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 91 
 on: May 08, 2017, 01:13:52 PM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
Partly accurate.  The answers as to the "caverns" will be given in a future chapter as well as what happened to the others.

 92 
 on: May 08, 2017, 07:16:28 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by Kaijugod
I'm probably guessing that the caverns are actually some sort of human ruins and there's something in them that's causing these disappearances.

 93 
 on: May 08, 2017, 05:00:45 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
Long before either parent drew breath, the Squirrel Tribe existed.  They lived among other morphs trying to survive the Dark Times.  Things did not work out well in these lands so the tribe moved north, beyond the Barrier Mountains.  Some said they backed the wrong faction in one of the many morph wars and suffered the consequences.  Others claimed they departed the Known Lands when the forest died leaving them homeless and hungry.  A few claimed it happened due to the wanderlust nature of those who ruled the tribe.  None can say they know the actual reason but these are the most logical explanations offered.

For more than a generation, they wandered a wilderness where trees often numbered less than the fingers on a paw for as far as the eye beheld.  One day, in the morning shadows of a mountain named by the ancient humans, they discovered a pristine forest, unclaimed by any morph.  They settled here, in a land where the trees provided a never ending bounty.

Legend tells of two amorous youths racing through the trees, across the forest floor, and atop a rocky knoll.  During their extended game of tag, one of them darted inside a small cave near the summit of an unknown hill.  The other pursued their intended into the same opening.  Moments later they came out, all thoughts of romance deferred to a more appropriate time.

Within the mountain, they discovered a huge cavern.  They notified the elders of their discovery, eager to show them what they found.  The tribal elders investigated the cave.  Before the next winter's snows buried the land, the tribe constructed a stronghold and sunk two ventilation turbines deep into the mountain.  Now the tribe had somewhere to stay during the harshest of winters.  Each morph still needed winter fur and blankets, but the temperature inside never dropped low enough to threaten life or limbs.

Everyone found the cave a bit strange.  The four explored levels measured the same length and width.  Ceiling heights on each level matched, regardless of which end one occupied.  The cavern had chambers, all rectangular in shape but in various sizes.  The tribal elders declared the first two levels as living quarters and the next two they set aside for food storage.

Not all was ideal.  On each explored level, two demons with vacant eyes that never blinked stared across a narrow corridor at two other eyeless demons.  One elder tossed a torch into an eye and it disappeared below them.  Several elders pushed a heavy object they found into a different eye.  It fell into the darkness and none ever heard it hit bottom.  That first year the tribe constructed a wall before each eye so none would wander into the void, but only on the four occupied floors.  Until they needed to go deeper, they saw no reason to employ such precautions.

Two other square openings descended into the darkness at opposite ends of this strange cave.  Around the outer edge, a continuous ramp led downward.  Beyond the fourth level, either the metallic railing crumbled or parts of the circling ramps fell away, leaving large gaps.  The deeper they ventured, the more deteriorated the ramps until even the most athletic squirrel risked their life crossing these openings.  Like the demon's eye, the central shaft held only darkness.  Anything tossed into the void disappeared.  Elders warned all about the dangers of going deeper than the fourth level.

Most obeyed.  For the young, the allure of the forbidden claimed a few each winter.  Almost every youth ventured onto the fifth level, wondering what made the place such a mysterious place.  Those who ventured deeper and returned unharmed were hailed by their contemporaries as the bravest members of their tribe.  All such explorers brought artifacts from these lower levels to prove their claim.

These artifacts had no practical use to anyone.  Odd bits of twisted metal or some device that had no obvious use were discarded a short time after their return.  Those who either lost their prize or decided not to show useless items spent much of their time substantiating their claims.  Even without proof of their success reaching an unexplored level, those returning youths gained respect.

Saddest of all were those youths who intended going deeper than the seventh level.  To date, nobody ever returned from such a mission.  A day or two after the winter snows sealed the entire tribe underground, they talked about the how or when of their trip.  On the designated day, these bold adventurers departed the living area boasting of their intentions.  A few friends followed them to the fifth or sixth level, but withdrew when their friend insisted on going deeper.  They disappeared into the lower levels, their final fate unknown. 

Calator interrupted the narration.  "If nothing else, you have given me a riddle to confound even the wisest elder of our tribe.  However, it tells nothing of the Rand you carry."

"Patience," Plezwerk responded.  "How it came into my possession should be obvious.  Why it is here is another story."

 94 
 on: May 05, 2017, 04:39:28 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
"Admit it, Plezwerk.  A river raft upstream beats hiking through that forest with a backpack equal to your own weight."

Calator startled him and he shoved the book he held into his backpack.  "It is faster and easier on the feet but eventually I must learn to shoulder this pack.  So what brings you aft when your fellow diggers occupy the bow, or will all of you become ticks in the fur?"

The rat pulled a notebook out of his pocket, his writing stick racing across the page like a hummingbird's wings as it darted through a field of flowers.  "'Ticks in the fur,' an idiom that any morph can relate to via some descriptive passage.  I'm guessing it infers we are an annoyance and you prefer we go somewhere else?"

"Didn't I say you excelled at puzzles?  There's your proof.  Now let me rest, Calator."

"Rats have the reputation of being sly, and most other morphs say that in an unflattering way.  Nice seeing tree huggers can stoop just as low.  You had those porcupines thinking you cannot read, but you can.  Bet that book proves your skills equal mine."

"Hiding such talents lets me gauge the honesty of a merchant.  As to a book, I have no idea what you mean.  These are maps I hope will help me find my intended destination."

"Maps?  If I uttered the word book or map, you'll not have a moment of peace.  My friends sense of curiosity will overwhelm you.  Think us ticks in the fur now, imagine the nine of us crawling under your skin and you without any repellant.  Best we share this discovery while their attention is on the surrounding forest."

Plezwerk hated to concede to his logic.  They had another five days travel and he didn't want to jump ship and walk.  That would double his time.  Worse yet, if the rat was right, he would have to go through this archeological dig to reach his destination.  It became a case of now or later.  He muttered under his breath at both his stupidity and the inquisitive nature of rats.  Yet he tried delaying that inevitable discussion.

"Everyone will be extra tired tonight.  Our ringtail Captain used the word portage and rapids in the same sentence twice with his Second during the last watch.  We will be undertaking an extended walk before nightfall.  At least that's what I've heard."

As if on cue, the raccoon Captain shouted.  "Rest while you can, we reach shore in less than an hour.  Once on land. we hike above the river's rapids so have your personal gear packed and ready.  We must not dawdle if we intend reaching our destination by sunset.  Not to worry, nothing will be lost.  The trail is well marked and the remaining journey will be much faster once we get above this canyon."

The raft glided across the water to a wide clearing.  Once the raccoon crew secured the raft to a convenient pier, everyone walked to shore.  Supplies went into wagons while each passenger shouldered their personal backpack.  The trek started with the raccoons pulling several supply wagons and everyone else following them.  An overcast day kept things cool while the sounds of the forest faded, replaced by the roar of rapids.  A dry path allowed for faster travel since the carts rolled with ease across the hard packed dirt.

Their Captain spoke the truth, the path was well marked and the uphill climb proved an easy one though the frequent switchbacks increased the distance traveled.  In spite of frequent breaks, everyone gave a satisfied sigh of relief when they reached their eventual destination.  It didn't meet the standards of any traveler's inn, but it did beat sleeping out in the open as they did every night since leaving the Inn.  Each raised platform could hold ten of them without crowding.  Better yet, they had an overhang that kept the night's drizzle off them.  Tonight, everyone would sleep in dry comfort. 

Calator convinced his friends to share a platform while he and the squirrel kept to another one.  All agreed to the suggestion if he allowed them to store their backpacks on the other platform, which would give them more room.  A few of the ladies offered Calator condolences on his choice of bunkmates, their comments both barbed and amiable.  By the time everyone ate, what started out as an evening drizzle progressed to a steady rain.  None would wander far in such a downpour.

Plezwerk didn't need any verbal reminder of his promise; the rat's hungry expression did that.  He opened his backpack and dug out the book he inadvertently exposed earlier.  The rat took the pristine pages as if they were made of egg shells.  Calator used their central fire pit to illuminate the object of his curiosity.  The rat opened the book of ancient maps, examining each as he flipped from one cover to the other.

"How did you get your paws on a mint condition Rand?  Such books are nothing less than the Holy Grail of cartography.  Those we have are so deteriorated that much of the information we have is conjecture based on bits and pieces from dozen of fragments.  I know elders back home who might kill to have this, and you treat it as if it had minor importance."

"My story is long, so keep your questions for later."  Plezwerk settled back until he felt comfortable.

 95 
 on: May 03, 2017, 04:43:08 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
A good night's sleep always helps the morning look better.  Plezwerk gave a stretch while lying on his bed.  The scent of cedar and pine filled his sleeping box as he shifted positions.  For just a moment, his mind wandered to his home tree.  If he kept his eyes shut, he imagined himself there.  Such pleasant memories faded to the reality of another day as sunlight invaded the place.

Plezwerk checked his gear and found nothing missing.  He expected otherwise.  Such thefts were commonplace, at least according to his tribal elders.  Since other tribes proved to be inhospitable, he pressed onward rather than stay longer than one night.  The rumored pilfering considered routine, proved unfounded.  The expectation of a full belly and the prospect of making good timing on his trip had him feeling perky.  This day kept getting better by the moment and it was less than an hour old. 

He locked his room and jogged over to the receptionist.  A different lady porcupine stood behind the counter.  This lady's fur had a golden blond hue to it and where last night's receptionist had a bounce to her step, this one grunted with every shift in weight.  They negotiated a price for the additional nights he needed and received an assurance they would notify him when the raccoons arrived. 

According to the receptionist, his room fee covered his evening meal.  He did learn availing himself of the breakfast menu, would cost him extra.  That didn't bother him.  He found the prices quoted here reasonable considering how much he received.  If the morning meal proved as filling, he would regret his return to travel rations when he departed.

The morning cook / bartender kept himself behind his counter despite the near empty room.  He preferred this porcupine over the intrusive fellow from last night.  He provided the waitress with his order, which allowed him time to enjoy his meal in quiet solitude.  Plezwerk decided to nurse his cider drink as he had no idea when the shops opened for business.  He anticipated a quiet wait.

A young rat leaned forward at the bar after summoning the bartender closer.  He and the porcupine talked for a moment, their voices too low and distant for him to discern the topic of their conversation.  Both glanced his way before they continued their discussion.  A timely interruption stopped them.  The bartender shifted to the far end of the bar, beckoned by one of the wolves he saw last night while the rat remained in his seat. 

That changed.  The rat stood.  He placed one paw on the bottom of the tankard while grasping the handle with the other.  He stared at his drink for a few seconds before he turned in place.  Now that he faced in his general direction, the rat shuffled across the wooden floor towards him.  Both paws steadied the tankard, which he treated with great care.

Plezwerk took the time to compare this fellow to the descriptions he overheard when his tribal elders discussed rats.  Seems they didn't know as much about the world as he believed.  This rat was skinny without being thin or undernourished, unlike the expected overweight glutton.  His fur had a charcoal grayish hue compared to the anticipated midnight black.  The last contradiction was the fellow's expression.  One tribal elder said rats always displayed a predatory expression, not the long-lost relative look this fellow had.  The rat's grin widened the closer he came to his table.

Drunk or sober, I don't need this intrusion.  "State your business, rat, if that's why you came to my table.  Otherwise, find someplace else.  Your presence is neither welcomed nor wanted."

The fellow didn't take the blunt hint and sat across from him as if his comment were some universal invitation.  "The bartender tells me you intend going all the way upriver.  So am I.  Perhaps we can be travel partners."

"I said nothing about my destination.  As to a companion, I'm sure you have somewhere else to be as do I."

"There are four river settlements upstream.  Two are ruled by otters who have an instinctive mistrust of squirrels.  I doubt you would last a night in either.  The third one is filled with bruins newly awakened from their winter hibernation.  You would make an excellent meal and none of their Watchers would care since you carry no herald's badge.  The last and furthest village upstream is inhabited by raccoons and is nothing more than a temporary camp, a rest stop for their raft.  No trade, no other squirrels, and nothing they need from your kind since they migrate north when the spring floods ebb."

"So what takes you on such a pleasure cruise," Plezwerk asked, his tone challenging the fellow to explain himself.  "Have you business at one of the camps, or are you going as live food for somebody's entertainment?"

"A drool sense of humor, I like that, squirrel.  But to answer your question, the raccoon village is where I'll meet a caravan going south.  My destination is the archeological site of Eug On, an ancient human city.  Our tribe discovered it five years back and have been working the site from early spring to late autumn each year.  Unless you intend traveling further south into uncharted territory, we are both going to the same place.  An intermediary can open closed doors if you're hoping to find something of value there."

"Rats have a reputation as excellent puzzle solvers, you live up to that expectation," Plezwerk conceded.  "Since I am stuck with you for the duration of our travels, I will accept your offer of companionship, until we can part ways.  Your hunch that I'm going into unknown territory is right."

"Amazing what one can learn from nothing more than a talkative receptionist and a bored barkeep.  May I ask for more details on your trip?"

"No, you may not, rat.  My business is mine alone.  For now, if I interpret my waitress's signal, the supply shops have opened.  Enjoy the hospitality of the bar."

He didn't even give the rat a chance to respond.  Plezwerk exited the Common Room and stepped onto the porch.  The buildings that displayed no lantern last night each flew a different colored flag.  A gentle breeze allowed him to examine each and identify what merchandise they offered.  If his haggling skills held up, he would be fully stocked by the evening meal.

His first stop had clothing available.  Since leaving home he travelled over very rough terrain, some of his things went from serviceable garments to threadbare rags.  The porcupine receptionist was right.  He found the merchandise quality superior to anything he had back home and at a reasonable price.  They even had a rain repellant wrap that went over his attire and kept his paws free.  Satisfied with his selections, he approached the proprietor and after a short conversation agreed to a price.  When the shopkeeper handed him the receipt, he hesitated.  He kept shifting the document as he examined it.

"Not one for letters and numbers," the store's clerk inquired.

"I can do simple math, but my tribe has no tutors for those of low rank.  We never considered such a thing useful since reading or writing will not make the harvest greater."

The shopkeeper exchanged the slip for one with five tick marks and a picture representation of the merchandise he selected.  He nodded at the fellow and thanked him for his honesty.  The shopkeeper offered the services of his eldest son to summarize his purchases from the other stores so he need pay just one bill instead of several.  The shopkeeper promised to deliver all his purchases to his quarters since the local porcupine tribe owned and operated every store.

Another voice intruded.  "No need, sir.  We rats are well educated and I can assist my friend when it comes to his bill."

"Your assistance is unnecessary, rat."

The rat placed his paw on Plezwerk's shoulder.  "I can well understand your anger.  We traded riddles regarding our travels, shared a drink, bartered with one another, and yet I neglected to introduce myself.  Please excuse my ill manners and let me rectify that oversight.  I am Calator, digger third class and on my first artifact hunt.  May I ask for your name my dear tree hugger?"

"You may ask all you wish.  I'll tell you in my own good time, if I see it beneficial in any way.  Otherwise, there are more important things needing my attention than a meddling rat."

"You seem familiar with wilderness travel; I could benefit from your expertise.  Like I said, this is my first venture beyond our tribal lands.  Let me follow you and we can help each other."

How do you turn down somebody paying you a compliment?  Plezwerk felt trapped by the rat's outgoing personality but saw no way to get rid of him.  When he told him in words as blunt as possible, it didn't work. Neither did subtle hints sway the rat's fixation on him.  He remembered the fellow's name and the fact they would be traveling together regardless of his opinion.  For the foreseeable future, he may as well accept Calator's aid and companionship.  It wasn't permanent and he could endure the fellow for a short time.  Who knows, it might prove beneficial.

 96 
 on: May 01, 2017, 08:06:33 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
School first always.  Take your time, there is no race for finishing your story. 

 97 
 on: May 01, 2017, 07:02:20 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by Kaijugod
Just read the first chapter of your story and I have to say well done. I'll be posting the next chapter later this month as I'm currently busy with college finals.

 98 
 on: May 01, 2017, 05:06:14 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
The sun settled in for a long rest, pulling a black cloak over itself.  The moon peaked over the horizon, ready to dance across the dark heavens.  Constellations took their places ready to bedazzle any who cared to look their way.  The bustle of day gave way to the serenity of the night.

The traveler had been moving west for two full cycles of the moon.  When he first reached this land, he sought out other morph communities.  That proved too dangerous.  Tribal leaders protected their lands and insisted he disclose his intents before they allowed him access.  Sometimes impatient leaders encouraged such revelations with a sharp knife or a hungry fire.  Now he bypassed these primitive settlements.

Province provided him with a stone roadway six days after the last full moon.  Stories told around the home campfires said such paved thoroughfares offered safe passage to all.  As long as he remained within sight of the road or camped by its side, none should harm or hinder him.  He hoped.  Things may have changed since his tribe's exile during the Dark Times. 

His first day's journey along this road brought him to a carved marker.  The graphic engraved on the stone showed the image of a lit lantern.  Those who recorded the history of his tribe described such a symbol.  It indicated an inn ahead, though it made no reference to distance.  An arrow alongside it indicated where he might find the advertised inn.  Good fortune smiled on him as the arrow pointed in the direction he traveled.  Perhaps his first impressions was in error; there might be civilized morphs living in the area.

For ten days he followed the road.  Tonight, he pushed onward.  His rations nearly exhausted, he needed to find that trading post.  If the inn existed, a safe place to rest would be welcomed.   Tired as he felt, the reappearance of the carved symbol gave him hope of finding the place.  It better happen soon.  The growing darkness would soon make any further travel too dangerous.  Last thing he wanted to do was twist an ankle on something as trivial as a broken branch or loose stone.

A turn in the road took him beyond the forest.  After so many days within a world of trees, he paused to enjoy the panoramic view.  A wide flatland extended before him.  On both sides of the path, fields of grain stood tall.  Beyond these outer fields, the crops changed.  These plants extended no higher than the lowest fence board.  Like the previous fields, the crops appeared well tended, though the darkening night may have hidden anything unusual. 

He kept to the safety of the stone road.  Nobody attempted to stop him and no guard appeared to be on duty.  A strange thing in his experience.  His paw brushed the hilt of his short sword while he walked.  His ears detected nothing more threatening than the sound of a few insects.  His eyes failed to notice anything moving towards him as he approached a collection of buildings.

Every morph settlement had at least one or more Watchers on constant patrol.  Standing on the deserted road so close to the village without any alarm sounding made him jumpy.  Any sentry worthy of the duty challenges a stranger with his weapon drawn long before that unknown morph reached a point close enough to menace the inhabitants.  Such a threatening encounter would return this scenario to something he considered normal.

Time to evaluate his options.  On the left side of the road, a series of one story buildings.  At either corner, a lantern threw enough illumination so any traveler would not trip on the porch.  All the shutters remained closed but a few hinted at occupancy thanks to a weak light under a shut window.  Several of the buildings had no light whatsoever, which had him envision a crouching predator.

He checked out the one building that dominated the settlement.  It stood three stories tall and appeared to be twice as large as any two of the one-floor structures.  Here the building's porch supported four lanterns, each throwing off enough light to keep the night at bay.  Where the other porches stood vacant, this one had several unused tables and stools leaning against the wall.  Crossing the road, he approached what he hoped was the advertised inn.

Though closed, two wide doors acted like a siren's call to a weary sailor.  When he drew closer, each entryway displayed a different graphic.  The left one showed an overflowing tankard while the other reminded him of a bread loaf.  Wavy marks above it hinted at its freshness.  At least he found a place for food and drink.

Several paces down the porch, he found another entrance that opened just as wide.  Like the first set, it had an ideogram carved into it.  When the doors were shut, as they were now, it displayed two halves of a lit lantern.  Rays of light radiated from the picture in all directions.  This had to be the Inn's main entrance.  Without hesitation, he pushed his way inside.

"Greetings traveler, welcome to River Haven Inn.  Can I be of assistance?"

The receptionist, a pudgy lady porcupine, sat on a stool behind a low counter.  Based on the dark black fur along her muzzle, the lady had to be in the prime of life, maybe as old as his parent's or a few years younger.  She wore a bright green pinafore over a sky blue dress and a pair of sandals with straps that weaved up her legs to a point below her knees.  She must have trimmed her quills as the usual barbed white tips were missing.  Her spectacles hugged her muzzle near the very tip so she could eye her visitor over the wooden frame.  A quick step brought her to the counter.

"Greetings to you, dear lady.  I am Pelzwerk and come from a place far to the east.  Can you assist a traveler with food, supplies, and lodging?"

"Most squirrels are diurnal, so we will have no troubles accommodating your needs, though we have quarters for those on a nocturnal schedule, if you prefer.  Lodging for the night is one weight of copper, and that entitles you to a hot meal and your first drink.  Just show your room key to any hostess.  When you are ready for bed, return here.  I'll have quarters arranged by the time you finish your meal."

"What of supplies?  I have travelled for some time and still have far to go," Pelzwerk asked the lady.

"Shops open at midday.  I'm sure you'll find everything you need.  Our tribe prides itself on providing only the best merchandise and at a fair price.  One look will convince you."

Pelzwerk gave the lady several copper beads of various sizes, which she weighed on a scale.  She took four of the medium sized beads and returned the rest.  Satisfied with the exchange, he accepted the key offered by the receptionist.  He placed it in his vest pocket.

She pointed to a hallway that extended off to his left.  Pelzwerk followed it from the inn's registration desk to the Common Room's main entrance.  After the solitude of his journey and the businesslike atmosphere of the proprietor, stepping into the Common Room came as a refreshing splash of cold water to the face.  He preferred his solitude but saw no excuse for avoiding these porcupines.  At least that's what he expected.

Voices bounced off the walls without being so loud that he could focus on any of the multitude of conversations.  A quick scan of the room revealed quite a mixture of morph species.  Something he hadn't encountered during his travels.  Stranger yet, none of the customers carried weapons.  Other villages he visited treated morphs of a different species as potential enemies.  They spoke words of greeting but kept their paws close to any weapon available.  He spent as little time in such places as possible.

None took any notice of his arrival so he had time to scan the room.  Six wolves occupied one booth with each pair rubbing muzzles whenever one ceased eating or drinking.  Three ferrets kept referring to some drawing on their table in a very animated manner with an older ram.  Four hares on the other side of the room discussed the weather as if it had some significance beyond a possible hindrance to their work or travels.   A lone mouse sat at some unknown musical instrument, his efforts often overridden by the many voices in the room.  Several female porcupines raced about the room in response to waves from the many patrons. 

Pelzwerk found a booth that offered him a view of the bustling activity without being close enough to attract attention from the other guests.  He no sooner sat than one of the serving girls magically appeared at his table.  She gave him a slight head bob and waited.  When he said nothing about her presence, she broke the silence.

"Your pleasure, sir?"

A wave of the key and a word about a cold beer had the female disappear.  He allowed the noise to wash over him, grateful to be sitting after a full day's travel.  Time passed.  His eyes searched for his hostess without success while his stomach protested the delay.  Just as Pelzwerk decided to seek out the bartender, another porcupine placed everything he ordered on the table.  His mouth watered at the aroma and he dug into the meal.

Satisfied, he leaned back against the cushion.  His hostess returned, asked if he required anything before removing the empties.  She returned with a slice of pie, saying it was part of his meal.  The unexpected treat proved one of the best things to happen to him since he left home.  If he thought he could enjoy some privacy before retiring for the night, he was mistaken.  Apparently the barkeep wished to greet his latest guest.

Like the lady receptionist, the fellow trimmed his quills so none showed a barbed end.  Based on his attire, the fellow doubled as the Inn's cook.  His white apron advertised today's menu via the various food stains.  Where the lady at the reception desk acted all businesslike, this fellow seemed determine to make each and every morph present his newest best friend.  His arrival took time since he greeted each guest he passed by name.

"My niece said your speech is quite unusual; it has a special twang to it.  I'm sure she's just not as familiar with the squirrel tribe's accent as I am.  It's been more than a year since any of your kind visited us.  Can you tell me if that overweight grey, Boughbreaker, still rules?"

"If there is a local squirrel tribe, I'm not with them.  Let's just say I have travelled far and am a bit tired.  Leave me be as I'll be going to my room in a bit."

The fellow scratched his ear.  "Sharpie was right, you're not from this region or anywhere nearby.  After as much time tending bar as I have and with my travels, I'm familiar with almost every accent in the Known Lands.  Would you be adverse to some friendly counsel?"

Pelzwerk gave a low growl.  "Have I any choice?"

The barkeeper slid onto a stool across from him.  "Our kind operate three haven inns.  All are welcomed on condition that any disputes they have with other morphs remain beyond our borders.  Trade negotiations, as well as peace talks, requires a neutral zone.  We act as that neutral site where compromise is possible without either side loosing face.  We pride ourselves on how well we facilitate such discussions."

"And yet I strolled into your land without ever being challenged."

The fellow shook his head.  "Guards observed your arrival when you left the forest.  Did you think our front desk lady waits there all night hoping a guest arrives unannounced?  You made no threatening move so we didn't have a reason to challenge you.  We do enforce the peace, when necessary.  As a neutral zone, you may carry a weapon but it cannot be drawn regardless of provocation.  None will bother you but if you need another's help, this is where you'll find it.  For example, an otter raft will be going to the sea in five days and a raft of ringtails is going upstream in two.  Either will take you as far as you wish for a measure of copper.  If you catch my meaning."

His message needed no interpreter to decipher.  Pelzwerk intended leaving tomorrow, but a raft ride upriver with a crew of raccoons could cut his travel time dramatically.  It would be money well spent for both passage and the extra day's lodging.  The rest would do him good.

The receptionist sent a young girl with him when he asked about his room.  The child led him to one of the buildings across the road and ushered him into a dimly lit space.  She recited a list of rules and service options before returning his key.  She departed after a quick curtsy.

Halfway up the far wall a circular hole called to him.  Pelzwerk locked the door and dropped his backpack.  He crossed the unfurnished room and with a lithe bound, jumped up.  His claws caught the jutting platform and he somersaulted into the box.  A heavy cedar smell greeted him when he dropped onto the bedding.  A moment later, sleep claimed him.

 99 
 on: April 29, 2017, 11:02:59 PM 
Started by Aleema - Last post by Alster82
lol Stefan. Time really flyes doesnt it. I use to play this back in the day too and i cant believe that its 13 years ago. I guess ill dive into some nostalgia Smiley

 100 
 on: April 28, 2017, 06:46:43 PM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
First off, a special thanks to Kaijugod.  His recent threads have fired up the old hedgehog's imagination.  A dangerous thing indeed.  This will be my story about the discovery of a human camp dating back to ancient times. 

Those who have read my other story will note some continuity.  The porcupines have returned.  I'm also introducing another morph race, one that seems appropriate to this world.  All other races mentioned have either appeared in the game, the comics, or in concept art.

The first chapter will be posted on May 1, 2017.  Additional chapters will appear every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday over a four week period. 

I do respond to all inquiries.  Post them on this thread so as not to ruin the flow of the story for those coming to it after a few chapters have been posted.  If you prefer a personal response, use the PM system.  Thank you all for your consideration.

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