Author Topic: "Another Hook"— by Vin.  (Read 153 times)

Vin

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"Another Hook"— by Vin.
« on: May 06, 2018, 02:23:25 PM »
I mentioned that my entry for the mini-contest was a piece of a larger story that, unfortunately, never got finished. Or really even started. Thought I'd throw up one of the more complete scenes that I had lying around. It's a direct precursor to the entry itself, so after this Brungle's on his way to see the abbot. I changed the whole abbey scene a little bit from what I had planned initially, but I think it still flows. Enjoy.

As far as Brungle Rudderfletch was concerned, a spade was a spade, a shovel was a shovel, and a vermin was up to no good. Of course, he reflected, officially the distinction between vermin and woodlanders was considered a non sequiter these days, and no self-respecting lawbeast had the indecency to jump to conclusions based on the manner of creature who was suspect. But the grizzled otter knew the statistics, and he’d been playing this game far too long to kid himself otherwise. Besides, he thought. Ain’t no kinda woodlander ta do somethin’ like this. He put his paw to the door in front of him and pushed. The wooden hinges groaned under the sudden movement, and the door swung open with a creak. A shapeless heap writhed on the floor, cursing at the ropes that kept it bound to the overturned chair, erratically swaying to frantic movements of the squirming mass. Brungle leaned against the doorframe and examined a claw. A little dusty, perhaps, but not too unclean. He could do with a good swim, he mused. But who really had time for that, these days? 

He fixed the floundering beast with a cool stare. “Tryin’ somethin’ tricky there, Quickclaw?” he drawled. The beast ceased its frantic scrambling, and thin voice drifted from somewhere inside the pile of fur and wood.

“Huh? Oh, heya Cap'n. I wuz jus’ makin’ meself comfertable is all.” The rather shifty-looking face of a ferret emerged from the mound and flashed the otter a wide grin, fangs gleaming white against dark fur.

“Oh, aye?” Brungle raised an eyebrow, continuing to appraise the ferret with steely eyes.

The ferret nodded furiously. “Aye. Ain’t gotta sit on yer tail when ya gots yerself da oppertunity ter lie down, me gramma allus said.”

“Then ye wouldn’ mind layin’ like that fer a small bit o’ time then, would ye?” Brungle smirked.

Visibly deflating, Quickclaw gave a helpless shrug “Guess not.”

Brungle straightened himself up and strode toward the ferret, reaching out a footpaw and nudging him. “Now, ye know how much I love ter chat with ye when we bring ye in, Quickclaw, but I ain’t got time ta waste so we’re gonna have ta git right ter business.” After pausing to give the ferret a pointed look, he continued. “Now, I’m sure ye’ve got some gleanin’ o’ why we brought ye in, aye?”

“Sumfin ter do wi’ dose fires down in th’ Lower Quarter?” Quickclaw guessed. “Ain’t got nuthin’ ter do wi’ dat, Brungle.”

The otter shook his head. “No, not somethin’ ta do wi’ the fires down in the Grunge. Somethin’ ta do wi’ the murders there.” The ferret blanched. “Ain’t no fire set fer no purpose, Quickclaw. At least, not one controlled like that. Jus’ one buildin’? Grunge bein’ all cramped like that? Nah, I don’ buy it.”

“Dun mean it wuz no murder, tho, Cap'n.” Quickclaw’s eyes were wide, darting across the room even as the ferret tried to reach the rope holding him to the chair with his claws. “It’s jus’ a liddle fire— coulda been tryna ta send a message or sumfin’.”

Brungle’s gaze drifted to the wall as he sighed. “I don’ think so— jus’ one body found, wi’ two arrows right through the chest. Looks more like some’un was tryin’ ter cover somethin’ up.” He looked back at his claw. He really could use a nice swim right now. Nothin’ ter beat the stress like a good ol’ swim. “Roap saw ye shellin’ at the ol’ Leapin’ Trout roundabouts that time, of course.”

The ferret stopped straining against his bonds. “Wait— ya mean I ain’t no suspect?”

“Quickie,” said Brungle, chuckling. “Yer the mos’ suspect beast in this whole town. But ye ain’t the culprit, an’ we can use that.”

Quickclaw grinned. “Ain’t da firs’ time a game o’ Shell brought me good luck.”

“Probably the first time wi’out cheatin’, though,” said the otter with a wry laugh.

“Aye, dat’s true,” guffawed the ferret. His wary look subsided. That was good. Brungle needed him to cooperate. “Wait.” Quickclaw frowned. “Why didja go an’ git me, then?”

Brungle looked at him. “We need yer help.” He ignored the ferret’s brief exclamation of surprise. “Our beasts don’ get much done down in the Grunge. Ain’t got a lot o’ love fer justice down there.”

Quickclaw sniggered. “Dat’s a way o’ puttin’ it, aye. An’ puttin’ it rather lightly if ya ask me.”

“What we need,” continued the otter, glaring at the interruption, “Is someun who won’t be questioned down in the lower quarters.” He paused, eyeing the ferret with distaste. “Someun who’s lowlife scum enough ter blend in.”

“Gee,” said Quickclaw. “‘Preciates dat ‘un, Cap'n.” He cocked his head in consideration. “Wat’s keepin’ me from sayin’ no?”

“Ye say no, an’ we charge ye wi’ obstructin’ justice,” replied Brungle with a shrug.

“Ya can’t charge me fer dat,” protested the ferret. “I ain’t obstructin’ nuthin’. I jus’ dun wanna risk m’neck.”

“If ye ain’t helpin’, then yer obstructin’.” The otter fixed him with a menacing glare. “Ye think anybeast is gonna look twice if we lock ye up? Yer a menace; ain’t a beast in this town who hasn’t been cheated out o’ somethin’ by ye. I’ll mos’ likely git a medal fer puttin’ ye away.”

"Aw, Cap'n, I ain't no officer. Wouldn' know what ter do, y'know?"

"Yer a clever beastie, Quickie. I'm certain ye'll figger it out. 'sides, ye'll have a little help."

Quickclaw shook his head furiously. "Ain't gonna do it. D'y'know what'll happen ta somebeast like me if it gets around I went an' helped the law?"

Brungle raised an eyebrow. "Worse'n bein' locked up?" He made a show of looking through his pockets. "An' damn, would ya look at that?" Quickclaw's eyes narrowed in suspicion. The otter smirked. "Think I mighta misplaced yer key, Quickie. Gonna take a fair bit ter find, ain't it?"

"There's a key in yer paw," Quickclaw objected.

The otter feigned surprise. "This? Naw, this is just fer some kinda drawer or somethin'."

With a sigh, the ferret finally nodded in resignation. Brungle grinned at him. “Much obliged, Quickie.” He turned and started to move toward the exit.

“Oi! Could ya at least ‘elp me git up?” Quickclaw called after the otter as he walked through the doorway.

“Thought ye were more comfortable that way,” Brungle said, spinning on his heel and slamming the door shut without waiting for a response. He could’ve done without trusting a beast like Quickclaw, but sometimes when you go fishing you don’t catch any fish, and you just have to try again with a different hook.