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Cross posted from Madrona Project

Title: The tale of the Spice Merchants and the Elf, chapter 16
Author: kira and Kat
Word Count: 3290
World: Roseburg, a town north of the capital city of Madrona
Main Characters: Luke/Little Hawk, Fierce like Panther/Lola, Black Dog/Eric, and Rabbit, all Elves; Shankar, Ashok and Sitara, Spicelanders.
Borrow: No
Summary: In which Rabbit gets “lost” amongst other things…
Author’s notes: In Madrona they are a few groups of people who are named after legendary as well as mythological people. Elves are such people. Elves live in the northwest part of Madrona; they live off the land like Native Americans and other indigenous people. They’re thought to be the descendants of hippies and other free spirits.

Special thanks to Kat for letting me borrow the Elves and helping me with this. Special thanks also to Kat for looking it over.



While the others were outside, Luke remained inside with Shankar, Ashok, and Rabbit. He knew he should say something to Rabbit, but he could not think of anything to say that would not hurt him. So he let the silence stretch between himself and his friend.

Shankar, tired of his brother’s antics, said, “That’s enough bread, Ashok. You’re going to make yourself and our guests sick.”

“Okay, Sha…”

Rabbit perked up. “I won’t get sick.” He could not understand, first this Sha person was trying to take Luke from him, and his plentiful food supply?

Shankar raised his eyebrow. “My brother’ll gorge himself and take you along for the ride of you let him.”

Rabbit thought that sounded like heaven. “And?”

“You have a long journey ahead, no?” Shankar said.

Rabbit nodded as he buttered a slice of bread.

“Then you don’t want to be sick,” Shankar said.

“But I won’t be.” Rabbit took a bite of the bread and ate it.

Shankar frowned. “How can you be sure of that?”

Rabbit swallowed. “Experience.”

“Sha,” Luke started, “Rabbit can eat like there’s no tomorrow. He’ll be fine.”

“Yeah?” Shankar found that hard to believe. His brother also had a healthy appetite, but whenever he ate too much, he was always sick to his stomach afterwards.

The two Elves nodded.

“Pan… Lola says I have a bottomless pit for a stomach.”

Shankar sighed softly. “Indeed…” He looked at his brother. “Don’t you get any ideas.”

“I won’t…” Ashok said, wide-eyed. He slowly ate the bread on his plate.

Turning his attention back to the Elves, Shankar said, “She does?”

Luke chuckled. “Yeah.”

Rabbit smiled.

Shankar raised his eyebrows at that. He nodded. He watched as Rabbit snuck more bread onto his plate, but pretended not to. He mentally shook his head when Rabbit reached for more bread, having finished eating what he had. Leaning towards Luke, he said softly, “Would he be upset if we gave him a loaf of bread to take home?”

“He’d love that, Sha,” Luke said just as softly, “And any food you can spare.” Winters are hard and there’s never enough food…

“Yeah?”

Luke nodded.

“Alright.”

Rabbit paused in his eating long enough to wonder what they were planning. He frowned when Shankar looked over at him and smiled. It was only when Luke gave him a look, that he stopped worrying about it and ate, deciding it was okay.

Luke smiled at him.

Ashok poked Rabbit in the arm to get his attention. “Why did your mother call you Rabbit…?”

“Because she did.”

“Oh… My mother always yelled at me…” Ashok sighed. “Does your mother yell at you?”

“No… But I haven’t seen my mother in a very long time.”

“Me too… When I married Tara, I didn’t see her anymore… She was mad at me…”

“Ash…” Shankar shook his head at him.

“But she was, Sha…”

“Oh…” Rabbit said, sensing this was not a subject that was brought up much, let alone discussed in front of strangers and guests.

“Yeah… My mother wanted Sha to marry her… She got very angry with us when Sha said I should marry Tara…”

“Yeah?” Rabbit said, his curiosity getting the better of him.

“Ashok…” Shankar said, trying to get his brother to drop this line of conversation.

“But she was, Sha…” Ashok whined. “And she did yell…” He frowned. “Tara’s a good wife… Why’d she get mad, Sha?”

Shankar did not want to talk about it. “Because…” He said, hoping to leave it at that.

Rabbit sat there, thinking about the day his mother just left and never came back.

Luke, who knew part of the story, felt bad for his friend.

“Maybe my mom should have yelled,” Rabbit said distractedly.

“Why?” Ashok looked at him like he had three heads. In his experience, a mother yelling was a bad thing.

“Maybe then she’d have stayed.”

“Where’s she go? Sha says our mother went back to Spiceland with our father…”

Rabbit shrugged. “I don’t know; she just left.”

Ashok blinked. “Did she go home?”

“No….”

Ashok was confused. He shook his head as he tried puzzling it out.

“We don’t know where she is, Ash,” Luke said. “She could be anywhere.” He wondered if he should just lie and tell him that’s why he came here, to look for Rabbit’s mother.

Rabbit sat there, being extra quiet as painful memories surfaced.

Ashok put his arm around him. “Luke will find her after he finds Tara’s baby…”

“Thanks…” Rabbit knew neither of those things were going to happen, no matter how good Luke was at finding things.

Ashok smiled at him. “You’re welcome… I’ll help Luke too, Rabbit…”

Rabbit nodded.

“Have more bread…” Ashok reached over and put another slice on Rabbit’s plate.

While Rabbit ate, Sitara and the others came in. She took the milk from Black Dog, leaving the eggs behind. She returned a few minutes later, to get the eggs, before disappearing back into the kitchen.

Fierce like Panther and Black Dog sat the table. They helped themselves to some bread and butter, while Sitara made breakfast.

Luke cast a guilty look at his sister. “Have fun?”

“Loads,” she replied dryly.

Luke smiled, knowing she was being sarcastic.

Fierce like Panther refusef to smile back at him. She still wanted to know why she was sent outside and what they were up to while she was gone.

Luke cast another guilty look at his sister. She arched an eyebrow at him in silent conversation with him. His look softened into a smile. Fierce like Panther frowned. She had a feeling he had been up to no good.

“What?” Luke said, the picture of innocence.

“What did you do to Rabbit now?” Fierce like Panther said.

Luke looked surprised. “Nothing!”

Ashok grinned. “Luke’s going to find Rabbit’s mother when he’s done finding Tara’s baby…”

Shankar sighed softly. “I’m sorry…”

Fierce like Panther frowned. She looked at Luke, wondering how in the hell, not to mention why, that was brought up.

Ashok mirrored her frown. “My mother’s mad at me…”

Sitara heard that when she came in. Sitting next to her husband, she cupped his cheek. “She’s not mad, Ashok.” She smiled at him.

Fierce like Panther briefly patted Rabbit’s head in what passed for a comforting gesture.

Luke sighed as things suddenly became awkward. He looked over at Black Dog, who was sitting there quietly, and quirked an eyebrow at his friend.

Black Dog tilted his head like a dog.

“You ummm…” Luke said, silently asking him if he had behaved in the barn.

Black Dog grinned. “Of course.”

“Good…” Luke hoped he did not sound as relieved as he felt. Black Dog could be very charming when he wanted to be, and Luke knew of several girls in their tribe who fell for his pretty words and bright smiles. Then again, he wondered if Sitara would say anything if Black Dog had not behaved, since they were leaving and it did not look like they would be back any time soon.

Fierce like Panther rolled her eyes. She ignored Sitara’s smile, instead, she reached for a slice of bread and the jam pot. Putting a bit of jam on the bread, she ate it.

Rabbit sat there, feeling uncomfortable. The unlimited supply of food had suddenly lost its appeal. Feeling closed in, he wanted to hide.

“Are you okay, Rabbit?” Sitara said. She felt somewhat motherly towards him like she did with her husband and she hated seeing him so upset.

“I think he’s had his quota of being around this many people at once in an enclosed space,” Fierce like Panther said. She resisted the urge to pat him on the head again, as she felt that would only upset him further.

Sitara blinked. “Oh,” she said, thinking Rabbit was just shy and feeling bad her family was overwhelming him.

Fierce like Panther shrugged. She helped herself to more bread and jam.

Sitara nodded. She also helped herself to some bread as an awkward silence once again descended on the room. Their bread supply was nearly exhausted, not that she minded as good hospitality dictated she look after her guests properly.

Rabbit had had enough of everyone and wiggled down under the table from his spot. He crawled out from under it and took off, looking for a place to hide. He had a feeling things were going to end badly and this greatly upset him.

Ashok, who was watching him intently, blinked when his new friend vanished. He smiled, loving the novel way he disappeared. He was about to try it, when his wife caught his eye.

“No, Ashok.”

Ashok pouted. He really wanted to try it and he hated being stopped.

Fierce like Panther and her brother looked at each other and sighed. She continued to sit there for wont of something to do. It would not make any sense to look for Rabbit until he needed to eb found.

Sitara wondered if they were going to leave or simply stay. If they did remain here, she also wondered where they were going to put them as the house was not very large. She felt bad as it was that they had to sleep in the floor.

Fierce like Panther mentally shook her head as she wondered if the idiots would be ready to go soon. She had enough of these strange people and while the unlimited and strange foods were nice as well as their willingness to accept her and make her part of their family, she was in no hurry to give up the only life she had ever known as an Elf. Plus she missed her lessons with Flaming Arrow more than she was willing to admit, even to herself.

Luke sighed. He felt sad as he had a feeling his sister and friends were going to be leaving soon. Panther had said they were leaving in the morning, and while it was well past first light, she rarely changed her mind. Luke felt torn between staying with Shankar and going home. Both had their good points as well as bad and the longer the inevitable was delayed, the harder it was becoming for him. He sighed again.

Shankar wondered if Luke was going to stay. Like Luke, he was also torn between choosing their budding relationship and insisting he go home with his family and friends. Used to being lonely, this little taste of what it was like to have someone to love was not something Shankar wanted to give up lightly. Still, Shankar was in favor of doing whatever would make those he cared about happy. If going home would make Luke happy, then Shankar would find it in his heart to let him go, despite wanting him to stay.

Ashok, however, hoped these funny new people would stay. He liked Rabbit as he saw him as more of a playmate than Luke. The other two, he had no real feelings about one way or another. If they did leave, he hoped Luke would bring him to wherever they lived so he could play with Rabbit.

“I’m going to go check the horses.” Fierce like Panther pushed back from the table and stood up. She started to walk towards the back door.

“You need help?” Luke called out to her.

She paused. “… If you want.”

Luke got up and hurried over to her. Together they went out to the barn.

Shankar watched them go.. He rubbed tiredly between his eyes once they were out of sight.

Black Dog shrugged. “I should probably go see where Rabbit ended up,” he said, wanting to do so more out of fear of Rabbit doing something stupid than being lost. He stood up to leave.

Shankar nodded.

“I’ll help you…” Ashok stood up. He wanted to see Elvin magic at work.

Black Dog sighed. “Only if you bring your brother with you.” The last thing he wanted was to get stuck in the unending talking loop again.

“Okay… Come, Sha…”

Shankar sighed. As much as he wanted to be alone with his thoughts, he stood up so that he could keep an eye on his brother.

Sitara got up and went into the kitchen to clean up the remains of their breakfast. She hoped her husband would not get in the way while they looked for Rabbit.

“Rabbit do magic and disappear?” Ashok said.

“Kind of,” he answered distractedly, already tracking a sneaky Rabbit. Black Dog stood very still in the middle of the living room. He put himself in Rabbit’s place, before deciding he went outside. Black Dog turned and headed towards the front door.

Ashok followed after him like a puppy, pausing only when his brother made him put on his coat.

“Don’t make me track you down like dinner, Rabbit!” Black Dog called out. He methodically plodded a bit forward, while stopping repeatedly. Ashok followed close on his heels, for once blissfully silent, with Shankar trailing along behind them. Black Dog suddenly stood very still.

Ashok nearly bumped into him.

Shankar who followed several paces behind, stopped.

“Where is he?” Ashok whispered.

Black Dog practically snarled in reply, “There!” He ran towards the evergreen bush, Rabbit was hiding behind. He always hated it when Rabbit did things like that. He leaned forward, ready to haul him out of leafy hiding spot.

Rabbit pulled a stick off the bush, whacking Black Dog on the nose with it.

Ashok blinked. He was amazed by what had just happened. He stood there speechless, his eyes round with wonder.

Shankar, on the hand, was puzzled by Rabbit’s behavior. The guy seemed so timid, and yet, he just attacked his friend. Then again, Rabbit had attacked him just the day before. He was also glad Rabbit was gentle with his brother, or there could have been trouble.

Rabbit, annoyed at being found, glared at Black Dog.

Black Dog rubbed his face. “Damn it, Rabbit! You know I can’t let you just wander off. This is not home.”

Ashok came forward. “Rabbit, it’s not fun getting lost… I got lost once…” He looked upset when those memories washed over him.

“But I’m not lost.” Rabbit stood up from his hiding spot.

Ashok blinked. “Yeah!” He grinned, his expression brightening. “That’s cuz we found you!” he said excitedly.

Rabbit frowned. He was so not lost in the first place and could not understand why everyone was going on about it anyway.

“You can’t just disappear because you feel like it,” Black Dog said.

“Everyone got scared, Rabbit…” Ashok said.

Rabbit’s frown deepened. “Why?”

Black Dog barely resisted the urge to cover his face with his hand. He wished Rabbit would stop being so difficult. Before he could say anything, Ashok chimed in.

“Cuz… When you get lost no one can find you… It’s very bad and it makes everyone scared…”

Rabbit and Black Dog exchanged glances, while Shankar covered his face with his hand. He knew there was no use in arguing against his brother’s logic and he hoped the others would too.

“This isn’t home. You can’t just secure yourself a little den. Anything can happen here and it’s my hide she’s going to take it out on.” Black Dog was not so much worried about Rabbit getting lost as he was about him stumbling across something weird. Bad enough they had discovered strange food, not to mention eggs any time they wanted, but these people had water in their kitchen that was not fetched from a stream and who knew what else they had. Black Dog shook his head, amazed that for once he was in strong agreement with Fierce like Panther about getting home as quickly as possible.

Ashok wanted his own rabbit den. It sounded like a fun place to play in. He wondered if Shankar and Luke would help him make one.

“You seriously didn’t need to whack me in the face with a stick,” Black Dog said, annoyed, as it really had hurt and he knew he had not truly scared Rabbit. He felt there was no need for him to take out his frustrations at the situation with Luke on him.

Ashok nodded. “That’s bad, Rabbit… Say sorry…”

“You knew I was hiding.” Rabbit glared at him. “I was just defending myself.”

Ashok frowned. He could feel the anger radiating off the two of them and it was making him uncomfortable.

Black Dog growled softly. “You really want something to hide from?”

Rabbit snorted. He was not impressed by Black Dog’s threat.

“What is Rabbit hiding from…?”

“He’s not hiding.” Black Dog looked over at Shankar. He had hoped that his presence would defuse Ashok’s endless comments.

Shankar, oblivious to what was going on, looked towards the barn. He wondered what was going on between Luke and his sister.

“Can’t you just let me hang out in this lovely bush?” Rabbit said. All he wanted was to be by himself while he sorted out his feelings.

Black Dog was relentless. “No.”

Ashok giggled and Shankar briefly looked over at them. He wished he was in the barn with Luke and his sister as the not knowing what was going to happen was killing him.

“Why not?” Rabbit said.

“Are we seriously having this conversation?” Black Dog was starting to get really annoyed with Rabbit’s stubbornness.

Ashok, who was getting bored now that the excitement of losing and finding Rabbit was over, fidgeted. “Wanna go play with the puppies?”

“No,” Rabbit said. He wished they would all just go away and leave him alone.

Ashok sighed. Even the thought of his own den was losing its appeal. He was also getting cold from just standing there, doing nothing.

“Can you just hide someplace more obvious and not make yourself so comfortable?” Black Dog said.

“Fine!” Rabbit came out from behind the bush.

Ashok smiled, happy that Rabbit was no longer “hiding.”

Shankar rubbed his arms in an effort to warm up. He wondered what was taking everyone so long. Rabbit was “found” and he was certain that Luke should have come to a decision about where he wanted to live by now. He was so lost in thought about his possible lonely future that it was a few minutes, before he realized they were heading back to the house. “Come on, Ashok.” Without waiting for a reply, Shankar followed his guests inside. Pensive, he watched as Rabbit dashed off in another direction.

Black Dog started to get riled up again over Rabbit’s nonsense, and growling softly to himself, he reined in his temper. “I’d better be able to fucking find you later!”

Ashok, thinking it was a game, ran off after Rabbit.

Shankar frowned as he watched them go. Like Rabbit, he wanted to be alone with his thoughts.

Black Dog nudged him. “You might want to grab your little brother before he gets too far.”

“Yeah… Ashok! Where are you?!” Shankar took off in their direction, glad for the distraction.

Sitara, hearing the noise, left the kitchen. “What’s going on?”

Black Dog sighed. “Nothing.”

“Are you sure? I thought I heard shouting.”

“Seriously.” Black Dog smiled, trying to reassure her. “It’s nothing.”

“Oh…” She folded her arms across her chest. Looking away and back, she said, “Is Luke going home with you?”

He blinked, momentarily taken aback by her directness. “I, uh, I’m not the one you should be asking.”

Sitara nodded, her expression softening. “I see… He’ll be missed if he does go.”

“Yeah…” Black Dog said, feeling decidedly uncomfortable.

Sitara could see that and she looked away.

“The uh… Luke and Lola back from the barn yet?”

Sitara shook her head. “They’re still out there.”

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ranuel
Nov. 25th, 2016 12:33 pm (UTC)
I really liked the quick tour of everyone's heads. So much is going on below the surface.
kiramaru7
Nov. 25th, 2016 10:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yeah, things are coming to a head now.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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kiramaru7
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