Forest Dagger

by Stealthcat

September 707

A hopeful young man walked casually on the trail north to Metamor Keep. Banc recently lost his horse gambling at an inn... he vowed he’d make enough money to buy a new one, until that day his own legs would serve him just fine. Banc made ends meet as a travelling merchant. He knew there was a war and even some sort of curse in this valley but he didn’t intend to stay long and the risks meant he could get a higher price.

He’d ne’er even seen a keeper before, they were supposed to be really hairy and have big ears or something. Everyone always seemed to have a different account of what they were. Some people claimed they turned into animals, others say they became women and some said they turned into kids. Either way, Banc just wanted to sell his wares and leave before he became whatever one of those was true.

The merchant walked along the side of the road, minding the occasional passing carriage. His mind drifted to his surroundings, the emerging reds and yellows of the forest, the crunch of leaves under his feet.

The ground suddenly gave way and Banc gasped in surprise. The merchant fell, his large pack coming to rest on the ground he once stood on as his legs fell into a pit, the calves and thighs of his legs impaled on sharpened sticks below.

Banc screamed in pain and frantically pulled himself back up from the pit, dragging himself and his bloodied legs onto the crisp leafs of the forest floor.

As the man moaned and clenched at his legs he could dimly hear rustling coming from the brush. Little green things approached from the scrub, wicked and sadistic grins on their faces. Banc tried to squirm away but he could hardly move his legs. Suddenly, an arrow blossomed from the eyeball of one of the monsters. The projectile ripped clean through the flesh and embedded itself in the ground.

As the lutin fell, the other two screamed gibberish which was quickly silenced. One took an arrow clear through the neck severing the jugular, the other had one through the skull – after he fell to the ground the arrow pierced the dirt and fixed him in place for a moment before slowly sliding down the unlevel terrain.

Banc looked up to the trees and there he saw it. Nothing at first until an animal of some sort came into clear view. It balanced on the branch on digitgrade feet, quiver of arrows hanging off its waist and bow with another arrow already notched held in both paws.

It’s one of those Keeper things!

The thing looked like an animal with very large ears and a fluffy tail with tan coloured fur but it looked almost like a person and it defiantly had breasts. Huh, they were hairy with big ears then. The female archer creature looked at him with a sly grin and... wagged her tail.

On the ground to the side, another strange creature emerged from seclusion, this one was also apparently a female and small in form but she looked to be very muscular and she had fangs – big, long fangs! She looked menacing indeed, Banc assumed for a moment it would eat him while the other looked on with a grin, but no, as frightening a form this woman-thing had, she also had a warm, caring smile.

Images came to mind, those he’d seen in tomes of such creatures. The one in the tree was a fennec fox vixen. She had big ears indeed but they complimented her form well, not like the big ears he’d seen on some nobles. The other creature was an obscure feline, one which lived in the Giant Downs. It’s scientific name was lost on him but the basic term was Forest Dagger. They had large fangs like a long extinct creature but a smaller frame and a long, bushy tail.

This forest dagger cat’s tail flicked back and forth hypnotically, just brushing the leaves underneath. The wounded merchant looked into her eyes and began to relax. He watched the feline kneel beside him and begin to remove objects from a large pouch. As she worked to heal him he could feel the slight stings but nothing harsh as her paws were gentle yet firm.

Banc continued to look into her eyes. She paid him no heed but focused on her task. When the sabre-toothed creature noticed his gaze she looked at him with a warm and gentle smile. The man’s worries continued to melt and he began to relax.

He just continued to look into her eyes and thought of what he knew the first time he saw them. That everything would be alright.