~Hello! This is CMJH I am posting my rough draft here so that people can review it and give me opinion, suggestions, and ideas about how to make the story run smoothly. Later, I will post the final draft for you all to enjoy! And please, don't hold back on critiques, anything that you think is helpful most likely will be! Now, without further ado, here is the first draft of chapter 1!
The grumpy fox snapped her jaws, "OUT!" the small badger she had yelled out tumbled over his head in a clumsy attempt to escape her den. "If I ever catch scent of yer little hide again, I will make a potion OUT OF YEH!" The badger scrambled away, not needing to be told twice. The over large fox rolled her shoulders and nipped at her banana yellow scarf, readjusting it. She then noticed all of the other small forest animals around her den. "What do ya'll want?" she snarled.
A pair of rabbits came forward, one of them obviously about to pop. The fox stared at them incredulously. She sighed, then turned back into her den, which was not much more than a rock carved into a hillside. She looked back at the rabbits and said, "Come in," in a rather dismal tone. The two rabbits followed cautiously.
Inside the den was a large, stone basin. All around the walls were shelved full of plants, mushrooms, and gathering pouches. The den was lit by an odd glowing ball that hovered just a few inches below the high ceiling. The fox sat down. In the light of the den, the silver mark on her haunch; a crescent moon with a paw print, glittered brightly. The rabbits stayed in the opening of the den; magic animals like this fox were powerful, but could be a trick waiting to happen, as well. Especially a fox. Especially this fox.
The fox was used to this. Her mark, as well as her size, set her apart from all of the other animals. It scared them, but it didn't stop them from coming to her for help. The fox rolled her shoulders, then began scanning the walls for a particular potion. She had made several times before, and had decided to just make a giant batch and hand it out when needed a little while ago. It was a simple concoction, one that made the birthing process go by easier.
"There yeh are, yeh sly little bug," she mumbled as she reached out with her magic. A purple mist covered the small bottle in question, and she brought it down to her level. She sniffed the blue liquid inside, and nodded. It had not soured. She took the misshaped bottle in her mouth and walked over to the rabbits. She gave it to the male, as well as some instructions, "Give her a swig every hour. Hold on to whatever's left over for next time."
The rabbit nodded, then took the bottle in his own mouth. A rather comical picture, as his mouth was much smaller than the fox's, and so had to be opened wider to carry just the neck of the bottle. As soon as the rabbits had left, a timid red squirrel came limping up to her. The fox raised a brow at it, and it shrank away a bit. All it took was one look over, and the fox could tell that it was the same squirrel from last week who had broken a leg by falling from a tree. Now, he had broken a fore arm, doing Sceithe knows what. The fox clicked her tongue and lead the squirrel inside. She found and gave the squirrel a green potion. She did not, however, let him keep it. If the squirrel was going to continue to break bones, she may as well not add breaking glass to that. Besides, she liked this particular bottle; it was in fine shape, despite having been made by humans.
The fox gave the squirrel a small sip, then told him to stay off his arm for a day. The squirrel nodded, then slowly limped away. The fox looked about at all of the other animals that were seeking her assistance, then turned away from them. "Nap time," she yawned. The critters waited, hoping this was a joke. Hoping it was, but knowing it wasn't. The fox sniffed the air, then reappeared in the den's opening, "GET YER FURRY BEHINDS OUT OF HERE!" she roared. The animals scattered. Within a matter of seconds, the only living things left behind were the light trees and the natural shelves they sported. The fox let out a great breath of air, then turned back into her den. She curled up in a far corner, where she had piled some moss over the years, and sighed.
"Thank Elanna It's only the ones in my radius," the fox grumbled. If her 100 mile radius had been an inch larger, the fox would have gone to live where no other animals lived. To be sought after for every single thing was rather annoying, and the fox couldn't use her magic on the creatures, as her conscience would not allow her. She did, however, often day dream about what sort of hexes she would use on them. The noisiest ones, such as the morning birds, would never be able to open their mouths again, of course. The rabbits just might lose the Blessings of Elanna altogether.
The fox sighed, such happy thoughts. She opened on purple eye, and used a small bit of magic to extinguish her magic light, casting her cave into almost complete darkness.
She was not asleep for very long when her stomach emitted a long, low growl. The fox heaved a heavy sigh and sat up. She trotted to the edge of her den and peered through the trees at the sun. It wasn't even noon!
"Can I not get two hours of sleep at one time?" She muttered irritably. She slunk back into her den and began searching the shelves for something to eat, to no avail.
The fox let out a yawn that threatened to pop her jaw loose. Her stomach joined in with a symphonious groan. The fox swished her tail angrily, trying to decide whether she wanted to go out tired, or sleep hungry. Her stomached rumbled again, louder this time, and she sighed. A search for food it was.
The fox trotted out of her den, her feet moving sluggishly. She picked up her pace a bit as soon as she had left her clearing, hopping over small rocks and protruding roots, following a path that she knew by heart. The fox's ears twitched as they picked up the sound of gurgling water, and she turned sharply to her left, never slowing down. Her stomach growled, urging her forward. It didn't take her long before she reached a small creak, as wide as two normal foxes standing nose-to-tail, and only knee deep to a rabbit. On the bank of the creek was a small berry bush, bursting with small, red, life-giving treats.
The fox sat down in front of the bush and began to voraciously bite the raspberries off the bush, careless of whether or not berry juice stained her fur, she did have magic for that, after all.
A splash caught the fox's attention. She looked towards the creek, where another dumb fish had decided to swim up, thinking he was in a river. The fox probed at the fish with her magic, and smiled viciously. This fish wasn't from within her radius. And it was a large one, too. The fox stood up and entered the cool water, walking up to the fish. Of course, the reasonable thing to do would be to put the fish out of his misery, right? And at the same time, put her stomach out of misery. It was a beautiful win-win situation.
The fish had hopped and jumped itself closer to the opposite bank, where it finally gave up. Its sides were heaving, and its gills struggled helplessly to breathe. The fox placed a large paw on it, ensuring that it wouldn't move, and then grabbed it with her mouth. The fish fell limp. The fox then turned tail and ran back to her den, she had a new recipe she had been wanting to try, and today had given herself a wonderful opportunity to do so.
"She's even paler, now." The man stroked his daughter's forehead, grimacing at how warm she was becoming. He looked back up at the doctor, who was looking through his large leather bag. "Is there anything else that you can do?" His voice was soft, yet threatening at the same time.
The doctor gave him a slightly reproachful look -most likely for his tone- and said, "I've told you, I'm trying my best." The doctor turned back to his bag, scratching at his thin, white hair. "I've never seen this sickness before, and my resources are already limited," The doctor closed his bag, tying the drawstrings together to keep it shut, "I would suggest you take her to the High Lord's market, and see if the doctors there can help."
"She might not last that long!" the lord stood up, glaring at the doctor. The only thing that kept him from reaching over and shaking the old man's shoulders was the fact that his daughter was between them.
The doctor shrugged. "I have done all that I can, and that is the only advice that I can give to you." He placed his bags strap over his shoulders and walked calmly towards the door, narrowly avoiding the butler who had stepped into the dim room suddenly.
The butler waited for the doctor to have disappeared down the hallway before speaking, "If I may, my lord?"
"What is it?" the lord asked gruffly, sitting back down next to his daughter's bed. Her breathing fluttered, before resuming as a slow, ragged sound.
"There has been talk among the rest of the servants and visiting peasantry about a creature in the forest-."
"I'm not interested in a useless hunt right now,"
"-that may be able to help your daughter." The butler finished quickly.
The lord's eyes narrowed at the thin man. "How so?" he inquired suspiciously.
"Well, my lord Cillian, they say that it has magical properties." The butler finished quickly, then physically braced himself, as though expecting the lord to blow up.
Cillian's brow furrowed as he thought for a moment. "Where is it?" he asked finally.
"In the forest." The butler answered, surprised that Cillian hadn't yelled at him or called him crazy.
"You've said that already, where in the forest?" Cillian demanded. His daughter stirred slightly at the noise.
"I can get someone to draw up a map, if you like. I'm sure someone has an idea of where it is." The butler then left the room before Cillian could say anything else, pausing only to offer a curt bow.
Cillian turned back to his ailing daughter, whose cheeks had started to turn red due to her fever.
He sighed, "This had better be worth it…" He growled, grabbing the wet cloth to wipe at his daughter's forehead again.
The fox trotted down the small, grassy slope. Here, the trees were thinned out, offering barely enough cover for smaller animals to hide from predators. Along with her scarf, the fox carried a brown pouch around her neck, about as big and spacious as her two paws set on top of each other. Inside, the pouch had several sections so that herbs that she collected would not mingle with each other.
She stopped at a lopsided stump, which had an opening big enough for her to stick a paw into. She took off her pouch and set it on the ground, then sniffed at the edge of the opening. She then sat down next to her pouch, using her magic to hold it open. She reached into the stump, using more magic, and pulled out several mushrooms, placing each one in her pouch. She counted the mushrooms in her pouch, gave a satisfied nod, then returned it to its place around her neck.
She made her way back up the small slope, where the trees were much denser. Deeper into the tree line, she came to a large, mossy, wooden cart. Hitched to the cart was a large stag, seemingly carved from an even mossier boulder, with two branches rooted into its head for antlers.
"Let's go, Laddie." The fox said, using her teeth to grab and toss the pouch into the wagon bed. The carved stag stomped a wooden hoof, then walked slowly deeper into the forest. The wagon's wheels never caught on any roots or bushes, nor did it have any trouble moving along the rough forest floor.
Suddenly, the fox stopped. The stone stag turned to look at her, polished marble eyes glinting in the dimming light. The fox sneezed once, twice, three then four times, all within seconds of each other. "Darned gossip," the fox muttered, continuing her walk back to her den. She reached her home before dark, barely. Her den was a large boulder that had been carved out, and was set into a small hill, with further caves pressing into the hill and down under ground. It was the perfect place to call home, and the stream nearby made it even better.
The fox unloaded her supplies, resorting to her teeth, due to all the magic having drained her energy enough. She organized her newly found herbs on her earthy shelves, then turned to her stone cauldron. Placing her forepaws on the rim of the cauldron –which had a bubbling blue substance steaming in it – she grabbed a vine that was hanging from a whole in the top of the boulder and pulled, allowing a stream of water into the cauldron, causing the potion to his as it accepted the sudden intrusion of coldness.
The fox grimaced, "Not supposed to do that," she grumbled. She hopped away from the cauldron and began to browse her shelves, found some clippings of rosemary, and quickly added them to her brew. The hissing stopped, and the fox sighed in relief. She used a final burst of magic to blow out the cauldrons fire and fill a few glass bottles with the potion and set them with rest of her successful concoctions.
Exhausted, the fox tottered over to a corner of her cave, where she had a tattered… rug she though it was called. She curled up on it, her tail over her nose, and fell asleep.