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Sep 22, 2021

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Reinventing the Lightbulb - Part 10


Previous - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 9


Raziel stares out into the (relatively) bright sunlight. “Wow…who would have thought there was an entire settlement down here? Do you think this is the tribe indigenous to the area? The one the Ze’ev supposedly destroyed?” The tiger is just…astounded.

Zorro looks up at Raziel, “The one the Ze’ev destroyed? You’ll havta to remind me on that one.” He shades his brow with a paw, eyes adjusting, “How big is this place? And oh! Right, I remember now.” He hmms. “Well, at least we know where they went. But Geez, I wonder if their isolation is intentional. Do they even know what’s out here?”

Stepping out the door allows a greater view of the village, no bigger than Estenne, all of the usable mostly destroyed buildings having been rebuilt to some degree in tribal fashion with wood, giving the place a unique look and feel.

Raziel shakes his head. “I…have no idea. But…it looks to be entirely self-sufficient.” The tiger notices the fenced off cages in the distance, and points them out to the fox. “That’s probably where Viktor is being held. But…how do we get there without being noticed, or terrorizing the village?”

Zorro hmms. He looks over the village. Are all of the tribe members of a particular species or is there some variance?

Looking at the tribe members from the village, and not just from the guards, there does seem to be only one type of pasu here, or at least one dominant one. They all seem to be jackals, and nearly all of them with their fur dyed as deep a black as they can, decorated with swirls of blue, yellow, white, and orange. Their clothing is nothing more than a heavily decorated loincloth, fitted with twines and leaves and all manner of shiny things, be it scavenged glass from the ruins to polished rocks, and for the ladies, a sort of chest length necklace type thing, shaped like a dais.

Zorro frowns, “I don’t think we fit in here, Raz. At the moment, I’m most concerned about getting Viktor out of here.” He rubs his muzzle and looks up at you, “Think I could pass for a jackal if we dyed me black?”

Raziel seems to be thinking the same thing as Zorro, and shakes his head at the question. “Not unless we get you a pair of stilts and hide that bushy tail of yours somewhere.” The tiger stares off into space, thinking. “Unless you wouldn’t be opposed to posing as a child…”

Zorro gives a little frown, “Why not? I already get told by people in the marketplace that I have to get my parents before they’ll sell me booze.”

Raziel resists the urge to laugh. “How about this; when we’re all done here, I’ll buy you a beer. I don’t drink myself, but they’ll certainly sell to me.” He smiles at the fox, then quickly walks around him, a focused look on his face. “The soot left by the fire trap should be sufficient to cover your fur. But exactly how slicked down can you get your tail? The length can be partially concealed by the loincloth, if we arrange it right…”

Zorro nods, and looks to the tiger, “Pretty smooth. A slightly bushier tail than normal probably won’t be /too/ bad. But if my tail is wet, it will get real skinny.”

Raziel nods slowly, and pulls out the metal canteen that he filled back in Quark. “It’s about half full. Combined with whatever you have, that should be enough. But use it sparingly, and not until we’re almost ready. We don’t want it drying out before we get the soot on you.”

Zorro nods, “Got it.” He starts to pad back in with the tiggy, looking for that burned place.

Raziel walks back to the charred section, and runs a paw along the wall. Yep…that’s certainly black. “Alright. Now, I’m sure this won’t be pleasant, but we’ve got to cover as much of you as possible. But first, let me just do a brief proof of concept…” The tiger walks over to Zorro, and rubs his sooty paw between the fennec’s ears. Hopefully, this works. Otherwise, back to the drawing board…

Zorro’s fur becomes black. That’s what happens when you rub soot on stuff. Zorro looks up, “Did it work?” He looks hopeful.

Raziel nods, and smiles a little. “Yes, it did.” He looks from Zorro to the soot and back, and says, “Now, you may want to help me do this. Otherwise…it will become tremendously awkward.” It kind of already is.

Zorro nods, and starts taking up soot, and patting his body down, and getting himself all nice and black. “How do I look?”

“Hmm…” Raziel tilts his head as he inspects. “It’s a start.” The tiger helps apply the soot to Zorro’s head and back, and by the end, Raziel appears to be sporting panther-paws himself. But the color looks fairly even.

Zorro nods, and takes his shirt, which was removed in the process, and ties it around like a loincloth, tucking away the more detailed areas. “Well, this should be… passable. I think. I don’t quite have the color highlights…” He looks out at the village again, trying to spot some children to see if any of them go without highlights.

Most of the village children don’t actually have the color markings, but nearly all of the older ones do, the ones that look like ten years old and older. Or at least look that old. Who really knows? There is though, a group of older children kind of just walking through without those markings as well, but it looks pretty tight knit. Worth a shot though, either way?

Zorro mms. He looks to Raziel, “I think this is as best a chance we’re ever going to get.” He hopes they speak something resembling the common tongue. If they don’t, he hopes his old Pasu tongue is similar enough to theirs to just sound like a village idiot.

Zorro pads over into the village, trying to look natural. It’s just a stage play. He’s done this sort of thing before…

Before he departs, Raziel tries to get the fennec’s attention. “Wait! Your tail!”

Zorro pauses before going too far, and turns around, heading right back for the tiger.

Raziel looks around nervously as he gets the water ready. “We only get one shot at this. Make it count.” He pulls out some metal bits from his bag - random scrap and such. “Also, put these through your shirt. It should make your ‘loincloth’ look more like theirs. And it’s up to you, but we could use some of the water to wipe off some of the soot in shape of the designs, making it look like your natural color is the highlights.”

Zorro mms. He looks around to see if anyone’s highlights might look kinda like that.

Raziel proffers the metal shards and canteen again. “So…are we going to try?”

Zorro nods, and looks to the tiger, “Let’s do it.” He spreads out his arms and legs for proper application of water, and starts jutting the sparklies into the cloth

Raziel nods, and gets to work, using what he saw of the villagers as reference. His eye for detail really comes in handy right now, as the tiger meticulously creates a similar pattern on Zorro’s fur. With that done, he dumps the remaining water over the fennec’s tail, and applies a fresh coat of soot to keep the appendage black. Raziel steps back to look at the whole picture. “That’s…not bad. You’re really lucky jackals have big ears too,” he says with a smirk.

Zorro chuckles, “That’s how I figure it.” He nods, “Right, then. Uh. If you hear me screaming like a little girl… go shoot people for me.” He pads off toward the village, getting back into a natural walk cycle.

Raziel sighs, but sticks to the shadows. He hates sitting on the sidelines while the fox steps out into what may be horrible danger, but there’s not much he can do at this point…

So far, no one really seems to notice the little fennec, seems the disguise works pretty well. For the most part, maybe stay away from those with a curious eye, or one with a scrutinous one. But right, like that always goes so well. Anyway, a little boy runs up to the newest ‘addition’ to the village, holding out a ball and looking like he wants to play catch with it or something. Or maybe just kinda… throw it.

Zorro pretends not to notice the boy, not looking at him directly and just padding along. He keeps a slightly vacant look in his eyes, like he’s either sick or distracted or something. He tries to throw off a ‘not a good time right now’ vibe without saying anything.

Raziel sits just inside the metal doorway, eyes focused, ears alert, tail twitching; the standard cat observation fare. He watches the little ‘jackal’ as best he can, noting his progress. Oh, and he’s talking to himself. “You should have just played with the ball…don’t draw attention to yourself…you’re liable to make the kid cry…”

The little boy frowns deeply, then runs off. Possibly to tell his parents, or maybe find someone who’ll /actually/ play. Oh well, it’s over an done now, no take-backs. Otherwise, the trip into town is uneventful.

Zorro takes a few winding paths through the streets to try to avoid being easily followed, in case that kid was going to point him out. He heads for the cages.

There seems to be less traffic closer to the cages, but also a lot more noise, like that of beasts, perhaps they keep dangerous animals in those cages?

Zorro wonders if Viktor counts as a dangerous animal. He peeks out at the cages, looking for a wild specimen of Vulpes Arkytis.

Instead the little improvised Jackal finds cages full of regular bears, some wild wolves, and even… moose? Oh, and of course the multiple reinforced cages of Druj, which for some reason just kinda sit in their cages. They’re probably what’s causing all the ruckus from the animals. Spying further down, there’s another fenced in area with cages inside the fenced in area of cages, maybe try there? And if one were to look to the left, closest to the forest, one of the reinforced cages has been broken out, nearly destroyed, and a portion of the fence knocked down.

Zorro looks over at the broken down cage and part of the wall, and looks over the crumblings. Do they look like the crumblings that Viktor’s tuning forks make?

Upon further inspection, no, they don’t. Instead, it looks as though the cage was cruelly broken apart, and the fence the same way, just stomped over.

Zorro is pretty sure the arky wasn’t that strong. He ables over to the fenced in area, peeking in.

And there, yes! Sitting in a cage, among other empty cages, is the said arctic fox, not doing much other than sitting it seems. Probably boring in those cages.

Zorro looks around for any guards or the like.

Perhaps the animals and Druj kinda freak them out. There really doesn’t seem to be any guards at all.

Zorro walks over toward the arky phoqz. He whispers, “Viktor! Psst!”

Viktor blinks and looks up to the jackal, frowning a bit. “How do yoo know my naahme? Who aahre yoo? Vaaht do you vaahnt vith me now?”

Zorro shakes his head, “It’s me, Zorro, all covered in soot. Are you alright?”

Raziel has lost sight of Zorro, and is now just sitting in the tunnel, waiting. He begins drawing little meaningless geometric patterns on the floor with his soot covered paws. He’d really like to wash them off…

Viktor aahs, nodding a bit. “Aah, zo yoo did kome to vind me. Yez, aai’m okaahy. Vere’s Rhaaziel? Did he run aahvaay? I vouldn’t think zo, but….. yoo never know.”

Zorro shakes his head, “He’s safe. He couldn’t disguise himself as a jackal.” He looks to the fox, “We were able to get rid of the guards up top. But I don’t know if there are others around. Any idea where the statue is?” He also walks about, trying to find a way to free the fox.

Viktor nods, and points back up the cliff, to the top of the imposing structure, a flashing gleam shining at the top. “Iz there, yoo kaahn zee it. Vhy didn’t yoo graahb it vile yoo vere up top?”

Zorro frowns, “It wasn’t there before. They dropped it into a hole in the top. Seems they got it back out, and we didn’t find a way to get to it from there.” The fox thinks. “Well, we’d better find a way out of here.” Was there a way to free the fox?

Viktor frowns as well. “Ve’ll haahve to get it laahter then, iv ve still vaahnt to. Now thaaht yoo’re here, aai kaahn breaahk out ov thiz kaahge. Aai vould like to get my large vorks back though. They took them vrom me.” He pulls out one of the larger small forks, tapping it twice against each post to break them at that spot, then pushing on the top to knock the cages top half away. “Aahlzo, therez aahnother vox here, he vaahz traahped vith me, bevore ve kaahme here. They took him aahvaahy, to thaaht shaahk. He vaahs lookink vor thiz plaahce aahs vell, but only to ztudy the peoplez here. “

Zorro frowns. Poor fellow. He looks over to the shack, “Viktor, I’m not certain that the trouble of trying to get your old forks is going to be worth taking— you could have new ones made, especially with the pay we should get from getting the statue.” He growls, “But I’ll be just as happy to carry it back in the form of dust, if the forks you still have can do it.” He peeks over toward the shack.

Viktor snickers, shaking his head. “Aai kould vaahlz right in aahnd taahke them baahk. None ov the villiaahgers aahre aahrmed. Only the guards ov the ztaahtue haahve veaahponz, aahnd vaahtever’z in thaaht zhaahk.”

Zorro ohs, “Well, then, let’s grab em.” He pads over closer and cautiously toward the shack, peeking in.

Inside the shack is a long tunnel, again, lighted by torches, running into the hill. There’s loud chanting and commotion, like a smaller version of what one would find at the coliseum in Acre, a very very small version.

Zorro looks over his shoulder at Viktor, “I am beginning to despise architecture. It’s all tunnels and stairs these days.” The fox looks forward, “Any idea what’s going on down there?” He listens to the chanting with those big ears, trying to discern if he can understand the words.

Raziel has almost completely covered the floor inside the doorway with his abstract, crop-circle like designs. The tiger has found a great many ways to amuse himself over the years…but he rather likes this one.

Viktor shrugs, focusing his magic down the hall. “Vell, it’z aahll juzt tribaahl zpeaahk. I don’t know it. Othervize, it zoundz like aah druj in there. Maahybe they’re vitink it? Or more likely thaaht vox…..”

Zorro frowns, “Maybe we’d better get Raz. If none of the villagers are armed, might as well get someone armed down here to get this handled expediently. I just want to go home. If I can snag that stupid statue on the way, so be it.” He notes to Viktor, “Stay back here, I’ll return with the tiger in a moment.” He starts heading back in Raz’s direction.

Viktor nods some. “Yez, thaaht vould be good. Do yoo vaahnt to go get him, or zhould aai?”

Zorro looks to you, “I should. If I walk back with him, people will panic only half of the time.” He keeps walking that way.

Viktor says, “Aahlright. Aai’ll ztaahy here aahnd vaahit vore yoo.” He doesn’t actually stay in the same spot though, instead he starts walking up on top of the hill.

Zorro heads back through the town toward the tiger.


Next - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 11

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