Dawn broke dripping wet and windy. A stiff breeze chased dark clouds through the slowly lightening, leaden sky over the Minnaluna Archipelago and the Nezinoma Salis continent. Rain was still falling, a steady but light drizzle being scattered by the wind, making the vegetation bow and drip. Every now and then, the sun began to break through the chasing clouds, casting her first rays of the day over the dripping trees, bushes and flowers, and the damage that was caused by the storm which had whipped the continent over the past night.
By mid-morning, the last rain had dissipated, and the wind had settled down after chasing the last dark clouds from the sky. The sun rose higher, her rays growing in strength, striking multi-colored flashes from the drops of water dripping from the vegetation and drawing up wisps of fine mist from the swollen streams and creeks and small ponds and larger lakes.
In Viola Valley, the rays of sunlight gradually filtered through the canopy of branches and leaves that hung over the bowl of the valley, shielding from view the small town that was located in this valley. Despite the almost primeval wilderness of the Nezinoma Salis continent, this small town looked remarkably modern; the houses and other buildings were built of some sort of brickwork, the roofs covered in stone rooftiles, the windows had glass panes in them. The streets were neatly paved as well, illuminated by streetlamps that had electric candles in them. It was in this town, named simply Viola Town, where the taur-like feline creatures called Mry were living.
At the end of a small street on the outside of the town, in the garden of a house the grey stone walls of which were covered in a sort of plaster with a mustard-like brownish yellow color, the dark honey-colored Mry named Sunfire was looking at the sun climbing higher into the sky, drawing in deep breaths of the fresh, rain-washed air. Moments later, she was joined by her sister Skyfire, the Mry with the dark storm-grey fur that was crisscrossed with numerous thin stripes of silvergrey.
"That was quite the storm last night, wasn't it?" she said as she handed her sister a mug.
"It most certainly was," Sunfire agreed, taking a sip from the milk in the mug. "But from the smell of the air and the warmth of Sister Sun, I would say today will be a very nice day indeed." She turned to look at her sister. "Say, what do you say we take the autocart out to the Sand Shores? After such a storm, there's bound to be a lot of interesting stuff washed up from the ocean."
"That's a good idea," Skyfire nodded. "Yes, let's do that. I'll go get the bags if you get the autocart ready."
Sunfire drank the last milk and handed the empty mug back to her sister.
"I will. I'll meet you by the road in a moment."
Both Mry walked back into the house, closing the door behind them. While Sunfire walked to the front door, Skyfire stepped into the kitchen to rinse the mugs from which they had been drinking their milk, placing them upside down on a rack next to a somewhat primitive but no less effective sink. Then she walked out of the kitchen again, stopping by a large closet which she opened and leaned into, rummaging around. After a moment or two, the storm-grey Mry pulled a few large leather-like bags from the closet, which looked quite like saddle bags. With these she walked out the front door, closing and locking the door behind her and tucking the key securely into a pocket of the vest covering her upper torso.
At the end of the small path leading from the front door to the street, Sunfire was already waiting by what they had referred to as the 'autocart'. Amazingly enough, that was nothing more nor less but a 1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe two-door sedan car, in a dark terra brown color. The only thing different to this car was that it had no front or back seats, but instead had thick padded rectangular cushions to accommodate the large quadruped lower body of the taur-like Mry.
Sunfire had already opened the trunk, helping her sister to stow the large saddle bags in there, after which she closed the trunk and climbed behind the wheel of the car while Skyfire climbed in on the passenger's side. The motor started running with a nasal rumble as Sunfire turned the key and pushed the starter button, operating the pedals with the front feet of her quadruped lower body.
"Did you put in enough of that petro-oil to get us all the way to the Sand Shores and back, Sunfire?" Skyfire asked as the honey-colored Mry turned the steering wheel and drove the car out of the town.
"Yes, I filled it all the way to the top," Sunfire nodded, crunching the gear. "And I brought an extra container, just to be sure. It's in the back."
"Ah, good. Which of the Sand Shores are we going to? The wind was coming from the west during that storm last night, and it was still between west and southwest when we were out in the garden just now, so the Sand Shores on the west side would be the best choice; if the storm washed up anything, it'll be there."
"True. I was thinking we'd go to Black Rock Point. We can reach that fairly well with the autocart, and it will give us a good vantage point to look out over the Sand Shores from there and see if there is anything worthwhile washed up," Sunfire said.
"Sounds good," Skyfire agreed. "I wonder if we'll find anything interesting. Ships don't often pass by on the west side, it's dangerous there with the reef and those rocks."
"We'll just have to see, don't we?" Sunfire remarked with a shrug. "There might not be anything like timber or chests or urns or anything, but at the least there'll be fish."
"I guess you're right. And I brought a bag of salt for when we find fish."
Sunfire nodded, and they lapsed into silence while chugging along calmly as Sunfire steered the car out of the valley via a pass in the mountain ridge at the west side. There were no streets outside the valley, but a few relatively clear trails showed that several routes were traveled fairly regularly. The car bumped and bounced a bit across the grass and through the ruts and tracks, but Sunfire was a good driver, the ease with which she steered the car through the landscape proving that she was used to doing it. Therefore, it wasn't too long before the two Mry reached the western coast of the continent, pulling up to a high, protruding clifftop that gave a wide view over the beach below.
After parking the car, both Mry got out and stepped to the edge of the cliff, gazing out over the beach. Skyfire had brought a brass telescopic monocle which she swept around in a slow, wide arc as she peered through it, letting out a sudden cry of joy.
"Oooh! Sunfire, jackpot! I see rolls of fabric, several amphoras and some crates!" She handed her sister the monocle and pointed. "Look, over there where the black rocks reach into the water, see? Looks like maybe a merchant ship was wrecked close by last night in that storm."
Sunfire nodded as she peered through the monocle.
"You're right, I see it too. Looks like a very good catch, we're definitely in luck." She lowered and folded the monocle and handed it back to Skyfire. "I wonder why any merchant ship would have come around this side of the coast, though."
"Perhaps they were trying to avoid pirates?" Skyfire offered. "Or maybe it even was a pirate ship filled with loot that got wrecked."
"Could be, that's not such a strange idea," Sunfire said with a nod. "But either way, it's a stroke of luck for us. There's so much there we might even need to come back two times to take it all home."
"Well, let's not waste any more time and go down there to grab it, before anyone else shows up!" Skyfire said, walking around the car to get the large saddle bags from the trunk.
Sunfire gave another nod of her head and also walked to the back of the car, turning and rising up high on her four legs as Skyfire lay the saddle bags over her sister's feral lower body and secured them with the leather belts. When she was done, she turned and rose up high on her four legs herself to let Sunfire do the same to her, giggling and squirming as the honey-colored Mry strapped the belts around her lower body's chest, behind the front paws.
"Will you hold still, you weirdo?" she grunted amicably. "Stop squirming, I can't fasten the buckles like this."
"Eee, hee, I... can't help it, you're... hee hee... tickling me, Sunfire!" Skyfire giggled, lashing her tail left and right.
"So? You tickled me too, and you didn't see me squirming about like a moron, did you?" Sunfire smirked.
"Yeah, but I'm ticklish! You know I am!" Skyfire giggled, sticking out her tongue at her sister.
Sunfire gave another playful grunt while she fastened the last buckle.
"There, finally done," she announced, rising up and giving her storm-grey sister a teasing smack on the rump. "You sure don't make things easy for me, weirdo."
"Oh, look who's talking!" Skyfire chuckled, lashing her tail again. "Well, race you to the shore! See if you can keep up with me, you grouch! I'm so much faster than you, and I'll get the nicest stuff from that loot down there! Finders keepers!"
And with that, she was off like a flash, galloping down a rocky path that ran down towards the beach along the cliffside. Sunfire huffed and shook her head with a chuckle, breaking into a run after her sister. Moments later, they were down on the beach, trotting over to where huge black basalt rocks lay across the sand and extended into the ocean. Indeed a lot of items were washed up onto the beach around that area; wood crates, earthenware amphoras and vases, wicker baskets, large rolls of fabric rolled around wood poles, metal dishes and plates, and boxes and chests of several sizes. It was clear that Skyfire's assumption was correct; obviously a merchant ship carrying wares had been wrecked in the storm, and most probably quite close by the coast, judging by the amount of items that had washed up on the beach.
The storm-grey Mry was already rooting around between all the stuff, digging amphoras and vases out of the sand with her forepaws and checking them. Some were broken and empty and got airily tossed back into the ocean, but many of them were undamaged. Without checking the content, Skyfire simply loaded the amphoras into her saddle bags and continued on her search. They could always see what was in them when they were back home again, after all. And she did not spend too much time with the earthenware anyway, her attention quickly drawn towards the rolls of fabric scattered here and there in the sand. It were quite exotic fabrics; silk, velour, velvet, in bright colors and patterns of stripes, dots, diamonds, or even more intricate patterns. With happy croons and murmurs, Skyfire trotted from one roll to the other, picking them all up and strapping them to both her feral lower back and her anthro upper back, seemingly unhampered by the weight, and the fact the fabric was soaked.
Sunfire every now and then looked at her sister with a cheery grin, shaking her head. That Skyfire sure was a weirdo. Alright, so she herself was quite excited with the amount of usable and even valuable items that had washed up on the beach as well, but at least she simply collected them calmly, without hopping about like a Hoppy kit that's seeing sunlight for the first time. Putting a few silver dishes and goblets that had spilled from a cracked wood chest, and a couple of urns stoppered with corks into her saddle bags, Sunfire slowly walked up to a large wood crate lying some way furtheron. She stepped around it, examining it from all sides. It was closed, and pretty much undamaged, and there was some sort of writing on one side which the honey-colored Mry could not make out. She pushed against the crate; it was quite heavy. She knocked against the planks; solid. Giving a shrug, Sunfire leaned over and picked up a large rock from the sand, using it to punch out a few of the planks in the side of the crate so she could see what was inside. As she pulled out the cracked planks, she quickly averted her head and made a face.
From some way down the beach, Skyfire looked up at her sister's outcry.
"What is it, Sunfire? Whaddaya got there?"
Sunfire waved both her paws back and forth in front of her face, quickly turning away from the crate.
"I think, herbs and spices, but they got all soaked by the ocean water and mixed into a very gross goop. You don't even want to know what it smells like!"
"Ha ha ha!" Skyfire laughed. "Aw, that's too bad though! Remember those jars of spices we found last Season? I don't know what they were, but they sure made our food taste delicious!"
"Yeah, well, not this stuff, I'm afraid," Sunfire smirked. "You found anything good, aside from all that fabric?"
"Yeah! A box of weapons! Daggers, short swords and long swords, and bows! Kind of strange shapes, but beautifully decorated!" She motioned at several sheathed swords and bows strapped around her anthro waist and the shoulders of her feral lower body. Some of the sheaths and scabbards were indeed intricately decorated with carving and inlaid with gemstones. "And I found some golden sickles in that box too! I wanna bet we could get some extra treatment and lessons for Fleetfire if we offer those to doctor Healsong!"
"Oh, that's great!" Sunfire said with pleasant surprise. "Good going, Skyfire! Keep at it, I'm going to look on the other side of those black rocks to see if there's anything there."
"Alrightyroo, will do!" was the cheerful answer.
Skyfire cheerfully trotted off to search between some barrels that were lying half in the surf. A lot of them had cracked, however, and were empty, the potent scent still lingering inside proving that they had held some kind of alcohol. Skyfire smirked funnily as she twitched her whiskers at the smell. Well, it didn't matter most of those barrels were empty, they had no use for alcohol stuff anyway. Only doctor Healsong could use it. Although... The storm-grey Mry ran a paw over her whiskers in thought. Perhaps... they could try to see if their autocart would run on it? Alcohol was easier to make than the petro-oil they used to run their autocarts was to find. Mmm, that was a thought worth trying out. She'd have to talk to Sunfire about that.
Finding two barrels which were still full, the storm-grey Mry therefore rolled them out of the surf and set them in the protection of the dunes. Even if they couldn't use it for their autocart, it would still be worth saving; she could tell doctor Healsong about them, and then the doctor could pick them up. Turning around, she walked back to the shoreline, looking around a bit to see if there was anything else of value she could find. Already her saddle bags were filled to capacity and then some, and she had at least a dozen rolls of different fabrics strapped to her upper back and her feral lower back, but this was just an opportunity that didn't come by often, and she had to grab what she could. And... ooh, wait, what was that?
Skyfire quickly trotted over to where a wood chest was lying on its side in the surf. The lid was slightly open, and something colorful was bobbing back and forth just behind the lid in the surf that was lapping at the chest. Kneeling down, the storm-grey Mry pushed the lid further open and grabbed the colorful thing before it could float away. Awww! It was some kind of doll or something, looking a bit like a feral lioness, made out of yellow and red velvet, with in black a pair of eyes, a nose and a mouth embroidered on the front of the head, and it was filled with something soft. That was so cute! It would be a perfect gift for Fleetfire! Okay, so it was completely soaked, but it could be easily dried out and washed with fresh water to get rid of the salt. Skyfire squeezed the toy to get most of the water out of it and shook it before carefully putting it in one of her saddle bags. She turned the chest over and looked inside. Oh! There was another one! And that one was made of blue and green velvet. With a soft giggle, Skyfire took that one as well, squeezed the water out of it and tucked it into her saddle bag.
The storm-grey Mry suddenly looked up as she heard her sister yelling for her.
"Over here! What is it?"
"Skyfire, come here, quickly! You have to see this!"
"What? What is it?" Skyfire called back, rising up.
"Just come here, fast!"
Looking surprised, Skyfire turned and quickly trotted towards the row of large black rocks. She lightly leapt over them, looking around her to see where her sister was. A little way away, she spotted the honey-colored Mry, who was kneeling down on her forepaws, leaning over something that was lying half in the surf. It looked like a roll of fabric, and... something else. With a few large steps, Skyfire was next to her sister, looking down at what Sunfire was leaning over.
"What have you found here, Sunfire... oh good goddess!"
It was a small feline. A small feline that looked just like them, apart from the fact that it did not have the quadruped lower body. The little feline's body was humanoid, covered in a very sleek and smooth, light cinnamon-colored fur, although the fur on the arms, legs, tail, ears, and in the face was of a very dark mahogany brown, as well as the long hair that ran down from the top of the head to a little below the shoulders. Some rags of clothing were still on the small, slender body, the eyes closed, the arms tightly wrapped around a roll of blue velvet and a large wood plank.
"Sunfire... what is this?"
"I don't know," Sunfire said, without looking up from the small feline. "It's not a Mry, look, it only has two legs. But for the rest it's definitely feline, though."
"Is it... dead?" Skyfire asked softly, also kneeling down on her forepaws.
"I'm not sure. I don't feel any breathing."
"Let me check." Sunfire leaned over the small body, very gently running her paws along the sunken flanks. She very carefully rolled the small feline over onto the back, pulling away the rags that were hanging around the little body. "Oh. It's a girl. Gaw Sunfire, look at that, she's just a kit! She can't be any older than Fleetfire!" She leaned over deeply and placed her ear against the little feline's chest, listening intently. "I can't hear any heartbeat... but it's hard to tell, with the noise of the ocean and all. Oh, wait, I have an idea." She sat up a bit and turned her upper body, rummaging through one of her saddle bags and pulling out a small round mirror which she carefully held under the small feline's nose and muzzle. After a moment, she breathed a sigh of relief. "She's alive. Look, there's a very little bit of condensation appearing on the mirror. Thank the goddesses."
Sunfire nodded slowly, beginning to gently take the little feline's arms off from around the roll of fabric and the large wood plank.
"Let's take her home. When doctor Healsong brings Fleetfire home from her lessons, she can look at this kit and hopefully heal her."
"Yes, please, let's do that," said Skyfire. "The poor little thing. How'd she get here?"
"How should I know?" Sunfire said. "I'd say, she was on that ship that got wrecked in the storm last night, since she was holding on to this plank and this roll of fabric. That must have been what saved her, washing her up on the shore here."
Skyfire shook her head a bit, letting out a soft sigh as she looked down at the small feline girl. Leaning over, she unrolled some of the blue velvet from the roll and wrung the water from it, then very carefully lay the small feline on it and wrapped her in the fabric so only her head was visible. Using the rest of the roll as a support for the little feline's back. Skyfire slowly and carefully lifted both the roll of blue velvet and the little feline with both arms, rising up on her four feet. Sunfire also rose up, giving Skyfire's arm a soft, gentle squeeze as they turned and started walking off the beach, forgetting about the rest of the items that were scattered about in the sand.
Walking carefully but quickly, they followed the rocky path along the cliffside to where they had left the car. Sunfire opened the doors and the trunk, taking out a length of rope. While Skyfire stood still with the little feline in her arms, Sunfire unstrapped all the rolls of fabric from the storm-grey Mry's upper and lower back and tied them to the roof of the car, before unbuckling and lifting the saddle bags off Skyfire's feral lower back and putting those in the trunk. When she was done, she took over the small feline wrapped in the roll of blue velvet so Skyfire could unbuckle and remove her saddle bags and put them in the trunk as well. The storm-grey Mry also took off all the long and short swords, daggers, sickles and bows she was wearing around her waist and the shoulders of her lower body to put them in the trunk, before very carefully taking back the small feline and climbing into the car with her. Sunfire got in behind the steering wheel after closing the trunk, digging the key from her vest pocket, sticking it in the keyhole and turning it while pushing the starter button to start the motor. At the somewhat nasal sound of the motor rumbling to life, Skyfire let out a soft sound as well as she looked at the small feline.
"She twitched. There's life in her yet, Sunfire. She might make it."
She sounded very relieved. Sunfire sent her sister a soft smile as she turned the car around carefully to drive back home. All through the ride back, both Mry remained silent, Sunfire concentrating on driving the car back to Viola Valley quickly but carefully so the bumps and shocks when the car trundled through the ruts and clumps of grass on the hardly visible trail would not disturb the small feline, and Skyfire keeping a close watch over the little feline, holding her steady while softly and gently brushing her fingers along the little feline's cheek, murmuring comforting sounds at her.
They arrived at their house in the valley not long after. Sunfire parked the car by the little path that ran from the street to their house and turned off the engine.
"You get her inside, Skyfire," she said as she got out of the car. "Put her down someplace comfortable. I'll bring in all of the stuff we found, okay?"
The storm-grey Mry nodded silently and carefully got out of the car as well, holding the small feline with roll of velvet and all cradled in both arms. Sunfire followed her with all the weapons they had found in her arms and opened the door for her sister, putting the swords, daggers, sickles and bows down on the floor and stepping back outside to get the rest while Skyfire carried the small feline into their house. Going through the living room, she walked into a room that was just as large, and only dimly lit as the curtains before the windows were still drawn. There were large numbers of very big pillows laying on thick rugs on the floor, most of them situated around a fireplace, proving this was a bedroom. Along the far wall were two very low, wide beds, also holding a number of large pillows and a few thick blankets. Skyfire walked over to the bed, leaning over to very carefully lay the small feline down on one of them.
She gently unwrapped the damp blue velvet she had bundled the small feline in, sliding the entire roll out of one of the windows to let it dry. Using one of the blankets, the storm-grey Mry began to carefully dry the small feline's sleek fur and hair, smiling softly when she noticed how her gentle rubbing slightly increased the little feline's almost nonexistent breath rate.
"Sunfire?" she called across her shoulder when she heard her sister stepping into the house again.
"Yes?" came the answer from near the front door.
"I found two cloth toys just before you found this kit, Sunfire. They're in one of my bags. Could you rinse the salt water out of them and set them in the window to dry, please? I wanted to give one to Fleetfire, and I think this kit can do with one when she wakes up, too."
"Oh. Alright, I'll do that first."
Skyfire turned her look back to the small feline, brushing her fingers along the girl's cheek very softly for a moment before rising up and stepping to a small table in a corner of the room, from which she took a soft brush. Sitting back down by the bed, she started gently brushing the small feline's hair and sleek fur, softly murmuring under her breath all the while.
"You poor little thing... whatever happened to you? I sure hope you will be alright. Such a lovely girl... look at that beautiful fur. So soft, so sleek... these color changes are very lovely, too. It looks a bit like Sunfire's fur, but yours is a much stronger contrast, and she only has it on her legs, not on her arms and tail and her sex and her ears and in her face too... I wonder where you come from? I never saw a feline like you, with a body like this... I hope you'll be okay, and I hope you can speak and understand our language, so we can talk."
"Like her not knowing the language would stop you from talking... you've been talking non-stop already," Sunfire's voice sounded from the bedroom doorway with a soft chuckle.
Skyfire looked around and let out a soft chuckle as well, sticking out her tongue at her sister.
"So what? It helps me put my thoughts in order, and the sound of my voice seems to relax her."
"Fine, fine, I didn't say it's anything bad, is it?" Sunfire said, stepping into the room. "How's she doing?"
"Still out, but her breathing is a bit better. Hanging on to life, she is, it looks like. Brave little kit."
"That's good." Sunfire sat down next to her sister and put a paw on Skyfire's shoulder. "I'll watch her for a while so you can go clean up if you want. You've got sand and salt all over your back from carrying those rolls of fabric."
"Thanks," Skyfire smiled, rising up. "You're a grumpy grouch, sis, but at least you're a sweet and thoughtful grumpy grouch. At times," she added with a giggle.
"Yeah yeah yeah," Sunfire said with a good-natured smirked, waving a paw. "Just go and clean yourself up already, before I change my mind, okay?"
Skyfire giggled softly again and playfully ruffled her sister's hair with a paw as she turned and stepped out of the bedroom, undoing and taking off her leather vest while she walked. Sunfire shook her head, running her fingers through her hair to brush her mussed-up bangs back behind her ears, looking at the still form of the little feline laying nestled in the pillows on the bed.
"You must have one heck of a story to tell, kiddo," she murmured, touching the small feline's cheek. "I hope you'll live to tell it."