[Vfw-times] story: MK Strange Growth 1/3

Oren Otter orenoter at peakpeak.com
Wed Oct 11 00:45:44 CDT 2000

Here's the first part of the story I promised.  More to come very soon.

This story takes place in the first year of Oren and Vitra's marriage,
before the onset of winter.

Strange Growth
by Oren Otter

	Oren had gotten to the point where he actually looked forward to guard
duty.  Between his training as a long scout, his responsibilities as a new
husband, his duties as the unofficial liaison between the Keep and new
Hipocc, and now the organizer of the upcoming "goodwill festival" as it had
come to be called, the otter had enough on his plate that the hours of
peace and quiet were a welcome respite.
	Vitra occupied herself during these lonely hours by seeing that the
affairs of the house were in order.  She would clean the little two-room
apartment until it sparkled, cook some lunch to take to her husband, brew a
bit of blackest ale, just the way Oren showed her how, review her reading
lessons, then wait for Shamgar to show up and take her shopping.
	The rhinoceros was beginning to surprise people.  He'd gained himself a
reputation as a big lug whose only goals in life were to down his next
tankard of beer and make a copper or two out of gambling with Achin.  No
one thought he had an ounce of selflessness or politeness in him, and yet
it was Shamgar himself who had offered to take Vitra out into the
marketplace each day so that he might protect her from anyone who sought an
easy trophy.  Being a lutin, Vitra was anything but well-liked.
	Though he was a few minutes late, Shamgar apologized for the delay and
took Vitra quickly into the market.  The lutin thanked her bodyguard and
gave him a silver piece to spend on whatever he liked.  Shamgar didn't
purchase anything, however.  He made very sure to stay close by his
charge's side.
	The first thing to be purchased was a supply of fresh vegetables.  There
was a traveling merchant selling seaweed at two silvers a pound.  Though it
seemed a steep price, Vitra payed it gladly.  The seaweed would make a
tasty treat for her husband, served piping hot on a chilly winter morning.
	Next she came to a vendor selling carrots and beets.  As she bid the
merchant a cheery good morning, her eyes traveled up to the crudely painted
sign.  "KERITS 2 SILVER A POWND BETS 3 SILVR A POWND" She smiled at that.
Ever since the emancipation of Lorland, there had been an outbreak of
reading fever.  Everybody and their brother was incredibly eager to learn
to read.  As a result, several of the more well educated Metamorians had
taken it upon themselves to teach others the skills of reading and writing.
 As she slowly sounded out the letters in the sign, the smile faded.
"Three silvers for pound of carrots?" she asked.  "Why so much?"
	"'Tis the weather, missus."  Replied the small girl behind the vegetable
stand.  "We done had a fine crop like every year at our farm down in
Lorland, but a sudden frost done caught us unexpected- like.  We done had
to raise the prices of the veggies just to see ourselves through the winter."
	"Oh, that too bad!" said Vitra.  "But I thought the harvest come in before
	"It would have, Missus... only..."
	"Me husband and me has been children since the curse hit.  Now we has us a
son who was helping with the work, but he just come of age and turned into
a wee little mouse, 'e did."
	"Oh, dear!"
	"We wasn't able to get all the crops in by our little selves, my husband
and me."
	"Oh, that's too bad!  Well, I wish I could help in some way.  Perhaps I
could give you some of my cold remedy to make the winter go a little easier
on you."  She took a little bottle out of her handbasket.  "I was taking
this to husband, but I can always feed him some when he come home."
	"Oh, bless your little heart, Missus!  I don't care what anyone says, you
is a kind-hearted weasel and no mistaking it!  Here, I'll toss a few beets
into your basket at no charge in payment for your kindness."
	"Oh, but I could not!"
	"Nonsense!  I insists!  And here's a carrot for your nice husband to
enjoy, too!"
	"Thank you!"  Vitra smiled at her new friend as she went around the corner
to the kiosk selling shrimp and lobster.
	"It's you!  The weasel!" said a boy sitting against the wall between booths.
	Shamgar instantly took up a ready stance as Vitra jumped in surprise.
	"The Keep favors you, oh Queen Mother of Virtue!"
	Vitra stammered.  "I not queen... I..."
	"It was difficult, but she did it!  She changed that which could not be
changed so that those within you might live!"
	"What are you..."
	"She undid what could not be undone with the help of your enemies, so that
the father of the founders might be made whole!"
	Shamgar began to position himself between the old boy and Vitra.  "Listen,
old man, if you continue to babble..."
	Vitra stopped him in mid sentence.  "I want hear him, Shamgar.  What you
mean 'those who live in me'?"
	The man-boy's face became suddenly soft, yet serious.  "Two great
champions are now within your womb, daughter of Norchk.  Theirs is the
strength of many, and they will bring together human and lutin, making a
people out of they who are not a people.  You, Vitra, are truly blessed."
	Vitra turned to Shamgar.  The expression of joy amid confusion was
unmistakable.  She turned to thank the stranger for this mysterious
blessing, but when she turned again, he was gone as though he had never
	"I wouldn't worry about that." said Shamgar.  "He's probably just some kook."
	"Oh, Shamgar I hope not!  For my child to make peace with humans and
lutins... oh, how wonderful that be!"

	Oren was overjoyed when Shamgar safely delivered his beloved to him.  As
she rushed to embrace him, his eyes took in every inch of her from her
grass-green lips to her frilly white gown to the tip of her silky tail.
She was so very beautiful, and the merest thought of being able to hold her
for a moment sent a thrill of joy through Oren which he coveted in those
hours when they were apart.  As he indulged himself by kissing her muzzle,
the otter thought to himself that no man could possibly be so lucky to have
so wonderful a companion as she.
	"I bring you lunch!  Tuna sandwich and cold blackest ale!  Oh, and also a
	"Did you bring that cold medicine?"
	"I... I give medicine to poor farmer in market."
	Tears began to form in Oren's eyes.
	"I sorry.  I get you more, husband."
	"Oh Vitra!  You are so kind and compassionate even to strangers.  I can't
believe how beautiful a woman you are, right down to your very core!  And
you're mine-all-mine!"  He hugged her tightly, unable to hold back laughter
at his own good fortune.  Then, suddenly, he stopped laughing.
	"Oren, what wrong?"
	Suddenly riveted on something in the distance, Oren released his wife and
began walking toward the wall.  Vitra, along with Shamgar, followed quickly
behind.  The otter was fingering a piece of greenery.  The three of them
peered over the wall and observed a network of vines growing its way up.
	Oren put a paw on his face and said "Thomas is going to kill me."

Oren Otter
The Changing Workplace

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