Saturday, 4 April 2009

Heroic Flop

Whilst exploring the Grizzly Hills a few weeks ago we were passing an abandoned tower when Aggrion stopped, almost imperceptibly cocking his head to one side, listening. He reminded me momentarily of a hunting dog, all senses alert, poised and attentive, then the image was gone as he turned and stared at the tower (perhaps a side effect of our recent time as wolves?). I stopped watching him and heard a high-pitched voice, female, whispering urgently. Aggrion motioned for me to follow and we began to make our way towards the tower. At the base of the stairs that lead to the doorway I heard a giggle from inside. I glanced at Aggrion raising an eyebrow quizzically, he merely shrugged and unsheathed his sword, quietly climbing the steps.

The whispering grew louder and I clearly heard the words "Mr Floppy". I readied a shadowbolt as Aggrion forced open the door (heroes don't knock). A gasp came from the far corner as the door slammed into the wall and one of the largest rabbits I have ever seen hopped towards us.

"Oh! I'm so glad you're here Mr Warrior!" said a small girl as she scooped up the rabbit. "We went exploring but got lost and the wolves chased us in here and we're getting awfully hungry!"

Aggrion sheathed his sword and mumbled something, shuffling his feet slightly. The look he gave me was so full of desperation I couldn't help but giggle. Aggrion is not good with children. I stepped around him and smiled at the girl.

"Hi! I'm Ary, this," I tapped Aggrion on the knee. "Is Aggrion. Who are you?"
"My name is Emily, and this is Mr Floppy." She held the rabbit out its hind legs dangling mere millimetres from the floor. He glared at me. I glared back. I am not good with animals.

“Can you take us home?” asked Emily.

Turned out that home was the Westfall Brigade Encampment and of course, Aggrion, never one to leave a damsel in distress, nodded an agreement, took up his sword and lead the way from the tower.

We strolled through the pleasant woodland, the dappled sun warming my face, Mr Floppy pausing occasionally to nibble a blade of grass and Emily skipping at Aggrion's side chattering incessantly. The warrior's discomfort was palpable; I couldn't recall a situation that had made him so unsure and was considering rescuing him when a giant black wolf appeared as if from no-where, and launched itself at Mr Floppy.

"Eeeeek!" screamed Emily. "He's going for Mr Floppy!"

Aggrion spun and sliced at the wolf deftly. I muttered a few words under my breath and pointed at the wolf, a bolt of pure shadow energy left my fingers and smashed into its side. Seconds after the bolt hit Aggrion laid a mortal blow and the creature fell to the floor.

Emily hugged Mr Floppy who glared at me over her shoulder.

"We need to keep moving." Said Aggrion, his eyes sweeping the woods for signs of more wolves.

The pace was frustratingly slow, Emily still insisted on skipping and Mr Floppy hopped, too heavy for her to carry and unwilling to be carried by Aggrion. Finally we were within sight of the encampment when another, larger, wolf burst from the undergrowth going straight for the rabbit.

"There's a big meanie attacking Mr Floppy! Help!" Emily cried.

Aggrion was on the wolf again in seconds, but it already had the defenseless Mr Floppy in it's jaws.

"He's gonna eat Mr. Floppy! You gotta help Mr. Floppy! You just gotta!" Sobbed Emily.

I cast a curse of agony hoping the wolf would drop the rabbit in its pain, but it had locked its jaw and nothing short of the wolf's demise would release Mr Floppy. Aggrion growled in frustration, he had to take care not to hurt the rabbit as he sliced at the wolf.

I fired my full repertoire of curses at the creature, knowing they would only hit their intended target, but they are slow to take effect and the wolf shook Mr Floppy horribly. Then my curses took effect and the wolf yelped and fell to the ground twitching in agony. The rabbit dropped from his jaws and lay motionless to one side.

"Don't go toward the light, Mr. Floppy!" Emily wailed.

I watched sadly as Aggrion examined Mr Floppy (through the tangle of Emily’s arms) he looked at me and shook his head then hesitantly patted Emily's shoulder. She hugged her dead rabbit all the more tightly its weight shifting slightly in her arms and to my utter horror Emily took this as a sign of life.

"Mr. Floppy, you're ok!" She looked at Aggrion with wide innocent eyes. "Thank you so much for saving Mr. Floppy!"

Aggrion and I stared at one another in stunned silence.

"Emily..." I began. "I think Mr Floppy has gone to bunny heaven."
"No! He's fine, thank you!" She smiled at me.
Aggrion, kneeling at her side, took her chin gently in his rough hands and turned her face so she was looking at him. "No. Emily. Mr Floppy has gone." The words were firm, but said with a tenderness I'd never seen him exhibit.

"No! You're wrong!" cried Emily, placing Mr Floppy on the ground where he lay motionless. "He's just sleeping!"

We tried for an hour to convince her he was hopping in a meadow free of wolves and full of other rabbits with all the dandelion leaves he could eat. But she would not listen, neither would she accompany us to the Encampment, saying she had to wait for Mr Floppy to wake first. Eventually we had no choice but to leave her and inform her brother, Squire Walter of her situation.

Not our finest moment.

We did however make it up to her by finding her later, in the same tower of all places, and escorting her and Mr Floppy (the 2nd) safely home.

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