“All of Eli’s creatures are beautiful!”
The words echoed through his folded ears. Edmund stood in the antechamber of a vile monster’s pit, covered with rancid slime. His friend begged for his help in taking care of a mage’s pet. Who would be so crazy to do that? Edmund of course.
While Stealth explained to him that... Herbert... could be a handful and even an eyesore, the paladin scoffed at the warning that any of the great one’s creations could be as bad as he’d claimed, however, Stealth did remain critically vague on just how vile this creature truly was and the knight went along in ignorance.
Stealth told him to remove his weapons and enter the pen with the feed box in hand... he’d wondered why – until now – he was told to disarm and also why Stealth proverbially bit his own hand, waiting for the paladin to enter.
Suddenly Stealth handed Edmund a very large snow shovel.
Edmund dimly took it and looked it over for a moment, “GREAT MAKER! What is this for?” the paladin asked.
“To clean up the... little Herberts.”
Edmund looked at the shovel with undisguised horror! “You’re kidding right?”
“Well you did say he’s one of Eli’s creatures.”
“I’m not so sure.” Edmund answered.
“That’s not what you said this morning.” Stealth pointed out bluntly. They could both hear the... pet in the next room gurgle-breathing in a light nap.
Edmund shook his head in defeat, “Trapped by my own words. This is a test! Eli is testing my endurance as well as my gag reflex.”
“Oh, Ed, don’t be so dramatic! You’ve seen nasty things in battle and in the infirmary? Herbert is a sweetheart!” Stealth began to beam with mirth.
Ed looked down at his soiled tunic, “The last time I smelt something this bad was month old horse droppings.”
Stealth’s ears twitched to Herbert’s breathing, “Ed, let’s just get this done quickly.”
He looked at the shovel and then at Herbert and sighed deeply. “All right. It has to be done!”
“Actually, let’s wait a moment or so.” Stealth said quickly, “I think he’s... giving birth again.”
Two hands reached in, claw tipped fingers grasping something unseen and quite potent... the morph pulled and lifted up several acrid smelling candles. Audric grinned though wrinkled his nose at the scent of the candles.
A little girl with a board-backed parchment entered a nearby portal, “How did they turn out?”
“They look like candles and smell like ashes.” The civet cringed.
Cherise sniffed at the air, “They smell wonderful!” She walked up to her brother and stood a foot or so shorter.
Audric smiled though shook his head, “Scented candles... I don’t know how my new nose will cope.”
“You’ll be fine, remember the ingredients came from Kaley and she got them from Glen Avery! Just about everyone there has a sensitive snout.”
The civet sighed and turned his muzzle away from the batch, “I think their nostrils must be full of pine needles.” He hooked up the candles by the strings that still tied them together and made his way over to a bench.
The girl followed, she could see many more candles on the bench, some with completed intricate details and others still being crafted. However these were no mere decorations, though they looked quite nice, their intent was practical. These were the magical candles.
“Oh, aren’t they wonderful.” Cherise said and admired the beautifully carved runes.
Audric nodded slowly, “Just whatever you do, don’t click your fingers or they’ll all go up...”
His sister blanched, “My lords, what if a customer does something?”
“Never you fear, sis, they’ll be stocked up in boxes that disable the runes.” He explained and ran a claw along the pattern of one in progress, each of the carvings were in the size and shape of his claw tips.
“But the patterns? These painted gold leaves pressed into the sides entwining with the spells...”
The morph reached for something just off the bench, “Each candle will be wrapped in this,” He held up a roll of fabric and unveiled a small portion of what looked to be a silky material.
Cherise put a hand to her mouth, “How much will we be selling these magic candles for?”
The civet grinned, displaying his fangs, “A lot.”
Over an hour later the two emerged from the nice, yellow cottage. One was covered almost thoroughly in slime.
“How,” Edmund asked in a cold tone. “Did you stay clean?”
“Well, I have gotten to know Herbert; I think he was more curious about you!” Stealth bit his arm to stop from laughing.
Edmund shot Stealth a cold glare. “I can hear you snickering Stealth. I will get you for this!”
Stealth broke out into an all out laughing fit on the snow.
Edmund’s eyes narrowed and he bent over and picked up a huge handful of snow. He carefully formed it into a large ball.
“Oh, oh... oh.” Stealth wiped the tears from his eyes and looked up at Edmund.
“How fast can you run Stealth? Can you outrun a snow ball?”
“Ware your threats, Paladin...” The cheetah said and gathered up his own.
“OH! You want a fight do you?!” He tossed a snowball at Stealth.
Stealth hissed as the snowball hit him square on the muzzle and threw his own. The two fought in the snow for a while until they both got tired and agreed to go home, to the baths.
“Now where is that towel?” The morph said before finding something suitable, “There.” The civet said and brushed himself off from herbal powder. “Ugh.” He looked out the door to the outer area of their store where his sister was assisting customers, he was relieved to see the curse didn’t dwindle her business skills.
“Two dozen, Milady?” The child asked as she scribbled with a quill on parchment.
“And three dozen plain candles.” The robin finished.
Cherise scribbled the order furiously, mindful of other waiting customers, “The plain ones can be sent out by tomorrow morning but the runic candles will take some time.”
“How long if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Perhaps just over a week, we craft them with much care.” The girl said and calculated the cost, “nine gold for the runes and one silver for the plains.”
The female robin reached into her money pouch with a taloned hand and pulled out two garrets without hesitation depositing them on the counter, “Keep the change.”
The woman’s eyes widened like a child receiving a copper for a shoe shining. “Thank you very much milady, they will be delivered with all due care and haste.”
“Thank you, dear, oh,” The avian pointed to a rose shaped candle on the counter, “Are those ones for sale?”
“Yes, ma’am, but they don’t look like that when you buy them...” She reached below the bench top and unveiled a red candle, “We call this a rose petal, it has rose oil mixed in giving it the scent of roses. As the wax melts, it forms these petals around the flame,” She said, gesturing to the spent candle. “They are a gold each.” She cringed.
“I’ll take two.”
“Two?” She asked, “You have enough grime for twenty people.” The bath attendant said.
Stealth sighed, “We’ll use the private baths...” He bit his lip, “If need be, put a fee on Misha’s tab.”
The AR shrugged, “All right, if you’re happy with an axe wielding maniac picking up your bill.”
The cheetah cringed, “Oh, I’m sure he’ll think of a way for me to pay him back...”
“Good, that’s every last coin,” The AR said.
The civet nodded, “Not a bad day, not bad at all.”
Cherise smiled and closed the chest, “Look at us.”
Audric hefted the chest and grinned, “Our new trade is looking good. And we’re gonna pay back Misha in no time.”
“How the hell am I gonna pay back Misha at this rate?” Stealth pouted and shook his head free of moisture. He turned to look at the knight.
After a hot bath Edmund’s fur was once again fresh and crisp though his clothing would need a good soak. He and his friend dried themselves off with several towels though their banter faded in the mist of the baths.
“Ed...” Stealth began as he rubbed his head fur dry.
“Yes?” Edmund asked as he finished drying off.
“I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to torture you or anything.”
Edmund laughed. “You are forgiven. And poor Herbert did need cleaning up after.”
Stealth started on his tail, “I guess the joke’s on me anyway. I have to return in a little under a week to feed him again.”
“Feed him AND clean up!” Edmund added and laughed some more.
Stealth groaned, “Hooray...”
The paladin broke out into a wholesome fit of laughter.
Stealth’s ears drooped and he looked at the ground dejected.
“If you want I’ll go with you. But this time YOU hold the shovel.”
Stealth looked up in surprise, “You’ll really go with me again after I tricked you?”
He nodded. “I need a chance to get revenge don’t I?”
The feline sighed and baped his friend on the head.