I have this thing about creating different characters and seeing how they act in various situations. The writing prompts I look at daily help a lot. Sometimes, the prompt itself brings a story forward. Other times, I need to put more thought into what to write. This story needed a little reflection, and I wanted to try something different.
Here’s the prompt:
- Write about finding and rescuing a new pet. One of your categories should be ANIMAL.
Okay, I didn’t exactly write about a new pet, but I’d already written one on another character. So, I created Mu’Yan, an elf druid with an affinity for wild animals. Who knows, maybe the badger will appear in her life again.
Mu’Yan crept through the underbrush toward the faint sounds of distress on the far side of the bramble patch. The young elf had an affinity for animals and studied the druidic arts with the village shaman, Es’Sala. She could tell when an animal was in trouble.
Peeking through the foliage, she spotted a badger caught in a trap. She understood its terror by speaking a quiet word and gesturing toward the creature. It … she … had cubs to feed, and her leg was stuck, and it hurt to move, and she smelled the presence of a human, and … The panic-stricken thoughts circled around and around in the beast’s head.
The presence of humans concerned Mu’Yan. Sniffing the air, she reached her mind toward the wounded badger. She sent visions of herself setting the animal loose from the cruel metal teeth and the sow letting her loosen the jaws. Not sure how to send her scent to the creature, she watched as the arrow-shaped head turned, sniffing in her direction. Feeling the sharp stab of pain in the thought, the elf acknowledged the critter, sending more soothing pulses to calm her.
Creeping from the brush, Mu’Yan crawled toward the badger, eyes on the mechanism. From the corner of her eye, she saw the animal’s nose lift and smell the air.
A confusing image appeared in the druid’s head, full of the sour smell of human sweat and wine long since turned to vinegar, along with boots. Mu’Yan found the release mechanism letting the badger free from the trap. The elf’s image following the badger burned into her head, and she scuttled after the beast. No sooner had the two disappeared into the bramble than Mu’Yan heard a loud voice.
“Son of a … Where the blazes did it go!”
The druid scrambled through the thick tangle waiting for the creature to stop so she could heal its hurt. In her panic, the badger led the girl through a labyrinth to the entrance to its den. Despite its fierce reputation, this beast turned and looked into her eyes. Mu’Yan could not interpret the sensation but set about to heal the critter’s paw.
Again, she projected an image of herself wrapping her hands around the injured paw and sending healing energy into it.
“I won’t hurt you, momma,” the elf whispered, “I want to help you.” Closing her eyes, Mu’Yan reached her hands out, cradling the bloody and mangled paw between them. Whispering the words Es’Sala had taught her, her hands formed the healing sphere. She straightened the bones as best she could and watched the skin come together, leaving ragged scars.
The effort left the girl drained. She knew she didn’t have much longer to communicate with the badger, so she projected an image of herself leaving the nest in peace, the mother leading her to safety. Gazing at her intently, the animal moved away from the entrance to the lair. A picture formed in the elf’s mind of the creature leading her through the maze. Mu’Yan followed.
She had left the bramble patch by the time the spell wore off. Along the way, Mu’Yan had pulled berries from the upper branches and piled them along the route for the badger to gather on her return trip. The elf hoped it was enough to feed the sow’s brood. She hadn’t seen any of the kits, but that didn’t surprise her.
“Thank you,” she said, turning toward the animal. It dipped its head and turned back into the maze.
Stopping at a nearby stream, Mu’Yan washed the blood from a hundred scratches on her arms. She checked to ensure her clothing was intact after crawling through the underbrush. So intent was she on her task that she missed hearing the rustle behind her.
“I bet it ‘us you,” a low voice said in her ear as an arm encircled her neck.
“Wha…?” the elf folded her knees, dropping to the ground, the man’s hold on her broken.
She rolled to the side, grabbing her quarterstaff as she tumbled to land in a low fighting stance. The man circled her warily, drawing a shortsword and dagger. She had practiced fighting against those armed as he and the fellow handled the blade like a novice. Keeping her back to the stream, she refused to let him draw her away from it.
Mu’Yan kept her eyes on his movements. When she saw his weight shift to his back foot, she stepped forward, releasing a flurry of attacks with the staff that sent him reeling backward. Still trapped on the narrow shore, the elf tried to press her advantage but stumbled on the loose rock of the shoreline. Regaining her balance, she saw that the poacher had also recovered.
Darting glances from one side to the other, the druid noticed movement in the bushes behind the bandit. The man fell forward as a small creature launched itself from the underbrush and connected with the man’s legs, right behind his knees. Mu’Yan took advantage of the distraction to whip one end of the staff toward his head, connecting with a loud ~crack~. He fell like a stone.
A broad, flat head sporting a white stripe looked up at her from the other side of the body. It was the same creature she had released from the trap. The druid nodded to the badger.
“Many thanks, my friend,” she said, not thinking the animal would understand.
In response, the creature bowed its head to her before skittering back into the labyrinth in which it lived.