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#1 2022-03-09 03:43:07 PM

Registered: 2022-03-01
Posts: 10

The Vexations of a Vixen

A few hours after a chance encounter with a strange ferret and his foreign mouse lord on the edge of Ferravale, Sassafrass the fox has opportunity for reflection..

Sassafrass was worried.

The young vixen lay in her nice newly-rented inn room bed, entirely buried in blankets except for the tip of her nose, truly warm and well-fed for the first time in she couldn't remember how long. She still had a reasonable amount of change from her two silvers and was not therefore faced with the immediate prospect of being out in the snow and starving again, which was a welcome change of pace. But she was still worried.

She wished, almost, that the first person she'd met willing to pay her for anything hadn't been that ferret. Not that she would have done things any differently if she could put herself back several hours and be offered the choice again. She would have promised to deliver beasts into the employment of some legendary terror like Cluny the Scourge himself if it had involved the guarantee of something to eat. She wouldn't have been quite pleased to do it, of course, but survival was survival. And this strange ferret-and-mouse pair were no monster from a tale. She would in fact have thought them and their story and their schemes rather harmless -- delusional, perhaps, but harmless --  except for the ferret's parting words: "Please do not try to sell us out, as it won't go well for you..."

She had been truthful enough in saying that selling them out had never crossed her mind, because it hadn't actually occurred to her that he and his mouse master were doing anything that qualified them to be sold out to anyone. She'd only wandered into this area the day before and local politics was not a thing she'd spared much -- in fact, any -- time thinking about, and certainly on the surface of it peace and security and good jobs and meals for anybeast willing to work sounded better than anything she herself had experienced.. well, not just in weeks, but ever. More truthfully still she hadn't given that whole scheme of theirs much thought at all; mostly she'd been thinking of how desperately hungry she was and imagining just what those two silvers would give her to fill up her hollow belly. But now it seemed that perhaps this plan hatched by a skulking ferret and a ditchlord was grand enough to draw the ire of local leaders, one of whom evidently had a giant snake whom they fed scheming vermin in particular to, and here she was, an inadvertently scheming vermin, lying in a bed in a room in an inn in that very town in which this barbaric snake-feeding chieftan was the law.

A quiet whimper escaped her, muffled by the blankets.

She knew she should just cut and run, take her remaining coins with her and hope the ferret and his mouse lordling decided they had bigger fish to fry than chasing down a single thieving fox. It was nearing the end of winter; things would be less hard soon, there were bound to be other villages further on down the road, somewhere.. But winter's end as told by the length of the days wasn't the same thing as the actual end of winter, and it was bound to be cold and snowy until it warmed up just enough to be cold and rainy instead, which meant long treks through the mud and slush and freezing rain, mud and slush freezing between her toes, cold wet feet, cold wet everything, no shelter, nothing to eat.. Lying in this inn, in this room, in this bed, buried cozily under a heap of blankets, it seemed a very unappealing prospect.

Maybe it would be all right, the vixen thought hopefully. Maybe the evil chieftan would never know. She could find work at the local infirmary, sell some remedies and charms around town, and in the spaces in between talk discreetly to a few beasts here and there, tell them how generous this mouse lordling was, how good employment was to be found in his camp for those abandoned by fortune and by other beasts, and then.. Pictures of a beautiful future shimmered in her drowsy imagination. It really could be all right somehow; maybe she'd even be something of a hero: Sassafrass the good vixen who helped save the people of.. wherever exactly this was.. from the oppressive rule of serpent-loving tyrants! It would be in stories someday, maybe. And then she really was a talented healer, maybe she could gain still greater fame -- and, more importantly, security -- from the use of her skills for once..

She allowed herself to get lost in a dream of future devoted service to the generous young mouse lordling.. who seemed quite nice really, she always had liked mice and hares, totally unacceptable for a fox, downright disgusting, her brother said, but even so.. yes, a future where she miraculously healed the mouse lordling of some debilitating injury, the despair of all other healers, and so she began a proud new life as the personal physician of a powerful and magnanimous lord.. "Yes," said the mouse lord, ruler of all he surveyed, "dear Sassafrass is the most skilled and clever healer I've ever known, I owe my life to her, I wouldn't be parted with her for anything.."

Worn down by weeks of hunger and exhaustion, nestled in a warmth she'd nearly forgotten was possible, the vixen drifted off into dreams more pleasant than reality.

Last edited by Sassafrass (2022-03-09 04:25:38 PM)


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