Writing 2014-05-09

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The students give Zildjian just a few minutes to talk to the strangers before curiosity overcomes them and they start asking her questions.  She gamely translates, letting them know they are from her home, and trying to explain why they are so different.

Larrikan saves his question for, “Does this lovely vixen have a permanent mate?”

Zildjian laughs and translates.  Larrikan suspects the translation isn’t quite right from what he hears Zildjian say, but he is delighted by the vixen’s charming reaction – she blushes, right to the tips of her ears.

Larrikan takes one of the vixen’s paws in one hand, puts his other hand over his heart, and tells her, “You will always be welcome here.”

The other students want to know more about their new friends, and Zil suggests they offer some coin for a modeling and Q and A session.  This is met with enthusiasm by the students, and approved of by the visitors.  After a brief discussion of money – the visitors have never seen coins? – most of the students and three of the visitors go off for a bath and questions.  Blue, the artist, is thrilled.

Before they all head off to that, Zil mentions to Larrikan, “You be a good boy, or her big friend will make slippers out of you.”

Larrikan grins, “Understood.  She is in the best of care with me.”
Before she is swept off with the others, Larrikan conjures her a fresh, de-thorned, long stem rose.  He asks her, “Would you be so kind as to stay here with me for a while?”

The vixen smiles at him, but turns to ask Zildjian a question; she has clearly been following the story the lamia has been telling.

A faint, unfamiliar growling sound drifts in from outside.  Larrikan wonders what it is, and sees the big cat’s mobile ears twitch to follow it.  The vixen, too, is listening.  The cat says something.

The door slams open, and everyone jumps at the loud noise.  Hotspur bars the door, and moves to the windows.  Others leap up and help.  The open, friendly inn is suddenly a locked, tense crowd, hoping the rumbling terror from outside passes.

Zildjian tells the newcomers, “That… is the Wild Hunt.”

The piglet who has been lingering near the visitors climbs into the vixen’s lap.  Larrikan tries not to be envious.  He moves closer to her, and puts an arm around her to reassure her.  He says, “We should be safe here.  The dryad won’t let them in.”  The piglet gives the encroaching fox a dubious look until he realizes the fox is talking sense.

The fearsome rumbling gets louder and closer for what seems like forever.  The sound is threatening and seems to shake the tree, and even each person’s very essence.  There is a long, tense moment after the sound fades away before everyone lets go their held breaths.

Larrikan leaves his arm around his new friend, who does not seem to mind.  He reaches around with his other hand to gently rub the ears of the piglet in her lap.  He smiles when the piglet approves, and stays leaning in close to her.

He does not understand the words she says to him, but they make him happy nonetheless.

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