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Believe in Yourself!




Believe in Yourself!





"Hello Alex! Do you fancy taking part in a modelling audition?"



That wasn't what Alex had expected Kira to say. "Umm..." he said, trying to think of a sentence to answer with that conveyed his meaning, nothing could be less appealing to me except for being dropped into a live volcano, with politeness.



She noticed his hesitation. "Oh go on Alex, I've always told you you'd do great. Go and do it. Trust yourself! I found an advert for an underwear modelling job and they're holding auditions tomorrow."



Alex felt his shoulders slump a little. It wasn't that he was fat or scrawny, he knew that. It was just that, well, modelling? It just wasn't him. And he didn't pay as close attention to the correct bulking-up proportions for his biceps versus his triceps, so to a professional casting company he probably looked all unbalanced.



He stretched the telephone cord and used his claw to scratch a little grime off part of the coil. "It's a nice idea Kira, but-"



"Great!" she enthused. "It's at-"



"No no no, I couldn't!" Alex interrupted, looking around at his bedroom in a bid to feel comforted by the familiarity of it. They'd had this conversation before and it always left him feeling a little uncomfortable. "I'm no model."



She murred at him, a friendly admonishment. "You don't think so? Look Alex, I've seen your build. You look great, I've always told you so. So how about it, eh?"



"I'm not sure..." What did she see in him that he didn't?



"Alex, you'll never know unless you give it a try. I have faith in you. Trust yourself!"



Alex sighed. "Well... all right!" Maybe it would be okay! Maybe...



"Yay! Okay, have you got a pen? I'll read you the details now..."






xXx






Little Steve listened intently as Alex listed the faults with his body. At least, Alex noticed how intent Little Steve looked while he explained the faults with his body. It was unusual to see his friend pay such close attention. The miniature koi frowned in concentration and bit the insides of his cheeks so that his barbels occasionally waggled.



"...so really, I don't think I'm going to have a chance at competing with the others there. But Kira was so sure I should go along that, well, here I am. And she's said this kind of thing a few times before, so I figured it'd probably be a good idea to show her once and for all that I'm not modelling material, that the casting furs won't think I am either. I just hope this isn't going to be too embarrassing."



Little Steve stuck his fins in his pockets and gave Alex a very level look. "Alex, don't do yourself down. You'll do fine. And anyway, if you've decided to prove something to Kira then go and prove it. You might end up surprised," he added with a half-smile that managed to be more than half-reassuring, which was one of the reasons they'd become friends in the first place.



"Ah, I suppose," said the German Shepherd. Then he remembered something. He'd been so worried about how he'd compare against the competition that he'd completely forgotten about his views on male models! "But you know, models are really superficial. The whole industry's superficial. I wouldn't want to be part of a world like that. I don't know why I'm going."



Alex had stopped walking and by association, so had Little Steve. The koi carp put his fin on Alex' shoulder. "Look, Alex. If you're so sure you're not going to get chosen then that doesn't matter, does it? Either you'll turn up, they'll say no thank you and you get to go on your merry way, or you turn up, they say yes please, will you work for us? And you can still say no. Either way you can show Kira - and yourself - that it isn't for you."



Alex looked down at the fish. "You're really sure it isn't for me?"



"No," Little Steve answered, his smile as straightforward and honest as Alex had ever seen it. "And I think it's time for you to try it, either to put it out to pasture or to find your calling in life. Come on, it's just down this street."






xXx






At the reception desk Alex discovered, to his slightly-horrified disappointment, that German Shepherds cannot shrink at will. He found himself spotting the other models waiting to audition: a koala with a certain rugged something that he didn't generally expect of the teddy-bear-shaped marsupials, a lithe and ridiculously good-looking Eastern dragon, a tiger...



A tiger? Alex had known he shouldn't have come. How was he going to compete with a big cat?



Little Steve had already gone to the reception desk. "Hi. I'm here to book Alex Ryan in."



The okapi receptionist looked around the koi carp's frilly fin at Alex. "Is that him?"



"Yes. I'm representing him." Alex saw that Little Steve was smiling at the okapi from the way his barbels lifted.



"Professionally?" the receptionist asked.



"No, just initially."



"Ah. D'you want to come over?" the receptionist called to Alex.



Meanwhile the tiger had sidled up to Alex. "First time?"



Alex hesitated for a moment and then sighed. "Yeah."



The tiger wrinkled his nose. "Thought so. A lot of professionals are coming to this. Good luck, mate."



"Thanks," Alex said, although it felt redundant to say it. He knew when he was being told he wasn't welcome.



Alex approached the okapi hoping for some kind of reassurance, but didn't really get it. The receptionist's oval eared, pale face was impassive, as if he just wanted to get the task of coralling the models over with. Either that or he didn't think Alex had a chance, either.



"What's your surname?" he asked, pen poised over a register.



"Ryan," Alex answered automatically.



"Date of birth?"



Alex told him.



The okapi wrote his name and a number on the bottom piece of paper, tore it off along the dotted line, folded it up and added a clip, and handed it to Alex. "Down the corridor and third on the right. Get changed into whatever you've brought and then the photo shoot's happening at the far end." He sounded like he'd said that too many times to bother making it sound reassuring.



"Thank you," Alex said, aware that he was now talking on autopilot, that he wasn't welcome enough here to say anything other than banal niceties.



Little Steve gave him a reassuring smile and began to turn towards the corridor doorway but the okapi said, "Models only. Sorry."



Alex cursed inwardly - he'd banked on Little Steve coming with him, just for a little reassurance. But they looked at each other and realized it wasn't to be.



"You'll do fine Alex. Be cool," he said warmly, and they went their separate ways.



He found the changing room, forced himself to strip down to the red briefs he's worn for the occasion, left his stuff in his rucksack and went to the room at the end. He heard the babble of dozens of furs before he saw them. The room was warm and humid with the presence of so many anthros, high-ceilinged and decked with the supporting apparatus for staggered seats, although at the time that was all folded up against one wall. The tired herringbone parquet underpaw and the stage told him that usually this was a lecture hall.



Today however, nofur was sitting or up on the stage. Instead they milled around, leaving an empty space in the middle where the camera operator, a small hedgehog with humble eyes and a diligent bearing, worked. He'd set up a space with a probably-photoshopped, reddish stormy sky-and-rocks background. As the German Shepherd watched, the hedgehog photographed a seriously, seriously ripped rhino in a pair of black trunks, who'd either stuffed a couple of winter socks down the front or was scarily well-endowed.



The rhino left the scene, his walk deliberate and wide from his heavy musculature, and the hedgehog ticked off something on a clipboard. "Number twenty-one," he called. His voice was as humble as the rest of his bearing and Alex felt himself relax slightly.



"Oh, are you still here?" asked a familiar, smooth voice behind him and he looked around to see the tiger again. He looked confident and Alex could see why - he was a model through and through. He had intricate tattoos that bisected his stripes perfectly, making him appear like some exotic hitherto unknown species of cat.



Ahead of Alex, a vulture with an air of cool badass glanced back and gave Alex the once-over. Without a word he dismissed him and turned away, as if leaving Alex to the tiger until later.



Come on Alex, he thought before his mind went too far down that route. It's just rivalry. It doesn't mean I'm worthless, he just wants me to think it.



"Yeah, I am." He looked the tiger in the eye and folded his arms. "Why?"



The tiger paused, laughed as if at a private joke and said, "Nnn... never mind." And he strode past, every muscle rippling to perfection.



Alex kept a sigh inside, checked his ticket - he was model number thirty-two - and walked on to be nearer the action.






xXx






"Number thirty-two?"



Alex froze. He looked around at the hedgehog, who was looking around for somefur to respond. "Is number thirty-two still here?"



Most models were too busy chatting but a few looked around as they realized that one of their number had either left, or wasn't stepping up.



Alex willed himself to step forward but his paws wouldn't move. Damn it, damn it, damn it! Do something Alex, either go over or leave. He thought about Little Steve outside, about the fish's confidence in him. About his lack of knowledge of the rivalry Alex was tolerating in this room. What was he going to say if Alex called it off now? He knew his friend wouldn't hold it against him but he didn't want to leave having failed.



"Number thirty-two?" The tone in the hedgehog's voice sounded like he was about to give up and call the next model.



It had to be now. What had the koi said? You'll do fine, Alex. Be cool.



The German Shepherd stepped forward. "Yep, I'm here. Sorry."



The photographer looked over at him and Alex felt instantly comforted. Despite the buzz in the room there was no sense in that gaze of the impatience he'd seen in the okapi receptionist. Just mildness and kind professionalism.



This was it. Alex felt the nervousness in his chest shake harder and he sighed to try and dispel it. "Okay," he muttered to himself as he stepped in front of the background, his throat a little dry. "Where do you want me?"



"You're already there," the hedgehog smiled and sat down behind his camera.



Alex smiled and tried a pose.



The light flashed. "What was the last compliment a girl paid you?"



Alex thought. Kira! Alex, I've seen your build. You look great. I've always told you so. He smiled at the memory and felt warm inside.



The hedgehog took another picture. "Must've been some compliment!" he said, humility lending his comment a kind of understated charm.



So how about it?



She'd said that too. She'd meant it as encouragement to come to the shoot, but out of context he suddenly saw a flirtatious side to her comment. He felt a naughtier smile flood across his face.



The hedgehog caught his smile in its fullest, most spontaneous moment, and Alex knew it was so in a split-second.



"And, you're done. That's it!" said the photographer.



It'd been so easy! Relieved and pleased, Alex stepped out from behind the camera. They smiled at each other and he left to get dressed.






xXx






Dear Mr. Ryan,



Congratulations! We were very pleased with your audition photographs and would like to offer you a contract. Please contact me on the number above to arrange a mutually convenient time to meet and discuss this further.



Yours sincerely,



Shaki Whitepaw

Anthro Resources

Musk Productions</i>



THE END.

Commission: Believe in Yourself!
Alex, a young black GSD, has a problem: his friends think he'd be a great model but he's not so sure! After a little prompting, he finds the courage.

Character by alex_nighthound of FurAffinity.
Artwork by vallhund of FurAffinity.
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(Contains: sexual themes, strong language and ideologically sensitive material)
The Witch's Familiar





The Witch's Familiar





The introduction told her that this was a spell to turn a fur from whatever-they-normally-were into a cat. She glanced at him. Did she want to do that, to raise such an indignity against a fellow canine? It'd certainly take him down a peg. In a moment she decided that yes, that was what she would do. It was all the arrogant sod deserved.



She turned back to the book to review the steps to the spell. It was a surprisingly simple one: Willow only needed pink food colouring, some mint leaves, and some sugar and water. That meant she could do it right away if she wanted to. She even had the right food colouring, having made a rather feminine birthday cake for her niece a few months ago.



She took one final look at the sleeping coton de tulear and stole through into her kitchen.



Willow was experienced enough with visiting lovers that she knew Max wouldn't sleep for long, so she worked quickly. Following the instructions, she half-filled a bowl with water, spooned in some sugar and then tapped in a few drops of food dye. Leaving the sugar to dissolve for a moment she quietly opened her back door to pick a few sprigs of garden mint. She came back inside, closed the door carefully behind her and tore the mint up, and dropped it into the water.



Her heart was already beating harder than usual, but the idea of citing the words to this spell made it beat harder still. Willow took a moment to steady her breath and sank her hand-paw into the water.



"Make their ears pointy and their tail big and fluffy

Slowly turn into a cat

Sprout feline whiskers and develop retractable claws

Turn into a cat."



She whispered the words, reluctant to be heard but not reluctant to speak the venomous words of the spell. She would silence him, make him learn humility! He'd be embarrassed to speak to his fellow furs with a feline yowl to his voice. And his voice would only be part of the picture...



All she had to do now was serve it to him. Willow went through the motions of making a very normal cup of coffee. As the kettle boiled she poured a little of the spell mixture into the cup she would use to gave Max his dose. Her heart had slowed down a little and she was no longer sure whether she felt nervous about what she was doing, or vindicated on the execution of her plan.



Then, she heard the muted sounds of her bedsprings creaking and the soft impacts of his foot-paws on her floorboards. He was coming! She panicked a little as she tried to figure out where to put the bowl. She picked it up and looked around frantically, and almost tipped it in the sink. But then she pulled back at the last second - if he noticed and asked why there were mint leaves and half-dissolved sugar in the sink, what could she say? There was no way she could just leave it in plain view and expect him to consider that normal - after all, he was proud of his observational skills. He came within sight and she forced herself to calm down. Casually, she put it in the fridge as her brain whirred to come up with an explanation, just in case he cared enough to look at what she was doing.



"What was that?" he yawned, scratching at the back of his head.



Think, quick! "Ohh..." Then she had it! "My niece is having a birthday soon so I'm making special ice cubes for the party. Sweet, minty and princess-coloured, see?" She smiled at him, put the bowl in the fridge to dispose of later - and then spotted the book, still lying open.



She hurried over to it before he took too much notice. As casually as she could she closed it and slotted it in amongst her cookery books, turning it around so that the spine faced the wall and he couldn't read it.



"You needed a recipe book to make ice cubes?" he asked wryly, an eyebrow cocked.



She felt the same indignation as he'd been causing her all night, but forced herself to smile. "I need a recipe book to give me ideas for a puppy's party. Now, I don't think we've had that coffee yet."



He gave her a puzzled look. "Is this decaf?" He checked his watch. "It's a quarter past one."



"Don't you want to move on to round two?" she asked, giving the white dog a seductive look. Before he could answer yes or no she poured some water into his cup and gave it to him.



He looked reluctant to take it.



Willow put his down beside him, and stirred hers. "Aww, come on," she murred, raising her own to her lips. "Didn't you say there was something else you liked to do? We can go back to bed and try it out."



Max still looked reluctant, but one more flirty-eyed look from Willow prompted him to accept her argument, and he took the drink. He blew on his and drained it with a certain air of loftiness, while unbeknownst to him, Willow watched him discretely, wondering how soon she'd start seeing the effects of the spell.



Go on, fool. Turn into a cat.



He put down his cup and she did the same. "Well? Come back to bed with me."






xXx






After their second sex session they lay together among the dishevelled sheets, Max watching the ceiling as if solving some difficult mathematical equation, Willow far more casually. In truth she wasn't really looking at anything. Instead she was listening and feeling for changes in Max, and keeping silent and still so that she'd notice.



Changes that would signal the start of his transformation.



She didn't notice any. At least, not until the following morning, when he began to move differently.






xXx






She made him toast with chicken pate as she often made for herself, and the pair ate more or less in silence. Perhaps it was because both were a little tired from lack of sleep, or perhaps it was because neither of them enjoyed the others' company (or so it seemed to Willow. If he liked her he was very inhibited about showing it) But either way, she gazed into space over her toast and coffee and wondered whether or not to mention her witchcraft, and how he'd respond if she did.



Out of the blue, Max stretched his arms out across the table to squeeze some life into his muscles. He splayed his fingers and looked like he very much wanted to stretch his back.



Willow paused over her coffee and watched, her breath in her throat. Was there something a little bit feline about that, Max? Or are cotons just a bit delicate by nature? She just didn't know her exotic dog species well enough to tell.



He returned to his previous breakfast-eating posture and she wondered whether she'd imagined it.



Max rubbed at his muzzle with the side of his hand-paw and had a brief look at his pawpad. Then he looked vaguely nonplussed and put his paw down.



Willow nearly squirmed with glee. It was working, it was! "How's the pate? I made it myself."



He gave a kind of combination shrug-and-nod that she interpreted as, I don't like it that much but I think it'd be rude if I was honest. "I think I must be allergic to this coffee, my tongue feels rough."



Willow's instinctive reaction was to freeze. Surely now was the time, if she was going to admit it. And he'd almost finished his toast and she couldn't imagine he'd stay after that. If he left without her telling or at least hinting at what she'd done, he'd disappear and perhaps never make the connection that she'd been the spellcaster. Or even that it was a spell.



She added a little sugar to her coffee and stirred it casually. For a few moments there was no sound except the tinkle of her spoon against china and the crunch of toast. "It was quite a miracle we ended up spending the night together."



He made a complacent little chuckling noise at the back of his throat. "Miracles are a suspension of the laws of physics. I think it'd take something bigger than that to call it a miracle."



She should've known he'd answer with something like that, so the only answer she gave him was a sly look of her own. She closed her eyes to sip her coffee and sense his energy, which got a little more pointed as he realized she was getting at something specific.



When she opened her eyes she saw that he'd paused, coffee cup half-way to his mouth. "Why, what do you mean?"



"Well, you with your interest in science and me with more of an interest in, let's say, the supernatural."



He looked displeased. And a touch curious. "Pardon?" he asked, one flimsy white ear cocked.



She indicated her bookshelf with a flick of her tail. "Didn't you notice?" With all of your super-dooper observational skills? "Those aren't biochemistry or physics books, Max." She said no more and waited for him to investigate for himself.



Max gave her a mistrustful look and then got up to take a look. He bent down a little to read the spines. And as he did, Willow noticed the way his tail rested on the floor and tried to twitch back and forth. Clearly his tail still wasn't able to do that yet, but it wanted to.



"'The Meaning of Witchcraft'?" he read, trepidation and disgust vying for dominance in his tone. "'Witchcraft in Europe'... 'The Study of Witchcraft'... Willow?"



"Feeling any different this morning?" she asked, unable to keep the grin off her face.



He gave her one last uneasy look, and then regained his confidence with a quiet kind of laugh, as if he'd unravelled a small pup's riddle. She saw a touch of his smoulder, although it was a little more reserved than the previous night. "Willow... This isn't real," he said, touching daintily at the bookshelf as if to indicate the entire subject of witchcraft. "I don't know what you think you've done, but if I feel any different this morning it's for a completely different, completely rational reason."



He stood up and gave the books a final, superior look. "I think I'm going to go. Thank you for the breakfast. And the..." He waggled a paw in the direction of the bedroom and then picked up his coat, and headed for the door.



Willow smirked into her mug. "Come back if you want any milk," she called after him before he reached the door.



He leaned back through so that he could see her, almost asked something, then shook his head in disgust and left.






xXx






Max spent the rest of his Saturday researching for a work project. He'd always been able to rely on academia to keep him interested when the rest of the world became boring or downright strange, and this day was no exception. Naturally, his thoughts kept drifting back to the strange wolfess Willow. She'd been cute - if a little fluffy-minded for his liking. He hadn't expected a long-term relationship from the date but then, he never seemed to find a suitable vixen or bitch anyway, but he'd known from the start that he'd tire of her soon.



They'd had a spark of sexual attraction, and they'd used it up, and in the morning there's been nothing left. His energy was now transferred back to his studies. He smirked at his wit and returned his attention to the data.



At 12:30 he broke off for lunch. As his thoughts turned to food he realized that he was still having that allergic reaction and went through to his bathroom to look at it.



He stuck out his tongue. What had Willow put in that pate? It'd given his tongue a sandpaper texture that felt permanent. Her tongue hadn't been so rough the previous night... but perhaps she hadn't eaten that pate for a while. He felt a sense of unease with it, but his tongue wasn't swelling up so he didn't consider himself to be in any danger.



He went to make himself lunch, but unfortunately he didn't have any tuna in the house, so he went out to get some.






xXx







The day had worn by and Willow enjoyed the calm feeling of twilight as well as she could while still having chores to do. The wolfess was busy ironing while watching a television programme about the yearly cycle of the Serengeti when she heard a knock at the door. Now, who could that be? she wondered and went to answer it.



She recognised her visitor instantly. "Max!"



And yet... he looked different. His ears were half-erect, their structures stiffer than they had been. She blinked to convince herself it wasn't so but when she looked more closely his muzzle seemed shorter than she remembered it, and a deep intuition told her that she wasn't looking at a dog. He was... something else, now.



Her heart leapt with triumph right before it sank with the realisation of what she'd done.



And he looked angry. "What did you do to me?!" He demanded, holding on to the walls to either side of the door as if to stop her from getting out. Angry, she realised with a flash of insight, in a way that only the mortally terrified could be.



The instinctive part of her brain processed all of this. She could show how afraid she suddenly was or she could put up a front herself. She forced herself to breathe calmly and leaned against the threshold. Everything that was happening to him was deserved - he had no right to threaten her! That was true as far as she was concerned. "Oh, so you believe in the power of Wiccan magic now, do you? Who says this was me?"



Humiliation joined his look of fear and rage. "I don 't know how you did it, but turn it back." Then he looked over his shoulder. "Look, just let me in, for Pete's sake!"



Willow stepped back to let him in before she knew what she was doing.



His posture didn't straighten as he came in. "What happened to you?" she asked on an impulse, eyeing his crooked posture which was so different from his straight-backed perfect of the night before.



"I was hoping you could tell me that," he answered through gritted teeth.



"Let me take a look at you." She put her hand-paws on his shoulders and turned him to look more closely. His face full of apprehension, he let her. Max's nose was lightening to a soft brown and looked slightly un-dog-like. His pupils had elongated slightly and were now slightly oval. He was bracing his hand-paws a little and she took one. He hesitantly let her examine it. His claws looked sore where they joined the tips of his fingers.



"What did you do?" he asked, his voice sounding more afraid than angry this time.



She looked him in the eye. Given the circumstances, what could she do but be honest? "I cast a spell to turn you into a cat."



At first he didn't seem to respond. Then she saw the subtle changes in his face. Disbelief, a kind of blind mocking hilarity, horror. He looked at his hand-paws and pressed his thumbs to his sore claws. She could see that they'd started shaking. "It's impossible," he murmured. "Why..." he caught his breath again. "Why did you do this to me?"



Willow found herself starting to panic too. Why had she thought it was a good idea? "You were really full of yourself last night and kept being really arrogant. I wanted to get you back for it. I didn't really think it was going to-"



She stopped. Had she thought it was going to work? I must have believed it to an extent.



"You cast a spell you didn't think would work?" he asked sharply, still shaking.



Now she felt herself getting angry in return. "Yes! Yes, I did! And you know what, Max? So what? I didn't think it was going to be anywhere near as effective on you!"



"Well, it has been!" he said, raising his voice at her. Then he seemed to catch himself and looked away. "No, it can't be. It must be an allergic reaction. Tell me what you did. Did you feed me something without telling me? Wait... Oh god, it was that pate, wasn't it! I knew there was something wrong with it!"



"No there wasn't!" she said hotly. The bloody cheek of the dog! "It was the pink mixture in the middle of the night."



"The pink..?" he started to ask before the memory came back to him. He looked suspicious. And still afraid, so afraid. "You said it was for ice cubes."



She shrugged, realised she was being flippant about something that terrified her as much as it did him, and tried to be more sincere. "No, it was pink dye, water, sugar and mint. And a few words spoken over it. Nothing else."



But the coton didn't calm down at this. "Think, Willow. What else was in it?"



"Nothing," she said back to him, catching his gaze so he'd know she meant it. Just like him to question her memory!



"Well, what was in that pate, then?" he asked and then winced and yowled quietly.



She watched him writhe in temporary pain and then did her best to compile a mental list of the pate's ingredients. "Chicken, pork, onion, garlic, bacon, sage and thyme, salt and pepper. None of that makes a Wiccan spell, Max."



He'd watched her intently as she'd said this and then sighed and shook his head. "I don't get this, I don't get it. It can't be a spell."






TO BE CONTINUED...



Commission: The Witch's Familiar - chapter 2
Willow is a gentle-spirited lupine witch. But when she finds herself on a date with Max, a coton de tulear scientist, she finds herself incensed enough to perform her first act of black magic.

Max will never be quite the same again...

A commission for KickahaOta of FurAffinity.
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Eiriol's Adventure





Eiriol's Adventure





Eiriol almost never tensed any more when she time-travelled. The feeling was almost like being in an elevator: it upset her sense of proprioception so that for a moment she couldn't tell which way was up. Her insides all felt like they didn't know what to do, probably as a result of the lack of gravity she knew affected her in this in-between place. She breathed (at first she'd breathed to calm herself down. Now she did it out of sheer reflex) and looked at her watch.



Years forward: 8... 9... 10. She'd taken herself a decade into the future to check out her, and the Susus', hypothesis. To see what the world looked like in the face of their claim.



Re-materialize: Stage 1  The world reappeared around her and it was ghostly, half-solid, translucent and almost jelly-like in texture. She had a preliminary look around. The mangrove swamp hadn't changed height much since she'd last been there and the only real difference - admittedly quite a big difference - was that the trees looked dead. The water lay brown, still and flat. It looked okay for her to solidify.



Re-materialize: Stage 2 Y/N She pressed her time-travel device to signal Yes and touched down in the future world.



It was... She looked around in shock. The mangroves had died, but there was no longer any emerald green beyond it, just barren darkness. "The whole forest. Oh my god," she murmured to herself in horror. "The whole forest!"



Her legs shaking slightly, she trotted back the way she'd come, back to the river.



It was bare, nothing but mud, except for the leaf-less skeletons of trees on the banks. It all looked so brown. Eri slumped to her knees as the horror crept up on her.



What had happened to the Susu?



She ran her hands over her face as she took in the enormity of it all as best she could. Don't panic. You know that the snakes are disappearing and that that probably caused this. So, how? And what can I do about that?



Stop the snakes going extinct seemed to be the obvious solution. Eri tried to think of any other hypothesis, any at all, that might have led to all this devastation. She couldn't think of anything. Then she tried thinking about how to to back and stop the snakes from dying. She'd seen it but didn't know what was killing them, so how could she-



She heard the subtlest noise behind her and turned around.



Tiger!



And a feral tiger at that, limbs coiled and ready to pounce. Eri thought fast, and did the first thing that came to her instinct-driven mind irrespective of whether it was the best thing to do: she spoke to it. "Hello," she said, and tried to breathe to let go of the tremble in her voice. "I'm trying to figure out what happened here. Do you know?" She was too scared not to shake.



The tiger's brows lowered in confusion, or perhaps suspicion. "What mean? I trap you."



She just about stopped herself from taking a step backwards into the river. He was a tiger, not just some hydrophobic cat. He'd follow her in if she went that way. "I'm talking about the foliage. Why are all the trees dead?"



His eyes flickered around but she detected a distinct lack of willingness to look away enough to risk his prey escaping. "Trees green many monsoons ago. Turn brown by river. All dead now."



What was that about the river? "Just by the river? You mean there are trees alive? Have you ever been far away from the river?"



The tiger growled and looked displeased. "Riverbank my territory. Fight for dry territory but fail." He turned sideways a little as if to indicate the line of the riverbank. She noticed that he was long enough that his change in posture didn't help give her a chance to escape, not at all. "Catch prey on edge of other ta'igara territory."



"Aren't there any fish to eat?" Eri asked, daring to relax slightly for the moment that the tiger looked distracted. She was surprised at how tightly her muscles had been clenched and frightened by how quickly they'd fatigued. If there was going to be a chase she'd need to be much more efficient than that.



"Fish. What is it?" he asked hopefully.



"You don't know what a fish is?" She was stunned. Keeping her eyes keenly on him she slowly took off her backpack (he watched her so closely, apparently torn between hope and suspicion) and rummaged inside for her nature guide, and hurriedly searched for a picture of a fish. Her heart beat frantically during the moments she took her eyes off him to look for a picture of a fish. "These," she said and carefully extended the book towards him, terrified that he was going to cut the conversation short and eat her at any time.



He stepped forward and eyed the picture. "How this creature walk?"



"They don't walk," she said, putting the book away. "They live in the river. Or they did, not any more."



He gave her a strange look again. "Nothing live in river. River dead. Feral folk story say anthro made river. Only way it can be so dead."



Indignation and sorrow vied for place in her chest. "Fish used to live here. There used to be lots of them."



"You lie. How they breathe?" the tiger looked offended and leaned away from her in apparent disgust.



Eri's brain ran at superspeed to work out whether that was a good turn of events or not. "They breathe using gills, little openings just here," she pointed to her neck.



He leaned away even more, his eyes, bright amber in colour, widened in something that may have been shock, and his nearside paw lifted off the ground as if to get further away from her. He pulled his lips back a little and lowered his ears.



"Underwater plants make that possible," she said in a husky whisper born of pure terror.



"Plant!" he growled in fury. "Plant underwater! You lie!" He stepped away, keeping the side of his body to her. "You sick! Sick thinking! Keep away! Out of territory, now!"



"Sure, sure..." she said and carefully stepped around him to get into dry land. They seemed almost to dance together, the tiger keen to keep away from her but also to watch her to make sure she did leave, lips peeled back to hiss and growl. She did her best to move slowly so as not to lose her footing and fall, just in case the quick movement spooked him or triggered his hunting instinct. But it was clear he didn't want her to go too slow.



She got past him and felt her way between the trees toward the mangrove swamp, her eyes on him for as much of the time as possible. There, she checked her device and with a shaking paw, pressed the first of the commands to take her back to the present day.



She heard the call of a monkey, not far away. With a final glance at the tiger she climbed up into the nearest mangrove tree and looked around for it. So the tiger was right: there was life in the rainforest, still!



She saw it, hanging by its hands from a branch up ahead. "Hey!" she called.



It spotted her and paused, although it didn't look particularly inclined to stay still for long.



"Have you ever heard of something called a snake?"



It looked doubtful - and a little fearful. "Snake. No."



"Uh - they're long, they don't have legs. They've got scaly skin."



It looked like it was trying to make sense of what she'd said. And then it said, "No. No snake here," and swung on through the trees.



She sighed and finished tapping in the instructions to her time-travel device.






xXx







She returned to the present and felt reassured to see the muddy water swish with the presence of the Susu.



One remained. It brought its head above the surface. She got the impression it was watching her, although it said nothing.



Eri sat down on a fallen log and tried to think, pushing her long hears back over her head and feeling the rough texture of her antlers with her fingers. "Okay," she said finally, more to herself than to the dolphin, who continued to loiter nearby. "The snakes have gone. They're disappearing. Not dying, disappearing. I'm convinced they're disappearing out of history. Something - or somefur - is changing history. Well, who'd that be?"



She tapped her time travel device.



Search: visits - recent additions



...



4 weeks ago [created by Eddie McFur 1 day ago] (She knew Ed. He was a colleague of hers. He was probably making small changes related to raising his teenage daughter.)

3 months, 2 weeks ago [created by Saffron West 3 days ago] (She worked at another institute. No worries, there.)

150 million years ago [created by Timothy Stripeson, 6 hours ago]



Wait, what?!



Eiriol blinked to clear her vision and make damn sure she hadn't misread. "Hey, get this: somefur visited one hundred and fifty million years ago."



If the Susu felt surprised by this then it expressed it only by sweeping water over its flank with its pectoral fin. More likely it simply didn't comprehend what she'd said. Ferals rarely understood numbers so big, and their grasp of the passage of time could be tenuous.



"I don't know who this Stripeson guy is," she continued, although she suspected she'd left the Susu far behind in this conversation and was effectively only talking to herself. "I think it might be worth checking what he's doing."



She chewed the inside of her lip and thought about what that meant. She could go back that far in time but it'd be dangerous. Potentially very dangerous.



And there'd be dinosaurs, scenery porn liek whoa and a whole lot of fun to be had. She came to a decision. "Right, I'm going."



She tapped the instructions in to her device.






xXx






The sheer size of the foliage thrilled her. That was one of the things she liked so much about visiting exotic places and times - the rainforest as much as the Jurassic period. She swam around in the soup-thick air, admiring the majesty of the translucent world materializing around her.



So this is the right time, she thought, looking again at her device. Now to find the right place. Where are you, Mr. Stripeson?



She checked his co-ordinates on her device. The data said he was one hundred and fifty-odd miles to the South East.



Well, then I guess I'd best get going.



One of the benefits of only half-manifesting in a world was that a fur had the ability to float easily through space, propelling themselves along by 'swimming' or 'flying' through space. So Eiriol spread her gliding wings, swept them back and propelled her tenuous self in Mr. Stripeson's direction.



The miles went by and with them red rocks, dusty sand, the hulking forms of dinosaurs, hardy trees and oversized insects. Eri resisted the impulse to stop and look at anything properly, though the temptation was strong, especially when she saw a hunt underway.



She had to find out who was ridding the modern world of snakes.






xXx






Several hours later she zeroed in on Mr. Stripeson's co-ordinates.



She saw him and swooped down to ground level. He was a badger, a decade or so older than herself, and hunting in the undergrowth with a long, stiff stick and a net which she instantly recognized as snake-catching equipment.



The jackalope turned in a circle, checking all around that it was safe to materialize fully. A herd of something long-necked grazed on palm-like trees around half a mile away. Chunky insects crawled along the ground, hiding in the foliage. It looked safe enough.



She solidified.



"Hello," she said.



Mr. Stripeson jumped and turned around. "Oh," he said, cleared his throat and did his best to regain an air of dignity. "Hello." And then he turned his back on her and continued rooting through the undergrowth.



"Can I ask what you're doing?" She knew what he was doing and she knew he knew what he was doing. But this seemed the most... non-confrontational way of dealing with the situation. She could toughen up about it if he chose to ignore her.



"I'm killing snakes," he said matter-of-factly without looking at her, his stocky grey shoulders working as he parted the bracken in search of his quarry.



"Yeah, that's what I thought." She paused.



He continued to hunt.



"Can I at least ask why?"



Thrash thrash. "You can consider me well and truly asked." He said nothing more, and then moved on to another patch of undergrowth.



Eiriol followed him over. "Let's start again, shall we? Why are you killing snakes?"



He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, a movement so subtle she almost missed it. "The world will be safer for it."



This caught her off guard. "Safer?" she asked carefully.



"Snakes can kill." He caught one, trapped it under his net, took something from his utility belt and hit the snake with it.



Too late she saw that it was a rock. It came up covered in blood. He shook the net free of the snake's carcass and moved on.



Oh boy, how do I even start with this? "Mr. Stripeson..."



He turned around. "How do you know my name?"



She waved her wrist to show off her time travel device. "All users are registered." The next thing she was supposed to do in this situation was ask to see his time travel license. But something about him told her that he'd illicitly gained ownership. And that his reasons for being here came from the heart.



"You said the world would be safer without snakes. Who are you trying to protect?"



His dark eyes bored into hers for a moment and she wondered if he was going to tell her at all. Finally he answered: "My wife. Don't try to stop me. I need to do this." He turned around and started hunting again.



She thought, and then took off her rucksack and reached inside. "Fancy a break? I've got water."






xXx






Tim took a final swig and passed the bottle to Eiriol. As she had the last of it he gazed into the middle distance and watched a dinosaur with a very tough layer of scales on its back nibble on some sparse foliage in the reddening evening light.



"You're not going to convince me to let them live, you know."



She looked sadly at him. "Every one you kill changes something."



He grunted. "That was the idea."



She sighed and rested her temple against her paw, and idly played with the ear on that side as she tried to think of what to say next. Wait, is that shorter than I remember? She found her hand-mirror in her rucksack and checked. It was - her ears were shorter! "Uh, Tim..."



"Don't. Please, just... Save your words." His voice sounded a little strained.



"My ears."



"What do you mean, your... Oh. Oh goodness," he said, looking more closely. He went to speak and then looked away, a little uncomfortably this time.



"I really think you need to stop this now."



"I can't, Eiriol. Don't you understand that I can't?"



She shook her head. "This is relatively harmless," she said, indicating her new ears. "But everything changes something. That's why we time travellers get licenses. What you're doing... Tim, it's reckless."



"Don't judge me!" he growled and got up to walk away.



"And if you wipe her, or yourself, or me out of history completely?"



"I won't!"



"What if you do? What species was she, Tim?"



He turned an angry look on her. "Does it matter?" he asked as if he'd already decided that it didn't.



You're getting too angry to do this, big guy. You need to be more rational. "What if you change history so that her species becomes something else entirely? You've just changed jackalopes just a little. It can get worse than this. Believe me, it can be worse."



TO BE CONTINUED...

Commission: Eiriol's Adventure - chapter 2
Something strange is happening in the Indian rainforest: the snakes are dying, fading into dust in the blink of an eye. When a young jackalope named Eiriol discovers this and sees the effect it will have on the life around the Ganges, she decides to solve the mystery and put it right.

Character by eiriol of FurAffinity
Artwork by vekke of FurAffinity
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Eiriol's Adventure





Eiriol's Adventure



The rainforest had a smell, and it was of moist leaves and tree bark and the mysteriously stony scent of water. The air felt thick as if the scents themselves made it into a thick but invisible soup. As Eiriol the jackalope hopped from one rock to another she instinctively half-spread her gliding wings - her patagia - and detected the humidity in the stretch of the skin.



She came to a stop on a particularly flat stone and looked about. She was naturally a very alert fur and thoroughly used to exploration in the various wildernesses of the planet, so just for a moment she trusted her certainty that there were no predators around. She closed her eyes and listened to her surroundings.



The whistles of exotic birds became more noticeable. A high-pitched and plaintive one here. A more raucous one there. One sounded like it was made by a tiny but courageous bird, unafraid to announce where it was despite its vulnerability. And all of these were only the most noticeable calls against a complex cacophony of cheeps, caws and whistles.



She opened her eyes again and checked her environment once more. There wasn't anything visible that hadn't been there before but nevertheless she walked on, hopping on the rocks when she could (it was more silent that way and less likely that she'd attract the attention of any local feral tigers), and striding confidently on the carpet of fallen leaves when the rocks ran out.



Rumour had it that a golden statue of Ganesha resided deep in the forest, and that the cavern in which it stood was almost more glorious than the statue itself. That was all the information that Eiriol had been able to find - there were no other details to be found about the supposed glory of the cavern. So she'd gone to find it herself, to see it and ideally, to record it.



She was loosely following a tributary of the Ganges river, using it as a guide to take her in the right direction. As was her usual habit she kept a certain distance from the body of water but always kept it within sight so as not to lose it.



And then it had the bad manners to curl around in front of her.



"Damn it," muttered Eiriol to nofur but herself. She'd been wary of water since an accident in her childhood where she'd almost drowned in a lake frozen over with a sheet of ice. It had been terrifying, traumatic in fact, so although she'd been rescued and there was no risk of ice to get trapped under around here, still she felt haunted by an old fear that made little sense given the current context. Usually she kept a distance between herself and the water just out of habit, but now...



She had to cross it.



Eiriol looked up at the nearest tree. And then she eyed up the trees on the opposite bank. The distance was only around twenty-five meters, she could climb up and glide it, even with her backpack.



With one more resentful look at the flowing brown water, she grabbed a lumpy part of the nearest tree's bark and began the climb. Soon she found herself high enough and walked delicately out onto a branch. She paused, gauged the distance and felt the ambient temperature (she'd be taking advantage of some thermal buoyancy) - took an instinctive guess at the angle she'd have to keep her wings to, and ran as close to the end of the branch as she dared.



She opened her wings and leapt.



Eiriol glanced down at the water and felt her stomach lurch despite the stability of her wings. And then the thrill came. She may not have liked water but she loved a good stirring of her adrenal glands. And gliding over the water gave her a buzz that made her want to sing. But instead, she simply took a deep breath and enjoyed the breeze in her fringe and floppy ears.



"Is look!"



"Land creature!"



Something reared out of the water in her peripheral vision and she snapped her head to the right to see it. But all she saw was a swirl of dirty water filling the gap where somefur - or something - had been a moment before.



"Land creature! Land creature!"



Eiriol looked to her left and saw something with absurdly long jaws and vicious teeth. It reared down into the water before she could focus on it any better.



"Look up!"



"Look!"



There were lots of them! "Hello?" she called back.



"Stop! Talk!"



"Must talk!"



"I can't! I have to get to the shore," she said at the same time as one part of her brain said, We have to find out what they want! We'll be wondering for the rest of our lives if we don't stop. and another part of her brain screamed, Don't let yourself get distracted! There's water down there! Keep gliding!



Oh, and a third part of her brain pointed out, Did they even hear you? They're only above water for a second.



"Stop! Land creature! Stop!"



"Stop!"



"Yes!" she shouted back irritably, wobbling on her wings slightly. "Just give me a second, I have to get to land first." The tree on the other side was close now but she wasn't sure whether to still aim for that or glide down to the ground instead. Her wings decided to do both, so instead of course she did neither.



"Wait! Wait! Talk!"



She dipped below the line of the branch and hurtled towards the trunk. She gasped with alarm as her body instinctively manoeuvred itself to land on the vertical trunk as her brain frantically shouted a warning about the extra weight of her backpack and gripping extra-hard to compensate but not to grip too hard in case the bark came off in her paws and then she landed on the trunk.



She refocussed her attention on what she could see (for a moment there she'd been all proprioception), hugged the trunk for dear life for a moment and then, when she was sure she wasn't going to rip the bark off, slid bit by bit down to the ground.



She walked to the river bank, her body still buzzing from the chaotic landing. "Right," she said with more confidence than she felt, and knelt down. "What did you say you wanted?"



Three sets of needle-like jaws set into long and delicate snouts broke free of the murky brown water. Sage-green heads with tiny, pin-hole eyes bent towards her and short little pectoral fins stabilized the ferals.



Eri knew these creatures. Ganges river dolphins! "What is it?" she asked, desperately curious now.



"Snakes. Disappearing," said one.



Eiriol tilted her head in confusion. "Where to?"



"Dust. Disappear," asserted another.



"Echolocate at snake. Snake disappear. Dust," agreed the third. "No more snake."



The jackalope fell quiet for a moment to let this sink in. "Oh," was all she could think to say, although her brain tutted at her for not saying anything more intelligent. And what response are they expecting? I can't just say 'oh' and leave it at that! "So... what effect is this having?"



"Fish!" cried out the first. Eiriol didn't speak to dolphins very often but she thought this sounded like something of a lament.



"Fish! Fish!" echoed the other two and dipped their snouts into the water before rearing back up.



Eiriol tried to figure out what to make of this display. "You look upset. What's happening to the fish?"



"No fish! Eat fish, fish gone. No more fish."



Well, that seemed obvious. If you ate something then it was no longer visible outside of you. This had to be about something more sinister - they wouldn't have stopped her to talk otherwise. "You mean the fish are disappearing?"



"Yes! Yes!" More distraught splashing.



Eiriol pinched her lip as she tried to think about what this meant. "So are they not breeding?"



One of the dolphins blasted from its blowhole. "And plant! No plant."



The other two dolphins went relatively quiet and tilted their heads as if listening to their companion.



"What?" she asked it.



It righted itself in the water. In its own facially unexpressive way she felt sure it was focussing, being intent on her, pushing its point home.



"Plant in river before. Now plant thin. Plant die. Like fish."



Was it Eiriol's imagination or were the other two dolphins frozen in horror? One of them ducked under and then the other followed it. A few seconds later they resurfaced thrashing, crying and waving their snouts around.



"Oh guys," she said, unsure what else to say to comfort a pod of distraught dolphins. The greed and idiocy of anthros meant that pollution affected biodiversity even here. It was so sad, what could she say to these rare beings when her fellow anthros - even herself - had contributed to the problem? "But why are you telling me all of this?"



"Help!"



"Help? How?"



"Anthro. You have power. You make it better!"



Oh, hell. "Guys," she said patiently and lowered down so she was lying on her front and could look these poor dolphins in the eye, even if that was more for her benefit than theirs. At that moment she didn't care about getting mud down her front. "I know anthros have technology and expertise in a lot of things. But this is pollution. It's not something I can fix alone. And... I'm sorry," she said earnestly, running her hand through the water. It was muddy but could still have been pollution-free for all she'd known. Except... it wasn't. Pollution had affected life even here. "I'd love to put it right but I can't. If any one anthro could then they'd have done it a long time ago."



She wasn't quite sure how to approach the subject, but their insistence that the snakes were turning into dust was surely a fabrication. They were just dying. That had to be it.



The two dolphins who'd gone quiet before fell silent again but the third splashed defiantly. "No! This not anthro poison! Help!"



Eiriol felt as if she'd been slapped. Just occasionally a feral would call pollution poison. It was an aggressive choice of word, often spat with anger, hissed or growled. Its use was challenging, confrontational. A symbol of feral resentment about what was so often done to their environment and to themselves.



She recovered herself, although her heart continued to beat fast from nerves. The last thing she wanted to do was argue with a local, feral or not. "Well, if it's not anthro poison, what can it be? Do you have any idea?"



The dolphin went quiet and dipped its snout.



"Do you not know," she prompted, "or don't you want to say?"



"Don't know. Snake disappear. Not see this before."



Snake disappear. It sounded unscientific, impossible. Either these dolphins were imagining the local snakes turning to dust (or making it up), or something very strange was happening. And ferals were not known for their strong imaginations or for fibbing. She had to get to the bottom of this. In a moment Eiriol decided to do her best to see it for herself. The jackalope leaned on one elbow and dug her fingers into her fringe as she tried to think how to solve this puzzle. "Is this just happening in the water or on land too?" They might not know but she figured it was worth asking.



"Don't know."



"And the snakes are the only creatures you've actually seen disappear before your eyes? Echolocation," she corrected herself. "And everything else just seems to be reducing in numbers?"



"Yes." The dolphin seemed to have calmed down now although its pectoral fins still looked tense.



This was clearly something she needed to observe herself. "Can you take me to where there are some snakes?"



The dolphin sank down into the water and began to swim upstream. "Follow. Susu know where to find."






xXx






The Susu led her to a place where the river cut into the land a little, where the water became shallow and they could only swim with difficulty among the tree roots.



"Here." said the leader, swishing in a graceful circle in the water and apparently trying to avoid stirring up debris. "Watch for snake."



Eiriol found a relatively safe-looking tree trunk and sat down on it. "Okay."



Ferals often were not strong conversationalists and Eiriol had discovered on their fifteen minute trip that the Susu were no exception. So as it became clear they all had to wait, she decided to eat her lunch. The mangrove smelled pretty bad but maybe that was no bad thing - she'd just eat slow. Heck, it'd pass the time until a snake showed up.



Which happened almost immediately. "Look!" said one of the lead Susu's companions, turning its snout as close to vertical as it could manage. "Snake!"



She squinted into the dappled shadows. Sure enough, a mossy green snake lay across a branch, curled up into a coil. It had spotted Eiriol but was a long way out of striking range - if it was even a danger in the first place.



"Uh-huh, I can see it."



The lead Susu swam on its side in a semi-circle around the edge of the mangrove. "Snake," it said almost casually and pointed its snout at another branch.



"Yup," she answered, swallowing a mouthful of sandwich. "I see."



She took the initiative at this point and looked around for more. She spotted two more snakes which she pointed out to the dolphins. Once she was sure there were no more to be seen she simply waited. Waited in the smelly humidity and cloying heat, grateful that she at least didn't have to sit out in the open sunshine but wishing for a breeze.



And then one of them hissed with alarm and collapsed. Literally, collapsed into dust. Eiriol watched, her jaw hanging, as its remains drifted down to the surface of the water and floated there, slowly dispersing.



"Oh... Hell." She looked wide-eyed at the lead dolphin. "Susu, it disappeared!"



It rolled in the water as if in agreement. "All snake disappear soon."



And lead to how many extinctions? This was a disaster - it had to be stopped! "Yeah. We've got to do something about this."






xXx






Eiriol'd had an idea at that point. Since something apparently unnatural was already happening it seemed to make sense. She pulled out her travel guide and looked for references to wildlife folklore and in particular, snakes.



Snakes are a symbol of fertility and are therefore seen as welcome in the waterways of India. Due to the shedding of their skin they have come to symbolize fertility and the constant cycle of life. They are considered to be half-divine, half-demonic, and protectors of all the earthly treasures.



"Hey Susu," she said, "what do you think of this?" She read the dolphins the passage.



"Snake make life," the leader agreed, splashing itself languidly with one fin.



"Make the water live. Make plant live," gurgled one of its companions.



"Make fish live," said the third.



"Without snake," the leader continued, "All life die."



Had these guys never heard of sexual reproduction? And yet, everything they and the guide book were saying fit together. What the hell have you gotten yourself into, Eri? she asked herself.



TO BE CONTINUED...

Commission: Eiriol's Adventure - chapter 1
Something strange is happening in the Indian rainforest: the snakes are dying, fading into dust in the blink of an eye. When a young jackalope named Eiriol discovers this and sees the effect it will have on the life around the Ganges, she decides to solve the mystery and put it right.

Character by eiriol of FurAffinity
Artwork by vekke of FurAffinity
Loading...
Watching the Waves




Watching the Waves




It was big, but somehow invisible. But he could definitely see it. It loomed over him like a mountain and he knew that its claws hung over his head like a crab's pincers. It wanted to grab him. He didn't get the sense that it wanted to eat him, but it definitely wanted to consume him somehow. He could sense the evil coming from its eyes, wicked tendrils of steaming light that he could never focus on.



He could never see its shape but he knew it was there, all the same. Its presence was too strong.



It was little, like a dangerous feral that only came up to your ankle but still wanted to kill you. He</i> knew it could kill him if it wanted. The evil came off it like heat from a piece of coal, a world of peril distilled into its tiny size. Maybe it was poisonous, or maybe it just had very sharp teeth. It was definitely dangerous, maybe more so than when it was big because...



He didn't know why. And anyway, it </i> was big.



Either way, it was coming for him, sprinting over the barren, rocky ground and coming for him with the intent to slay him. The sky behind it was red, but not like a sunset. Not quite.



Everything was danger.



He turned and ran, his paws thumping the rock as he pumped his limbs as fast as they could go.



He couldn't run anything like fast enough. The monster caught up with him-</i>



-and suddenly there was his bedroom, blinking into existence even as he kicked and pushed to try and get the beast away, to scramble away from its hunger.



He was out of danger. He stopped moving and listened for a moment. The beast wasn't there. He could still feel its presence but now he knew that it couldn't be real, couldn't be here. That it had just been another nightmare. All that his paws had pushed away were his bed sheets and pillow.



He was stretched out from one diagonal corner of the bed to the other. He felt hot and his breath was short.



The truth sank in: he'd had another nightmare.



Clarence whimpered, grabbed the bed sheets and pulled them back up around himself, not to keep warm but so that he had something to hug, to hide under. Once he was under there and able to retreat into the warm, fuggy darkness, his mind did the same thing as it always did after a bad dream: it raced. Why did the monster keep hunting him? Was it coming to get him for real? Could a dream-monster hurt you if it got real enough? It felt real, every time it appeared.



Clarence wriggled further under the sheets and stared through a crack between the covers at his wardrobe door for a short while, seeing imaginary faces in the streaks of the wood and the folds of his tshirts.



As the light coming in through the curtains got brighter the fear faded into gloominess. Clarence didn't feel particularly safer, just sadder. After a while he decided that the sheets couldn't offer the comfort he'd hoped for so he swung his paws down onto the floorboards and stood up.



Brady had helped him to learn a morning routine so he went through it: he went to the bathroom, washed his face, brushed his fringe and found a tshirt and pants to put on. It was tedious, but following his new adoptive father's instructions felt reassuring at a time like this. They were gentle-feeling rules, different from his real dad's.



Only when he got to the top of the stairs did he realize that he was about to see Brady and his adopted siblings, and that made him stop for a moment. They weren't bad furs - they didn't feel evil - but he felt too scared to be near them. They didn't know about the monster. They'd never had the dream so they all acted as if everything was okay.



And maybe they were right, maybe it was. But Clarence didn't feel like it was.



But then there was Gene, Brady's nephew. At the thought of this, Clarence brightened a little - just enough to give him the strength to face the others - and went downstairs.



He could hear the sounds of ceramic bowls clinking, the rustle of bread being taken out of a paper bag, bits of talking, and the bitter-rich smell of Brady's morning coffee. But Clarence didn't want breakfast. He knew he should be hungry. He also knew he should feel happy that Brady's breakfasts were nicer than his mom and dad's, but he looked at the scene and felt like he didn't want it. He felt guilty about that, but he just didn't want it.



Gene was on the opposite side of the table spreading a thick layer of jam on a slice of bread. He looked up, his face carefree, and saw Clarence.



And Clarence saw that he knew.



That was the thing about Gene. He was as carefree as the others, but somehow he knew what it was like for Clarence. Clarence had never had to explain - actually, he couldn't explain. He didn't know the words for most of what he felt, the things he'd seen - but Gene still knew.



The German Shepherd didn't say anything. Instead he stood up from his place at the table and walked towards the door. He gave Clarence enough of a look to tell him, You can come with me, to make the hyena follow.



Clarence looked at Brady in the hope that it would be okay to skip breakfast. It was Brady's house, after all, and Clarence knew that daddies wanted things done their way under their own roofs. He knew that from his own dad.



The sand-coloured spots above Brady's eyebrows lifted a little and he paused mid-sip of his coffee as he saw Gene open the front door, as he noticed Clarence standing there not knowing who to obey. And then he gave a sort of lop-sided smile, or maybe a kind of nod, and Clarence knew it was okay to go.



He followed Gene outside with a feeling of relief.



Brady's house sat at the edge of a beach, just where the grass and soil gave way to sand. The summer meant that the sand was usually warm, and at the times it wasn't warm it was pleasingly cool instead. As Clarence followed Gene through the front door, across the boards that made up the floor of the open wooden porch and onto the sand he felt his body relax - in fact, the effect was so sudden that he felt it with a kind of jolt.



The sky was blue and the sun already high, but the sun's heat was gentle and pleasant and not fierce like it could be. Clarence found himself so profoundly aware of being surrounded by gentleness that he stopped in his tracks. On a whim he took his visual attention away from the sight of his environment and felt it  instead. The give of sand under his paws, slightly cool from the night before and moulding to his paw-pads. The mild air that neither burned dry nor chilled the wet leather of his nose, and the slight tang of salt and minerals and seaweed. Nature's smells. The cry of a seagull, always a relaxed sound despite the full-throated effort the gulls put into their song. The roar of the sea, which never had the aggression of a lion's roar, only the slow and leisurely pulse of a grown-up's breath.



Clarence had heard Brady's breath from close-up two days after he'd come to the house. The hyena had been protecting himself by staying a distance away from everyfur, but finally had found himself unable to bear the isolation any longer and launched himself at Brady, trembling uncontrollably and wrapping his arms around him and hoping to whatever god existed in this cruel world that the big dog would never, ever leave him. He'd clamped his eyes shut and pressed the side of his head hard against the German Shepherd's belly. There had been silence, and then he'd felt pressure against the side of his face as Brady took in a breath, and then the lessening of that pressure as he'd breathed out again. And then Clarence had felt his new father's strength as he was picked up and held, and his heart had broken as he'd heard the words, It's okay son, you're here now. You're going to be okay.



He'd silently doubted that Brady really thought of him as his son because Brady was a German Shepherd Dog and Clarence was a hyena. Even Clarence knew that Sheps could only have other Sheps for sons. But...



But somehow, somewhere deep in the pit of his stomach, Clarence couldn't quite believe that Brady wasn't his father. Despite the ugly, icky story his hyena father had once irritably told him about where cubs came from, he found enough space within himself to tentatively believe that he was Brady's son.



Brady's breath, like the sea against the shore, was strong and calmly certain of itself. They both breathed as if they had all the time in the world.



Something else had happened during those hellish two days. However much Clarence had refused to play the games and eat at the table and hidden himself away and mistrustfully watched the family enjoying each others' company. There had always been one particular pair of eyes tracking him. Watchful eyes. Bright canine eyes that said I'm here and I know you're there too. And they hadn't been Brady's eyes, as protective as the older Shep was.



It was his nephew, Gene, who had reached Clarence in a way that Brady hadn't quite been able to. Despite the fact that Clarence refused to speak to him just like he refused to speak to anyfur else, Gene had been there with him the whole time. Not in a tormenting way - the Shep hadn't hounded him. It had been a reassuring presence.



I know you're there, Clarence. Come out when you're ready. It's okay, I know where you've been and what it was like.



Clarence had been afraid of Gene's interest in him, mostly out of sheer reflex. And then he'd got irritated that he wouldn't go away. But eventually, he'd found that the sheer constancy of Gene's presence became reassuring and the sense of the Shep's survival instinct had become irresistible.



Gene had never said anything to him, not about the feeling, the security he seemed able to make Clarence feel, but it was understood between them. Brady had a way with words in the way that grown-ups always seemed to, but Gene had a way of telling him that everything was okay, that worked.



Clarence didn't know the words to explain how Gene did that. All he knew was that he felt better when Gene was around. Safer.



Gene found a dune and sat on it. He looked confidently out to sea as a few grains of sand trickled down from his butt to his ankles and down to where the sand went flat. Clarence sat next to him.



They were silent together for a while and Clarence mostly felt better because of it. "I had a nightmare again," he said eventually.



"I know," Gene answered with just the right combination of weight (which said, 'that's too bad') and brightness (which said, 'but it's over now. And it wasn't real'). His friendly glance towards Clarence helped too.



Clarence went quiet again and watched the movements of the beach: a handful of sandpipers running to and fro as they pecked food out of the sand between the waves that broke on the shore. "Will Brady be angry that we came out here?"



He knew the answer, but for some reason he couldn't explain he wanted to hear it from Gene.



"Nah," came the easy reply. The Shep glanced at Clarence. "But do you want to eat?"



Clarence found a fragment of Gene's resilience within himself and smiled. "Okay."



And they went back to the hut.





THE END.

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.

Examples

You can find most of my examples on the second page of my gallery, but here are a few links for your convenience:

Coming soon

COMMISSION PRICES

I charge £10 per 1,000 words I write. This currently comes to approximately $16.50 (USD) but please be aware that rates may fluctuate. Here is a handy link to convert the rate to your currency: www.oanda.com/currency/convert…

1,000 word story – £10 (GBP)
2,000 word story – £20 (GBP)
5,000 word story – £50 (GBP)
8,000 word story – £80 (GBP)
10,000 word story – £100 (GBP)

Terms

- I am happy to discuss your ideas, queries and requirements, so if you aren't sure yet what you want your story to contain then please feel free to Note me.
- I accept payment by Paypal before work on your story begins.
- My only limits are underage and rape.
- I deliver in instalments of around 1,000 words, at least once per week per customer, in your choice of format as far as I am able.
- I am happy to make minor changes to the story once I have begun to write it.
- If I have not yet provided the quantity of story you requested then I am happy to discuss providing a full or partial refund, or substitute the rest of the story with a psychological reference sheet.

Warm wishes,

Palantean Writer

 

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Palantean

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

Kind regards,
Ayumu-Haruto
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