Outcasts Option Ab2: Sneak Group Out

If you missed the previous posts, you can read them here: Outcasts and Outcasts Option A. North Aqueducts and Outcasts Option Ab: Follow the Wolfhounds.

Or, here’s a recap: You and a group of other outcasts, who have been ostracized due to various illnesses, have decided to enter the abandoned city of Calla Sadum in hopes of finding cures to your ailments. Most of the group were swallowed into a pit before ever reaching the gate. You, with your leprosy, and a heavily burned man named Angus, decided to enter the city through an aqueduct system his granpap used to rave about. The Aqueducts got you in all right, but you were dropped into an underground city full of walking skeleton creatures. It doesn’t look like you’ll find any cures down here, but maybe you can help the rest of the group. You decided to follow a pack of wolfhound skeletons in hopes of finding the other outcasts and found the hounds holding the group in pits in the floor of a cavern with fires burning at the mouth of each pit. They pulled the leader of your group, The Commander, from a pit and turned him into a new wolfhound skeleton. You and Angus have decided to try and save the rest of the group by sneaking them out.

Let’s see how this adventure ends =)

Outcasts Option Ab2. Sneak Group Out

“I don’t think we can take on the whole pack,” you whisper to Angus.

He squeezes your arm and gives a sigh of relief that you’re not even sure he’s aware of. As you both study the area, the pack continues to play with their new pup by jumping over darkened pits and raging fires. The pup stumbles into several of the later but the flames don’t seem to bother his bones as he rolls through and comes out the other side with a grin on his toothy face.

Their cavorting draws them farther into the cavern.

“Come on.” You nudge Angus and lead the way toward the boy’s pit by following the cavern wall where it’s darkest. Perhaps the wolfhounds can see and perhaps not but you don’t want to take any chances by walking directly in the firelight. Close to the pit, you sink to your belly and low crawl to the edge.

The blind boy stands in the bottom with his ear pressed hard to the wall. For once, his blindness is not a hindrance but maybe an asset. From the pit floor, he can’t see anything anyway, but with sharp ears, he might be able to hear what’s going on above.

You spot the ladder the hounds used to let the Commander out of the pit. It lies in a crumpled heap next to the fire on the far side of the pit.

“Stay here,” you whisper to Angus. “I’ll send the boy to you.”

You don’t wait for Angus’ reply as you low crawl to the ladder. Two heavy stakes anchor it to the top of the pit. A glance tells you the wolfhounds are still prancing around the cavern with their new pup but their antics are drawing them closer now instead of away.

Hand over hand, you lower the ladder, being careful not to let the wooden rungs clack against each other as you move the ropes through your hands. Finally, with it fully played out, you tap the inside of the pit wall with your palm. It makes a soft slapping, muffled by the bandages covering your fingers.

The boy’s dark head swivels. You tap again and peek over a shoulder to place the hounds. They’re two pits away, staring into the bottom of another pit. Who’s in that one, you wonder, but don’t have time to watch as the ladder gives a jerk.

The boy begins to climb one slow rung at a time. Midway up, his foot catches on a loose chunk of rock and knocks it free of the wall. The following clatter echoes through the cavern like the boy rang a bell.

Skeletal heads swing around. The puppy skeleton launches from the bottom of the pit the hounds were staring into moments before. A part of you breaths relief that it wasn’t another member of your group they were preparing to change, but that relief is muted as the hounds give a chorus of excited yowls.

“Hurry!” you shout to the boy below.

His caution disappears and he scrambles upward. He’s not going to be fast enough, though. The hounds bound over the first fire. You search for a stick, a rock, anything to defend the top of the ladder with.

Burning woodAs the first hound hits the floor next to your pit, there comes a bellow of mixed rage and pain. Angus meets the skeleton with a burning piece of firewood that he swings with all his might at the head of the hound. It connects in a shower of sparks and bones. The hound stumbles sideways, headless, and disappears over the edge of another pit. Moments later there comes the clatter of scattering bones.

The boy reaches the top of the ladder just as Angus takes on the second hound to arrive at the pit.

“Is there anyone else left?” you ask the boy.

“N-No,” he stutters. “The Com—“

“Do you know a way out?” you interrupt.

The boy nods so hard you wonder about his neck.

“Angus!”

He chucks the burning club at another skeleton and races to catch up as the blind boy takes your hand and starts toward the cavern wall. His sense of direction is impressive as he avoids several spots of uneven floor until he can lay a hand on the wall.

“This way.” He lets go of your hand to race ahead. “There’s fresh air,” he calls back.

Angus’ heavy breathing sounds behind you. “They’re gaining on us,” he warns.

“It’s not far,” the boy yells back. Suddenly he disappears.

You realize as you reach the spot that he turned to the right into a small passageway.

The wolfhounds snarling bounces off the passage walls as they fight with each other for the lead in chasing you.

The passage ends abruptly in a solid wall with a ladder built into the stone. The boy’s at the top.

You follow him up and reach past him. It’s a trapdoor of some sort.

“I can’t lift it,” the boy whimpers.

“Hey friends,” Angus calls, “we need to move.” He starts pitching loose rocks at the hounds to slow them down but, other than knocking off a bone or two, it’s not working.

Your searching hands find a rope. When you pull, there’s a faint click from the far side of the door.

“Push.” The boy puts his shoulder against the wooden paneling to help you lift. After a moment of groaning, the door breaks free and dirt showers down into the passage. You throw the trapdoor open. As soon as you’re free, you turn on your stomach to help Angus off the ladder too. You reach to close the trapdoor when one vigorous hound jumps the distance to the top.

Angus grabs the blind boy away and turns to take the hound’s claws on his shoulder. There’s a clatter and everything goes eerily still.

The trapdoor thuds closed but you’re staring at the bones of the ambitious hound—er—what used to be a hound. A very human skeleton lies on the ground. It doesn’t move.

“We’re outside the walls of Calla Sadum,” you observe.

“Think they can’t leave the walls?” Angus asks.

“Only explanation I can think of. Maybe they can’t leave.”

“But this is human,” Angus nudges a hand with his toes.

“You saw what happened to the Commander,” you respond after a moment. “Perhaps now we know what happened to everyone inside Calla Sadum. It wasn’t actually abandoned.”

“Oh,” the blind boy says. “Oh, that’s terrible.”

You can’t help but agree.

***

It’s a very quiet night around the fire. You tear an old shirt into long strips and motion for Angus to hold out his hands. The burning club added to the man’s scars. You wind the cloth around his burned fingers.

“We’ll match,” he chuckles.

“You did good,” you respond as you tie off the end of the bandages.

He shrugs, “What’s a few more scars? We’re alive.”

The blind boy, Pearson, begins to snore from his bedroll across the small campfire.

Alive’s good, you decide. With everything you saw in Calla Sadum, there might actually be a cure for your leprosy there, but it could be a while before you can convince yourself to chance the place again. For the time being, you’re not alone and you’re alive, and that’s plenty to keep you happy.

The End

Yay, you survived! Congratulations, and thank you for participating in this adventure. I love to hear your reasoning behind each choice.

Until next time, blessings,

Jennifer

Advertisements

Outcasts Option Ab: Follow the Wolfhounds

Wolf - Outcasts Adventure

This was a close vote but following the wolfhounds won out by one!

If you missed the previous two posts, you can read them here: Outcasts and Outcasts Option A. North Aqueducts.

Or, here’s a recap: You and a group of other outcasts, who have been ostracized due to various illnesses, have decided to enter the abandoned city of Calla Sadum in hopes of finding cures to your ailments. Most of the group were swallowed into a pit before ever reaching the gate. You, with your leprosy, and a heavily burned man named Angus, decided to enter the city through an aqueduct system his granpap used to rave about. The Aqueducts got you in all right, but you were dropped into an underground city full of walking skeleton creatures. It doesn’t look like you’ll find any cures down here, but maybe you can help the rest of the group. You’ve decided to follow a pack of wolfhound skeletons in hopes of finding the other outcasts.

Let’s see where your choice leads!

Outcasts Option Ab. Follow the Wolfhounds

The underground city’s full of skeleton creatures wandering around as though living regular lives. You see bird skeletons hopping around on the roof of a nearby house, pecking at the lichen like growth covering the tiles. One decides to fly off only to realize after jumping that its bone wings don’t hold it in the air. It clatters to the stone below and bursts into individual bones.

Wings - Outcasts Adventure“Ooof,” Angus mutters and then he sucks air in past his teeth as the bones rattle on the stone for a moment and knit themselves back together into a bird.

You move on and see two ferret skeletons working to hang a sign over the doorway of another house by standing on each other’s shoulders.

You and Angus don’t wait around to see one of them tumble to pieces on the ground. The sight of one skeleton pulling itself together was enough.

The hounds are easy to follow as they create a kind of wave among the other creatures. Everything gives them a wide space in which to pass. Finally, after an interminable amount of time, they pass below the city by taking a staircase underneath what looks like a castle.

Fire Below, you and Angus pause in the darkened hall of the stairs because they open into another cavern. This one doesn’t have buildings or skeleton creatures. Large pits dot the floor, highlighted by small fires burning at their rims.

Angus grasps your arm. He stares at the fires and runs his free hand down the puckered scars on his face.

You nudge him with an elbow and point to the wolfhounds.

They’re circled around a pit to your right. One of them holds a bright gold goblet in its mouth while the others let down a ladder into the pit. A moment later, the Commander’s dark head pops up at the rim. He looks around, hesitating at all the skeleton hounds watching.

Several hounds growl. It makes a hollow tone like their bones are rattling against each other. The Commander needs no further encouragement to hurry up the ladder.

The hound with the goblet approaches and lifts its chin, offering the golden cup with a toothy grin.

Goblet - Outcasts AdventureAlthough the Commander tucks his hands behind his back, there’s a gleam in his eyes. The firelight catches the sheen off the gold as the hound lifts its head higher and growls at him.

He raises his hands and still hesitates, but then licking his lips, he accepts the goblet and caresses the gold at the rim.

The hounds hum. They sit back on their haunches.

Angus’ grip on your arm grows tighter.

The Commander drops the goblet and the nearest hound catches it before it clatters to the floor. Even from where you stand, the look of shock on the Commander’s face is clear. He shudders. You blink as his face becomes indistinct like you’re seeing it in a cloudy mirror. His skin floats away, dust on a cold breeze. For a moment his human bones are visible but then he hunches over and disappears within the group of hounds. When they back away, there’s a baby hound skeleton sitting with its head cocked to the side, clearly confused by its surroundings.

“Is that—?” Angus chokes.

“Commander?” hollers a voice that bounces around the cavern. “Commander, you there? You all right?” It’s a high-pitched voice.

“The blind boy,” you whisper.

The young hound glances down into the pit the Commander climbed from and gives a whine with that same tilt to his head. A thinner adult hound nudges it away with its snout and begins to play with the youngster by jumping over the smaller pits.

“Commander?” calls the boy’s voice but by this time, none of the hounds pay it any attention.

“We can’t leave him,” Angus says.

You have to agree. Being blind, the goblet might not lure the boy as it did the Commander, but then what would the wolfhounds do? If someone doesn’t accept the gold, what’s the alternative?

“We could try to capture the hounds in a pit?” Angus suggests even though he’s still rubbing a thumb over his facial scars. Surely luring the hounds into a pit would force you close to those fires.

“We could sneak the boy out?” you counter.

“What if he’s not the only survivor?”

You exchange looks and then Angus gives a shrug. The hand still holding your arm trembles, but he’s game for whatever you think best.

Ab1. Capture the Pack?

Or

Ab2. Sneak People Out?

You’ve succeeded in finding the rest of the group! Leave your vote in the comments regarding how you’d like to proceed in attempting to save them. We’ll be back next Thursday to see how this adventure ends.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

Outcasts Option A. North Aqueducts

Outcasts Adventure

Welcome to part two of the Outcasts adventure!

If you missed part one, you can read it here. Or here’s a recap: You and a group of other outcasts, who have been ostracized due to various illnesses, have decided to enter the abandoned city of Calla Sadum. The city used to be well advanced in technology and science and may have cures to your ailments. Most of the group were swallowed into a pit before ever reaching the gate. You, with your leprosy, and a heavily burned man named Angus, have decided to enter the city through an aqueduct system his granpap used to rave about. There may be creatures granpap called the Bones, but no one knows if that was his dementia talking or his experiences.

Let’s see where this takes us =)

Outcasts Option A. North Aqueducts

“I’ve commented my granpap was a bit loony, right?” Angus asks as you eye the end of the aqueduct pipe jutting from the side of the mountain. Just south of that pipe rests the wall of Calla Sadum, butted up against the mountain like it grew from the rocky giant.

You don’t answer Angus. As the day wore on and you got closer to the aqueduct, he grew increasingly jittery. Now, with the last rays of the sun highlighting the pipe, he’s wringing his hands and standing on your toes. You give him a gentle nudge and he steps away.

Who knows if he did any damage to your foot. You can’t feel if he did.

Aqueduct - Outcasts AdventureThe pipe is basically a tunnel in the side of the mountain with a trough shape cut out of the bottom of the stone. When it was first built, it was probably spectacular to see water gushing from its end but now it’s dry with large chunks of stone broken in the walls. The supporting stonework that would have carried the water away from the city lies in shambles below the pipe.

“Looks inviting,” you say.

Angus snorts.

“Bring any torches?”

With a grin, the man squats down and pulls out a glow stone from his pack. Such stones are rare and from the way he cradles it, you can tell it’s one of his prize possessions.

You give him a smile, appreciating his preparedness.

“No time like the present.” You gesture for him to lead the way.

He hesitates, clutching the glow stone to his chest but staring at the aqueduct. Fear wins out over his treasure. He shoves the stone into your hands.

You lead the small climb to the pipe. The slope’s gentle, which you’re thankful for, if it were more of an actual climb, your hands and feet would prohibit you.

The stone makes a soft click against the rim of the aqueduct as your set it inside to haul yourself into the pipe. You offer to help Angus up but he grimaces at your hands and scrambles up without taking the offer.

You know he’s not squeamish about your leprosy, so you take his grimace for what it is. He doesn’t want to damage your skin if he can avoid it. The thoughtfulness, after so long of people cringing away in horror, brings a prick of tears to your eyes.

You turn away into the aqueduct before Angus can see the moisture threatening your sight. The circle of stone is large enough for you to fully stand in but the disrepair makes going slow. You won’t feel if you hurt your feet and that dictates a very cautious pace as you navigate around broken stone and small shrubs trying to grow through the cracks.

tunnel - Outcasts AdventureAngus doesn’t complain. He glances around your shoulder from time to time in order to see what the glow stone reveals ahead but otherwise, he simply follows your careful steps, humming a low almost comforting tune as he goes.

You grunt as the stone’s light lands on a boulder that fell through the ceiling. You’re far enough into the aqueduct now that you can’t see any of the dusky light filtering in from outside. A small space on the right of the boulder might be wide enough for you to squeeze past.

“Hold this,” you hand the stone to Angus.

A deep rumble deafens your ears at the same time as the ground shifts beneath your feet.

You’re instantly reminded of the ground rolling open beneath the rest of the group. In desperation, you lunge to grab at the boulder but instead of the ground rolling open, it simply drops away.

Angus yelps. The boulder tears at your hands but you have no purchase and you follow Angus downward.

Fear quickens your breath. You roll and tumble and bounce around like a doll pitched down a stairwell until you hit solid ground. Breath rushes from your chest as you hit and it’s a good moment before your lungs wheeze air back into your body.

Angus lays on his back not far from you but by the look on his face, he’s still fighting to draw in a breath. The glow stone is clutched tightly to his chest, illuminating his fingers and the underside of his chin. When you see his chest rise, relief almost makes you faint.

Motion, at the edges of that soft glow, freezes you midway as you start to rise. You regain motion after a brief moment of terror.

“Angus,” you hiss.

He rolls to his feet and hurries after you as you duck behind a stone column. When he’s near enough, you snatch the glow stone and bury it inside his pack. In that brief moment that you held the stone, you and Angus see the state of your fingers. The boulder above was not kind.

Angus rummages in his pack, heedless of the sound he’s making, and comes up with an extra shirt. In a few sharp motions, he has the shirt torn into strips. With gentle fingers, he winds the cloth around your numb but badly torn hands.

“Even a cure can’t fix that,” he says softly.

You try to smile. “If there’s a cure for your scars,” you respond, “there must be one for this too.”

Angus shakes his head. “A fool’s hope.”

“All of this,” you gesture around, “has been a fool’s hope, but it’s our hope and I’ll take it.”

He squeezes your wrists where you can feel the pressure. “Our hope,” he agrees.

His thick, purple scars and slouched figure might make him ugly to most of the world but you can’t think of a better, or more beautiful, soul to be stuck in Calla Sadum with.

Together you peek around the column you ducked behind.

The column was only the beginning. As your eyes adjust to the dim light, you realize the ceiling of the cavern glows just like your glow stone does, only fainter due to the height of the stone. That light touches columns and roofs and porches and streets and things moving about within the city.

Wolf - Outcasts Adventure“Bones,” Angus whispers.

He’s right. The faint light glistens off the stark white shoulders and then through the rib cage of what looks like a wolfhound as it passes by. Three more follow in its path, moving with silent grace despite the lack of flesh or sinew.

Before either of you can react, another shape, moving the other way, comes into sight. It’s head sways on a long neck and draped across its back are the thin, but long, bones of wings. A tail swishes across the dusty floor.

“A dragon,” Angus breaths.

“Did you see what was in its mouth?” you ask.

He gives a fuddled shrug.

“The blind boy’s walking stick,” you tell him. “We might not be able to find a cure down here, but maybe we can free the rest of the group?”

“You want to follow a dragon?” Angus stares after the fading shape.

“Or check out where it came from,” you suggest, thinking that maybe the dragon came from taking the stick from the boy.

“You mean follow the wolfhounds? What if the dragon’s headed back to eat the boy right now after chewing on the stick for awhile?”

You hesitate.

Aa. Follow the Dragon?

Or

Ab. Follow the Wolfhounds?

Please leave a comment with your choice. Whichever option gets the most votes will post next Thursday!

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

Heart Beats Option Aa1. Warn the Keep

River

It’s time to finish this adventure and see if you survive =)

If you missed the previous posts, you can read them here (Part One, Part Two and Part Three) or here’s a recap:

You’re hunting the murderer, Stevano, with your two companions Markus and Jana. Each of you has specific abilities that makes you ideal hunters. Your search for Stevano has taken you down into the chalk caverns below the forest. Stevano grew up in the catacombs beneath the ruined city, which connect to these caverns. The caverns also lead toward the river but you and your group decided the catacombs were the better option to explore in your search.

However, when you headed that way, you were passed by a group of men, one of whom is wearing the same distinctive hair gel as Stevano. Although none of them are the murderer, you decided to follow them and end up back at the river where you find a bunch of loaded boats. An inspection showed they’re loaded with weapons for an attack on the Keep.

You decide to take one of the boats to warn the Keep but the river’s high and it’s going to be a dangerous ride.

Let’s see if you succeed =)

Heart Beats Option Aa1. Warn the Keep

Axe“We’ll warn the Keep,” you tell the others as you decide against trying to blow up parts of the tunnels. “But first,” you add, “take an axe and stave in the bottom of all the other boats.”

Markus grins at this last part.

You each find an axe among the weapons and soon the chop of metal into wood echoes in the cavern. You cringe at each thud but it’s better than simply cutting each boat lose and having to deal with the wreckage down stream at the grate. Plus, this’ll prevent the bandits from following you.

But it does make a lot of noise and it takes precious time.

The three of you make as quick work of it as you can but, as you finish with the last boat, you catch the heavy tread of boots back in the tunnels.

“Time’s up,” you holler to the others.

You rush to the last whole boat and, as you pull the line free of the shore, you see figures emerging into the cavern. The group’s lanterns flood the picture of slowly sinking boats as you flee downstream.

Markus takes up the only set of oars. His powerful strokes pull you into the raging river but then there’s a heavy thud and he falters.

Rowing oarHis face turns ashen. The point of a crossbow bolt protrudes from his right shoulder like a shaft of darkness. Its black wood almost hides the blood seeping out around the wound. He somehow continues pulling on the oars.

Jana half shrieks as two more figures on the shore raise crossbows but you move faster than she does.

Pulling the lid free from the barrel next to you, you stand in the rocking boat and catch the first bolt, aimed for Markus’ torso, in the center of the round lid. The force of it pulls you off balance and bucks your knees up against the bench behind you. Your knees collapse.

Landing solidly on your backside, your legs shoot into the air over your head and a second bolt thuds into your left calf.

A wry part of you finds this fortunate. If it hadn’t been your calf, it would have been Markus’ back, and subsequently his lung.

But then the pain hits you and all humor vanishes. Raging fire suffuses you leg like the bite of a giant wolf.

If you could remain still, you would, but the boat tosses along into the cave leading to the Keep and you’re soon not sure the boat, or any of its passengers, are going to make it to the grate in one piece.

Markus maintains some control until one of the oars catches a rock and the following crack tells you exactly how much control any of you have.

Markus rolls off the rowing bench and slams into the left hand wall.

“Left side! Left side!” he shouts.

Jana pushes herself against the side with Markus and they pull you by your arm pits to join them.

The boat tilts precariously but moments later you understand Markus’ maneuver.

A rock scrapes against the exposed hull of the boat. If you hadn’t rolled it up onto the left hand wall, the boulder would’ve taken out the whole side of your small craft.

The grinding vibrates through the wood like an ominous rumble of thunder. Then it’s gone and all three of you roll back to the center of the boat before it capsizes.

Your sigh of relief comes too soon, however, as a deafening crunch shocks the vessel. Wood splinters and whatever security you had in the boat vanishes.

Icy water tumbles over your head. It catches at the bolt still in your leg, sending a renewed burst of fire through your limb. It doesn’t take long, thankfully, for the freezing water to dull that fire.

But you’ve got bigger problems. There’s water everywhere and only brief spurts of air in which to breath. Between the dark and the churning cold, you’re hopelessly lost for direction.

A hand grasps your arm and latches on with a desperation that’s painful. That grasp pulls against the chaos and your head breaks free of the water.

Markus hauls you onto a small rock and holds you steady as you cough up enough water to drown a horse.

“Jana,” Markus tries to say.

“What?” you ask.

“I don’t know—” he stutters, “I lost her.”

There’s a desperate gulp but it’s not from the big man next to you.

That single sound is all the warning you get.

“Grab my feet,” you shout and dive back into the river, hoping you have a good gauge on how fast the current is carrying Jana past your rock.

You find fabric and latch onto it. Moments later, fire engulfs your leg anew as Markus grabs ahold of you.

The current tears at your grip. You tighten your fingers in the fabric until your knuckles pop.

Then you break the surface again and you haul Jana’s limp form after you. Jana coughs. She doesn’t regain consciousness, however. You try to hold your breath and listen for her breathing, for another cough, for a heart beat even.

After an interminable moment, You catch a tha-thump that even the river can’t fully drown out.

“Her heart’s beating,” you assure Markus.

The relief in his sigh is mimicked in your own chest.

“Grate’s right there,” Markus says.

***

It takes some time for your shouting to get the attention of the guard in the Keep but finally they send a diver to retrieve you and your companions.

You warn of the impending attack from infirmary beds. They send troops to the catacombs but only find the mess of destroyed boats and one cavern that appears to have been used to house a large group.

Maxim sends you hunting for more than Stevano once you recover.

The End

Yay, you survived =) Thank you for joining this adventure!

Until next time, blessings,

Jennifer

Tails of PaTail Option Bb2: Mole Tunnels

Wolf

Welcome back for the last post in Tails of PaTail. =)

If you missed the previous posts, here’s a quick recap:

In part one, you started your day by getting raspberry jam from the market for your sister’s birthday, but when you arrived home, Nan and Lily, your sister, were enduring a search by the Dog guard because rats had accused you of harboring a cat. After they leave, you find out that your sister is, in fact, harboring a kitten. You decide to head to the orchards to try and get the cat over the city wall.

In part two, you find the rats are watching you so closely that your chances of getting Paws over the wall are slim. But Maya the rabbit has offered to help make a deal with the Mole guard to sneak the cat under the city walls.

In part three, you convince Morese the Mole to help you out of the city. You’re able to leave Paws with the Beaver family but this means you’re returning to PaTail almost at dark when the gates close. As wolves close in on you, you’ve decided to try reentering the city through the Mole’s tunnels again. Let’s see if the moles help you or keep you out for the wolves to find.

(If you’d like to read the first parts, click Part One and Part Two and Part Three)

Now, on to the Mole Tunnels!

Tails of PaTail Option Bb2. Mole Tunnels

Tree tops - Set Up AdventureLong shadows hide the ground around the base of the wall as you search for the mole’s entrance.

Finally, you find the small hole. The area around it is freshly disturbed but secure underfoot.

“Hello!” Lila hollers down.

Moments later, a small, pink nose emerges.

“What?” asks the mole. His voice is deep, like the rumble of a base drum. This isn’t Morese.

“We were hoping you could help us get back into the orchards,” Lila says.

“Hmmm, what?” the mole grumbles. “You want into the city?”

“Yes.”

“Hmmm. No.” And the mole disappears.

“But you helped us out earlier,” Lila calls down.

“We keep things out!” the mole’s voice responds. “Stay out!”

“Is Morese there?” you ask instead.

“No.”

“When will he be?”

“Mornin’ time.”

You sit back on your heels.

It’s too late to go through the gates. The dogs will have closed them by now.

wolfThere’s another howl from back in the woods. A deep throated call that echoes off the city wall. Another howl answers moments later from another place in the woods.

Lila shudders and flops onto her backside. “The Beavers?” she suggests, trying to hide the fear in her voice.

You shake your head. “Too far and those wolves are between us now.”

“Gates?”

“Closed.”

Lila pats her pockets but then slumps. “I’ve nothing to barter with.”

“Barter?”

“Most animals have a sweet tooth,” Lila says. “I’m not sure about moles but—” she shrugs.

You search your own pockets and come out with the jar of raspberry jam from that morning.

“It was your birthday present,” you explain.

Lila nabs it from your hand and kneels with her face close to the mole’s hole. “Mr. Mole,” she calls, “Mr. Mole!”

“Errr, what?” the pink nose pops out of the hole again, large claws framing it on the ground. Lila stumbles backward to avoid being caught by one.

“For some raspberry jam, might we have passage back into the city?”

“Ummm, say now, what?”

Raspberries

Sebring’s Snapshots

“Raspberry jam, in exchange for passage back into the city,” you repeat.

The mole smacks his tongue against the top of his mouth for several moments.

A fresh howl sings out of the woods. Closer this time. Much closer. You almost think there’s a “Foooooooood” in the middle of the sound.

A new idea hits you. “You and Morese can join our game of rat ball tomorrow.”

The mole’s mouth falls open in an ‘Ohhh’. He pulls himself completely out of the hole and stands up on his hind legs like he’s looking at you but, like with Morese, you’re not actually sure he can see you.

“Rat ball? You’d include us in this Rat ball game?” He grasps Lila’s leg with both large clawed hands.

“Of course!” Lila promises with a squeak of surprise.

“Hmmm.” He sniffs Lila’s hand that’s holding the jam. With a motion faster than you’d think possible for a mole, he nabs it.

She gasps but doesn’t protest as he twists the lid free. A flick of his tongue and he’s tasting the jam with a deep ‘hmmm’ of appreciation.

“Deal. Follow.” And he disappears.

As before, the ground shudders and you fall into the tunnels below moments later.

***

Rat ball becomes one of the mole’s favorite games. It’s no wonder then, that the rats start avoiding the orchards altogether after the first week of the game. This turns out to be fortuitous for you when, only a month later, Lila shows up with a solid black kitten hidden in the pocket of her sweater.

You shake your head and ask her what kind of pie Nan wants to make that night.

The End

Thank you for joining this adventure!

Until next time, blessings,

Jennifer

Tails of PaTail Option Bb. A Mole Deal

Mole

Welcome to the third part of this adventure =)

If you missed the previous two posts, here’s a quick recap:

In part one, you started your day by getting raspberry jam from the market for your sister’s birthday, but when you arrived home, Nan and Lily, your sister, were enduring a search by the Dog guard because rats had accused you of harboring a cat. After they leave, you find out that your sister is, in fact, harboring a kitten. You decide to head to the orchards to try and get the cat over the city wall.

In part two, you find the rats are watching you so closely that your chances of getting Paws over the wall are slim. But Maya the rabbit has offered to help make a deal with the Mole guard to sneak the cat under the city walls.

(If you’d like to read the first two parts, click here and here.)

Now, let’s see how this deal goes =)

Tails of PaTail Option Bb. A Mole Deal

Rabbit“I like your idea,” you say to Maya Rabbit.

She thumps the ground with both hind paws in excitement. “I know just the place,” she says, “follow me.”

As you pick up the basket, a soft voice whispers from the whicker. “You’re trusting a rabbit? What’s the world coming to?”

***

The entrance to the Mole guard’s tunnels isn’t a door or even a cave, but a simple hole in the ground near the city wall. You’re still in the orchards, so the earth is damp and soft.

Maya Rabbit disappears down the hole to find the guard on duty at the entrance. You eye the opening.

“I’m not sure we’ll fit,” you whisper to Lila.

Before she can answer, a small pink nose appears from the hole. “Ay um,” the mole’s face emerges with his nose twitching, “Miss Maya says—” he stops speaking with his head tilted. “Not on my watch, not a chance.” He disappears.

MoleMoments later, the ground to your left sinks in a whoosh, large claws reach out and grasp the tail of a rat hiding behind the closest tree.

The rat shrieks as it’s sucked into the hole with the mole.

There’s a soft rumbling and then, farther back in the orchard, another hole appears. The rat flies from the hole, still shrieking, and disappears over the far orchard wall.

“And stay there!” shouts the grumbly voice of the mole from under the ground.

While you’re still staring at where the rat vanished, the mole pops up from the tunnel entrance at your feet again.

“Now,” he starts again, “ay um, Miss Maya says some strange things.”

The mole fully emerges from his hole and sniffs at your legs, then at Lila’s legs and, lastly, at the basket. He stands up on his hind legs and grasps the whicker in those same large claws that sent the rat flying.

You grasp the handle firmly but your hands sweat as the mole continues to inspect with his sensitive nose.

“I see, I see,” he mutters. “Furry cherries indeed. You want out?”

“Yes,” Lila says for both of you.

“Hmmm, ay, don’t see any harm in out, ay suppose. Follow.” And he vanishes.

“Umm,” you sink to your knees next to the hole, “Mister Mole, we’re too big for this hole.”

There’s a ‘harrumph’ from below and you feel the ground shudder beneath you. Before you can scramble away, there’s a whoosh and the orchard floor disappears from under you.

You, Lila and a screaming basket tumble into the tunnels below.

Although the entrance was tiny, the tunnels are not. You stand and find you can walk, a bit hunched, into the tunnel system.

“Fill it in, boys,” the mole hollers to several pink noses watching from the tunnel behind you.

“Ay, ay, ay,” they respond and start filling in the giant hole they just opened for you to fall through.

“Follow,” the lead mole says again, and this time you have no problem walking behind him as his giant claws leave gouges out of the tunnel walls.

Cat EyeWith him turned away, you peek into the basket to make sure Paws faired the fall without any injuries.

The kitten’s green eyes glare from the depths. He licks at his very ruffled orange fur but otherwise seems unhurt.

“Where’s Maya Rabbit?” Lila asks the mole.

“Ay? Oh, says she and the family gonna play game with rats. Somethin’ about rat ball. Never heard of it.” The mole continues to grumble and you catch a couple words about never being included in the fun.

“Can you get a message back to her?” you ask, thinking that Nan will worry if you don’t get a message to her.

“Message?” the mole looks back over his shoulder. You can’t really tell if he’s looking at you or just scenting the air. “Sure.”

You give him a message for Maya to pass to Nan and, not long after, he stops at another hole in the ground. Late day sunlight streams through it.

“Here, human,” Mister Mole digs his claws into the ceiling around the hole. With a heave of his heavy shoulders, he opens the hole wide enough for you to squeeze out of the tunnels.

“Thank you,” you say to him after you’re out. “What’s your name by chance?”

“Ay um, me?” the surprise in his low voice is obvious. “Morese.” And then, like he’s embarrassed, he dives back below to repair his tunnel entrance.

“I like him,” Lila says.

“You like them all,” you respond.

“Not the rats,” she grins.

You give her that.

The mole guard brought you up just outside the city wall. You head for the tree line before setting the basket on the ground to release Paws.

“Think it’s safe here?” Lila asks, wringing her hands in the hem of her shirt.

“Nothing’s safe outside the city,” you say. “But it’s better than the dogs catching him.”

“Ick,” Paws says as he cautiously peeks his head from the basket, “dogs.”

Beavers“Maybe you can stay with the Beaver family for a bit,” Lila suggests. “They live up the river there.” She points to the river.

“It’s wet,” Paws complains.

“Anything make you happy?” you ask the feline.

He tilts his ears toward Lila. “A good scratch behind the ears,” he says as Lila follows suit on his nonverbal suggestion.

A low purr rumbles from his throat.

“The Beaver’s will take care of that,” she assures him.

“Show me the way?” he asks, only now a slight uncertainty entering his usually confident expression.

You start to protest, it’s late in the day, but Lila gives you a look and you know it’s pointless.

It’s her birthday. Guess you can deal for a while longer.

***

You debate the wisdom of your choice later, however, because by the time you head back to the city, it’s almost dark. Long tree shadows stretch like fingers from the forest toward the city walls.

A long, low howl comes from behind you. It’s not close but, seconds later, a second howl answers it.

The dogs close the gates at sunset. As you told Lila, it’s not safe outside the city, especially at night. You glance back as you quicken your steps.

You safely left Paws with the Beaver family but now you’re worried about you and Lila.

If you head to the gate, the rats might convince the dog guard that you’re suspicious and they’ll close the gates on you.

If you head back to the mole tunnels, you’ll have to negotiate with them to let you back in. Without their help, you probably can’t even get back into the tunnels.

Do you go to…

Bb1. The Dog’s Gate?

or

Bb2. The Mole’s Tunnel?

Leave your vote in the comments below. Next Thursday, we’ll see how this adventure ends!

Blessings,

Jennifer

Tails of PaTail Option B: Picking Up Dessert

Cat Eye

Welcome back to the second part of the Tails of PaTail adventure.

In part one, you started your day by getting raspberry jam from the market for your sister’s birthday but when you arrived home, Nan and Lily, your sister, were enduring a search by the Dog guard because rats had accused you of harboring a cat. After they leave, you find out that your sister is, in fact, harboring a kitten. You’ve decided to head to the orchards to try and get the cat over the city wall.

(If you’d like to read the first part, click here.)

Otherwise, let’s get this story rolling =)

Tails of PaTail Option B: Picking up Dessert

“Think Nan would like some dessert tonight?” you ask Lila.

A grin splits her face just as two tiny, fury ears peek around the corner next to her chin. Their orange tips tickle her skin and she giggles.

Nan huffs. “Nan doesn’t need more sweets. Nan needs peace and quiet.” She nabs her clothing from your hands and shoves you toward Lila. “Get outa here.”

***

BasketBy the time you leave the house, the streets bustle with people. Over your arm, you carry a lidded basket with a handle for ‘collecting’ cherries from the orchard. Before you even get to the end of your street, you spy the whiskered nose of a rat peeking out of a sewer grate, watching.

The basket gives a soft hiss and you thump the lid with a warning knuckle.

“Think we can fill this for Nan?” you raise your voice to cover the kitten’s soft hiss.

Lila chuckles. “Nan’ll be making pie for a week if we do.”

You’re almost to the orchards when you spy another whiskered nose watching from a nearby gutter. This one wears an eye patch and squints its one beady eye as you pass.

“Did Paws truly try to eat a rat?” you ask from the side of your mouth.

The kitten, a solid orange ball of fluff, can’t be bigger than the rat you saw this morning in the market. If it tried to eat such a vile creature, it must have spunk bigger than its body.

Lila nods. “Had the rat’s tail in its claws when I found it. Just the tail. No rat attached.”

You wince. No wonder the rat’s so determined…but then, it couldn’t be the rat you saw in the market because that one still had its tail. How many, then, are watching you?

The buildings on the street give way to low stone walls and beautiful trees. Throughout the growing season these trees harbor cherries, apples, plums, even pears. Lower to the ground grow vines with blackberries and raspberries. The place smells earthy, a mixture of damp earth and foliage.

After hopping the low wall, you set the basket at the base of a tree and begin picking cherries. Lila joins you, staying close to the basket’s location as she collects handfuls and drops them inside.

“Now what?” she murmurs, shooting a glance back toward the street where you can just make out the twitching nose of another rat peeking over the orchard’s wall. If you climb a tree to lift the kitten over the wall, the rodents are sure to see.

“Think the whole nest is watching us,” you mutter back.

Lila holds out the bottom of her shirt and you drop your collection of cherries into the scoop of fabric she’s made. She turns to put them into the basket and shrieks. The cherries she’s holding fall to the ground as she drops her hem and races to the whicker basket.

The bushy tail of some creature sticks out of the lid.

“Hey!” Lila grasps the exposed hindquarters and pulls a plump rabbit into her arms. “What do you think you’re doing?”

RabbitThe rabbit shrieks in turn and then slumps in relief. “Well I’ll be, Miss Lila,” it says. “You scared the fur off me.”

“It’s Maya Rabbit,” Lila tells you while rubbing the rabbit’s ear in greeting.

The lid of the basket lifts ever so slightly. Two large green eyes glitter in the gap, not afraid but glaring at the rabbit Lila just pulled from the kitten’s hiding place.

“Miss Lila,” the rabbit says. “Some of your cherries look like they might be bad as they’ve got fur on them.” Maya winks with the eye away from the road. She hops from Lila’s arms and thumps the basket with one long hind leg. The lid falls shut with a soft hiss.

Maya saw the kitten, and she knows the rats are watching. She’s one of the many creatures Lila helped as a baby. She’s not Tabby Catlikely to turn you in.

“I figured we’d pitch the bad ones over the wall before we leave,” Lila tells the rabbit.

“Hmm,” Maya considers and hops in a full circle around the basket before shaking her head. “Probably not the best option. The guards on the wall might not take kindly if you hit them with bad cherries. Maybe you can burry them instead.”

Burry them? What is Maya Rabbit suggesting? Lila looks as confused as you are but then she shudders.

“The moles might not take kindly to that either,” she replies but looks at you for your thoughts.

Oh! Maya Rabbit’s offering to make a deal with the mole’s who guard under the wall. They’re strict creatures but they only care about keeping things out of the city, they don’t really care about keeping things in. There’s a chance they’ll let you pass with the kitten and say nothing to the dog guard above. Usually the rats avoid the moles but now that they’re so determined, there’s a chance they’ll risk the mole’s ire to catch you.

Or do you still try to climb a tree? Perhaps you can ask Maya Rabbit for a distraction instead of a deal. The orchards are full of rabbits. They could help draw the rat’s attention away just long enough to get Paws out of the city.

Do you ask for…

Bb. A Mole Deal?

or

Bc. A Rabbit Distraction?

Leave your vote in the comments and next Thursday we’ll explore the option that gets the most votes.

Thanks for joining this week’s adventure =)

Blessings,

Jennifer