Dawn breaches early, a soft tickling on the back of my neck, warm breathing.
Instinctively, I slap at it, moving away, only to divert my hand at the last moment, remembering I’m in bed.
Kara shifts in her sleep, lips smacking softly and face scrunching for a few moments, as I slowly pull myself away from her, slipping out of the sheets. Mr Johnson won’t be happy if he finds her in here, less so if he’d seen me under the sheets. Still… she looks to peaceful to wake, at least for now. Besides, it’s a few hours until my master usually wakes.
Sighing, I let her get some more sleep, easing the windows open to let some air in, I pull out a few more books and start hastily scribbling some more notes.
About an hour in, she bolts upright, long ears twitching, eyes wide. “Someone’s coming up the path towards the house.” She tells me, yawning quietly. “No, two people, and an animal with them. I think it might be a dog? Whatever it is, it’s not happy, ‘sbeing dragged along and scratching at the ground something fierce.”
>I’ll go check it out
>Want to come with? Just keep your hood down
>Wake Mr Johnson, he usually handles customers.
Mr Johnson usually handles customers, best leave it to him.
He grumbles and groans about his bones as I knock on his door, stumbling to open it. “What?” He demands, voice hoarse, door barely opening, keeping my view of his room restricted, like always.
“Kara says she heard customers coming up the road, just thought I’d wake you first.” He harrumphs, retreating back into his room. “I’ll deal with that then, you two stay here, I want the house cleaned while I’m out today.”
He reappears in the hall a few moments later. “Now, don’t go getting in a tizzy if I don’t come back until late.” He sighs, “If their job is close by, I’ll be going right to it.” He taps his staff against the floor, “Anything that’ll take more than a day, and I’ll be back here for food.”
He nods, heading down the stairs, combing his fingers through his greying beard, “Just don’t let the girl in the library, alright? Don’t want her knocking anything over. A single book out of line, and it’s on your head, understood?” He trudges towards the door, “And it better not be the bloody army come to take that girl, because I’ll hand her over in a heartbeat.”
>I’m not coming with you?
I nod, “Yes sir, understood.” Really hoping that’s just part of his cranky old man humour…
He nods and trundles off down the path, Marmalade sparing him a glance as he passes by her, the cat sunning herself on the lip of the well.
I dig the cleaning supplies out, as Kara makes her way down to the kitchen, clutching her arms about herself. “Freezing today.” She murmurs, “Wish I could just stay under the blankets and keep warm.
It is a little nippy, coming into late November, the first early winter chills blowing down on Arling, but nothing too harsh.
Still, Kara’s not from around here. I stoke the coals from last night, heading upstairs, I fetch a thick woolen sweater of mine to wear, letting her start on breakfast, while I make a start on the library, slotting books back into their shelves.
I glance along the rows of bookshelves, dusting with an old cloth, stamping out any spiders nests I find and sweeping the floor clean, in long, monotonous rows, making sure to get every nook and cranny clean, leaving the windows open to air out the room, I move on to the rest of the upper floor, barring the spooks bedroom.
He never lets anyone in there, but I accidentally bump it with the broom handle when I sweep past, the light nudge cracking it ajar.
I glance over at it. Usually he keeps the door locked with a key he keeps on himself. I’ve never seen more than the crack he opens the door inside before, but now it’s hanging open.
>Take a look inside, what’s the harm?
>Shut the door, get back to work
I grab the handle and quickly pull it shut, turning back around to find Marmalade staring up at me, her claws retracting. Nodding her head once, she gives a quiet meow, before she brushes against my leg, slipping off down the hallway.
Well, that could have gone badly. I continue sweeping down the hall, finishing off by the staircase, just as I’m told breakfast is ready.
Kara shovels down her breakfast, going through about six times my helping in the same amount of time it takes to finish my eggs. Girl’s a machine, sighing contentedly as she sets her last bowl aside. “Hopefully Mr Smith doesn’t call you away on a job tonight.” She says, “It’d stop our- examination, tonight.”
Oh right, I set a book aside, for making notes once the moon rises, before we return to work, Kara helping clean the ground floor this time, we finish much quicker, leaving not much to do. With how early I woke up, I’m about a week ahead of my notes.
the vegetable garden is fully maintained by Kara, kept weed free and clean… there’s just nothing much left to do.
Kara stares out over the garden, watching as Marmalade tries to swipe butterflies out of the air, “Wonder if she knows that they’ll be dead soon?” Kara mutters, “With winter coming.”
“Mr Johnson said she’s as sentient as you or I.” I shrug, “Presumably she knows.”
Kara makes a small noise in her throat, hugging herself deeper into the oversized sweater. “Well, is there anything you want to do?” She asks. “We could… go fishing, the two of us? You liked the fish from last night, didn’t you?”
>Fishing sounds fun
“Fishing sounds fun, actually.” She shoots me a smile, disappearing into the small cupboard Mr Johnson keeps tools in, before merging with a single fishing rod.
“He’s only got the one, but we can take turns?”
Sounds like a plan, though the rod stands as tall as the tip of her ears. I offer to take it from her, slinging it over my shoulders as we walk down to the village. No sign of my master as we pass by the bell used to call us from the house, though if I squint, I can make out the strange footprints of an animal. Not quite a dog’s but about the same size.
Still, no sign of a struggle, I shrug it off, and duck through the trees, taking a shortcut towards town.
The fish are out in force this early in the morning, some lapping at the surface to snatch bugs, and I quickly throw the line out, the floater bobbing as we sit against a tree, huddling close for warmth in the morning chill.
The first fish comes from the water in just a minute of waiting, eager to sample the bobbing floater, a sharp wrench pulling it up into the grass, before I hand it off to Kara. She glances around, making sure her hood is pulled low, before casting the line out.
“I should have gotten thicker pants before we left.” Kara mutters, keeping the stick held between her thighs, massaging some heat back into her legs. “I don’t know how you can all stand to live somewhere like this.” That said, she presses herself even closer to my side, her shivering rattling through my arm.
>”I’m sure I’d say the same of the heat in Lapina”
>”This is fairly moderate, just wait til winter really kicks in”
>Maybe we should head home then?
>Offer your cloak for her legs
I pull my cloak off and drape it over her legs, “I’m sure I’d be saying the same thing of the heat, if we were in Lapina.” I counterpoint.
She nods, both in appreciation of my point, and out of thankfulness for the warmth, before giving a mighty yank of the fishing rod. It nearly bends to the point of snapping for a moment, before the fish surfaces, Kara yanking it up and out of the water with a few more determined yanks.
The thing is enormous, putting my catch to shame, as it flounders in the grass, trying to return to the water. I quickly hurry forward and scoop it away from the bank, making sure it can’t escape, as I take the rod back for my turn.
“So, Leon…” She begins, “Would, um- it be okay if I slept…” She ducks her head, burying it in her knees and shaking her head. “Never mind.”
I decide not to push her, as another fish catches the line pulling it from the water with a few sharp tugs.
Just at that point, Alison’s father rounds a bend in the river, flowing down towards us and scaring all the fish off. “Morning!” He calls, oblivious to our attempts, bringing his barge to a stop. “How’s me girl been treating ye? Any new bruises?” He doesn’t seem to approve of his daughters love of swordplay and rough housing, but he’s glad that I’ve been spending time with her at the least.
In response, I roll my sleeves up, showing a nasty welt where she’d stung me on the upper forearm, “She’s getting better by the day Mr Varren.” I call back.
He sighs and nods his head, “Aye, and I’m sure that’ll do her well when it comes to raising some grandkids for me. Still, it’s not like she’d listen to me. And it makes her happy, so what can I tell her?”
>She was causing trouble yesterday, there were some soldiers.
>Was she always so… full of energy?
>Have a good day Mr Varren
I have to ask, “Mr Varren, was Alison always so… rambunctious?”
His eyebrows raise, “Fancy word you got there, for asking if my daughters screwy in the head.” He smiles a little, a hint of sadness in it. “But to answer your question, no.” He shakes his head, “Only started after her poor mother got swallowed by the sea, rest her soul.” He pulls his hat off, holding it over his heart solemnly for moment.
“Wh-what got her?” Kara asks, “Waves?”
He shakes his head, “No lass, not waves, though those certainly didn’t help. We were crossing the Closed Sea on a cog, my wife was pregnant at the time and playing with Alison on the deck.” He spits in the river, watching it swirl away in the current, “Out of nowhere, without even a hint, a giant beast, with the torso of a woman leapt from the sea, and just-” He snaps his fingers, “Got’s claws in her. Yanked her over the side, never to be seen again. Just a stream of bubbles that slowly stopped.”
He pulls his cap back on, smile gone now, “Alison was never quite the same after that. Think she’s pushed the memory from her mind entirely, I don’t like to talk about it much… Now she thinks she wants to be queen of the oceans. Might be she thinks she can track down the bitch that killed her mother and yank her back.” He shrugs, “I dunno, but as long as she keeps spending all her money on trinkets, and stays working the rivers with me, she’s safe at least.”
“That’s awful.” Kara mumbles, “I’m so sorry.”
He spits again, “Aye, it wasn’t pretty, but ye move on. Or, you try to, at least.” He shakes his head, “Anyway, I got places to be, salt to deliver. Later on, the two of you.”
Kara shrinks back against the tree trunk, as the cog flows on, the fish long gone. “I… that’s horrible.”
“It’s not good.” You agree. “And on top of that, I don’t think we’re going to get much more on the hook.”
>You want to go see her?
>Should we check on Ash?
>Come on, let’s go home.
I hold a hand out to her, “Come on, let’s head home. The fish will spoil uncanny fast.”
She nods, picking herself up, handing my cloak back with an appreciative nod, while I scoop our lunch up. It’s a short walk back through the woods, Kara taking the line, her shivering dying down a little as the sun rises over the village.
We toss a fish to Marmalade as we enter the garden, the cat scooping it up and hurrying off into the bushes conspiratorially, like we’re going to steal it from her. With some quick scaling and gutting, I set the fish frying, while Kara watches the sun through the window.
“About… six hours until sunset.” She sighs. “Is it just me, or does the day feel like it’s going very slowly?”
A little, I have to admit… I wonder what Mr Johnson is up too.
A loud, ferocious yowling suddenly springs up from behind the house, Marmalade sounds like she’s going insane, spitting and hissing.
I glance towards the back door, before grabbing my staff and bolting out into the yard, following the hissing around a hedge to find the cat hissing at a pit, iron bars set over the opening, her fish gone, the sounds of dedicated eating rising up from inside. A witch got her meal seems like, and by the sign planted in the ground nearby, she’s got no tongue, the church having cut it out, before the spook caught her.
>Let it have it, can’t get it back now
>Throw some salt and iron in there
I shake my head, “Sorry girl, can’t get it back now.”
The cat looks up at me imploringly, her pupils dilating enormously. “If you’re trying to guilt me into fetching it…. you can have the next one, alright?”
Marmalade seems content with that, rounding back to the house with a flick of her tail. I glance into the pit for a half moment, before recoiling, half rotted, bubbly grey green skin burned into your brain, a stench like hell itself opened.
Well, that was unpleasant, I quickly make my own way back to the house, handing the spare off to the cat before eating my own lunch. With not much else to do, I chop some firewood for the house for a few hours, making sure we’ve got enough to last for nearly two weeks, while Kara sits with the cat, Marmalade content to laze around with her second meal.
“Leon?” Kara calls out, “I’ve been thinking… what if Letuh, and whoever he was working with, what if they come back again? While you and Mr Johnson are away on work?” She scratches the cat’s ears, “Marmalade can stop a few people, but if he comes back with a group…”
>We could set up a bolt hole for you?
>You should learn how to fight with Alison and I
>Obviously, you’ll have to come with us on jobs, right?
>You should learn how to fight with Alison and I
>Obviously, you’ll have to come with us on jobs, right?
There can be times she can come with us. But when she can't, she should learn some self defense to protect herself. Plus learning to protect herself makes it safer for her should she come on missions.
I scratch the back of my neck, thinking about it for a moment, “Maybe you could learn how to defend yourself, with Alison and me?”
Her lips quirk, as she gestures at her... rather diminutive body, “I think I'm a bit on the short side… but I guess I can give it a go?”
“Other than that, the obvious answer is too have you come with us, on the job.” I conclude.
She nods, “I’d like too… but with how people react… it might be just making more trouble, and I don’t think Mr Johnson would be a very big fan of the idea.”
Oh yeah, he’d be almost dead set against the idea. Still, “We can only ask, and see what he thinks.”
She nods, her ears flapping about, starting to respond, before that “NnnnNNNnn.” Noise comes out, Kara quickly covering her mouth in embarrassment. “Sorry.” She murmurs, cheeks reddening, “The moon’s starting to rise.” Her hair’s getting bushier and thicker too, and her ears are twitching every so often. “Oh, I’ll take your sweater off now, in case I transform early, I wouldn’t want to tear it.”
She quickly hurries into the house, disappearing inside.
A loud caw cuts through the silence, a raven swooping down to sit on the bench, dark eyes glimmering, as it claws a letter off of it’s ankle, looking to me, then pecking it expectantly.
Cautiously, I approach, before snatching it up, away from the bird’s beak and unroll it, finding the spooks handwriting inside. “Boy. Been dragged away overnight on work, tracking some sort of ‘rat’ creature, seems to have some dark magic engorging it. Will contact if it’s a lapine. Don’t know when will return. If not in a week, ask for me in Tarlick, small village, just follow the river towards Oendal, can’t miss it.”
He doesn’t sign it, but I recognise the handwriting, even if it is a bit spidery.
Still, wonder where he got the raven from.
>Tell Kara it has to wait, you’re going to Tarlick
>Trust him, wait here for now
I shrug, best to trust him, before a sharp pain stabs into my wrist. I look down at the raven, pecking at my hand expectantly, before I read the backside of the note. “P.S. Feed the bird.”
I sigh, pocketing the note, and head towards the vegetable garden plucking a mostly grown tomato from the vine, before tossing it towards the bird.
It savages the thing for a few moments, before cawing contentedly, flapping off in a fluttering of wings. Kara re-emerges a few minutes later, carrying my notebook out for me, staring up at the moon. “It won’t be long now.” She mutters under her breath, holding her arm out for me to see, “Look!” I peer closer, noticing fine white hairs sprouting from her skin, almost invisible to the eye.
“Fascinating.” I start scribbling, as Kara tells me that only lapines who don’t have full mastery of their transformation go through this transitional stage.
“Well, I’ll… ahem, have to get ready.” She mutters, shrugging her cloak off, hands on the buttons of her shirt. “Are you… going to have dinner while I do this, or…” She pops the first button below her collar free, “Wait out here?”
>Go eat, give her privacy
>“Are you… going to have dinner while I do this, or…” She pops the first button below her collar free, “Wait out here?”
Well now... Pretty sure the 17 prevents us completely failing, but spaghetti will be spilled, it seems.
I grit my teeth, “I-I’ll stay. That’s if it’s alright with you?”
She smiles a little to herself, “Sure, I don’t mind, it’s for your notes, after all.”
I can feel my pulse throbbing in my neck, hear it pounding in my ears, shifting awkwardly and hunching over, as she pops a few more buttons loose, making her way down her stomach, letting it hang open, but the loose halves only just covering her pert chest, as she starts to lower her pants, a hint of fluffy white hairs poking out from her waist-
What’s this hot stuff coming out of my nose? And why do I feel so lightheaded all of a sudden? I dab at my face, hand coming away red. “Datsh not good.” I mumble to myself.
Next thing I know, something large and heavy is nudging me in the side, and I’m staring up at the sky.
The back of my head hurts, why…?
My senses come back as something large, warm and wet laps along my face, and I bolt upright. Kara’s been watching over me, now fully transformed in the full moon’s light. Seems I passed out. “Nnneeee-Onnnn.” She manages to whine, nuzzling her nose against the side of my face.
I pick myself up, wiping at my face, uncomfortably aware of a… unpleasant warmth by my crotch.
I pick myself up slowly, Kara continuing to nuzzle my side, her head near level with mine when she rests on all fours. “I’m… okay.” I grunt, feeling at the back of my head, no cuts at least. I wipe the small nosebleed off on a rag, before giving her a smile. “All good.”
Her ears perk up, before twitching out to the sides, “NNnnnN?”
Whatever that means.
>I have to... get changed, very dusty.
>Brush it off, get the notebook, get to work
I doubt it, from what she told us it sounds like lapine society's a lot more open about these sorts of things than Leon's.
Maybe she's puzzled as to why someone would jizz themselves just from seeing a girl naked.
I cough awkwardly, “I… uh, have to get changed. Very dusty from my fall.”
I shuffle back into the house, maintaining my hunch, feeling her eyes on my back, her nose twitching in a very rabbity fashion.
As soon as the door shuts behind me, I hurry my way upstairs, hurriedly peeling my clothes off and stuffing them in a corner until I can wash them.
With a fresh set of clothes, I feel… a little cleaner, re-emerging to find her patiently waiting in the garden. Grabbing up my notebook, I try to ignore the red on my face, before asking her to stand side on, sketching out her body.
I’m not exactly the best artist, but it comes out serviceable, and I can clean it up later, before I have her pose up on her hind legs, her enormous form looming up over me in dark. If I didn’t know it was Kara, I’d probably be intimidated in the extreme if I saw that coming towards me.
I put the thought aside, sketching out her shape again, before getting a few more notes that I can take in without Kara telling me, the texture and density of her fur, length of her body, ears, feet size and shape, the basic run down.
The fact that she’s not even fully grown pops into my head, setting me wondering just how tall she’ll get like this. I’ll have to ask her when she’s turned back.
After a few hours, I’ve got all the notes I’m going to get out of observation, and both Kara and I are clearly flagging in energy from our early starts.
I call it a night, setting my book down, Kara curls up in a half moon shape, seemingly unbothered by the chill, now that her fur has fully come in. Her head lifts to face me, a paw thumping at the curl created between her her back legs and chest.
I think… she’s offering to let me sleep in the gap, warmed by her fur
>Sure, why not
>I think a bed would be better for me.
>See if you can get her back in the house, she can squeeze.
“Sure, just give me a minute.” I hurry back to my room once more, fetching blankets and dragging them down to the yard. “It’ll get cold, once you turn back.” I explain, before nesting down in the gap, her body heat radiating out enough heat through her ribs that I don’t even need the blankets now, the soft, steady rhythm of her enormous lungs lulling me quickly into a drowsy state, before I nod off completely.
I’m running through the woods, dragging someone behind me, dainty hand held in mine as I drag them forwards, the baying of hounds close on our heels, mighty booms shake the earth beneath my feet, and a man looms up out of the ground in front of me, something long and narrow pointed at my face, before releasing a flash of light with a loud crack.
The hand slips from mine with a scream, the hounds snarling in excitement as they swarm the person I’d been dragging, before another flash lights up the woods, this time aiming at me, a loud whistling ripping through the air, as something slams into my head and-
I clutch the back of my head, having taken a sudden fall backwards, feeling something warm laying underneath me in the early dawn light.
“Sorry Leon.” I hear Kara whisper in the faint light, rubbing my eyes in the half dark. “Usually the shift isn’t so sudden.” She shifts about on the ground, her skin slipping against me, “Would you mind- um, the blankets?” She asks tentatively, crawling free and laying herself down beside me, little more than a vague shape in the half light, my brain still half asleep, half in shock.
>Let’s just go to bed, better than lying in the dirt
>Tell her about the dream
“At this point… it’d probably do us both better to go back to bed.” I tell her.
She pauses a moment, before nodding along, her ears flopping into my face in the dark. “Yeah, you’re right.”
I disentangle myself from some of the loose fur littering the ground and gather the blankets up while Kara bundles up her clothes from where she left them, heading towards the house.
I follow behind her, the glowing embers left in the fireplace, lighting up her side as we walk through the house, her pale skin turned orange, bone white hair reflecting the light off of them, her smooth back rolling as she walks forward, her… full rear gliding with her movements, before once more she’s out of the light, shivering a little as she pulls her shirt back on, letting it hang to her knees as she takes the stairs.
I hunch a little more as I move up the stairs… I think I’m starting to get back problems walking like this…
She’s waiting by more doorway, just ahead of her own as I make my way towards it.
“Thanks for the… demonstration.” I tell her, drumming my fingers on my notebook.
She smiles, just as the sun peaks in through a window, lighting up her face. “Not a problem Leon.” She steps forward, arms wrapping around my chest, her whole body pressing against me for a moment, including my…. oh dear.
She steps back, eyes looking down for a split second, before she looks back up, to my eyes. Before I can blink, she’s given a little hop upwards, lips pressing against mine for the briefest second, before gravity sucks her away, and she bounds backwards.
“It was a fun date.” She nods to herself, before stifling a dramatic yawn. “Good morning Leon.”
And with that, she turns and slips into her room, door shutting behind her, leaving me… well, with a particular problem to deal with.
I graze a finger over my lips, a small smile cracking over my face, before I shake my head and turn into bed.
I’m not going to get any sleep for hours after that.
>End of Spook Quest 9
By this point in the other quest Danny was already fucking two girls and severely flirting with two more at least I'm pretty sure about that hopefully next time we run we'll go somewhere and do something