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Tranquiline's Trial by Fire

Tranquiline's Trial by Fire

There are many strange mysteries spread throughout the fabled land of Equestria, but few are as strange and enchanting as one from the ancient past, once forgotten but recently rediscovered by the land‘s denizens.  In ancient times this legend inspired both greed and fear in the any pony who liked an adventure, but as time passed and generations came and went, the legend was forgotten.

Yet some things survived the wear of time, improbable as that may seem but not impossible, as we will soon discover.  In a cave within a cliff near an abandoned lakeside settlement whose inhabitants have long-since moved on to other places, the nest of an ancient species, known today as fire moths, lived undisturbed for countless years. Their stone-like bodies are highly flammable, hence their name.  Able to use the fire from any nearby sources of flame, they attack in groups by dive-bombing the vulnerable hides of intruders.  Their unfortunate victims flee the moths’ lair with red-hot flesh, and it is almost always their hindquarters that get the last few hits.  All of this is bad enough, but the fire moths are doubly dangerous as they are intelligent enough to find weaknesses.

They originally settled in the lair of a dragon who kept a treasure hoard but later moved on or died, leaving his or her treasure behind. This was no accident. This was for camouflage, for their queen is a gilded beauty beyond compare and the queen must have somewhere safe to hide.

Since the rediscovery of this legend, many adventurers have tried to retrieve the treasure the queen hides in or even the queen herself, but none have been able to leave the cave unharmed.


“Oh, really?” asked Tranquiline in her characteristic gentle voice, grey eyes wide with curiosity and mind spinning with dreams of an elusive species to record for science‘s sake.  As she listened to the fate of the last adventurer to explore the cave, Tranquiline made plans on how she would deal with the queen‘s soldiers. Even if she could not find the queen, the lure of golden treasure was far too strong to allow her to just walk away from such a tale.

The leader of her study group nodded. “Yes. The legend of the fire moth queen suggests that she never dies, that she is immortal. We must go and find her if we can. If we can bring her back then we can learn whether she is immortal, and if she is, then she will be a treasure indeed. Imagine, young Tranquiline, a new immortal creature! The things we might learn from her. So will you accept this adventure?”

“Of course I will!” she said, a big smile on her face and a warm feeling of genuine excitement inside at the idea of what she might discover.


Later on, with her plans made in detail, the white earth pony visited the Canterlot armoury and asked the smith if he had anything that would protect her from such dangerous insects.

“Certainly!” the smith replied with a beaming smile, clearly pleased with such a big order.  “You came to the right place! In fact, you’re just in time to try my latest product.“ He led her to the back of his workshop, his charcoal-black tail swishing back and forth and brushing a dozen old burn scars on his broad rump. He came to stand beside a piece of all-over pony armour. “This is the top of the line in personal protection against arrows and fire, with only the very finest holes for ventilation. The moths will be too big to get in.“ He waved one hoof at the legs of the armour. “The limbs of the armour use flexible thin layers of metal plates to enable mobility, while the main body of the armour is made of larger plates to add extra protection and keep the vital areas safe, with a comfortable mesh inner layer for prolonged usage.“

Tranquiline had been impressed with the design, but looking at the torso of the armour from the front, she suspected a problem… well, with the back. Perhaps it occurred to her now because she was such a private pony by nature, but… She cleared her throat. “What about when nature calls?”

“Of course, madam: with your body being completely covered, you will need a way to deal with that without having to remove the armour, so if you look back here, a hatch has been added to the design.” He gave her a moment to inspect the rear of the torso. Indeed, there was a hatch over the rear.  “This hatch is failsafe in that it opens only by the tail while in a crouching position.  The tail armour is fixed in place, looping back inside, in order to provide the ultimate in defense against intrusion.”

“Are you sure the hatch won’t pop open?”  Tranquiline had come to Canterlot‘s armoury to get the best possible product, but she was unfamiliar with armour and didn‘t like the idea of the hatch popping open and exposing her at an inopportune time - either when in company or when surrounded by fire moths.  “These fire moths have bodies of stone, last I heard tell of them. Do you think the hatch could be damaged and come open that way?”

“I have not seen any reason for such to happen.  But why in Equestria would you want to search for the fire moths?  Is it truly possible that they’re real?  The tale seems too strange.”

Tranquiline smiled.  “I’m fairly sure the fire moths are real. I want to study them. If they’re not real, I’ll at least be able to get funding for my team’s other research projects.“ She took one final look at the armour and decided that she wanted the best protection and to do her best to find the elusive species. “How much is the armour?”

“That would be seven hundred and fifty bits,” he told her.

Tranquiline felt herself go whiter than usual, if such a thing was possible. That was really going to dip into the study group’s coffers! She resolved on the spot to get whatever she could on this adventure. She had to, otherwise the study group wouldn’t be able to support itself, and would be no more.


Arriving at the entrance to the cave, Tranquiline, now fully encased in armour entered cautiously. It had taken her some time to become accustomed to the limited visibility that the visor allowed, but if that was to be the cost for her protection then that was how it had to be.

The front chamber seemed safe, although she did notice a trail of scorching on the ground punctuated with a few twin oval scorches that Tranquiline could only describe as butt marks. She could picture what had happened: previous treasure hunters had been caught ablaze from their unfortunate encounters with the fire moths, galloped through, and perhaps tried to cool their rumps on the cold stone.  She stifled a giggle at the thought of how they must have looked, but then straightened her face. Ponies had been hurt; this was no laughing matter.

“It won‘t happen to me. I came prepared,” she muttered. Encased in her expensive armour and confident in her preparedness, the earth pony convinced herself that she wasn’t in any real danger.

As Tranquiline entered the hidden chamber, the armour making her legs feel heavy with every step but clinking reassuringly, she came upon a mound of gold, lit from a few small holes in the top of the cavern and glinting beautifully.  It was incredible!  

“There’s more here than a hundred ponies could carry back!“ she whispered to herself in wonder.  Here was the answer to her funding problem, the payment that would make the purchase of the armour okay!  She whinnied with glee and trotted closer.

Something stirred among the coins but at first she didn’t notice.  The fire moths awoke and took to the wing, aware that their home had been invaded.  At last Tranquiline looked up and saw many small pairs of wings flapping fast, trailing little plumes of flame in their wake.   She gasped with awe. “They’re beautiful!” she whispered.

Then she remembered why they were taking flight and braced herself.  The first dive-bombed her shoulder and she heart - and felt - its collision. It wasn’t bad in itself but she could tell it would have left a bruise if she hadn’t had the armour. She looked up: there were plenty more where that one had come from, and even that first moth was rejoining its comrades for another try.  “Well, now we get to see how good this armour is,” she told the moths, although she was sure they didn’t understand.  “I hope that smith knew what he was doing.”  

She lowered her head and squinted, and braced her legs. One and two hits turned to three-four-six-twelve and then more than she could keep track of. They couldn’t hit too hard as individuals but having dozens of moths attacking her at once meant she had to brace harder not to get pushed aside. Each one had its own flame and as they got more active they seemed able to get hotter, burn with bigger flames. They were beautiful and fascinating, but at this moment Tranquiline also believed they were fearsome.

“I’m sorry guys, but I have to do what I came here to do.”  She reached around to nudge her travel packs open and started hunting for gold and gems to load into them. There would be space for that and the queen.

A few of the gold items in the room weren’t coins. Some were statues or pieces of jewellery, but without knowing exactly what the queen looked like, Tranquiline was forced to look at every piece carefully to make sure she didn’t miss her. She crouched and bent over forward, presenting her silver-grey tail and well-protected butt cheeks to the swarm. It was true that their combined efforts were making her somewhat warm inside the suit but she had a little ventilation, and ultimately she trusted the quality of the smith’s craftsmanship.

One piece of gold looked different from the others. Too big to be a brooch, it looked exactly like… “The fire moth queen!”  Large emerald eyes shone from a detailed golden face.  Wings encrusted with pieces of diamond so tiny they almost looked like frost, or moth dust.  Six legs of the very finest gold filament. Tranquiline stared at the queen’s beauty. “Oh my. You‘re even more beautiful than I imagined!” The biologist picked the queen up in her well-protected hooves.  Now she saw that the queen herself was the very greatest treasure to be had here.

“Is this how you survived so long?” she asked the female moth, who crawled over her hooves buzzing her wings restlessly. “Are you made of gold instead of flesh? You’re incredible! And your subjects…” she looked around at the steady stream of angry moths, paid fresh attention to the glow of heat coming through the still-closed hatch to her butt. Was it just her or were some of them skittering around at the base of her tail, where the hatch locking mechanism was? That made her feel a little jumpy. “…they’re very loyal. No wonder, for a beauty like you. Come on, I’m going to take you back.”

But she didn’t have time to say any more as the fire moths finally discovered the weakness in her armour. Dive-bombing at the hatch, enough of them nudged the lock and the hatch fell open - much to Tranquiline’s horror.  Tranquiline panicked. She felt a chill of horror - and then the first burn.

It patted against her rump and the impact wasn’t so bad, but the heat burned her glute and made her squeak.  Dropping the queen, she tried to retreat, but more and more of the insects hit her exposed butt cheeks and by the time she‘d had a couple of dozen of them, re-evaluated the idea that the impact wasn‘t too bad. Each one seemed to ram home the heat a little more, making the flesh of her butt more sore even as it got hotter, until eventually she couldn‘t stand it any more.  

She galloped away from the queen in the hope that her swarm would let up. They didn’t.  Yelping in pain, Tranquiline bolted for the cave entrance, screaming and trying to get her armour off before the glow got any worse.  But she couldn’t run and shed the armour at the same time. She had seen the lake before she’d found the cave so instead she made for it, her butt roasting and super-hot.

As she ran, her haunches pumping furiously from both her fear and the burning, her breathing became labored and the pain got worse, got sore as well as hot. It was like the skin was getting more tender with every few breaths. The wind she created in her gallop made the heat cool slightly but she knew that if she stopped, the pain would return.

By the time she reached the rim of the ledge outside the cave she was too far gone to even think of the distance she would have to fall before hitting the blissfully cool water of the lake. With only a second‘s caution, she leaped from the cliff side. She gathered her armoured hind legs beneath her so that she’d fall butt-first into the water. “Ow! Ow! Ow!! Oh please, hurry!” She couldn’t fall fast enough. Her butt felt twice the size from the heat and all she wanted was to feel-

Her hind hooves and ass hit the surface of the water. Her legs didn’t feel the cooling but with the hatch still open, the water found its way in instantly and soothed her rump. As she gasped and sighed with relief and waggled her butt to get more benefit from the cold water, it glugged into the spaces of her armour.

She swam to shore with difficulty, her legs paddling hard, and lay in the shallows until her butt felt cool enough. And then she went home, dejected and scared.


Fanfiction - MLP: Tranquiline's Trial by Fire (1)
A studious pony by the name of Tranquiline learns of a precious horde guarded by fire moths, and sets out on an adventure to win the treasure. But the moths are a tougher foe than she first thought.

A fanfiction written for theflamesofsorrow of FA.

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Chapter 3

The night had fallen so the journey back to the store was dark and lit by the orange glow of urban lights. The streets were beginning to fall quiet but the public train was still working and would do for a few more hours. They took it and sat together, and talked in hushed tones - even a little apprehensively - between themselves.

They arrived and followed Lotus around the back. In the almost-darkness of the alleyway, among the garbage, was a dumpster and above it, a window.

Mitsy had been the most nervous of all of them since they'd set off and it was she who voiced her concerns first. //How are we going to get in?\\

Lotus looked up at a window and put his paws thoughtfully on the dumpster. //I think... I think I can get in this way. Wait here,\\ he said and leapt up onto the dumpster with an easy power he rarely showed.

He stood on it and examined the window lock, the lid of the dumpster bowing a little under his weight. Even from Jai's position on the ground and in the darkness he could see that the lock was weak and could easily be removed.

Soon Lotus managed to open the window and bunched his limbs to pull himself inside. //Wait here,\\ he repeated over his shoulder and went in.

Jai sighed and then looked around at the others. //So what now?\\ He'd been looking forward to go in - why couldn't he follow?

Vyvi took a step forward to get a better view of the dark rectangle into which their friend had disappeared. //Now, we wait.\\

Tong stepped forward a little, echoing her movements, and Jai realised that the red panda was relying on the mouse to feel secure.

Whatever. Jai wrapped his arms around himself, and his tail around his middle. //I hate waiting.\\

//Well, sometimes you just have to.\\

Jai didn't know how long he expected Lotus to take, but the big cat took longer and eventually Jai's impatience got the better of him. While the two females looked around mistrusfully at the shadows and Digby drummed his claws on the top of the dumpster, all twitchy impatience, Jai leapt up onto the dumpster. Tong looked around in a similarly uncomfortable fashion to the women but looked wide-eyed at the raccoon as he stood up on the dumpster lid.

//Hey, wait!\\ hissed Mitsy but she was too late. He scrambled in through the window before she could catch up with him.

She kept talking, admonishing him for disobeying Lotus, but he'd stopped listening. Instead he looked around in wonder. By moonlight the inside of the store looked really cool. The many antique mirrors reflected the light of the moon and made everything look...

Well, awesome. The room looked big and everything shone silver. He'd never seen anything like it!

He heard scrabbling behind him and Mitsy grumbling and straining to get in, and went forward to look at more of the store - and to get away from her. //Wait here,\\ she said to the others into the darkness outside, //We'll come straight back out. Jai, what are you doing?! I told you to wait outside!\\

Jai turned to give the frowning weasel a chummy smile - it wasn't as if Mitsy was his mom, he didn't have to obey her or anything - and saw Tong struggling to get his pudgy self through the small space.

Mitsy heard him too and looked at the puffing red panda. //Tong! I just said- you know what, to hell with this. Do what you like.\\ She folded her arms and sauntered off into the main body of the shop, clearly making an effort to ignore everyfur while Tong looked stung by her acidic words.

//I-I just... wanted to... follow Lotus,\\ said Tong quietly, his face a rictus of apology.

Mitsy rolled her eyes - actually, she pretty much rolled her whole head. //Sure.\\ She tensed her jaw and looked away as she saw Vyvi and Digby climb in.

Jai found a box full of vintage soccer balls and picked one up. //Hey, these must be ancient!\\ He tried bouncing it - its bounce wasn't too great, as it turned out.

//For... sake Jai, put it back!\\ hissed Mitsy through gritted teeth, her black-and-white ears turned low with impotent fury.

Jai shrugged and dropped it back in the box, only to see an oval ball that took his interest. //Oh, cool!\\ He picked that one up instead, waving his stripy tail out behind him as a counterbalance.

//I have the game,\\ came Lotus' call from the back room, walking up to the others as he zipped up his backpack.

//There's so much cool stuff in here,\\ said Jai, looking appreciatively up at his feline friend.

Digby seemed to find the raccoon's enthusiasm infectious and looked around with bright-eyed wonder. Jai crossed behind the counter and found that there were some objects in the shelves hidden from customers' views - including a miniature carousel with intricate parts.

//Look,\\ said Digby, crouching a little to see the parts more clearly, //It has a crank. Does it play?\\

//I don't know,\\ said Jai and put his paws around it to pick it up. He pulled at it but instead of leaving the shelf it tilted: it was hinged to the shelf on one side. Jai let go of it in shock as a rumbling noise sounded. Everyfur snapped their heads around to look for the source of the noise.

A doorway rumbled open on one wall. Then all was silent once more.

Jai and Digby both looked at each other in wonderment and bounded over to the new doorway. There were stairs leading down and a vaguely moonlit room at the bottom.

//What's this?\\ Jai asked Lotus.

Lotus padded to Jai's side to look down into the gloom. He looked puzzled. //I... admit I have no idea.\\

//Just leave it guys, please!\\ said Mitsy, whose jaw sounded so tight it was a wonder she'd been able to get the words out.

//Oh come on Mitz\\ said Jai. //You can't say you're not curious too!\\

Vyvi answered quickly before Mitsi could. //I really don't think we should go down there. Come on, we have what we were looking for. Let's go.\\

//Yes, come on guys, let's go!\\ echoed Mitsy, turning her lithe brown body back towards the window.

But Jai was already running for the stairs and got half-way down them before anyfur could grab him to stop him. Even before Mitsy and Vyvi could utter a protest Digby was on the third stair down.

//Just one look,\\ he said, somewhat pleadingly. //Then we can put the door back.\\

Lotus walked down more sedately and, although anyfur there could have barred his way they didn't. It was his family's store, after all. Tong followed him, sticking closely by his adoptive cousin's side as if worried he might get lost in this place.

Jai got to the bottom of the stairs and looked about him, aware of Mitsy's quiet grumblings near the top of the stairs as she grudgingly decided to follow everyfur else.

It was just a small, square anteroom with a dirty little window letting in the most meagre amount of light, just enough to show a dark hole and a panel on the far wall.

//What is it?\\ asked Vyvi over his shoulder. The little tawny mouse held back and he could sense her tension - and her undeniable curiosity.

//It's an elevator,\\ answered the raccoon and trotted into it to figure out if it'd work.

He looked back the way he'd come, at the mouse on the stairs, who looked at him with wide eyes and shook her head slightly. //We are going to get into so much trouble for this,\\ she said and stepped delicately into the elevator box.

Lotus stepped down with his usual calm demeanour. //If he finds out that we were here I will take the blame.\\

//Really Lotus, you don't have to-\\ said Mitsy, only to be hushed by a small smile and shake of the big cat's head.

//I'm curious too,\\ he answered and joined his waiting friends.

Digby trotted to Jai's side and Tong squeezed in by Lotus - not that there wasn't any space left, it was more that he seemed to feel safe on the opposite side of the snow leopard to everyfur else.

Mitsy stalked into the elevator and stood with her arms folded and a thunderous expression.

//Here goes,\\ said Lotus and pressed the Down button.

The box lurched beneath their feet and most of the group gasped. And then Jai's stomach rose smoothly into his chest as the elevator went down.

The elevator pinged and opened on to the basement floor. Lotus was the first to step out on tentative, soft paws. He paused, clearly wanting to be cautious, but Jai was impatient and pushed past him to see what the snow leopard could see.

He... didn't understand what he was seeing, but it looked awesome!

Two big dishes - like satellite dishes but not quite - furnished the right and left walls. Lengths of wire poked out untidily behind them but the dishes themselves looked polished to a perfect shine. On the far wall a tall oval hung. Jai might have guessed it was a mirror if not for the darkness in it. He couldn't get a reflection out of it even when he waved his hand.

On the wall opposite the oval was installed a box. Big and complex with switches and unilluminated lights and dials and information panels. And between all four of these objects were generators, wires and stranger things that Jai couldn't identify. All of this housed in a cold square room with no windows and a gritty, unkempt tiled floor.

//What is this?\\ Vyvi asked, stepping out and speaking quietly as if to talk too loudly would start up the machine - for Jai was certain it was a machine.

//I don't know,\\ answered Lotus earnestly. //He has never told me of anything like this before.\\ He took to scrutinizing the nearest hunk of equipment, Tong looking timidly over his shoulder.

//We shouldn't touch it,\\ warned Mitsy. For once she sounded more worried than irritable. //What if it's dangerous? A weapon?\\

//Oh come on!\\ Jai said. //It's not a weapon!\\

Mitsy rounded on him. //You don't know that!\\ Her voice was sharp, the way it always got when she was angry with him but she was also keeping it quiet like Vyvi, as if that would make any difference. Her body was crouched low; in fact, it gave Jai a rebellious thrill to see her so nervous.

//Oh come on, aren't you even curious? I mean, this could be, like, a time-travel machine or something!\\

Lotus sighed. //I'm sure it's nothing that exotic, Jai.\\

Jai gave a sigh of his own and bounded over to the switches. Fine. If nobody else is interested I'll have a look. He looked swiftly for whatever looked like the 'on' button and pressed anything that looked like it might be, but he seemed to get the wrong ones at first.

//What are you doing?!\\ fumed Mitsy, storming over to him.

Jai intensified his search for the right button. He wanted to know what the machine did. That was all he wanted!

Lotus strode over with Vyvi and Tong in tow, the big cat's arms outstretched as if prepared to carry Jai bodily away from the switches.

He's spend the rest of his life wondering about the machine if he didn't.

//Leave it alone!\\

He pulled up a big vertical lever and froze in place as the whole room clicked to life.

Everyfur froze.

//What.\\ Mitsy's voice carried over the clicks.

The clicks gave way to a hum.

//Turn it off,\\ begged Vyvi, as authoritatively as he'd ever heard her speak, and marched up to the machine. //Jai, which one did you touch?\\ Her ears trembled in the low light and he could see that the mouse was terrified.

But Jai wasn't about to let this chance pass him by. He stalled by folding his arms and giving her a What are you going to do about it? look. //Lots of them.\\

He noticed Tong looking somewhere else and followed his gaze. The oval 'mirror' - its surface had turned pale grey, and it was getting lighter with every second.

//Jai!\\ boomed Lotus. //Which one turned it on?\\

The snow leopard could turn on the authority when he wanted to but Jai stubbornly refused to be swayed. Why is it a crime to be curious? he thought sulkily and refused to answer.

Lotus growled and stepped past Jai to examine the buttons and levers for himself. He reached out a hand to one he thought Jai might have pulled but then hesitated. //Tell me which one,\\ he said heavily.

Tong said something Jai didn't catch, but apparently Vyvi did. //Oh my god. Jai, turn it off!\\

//No!\\ he argued. He'd wait until it had finished warming up and see what it'd do, and after that, in the spirit of friendship, he'd tell them which lever had turned it on. But it was an adventure anyway, just him wondering about a big mystery... He looked to Digby for support but even the terrier was looking nervous, his ears low and eyes wide, stepping slowly away from the oval.

They'd all look so foolish when they saw that it didn't do anything dangerous!

The oval caught his attention, for it had become blindingly bright, throwing hard shadows against the box and rear wall.

//Jai, just stop messing about. How did you turn it on?\\ said Mitsy, her scrawny hands shaking slightly.

Just a few more moments and it'll show us what it does! It couldn't be anything that dangerous - it was set in the basement of a building. What was it going to do - explode? No, he was sure it would be safe. //A few of them. I didn't just touch one.\\

//Fine,\\ she snapped and joined Lotus at the array of switches. //Which ones?\\

The oval began to tinge with pink.

//I don't remember.\\

//Jai!\\ Vyvi came as close to roaring as such a dainty fur could and pushed him by the shoulders against the wall. He grunted with the impact and the shock of Vyvi's sudden violence. //Which. Ones. Did. You. Touch?\\

She was going to feel like such an idiot! //I told you. I don't remember.\\

Lotus joined Vyvi and towered over Jai, his muscles tense and bulging with restrained rage. //Tell me which ones you touched, or by Bastet I swear I'm going to-\\

Vyvi stumbled and Lotus reeled. An instant later Jai noticed that he felt strange. Lighter almost, or dizzy, as if he wanted to pitch forward. He leaned against the wall to steady himself.

//Can anyfur feel that?\\ asked Digby.

Lotus and Vyvi turned to look at their friends. Digby was gripping the edge of what passed for a tabletop or pedestal as if to steady himself, while Tong had taken to crouching and looking baffled. Vyvi stumbled again, harder this time, and fell to the floor.

Jai felt his tail pulled out from beside him to out in front. It skimmed his left thigh and floated of its own accord in the direction of the oval.

Something clicked in Jai's head. Vyvi also had fallen in the direction of the oval. A quick glance saw his other friends facing the same difficulties - everyfur braced themselves as if being pulled towards the oval which had warmed drastically to a rich pink, almost red.

He felt fear. //I'll turn it off,\\ he mumbled and fumbled his way over to the switches. Now that he looked at them he realized that he genuinely didn't remember which ones he'd pulled. Maybe that big switch was all it had taken, all it took to switch it back off again.

He took one step towards it and his feet gave out from under him. He tried to get up but his arms refused to reach the floor - instead they were pulled towards the oval.

//Oh god. Jai, what've you done?\\ whimpered Mitsy, cowering against the opposite side of Digby's pedestal to the oval, pressed against it despite her own will.

As one they lurched or tumbled or skidded and rose into the air. The girls and Jai screamed and Tong started to cry quietly. Jai had barely noticed that he was airbourne when he realized that he was going to hit the oval. He grabbed the first thing that fell into his grip - which happened to be Tong's stripy tail.

Tong wasn't moving towards the oval and as Jai focussed he saw that the red panda had a firm grip on a bunch of wires. The raccoon held on like a limpet and prayed that Tong was stronger physically than he was mentally as Tong tried to pull them both back towards the floor.

//Oh god please god please no, oh my god-\\ whimpered Mitsy as she floated past him, starting to curl her long body into a ball. Lotus thrashed as he succumbed to the new gravity.

Jai hoped that gravity was all that it was, because if it was then it could only get so strong. Maybe Tong could hold both of their weights...

Maybe, if he'd had more than one hand-hold. But he didn't, and Jai could see his grip weakening. //Hey!\\ he called to the shy little fur. //Hold on! Don't let go!\\

//I can't!\\ gasped Tong. //I'm sorry, I can't do it!\\

//We're both going to die if you let go!\\

//I can't!\\ the red panda wailed.

And then Tong's fingers were prised free of the wires by the oval's force. They were pulled screaming, closer and closer to the oval, faster and faster until Jai curled himself up into a ball with Tong, clutching each other and tensed against the inevitable impact...

And then, he felt still cool air.



Commission: The Great Enslavement (chapter 3)
Jai and his friends live an untroubled life in the forest - except for the usual frictions of friendship. But it doesn't remain that way forever...

Most of the writing was by me except for the introductory scene which was completed by one of my subwriters.

Mature Content

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Jai was only a young raccoon so he still enjoyed the companionship, security and benefits of living with his parents and two younger sisters. His home was a little on the dark side but much better-lit than most burrows of its type. The entrance tunnel bent left and right which stopped the rain and the worst of the wind coming in but also the light. However, his father had an inventive mind and had fixed mirrors at strategic points along its length, which bounced daylight this way and that until it reached the communal chamber. Jai had always thought it was a neat trick.

On this morning it lit the raccoon family as they ate breakfast together. Breakfast time was always a relaxed, communal affair with Jai's family and usually he enjoyed it.

Jai always picked Lalla's breakfast for her. It wasn't that he told her what to have, it was that she was his youngest sister and had picked him as a role model, and that included her decisions about what to eat for breakfast. As soon as she saw that he was going to have a particular something, she decided she wanted it too. He'd even purposefully played at being indecisive once just to see how many times she'd change along with him - the girl was pretty tenacious and she'd only stopped after about four attempts when she'd noticed what he was doing, while he scooped dried termite flakes back into their packet. It had made her laugh and mom had suggested that Lalla eat the termite flakes instead of try to put them back in the packet herself. She was only six after all, and not terribly well co-ordinated.

She'd kept choosing the same breakfast as him since, anyway.

On this morning he - and she - had ant cakes with milk, probably with a hot vegetable stock drink. Yes, with a hot drink, he decided.

Jai prepared the kettle to boil. Usually he'd leave mom to do it but the conversation between his friends the previous night had spooked him. Am I a jerk? he wondered. Not in words, but the sentiment kept coming up again and again in his mind and put a damper on his morning rituals.

//I'm having stock. Does anyone want any? Mom? Lalla?\\

//Oh - thank you dear.\\ Mom looked surprised, but then gave him an indulgent smile that wholly fitted her plump, fluffy features. "Yes please."

//Yes please!\\ said Lalla with her slight lisp, feet swinging because they didn't quite reach the dirt floor.

Jai glanced at Mikho to ask the same question of her. His older-young sister pursed her lips as if in thought and then made a movement he interpreted as a shake of her head. She looked away disinterestedly.

Dad answered: //Yes please, son.\\

Jai poured enough water into the kettle for three raccoons and set it up to boil, and then sat at the table to make a start on his ant cakes before they got too soggy.

//Do you have any plans for the day, Jai?\\ Mom asked as she cut slices of apple for herself.

Jai held his breath and thought about this. It wasn't exactly like him to do nothing all day but after hearing his friends' opinions of him the previous day he didn't like the idea of showing his face in public. That said, he didn't want to show how he was feeling or he'd have to talk lots about it. //Not really. I figured I'd take it easy.\\

Jai staying at home often, in fact, meant a combination of taking it easy and playing with Lalla. Mom must have thought about that because he saw her smile again. She looked at her mate and the pair shared an affectionate touch of paws.

The telephone rang. //I'll get it,\\ said Mikho and hopped down off her own chair. She returned soon after. //It's for you, big brother,\\ she said and sat back at her place at the table to continue eating her bran muffin and honey.

//So uh, who is it?\\ he asked, a mite irritably since she could have already said.

Mikho shrugged. //Sounded like the snow leopard,\\ she told him as if she'd already done her duty and answering him meant going above and way beyond what could be reasonably required of her.

Jai rolled his eyes, earned a vaguely admonishing look from mom, and went to answer the phone. "Hello?" he answered with a deliberate air of nonchalance to make it sound like it was all business as usual for him, and that he definitely hadn't heard some painful home truths the previous night and that even if he had, he didn't care.

//Good morning Jai.\\ Yes, it was Lotus. Lotus, who'd said he would stop inviting Jai to the group's get-togethers. Either this was Lotus calling to say so, or... //I wondered if you would like to hang out?\\

//Hang out?\\ asked the raccoon, and even he heard the note of skepticism in his own voice. //What do you want to do?" He wasn't quite prepared to let go of his doubts yet even if he was interested in the suggestion.

He half-listened to Lotus' answer and thought about what was happening. Lotus tells our friends he won't invite me any more and wants to stop talking to me. Next morning he calls me and wants to hang out. I guess he must have been lying yesterday.

They'd been friends ever since the snow leopard had come to live in the forest. An immigrant with a moderate-to-good grasp of the native language, large and imposing, he'd struggled at first to make friends. Jai had thought he was interesting - fun and exotic - and that had prompted him to earn the big cat's friendship. He'd learned that despite Lotus' power and his species' reputation for aggression he was a calm guy. He never got angry anyway - or not scary-angry - with Jai, and that suited a prankster like Jai just fine.

In a way, Jai felt that his pranks were the pair's way of being aggressive. He fancied that Lotus was too calm to fit in with his own people and lived vicariously through Jai's pranking. Or something. Whatever it was, it seemed to work.

Lotus was inviting him to an antique shop owned by his uncle, who had immigrated many years before Lotus had even been born and was the reason Lotus had decided to come to Deciduis Forest of all places. It sounded better than being at home.

//Sure. I'll see you in half an hour at the shop,\\ he said and hung up.


Lotus' uncle's shop, it turned out, was a treasure trove of rich metal. He seemed to have a particular eye for copper, brass, wood, porcelain and ivory, but less so for meticulous organization. The stock was everywhere from floor to ceiling, cramming the shop as if he didn't sell very much but kept on collecting this stuff anyway: a stately old grandfather clock with oak leaves carved into its wood and ticking loudly, sundials and chests, vases and pill-boxes. Endless statues carved from bone. The smell of a thousand strangers' lofts.

No dust, though. Everything was kept scrupulously clean.

Jai had never been interested in antiques but he had to admit he was impressed with the stately chaos of it. He took his attention off the stock and looked around the jumbled room for his friend.

There he was, playing a game of stones with a young red panda and looking bored. He looked in Jai's direction as the raccoon approached, his body settled against the counter with boredom in that way only cats could manage.

//You took a while,\\ commented Lotus.

Jai had taken a while, it was true. He'd offered to help clear away the breakfast things after he'd finished eating, and had taken longer over it than he'd expected to. Then he'd hesitated on the way to see Lotus, although in hindsight he couldn't really say why. Just somehow walking slowly and enjoying the sunshine and the local flora had been too nice for him to hurry up.

He checked his watch and realized he was an hour late. //Uh, sorry!\\ he said with a grin, and hoped his charm would win Lotus over.

Lotus didn't look particularly won-over, so he turned his attention to the red panda instead. //So who's this?\\

//This is Tong, my cousin,\\ Lotus explained.

A red panda related to a family of snow leopards? Jai thought skeptically, and gave Lotus a look.

Lotus noticed. //Not a blood relative, you understand. His parents and my uncle have been friends for a long time. Today they are busy so he will come with us.\\

Jai shrugged. //Okay. Hey Tong, you lived here long?\\

It was then that he noticed how exhausted the red panda looked. He'd noticed he was young, maybe about ten years old. What had got him so tired? He couldn't seem to look anyfur in the eye, either.

Tong gave him a sort of shrug and nod-ish of his head.

//Right,\\ answered Jai. //What do you say, shall we go and check out the arcades? Or there's some cool graffiti nearby, somefur draws these big murals. Wanna see?\\

Tong hesitated and then shook his head.

Jai looked at Lotus. //He doesn't talk much, does he?\\

The look Lotus gave him suggested he should probably stop talking. //Why don't we go?\\ suggested the big cat. //We should do something before the day ends or it will be wasted.\\

They headed for the exit, but before they got there a heavily-accented voice called out from behind them. Jai looked around and saw a snow-leopard leaning out from the back of the store wearing latex gloves and thick spectacles, an old rag between his claws. //Take care now boys, and Lotus, look after Tong please.\\

Lotus gave a nod that looked part of the way to a bow. //I will.\\

//Have fun. And be safe.\\


The day turned out to suck somewhat. They rode on the city train. Usually that would entertain most youngsters - the train hung suspended from its power source overhead and a fur could feel it swing slightly as commuters moved inside it or as it turned in an arc right or left. It carried them high above the streets and gave them a good view of everything that was happening, and it made a fur's stomach feel slightly disconnected from the rest of their body - it was fun for most travellers.

But not Tong. He just looked glumly at the floor. Jai watched him readjust his posture with tiny little muscular movements to avoid falling over sideways. If the red panda noticed him looking he didn't give any indication.

They got off the train and went to see the murals - Jai had made an executive decision that they'd go and see them anyway. The murals changed fairly often so at the rate Jai went to see them there was always something new to see. He looked around as they walked through the derelict neighbourhood and tried to get Lotus interested. //Hey look! That's the evil crow from the Strike at Ten movie!\\ he tried, and //The Fast Beats Band as chess pieces? Cool! You're into the FBB, right?\\

Lotus paid less attention than Jai wanted him to. Instead the great cat stayed deliberately close to his so-called cousin. At one point he murmured to Tong, //Mm. There is an artwork of Magnum Borealis. Quite inspiring,\\ but that was it.

Jai tried picking up on the subject. Magnum Borealis wrote a lot of books yet despite the string of letters after his name and the impenetrable quality of his chosen subject - physics and the deeper workings of the universe - he was much-loved by the public. A national grandfather, of sorts. //You're a Borealis fan, huh? He's kind of cool. Let me guess, you read a lot, right?\\

Tong gave the biggest reaction Jai had seen from him all day: a sort of brave, lop-sided smile and another shrug, before his eyes dropped to the floor again. A few seconds later he looked as if he was going to cry, but he never did.

Jai suspected that Tong might be happier at the library or something, but he didn't mention that in case he actually said yes to the offer. Jai wouldn't have much fun at the library, there had to be something better to do than that.

Soon Jai decided to ask Lotus what the deal was with Tong, and that he'd do so as soon as Tong went to the bathroom. Only, Tong kept himself to himself so much that he barely drank anything so it was only at mid-afternoon that he finally got the chance.

They had gone to the treehouse. With Tong out of the way for a couple of minutes Jai sidled up to Lotus to talk quietly. //So what's the deal? The kid hasn't said anything all day and...\\

Lotus had a hard look in his eyes as if to warn Jai to stop talking, and shook his head. //Tong's parents are in the middle of a divorce,\\ he said equally quietly. //Today they signed their papers. They did not want Tong to see this so they put him in my care for the day. To distract him was the least I could do.\\

//Oh,\\ said Jai, wrong-footed. He'd expected Lotus to apologise for his cousin's sullen behaviour. He never quite knew what to say when stuff this gloomy came up.

//He will go and live with one or the other parent soon,\\ Lotus added, glancing in the direction of the reed-lined door of the bathroom just in case Tong had come out. He hadn't. //I do not know which yet - perhaps they must decide who is suitable between themselves - but it may be that he must make the choice. It is very painful for him,\\ the snow-leopard concluded with uncharacteristic heavy-handedness.

Jai found himself at a loss for words. But hey, Tong had been acting like the world was ending, it was only a split-up. //But it's not like anyfur's died,\\ he argued. //He could still have talked today. I've been trying my best with him all day and he hasn't said anything!\\

Lotus had that look again. The disapproving look, and despite himself Jai felt ashamed. He decided to shut his mouth before he said anything else dumb.

Tong chose that moment to come out of the toilet. He rejoined them, saw something in their body language that showed him they'd been talking about him and didn't know what to say now that he was with them, and sighed.


Later, the gang came by. Lotus had bought a copy of Leif the Griffon 2 and everyfur was looking forward to playing it. Heck, every gamer fur in several countries was looking forward to playing it. He found his backpack and rooted around in it for the game. Jai watched as the snow-leopard's expression registered worry as he rummaged, and finally his face dropped. //I... appear not to have it,\\ he admitted, looked confused while everyfur groaned, and then slapped his forehead. //I know where it is! I read the back in my uncle's shop and forgot to put it back in my bag.\\


The group watched Lotus plaintively as the grey cat fished his cell phone out of his rucksack and dialled the shop number. He walked slowly back and forth as he waited for his uncle to answer.

//Do you think he'll still be there?\\ Vyvi asked him.

//He goes home at different times,\\ answered the snow leopard, the cell phone already clamped to his round fluffy ear as he listened for a change in the dial tone. //He might still be there. It depends on whether he has had many customers.\\

A minute later there was no reply so the big cat reluctantly hung up. //I am sorry, everybody.\\

Jai felt the kind of disappointment he only ever felt for an instant before deciding to do something about it. He looked around at the others. He'd been more or less ignored for the whole time they'd been at the tree house and it was clear enough to him that everyfur still felt angry with him. He had an idea. Perhaps if he made his suggestion they might like him again. It was worth a shot.

Heck, this was for a Leif the Griffon game. It was worth a shot anyway.

//What if we break in and get it?\\

The two girls glared at him. Mitsy in particular gave him a level - and very disapproving - look. //Break in,\\ she echoed as if she was presenting Exhibit A.

He played it cool. //Yeah.\\

The weasel didn't answer, only rolled her eyes and looked away.

//Seriously though, why not?\\ he asked her, unwilling to let his idea be dismissed so easily. //And anyway, it'll be an adventure. Have you ever broken into anywhere, Mitsy?\\

//No,\\ she said flatly, her nose high and pointing well away from him. //I have not.\\

//It's just a video game,\\ said Vyvi, looking between the weasel and raccoon worriedly as if eager to explain Mitsy's position on the weasel's behalf. //It can wait.\\

Digby looked restless, shifting his weight from one white paw to another, but then he visibly came to a decision and nodded. //I agree with Mitsy and Vyvi. There's always tomorrow.\\

And yet, Jai could see that Digby felt pressured to say so. The terrier was one of the most avid gamers of the group - in fact, Jai felt surprised by Digby's reaction. If anyfur would be prepared to go the extra mile for a game, he would.

But there was one fur he hadn't checked in with yet: Lotus himself.

"Come on Lotus. It'll be fine, we're just going in to get the game. It's pretty much your place anyway, right?"

The snow leopard rumbled uncertainly. //Not really.\\ He looked undecided, though.

//It's criminal behaviour!\\ argued Mitsy.

It was Jai's turn to roll his eyes. //It's walking into a store that belongs to Lotus' uncle to get Lotus' property back. How criminal can it be?\\

She avoided his gaze and folded her arms. With her long, slender body the position made her look even skinnier. //It's disrespectful.\\

Jai looked away from her to see that Digby seemed restless again, shifting his feet and making the tree house floor creak a little as it always did at the slightest change in pressure. He didn't say anything, and Jai was just trying to figure out how to get the dog on-side when Lotus spoke up again.

//It should be all right. If there is a problem I can explain to him what happened, and that it was my mistake.\\

Vyvi looked cautiously from Jai to Lotus with dark, quick eyes. //Are you sure you're happy to go through with it?\\ she asked him carefully.

The snow leopard held his breath and then nodded. //Yes. Come - let's go.\\


Commission: The Great Enslavement - chapter 2
Jai the raccoon and his anthro friends live an untroubled life in the forest - except for the usual frictions of friendship. But it doesn't remain that way forever. A misadventure sends Jai and the most timid of his friends into a hostile alternate world where anthros are used as slaves...

Mature Content

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Time.  Meaningless word for me some years ago, but now means much.  We all grow, and change, as it passes.  There is nothing static in this world.  Time begets change, and change happens to all.  It is a part of life…a necessity.  Without change you are not alive, you are an automaton, a cog in a larger machine, unable to do anything as things happen to you.  Not alive…dead…something that happens to us all.  The final change, one we are all destined to go through…the only question being how it comes about.  By choice, or having it thrust upon us…or giving it up in battle.  Is it right?  No.  Do good people die?  Yes.  But these were not good people…taking life, as necessary as change, sometimes.  People fight.  Die.  Right, wrong, conflict…battle.

The dawn rose over the forest, heralded by the chirping of birds as the light filtered through the green leaves and down the brown trunks of the trees, reaching down to the ground as it went.  A quiet, peaceful day started to begin.  Down on the brown leaves, red mixed in.  Gunmetal grey.  A face twisted in final agony, unable to scream for the wound across the throat.

What is right?  How is that decided?  Is it by power?  Is there a higher power above us?  Is there some codex of laws that we must discover, or is it all irrelevant, and there is no right at all?

Red in the water.  Another body, human, lies on the edge of the stream.  His hunting rifle sitting at the bottom of the stream.  Shell casings lie nearby, glistening as the sun touches them.  The sun greets them all, staring down, slowly illuminating another three bodies as the dawn finished, the smell of copper thick in the air.

Regret.  What did I do?  What I had to.  But it was not right…according to them.  But part of me says it was…why do I regret it?  They would have done the same to me.  Why should I weep for them when they would not for me?

One final figure was touched by the sun but the sun warmed this one, illuminating his reddened, matted fur.  Left ear ripped half-off, eyes bloodshot, he blinked slowly as the sun rose, blinding him.  His black and grey striped tail twisted back behind him.  Blood dripped down from his right arm, falling on the once-white bandages striping his shoulder and abdomen.  Another river of red in this bloody morning.  His toes crunched through the earth as he walked, or hobbled, his bruised thigh failing him as he moved slowly.  Tears in his pants opened, letting sun flow through to his grey legs.  The anthropomorphic raccoon continued, blood dripping off his knife slowly, his fingerless gloves providing good purchase against the hilt.  He dared not look back at the bodies, panting a bit as he walked on, a filthy mess.  A breeze blew, ruffling his fur, and he shivered as it touched his skin on scarlines on his neck.


The tree house had always seemed as alive as its occupants. It rocked to and fro of course, for it clung to the uppermost branches of an ancient oak, but there was more to its arboreal activity than that. It offered two ways for a fur to get inside: a selection of ropes that swung languidly in the wind, and a spiral staircase climbing up and around the trunk for those in poorer physical condition, or for other times when the ropes just weren't fit for purpose.

The tree house's parts, so carefully crafted to fit together, also creaked continually against each other to make a dry, squeaky and comforting background noise that perched at the edge of the attention of any fur nestled inside. This movement was imperceptible to the eye to its occupants but present all the same. In all of its years the tree house had never settled or stilled, and never would.

Lotus stood among the furniture and artworks and cushions of the communal tree house, painting. He'd always been a keen painter but the subjects he'd found for his current project were really rather lovely: an arrangement of coloured glass vases filled with flowers of complimentary colours, picked with his own plush hands. The snow leopard had planned this still-life piece meticulously, gathered potent colours with which to paint and completed his chores early especially to set aside time to create his artwork.

The image was coming together on the canvas beautifully - the dark tones of the bookshelf behind the vases showed through the coloured glass, their straight spines thrown into curves so that nofur would guess what the darkness was. His delicate brush strokes were now bringing an extra depth to the cornflower petals and if he could only have a few more moments before the sun went down he would complete-

//Haiyaa!\\ An immature boy's voice cried at the same time as Lotus' world exploded. Stripey grey fur collided with him and his easel, knocking him painfully to the wooden floor. When he looked up to see who had done this and why, he saw Jai, laughing so hard he had to grip his belly and bend double.

Shock turned to an unpleasant cross between anger and deflation. //Jai.\\ he said before his rage truly surfaced. He looked from the laughing raccoon adolescent to his canvas which now sat face-up on the floor. Around three quarters of it was smudged beyond repair, and Jai's rump and shoulder were smeared with orange and green and brownish yellow.

//Jai, why... Why did you do this?\\

//Surprise!\\ the raccoon answered, smiling much wider than he was going to in a moment, if Lotus had his way.

//My art... My art is ruined.\\ Lotus said, still unable to believe Jai had done such an inconsiderate thing. His shock failed to get a reaction - indeed, Jai gave him a bright-eyed look as if all was well in the world - and that was when Lotus saw red.

//Why must you always destroy?\\ he said, struggling and not quite succeeding in not raising his voice.

//Oh come Lotus, I have done no harm. You have too many artworks anyway. It would only end up stacked with the others.\\

Lotus shook his head. He made more finished paintings than he could store in this one tree house, it was true, but that was not the point. //I do not destroy your possessions Jai. All I ask is that you do not destroy mine. Please.\\ Without saying any more to the raccoon he bent to set the easel on its legs again and to allow the painting to dry. He could see that he wouldn't be able to salvage it but at least it would not make a mess when he threw it away. The smudge, making his artwork ugly and redundant. It made his heart sink to look at it.

Meanwhile Jai picked up one of the vases, pulled out the flowers and looked down the neck to spy Lotus through the base. //Why are you painting see-through things anyway? It seems pointless.\\

Lotus gave him one of what Vyvi called his 'tranquil glares', took the vase out of Jai's grip with a twist to avoid the tug-of-war that would most likely result, and began the process of tidying away his art supplies with quiet dignity.


Mitsy took a taper from the batch before any of the others thought to. After the day she'd had she wanted to be the member of their group to usher in the evening. She lit it and went out onto the balcony to light the candles that hung from the hanging jars Lotus had crafted. She watched each one flare into life and throw flickering shadows against the woodwork of the tree house balcony and trunks and branches beyond. Six there were, and when she lit the sixth she blew it out and savoured the smell of smoke that vaguely triggered her danger-sense. It felt satisfying.

//Which game would you like to play tonight?\\ Vyvi asked as she crouched by the cupboard they kept their games in. She had already spotted Mitsy's suppressed anger and looked to the weasel for an answer, her ears unfurled, her dark eyes wide.

Mitsy smiled despite the tension in her chest. It felt good to be nurtured and the mouse had a knack for making her feel better. //I would like Four Walls.\\

Lotus gave an assenting purr, Jai didn't seem to care and Digby looked like he was looking forward to it already. But then, Mitsy thought, Digby looked forward to any activity with his friends at all - such was his manner as a naturally enthusiastic Jack Russell terrier.

She followed Vyvi onto the balcony so they could set the Four Walls tiles out on the table. The moon had begun to rise and it added straight beams of silver light to the curling gold of the candles. Mitsy smiled: all she needed was a game or two and the chance to tell the others what had happened.

//Would you like popcorn?\\ Digby asked the group at large. He got a chorus of yesses in reply and set to the task of making it.

//Lotus, did you make your picture?\\ Vyvi looked at the snow leopard for an answer as she set out the tiles.

Lotus held his breath for a moment before he answered, and glanced at Jai. //I was unhappy with it in the end. They don't always work out.\\

//Oh, but you looked everywhere for the vases,\\ she answered, clearly surprised and even a little saddened by Lotus' news.

//I did. Perhaps I will try another time.// Again that glance at the raccoon. Something silent passed between them and the mouse seemed to gain some understanding.

Mitsy suspected Jai had played some kind of prank on Lotus. She hoped he'd had his fill of pranks - she didn't want his games tonight.

The group sat down, chatting in twos and threes or stopping to listen to each other.

Digby began the game by breaking the wall and dealing to the others. Mitsy examined her tiles before turning her attention to Vyvi. //Father took us hunting today,\\ she said.

//How did it go?\\

//It was as I thought,\\ she answered grimly. //He has no trust in me. He insisted I hunt only insects. He says that runts like me are not to try hunting anything too big because we will make fools of ourselves. Ah, it makes my blood boil!\\

Lotus took a tile from the live wall and formed a pair.

Jai to his right took a tile also. He'd hidden his tiles behind his arm and was looking disinterestedly at his selection.

//But I don't understand,\\ said Digby, his brown eyes bright in the mixed light of the moon and fire. //Weasels are smaller than their prey anyway. Size isn't the issue, surely?\\

Vyvi and Mitsy looked at each other before answering. Digby was wonderfully interested in everything around him, sometimes to the point of not thinking about context. It made him a good companion but occasionally a frustrating one. //That is true enough and I believe he is wrong, but he insists.\\ She took a tile and returned one of her own. Her hand was not good. //I feel as if he wants me to fail!\\

The turn had returned to Jai who took another tile. He still looked disinterested - in both the game and the conversation.

//I find it hard to believe he wants that for you,\\ rumbled Lotus. //But I wonder if he is thinking ahead, about the problems he may be causing you.\\

Mitsy huffed and shook her head. //He told me I will become an excellent hunter of crickets and grasshoppers. They are good to eat I suppose, but I want to hunt properly. He will not accept my requests.\\

//Maybe you can find a friend who can teach you,\\ Digby suggested. //A weasel friend.\\

//Will any of your brothers or sisters teach you?\\ asked Vyvi.

Mitsy was just about to answer when Jai called out //Four Walls!\\ He retracted his arm with a flourish to show a set of four and a pair. //I am the winner! Woo!\\

Lotus made a throaty sound between a purr and a growl. //Yes, well done Jai.\\

Mitsy, however, felt herself growing hot with anger. What had been the point in the game when she was destined to lose to soon? //Did you cheat, Jai?\\ she demanded.

//Oh please, spare me. It doesn't suit you,\\ he said, feigning the same disinterest in her words as he had in the game.

//No Jai, I want to know! Did you cheat?\\ She found herself gripping the edge of the table and glaring at him.

//No, I didn't. But I wish I had - perhaps I will next time just to watch you fail,\\ he answered with a smug grin. Then he took a handful of popcorn and chewed it smugly. //So you were saying you're a bad hunter. Keep talking.\\

Mitsy found herself speechless.

Jai laughed again. //I need a drink, this popcorn's too salty.\\ He went indoors to get a cup of water.

Mitsy sunk a little, her skinny elbows on the tabletop and head on her black hands. Her day with Father and his attitudes about runts hunting, her siblings blindly agreeing with his - blatantly incorrect - attitudes, and now Jai's usual tricks and acid tongue. //I didn't need his attitude tonight. Lotus, must you continue to bring him over?\\

Lotus looked surprised even in the meagre light, but gathered himself swiftly. //I am sorry. He used to be nicer to talk to than this, quite innocent. He has become worse.\\

//He has a funny way of showing his friendship,\\ agreed Digby before throwing a little of the popcorn into his mouth.

Mitsy had good peripheral vision and could see the familiar movement of Jai's bushy tail out of the corner of her eye. He was close - half-hidden in the shadows just inside the doorway. Listening, evidently; she couldn't say she wasn't pleased he could hear what they thought of him. Perhaps it was wrong for her to feel that way, perhaps it was just misaimed, delayed retribution for what she felt towards her family. But Jai was unpleasant to be around. His insensitivity came through at the worst possible times.

//You asked me about my painting Vyvi,\\ Lotus continued. //The truth is that Jai destroyed it in a prank. I liked how it was coming along, but now...\\

//So what are we going to do, then?\\ asked Mitsy.

//I will stop inviting him. If he comes over by himself I won't let him in.\\ Lotus looked around at the others for agreement, which he got with nods.

Mitsy took a better look at Jai. His shoulders were slumped and his tail lay on the floor. By the look in his eyes he'd heard and understood, and Mitsy? The weasel felt cruel but vindicated. He visibly took a deep breath and joined the group again, water glass in hand.

Vyvi and Lotus shifted uncomfortably and Digby rather doggedly set up a new game. When he dealt to the others Jai put a hand up to refuse a set. The game could manage with four.


Commission: The Great Enslavement - chapter 1
Jai the raccoon and his anthro friends live an untroubled life in the forest - except for the usual frictions of friendship. But it doesn't remain that way forever. A misadventure sends Jai and the most timid of his friends into a hostile alternate world where anthros are used as slaves...

Most of the writing was by me except for the introductory scene which was completed by one of my subwriters.

Written for RexOrchid from FA.

Hi guys!

I've got a handful of updates for you.

Firstly... I went flat-hunting in Bristol and I've got a place! It's in a lovely Bohemian area, at the top of some very steep hills (so I get a daily workout no matter what), and is essentially the top half of a house so I get to steal some of downstairs' warmth, plus it's well-insulated so it'll be warm all through the winter (so the previous tenant says, anyway).

Go me!

My other half has managed to get a transfer at his place of work so he's already got a job to go to, so that means my job is the last major piece in the puzzle. I need to find a job now. That means that I'm going to be a bit delayed in sending people instalments while I fit in a job hunt, but the good news is, last time I job-hunted I came across really well, and Bristol has a thriving jobs market, so I think it won't take me too long.

Finally, I'm not going to be able to be on Skype this weekend. Sorry guys - as I said above, I'm busy with other things which must take precedence just for now. Be assured that as soon as I've secured something I'll get right back to the writing and profile-making, but until then a regular income is a must.

If you need anything, I'm as contactable by Note or email as ever, so be my guest!

That's it for now. Going to start a job hunt right now.

Wish me luck!


Hi guys!

I've got a handful of updates for you.

Firstly... I went flat-hunting in Bristol and I've got a place! It's in a lovely Bohemian area, at the top of some very steep hills (so I get a daily workout no matter what), and is essentially the top half of a house so I get to steal some of downstairs' warmth, plus it's well-insulated so it'll be warm all through the winter (so the previous tenant says, anyway).

Go me!

My other half has managed to get a transfer at his place of work so he's already got a job to go to, so that means my job is the last major piece in the puzzle. I need to find a job now. That means that I'm going to be a bit delayed in sending people instalments while I fit in a job hunt, but the good news is, last time I job-hunted I came across really well, and Bristol has a thriving jobs market, so I think it won't take me too long.

Finally, I'm not going to be able to be on Skype this weekend. Sorry guys - as I said above, I'm busy with other things which must take precedence just for now. Be assured that as soon as I've secured something I'll get right back to the writing and profile-making, but until then a regular income is a must.

If you need anything, I'm as contactable by Note or email as ever, so be my guest!

That's it for now. Going to start a job hunt right now.

Wish me luck!




Artist | Professional | Literature
United Kingdom
I am a flexible, creative writer with 7 years of experience. I have a talent for accurate character-writing and development, and unusual, fascinating plot twists.

If you have a plot idea but no characters, I can create compelling characters to enact your plot for you, timed and embellished to perfection.

If you have characters that you want to see in action but aren't sure what you want them to do, I can write an exciting plot with your characters as the stars.

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FerociousFruit Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2014   General Artist
TwoTailedComicDream Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
thanks for the llama, I really like you're work!
paulepz Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks a lot for the :iconllama-plz:!!!
:iconpikaplz: Your gallery is AWESOOME!! :iconpikaplz:
Palantean Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013  Professional Writer
Ooh gosh, thank you!
paulepz Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome!! :iconlainloveplz:
TheDisgusticifiedOne Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the fav.
samthefox Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thanks for the fave
samthefox Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thanks for the fave
sHeeii Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2013
BTW, thanks for the fav :)
Ayumu-Haruto Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013  Student General Artist
Welcome to :iconartisan-guild:

Kind regards,
Moderator of Artisan-Guild
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