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tempo
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Adept Paws: The Spots Don’t Lie

Star Fox: Inertia - Ch. 1 of 5
set default image size: small | medium | wide
Keywords male 625481, female 506206, fox 132818, cat 108020, feline 72815, vulpine 20118, vixen 15531, fantasy 11380, magic 11277, clean 7801, leopard 7496, leopardess 423
Faerret Tales: The Spots Don’t Lie
By Tempo

~ ~ ~

Min bounded from the village wall to a bough of the massive oak with feline grace. The constable's leather armor creaked as she leapt higher and higher. Her quarry, a certain young vixen whose tail swished with amusement, sat where she could watch the pandemonium below. The leopardess padded up from behind, then leaned against the trunk. "An excellent view of your chaos, yes?"

The fox sprung from place with a yelp and clutch to a branch above her. "You can't prove it's my chaos!" She unhooked herself and dusted branches from her dress. "Maybe I just appreciate some good chaos, no matter the source?"

"Foxling, foxling, do not lie to me." The feline peered down at the shifting piles of lutrines as they scrabbled and slid on the greased boat docks. "Did you not think the otters slippery enough?"

A heavy sigh sagged the vixen's narrow shoulders. She turned to face the constable. Those clever gold eyes shone with the raw ore of mischief. "I suppose I'm in trouble again?"

"No, but be glad I found you before Toskun did. The Chief Constable is less forgiving of your pranks than I." She crossed her arms over her armored breasts, the leather dyed to the pattern of her spots. "Are you not satisfied being a dockhand?"

"Second assistant dockhand." The vixen flipped out her whittling knife, snapped off a dead stick, and carved. "I knew working for otters would make me smell like fish. I'd just hoped it'd be less boring."

"I know you are trying to find your place in the world; most of the world tries that most of the time." She purred and sat against the tree trunk. "As it happens, I have a story for you…"

Far below, the otters had managed to slide into the lake and began splashing water on the docks to disperse the grease. "I imagine you do."

"It starts with me finding my place in the world." The feline grinned. "Or so I thought."

~ ~ ~

I stood in the hut of one of the village elders. The hut stood on the ground, as elders' huts always did. This elder specialized in the telling of fortunes by the reading of spots. My parents had accompanied on this auspicious day and stood at the back of the tidy structure. After disrobing so the elder could see my entire pattern, I stood with pride, rather than shyness, because I knew my destiny held great adventure.

At least, until I heard it.

"A potter?!" I yowled in shock. Bad enough I had to stand in a loincloth and be examined by some old crone, now she'd decided I wasn't meant for any sort of adventure.

"A decent potter." The spot-reader nodded, as though she were doing me a favor. She stroked her tufted ears stroking her tufted ears as she prowled her hut. "No shame in not being the very best."

"Anything else?"

The elder feline waved a paw. "I wasn't going to say, but you'll be getting fat from the things cooked in your perfectly serviceable pots."

Spot-reading is a well-respected craft among cats. I had respected it too, until that very moment. "That's the stupidest destiny I've hear heard."

"Min!" My father growled, ears pinned against his head at my outburst. He'd worn his finest jerkin, which had been dyed in the exact pattern of his own spots.

I snatched my clothes from the table and clawed into them. My tail lashed with outrage. "I don't even like mud!"

"It's clay, darling." My mother cooed reassurance, paws at her hips. Her delicate chain bracelets tinkled like tiny bells over our family's formal daggers. "It's not the same thing at all."

"Nevertheless, that is what your pattern indicates." The white-muzzle tapped a claw on her notes. "Semi-round, brownish rosettes. Quite uniform. You should be proud of them."

"I am! You’re just reading them wrong."

"The spots don’t lie."

I stormed out. Old cats live in houses on the ground, so that part worked out well. What happened next, however, did not.

I admit I went on something of a rampage. I demanded every spot-reader in the city read my spots. The results did not please me.

The first reader pulled my tail straight: "Oh, a potter, certainly."

The second measured the distance between my spots with a caliper: "An excellent example of a potter pattern. Could you wait while I get my apprentice? No?"

The third kept checking if my spots were dyed: "Not of legendary pots, mind you. But good, useful pots."

At this point, my parents insisted I at least try making pottery. A local potter, who'd heard of my well-verified destiny, offered me an apprenticeship. I studied for months, determined to prove everyone wrong and be the most incredible potter ever to poke a lump of clay. I scoured traders' carts for the most exotic clay and made glazes from volcano glass and ruby dust. What emerged from the kiln elicited shrugs of vague approval and assurances the vessels would be suitable for storage. On the verge of tearing out my own whiskers, I smashed the entire last batch and stomped off to demand a new destiny.

The fourth spot-reader dug out paper and charcoal: "Would you mind if I did a sketch? This could be the new template for the potter pattern."

The fifth flipped through dusty notes and eyed me dryly. "As I told you, I just read stripes, but according to this you have a very fine pottery array on your back." She must have seen my face because she clarified. "That is to say, the pattern is very fine. The pots will be mediocre."

The sixth crossed her arms and glowered at me: "You don't believe me? Maybe you should climb up the Sage’s Mount and learn spot-reading yourself."

That sounded to me like a reasonable proposition. So, I bought some fine sausages to give as tribute to the sages, because that’s just polite, and a small mirror for looking at my own back, because clearly the world was populated by fools.  

Even as my parents lauded the merits of pottery, I packed light and stalked out of the house. I started up the mountainside. Indignation powered my climb and I made good progress. It took hours before exertion cooled my righteous fury of the obviously non-potter destined.

Finding a sunny outcropping, I paused. I drank some water and ate some jerky. In the valley below, leaves blended into rolling waves of light. Houses perched, secured in the largest boughs. The river rolled past, a silver ribbon set deep in the mossy canopy.

Slim figures danced from clouds to treetops. The kites of my people. Some had been up there for generations, attached to nothing, swooping, diving, soaring on updrafts. Wind rippled their silk wings. Steel glinted from within their wooden frames. I’d always watched them as a cub, wondering what I could see from their heights. Now I sat, level with them, looking upon them as an equal. As I watched, some of them even got close enough to see the colors fading from their dyed wings.

I’d found one, once, when I was about your age, foxling. One of its wings had torn after years of flight, and it had crashed. Still beautiful, it had crystals inlaid in its wooden struts to let the magic flow. A talisman had been placed in it to keep the wings pumping. Some of them worked like that, I’m told; the large and colorful ones that impressed everyone. Others relied on no magic at all; the small and plain ones that impressed mostly kite makers. No matter their source of power, I hope they are all still flying. Though, if some have worn out and fallen on the old spot-readers, there may be some justice in life.

If the spot-readers had told me I’d be a kite maker, I wouldn’t have complained. Or even some kind of heroic, adventuring potter, venturing far and wide to work exotic clays into passable crockery. But a quiet little potter, that was out of the question.

That thought’s return spurred me to start climbing again.

As night fell, I reached the entrance to the the enclave. The door had been shut to keep out wild beasts, but this particular wild beast wanted in. After some caterwauling on my part, the latch lifted and the gate swung open.

Inside stood a wizened snow leopard in thick robes. Her wispy fur fluttered in the night wind. Dark markings dotted her face under the shade of a deep cowl. We passed the next few moments staring at each other.

"Excuse me." I prowled at the threshold of the gate. "I came up to study the old scrolls. It is rather important."

She continued to watch me. Her whiskers glimmered in the twilight.

The pack on my shoulders weighed more and more. I adjusted it, wishing I could lessen the weight of her stare too. "Really."

Her gaze continued unabated.

"I’ve brought fine summer sausage." I drew the links from my bag. "It’s Mewlsworth’s nepeta-leaf blend."

With a grumble, she accepted the sausage offering and led me inside. The enclave consisted of perhaps a dozen buildings in a ring around a central garden. "I am called Gaultheria."

"I’m Min."

"And what is so urgent that you’d rush up here?"

"I can’t find someone to read my spots properly." I padded after her. "I thought I’d come read the original texts and see for myself."

"Very well." She ambled on, spry for a cat at the age I guessed. "Knowledge is pointless if not known, after all."

~ ~ ~

I spent that night and most of the next morning poring over every scroll the sages had on spot-reading and examining my own pelt. More than once, a student of the old snow leopard noticed me studying my own back with a hand mirror and ample profanity, but they said nothing. Turns out I had every indication of being an acceptable potter, if still none of the desire. I even had a sherd-shaped spot that indicated mediocrity at the craft.

Just after noon, I woke face-deep in paper and even deeper in misery. My despair lessened when I smelled food and lessened more when I found it next to me. Some vegetables seared with bits of the sausage I’d brought, with a fried egg nestled on the side of the bowl. I had almost finished the meal when I realized old Gaultheria had wandered back in.

She crossed her arms over her breasts. "Now that you have read through breakfast, slept through lunch, and devoured a snack, come take a walk." She turned and strode out without waiting for my reply.

I brushed a bit of egg off the ancient texts, hoping the stain would just add to their mystique. Then I followed.

My homeland is not as cold as here, foxling. Even on a mountain, one could walk around in little more than a vest and pants and not feel the cold. I, however, wore but a loincloth at that moment, so I put on a little more before going outside, to be polite. She took me on a tour of the garden, which hosted delicate herbs, ugly flowers, and a rainbow of tubers.

She stopped at a well of rain-worn stones, to which one of her students applied mortar with great care and a tiny trowel. The old cat caressed the rim of the well. "That is the Well of Time, drilled hundreds of years ago. Drinking from it grants vivid dreams. Around it, our enclave was constructed. Because of the enclave, your village. Because of the village, you are here."

Across the garden stood another well, grander but less kept up. "What’s that one?"

She glowered at it. "That is the Other Well, drilled the summer before last. Drinking from it grants a feeling of being tasted by the water. We use it for laundry, mostly."

We continued walking through the perfect silence of the gardens until I could stand it no longer. "This destiny makes no sense!" I scowled at my pelt. "I can not be a potter!"

"Yet your spots say you're a potter."

"Then they are wrong!"

The snow leopard swished her tail, unmoved by my plight. "How do you think these scrolls came to be?"

"Some old cat wrote them down." I remembered I was talking to someone who’d been old before I was born. "Er, I mean..."

She ignored my fumbled apology. "Very true." She found a bench in the sun, sat, and let the hood of her robes fall back. Under it, a heavy scarf wrapped her slender, white neck. "Because they wanted to make sense of the world, much as you do."

I thought on this matter for a long time, as she sat in silence beside me. Once I realized what she meant, exasperation boiled over inside me. "So spot-reading means nothing?"

"Apparently, it means everything, until you find a better way to understand your world." Eyes closed, she tilted her head to the sun. "After that, it means very little."

"And you haven’t told anyone?"

"This world is full of strangeness and our vision short-sighted." She took a deep breath, then let it out, losing a little age. "People need a lens to view it all. And like many possessions, people get fond of their lenses. Most will only pick up a new one when confronted with something they can’t see properly."

"Hm." I stood, my thoughts drifting down the path back to the village and beyond. "Thank you for the help."

She nodded, warming her hands in her sleeves. "Thank you for the sausages."

Since then, I have traveled the world, found joy and loss, and had great adventures, some I may even tell you about, foxling.

That being said, still I am only a mediocre potter.

~ ~ ~

"Do you see now, foxling?" Wind stirred Min's fur, sweeping through the leaves and over the lake to the Dragon Tower. "Or have I wasted my words?"

"I see." The vixen stroked her whiskers, watching the otters mop up the last of the grease. "If I play any more pranks, you're going to drag me aside for another story."

The leopard purred a laugh. "You are right to fear my stories. They have morals and other troublesome things. Now off with you—help clean that mess and I'll not mention this to Toskun." She hopped a branch down, then offered the fox a paw. "This time."

A toothy grin spread on her white-and-autumn muzzle. "Maybe we should talk about just what counts as a prank."

The constable glared.

"Joking!" The vulpine took her paw, clambered down, and smiled with gratitude. "Though maybe I could stand to hear a few more of these stories…"

~ ~ ~

Min's backstory had been stewing in my brain for years, but it took my dating an expert on ancient ceramics to actually get it written.

Read more in the Faerret Tales universe here: http://www.furaffinity.net/view/7017771/

Editors: :iconslate:, :icont-kay:, :iconanakuro:, :iconeljot001:, :iconsillyneko345:
Proofreaders: :iconarchaesophilia:, :iconchromamancer:
Icon by VampirePrincess007, used with permission.

Let me know what you think!

-Tempo
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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by tempo
A leopardess constable remembers back to the day she learned her destiny.

Keywords
male 625,481, female 506,206, fox 132,818, cat 108,020, feline 72,815, vulpine 20,118, vixen 15,531, fantasy 11,380, magic 11,277, clean 7,801, leopard 7,496, leopardess 423
Details
Type: Writing - Document
Published: 5 years, 1 month ago
Rating: General

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