Author Topic: A New Friend  (Read 828 times)


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A New Friend
« on: February 08, 2020, 01:54:33 PM »
Arandir had to admit that going back to work at the theater was one of the best decisions he'd ever made. Not better than his decision to wed Carina, have a child, or bring his people to Rhy'Din, but a good decision, just the same. It was only after he'd left that he'd realized how much he'd enjoyed being part of the theater and how much he missed it. Even so, he was only a guest performer, which still allowed him plenty of time to spend with his family, as well as care for his people. He'd been away most of the day, but it had been business with the village council that had kept him away from home today, not the theater. It was nearly dinner time when he finally arrived home, a small bundle in his arms.

As usual, he was greeted almost at the door by Aluviel, toddling excitedly over to see her father. Today, she was waving a piece of paper around her head, gabbling in her own version of Elvish for a moment or two before reverting to her slightly better grasp of Common.

"I drawed for you!"

Aran smiled warmly at his daughter's greeting. "Oh, what did you draw?" he asked as he stepped inside, juggling that small wrapped bundle in his arms, which was wiggling suspiciously.

Smoothing out the crumpled paper, Aluviel displayed it as though it were a piece of fine art. "You, an' me, an' Mama," she explained, pointing to each indecipherable blob as she identified them for him. Her eyes strayed to the bundle in his arms. "Wassat?"

"What would you say if I said you might have to add someone to that picture?" he asked, crouching down so that he was almost eye to eye with his daughter, that warm smile still on his face.

"I dun wan' a little bruvver," she informed him quite seriously, now giving the bundle quite the suspicious eye. "No baby."

From the kitchen came the sound of Carina laughing as she overheard this solemn declaration.

Aran smirked. She might have a little brother or even a sister someday, but not today. "It's not a baby," he assured her. "Would you like to see what it is?" he asked, eyes bright with amusement.

Easily reassured, Alu nodded, peering hopefully at the bundle now. "S'it a dwagon?" she asked. The elders in the village had started to come together to tell stories of their disparate cultures of an afternoon, and Alu loved stories.

"No, not a dragon," Aran replied. The little blanket-wrapped bundle was too small to be a dragon, unless it was a baby dragon. From inside the blanket, there came the sound of a muffled, high-pitched whimper.

Alu's little face twisted into a mask of worry at the noise coming from the bundle. "S'cryin', Papa," she said in concern.

"Because he's getting all cooped up in there," Aran explained without explaining who "he" was. "Do you want to take a peek?" he asked. "You have to be quiet though. You don't want to scare him."

Again, the little head nodded, his little girl taking a step or two closer to lean on his arm and try to get a better look into the bundle he was carrying. "I be werry quiet."

"Okay," he said, letting her get as close as she wanted. "Ready?" he asked, as he carefully peeled back the blanket to allow a little furry red head peek out, little brown eyes peering curiously up at Alu.

Her small face lost the look of worry, only to gain an expression of wide-eyed awe. "S'not a doggy?" she asked, wanting to be sure. It certainly wasn't a cat, that was for sure.

"No, he's a baby fox," Aran told her. "I found him on my way home. I think he got lost. He has an injured paw," he informed her further. "So, I thought I'd bring him home, so we can help him get better. What do you think?"

"Can I touch?" Her hand hovered uncertainly a few inches from the little fox's head, educated enough to know that you don't touch an animal without at least forewarning them.

"Yes, but maybe you should let him smell you first," Aran said, as the fox peeked his head further out of the blanket, as if he was just as curious about the little girl as she was about him.

Obediently, Alu curled her fingers into her palm loosely, exactly as she had been taught, offering her little hand to the fox cub with a hopeful light in her eyes. "Can we keep?"

"Well, I don't know about that ... But I think maybe he's going to have to stay with us for a little while. At least, until we heal his paw and he's big enough to survive on his own," he explained, not wanting to make any promises. The baby fox bumped his black nose against Alu's hand, sniffing her carefully.

She giggled softly, distracted from Aran's reply by the cold snuffling against her fingers.

"I see someone has made a new friend," a voice interjected softly from the doorway into the kitchen, where Carina was leaning with a resigned smile on her face.

Aran had an almost sheepish smile on his face as he looked to his wife. He wasn't fond of the little boxes people carried around to keep in touch with each other, and the fox was as much a surprise to her as it was to Alu.

"He hasn't got a name yet," he told them both.

"I think we should probably get him settled in before we start making him one of the family," Carina suggested. "Alu, why don't you go and get a couple of the old blankets out of the box in our room?"

Pleased to be given something to do - even if that job might take her half an hour or more - Alu nodded, scurrying off happily to her task.

Aran frowned up at Carina, still looking a little sheepish. "I'm sorry. I should have asked you first, but I couldn't just leave him out there," he told her, as he slowly rose to her feet. The little fox sniffed at the air, as if searching for the source of yet another new scent.

"Hal would be so disappointed in you for not letting nature take its course," she teased as she moved toward him, absently offering the back of her hand to the little fox. But she didn't actually look at the creature, holding her husband's gaze, one brow raised. "If he's been abandoned by his mother, then we're going to have to hand-rear him," she warned.


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Re: A New Friend
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2020, 01:54:53 PM »
"I do not answer to Hal," Aran pointed out simply. In fact, even though they were no longer in Ilythelin, it was the other way around. Aran's frown deepened to think the fox's mother might have abandoned him. "Why would she do that?" he asked uncertainly. He was more inclined to believe something might have happened to the fox's mother that had left him an orphan.

"Maybe because he was injured?" she suggested, uncurling her fingers to stroke the furry head as they spoke together. "If he can't keep up, then he can't hunt, and that makes him more trouble than he's worth. She can have more."

"That's sad," Aran said, realizing how she might be right. It was a simple matter of survival. "I can't just let him die, Carina," he told her, sadness in his eyes for the fate of his little friend.

She smiled, leaning up to kiss his cheek fondly. "Then we won't," she told him. "You said something about his paw being hurt?" Finally, she looked down at the little cub she was stroking, taking in the details of the adorable little face looking back at them.

"His paw, yes," Aran confirmed. "I was going to try healing him, but I thought I should get him home first." Even if he could heal the fox's injured paw, he was too young and too small to be out in the wild on his own.

"What's wrong with his paw?" she asked, still stroking the little head, addressing the fox directly as though it could answer her. "You been in the wars, little one?"

"I think he might have been attacked by something," Aran said. It wasn't just what he'd seen, but it was a feeling he'd gotten from the fox. "I told him he'd be safe here," he added, hoping Carina agreed.

"Of course he will," she agreed, smiling. From their bedroom came a faint thump as Alu finally got the blanket box open. Carina bit down on the grin that wanted to make itself known. "All right, little one, let's get what we need and take a look at that paw, shall we? If we need any poultices or anything, I'm pretty sure my father has something."

"Thank you, Carina," Aran said, with a soft smile. He'd had a feeling she'd want to help, but he'd been unable to ask her in advance. Thankfully, he knew she had a soft, caring heart, especially in such a circumstance as this.

"I'm just glad it was a fox cub and not a giant spider or something equally awful," she teased, turning away to fetch warm water and cloths to wash and bind whatever injury she was yet to see.

Aran chuckled. "Do you really think I'd have brought home a giant spider?" he asked, as he followed her into the kitchen, the little bundle seemingly content to remain in his arms, despite his curiosity.

"If it looked pathetically grateful enough?" she said, testing the water to make sure it was warm enough before filling a bowl. "Yes, I do. You're a soft touch for big eyes, and spiders have lots of those."

Aran couldn't help but chuckle, amusement clear on his face. "Even spiders have their place in the world, melamin," he chided her gently. That didn't mean he was about to bring one home as a pet though.

"Not in my house," she said firmly, though she was smiling. "Come and sit at the table with him, a'mael. Let's see what the damage is."

He smirked, but said nothing more about spiders, as he made his way over to the table and took a seat, the little fox peeking out of the blanket to inspect his surroundings.

"All right." Carina set her bowl and cloths down on the table, sitting beside Aran and his newly adopted fur baby. "You're probably going to have to soothe him, a'mael. This is going to hurt the little thing."

Aran nodded his understanding. "I will," he promised. He drew a deep breath, closed his eyes, and focused him thoughts on the little red ball of fur in his arms, reaching out with his mind and his heart and offering soothing and comfort and understanding.

As the fox cub seemed to slip into a kind of relaxed stupor, Carina carefully unwound the blanket from about it, seeking out the injured paw to inspect and clean. She felt a faint smile touch her lips as she noticed something else, but kept it to herself for the time being.

"There's a thorn in this pad," she murmured, keeping Aran informed fondly. "I'll have to pull it out."

Aran heard this and nodded, as he tried to visualize it in his mind so that the little fox would understand what Carina was about to do. His fingers instinctively stroked the fox's fur, soothing him with a tender, caring touch.

"He's ready," he told her, his voice almost a whisper.

"All right." Like Aran, Carina kept her voice soft and gentle even as she turned the little cub's paw in her hand, holding it in place to carefully draw the ugly thorn out with a pair of tweezers. And despite that soothing, the little creature still whimpered and snarled for a moment as the blood flowed once more.

Aran turned to his native Elvish - a language his people had once used in their world to communicate not only with each other, but with that of nature around them. He spoke in a calm, soothing voice, words of comfort and encouragement, so that the little creature would understand they were trying to help.

He certainly got through to the fox cub, who managed not to snap at Carina as she gently washed the bloodied paw and wrapped it carefully with a poultice to draw out any infection. By the time she was done, Alu was standing next to them, watching in worried fascination over her armful of old blankets.

"Is it all better?"

"Not all better," Aran replied. "It will take some for his paw to heal, but I think he is no longer in so much pain," he explained. The little one was not going to be running around on that paw, until it was completely healed though.

"And he is a she," Carina added with a smile, packing away her little kit before gently stroking the little head.


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Re: A New Friend
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2020, 01:55:13 PM »
Alu blinked, staring at her mother. "How you know?"

Carina chuckled. "She doesn't have any dangly bits between her back legs."

Aran arched a brow at Carina's observation. "Are you sure?" he asked, wondering why he hadn't noticed, but then he'd been more concerned with the creature's well-being than anything else.

"Very sure," she said confidently, moving to stand. "Now then, Alu ... do you remember where we put your old toy box? I think it would make a very nice bed for her, don't you?"

Alu lit up again, always happy to be involved, pushing the blankets into Carina's grasp to toddle off in search of the old box.

Aran momentarily furrowed his brows, a thoughtful expression on his face as if he was trying to sort out how he'd missed that their little friend was female and not male. "It seems I am to be surrounded by females," he said at last, with a faint smile.

"Perhaps there is a little boy in our future, too, a'mael," his wife suggested, bending down to kiss his hair as she smiled. "I think this little lady needs something to eat, and somewhere safe and warm to sleep for the time being, though."

"Perhaps," Aran agreed, smiling warming at her show of affection. For now, he was content with their little family as it was. And if the gods chose to give them another child, whether it be a son or daughter, he would be happy with that, too.

"I think you are right," he agreed further, looking down at the little ball of fur in his arms, who seemed content enough to remain there for now. "You know, she will need a name," he pointed out.

"She will," Carina agreed with him, her smile just a little on the wicked side. "You brought her home. I think that honor should go to you and Alu."

A scraping sound caught her attention - Alu was dragging the old box into view, huffing and puffing with the effort.

"Iellig," Aran called to his daughter in Elvish. "Let us help you," he told her, though he couldn't do much to help so long as he was still holding the fox. "Here, Carina. Will you take her, so I can help Alu?" he asked, as he moved to his feet to hand off his bundle.

"Oh! Okay." A little surprised to be asked to hold the fox, rather than go and help the toddler, Carina took the little bundle into her grasp, carefully settling the little creature comfortably in one arm so she could put together something for the cub to eat.

Across the room, breathless and red-faced, Alu straightened up, hands on her hips. "I doing it!"

Aran chuckled a little at the sight of his daughter, with her hands on her hips, looking stubborn but also out of breath. "And I am going to help," he told her as he started toward her, without taking no for an answer. "We will do it together." He glanced at Carina a moment. "Where would you like this, melamin?"

"Somewhere warm," Carina suggested, biting down on a smile as the little cub licked the underside of her jaw. "Near the fire, or by the stove, perhaps. We can bring her with us when it is time to sleep."

Alu looked hopefully at Aran with this prospect. "Can she sleep wiv me?"

"By the fire, then," Aran suggested, as the stove was usually only warm when they were cooking. The toy box wasn't much more than a wooden crate - heavy for a child, but not for Aran. He picked it up without much effort and brought it closer to the hearth, but not so close that the crate might catch fire. "Do you have the blankets?" he asked of Alu, once the box was in place.

"Um ..." The toddler looked around, spotting the blankets on the chair where Carina had left them. "I get 'em!" She toddled off happily to gather the soft fabric into her arms, completely missing her mother catching Aran's eye.

"Get a cushion in there before she dumps the blankets."

"Good idea," Aran whispered back. He swung a gaze around the room for something that would serve their purpose before snagging a pillow off the couch and laying it in the bottom of the crate for an almost perfect fit. They wouldn't be using that pillow anymore, but pillows were easily replaced.

He had perfect timing - as the pillow settled, Alu was just reaching the box, opening her arms to let the folds of soft fabric flop into it. She looked up proudly. "Did we make a bed?"

"We did!" Aran confirmed, a bright smile for his daughter. "A very special bed for a very special friend," he said. "Would you like to say hello, now that she is feeling better?"

Alu nodded enthusiastically. "Was her hurty paw very hurty?" she asked, reaching up absently to wrap her hand into his. They could hear Carina murmuring soothingly to the little cub as she put some mashed up meat on a small plate.

"It was to her," Aran replied, unsure if that answer would be enough for the curious toddler. "Do you remember when we had to take a splinter out of your hand?" he asked. "I suppose it was a little like that for her."

"Did she has a splinker?"Even rising three years old, Alu was insatiable when it came to knowledge, always full of questions that invariably lead to more questions.

"She had a thorn in her paw," he explained, as he led her over to where Carina was soothing the injured fox. "See how Mama wrapped her paw? That will help her feel better."

Carina was crouching down by now, setting the plate on the kitchen floor before gently easing the cub down to stand alone and eat. She smiled at the two of them. "You see that black thing on the table, Alu? We took that out of her paw."

The toddler looked at the thorn, and then back at the cub, horrified. "S'bigger than her foot!"

Aran chuckled a little at his daughter's exaggeration. "It's not that big!" he said, though the thorn was definitely big enough to have given the fox a good deal of pain. "You know, if she's going to be with us a while, we should probably give her a name," he suggested for the second time, this time to Alu.


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Re: A New Friend
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2020, 01:55:28 PM »

"Ooooh." Though she was being very careful not to disturb the cub while she was eating, Alu was absolutely enthralled, and equally delighted to be involved in choosing a name. "Sumfing pretty."

"Mmhm," Aran agreed. "But what?" Though he had found the little fox, he thought it should be up to Alu to name her. It would help her feel like she had done something to help, besides donate a pile of blankets.

"Monster Munch."

Carina only just managed not to laugh. She had let Alu have those particular chips just once, several months ago. She could never have imagined that would come back to haunt her now.

"Monster Munch?" Aran echoed dubiously, brows arching upwards. Where had that come from? "Um ... What would you call her for short?" he asked. That was a bit of a mouthful, after all.

Alu seemed very sure about it. "Pickle," she said confidently. This broke her mother a little, who had to stand up and turn away or risk upsetting the toddler with her grin.

"Pickle," Aran echoed again, still looking a bit dubious, but at least Pickle was better than Monster Munch. "You are going to name her after a snack?" he asked curiously. There were times when Alu left him a little perplexed, but then she was just a child.

She looked up at him innocently. "Pickle make me happy," was her logical answer. "She happy too." There was a faint whimper from the little cub as she pressed down a little too hard on her injured paw.

"Pickle it is, then," Aran replied with a shrug. Who was he to question a toddler's logic? He frowned at the sound of the whimper and crouched down near the fox to take her back into his arms, so that she could eat without putting any stress on that paw. "There, now. Easy does it. No one is going to hurt you," he told her gently.

She had pretty much demolished everything on the plate, and drunk a fair amount of the water Carina had put down for her as well. Lifted off her injury, soothed by the voice that was becoming familiar, the newly named Pickle let out a rumbling sound that might almost have been a purr if she had been a cat, snuggling into Aran's arms.

"Hear that, Alu?" he asked, smiling up at his daughter as the baby fox snuggled into his arms. "She sounds happy." It was strange how that sound made him feel all warm inside, just as he had the first time he'd held his daughter in his arms.

"What happened to her mama?" the little girl asked solemnly, finally reaching out to delicately pet the soft fur on the cub's back. "Will she come lookin'?"

"We don't know," Aran replied, frowning sadly. "We think she's an orphan," he told her, assuming she knew what that word meant. "She's too little to take care of herself, so she might have to stay with us awhile. What do you think of that?"

"She fambly now?" Looking up, Alu met his eyes with hope and curiosity, beaming just at the thought of adding Pickle to their family. It might be odd, to have a fox for a pet, but in Anarven, it wasn't exactly unheard of.

"For now, she is." He didn't have to look at Carina to know she was in agreement. He didn't know if there would come a time when they'd have to set the little fox free, but for now, it seemed she would be calling Anarven home.

It wouldn't be possible to keep a fox in the city. This could only have happened out here, where the natural world was so much closer to them. They could ask Greylin to look at the cub tomorrow, but for now, everything was calm and settled as the half-elves settled down to dinner. Life was certainly unpredictable in Anarven, but no one could say this was a bad development. It was just ... family.


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Re: A New Friend
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2020, 03:36:38 PM »