Thursday, August 18, 2016

Picking Your First Human as a Pet!

Reader's Challenge
Aurora Shields
A cocky and burly man (think Gaston from Beauty and the Beast), in a pet store, being confronted by the choice between five different puppies, and a stuffed sheep the size of a cow.

Zedric was walking down a side street in Crinkletop to avoid the crowds of the day. The market was bustling and so full of people that one could barely managed to maneuver their way through the square. It was cooler here and definitely quieter. He wasn't worried about foot-pads lurking about. Most would be bumping into people in the market square. Added to that, Zedric was not a small man rising up over six feet. Most people stayed out of his way due to his size and carriage.

As he was passing down the side street, about to turn back onto a larger road through the city, he saw an old shop. He was fairly certain he had been down this street before, but Zedrick could not recall such a shop being there.  It's windows were of an inferior reddened glass and the framework of the building suggested it was one of the original structures in Crinkletop. Above the shop door, an old wooden sign showed a dog and a cat.

Curious, he opened the door and went in. It smelled much like a barn would smell and the sounds of birds chirping and other rustling filled the air with a mishmash of bird song that oddly was soothing as they came together. Zedric closed the door and looked around for the shop-keep. The store seemed unmanned and the shelves dusty as if no one had tended the shop for some time.

The sound of whimpering drew his attention and he moved carefully through the narrow walk between shelves to the window. There in a large wooden box was the strangest little pup he had ever seen.

"Well hello, what have we here?"  He smiled, picking up the small bundle of orange fur.  Its face had rings of black moving outwards from its eyes.  Strange markings ran up its nose, almost like ancient symbols.  Its little feet were black and it had a small white tuft under its chin.

Spirit fox -Handcrafted- Rhiannon Woolf by RhiannonWoolf on DeviantArt

"I wonder what you are?"  He asked, looking about.  He put the little thing back in the box.  "Hello, anyone here?" Surely these animals had not been abandoned.

He moved around the end row of shelves and back towards a counter where a merchant might make his transactions.  On the way, there was another box of pups.  These looked to be like good sturdy hunting hounds.  The four pups rose up to the edge of the box, their big paws giving hint that they were likely to grow to a good size.  Two were black, one was white, and the last one was a mixture of both.  He picked up the white pup by the scruff of his neck.  He caught it to his chest and laughed as the pup began to lick every thing in reach.

A man came out from behind a curtain, Zedric gave a small sigh of relief to know that despite the state of the shop, the many animals had not been abandoned.  He stroked the pup's ears as he moved to the counter.  "How much are your hunting hounds?" he asked.

The shopkeep tipped his head curiously.  "Tha' no be a huntin' hound."

"Oh, what is it?" He looked down at the pup to find in his hands, the strange little bundle of orange fur he had first picked up.  Zedric was highly confused.  He was sure he had put the thing down and picked up one of the puppies.  He looked back at the box to see the four little heads all lined up whining as they eyed him.

"It be a whims'kal."  The shopkeep reached down for a ledger.  "It be rare and be a full gold coin."

"Oh, yes then, well I really can't be spending gold on an animal.  How much are the hunting pups?"  He looked down into the large black eyes of the little beast in his arms.  He had no idea what exactly a whims'kal was, but he was fairly certain that it couldn't be worth a full piece of gold.

"They be a silver coin." The shopkeep looked disappointed.

"Yes, well then I think I will be picking up one of those." He turned and took the strange little orange fur ball back to its box beneath the window and set it down.  He turned to go back up the side aisle to retrieve the hunting puppy, but there was a large stuffed sheep blocking the path.  He had seen no one move and yet, there it was.   He scooted the large hunting target out of his way and made his way back to the box of whimpering joy.   He picked up the white hound. He was sure he had picked it up before. but no matter.  He had wanted a hunting hound for a bit now and a silver was a good price.

He returned to the counter and laid the silver piece down, the pup slung under his other arm.  "Thank you and have a good day," he called as he headed for the door.

"Wait, wait good Sir.  I be tellin' you tha' the whims'kal is a gold."  The merchant called after him.

"Yes, that is why I took this here pup."  He held it up and nearly dropped it for instead of the wiggly ball of white, it was once again the strange orange pup.  It stared at him with large sad eyes.  "What by the gods? I know I put this thing down."  

He exchanged it for the white pup once more, this time leaving the orange beast in the box with the other puppies.  It did not look happy as the other puppies began to crawl and lick at it.  He scratched the little orange creature behind the ear.  "Now you stay here."

He pushed the hunting pup into his pack so only his nose could poke out and slung the pack up once more.  "Thank you good sir," he called to the storekeep then made his way out of the store.

The storekeeper just shook his head with a smile.  Just as the door was opened by Zedric, the little nose peeking out from under the pack cover was orange, not white.   His wife pushed through the curtain to stand at his side.  "Did he finally pick a pet?"  She asked looking over at the empty window box.

"Yes my dear, our son is now out into the world."  The storekeeper patted his wife on the shoulder. "Don't fret, he picked a mortal with a good heart.  How I would love to see that man's face when he opens that pack."