River of Mnemosyne Challenge. Fourth Muse: Virginal Zoophilia

They departed in the morning after a lovely breakfast. Raina held Patrick’s hands before they left.
“Are you certain you don’t want to join us this time?”
“I am certain. I feel with all my heart that I am called elsewhere. Something is afoot, but what, I do not know yet.”
The air was warming up quickly. The fog and morning dew had vanished and curious squirrels were inspecting the slop buckets by the Inn’s back door.
“Let’s get moving,” Mortimer called out. “Make sure you don’t forget anything. We cannot return. Hartmut, Bertrand, what’s taking so long?”
The men, thusly addressed grunted and packed away the little pouches that made clacking noises. Rowan shouldered his pack.
“What does he mean, we cannot return?”
Tarwen shrugged.
“Let’s just go.”
They marched through mossy underbrush. Raina led them at a quick pace. Rowan was glad that his coat was rolled somewhere into his pack, for soon sweat was running down his face. Still, the forest was not nearly as hot and dry as it had been on the way to the Inn. The trees were dark green and full of life. Moss covered many a trunk and stone and little gurgling sounds told of creeks and brooks just out of view.
It was much after midday when they stepped carefully down a steep hill, covered in pine needles and ferns. The sloshing of water drew ever nearer and soon Rowan’s feet were sucked into the forest floor by underlying mud. Walking turned into a knee-bending chore and one of the older men slipped and sat down hard on his rump. It earned him laughter all around.
“Dear Brian, you better watch out, or you shall be know as Soggy Bottoms from now on,” Mortimer joked.
Rowan looked through the trees and saw the roiling stream that had played its music in his ears for quite a while now. He saw swift moving, brown waters, capped with white bubbles and spiked with occasional branches and other flotsam it had picked up along the way. It was easily as wide as the length of a full-grown pine and Rowan thought it looked rather deep to boot. There were clean-washed boulders leading into the stream from each side of the shores, but Rowan could not see any of those in the middle of it. Raina raised a hand and the group gathered to a halt around her.
“This is most unfortunate. I see no way that we can use the stepping-stones. I fear we have to build a raft.”
Some men grunted. Others unpacked their woodsman axes and went to suitable trees. Raina pulled at clinging vines and used a small dagger to cut them. She instructed Rowan and Tarwen to do the same. Hartmut stomped through the soggy ground over to Raina and worked on pulling the leaves off the vines.
“It’s of no use, you know. The stream is too swift. We’ll drown one and all.”
Raina focused her large, green eyes on him.
“It’s the doing that changes the world, not the complaining.”
Rowan continued to cut vines. He silently agreed with Hartmut. He didn’t want to be stuck on a slippery raft with a bunch of men he didn’t know in the middle of a forest he had no idea how to get out off and or knowledge of where it would lead. His prospects seemed dire. If he didn’t drown or get clobbered by the raft or the boulders, he would still be lost and die of hunger or find death being prey to a hungry bear. He didn’t like any of these worrisome futures one bit.
“Mrwow?”
Rowan turned around and looked into the eyes of a cat. At least he thought it was a cat. Its features were catlike, with the whiskers and the ears and such. Still, this cat was at least three times the size of the mousers he knew. It had silvery gray hair that stood up a hand width long in every direction. Its paws were as big as three average cat’s paws side by side. Its face was as wide as Rowan’s head and its orange eyes were inches away from Rowan’s nose. Still, it seemed friendly. Rowan did not know how he knew that this cat didn’t mean him any harm, but he was certain of it.
“Hello there cat,” he said. The cat purred and walked on its branch down to Rowan’s shoulder. There it bumped its head and purred some more. Rowan carefully lifted his hand and stroked the cat’s head. The cat sniffed and then leaned into his hand. She kept purring in a low rumble that made Rowan’s hand vibrate.
“What you got there?” Tarwen asked from behind. He came up to Rowan and caught a glimpse of the animal.
“Sweet undertaker, what is that?”
Rowan turned.
“It’s a cat.”
“It’s rather huge for that,” Tarwen replied. “You don’t even like cats.”
“I like this one.”
The cat nuzzled Rowan’s hand and jumped down from the branch. It circled around his legs and rubbed its head and side on his boots. Raina came through the underbrush and gasped.
“Rowan, you got yourself a wild fen cat! This is marvelous! They are such a good omen!”
Rowan grinned at his brother. The cat followed him around and played with the lose vines. It purred close to him and hissed at everyone else. By the end of the day they had built a raft and the cat had made a home on Rowan’s pack.
“Looks like you got yourself a pet,” said Tarwen at the campfire.
Mortimer sat down beside Rowan and Tarwen. “Who is going to be the pet of whom remains to be seen.”

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About scratchingcat

Writer, mother, friend.
This entry was posted in Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to River of Mnemosyne Challenge. Fourth Muse: Virginal Zoophilia

  1. JeffScape says:

    Hah! I’ve been waiting to see how everyone tackles this one. 🙂

  2. JeffScape says:

    Edit: “knowN as Soggy Bottoms”

    Raina feels like the main character here, in large part because she’s the best, most quickly developed. And while I do like the use of the Muse, at this point in the story, I’m looking for the plot. All I know is that Tarwen and Rowan are from a town that has lost contact with Raina’s, and that they’re on a quest for knowledge or wisdom. That’s fine, but I’d really like to know what that knowledge or wisdom is. Next chapter, perhaps?

  3. tom says:

    mrwow. I like your use of language and invention of oaths. Very neat

  4. I’m sure I commented here before. WordPress hates me. Nice descriptions and build, your writing style is easy to read. I’m waiting for something to happen now. Not a bad tackle of a trixy muse.

  5. William Redd says:

    Nicely handled! Also, I like the cat, and Mortimer’s comment at the end.

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