Housepets: World of Fantasy

Now with new GALLERY

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by trekkie »

Good job on this. I love this story and the character sheets.
Please state the nature of your medical emergency.

“True wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”-Socrates

“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” - Thomas Sowell

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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

These character sheets that you are doing are so awesome! Keep up the good work!

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by JageshemashFTW »

And our last Character Sheet until the updates, which won’t happen until much, much later in the story. I hope you guys have been enjoying these as much as I’ve enjoyed making them! We only have a few more chapters before the end of the first ‘Book’ as it were, but there will still be plenty more to come!
Name: Jessica
Level: 3
Race: Opossum
Age: 20
Sex: Female
Base Speed: 30
Proficiency Bonus: +2
Alignment: True Neutral
Class: Barbarian
Background: Outlander (Tribal Nomad)

AC: 16

STR: 16 (+3)
CON: 15 (+2)
DEX: 13 (+1)
INT: 10 (+0)
WIS: 9 (-1)
CHA: 8 (-1)

Hit Dice: 3d12
HP: 31

Class Traits:
Rage: Barbarians fight with unparalleled ferocity. As a Bonus Action, you can enter a state of Rage. You can only Rage if you are not wearing any Heavy Armor. While Raging, you gain the following benefits: You gain Advantage on any and all Strength Ability Checks and Strength Saving Throws; when you make a STR Attack Roll with a Melee Weapon, you add +2 to all Damage Rolls with that weapon; you have Resistance to Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing Damage. If you ever gain the ability to cast spells (such as in the case of Multi-Classing), you cannot cast nor hold Concentration while Raging. Rage lasts for 1 minute but can end prematurely if you’re knocked unconscious, end your turn without attacking anybody since your last turn, or end your turn without taking damage since your last turn. You can also manually stop Raging as a Bonus Action. You can Rage a total of 3 separate times before you must perform a Long Rest to Rage again.
Unarmored Defense: When wearing no armor, your Armor Class is 10 + Your DEX Mod + Your CON Mod.
Reckless Attack: You can choose to forego all sense of danger to overwhelm your opponents with vicious blows. When you make your first attack with a Melee Weapon on your turn, you can choose to Attack Recklessly. Doing so will give you Advantage on any and all STR Attack Rolls made with Melee Weapons for the rest of your turn, but it will also give all enemies Advantage on Attack Rolls with Melee Weapons against you until your next turn.
Danger Sense: You have Advantage on all DEX Saving Throws that require sight, such as traps and spells. You lose this benefit if you are Blinded, Deafened, or Incapacitated.

Barbaric Path - Path of the Tribal Warrior:
-Rite of Passage - Witch Hunter: When making a successful Melee Weapon attack against a creature that can cast at least one spell while Raging, you can choose to end your Rage prematurely to make your attack an automatic Critical Hit.
-Warrior of the Tribe - Surprise Accuracy: If you fail to hit on a Melee Weapon attack while Raging, you can choose to end your Rage prematurely to make your Attack Roll an automatic success.

Great Weapon Master:
-If you score a Critical Hit or drop an enemy to 0 Hit Points with a Melee Weapon, you can make another Melee Attack Roll with the same weapon as a Bonus Action.
-If you attack with a Melee Weapon you are Proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to your Attack Roll. If the attack still lands, add +10 to your Damage Roll.
Wanderer: You possess excellent memory for cartography and geography, and can recall nearly everything having to do with your current terrain, settlement, or other features around you. You can also reliably provide food and fresh water for you and up to 5 people each day provided the land has enough bounty such as berries, small game, fresh water, and so forth.

Armor: Half-Plate (15 + DEX Mod [Max. of 2])
Spear (Dmg: 1d6 Piercing) Thrown (Rng: 20/60) Versatile (Dmg: 1d8 Piercing)

Armor: Light Armor, Medium Armor, Shields
Weapons: All Simple Weapons, All Martial Weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Athletics, Survival, Intimidation, Nature, Perception

Explorer’s Pack
Hiker’s Staff
Set of Travelling Clothes

Appearance: Cream colored opossum with dark-grey ears and paws with amber eyes.
“Is that what you thought of us Zach? Barbarians and savages?”


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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by trekkie »

Another nice character sheet. I love what you’re doing with the characters.
Please state the nature of your medical emergency.

“True wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”-Socrates

“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” - Thomas Sowell

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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Great job on another character sheet! I'm a bit sad that we won't see anymore character sheets after this one but at least I have the story to look forward too! ^_^

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by JageshemashFTW »

“We’re nearing the naval border to Griffonrock, Captain.” Grape said, addressing Fox as the two stared out towards the approaching landmass.

“Now that we actually have Breel in our possession, I would suggest flagging down one of the King’s ships and explain the situation. Once they see mine and Peanut’s identification, we might just get a proper escort straight to the castle.”

Fox looked away from the horizon to face Grape. “I thought we were worried about potential spies the Rainiers might have had in your ranks?”

Grape nodded. “That was back when Breel was still in Rainier custody. Now that he’s been freed, any spies that Rainiers might have on whatever ship we conscript will be able to do little more than stay silent, if they know what’s good for them. Rainier coin might be enough to buy information, I very much doubt it can buy open betrayal of the crown.”

“Besides, it’s not like the Rainiers can be any more aware that we absconded with their prisoner.” Grape said, grimacing. So much for ‘stealth mission’, she thought to herself.

Fox allowed a small laugh. “Too true, m’lady. That said, I am… less than eager to do business with the captain in charge of the blockade.”

Grape shook her head. “It’s been days since we last passed through the blockade, I doubt the same captain has been stationed there the whole time. And even if he is, would it really be too much to ask you just grin and bear it?”

Fox huffed. “For the good of the mission, I suppose I can entertain his ostentatious pomposity… For a little while, at least.”

“The kingdom will forever thank you for your sacrifice.” Grape said, giving a slight bow of the head. “Now let’s get this over with.”

The two turned to head back towards the helm of the ship, ready to set sail directly to the blockade, when a shrill cry shouted above them.

“CAPTAIN!!” Falstaff cried out from his crow’s nest. “SHIP OFF OUR STERN, FAST APPROACHING!!”

“What in blazes?” Fox muttered before reaching for his spyglass hanging off his belt. Looking out to the horizon behind them, Fox saw the ship Falstaff spoke of and held back a breath.

A man o’ war, bearing full-sails and gaining fast. No less than five decks filled to the brim with cannon and, if Fox trusted his eyes, what looked to be swivel mounted blunderbusses arranged across the top deck on either side.

Emblazoned in all glory across the mainsail was what looked to be a family crest, a shield marked in four corners of yellow and crimson, a feral ocelot cradling a sword on top of the shield.

“I don’t suppose that could be any crest other than the Rainier’s?” Fox said, offering the spyglass to Grape.

Grape cursed under her breath as she saw what Fox saw. “How did they follow us so quickly?”

“Lord Rainier made his fortune on the sea. It stands to reason his daughter would be intimately familiar with all the trade winds. That, and I doubt she gave the same consideration for rest and repast to her crew as we did.” Fox said, starting to pace, trying to formulate a plan. At full-sail, it would not be long before the man o’ war were atop them.

“Lady Grape, let me be perfectly candid. I do not like the Heaven Bound’s chances against that leviathan.” Fox said, turning to Grape. “You have such faith in your Navy? I say we lure this beast to a bigger fish and let them have at it.”

“A sound plan with one flaw.” Grape said, not taking her eyes off the ever-growing splash of red on the horizon. “As far as our Navy is concerned, the Rainier’s are still loyal vassals to the crown. They take one look at that crest, and they may just assume that we are the malefactors. And we’d be hard pressed to clear the misunderstanding under the hail of shot and cannon.”

“Then let us reach them first before they fire the first cannonball.” Fox said, making way for the helm. “This old’ girl can race with the best of them. You gather up your merry band and the rest of the crew and prepare battle stations.”

Grape stood for just a second longer, keeping a steely gaze on the Rainier’s ship. “What could be worth war, Kay?” She whispered to herself. Receiving no answer from the horizon, Grape turned on her heel and made for the trapdoor to the hold.
Lady Kay stood at the bow of her ship, hand resting lazily on the hilt of her saber. Gone was the elegance of the noblewoman amid her peers, her scarlet evening gown left forgotten on the floor of her room. She now bore a sailor’s raiment, hard leather on cotton clothes. She was certain any of the pompous lords and ladies that attended her party would be shocked to see this side of their host, but she cared little for that right now. Courtroom decorum had its time and place.

The captain of her father’s guard approached her from behind, clearing his throat. “My lady? We are approaching the enemy ship. They appear to be fleeing.”

“Cowards. They scurry like roaches in my home and now they don’t even have the decency to stand their ground.” Kay snarled, her grip on the hilt of her sword tightening. “Unfortunately, I don’t intend to make it so easy. Ready the cannonades, Captain, and prepare chainshot. I want you to turn those masts into splinters.”

“Yes, my lady!” The Captain saluted, turning to carry out her orders before being stopped.

“Captain?” Kay said, halting the Captain. “Keep our guns off their decks. We do not want to loss Breel, or all of this will be for nothing.”

“Yes, my lady.”
Falstaff kept his gaze trained on the approaching ship, praying the Captain’s ploy for reinforcements panned out as well as he hoped. Through the greased and smudged view of his spyglass, Fasltaff was taken aback when a pair of wooden panels across the bow suddenly slip open, revealing a pair of smaller cannons that now jutted out directly towards them.

“Oh, god’s above…” Falstaff said, turning paler than the clouds overhead. “CAPTAIN!! CHASERS!!”

“What!?” Fox called out to the crow’s nest above him. “What did you say!?”


Just then, an explosion of gunpowder rang out through the clear blue sky as two cannonballs shot like hellfire from the Rainier’s cannonades. As they soared through the air faster than the eye could track, each cannonball split down the middle as the two halves separated, held half together by an iron chain.

The wrought-iron bolos began to spin, carried through the air by centrifugal force. One of the chainshot cannonballs hit the stern-most mast dead on, the chain splitting a jagged, yet still somehow clean cut through the wooden post.

“CHAINSHOT!!” Bailey called out towards the helm. “Take hold of the rigging ropes! Don’t let the mast fall!”

Peanut and Grape snapped to action, lending their strength to help Bailey and Mungo who had already gripped the ropes tenuously holding the mast barely in place, trying in vain to balance it on the splintered, uneven cut in the post.

Up above in his crow’s nest, Falstaff desperately tried to keep his balance, the rocking mast threatening to toss him clear off to the deck below. Knowing he was fighting a losing battle, Falstaff decided to cut his losses, stepping up to the railing of the crow’s nest.

Gauging the distance, Falstaff let out a quick prayer and leapt, grabbing a hold of one of his counter-weight ropes. Just a quick swing down and…

Just then, the man o’ war’s cannonade launched another chainshot, determined to bring the mast down. The chain caught Falstaff’s rope, pulling both it and Falstaff back at high speeds, Fals just feeling the whiplash in his spine before the rope snapped back, launching Falstaff off into the air.

As Falstaff flew through the air, the second chainshot continued its trajectory, losing absolutely no momentum from slingshotting Falstaff into the air. Like the chainshot before it, it blasted into the mast, exploding the already split post into a gaping hole of splinters.

Two things happened simultaneously: One, Falstaff hit the upper deck of the Heaven Bound, hard, the impact instantly knocking him into unconsciousness with a sickening crack!

Fox barely had time to look back at his scout before Bailey’s screams brought his attention right back to the main deck in front of him.

With absolutely no purchase, the central mast fell like a tree to a lumberjack’s axe, Bino only just barely managing to avoid being crushed.

“Captain!” Bailey called out, shaking the rope burn from her hands. “Mast is down!”

“King!” Fox yelled from the helm. “Get below deck and launch fire barrels!”

“Aye Aye!” King saluted, rushing towards the trap door.

“The rest of you!” Fox yelled. “Grab a musket and start shooting!”

As Max looked about him, seeing his fellow’s grab their shot and powder from the racks at the sides of the deck, he instead cracked his knuckles. “I got a better idea…”

With that, Max stepped up to the stern of the ship, narrowing his eyes at the man o’ war following close behind, and gaining.

King had apparently managed to loose the first volley of fire barrels, bright red wooden caskets unceremoniously chucked out of the rear windows of the hold.

Waiting for the right moment, Max let loose a fireball directly at one of the fire barrels once it was near enough to the man o’ war, the blazing bolt of flame providing a much bigger flame than needed, resulting in a blast of shock and flame ripping the lower hull of the man o’ war apart.
Kay stumbled on her feet as the vibrations rocked throughout her ship. “Status!?”

Her captain composed himself as best he could. “They appear to be launching fire barrels ma’am!”

“Cheap tricks!” Kay snapped. “Adjust the cannonades to fire right into whatever portal they’re dropping from! Tear their hold apart!”
“Come on, you Jackanapes!” King yelled to the crew, hoisting the next salvo of fire barrels to the launcher adjacent to their stern window. “I want that ship’s hull for kindling!”

“Sir, yes sir!” The crew called in unison, readying the launcher.

“Master King!” One of the crew called, pointing fearfully out the stern window.

King turned, and felt the blood drain from his face as he stared directly down the barrel of the cannonades.

“Oh… gods…”

What happened next was in slow-motion from King’s perspective, as the flash of black powder exploded in the cannonade, propelling the chainshot straight towards King in a blast of crimson fire.

As the chainshot sailed through the air, King barely noticed the flash of cream and white race past him as Sasha held her staff outward, directly towards the approaching chainshot.

DEFENDAT!!” Sasha proclaimed, arcane energy flowing from her staff before taking shape, creating an ethereal barrier across the sternside window. The chainshot smashed into the magic wall, crumpling from sheer impact force alone.

Unfortunately, Sasha did not come out from this miraculous rescue unscathed. Her barrier was simply not used to being hit with so much force in a single instant. The mental backlash hit Sasha like a whip straight to her brain.

With a pained cry, Sasha was flung backwards by the psychic blowback, her barrier fading to nothing.

“Sasha!” King yelled, before turning his attention back to the cannonade, seeing the crew of the man o’ war were already in the process of loading it once more.
Max looked to his left and right, seeing every able body individual on deck grab a musket and open fire against the deck crew of the man o’ war. It didn’t take long for Lady Kay to order return fire, and the height difference between the two ships was giving the Rainier’s goons the advantage in cover.

Not only that, but from his position at the stern, he had a good view of the last chainshot blast directly below him, only barely halted by he assumed a timely intervention from their resident cleric.

Well, if Sasha was providing defence…

Gripping his ruby necklace in his hand, Max whispered the incantation, already feeling the fury of Efreet course through him.

Grape cursed, hiding behind the measly cover the ship’s railing provided, trying to gauge the right time to pop out and take a pot shot with her musket. She was out of her element and she knew it. What she would give to have Lady Kay’s goons within range of her sword.

She looked over to the others in the same position as her, Peanut only slightly more comfortable, training his bow to pick off the snipers along the deck. But even that was slow-going.

But what really grabbed her attention was Max, convulsing behind his own cover as a now familiar transformation took hold.

Wings sprouted from his back, horns jutted from his head, and claws elongated. Fire bellowed from his eyes as he lurched up, snarling at the wooden sea-beast bearing down on them.

“Max! No-!”

Grape’s words were caught on deaf ears as Max spread his wings and launched himself from the Heaven Bound’s deck, gliding straight towards the cannonade windows in the bow of the man o’ war.

The Rainier guards stationed at the cannonades screamed in terror as the flaming demon flew straight towards them, crawling through the gap in the window and roaring with spit of flames at those who would dare come close.

A few of the more daring guards lunged forward, swords drawn, before Max breathed a torrent of flame from his mouth, driving the guards back and engulfing much of the room in walls of fire, making the rest of the guards run straight for the door to avoid being trapped in the blaze.

His work done, Max made to crawl his way back out the window when a feeling of disorientation caught him.

“N-No… Not… now…” He said.

Max begged the spirit taking refuge in his own soul to hold out, just a little longer. But whether Efreet simply could not abide or Max had simply taxed himself too much, the transformation reversed itself as Max collapsed on top of the cannonade, the very flames he started beginning to close in.
Lady Kay looked back at the sound of terrified screams as the guards she could have sworn were stationed at the cannonades suddenly come running onto the deck from the hold, looking as though they escaped the seven hells themselves.

One particularly maniacal guard ran straight towards Lady Kay, only stopping short for the saber blade Kay suddenly held up to his throat.

“What is the meaning of this?” Kay hissed, eyes narrowing.

“M-My Lady! A horrible demon! It’s tearing through the hold as we speak!”

Kay brought her saber above her head before driving the pommel down on the trembling guard’s head, knocking him out cold.

“Fools and cowards, the lot of you.” Kay whispered under her breath, marching past her sputtering captain towards the hold, eager to see this ‘demon’ for herself.
Well, it was definitely going to take a hit out of father’s pocketbooks to repair the fire damage, of that Kay was certain.

Kay only concerned herself with dousing the flames directly between her and her cannonade, deigning to deal with the rest later. She suffered minor burns to her hands as she brought the heavy blanket to the bonfires, but she blocked the pain out. Better than being dead, she told herself.

That all said, she was a bit disappointed by the ‘demon’ that terrified her guards so completely. She unceremoniously dragged the unconscious black cat off her cannonade, tossing him behind her to be dealt with later.

Part of her considered throwing him into one of the very fires he created, but decided he might be more useful as a hostage. In for a bit, in for a sovereign, Kay figured.

As for the matter at hand, Kay was growing tired of this chase. They had already managed to down one of the frigate’s masts. If she managed to shoot down the last two, these cockroaches would be dead in the water.

Luckily, before the cowards abandoned their posts, they did manage to load the cannonade with another round of chainshot.

Kay closed her eyes, remembering one of the few happy memories of her childhood she still had left. Of the previous captain of her father’s guard taking her to the ramparts that bordered her family’s island, the row of cannons arranged to protect her home from brigands and pirates that would dare to steal what belonged to her.

Calling back to his lessons, Kay adjusted the cannonade. It was much lighter than Kay remembered the cannons on the rampart being.

With little thought to the contrary, Kay grabbed a piece of tinder from the flames still about her, using it as a makeshift torch to light the vent.
Providence was a funny thing sometimes. What could be seen as a tragedy could merely be fate setting up dominoes for a greater triumph down the road. Of course, the opposite held to be true just as often, where a victory today could set one up for an even more devastating downfall.

The trick is being on the right side, regardless of where the coin may fall.

And if the coin is flipped again and again, by one desperate to change fate…

One day, it may just land on its side.

Or one could just bite their thumb at destiny and run away with the coin.

The fourth and final chainshot blasted out, clearing one, then the other still standing mast in a single arc of destruction. With the crew on deck desperately locked in trading shot and powder with those aboard the man o’ war, no one could do anything but watch helplessly as the wooden posts fell along the deck, everyone moving aside to not be crushed.

Fox stared, dumbstruck at the broken twigs that were once the tall and proud masts of his beautiful ship.

He almost didn’t notice it when Zach tugged on his shirt.

“Captain…” Zach began, resolve in his eyes. “The battle is lost, but I have a plan. It’s a long shot…”

“Master Arbelt, all we have left are long shots.” Fox said, tearing his eyes away from the shattered remains of his masts. “I’m all ears.”

“I think we should surrender.”
Kay marched back up to her deck, in high spirits all considered. The crew were already in the midst of smothering the rest of the fires below deck.

She clutched the still unconscious black cat by the scruff of his collar as she dragged him to the captain, like a feral predator presenting her kill.

She tossed the black cat to the captain’s feet with little more than a disgusted grunt. “Keep your blade trained on him. If he wakes up, bring your sword to his throat, but don’t kill him… yet.”

“Yes, my Lady.” The captain said, already drawing his sword. “An interesting development occurred while you were below deck.”


“Take a look for yourself, my Lady.” The captain explained, gesturing to the bow of the ship.

Kay strode over to the edge of the deck, looming down on the Heaven Bound, and had to fight back the triumphant smile that threatened to break across her mouth.

There was Mister Arbelt himself, standing on the stern of the frigate, waving a makeshift white flag.

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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Glad that I could read more of these! Keep it up please!

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by trekkie »

Great job on this chapter! Hope Max and Sasha make it through okay.
Please state the nature of your medical emergency.

“True wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”-Socrates

“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” - Thomas Sowell

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by JageshemashFTW »

So I want to apologize for taking so long to update this. There’s been a lot of complications to deal with IRL, and we’re still kinda dealing with them. Just know that I haven’t forgotten this fic and I absolutely intend to continue it. I just don’t know when. Sorry again for leaving you hanging.

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by trekkie »

Sorry to hear about that, real life can be a real pain in the tail.
Please state the nature of your medical emergency.

“True wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”-Socrates

“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” - Thomas Sowell

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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

We understand that you have to put this on the back-burner because more important things have come up. Nobody will hold it against you and I am sure everybody is hoping that it will all get sorted and you can continue soon! :mrgreen:

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by JageshemashFTW »

Sorry to do this to you all, but it’s time to stop putting off the inevitable. For the time being, this story is going into hiatus.

While I would love nothing more than to continue this story, certain health concerns are making it impossible to put any focus on the next update.

Once these health concerns are dealt with, we’ll see about coming back to this fic, but until then, all further updates are suspended.

I apologize profusely for this, but believe me when I say it’s for the best.

Everybody stay safe, and stay healthy.

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by NHWestoN »

JageshemashFTW wrote:Sorry to do this to you all, but it’s time to stop putting off the inevitable. For the time being, this story is going into hiatus.

While I would love nothing more than to continue this story, certain health concerns are making it impossible to put any focus on the next update.

Once these health concerns are dealt with, we’ll see about coming back to this fic, but until then, all further updates are suspended.

I apologize profusely for this, but believe me when I say it’s for the best.

Everybody stay safe, and stay healthy.

Be well, Jag. Take care of yourself!

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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I'm sure everybody understands why you have to put the story in the back-burner for the time being and nobody is upset with you. Sometimes things like this happen. I hope you are also able to stay healthy!

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by trekkie »

Yeah, take care of yourself, your health is the most important thing.
Please state the nature of your medical emergency.

“True wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”-Socrates

“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” - Thomas Sowell

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by JageshemashFTW »

Going in for my first doctor’s appointment. Wish me luck.

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by trekkie »

Good luck! Hope everything turns out for the best!
Please state the nature of your medical emergency.

“True wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”-Socrates

“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” - Thomas Sowell

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by FireworkFox »

Get well soon!
My name is Firework Fox.
John Granger
S5 P8 E4 C6 I7 A6 L6

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by JageshemashFTW »

So I’m gonna be swimming in antibiotics for the next week. That’s gonna be... fun.

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by CunningFox »

Hope you feel better soon.

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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Let us know how you are doing after you spend some time on the antibiotics!

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by NHWestoN »

Prayers and best wishes, Jag.

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by JageshemashFTW »

Fox gripped the railing of his ship as the gangplank from the man o’ war touched down on the Heaven Bound’s deck. His stomach churned at the contact, as if the ship itself was letting her Captain know how much she didn’t appreciate receiving the same blaggards that were shooting at her a moment ago.

But they raised the white flag, there was decorum to consider. For the foreseeable future, the Heaven Bound was Kay’s ship, and as her captain, Fox was now Kay’s vassal.

At least, that’s how Fox had to act.

For the foreseeable future.

Fox marched forward, arms behind his back, trying desperately to hold on to any and all authority on his ship. He greeted Kay and her entourage with a slight nod of the head, trying not to look down at the unconscious Max being dragged across the gangplank by her guard captain.

“Lady Kay…” Fox said, tersely. “Welcome aboard.”

Kay sniffed, looking around at all the other members of the crew, including the rescuers who infiltrated her family home. Especially Zach. “I assume the rest of your crew is below deck?” She said.

“They are.” Fox replied.

“And Breel?”

Recovering in our medical quarters.” Fox said, making a point of stressing the word ‘recovering’.

Kay paid the silent insult no mind. “Tell your highest ranking on deck to go below and inform your crew to not take any further actions against us. Then, lock the door to your hold.” Kay dictated. “They will stay below deck for the remainder of the voyage, the rest of you will stay above deck.”

Fox turned his head slightly. “Bailey?”

“I heard.” Bailey said, already making her way to the trapdoor on the floor.

The second she closed the door behind her, Fox went over and locked the padlock in place, condemning the majority of his crew to wait out this encampment in silence.

Besides Lady Kay and her entourage, the only ones above deck were Fox himself, Grape, Peanut, Bino, and Zach. And, of course, the still comatose Max in enemy hands.

Kay took this headcount into consideration. “Where’s the opossum woman?” Her eyes narrowed. A phantom pain played across the back of her skull.

“Below deck, which we just locked off.” Fox replied. “I could unlock the hold and retrieve her for you?”

“Better she stays out of my sight.” Kay spat. She looked over to Zach once more, zeroing in on him as she started to pace deliberately towards him. Fox made a move to stop her, but Kay’s guards pointing their arquebuses point-blank at Fox convinced him to stand down.

Kay now stood, towering above the recoiling rabbit. Her eyes bore into him as he refused to meet her gaze.

“Kay, I…” Zach tried to say, before being struck off his feet by the backside of Kay’s fist.

Grape almost charged ahead, but was held back by Peanut.

“I’m used to having enemies, Mister Arbelt.” Kay said, her eyes cold as she glared at Zach rubbing his cheek. “My father did not gain his power and influence without making powerful people incensed at him and his. There have been countless attempts on my holdings, my family, and even my life.”

Kay knelt down to be eye-level with Zach. “But they all had the decency to try to stab me in the heart. Never before have I had to deal with someone trying to stab me in the back. Someone who I allowed into my home, someone I thought I shared a repertoire with, immediately turn around and betray that trust.”

“Are you seriously trying to paint yourself the victim in all of this?”

Kay’s ears turned towards the interloping voice, and she recognized it with a snarl. She returned to her feet to turn to the brown mutt who dared to speak against her.

“We all saw the state you were keeping Breel in.” Bino remarked. “I’m a scoundrel, I’ll be the first to admit that. But what you and your father did to that man was beyond cruelty.”

“Wretched thief, you do not know the meaning of the word ‘cruel’.” Kay said. “I have known cruelty. I have known an emptiness that devours all it touches. I have seen pure evil.”

Despite herself, Kay allowed a smile to play across her lips. “And if you bore witness to the same evil I have, you would find me a saint in comparison.”

“The shadow of House Rainier…” Zach sputtered, wiping blood from his nose.

Kay’s attention was immediately brought back to Zach, who was hesitantly trying to find his footing again. “How did you-?”

“The… The papers Jess- That we stole. The correspondences between your sisters and your father. We know about the curse-”

Zach’s words were cut short as Lady Kay drew her saber from its scabbard and, in a single motion, planted the blade directly across Zach’s throat. “One more word, Mister Arbelt. You will be allowed one more word before I silence you forever.”

Zach wisely shut his mouth.

Slowly, Kay drew her saber a centimeter across from Zach’s throat, stopping just short of drawing blood. She stowed her blade before turning back to Fox.

“We are turning around and bringing Breel right back to Coraggio. I will decide what to do with the rest of you interlopers from there.” Kay declared.

“It’s too late.” Zach said.

“You really do not understand the virtue of silence, Mister Arbelt.” Kay remarked, placing a hand on the pommel of her sword.

“We already sent word ahead to Prince Keene.” Zach bluffed, enchanting his words with Charmspeak once more. “He knows now that you would not dare kill Breel, so nothing will stop him from sending a much larger force of knights to storm Coraggio and occupy the island by force.”

Kay turned her head slightly. “You’re lying.”

“A ship that size must carry smaller ships in storage, yes?” Zach offered, gesturing to the man o’ war. “Whaling boats, gun-boats, lifeboats, anything in that regard. You could send one as a scout ahead to confirm what I told you. That a blockade of Royal Navy ships are already stationed and waiting for you.”

“And why would Prince Keene concern himself with defending his own borders when I would bring Breel back to Coraggio?”

“Because he’s worried about you realizing the more strategic decision.” Zach remarked. “That bringing Breel back to Coraggio will only result in a legion of knights coming for your head. But bringing Breel to Griffonrock…”

“Zach, Don’t!” Grape yelled out.

“You stay out of this!” Kay snapped, causing half of her guards to switch their aim to Grape instead. “What will bringing Breel back to Griffonrock accomplish?” She demanded from Zach.

“A show of your control of the situation first hand. By now, the people of Griffonrock know that the Rainiers are traitors to the crown. You’ve already made an enemy out of all of Babylon. So now, your focus should be on how Keene sees you as an enemy. Far away in enemy territory, Breel would be a motivator to Prince Keene, to crush you absolutely and without mercy. Bring Breel to Keene, and show that you command his life and death in person, and Keene will be forced to obey your every command.”

“This supposed blockade you speak of would make such a show of power quite difficult.” Kay remarked.

“Not if you circumvent it. There is a cave we used to bypass the blockade when we first crossed the border out of Griffonrock, when our mission was kept a secret from the rest of the Royal Guard.” Zach said, trying his best to find that sweet spot in his Charmspeak between influence and control. “You could make use of that same cave and sail right into Griffonrock. From there, I’m sure a woman of your skill and caliber could find a way to extort Keene directly without drawing the ire of the Guard. The simplest fact is, if you plan to wage war on Keene, his own home would be the far better staging ground than your manor.”

Kay regarded Zach for a second or two, searching his eyes for any lies.

It helped that, technically speaking, with the exception of sending word ahead, nothing Zach said was a lie.

Zach wondered if Marvin or Tiger would be proud of this little display. Combine the truth with the lie, Marvin would tell him.

“All of this begs one particular question…” Kay began. “Why are you choosing to aid me now?”

Zach looked around at the pleading looks of his team. Had they really only been together for four days? It felt longer…

“Let’s just say I know the winning side when I see it.” Zach said, turning back to Kay. “That, and… not everything said and done was for the ruse, my Lady.”

“Oh?” Kay raised an eyebrow.

“Passions ride high, emotions running rampant in all the excitement. And, let’s all be honest with ourselves, you are indeed a marvel of beauty.” Zach said. “Call it pathetic on my part, because it certainly is, but I wished we had met under better circumstances.”

More Charmspeak. More twisting the lies with the truth. Attaboy, little brother, Zach heard Marvin say in his mind.

Kay has always been a practical woman. Always able to set emotions aside to look at every roadblock in her life with clarity. The sting of Zach’s betrayal was still fresh on her heart, yet that didn’t stop her from regarding his every word.

Finally, she turned to her captain, still holding Max by the collar of his shirt.

“Bind them to their own masts. Take away any weapons they might have, then send a lifeboat to this supposed blockade. Tell them not to engage if such a blockade exists, merely confirm it is there then sail right back to report it.”

“At once my Lady.” The guard captain bowed.
Time passed by as Kay waited to hear word back from her scout. The would-be rescuers of Breel, those above-deck at least could do little more than endure the passage in seething silence. Peanut’s bow, Grape’s sword and shield, Bino’s daggers and belt, all of their equipment had been taken and stashed in a barrel under close guard by some of Kay’s stone-faced soldiers.

Fox, as much as he could from his bound position, looked up at the man o’ war that had bested the Heaven Bound. Not that Fox could fault his old girl all that much. Lady Kay’s ship was nothing short of a behemoth. The best money could buy, Fox was sure.

Still, what he wouldn’t give for the chance to rip it to tinders like Kay had done his own ship.

But that wasn’t part of Zach’s plan.

Speaking of the lapin lad’s scheme, Zach himself still had a part to play.

“Lady Kay, please listen to reason.” Zach said from the center mast. Kay making a pointed effort to show Zach only her back.

“It’s not too late to redeem yourself.” Zach offered. “If you just tell the Prince the nature of your family’s curse, he may find it in his heart to help you. But only if you let Breel go.”

Kay gave Zach nothing but cold silence.

“Prince Keene has command of some of the greatest wielders of magic in this modern age!” Zach begged. “The Prince can help you find a curse-breaker!”

“It’s not that simple…” Kay muttered, barely loud enough for Zach to hear.

She turned to face Zach, and for the very first time, she showed Zach… remorse.

“Do you honestly think we’ve not tried other ways?” Kay said, weakly. “Do you honestly think I simply woke up one morning and decided to stage a coup for the crown? This… curse. It is a power greater than all the mages the Prince could ever employ. You should all be grateful to House Rainier for keeping its bloodlust focused on us alone for so many years!”

Kay turned away once again, refusing to let Zach see her eyes even glisten. “The shadow of House Rainier demands blood… And you would all be powerless to stop it.”

“What is this ‘Shadow’, Lady Kay?” Zach asked. “What fills you with such dread that you would go to such extremes?”

Kay was silent once more, before she sighed. “The truth is… The shadow of House Rainier is nothing more than a-”

Lady Kay!!” a voice called from the waters below the port side of the Heaven Bound. Kay marched to look over the railing and saw her scout ship had returned.

“Well?” Kay called out to them as they busied themselves anchoring the lifeboat to ropes tossed from the hull of her man o’ war.

“We’ve confirmed the rabbit’s claim, my Lady. There is indeed a blockade of Royal Navy ships just beyond the harbor of Griffonrock. We’ll not be able to sail past unnoticed.”

Kay nodded, much more easily accepting this from her own crew than from Arbelt’s lying mouth. She once more turned to Zach.

“So, you were telling the truth about the blockade. But I want to know more about this cave.” Kay said. “How do I know it’s not just a trap?”

“We sailed through the cave, and we’re still in one piece.” Zach claimed. Again, not technically a lie. “And besides, your men have already confirmed that you won't be able to sail past the blockade. At this point, what do you have to lose?”

Kay was silent, considering her options, before she walked up to Zach. “Understand this, none of this will buy my mercy. When all is said and done, I will not forget your betrayal.”

Zach wisely said nothing to this.

Kay turned back to her captain. “There’s no caves on these waters that will accommodate my ship. Have the men grab jury-masts from our hold and set them up on their ship. We’ll sail it all the way to Griffonrock’s harbor.”

“My lady, are you sure?” The captain said in hushed whispers. “I understand we cannot simply return to Coraggio, but you mean to make directly for enemy lands.”

“Shielded by the Prince’s lover.” Kay reminded her captain. “I’m not saying we make our presence known the second we make landfall. The moment we reach Griffonrock, we’ll have to be careful navigating our way to the castle. Only then will we reveal to the Prince that I have my claws around Breel’s throat.”

The captain nodded and made to spread Kay’s order to the rest of her crew.

Meanwhile, Bino had already gotten to work.

Zach’s plan was a bit of a gamble. They first had to assume that Kay would take them alive as her prisoners. Zach seemed certain that Kay was not the type to execute them in cold blood, but nearly everyone else had doubts.

Not that they could think of anything better in that split-second after Kay decimated the Heaven Bound’s masts.

Second, they had to assume Kay would leave them above-deck as opposed to locking them below with the rest of the crew. In all honesty, the plan would have still worked either way just with different pros and cons. In fact, the plan would have been a little easier if they had been locked below-deck. But above-deck, they were in a better position to contain… collateral damage.

Thirdly, the odds of success would have greatly depended on who exactly Bino would have been bound next to on the masts, as that would be the person who’s ropes Bino was currently slowly and carefully cutting with the razor hidden in Bino’s leather wrist-brace.

To that end, Bino sent a silent thank you to whichever god was watching as he methodically cut the ropes binding the hands of their group’s living bulwark, Grape.
With Zach’s guidance, it didn’t take Kay all that long to pilot the Heaven Bound back to the cave they had previously escaped by the skin of their teeth. Not that Kay nor any of her crew knew that part.

Zach was a little surprised to see that the rocks that had caved in the entrance to the cave had already been cleared, no doubt by the residents of the cave to open the way for any travellers looking to use the cave for their own means.

“There it is.” Zach said, fighting against his growing fear to keep his voice level. “Once we’re on the other side, the blockade will be behind us.”

Kay’s captain was at the wheel of the ship, ignoring Fox’s pointed glare at him. “Orders, my Lady?”

“Stay the course.” Kay commanded. “It’s too narrow for any other ship to ambush us inside.”

WIth a nod, the captain turned the wheel to steer the Heaven Bound back into the lair of the sirens.

Magical sound is a curious little phenomenon in the field of the arcane. There’s a surprising bit of science to it, too. Very few of its practitioners are actually consciously aware of this, but many of our perceptions of the world around us are based on signals interpreted by our five senses, including our hearing, and sent to our brains.

Magical sounds, like the music of a Bard or the singing of a siren, works by altering these signals into something else entirely. Essentially, magical sound is little more than a very, very believable lie.

Which is why the simple act of muffling one’s sense of sound works just as well for a siren’s singing that it does for a Bard’s music.

Thus, as the Heaven Bound made its second voyage into the dark cave, the would-be rescuers of Breel were able to give themselves the smallest of solace as Bino’s wax earplugs were firmly placed in each of their ears.

Save Max, but he was still unconscious.

For the first half of the passing, all seemed calm, to the point where Zach was worried if the sirens wouldn’t take the bait.

But then, that haunting melody began to resonate through the walls of the cave, and Zach could already see the eyes of Kay’s unfortunately all-male crew start to glaze over.

“So… pretty…” One such crew member stated, already making his way to the makeshift jury-mast planted just aside the ship’s real mast. In a repeat performance, he had already unfurled the smaller sail to give the Heaven Bound as much speed as possible.

Unfortunately, Lady Kay could not reprimand the crew mate as she was too focused on her captain slipping into a dream.

“Captain? Captain!?” Kay yelled out in the captain’s ear, shaking him by the arm.

“Francesca… I’m coming home…” The captain droned in monotone.

Lady Kay had known the captain of her family’s guard for as long as she had been a child, and Francesca was a name she had not heard come from her captain’s mouth for quite some years. The name of the captain’s late wife, taken from him by fever.

Looking around the ship, Kay saw that all of her crew were under similar trances, doing everything in their power to hasten the Heaven Bound’s descent into the cave, paying Kay’s orders no mind.

“You there! Bring those masts back to half-sail at once!” Kay demanded. “You’ll smash us into the rocks, you fools!”

All made worse by the splitting headache Kay was now staving off from the now deafening roar of singing, echoing throughout the walls of the cave. “Gods above!!” Kay screamed, covering her ears. “What is that ghastly wailing!?!”

Wincing past the shrieking music in her ears, Kay saw that one of her crew had apparently abandoned their reckless attempts at speeding up the ship in order to walk to the very edge of the deck, peering into the now turbulent waters below.

“I’m here… I’m here…” The crewman chanted to himself, utterly entranced by whatever he was seeing. “Let me… stay… with you…” He said, reaching his hand out towards the water.

Kay had to stifle a shriek of terror as she saw a mottled and scaly green claw suddenly reach out and grab the crewman’s hand. The crewman seemed to regain just enough of his senses to scream in terror as a second claw grasped him from behind his head and pull him overboard.

Kay heard a splash as her crewman continued to scream bloody murder until… silence. Apart from the melody still playing, still beckoning her crew to meet similar fates.

All around Kay, more and more of her crew were pulled into their watery graves, screams echoing among the cavern walls, creating a deranged melody with the singing.

Kay fought through the fear, staring ahead at her captives tied at the masts. She saw the looks of absolute horror and terror on each of their faces, but what she did not see was surprise.

They knew this would happen.

Arbelt knew this would happen!

Fear gave way to fury as Kay drew her saber, vaulting herself from the upper-deck of the ship down to the main deck.

“You…” Kay snarled, pointing the tip of her sword at Zach, who rightfully seemed more afraid of her than of the creatures currently devouring her crew.

“YOU!!!” Kay screamed in rage, readying her saber and rushing towards Zach, fully prepared to drive it’s tip into his heart.

A ‘clang!’ rang out through the cave as metal clashed against metal. Kay felt the vibrations all the way down to her wrist as Grape stepped in at the last moment to deflect Kay’s attack with her own sword.

“Bino! Get this ship under control!” Grape yelled out.

From the corner of her eye, Kay saw that the thief was indeed also free, knocking her captain out cold with a punch to the temple before wresting the ship’s wheel for himself, fighting against the rapid waves fighting against them.

Kay was able to do little about that as Grape had already levied her sword at Kay’s face. “It’s over, Rainier!” Grape declared. “Surrender and be judged before the King!”

Kay’s eyes were distant, seemingly looking through Grape instead of at her. Everything Kay had sacrificed, all the blood spilled in her own home. Was it all to end like this? With Kay spending but a few nights in some dark, dank dungeon before death would come to claim her.

She was certain Arbelt would offer some kind of amnesty, protection from her family’s curse. But he didn’t understand. None of them understood! Kay would find protection nowhere! Not in the King’s deepest dungeon, not surrounded by the full legion of his knights.

The Shadow of House Rainier would find, and it would kill her.

It would do so slowly, taking the greatest pleasure in draining the very life from her.

As it had to her mother and sister’s in years past.

Or, Kay considered, she could find release right now, on her own terms.

Snarling with rage, Kay brought her saber above her head, a perverse sense of pleasure running through her as she saw the shocked look on Grape’s face, before bringing it down to the purple cat.

Grape reacted quickly enough to deflect Kay’s saber once more, planting herself as best she could against the near constant rocking of the ship.

Despite her situation, Kay couldn’t help but laugh. This was it, this was the only path left for her. She knew she was going to die in this cave, but not before she took as many of the architects of her demise with her!

Kay was wild and savage with her swings, leaving Grape entirely on the defensive. Not helped by her heavy armor doing her no favors in regards to balancing herself on the rocking ship.

“Kay, enough of this!!” Grape pleaded, only barely managing to deflect Kay’s lightning-fast swipes. “You’re only making this worse for yourself!!”

“No… NonononononoNONONOO!!!!” Kay spat out, never faltering in her onslaught. Just one, just one kill to satisfy her. A life for a life. “I WILL NOT LET WHAT HAPPENED TO MY SISTERS HAPPEN TO ME!!!

With a trained eye, Kay pinpointed a flash of brown leather between the joints of Grape’s armor on her upper leg. Spinning on her heel, Kay thrust the tip of her saber into the leather, piercing it and feeling soft flesh underneath.

“ARRGH!!” Grape cried out, falling to her knee as Kay withdrew her saber.

Kay gave a twisted grin as she readied her blade for another thrust, this time aiming directly for Grape’s head.

STOP.” A voice called out, and it was so.

What felt like a jolt of electricity passed through Kay’s body, locking up her joints and muscles. She felt as though she were commanded by a god to halt her body entirely. But the voice felt… familiar.

With all her willpower, Kay was able to just move her eyes to the source of the voice…

And saw Zach, breathing heavily, wincing as though he were in pain.

“Z-Zach…” Kay managed to mutter.

With only a split second to react, Grape fought through the pain in her leg and rose to her feet, balling her off-hand into a first and decking Kay across the face.

With her body frozen by Zach’s charmspeak, Kay felt the full impact of Grape’s steel-clad punch across her face, sending her off her feet and tumbling towards the edge of the boat before slamming against the railing.

Already, Zach’s voice had lost its power over her as she stumbled to her feet, wiping the blood from her mouth.

Kay had just enough time to shoot a glare at Grape and ready her sword again… before she heard a wet, guttural growl behind her.

From Kay’s perspective, she saw Grape’s eyes widen in fear as she gasped at whatever was behind Kay. The squire was barely able to utter Kay’s name before a scaly claw suddenly wrapped itself around Kay’s eyes, blinding her to the world. A second claw grasped her throat, and Kay felt herself being pulled over the railing and into the waters below.

Kay’s screams of torment joined her crew until she too grew silent.
It seemed the sirens of the cave were satisfied with their… offering, as the rest of the voyage through the cave was disturbingly calm thereafter. Or maybe the sirens were simply resting full stomachs.

In any case, the Heaven Bound emerged from the cave, in much better shape than its previous passage through the cave, and its crew no worse for wear.

Physically at least.

Grape said very little before she undid the ropes binding Peanut and Zach, leaving Zach to undo the other’s restraints while Peanut carried his injured companion to Spring’s room below deck.

Max, to his credit, finally joined the world of consciousness as he gave a hearty yawn, sleepily looking around to see a peaceful ocean.

“Did we win?”
Keene usually enjoyed these impromptu tea parties with Sabrina and Tarot. It was a chance to both touch base with their respective, ongoing studies into the arcane while also giving him a much needed distraction from his usual duties to both family and crown.

But with every sip of tea, he couldn’t help but look at the empty fourth chair Tarot and Sabrina accidentally set aside out of habit.

The magical duo had of course offered to take the chair away once they realized their blunder, but Keene declined. Much as it saddened him, it also gave him a strange shred of hope.

Sabrina saw the look her prince was giving the empty chair, not that he was being at all subtle about it, placing a comforting hand on his.

“They will return.” Was all Sabrina said. Was all she could say.

“It’s been four days…” Keene said, mostly to himself. “My family hasn’t said anything to the people, but the courts are starting to notice Breel’s absence more and more with each passing day. What am I supposed to say when one of them works up the courage to ask about it? What if… What if Breel....”

Just then, the door to the Prince’s study slammed open, and his Captain of the Guard stood with a look of shock across his face.

“Your Highness!” Ralph said, eyes wide. “Grape and Peanut have returned!”

Keened immediately shot up to his feet, hope starting to well up inside him. “Did they… ? Is Breel with them?”

Ralph nodded, unable to keep his own tiny smile from playing across his muzzle. “He is, your Highness. Breel’s home.”
Keene wasted no time having Ralph escort him to the main foyer of the castle, Sabrina and Tarot trailing just behind him.

Even from the top of the stairs, Keene could see the full party he had sent on this quest. Peanut and Grape stood at the forefront at attention, though Grape was apparently injured given that she supported herself on a makeshift cane. Fox, Sasha, Max and Zach all stood to the side of their group’s leaders, talking animatedly amongst themselves as they waited for the Prince. Only Bino was by himself, sitting on one of the couches off to the side of the foyer, apparently content to merely watch.

The group’s idle chatter died down as Ralph approached with Keene who could keep his grief at bay no longer. “Breel?” He simply said, tears already streaming down his eyes.

Peanut smiled warmly as he stood aside, and just behind him stood a brown marten, reduced to skin and bones but still smiling his handsome smile.

“Hello, dear.” Breel said, unable to keep his own tears down. “Did you miss me?”

Keene said nothing, only rushing forward, paying everyone else no mind as he scooped his lover into his arms, kissing Breel with all the tenderness he could summon.

Breel tried to reciprocate the kiss as much as he could, but already he was starting to feel weak in his knees. His ravenous hunger had still not left him and he broke away, giving Keene a tired but no less loving gaze.

No words were exchanged, Keene merely nodded, still crying as days of pent up worry and dread were suddenly released. “Captain Ralph, please take Breel to the best healers in the castle. Make sure he gets the best treatment possible and be sure to tell them that’s an order from a prince.”

“At once, your Highness.” Ralph said, forgoing decorum and picking up the emaciated Breel in his arms, carrying him bridal style before stopping to address Grape. “You should come with us, squire. We should get that leg checked out.”

Grape shared a look with Peanut who merely nodded. Without another word, Grape limped after Ralph and Breel towards the healer’s chamber.

Keene wiped away his tears once more, reminding himself that he was among company. “I… Words alone can never express the gratitude I have for all of you. The crown of Babylon is within debt to each and every one of you.”

Keened turned to face the assembled party, even making a point of shooting a glance towards Bino on the couch as to address him as well. “Make no mistake, I fully intend to repay each of you greatly for this service. But for now, I wish for nothing more than to be beside my beloved while he recovers. We can discuss matters of payment tomorrow. You are all, of course, welcome to spend the night once again.”

With nothing more to say, Keene turned and walked in the same direction as Ralph and Grape, leaving the party to their own devices.

Tarot, now that the Prince has said his piece, sauntered over to Peanut. “Nuts to that. I have a special reward waiting for you in my quarters. Don’t keep me waiting…” Tarot said, before making her way back up the stairs.

Peanut looked up at Tarot, then looked at his companions. “Do you all mind if I-?”

“GO!!” Nearly everyone present yelled in Peanut’s face.

Needing no more than that, Peanut raced after Tarot with a wide smile.

Max stretched his arms, giving a satisfying ‘Pop!’. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m going straight to my quarters. A successful quest of daring heroism deserves a midday nap at the very least.”

“Aw, no pinochle to cap off the day?” Sasha whined.

“Well… maybe one quick game.” Max smirked. “You all up for that?”

“You all go on. I literally can’t sleep anywhere but my ship these days.” Fox said. “Besides which, I really need to go over all the damages Kay did to her with King and Bailey. Make no mistake, I’m not going anywhere until tomorrow. I’ll see you all there.”

With that, Fox gave a lazy salute as he turned and walked towards the main gate.
“Guess that just leaves the four of us for pinochle.” Max said, shrugging his shoulders. “You are game, right Bino?” Max called over to the brown mutt, still sitting by himself on the couch.


“Actually…” Sabrina said, coughing into her fist. “I was hoping to invite Bino up to my quarters for dinner.”

Bino had to do a double-take at that, staring at Sabrina as though she grew a second head. “Seriously?”

Sabrina merely shrugged. “I promised Salem I’d ask. She really wanted to spend some time with you when you came back.”

Bino was silent at this for a moment, not really knowing how to react. “I… I don’t…”

“Aw, go ahead my friend.” Max said, sitting next to Bino and slapping him on the back. “They’ll be other games of pinochle.”

Bino stared at Max, trying to read the black cat’s intention.

“Besides,” Max said, ignoring Bino’s glare. “You should always put time aside for family.”

Bino regarded his words before finally sighing, slapping his legs as he got off the couch to face Sabrina. “I… I would be honored.” He finally said.
Luther Rainier was a man of great wealth and influence. For most of his life, if he had ever wanted anything, he simply bought it.

That has been the comfortable life of splendor that Luther and his family had enjoyed for as long his daughters had been alive.

Had been.

Luther had only been back in Coraggio for a day, and his heart sank when one of his guardsmen had informed him that Breel had been absconded into the night and that his only remaining daughter had chased off after him.

Everything was riding on Kay’s scheme to blackmail her way into the royal family. Without Breel, they would be defenseless come the year’s end. Kay would be taken, just as her sisters and mother had been, and in only one years time, the Rainier name would end with him.

Upon hearing this news, Luther had retreated into his study, unable to find any other solace for his nerves than a bottle of whiskey while he waited to hear of Kay’s triumphant return with Breel still in chains.

Luther stared out the glass doors that led out to the balcony. He contemplated stepping outside for some fresh air, but the dancing shadows in the trees just outside his home made him paranoid. No, it was safer inside.

He knew that was a lie. He knew that… thing could get him no matter where he hid. The moment it started to threaten his family, he had placed his wife and daughters in the most impenetrable safe-rooms money could buy, each more secure than the last.

Each torn apart with another Rainier left dead inside.

Luther continued to drink, nursing a selfish hope that he would pass out and wake up to his lovely daughter’s smiling face, assuring him that all would be well.

But before the whiskey could lull him into a numb sleep, Luther heard the rustling of leathery wings just behind him.

A cold chill ran down his spine.

“Hello, Rainier.” A voice called from behind him. It was a soft voice, but belying a dangerous cadence. Like a razor sharp sword wrapped in the finest silks. “I come bearing terrible news.”

Rainier had to force himself to turn his chair, his knuckles white as he gripped the armrests with enough force to tear them off if he wanted to.

“Hello…” Luther said, pitifully, facing the Shadow of House Rainier. “Duchess…”

Duchess stood in front of the glass doors to the balcony, which showed no signs of ever being opened. Not that Duchess needed to do so to enter his abode. Her black dress trailed past her feet as they gently brushed the carpet of Luther’s office, her leather pauldrons being the only form of armor Duchess wore over her elegant couture.

The black and brown slaluki’s eyes never left Luther as she stepped closer. “It seems your daughter has met her end at sea. For a sailor’s daughter, I imagine that must give you some comfort.”

“Kay is… Kay is…” Luther could not bring himself to say it, so Duchess said it for him.

“Dead.” Duchess sniffed derisively. “Quite horribly, too. Eaten alive by sirens. Oh, if you had heard her screams…” Duchess said, stepping behind Luther’s chair now, trailing her hand across his shoulder.

Duchess placed her muzzle right next to Luther’s ears. “Makes me wonder if she would have preferred to meet me, just as her sisters had.”

Luther whimpered feeling Duchess ice cold breath against his ear. “P-Please…”

“Only, now we are left with a bit of a dilemma.” Duchess said, withdrawing and walking back in front of Luther. “See, you promised me an offering every year, to stave off your own judgement. First, you offered me your wife. Then your youngest and middle child. Finally, only Kay was left to die in your stead, and she’s gone ahead and done it ahead of schedule.”

“So now the question remains… What are you going to do about it?”

Duchess glare was almost enough to end Luther from a heart attack alone, something Luther would have wholeheartedly welcomed.

“I… I’m still a man of great wealth.” Luther began to beg.

“You know money doesn’t interest me.” Duchess scoffed. “Well, not anymore. I won’t lie, I might have taken that offer many, many years ago.”

“But it does interest other women!” Luther suddenly exclaimed. “I- I can buy any woman I want! Just like my first wife! You want a daughter? How about 3 more? How about 10!? As many as you want!”

“Luther. Poor, deluded Luther.” Duchess purred. The look she gave Luther could almost be confused for flirtatious, but Luther knew better. There was nothing in her eyes but hunger.

“I’ll not wait years and years for you to find a woman who would lower herself enough to breathe the same air as you, much less marry you.” Duchess explained. “No, better I just take what I came for and move on to the next family.

PLEASE!!” Luther suddenly leapt from his chair to literally throw himself at Duchess’ feet. “PLEASE, I beg of you!! Show me mercy!!” Luther was starting to dribble snot over Duchess feet before she kicked them out of his grasp, though that did little to stop his grovelling.

Don’t-! Don’t kill me!!!

Luther was surprised to see Duchess’ expression had actually softened. She placed a gentle hand over her own heart. “Why, Luther, please don’t be upset. There is actually one way you can still be useful to me.”

Luther crawled on his knees towards Duchess, clasping his hands in prayer as though she were his goddess. “Yes! Yes! Anything you ask! Name it, and it’s yours!”

Duchess smiled sweetly, once again caressing Luther’s shoulders as she stepped behind him.

Giving Luther a full view of the mirror hanging on the side-wall of his office.

The image in the mirror showed Luther alone in his office.

“I’m feeling a little peckish, I could use a good meal before I go.”

Luther’s heart raced as he tried to leap to his feet. He’d crash through the glass doors and jump over his balcony if it meant getting away.

But it was too late, Duchess’ claw had already grabbed him by the shoulders tightly, holding him down with monumental strength no mortal would ever possess.

Before Luther could scream for his guards to save him, the last thing he felt was a piercing bite on his neck, a monstrous growl rumbling in his ear. Slowly, he felt his life drain from his as the seconds passed agonizingly slowly.

After far too long, Luther had no more to give and his lifeless body fell to the floor.

Duchess wiped her mouth in disgust, glaring at her latest meal.

“Why are cowards always so bitter?”

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by JageshemashFTW »

Been a long time, hasn’t it? Hopefully the next chapter won’t take nearly as long.

Speaking of, we should only have one more chapter before we wrap up Book 1 of World of Fantasy.

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by trekkie »

Great chapter, it was certainly worth the wait. Glad Max is okay and Duchess is pure evil here, I like it.
Please state the nature of your medical emergency.

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This chapter definitely made the 7 months of silence a good price to pay for this chapter! Awesome work!

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by NHWestoN »

Always figured Duchess to be the bitin' sort. Well done and welcome back! ;)

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by Obbl »

That was quite the tense chapter, really happy with how things are turning out :D

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by JageshemashFTW »

“She’s gone?” Zach asked the Heaven Bound’s captain. “Wh-What do you mean she’s ‘gone’?”

Fox shrugged his shoulders as he carried the bag of grain up the gangplank. King and Bailey had just finished their little shopping trip for supplies and provisions in Griffonrock proper, so now Fox was working with the rest of the crew to get everything loaded up. Something Zach was kind enough to help with long as he was there.

“You know everything I do, lad. Your opossum friend came to me early in the morning, thanked me for the free passage, then took off over yonder.” Fox said, putting the bag of grain down to point towards the hills beyond Griffonrock’s borders. “She’s Rajann, right? My guess, she’s going back to her tribe.”

“Oh…” Was all Zach said, putting his own bag down next to Fox’s. Part of him knew this could have happened. Jessica was on her own mission after all. Zach came down to Griffonrock’s port to collect Fox for Prince Keene rewarding their party for their daring quest, and figured he could bring Jessica along too. After all, intentional or not, she played her own part in rescuing Breel from the Rainier’s clutches. It only seemed right to Zach that she be rewarded for it as well.

It seems Jessica had other plans, Zach thought to himself.

Fox, having a working set of eyes, took notice of his companion’s crestfallen expression before coughing into his fist. “King only gave me the gist of her situation, but I understand you two had… history?”

Zach nodded numbly, still staring over the horizon, half hoping to see Jessica change her mind and coming back down the hills.

“Look…” Fox began, rubbing the back of his head. “I’m no stranger to heartbreak. I’m well acquainted with what it means to have loved and lost.” Zach turned to look at the silver-furred sailor.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is… If you ever wanted to…” Fox juggled his words. “Ah, blast it all, I’m terrible at this. Look, I’m just offering an ear.”

Fox absentmindedly touched the bullet-hole in his ear. “Or what’s left of it.”

Zach glanced towards the ground, a small smile escaping him. “I… I appreciate that.”

Fox smiled at the young rabbit, giving a friendly slap to his back as he led him back down the gangplank. “Come on. Let’s see what shining treasures await such noble heroes such as us!”
“Uncle Bino?” Salem said, poking Bino’s nose as he slept, or at least tried to sleep, on Sabrina’s couch.

“Uncle Bino! Wake up!” Salem shouted, increasing the tempo of her poking. “You’re gonna be late for the Prince’s meeting!”

Bino groaned and grumbled, turning his face away from his niece as he burrowed deeper into the cushions of the couch.

“Go’way Fido… Leave me alone…” Bino muttered in a daze.

Salem reared her hand back, stunned.

“I’m… I’m not Daddy, Uncle Bino…”

Bino’s eyes shot open, suddenly consciously aware of his unconscious blunder. He turned back to face Salem, unable to read the expression on the young kitten’s face.

“.... Sorry, Salem.” Bino said, sitting up. “I… I didn’t mean to…”

“It’s okay.” Salem said, pawing at her dress. A nervous tic Bino was already starting to recognize.

“Did…” Bino started, unsure if he really wanted to open those floodgates. “Did your mother ever tell you about your father?”

Salem was silent before she clambered up the couch to sit next to Bino. “Only a few stories. Momma told me that Daddy was a brave and heroic knight. That he protected Babylon. She told me…” She looked up at her uncle with Fido’s blazing orange irises. “She told me I have his eyes.”

Bino sighed. “You do. I never thought I would ever see those eyes again.”

“Were you… Were you there?” Salem asked. “When he…?”

Bino’s throat tightened at the question he knew she was asking. “What did your mother tell you?”

“Momma never talks about how Daddy… died. I’ve asked, but she always tells me ‘when I’m older’.” Salem said, more than a little frustration seeping out.

Bino sighed. “I can understand her reasons. But… Yes, I was there when he died.”

“Did he die bravely?” Salem asked. “Stories and books always say how knights should die bravely, defending their kingdoms.”

Bino’s throat tightened again. He didn’t answer her.

“It’s okay…” Salem sighed. “I know real life isn’t like books.”

“Is there… Is there anything else you want to know?” Bino said, wanting to salvage this as much as he could. “About your father?”

Salem seemed to mull the question over carefully, as if Bino were only giving her one chance to come up with a good response.

“Tell me…” Salem began. “Tell me something bad about him.”

“Something… bad?” Bino asked, not entirely understanding the request.

“Momma always talks about how good Daddy was. How heroic he was, how much he protected the castle and the city.” Salem explained. “But… no one’s perfect. When I try to picture Daddy in my head, it’s like I’m seeing… a character from a book. He doesn’t seem… real to me.”

“You want something humbling.” Bino said. “Something that shows him as fallible. As a man, no different than you or me. Is that it?”

Salem nodded.

“So… Something bad, then.” Bino considered. There was certainly no shortage of bad things he could say about Fido, but he also had to consider the very young age of his audience.

“He was stubborn.” Bino finally said, immediately catching Salem’s interest. “And so insufferable. The moment he got it in his head that he was in the right and you were in the wrong, nothing would ever convince him otherwise.”

Despite the rather grim topic, Bino couldn’t help but flash a smile at his niece. “Were he actually alive to raise you, I imagine he would be constantly grounding you for even the slightest mistakes. So… you dodged an arrow there, I’d say.”

Bino almost took back his words, worried that he may have overstepped, but Salem laughed, giggling into her paw.

“And…” Bino continued. “And he was so self-righteous. He always had such a high opinion of himself. Always had to be the best man in the room, and he made sure everyone around him knew it.”

“I don’t know if I could deal with that.” Salem said, sticking her tongue out. “It sounds like he’d be a really strict daddy.”

“Oh, I’m sure he would have been.” Bino agreed. But something was gnawing on the back of Bino’s mind. As cathartic as this was, lowering the image of his golden brother in the eyes of his own spawn, Bino felt he had to make the record clear.

“It would all come from a place of love, though.” Bino admitted. “That’s the best thing I can say about my brother. That when he loved, he loved with all of his heart. Purely, wholly, and with no reservation.”

Bino looked down at Salem, a warm smile creeping across his lips. “If there’s one thing I can say with no doubt, it’s that Fido would have loved you. He would have loved you so much it would hurt. I can’t claim he’d be a perfect father, or even a good one. But I can promise you he would have done everything in his power to be the best father he could have been.”

Salem’s eyes grew shiny as tears threatened to come out in the corner of Fido’s orange eyes. She lunged toward’s Bino’s midsection, burying her face in his side as she hugged him, tiny paws grasping at his green tunic.

Bino was only momentarily stunned by her affection, before he bent down and scooped Salem into his arms, holding her tight. “And I know he would have given anything to have his arms around you. Right here, right now.”
“You’re lowering your guard again.” Ralph said, striking at Grape with his practice sword once more. “Completing a quest gives you no right to get sloppy.”

“I don’t know if you noticed, but I got more than a little injured on that quest.” Grape snarled, riposting the attack. While the castle healers did a wonderful job getting Grape back on her feet, the shot of pain running up her leg everytime she put too much weight on it told Grape that she still had a good deal of recovering to suffer through.

“Kay stabbed you in the leg, not the arm.” Ralph retorted. “Keep your guard up.”

Despite the fact that they were only training, Ralph was a little more ruthless than usual, taking advantage of Grape’s balance being off as she tried not to shift her weight too much to her bad leg.

Finally, Ralph locked his practice sword with Grape’s before closing the distance between the two of them, shoving his whole weight against Grape as she tumbled to the ground.

“Oof!” Grape exclaimed amongst the clattering and clanging of her armor.

“Hmm, just as I expected.” Ralph said, looking down at Grape as he rubbed his chin in thought. “I had my suspicions before, but that cinched it for me. I only wish I had the chance to confirm it before you went on your quest. Might have even spared you a hole in the leg.”

Grape cocked an eyebrow as she steadily rose back to her feet. “What are you going on about?”

Ralph said nothing, merely depositing his practice sword back in a barrel filled with the wooden things. He gestured Grape to follow him as made his way into the Barracks’ armory. “Come with me.”

Grape shrugged before depositing her own sword, keeping pace with Ralph as the two marched lockstep together.

“So many tutors and trainers will try to tell you that there is one method of fighting that is superior to any other.” Ralph explained as they walked. “Hogswallop, all of it. Everyone’s body is different. As your instincts hone in combat, your muscles will react differently to your fight or flight telling you how to move, how to stay alive. It’s a wise knight who trusts in their instincts, it’s a dead knight who doesn’t.”

“And that all means…?” Grape prompted.

“In this and other sparring matches, I’ve noticed more and more that you fight against the weight of your armor. Your instincts are telling you that it is smarter to avoid your enemy’s attack rather than face it head-on and lean into your armor to protect you.” Ralph continued to explain as they rounded the corner into the armory. “As I said, there is no one true method to fighting. If your body is telling you to move out of the way when your opponent goes to hit you, you better bloody well listen to it.”

Grape scoffed. “Much easier said than done when I’m covered neck to toe in steel.”

Ralph nodded. “I know. Which is why we’re going to fix that.”

Without waiting to elaborate, Ralph reached into a pouch hanging off his belt to grab a keyring. Fiddling with the keys to find the right one, he eventually opened the padlock to a chamber in the armory.

Grape had been in this chamber only once before, when she was being fitted for her first set of squire armor. The Royal Guard armors, standing at attention in mannequins as the two entered, lined the walls from one end to the other.

Some, like Grape’s armor, held no ornamentation. These were reserved for squires like her. Those that have not yet truly joined the ranks of the Royal Guard. Most of the armors were embossed by the sigil of the Milton Royal Family. A select few were further embellished with gold filigree around the edges of the plates, denoting a Captain like Ralph.

But Ralph was actually leading Grape beyond even these sets, marching even further down the room towards a very large chest that stretched from one corner of the back wall to another.

Grape did not remember seeing this chest the first time she was in this room, or perhaps she just didn’t take notice of it. She watched as Ralph once again fiddled with his keyring, finding the right key to the chest and opening it.

Grape wasn’t sure what she was expecting to see inside the chest, but she supposed she should have figured ‘more armors’. That said, these new armors only resembled the armor of the Royal Guard in general aesthetics.

Ralph hummed quietly to himself as he rummaged around the armors, eventually finding the one he was looking for. Pulling out the set revealed an armor that seemed… far less protective than Grape’s current armor.

It was mostly a leather bodysuit that would have covered Grape nape-to-toe. Grape recognized it as the same bodysuit she wore under her plate armor. But whereas her armor merely rested on top of the leather, this armor had its plating ingrained in the very leather.

However, there was much less plating, only covering the chest, back, forearms, shins, and a single pauldron covering the shoulder of the sword-arm. Everything else had only cured leather to protect the wearer from harm.

“You can’t be serious.” Grape said, eyeing the armor up and down. “You would have me going into battle dressed in that?

If Kay had found it so easy to slip her saber between the plates of her armor before…

“Half-plate armor isn’t exactly a new concept.” Ralph said. “The principle is sound. A lighter load means quicker steps.”

“And less protection means more swords in my gullet.” Grape protested.

“No, because you aren’t gonna be standing still long enough for those swords to get close. Your own body agrees with me. Your instincts want you to be constantly moving, constantly side-stepping your opponents instead of planting yourself in one spot. You can’t do that in full-plate.” Ralph explained. “Tell you what, how about you actually put on the armor and spar with me again. If neither of us see any improvement, you can go back to your safe, secure full-plate.”

Grape groaned but she knew as well as Ralph that she didn’t actually have a choice in the matter. Moments later, after Ralph gave her some privacy, the two stood against each other in the training ring once more.

Grape had to admit to herself, she did feel much lighter, so the armor was at least upholding that end. But she was still very much aware of how much less there was keeping an enemy’s weapon at bay. No matter how much lighter the armor, Grape just couldn't imagine it would actually make her fast enough to make a difference.

“You know this has the Royal Guard’s sigil, right?” Grape said, pointing to the crest on her chestplate. “I’m technically not supposed to be wearing this right now.”

“I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.” Ralph said, his ever present scowl almost curling up at the corner of his muzzle. “Sword up.” He said, as he always began their sparring matches.

Grape sighed, but brought her sword up as requested.

“Approach.” The two took small, deliberate steps, gradually closing the distance.

“Lock blades.” A quiet ‘clink’ as the two crossed the blunted blades of their weapons.

“En Guarde.” Ralph was the first to attack, thrusting his blade straight outward which Grape barely managed to push aside as she side-stepped away from the thrust.

She ignored the smug look on Ralph’s face as she took notice over how much less weight was on her foot.

Ralph was not giving up the offensive this early though, effortlessly turning his thrust into a swing which Grape barely managed to catch, locking her blade against his down to the hilt.

Ralph tried to repeat his shove from their last match, but Grape had already managed to break away from the sword-lock, pouncing away from Ralph and gaining some distance.

Ralph advanced, paying his loss of momentum no mind as he continued to swipe and swing at Grape.

At first, Grape did as she always did whenever they spared, riposting the blade away from her until she would eventually become overwhelmed by Ralph’s flurry of blows.

But, more naturally than Grape had thought, she was slowly starting to forego putting her sword up to deflect his swings at all, finding it much easier to simply backstep away from Ralph’s sword. Had Ralph always been this slow? Grape wondered.

“Alright, I admit…” Grape huffed, starting to feel the toll that this extra exertion was taking on her. “You may actually be on to something here.”

“Glad you’re coming around.” Ralph said, keeping his breathing in pace. “But make no mistake, while you should always trust your instincts…”

Grape’s attention was taken away from Ralph’s lecturing as she felt her back hit the wall of the training ground, halting her retreat entirely. She barely had a moment to correct herself before Ralph slid the blunted blade of his sword across Grape’s throat.

“You still need to be wary of your surroundings.” And with a final ‘slice’ of his blade, Ralph left behind a streak of pink paint across Grape’s neck, ending the duel.

Grape groaned as she pawed at the paint, doing little more than spreading it over her neck while Ralph chuckled.

“So, you leaned more into evading my attacks, that’s good. Just be sure you don’t ‘evade’ directly into a dead-end next time.”

“Ha-ha.” Grape fake laughed. “So, I suppose I should switch back to my squire armor now?”

“Go ahead, I’d say training is done for the day.” Ralph relented. “Better we allow some time for your leg to recover.”
“Gentlemen…” Prince Keene said, addressing the assembled group of Max, Bino, Zach, Fox, and Sasha. “My lady.” He said, directly addressing Sasha with a respectful bow. “Thank you all for coming. We will, of course, be discussing matters of payment for a successful quest for the Crown.”

“Bout time…” Bino muttered under his breath before being nudged in the ribs by Max.

If Keene had heard Bino, he made no indication. Also in the room was another ferret, this one female with a milky white face and caramel colored paws, adorned in a dress fit for royalty.

While the assembled heroes were able to piece it together on that alone, Prince Keene did still introduce her to them as his sister, Princess Lana.

So far, she had said nothing during this meeting, merely giving a polite nod after her brother introduced her, content to observe with a slight smile playing across her lips.

“Your highness, with respect, shouldn’t we wait for Peanut and Grape?” Zach offered. “Shouldn’t they be rewarded too?”

Keene smiled as he held out a hand. “Your concern is touching, Master Arbelt, but in regards to Peanut and Grape, they are fully employed by the crown. They are repaid for their services nearly every day.”

“You five on the other hand are more… freelance, shall we say.” Keene admitted. “So let us just go down the list.”

Keene stood in front of Max first, addressing him directly. “For you, Master Byron, a promise was made and a promise will be kept. You will have the full support of the Royal Guard looking into the criminals who attacked the Telani. Once the perpetrators against your tribe have been caught, you will be allowed to choose a fitting punishment.”

That caught the others’ attention very quickly, but there was little time to digest the Prince’s words as Max merely bowed his head.

“Thank you, your highness.” Max said, keeping the ceremony simple on his end.

Keened moved down the line and stood before Bino now. “For you, Master… Bino. Your criminal record is hereby absolved and forgiven. We will, of course, have it finalized in paper in due time but for now, you have the assurance of the Royal Family that you are no longer a criminal this day onward. In addition, you will receive all the official support and opportunities needed to be permanently employed by the crown as a Rogue, standing on equal footing with our Royal Guard and the Ranger’s Regiment.”

Bino merely offered a nod.

Accepting this as acknowledgement enough, Keene moved on to Zach. “Master Arbelt, as promised, you and your brothers will now be able to reside full-time in the grandest of splendor we can offer in Griffonrock’s most affluent district. The home will be paid for in full by the Crown, leaving you and your brothers to put all your focus in honing your craft.”

Zach bowed his head low. “Thank you, your Highness.” He said, though an errant thought stayed in his mind. “Er, your Highness? I understand you have already granted an extravagant boon, but… may I make a humble request?”

“Speak, Master Arbelt.” Keene said. “I am always ready to lend an ear.”

“It… It concerns the Rainier family. We learned that their crimes were motivated by fear of a curse that has already ravaged their family. A curse that has demanded blood for years. I’m… I’m not about to suggest you should simply forgive them for their crimes, but I was hoping you could find it in your heart to have your mages look into possibly breaking their curse. Let them at least live out their days in prison without fearing a gruesome end.”

Despite the pain Keene had endured from the Rainier’s machinations, he still had to smile at Zach’s request. “You are a kind soul, Master Arbelt. I’m afraid I cannot promise anything right now. The coming days will depend greatly on Luther Rainier’s next actions. But… I will take your request into consideration going forward.”

“Thank you…” Was all that Zach said, his conscience slightly lifted.

Keene finally turned to both Sasha and Fox together. “You two are a much more simple matter, as you’ve requested the oldest payment in history: Money. Lady Sasha, you will return to the Church of the Emerald Dragon and find that the Crown has already donated exactly one-hundred sovereigns to your cause. Captain Fox, our usual fee for your crew’s services, paid in full with an added bonus for the… unforeseen complications.”

“Much appreciated, your Highness.” Fox said. “Always a pleasure doing business with the Crown.”

“Wow, I don’t even know what we're gonna do with so much money!” Sasha exclaimed. “But we’re definitely gonna do something! Thank you so, so much, your Highness!”

Keene gave a nod, before his expression turned noticeably more sour. “And now… Against my better judgement, I give the floor to my sister who has her own gratitude to express.”

In a very un-lady, un-royal fashion, Princess Lana unceremoniously shoved her brother out of the way, giving the assembled heroes a much more manic grin than before.

“My brother would give you all a pat on the back and send you on your merry way. I say poppycock, balderdash, piffle, and malarkey to all of that! In my opinion, we celebrate heroes like you and make sure the whole kingdom knows what you’ve done! So, I’m hosting a Royal Ball held in your honor!”

Before the party could even express any thoughts to this, positive or negative, Princess Lana had already shoved aside Prince Keene once more to reach into a drawer in his desk, pulling out an extravagant, sequined, black and white checkered mask adorned with beads and feathers, slapping it on her own wide-smiling face.

“And it’s a masquerade ball!!”

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by JageshemashFTW »

I lied, one more chapter and then Book 1 is finished!

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Glad that you are almost finished with the first book! Hopefully the second book won't take as long!

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Re: Housepets: World of Fantasy

Post by Obbl »

What a touching scene between Bino and Salem ^^ Loved it
And I'm definitely looking forward to some masquerade shenanigans :D

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