Long time, no see, right? I've been focusing on my fanfiction the past few years. You can find me over on FFN under the same user name if you'd like.
Anyway, I'd like to include this disclaimer that this is *mostly* an original story. The catfolk is my latest D&D character, and the narrator is of my creation as well, using basic lore knowledge and imagination. The location the story is set in is original, as is the clan names and background. While my Dungeon Master created a homebrew world of islands within a sea (or we're just covering a small part of the ocean; she didn't say), she didn't really world-build too much, so even my description of the island is mine.
Truly, the only parts that make this "fanfiction" is the use of the D&D race Tabaxi, the idea of a Celestial Patron warlock pact, and the fact that my DM did indeed create the initial world of "we're all on islands." So, I figured I'd give it a shot over here on FP as well. Please feel free to let me know what you think.
I hope you enjoy.
Some days can be so boring. Yes, it is quite enjoyable to have lazy days, where one can lounge around and enjoy the peace of solitude and the soft murmur of creatures going about their lives. It is not so enjoyable if those lazy days are the norm. It becomes predictable and dull. It is no longer a well-earned reward, or a grand temptation to procrastinate.
I needed excitement in my life. I needed something spontaneous and whimsical. I suppose there must be a higher power than even I, for my desire was granted.
It had been so long since anyone was able to penetrate far enough into the jungles to come across my ruins, that I barely recognized the distant rustling at first. I was lounging across the cool stone floors, as I usually did, and my left ear twitched on its own, as if my ear was able to register the sound before I could. A moment later, with the rustling now encroaching the outer edge of my ruins, I was fully alert.
Wordlessly, I directed the animals within my forgotten city to hide as I sent out my magic to help conceal them from danger. Then I carefully climbed to the crumbled roof of a building on the edge of my domain. Watching, stoically, I spotted a flash of black fur, and the shine of silver. There was a low grumble, but it was soon followed with a gasp of awe.
The invading creature stood on the first flat stones that lined my ruins. It was a stray tabaxi, probably fairly new to adulthood, or close to it. With such a lean but muscular body, the tabaxi's chest was fairly flat, and the black fur was close to its scalp, so it was hard for me to know if it were male or female. It was always difficult for me to tell the difference with these catfolk, however.
"Wow," the tabaxi called out in breathy wonder, and its voice was high pitched enough for me to feel confident that it was female.
Her black tail twitched behind her, catching the stray sunlight against a thick silver band she wore near the tip of her tail. She walked among the vine- and moss-covered street, twirling in small circles as she went; taking in everything. While there was a dagger holstered on each thigh, she made no movement for them as she continued to wander the city that had been abandoned and forgotten for nearly three centuries.
I climbed back down from my perch, and walked silently along the border so I could continue to watch her. Despite her adult appearance, she seemed almost childish as she studied every stone, building, and broken statue. The jungle had destroyed and taken possession of nearly every last structure, but the tabaxi appreciated the bits that had survived thus far. She intrigued me.
Finding full rays of sunlight that managed to slip through the dense canopy, she danced in them, giggling. The light intensified her already piercing emerald-green eyes, and showed off small rosette patches throughout her fur. She was a black-jaguar tabaxi.
"Child," I ventured, keeping myself hidden as my voice echoed off the ruins. "What brings you this far into the jungle?"
"Who's there?" She instantly jumped into a defensive stance, but the daggers remained on her thighs. Instead, she bore her dense claws. Her ears flattened against her head, her lips curled in a snarl, exposing her sharp fangs, and the fur along her stocky tail ruffled against the jewelry she wore.
She was scared, but wasn't aggressive; simply defensive. I could potentially work with this.
"I am the protector of these lands, and I wish you no harm if you are peaceful." My voice echoed around her again, forcing the tabaxi to spin in order to try to track my whereabouts. "Answer my question, child: what brings you this far into the jungle?"
"I- I wanted to know about the outside world." She had stopped spinning, but her head still scanned as much around her as possible. She was actually fairly close to pinpointing my location.
"This is far from the 'outside world'. You seem to be going in the wrong direction."
Her stance eased a bit. She stopped snarling, and her ears lifted slightly, but her claws were still bared and her fur still stood on-end. Her head stilled, but her eyes darted around the alley I hid within. Impressive.
"This is the only direction I could go if I were to leave home, even temporarily."
"You are of the Lost Jungle Clan then. From The Point; that steep wedge of cliffs overlooking the Grand Sea."
"You know of my clan?" The tabaxi's tail was close to her body, but the tip of it twitched. Her ears were mostly raised again, and her stance was less defensive. It seemed knowledge was more important than self-preservation for this one. That amused me.
"You are standing on your ancestral home, long before a great battle depleted their numbers and caused the Lords-of-the-Jungle Clan to retreat to the haven they have inhabited for centuries now. The survivors also changed the clan name, naturally. They knew they were no longer lords over anything."
"I know nothing of this history."
"Would a clan, reduced to peasantry after being grand masters, wish to record such a decline? No, child, such a fall from grace would not be preserved."
"Are you descended from the invading force then? Is that how you know of this battle? Why did the victors leave this place to ruin instead of claiming it as their own?"
"First of all, who said the battle involved an invading force, and that the ruling tabaxi were not themselves the invaders? Secondly, I do not recall ever mentioning that your clan was defeated; that the opposing army were the victors. The clan simply knew their reign was ended, and hid to lick their wounds. The best way to combat extermination is to not be found. Finally, I am not a descendant of anyone from that era."
The tension released from the tabaxi's broad shoulders as she lowered her hands. She took a step towards my hiding place, her ears fixated on the origins of my echoing voice. Her tail continued to twitch behind her; releasing the energy she probably would have otherwise used to run away.
"If you were not descended from anyone alive back then, that must mean you yourself were alive centuries ago."
"Were you involved in that battle? Are you from the opposing force?" Her voice was calm, but there was a hint of a brave demand in her words.
"I had no interest in the battle outside of observing it. Most of the perceived outcomes would have proved entertaining for me." I stayed where I was. I sensed no malicious intent from her. In fact, I was growing increasingly intrigued by her. She could potentially provide entertainment for years to come. If I were capable, I probably would have smiled at the prospect.
"You claim to be the protector here, and you admit that you were at least in attendance for that battle centuries ago. Shall I guess that you are a being of exceptional life?"
I huffed. "Such a simple guess." Shaking my head, I turned from her. "I hoped you would be more promising than this. You have enough clues to figure me out." I gave her one last sideways glance as I snickered. "Oh well, farewell, tabaxi. Scramble back to your hamlet and enjoy life in your isolated colony."
"No! Wait!" She jumped to the entrance of the alley, and gasped. "You are a unicorn! I thought as much." She quickly shuffled back, making sure to provide me enough space so that I would not feel cornered.
"Well, that is simply not fair. I now cannot tell if you truly did know what I was, or if you simply claim to have known now that you have seen me for yourself. What is the fun in that?" Flicking my mane, I strutted from the shadows so she could fully take in the shine of my alabaster coat.
"A unicorn protects my ancestral home?" A soft purr rumbled from her chest as her tail curled up along her back.
"It is no longer your ancestral home. It is now my domain. You only need know of the history of my city so that you understood how I knew of your clan. You and your kind no longer have claim to this land."
The tabaxi silently took in the ruins once more, as if committing them to memory. Her tail hung casually behind her as she nodded to me.
"My clan would no longer wish to live in this location anyway. They are content to live in the forest clearing hidden atop The Point."
"You seem less contented." I sauntered in a small circle, curling my long body around her, and tickling her legs with my tail.
Her own tail tucked between her legs and coiled around her knee. Her ears again fell as she shrank within my gaze.
"Am I wrong?" I stopped in front her her, the entirety of my left side exposed to her as I glanced past my shoulder. If only I had the expressive face of a humanoid, I would have smirked at the tabaxi.
She shook her head and downcast her eyes.
"Let me ask my initial question one last time, and I would appreciate a more substantial answer than 'see the world', if I may. What are you doing in this part of the jungle?"
"I want to know the world," she meekly replied. "I want to understand the vastness of the sea, and what other islands look like, and even what the rest of this island looks like!" She perked up, her ears tall, and her tail again curled up her back. "I want to know of other creatures and beings beyond the tabaxi and the prey we hunt. I hear stories from elders, and I want to experience them myself. The predictability of living with my clan has bored me. Nothing exciting happens, and that might be fine for the others, but it is slowly killing me. Every time I lace my way through the forest so I can sit atop those cliffs? Every time I see the sunrise and sunset over those vast waters? I feel like I am uncomfortably tethered, and I wish to remove my bondage." Her voice was emphatic and booming by the time she finished. The tip of her tail once more twitched against her spine.
"You truly are an amusing one, child."
Her tail instantly fell, and her ears curled back slightly. "You keep calling me that. I understand I am of insignificant age compared to the lifespan of a unicorn, but I am no child."
"Gift me your name then, so I better know what to call you."
"Gift you?" Her ears flicked forward, and she studied me with a glare.
"You are more clever than I originally gave credit. Yes. Gift me your name. Join in a pact with me, young one. I can provide you with a flow of my magic. With it, you can navigate your way through this dense jungle. You can explore this, the largest of the islands of this region. Once you are done here, you may then move on to the rest of the islands among the Great Sea. If you get your fill before the end of your short life, then my magic can also take you to see the rest of the world."
"All this in exchange of my name? Is my name worth such freedoms?"
"Ah, caught me again, my clever cub." She hissed at me, but I ignored her insolence, for she was an enjoyable plaything. "The name is simply you signing the contract, as it were; a way to solidify our pact."
"What is it you truly get out of the pact then? What benefit is it to you?"
"Enjoyment, my dear! Much like you, I feel shackled to my home, and slowly dying from the monotony of it all."
"Why not leave?"
"There are too many creatures here under my care, and I would miss this place should I abandon it. Also, should you accept my pact, I would have no need to leave, as you will provide me with my entertainment."
"How do I entertain you if I am not in this jungle? What is the catch that I am missing?"
I chortled loud enough a small whinny also escaped my throat. Composing myself again, I sashayed to her, and brushed my muzzle against her forehead. She seemed so unnerved by my contact that not even the muscles in her slender fingers wished to move. We stood in silence for a moment before I leaned far enough away for our eyes to meet.
"If there were a catch that you were missing, why would I feel obligated to reveal it?" I winked at her. "You will provide me entertainment because I can follow you, so to speak. I may ask you for favors here and there, since you can be out in the world in a manner I cannot. I shall be kind about them, though, and not impose my will upon you all that frequently."
"How frequent is 'frequent' to you?"
I again laughed. "As a creature that lives a millennium, my idea of frequency is probably a far longer span of time than your perception."
"If I'm morally opposed to your requests? What then?"
"Then I shall not ask it of you, and find other ways to accomplish my goal. However, I find it hard to perceive of a task I would wish of you that you would be thus opposed."
"Are there restrictions on my magic?"
"Of course there are restrictions, you silly thing!" I trotted in a circle. Too much excitable energy was rushing through me. She will be great fun! "You must learn, and grow into your powers, just as all warlocks must. I shall not restrict the means by which you utilize the power I gift you, though. If you attempt to kill me, however, or otherwise attempt to break our pact or greatly displease me, I shall cut off my flow of magic to you, and you will return to as you are. Understood?"
"I believe so."
"In that case, child," I purposely put a bite on my nickname for her, "will you gift me your name?"
She thought. She silently walked around the wrecked city square, running her hand along the crumbled statues before returning to my side.
"If we bond, will you tell me more about the history of my clan? Will you tell me more of when they were the Lords-of-the-Jungle? I swear I will not use the knowledge to create some sort of uprising in order to exile you from this place. I wish only for the knowledge."
"If it is knowledge you seek, then it is knowledge I shall also gift unto you, but within times I deem fit. This is for my amusement, after all. We have an accord?" I leaned my head down to her, my horn delicately pressed against her forehead.
"As long as you hold up your half of the pact-"
"I must. The pact holds me bound as well," I reassured her.
She closed her eyes, and relaxed her face. "Then you may call me Emerald Gaze of the Lost Jungle Clan."
"And you may refer to me as Sigil." My horn glowed iridescently, and a zap of electricity ran through us both. There was a sting under my front right hoof, as if I were pricked by something. I had felt the sensation before; I have contracted many a warlock pact throughout my lifetime. I knew it was the brand that bound me to this creature. The sting would fade in a few seconds.
Emerald Gaze gasped and pulled away from me. She was also branded by the pact, but the sensation of receiving even a small portion of my magic was probably too overwhelming for her to feel the binding. She panted a few seconds, her hands braced on her knees to keep herself standing.
"Are you alright, Emerald?" I kept my weight on my other three hooves as I stepped closer to nudge her.
"Yes. Yes, I'm fine. I feel weird though."
"That is normal. Come, lay a while to rest up and catch your bearings." I let her lean her weight against me as I walked her to a smooth patch of stone that was encased in moss. I settled onto the moss, and nuzzled her into my side to let her know it was fine to sleep. "You are my ward now. I shall protect you as best as I am able."
She smiled, nodded, and yawned, exposing her pact binding: her tongue was now the colors of the rainbow, spiraling out from the tip all the way back to her throat. I choked down a snicker. Such vibrant colors hidden within her mouth was delightfully ironic for a tabaxi with uncharacteristically dark fur. I was certainly going to enjoy this one.
While Emerald Gaze slept beside me, I stole a glance at my own brand. At the center of my hoof was a small cat-like paw print, similar to the footprints the tabaxi would leave. Equally fitting, considering I shall travel with her, so why not have her also travel with me, in a sense?
I was content with the day's events, and released my hiding spell. The jungle creatures that took residence in the ruins went back to their daily activities: chirping, chittering, squeaking, shuffling, and other such noises. As the critters droned on I listened to their lullaby. I had certainly earned this tranquility, for I did not suspect I would have another boring day for quite some time.
Thank You For Reading!
First and foremost, I refuse to believe a unicorn is anything besides Chaotic Good, so forget the alignment adjustment in 5e! All the more reason Sigil is an OC for me.
I did this character study in an attempt to figure out how the heck a tabaxi and unicorn ended up creating a warlock pact, and what each of them got out of it. I had no clue when I was creating this character, and, frankly, Emerald Gaze was less my creation as she was a collaborative effort I get to run. My husband decided I should be tabaxi. One of the other players - who knows a running gag with my D&D characters is my penchant for Handle Animal - suggested I go Warlock with Celestial Patron so I could have a familiar. Yet another player picked out Unicorn for my Celestial patron, because she thought it would be funny. My DM decided "unicorns like rainbows, right?" and I chose the tongue for the binding brand.
After throwing things at the wall to create my character, I needed to figure out her backstory. Somehow my focus became less on why Emerald Gaze created the warlock pact, and more on why a unicorn did. Thus this story was born.
Who knows if I will decide to add more chapters as EG's past reveals itself to me? For now, it's a fun little one-shot.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I always love reviews, and who can say no to favorites? Regardless, just know I appreciated the read. Thank you again.