanut hissed, trying very hard not to yell.

“Hey, it worked, didn’t it?” Bino grunted as he carried the chef to the cupboard.

Peanut sighed as Bino got to work exchanging his leather outfit for the chef’s uniform. He was taken aback, however by a munching sound next to him. He turned to face Sasha, who was currently stuffing her face with entrees.

“What?” Sasha said, defensively. “They have mini-weenies. Like I’m not going to eat them?”

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sorry this one came so late. Had some pretty bad writer's block throughout this chapter.


Tue May 21, 2019 4:45 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I really do like how you wrote this chapter! Wonderful job!


Tue May 21, 2019 3:55 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Quite a lot happened for Zach here and seems like is far from over, sorry for u writer's block but still u delivered great


Wed May 22, 2019 6:02 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Very well done, I love this story and the team!

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Sun May 26, 2019 5:48 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Gotta hear how Bunny-Boy is gonna explain his way outta this one … Jessica's not going to be thrilled.


Sun May 26, 2019 8:31 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Two years ago…

In the small town of Aurelane, out in the rustic farmlands of the Kingdom of Babylon, a crowd gathered like moths to a flame in the town square, where beautiful music echoed throughout the tired, still air of the town.

The music, somber and slow to match the late, orange-skied evening came from the instruments of two bards, eagerly accepting coin from the crowd in a chest as they played their songs in front of a fountain in the town square.

One of the bards was a golden dog with orange eyes, blowing into a shimmering silver flute. The other was a buttercup yellow cat with striking violet eyes, drawing a bow delicately over the strings of a violin.

A crude painted sign, propped up on the rim of the fountain read The World Famous Arbelt Brothers: Tiger and Marvin!

As the melody subsided, the second of silence that followed was immediately filled with an enthusiastic applause.

Tiger bowed his head again and again. “Thank you! Thank you! You are all most kind!”

Marvin gave a bow himself, dramatically waving the bow to his violin. “We will be here every day for the rest of the week, so please come again for more if you so wish!”

As the applause subsided, the crowd dispersed, casually discussing among each other about the show and other trivialities of life, until Tiger and Marvin were left alone near the fountain.

“How did we do?” Tiger asked, cleaning out the mouthpiece of his flute.

“Could have been better, could have been worse.” Marvin said, counting the coins in the case before depositing them into a satchel on his belt. “It’s enough to get us through the next few days if we’re careful.”

“And… what about Zach.” Tiger asked, side-eyeing his brother.

Marvin sighed. “Obviously Zach is our first priority. Before food, before lodgings, before anything else. But…”

Tiger turned to Marvin, worry clear in his eyes. “But what?”

Marvin didn’t answer at first, instead staring pensively at the empty instrument case that once held only so much coin. “We’ve tried everything Tiger. We’ve tried doctors, clerics, shamans, and even crackpots who only made things worse. And they all say the same thing.”

Marvin rubbed his eyes as tears threatened to return. “Our brother… is dying.”
---
First, herbs and medicine for Zach. Nothing that could cure him, but could at least dull the symptoms. Second, paying off another day of rent at the inn for the three of them. Third, a light meager meal for the three to share. As much as Zach could eat, at least.

This has been the Arbelt brothers spending habits for the past few weeks now. They were certainly used to living much more fancily. They were never rich, but neither did they ever struggle.

But with a third of their group now… indisposed and much of their time and money being spent on medicine and treatment, things were not as glamorous as they usually were for the Arbelt brothers.

The three were now resting in their room, Zach having passed out after Marvin struggled to get him to eat something, anything.

As the other two brothers ate in silence, Tiger kept eyeing the small rabbit in bed. Watching his chest slowly rise and fall.

“How much longer?” Tiger said.

Marvin swallowed his dry bread. “The doctors think another week or two. And then…” Marvin sniffed. “They say he’ll just… go in his sleep. If we keep him medicated, he won’t be in pain.”

Tiger nodded. Picking up his glass of water… before throwing it at the wall, shattering it into pieces.

“Tiger!” Marvin yelled, then stopped as he saw his brother’s face.

Tiger’s eyes were waterfalls as a stream of tears fell to the floor. His face was screwed into a furious scowl as he brought his hands to his face, choking out in sobs. “It… It can’t end like this! We can’t just let him…”

Tiger was crying openly now as Marvin shifted over to him, wrapping him in a hug.

“There’s still… There’s still something we can do.” Tiger choked out.

Marvin tightened his embrace. “Please Tiger, don’t do this to yourself. Zach would never survive the journey.”

“He’s a dead man either way, Marvin! What difference does it make!” Tiger yelled, pushing Marvin away.

Marvin met Tiger’s glare with his own. “The difference between allowing him to pass peacefully or have him freeze to death on a gods-forsaken mountain! And if the freezing cold doesn’t kill him, or us for that matter, the Rajann definitely will.”

“I’M WILLING TO DIE FOR HIM!” Tiger screamed, rising to his feet. “Aren’t you?”

Marvin opened his mouth to answer, only to stay silent.

Tiger waited for an answer all the same.

“Of course I am.” Marvin finally said. “Of course I am, but we don’t know if it’s even real or, if it is, if the Rajann will even let us have it.”

“All stories have some basis in truth... no matter how outlandish…” A tired, quiet voice said, cutting a knife through the tension. The two looked to the bed and saw that the subject of discussion was indeed awake.

“Isn’t that… what you taught me, Marvin?” Zach strained to say.

Marvin’s ears drooped. He got up and walked to Zach’s bed, sitting by the rabbit’s side.

“Are you sure?” Marvin said.

Zach yawned as he fought to stay awake. “I can’t ask you to make the journey. I know it’s dangerous. But if you do decide it’s worth it, then I will-”

“Zach.” Marvin interrupted. “Are you sure?”

Zach was silent before he grasped Marvin’s hand in his own. “I… I don’t want to die.”

Marvin sighed, then smiled at his brother. “All I needed to hear.”
---
The Rajann, like the Telani, were one of the many wandering tribes that made up The People. But whereas the Telani stuck to the roads, travelling from settlement to settlement to sell and trade their wares, the Rajann were much more isolated. Choosing instead to live away from what many consider ‘civilization’ entirely, making long-lasting camps in the high peaks of Babylon’s many mountains. Moving only once a year for a sacred pilgrimage.
The details or meaning behind this pilgrimage a secret to all except the Rajann themselves.

Of course, stories and rumors abound when concerning a group so isolated and secretive. And the most prevalent legends of all centered around the mystical Water of the Rajann.

No one is sure where the stories first came from, but every fish-wife and storyteller in Babylon could tell you about the Rajann’s miracle cure for nearly any and all ailments, whether of the natural or supernatural world.

Of course, if such water even exists, the Rajann we’re the only ones with access to it. And any lucky enough to meet a Rajann to ask about it would receive a spear to the throat demanding silence.

A scenario that kept playing in Marvin’s mind as he and Tiger carried Zach up a mountain that local Rangers confirmed held a Rajann camp.

Zach was currently asleep again, bundled up like a swaddled babe in a makeshift cot.

The three had trekked the mountain for three days, with Zach’s condition only worsening with each day. And without immediate access to any doctors or medicine, the only times Zach was not in pain was when he wasn’t conscious.

Part of Marvin told him that this was a mistake. That they were putting Zach through unnecessary pain and hurt to chase a fairy tale. But Zach’s words kept echoing in his mind.

I don’t want to die.

Whatever doubts Marvin had, he ignored them. If there was a chance, a slight chance that the Rajann could cure Zach, then he would gladly face all of their warriors and all of their spears.

On the eve of the third day, Marvin and Tiger laid Zach down to make camp. Their supplies were running low. If they couldn’t find the Rajann soon, they would be forced to backtrack to replenish, taking time they quite simply did not have.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, one of the Rajann found them first.

As Tiger prepared a stew over their campfire, Marvin did what he could to find sticks and branches that were not drenched by the cold mountain snow.

He honestly did not know how he couldn’t hear it coming, not a single crunch of footsteps on the snow nor a single shadow in the white expanse, but Marvin was forced to drop his bundle of sticks when a powerful arm wrapped itself around Marvin’s throat. While his brain was still trying to register what happened, he felt something sharp and metal poke the side of his ribs, stopping just short of drawing blood.

Tiger reacted immediately, grabbing his rapier from his side to engage Marvin’s assailant, but stopping short when he saw the short spear threatening to skewer him.

Tiger couldn’t get that good of a look on the assailant. Outside of the darkening night skies reducing his vision, they were covered head to toe in heavy, padded clothes to protect from the cold. The assailant even wore a frightening wooden mask of a snarling beast with jutting tusks.

“Who are you!?” Tiger demanded, not risking another step but keeping his sword up.

The masked assailant tightened their grip on Marvin’s neck. “You are the trespassers and you will answer my questions. What business do you have here?” The assailant hissed. They’re voice was guttural and low, as though it was a strain to even speak.

“We’re… ngh… We’re looking for the Rajann…” Marvin gasped.

“And if the Rajann do not wish to be found?” The assailant said.

“Please… We just need… the water...” Marvin struggled to breathe. The assailant’s grip was getting tighter by the second.

“Of course, I should have known. Thieves and brigands, all of you.” The assailant said. “Always trying to take what isn’t yours.”

“We weren’t going to steal it! We were going to ask for it!” Tiger tried to explain.

“Do not lie to me!” The assailant said, bringing their spear closer to Marvin’s ribs. “You are not the first thieves to plague the Rajann and you will not be the last!”

“STOP!!” A voice called out, echoing across the quiet wind of the mountainside. The assailant risked a look to the source of this new voice and saw Zach, awakened from his slumber and desperately trying to crawl out of his cot towards Marvin.

“Please…” Zach coughed, and everyone could see specks of red on the white snow below him. “Please, let him go.”

Marvin almost felt the assailants grip loosened, only for it to tighten again.

“There is magic in your words.” The assailant said, more to themselves than anyone else. “I’ll ask again, who are you people and speak only the truth.”

“We’re just bards.” Tiger explained. “That magic you felt? That was charmspeak. We’re just here because our brother-” Tiger said, gesturing to Zach. “Is dying. We’ve tried everything to cure him and nothing has worked. The Water of the Rajann is our last hope.”

“Please…” Marvin managed to wheeze out. “Whatever we need to do… to earn your trust, we’ll do it. Just… Just don’t let our brother die.”

With the mask on their face, it was hard to tell where or whom the assailant focused their attention. But Tiger got the sense they were reading their faces, looking for dishonesty.

The assailant regarded Zach again, still sprawled over the cold snow. They regarded the specks of red on white.

Marvin heard the assailant sigh behind him before they spoke again. “You will throw your sword over the edge. You will not be allowed to keep your weapons. Understood?” They said to Tiger.

Tiger was apprehensive until Marvin nodded. With a little hesitation, Tiger did as he was demanded and chucked his rapier down the mountainside.

Slowly and deliberately, the assailant released their hold on Marvin, who collapsed into Tiger’s arms as he tried to breathe in the biting cold air.

The assailant kept their spear raised as they brought a hand to their mask, which the brothers could now see was attached to a hood covering the rest of their face.

As the mask was pulled over the assailant’s head, the brothers saw that she was actually a female opossum. Off-white fur blending into the white background of the snow and ice.

The opossum was silent for a second, glaring at the brothers as she kept a tight grip on her spear.

“I will return to the camp. You will be allowed to follow. If you fall behind, you will be left behind. Are we clear?” She demanded.

Tiger and Marvin said nothing, only nodding in understanding. Marvin already getting to work easing Zach back into his cot while Tiger kept his eyes trained on the Rajann.

As Tiger and Marvin hoisted Zach’s cot up, the opossum gave a curt nod before turning and marching back up the mountain path.

“Wait!” Tiger called out. “We’re leaving now?! But it’s already well into midnight! Shouldn’t we wait until morning?!”

The opossum turned her head back, glaring at the goldenrod dog. “I’m sorry, I thought you said your brother was dying? I believe time is of the essence here, wouldn’t you agree?”

With that, she turned back towards the path and continued onwards, clearly not waiting for the three any longer.

With little more than a look and shrug between Marvin and Tiger, the brothers began following the opossum up the path.

With Tiger and Marvin trailing behind, struggling to keep pace as they carried Zach, the rabbit called out to their for-now ally.

“We… didn’t exactly exchange pleasantries.” Zach said, trying to ease the lingering distrust. “I’m Zach. My brothers are called Tiger and Marvin. May we know your name?”

The opossum said nothing for a moment, and Zach wondered if she even heard him, before replying.

“Jessica.”
---
As the group continued their trek, the mountain path began to give way to more uneven, treacherous terrain. Little issue for Jessica as she simply climbed and clambered over any rock in her way, but the Arbelt brothers were having a more difficult time navigating the sharp stones while also balancing Zach’s cot between them.

“Will you… slow down…” Tiger panted. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re a little handicapped back here.”

Jessica didn’t even look back as she called out. “I told you before. If you fall behind, you’ll be left behind. Don’t blame me if you can’t keep up.”

Marvin was about to exchange some very colorful language with the mountain lady, when a loose stone gave way under his foot. With his feet slipping out from under him, Marvin fell and started sliding down the snowy incline of the mountain, accidentally dragging Zach and his cot along with him.

Tiger tried what he could to keep his grip on his side of the cot, but the sudden change in force ripped the cot from his hands.

All three brothers screamed in terror as Marvin and Zach slid closer and closer to the edge of the cliff.

Within seconds, however, Jessica managed to pounce from stone to stone like a mountain goat to the two sliding brothers, stopping Zach’s cot with a foot and reaching her spear out to Marvin who managed to grab it before falling off, his feet just dangling over the edge of the cliff.

“Oh! Oh gods! Thank you! Thank you so much!” Marvin cried out as Jessica pulled him up to the stone foothold with her.

Jessica replied with a grunt as she helped Marvin pull Zach out of his cot. Marvin tried to save the cot itself before Jessica stopped him.

“Leave it, you’re not getting anywhere with that thing weighing you down.” She said. “You’d be better off carrying him on your back.”

“Zach won’t have the strength to hold on.” Marvin tried to argue before Jessica raised her hand to interrupt him.

“I gave you your options. It’s not like you have much choice.” She said simply, standing up.

Marvin was about to argue more, before he felt a hand tug on his shirt sleeve. Looking down, Marvin saw Zach, still clearly shaken up from the fall but trying his hardest to keep a smile on for his brother.

“It’s okay Marvin. I think I can keep a good grip.” Zach said. “Jessica’s right, we’re not going to make it to the Rajann if we keep me in that cot the whole time.”

Marvin wanted to keep arguing, then found that he couldn’t. With a sigh, he clumsily lifted Zach to his feet before offering his back to him, which Zach clambered onto and held on as tightly as he could.

Which wasn’t nearly tight enough as far as Marvin was concerned

Still, Zach held on as Marvin and Jessica made their way back to the path with Tiger. Tiger’s relief was palpable as he hugged his brothers close, whispering an apology for letting go.

As the brothers disengaged from their embrace, Tiger turned towards Jessica who was merely watching them with an unreadable expression.

“Er… Thank you.” Tiger finally said. “I… I couldn’t bear losing them.”

Jessica gave a curt nod before resuming her climb. “If we keep this pace, we’ll reach the camp by sunrise.”

The brothers watched Jessica go for a hot second, still collecting their thoughts after the ordeal, before getting back to their feet and climbing after Jessica, Tiger promising to switch carrying Zach with Marvin once he got tired.
---
The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon now, but the group was unaware of this as the light of the sun was now blocked by a not-too-small wall of sheer rock in front of them.

Jessica looked back at her impromptu travelling companions who were short of breath, having to carry both their own weight as well as Zach’s throughout the night. Zach himself was looking far worse than when Jessica first saw him, his eyes glassy and distant while his breathing was hurried and ragged. Mentally, he checked out a while ago, no longer taking in the world around him as he drifted through a waking slumber.

It was clear from the look of worry on Tiger and Marvin’s faces that Zach was not going to be much longer for this world.

“We’re almost to the camp now.” Jessica offered. “We just have to climb this last wall.”

“How?” Tiger snapped. “Zach can no longer hold on to anything and Marvin and I could never hold him long enough to make the climb.”

Marvin shot a glance towards Zach, and his heart pained in his chest as Zach stared through him, not even registering his brother’s presence.

Jessica stared at Zach as well before sighing to herself, tearing the sleeves off her padded, wool coat.

Tiger and Marvin looked up at the tearing sound and saw Jessica binding the stips of her sleeves into makeshift ropes. “Prop him on my back then bind his arms and legs around my neck and waist. That should keep him on me while I climb up. The two of you will follow close behind me and keep him supported on my back.”

Tiger and Marvin considered the plan before nodding, helping Jessica with whatever she needed to secure Zach to her. With Zach’s makeshift lifeline to Jessica in place, the three began their final climb.

With Jessica’s experience climbing up and down this very wall hundreds of times, and Tiger and Marvin doing their best to push Zach up and alleviate some of the weight on Jessica. The climb was taxing but, ultimately, successful.

While Marvin and Tiger took a second to kneel at the top of the wall to catch their breath, they eventually did look up and had their breath taken away all over again, this time from the sheer awe of what they witnessed.

The two brothers weren’t sure what they were expecting the Rajann camp to look like, but it certainly wasn’t this.

This was less of a camp and more of a small wooden town. From their elevated vantage point above the camp, the two brothers witnessed the many animals of many races, wearing padded, off white clothing similar to Jessica’s, milling about in between the rustic but no less beautiful wooden buildings that dotted the snow-kissed clearing within the heart of the mountain. Some buildings were clearly residential, cozy and compact homes where Rajann children were playing just outside, throwing snowballs at friends.

Other buildings looked to have more purpose, such as a conical building that had a plume of smoke rising into the sky. A more regal building was guarded by two dour-faced wolves brandishing the same type of spear as Jessica’s.

But what truly caught the brother’s attention was a cave off to the far end of the clearing, framed by two twin wooden statues of snarling, feral wolves as though they were guardians of whatever was inside.

“I… don’t understand.” Marvin finally said, once his brain caught up to his mouth. “I’ve heard the Rajann migrate to a different mountain every year.”

“How do you build all of…” He gestured vaguely about the camp. “This! In less than a year?”

Jessica, despite herself, allowed herself a small, prideful smirk. “Less than a year? Try less than a month.” She chuckled at the befuddled expressions on the two brothers’ faces. “Welcome to the Rajann camp.”
---
While Jessica, who still had Zach strapped across her back, was clearly known throughout the camp, and that gave the group enough leeway to march through the clearing unimpeded, Tiger and Marvin could still clearly tell that every single passing Rajann’s eyes were on them. Some regarded these outsiders with curiosity or even bemused interest. While others glared with hostility, clearly not trusting these outsiders regardless of who they came with.

Marvin couldn’t help but gulp as he noticed that all of the glaring Rajann were the same Rajann brandishing spears.

Of course, Jessica led the two right up to the cave flanked by the giant, wooden wolves. Marvin couldn’t help but think of how this was all an elaborate trap and now he and his brothers were going to be cooked on a spit.

Jessica stopped at the mouth of the cave before turning to the two brothers. “Allright, here’s the deal. I may have brought you here, and that will be enough to at least grant you an audience with the tribe’s chief, it’s not up to me whether or not you can have any of our water. That will be entirely up to our chief. When we go in, let me do all the talking at first. Speak only when spoken to, understood?”

The two brothers nodded in understanding, then followed Jessica into the pitch black cave entrance.

Marvin will say this, the interior of the cave was much more well lit than the outside when leave one to believe. Candles were propped up everywhere: On the floor, in iron-wrought sconces lining the walls, in candelabras arranged around the room. The light of the flames made shadows dance across the dry stone walls of the cave, making the whole chamber feel warm and cozy. Especially in comparison to the frigid, snowy mountain outside.

The cave was done up to look like some kind of cross between a throne room and an altar, with none of the wooden furniture or furnishings going against the same rustic, almost primal feel of the rest of the camp. Though it certainly wasn’t primitive. Everything was carved with such care, precision, and artistry that Marvin knew that they were all made from the hands of master carvers and woodworkers.

While Marvin couldn’t see anyone living within the cave, it was definitely for more pragmatic purposes as opposed to domestic, it still looked quite lived-in. Many of the wooden furniture was padded with wool and furs and were clearly designed for comfort and lounging.

But what really took Marvin and Tiger aback was that the cave was absolutely full of wolves, spread out throughout the chamber, wearing similar off white padded clothes, and clearly enjoying the morning in the comfort of the cave before being interrupted. There were wolves as young as pups, looking up at the brothers with wide curious eyes. Sitting in a dark corner was an incredibly elderly wolf who kept a steady, stoic gaze on the near-unconscious rabbit on Jessica’s back.

At the far end of the cave was a practical but no less imposing wooden throne, and sitting upon the throne was a rather large and muscular wolf who, to Marvin’s slight ease, did not look all too perturbed by their intrusion. If anything, he wore the same curiosity Marvin saw in many of the Rajann outside. Marvin could only assume that this was the Rajann’s chief.

“Jessica. I see you’ve brought some new friends into the camp.” The wolf said, regarding the brothers with a nod. Another wolf, a female, strode to the side of the throne, gingerly pacing her hand on the chief’s arm. She looked a little more apprehensive at the brothers’ presence within her cave, but said nothing.

Jessica stood at attention, making a strange salute neither Marvin nor Tiger recognized. A clawed hand dragged from the top of her left shoulder to the right side of her stomach. “Chief Miles.” She said, addressing the wolf on the throne.

“North already saw you coming from the west end of the camp. Needless to say, I’m very curious about the young man currently drooling over your shoulder.” Miles said, smirking a little at his own joke.
Jessica grimaced, untying Zach from her back and laying him on his back on one of the wider cushioned furnishings, a couple wolves quickly getting out of the way to give her more room.

“These two here…” Jessica said, pointing a thumb at Tiger and Marvin. “Were attempting to bring their brother here to our camp so as to ask us for some water. Evidently, this rabbit is very sick.”

Miles’ expression fell a little upon hearing that, though he remained cordial. “How sick?”

Jessica closed her eyes for a second. “He’s dying. From what they told me, they’ve tried everything else to cure him. I can only assume the sickness is magical in nature. Going by his condition, he won’t live for more than a day or two, if that.”

Miles nodded. “Do you believe them?”

Jessica was quiet for a moment, turning to meet Marvin and Tiger’s eyes. Their silent pleading clear to her.

“I don’t think they’re lying.” Jessica said. “But that doesn’t mean-”

Miles held up a hand, bringing Jessica to a silence. He turned his attention to another female wolf who, up until now, was only watching with interest. “Elaine, would you take a look at him?”

The wolf, Elaine apparently, nodded, handing a cub that was bouncing on her knee to a one-armed wolf sitting next to her. Marvin had to hold back his tongue as Elaine walked over to Zach and immediately stuck her fingers into his mouth, prying it open so she could get a good look inside.

“Lucretia, come here and bring a candle. I need light.” Elaine said over her shoulder.

The female wolf standing beside Miles looked to him, as if for permission. When the chief nodded, the wolf Marvin could only assume was Lucretia picked up one of the candles off the floor and held it over Elaine and Zach.

“Hmm…” Elaine mumbled. “Hard to tell with these giant, buck teeth. I’m not used to working on lapines. Ah, there we go…”

With a little more fiddling, Elaine finally removed her fingers from Zach’s mouth, wiping the drool off her pants leg.

“Well?” Miles said, and Marvin could swore he actually looked worried.

Elaine sighed. “It’s as I feared. This poor boy’s been hit with soulrot.”

“Soulrot?” Marvin parroted, earning an elbow in the ribs from Jessica. Though she seemed to be the only one offended by his voice.

Elaine nodded at Marvin. “What manner of witch did you three run afoul of? Jessica’s right. Your brother’s ailment is magical in nature, and no ordinary magic either. A terrible curse that drains the very soul from the body. You can tell from a build-up of black bile where the teeth meet the gums. The only problem is the bile only starts to creep in when you’re in the late stages of soulrot so it’s hard to identify early on. And by that point, it’s almost always too late to do anything. Not that there’s much you can do regardless.”

Tiger and Marvin’s faces fell upon hearing this, made worse when Elaine kept going. “This is powerful, rare, necrotic sorcery. This is the kind of thing you’d only be able to get from a seriously ticked off master of necromancy. So…” Elaine said, turning her gaze towards the two brothers.

“Who did you tick off?” Elaine said, folding her arms.

Marvin and Tiger shared a glance, each unable to come up with an answer. “We have no idea.” Marvin finally said. “From our perspective, Zach just… got sick one night, and got worse every night after. We didn’t even think something was seriously wrong until he started coughing up blood.”

Marvin risked taking a small step forward. “Please, you have to believe us. We have no idea how Zach got sick. We’re just trying to save our brother.”

Elaine ‘hmm’ed to herself, narrowing her eyes. Marvin wasn’t entirely sure she believed his words, but then she turned back to Zach, apparently accepting them either way.

“In any case…” Elaine started, looking over Zach some more. “There’s very few things on this earth that can truly cure your brother, especially with the soulrot at such a late stage. I’m… I’m sorry.”

Marvin spoke before he thought, desperation starting to take hold. “What about the water!?”

“Marvin!” Jessica hissed, pulling him back from the wolf pack. Marvin noticed that the wolves still didn’t seem all that upset over his speaking out of place. Rather, they looked… apologetic.

Ashamed.

“Please understand.” Miles began. “It’s not that we do not wish to aid you, it’s just that… Things are more complicated than that.”

Miles sighed, getting up from his throne and slowly making his way towards Marvin. “Let me just say this here and now. Yes, the water exists. And yes, it may be able to cure your brother. I can’t promise that it will, but it is a possibility. But the problem is we only have so much water to give.”

Miles turned his head, unable to meet Marvin’s pleading eyes. “You are aware of how the Rajann migrate once every year, yes? While I cannot divulge the details to outsiders, the true reason for this migration is to restock our supplies of water for the tribe. It is not something we can just make more of at any given time. Life is hard and unfair on the mountains, and any sickness could be a death-sentence for any of my people. Thus, we need as much water as we can spare before we can replenish at the end of the year. Especially with winter so close to the horizon.”

Marvin was starting to tear up now. So close to salvation, only to be told ‘No’ and have the door slammed in his face. “You can’t spare just a little water? Just this once?”

“It’s not that easy.” Jessica said, placing a hand on Marvin’s shoulder. “The water might cure Zach, but it won’t happen overnight. It’s a treatment, Marvin. Meaning he would have to stay in the camp and take the water regularly for days, maybe even weeks.”

“Definitely weeks, given the soulrot.” Elaine added.

“That adds up over time, Marvin.” Jessica said. “I’m sorry, I truly am. But we need to put the lives of the tribe first.”

Marvin couldn’t believe it. Part of him wondered if he was trapped in a nightmare, where every light at the end of every tunnel turned out to be another dead-end. After everything, all of the doctors, medicine, and prayers. After braving the entire mountain and coming so far…

It was too much. Marvin collapsed to his knees and began to cry. It was not silent either. He howled, he cursed, he screamed at the void.

“I PROMISED HIM!!” Marvin screamed between sobs, pounding the stone floor of the cave. “I PROMISED HIM I WOULDN’T LET HIM DIE!! HE WAS SCARED TO DIE!!”

“... I’m scared… I can’t lose him...”

Marvin continued to break down in front of the wolves, who could offer no more than sympathy.
He finally looked up from his stupor when he felt a hand on his shoulder, seeing Tiger gazing down at him, tears in his own eyes as well. No words were said, for none needed to be said. Tiger merely knelt down to Marvin’s side and held him as tightly as he could.

Jessica was conflicted, watching the two brothers try in vain to comfort one another in a situation that offered none. She knew something had to be done, and she knew what she had to do.

And if the consequences fall on her shoulders, so be it.

“Chief Miles.” She said, grabbing the chief’s attention from the brothers. “I think I may have a solution. A trade, maybe.”

“A trade?” Miles asked, raising an eyebrow in confusion.

“We need to spare as much water as we can for our own tribe, correct? Well, what if they joined the tribe?” Jessica offered, and already every single eye was on her, including the red, tear-stained eyes of the Arbelt brothers.

Many were shocked and stunned by the very insinuation. Some, like the one-armed wolf, almost wore a smirk, as though impressed by Jessica’s proposal. Tiger and Marvin risked even the tiniest bit of hope. They had no idea what Jessica was doing, but if it could save Zach…

Jessica continued. “You said it yourself, winter is on the horizon. This is the time of year when life for the tribe is at its hardest. When every single tribe member, young and old, need to pull their weight to survive. Well, what if we had some extra help? If these two swear by their blood to live among us and aid us as any Rajann would until the winter is over and we can replenish our water, then we would be honorbound to heal their brother as we would any of our own.”

“It would be a temporary arrangement.” Jessica added, already able to tell she was swaying the wolf pack. “When the winter is over and we’ve officially migrated to another mountain, then they can leave the tribe and return to their old lives, if they so choose. But until then, they are considered just as much Rajann as anyone else.”

Jessica turned her attention towards Marvin and Tiger, who were now standing up and listening intently to every single word from Jessica. “And of course, they will be expected to act like Rajann as well. As would be their great honor. Right?” Jessica offered, hoping the two were smart enough to catch her bait.

The two said nothing, merely nodded numbly.

Miles, to his credit, seemed to seriously consider the offer. He regarded the Arbelt brothers once more, as if sizing them up, before his glance turned back to the dying rabbit in his cave. Finally, Miles nodded and smiled.

“If they are willing to live with us, eat with us, sleep with us, and work with us. If they are truly willing to be Rajann, even if only temporary.”

Miles placed a hand on both brothers’ shoulders. “Then we will be happy to welcome them as Rajann… and all that comes with.”

Marvin sniffed. “You mean… you’ll…”

Miles nodded. “Your brother will be Rajann, same as you. He will drink from our water.”

Marvin and Tiger could not find the words where only action could convey. So consumed and compelled by relief after so much heartache, they couldn’t care less about decorum or status.

They both leapt forward and hugged Miles tightly, who graciously returned the hug. “I suppose that is a yes, then?”

“Yes!” Marvin yelled. “Thank you! Thank you!” He pulled away from Miles and turned to Jessica, fresh tears now framing his jubilant smile.

Jessica almost managed to get away from Marvin grasping her and pulling her into her own hug as well. “Thank you…” Marvin whispered.

Jessica was stock-solid, stunned by the sudden affection but still managing to give Marvin a quick pat on the back all the same.
---
As Marvin and Tiger were not yet officially Rajann, they were not allowed to witness Elaine grab a small vial of water from wherever the Rajann stored it. The water itself clearly held more magical power than any water either of the brothers have ever seen, shimmering and sparkling blue instead of clear.

Marvin and Tiger sat beside Zach as Elaine lifted his head, helping the water go down his gullet. Within seconds, Zach’s body seemed to tense then immediately ease and relax. His ragged breathing slowed to a much more natural tempo. Finally, his near-dead eyes closed, and he drifted off into sleep.

Elaine nodded, pulling the vial away from Zach’s lips. “He’s not out of the woods yet. It will take a lot more water than this to heal him. But it’s a start.”

Marvin nodded. “Thank you.” He said, the words having lost all meaning now after how many times he said it.

“Oh, don’t thank me yet.” Elaine said with a smirk. “You two have no idea what you just traded to get this. Have fun!” Elained said, before walking off with a wave to the two brothers.

Tiger and Marvin were a bit confused by this, before an arm casually wrapped itself around Marvin’s shoulders. Marvin looked to his side and saw the one-armed wolf smirking at him, as if he were privy to a joke that Marvin hadn’t heard.

“So, new-bloods! Let’s get you started on all the chores for today. If we’re lucky, we can finish before midnight. Oh, you guys are gonna LOVE getting your tattoos!”


Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:39 am
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Smiley McSmiles
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Unexpected, but very heart warming. Backstory seems to be your favorite bit :D I'm enjoying it

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Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:09 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Really have enjoyed how this part has come out! A really wonderful addition! I loved reading it!


Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:40 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I love how you develop your characters. I really like the backstory for the Arabelt brothers. Keep up the good work!

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Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:23 pm
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
Excellent twist. Looking forward to more.

I assume we might meet the witch later in the story.

Considering the characters' personality are similar to their canon counterpart, it must be quite another story to see how Tiger went from a neurotic big-eater with a disdain for Zach to a sensible person who's willing to risk his life for him.

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Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:59 am
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Post Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy
I wouldn't mind seeing how Tiger went from that personality either.


Sun Jun 23, 2019 4:00 pm
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