Familiar

Title: Familiar
Time Period: March 27, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

  • Forge (wildcat, goshawk)
  • Traa-dy-Liooar (boar, bat)

Summary: While searching for a cat, Traa-dy-Liooar finds one.

In the wild, boars are nocturnal creatures. Domesticated, familiars tend to take on the sleeping patterns of their mages. Traa-dy-Liooar would rather consider herself the master and Jain the pet, therefore, she makes her own schedule. Sometimes he is forced to conform to it, other times, as in this case, she forages alone. The snuffle of her snout as she runs along the ground sounds quiet enough to ears not to sharp. She’s looking for something specific. A cat. In Dornie, there are a lot of cats and the pig has received too many scratches on her nose with each snuffle too close. So far, nothing has come up.

River Road is a place too familiar to Traa-dy-Liooar, she’s spent too many walks riding in Jain’s shirt on this path. Not lately though. For some reason the mage has been avoiding bringing her out at night. He’s likely there now, while she’s out here. Looking for the thing that killed him.

Pausing, she roots at a tree. The scent of mushrooms a little too appealing to keep up with following yet another cat.

Laughter and light spilling hot through the Dovetail's many windows fails to hold Forge's interest tonight. A brief visit finds most everyone in the place that they usually are, his shape a rolling smudge of charcoal across roof tiles all slippery with ice. Claws bite in to maintain balance where one paw occasionally slicks off its own way, tail swung straight and level as a boom against the threat of an unscheduled trip back to solid ground.

Hard to know if Algernon is inside. The hour suggests that he isn't. So do his habits, lately.

From roof's edge to overhanging tree, Forge rakes his way down into the roots and then onward, mud and snow shaken wet from a hindpaw. A cat.

He drinks from a puddle of ice melt and stalks invisibly on along the flank of River Road on silent paws. Hard to see, harder to hear. As he isn't following anyone else, it doesn't cross his mind that he is at risk of being smelled.

It's in the middle of munching a truffle that the wind carries the scent like a ribbon of perfume. It glides under the boar's nose and tucks inside before getting blown out in a snort. A familiar scent, not the one she's looking for but one to approach with caution.

She doesn't.

Carefully staying downwind, Traa-dy-Liooar approaches, she's almost as quiet as the cat itself. Innocently lapping at a puddle of water, stalking along the road, being generally stealthy. Having a longer gait than the feline helps her to catch up and then stick her snout under that tail. And huff.

You…

There's a reason for the wild in wildcat that has as much to do with morphology as it does demeanor. Traa may feel it before he sees it in the form of meat hook talons ripped through the soft of his snout, a one-two swipe that slices liquid quick into a leap up and away. Freshly blooded claws sunk into pine bark once he's twisted up a foot or two out of easy reach, Forge hisses like a viper through a show of impressive fangs.

An inch of grip lost in a lash of great, fluffy tail looks remarkably like a repressed impulse to come right back down to pick up where he's left off, too. He does not say hullo.

The snout wrinkles in pain and Traa's tongue lashes out to catch the taste of blood before she looks up at the cat with an angry piggish scowl. That hurt, cat, she snorts again, blowing a crimson spray across the dirt. You aren't the one I'm looking for anyway.

Her curled tail lashes from side to side in annoyance as she backs away a few steps. She's angry and pawing one cloven hoof against the dirt but it stops as she looks up again and then turns one shoulder to the feline. Tell me, cat, we know what happens to a mage when a familiar dies. Do you know what happens to a familiar when the mage dies? Her sly tone might imply a threat against the wildcat's other half. For my own curiosity, someone tried to kill my man recently. Someone he knows.

Can't imagine why, growls Forge, whose hiss gravels into an odd garble in the base of his scar-slashed throat. His tongue curls out between his fangs after spittle and his ears keep flattened back against his skull, eyes rimmed harsh orange against his tree. You're both so charming.

Whatever you might think of us, there's something suspicious about all of this. The pig lashes back with, blowing out a sniff of frustration. He is not the cat she's after and she's wasting her time but… he's been useful to others in danger. He looked straight into his killer's face and can't remember anything but grey and a buzzing in his head.

Lifting her tusks toward the tree, she sharpens them against its bark, leaving scars against the trunk. But he knows who did it. He felt he knew him, anyway. He was picked up when I wasn't around, he'd left me behind again.

Forge listens, an ongoing swish about the blunt of his tail marking his irritation at regular intervals. Swish. Swish. Swish, under calculating eyes and ears and fangs and claws until his spine uncoils enough for him to scale upward, towards the lowest and most robust branches. Bits of displaced detritus tickle down onto the boar's bloodied nose.

Sounds like a personal problem.

Could be, Traa-dy-Liooar's large head shakes from side to side as she tries to get the dirt from her snout. A few snorts later, she seems pleased enough with the result to look up at the retreating cat again. But it is what it is. Forge fits the bill of the species she's looking for, whether or not he's the right one, well.

Tell me, Cat, have you and your master been skulking about my farm? Her farm. Not Mairi's farm.

I wasn't aware you owned land. Not interested, Forge pulls himself horizontal enough along the base of a thick branch to clean his claws. Not the first time he's tasted Traa's blood, but he doesn't make it past the first talon or two before his ill-temper focuses his glare down again. That's quite an accomplishment for a familiar that doesn't exist.

Dodging an answer, are we? A shoulder rams against the trunk, causing the tree to sway in a lazy circle. She'd have to be much bigger to do enough damage to take it down, if that were her intention. The pig trots around the base, creating a circle in the needles around it. Then she stops and glances up, beady eyes narrowing slightly.

Is your master the buzzing man with no face? Traa-dy-Liooar couldn't really be more blunt and uncouth about asking. I'll have you know, try to kill mine, I will kill yours.

Perhaps he's dead. The claws Forge had splayed to clean curl back into wood when the weight of the pine sways sleepily underpaw, haunches bunched comfortably beneath the ridge of his back. There's no alarm to the sight or smell of him. Traa-dy-Liooar is a small pig. This is a large tree.

Perhaps I am what happens when the mage dies.

This gives the boar a pause and she looks up, cocking her head to the side to eye the cat closely. Really… Her tone sounds a little more than interested and she shifts. Bristled hair melts away and gives way to a softer puff of brown fur and leather webbed fingers.

She pushes up off the ground, squeaking with each rapid beat of wing. She hooks onto a branch far above that of the cat and swings down, twisting her head to point blind eyes in his direction. She can see though, an image projected in her brain with every little squeak and she feels rather talkative all of a sudden. And what effect did it have on you? Were you in pain as the mages are when their familiars perish? How much was it? Did you do it yourself?

To this Forge says nothing. A feline sigh is invisible to radar as a delicate puff of steam; he stretches one forepaw out enough to rest his chin down against it and lies still, eyes fixed ahead. Into the middle distance.

What's the matter? Cat got your tongue? A different one, I mean. Obviously you can't get your own tongue, or can you? Maybe the cat of the man that buzzes. As a bat, Traa-dy-Liooar can't seem to help herself. The squeaking allows her to see and she doesn't like the blindness of this form but it's much better than a hummingbird or something equally as fast. Besides, it has fangs.

She yawns, showing them off. The tiny maw lined with tiny sharp triangles seems to smile at the cat in a cheshire grin from books. I'm very interested to know how you get along without your pet. I'd like to get along without mine.

It hurts, says Forge, a long time after he's pressed to answer. As it's clear he's unlikely to persuade current company to leave him be, he breathes in and pushes back up onto his feet, spine arched and talons bare. A goshawk's skin is more comfortable than an owl's, for all that it is less suited to navigation at night. Grey and black fur stiffens into grey and black feather. His eyes harden and hood. Try it and see.

Mmm, perhaps I will, it sounds like she's half convinced. The new form of the goshawk has her strafing into a cluster of needles and cones. Protection enough against the first strike of a beak anyway. She has a fear of her own death, Traa-dy-Liooar doesn't have the luxury of her mage's foresight.

Something drops hard and fast, bouncing from branch to branch on its way down until it reaches the base of the trunk and safety of ground. Rolled into a ball it seems to be made of the same needles that surround it. Farewell, Cat, perhaps we'll meet again one day.

Hardly enthusiastic about the prospect, Forge begins the process of navigating his way upward into the canopy branch to branch. Hop, flap, hook. Hop, flap, hook. His progress is easy to follow in rustles and scrapes until he's made it high enough to take off in earnest without risk of flying head first into anything. Old brown needles scatter to the tree's base and the goshawk is gone.